Is it a misconception that mainframe professionals find it hard to get help? When we talk about non-mainframe technology, there seems to be a myriad of platforms with impressive worldwide community support, actively helping each other on a daily basis. In other words, what you find there is, if you are struggling to find an answer to a problem, or simply trying to find some better ways do something, then you generally post a question online and seek feedback from the community. Do we mainframe professionals lack such an ecosystem? Is it because of a lack of enthusiasm from experts to chime in on discussions to help out? Is it because of a lack of a solid single social media platform to discuss our challenges? Or is because there are too many platforms, and that we all are stretched too thin on each one, and thereby lack strength in numbers to have meaningful discussion?
First, let’s delve into some of the various prominent platforms we currently have. Below are the list platforms in no particular order.
About reddit: Reddit is a social news aggregation, web content rating, and discussion website. Users on the platform submit content to the site, which is then voted up or down by other users. Reddit has thousands of communities and each day, millions of people around the world post, vote, and comment in communities organized around their interests. Reddit is the 4th most visited site in US, there are more than 330 million average monthly users, and there are more than 138,000 active communities.
So, what’s good about Reddit, and what do you need to know about Reddit? For starters, you have:
Subreddits – Reddit entries are organized into user-created areas of interest called “subreddits”.
AMA’s – Ask Me Anything sessions. A forum for user-driven interactive question-and-answer interviews. This process has been equated to an online press conference.
Good Old IBM-MAIN listserv
LISTSERV is the original and industry standard email list management software. IBM-MAIN listserv email list currently being maintained by The University of Alabama. IBM-MAIN listserv is probably one of the oldest mainframe Q&A forums. You post your questions to the list. Each discussion is tied together with subject, and you can review older discussion archives.
Stack Overflow part of the Stack Exchange network, serves as a platform for developers to ask and answer questions. It features questions and answers on a wide range of topics in computer programming. Good answers are voted up and rise to the top. All questions are tagged with their subject areas.
Mainframe on Stack overflow
Mainframe topics are tagged with “mainframe” followed by specific areas, example, “jcl” “tso” etc.
I am sure most of us here have LinkedIn profiles. LinkedIn (now part of Microsoft) is mainly used for professional networking. However, there are lesser known LinkedIn features such as Groups for conversations, Q&A and areas of interest. In general, LinkedIn groups are plagued with self-promotion and spams but there are quite few fantastic groups. Each group has owner and may need to seek permission to join. Once you join the group, you became follower of group. There are several groups dedicated to mainframe.
To name a few of my favorites – IBM Z and Events (4k followers), System z Advocates (11k followers) etc.
Facebook mainframe groups
Facebook needs no introduction. It has a large user base and has special interest Groups associated with just about any topic. However, mainframe user community activity there is sparse.
Facebook mainframe community
We zNextGen mainframers recently polled to select Reddit as our go-to forum for Q&A and other discussions related to the mainframe. We are hoping to get all mainframe professionals alike on Reddit for a vibrant support for the community.
Hemanth Rama, a millennial mainframer, is a senior software engineer at BMC Software. Hemanth has 13+ years of IT experience and he holds 3 patents. Hemanth is recipient of IBM z Champion award 2018. Hemanth writes regularly for many popular IT websites and also on his personal blog. He passionately speaks about mainframe technologies at various conferences, symposiums and user groups.