This is the post I promised when I moved to BlogEngine.NET on where my head’s at with Community Server, so listen up. It’s been six weeks since I began marketing myself as a freelance .NET developer focusing on Open Source alternatives to Community Server. Faithful to that change in focus I instituted a self-imposed gag rule on Community Server. Since transitions in brand and expertise from one platform to another take time, Community Server has continued to be my bread-and-butter. I’m a blessed nerd with great projects, even better clients, and cool Community Server development to do every day. It’s killing me in some ways not to be blogging about Community Server, but I learned a long time ago that I have to be led by my principles, whether on the surface those principles seem to be an economic death wish or not. Sticking to principles always wins in the end, if not we at least have to give them the chance to Place or Show.
The truth is I’m still as big a fanboy of Community Server as I’ve always been. I enjoy working in a framework written by developers who I think are the very best in the business. And being one of the few freelance Community Server developers out there who isn’t serving The Man has its advantages. I’m very popular and since leaving Telligent in April 2007 have had more work than I can handle. In spite of that success I don’t want to be doing this for the long run and here is why.
Community Server is now “Corporate Server.” At $5000 per license, Community Server coding is somebody’s day job. No one gives a shit about Community Server because no one feels they’re a part of something. I was Telligent’s first Community Evangelist, now they’re hiring Corporate Evangelists. The community around Community Server was once a vibrant place, with developers around the world feeling they were members of an extended product development team, building great add-ons and blogging about the cool Community Server stuff they were doing. Tell me, when is the last time you read a blog post about Community Server? Other than here, that is? And written by someone not on the Telligent payroll? The “community” in Community Server is dead. Stick a fork in it.
As for the chain of events that moved me to focus my energies on Open Source alternatives to Community Server, it all began when my sister wanted an online community to promote her quilting business. (The site’s online but I’m not ready to showcase it for you.) I started theming a fresh copy of Community Server 2008 for her, of course. I own several CS Professional licenses, after all, two that I purchased myself at $2500 a pop and two that I received as a CS MVP. While theming the CS2008 site I started thinking about all of the other sisters out there who wanted to create a quilting community. They could never pay $5000 for a Community Server 2008 license. My sister sure couldn’t. No, with Community Server, the Everyman’s dream dies here. A year ago you could have given it a go with a $400 Small Business Community Server License, but the same software now costs you over 10 times that. Sorry, Charlie, Telligent wants tuna that tastes good.
The easiest thing in the world for me would be to continue enthusing Community Server Joy on this blog and detail my Community Server Development Day, promote myself as an eager and able expert ready to help your [medium-to-large-sized] business with your next Community Server customization project. Instead I’m going with what I think is morally right, not financially expedient, and change horses in the middle of the stream. Being the Community Server Fanboy and Expert I am, heck yeah, I’ll consider taking on your Community Server project. You’ll love me and the site will rock.
Just don’t expect me to talk about it.