Note: this post originally appeared on our Agile Blog

Next week we are running a fun experiment in Boulder, as we host our first users conference: RallyOn 2011. We are experimenting with a number of things as we learn how to engage, connect, and contribute to our growing world-wide customer community.

First, we are trying to leverage social technologies in a number of ways to reach users all around the world. One way we are doing this is by using Stack Exchange, the Internet’s leading community-driven Q&A engine, to meld a community of agile software development and program management experts. Conceivably, this could kick-off a new paradigm in professional conferences, attaining the elusive goal of extending the conference experience of networking, knowledge sharing and community into the online environment with virtual attendees, and living long after the closing session.

We invited representatives from Stack Exchange to join the conference, promoting and shepherding the community experience. As a result, two members from the Programmers and Project Management communities will be in attendance, sponsored by Stack Exchange. Mark and Anna, who have coauthored this post, have already brought guidance and energy to the interactions between communities, and are sure to do so during RallyOn, as these two communities closely align with the goals of the conference and the interests of our attendees.

Cool stuff about Stack Exchange that I bet you did not know:
You may be familiar with Stack Exchange’s most popular site, Stack Overflow, the flagship software programming Q&A site that receives tens of millions of visitors each month. However, the vision far exceeds that single site. Since August 2010, the company has launched 49 new vertical-oriented Q&A sites. By building vibrant communities of experts around specific topics, Stack Exchange is able to facilitate answers to 94% of all questions network-wide.

  • Questions generally average 10 answers, giving you different insights and approaches to tackling problems or issues.
  • Answers are peer-reviewed by experts within the community, with those answers receiving the most positive votes rising to the top, guaranteeing the most accurate, relevant or acceptable answer to even the most difficult question.
  • Optimized for search engines, these answers help hundreds if not thousands of other people who are seeking answers to similar questions on the web.
  • The experts forge a community of subject matter enthusiasts, earning reputation and recognition for their contributions through the reputation point system.

At Rally, we have a fantastic marketing department that puts on great regional events and huge webinars, but we have never done a users conference. However, we are not sure what the best model for our users conference should be. So we are bringing a community of experts and Agile enthusiasts together around the RallyOn 2011 conference. With the help of two enthusiastic Stack Exchange members to showcase the power and benefits of a community-driven Q&A network like Stack Exchange, we are excited about adding a whole new group of Agile experts to our current communities.

To help track the success of this endeavor, we’ve created a special RallyOn11 tag on each Stack Exchange site. Please tag your questions with this tag and also include it in your profile. Participation is a snap, and we’ll be there at the conference to give you a hand.

While exploring the Stack Exchange sites, check out the RallyOn11 tag to discover peers with similar questions and interests. We’ll also be streaming live feeds from the sites directly to a monitor at the conference, allowing you to observe the community’s activity in real-time.

What’s in it for you?

  • As a director, the sites give your team an existing resource to crowd-source problems and find solutions from a group of subject matter experts.
  • As a director, the Project Management community often addresses management level problems including those involving other managers, executives and team members.
  • As an Agile coach or internal champion, these sites are a resource your customers can turn to stay on the right track.
  • As an Agile coach or internal champion, you can build your reputation and find inspiration for new ways of approaching issues.
  • As a developer, you can find answers to programming problems, project management concerns or challenges interacting with management.

 

Find Me at RallyOn!

 

Community: Programmers
Programmers attracts software development experts with interests in subject areas such as development methodologies, architecture practices, and algorithm and data structure concepts. It evolved out of the flagship Stack Overflow site when it became apparent that a separate place to ask questions about general software development concepts and programmers’ professional development, rather than specific implementation details, was needed. An example of this type of question can be found here.

Anna Lear (@aalear) is joining us from the programmers community, and is one of the community’s respected moderators.

 

Find Me at RallyOn!

 

Community: Project Management
Project Management covers a wide array of topics including: learning and implementing project management, challenges in managing projects and people (as well as challenges with project managers) and specific techniques and best practices from different methodologies. Project management approaches discussed include Agile, Waterfall, the PMBOK Guide, PRINCE2, ITIL and mish-mash of methodology that often gets implemented in the real world.

Mark Phillips (@mpmobile) is joining us from the project management community, having been a member of that community since its earliest days.

Ryan Martens is a member of NRDC’s Environmental Entrepreneurs, founder/CEO of the Entrepreneurs Foundation of Colorado, and Founder/CTO at Rally Software Development.

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