When people get together to help each other and learn from each other they do build upon somebody's knowledge and precious work, then give back as their abilities grows.
That would be how the Open Source movement works, that is how communities work.
alt.no.comp.os.linux or whatever it was called invited me to yell out "I'm trying to do this and that, what to do??". And within minutes help came. Within a month I was helping other newbies, and it felt nice. Really good. Good and practical.
At SAP TechEd I met a fellow citizen that, as he put it, had to protect their investment in a spanking new SAP system. Sure he was supported, but he had found the SAP Developer Network (SDN) - and has since never looked back!
Average time for a response to a question on SDN is now less than 20 minutes thanks to the 900,000 members.
But my friend, being an ex management consultant, had found the SAP Business Process Expert (BPx) community and their 200,000 members as well - so off he went for the Community Day at the TechEd as a freshly minted member of a BPx project.
I know exactly how he feels, the goodness of it all and the unrivalled practical implication such communities have on your daily life - don't think any corporate support department could compete with such. Ever.
Add costs savings for SAP, loyalty built, a huge amplified listening post and the overall good vibes it all produces and I would even venture that SAP today could not exist without the SDN and BPx communities!
As a funny sidenote: When trawling the "corridors" of SAP (actually poking everybody in sight at TechEd) I found the usual "big company" problem of not finding anybody having a total overview of what was happening inside those corridors, one had to put on the Sherlock Holmes hat and follow trails in the sand.
That's when I started to turn to Craig, Marilyn and Mark - the every day top-of-the community folks - they're like walking encyclopaedias of everything SAP'ish.
Guess that being immersed in the community is akin to sitting atop a giant central water-cooler listening in on all the unofficial and official ongoing!
As a not so funny sidenote: Try to find a link to SDN or BPx on the SAP site! "Where's Eddie" is much easier, he I can find at least. In my humble opinion links to those two should be prominently displayed smack in the middle of the index page! And please, something not https as a starter for non-techies.
[UPDATE: Another not so funny - it obviously takes time before all of SAP "get's it" - Steve Mann has been told to remove any links to his personal blog when communicating as SAP employee! Duh, silos with walls...]