Meme Monday for June – there are no dumb questions


Here’s my input into this months Meme Monday – there are no dumb questions.

It seems (at least to me), that – occasionally – no matter how hard you try to ask an intelligent question about SQL SERVER on some of the forums – that somebody will interpret this as

  1. A dumb question
  2. An opportunity to tell you how stupid you are being by doing something like what you are asking in the first place.

I’ll give an example.

A couple of years ago, my company decided that we’d install a few clustered SQL SERVER instances. At the time I knew absolutely nothing about clustering, however, I was given two SERVER 2008 boxes to “play with” and learn about the subject of clustering.

This was pretty good – I had the opportunity to learn in an environment where I was not going to damage any crucial systems – the absolute worse I could do was brake the OSs / SQL SERVERs of each of the two boxes.

After a while, I’d say that I got OK at installing and configuring a cluster and I started exploring some of – what I would call – the more advanced features.

As their was nobody else in the company that had a lot of experience with clustering, I only really had a few options to expand my knowledge.

  1. Read online articles.
  2. Buy some good books.
  3. Ask on forums.

At the time (around the release of SQL SERVER 2008), there were not that many good SQL SERVER 2008 articles around (or at least I never found them) , and a few good clustering books that I wanted to buy were yet to be published.

So, I decided to ask on the forums.

I explained in one of my posts that I was in a sand-boxed environment and was learning – then I asked my question.

I received a reply informing me that “clustering was an advanced topic and that I should consider getting in a consultant” – that reply astounded me, as I had originally stated in my question the environment I was in.  I repeated my statement about working in a sand-boxed environment and the purpose of my question was purely educational.

At, that point, I received another reply, telling me how fortunate I was to be able to do this – a fact that I was very much aware of already.

Eventually, I got into a long conversation with the answerer, who turned out to be quite helpful, however this experience taught be a few things about communication on forums, such as – if you are the asker

  • Be as clear as you can about what you are asking and be clear about the reason (for example -as in my case- is this just for educational purposes.)

and if you are about to answer the question.

  • Read the entire post by the questioner, and avoid just jumping to the bit you assume is the main piece of the question.

The moral of the story (at least for me) – if you are asking on a forums about doing something for educational purposes only (for example switching the ghost process off), you’ll have to be absolutely crystal clear about this – or somebody will state that you are being dumb – even if it’s politely.

I have since found that a lot of my “dumb educational questions” – can be answered through looking at the meta data from extended events, and this is one of the things that I like about this feature – it can answer a lot of questions about what is going on in the inner workings of SQL SERVER 2008 and beyond.

Have a nice day,



About Martin Catherall

Martin Catherall is Senior SQL consultant at SQL Down Under, based in Melbourne, Australia. Martin is also a Microsoft Data Platform MVP and Regional Mentor (RM) for the Professional Association for SQL Server. Prior to relocating to Australia he was extremely active in the Christchurch, New Zealand data community - founding the local SQL Server user group and organizing SQL Saturday Christchurch - which later became SQL Saturday South Island. He likes learning interesting stuff about processing and storing data and passing on his knowledge. In his spare time he likes to learn guitar and hang out with his two young sons Callum Glen and Robert Michael.