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Introducing the MySQL Librarian

By: Giuseppe Maxia
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The MySQL Librarian is a collection of community-generated and cross referenced content related to MySQL. It's a place where the community, collaboratively, builds and maintains MySQL content.

The MySQL Librarian is a collection of community-generated and cross referenced content related to MySQL. It's a place where the community, collaboratively, builds and maintains MySQL content.

The idea started two years ago. During the MySQL conference, the blog posts were going fast and furiously down the screen. There were so many blog posts on Planet MySQL that their average life was 1 hour or less. Some of them went to the second page without having enjoyed a single minute of top page exposure. And then there were the presentation files, hidden or forgotten on some site, and never to be seen again, especially when you need them months later. After the conference, between travel, catching up with email, and whatever happens next, you lose track of most the interesting content that was generated by some of the best community members in the ecosystem. And the same happens when you go on vacation for two weeks. When you come back, catching up with the good stuff is hard. You should read hundred of less than interesting posts to get the important ones.

Improving the search on Planet MySQL helps a lot. But it won't let you easily find an article that was published in a blog that is not aggregated, because the author writes about MySQL only once in a while. And the planet won't let you find the presentations about interesting stuff, unless the accompanying text and tags reflect your search query.

The Librarian changes it all. The good content from conferences, stray presentations, videos, articles, can all be referenced in one place. We started planning this tool in November 2008. Its implementation required a radical change of the Planet MySQL code, with months of thankless work to refactoring the existing features with a more flexible infrastructure. The small visible changes that appeared on Planet MySQL from February to June 2009 are the tip of the iceberg of a huge code change (kudos to Dups, who had the vision and the perseverance to tackle the task). If you were wondering why planetmysql.org started redirecting to planet.mysql.com, here's the reason. We needed a single login, which could only be achieved by taking the planet under the main domain.

Overview of the MySQL Librarian
Sakila Librarian
What's the Librarian? It's a place where everyone posts links to interesting material concerning MySQL. You can add links and descriptions to presentations, pictures, videos, articles, and books. You can tag the posts you added and add or edit tags to existing posts, to put such pieces in relation to other material. Thus, using tags, you will be able to identify a presentation on partitioning at the UC2009, and all the blog posts that talked about that topic during the conference or after.

Moreover, users with MySQL.com accounts can create a list of favorites to keep easy track of the links that you like. Finally, but probably this is one of the most important parts, you can vote on the posted links, so that the good stuff comes to the top easily. You have 10 votes per day to spend on the Librarian, and if the community uses the votes steadily and wisely, the deserving good contents become easy to identify. Have you been off line for a few weeks? A glimpse at the Librarian top voted content will let you catch up with the important material in a matter of minutes.

Inserting new posts
Sakila Librarian
Let's make one thing clear. Whatever you insert, you shouldn't duplicate the original content. The MySQL Librarian contains links to content stored in other places. What makes it valuable is the descriptions and the tags you add.

What should you insert here? Think of a technical library. You want to preserve what is going to be useful in future. Libraries store books that people want to look at long time after they are published. They may preserve the announcement that a given book is going to be published in 1995, but that one is guaranteed to gather dust and never to be searched for. Likewise, not everything related to MySQL is appropriate. You should insert only links to contents that someone is likely to need or appreciate in future.

Start with the stuff you have produced. Is there an blog post that you are proud of? Probably a good candidate. Have other people commented favorably on it? Probably an excellent candidate.

Is there an article that you keep referring to when you answer forum questions? Then it's a good candidate to be in the Librarian's care. Slides and videos to a great presentation on MySQL refactoring? Sure. A picture of your data center with a dolphin shaped UPS? Add it! Your judgment is important. The MySQL Librarian doesn't collect data with spiders or feed filters. Everything in here is created and maintained by the community. Every piece of information collected by the Librarian must have something valuable to the wider community. Even a single tag identifying the post as a "tip" makes the difference between a "dumb" search engine and a collection of community wisdom.

Now, in practical terms, what do you need to do to add a new post? Let's start by clicking to Add A Link.

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