The title of this blog is "Developing SQL World" but today I feel compelled to talk about something that might be considered an un-development in SQL world. As you may have seen already in the news from SQL industry, Red-Gate has bought SQL Server Central. Before you go on reading, I want to disclose that I'm not free of personal interest here as I'm a partner in ApexSQL LLC, a competitor of Red-Gate.
For the record, I think it's reasonable that guys from SQL Server Central want to sell their site to the highest bidder and I think it's valid for Red-Gate to want to buy such a site (or any other site for that matter.) These are all consenting adults, so nothing to see there. I also do not hold any illusions about the publishing business and believe that owners of the site have the right to publish whatever the hell they want. However, I have to wonder... what will happen to the community to which this site is purportedly dedicated? What will happen to the independent reviews of SQL Server tools? And what about the honesty and transparency of site's moderators and the forums they moderate? Some people from Red-Gate are saying that "SQL Server Central will maintain its independent voice". But knowing some of the tactics that Red-Gate has employed in the past, there is little doubt in my mind that SQL Server Central will become just another cog in their propaganda machinery.
Other people from Red-Gate* are saying that there is no true freedom in publishing anyway so it doesn't really matter. If so, then why buy the site? It matters a great deal more if owner has a conflict of interest than when an advertiser has a problem with content. Everybody knows it, including the entire community, so they are not fooling anybody. And what is this spin that goes from "it doesn't matter" to "nothing will change"? I know they won't call spade a spade but we don't have to be naive about it.
* 2006-11-25, correction: Phil Factor doesn't work for Red-Gate but blogs and writes articles on Simple-Talk, another one of Red-Gate's publishing sites. This information influences the rest of the paragraph but I have left it as it was originally.
At the end, I believe that free market of ideas will prevail. There are other sites and there will be other sites. But this is a loss for community - let's make no mistakes about it.