I’ve been working with the Microsoft SQL Server BI stack since late 2000. When I started with SQL Server, my “community” consisted of my co-workers, my clients, and me. As communities go, it was a great community to be in. In 2001, our small boutique consulting company EssPro, founded by Mike Luckevitch, merged with another small boutique consulting company called Aspirity to create…Aspirity (which we lovingly referred to for a while as Aspirity 2 internally). Aspirity was the company who wrote the Microsoft Official Curriculum for the SQL Server 2000 BI stack – the DTS, OLAP, and MDX courses. I learned a lot about these products from the likes of Hilary Feier, Liz Vitt, Reed Jacobson, and Tom Chester. I even learned enough that they let me teach those courses, and thus my career as a BI trainer was launched. Eventually, they even let me write new courses and help co-author a book with Mike and Liz, Business Intelligence: Making Better Decisions Faster, thus launching my career as an author. Now that’s a great community!

But as great as that community was, it was only a microcosm of all the people working day in and day out with the Microsoft BI stack. I met many of them over the years at various Microsoft events, including my first PASS Summit in 2002. But in the early years of the past decade, I was one of many in an organization (even if it was small) that couldn’t send everyone to PASS, so it wasn’t until 2006 when I went independent that I could start going to PASS regularly. My community circle widened and PASS became a reunion for community. But even of all the people who were attending PASS, they still represented only a fraction of the community at large.

Somewhere along the line, Twitter became a phenomenon with the SQL Server community. When I first learned about Twitter, I didn’t understand the big deal. But now that I’ve been tweeting for a while, I’ve really come to appreciate the power of this medium for building relationships, sharing knowledge, and helping one another. I appreciate Twitter for its ability to create and foster community. And for a good laugh from time to time. So no matter where in the world that we find ourselves, our community is only a tweet away. We don’t need to meet face to face to be part of community. We simply need to engage.

One of the ways that the SQL Community engages to help one another by using Twitter is to use the #sqlhelp hashtag. (If you’re new to Twitter, a hashtag is a string of characters preceded by the # symbol and used to filter tweets so that you can easily find the tweets related to a particular topic.) But the SQL Server stack is loaded with a variety of technologies, and there’s a lot more traffic related to database engine Q & A than this business intelligence girl can sift through to spot where I can help.

Mark Vaillancourt (blog | twitter) – a thoroughly entertaining fellow that I met last week at PASS Summit 2011 – proposed the idea that the community should separate these Twitter traffic streams and introduced the #SSRSHelp hashtag earlier this week. Following along on that theme, I asked my fellow SSAS Maestro Council members if they would be willing to help me monitor a new hashtag, #SSASHelp, for questions related to Analysis Services and they agreed. Joining me are:

Of course, anyone can help us answer questions. Although the four of us are spread out across the US and Europe, covering a variety of time zones, we’re busy folks too (and occasionally sleep), so we can’t promise to be instantly available. The more people involved in helping, the more people we can help. And that’s what makes this community so awesome!