If you have ever taken any training modules or learned something new by going through the official documentation, the material you used was probably written or co-authored by one or many contributors. These individuals often are volunteers who offer their time and expertiseto cover knowledge gaps in our portfolio or to keep the existing content current.
In this series, we’ll be interviewing frequent contributors to the Microsoft Learn platform to get to know them better and to learn what motivates them to keep contributing.
Today we’re interviewing Tomáš (Tom) Zíka from the Czech Republic. Tom is a Senior Database Engineer, who specializes in performance tuning and SQL optimization, monitoring, and refactoring. Tom was nominated by the Database Docs team for his frequent, valuable contributions.
Sherry: Hi, Tom. Thanks for being part of our contributor spotlight series. Could you please start by telling us a bit about yourself and your expertise and experience? Tom: I used to be a junior C# developer, but I’ve got a knack for writing SQL queries. Because the database problems were severe, I shifted to full-time SQL optimization, monitoring, and refactoring. To hone my knowledge of real-world problems, I've joined the SQL Server community on Slack to try and help out. I also frequent the dba.stackexchange. I had only one official speaking session at sqlbits 2022, but I prefer the async blogging format.
Sherry: You are one of the top contributors to SQL Docs. What inspired you to start contributing, and what motivates you to keep contributing? Tom: My motto is: Leave it better than you found it. I visit the documentation site several times a day. If I can improve it even a little bit, it's an investment for me and everyone else. I like having the option to do it myself. It's a tiny bit of extra work, but it beats filing a ticket with detailed instructions and repro steps which would sit in backlog forever. You also get a warm and fuzzy feeling when you see your portrait at the top of the page in the list of contributors.
Sherry: That’s a great motto, and I agree that it’s nice to get that recognition. On the subject of making things better, has contributing to the Microsoft Learn platform helped you to advance your career or gain any new skillset? If so, please describe how.
Tom: Contributing to Microsoft Learn helped me cement my Markdown skills. Also, exposure to documentation and triaging is helpful if you look for examples of how to document yourself.
Sherry: What advice would you give to people who want to start contributing to open-source content? Tom: My advice would be to start small. Most of my contributions are small — fixing F1 shortcuts, providing missing units in DMV documentation, fixing a typo, or improving a code example. Once you start doing something, it becomes easier each time.
Sherry: That’s good advice. Thanks. One purpose of this interview is to highlight the person behind the contributions, so tell us something about yourself aside from work. What do you do with your free time? Tom: I spend most of my free time with my family. I have a wife and two amazing daughters of pre-school age. As for my hobbies, I love a good story, so reading books, watching movies/tv or playing a good single-player video game.
Sherry: That sounds neat. Can you share one of them with us?
Sherry: That’s great! Before we finish, do you have any closing thoughts to share?
Tom: Contributing is now easier than ever. More and more non-developers are adopting Git, and thanks to the easy graphical user interface (GUI), most of the steps are automated. It used to be that you had to clone the repo, keep the main up to date, create a branch, and all that jazz. Now I can simply click the Edit button, and it creates a fork and then a pull request when I'm done.
Sherry: That seems like an excellent place to end. Thank you so much for joining us today, Tom.