It’s Monday!! and welcome to another Interview with a Forum Ninja, Moderator and Microsoft employee
. I have known Samuel for more than 2 years and from my initial days in TechNet Wiki. Sam has also judged quite a lot of articles for monthly TechNet Guru competition.
Sam has been working with SQL Server from version 6.5 and this is just WOW!!!.
1251 Helpful Forum Answers
604 Helpful Posts
Below are Sam's forum highlights.
Without wasting much time let us get started.
Who are you, where are you, and what do you do? What are your specialty technologies?
Hi, I’m Sam Lester and I live in Frankfurt, Germany. I currently work on customer sites each day as a Microsoft Premier Field Engineer specializing in SQL Server and Business Intelligence. I began working with SQL Server 6.5 in the late 1990’s and have held various database related roles since then. I spent 12 years on the SQL Server product team in Redmond, WA, working as a tester on numerous features, including Playback/Trace, Setup, Utility Control Point, Intellisense, DACPAC/BACPAC, and many more.
STP – a 204-mile one-day bike race from Seattle, WA to Portland, OR, in the US
What are your big projects right now?
Many of my current projects include enterprise scale high availability / disaster recovery aspects of SQL Server in addition to assisting customers in maximizing value from their existing data. I’m a huge fan of Power BI and leverage this tool to help customers visualize data in a new way that allows them to make better business decisions.
I’m also very active in teaching and presenting about SQL Server and Power BI. In the past several months, I’ve presented at SQL Nexus in Denmark, SQL Saturdays in Cologne and Bucharest, SQL Days in Munich, and at Power BI User Group meetings throughout Germany, including the Power BI User Group in Frankfurt that I assist in running. I also taught Code.org’s Hour of Code curriculum to 400+ elementary students in over 25 classrooms last year to help introduce the basics of programming to young students and taught AP Computer Science at a Seattle-area high school before moving to Germany.
SQL Nexus – presenting on Power BI at SQL Nexus in Copenhagen, Denmark
What Microsoft Forums do you participate in? What different roles do you play?
Most of my time is spent within roughly 15 different SQL Server related MSDN forums, but I also wander into the SharePoint and SCCM forums occasionally when the usage/configuration of SQL Server is being discussed. I’m a moderator in most of the SQL Server forums and do most of the moderation work in moving threads to more appropriate forums to help get answered more quickly and in proposing and marking answers.
I also contribute in the Power BI forums at powerbi.com as a moderator. These forums unfortunately have a different structure and format than the MSDN forums, but the basic idea of asking questions and getting community support still applies. These are exciting forums as the product is being developed and updated so rapidly, which leads to a large community of people learning together.
In what other sites and communities do you contribute your technical knowledge?
I really enjoy writing blog articles when I discover something new or create an interesting technical solution. I blog on MSDN at
and have written nearly 50 blog entries spanning from Power BI to test database creation, as well as troubleshooting different aspects of SQL Server that I encounter on customer sites.
On what forum threads have you collaborated with other community members to help answer a question?
There are so many over the years that it is hard to pick individual threads. One of my favorite projects was the blog series titled “TSQL – Solve it Your Way”, where I selected popular questions in the TSQL forum and had MSDN forum community members write up their solution, including why they chose to solve it the way they did. I learn so much in the forums by seeing the way other users solve problems, especially in TSQL development/querying, and had a great time with this project.
SQL Saturday Bucharest – presenting on Power BI at SQL Saturday in Bucharest, Romania
Do you have any comments for product groups about the MSDN and TechNet Forums that they moderate?
I’m very vocal with the product teams in terms of providing feedback, working to get new forums created, closing old forums (such as pre-release forums after the product ships), and much more. After being in the product group for so many years and maintaining relationships with many people there, I often send threads that are very technical or receiving confusing/misleading information to the individuals that own the specific areas of the product to get the correct answers to the community.
Do you have any tips for people asking questions on MSDN/TechNet Forums?
My suggestion is to read the FAQs or sticky posts at the top of each forum and to do a quick search on the topic before posting a new question. There’s a good chance that the scenario has been discussed in previous threads and showing that you’ve invested some time in researching the problem before asking the community goes a long way in people’s willingness to assist.
Do you have any tips for people answering questions on MSDN/TechNet Forums?
We’re all on a journey of learning and each person is at a different stop on that journey. Be patient with people, encourage them to think about the solution as opposed to merely providing an answer, and strive to make the experience so positive for them that they come back to answer questions in the future.
Wheel of Fortune – a picture from when I was on Wheel of Fortune many years ago
Do you have any tips for moderators of MSDN/TechNet Forums?
The moderators do an amazing job and volunteer countless hours to better the technical community. I have nothing but appreciation for everyone that contributes as a moderator.
Sam for giving so much to SQL Server and the community. Let us all give vote of thanks to Sam.
MVP and Ninja