We have all had computer issues at one time or another. They seem to crop up at the least convenient times, such as when support has closed for the day. Or maybe your computer goes down over a holiday while you are in the middle of a project. There are times when speaking to a support technician isn’t possible, and that is when forums can be your best friend. Each forum is comprised of people searching for help and of others providing assistance. The level of expertise can fluctuate widely, but sometimes they are your best bet for getting back up and running. Forums have become so widely available that you can find one that covers nearly every topic. A few have been created with the MSP in mind. Let's take a look at some of the best.
IntroductionUser forums have been around in one form or another since the beginning of the Internet. Those of you who have been around a while might remember Usenet, which is a distributed discussion network. Users could post questions or comments to any one of thousands of newgroups dedicated to diverse topics. Newsgroups are still around, but many users found services such as Yahoo Groups and Google Groups less intimidating. Google and Yahoo provided web-based and user-friendly groups, and they still exist. They covered every topic you could imagine, from cars to food to technology to movies. Facebook came along and introduced private and public groups, and many of the smaller communities either disappeared or moved their members to Facebook. Today, Facebook remains the king of community, but they are not the only player in town.
Facebook GroupsMSP Revolution – A global group of MSPs, CSPs, and VARs, MSP Revolution has been around for over a decade. This is a good group to start with because the members are helpful and do not take themselves too seriously. Primary topics discussed include cloud services, hybrid computing, and general business tips. (This a closed group. You will need to join before you can view or add comments.)MSP and IT Services Marketing and Sales Group – This is one of the largest MSP groups on Facebook. As such, the members discuss a wide range of topics, but the focus is on business strategy first and technology second. If you are looking for tips on how to improve your sales and marketing, this is the group for you. (This a closed group. You will need to join before you can view or add comments.)You will find many more groups on Facebook if you perform a search for MSP. The public groups seem to be less helpful than the private groups, mainly because the private groups tend to be well moderated. To join some groups, the group administrator will ask you to fill out a survey about your business and services.
Reddit GroupsMSP (/r/msp) – This is the largest MSP-related group on Reddit with about 9,800 members. You need a strong group of moderators to handle a group this size, and MSP has that locked down. This is a great option to find a quick answer to your question or take the pulse of trending business topics. As with most Reddit groups, any promotional material will be deleted unless you post it to the approved thread.Sysadmin (/r/sysadmin) – Two things you should know about this group: it has 196,000 members and it has a “Moronic Monday” thread each Monday in which anyone can ask a question they feel is too dumb to ask elsewhere. This is an incredibly helpful group of individuals once you learn the rules of the group. You’ll find a lot of technical resources here if you look around. A good place to start is the FAQ.
Websites and ForumsMSP Mentor – You will find a little bit of everything an MSP might need here. Their guest bloggers cover both the technology and business sides of running an MSP with a focus on mentoring new MSPs. They provide a lot of training sessions through webcasts and webinars. You will also find updated case studies and MSP guides. The site could use a refresh, but there is a lot of information for MSPs here.Continuum – Are you looking for ideas on how to grow your MSP? The blog section of Continuum is full of ideas on new services your MSP can offer. The promoted content gets in the way at times, but the daily blog posts make it worth the effort.US-CERT – If you offer security products, this is a site you should check each day. US-CERT provides details about the latest cyber-security threats, viruses, and security breaches around the world. They also provide security training and technical documentation on many topics. At the very least, you should bookmark the list of latest security alerts to share with your customers.Small Business Trends – At the end of the day, you run a business that needs to turn a profit. This site covers topics ranging from tax strategies for small business to recruiting millennials. This is also one of the few resources that pushes out helpful content over social media.Quora – If you value quality answers over quantity, then you might love Quora. You ask a question, and people, who are often experts in that field, answer your question. Quora admins do not tolerate off-topic posts, flippant answers, or general tomfoolery. Instead, Quora rewards those who provide helpful, detailed, and often long answers to questions. You will find topics ranging from storage to backup to security on Quora.SmarterMSP – This site includes a lot of helpful articles on the sales and marketing of your MSP. Each day you will find articles that provide tips on how to increase your number of referrals or close more deals. The technical articles provide quick overviews rather than detailed analysis. Once you register, you gain access to the eBooks you will find around the site.
ConclusionYou have so many choices today when it comes to taking part in the MSP community. The challenge comes from keeping track of them since many come and go. Those listed here include a few new resources, but many have been around for years. One last resource that many people find helpful is Hacker News. Don’t be put off by the name. It is a mix of TechCrunch and Digg, but with a strong business focus. As an MSP, what sites have you found to be the most helpful?
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