A dozen IT Service Management and ITIL Forums

There are a large number of ITIL forums on the Web these days, of varying levels of participation and insight. The IT Skeptic thinks their value is strictly limited but for what it is worth here are a dozen of them.

Probably the most popular of all is the ITIL community forum. This site is over-moderated (personal experience) and populated mostly by beginners, but it gets lots of activity.

Datamation's forum is active, but the lack of moderation shows, and many contributors are more enthusiastic than experienced.

ITIL Forums gets moderate activity but also suffers from lots of newbies

ITSM Portal forum has nowhere near the participation that its news page does - bit of a backwater

New kid on the block Service Connections is starting to see traffic.

And then there are

ITIL & ISO 20000 User Group

ITIL People

Defense Acquisition University (no really)

ITIL Practitioners defines a dead forum

...worser TechReady

..worserer still DataJar

..and topping them all Computer Consulting

... not to mention Google groups and Yahoo groups. And that's only the ones in English. We have fora up the wazoo. How many would you like? Hopefully some time in the next decade people will learn the "build it and they will come" approach does not work, that content is king. Sadly it's so easy to have a go that I think many will continue to do so.

Even the ones that prosper tend to attact the lost and bemused .. and ignorant. People who really know what they are doing have little time to trawl forums looking for those in need of enlightenment, and they have even less incentive to do so. A valuable contribution is likely to be disputed by some neophyte freshly sheep-dipped [ITIL Foundations training]. Running a community that attracts and retains experienced and enlightened contributors is tough, as will be clear if you wander through this list. Don't expect too much gold amongst the gravel.

How many did I miss?


Skeptic rules!

Loved your brief. Started to write my own ITIL Service Management blog earlier this year, mostly to find a place to write all the stuff in my head. Thanks for not finding it or mentioning it ... I would hate to have been included between "worse" and "worser" ... and as someone who gets a dozen google alerts each day, I'm glad I found yours before I found theirs.

If I listed blogs

Thankyou both for the kind words.

just a clarification: I only listed sites that were explicitly forums, so called and so structured. If I listed blogs ... oh my! Hundreds!

I agree that by allowing and inciting open commenting, this site falls somewhere between a forum and a podium. All blogs are somewhere on that spectrum, the good ones closer to a forum, IMHO.

You missed one!!!!

And this is not a forum ?

Seems to me Skep that you post your blogs with the specific intention of getting some dialog.. Is that not the definition of a forum. Just a 1 to many situation instead of a many to many...

The truism, is that content is king.. Consistent, regular, interesting content is what breeds success... From that follows intelligent discussion (some more than others)..

Another very true comment is about technical information (questions and answers) versus discussion/debate... One deals in fact and the other is abstract opinion.. Technical fact requires the services of knowledgeable technicians... Discussion and debate requires the the attendance of people who can procrastinate and pontificate (like me:)

There are some good forums for technical information (just looks at some of the better OSS projects), but valuable discussion is a rare!!! The pontificaters (??) generally like to hear the sound of there own voice, so text dialog is not that interesting..

Is the Skeptic valuable.. Its a decent discussion and it broadens your perspectives if you happens to care about services management in some form.. Its definitely worth the time and effort..


Brad Vaughan

The problem with the forums

After years working in this market and tons of forum contributions, I have got a conclusion on this subject: forums work fine for technical subjects (you can see a lot of really experienced contributions in all the different forums that exists around the ITSM tools, and I really appreciate, for example, the HP ITRC Forums dedicated to all the Openview family, where you can get really experienced people sharing knowledge. Sometimes it is even better than HP Support).

But when it comes to ITSM, people *do not share knwoledge*. It's easy, know-how is money, so consultants are not willing to share it. For example, one of the forums that you have missed is... The ITSMF. Have you seen those forums? empty!

Another interesting examples are the comments on specific blogs dedicated to the ITSM area... here you get many comments, I think that you have really built a community arround this website, and here you have very experienced people talking. But we are giving our opinions, not sharing knowledge. Here you won't find anybody telling "hey, I've got this problem in an ITIL project and I solved it in this way".

This is the main reason why I haven't initiated an Spanish ITSM open forum, because I really think that people won't share knowledge.

By the way, I completely agree on the over moderation of The ITIL Community Forum. I had a personal bad experience with those people, and then I never came back there.

What do you think? Is people willing to share knowledge and I'm wrong?

Ops! I forgot to mention a place that once was really good: the ITSM Portal: in the beginning they had a mailing list that worked really well, but as soon as they moved to a web forum, it became dead. (mailing lists work really better than web forums in this market: you have the COBIT-L,ICTGOV-L and the IT-GOV-L that have a good level and activity.

Antonio Valle

Depends on definition of knowledge and subject discussed

I agree many of the ITIL-related forums (fori?) and blogs are a bit of a waste of internet space. But I do not think this is because we are not willing to share knowledge. It depends on the subject being discussed and what you define knowledge.

Many of the freshly sheep-dipped (as IT Skeptic describes them so well) tend to take a very fundamentalist view on ITIL: the good book contains the absolute thruth, end of discussion. Get a bunch of these type of people together in a room (or a forum for that matter) and you will probably see one of the two following themes developing:
(a) The pracher speaks and everybody says amen, nobody questions what the preacher has said
(b) Preacher 1 says A, preacher b (having a different interpreation of the good book) says B, they do not agree and, more importantly, they do not listen and try to understand eachothers point-of-view or reasoning.

Now, if person A states his opinion on a subject, person B states another opinion, they discuss, argue their own point-of-view, but also try to understand the other viewpoint, and subsequently come away from the discussion with some new insight and has a (even slightly) adjusted opinion at the end, well then, in my opinion, they have shared knowledge. Each has learned something from the other.

Sharing knowledge is not one-way traffic, it is not just about me stating my opinion, but also about the receiver(s) being open-minded enough to interprete and question their own beliefs.

Just my 2 cents

Oops, forgot something

Oops, forgot to say something about the influence of the subject discussed on the discussion (whatch out, risk of philosophical ranting is eminent).

When sharing knowledge about 'technical stuff', such as tools etc... it is quite easy
Question: How do you activate function xyz in package abd
Answer: go to screen 123, click on button 345
Result: knowledge is shared.
Why is this easy: because basically the tool discussed is a deterministic space. Take action A and result B will follow, each and every time (unless the tool is broken). Knowledge in this context is knowing that to obtain result B you have to take action A.

Now, service management (and many other management stuff for that matter) is not a deterministic space. Taking action A does not always lead to result B. Why? Because of the inherent complexity of managing. There are no magical solutions, there are some many factors involved, so many aspects to take into consideration, the real world is a very complex non-deterministic space, made up of several non-deterministic sub-spaces (or contexts). Managing anything in this space is a daunting task at best.

Which is why humans create models (or methods), to make it easier to manage. A model is always a simplification (or abstraction if you will) of the real world, built to help you understand and get some control over that real world. As part of that simplification a lot of subtleties are left out, and in many cases the model only focusses on a particular sub-space. If not, the model would become as complex and hard to understand as the real world itself (and thus not realize its goal to make the real world understandable). So by definition a model is always an incomplete representation of the real world space.

The ITIL architects aimed to create a deterministic machine that provides the same results all the time, regardless of the context it is used in, and label this as "Best Practice" (giving it a flavor of 'Absolute Truth'). An ambitious goal at best, and, in my opinion, also a futile goal. There is no such thing as absolute truth, it all depends on the context and the observer.

By this I do not mean that ITIL is worthless, there is some valuable stuff in there, it can provide a common platform to discuss the IT Service Management space. But the wise practioners realize at the same time ITIL is an incomplete model and is not a silver bullet. They will also look at other models, both within and outside the IT Service space, that have taken different design choices, to create a more complete representation of their context (which is just a sub-space of the real world). And even then they will still realize their model is still nothing more than a model, and thus incomplete.

Enough ranting for a Saturday

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