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Word-a-Day Challenge 2017: Challenge Wrap-Up

Level 17

While the Word-A-Day  Challenge​ has only completely it's second year, it is already a labor of love for me. Last year the idea struck (as they so often do) in an unanticipated "a-ha!" moment, and with barely enough time to see it realized. As I explained at the time, the words were re-cycled from another word-a-day challenge I take part in yearly.

This year was different. I had time to think and plan, and that was especially true of the list of words I wanted to present to the THWACK community. I knew they had to be special. Important. Meaningful not just as words can be in their own right, but meaningful to us in the IT world.

As I selected the words for the word-a-day challenge, I looked for ones with a particular feel and heft:

  1. They had to be clearly identifiable as technology words
  2. More than that, they needed to be words which have an enduring place in the IT lexicon
  3. And they needed to also be words which have a significant meaning outside of the IT context

In addition to hoping that words with those attributes would inspire discussion and offer each writer a variety of options for inspiration,  I was also curious to see which way the ark of conversations in the comments would bend for each. Would the community focus solely on the technical aspect? Would they avoid the tech and go for the alternate meanings? Would there be representation from both sides?

To put it in more concrete terms, would people choose to write about backbone as an aspect of biology, technology, or character? Would Bootstrap appeal to folks more as a method or a metaphor?

To say that the THWACK community exceeded my wildest imaginings would actually be understatement (a crime I've rarely been accused of). Here at the end of 31 days of the challenge, the answer to my question is a resounding "all of the above". In writing, images, poems, and haiku, you left no intellectual stone un-turned.

More than that, however, was how so many of us took a technical idea and suggested ways we could use the same concepts to improve ourselves; or conversely, how we could take the non-technical meaning of a word and apply THAT to our technical lives. And through it all was a constant message of "we can do better. we can be better. we have so much more to learn. we have so much more to do."

And even more fundamentally, the message I read time and time again was "we can get there together. as a community. we can help each other be better."

For me, it brought to mind a quote by Michael Walzer:

"We still believe, or many of us do, what the Exodus first taught...

- first, that wherever you live, it is probably Egypt;

- second, that there is a better place, a world more attractive, a promised land;

- and third, that 'the way to the land is through the wilderness'.

There is no way to get from here to there except by joining together and marching."

I would like to thank everyone who took time out of their hectic end-of-year schedules - sometimes in their personal time over evenings and weekends - to comment so thoughtfully. And in that same vein I'm deeply grateful to the 22 writers who generated the 31 "lead" articles - 12 of whom this year came from the ranks of our incredible, inimitable, indefatigable THWACK MVP's. If you missed out on any of the days, I'm listing each post below to give you yet another chance to catch up.

Finally, I want to give a shout-out to the dedicated THWACK community team for helping manage all the behind-the-scenes work that allowed the challenge to go off without a hitch this year.

I am humbled to have had a chance to be part of this, and I'm already thinking about the words, ideas, and stories I hope we can share in the coming year.


Leon Adato
Eric CourtesyIT
Peter Monaghan, CBCP, SCP, ITIL ver.3
Joshua Biggley
Craig Norborg
Ben Garves
Kamil Nepsinsky
Richard Letts
Kevin Sparenberg
Jeremy Mayfield
Patrick Hubbard
Rob Mandeville
Karla Palma
Ann Guidry
Matt R
Jenne Barbour
Thomas Iannelli
Allie Eby
Richard Schroeder
Jenne Barbour
Abigail Norman
Mark Roberts
Zack Mutchler
Rainy Schermerhorn
Shelly Crossland
Jez Marsh
Michael Probus
Jenne Barbour
Jenne Barbour
Erik Eff
Leon Adato
Level 16

Was an amazing one, thanks to all of you and a special thanks to adatole

Level 14

Thank you adatole​ for making this happen. I gave us all a chance to take a step back, think and express ourselves...

Can't wait for the 2018 version.

Level 21

Contributing was fun.  Reading others' work was amazing.  Receiving the request to be responsible for a word was an honor.

Thank you for all of it, Leon!

Level 14

Thanks for organising this adatole​, and thanks to the authors as well as the community team (and the community!).

Some days it was easy to respond with a comment, and others I struggled. Overall an enjoyable month that has left me with a lot to think about.

Level 10

A great idea, and some really interesting, thought provoking pieces. Thanks to all writers and contributors for their time and input.

Level 14

This challenge for me says everything about what Thwack is and has been turned into (shout out to DanielleH​ and her team). Thwack is not just a vendor forum provided to allow users to chat amongst themselves. In this challenge, the irrepressible adatole​ has put together something which is truly engaging for everyone. Not just those writing the original posts, but those who take the time to simply read the content and especially those that have taken the time to respond and comment and extend.

Thank you for the privilege to have written a word of the day and looking forward to surpassing my personal effort next year.

Level 15

This was an interesting challenge. It's great that the Thwack Community really does feel like a community. There are people that I've never met or even talked to that seem like friends. There is discussions of various types, not your typical forum that is limited to the product of interest. I appreciate the company, the forum and the people. Keep up the good work in keeping this a real community.

Level 10

This is a such a great idea, thank you adatole​! Looking forward to the 2018 Word Challenge!

Level 19

I can't seem to get my head around that it didn't seem like that long ago that we were doing the 2016 word a day!

Level 13

So is the goal for jennebarbour​ to do at least 8 next year! At that rate she will be in competition with GrammarGirl

Thanks Leon adatole​ and everyone else who contributed.

Level 16

Level 16

Okay... so it's been three days with no Word-A-Day or Monthly Mission. I am suffering massive withdrawal over here. I am no good with Cold Turkey. lol

I'm bored. Literally bored Nothing to do! I really don't want to do my job!

Level 21

(SHHH!  Your bosses may be reading these!)

Level 21

When I am in a similar situation, after a while I start creating papers or blogs or Fun & Geeky articles to tide me over until the missions or challenges or upgrades begin.

This is just the list I created in 2017:


Level 16

I am in the middle of writing a blog now that I am totally stuck on. Been chewing on it for over a month. I used last month's activity to avoid that too...  lol

Level 13

That was fun.... Thanks.

Level 21

Ah, procrastination . . .  it's my friend, too.  In fact, as a kid, I had multiple blue ribbons and trophies in Procrastination.

Nowadays, not so much.  But a little!

About the Author
In my sordid career, I have been an actor, bug exterminator and wild-animal remover (nothing crazy like pumas or wildebeasts. Just skunks and raccoons.), electrician, carpenter, stage-combat instructor, American Sign Language interpreter, and Sunday school teacher. Oh, and I work with computers. Since 1989 (when you got a free copy of Windows 286 on twelve 5¼” floppies when you bought a copy of Excel 1.0) I have worked as a classroom instructor, courseware designer, desktop support tech, server support engineer, and software distribution expert. Then about 14 years ago I got involved with systems monitoring. I've worked with a wide range of tools: Tivoli, Nagios, Patrol, ZenOss, OpenView, SiteScope, and of course SolarWinds. I've designed solutions for companies that were extremely modest (~10 systems) to those that were mind-bogglingly large (250,000 systems in 5,000 locations). During that time, I've had to chance to learn about monitoring all types of systems – routers, switches, load-balancers, and SAN fabric as well as windows, linux, and unix servers running on physical and virtual platforms.