Mandi Walls: Welcome to Page It To the Limit, a podcast where we explore what it takes to run software and production successfully. We cover leading practices used in the software industry to improve the system reliability and the lives of the people supporting those systems. I’m your host, Mandi Walls. Find me @LNXCHK on Twitter. Today, we’re going to talk about the PagerDuty Community with Alexa Alley. Alexa, welcome to Page It To the Limit. Tell us a bit about who you are and what you do at PagerDuty.
Alexa Alley: Hi, thank you so much for having me on the podcast. I have been part of the team since last November. November, 2019, I joined PagerDuty as part of the community and saw the podcast come to life. And so I’m excited to be a guest here. But I joined PagerDuty, like I said, back in November, 2019. I am the face, and the voice and the person behind our online community forums. I have helped build that out, launch a new site and I help run all of our challenges, say hello to people. I love being that person behind our community.
Mandi Walls: That’s awesome. Tell us more about the new community site. It launched in May. And has a lot of great new features. Why don’t you just walk us through some of the stuff that it does?
Alexa Alley: Yeah. We launched our first community site back in 2017, and it was a great way for us to start getting to know some of the people behind PagerDuty, what they like to do, some of the feature requests that they have. But when I joined, we wanted to make it something bigger or something a little bit more. And so that was my first very big task after joining the team.
We launched this new community site in May, like you said, and it was kind of perfect timing actually for everything that was going on in the world to have a new community site that was a little more engaging, a little more interactive. And so we still have all of our discussions and ways to talk to us. We have a whole section on what’s new, or blogs that are coming out. We have a section just for this podcast even. And feature request support. So if you have any issues with your PagerDuty account, you can reach out directly to support from our community site. But the really awesome thing that we have done for this is we have what are called Challenges. And this is a way for us to get to know our community members even more. You can go in and fill out your profile, add your avatar, so we get to see the face behind the person who is in our community site. We have a really fun challenge right now that’s worth 500 points, which earns you a sticker pack right away. And you can tell us how you’ve hacked PagerDuty.
A really awesome way that you have used PagerDuty kind of outside of the box. And we actually have somebody who submitted and said that they set up PagerDuty to alert their family when their wife went into labor, so that they didn’t have to go through and text everybody and call everybody. It was a specific PagerDuty alert that when she went into labor, he just triggered the alert and it texts everybody who was in there.
Really fun ways for us to get to know our community members, hear cool things that they’re doing. We post every single podcast episode on here. So you can earn points for that. And with these points, you’re able to go in and redeem them for SWAG, like sticker packs. We’re going to be having t-shirts in there. And some really cool things that we’re working up coming in 2021. It’s going to be a really fun and awesome place to join. And we have thousands of community members in here. So you can ask what other people are doing and engage with them, interact with them. It’s my pride and joy. It’s my baby. I launched it. I live it every single day. I might be a little biased, but it’s a fun place. I love getting to know our community members, especially.
Mandi Walls: Yeah. That’s awesome. For folks who are sort of new to PagerDuty, how do they get started in the community and what should they look at first?
Alexa Alley: Yeah. It’s super easy to join. Just create, add your email, add a password, and you’re kind of ready to go. One of the great things, you can go in and look at a lot of the topics right off the bat, without even having an account, but you don’t earn the points without having the account. So we definitely recommend you do that. Where to get started though, I would recommend people go to, at the top bar, there’s a ‘how to’ section. And this has everything from PagerDuty 101, how to set up your escalation policies, how to trigger an alert, how to resolve an incident that you have. There a ton of training videos in there, but our support team, and PDU and other teams are just phenomenal at documentation. All of that documentation lives in PagerDuty’s ‘how to’ section. That is kind of where I would definitely start. And definitely go and introduce yourself. We have a whole introduction category. So, say hello. We have a lot of community members who will reply to that also. We’re always checking that, we love seeing where people are joining from. After you spend some time going through our ‘how to’ documentation, drop in and say hello in the introductions category.
Mandi Walls: Great. And we’re publishing this episode the first week in January, which our team is running a 30 Days of DevOps promotion, which you’ve been involved with. Can you tell us a little bit about what’s going on over there?
Alexa Alley: Yeah. The 30 Days of DevOps is going to be really, really fun. And so we’re starting it January 2nd. It’s going to be a different topic every single week. We’re going to have a whole week on postmortems, one on chaos engineering, one on automation, and one on DevOps. Is that correct?
Mandi Walls: I think so.
Alexa Alley: Yeah. Each week is going to have its own kind of topic. And our wonderful advocates who host this podcast are going to be posting every single day for 30 days, sharing some of their tips, tricks, definitely some of the best practices. And we’re going to have different activities. It’s postmortems, automation, chaos engineering, and incident response.
Mandi Walls: There we go. Yes. I just found it too.
Alexa Alley: Yeah. We’re going to be sharing something new in the forums every single day. And they’re going to be activities ranging from reading portions of a blog post, video recordings, linking out to our own ops guides that are so incredibly helpful, podcasts webinars. And we’re going to have opportunities and challenges for you to earn some cool SWAG. But each day we’ll be posting a different topic. It’s going to be a really fun 30 days for us to get to share a little bit about getting set up in the DevOps culture, and or our community members to follow along and share what their experiences are.
Mandi Walls: Yeah. Definitely looking forward to it. There’s a lot of work that kind of goes into it, but a lot of good stuff I hope will come out of it. And I hope lots of folks will join us over on the community site. If you’re new to PagerDuty or you’ve been using it for a while, but not on the community site. You can come over, and check it out and see everything that’s going on. Of the folks that are there now, what kinds of things do you see folks engaging with most often on the community site?
Alexa Alley: Yeah. We see, of course, a lot of people asking support questions and submitting their feature requests. It’s really interesting for us to see, and interact, and understand what are our customers really wanting? What are they needing out of the product? Just today, actually, we launched a new feature and we’re able to go back to the community and say, “Hey, you asked for this a year ago and it’s launched, it’s live.” It’s for API audits. We were able to go back into the community and share that this has been done. It’s a really rewarding way to be able to interact with our community and see like, hey, this is something that people need and we can go and build it now.
That’s one of the main ways we see our community members engaging. But also the challenges are a big hit. It’s really fun to see people going in and sharing their stories. We had a whole thing for PagerDuty University at our Summit, and had over 2,000 challenge completions from our community members over one day. It was really amazing to see how engaged people were, and interacting with us during Summit, and being able to go in and really update, share what they’ve been doing over Summit, how they were going through the courses, what some of their DevOps cultures are. So the challenges are a big hit, and we keep adding ways to try to learn more about our members through those.
Mandi Walls: Yeah. They’re super interesting to write,. as we were writing them for a Summit for the PDU sections, I’m like, should this be a test? Do we just really want folks to show they were there? I don’t want to grade papers, but it was super fun to just kind of ask people to pay a little bit of attention, and prove it, so you can get a reward. That’s super cool. It’s a nice feature that is a little less just passive for this kind of community. So that’s super awesome.
Alexa Alley: Yeah, it’s definitely a good way I think for our members to really engage with us. And for us to learn more, but for them to also contribute back to us. It’s one of the really awesome things that I think has come from the community. We want to recognize and reward our community members and say, “Thank you,” for helping me the community a fun, engaging and supportive place. They get to share their experiences and hear what other members' experiences have been. So it’s really cool.
Mandi Walls: Yeah. Definitely. Is there anything out there that you’d like to see more of, that people haven’t found yet, or aren’t really engaging with, that maybe they could check out?
Alexa Alley: I would love for people to really kind of engage and share in the events and meetups. There’s so many events and meetups, especially now that we’re all virtual, that we may not know about or events that they’re hosting. And so I think that would be really interesting to see some events that other members are going to, that they could share with us and share with other community members. To say, “Hey, I’m attending this cool conference or this meetup in my hometown, would love to share the link and see other community members there.” I know that it’s something that we would love to do and see. After we acquired Rundeck too, we’re going to be adding some stuff in there for specific to Rundeck. And so we can definitely look forward to some of that coming out. And so, I’m really hoping that we’re able to build even more and create some really cool things for the Rundeckers out there also.
Mandi Walls: Yeah. The Rundeckers are… Their community still lives on IRC.
Alexa Alley: Yeah.
Mandi Walls: What do you have in store for them? Good stuff for the Rundeck community?
Alexa Alley: Yeah. We’re still kind of exploring what that’s going to look like. We’re working with the Rundeck team here internally and seeing how we can build all of that out. We have a couple of challenges in there. They host the weekly Ask Me Anything, or get to know the expert webinars. We post about those. And we’re going to be working on some more documentation that will live in our site. And hopefully be able to bring some of the Runbooks into the community site as well, is kind of the plan and the goal. I’m really hopeful that we can get that going.
Mandi Walls: That’ll be super exciting.
Alexa Alley: Yeah.
Mandi Walls: And those will all be combined. That’ll all be in the same site, right?
Alexa Alley: Yep. Same community site, just a lot of different branches now. We’ve grown so much, and the community is a great place to host it all. And so, same community, just even more.
Mandi Walls: Excellent. If there’s anybody out there who’s thinking about putting their own community together, is there any top tip that you would recommend for them to think about with something like this?
Alexa Alley: Yeah. Our community site is built on the platform called Influitive, and they have been absolutely phenomenal to work with. My recommendation for launching a site is just to really look at all the details, and make sure you get internal buy-in from all the different teams, and include a lot of different people. We’ve had so much engagement from support, and product, and our growth team, and marketing, and so many different people are involved in helping make this community what it is. And so don’t do it in the silo. Make sure you bring in other people to help launch and create your community, because you’ll have so much more content. And it’s really, really helpful. Our PagerDuty University team is absolutely incredible and helped make Summit incredible with the community. And so we worked with a lot of teams that have been absolutely crucial to making it what it is.
Mandi Walls: Fantastic. Is there anything else that you’d like folks to know about the community while we have you here today?
Alexa Alley: We’ve got a lot of great things coming out in the next year. 2021, I’m really hoping we can make this even bigger and even better. We have what’s called PagerDuty Commanders. That’s going to be getting a full launch coming this year. Where we’ll recognize our top, top community members, and have some really awesome SWAG and some cool gifts for those members individually. We have our PageyCorn, which is the community mascot. It’s Pagey riding a unicorn. And there’ll be some really unique SWAG for those top members. Definitely make sure you’re in the community site, engaging with us, earning those points, and really contributing so that you can make it into that top tier. It’s going to be a really fantastic program, I think. We’ll be doing a lot with it in 2021.
Mandi Walls: PageyCorn is going to be the SWAG to have. Absolutely, 100%. That’s awesome. And folks participate in that just by talking on the threads, and responding to posts, and posting their own stuff, and all the usual kinds of things, right?
Alexa Alley: Yeah, absolutely. We’re really hoping that we can find some more ways to integrate external pieces into the community as well. If you’ve had a presentation at a conference, if you’ve been part of this podcast, if you mentioned PagerDuty in a webinar or something that you’re hosting. We’re looking to find ways to integrate that as well, and weigh those more heavily for points and things like that. Our community sites going to be the primary way to get in there, and start earning the points, and working your way up through the tiers.
Mandi Walls: Excellent. Everyone should add that to their new year’s resolutions, participate more in the PagerDuty community so that you can get your PageyCorn SWAG.
Alexa Alley: Yeah.
Mandi Walls: Simple. Easy.
Alexa Alley: Absolutely.
Mandi Walls: Fantastic. All right. Well Alexa, thank you for joining us today. Is there anything else you’d like to say to the people before we sign off?
Alexa Alley: I don’t think so. I’m so excited to see everyone on our community site. Definitely stop in, say hello, post an introduction, introduce yourself. So you heard us on the podcast. We’ll have a challenge in there for you. Make sure you wave. We’re excited to see you there. Thank you for having me on the show today. Always a pleasure talking with you, Mandi. And I can’t wait to see what we build next.
Mandi Walls: Awesome. Yeah, it’s going to be great. Remember out there, folks, if you’re not already part of the PagerDuty community, you want to join that, you want to sign up at community.pagerduty.com. And take advantage of all the great stuff that’s going on over there. Thank you, Alexa, for joining us today. Thank you for kicking off 2021 with our show today. And signing off now, this is Mandi, wishing you an uneventful day. That does it for another installment of Page It To the Limit. We’d like to thank our sponsor, PagerDuty, for making this podcast possible. Remember to subscribe to this podcast, if you liked what you’ve heard. You can find our show notes at pageittothelimit.com and you can reach us on Twitter @PageIt2TheLimit, using the number two. That’s Page It 2 The Limit. Let us know what you think of the show. Thank you so much for joining us. And remember, uneventful days are beautiful days.
For a full transcript of this episode, click the “Display Transcript” button above.
Alexa is a Program Manager and runs the online community at PagerDuty. She has been in the tech industry for nearly a decade, and is passionate about building communities and fostering relationships. Outside of work, you can find Alexa spending time with her Chocolate Lab Chewie, exploring the outdoors, and binging true crime shows.
Mandi Walls is a DevOps Advocate at PagerDuty. For PagerDuty, she helps organizations along their IT Modernization journey. Prior to PagerDuty, she worked at Chef Software and AOL. She is an international speaker on DevOps topics and the author of the whitepaper “Building A DevOps Culture”, published by O’Reilly.