SharePoint Saturday Jamaica

Birth of the SharePoint Community in Jamaica #SPSJamaica

I’ve personally been fascinated by Jamaica since before I started traveling.  I really enjoy the reggae music. Bob Marley and the Whalers had a huge impact on the world of music.  As a student of the world’s religions I am also fascinated by the Rastafari movement and the connections with King Solomon and have read the Kebra Negast, when preparing for my trip to Ethiopia and in understanding culture of Eastern Africa and my visit to Emperor Haile Selassie I tomb in Addis Abba. (You can read more about my travels to Ethiopia to the Rock Hewn Churches and the Empire and castles of Gandor Ethiopia. Connections even go deeper when I think about my Jamaican friends and how happy they are, and how addictive the smiles of my friends.

SharePoint Community Jamaica

The story of my visit to Jamaica for SharePoint Saturday stars with a conversation with a close friend.  Fabian Williams, a popular SharePoint personality known for his deep technical knowledge in the DC area in the federal space, but also as a popular SharePoint speaker.  I was among speaker friends at the speaker dinner in Virginia Beach, not far from where I had encountered my first Rastafarian friend in Hampton 20 years earlier.  I’m always up for a good adventure, so when Fabian asked “So, when are we going to do Jamaica?” I responded with, I’m ready and a few others expressed interest including Naomi Moneypenny.  We talked about our visit to some Jamaican stops in Fort Lauderdale, including the Jerk Chicken and goat.  Incredible food.  I looked at my calendar and realized I’d be in Orlando at the beginning of April.  So I said, if we can make it happen the weekend of March 29th, I can be there.  Others said they were free, and I set off to make it happen.  One thing about me, if I put my mind to it, I can make it happen.  My friends know this.

Later I was talking to Roger Taylor on Facebook from Jamaica, and he shared that he *REALLY* wanted to come and speak, and that he hadn’t been back in 23 years.  I knew for Roger this trip was going to mean a lot.  After I got the eventbrite page up, it was Jim Bob Howard that I reached out to.  He was there when we started planning the event.  He has an incredible passion around building community as a connector.  A lot of the early signups we had on the eventbrite were due to his work in helping us find the real SharePoint talent in Jamaica.  Jim Bob has spent many hours helping us connect with people that have a passion for technology that help us move mountains to put on successful events.

Roger really helped me focus on the event.  Every few days he’d ping me and ask me where we were at with venue, or the site, or updates on attendees.  Sadly, about a week before SharePoint Saturday Jamaica, Roger was hit by a drunk driver.  The collision could have easily killed him.  Despite the injuries to his leg, cheek and eye, he pushed through and came to speak.  His doctors orders were to not use his eyes, so he led a discussion on cloud computing.

At the SharePoint conference it was conversations with my new friend Jennifer Pearcy.  She has been traveling to the island for many years and has a deep passion and love for the people.  All of the speakers paid out of pocket to get to Jamaica, but Jennifer traveled the furthest.  She flew from Saskatchewan Canada, to Vancouver and on down to Jamaica.  She also traveled with an extra suitcase filled with school supplies and soccer balls for a school she’s been supporting every time she comes.  That’s awesome.  I got my first dose of connecting with the kids in Nine mile, when I shared some extra pens that were in my bag.  The kids really liked the yammer pen and were almost ready to fight over it.  I also emptied my bag of some of my speaker shirts, so if you’re in Nine Mile and you see a SharePoint speaker shirt, you know where it came from.

Over time, the registration grew and we had 20, then 30, then 40 registered.  After SPC14 (the SharePoint Conference in Vegas) I ran into Craig, the organizer of SharePoint Saturday Bermuda.  Which itself was a great event.  When I chatted with him about what I was doing in Jamaica he wanted to help.  He connected me with George from Microsoft over much of the Caribbean.  George connected us to  Marcelle Smart, the Microsoft country manager in Jamaica.  Over the course of the next few weeks we’d work out a venue (JAMPRO), and almost lost the event when we found out it was going to conflict with the countries largest and most important sporting event. CHAMPS.  I continued to push for the event despite the conflict, and we kept it on track.  Marcelle from Microsoft, really took care of us.  When we were setting up our Speaker dinner she invited us to join the IT Community dinner fish fry in Kingston.  This is where we met some of the most influential IT folks on the island and would have an opportunity to promote the event event further.


I’ll save my travel photos of the beautiful island for my travel blog (post coming soon), but we really had an incredible time connecting with the people.  I rented a car and drove from Montego Bay to Kingston and had a day of adventure on either side of the event in my travels to Ocho Rios, hiking Dunns River falls, and visit to the Bob’s houses on Hope Road, Trench town, and deep in the jungle in the hills in Nine mile.  All of which I recommend.

Hope Road Bob Marley Experience

When we first arrived at the venue on Saturday morning. I was starting to get a little nervous.  Would anyone show up?  Slowly but surely we had a solid showing which included a great diversity of talent with many of the people there showing real depth and experience in SharePoint with more than a few going back as far as SharePoint 2003.  In addition we had real records managers, admins, developers, and people from some of the most important companies in Jamaica.  This wasn’t a room of students with no connection to SharePoint.  All of them had powered through on their own, so meeting others had that much more of an impact each other.  It was fascinating at lunch to listen to them get to know each other and quickly have a ton in common.  I love being in a position to help build a community and what I witnessed here was the birth of the SharePoint community in Jamaica.  Microsoft has lent their support, and all of the people who attended raised their hands in interest in joining the user group.  Afterwards, I connected with Renee who traveled over 2 hours to be there.  It doesn’t take many of those to make me feel and know that my little sacrifice of my time and money was worth it to help these awesome people get further in their careers and in their lives as technology in nations like Jamaica means opportunity and change.  It transforms the lives of people.  It’s cool  to be part of that transformation and help enable the change.


IT Community SharePoint Speaker Dinner

If anyone has doubts about the impact of building community.  All they really need to do is visit a SharePoint Saturday event.  These events are built by the community for the community.  No one gets paid and everyone sacrifices their weekend and these are the strong ones.  You meet the ones that sacrifice the most to share their passion for technology and changing their families and communities.


After the speaker dinner a few of us went out to Mas Camp, a festival leading up to Carnival.  While there I met a randomly met a SharePoint Admin named Richard, he recognized my SharePoint shirt.  Richard spends his time working on SharePoint and has spent many hours writing powershell scripts and doing support and maintenance for the platform.  Amazing.  You didn’t think that could happen in Jamica, did you?  He even reads this blog! Don’t underestimate the power of technology and community.  Out of Chaos comes order or better said, out of many one people.  I see that in our community…  When we come together as one, there’s nothing we can’t accomplish.


My new friend Chris Reckord and his awesome yammer shirt!  Yep, Yammer has fans in Jamaica too!  The power of social!!!

My hope is for the Jamaican Community to grow and flourish.  It will help the careers of many and strengthen the companies as it grows.  It is now in the hands of the locals.  Next time I go to Jamaica it won’t be an event that I’ve organized, it will be the SharePoint Community in Jamaica that will be hosting and inviting speakers from around the globe to come and visit this amazing island and becoming one people from many.  In the words of Bob Marley… “One Love, One Heart… Let’s get together and feel alright!”

Move over SharePoint

10 Ways SharePoint is Taking the Backseat, Office 365 and Yammer are Driving

There were more than a few hints at #SPC14 that SharePoint as a brand is being asked to make room for the 1st string soloists Office 365 and Yammer.  You’ll notice that I made the call back in October to change my blog from SharePoint to Collab, so as to embrace this new change as much as it hurts.  Let me pull back the Microsoft curtain a little to help you see what I see.  I’m not the only one who’s yelling “Paradigm Shift” and “Time to Circle the Wagons” (Is interest in SharePoint dropping) but most of this conversation thus far has been on more obscure blogs and tweets.  Now I think it’s time to start talking about this in the open.  I invite other readers to share their perspective.  I think it’s great to have this in the open.  As Ben put it… Is the SharePoint Brand Disappearing?

Cat Driving Yammer and Office365

1.  The SharePoint Conference keynote was all about Office 365 and Yammer with lots of cool announcements around Office Graph, Oslo (Code name), SP1 integration to SharePoint online, and a bunch more.  You can read my post about the various announcements:  Next version of SharePoint in 2015 and other things I learned at SharePoint Conference #SPC14 and SharePoint Conference Enterprise Social Announcement Wrap-Up

2. There were a couple of other reinforcements in the keynote which reinforced “Cloud First!” and Not all features (you see here) are going into Office 365 will make it to SharePoint on Premise. (Like Groups?)  You really need to understand the new world of incremental releases to understand there’s really no such thing as “Non Launch Year.” The things that were announced were innovative and life changing and you should sit up and pay attention to what *really* happened at #SPC14.  This post is a hint.

3. The previous plan to have annual cadence and quicker releases for on premises SharePoint has been updated.  The next release of SharePoint will be in 2015.  No other significant announcements related to that product were mentioned at the conference… Well, there was one… The SharePoint Social features will not be enhanced.  Personally I interpret that as specifically related to the SharePoint newsfeed. They don’t plan to invest in putting yammer like features in SharePoint.  They’re done.  Seems that mention of Social SharePoint often relates directly to the newsfeed despite the fact that blogs, wikis, and so forth use to be part of the “social” features of SharePoint, but the Office team (SharePoint?) is gathering feedback for improving the CMS features of SharePoint 2015 and in Office 365.

4. Any and all barriers to the cloud are attempting to be removed.  You’ll notice the Self service provisioning features, and the unlimited size per tenant were both excuses that the cloud wasn’t ready for scale.  Now those excuses are gone.

5, Microsoft field has little to no incentive to sell SharePoint on premises.  Most if not 100% of the SharePoint sales specialists have been moved to other technologies with emphasis on CRM, Office 365, and Yammer.

6. The Ask the Experts at #SPC14 had T-shirts for SharePoint, Yammer, and Office 365.  Equal footing at a SharePoint conference, but when you dig into the sessions you’d realize all the new cool stuff was all about Office 365 and Yammer.  That’s not just because we are in a non launch year.  It’s because it’s going to be cloud first, and all the cool stuff will go to Office 365 first, and SharePoint on premises can take a back seat.

7. The new yammer itpronetwork for SharePoint is all about Office 365… Have you noticed that yet?  I think it’s high time to talk about the consulting and IT roles in Office 365.  So far there’s a lot less need for IT with all of this efficiency.  Just sayin’!  I think this paradigm shift will result in new and different jobs… definitely some retooling for developers, but they will continue to be needed for business solutions and integration work, and tons more, but the server customizations have got to go… or at least they need to be minimized and kept in a small box at home (in the smallish on premises datacenter) that shouldn’t get touched as often as it has.  I could and should do a post about what this means career wise for folks, because it is a new economy and all this emphasis on Social, Mobile, Cloud, and Big Data many consulting firms will need to find a new niche.

8. SharePoint Vendors are scared they see the emphasis on Cloud and they are trying to retool as well – in this new world of Office 365, so far we haven’t seen any killer apps and big money projects.  Tell me if I’m wrong.  I’d love to hear about the coolest app that’s making bank.  The Office and SharePoint Store or Marketplace have been around for a couple of years now.  There’s definitely significant deployment in Office 365 and even enough upgrades on SharePoint 2013 that there should be some buzz around killer apps.  Not yet.  I agree the mobile space is the exception.  There are some interesting things happening there.

9. Why haven’t we rebranded the community yet?  There have been some attempts at trying to do Office 365 camps and SharePoint Saturdays.  There’s some big muscle behind the Office 365 event in Europe, but it’s taking a lot more effort to get out the same crowd.  Office 365 is too big of an umbrella, and thus far the Lync person, Exchange/Mail person, and SharePoint peep have been different people.  They have very little in common.  Even in the *real* Office 365 deployment, there should be very little need for help on the Lync and Exchange side after the migration and (client) deployments are complete.  I bet we could learn a few things from the Exchange experts out there.  That sure has been a shrinking community.  I feel for them.  Very interested to hear the details from their Exchange Conference.  They haven’t seen any real love for quite a while.  Cloud cloud cloud.  Don’t agree?  Take me to task!  What is the paradigm shift creating for the Mail folks?  I spoke at a Office 365 Saturday in Redmond.  Weirdest crowd in my session on SharePoint online.  I had very little in common with the people in the room, and their questions were all about migration and customizations.  Lots of complaining.

10. Right after the event, I saw a few tweets that resonated with my own thoughts… Did I just attend the last Microsoft SharePoint Conference???

Don’t stop believing.  As a community we will figure things out and react to what we’ve got.  What we’ve been given isn’t bad.  I’m super excited… just trying to help turn the train or boat or whatever you want to call this thing we’re on.  I don’t want to leave anyone behind and I can already see people who are betting on Cobalt in 1999!

Personally, I’m a yammer fan and I’m ready to do the MC Yammer Dance!  Stop! It’s Yammer time.  Time to drink some yammer Kool Aid.  Watch Adam Pisoni’s presentation(s) and you’ll get the vision of post agile and You’ll feel so much better after you have.  Then you can join the club!  Microsoft has been drinking it, but doesn’t know how to better explain to you why it’s time to go to the cloud and get on board the Office 365 and Yammer train.  All of this being said, SharePoint is “sites” and it’s not going away… it’s just taking a back seat as Office 365 brand grows and yammer transforms the business with enterprise social and beyond.  Still not convinced? Ask someone from Redmond what the coolest team is to be on between Office 365, Yammer and SharePoint…  SharePoint?  There’s still someone working on SharePoint?

Love to hear your thoughts!

SharePoint Hike

Next version of SharePoint in 2015 and other things I learned at SharePoint Conference #SPC14

There are a few things that I learned from SPC.  First off many saw this as a non launch year.  After day 1 I was so overloaded with announcements that I couldn’t keep up with them.  I was trying to tweet every announcement I came across, and after dozens of tweets I realized I was missing many as the track keynotes each contained more announcements, and I’ll have a lot of work to do to dig into those.  I plan to make a series that dive into the various areas, but there are some big takeaways both subtle themes and messages that while they may not be pointed out directly, there are key insights to gain.  For simplicity I’m going to give you a list of 5 key biggest takeaways from the SharePoint Conference #SPC14.  I’ll be doing a further drill down on the big 5 social features that were announced on the ViewDo Labs Blog.  So this blog serves as the overview.  I really should give the low down on the parties, hikes, dam, forts, and kareoke, but much of that is already on Facebook and twitter @joeloleson.  AvePoint Red Party didn’t disappoint great energy and some of the best music and dancing of the year, and the Metalogix party was pretty good as well (until they wouldn’t let us dance on the platforms… come on that’s what we do!), but the best club on the strip was Hakkasan.  After the speaker party, all of the speakers had access to the after event and Fergie DJ was incredible passion and energy and the club was the best on the strip.  You want more on the parties and social?  Let me know I could easily do a few pages with photos on that.


SPDev brain power

Lots of social announcements as well.  Chris Johnson and Jeremy Thake are headed to Redmond to work for Arpan Shah at Microsoft on a special team (Devs, if you’re not convinced about dev’ing with the cloud, they will get you there… No doubt.)  Andrew Connell was named the #1 Influencer this year by an independent study.  Congrats to AC, in my book he’s always been one of the biggest influencers.  His books, blog, and tweets and classes have been bringing up the education of the community for many years.


1. Office 365 & Yammer will be the focus and continue to get significant updates over the next year.  While a few of us hoped to get real concrete info on the next version of SharePoint on premises, the message was… the next release will be in 2015.  While I almost heard a groan, as many of us were hoping to see previews of the new version, I think the pregnant pause of not hearing anything significant about the next release other than the fact that it will continue to support server solutions.

2. Service Pack 1 included a significant switch to support hybrid OneDrive and Yammer. You could say the most significant announcement for On Premises customers was in the announcement and demo of the simple control to point at your yammer and or One Drive environment.  Essentially on a single page designed like a wizard, you can hook up your yammer environment so it seemlessly integrates into Office 365.  Additional yammer enhancements are on their way to support cross navigation between Office 365 and yammer making it simple for users.  The new OneDrive license with Office 365 allows one to start with a simple start of just OneDrive.  I like to think of it as dipping your toe in the water.  OneDrive has great sharing capabilities that help it compete with Dropbox and additional announcements for OneDrive including a new API for building solutions against it, and significant announcements with support for MAC and iOS.

3. Office 365 has a new within tenant self service provisioning engine supporting custom branding and a javascript injection approach with API.  Essentially supporting the idea of keeping branded sites and custom navigation.  This can really be a huge boost in adoption preventing the out of the box exhaustion of having to start from scratch every time.  Corporate branded sites and richer cloud APIs all around is a big step in the right direction.

4. Cloud APIs with a significant emphasis on a never give up approach to making Office 365 work.  I refer you to the many new cloud and Office 365 APIs and Azure integration.  Great example is the Office 365 Video portal.  I heard from more than one developer they need to shift their toolset to developing in Azure.  There were additional subtle conversations I had with Chris Johnson and Jeremy Thake which ended up being the biggest news.  Having those guys both commit to joining a new Office 365 API like DPE team led by Arpan Shah really means business.  That may have been the biggest announcement.  These guys are some of the smartest dev evangelists who already have serious credibility in the community.  There were more than a few sessions on these new APIs.  Key takeaways from me a non dev… make sure you guys are ramping up on Agile, learning to work as a network, drinking from the Javascript fire hose.  There are so many frameworks which can make your life easier.  Client Object Models and Cloud development is NOT going away.  You’ll need to understand how to build apps whether you are on premises or not.  Even many on premises deployments will be using the improvements that happen to apps and the APIs.  Don’t rely on me for all of the developer updates.  Follow guys like Mark Anderson and check out his update on the #SPC14.

Other SPC Conference wrap ups I’d recommend:

Gus SPC Wrap up from old Jersey – Nice Overview

Fabian Williams shares his Conference Wrap up Day by day wrap up

Cimares Wrap up – more detail on dev and keynote announcements

InfoPath Funeral

5. InfoPath is dead. One of my favorite events of the conference was leading a funeral march through the exhibit hall and screaming InfoPath is dead, what will we do!  You could say I had many motivations in leading this parade.  One of those motivations was to ensure people not only had heard this news, but also to ensure that Microsoft was serious in positioning the messaging loud enough to the community to help us understand the direction of web forms.  There was a session on the future of web forms, and you won’t understand what to build without digging into the new Access, new Excel surveys, and app forms.  InfoPath is farm from out of use or end of life.  We’ll see InfoPath use way beyond 2014, but most of the items in the product roadmap support a streamlined set of forms based on the user scenarios which start releasing this year.  Expansion of OneDrive API. The ability to create Workflow App Packages as SharePoint apps and new workflow activation rules based on content types. Workflow is one of the larger considerations in any upgrade and migration project.

There are many solutions beyond this not simple technical roadmap diagram.


Jennifer Mason, while not a fan of the funeral, put together a CMSWire article that covers these Navigating the Microsoft Forms Roadmap.  I’m not sold on InfoPath support on any future versions of SharePoint, but at least we know it works up through SharePoint 2013.  I do see InfoPath support as a key consideration in many workflows and forms story.  Both Nintex, K2, Bamboo, and a dozen other partners out there would love for you to consider their solutions as alternatives as well.


5. Enterprise social continues to be a huge investment with Yammer and Office 365.  Organizational transformation through change and “working like a network” was a big theme in the social track.  There were many announcements and a lot of positioning.  If you think that Microsoft isn’t innovating you aren’t talking to the enterprise social team.

  • Office Graph, which uses “signals from email, social conversations, documents, sites, instant messages, meetings, and more to map the relationships between the people and things.”
  • Code-named Oslo, the first application of office Graph helps deliver personalized “insights” to help people get their jobs done, and lets users navigate, discover, and search for people and info across an organization.
  • Groups – a new feature which grows out of a combination of team calendars, team mailboxes, team tasks and sites and conversations allowing users to work together and gather and share knowledge in Office 365.  Takes the power of having email, sites, conversations and weaves these worlds together with new features.

I’m going to do a full post on this… lots to talk about…


Special thanks to the #ShareHike crew!  I

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Yammer RACI

Yammer Roles & Permissions Drill Down

I’ve been privileged to work with a couple of very large freemium yammer networks and the taking it to the next level of making those successful enterprise paid networks.  One of the biggest tasks in the project is working through the rights, roles and permissions.  Getting governance, policies, and rights including the business buy in with skin in the game is so critical to successful deployment and adoption.  The roles in yammer often are NOT Core IT based roles as marketing, sales, and other lines of business step up in cloud service management and line of business IT take on these roles.  The critical nature of getting the right people in the right roles can mean success or failure.  It can also dictate the culture of what’s ok on the network as often those with these rights are key in establishing rules, and groundwork for what comes later. Who should take on these community manager roles, and define the business roles such as yambassadors and what permissions they should have.  What rights should help desk have in yammer if anything?  I’ve put together some charts to bring all of these more granular rights into a single chart.   I’ve tried to use the same language that yammer uses such as Network Admin, and Verified Admin.  Let me also be clear not all networks are set up with the same configuration, but the abilities are consistent at the network administrator and verified administrator level. I’ve tried to work off of common settings and default.


Any network admin can configure or change the default email subscription settings.  They can also add other admins.  If this is an external network, the network admin can list it in the public directory of external networks.


Administrative Roles

Group Admin – The person who created the group but can also be assigned or reassigned. When a group admin leaves a network as the only admin, it will encourage someone else to take on the role.  Group admins can delete items!

Network Admin (Also called Admin) – These are the most common and this is the most common role for managing the network.  If a message needs to be removed in the main feed you must have at least this role.

Network Admins can choose which profile attributes are available.  They can only choose from those which are already provided by Yammer.  In the external network, for example, we don’t want to have personal information, like kids’ names and people’s birthdays.


Profile Choices


Verified Admin – This role is designed for the highest configuration.  You should be VERY careful who gets this right, as they have god rights.  A Verified Admin is the highest level of administrative control that can be assigned to a user.  Both this role and the network admin role require a paid network. They can access all groups in the network.  They can also delete any message and manage the integration configuration.

The normal network Admins will receive a notification if they do not have the correct permissions to perform an action:


Yammer Roles and Rights

I’ve assembled a list of scenarios by role.  The x denotes that they have the ability.  There are a few that may depend on the configuration of the network.

yammer permissions

yammer admin rights

Group Admin

File and Image Attachments:   Any number of files and/or images can be attached to any message or reply, with each file size limited to 5GB. By default, file attachments are enabled. Unchecking this setting disables this feature; however, existing attachments will not be affected.


Screenshot from SPYam, a Yammer community designed for the SharePoint Community request an invite!

Yammer admins can customize branding, enable and disable features, integrate Yammer with other enterprise applications, manage users, monitor activity, export data, and more.

Newly appointed admins are designated Network Admins, and have restricted rights. To assign full administrative rights, click “Grant Verified Admin” after you’ve added them as admin.  It’s a two-step process to grant someone verified admin and requires you be a verified admin to do so.

Verified Admins can also grant Verified Admin privileges to others, and can grant or revoke these privileges at any time. Please note that you cannot remove yourself as an admin.  It requires another admin to do so.   You should be aware that admins can remove an external network.  So, you really do have to be careful to whom you give any network admin rights.


I put together this sample RACI chart that may also be helpful in planning your Yammer roles and responsibilities as you dig into your deployment.  You’ll note that I don’t dig into who should be the netowrk and verified admin as that will vary widely from company to company. That deserves it’s own post.


RACI Chart of Common Yammer Roles




Yes, some of the data in this post has previously been shared on the ViewDo blog, but I’ve added additional insights here.


Here are a few additional Yammer resources:

Yammer Network Roles & Responsibilities

Yammer Enterprise RACI chart –  a chart I put together ( applicable for most ESNs)

Integrate Yammer with SharePoint 2013


I hope to see more social sharing of experience from other bloggers… It surprises me a little there is few resources outside of what yammer has built.

Top 10 Blog Legacy Posts from and SharePoint Joel

End of Year is a great time for reflections… here’s a look at the Top 10 posts of the year (not in order).  Look for my SharePoint 2014 Predictions in my next post.  This list includes blog posts were written prior and after the move to across SharePoint 2013.


1. SharePoint Still Not Dead – On-Premises SharePoint is NOT Dead

2. SharePoint 2013 Analytics a Big Step Backward

3. Planning SharePoint Deployments with RACI (RACI  Roles and Responsibilities Charts)

4. Do SharePoint Consultants Really Matter to SharePoint Success?

5. Yammer is SharePoint:  Roadmap Insights for SharePoint in 2014 and Beyond

6. SharePoint 2013 Top 10 New Features

7. Is Interest in SharePoint Dropping?

8. SharePoint 2013 to 2007 Browser Support Matrix

9. Social Architecture & Social Compliance

10. SharePoint 2013 and Office 365 File Size Limits and list restrictions (The SharePoint 2010 Limits post is still very popular as well)