How to productively engage with the dbt community

We are all community members; yes: that includes Fishtown Analytics! It is not “our” community, it is “the” community. This very intentional word choice reminds us of our relationship to this group of humans.

In the dbt community, you are not a “vendor” or a “partner”– you are an individual human who is a member of the community. It’s important to think of your participation in this context. Sure, we all have something to sell, but you don’t want to be the person who promotes MLM products on Facebook. We are community members first.

Here are some quick do’s and don’ts to share with every single person on your team who joins the dbt Slack community:

On day 1…

🙌 Do this

  1. Identify yourself as a partner in your name (e.g. “Alice (DataCo)”) and Slack bio.
  2. Update your profile picture to a current photo.
  3. Introduce yourself in #introductions

👎 Not this

Do not jump in and start posting in a bunch of channels on your first day

Get acquainted with the rules

🙌 Do this

Familiarize yourself with the Rules of the Road for the dbt Slack community.

👎 Not this

Do not do 1:1 outbound via the dbt community at all. Only initiate DMs if you’ve received active confirmation in a public channel that a DM would be welcome.

🙌 Do this

If a discussion is taking place where you feel your product or services would help out, you can join in the discussion - you’ll likely have something constructive to add. In doing so, make sure you identify yourself and your business interests in the thread. You can let community members know that you are open to a DM if someone wants to get more information about your product.

👎 Not this

Do not initiate a DM conversation after participating in a relevant thread in a public channel, or post links to book a sales call on that thread.

Be you

🙌 Do this

Be yourself when posting, speak in your own voice.

👎 Not this

Avoid using your company’s marketing or support voice.

Be helpful

🙌 Do this

Be a generally helpful community member — if there’s a discussion you can add value to, we welcome it! (Being a dbt user yourself will make this easier)

👎 Not This

Do not feel like your participation should be limited only to discussions related to your product/services.

Be balanced

🙌 Do this

Feel free to post links to resources, and product updates in appropriate channels (usually that will be #random); keep in mind the “balance of value” you personally are creating.

👎 Not this

Post “drive by” links without sharing context or your own personal thoughts about what you’re posting.

Understanding dbt community values

The dbt community extends far beyond what happens in dbt Slack. We hold regular Meetups in New York, San Francisco, and London; with new cities being added. This community grew out of Fishtown Analytics’ values. Here are some ways these values apply…

Profits are exhaust

This is our most foundational company value, and has played a huge part in guiding how we think about the dbt community. An orientation towards profit kills communities. By putting the community first, however, we’ve found that profits and growth have followed, we think it will work the same for you :)

Create more value than you capture.

The more value you create for the community, the more “asks” you can make. How are you creating value today?


  • contribute to dbt
  • write dbt packages
  • write other public content (blog posts, case studies, etc.)
  • respond to questions on slack / discourse
  • host events
  • promote / respond to content written by community members

Optimize for the long term.

One of our guiding questions has been: “What does the community need from us?” The community does need to know how dbt works well with your technology. It does not need followup emails from sales reps. What other creative ways can you engage? Over the long term, the organic growth we see in the dbt community will create massive upside for partners that work with the community, not against it.

Build non-transactional relationships. Say thank you. Send swag. Take someone out for lunch the next time you’re nearby. We’re years away from seeing mass adoption of the modern data stack, let’s play the long game.

Contribute to the knowledge loop.

  • Default to open-source-licensed, long-lived content
  • Think of content that you create more as “paying it forwards” as opposed to “generating leads”. Build your brand as a community member as a company who “gets it” and leads will come.

Users are our best advocates.

  • Rather than thinking of the dbt community as a marketing channel to reach new people, think of it as a way to more deeply engage with your existing users. Your existing users will then turn around and advocate on your behalf to draw in new community members who are interested in what you’re doing.
  • Start small, build an avid fan-base, and watch things grow!

Be you.

This one isn’t a Fishtown value, but it’s a good one to guide community interactions:

  • Some developer communities allow and even encourage anonymity — we prefer it when people identify themselves clearly. It helps to build empathy, and form relationships.
  • We consider our community members as individuals, rather than agents of their company. This is demonstrated when someone adds their own opinion / writes in their own voice, rather than speaking as a representative of their company (as is often the case for support agents).
  • On an even more basic level: Be respectful to others. Be empathetic when someone asks for help by trying to understand where they are coming from.