As a recently designated Tableau Forums Ambassador, I wanted to share some points around what the Tableau Community Forums are, how to find them, why you should participate, and how to get started if you haven’t already.
The Forums are a fantastic peer-to-peer resource that, from my experience, can sometimes fall through the cracks when folks think about where to go for support or how to get involved and connect with others in the Tableau Community. Forum questions are supported by volunteers – users helping other users.
Where exactly are the Community Forums located?
To get to the main page of the Forums, navigate as follows:
Tableau’s site > Resources > Community > Community Forums
Alternatively, here’s the direct link to it.
Why should YOU participate in the Tableau Community Forums?
I see five key reasons for participating in the Community Forums, each of which I’ll break down a little further:
- To get help
- To help others
- To build your reputation as a Tableau guru
- To contribute ideas to Tableau’s product road map
- To connect with other users and build your network
To get help
- Probably the number one reason folks visit the Community Forums is because they need help on a specific issue or question. If you’re like me, you might be one of only a handful of heavy Tableau users in your organization who may support other users. But that can often mean that when you are stuck on something, internal resources are scarce and you may need to search or reach beyond your colleagues or employer-network for information.
- I’d also suggest there’s a good chance that your question, or something very similar, has come up before and all you may need to do is find the right post that addresses it.
- Or perhaps you don’t have a specific question, but all you are looking for is to be pointed in the right direction when starting out solving a problem. For example, you need advice on what some of the pros and cons might be around using joins vs. blends. vs. (more recently) relationships in Tableau. There are folks in the Community who are quite happy to engage in this discussion or redirect you to similar online discussions that could be relevant to your issue, so it may be worth posting the question to the forum.
- My final point around seeking help on the forums is key – often there is a better approach to solving a problem than the way you have been trying! We naturally fall into habits around the way we do things and indeed this is true for our work processes as well. I have been in situations where I’ve been confidently trying XYZ, but ABC is a much better approach that I was either not aware of or could not see at the time. So I would suggest that by seeking help on the forums from folks who are neutral to your problem and aren’t as close to it as you, this may open your eyes to new ways of thinking about and working with Tableau that expand your own knowledge – you can’t lose.
To help others
Answering questions on the forums helps build your own knowledge.
- Whether you realize it or not, when you go out of your way to help others you often learn something new in the process. For example, consider a situation where you know 75% of how to solve a particular problem. By searching for the missing 25% to help that person out – perhaps you recall seeing a blog post or video that has a potential solution, but never had a reason to use it yourself – you’ve gained new knowledge by digging it up, processing the information, and proposing the full solution to that person.
- You probably know more than you realize – why not share your expertise? Sometimes it can feel like just saying “thanks” is insufficient for folks who have taken time, such a precious commodity, out of their busy schedules to help you on your problem. I see contributing on the Forums as one way to pass on the generosity that others have shown to me.
- Lastly, by working through a problem that has been posted on the Forums, I would suggest that you commit any learning from it to memory. Conversely, you may encounter an issue later that you recall having already worked through, but cannot remember the problem exactly. By posting your answer to the question on the forum, it becomes part of its searchable Q&A for you or anyone later to access and search. You are also potentially helping folks who may refer to the post months or even years later.
To build your reputation as a Tableau guru
Perhaps you’d like to see your own name on the Tableau Community Forums Leaderboard some day! Your reputation on the Community Forums directly corresponds to how active you are. The more you engage through posts, comments, and shares, the higher your reputation will be. You earn a different number of points depending on how you engage.
Below are the various reputation levels and the number of points they represent:
A little virtual recognition is always fun!
To contribute ideas to Tableau’s product road map
You can either contribute your own ideas for new or updated functionality you would like to see built into Tableau or you can promote ideas that have been submitted by others on the Ideas Board. There is no idea too small or too big to propose! In the past year, nearly 40 ideas were implemented that originated from a contribution from the Community.
One recent example of an idea from the Community that is currently in Beta testing is the ability to copy and paste objects on a dashboard sheet – think blank objects, text objects, and images. See here for more detail about this idea.
Another idea from the Community that has been fully implemented recently is the ability to copy and paste images directly into Forum posts. Up until recently you had to browse or navigate to an image and upload it.
So keep those ideas coming – it can make a difference!
To connect with other users and build your network
You can use the Forums to connect with other users through Tableau User Groups (TUGs) and the Tableau User Group Boards. These two sometimes get confused for each other, so I’d like to provide my take on the difference between them.
Firstly, here is where you will find them:
- Tableau User Groups (or TUGs) https://usergroups.tableau.com/
- Tableau User Group Boards on the Forums https://community.tableau.com/s/groups
Tableau User Groups are actual events or meet-ups that may take place in-person or virtually and you can often find out about these events through the forums as well as the relevant TUG page itself. Many TUGs are based on the location of a group of Tableau users, particularly the ones that meet in-person. However some are based on a particular industry or area of expertise, for example the Analytics TUG and they are generally held virtually as speakers and participants may join from all over the world.
As the pandemic rolls on, the distinction between these continues to be blurry as many of the location-based TUGs have been held virtually – which is great because it opens the door to allowing both speakers and attendees to participate from abroad. However, some location-based TUGs have recently held in-person and hybrid events, so I imagine there will be a mix like this between virtual, in-person, and hybrid TUG events for some time to come.
The Tableau User Group Boards is the place where TUG attendees or members may engage with each other outside of TUG events. Most TUGs have both a TUG page and a User Group Board page. For example – here is the Cork TUG’s event page and here is the Cork User Group Board.
The idea is that the User Group Board can be used regularly to connect, discuss, and share ideas at any time, not only when there is an event happening.
There are some User Group Boards that exist that do not have TUG events. For example, the Tableau Desktop Newbies, Tableau Prep Newbies, Job Listings, or Higher Education User Group Boards are ones that are fairly active but do not actually meet – they connect primarily over the forums.
Why not find and join a User Group Board that might be interesting to you? There are industry-specific boards related to Healthcare, Sales Analytics, and Human Resources, to name a few. You may be able to connect with other users who encounter similar problems or requests as you and share ideas.
So how do I get started?
Set up your login details and create a profile if you don’t have one already – these are the same as what you use to log in to Tableau.com. If you’ve ever logged in to check out the free training videos on the Tableau website, this is the login I’m referring to!
Review the First Time Here page to get acquainted with some of the etiquette and best practices when participating in the Forums to ensure you have a positive and worthwhile experience. This page takes you through some important info around the best way to ask questions, anonymizing your data, and the best way to use the Forum’s built-in search engine that will help you navigate the many years’ worth of Q&A that has built up!
Two of the key items I’ll call out on this topic if you’re brand new to the forums are provide sufficient detail in your question(s) and, if relevant, attach a packaged workbook with some dummy data showing what you’ve tried so far. These two things will help the Forum volunteers help you!
Finally, ask a question! Or if you’re up to it, answer one! Start engaging either way and remember that by trying to answer a few questions, you’ll learn by teaching. And be sure to enjoy the journey.
Thanks for reading.
Note that this blog post was originally created as a presentation to the November 2021 virtual Ireland Tableau User Group meeting and can be viewed here.