The Community of Extra-ordinary Aliens

May 17, 2016  |  Javvad Malik

Historically, when people talked about communities, they referred to the tight-knit neighborhoods people lived in, and groups people belonged to, where the members had shared values and interests. But like much of the English language, its meaning has changed with the unstoppable rise of the Internet.

As well as being physical places where people live, work, and congregate, the word ‘community’ has come to encompass virtual spaces.

If you’re a member of a forum dedicated to the oeuvres of actor Nicholas Cage, you might say that you belong to the Nicholas Cage fandom community. Subreddits, WhatsApp groups, even Facebook pages could all be considered to be communities.

I often think of the InfoSec world as being a diverse community. Whenever I go to conferences and events it feels like I’m at a family reunion. I’ve become accustomed to seeing all the usual faces, no matter whether I’m at Defcon in Las Vegas, or 44Con here in London. We have meeting places. We share similar values and professional ethics. We are all willing to collaborate, either through sharing our work, or our code.

Increasingly, the term “community” has been diluted further by its inclusion in the corporate jargon lexicon. Many companies have come to use it interchangeably with “people who use our stuff”.

Personally speaking, I’m not sure if I like that.

While our users and customers are the most important people in our world, many of them don’t consider themselves to be part of an “AlienVault community”. They see themselves as users and customers. We respect that.

With that being said, I do think communities can organically spring up around technology products and companies. I generally define ‘community’ in this context to mean the users who go above-and-beyond to engage with a product or service. When this happens, it’s a beautiful thing,

These users will go to events organized or sponsored by the community. They will attend meetups. They will attend talks given by the company’s employees. They’ll engage with the company on social media. Essentially, they do more than the minimum to use a product or service.

By engaging with us, and offering feedback on our products, we’re able to improve them. Indeed, the AlienVault Open Threat Exchange (OTX), depends on community contribution to build its impressive threat intelligence library.

One of the most productive ways in which we interact with our community is through our forums and social media. In the past, we’ve ran a number of successful Twitter Q&As which attracted a range of diverse and enlightening responses.

Of course, community shouldn’t be a one-way street, and it isn’t. At AlienVault, we try to reciprocate by providing not only free products such as OSSIM, and the aforementioned OTX. But also through knowledge-sharing via webinars, whitepapers, and ebooks. We also offer our blog as a platform to experts within the community through which guest posts are shared.

Our experts, and community managers frequently attend conferences, where they share what we’ve learned recently, and what we’ve been working on.

To help and encourage our community to participate and partake more, we’re excited to announce some major improvements to our forum. 

At AlienVault, our community is one of our most valued assets. We believe that when we work together, we all benefit. And we do. Today we launched some major improvements to the forum to help encourage and reward users for their contributions. Take a tour of the latest enhancements below. If you haven't got a badge yet, visit the forum today and add your comments there. 

What does community mean to you? Drop us a tweet @AlienVault or me @J4vv4D

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