Why am I not a Tableau Ambassador in 2023? (the sequel)

I’ve been thinking about this blog post for a while, as a follow-up to my previous blog post: Why am I not a Tableau Ambassador in 2023?  To understand this blog post you probably want to read the previous one, and I’ll add the same warning here:  

This is going to be difficult for me to write and it’s probably going to be difficult to read (for you, the reader) but I think it has to be done.  I won’t mention names, but you might know who I’m referring to at times.  I would also welcome ANY comments at the end – please tell me to ‘pull my head in’ or a message of support, whatever you think is appropriate.

TL;DR ? …. just scroll down to the end.

What a weekend!

This blog post starts right where the last one finished – early on Sept 9th when I published the previous blog post. WOW!, what a weekend – a weekend of unintended consequences. I just didn’t anticipate the number of people that would contact me from all over the world, but not to apologise (there was plenty of that though), they wanted to relay their personal story of when a similar situation happened to them in the Ambassador selection process. These are GOOD people, like me they donate (more than a sensible amount) of their free time to run TUGs (Tableau User Groups), present sessions, participate on social media channels, etc… basically promote Tableau for free – BUT they are either continually ignored, or were “once an Ambassador” and suddenly for no good reason they are no longer.

[side comment: Obviously if you don’t continue to contribute you shouldn’t be an Ambassador in the following year, you have to “qualify” every year.  The people I’m talking about here either continued their current contributions or increased it, but were not selected the following year]

By the end of the weekend I was completely emotionally worn out, but at the same time amazed at how many times this sort of thing has happened in the past and I just hadn’t known about it before.

On top of that were the apologies I mentioned – people contacting to say they were sorry that I wasn’t an Ambassador.  I appreciate each message, I really do, but it’s always interesting when people apologise for something that ‘s completely out of their control.  It wasn’t their fault at all, but it shows how people feel about the situation.  

For all the people that contacted me – THANK YOU – and this is probably the right place to say that I don’t have ANY complaints about the DataFam and I will continue to contribute where I think it’s required.  That also means that I will reply when I think people are posting the wrong thing – “Dimensions are blue” really gets to me because it’s completely wrong, and other weird comments like “CASE statements only work with strings”, “Custom SQL doesn’t degrade performance”, etc…  and I’m happy to be proved wrong as well because it shows that I need to learn more as well.

The timeline ...

So that was the timeline:

Fri morning (Sept 8) – 2023 Ambassadors were announced

Fri afternoon (Sept 8) – I was working away and noticed I was being removed from the Tableau Slack groups that I’m a part of (part of the perks of being an Ambassador).  I emailed everyone (the same hierarchy of “Community” managers that I emailed previously) again saying that I could see what was happening and signed off the email with

Please turn the situation around 180 degrees, would you like to be treated the way you’re all treating me at the moment?

Pretty quickly after my email – I received an email explaining why I was being removed from Slack (it was part of the offboarding process) and that email finished with

I’d expect a response from someone on our team in the coming days. Please know that we are extremely busy right now and will do our best to get back to you when we can.

Sat morning (Sept 9) – I posted the previous blog post, spent the weekend talking to other people and that flowed through the following week.


But then nothing.  I know people are busy, but there was no reply until

Sept 22 – WOW, finally an email, basically acknowledging the many years that I have contributed to the forums and DataFam but ” there are examples of your messages on the forums and other channels that unfortunately do not exemplify all of the standards and characteristics of our program.” and signing off with 

My hope is this provides you some closure, and also helps for a path forward as I hope to see you continue in our community.

I replied immediately – you know, one of those emails where you wish you had a keyboard that allowed you to type really hard (because that helps get the frustration into your message), so it took me 25 mins to write a few lines basically stressing (again!) that my tone was never addressed previously until it’s the reason for not being selected this year.  I also said that other Ambassadors won’t speak up (they’ve told me this directly), that my previous emails are being ignored and to top it off – I don’t want to be an Ambassador anyway now that I’ve seen the current selection.  I’m an “OG” Ambassador when the criteria was actual participation, these days it’s not that at all.

Sept 24 – I emailed the same people again (yes, I’m crazy), but this email was addressing the “closure”.  My email started with 

You mentioned closure, and I hope you can see from my emails that I’m having troubles coping with the decision this year

and I continued on to complain about the selection this year and ask 2 specific questions that would help me with closure:

1) Why have I never heard (until now) that my tone needs to be improved.  Why has this never been addressed at any time over the last year?
2) Can you please provide 6 examples of my poor tone (that’s roughly one every 2 months) ?  Surely, for such an important decision there would be a record of the numerous times that I posted without a welcoming tone.
and then continued on to say that sometimes my posts were “reported”, but not any more than other Ambassadors that were reported as well, and less than the “feedback” bot posts that are sent out to a lot of forum members and are regularly reported as spam.
But I’ve never received a reply to either of the last 2 emails.  Obviously it’s just not important, or maybe they don’t want to reveal the real reasons, or maybe they’re still trying to find those 6 examples … I’m just not sure.


Oh, and the “feedback” bot posts?   If you post in the forums, after a few hours/days you will receive a survey requesting feedback on your experience.  Every so often, members would report these posts as spam.  I have to agree, it always smells very spammy that you get a message like that.  On the Salesforce side, I’m guessing it’s just script that they run because they can do a few hundred posts in a second or two.



Back to the 2023 Ambassador selections

So while I’m thinking about it, let’s get back to the current cohort.  There was 54 Forum Ambassadors in the formal announcement, but really there’s 56, I don’t know why the number changes.

The 2023 announcement included a great dashboard, but somehow very familiar … hang on a minute, in 2022 when the cohort was announced and a dashboard was produced, I did a quick makeover (only took a few hours) and sent it off.  The feedback was that it was too late to change and we would work on it for next year.  But here we are a year later, and this year’s dashboard is VERY close to my original design but no recognition (you know, the inspiration field in Tableau Public), just a complete rip-off of my dashboard from a year ago … oh well, thanks Tableau, at least I know that I created it!

So I think this is where the problem/s start for me not being an Ambassador. As I mentioned before, I’m an “OG” Ambassador – one of those people that is on the forum CONSTANTLY, posting answers, helping people, generally “being online and available”.  About this time last year I was getting frustrated – both with other Ambassadors that seemed to “get the badge” and then disappear and Tableau people with the role of managing the Ambassadors that didn’t want to do anything about it. 

Ambassadors are told that we are allowed to speak up and challenge where needed – to improve on what we currently have – but when I questioned why Ambassadors were not contacted about not fulfilling their duties there was no response or a “we will handle it” response, but nothing ever eventuated.

Forum Ambassadors have a guideline (ie not an enforcable rule) of 15 posts per week or 60 posts per month.  I don’t know if this guideline exists this year, but it has for the 5 years that I was an Ambassador.  You can see the rough logic here: 60 posts/month  breaks down to 15 posts/week breaks down to 3 posts/day for 5 days a week.  So nothing really extraordinary there, and if you don’t login for a few days then it’s easy to catch up.  My opinion has always been that 5-10 posts per DAY is pretty easy, so 15 per week should be simple.  But here’s the current cohort’s performance (yes, I’ve removed the names to protect everyone – imagine each row has an Ambassador name on the left), but you can see that over the last 13 weeks there’s about 12-15 Ambassadors that actually meet the weekly guideline and there’s a good 50% of Ambassadors that just don’t post at all, or maybe they post for a week or two and then just don’t. 

Posts per week for 2023 Forum Ambassadors (based on their profile page)

This was my feedback last year – there’s certain Ambassadors that don’t follow the guideline … not just missing a week or two, just ever.  What’s even more interesting is that some 2022 Ambassadors performed the same way (meaning 0 posts for months) and they are still Ambassadors this year as well.  YES, I know, it’s only a guideline, but if you’re a Forum Ambassador you should login to the forums right? … even occasionally? … you should post something right?  the current logic is that you don’t have to be posting on the Forums every day, but to not post anything for weeks/months – is that really “Ambassador worthy” ?


You can see on the graph (below) that most Ambassadors login frequently, but as at Dec 9 there was one Ambassador that was both an Ambassador in 2022 & 2023 that hasn’t logged in for 106 days (yes, last logged in some time in August … when was that Ambassador selection announcement?), and 6 Ambassadors (2022 and 2023) that haven’t logged for more than 30 days.

The new 2023 Ambassadors, there’s one that hasn’t logged in for 62 days.

Maybe there is some communication with these Ambassadors, but last year there wasn’t – Ambassadors would be “AWOL” for months and it didn’t matter, but yet they are Ambassadors this year as well.  But again, I’m applying “OG” rules to the current cohort and Tableau doesn’t work like that any more.  I think they are more interested on diversity (across the globe) and what companies people work for.  I’m a small one-person consulting firm so (in theory?) I don’t count, but I do influence how most of my clients use and purchase Tableau licenses.


Ambassador logins

But I’m not the only one that is not happy with how some Ambassadors perform.  But you will find that other Ambassadors don’t want to talk about this topic because 

1) they know it won’t actually result in anything, and/or

2) they saw what happened when I did it.  

This is not my opinion, some Ambassadors have told me that it’s exactly why they don’t speak up – they value being an Ambassador so they don’t.

Back to the weekend I posted the first blog post I was told about Tableau Public Ambassadors that don’t publish anything and TUG leaders that don’t run TUGs, so what is the criteria these days?  On the flipside there’s people that volunteer excessive amounts of hours and are just never selected. There’s always some “unpublished criteria” attached the the selection, but some of the selections do amaze me.

The All New Leaderboard

While I’m here, I might as well comment on a few other things as well.  When you go to the Forums, a lot of people visit the Leaderboard – to see where YOU are, to see the Top contributors, etc..  

The Leaderboard is promoted as “All New” but it’s the same boring design that’s been in place for at least 4 years, yes just a boring table of numbers (c’mon, it’s Tableau – the world-leader in data visualisation, surely we can do something better), and “refreshed daily”, but here’s the graph (below) of my post counts – they are both the same thing – the dark line is the points (according to my Forum profile) that I record daily; the light line is my points according to the Leaderboard – definitely not refreshed daily.  

My daily post count - profile vs Leaderboard

And YES, I’ve asked about this several times over the years and the response (if I get one) is usually “it’s complex, you won’t understand”.  I’m sure I wouldn’t (sarcasm), I have designed countless dashboards, databases, data warehouses and ETL processes over the decades of consulting projects across many different industries.  I’ve written pipelines that move millions of records DAILY without error, but snapshotting 60,000 forum profiles on a daily basis (yes that’s right – check the Leaderboard, there’s less than 60,000 profiles) is just too complex to explain and to expect to work reliably on a daily basis.

If you’re new to the Forums (&/or climbing the Leaderboard) I will provide this advice – DO NOT aim to be in the Top Ten!  It takes years (yes, years) of dedication and most people just don’t want to do that.  At the time of writing it will take more than 10,217 posts to be a Top Ten Poster (all time obviously) or 135,998 points to be a Ten Ten Pointer (Tableau can only do “all time” here … interesting) or 1,560 answers to be a Top Ten Answerer (probably the toughest seeing that Best Answers are the toughest to acquire and can be removed easily as well).  

TL;DR ... I'm on the blacklist

So it’s pretty obvious to me that I’m on a ‘blacklist’.  I’ve upset one (maybe two) people that are in the right position to block me from being an Ambassador &/or a Visionary.

Or maybe I’m completely wrong and someone has run some sentiment analysis model on my posts  (I post in plenty of communities all over the internet), but the sentiment analysis model wasn’t built to understand a mid-50’s Aussie male that grew up on Aussie & UK TV shows (more than USA TV shows); doesn’t understand USA geography at all; with a sarcastic sense of humour (have you seen the shirts I wear to TC?) and tons of “lived experience” ranging from Tableau to SQL to technology that just doesn’t exist any more  .. LOL!! 

But I actually don’t care any more.  I can’t make them reply to an email, they are far too busy doing other things to actually communicate with me and I thought that there was enough mutual respect, but obviously there’s not and because of the last few weeks there is no respect left on my side any more. 

In a weird way I’m happy that I’m not an Ambassador any more.  I had 5 years of being acknowledged for my forum activity.  I still post multiple times a day to help people that need help and will continue to do so. But I am now part of “OG retired” group – those Ambassadors that made the Forum great in the years before Salesforce and before “datafam” was even invented as a term.


The future

So the obvious question is “What’s going to happen in the future?”  and the silly answer that I tell my kids (sorry, adults, I don’t have kids any more) is The future is whatever you want to make it.

I’ve been using Tableau for over 9 years.  I first installed it in August 2014 and by October I emailed my manager to say that I wanted to focus on Tableau 100% of the time.  It took a few months, but I got there and I’ve used it (almost) daily ever since.

Don’t worry, I’m not a Microsoft fan enough to learn PowerBI but for the last while I’ve been doing more Data Engineering / Modern Data Stack work using Snowflake and dbt instead of Tableau.  I can feel that I’m changing direction, but I still love the speed of creating dashboards in Tableau.  It will still be my data visualisation “tool of choice” for a while, but stay tuned to the blog because I’m hoping to post more next year.

One Response

  1. Hey Chris,
    Sorry you had to go through all this. Sounds pretty shitty!
    My feeling was that the Tableau community was welcoming, open and helpful. Horrible to hear that petty politics has been taking over.
    I’ve not been involved enough to know who the key players are, whether they are old Tableau names or have come on board from Salesforce. I would hope it’s more of the latter as I’d be very disappointed if it’s the former.
    Working for a very small reseller, the experience of Tableau as a company for such partners has never been great, even before the takeover, but I’ve always loved the product.
    I wish you luck – and more enjoyment – with with your continued work and involvement in this area.

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