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This blog is an extension to a former article by Mark Finnern: Notes from the First SDN Weblogger/Contributor Meet in Palo Alto. Second motivation for the following compilation of suggestions to improve SDN is the Weblogger Meeting in Walldorf, Germany on Juli, 15th. Having attended it, not everything could be discussed because of time constraints. After my vacation, here is my list of suggestions.

Consistent Display of Content
There are several views of weblogs posted by one person. If one himself/herself is a weblogger, he/she has several different views available, which look sort of inconsistent. In one view the ranking and page hits of a blog are displayed, in another one the author of a blog can see his private view or the publish view (if editing an article), and in a third view another display appears. See the following thress screenshots for evidence (only parts of images shown):

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Furthermore, some labels are not self-expressive. Take, for instance, “Upload image”: Here, you can also remove images. Take “Post a Weblog” as a second example: This leads you to the Weblogger’s main page!

Verification of Identities
The verification of users’ identitities first came to my mind when reading a comment of Shai Agassi on my article about SDN vs. SAP Community: Plethora of Contents. After a while I wondered whether this person with name “Shai Agassi” really is the one who we think he should be. Can we build in some mechanisms to guarantee that? At least the possibility to display one’s profile should help. And if someone is registered as a SAP customer, things get even more easy. If I noticed that the person named “Shai Agassi” had no SAP Service Marketplace account or is no SAP employee, then I would get skeptical.
There has been a popular case with some people involved with JBOSS (developers, managers). They faked their identities and praised JBOSS in other public forums while simultaneously badmouthing other application servers and related products.

Content Integration & EP-stuff
The integration of other web pages would be nice if someone has a favorite new site delivering up-to-date information about non-SAP-topics (like weather forecast etc.). This cann be easily acoomplished by something like an “URL iView”, as it is available in SAP Enterprise Portal.
Furthermore, features like collaboration rooms could be adapted from EP.

The Integration of Yahoo services into SDN goes perhaps too far but we should think about integrating other sources of information and other processes into SDN. Integration is a hot topic as indicated by ideas of merging SAP Community into SDN. My other article SDN vs. SAP Community: Plethora of Contents comments on this as well as another article of mine that will be published within the next days (you can see its title already on one of those screenshots above -:) ).

The Viewpoint technology could also be used in a more extended way (could be that ViewPoint is not the right tech to do this but it should be combinable with the following): What about creating personal channels containing infos about several subjects and including individual articles? After content change a notification is going out.

Visual Emotion (Smileys)
Not a big point, but details are nice. I like the conversion feature in the Yahoo Messenger (and others, too). There you can enter a text like 🙂 and the receiver gets a nice smiley. This would allow to add a slight amount of visual emotion into a weblog.

Member profiles
Member profiles are available thru registration at SDN. Why not allow everybody to browse and display them. Currently, only webloggers have the privilege of showing their credentials. People registered at the SAP Service Marketplace could also be integrated in some way (don’t ask me, how, I’m just trying to give some impulses and don’t want to discuss everything right now).

Polls
Why not introduce some polls every week for several topics (SAP Enterprise Portal, XI, MDM, NetWeaver in general, etc.)? The users could vote and see temporary results. When the poll is concluded, this could have some impact on new articles etc. Perhaps the poll could be setup in a way to affect further articles and weblogs.

Quiz
Please stop me if I leave the field of interest, but a quiz from time to time could be sparkling. What about questioning how many visitors there will be at SDN during the next 14 days? The best guess wins something.

Hyperlink Dictionary Perhaps somewhat problematic, there could be a common (global) dictionary with keywords and corresponding links pointing to sites clarifying the meaning of the associated keyword. Additionally, a personal dictionary could complement thr global repository. With this mechanism, one could let the system (SDN) automagically create hyperlinks on special words. One possibility could be to let SDN – being in authoring mode – show all occurences of “registered” keywords. After that the author of a weblog or article could chose which occurences should be furnished with a fitting link.

Contribution Reward System
This matter has been discussed already in the result paper of the former Palo Alto Weblogger meeting. Not unselfishly I would appreciate it being rewarded for good weblogs or articles. The quality of a weblog could be measured by several ways everyone can imagine for sure. Besides that an internal communique (observe the similarity to the word “community”;!) could play an important role in additionally rewarding a weblog or a person. This communique could consist of SAP employees, of eelected persons etc.

Prices
As I read in the Palo Alto conclusion, an idea for a price could be something noncommercial, but attracting like a dinner with a specific person. It also could be the possibility of choosing a subject that will be discussed at SDN several days later. Perhaps there will be some choices by the editorial department. Or one gets the chance of writing a dedicated article (eventually funded, so that the price is not extra work at all without compensation). Or a paid trip to Walldorf (if within a certain range) with the chance to discuss with somebody. There are endless possibilities. My favorites are occasions in doing something, not money or fluff-stuff noone needs seriously. BTW: I get the impression that I could easily spawn this section over several pages…

Contact
Personal contact to a SDN member could be of advantage in certain circumstances. Direct contact via Email or Messenger should only be possible with the agreement of the member. Generally possible communication to a member could be realized thru a SDN messenger service. A member could then block users if they spam him. You get the point…

Notifications
In my eyes a very important feature is the notification on content change. Especially when someone posts a comment onto a weblog. This is not new, I’ve read about it somewhere at SDN. I think it was one of Mark Finnern’s posts.

Conclusion
This was my quite comprehensive list of suggestions. Interpret them as the nutrient solution for further investigations. And keep in mind that writing “Shai Agassi” several times increments your future chances getting read by Him 🙂

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4 Comments

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  1. Mark Finnern
    Hi Klaus,

    Thanks for the feedback. Some things have an explanation.

    Two of the three screenshots you only see, if you are a Weblogger. (Which you can apply for here: https://www.sdn.sap.com/sdn/weblogs.sdn?blog=/apply/)

    The Weblogger editor screens are lower on the priority scale, because there are about 100 Webloggers, but 75.000 SDN users.

    Of course the edit screens look different. We changed the edit screen, so that you can jump to editing from the overview screen. Somehow we have not catched all the links, so you still get the old view on occasion. Let me know where and we will fix that.

    Some people like Smilies, others don’t. We decided to allow them only very selectively in the subject line of a forum post.

    Member Profile: We are working on a Business Card, that will collect information from the Weblogs, Forums as well as other areas and will give you the freedom to select which information you are exposing to your fellow SDN members and which you keep private.

    This is all for now, Mark. 

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    1. Stefan Klensch
      Hi Mark,
      i always wondered, why writing a comment on somebody’s Weblog (entry) is handled different than writing answers to forum threads.
      Why reinvent the wheel? Isn’t the comment area of a blog comparable to a, let’s say, mini-forum? There’s no possibility to correct mistypings after submitting the comment or doing some “fine-tuning” like inserting links (which are selectable links), bold printing or whatsoever.
      Wouldn’t it be the easiest solution to “migrate” the forum’s thread functionality to the Weblog commenting area? All issues (i’ve read) so far like “Which comment i’ve already seen?”, “Automatic notification on new comments” and more would be available for free, since all of this features already exist.

      Best regards,
      Stefan

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  2. Frank Koehntopp
    Hi guys!
    Let me add my 2c:

    I know it is common at SAP to invent new words or use words in SAP specific contexts, but:

    would it be possible to use the words “weblog” and “post” in their original meaning, i.e. use “weblog” for the sum of a weblogger’s postings, and use “post” or “entry” for the individual weblog entry?

    This is something that hits me every time I read it in a post, and will certainly confuse other webloggers once SDN opens up to the “big bad internet world of webloggers”.

    This, and make it possible to read without registration (I gathered from DJ’s post that this is being worked on) and enable trackbacks and pings to interact with the rest of the world.

    PLUS: keep on the good work – you’re on to something huge here!

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    1. Mark Finnern
      Hi Frank,

      I could have sworn that people are using it often as: “In my latest blog, I …” When I searched for the term, in most cases there was a “post” or “entry” behind it.

      Checking Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Weblog also made it cristal clear, you are right I was wrong and I will change my evil ways in my next Weblog posts.

      Thanks for pointing it out, Mark.

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