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When German SAP employees find spare time between coffee-breaks, lunch, afternoon breaks, chatting with representatives of the other *** and reading newspapers in the restrooms, they’re hanging around in newsgroups. A newsgroup is something like the digital form of a sports bar: although you cannot get drunk, your thought contributions sound like you answering your wife’s question while watching that important end game on the sports channel.

The newsgroup that I am talking about is not just any newsgroup, but THE must-be-seen-there forum: the SAP internal newsgroup called Infoboerse (“information exchange”). Originally installed as black board for posting questions as “What’s the menu today?”, “In which SAP building can you find the best coffee?” or “What scoundrel stole the toy figures from my monitor?”, it was often followed by shouts for “Popcorn!”, when readers were excited and wanted to lean back and watch another heated discussion. If you are not there, you are not really a member of SAP heaven.

But the newsgroup soon got hijacked by that ugly kind of employees, who stick to topics of low interest and hate popcorn more than anything else (except jokes about Birkenstock-shoes). We will refer to them as imperium. One day they started a full assault during the unexpectedly prolonged coffee-breaks of the colleagues by asking “What do you think of the new board member?” or “Any ideas about transaction RTFM in Module Help?”. Although the answers to that were precise and well-aimed (“No new board member, he just got a new haircut.” and “Read the f…following manual…”), the usual Infoboerse-crowd could not stand this reassignment of their beloved forum.

Unrest started to form. People became nervous and put their heads together, whispering about ways to get the old Infoboerse back. All that during the coffee breaks, lunch time and the afternoon breaks, of course. You could see people heatedly dicussing counter measures, with newspapers under their arms, stepping from one foot to the other in front of restrooms (by the way: “Do you know how break-dance was invented? By a family of nine with only one restroom!”).

Slowly the plan became clear, of how to push work-related postings out of the Infoboerse. As diversionary tactics a younger colleague posted this harmless questions: “How many Sushi can an average developer carry out of the cantine?”. Another colleague asked for a friend, how to best sell purses in her new store. The answers dripped in, discussions went on, everybody was relaxed and the situation seemed peaceful. Even the newsgroup fool, a certain Mario H., for the sake of variety, was funny – for the first time – with one of his answers.

On June 26th, 2003, the imperium suddenly stroke back. Gerlinde Z., asked a question about SAP’s new Code of Business Conduct. Imperial fighters jumped in and led a really reasonable discussion. Although the Infoboerse-gossip mongers tried to overtake the discussion by questioning the paragraphs about contacting the media and telling or not telling them about the latest rumors (actual ones at this time were “SAP plans to buy Disneyworld” or “Latest SAP Lab to be opened in the Antarctica”), they were quickly pushed aside. This thread started to become ugly. The longest reasonable discussion since the very existence of the Infoboerse: this madness had to stop!

The gossipers brought one of their heaviest calibers on the ramp. A certain Norman de L. posted: “&$%#@: How can I keep the damned neighbours’ cat from laying on my freshly washed car?”. The first shouts for “Popcorn!” yelled through the discussion floor, cans of soda were tossed in while the smell of chewing gum and hotdogs accompanied practical suggestions: “put a mine-field around your car”, “I made good experience with barbed wire” or “electrocute the cat”.
Cat lovers jumped in and attacked the brute car-fanatics for their cruel proposals. Birkenstock-shoes fought with tattooed arms, ears were bitten off, rasta-curls torn out, vegetable cakes flew into bacon-cheese burgers, bicycles smashed, car keys stuck into bikers’ thighs – with other words – it was a sheer pleasure to see the Infoboerse so much alive.

Another move by the imperium to gain back territory (“Buying Microsoft: is this a good move for SAP?”) failed miserably. The final blow to the imperium came in winter 2003. Patrick D. posted the meanwhile legendary counter-question, which tossed the imperium out of the Infoboerse forever:

Winter tires on SAP company cars limited to 190km/h only?

Hi,

When ordering new winter tires for my company car, the dealership told me that SAP introduced a new rule, that allows only winter tires up to speeds of 190km/h.
Does that mean I cannot fully use my car anymore or is this a slight misunderstanding?

Patrick

The first responses were cautious. Nobody knew, if this question was a dirty trick by the imperium. After all, this looked like a company related question. No one wanted to fall into this trap and the answers were supporting, encouraging and sympathetic. But the shock second lasted only a few hours, until everybody realised that it was the usual nonsense. The sudden wave of postings from the Infoboerse crowd hit back and shouts, yells and popcorn flew through the forum. It was a pleasure to read through the lively discussion.

Since then the Infoboerse has kept this energy and I learned a lot of curses and dirty words. Or from where would you have known, that SAP actually again permits to order winter tires with higher speed limits or what an Infoboerse peeping Tom is?

More anecdotes can be found in the Humour@SAP weblog series.

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2 Comments

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  1. Former Member
    I don’t get it…

    Just kidding Mario, keep up the good work.

    If I hear one more reference to SAP employees wearing Birkenstock shoes though, I think I’ll SCREAM!!!!

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  2. Former Member
    or where else could you find recommendations for doctors or hairdressers all around the world, not even mentioning the legendary Water mail etc.

    Dirk

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