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Have you checked your stars lately?

No, I am not trying to read your future at least not in that sense. What I am wanting to do here is bring to your attention something that seems to be ignored.

So what is it? Well it’s the reward and recognition program. It’s a great way to show support and appreciation to those who helped you out. It’s not a hard thing to do, simply ask a question wait for your answer or one that helps you out then give a few points. It doesn’t cost you anything but a few extra clicks and a few extra seconds.

Now several people here at SDN have repeatedly brought it to our attention in posts that hey “You just thanked the person for the solution, but you didn’t bother to mark it ‘solved’“. Most of you may think why bother marking it solved, well for one if someone else is searching for something they will see the little Problem Solved star and maybe look at it before looking at the little Not solved. You laugh? maybe just maybe people do that!

How big of an issue is this you may ask? Well for one thing a few posts by Brian McKellar were featured as a hot topic on SDN recently. I mean if it’s considered a hot topic it must be, right?! You can still read about what he had to say :O Rules of Engagement — 2005-02-25. I for one think that he’s right. I mean when I first started here I took the time to hunt a bit and I still do on a daily basis.I also reply and try to answer several messages, sometimes I help out and sometimes I am way out in left field because I didn’t understand the exact question.

I’m begging here people, please take a few extra minutes before you post and try to follow some simple guidelines.

  • Search the forum you think might help for your problem, maybe it’s been asked.
  • Search all the forums under your section
  • Search all the forums
  • Search the SDN content
  • Search the weblogs
  • Prepare in your mind your question, give as much details as you can
  • Write your question. If you have a code sample be sure to use [code] [/code] around it so that people can read it.

Not sure what I just said? I’ll give and example, it’s very common in the BSP forums.

“How do I modify cell data at runtime in a table?”

Let’s take the question apart. It’s got a few key fields, table,cell data,modify cell,table cell. So now we are trying this in a BSP, so let’s first search the Business Server Pages (BSP).
BSP forum search
If we check the results and still don’t find a answer then try going up a level.
Web Application Server search
Maybe someone in Web Dynpro or ABAP talked about this or something similiar. Still no luck ok let’s try searching in the weblogs. There are several there and perhaps several related to this topic.

If all that searching still does not return an answer for you, then post a quesiton. But remember to be detailed. For example,

style=”border:thin inset;background:lightgrey;width:300px”> I have a BSP page which I display a table of data. I use the htmlb:tableView, I have SP 43, the question I have is how do I change the cell data when the table displays on the page? I would like to change to display a image instead of the text inside the field.

The point is that with taking that extra bit of time you not only help others help you but you help yourself. As Brian and so many others have pointed out this is a community and as such each person here should take on a certain bit of responsiblity. It’s yours and my part as members of this community to use it the way it was meant. A platform for expanding knowledge, not a support desk for SAP to give you the answer or for anyone to give you the answer but a place for each of us to expand our own knowledge by searching, reading and interacting. Got a serious problem or a “time crunch” then contact the OSS, and not just post a message here and wait for an anwser, especially one that was answered only a few posts before you arrived.

I know I am on a soap box right now but, after a day of working together with SAP to solve a problem I felt energetic and wanted to share my thoughts on this.

I don’t know about anyone else but I would love to look through a forum and see this
instead of the reality at the moment
especially when I know a lot of those stars are “solved” but just not marked.

So please take the time to read this Spread the Love!, select one of these radio values next to the reply that you want to reward!

Oh and by the way, the answer or a at least a good hint to the above question can be found here Merging cells in Tableview

And remember this place may be the SAP Developer Network but you can think of it as the DEVELOPERS Network for SAP. This is our place as much as theirs so use it and take advantage if it. What’s that old saying, “Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth”? They built it, we came, and now we need to show them we are here to stay and make it work!

Update:Thanks to Brad Williams for these valuable tips on rewarding points!

  • When you select the radio button, people need to wait for the page to refresh (which can take time) before flagging subsequent radio buttons. Otherwise the subsequent ones can be ignored.
  • People need to mark their post as a question to award points. Maybe obvious, but should be highlighted nevertheless.
  • When people do a spell check of their initial post, the mark as question flag is removed (check out thread Re: This is a test of mark as question from Spell Check.). This is not so obvious when it happens and for non-english native speakers this may be the cause of many posts not marked as questions.
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  • Hi Craig,

    first of all, great blog, thx for that. But i’m afraid, it will not have the effects as you and most of us “tortured” forum contributors would wish.
    The contibution reward system is still very new and there’s for sure a lot of room for fine tuning already now and in the near future. But as fine tuned as it might get technically and concerning it’s concepts, IMHO it will continue to fail *forever* in it’s current form to deliver a fair and useful classification of forum contributions without *extremely* extensive moderator intervention!
    Why? Here’s my Top 3:

    1. The “I’ll never return!” problem
    Lots of people simply never return and reward points, mark their questions answered or at least tell you what happened. There are 2 possible options:
    – I know definitely, that i solved the problem, but without rating/marking the answer is lost for others.
    – I don’t know it, since i’m not allmighty and it’s good luck, if i could help somebody to get out of trouble. But without getting any feedback, who knows? This makes it impossible for me and others to learn. The contribution reward system is not the problem here, every forum, not only the SDN forums, suffers from this behaviour. But nobody else except the poster can rate an answer, bad luck. 

    2. The “Thank you and good bye!” problem
    Well, i don’t think i have to say much about this. Even Mark Finnern sweeps through the different forums all night 😉 and rewards points to “spread the love” (BTW, thanks Mark for doing so in the Web Dynpro and all other forums these days). There are again 2 possible options for questions:
    – People thank you and tell, that their problem was solved, but don’t mark the question as answered.
    – They mark the question as answered, but don’t reward points e.g. the question is not visible for others as answered in the topics list.

    3. The “Hmm, I don’t know!” problem
    The responsibility of categorizing an answer as “(very) helpful” or “problem solving” has moved exclusively into the hands of the people asking. This is ok, as long as the questioner is capable of rating an answer’s quality. Many of them are not and i argue that this will not change in the future. If they would know, why should they ask?
    Again, since there’s no possibility for other people, who don’t own the thread to rate an answer as valuable, because they had the same problem and it was solved, again, the answer is lost.

    But anyway, the most important thing for me is to not lose the fun posting. We’re talking about virtual points, not petro-dollars 😉 And no answer is really lost, since the questions repeat and maybe the next one marks it as answered…

    Best regards

    PS: BTW, it would be nice to have a preview and “Oops i’ve mistyped it” – edit feature for Weblog comments. Mark? 😉

    • Stefan, I agree with you that there cannot be an equitable reward system ever. A dedicated moderator, of course, could keep it quite close to the optimum.

      According to Douglas Adams (who stated, the answer to everything is 42), I would summarize the whole problem with:

      The answer is 100.

      Somewhere I read:
      The average IQ of all people around  is about 100 (don’t ask be if this was a country specific survey).
      Now we could say, that people visiting and attending SDN could be slightly above this 🙂

      • Great blog, Craig!

        >I felt energetic and wanted to share my thoughts on this.

        This is how communities come and stay alive, and hopefully this energy can reach others as well to help the SDN grow. You sure helped me get some of that as well 🙂

        When I started to really work with SAP (two months ago) I was looking for all kind of information, not long before I found SDN – when a hard time of “should I ask or continue reading” started. It was kinda difficult to not rush in here and start to ask beginner’s questions – but somehow I managed to get the basics myself to be able to catch up on what is going on here, and now I have both asked and answered question(s).

        To Klaus:
        IQ tests are designed to have 100 as the total average, no matter which country you are in – know the Gaussian distribution? That’s how IQs are spread among the people.
        According to which test you take, a result of 120 in one test would be 130 in another – so the absolut value of the IQ is just “relative”, it’s the position in the mentioned distribution curve that determines your real IQ.
        (Therefore, institutions like Mensa require a certain percentage to join, in the case of Mensa you would have to be among the top 2 %)
        ok … enough offtopic now …
        Best Regards,

  • Thank you for all of your comments, I was a bit worried I might be coming off to strong but when you spend a week working together with SAP to solve a problem and the geniuely welcome your input it feels good! Of course the reward points are only virtually but at the same time it helps each and every person feel good about helping someone, you know a thank you is nice the points are just the icing on the cake so to speak.

    I also wrote this because I don’t think it’s just up to the SAP people to help push the issue but all of us. I mean we are all newbies at some point or another and for SAP this is the best place to look for help I just hope that some of the new people out there read this and the other topics related to the reward system and take part as well.

    Thank you again for your comments, made for a end to a nice long day 🙂

    • Hi Craig,
      you’re totally right. Of course we’re or at least were all newbies at some point, this includes that one knows, that the reward system exists and how it works, so IMHO this has nothing to do with IQ levels at all.
      I agree with you again, that it’s not just up to the SAP people to push this issues. I would even go one step further and claim, that SAP’s task is more to deliver the “platform SDN” and it’s intended that we, the non-SAP people around here, use it.
      My personal expression is, that there has been much more contributions by SAP people in the earlier days of SDN than today, so the tendency seems to be clear, the non-SAP SDN users are going to enter the self-supporting state 😉

      Best, Stefan

    • Hi Craig,

      I was super happy that you wrote this Weblog post. If you didn’t do it, I would have written one (again). It is so much better that this is coming form the community.

      I was a bit silent, because we had a problem with threads switching their status once the original poster posts again.

      That one is solved and we gave all of you more power too: You can change your posts even if someone has answered them. So you can switch the thread back to being a question and award points.

      Please use that, Mark.

      • Hi Mark,

        I am glad you liked it.  The point and as Stefan also made aware there were more non SDN posters in the past as now. Of course I think this is also due to the fact that more SAP people are finally getting around to the SDN themselves as a resource but the point is, and as you stated, a place for us the community.

        Perhaps SDN should call for a community gathering at one of the next SAP events (perferrable here in Germany in November would be nice) — another SDN day so to speak and see what the community has to say? Another brain storming session to talk about getting the community active?

  • Hallo Craig,

    Hear! Hear!

    You write a weblog that really make me feel “hot topic” all over again. Of course, in the big picture these virtual stars are insignificant. However, once we get back to the personal level, which means each one personally, these stars are important feedback. It shows one that the answers are helping other people! Here I can only support your plea: sow the stars, and reap the rewards in more quality answers.

    regards, brian

  • Hey Craig,

    You need to update the section on awarding points to a forum post.  The screen dump you have included is now no longer valid.

    Now, when you award points there is simply a radio button (with the three options) against each response. 

    Also, you should warn people of three potential pitfalls:

    1. When you select the radio button, people need to wait for the page to refresh (which can take time) before flagging subsequent radio buttons.  Otherwise the subsequent ones can be ignored. 

    2. People need to mark their post as a question to award points.  Maybe obvious, but should be highlighted nevertheless.

    3. When people do a spell check of their initial post, the mark as question flag is removed (check out thread Re: This is a test of mark as question from Spell Check.).  This is not so obvious when it happens and for non-english native speakers this may be the cause of many posts not marked as questions.