I don’t know whether you have noticed it or not, but it would appear that some people only become a member of the SDN community in order to post commercial, non SAP related content in it’s forums. You know that I’m not so keen on – or should I say I’m allergic to – SPAM (see also my SDN Day Sessions in Amsterdam October 17 at the SDN day) and the commercial From the Grumpy Old Man: Does money makes the SDN world go round? of our beloved SDN site. It is clear to me that this type of person and their messages are not welcome at SDN. The only reaction to this is to report this kind of misbehaviour to the SDN admins via the well known e-mail address.
Having said this, as with SPAM, it comes too late in the day. One needs to think about why such things happen and how these things can be prevented in the future. I’ve been thinking about this for a while now and here are a few of the possible solutions that I’ve thought of. First of all it is far too easy to become a member of SDN. All that one needs to do is to fill in a name, first name, e-mail, password and password hint in order to become an SDN member. All of these could be false. No verification at all with direct access as bonus. The only hurdle is that you might use the ‘Phantom of the Opera’ browser.
I prefer the idea used at the Service Marketplace where registration is more fraud proof since you need to provide a customer or installation number, and generation of an userid might take up to 2 hours. Hit and run users are therefore less likely. Why isn’t SDN adopting this type of registration process? Sure the hurdle might seem a bit steeper with possibly fewer members as a result. But is the focus of SDN to make converts? And is quantity more important than quality? What’s the point of having > 500k users, other than bragging of it, or that figure being used by the afore-mentioned others?
The ‘side effect’ of laxity in this domain is not only the abuse of the forums, as mentioned above. Another plague is the existence of double (or more) accounts for the same person. Even a split personality, such as mine, doesn’t see any credible reason why one should have more than one SDN account. What could possibly be the reason for having multiple accounts? The only possible reasons that I have managed to come up with so far are:
- One has changed employer and it’s easier to simply create another user. Why doesn’t one just send a mail to the SDN admins asking them to change the non-modifiable data like the userid (S-number)? Maybe you will still end up with a new UNIQUE id after all, but the benefit of it is that you keep the contribution points that you’ve gained. If this works for people like Craig and Thomas, why shouldn’t it work for you?
- You, as a consultant, want to keep your userid separate from the company you’re currently working at. How many userids do you want to have then? I’m sure that by the third customer you will no longer be able to keep them all apart.
- You have forgotten your password. There is clearly a link for obtaining a new password. Funnily enough you’re asked more questions when you click upon this link that upon registration.
- You want to fraud with points. I’ve already expanded on the recommendation point’s From the Grumpy Old Man: The points of no return. On SDN world I also see the same person putting themselves on the map multiple times – and thereby acting against the spirit of this project – two different business cards, thus two accounts on SDN. And all of that for the ‘measly’ 25 points one gets for it. I don’t see any point to this since points don’t get accumulated between accounts. Unless you can manage to convince the SDN admins to merge two accounts afterwards. Maybe you could fool them once, but you certainly wouldn’t be so lucky a second time.
Having said that, I wonder how many of the > 500k users are for real. I think it’s about time that we had a good spring clean and reject the abusers relentlessly. I would even extend this to sleeping accounts. Let’s say that an account that has not been logged in to for > 6 month – or a more generous year – would be a good boundary.
It could be a painful operation for both the SDN members and SAP to see the number of SDNers dwindling. But, let’s compare it with cooking where one tries to reduce a sauce by boiling down the liquid. You know that by the time that you’ve finished you will end up with not only a better quality, but also a far better tasting result.