From the Grumpy Old Man: Instant message in a bottle
Michal Krawczyk made a very interesting suggestion the other day. He if it would be possible to have a kind of messaging system on SDN whereby people could ask another person a question simply by clicking in the Business Card, and that the answer would appear in an SDN inbox.
At first I found this a very interesting idea. In fact I had been brain storming myself some time ago over the SDN world map. I thought that I could maybe change the approach in the SDN world a bit. Whereas in the current version you can only see where the SDN community resides on the world, I thought that we could also let people add their specialities/interests (within SAP of course) to their data in the map. Then other people could look at the map and find e.g. the nearest ABAP person and so connect to each other. The purpose was to make even more networking possible.
I abandoned this idea after due reflection. Not because this would have meant extra development work from the mapping oint of view, but for reasons beyond the merely technical. First of all, the data displayed could be misused for information gathering. The least risky aspect of this is the mails that you get from companies/head hunters wanting to hire you. This could even be considered to be quite cool. It proves that SDN stands for people with a high market value. The less wanted mails are the ones with the mostly unwanted commercial messages. If that occurs frequently one can get into the spam danger zone. Even the current amount of clicks – and thus human interaction – needed to obtain the information doesn’t seem to scare these ones off. The same might happen if you look at a possible IM scenario.
There is also another danger which might even undermine the existence of S(D)N itself. The most frightening aspect is that the S(D)N community itself is responsible for this. Publishing e-mails at SDN seems to be a trigger for people to address other people in S(D)N directly. Nothing wrong with that, in the contrary. I’ve contacted people myself a couple of times, and if Valery didn’t do the same, SDN World wouldn’t be at the same level as it is now.
The real problem starts when people start sending mails about problems. There are some extenuating circumstances when one has a problem, you’ve tried everything to solve the problem and hope that by mailing person X you will be given a solution. I mailed Thomas and Brian once for a problem when I’d reached the stage where nothing seemed to help. This resulted not only in a The unfortunate cookie II: the revenge of the stack to the problem but also a Web Services: The Case of the Missing SOAP Action Header that the rest of the community could learn from.
This is not the case with the things that happen nowadays. People seem to just send a mail for things without
- checking the forums, web logs, wiki, help.sap.com, OSS, etc. That, by the way, is also an infestation within the posted forum threads
- posting the problem AFTER checking the above
- checking if the addressed person has the knowledge or expertise of the technology in which the problem occurs
At first, I kindly tried to help people by providing links to specific S(D)N links. Sometimes though it’s clear that laziness/selfishness is the real problem. I know of people who have just sent a mail with requirements and who expect the addressee to write the code for them, or who consider the addressee as their personal, free helpdesk. Therefore, if something like wise happens nowadays I simply reply with a link to S(D)N and the search functionality. With the new and improved search engine, and the search The beloved in sweet harmony, it take less effort to find a solution than to look up a business card, adjoin an e-mail and type a problem that has already been solved.
This is NOT the way S(D)N works at all. S(D)N is all about sharing knowledge and solving problems within a community. If this doesn’t interest you I suggest that you look elsewhere, but please don’t bother people with questions or problems that you can solve on your own.