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Whether you are an active blogger or a blog consumer in our SAP Community Networks of SDN and BPX, you may want to review blogging tips and tricks that reflect my understanding of blog etiquette and good blog writing habits. These tips can only be commented on, by you, the reader, in the context of the blog comments. But since we now have a community wiki, we also have the opportunity, to build a more collaborative understanding of how we see and use our blogs in SDN and BPX.  Let’s use the community wiki for community blogging tips: here.
There may be some who are using a convenient html editor or others who can remind junior bloggers of just how to create a first blog, upload graphics, or change blog profile details. In the meanwhile, here are some general suggestions for putting the blog focus on the audience rather than the blogger.

Tips for Blogging in SDN/BPX

(Disclaimer: these are only my experiences and opinions about blogging here; yours hold equal weight)

  1. Know your audience
    Who are you writing for?  Many in our communities expect more than just rant, unsupported opinion, and examples unsubstantiated by experience.  Since I come from the theater world, I’ll use a theater model: imagine the audience’s perspective and be an actor for that audience.  This will help your script, your language, your tone, your substance, your use cases.
  2. Use clear language
    If you are writing for a global audience (and here in SDN/BPX you are) think in words that the audience will understand and relate to.
  3. Provide a clear summary
    Much thought should be given to why you are choosing the topic.  Why would an audience want to listen to you?  What service or value are you providing?  What whitespace is being addressed in your content?  The summary is the short abstract that gets picked up by RSS feeds. (for more RSS info see an RSS mini-tutorial or the O’Reilly link for a deep dive into RSS technology )  Remember: most folks spend a very small window of time reading a summary and quickly decide as to whether contents are of interest.  The advantage of RSS feeds for the audience: “100% complete control over the read situation” .  What that means to you?  If your summary disappoints, your readership will disappear.
  4. Provide a short engaging title
    • Gear your title to your audience
    • Keep the title short and understandable
    • Ensure the title delivers its promise
    • Optionally – Make the title as provocative or “catchy” or even funny as possible (that’s audience-based, of course)
  5. Design and chunk information with audience in mind
    • Create clear blog content subtitles and use a small title tag (like

      or bold explicitly for the subcontent headers

    • Be mindful of how people read/listen.  An audience might not “hear” more than a few minutes worth of content without zoning out unless provided with some form of interaction for eye, mind, even ear in each segment.
    • Use graphics judiciously – use them sparingly as some people have bandwidth issues and a large graphic can slow them down.
    • Don’t overuse “caps” as it is perceived as SCREAMING
    • Don’t overuse bold for the same reason
  6. Engage the audience
    • Leave room for questions, conversations, and comments.  Use of open-ended questions is advisable.  That can be done in your writing style as well as your Tag Line.
    • Avoid pontificating (this means: avoid ranting in a professional or technical blog) and preaching and “going on”, as it tends to turn many in our audience “off”
    • Note: many of our top contributors and respected community members inhabit external blogspheres, where personal rants are appropriate, welcomed, and responded to.  Do try to avoid them unless explicitly labeled “Ranting”. (I’ve gone back and labeled this blog as Ranting, for example, and I hope it is not also pontificating)
  7. Answer comments promptly
    Subscribe to the blog comments you receive.  Acknowledge and respond appropriately, that’s just good manners.
  8. Avoid personal attack
    This is sometimes referred to as “ad hominem”  (I had to look this up on wikipedia).  Remember it’s an opinion you are disagreeing with not the author.  The basic idea: “rudeness is always wrong, even when your premise is right.”  Here is where my own experience as a mother of five and a grandmother as well, comes in:  a golden rule in our house is to communicate (when something isn’t acceptable)“I don’t like your behavior” rather than to imply “I don’t like you”.
  9. Avoid false or deceptive statements
    Misleading contents and advertising are not welcome.  Do diligence.  If you are speculating, please say so.  When you are mistaken, please publicly correct any misinformation you have delivered. This is a public space so take care and publish responsibly. 
  10. Forget plagiarizing
    If your material exists online, declare it, link to it, reference it, acknowledge it and be sure that whenever possible you have an author’s consent for complete reuse or even quotation (I know many of us have been sloppy with this last one).  Often online sources will have some disclaimers about the legality of reuse.  If contents are copyrighted or represent intellectual property, they simply cannot be used.

Lastly, a number of good generic blogging code of ethics can be found here:

http://www.library.cmu.edu/ethics9.html and http://blogethics2004.blogspot.com/

As you may have noticed, all of these tips are about audience and care for community.  They focus on “us”: our interests, rights, and use of our time and space.  This is OurSpace. Is it fairly autonomous and governed fairly by community?

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15 Comments

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  1. Andre Truong
    let freedom be. let all bloggers be: the techy, the funky, the philosopher, the ranter, the usurper, the  altruist, the philanthropist…

    if bloggers don’t care points, then points shouldn’t matter. No more points for blogging.

    with time, natural selection will happen.

    if content is needed a little evangelism from SAP will be needed and maybe some contracted content could be added.

    but ultimately a little policing under clearly defined SDN blog ethics published by SDN should help maintain a little sanity here.

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    1. Marilyn Pratt Post author
      Andre writes: “Let freedom be..a little policing..clearly defined SDN blog ethics published by SDN”
      Might some of those ideas be seen as mutually exclusive?  Or do you mean, perhaps, that ethics should be freely defined by the community? If so, I would heartily agree and suggest that such a code of ethics be evolved in the wiki.  You also mention contracted content.  You wouldn’t happen to know anyone selling, would you? (kidding, of course)
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      1. Andre Truong
        Can there be freedom without laws or ethics? Most of us live in democratic societies and we probably appreciate the concept of free society as well as society of laws. I don’t see why freedom and ethics are mutually exclusive. More complementary I’d say.
        I once was a proponent of anarchy but it was when I had no sense of responsibility nor accountability to my actions… and I was listening to hard rock 🙂

        As for contracted content, there’s nothing wrong with a little bit of capitalism or is it? I wouldn’t mind reading sponsored content.

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  2. Bhavesh Kantilal
    I guess this is a much needed blog and hopefully all bloggers do read this before posting a blog.

    With so much of debate going on in the recent weeks with regard to the Blog Quality, some proactive policing and monitoring from the SDN team to make sure that things do fall into place would also help to make sure that when Quantity increases, quality does not!

    Regards
    Bhavesh

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    1. Bhavesh Kantilal
      >>to make sure that when Quantity increases, quality does not!

      oops, I meant ,when Quantity Increases quality does not decrease.

      The way things are going, we might even need Comment’s policing 🙂 just kidding..

      Regards
      Bhavesh

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      1. Marilyn Pratt Post author
        That’s the point of Valery’s excellent and thoughtful blog and the ensuing “If you have nothing to say – just shut up”.  Valery proposes a blog ranking system. And this community-driven self policing method does work in the wikipedia context (good podcast on the subject found here with wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales. And, I dare say with a larger community and more content than we have here. Although Grumpy’s points are also well-taken in his blog: From the Grumpy Old Man: Smooth moderator, perhaps I need to rush and say, these 10 tips, shouldn’t be viewed as commandments.  When you make rules and they get broken, you need even more policing, more punishments (thanks Mark Finnern for reminding me of that one, off-line).  Again, in my grandmother home view, we talk about “logical consequences”.  That means results of your actions are directly related.  So a reaction could be “public ignoring”, “no reaction”, or “comments”.  In any event, please view my blog as a opinions, a framework, a set of suggestions, and as a community please be empowered to create even better ones. (again Wiki)  It’s sounds like we are on the road to that with all the thoughtful conversations in the forums and blogs. 
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        1. Eddy De Clercq
          I guess it’s like with raising kids (with certain values). One can set certain rules, borders, agreements or whatever one likes to call it and ‘punish’ the accordingly when one transgress, otherwise one can better set no rules. One could also prefer the latter and let them behave licentiously (unless they are self-conscious enough). Called me old-fashioned, hence Grumpy, but I prefer the first method.

          Eddy

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  3. Suresh Datti
    Very nicely put.. hope everyone starts adhering to these golden rules.. of late the ‘policing’ seems to have gone a bit overboard.. there is really no need to put evrything under the microscope..
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  4. David Halitsky
    But think about it – this pun violates one of your own rules you just stated.  How many SDNers will even notice it, and of those, how many will get it?  But that didn’t stop you from posting it.

    It wouldn’t stop me either – it was just too good a shot not to take.

    Regards
    djh

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    1. Marilyn Pratt Post author
      You are absolutely correct David, in pointing out I had broken my own “rule” and maybe that shines light on yet another point: reflection, and lots of it before posting.  Writing this short list (blog) forced me to think a lot more about my own use or misuse of: language, blog titles, chunking, length, audience sensitivity, objectives, quality.  The time spent doing this made me tremble to think I am often guilty of pontificating, ranting, and otherwise speaking in a closed manner, which doesn’t invite interaction or real conversation.  Maybe I didn’t tremble enough and I still posted.  The exercise also sent me scrambling back to all the comments I could possibly scan in the recent forum and blog discussions.  And, quite honestly, after that excercise, and some good conversation with my manager, almost didn’t post, as I’m not even sure this blog represents something useful.  I suddenly found it a fuzzy line between courage, arrogance, and inaction.  My point: if more of us exercised that way, perhaps we wouldn’t be glutting the pipelines with poor contents and when we did, we would be rated by our peers.  Thanks for helping me see that better.
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      1. David Halitsky
        … Kurt Vonnegut’s short-story “Harrison Bergeron”, which has actually been (legitimately) published on-line here:

        HarrisonBergeron

        Those who “dig” this story (like me) will probably be accused of being anti-democratic “elitists”, but I really don’t care.

        In other words, I’m much more concerned about the apparent feeling of some (including you???) that SDNers should “dumb-down” their posts to the mean level of the SDN audience plus the external audiences.

        If a post is too complex for some, either in content or in expression (vocabulary, syntax), then they can choose not to continue reading it.

        But if we all must post for that “average” SDN member, then I think that would exclude some wonderful posts by Johannes Reich and Andrew Ross.

        Which would be too bad.  Andrew hasn’t posted in a while, despite the tremendous background he brings to interesting “user-interface” issues, and Johannes doesn’t really post his “heavy” stuff often enough.

        Regards
        djh

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        1. Marilyn Pratt Post author
          3 points to address, David:
          1) First, thanks for the link and the good read. The story makes a chilling point about the dangers of forced mediocrity.
          It also reminded me of a popular theory held in the ’70’s when sociologists and researchers voiced concerns about raising “mediocre” children in an atmosphere that stifled ambition, creativity, and exceptional talents. One well-known study was done by a certain Bruno Bettelheim. 
          “Bruno Bettelheim had predicted that kibbutz education would yield mediocrity: “[kibbutz children] will not be leaders or philosophers, will not achieve anything in science or art.” Daniel Gavron: The Kibbutz: Awakening from Utopia, Rowman & Littlefield, Lanham, 2000, p. 166.

          “Bettelheim’s prediction was certainly wrong about the specific children he met at “Kibbutz Atid.” In the 1990s a journalist tracked down the children Bettelheim had interviewed back in the 1960s at what was actually Kibbutz Ramat Yohanan. The journalist found that the children were highly accomplished in academia, business, music, and the military. “Bettelheim got it totally wrong”. (again same page in wikipedia)

          Why do I agree that this particular mediocrity theory was faulty?  Because I lived in Ramat Yochanan for a short while (year) and know a little of the experiments, the research, and even some of the “children”, who indeed went on to be very accomplished in music, theater, science and technology and certainly weren’t mediocre or simple.

          2) Secondly, this phrase gives me pause: “I think no one should be allowed to post further on this topic until they have read …” – that’s pretty exclusive and doesn’t invite.  But maybe a large portion of our community has anyway stopped reading.

          3) Lastly, I agree with your accessment of two wonderful writers here and I secretly wished I could encourage more reading of and comments to Johannes Reich’s latest blog Who poses the requirements for business document content?, but I feared that saying something like “everyone should read this BPX pertinent blog” would have the opposite effect, even in or especially in a community of highly intelligent, free-thinking participants.

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