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much apologies to Jack Kerouac for typing as if this was a yellow teletype roll

So, we’re working on fitting square asug pegs into round sdn holes, and round bpx pegs into square bpx holes, while all the while the pegboard shifts as the BoD decides to create new “product” and retire old ones, and the site slowly crumbles under the weight of old content gathering dust and the new content being lacquered over top the old wainscoting.  Then, we find we need to put our digital images in several places because each new chapter in the web page farm lives under a different roof, like those turn-of-the-last century farm houses that have grown and grown and grown.  And then, we appoint ourselves moderators, editors, keepers of the flame because, well, who else is going to do it?  But what we get to sift through are the posts that go in the wrong category, since hardly anyone thinks alike, so they post in the first likely sounding place, or they post in every conceivable place, or they just plain post where they always post as a dog visits a hydrant.

And they give us those little buttons, like buzzers or clickers on a game show, so that when the answer pops in our head we’re supposed to jump up and ring the bell (or changes as you say in the UK).  The choices are limited – profanity, duplicate, harassment, or spam.  Doesn’t quite cover all the bases of actionable trash, but what about some or all of the above?  But this diatribe is about spam, in particular the spam that grows moldy by the side of the information highway; not the kind that just drops into your inbox massively and randomly because you’re anybody, but that someone targets at you because you’re somebody.  G. told me he’s taken his contact information offline since he’s targeted for pay-for-help when he posts a question in the free information zone.  It’s done slyly by writing directly, not even bothering to post in the thread so everyone else can see the blatant solicitation.  I don’t mind being solicited, if I’m walking down the vendor fair aisle, or the high street, or I’m shopping on Amazon, or asking a vendor for help directly.  But I don’t expect to get the come on when asking a basic how-to question on an asug or sdn or bpx site.

OK, now what?  Today was extra special, where a vendor for a product we already own posted on a forum that specifically prohibits commercial activity to have folks ask him for help, without any evidence of the sharing that is implicitly and explicitly requested and retired on the forums .  The topper was him calling my office line several minutes later, which was evidently his escalation of email/web abuse to verbal harassment.  I’ve asked and the admins have removed the advertisement.

At home, I was getting periodic calls from an 800 number that showed no name on the caller id, so I went online and found a wonderful web site (800notes.com) which led me to videos on YouTube by Tom Mabe on how to turn the tables on telemarketers.  The calls I was getting were from a cancer fund raiser, which I will donate to when I am motivated, not when a robot dials me.  Finally one day an actual person was on the line, and I read them the script provided by the above site.  No calls since.  It was on my VOIP line, so I pay for the minutes if I pick it up.

M. told me that the problem isn’t just on asug, and that sdn/bpx has their own howling mobs with virtual pitchforks ready to gang up on the misbegotten miscreant that uses the wrong avenue for getting business instead of giving to the community.

Well, I’ll end this rant on a high note.  We’ve dealt with a number of vendors in the SAP eco-sphere (I really detest that word, given my environmental consciousness, so I’m overusing it in the hope that it simply goes the way of disco music).  Several have been exemplary in providing information on forums without the dangling hook of pay me now or pay me later.  We chose one for a recent project mainly because I was able to review several years of track record in not only being a subject matter expert, and being a stable company, but adopting a civil tone when trying to help the less fortunate.  There’s not enough of that going around (there’s a Samuel Johnson quote there, which I leave as an exercise for the student – hint Writer’s Almanac 17-Sep-2007).

Jim 

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  1. Marilyn Pratt
    I asked myself if it is any comfort to know that the Americas SAP User Group (ASUG) folks also deal with unwanted solicitations and marketeers, masquerading as peer buddies?  Comfort, because I know you guys do a first rate job of sanitizing (policing) your face-to-face ASUG meetings and removing unwanted plugs while focusing on community/user needs.  So its nice to know we are not alone in our suffering.  But I never thought you guys were stalked at home.  Any tips and tricks from you and your colleagues on how you prevent this kind of behavior in your environment would be welcome.  I’m sure you’ve already discovered that there are passionate and many conversations about spam in our community discussion forums. 
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