Here is a picture from Badge Desk at the TechEd in Shanghai.
Badges more or less serve the purpose of linking the badge-wearer to a particular group – be it ABAP developers or TechEd “First Timers” – and enabling other attendees to identify people with similar interests. At the TechEd in Munich, I always found myself comparing the badges of other attendees with my own badges and trying to decide if there were any common interests.
But what happens when TechEd is over and you can’t see those badges anymore. When you see an individual’s post in the forum or a blog / wiki entry, you might be interested to see what sort of interests an individual has. Of course, you can look at their wiki profile or business card but there is no real standard of identifying what interests a particular member has.
What are SDN/BPX Badges?
Now, there is a solution: the concept of the SDN/BPX “Badge”. These are member-defined badges that reflect a particular affiliation to something. Just like the TechEd badges, the SDN/BX badges can be humorous or serious. The idea is that individuals add the appropriate badge to their WIKI profile. In this way, it will be immediately possible when looking at member’s profile to see if there are common interests. If I have “ABAP Freak” and “SDN/BPX Addict” badges and another member as well, then I know that we have something in common. Thus, the more shared badges I have with another user, the greater the likelihood is that we have common interests, the better a possible collaboration might be and the more useful his contributions – irregardless of their form- should be for me.
I made this realization after reading about a travel site where hotels are reviewed. If I rate three different hotels and another member of the travel community rates the same hotels in the same or similar fashion, then contributions from this member will probably be closer to my “taste” than those from other community members. The same should be the case for SDN/BPX contributions.
But before you go crazy and start to create new badges, please go to the SDN/BPX Badges wiki page and see if the badges you need are already present. I have already created a few badges and added a few badge categories – “Technical”, “Community”, “Funny”. Each badge has an icon, a name and a description. So if you have a new badge, please add it to the list.
It will defeat the purpose of the SDN/BPX badge if everyone just creates their own badges. The idea is to identify youself with other SDN/BPX members. So please re-use existing badges if possible. Therefore, before you create your own badge, see if there is already badge that fits your needs.
Here is a picture of my WIKI profile with my badge list.
If common badges are used, then it should be possible to search the wiki profiles to find individuals with the same badges. Thus, it should be possible to identify social networks within our SDN/BPX communities in a member-defined fashion. SAP doesn’t identify you as a partner and link you with other partners in same industry. You define your own interests and identify those individuals with whom you have similarities.
At future TechEds, your ID card that you get during registration might already have the badges that you have listed in the SDN/BPX Community. SAP could also invite people with similar interests -based on which badges they have – to community events.
The idea of describing which interests community members have isn’t a new idea. Just look at the diverse profiles in the wiki that are already present. What the SDN/BPX badges bring are 1) a standard to identify these interests, 2) the standard is community-defined and 3) users can select their badges – and thus their interests – on their own.
Of course, if only 10 from almost 1 million community members add badges to their profiles, then the badges won’t be very effective. The best way to attract users to place badges on their profiles is to tell them about badges when inviting them to create their profiles. Maybe, a reference to the badge system in the initial email would be helpful. Or a reminder email to those individuals who have already created profiles.
I’m hoping that lots of SDN/BPX members use these badges in their profiles, because I think there is a lot more potential in the community when we can identify how we really relate to one another. Meeting a fellow SDN/BPX community member is great but meeting a fellow SDN/BPX community member who is also a “BPX Advocate”, “Community Project Supporter”, “CE Nut” and “SDN/BPX Addict” is even better.