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Changing course on the Blogger Juggernaut

In a recent comment to a Beginning…!, SDN evangelist Craig Cmehil commented on a new direction that SAP is currently pushing in its over 1 million member strong community. If I hadn’t been reading Craig’s tweets on twitter, I would never would have read his comment.

Welcome to the blogging world here on SDN and BPX, normally a post like this would never have been approved but it was Friday and I just rejected around 72 blogs this week due to content, lack of content or content better suited to a Wiki than a blog.

Sure many people here are not going to be happy that this was posted, it’s basically not what the community expects.

We are working together with the moderators to push more of the FAQ and “how to” content into the wiki and not have them here as blogs anymore.

This blog was a good start in the direction that many of the community has been asking for experiences of real life with a personal touch. So as I’ve welcomed your first blog don’t let me down on your next one – we want substance, the good stuff from your personal experiences!

No more simple FAQ’s, code samples, or How To’s your blogs need to attract readers to them, you have to explain why it is that you are telling us what you are telling us!


Now why do I feel that this comment is important. If you look at majority of blogs on SDN, many contain a highly technical content that describe how the blogger has solved a particular problem. This tendency is present in bloggers from SAP (see the current highlighted series of Real World Composites I – Visual Composer by Benny Schaich-Lebek – which I must say is excellent -) and non-SAP bloggers (including many blogs written by myself). However, as Craig suggests, the question arises if this content is really appropriate for community blogs. To answer this question it is important to look at how blogs are defined (of course, there are many definitions of what a blog should contain – perhaps as many different definitions as there are bloggers). A blog is usually more of an opinion piece – something personal.

I also agree that much of these To-Dos are better located in the wiki where other people can adapt them based on their own experiences. (Take a look at this intriguing new use on the wiki to deal with CE trouble-shooting to see some of potential of the wiki to deal with technical issues.)

There are however certain challenges associated with this shift from blogs to the wiki:

  • One reason blogs are written is that there are more points associated with a blog post rather than a forum post. This is of course correct based on the fact that blogs usually require more work. Points in the wiki are currently not so well understood – indeed, the very nature of the wiki makes giving points a real challenge. It is currently the case that users must currently request points for their work in the wiki. Furthermore, the ability to comment on content – one of the most important features in blogging – is difficult to use in the current wiki-based environment.
  • A shift to the wiki must also impact other areas of SDN. Selected blogs are always highlighted on the front page of SDN and BPX. I‘ve never seen a wiki entry with a picture of the author on the front page.
  • This shift of blog content to the wiki must impact all bloggers (irregardless of whether they are „Expert Bloggers” or „beginner bloggers”. Maybe, there should be some way that users can vote on which blogs might be appropriate for the wiki.
  • There has to be a better description of what content is wiki content and which content is more appropriate for blogs. If I blog a story about a Visual Composer problem that I solved, is this a blog or a wiki entry. If this is a wiki entry where does it go in the wiki? Who decides that it is a wiki entry, the moderator for that topic? For example, I‘m unsure of where to publish this blog. So I‘ve decided to publish it on my personal blog and on SDN.
  • Since BPX-related blogs usually don‘t have a „How to” character will there soon be more BPX-related blogs in the community blogs?
  • We should remember that SDN is a „developer” community as evidenced by its name. Any change regarding blogs shouldn‘t have the affect of intimidating any community members who wish to contribute – maybe for the first time – and are now uncertain. (Maybe, there should be blogger mentors??).

Irregardless of what happens, I think this editorial change reflects a shift from a community that is largely technical in nature to more of a social network where other aspects of our relationships with one another are also important. I welcome the change and I think it reflects the maturity of this community.

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  • Every since I saw that you “woke thinking about my blog” I’ve been waiting to see what you might write.

    This shift, change or however you might like to call it has been on going now for at least a solid year if not longer. Many blogs and conversations have taken place around “what is a blog” and “what is a wiki”.

    I even wrote a blog about the topic in Jan of 2007,

    However the basic rule of thumb is this, if you are documenting something it’s not a blog, if you are sharing your experiences on how you achieved something it is. The goal here is not to scare bloggers away but rather to encourage more bloggers to tell us more and especially why they are telling us what they are telling us and in what context it was important.

    It’ll never be cut and dry but as we activate more and more of the moderators as blog moderators as well this rule of thumb will continue to get paid attention too.

    There’s a huge history around this one and at no time have we stopped thinking about it, it’s still a top priority for us to get the right content into the right place and to recognize that content and expose the great stuff and let it easily bubble to the top.


    • The difference between “documenting something” and  “sharing your experiences on how you achieved something” is in my opinion a pretty thin line and somewhat subjective.

      What I always tell people who ask about blogging is that they should first check to see what content (especially other blogs) is available and then write about the unique aspect that hasn’t been told before.


      • It depends, often time and what kicked off this topic back in late 2006 was the numerous blogs regarding “This is how you implement paging in xxxx” or something similar, this after months of discussing turns out that is widely agreed upon as “documentation” however if the same blog was written explaining a the details of why, how and so on then it becomes what the community expects as a blog.

        We of course want the blogging to continue but we want to see what the community has been asking for happen as well.

        Once the user (through search) has determined they have something new or unique then they should present in a way the reader can relate to it a blog afterall is something a bit more personal than simple documentation. It’s about telling a story around that “unique aspect” not just stating for the record what that “unique aspect” is.

        Now we are of course completely open to hearing everyone’s current feelings and thoughts on what they expect the blogs to be (not just feature requests, complaints and such) let us know what you expect from the content (don’t point fingers as to this is bad or this is good) tell us in your own words what are you wanting when you read a blog. I’ve no problem going through the discussion process again but until we hear otherwise we will start to be a lot harder on what is published and what is not…

  • Dick,

    do you really mean that the blog which initiated your thoughts on the issue reflects a

    …[welcome] shift from a community that is largely technical in nature to more of a social network… ?

    I don’t want to think of the BPXers increasing contributions only being possible by trivializing the standards of SCNs blogosphere and moving on to a widely know (and usually rejected by more technichally minded) ‘socializing mode’ of discussion.

    don’t misunderstand me, i like coffee table talk and occasional socialising but prefer it to happen on a coffee table or coffe corner rather than in facts and opinions focused place.