A pleasurable event (the birth of Craig’s newborn) brought me back for a month to help out our collaboration team on the blog administration console. I’ve already done that for a couple of months a year ago and I wanted to share with you some experiences and hints of why the admins decide to reject or accept a newbie blog and how newbies on the SDN can have an easier (and less frustrating) way of building up their reputation on the SCN.
To give you some statistics: during the last 4 weeks I rejected 9 out of 10 blogs. Not because they were of low quality, or because I am such a strict and tough-to-deal-with-guy (some might say “jerk” or use more graphical language, but I am above that). There were other reasons. The most common reason for rejection is simply that the blog was not a blog (look up the blogging guidelines for more info on what a blog should contain), but a step-by-step guide, or actually an FAQ question with an answer. Both types should go in the WIKI, where they can be enhanced and improved by the community. Other reasons were that some users confused the blog system with a forum for asking questions. And then was the occasional blog of low quality, plagiat or other nonsense.
Don’t think we are tough on bloggers. We try to give them advise and guide them. Sometimes users come again and again with plagiarized or bad material, then we just have to lock them for our communities’ and their benefit. And sometimes something slips even through our filters. And then we have some irritations in the community that expects – and that completely justfied – good blogs.
What I noticed is that especially newbies try very hard to blog. But after several years and thousands of published blogs on SCN, it’s getting harder to find original topics that newbies can start with. My recommendation is: if you don’t have a very special experience in a field that you can talk about, don’t even think to copy&paste somebody’s else material, or write the onethousandth blog on how to create your own BAPI or connect another XI extractor to something. We’ve seen that, and done that.
If you want to build your profile and reputation on the SCN, if you want to get points, want to learn something and help the community, then I recommend to do the following:
- subscribe to a forum with a topic that you are interested in
- find out if there is a WIKI for that topic available
- if yes, then get in touch with the moderators (if there are any) and offer your help
- if no, take charge
And now comes the biggest hint (and you’ll kiss me later for having shown you the way)
- carefully follow the questions and answers in your forum and consolidate them in the WIKI.
- find a way to categorize them
- create a page for each frequently asked question
- copy and paste the answer in the WIKI
- edit it (spelling, formating, proper structure)
- post the link to the very FAQ page in the same forum post to refer future help seekers to the WIKI
And finally: get used to the fact that people might change your contribution. Don’t be offended or feel that somebody touches your baby. I felt so too, but resisted it taking it personally. In most cases people change it because they found a typo, add a missing step or info or put in a link. And that’s a good thing. This is Web 2.0 and we collaborate to the benefit of all.
If the work is good, be assured: we’ll notice. And you can’t imagine how fast you might become a moderator or even a mentor.
Sounds much work? Well, I have done that for the Visual Composer 7.0 area. It’s a lot of work, I don’t want to lie to you. The first weeks it took me 2-3 hours a day, until it went down to 30 minutes a day. But it will definitely pay off.
I started watching (and of course answering) the VC forum posts while working on my SAP Press book about Visual Composer. I just wanted to understand what questions VC users have and what they try to achieve. There were so many questions that I wasn’t able to include all questions in the standard chapters of the book but had to put 28 of them in a kind of unsorted addendum.
When the SCN finally launched the WIKI, I used the full addendum to seed the VC WIKI FAQ. From 28 questions it quickly exploded to more than 200 questions and answers, thanks to the help of other SCN users.
The result was interesting: not only did we in the first weeks half the number of questions in the VC forum, but the questions themselves became much more challenging (and not just another boring question about how to setup a connection to a database). This is a good sign. Less traffic in the forum in this case meant that users found their answers and didn’t have to wait hours or days to proceed with their work. Quick solution, no frustration, happy users, respected moderator (that is).
In addition I learned a lot myself, understood VC much better and the SCN users collected many many points through their WIKI contributions. In summer last year I handed over the moderation of the VC WIKI to another moderator (out of the community) and since then it’s been thriving.
Though I haven’t been doing much anymore with VC, my reputation seems still to linger around and attract questions: users keep asking me directly per email (and I promptly try to answer) 😉
Isn’t that what every newbie tries to achieve? Being a respected and knowledgeable member of the SCN? I showed you the path, it’s up to you to follow the road to SCN paradies…