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And now for something completely different

Today I’ll leave my usual battlefield playground and speak about something that I have been wondering about since I started blogging on SDN almost a year ago.

Stepping up to talk to such a professional and well-educated group of peers as found here @ SDN has been as exciting as taking a roller coaster ride… in numerous ways:

 

  • the pleasant anticipation
  • the initial lift off (first publication)
  • the highest height (being spot-lighted at SDN Home Page)
  • anticlimax (lack of public (!) feedback)
  • the desire to take the next ride immediately @ the end 😉

The basics of blogging

For me, blogging without the interaction with the community is worthless despite of documenting one thoughts about a particular topic globally for anyone to read. The reasons to take the time to compile a well-written extract on a technical topic may vary from author to author (e.g. it may be part of the job as for a Product Manager to roll out info via SDN), but the bottom line is always the desire to communicate to/with the community. Especially with (relatively) new tools or products the majority needs to get familiar with new concepts via any available documentation – here SDN has been proven to be an accepted and well acknowledged resource.

Furthermore, I truly believe that to some degree the community has to actively participate in order to get answers to their burning questions. SDN is a platform that ensures that raised questions, concerns and discussions can directly be addressed to the experts. Still, the community sometimes need to push in order to pull said information 🙂

The lack of feedback to any blog post may be caused by a variety of mistakes done in the process of blogging: a misleading title, a weak blurb, badly written content, the lack of broader interest or simply not reaching the targeted audience…

… however it can also be caused by the behaviour (read: the lack of action) of the audience as well. 🙂

Blogging is a global phenomena and as such more and more accepted as a medium to expand the company’s network in order to benefit from early feedback and to listen to the people that know their business best. Only then the results will fit and will be accepted by most as best practice, best breed… you name it.

Communication Styles

However, as the ones fortunate enough to ever get some training on cultural awareness know, it is very challenging to communicate globally with a great mix of experts coming from all over the world without agreeing on some basic guidelines, nomenclatures, communication rules and expectations first!

So, for example my respected colleagues from India sometimes shake their heads in meetings or discussions and I surely remember how puzzled I was when I first experienced it and didn’t know back then it’s meant to be just the opposite of denial 😉

One of the stereotypes about Germans I have heard is that they tend to be really precise and as the great engineers they are, are quick to point out concerns when attending a lecture or a work shop. Silence is usually understood as approval and understanding. Any questions or concerns are (silently) assumed to be raised and it’s the responsibility of the participants to raise their arms respectively…

So, by this rational one could come to the conclusion that no feedback equals absolute approval. If only things would be that simple… 😉

I also remember that, while working with some great guys from Israel, one of the first emails I got was a business code on how to work with Israeli… it was great help and I really appreciated that. (I lost that document unfortunately, so Amit if you still have it could you send it to me?)

At the end, it’s up us readers (I’d assume that almost every author is also a reader) to take action, hence I think it would make sense to discuss some conversation rules and (re-)consider how we should communicate with our peers on SDN.

Web 2.0 Netiquette

wikipedia: Web 2.0 | Netiquette

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So in the best tradition of netiquette and in the best spirit of Web 2.0 I’d like to propose that – from now on – everyone that took the time to read an article (which took him some time) at least leaves a short (one word maybe) comment whether or not that reading was considered worthwhile or anything else that would at least show the appreciation of the author for taking the time to write something for us. Only by doing so, the author will know how to improve or what would be (more) interesting!

I’d like to lead by good example and – by chance – it looks like I’ll have the opportunity to build another composite for a (up-to-date anonymous) customer based on SAP NetWeaver Composition Environment 7.1 in Q3/Q4.

I plan to talk about that process and so if anybody would be interested in a particular topic or part of this project… let me know! 😉

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9 Comments

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  1. Mark Yolton
    Well done blog on an important topic.  Not only do we need to hear about specific implementations or NetWeaver components or some cool new gadget or technology trick, but as a *community* we need to learn and improve how we engage with each other using Web 2.0 tools and practices and netiquette.  The desire for feedback (even complaints) after writing what the author feels is his or her best effort at conveying pearls of wisdom is so strong that if nothing happens afterward to continue the conversation (no comments, no agreement, no disagreements… nothing), it can be quite disappointing.  So I’m happy to be the first to comment on your blog.  Keep the wisdom coming. 

    Regards,
    Mark Yolton

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  2. Michael Nicholls
    Hi Matthias

    While I agree with your concept, at the moment blog replies are difficult to identify quickly and become tiresome to wade through when looking at the “recent blogs” list.

    I’d prefer to have another way to rate blogs, or attach “nice blog” type comments, similar to the standard KM functions in the portal. Maybe the developers are working on such a feature 🙂

    Cheers

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  3. Matthias Steiner Post author
    Mark, Michael and Gali, thanks for your thoughts!

    Indeed, a quick voting button, a digg-it feature or something alike would probably help to identify top articles and a simple/quick way to give feedback. Still, whithout at least a few words on what the reader liked/disliked the most such rankings cannot really be interpreted correctly IMHO.

    Some may also have concerns on how authors would see such a “ranking” feature I guess. It good be quite discouraging and frustrating to compile an article and get lots of negative feedback and not knowing why…

    It’s not a low-hanging fruit to get to a consense here, but that’s what I wanted to address with my blog and I’d be happy and feel honoured to discuss this topic here 🙂

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  4. Natascha Thomson
    I fully agree with your blog and the notion that commenting should be “blogger etiquette”. After all, we are not writing the blogs for our own entertainment but because we hope to connect and strike a conversation, or at least educate. It would be good to get validation (good or bad) for future blogs and interactions. People should state if the content has been useful/not useful. Do they agree/disagree?
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  5. Marilyn Pratt
    Your blog was a welcome and pleasant surprise as I get back on our  roller coaster (after being thrown off course by a car accident 2 weeks ago). 

    Glad to hear that you are proposing a project and I’d like to warmly recommend experimenting with describing the composite project as a wiki community project.  Good way to get interactive and collaborative as folks in the BPX composite sphere will tell you.

    Loved your description of the emotional phases of “coming out” from reader (or lurker) to active participant.

    Acknowledgment definitely is a powerful incentive and even negative response or critique is better than silence for some of us.

    Thanks for sharing your voice here.

    Marilyn 

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    1. Matthias Steiner Post author
      Thanks Marylin for your support on this! 🙂

      I hope you’re doing ok again and that no human got (seriously) hurt!

      I’ll consider your proposal about leveraging the WIKI for that upcoming project of mine, however I do not yet have it all fledged out as of now, so we’ll see…

      @Everybody: Keep it coming… 😉

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