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As an ASUG volunteer, an SCN enthusiast, and an SAP Mentor, I really want to step up my activity in the forums, most notably the Workflow forum.  My reasons are simple:

1) I want to help people

2) I want to set a good example, so others will want to help people

Do I want lots of points? Nah, those don’t matter to me.  Do I want ‘name recognition’? Maybe, but really, not so much. 

I have struggled with questions that are very obtuse and some that seem downright rude.  ‘Provide me with the info to do this’.  I understand that there may be cultural and language barriers that may impact the way a question is formed.  And I try like heck to be considerate and respectful.

So, if your question in a forum is not getting answered, or if the answer doesn’t seem to be what you were looking for, there Asking Good Questions in the SCN Discussion Spaces will help you get Good Answers a few months back, and it is well worth reviewing and bringing back to the forefront, so that everyone can benefit.

Rob points out many simple basics that should be observed before posting a question in a forum (and I don’t care whether it’s an SCN forum, or an iPhone forum, or a Lego forum).  So many questions can be answered just by doing your own due diligence.  

So, I will go back to the forums, but I may quote Rob’s blog in some of my answers.  Sometimes I may point people to[ SAP Help | http://help.sap.com/], or SAP Tutorials , or SAP LOD , or SAP books.  When I do this, it’s because I genuinely think the requester would benefit from these resources better than posting a one-off question that may be, essentially, unanswerable.

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  1. Jeremiah Stone
    Funny how the more things change, the more they stay the same. 

    I recall from my early days on USENET in groups such as sci.math (when I worked at the sister lab to Lincoln 🙂 ) that all newbies were actively encouraged to “read the FAQ” before posting.  There was of course no FAQ, this phrase was meant that it was common courtesy to research questions before posting to keep the signal/noise ration high and to respect other readers’ time and attention.

    In our brave new world of social media, blogs, twitter, etc., nothing has changed except the level of noise and the limited amount of time and attention that I have to spend.

    So, please dear reader, follow Susan’s advice, read the SCN FAQ (maybe that’s Rob’s blog?), and contribute high signal questions and answers.

    All of us only have so much attention to spend…

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    1. Marilyn Pratt
      Sue, Chris, Jeremiah, Jamie et. all
      When Rob posted his blog post many folks in the forums including myself thought that it should be associated with the Rules of Engagement.
      Many think it should be mandatory reading for anyone wanting to engage in the forums as it comes from learnings from you, the active participants.
      Gali commented in Rob’s post:
      “Thank you Rob. I added it to the [forum page|http://wiki.sdn.sap.com/wiki/x/j4LlBw] of our Guide to SCN since it really could help so many users.”
      I am added a clickable version of her statement here: Forum Page of SCN Guide  Thanks Sue for refreshing this topic.
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  2. James Oswald
    And they’ll totally forget if they don’t fish for a few weeks.

    I do think this is a great point.  Being a relatively new SAP Mentor (and one who doesn’t really know anything at all about classic SAP stuff), I get questions asked of me frequently.  Rather than answer outright, I try finding somewhere the question was answered, sending that link back along with the query I used to find it (not everyone can think like Google — my wife is actually better at it than anyone I know).  If I can’t find the answer, I usually have the person go post the question in a forum and go answer it there, just to make sure my response may help someone else that day.

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  3. Greg Myers
    I’ve often struggled with my level of participation/contribution to forums, especially the BusinessObjects ones for several reasons. First off, there are so many ways/methods/platforms involved that its often difficult to find someone with the same as what you have, so most information you get from the forum you have to take with a grain of salt. For example, we are one of a small minority of companies that use BOBJ on Solaris (UNIX). Most run it on Windows, and their info is about Windows. While the same app, it does run differently on UNIX.
    Secondly, I’m also a little concerned about liability. If I give someone advice, they take it and break their system, what is my degree of liability to them? That often keeps me just lurking rather than posting.
    And last but not least, there are so many experts in there that answer questions correctly and swiftly that it often leaves no room for the ‘little guys’ to swing in, save the day, and score some points.
    All that being said, I have been trying to participate more lately myself for many of the same reasons as you, Sue.

    Bravo on a great post!

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  4. Tammy Powlas
    I think before posting a question, I should state what/where I’ve researched.  For example, I have searched OSS for this issue and and have tried running x, y, z transactions and still have this problem.

    I agree, I’ve visited the forums sporadically as some are rude and demanding – for those, I simply move on.

    It is a great opportunity to learn, and I’ve learned from trying to reply to forum questions.  But for those that just say “provide me with the business process procedures”…I ignore.

    Tammy

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  5. Gregory Misiorek
    Susan,

    What’s a better endorsement of your “goodness” than having people actually use your own invention? I’ve been in and out of SAP-WUG mailing list, but have always found great tips there, long before SCN.

    Thank you for keeping an eye on those daemons.
    Now, if I could only find something about workflow for accountants.

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    1. Susan Keohan Post author
      Hunh. I typed in ‘SAP Workflow for Accountants’ and Google returned about 485,000 hits.
      There you go, Greg!

      PS: Thanks for the kind words.

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  6. Chris Paine
    Sue,

    you seem to be a very altruistic and kind person, but perhaps (and this is not meant in anyway to be a criticism of your character!) in these cases you are being too kind.

    If we all respond to posts that should instead have been researched first (RTFM posts) with links to the areas that should have been researched, we are (to use a phrase) building rods for our own backs. We are in effect _encouraging_ this behaviour!
    The more people that respond nicely to these unresearched posts the more that there will be.
    I would instead suggest that you report the post as abusive, for not having followed the forum rules of engagement and do not respond. The moderators can then step in and inform the poster to follow the rules. In some forums, those responding to these types of post are themselves castigated by the moderators. Posters who have a history of breaking the forum rules are then “guestified”.
    Now, given your warm and sharing personality (just my impression/interpretation) this may not sit well with you. But if we are to maintain/have the aim of the forums being an _expert_ source of knowledge then we can scarce afford to have such unresearched behaviour.

    This debate has/is ongoing in the comments/suggestions forum and the coffee corner forum. I would invite you to read and join in – if you haven’t already.

    Chris

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    1. Susan Keohan Post author
      Ha! Good one Chris!
      I tend to go right by the questions when it’s obvious that  RTFM  (or at least, as Jeremiah said, read the FAQ) has been ignored.  I can assure you, I understand the repercussions of rewarding bad behavior. 
      What I really wanted to do with this tiny blog was just get Rob’s blog front-and-center again, as this information can’t be communicated enough, as far as I am concerned.
      As someone who wears, but does not often use, the ‘moderator’ tag, I am spending my time familiarizing myself with the players before becoming more assertive in the forums. 

      The debate is not only here, but in many other forums (non-SCN) too. 

      Cheers,
      Sue

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