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Tiny details I would love to have on SDN, part 6

Note: Please understand that this blog series is not complaining about our beloved SDN. I only blog about the topics I have discussed with other Community members and find useful. I think a place where people can discuss the often-appearing-ideas and suggestions one by one is needed and I hope my blogs about the common ideas and suggestions can create such useful places for such discussion. For previous parts check my Blogs list.

The magic formula of quality

I asked few (responsible) people about how does the procedure of assigning the points for blog posts work. I was told there is a group of people, who assign points. The first one, who can see a new blog without points assigned, assigns some points. So far so good. 

But here comes the natural question in this situation: how does he/she know how many points to assign? I think, he/she uses his/her personal “magic formula”. Do you think if does not seem very clear? So do I. Let´s talk about the better ways and what are the alternatives (how to objectify things a little).

To have some fun I made up a magic formula of mine:

(50 + (how I like the author) – random number + speed of the wind) *

(topic not frequently covered around 1) * (length in #words/ average #words).

For those who didn´t notice: I exaggerate a lot here… (not only here, hope you don´t mind, no offense)

The people who reward points know “something” about the topic, so they can judge the quality of the content better than a random stranger. So the number of points should tell something about the quality (…tell the author, because other people cannot see the number of points…?). But it is not that objective, right? Example: if the blog would remain in the “not processed” posts till it receives three point number suggestion, the number would me a little more objective, wouldn´t it? 

Let me elaborate on the reasons, why I asked the question about how it works first. You can check for yourself – I have been an active blogger for some time and have written blogs on various topics – some about what I can do and wanted to share with the beginners (to spare other people´s time), some about what I like and don´t like about SCN, some career blogs etc.

You can picture the time and “effort”, I had to “invest” to write those blogs. It was very different every time. Sometimes it took me days to find out how things work before I can blog about it (like my favorite: How to play around with SAP and Crystal reports, trial versions only blog) or just minutes to express my feelings and ideas (well, it took me more to make sure the message I want to tell makes sense… for example: The blogs: Roots of the tree of knowledge).

By the way I talk about it not because I think I was stolen points, I only think that there could be better ways how to judge the value of the content (and…by the way… this value don´t have to be static, read further). I am sure I am not the only one who was once surprised by the generosity of the “giving-so-many-points-away” group members or disappointed by the number .

The pulse to write this blog was a comment posted by Laure Cetin in this thread:

The new recognition model

It is important to measure quality, I agree with that. We’ve been thinking about it … we’re looking at the possibility to go toward ratings. I’ve been reading what others (including some Mentors) have to say and, not surprising, there are pros and cons. But ratings together with page hits would be a powerful tool to evaluate and recognize good contributions. We’re in the brainstorming phase right now.

That has drawn my attention and I spend days and nights thinking about the ratings (and not only about them) and ways how could we measure the quality of the content and (especially) reward the quality content (because for so many people the points they receive for their time and effort are important).

There are so many people who care about the quality of the content – moderators, chronic complainers – cheers Harald – and all the people who want to use the forums (and other parts of SCN) quickly and efficiently, without having to browse through the duplicates, errors, spams and other “noise”. There must be a way how to motivate people to provide quality content and make it more visile.

Let me start with a random list of thoughts about how we could try to objectify the quality a little more. I will elaborate on the items later (one day…). I am sure this list or the ideas are not anything special or new, but this could be the place for the discussion, for gathering the opinions of the Community at one place.

Important: I welcome any comments, dear reader; you may have about the topic in general or about the items on this list!

  • There are numbers of points assigned in return for the content (by the “blogging” team for blogs, by the man, who asked the question in the forums etc.).
  • We could rate all the types of content (you can rate the article, but cannot rate a forum answer or a blog).
  • There are the usage statistics we could use.
    • Example:  we can use the number of views for example.
    • Example 2: we could appreciate the blogs which attract people to comment more.
    • Example 3: we could try some more “complex” logic, for example use the distribution of visits/ views in time. If people use the same content for years, in my opinion it means that the contribution has been very useful, of a great quality and that it brought much to the Community. It could mean that other people build on these sources of knowledge, what is a value that must be rewarded.
  • We can discuss, if we would like these “smart” mechanisms of “judging the quality” to change the value of the content in points. Example: auto-reward points for received comments under the blog, auto-reward every hundred of views etc. (something like +1 point for giving points).

I am not sure if I want anything from the list above to be implemented on SCN. If yes, which option or set of options to implement. I just think about it a lot and wanted to share my thoughts. Maybe the Community (through the comments) can express their feelings.

Here comes your turn, dear Community members. Tell me what you think about rating the content or rewarding some extra points by the machines. What are your ideas and feelings about ratings? How do you recognize the quality content and how would you motivate other people to create such content for you? Dou you think these mechanisms could be abused/ misused?

And there is one more thing I would like to talk about/ ask you about. How do you recognize if people think you provide quality content? Do you like receiving personal messages? Or you think the more points you get the better the content is? How do you gather feedback? How do you try to improve what you offer for the next time?

I hope I don´t ask too many questions to puzzle you. Please comment.

Best regards, Otto

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  • Hi Otto,
    Whether you are busy pondering “How to play around with SAP and Crystal reports, trial versions only” or how to improve the experience in the community, you are sharing your knowledge, experience, and opinions and you have a right to wonder how they are ranked and regarded.
    (I loved your scenario/formula describing how points are allocated- probably not so very far from the truth as in any assessment by human beings there is subjectivity but also some weird voodoo …as Finnern would say).
    I would like to share a bit of my own ways of thinking of awarding points for blog contents.
    1) I look at the blog’s statistics (here’s a snapshot of that Crystal blog of yours)
    Comments: 3   Rank: 13629   Page Views: 783 
    Notice there is a natural ranking that occurs over time according to accumulated page views.  That tells me something about how interesting the blog is to others.  Comments are also an indicator.  The author’s engagement with the comments are also important.  I also give weight to whether the content has caught the eye of an editor and may be a candidate for promotion to a homepage.  These are all elements that are less to do with “my opinions” and more to do with input from others.  Sometimes there is an element of wanting to encourage a newbie and giving someone a boost for a “starter” content (remember how I reached out to you way back when?).  Of course personal enrichment would also play a part but here I would agree that getting a wider spectrum of ratings from a larger pool of folks would be more “fair” than relying on the judgement of a single point administrator.  I do recall though that folks like Jon Reed and Jim Spath had surprisingly negative things to say about some kinds of rating systems.  I’d love for us to discuss this further in Berlin-  Shall we at TechEd?
    • Hello Marilyn, I am glad to see your comment on my blog, it is a while ago I got a comment from your side:))
      First of all: I DO remember how you reached me when I was just a SDN kid. I must say that a great part of my motivation came from your emails, a LinkedIn invitation etc. That gave me a feeling of being useful a motivation to contribute on. Thank you for that and I hope you will attract and motivate many more new contributors like you caught me.
      Back to the topic: Cool you told us about your magic formula. If we agree some more objectivity would be nice, maybe you could blog about it? I mean this comment is important for me, but is not much visible for the Community.
      In my opinion other may ask similar questions like me and would like to get the clarification through a “real” blog, not just a comment. I am not sure how important the topic of objectivity and/or ratings is for you, but maybe you would consider doing this to answer all the questions by a single answer…?
      Since we started exchanging emails I was looking forward to talk to you, so I still hope to talk:)) You can count on it/me!
      thank you for the effort you invest in this Community and keep motivate us and/or the newcomers, you´re doing a great and important job!
      All the best, Otto
      • Thanks for your kind acknowledgement of my attempts at encouraging newbies.  Community advocate is my own view of my job definition and I would like to think that my work here reflects that.  I can’t think of anything I’d rather be doing on SCN.
        As for the “magic formula” for crediting blogs.
        I have no problem sharing my own personal “methods” but do bear in mind that while I employ them while looking at the “blogs without points” queue and updating point allocation for some of those same blogs (as do all my SCN team colleagues) our real goal is to have more participation from the moderators in that activity.   I see this as gradually moving from our SCN team doling out (giving out) kudos for a job well done to the subject experts fully owning that activity, wherever appropriate.
        • Great, I like that course.
          In my opinion writing another blog about the topic (and authored by reknown community member/manager) would make the topic even more visible. Would be cool if you can shape a vision, rather than just explaining the formula and/or saying the process flow will change (one day…). In my opinion it will be your or your day who will say how will the process change. Or am I wrong?
          If you will describe your ideas on public and share it with the Community, you will not implement something what the zillions of members here will not like. Example: if you would like to have the number of points calculated from the values from more people, say it loud and proud.
          I know it is not that easy for you, there are the expectations (when somebody feels like he heard a promise) and some other problems but hey, talking about things before we implement them is the reason why we are all here, right?
          You said you heard ideas of Jon and others what are the risks, problems or obstacles using the ratings or objectify the value of the content. Maybe you can share it and hope these guys will come to add their comment as well. I don´t think it is impolite to cite Jon, I am sure he would forgive us, you or me.
          Just in case you would write a blog, I don´t want to miss it, please drop the link here when it is out.
          Most of the acknowledgement cannot be told. It is in the heart of the SCNers. There are not many people as famous as you´re, Marilyn:))
          Talk to you soon, Otto
  • IMO SCN should not be about collecting points (or badges), but about exchange of information. So I don’t really care about how a blog gets rated via SCN.

    Consider this blog:
    It got 120 pts. You can argument that this blog is more a feature presentation and sell presentation, but for many people this blog is of more value than 120 pts: It’s explaining a new feature / product that aims at an area that was for a long time considered abandoned. In fact, the impact this new product has on the understanding of the future of SAP Portal is huge.

    Now to a blog I wrote:
    I got 100 pts. I’ve written about a technology that is since a long time in the market and will be replaced soon by NW Portal 7.3. SCN could have given me 50 pts (or less). I was more interessted in the feedback I would get. And I got feedback: comments to the blog, the blog got featured on the SCN startpage (someone from SCN put it there) and in the SDN newsletter, the blog was also featured. That’s priceless. Knowing that I was not writing about something that nobody thinks useful I got the motivation to continue the application (maybe I try to get this to BI & Portals or one of the next TechEDs).

    To the general recognition model: As you can see, the thread you mention is getting away from a point based recognition system and to a value based recognition, may it be user feedback or how a contributor can use SCN to influence the product.

    br, Tobias

    • Hello,
      thanks for the comment and ideas. I checked your links, but the first one is… not yours…? The page says: Aviad Rivlin:)) But I understand the message of your comment, nevertheless the details do not fit:)) I hope we will find better ways, but for now the points is the only “mechanism” we have… (except the comments, that is why I value your comment and all the others more than the points).
      Cheers Otto
      • Yes, the first blog is not from me. I picked one from the portal area that is about a new product and got more points than mine.

        “but for now the points is the only “mechanism” we have”
        -> that is my point: there are other ways; as explained in my example. Why are you so focused on points?

        • I am not focused on the points:))
          My point is: If there is nothing better available than points (there are so many people asking for different “mechanisms” than points, cheers Julius!), let´s objectify the number of points (better tiny progress than nothing, in my opinion).
          I am interested in the evolution, because we will not see a revolution (at least that is my feeling about how SAP drives this place).
          By the way: if you check my activity on SCN, do you think I am focused on points?
          Have a nice day, Otto
  • Regarding number of blog/article views… Here in comments to the idea

    mentioned a note that there could be two groups of content actually in subject to the target audience. Some blogs are actual for all SCN community (news, events, announcements, etc.), but other blogs are pure technical falling into a concrete technical category (WebDynpro, ABAP, Javascript, etc.). Then the audience of the blogs from the first group will be, of course, much broader then the small group of technicians who reads strictly specialized blog even if it’s perfect in quality.
    That’s why the absolute numbers of points will not work here.

    2) >>We can discuss, if we would like these “smart” mechanisms of “judging the quality” to change the value of the content in points. Example: auto-reward points for received comments under the blog, auto-reward every hundred of views etc. (something like +1 point for giving points).

    If SCN introduce this we might face with phenomena of cheating. Just leave a comment even stupid or primitive text and author will get points. Blog author can invite dummy commentators just to earn more points.
    Though, I think that “auto-reward points for received comments” can be valuable if SCN will try to automatically evaluate a ‘quality of comment’. For example, if comment is longer then 30 characters, then it shall bring to points assignment.