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Does the SAP SCN community need more achievements and rewards?

Introduction

Are the current available achievements enough to keep SCN community members motivated to share content or should there be more achievements and rewards?

The first introduction sentence doesn’t capture what you can achieve by being active on SAP SCN but I want you to think about the achievements and rewards.

Gaming

You have the medals on SCN for active contributors which are great in my opinion. I like those shiny medals and I love receiving a bunch of points and moving forward. I’m also a gamer, although I rarely play through a whole game, I have played lost of games and spent a lot of time on it. I even spent time in the past on creating a modification for a game which was a great experience.

A game can be interesting for many reasons, the artistic value, the gameplay which is new and refreshing or the technology that is cutting edge and so on.

Statistics

BFBC2 statistics

Picture 1.1

One of the things which are done nowadays in games is keeping statistics what every user has been doing. You can see my statistics for Battlefield Bad Company 2 in picture 1.1. Those statistics can serve as a valuable source for the creators as they can derive a lot of information from those statistics, how long does it take a person on average to go up one level, is there enough teamplay (team score) or do we have to reward it better and so on.

I personally care less about these statistics. I had a discussion with someone who claimed to be a better player than me based on these statistics. He said, I have a K/D Ratio (Kills / Deaths) of 2.00 so I’m playing better. Not neccesarily, he is playing in a different way. While he might have a K/D Ratio of 2.00 my Score is much higher. His tactic is sitting behind a tree and waiting for someone to pass by and shoot him. My tactic is yelling out “Here I am come get me” and I spray bullets and grenades as if I’m Rambo. By moving forward and achieving team objectives I get much more score points which make me level much faster. I want a game to be fun and not rely only on statistical numbers but for the creators of the game it can give valuable hints where to improve or change things.

Achievements

BFBC2 short term achievements

Picture 1.2

Lately popular games come with a range of achievements by default, a trend set by massive multiplayer games like everquest and later on world of warcraft. World of warcraft which still keeps millions of people busy trying to get achievements, rare items and so on. Why is that? People like achieving things and people like comparing, they reflect their own achievements upon the achievements of other people.

Short term achievements

You can see a number of achievements of Battlefield Bad Company 2 in picture 1.2. The ones with gray lines are achievements I haven’t yet reached, they also have a visible counter so the player can actually see how far he is away of getting the achievement. Notice how most of the times numbers between 5 and 20 are used. Like 6/20 demolish kills. The reason is because you have to keep people interested, give them short term achievements which are interesting enough to do some effort but which are not too hard either. 1 kill would be too easy, 5 kills would be something people try to achieve on very short term, 20 kills is enough to make people do an effort.

Long term achievements

BFBC2 long term achievements

Picture 1.3

Of course there are also achievements on long term which you can see in picture 1.3. The creators want to keep the gamers busy, keep them motivated, not only on short term but also on long term. While reaching short term achievements, the long term achievements slightly move forward, yes it might take time but that’s the point. It keeps people busy and makes them look forward to the future, to the point where they will reach that long term achievement, unlocking the next one.

Relation to SCN

image  Active Contributor Bronze (250-499 points)

image  Active Contributor Silver (500-1,499 points)

image  Active Contributor Gold (1,500-2,499 points)

image  Active Contributor Platinum (2,500+ points)

Picture 1.4

Before starting to write this blog, I first checked if I could find similar content on SCN. No point in writing something which has been written before unless there is a difference of course. I found a blog of Aug 04,2010 Announcing the new SCN Contributor Recognition Program. The blog announces the active contributor badges (see picture 1.4). In my opinion a great idea.

Since the beginning of December 2010 I became very active in the SAP SCN community, inspired by great thinkers such as Seth Godin and by my urge to move forward and change things. Since then I have gathered points and I’m currently an active contributor gold. The idea to have dynamic badges (you can drop to lower contributor status if you don’t share anymore) by having a 12 month period is a good idea in my opinion. Throwing away all points at the end of the year doesn’t motivate people.

So what can I still achieve once I get to active contributor platinum? For me becoming a SAP Mentor would be the next step, there is no point in not writing this, I would be honored to be a SAP Mentor. I have a lot of respect for the SAP Mentor group and I truly believe they make a difference. Seth Godin would describe such persons as linchpins, a linchpin which is an essential part of a bigger whole.

Although SAP Mentors are often active on SCN, the mentorship goes beyond SCN (which sometimes people forget). While I might fancy the thought of influencing the community and help improve SAP products and services, a lot of persons don’t want to do it. Often fear is one of the driving forces behind that decision but for some it’s a choice, which they are entitled to of course.

Then the question becomes, where do they go or what do they do once they reach active contributor platinum? I read a blog The specified item was not found. from Otto Gold on his view on SAP SCN and the fact that there seemed to be less activity and people stop sharing for some reason.

The idea

You can vote for the idea on idea place Take achievements and rewards to the next level.

What the gaming industry does by setting achievements available for persons is keeping them engaged. What a great way of achieving the effect of engagement. Most people love achieving things and seeing a forward movement, a change, it doesn’t matter how subtle it might be.

While the active contributor badges are great and the active contributor lists are a good idea, I would take things much further. Have people choose their own path, give them a lot of choices.

Forum points on SCN

I noticed that being active (even very active) on the forum isn’t as rewarding as writing blogs. Even when you sometimes give a great answer and actually provide the solution to a problem, you are sometimes (often) rewarded a tiny 2 points. Not really motivating now is it? I know persons who are trying to reach platinum but face it, being active only on the forum is moving forward very slowly.

Stirring things up

20 helpful forum posts

Picture 1.5

What if you would set an achievement that if you get 20 helpful answers (worth 2 points) you reach an achievement (see picture 1.5), granting you with bonus points? What if those even small achievements would be visible on a separate achievements tab in your business card? Perhaps the achievement itself should be displayed as a bigger image accompanied by text but wouldn’t it be a nice feature?

e-learning 2011

Picture 1.6

What if you would give titles for not only the most active contributor on a certain category but for the most active contributor of sub parts of SCN like e-learning (see picture 1.6)?

Rewards

Besides recognition of actions you have performed (which the contributor badge does), there are also other ways to motivate people in participating in the SAP SCN community. What if you would couple discounts to important events such as TechED to the achievements which persons get on SCN? It would give persons a chance to participate in the community, share information, get connected, get achievements and give them good argumentation towards their manager to show they also put effort into their work.

A lot of managers see TechED as a cost and care about ROI (return on investment), what if you can persuade them to let you go to the event because you have already shown you want to go, you have your discount from being an active contributor. That can serve as an argument towards your manager to invest in you as a person and to let you integrate even further into the community bringing far more value to the table than they could ever imagine.

On the other side it would be a statement from SAP that they want to have their customers and partners coming to their event. It would also show their commitment to build a stronger community by investing in that community.

Seeing progress

progress

Picture 1.7

While the active contributor badges are great, people like seeing progress. The number of points in the contributors corner doesn’t really show how far away the next status is. I would like to see a progress bar (see picture 1.7 for an example I made) which shows the progress of the active contributor status. The same would be useful in the achievements, give the user a view on how far or how close the achievement is.

End note

I could come up with hundreds achievements and I know for sure I would like to check a big list of achievements (small, big) and try to achieve them. Although I have a natural drive which pushes me to perform actions, question things and try to do things which haven’t been done before (some succesful, some fail) I like achievements. The same goes for ideas, this might be a great idea but there is as much chance people will not like this and burn the idea.

I fancy achievements and it brings a certain vibe, lets say a fun factor. This can even work well in a business context where you try to motivate your employees, it takes one person to trigger the change. I bet I can get more of my colleagues to present topics on technical sessions if I attach achievements and rewards to it.

One more thing I have to say is don’t be afraid, feedback is very important in a community. If you don’t like my idea then burn it! If you love my idea then spread the word!

16 Comments
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  • Hello Tom,
    all your ideas/ points are good, but you will see in the coming weeks and months how many of them
    a) were suggested before (no offense, you provide the whole story from “why, how” etc. so I cannot accuse you of plagiarism:)) but not many were implemented
    b) are not in line with the SAP SCN strategy (well, we don´t know much about the strategy, but one can guess things out from what one can see here every day or in the past months)
    c) does not fit into the new “plan”, which is “migration to the new platform” as you might noticed in the blogs by the SCN managers.
    It is not like I don´t like your ideas. I only suggest to suggest less, describe it in more detail and especially gather support for more specific ideas than “general improvement ideas”:))
    Anyway, keep doing this, we need to know what are the options and where we might go in coming years.
    cheers Otto
  • Guess you are either playing more fantasy games or part of TopCoder/AlgoGeeks? Great presentation & truly creative ideas. If SDN/BPX team can also integrate a method to upload pics/screenshots which are relevant to problems/issues in the SDN forums, it would be really helpful for lesser mortals like me! Anyways, good fun reading your ‘concepts’… Admire your work!
    • Hello Arun Bala Ganesan

      I play all kind of games, board games are also part of my favorite outside work activities (social aspect of a board game).

      You can create an idea on Idea place for the pictures/screenshot integration into the SDN forum if it doesn’t exist yet. I know they plan to build in a paste functionality (copy paste pictures) for creating blogs. The forms in idea place already offer the functionality so it should be feasible.

      Thanks for your valuable feedback

      Kind regards

      Tom

  • Hello Tom,
    Thank you for this very interesting blog, and the details about the game world that you provide. I’ve never been a fan of video games but I remember playing the Game Boy and competing with my brothers to get to the next level before them 🙂 I remember the expectation building: what will come in the next level, what monsters will I have to fight? What reward/how many points etc. will I get when I reach the next level?
    Similarly on SCN, I think it is fair to ask yourself the same thing: What do I get if I move up to Platinum? How does SCN help build my reputation and how can I get more: connect with more people, learn more, get more recognition, etc.
    I am part of the SCN Collaboration Team and our goal for this year, among others, is to encourage contributions, and more importantly encourage the right behaviors on SCN that bring quality content to the rest of the community. With my focus on the recognition system, I have already thought about badges, something you allude to in your blog. If you’re interested, I’d like to connect with you to discuss in further details – you can find my email address on my business card. Hope to hear from you soon!
    Laure
    • Hello Laure

      Thanks for your valuable feedback.
      I grew up with computers, my dad bought a commodore 64 (somewhere in 1980’s) and I started playing on it around age 5. Not only being interested in the gaming part but basically everything related to computers.

      Kind regards

      Tom

  • SCN Points for SAP Mentors are usually the result of their activities, not the driving force.  In otherwords most SAP Mentors do what they do because that’s what drives them.  If they get SCN Points as result of their activities, that’s just a way of putting a numerical measurement on those contributions.

    Personally I have told folks that theyshould contribute because they either want to share knowledge or learn and not for points.  At the SAP Inside Track in St. Louis, I encouraged folks to answer/contribute something in their area of knowledge when it might help someone else.   That’s way more important that getting to a numerical goal. 

    The great part is if you focus on helping others solve problems and expanding your personal knowledge, I will guarantee those numbers you earn will increase dramatically.

    Take care,

    Stepehn

    • Hello Stephen

      Your title is actually exactly what I meant when I wrote that SAP Mentors are active outside SCN and is actually a response to someone who said certain SAP Mentors should loose their Mentor status because they aren’t active on SCN. A statement I strongly disagreed on.

      I agree with you on the fact that the SCN points aren’t the driving force for SAP Mentors but that doesn’t mean community members don’t get motivated by the SCN points. The SAP Mentor group is only a very small, yet important, part of the SCN community.

      Just to be clear, I want to become a SAP Mentor with or without a platinum status, the sentence in my blog was hypothetical. What could I set as a goal once I would reach a platinum status? It doesn’t mean I would stop sharing if I would not be chosen as a SAP Mentor.

      I also agree on the fact that the added value of being an active contributor comes from sharing and receiving knowledge, getting connected and so on. However, in my opinion, the points or achievements or rewards can help community members to share.

      I go to work each morning at 5am, I arrive at work at 5.30am (I start getting payed at 7.30am). During the two hour period gap I spend time on SCN to learn and share knowledge. When I come in at 5.30, there is a securitas guard at the reception which greets me with a smile and a kind word.

      After a few days I talked to him a bit longer, telling him how I admire that he is so friendly and that it makes me start my day with a positive vibe. He told me his dad was in the hospital and that it wasn’t easy to keep on smiling and be friendly during his shift because of his personal situation. I told him he is doing an extraordinary job and that he should keep up the spirit. It made him smile. Ever since, I take a few minutes to talk to him in the morning.

      Sometimes people need a compliment and in my opinion, achievements and rewards can be seen as a compliment although it might be programmed, text based and perhaps visualized it can have an influence on people.

      The goal is not the points or the achievements or the rewards but if it makes people smile, it influences their behaviour. I think it’s great that you motivate people to share knowledge and learn but I also know it’s very hard to persuade people.

      The people that do get inspired are most of the times persons who already shared but perhaps on a smaller scale (I gave technical sessions around Solution Manager at Core Consulting so I stepped over to a bigger audience).

      So the question becomes, how do you get the others to share? That is a difficult question to answer. While the SAP Mentors and people who are driven to share (out of passion or other reasons) perhaps don’t care about the points, achievements or rewards. Those who don’t care about it at all, ignore the points and having more achievements or rewards available for community members will not change that.

      I doubt a community such as the player base of World Of Warcraft which is massive (millions) would be as large and active if there weren’t any achievements and rewards available.

      To end my reply, I believe that achievements and rewards can bring a part of the community (not the die hard core because they already see it) to the point where they do see the added value of sharing and getting knowledge from SAP SCN whereas without them they would perhaps not start sharing.

      For me personally, I don’t think more achievements or rewards would bring added value for me but that’s not the intention either, they serve another purpose.

      Even though they don’t bring added value to my knowledge I like the idea.

      Kind regards

      Tom

  • Great blog, and you are totally right with many things and your suggestions. There is a hot industry trend called “Gamification”. That means using game mechanics and dynamics to engage and empower people.

    I attended in January the Gamification Summit in SF (here my blog about that: Gamifying the Enterprise: Gamification Summit 2011 ) and got a lot of ideas and met a lot of people. And we are at SAP internally having our own gamification community with 150 group members interested in that topic (I am driving that topic at SAP). I also identified around 8-9 prototypes where this was tried out (I’ll blog about this in the next days).

    There are many things we could do and more engage SCN users. How about rewarding people for cleaning the content by finding duplicates? Rewarding people who drive some new topics and giving them more points for that? For rewarding users to help onboard new users on certain technologies?
    I just today sat together with Laure Cetin to discuss the replacement of our homegrown point- and badge-system with a platform by a gamification platform provider like bunchballs.com, bigdoor.com or badgeville.com and how it would make that more flexible for the community and the CN team. We will do an internal PoC of those gamification platform providers over the course of the next weeks and I will be happy to share some of our insights.

    I’d be happy to continue a discussion around this topic. And before I stop, I’d recommend to watch the video of Jane McGonigal on the TED (18 minutes, but totally worth it).

    • Hello Mario

      Thanks you for the valuable feedback. Somehow I seemed to have missed your blog while checking on SCN daily. It is a very interesting blog, I will surely check the media and links later on today.

      I agree with the multitude of possibilities and I also believe you should have such multitude in order to let community members choose their own path to contribute the way they want to contribute and get rewarded for it.

      I’m a gamer and I played lots of MMORPG’s of which WoW still is the leader. Although WoW still leads the pack, other MMORPG’s with other possiblities and elements like Aion are also very interesting and compelling.

      The MMO communities are awaiting Guild Wars 2 which will bring event based content along with other new, refreshing ideas.

      I’m looking forward to the feedback you will provide from the gamification platform poc.

      Kind regards

      Tom

  • As I catch up with blogs, I find myself reading some great ones – like this one.  It’s well thought out, creative, and so true!  (I’ll give it the thumbs up on idea place too.)<br/><br/>I agree – there are many of us that are not motivated by points.   We just like to share.  Feel it’s important…..  <blah, blah, blah… Blah in the nicest terms.  I’ve even written about blah.  But basically you’ve heard it all before><br/><br/>BUT what’s the harm in making it something fun too?   Gaming industry makes things fun.  We could as well.  I know there are changes in the works.   This is one of those great ideas that should be taken seriously – and it is.  <br/><br/>Actually contests would be fun – rewards could be something as small as a “hero for a day” – a nice tag by your name, etc…<br/><br/>Or as large as something nice from our SAP friends.  <br/><br/>Anyway – loved it – it gives me something to think about in the morning.  <br/><br/>Michelle<br/><br/>Side note – you are not motivated by points either, or why write this blog?  🙂

    • Hello Michelle

      Thanks for the nice comments. Indeed what is wrong with a little bit of fun 🙂

      The points are part of my list of motivators. They were definitely a stimulance in the beginning to be more active on SCN and I love the badges system, it’s a great idea.

      I hope to see some kind of gamification / rewards / achievements in the next SCN version so I’m already excited to see what is in store in the future. I would surely participate in some contests 😉

      The progress bar is one of the ideas that was very well received and should not be too complicated to incorporate although it does require development to construct it. Fingers crossed and hopefully it will be present in the future SCN version.

      I made some example pages with more detailed information on some ideas of which the links are found on idea place.

      Kind regards

      Tom