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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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
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?
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)?
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.
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.
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!