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Once again I opt for an explicit blog post as a reply instead of a simple comment as I’d like to take The Last  – Mobility News Weekly – Maybe as a starting point for a broader discussion about the nature of blogs on SDN and SCN respectively.

The Story so far…

Recap: Kevin got in the line of fire with his weekly blog posts and their format. Some may say he’s crossing the line from content aggregation to marketing. Some may even call his posts “link farms” or the like. Others positively replied to his poll about the usefulness and see value in the content he provides (see the comment thread.)

I feel a simple yes/no is of limited value though. It’s not just black and white. So, I cannot really answer “yes” as personally I’m not overly interested in such content. Yet, I don’t want to say “no” either. Kevin certainly seems to have been putting a lot of time and effort in these reports and it shows comitment for having done it for quite some time. He gets my credit for that! 

As such, this post is meant to be as constructive feedback and I just want to provide some insight into my personal thoughts on the topic and areas where I see room for improvement. It’s – of course-  biased and just my personal opinion (one of 2+ millions). What you do with the feedback is entirely up to you – the reader.

My Personal Feedback

The SAP Mentors are known to be highly influential within the SAP ecosystem and the SCN community. Some of the veterans among them have been influential to me (and many more) for some time now and what I learned from folks like Dennis Howlett (who is “never knowingly under opinionated”) and James Governor‘s Monkchips is that having an opinion and voicing it is a good way to lead, guide and eventually inspire people. If you can back up your words with analysis the better (they do!)

1. That’s my first point in regards to Kevin’s blogging style: Personally I lack the personal touch – the opinion. Some may refer to it as “spice”. If one would weave all these info together and do some analysis, predictions or anything else with it – there maybe soo much more value in the content. As it is, it more or less is just an aggregating of all this info and the readers need to digest it all by themselves and make some sense out of it.

2. If it’s just a collection of links + a small extract/review, then maybe RSS would be the best possible format to spread that. Everybody could subscribe to it and get the links separately and in real time plus one could still add personal recaps/comments. Maybe that is the difference – structured vs unstructured content?

3. Optimize for the target audience. Maybe another space at SCN would be a better fit for such info. SDN is still developer centric and I’d assume that for this audience technical blogs like John Moy‘s Build your first Mobile web app using jQuery Mobile and ABAP – Part 1 or other mobile articles and Consuming XML Web Services in iPhone Applications about WS consumption are more exciting for the folks who “own” this space. At least for me as a development architect that’s the content and discussions that interest me a whole lot more and… they trigger interesting follow-up discussions on social media.

4. Proper citation and reference to sources is very important to allow the readers to get the real picture. Not sure if it’s been a fuzz outside of Germany, but our Minister of Defense got in deep trouble for not obeying this fundamental principle of writing. Sure, it’s a different ball game and a blog post is not a PhD thesis – but still!

I’m not accusing Kevin of anything alike – don’t get me wrong! I mentioned it here in the general discusssion about blogging netiquette. Sure, I’ve seen quotes beeing tweeted going along the the lines of:

 “One can achieve unbelievable things when (s)he’s not concerned about getting the credit!”

Modesty is a virtue for sure [looking at Marilyn Pratt]. I go by the rational that the least I can do to thank the people who influence/teach me by cheering for them and by spreading what I’ve learned (and referring to the source.)

5. Feedback (as always.) As I said, a simple “yes/no” is sub-optimal in my book. I’d be interested to get to know the “why?” – what do you do with it. What do you like about it? How do you make use of it. See, I raised my opinion. I may be totally off. (Still, at least I could be the bad example.)

Last week I spotted a tweet saying “I learned more from bad examples…” (need to dig it up!).

As such, I stated the reasoning behind my point of view… how I got to my opinion. If I’m wrong, somebody may be kind enough to show me other aspects, another way of thinking, a better rational. IF they voice their thoughts and leave feedback, that is…

[Update] Speaking of Dennis Howlett… just saw his latest post “Gonzo.” That’s what I meant!

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  1. Ethan Jewett

    This is a great response, and I wholeheartedly support most of it. It is relevant to another recent discussion about similar “link farm” content.

    But I will take issue with one part: SCN is no longer SDN. It is not just developers here any more. I think that since the non-technical community here is still fairly nascent we should go out of our way to encourage valuable non-technical content.

    When I get annoyed about blogs on SCN that lack content, it is not about blogs that lack technical content. It is a problem I have with blogs that lack *any* significant content. This includes “link farms”, but also (importantly) the recent spat of SAP-posted blogs that consist of only a cute marketing video. These types of blogs don’t really provide anything new to the community.

    In Kevin’s case, I think the weekly mobility news updates are border-line. Kevin, if you are listening, it would be nice if you would choose just 2 or 3 links that are especially relevant to the community, and then try to start a discussion about those topics.


    1. Matthias Steiner Post author
      Hi Ethan,

      thanks for that reply! Fully with you: SCN is not only SDN anymore. That’s why I was wondering if the Mobility Newsletter may fit in better in any of the other spaces, maybe BPX?

      It’s an ongoing process to keep re-defining what works best for the community as a whole while it prospers. ๐Ÿ˜‰

      Keep the discussions alive!


      1. Ethan Jewett
        Hi Matthias,

        Unfortunately, as far as I can tell there is no way to make a blog show up only under “BPX” or “SDN”. All blogs seem to show up in both areas. I’m not sure there is much that Kevin can do about that. ๐Ÿ™


        1. Gregory Misiorek
          nothing against BPX, and i’m not a developer, but SDN is still the way for me to go…reminds me a bit of slashdot which provided the best coverage one could find on 9/11 before there were twitter and facebook. i hope ‘true’ developers are not offended by it.

          BTW, Kevin’s link farm is the best i have seen on SDN. whoever posts here is selling a little piece of him- or herself, there’s no point denying it.

  2. Former Member
    It is 5:58 AM here, but this discussion is just too interesting to sleep ๐Ÿ™‚

    Let me respond to point #5.  I write this weekly report for myself as a mobility analyst and consultant.  I need it to understand all the latest trends and developments in the enterprise mobility markets. The relevant question is does this offer value to the SCN readers involved in enterprise mobility, or should I just keep this information to myself.  I am happy either way ๐Ÿ™‚

    A few years ago, when I was the CEO of a mobile applications company focused on the enterprise, I very much wished for and needed this kind of data for my business plan development, and for strategic decision making.  What devices should I prioritize?  Should I support WebOS, MS, Android, iPhones, iPads other tablets?  What should be my development priorities based on growth projections and actual market numbers?

    Sybase did not prioritize Android in front of Blackberry and iPhone. They must have based that decision on market numbers and analyst projections.

    It seems this brings us back to the issue about SCN’s focus.  Is it a forum for both business and technical users?  Is it a forum for decision makers or just developers? 

    1. Matthias Steiner Post author
      WOW! You clearly underline with action what I said about commitment.

      Kevin, I see your reasoning here – I do!

      >> What devices should I prioritize? Should I support WebOS, MS, Android, iPhones, iPads other tablets? What should be my development priorities based on growth projections and actual market numbers?

      I’d read a blog that answers these questions and provide the proper data and references to underline your thinking for sure!

    2. Former Member
      Kevin – “It seems this brings us back to the issue about SCN’s focus. Is it a forum for both business and technical users? Is it a forum for decision makers or just developers?”

      Kevin, I agree this is a very important question. In my view SCN should be encouraging business content.

      There are a couple of other questions that are raised here, however, which is: how people feel about verbatim cross-posting on SCN and other places? Because those who go to your web site can get all this content as I do by RSS already. So clearly you have an audience for it.

      Another question is whether blog posts that are a collection of industry links add value on SCN, no matter what topic they are on.

      So I think these are three key questions raised and not by your posts Kevin in particular but by many on SCN.

      I’m not sure that rules around this kind of thing are the way to go, it may be open discussion sorts it out. What I can say is in general to these points:

      1. business content – I believe we should encourage business content blogs on SCN

      2. cross posting – I tend to prefer blogs that are customized for the audience, and that took some effort to produce. I don’t mind a cross post if there is some additional context added for that audience. In fact I do that sometimes on SCN myself when I post a podcast but it takes me an hour or so to customize my blog post for the SCN audience.

      3. I’m not in general a fan of links of industry news blog posts but that’s because I find my news other ways. I tend to prefer the expert bring some context – I’m one of those who would prefer three links with some commentary on each than a longer more comprehensive list of simply links.

      However these are just my takes and are not intended to represent the community, just my preferences.

      – Jon

        1. Derek Loranca
          Thanks for the lively discussion, Matthias.  More importantly, thanks for posting the links.  Sometimes a good trip down memory lane is just what the doctor ordered.
  3. Former Member
    My opinion – keep posting if people are reading it and responding to it, and stop when they don’t.

    We all have perspectives on what we as individuals like to see, but no one person’s yes or no is better than any other person’s. As an author, you would like feedback – so, as long as people are commenting, subscribing etc – I see no reason to stop.

    If we rank content of all blogs in SCN, I am sure Kevin’s will not be in the bottom of the pile. So I say – go right ahead.

  4. Former Member
    In my opinion this is both difficult and personal.

    For me, I avoid cross-posting unless the content is directly relevant to all audiences. I only have my company blog and SCN that I post to though. And I try to make the content a bit different. The community stuff I try to ensure makes it onto SCN.

    If I’m being more provocative it usually goes on the company blog. But that’s just my opinion. The fact that people have brought this subject up means that they are also passionate about it.

    Hopefully Kevin and everyone else for that matter will learn a little about how others feel about their content. And maybe they will tailor it to their vocal audience. Or maybe decide they had it right in the first place.

    A bit of introspectiveness goes a long way though. It’s made me think.

  5. Former Member
    I believe Craig Cmehill identified a key component.  Perhaps content related to mobility (or any specific area of technology) should only be seen by people that have registered their interest in it.  The fact that some readers get offended when their eyes view a business discussion, or a subject outside of their primary focus area, means we should perhaps seek ways to protect them from viewing this material.
    1. Former Member
      Not practical or efficient to hide content like that – IMO.

      I seriously think we are overthinking a simple issue. You should keep doing it as long as you see the value, and as long as others read your blog. There are enough ways to search for content – this should not be made in to a big deal. Just my 2 cents….

    2. Former Member
      Fair enough. To start with I would like a feature to include/exclude blogs in ‘my’ view based on either of these:
      – Tags
      – Author
      – Subject Area
      There are too many people jousting for too little real estate of SCN blog page. SCN can’t be forever incrementally attracting readership by widening the bloggers’ numbers and interest areas. At some point it would be distracting enough for users to start leaving (less likely) or frequenting it less (may be happening already).
    3. Former Member
      Hello Kevin,

      I think you try to move the discussion from it’s original core argument – little to no originality – to another issue, i.e. a controvery between business level content vs. technical content.

      IMHO this is a little bit unfair, because no one here never ever complained about business level content, in contrary I remember the BPXers back then being well received by the then more technical community.

      All complaints that I ever noticed and chipped in myself revolved around the fact that many perceive your linkfarm content as one lacking any original contribution by the author, you.

      I’d kindly ask you to stop the simplification and call anyone who supports your ‘special’ blogs decision makers and those who oppose it technicians. And accept that decision makers often are far from being so simple that you just need to supply them a free unedited news feed and they break down in appreciation.

      1. Former Member
        So according to you the degree of originality is the core issue?  So when I aggregate the latest market numbers in one location to save others from the hours of work it took me to find and document them all it is unoriginal?

        I reject your criteria.  Any decision maker and business person craves the ability to find useful and relevant information fast and conveniently and that is why they pay research and analyst firms huge fees rather than to do all of their own “original” research. 

  6. Former Member
    I agree that adding additional analysis to the mobile market numbers and trends would increase the value of the content.  Absolutely! It is the time that is hard to find.

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