Build Better Blogs
Are you an expert blogger? Are you sure??? Whether you consider yourself a veteran or fledgling, review these important blogging do’s and don’t’s compiled from the seasoned bloggers in the Collaboration Team. As I am just a small step past beginner, feel free to point out how I’m breaking my own “rules”. It’s fun to color outside the lines, and I guarantee I have done so a bit here.
Before sharing guidelines on SCN blogs, it is important to have a shared definition of “blog”. According to Dictionary.com ( http://dictionary.reference.com/), blog (noun) is a web site containing the writer’s or group of writers’ own experiences, observations, opinions, etc., and often having images and links to other Web sites.
Typically, blogs should contain compelling content that quickly captures the reader’s attention, and keeps it long enough for the information to be consumed. Not only that, but a truly successful blog demonstrates the writer’s knowledge of the topic, and is thought provoking enough to encourage readers to post comments. These comments, both negative and positive, are posted to share additional opinions, from which everyone can learn.
Here are some Do’s and Don’t’s of blog writing in SCN.
Define the goal: Do you want to introduce yourself, promote an event or share an interesting site? Establish your goal and keep it in mind throughout the blog. In fact, it’s a good idea to include the goal in the short Description. Ask a colleague to read the Main Text of the blog when you finish writing it and check it against your stated goal. Did you achieve what you set out to do?
Be Transparent About Your Relationship to the Topic: If you have any financial relationship to the product, solution, or service you are blogging about, you need to disclose those relationships in the context of the blog. This is an issue beyond SCN – it is a topic the Federal Trade Commission is taking interest in with potentially serious consequences. Here is a recent article by Andy Sernovitz from the Huffington Post that covers the topic and the issues.
Target audience: It is absolutely critical to determine your target audience. It influences the topic you choose to share and the way in which you present it. When blogging for a highly technical audience, use technical language for technical topics. When blogging for an end user, use business or process language. Ask a member of the defined audience to pre-read and give you some feedback.
Blog Categories: In order to target your blog to the right audience, choose your blog categories wisely based on the content and the intended audience. Do not overload your blog with too many categories – this will only annoy people who have subscribed to categories that your blog does not cover. Many blogs have only one category, but if the topic applies to multiple categories, remember, 5 is the limit.
Add Keywords: This is extremely important for all published electronic content. If you want people to find your blog, tag it with appropriate related terms. Consider how the audience might expect to find it. Search the internet for the topic and see what related words are typically associated.
Give an Appropriate Title: Make the title interesting and keyword rich so that it jumps out in search results and when alongside other blogs. Also, make sure that it clearly conveys what the blog is about.
Provide a Description: The purpose of the short Description field in SCN is to convey to readers why the blog is relevant to them. Make sure that it includes the goal of the blog, so that they know what they are getting before drilling into it.
Build the Main Text: This field in SCN is the body of your blog. This is the meat of what you have to say and how you have to say it. Keep the tone of the blog conversational – remember blogs reflect the writer’s opinions as well as useful information. Shoot for around 500 words in a blog, however there is not a hard and fast rule. However, if you do go over 500 words, you start impacting the time a reader will spend with your blog.References: We encourage you to link readers to additional related posts – and include the links in the context of your blog text. Just remember that good blogs include a healthy portion of the author’s own knowledge and opinion – so don’t make your blog only about what others are saying.
Invite Comments: Encourage posted comments and feedback to your blog. Whether positive or negative, the comments are meant to expand the ideas and share knowledge. Make sure you watch for comments coming in to your blog and respond promptly as a means of ongoing communication with the audience. Nothing is more frustrating for readers and damaging to a blogger’s reputation as having comments pile up without the author’s acknowledgement or reply.
Run Spell Check: It’s a simple step that authors sometimes forget, but misspelled words don’t impress anyone.
Promote Your Blog: Once published, promote your blog through Social Media channels like Twitter. Read this article by Brody Dorland on Business 2 Community’s website for more ideas on blog promotion.
Write a “How To” Guide: Instructional posts are typically handled in a wiki.
Advertise: SCN is for SAP users who want to get help and collaborate. If you have a product you want to market, you should consider other locations such as a personal blog for that.
Post a Blog That Only Contains Links: While it is a good practice to include links in the context of your blog, it’s preferred not to post a blog that is only a mass of links. Members prefer some of your personal knowledge to go with references to other content – comments or opinion that helps put the links in context. Blogs that are compilations of many links without the author’s knowledge-haring tend to get negative responses.
Commit Plagiarism: SCN does not tolerate plagiarism. The SCN team and moderators monitor content for plagiarism and when detected, remove it, notify the author, and record the associated user ID. SCN may contact a repeat offender’s employer and guestify the user’s ID (delete ID and related points permanently).
Not only is plagiarism unethical, if a copyright is violated, it is illegal. There are many posts on the internet about avoiding this issue. I found this short post at Mrs. Trefz’s 5th Grade Blog. Are you smarter than a 5th grader?
Getting Started With Blogs – How to Guide in a wiki.
Blogging 101 in SDN and BPX – Similar to this blog, but with the Marilyn Pratt spin.
St. David Slays the Wiki-Weblog Dragon – Humorous, but excellent explanation of the differences between a blog and a wiki, and when to use each. Provided by David Branan.
“Your Blog is Boring Because”… By Joey Strawn, reposted on Business2Community.
To me, the blogs I value most link to other relevant context and "advance the conversation" by adding a new and original perspective. This takes practice. I don't mind longer blogs but again it does depend on where the blogger is headed and you can get into some treacherous waters in a longer blog as well.
In general, it's pretty easy to quickly see the effort that went into a blog as you glance at it. I tend to value the ones with real effort. I noticed you didn't comment on blog cross posting, my comment there would be: if you cross-post from another source, make sure it meets these guidelines and strongly consider adding a paragraph or two of new content for SCN readers applying some context.
Thanks for this!
Thanks for this!
cross posting and link based blogs are two different issues in my opinion. For example you could do a list of links in your field and post it only on SCN. That would be a blog with a bunch of links but it wouldn't have been cross-posted on another site. A cross-posted blog might or might not be a list of links, but it's typically just a regular blog posted in multiple locations.
This is not an SCN- specific issue - many of the IT bloggers I follow cross-post the exact same blog in 2 or 3 locations (sometimes even more). This is done automatically via feeds. Some people do the same by cross-posting their content verbatim on an SCN blog. However based on the blog setup on SCN this has to be done manually. In my view, this creates an ideal opportunity to strongly encourage those who cross post to add a few words at the beginning of the blog post that customizes it for the SCN audience, perhaps with an update or some informal words about the initial reaction to the blog and why it was posted on SCN, etc. To me that adds value and solves the problem of applying a rigid rule to a practice that is pretty widely used online.
fully agree on this.
Moving onwards with the discussed topics often seems to be forgotten in many blog posts.
So is stating one owns opinion (including to mark it as such).
Concerning a 'do's and don't' list: actually I do thing, that the audience actually decides of what a good blog post is.
If you find that people stop reading your stuff there maybe is something wrong about it.
Just like with any public writing.
Thus, I wouldn't go and set up any too strict rules that might prevent some people to come up with really interesting content.
Instead I'd rather would love to see some better ways to motivate people to get their stuff out, earlier and more often.
As Seth Godin probably would put it "Deliver! Deliver! Deliver!".
Let's just make sure this gets added to the top of the wiki:
Or better yet in the blog section on this page:
ABAP Frequently Asked Questions
Great guidelines which should help clear up any confustion on what folks should be doing with blogs in the present instead of sifting through a history of blogging on SCN for answers.
i guess the audience is the best judge and if the posts don't get read and commented on, the blog will fade away eventually.
@greg_not_so (no tweet)
In my opinion (and I'm not speaking for SAP here), it's fair game to include a few relevant links in a thoughtful blog post on SCN. The guidelines here pertain to blog posts that are just a collection of links to blogs, usually a kind of "weekly news update" or what have you that just includes a bunch of links without context.
Some in-context links make sense. And again, while I don't speak for SAP, if you write a good blog and want to include a relevant link to your own personal blog and Twitter ID, you absolutely should, as these are ways of engaging with you further.
For example once in a while I would really welcome a Blagbert cartoon blog post.
Some smiles are just too refreshing we don't get these enough around here, Mark.
P.S. This is just a suggestions, I am speaking as an SCN member here, not as someone who is making the rules.
Love your comment about adding some fun...in fact, one of my teammates told me I was missing my usual Panache in this publication. As I worked on this, I wished I was writing a recipe for the worst blog. It would have been a lot more fun to write, and perhaps it's coming in the near future.
However, from my perspective, I've just started wading out into the pool of bloggers at SCN - still a bit timit. But it won't be long until I'm ready to do some canonballs off of the high dive. (For non-native US folks, that's when you jump, pull yourself into a ball shape, and rudely splash everyone around and in the pool.)
There may soon be a day when you say - I liked your professional blogs better - stay tuned!
See you next week - Jeanne
As others have mentioned, your blog post is very concise and to the point. Exactly what is needed for this realigning expectations post coming from SAP.
My comment was directed to every blog poster: Don't be intimidated by these rules. If you do an honest effort and put some of yourself into your post and are open to improvement comments and actually improve over time, this community is very forgiving. Helping you on your way to find your voice.
As our lives are serious enough I wanted to encourage humorous posts. I also second Kumid Singh's comment: Blogs with a philosophical touch are refreshing.
The best blogs are like a good meal: The meat of the post is content, with a good serving of own experience, a dash of humor, spiced with a personal anecdote and for desert some musings about what it means beyond SAP.
To cook this kind of meal needs practice and you may want to start getting the meat just right.
In my opinion sometimes, like every 5th post, you can just cook up desert, make it a funny/philosophical one, liven it up, break the rules, but as I said that is just my opinion.
Off my pedestal, Mark.
But after reading your blog, I clearly see the logic in following these guidelines. Very concise and simple - I think you have done an excellent job. Next time I write something on SDN, I will try to cross check and see how close I am to following these guidelines.
I wrote some how to blogs I'm afraid 🙂
One of my last blogs is a how to blog really:
Solution Manager - E2E Trace Analysis
The thing is, I like writing and I like mixing SAP related technical content and thoughts and opinions and even personal experiences which can be considered ranting or definitely beyond SAP.
It doesn't seem appropriate that I would refer to a SolBros podcast or what kind of pie I like to eat in the wiki space.
In my opinion a blog is a blog when their is a personal contribution in it. If you stick to pure technical content like a how-to without any opinion, thought or personal touch to it what so ever I would agree on placing it in the wiki.
A second issue I see is that the topic I wrote about is rapidly changing, the interfaces change and so on so. By placing it in the wiki space I would have to update the content frequently.
What is your opinion on this? Should I place it in the wiki?
For me a bunch of links isn't a blog but I don't have a real issue with the blog on it's own, I just don't read it.
I like "how to" blogs and looking at an old list of top 25 blogs it appears many "how to" blogs appear. If page views is anything to go by (I have not read them so maybe not all "how to" blogs in what I would call an "how to")
I like your blog I think it is an "how to" blog. Therefore it should be in the wiki 🙂
Not very scientific but a high hit rate for "how to" compared to the total blog count.
Now if "how to" blogs are not generally enjoyed or wanted then maybe less points or into a category on its own. "Don't" appears to strong to me.
Also at times reading blogs with a philosophical touch is refreshing.
Here is what I found when I re-read The Mobility News Weekly
*The title is clear and concise:
*The description is very clear as to the content that will follow.
*The target audience is very clear in the title and the description.
*The blog category is "mobile", as it is a blog of research on mobility market numbers done each week.
*Each market number has an accompanied description that gives it clear context, and the citation link to original source.
*The data is listed and useful, but not provided in a conversational voice.
*These mobile market numbers have incredible value to anyone making business decisions based upon market trends and market data.
The vast majority of the feedback received when I surveyed the audience on their feelings about my weekly published research was positive and in favor of its continuation. However, I don't want the distraction that continuing to publish my weekly research would certainly invite.
The common advice from those not in favor of seeing my published weekly research on SCN, was as follows, 1)Publish it somewhere else, or 2)Give my personal opinion, in a conversational manner, on each of the market data points and then publish it on SCN.
It seems that unless I share my personal opinion on objective research numbers in a conversational manner within the blog, I should choose to publish my research data elsewhere. Perhaps this point can be added to the guideline.
I look forward to your "bad blog" blog 😉
In the end, I really think a good blog is a matter of opinion that spurs further conversation. If you follow the guidelines I shared, I believe (opinion) you will get better results. But if you have continued good readership, who like what you are doing, keep going with it. Those who don't like it are also free to comment, but it's up to the blogger to determine whether they will change anything.
So thank you all again for the comments and the knowledge sharing. I look forward to posting again, and I may just do the recipe for a bad blog...for fun!
Well, this is totally news. Usual practice was to have HowTos for expert bloggers being handled within blogs, and wikis more for the beginners. While I do see this as a disrupture, it's not really bad. It would align the meaning of "blog" for SCN with what it means for the rest of the internet (tech blogs in SCN always were more like articles than actual weblogs).
I'd just like to have a more explicit confirmation: is this a new trend SCN is trying to push forward? i.e. tech howto blogs are not to be anymore?
Hi Henrique and thank you for your comment! <br/><br/>The feedback I've gotten from the community and the collaboration team is that "How to Guides" belong in wikis. However this is only a guideline and doesn't preclude anyone from writing a how to blog.<br/><br/>I wasn't aware of anything new about this. If you look at the link to David Branan's blog "St. David Slays the Wiki-Weblog Dragon" <St. David Slays the Wiki-Weblog Dragon>, you'll see that the discussions go as far back as May 2011.<br/><br/>Again, it's a suggested practice. If you write how to blogs that get great readership, then keep up the good work!<br/><br/>Jeanne<br/><br/>
Woa this is deep: Back to the real future. The jump into the future of this year to anticipate the discussion going on since/until/... like forever 😉
Yep, this discussion is going on since the day we added wiki functionality to SCN, Mark.
I'm not sure what I'm going to do with my content, what would be the procedure for requesting a second review? Is that even an option on SDN? If one submits a journal article to a peer reviewed scientific journal there are usually multiple opinions involved, but not on SDN. There is very little motivation to now spend more time rewriting a blog post as a wiki entry, especially one that has already been carefully edited and formatted as such, and less motivation to write further posts.
Some of the best blog posts that I've read on the internet, and the ones that I treasure the most have told me how to do something. It is this that has influenced my own style of blog
writing the most. And the new "rule" that "how to" blogs posts should not be allowed seems to be a SAP-centric distinction rather than one followed on the internet at large, as non-SAP sources recommending the same advice are hard to find.
So we might find SAP bloggers like David Branan recommending this new course of action, but unfortunately the dragon metaphor in his post is not really useful, and it doesn't coherently
cover distinctions between the media. What distinctions are useful to me?
What I like about blogs:
1. I can read a feed with new entries. Wiki feeds are not much use unless I'm already following changes to an article that I already know about.
2. People comment about an entry and provide direct feedback.
3. I get acknowledgment as the author of the appropriate information.
4. What has been written provides an overview at that moment in time. Granted, this can also mean that a post grows stale with time.
What I don't like about wikis:
1. It is hard to contact the author of the information and ask them questions.
2. A high-level of constant editing needs to be maintained in order to ensure that the wiki does not have incorrect information added to it. Wikipedia by and large is factually accurate,
but even Wikipedia occasionally lets through incorrect entries.
What I like about wikis:
1. Knowledge comes from multiple sources.
2. Articles grow and expand without waiting for a single author to add new information.
I assume, as a non 5th-grader that others have their own lists and are able to make this distinction for themselves.
Frankly many SDN posts of late have been of abysmal quality, and there are also a number where the posters seem to be driven towards accumulating points. I would much rather read a thoughtful presentation than a rant or question to the world at large, even if the latter fits perfectly into the idea of blogs as a conversational medium.
We all want an SDN that is for the community and by the community and we want it to be of high quality. And, in this case there is clearly a community call for "how to" posts, which should be acknowledged.
I very much agree with your opinion and I am sorry that your latest post didn't make it through the review process (while a lot of other 'masterpieces' manage to pass that process easily).
I always wondered why this 'instructional' qualification made it to the "Blogging Dont's". IMHO there are instructional style blogs which no one really wants to see, e.g. lengthy standard customizing screen series(which often are stolen from the documentation anyway) of trivial, well-known or officially well documented features or modules.
But then there have been posted numerous high quality technical blogs, many of which probably are among the all time favourite blogs in SDN both in terms of recognition (think DJ Adams' REST blog from ancient times ago) and terms of page views(I'd bet a lot on Thomas Jungs earlier pieces).
When I quickly review your latest contribution, they are well worth a blog in my opinion, because they present some advanced solution approach which then sparked some kind of a discussion via comments (far beyond 'cool blog buddy')of fellow users.
So, a lot of my personal favourite blogs here on SCN and also elsewhere are kind of instructional, e.g. I guess 60% of my 'Hello world' instructions in the numerous languages I tried to get familiar with. Few of latter were through respective wiki entries (exclusively in cases where the wiki is excellently organized and not open) and none through something like an article (downloading a PDF just to find out it's crap? Waste of my time and my download dir).
My two lengthy cents,
I'm sorry to hear that your blog didn't get approved. I'll look into it and see what happened. If you can share more information with me on this, I'd appreciate it.
One thing that I really want to clarify is that this list of do's and don't's is simply guidance - not rules. Blogs are "bio logs", which should strongly reflect the personality of the author. I may be dating myself here by referring to old versions of Star Trek, but just as illustration, a blog written by Captain Kirk would likely be much more passionate and inspiring than one written by Dr. Spock, which would probably be very logical. However some people, including myself would probably pick the Spock blog.
As to quality, there are debates going on now about how to balance the ratings of quality in the community versus the governance of moderatoration. I lean toward the community making the call because, afterall, it's the audience who should say whether or not they like what they have been served. However, we also have moderators who are subject matter experts. They can point out when information is incorrect or unclear.
As to how to information in a blog, I've actually done that here with a "how to blog" approach. The bottom line is that blogging is an art, not a science, and that means that the "rules" are fuzzy, and meant to be stretched.
Have sent an email to the SAP email address on your business card with all the details (also, my public author URL is at /people/jonathan.groll2/blog ).
lists *at* groll *dot* co *dot* za
The nice things about writing:
1. Opposing comments - they help me see both sides of my "rant".
2. Agreement comments - They also make me feel better if people agree. I'm not the only one.
3. Just releasing some of my own tension.
The nice thing about reading them:
1. They make me think!
2. Sometimes they help me think about my own behavior. What am I doing? What could I be doing better.
3. Some as above - all three reasons.
I love reading a rant! So quality - does it add quality? I would argue that it does. More for the comments, people can learn from the rant and the comments.
But yes, I can see that the quality needs improved. I believe it is being worked on! 🙂
Quality is a huge priority for us this year. We will be working with our partners on a quality program that can be shared with the community at large later in the year. Look for more information in blogs from me, beginning end of May.
I've found some interesting "how-to" blogs. These blogs usually contain information slanted by the person's experience when writing them. IE I have one where I completely broke our custom code in our system. I didn't want others to have that problem.
So I see the value of a "how-to" blog as long as it contains personal info with it.
Now - I will say my next one I'll try to split it out and see how it works. Put the application built and some teasers then the rest of the information in the WIKI. Then open it up for comments. That should be interesting.
Also I think some people don't blog because they are intimidated. There is a ton of information already out here. But if you don't find your answer or only part of your answer, I think a blog may help the next person.
As usual a long response - sorry about that.
Just my debate from the other side,
in general, I think we are lucky that we have so many great bloggers on SCN. Also, different people blog for different audiences (intentionally or not :-)). Some people have the style of "just get the technical information out and who cares about formatting", and I am sure there are people who appreciate that.
Then there are folks like JonERP or Kevin Benedict who write lyrical blogs that warm the hearts of the likes of me.
Your tips are great to get started and many made me think how I could improve, but overall, I think on SCN, there are many people who get it right already :-).
I must admit, I've learned a lot by reading what our best bloggers (including you) have written in the community. Thanks to all!
That said, I would be fine with using the SDN wiki, but I have some serious usability issues with it. Can you suggest where or to whom I can submit those? Have there been any active discussions or surveys within the SCN community regarding how to improve the wiki usability and quality?
I do know there is a project going on right now to "upgrade" change the entire SCN slowly to make it easier to use.
I agree with you completely regarding the blog / wiki relationship - in theory! Ideally, I'd write my blog with links to the how-to(s) I wrote in the wiki.
However as noted I have some usability issues with the SCN Wiki. Admittedly, a probable major cause of my 'issues' is that I've done a lot of wiki-ing with the MediaWiki platform (Wikipedia plus implementing and running a couple closed wikis for other small organizations). So I recognize that I'm biased (spoiled?) and need to 'get over it' to some degree. That said, I've identified some real issues that should be addressed.
I did find the spot for my wiki usability questions (SAP Community Network Forums » Community Discussions » Suggestions and Comments), and got a response already to the most critical issue, that they'll look into it. (Why the tiny font size for SCN Wiki content? ).
I completely agree in theory it sounds good. In practice. Well I know people who won't click on the links and would rather have the information in the blog.
Thank you for your reply. I really caused a stir around the topic of avoiding "How To" guides in the blogs.
I didn't mean to imply that a "How To" blog should be forbidden. If you think about it, my blog is also a "How To". However, in talking to my colleague, Rob Nichols (SAP), his clarification was that wiki's are a good tool for managing a collaborative publication, like a manual or methodology that has multiple sections or chapters, and will be updated online.
I think it's safe to say that you wouldn't want to put that type of publication in a blog.