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There has been a lot of buzz amongst our moderators about a growing issue that is causing poor quality blogs and documents, unnecessary notifications through RSS feeds, and extra work for the moderators who have to clean up the mess.

The problem is that Community Members continue to post questions as blogs and documents.  Questions need to be posted as discussions, and they need to be posted in the correct Space.  Below are the steps for creating a quesTion as a discussion:

1. First search for the topic of your question.  Never create a question if you haven’t searched for it first.  You might end up creating a duplicate. 

2. Once you’ve determined that your question is new, pull down from the “Create” button and select “Discussion”. Do not select any of the other options.

Create Discussion.PNG

3.  Search, select or browse for the appropriate space in which to place your question.

Create Discussion1.PNG

4. Create your question and publish it. Make sure that the “Mark this discussion as a question” box is checked.

Create Discussion2.PNG

5. Once you start receiving answers to your questions, be sure to mark the helpful ones and the correct one.  That way others will be able to see that your question has an answer that could help them as well.

Pretty easy, huh?

Unfortunately our moderators are spending a lot of time cleaning up questions that have been posted as blogs are documents.  The process they’ve been following has been to direct message the author with a copy of the text, asking them to post the question correctly.  Then they delete the blog or document, because it is posted incorrectly. 

This is a lose-lose situation for everyone involved:

  • The moderators spends time cutting, pasting, composing a note, deleting, etc.
  • The author loses any points that he/she gained when posting the blog or document, and he/she has to ask the question again.
  • Sometimes there are comments in  response to the questions that are unfortunately lost when the content is deleted.
  • All members suffer when they look for blogs because they run into all of these questions that are mis-labeled. 
  • Those who follow new blogs in RSS feeds are getting a bunch of questions, which is not what they want.

So what can we do to remedy this situation?  There are a number of suggestions.

  • Educate the Community members.  (That is the intent of this blog.)
  • Have a pop up window that reminds a person when they select blog or document that these content types are not for questions.
  • Limit blogs and documents to content that is over 350 words long.  (Lots of people are against this one, and I tend to agree with them.)
  • When a blog is less than 350 words, have a pop up warning that they can choose to ignore.
  • To save time for the moderators and to further discourage posting questions as blogs or documents, moderators simply delete the content and let the author figure it out.  (Not nice, but we are wasting a ton of moderator time with the more friendly process.)

We hope to have a new gamificatoin platform in place later this year that could help us block blogging until a member has proven that he/she can do it, but that is several months away at best.

I invite your comments to this blog to share ideas about why this is happening, and what we should do about it.  I hope that some of you find it helpful to know about the different steps for blog, document and question.  I also hope that this blog will help to cut down on the thousands of these that we are handling.

 

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44 Comments

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  1. Karin Tillotson

    Thank You Jeanne for trying to help fix this issue!  Maybe this blog could be made mandatory reading for new users 😀 .

    Best Regards,

    Karin Tillotson

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    1. Jeanne Carboni Post author

      Hi Karin,

      Nice to hear from you!

      Actually, if we can move to a more sophisticated gamification platform (also known as a behavior platform), we could send people on a mission that they must complete before they are allowed to blog.  One of the tasks in the mission could be to read this blog.  🙂

      Jeanne

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      1. Laure Cetin

        Yes, overall I think newbies need an onboarding mission to better understand SCN and get started on the right foot! This is to optimize everyone’s engagement in the community!

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        1. Johan Hakkesteegt

          Yes, I think so to. That way we can make sure that there won’t be any new pesky forum users joining the community. We will especially be able to weed out the ones who do not speak fluent english.

          A great idea!

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          1. Laure Cetin

            Do you think an onboarding mission should be mandatory? I would think so, but I think people who just come to look for an answer quickly would not like it and consider the mission a hurdle. Maybe it would drive them away…

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            1. Johan Hakkesteegt

              Hi Laure,

              Sorry, I was being sarcastic, because I thought you meant that you wanted it to be mandatory.

              I think such a mission type tutorial is one of the best ways to let people learn about the SCN and its (new) benefits. To make it mandatory in even the smallest way, would absolutely certainly be considered a hurdle, and would without the slightest doubt drive a lot of users away.

              Regards,

              Johan

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  2. Susan Sizemore

    Have you considered making “Blog Post Share Your thoughts” the last option in the list?  It might eliminate some of the bad posts due to users just choosing the first option.  🙂

    Thanks,

    Susan Sizemore

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    1. Jeanne Carboni Post author

      Hi Susan,

      Thank you for you comment.

      Yes that has been suggested.  I think it would be a great short term solution.  Will create the ticket now.

      Jeanne

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  3. Matt Harding

    Hi Jeanne,

    I had a little idea on Twitter about alleviating this issue by simply looking for lots of obvious key words in the title and popping up a question whether they really intend to write a blog. Should be pretty trivial Javascript to insert and may help drive behaviour (see Twitter for key words that were raised though a tag cloud of @SCNBlogs could also highlight these pretty quickly.  I actually have a concern that some consultants are deliberately using blogs to get more exposure.

    In regards to your idea (which was also reflected in the twitter conversation), to raise a blog/document I think earning the right to blog/document is still important as blogs are potentially powerful messages but they are being diluted (including diluting the whole new SCN platform experience) which is a significant concern.  While I’m on about it, home pages that just show activity which includes discussions without separating blogs/documents is pretty stupid to be blunt. Possibly fixed by putting the most recent starred documents/blogs at the top rather than at the bottom and filtering out discussions.

    I guess what I’m saying is that the platform has a lot of potential, but we need to differentiate the different types of user generated content better which will in turn drive behaviours rather than enforcing things better.  eg. Get rid of the content tab and replace it with 3 individual tabs like (note the clarification of wording of discussions) blogs & documents, Discussions/Questions and Surveys.

    Anyway, just my 2 cents (which for reference rounds down to 0 cents here in Australia).

    Cheers,

    Matt

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    1. Jeanne Carboni Post author

      Hi Matt,  Thank you for your comment and great ideas.  We are taking action in multiple ways now and will keep the community posted as new deterrents are implemented.

      Best,

      Jeanne

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  4. Manish Thakkar

    Hi Jeanne

    It’s going to be difficult to find the right balance. But it will be definitely worth the effort to have some simple way to moderate. It will also make it less cumbersome for the community users to find what are looking for since there is so much information/ knowledge in here. Good luck!

    Manish

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  5. Laure Cetin

    Very good blog! Now it’s up to us to spread the word and educate SCN Members.

    I also think a little game for new members is needed, a fun way to help them get started: be aware of the rules of engagement, ask a question in the Discussion forums, etc. It is our duty to help newbies, I know it can be overwhelming when there is so much information here.

    Thanks Jeanne for a great blog, done in a nice collaborative way.

    Laure

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  6. Mark Chalfen

    One simple piece of advice would be to change the position of the create blog icon.

    If the create discussion was the top one I predict more people will start selecting this.

    I agree with Matt that keep the old titles of blogs and threads will help as well.

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    1. Jeanne Carboni Post author

      Thank you, Mark!  That one is going into the prioirty list for the next sprint.  This should give some indication whether it is accidental or intentional.  Probably a little of both at the moment.

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      1. Mark Chalfen

        Hi Jeanne – I can see that the order has changed so hopefully this will reduce some of the issues you have experienced so far.

        Would be interested to know if there has been any change in behaviours since this has been implemented – perhaps you could up date us in a month or so.

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  7. David Branan

    Perhaps a long term development request could be made to have a moderator’s choice to move a content item from one type to another. Given that the main target would be short blogs moving to forum posts, I would think this might not be too difficult to accomplish.

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  8. Pavan Bhamidipati

    I hope you should also include one more point in the remedies

    • Active contributors in the relevant space should also help the moderators by reporting this kind of documents or blogs by marking them as general abuse and describing the kind of content author posted.

    I myself faced one of the blog in SAP Business workflow space.. I just did the same..

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  9. Jelena Perfiljeva

    IMHO the word “Forum” was much easier to understand for everyone (please keep in mind for many SCNers English is not the native language) than “Discussion”.

    Rename the links “Post a Question” and “Write a Blog” (or something like that) and spread them further apart. Also is it possible to create some kind of a “blog purgatory” where such “blogs” could simply be moved (say, for N days before deletion)? Then moderators could just send out a simple note like “hey, your post is there, go deal with it or it will be deleted”.

    Also completely agree with Matt’s comment above. There should be some waiting period to start a blog and the whole idea of mixing content does not make a lot of sense.

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  10. Pankaj Patil

    On a different note, can the user who is about to start a discussion, write a document or blog, be able to gather dynamically if the content’s relevance is already present. This may be designed on parallel lines on how google search engine works (AJAX, I think, though not sure). So whenever a SCN user starts to write a title in discussion board, or a blog/document posting, he will see in drop-down a list of already available content (by topics) while he is still typing the title.

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  11. Johan Hakkesteegt

    I can’t help but comment  😥 , I have tried to resist, honestly.

    Jeanne Carboni wrote:

    …The problem is that Community Members continue to post questions as blogs and documents…

    Seriously, we the users of the forums (excuse me) Places are causing the problem ? How do you see this, did we ask for this design and the current terminology ?

    Jeanne Carboni wrote:

    …Questions need to be posted as discussions…

    Really, contrary to intuitive, semantic, and practical logic, the designers decide to use the word Discussion instead of Question (because it is sooo much more Twittery), and we techie users should just be psychic and understand this ?

    Jeanne Carboni wrote:

    …they need to be posted in the correct Space…

    If the current SCN wouldn’t require a Harvard degree in Web Surfing to navigate, I am sure we all would. Just a single very small example, the “Space” for the SAP product Business One has a sibling/infant forum (excuse me) Space called “System Administration”. Guess which users post their questions (excuse me) Discussions there ? Hint: it is not the SAP Business One users.

    Jeanne Carboni wrote:

    …1. First search for the topic of your question.  Never create a question if you haven’t searched for it first….

    We the users certainly would, if the designers hadn’t switched all search functionality off. I happen to know this, but go and check out Idea Place about the SCN to see how many people believe that this simply hasn’t been implemented at all. Oh wait, that is not true, you can “Filter by Tags” 😆 , and failing that, you can always use Google 😆 😆 😆 (these new smileys are starting to grow on me)

    Jeanne Carboni wrote:

    …2. Once you’ve determined… – …browse for the appropriate space in which to place your question…

    Of course, because that is the logical approach for all those engineering minded techies.

    But seriously, here is what happens in real life:

    SearchSpaces.JPG

    My language of preference is english, and I have a question related to programming, please tell me which Space to choose.

    Jeanne carboni wrote:

    …be sure to mark the helpful ones and the correct one.  That way others will be able to see that your question has an answer that could help them as well….

    And if no one supplies the correct answer, the questions (excuse me again, I am a slow learner) Discussion remains open forever (because there is no other way to close it), rendering the “Open discussions only” filter useless.

    Jeanne Carboni wrote:

    …So what can we do to remedy this situation?  There are a number of suggestions.

    • Educate the Community members.  (That is the intent of this blog.)
    • Have a pop up window that reminds a person when they select blog or document that these content types are not for questions.
    • Limit blogs and documents to content that is over 350 words long.  (Lots of people are against this one, and I tend to agree with them.)
    • When a blog is less than 350 words, have a pop up warning that they can choose to ignore.
    • To save time for the moderators and to further discourage posting questions as blogs or documents, moderators simply delete the content and let the author figure it out.  (Not nice, but we are wasting a ton of moderator time with the more friendly process.)

    Just throwing in a crazy idea, how about we do it in the most difficult way possible and change the word “Discussion” back to “Question” ? I know, I know, so politically incorrect in this joyous era where the SCN designers take their cues from Twitter, and we can now buy Facebook stock.

    Karin Tillotson wrote:

    …Maybe this blog could be made mandatory reading for new users…

    (Yes, and part of the  mission could be to find it unassisted first. That should make for a good 3 month learning curve)

    Jeanne Carboni wrote:

    …we could send people on a mission that they must complete before they are allowed to blog…

    The best two ideas I have heard so far. The users of the forums (excuse me) Places, do not give a hoot about blogging, so please implement these ideas, preferably in conjunction. If we can then get Matt Harding’s ideas built in as well, well, what more could the die hard blogger wish for ?

    Forum (I am done apologizing) users would be more than grateful for not having the Blog and Document options at all, so perhaps it would be easier to just remove them entirely ?

    In conclusion, would it be in the realm of possibilities for the SCN design team to at least understand that, forum users have neither use for, or interest in, any of the wonderful functionality and content of the new SCN that is not directly related to asking and answering questions ? You know, at least just keep it in the back of your mind, for the next overhaul ?

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    1. Jelena Perfiljeva

      Yeah, Johan, you tell them! Since March I have already moved on to the ‘acceptance’ through my stages of grief, but it doesn’t change the fact that SCN still looks like an ugly bastard child of a Twitter/Facebook and SAP three-way. We were promised some navigation changes this Summer, so we can only hope that will be an improvement.

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    2. Jeanne Carboni Post author

      Hi Johan,

      Wow, my first flaming since I joined the SCN team!    I guess I’m not surprised because you’re talking about topics that have been frustrating to all of us.  Maybe the positive in this is that it gave you a chance to let off some steam!  🙂

      First, let me thank you for your valuable contributions to the Business One community.  We appreciate it!  You are known to me and my team as someone who shares knowledge willingly with many others.  It is unfortunate that some aspects of the system are making it harder for you to participate.

      It’s frustrating for us as well when functionality that should be there isn’t working as expected, and when it’s taking a long time to make improvements.  I assure you that the issues on your list have been documented and are on our roadmap to solve.  Unfortunately, it’s a long list, and resources are limited, but we continue to push.  

      Let me provide an update on the items you pointed out, but not necessarily in the same order:

      Search – Yes, it’s not great right now and we know it!  It is the highest priority ticket at the moment and has been near or at the top for a while.  Because of performance issues, we had to shut down elements of search, and our IT team has been working diligently to bring them back.  Not enough progress yet, but we are hopeful and are seeing results in our QA system that are looking promising.

      Browsing Spaces / Navigation – Yes, there are over 400 spaces, and I see from your list that Business One gets lost.  Our Taxonomy team is open to your suggestions for improvements and would be willing to work with you to make it better. If you are interested, I can put you in touch with them. 

      Get rid of blogs and documents – not going to happen.  Some community members do like blogs and documents and go there to find information and answers to questions.

      Change the name of “Discussions” to “Questions”.  We have talked about that, but first we are moving the blogs and documents out of the way so that the discussions are at the top.  Blogs and Documents move to the bottom so that users see “Discussion Start a conversation or ask a question” at the top when they choose to create something.  That is in our next sprint and should be available in coming weeks.  We’ll be watching to see if that helps substantially – if not, we’ll be looking at additional possible changes.

      Until we get these issues resolved, I appreciate the continued dialogue and suggestions, and ask for your patience and participation to help us get them resolved as soon as possible.

      Sincerely,

      Jeanne

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      1. Johan Hakkesteegt

        Hi Jeanne,

        Sorry, I suppose I did get carried away a little bit (constructive criticism is indeed a slippery slope), and I am glad that you were still willing to find the useful bits out of that whole rant.

        You are not entirely blameless though. Let me explain with a small analysis of this blog post.

        Background: an entirely new design/layout has been implemented on the apparently dysfunctional SCN (this according to SAP itself). For strategic reasons (unknown to users), the previously “separate” entirely functional forums site was integrated. I suppose for reasons of unity, ease of maintenance, and an attempt to offer forum users more options and (easier access to) content.

        Problem: because of new terminology, navigation, new options, and “missing” functionality, forum users use the site in whatever way they understand it, which too often does not comply with the new strategy/design/whatever.

        This causes a lot of extra maintenance work for you guys, and frustration for the users.

        Now with that in mind, the thing about this blog post, is that it (sounds like it) was written with the assumption that the user is at fault. Then you go on suggesting solutions on how to get the user to use the site according to its strategy/design/whatever.

        What got me worked up (and still does a little bit), is that the assumption is wrong to begin with. Any system’s strategy/design/whatever should be made and be useful according to the user’s purpose.

        And what scares me, is that the design team is probably more willing to assume that you are right, and adopt your solutions (that at best will make things only more complicated than they already are), than to admit to the core problem: the strategy/design/whatever is simply not appropriate for a technical forum (like the old SDN), however appropriate for all other users.

        In other words, there is nothing wrong with the new SCN in itself (on the contrary in fact), it simply should not be forced (as is) on an inappropriate target user group.

        And you assuming that the strategy/design/whatever is per definition correct, and the user wrong, well…

        Of course I may very well be wrong about what you really assumed when you wrote this blog post. The problem however is, that with its current content and wording, that is what you are saying.

        About your answers:

        Jeanne Carboni wrote:

        Get rid of blogs and documents – not going to happen.  Some community members do like blogs and documents and go there to find information and answers to questions…

                               

                           

        Obviously, also on a forum there should be access to blogs and documents. What I meant to suggest (I read my own point just now), is, on the forum page itself, to not offer the option to create blogs or documents. These options could still be offered from the Create menu (as is), just leave them out completely from the Actions menu, and/or change “Start a Discussion” to “Ask a question”  

        ActionsMenu.JPG

        Most, if not all, forum users use the Actions menu, so you would not take away the blog creation option from those (I bet very) few forum users who want to do so, and you will still save the moderators a lot of unnecessary work, that is really created by an error in the design (thank you very much).

        Let me ask you this, of all the blogs on all of the forum type Places, how many are/were actually blogs ? My guess would be less than 20%. For that matter, I would be interested to know how many Discussions are actually that, and not questions ?

        On a side note, interestingly enough, I would say that we are having a discussion here, in the comment section of a blog

        I would be glad to help you guys out in any way I can, to improve usability of SCN for forum users, but once again, I warmly recommend, in fact I implore you, to take a look around the New SCN Idea Place. You will find plenty of food for thought there, without me writing these kinds of much too long winded arguments.

        For the taxonomy team I have at least one simple tip for starters: (almost) all Spaces on the SCN are dedicated to SAP products. As a result 75% (wild guess to be honest) of all forum type places can now be found under the S, in the Forum finder. Perhaps we can leave the SAP bit away.

        Regards,

        Johan

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        1. Olivier CHRETIEN

          I am a non native English speaker and I would have had difficulties to express my detailed feelings about the new SCN.

          Thank you so much, Johan, because you expressed exactly what I think on the subject.

          I used to be a quite active user on the previous forums, trying to help when the questions were interesting.

          With the new interface,so difficult and so non intuitive, I use less and less the forums (discussions) because I have no more pleasure to do it.

          The best exemple has already been told by Johan, finding a forum when 90% of the forums are to be found under the S letter…

          SAP should definitively hire an ergonomist !

          Regards,

          Olivier

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        2. Jeanne Carboni Post author

          Hi Johan,

          I’m beginning to wonder if this dialogue is a test of my professionalism and composure.  But I’d like to respond to some of your comments.

          I’m not certain what you are “blaming” me for, but I can share with you the strategy to combine content types.  The old system siloed different types of content, so if you wanted to see all information about CRM, for example, you would have to first go through the forums, then the blogs, then the wikis, etc.  That you are only interested in Forums is fine.  There is a way to browse only forums still. 

          The new design was based upon extensive user research that was conducted by our design team.  My input was limited.

          As to an accusatory tone in my blog, I can assure you that was not the intent. The sole purpose of my blog was to provide some instruction on how to post questions properly.    I must say that this last comment you posted is accusing me of many things that are not in my span of control. 

          I have never said that the new SCN has no faults and that it should be forced on the users.  In fact, I spend hours each week working with the project team and the IT organization to ensure that ongoing changes in the queue are being implemented in the 2 week sprint process. 

          Reviewing all the New SCN Idea Place is ongoing.  We hope to get through all of the ideas by the end of June.  We will close those that are complete, and continue to turn those that have merit into requirements.  (Yes, we have been doing this on an ongoing basis.)

          I will alert the Taxonomy Team to your input about the SAP product and naming convention issue. 

          I will also look into getting the numbers that you are asking for here, although I can’t guarantee that they are available.

          I know that you are frustrated with all of the changes to the system.  And I agree with you there are a lot of things that still need to be improved.  I work with the backlog of requests on a daily basis.

          However, I must ask that you cease with the accusations and blame of all the system problems on me. If you want to air out your concerns further, I would be happy to set up a call with you and the appropriate members of the project team.

          Sincerely,

          Jeanne

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          1. Johan Hakkesteegt

            Hi Jeanne,

            I sincerely apologize. I did not mean to blame you for anything, and I am very very sorry for making you feel bad.

            I was trying to get some points across, and I see that I got carried away (again), and overstepped.

            Most of the emotionally colored wording was, as you said, due to frustration about an important tool not entirely working the way I (and many others) would like it to.

            Please don’t bother about those numbers I “requested”. It was just more of the same rhetorical rant. I appreciate that you and your team are working hard to make SCN work for everybody.

            So on a more positive and constructive note, I am glad that SAP is looking at the Idea Place, already. I mentioned it before, because one of the members of the design team made  a comment on another blog, that he considered Idea Place to be interesting only after they would get the system working according to the current design.

            About the taxonomy thing, I really think it will help if the SAP bit is left out. Other than that I can only suggest that they look through the list once more, just to clear up those few cases where the name is causing confusion about with which product the Place is concerned.

            Specifically for this blog, may I suggest that you take a look at any on of the forums on the codeproject ? Please take a look at the first post (it is the same on each forum).

            Kind regards,

            Johan

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            1. Jeanne Carboni Post author

              Thank you, Johan for your response. 

              I signed up for the code project and noticed that in most of the forums they start with “How to answer a question” and “How to get an answer to your question”.  Some also have “Guidelines” posted at the top.  Many of the suggestions there are also valid in SCN.  Thank you for pointing me there.

              Note that Scott Lawley will start blogging updates of fixes to SCN on a regular basis to keep everyone aware of the ongoing improvements we are making.  Stay tuned for his upcoming posts.

              Best regards,

              Jeanne

              Best regards,

              Jeanne

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  12. Jeanne Carboni Post author

    Yesterday, IT implemented the change to move the blogs and documents options to the bottom of the create menu, bringing discussions to the top.  We hope that this will decrease the number of questions being posted as blogs or documents. If it doesn’t have significant impact, we will move to some of he other methods that you have been suggesting here and in Idea Place.

    – Jeanne

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  13. Anandkumar KS

    Hi Jeanne,

    Really I appreciate your rules and steps to follow.

    It will be most helpful to beginners and myself too.

    Thanks

    Anand Kumar KS

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