Community Blog Moderation – Together We Can
We have a lot of wonderful blogs on SCN. Many are full of insight, thought provoking, increase our knowledge or are even inspiring. For examples see Blag’s best blogs picks from 2012. Unfortunately with opening our blogs to all in the new SCN many have complained that the blog quality has gone down and that we have many blogs which provide little to no value. I believe that a joint effort can raise the blog quality in our community. I’d like to provide a guide for helpful blog moderation to be applied by the ENTIRE community, not only our dedicated SCN moderators and space editors. Together – we can make a difference and increase the quality, decrease the noise.
First everyone should understand what constitutes a good blog. Many great resources already exist on the topic and I’ve rounded up a few here:
- St. David Slays the Wiki-Weblog Dragon
- Build Better Blogs
- Bloggers: “Write Frankly And Fearlessly, But …”
- The Difference Between a Discussion, Blog Post, Document and Wiki
Lets assume we’ve encountered a blog which does not meet the SCN standards. What can be done?
- If connected to the author you can direct message (DM) them and keep the critique private (or reach out via email if they’ve shared their mail in their profile).
- Write a politely worded comment on the blog itself. Be positive (encouraging) and helpful. For example, if you’ve encountered a basic blog whose information was covered in the past you could write “Glad to see a new blogger however this content has been blogged about in the past. Please search before blogging to discover what has been covered previously. If you find a new topic or present a new edge to it, you will have many more followers/views and greater interaction with your content.”
- Ratings are an additional way to make a point to an author. This might be the recommended route for a blogger whom you’ve tried to reach out to before and you’re not sure they understand. A low rating from a few people might garner understanding that it is not just one person’s view.
- If you encounter content which should not be on SCN, for example something plagiarized; please mark it as abuse, clearly stating the reasoning in the comment.
The flipside is to remember to actively encourage quality blogs by ‘liking’ them and rating them highly. Include positive comments, especially to new bloggers, for their interesting posts.
Together we can shape the future of SCN blogging!
**Please note that this post refers to community blogs (posts written in an SCN space). Personal blogs are more lenient; they are not awarded points and allow for more ‘ranting’ types of posts and little to no moderation. Although for those wishing to guide, many of the same can apply there too.
I couldn't agree more on your point that joint effort is required to raise the overall quality level of blogs.
I've just updated my own blog: Between You and Me: Think-Blog-Think to share my own approach in evaluating quality blogs, and what to do when I see a great blog or comment.
Thanks for linking to it here Jason (and updating), its a great post! I completely agree with you regarding critical thinking and commenting.
I also agree with Michelle Crapo that constructive comments should always be welcome.
It also goes to show that even in the old SCN questions of quality arose however I believe that today we actually have more ways to address it together.
I love the positive "we can do this" mentality that this blog post reflects. I'll try to adhere to the tips you outline here if only to support it.
What concerns me though is the number of 'bad quality' blogs (or not-a-blog's) still being published. With so many members and therefore so many new members coming to SCN, I'm not sure we'll "win this fight". To be honest I think more agressive measures might be needed. I'm just not sure what they should be (searched on SCN for a while but didn't find anything yet).
Just my two cents 🙂
This highlights several challenges with blogging on SCN currently, but I fully support your outline for the community as a whole helping to filter and (for want of a better term) 'grade' posts.
One thing I've never been clear on and I recall seeing discussed in several places when SCN first re-launched was the combined use of likes and star ratings. Personally I tend to like posts that I found at all interesting and then add stars for posts that I found particularly engaging, learnt a lot from, etc. However I think there's a divide amongst SCN members around starring. Does one star indicate that it is in fact a poor post or that you think the author deserved some positive feedback rather than none at all?
Whilst I'm not a big fan of "disliking" people's work, I think perhaps some way of naturally pushing a poor post down in terms of relevancy might provide some benefit for the community management of postings - as long as it is accompanied by some sort of mandatory feedback as to why the poor relevancy has been applied. In particular I'd like to see the posts that would be better written as discussion posts (or in some cases just a Google/SCN search) more easily side-lined. I'm just not sure how this sort of thing could be implemented without being as negative as a "dislike" - after all we want to encourage contribution not discourage it because it was submitted in a poor way
What are people's current feelings around assigning ratings to posts? Has anyone seen anywhere using a method where you can get this sort of effect?
I'd also like to offer up some pieces I wrote last summer if I may as part of my contributing to SCN series that I think might also be useful for those wishing to create new content such as a blog post. In particular the second post in the series discusses the various ways to contribute to SCN (where I try to reason some differences around when to use a blog post, wiki page or document) and a document listing generic ideas for blogging topics from which new bloggers I hope can draw some inspiration.
Thanks Fred and Stephen for taking the time to respond! I'm glad to know you both will try - as Tammy Powlas recently tweeted - it takes a village!
Fred Verheul we are constantly thinking of additional ways to address the #notablog issue. For example we might change the create menu to clarify it even more. Additional suggestions are always welcome. In the meantime I believe that community feedback is the biggest vehicle for change.
Stephen Millard you raise an interesting point around likes and rating. Laure Cetin would be the best to respond as she is responsible for our reputation program. But I'll share my 2 cents 😉 I believe than many enjoy the 'like' option for its ease of use. Howevert I believe that if we wish to give greater feedback a rating system with comments is best. If someone gives 1 or 2 stars and gently explains what could be done to 'earn' a higher rating in the future that would be good constructive criticism. Those who care to improve from it would surely learn more than if a 'thumbs down' only option was offered.
I too would be happy to read others thoughts on the matter.
Thank you for adding your great blogs here! Somehow I missed the 2nd post which really is a great resource!
I think using both ratings and likes is useful, and I agree with Fred Verheul that one should always try to do both.
But I sometimes like a post that doesn't warrant a rating because it's a nice topic, told in an interesting way, but I don't see that it took a lot of effort to post it.
I would use a rating when effort was needed to publish the content. And yes, a 1-star rating should be used to express disappointment in the content, and should be done in a responsible way: it's not because you don't like the content (e.g. the topic, the technology) that you give a 1-star rating, it's because the content is poor quality. There is no way to request a comment (aka review) when a rating is given, even for a 1-star rating. This has been debated over and over again. Would people dare to give a 1-star rating, even if it's justified, if they knew their name would be published and they could face "retaliation"?
About the combined use of starring and liking: you made me think (for the first time?) about this.
Until now I always liked and rated together (or better: whenever I like a post, I also grade it with stars). But maybe this should not be automatic. I really have no clue.
As far as I know 1 star = very poor. Which means you kinda 'should' rate each post IMHO (or at least could 🙂 ).
Just my 2cts
I think that's the spirit we're all working in - what I'd like to see is light at the end of the tunnel, i.e. progress on the tools moderators have to cope with the additional load imposed on everyone through the new platform.
I think we need
- something like an action log for moderators at post level (has someone else contacted the author already - no use having 12 moderators contact the same guy)
- user history for moderators (is this someone who has been the subject of moderation previously?)
- a visual indicator for moderators that somebody else is already perfoming moderation tasks on a post, so I don't need to
Little features like this could make a HUGE difference for moderators. Not everything was perfect in the old SCN, but currently we really work with our hands tied behind our backs...
Frank you know I hear you and there are different moderation tools in the works but please remember it took many years to gain the good tools we had in the old SCN.
Yes we can, but we can't.
As long as we are not able to search for blogs with more than X likes, Y bookmarks, and Z comments all your effort is for the birds ("für die Katz").
It is not about reducing the noise, it is more about boosting quality content.
Thank you for starting this conversation. I might say something controversial, but why do we need "personal blogs" on SCN at all? With so many (some might even say "too many") communities I can't imagine a subject that would be relevant to SCN but wouldn't fit in any of the available spaces. There is even 'Coffee Corner" for any random musings. "Dear diary" material should rather be taken to Livejournal, Blogger, etc.
Couldn't agree more that in absence of any functionality to search/view by ratings, this may seem like a futile effort to many users.
Its a valid questions Jelena however when we migrated to the new SCN we couldn't decide for the author in which space their blog was most suited. Therefore all blogs were migrated to member's personal blogs. I would agree that going forward the community space blogs should be those most in use.
Regarding search/view by rating this too is valid. I can share that certain widgets use these metrics so worthy content can be shared.
I find it a shame that we don't value personal messages anymore. After all, what is more personal on the internet than blogging? If I put my opinion about something technical all out there, why is it frowned upon when I voice my excitement about Bayern Muenchen? As with all my blogs... Readers can easily skip.
I am wondering if we only care about the reader on the receiving end and are completely oblivious to the feelings of the writer. Isn't it a bit pretentious to put all that writing so much through the manger? How much does it hurt to drop reading something that is of no value in SAP (and is not offensive)?
I mean... Seriously... How much does our success in business depend on these blogs?
Uwe, perhaps there is a misunderstanding. My question was about the blogs that are not categorized under any space but are just listed under the author's user name (I called them "personal blogs" as a category, not by content). Certainly anyone is free to post anything on SCN and likes/ratings are there to "sort it out" (supposedly). I was just wondering why such category existed when any blogs could be easily posted in the Coffee Corner space or, say, Business Trends (there are many non-technical spaces actually). Gali's comment answered that perfectly.
As far as 'readers can easily skip' - not really, unfortunately. On the old SDN we could see almost a week's worth of blog summaries on one page, clearly listed by date. This was very helpful and allowed to easily pick the blogs of particular interest. On the new SCN such thing does not exist. I created a bookmark that shows all the blogs, sorted by creation date. But one page shows only 20 entries and sometimes (especially when there is an SAP event) one day's worth of blogs takes 2-3 pages. No big deal, but for some reason going to the next page is painfully slow and sometimes just throws an error. Also the whole list only shows maximum 10 pages or so. If I don't follow the list for a week (or sometimes just a few days), there is no way to see all the missed blogs. It's also not possible to further sort the list by space/author, etc. So to answer your question 'how much does it hurt' - quite a bit, actually.
Yes, again I'm talking about my own issues that blog authors have nothing to do with, but the most frustrating part is that it feels like I'm constantly missing on the good blogs. For example some of your excellent blogs I found purely by accident. Some other good blogs I found because someone liked them or commented on. It's not unusual to see a comment on a blog "how come I didn't see it?". This can't be very good for both blog authors and readers.
I agree with you wholeheartedly that blogs contribute great deal to the success of SAP, SCN and all the SCN members. And that's exactly why it's very frustrating when excellent content gets lost amid "not-a-blogs" and regurgitated ABAP Help.
thanks for this... it makes it perfectly clear for me (I haven't thought about most of these things) and I couldn't agree with you more