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Endless thanks…

Comments on blogs.

This a blog about blogs. A meta-blog if you will.

Comments on blogs especially are designed to provoke intelligent discussion. I used to follow interesting blogs to see if interesting comments would arise. If I do that, I get an endless stream of notification containing “thanks” “appreciate it” “keep posting” – or (and what triggered this blog) “I appreciate your appreciation”. While it’s nice to be polite and show appreciation, this endless stream amounts, in my opinion, to spam. Especially when the “Wow that was brilliant” gets a “like”. You have to start questioning the commenters’ intentions.

I’m not alone in this:


On British TV a few years ago there was a sketch in a sketch show that featured impersonations of well-known flamboyant actor/celebrities.

“You were fantastic, dahling”.

“No, you were, more fantastic”.

“No, you were…”

ad infinitium, ad nauseum

Bleurgh . It’s rather saccharine and very wearing after a while. As the satirical magazine would say, it’s all a bit ‘luvvie’ – candidates for pseuds corner.


It occurs to me then that perhaps one way of greatly reducing noise would be, as is common in many online communities, to add to the Rules of Engagement that “me too” and “thank-you” posts are not permitted (or at least, heavily discouraged).

We already tell people not to ask for points, because it’s like saying to a small child “say thank-you”. In that spirit then, if we like what someone has posted, the correct response is to “like” it, or award if 4 or 5 stars. I don’t think there’s anyway to get this happening voluntarily, so it will have to be in the Rules, and enforced by moderators.

It’s the only way I can think of to stem this endless stream of what becomes after a while, meaningless.

Edit: you can vote on the idea here: Improve the quality and usefulness of comments : View Idea

Update: I just checked a few blogs written since the new policy of not awarding points to “likes” came into force. I specifically chose those by authors who previously “liked” people who thanked them. There are two observations.

1. The author continues to “like” comments.

2. The number of “thanks that was great” comments has dwindled to almost zero.

So it seems that many “thankers” were just in it for the points. Not terribly social behaviour, was it?

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  • Since Jive is a social platform and it has automatic/manual tagging features, we can have a feature to filter out noise in activity feed.

    Right now, we can hide a particular content, type of content in space, and all content in space.

    I used to read tech blogs’ rss feeds in Google Reader, and feeds used to be polluted on every iPhone launch. Luckily, some of the tech blogs were responsible enough to allow optout feature. Adding -iphone at the end of rss feed url used to filter out all the junk.

    • Not being one to miss an opportunity, while we’re on the subject of changes and change requests, can you drop this one in there too…

      Followers/Following should be changed to


      because, to Private Message somebody one must be connected to them, to connect to somebody one must follow them, but one doesn’t necessarily want to follow somebody although one may want to be connected to that same person, but not in the sense as a follower.

      Therefore, Following and Followers creates the wrong impression and should be changed to simply…


      All the best,


      • And what would “being connected” mean in practice? Currently following somebody means seeing their activity in your activity stream, much as on Twitter. “Being connected” doesn’t convey the same meaning to me.


        • In some ways, I’d prefer connected, as being followed gives me an uneasy sense of being stalked… 😯

          However, connected in linkedin etc. means that both parties have consented. So followed is, to my mind, a better description.

          • SCN has Asymmetric_follow

            Linkedin as just the opposite.

            The SCN profile > connections tab has 2 filters: following (stalking) and followers (stalkers).

            Perhaps another filter named connected is required to have the symmetric followers.

            A strangers filter can also be created as an easter egg, it would basically show remaining 2 million unconnected users.

          • I’d like that. A third filter to see at once who I can send a direct message to would be great!

            The tab in the profile is already named “Connections” btw. ^^

          • Steffi Warnecke wrote:


            I’d like that. A third filter to see at once who I can send a direct message to would be great!


            Per my observation, as a “normal” user you can send direct messages to those that are following you.

            By now I am resisting the temptation to politely “return-follow” anybody that decided to follow me, and I have “un-followed” a number of people (they obviously don’t get a message about it) to control the size of the activity stream.

            As far as the “thank you” and “thank you for the thank you” posts and accompanying likes and re-likes go, there is as usual some threshold when politeness becomes nuisance, now we just need to define where that threshold is. 🙂


          • yeah but I think this is one of the current problems

            there are people I would like to send a private message to


            because I am not following them I cannot

            so ok,

            I click the Follow button and follow them,

            but I still cannot send them a private message because…

            they are not following me

            and this is a flaw in the design, just because I would like to send

            somebody an unsolicited private message does not mean I would like to follow

            them, I would be happy to be connected but following is something else

            the second flaw is that I have to wait for them to follow me before I can private message

            them and if they have no interest to follow me then we will never meet the criteria for me to private message them

            This scenario came up only yesterday because of this blog, I read Matthew’s profile and saw he used to be at Novartis, and that is where I am working and I wanted to private message him about that, but I couldn’t because I am not following him, so I followed him, but I still couldn’t private message him because he is not following me.

            And this is why, I think rather than SCN evolve making a quick fix here and a quick fix there, there should be some strategic rethinking of the functionality of the platform and perhaps even a consultation paper where interested qualified parties are invited to give their feedback towards improving and making SCN even better.


          • I wasn’t aware of this restriction because, as a moderator, I can DM who ever I DM well please.

            In the other forums I frequent you can opt to allow anyone to send you direct messages, restrict to “friends” or turn it of. I’m surprised it isn’t on offer here. Maybe you’d like to add this as a suggestion. The thing is, while it would be nice to have a complete review, there is absolutely no way it’s going to happen for a long while. In the meantime we must content ourselves with incremental improvement.

            You could always have sent me an email – my address is visibile.

          • Hi Matthew,

            yeah I could send you an email but it’s all time and ease of use, wouldn’t it be nice I am in the SCN window logged in, no copy paste email address or anything, just hit the direct message button and send a message.

            I see what you mean about the incremental changes.


          • Hi Manish,

            thank you.

            In that case, using my above example, of wanting to direct message Matthew yesterday, should I have telepathically sent him a message telling him to follow me so that I could direct message him 🙂


          • In old IRC channels, chat room was default, and people used to ask a person in public saying “hi User, PM?” where PM meant private message. After the other person says ok, they used to continue the conversation in a private session.

            Similarly in SCN, @ mentioning a person in status update can be used to invite him, either to communicate directly via email, or by following each other.

          • It is untidy, and perhaps designed by vendor like this so that user gets into habit of follow and follow-back everyone, thereby increasing the number of ‘impressions’.

            These impressions affect the graphs that advocate the success of social media.

            To overcome issue, more people may update email address in profile and make it public.

            Even if the email address may not get indexed by crawlers, it is easily retrievable by web scripting, facilitating email spam. You don’t even need to login to see public email addresses.

            P.S. this sub-conversation is pushing the limits of comment indentation, and soon the comments would loose threading.

          • Per my observation, as a “normal” user you can send direct messages to those that are following you.

            By now I am resisting the temptation to politely “return-follow” anybody that decided to follow me, and I have “un-followed” a number of people (they obviously don’t get a message about it) to control the size of the activity stream.

            Ah! I saw the “Send direct message” button yesterday and was wondering, why it’s there when I’m not following the other person. I thought it would be like the “share”-thing. You can put anyone in, but only in sending you’ll get the error, that you can’t send something to that person, because the connection is not complete. ^^

            I, too, have stopped to re-follow for the same reason. My activity feed is the most important info stream for me and I don’t want to turn it into a flood. 😀

            @Andy: I think that is kind of a security point to stop people from “harassing” the more visible users (like moderators, mentors and experts in their space) from getting support questions per DM.

            Someone some time ago made the wish, that it would be great if you could follow someone, but have the opportunity do deactivate his activities for the stream. I’d say, this would accomplish what you have in mind. To follow someone, but more for communication purposes. Better yet would it be to be able to set for what kind of content for followed persons and spaces I’d like an entry in my activity stream. So maybe I’m just interested in the blogs of someone. Or the discussions in a space. 🙂

            I can DM who ever I DM well please.


          • /
            Activity Hide.PNG
          • So it already can be done for spaces? Great! I looked at the “Hide”-option, but it obviously was more a glance, since I didn’t see the second option, which is exactly what I had in mind.

            There is a “Hide this update” and “Hide all updates by <username>”, too. Is this just for status updates or any content?

          • On a user, this would be for status updates only. There isn’t a way to hide activities by a specific user: you can just un-follow them. 

          • Okay, thank you for clarification, Jason! 🙂 And also for bringing this feature to my knowledge. ^^

            Is it somewhere on a to-do-list of the SCN team to get the same functionality (hiding specific content for a user)?

          • This is another scenario: ignore activities by a user in a space you are following. This isn’t on the to-do-list but we’re waiting to see what’s offered in future enhancements by the platform vendor.

          • Funny though. We moderators are asked to keep our emails visible. I do get a few requests for help, which I point back to the forums. Only occasionally does that member then whinge and whine – and then I’ve blocked their address from my mail server.

          • Sharing you e-mail address on your profile is one way but don’t forget the abuse report system as a way to notify the moderators if it’s about a specific piece of content. 

            A new discussion can always be created where the moderators are @mentioned. (e.g. Steffi Warnecke) Someone did this to me earlier in the SCN Support space…

          • The abuse-button came to my mind, too (I deleted that part again from my post 😀 ). But then we need to put more in the dropdown-list of possible content/categories and there is still the idea for renaming it to be more like “Inform the moderator” or something, because sometimes it’s not about pointing out a violation, but a good thing (yes, it happens!).

            The mention-thing again. Dammit, I’m always forgetting that, even though I wrote the same thing to another user not that long ago to show him the function! Narghs.

  • “…thanks  Matthew i appreciate it and suggest you to keep posting post like this, I appreciate your appreciation for that point of view, and yes that’s was brilliant and thank-you that me too consideration…” 😉

    I’m joking Matthew, really i see now that i am in that endless thanks while make some mistakes while participating on scn forums discussions, but remember now that situation on other similar situations for example twitter, i know one rule for twitter to avoid useless replys is to add interesting point of view for others in your twitter replies, i see now that this littler rule that i try to use on twitter, could be interesting to add on post comments to avoid a “me too” message.

    I remember now that blog where we can read something similar:

    “…Use a REPLY to reach someone who does not follow you. A REPLY lands in a person’s Mentions & Interactions tabs if they don’t follow you. People who follow both of you can see your semi-private exchanges. And, you can use a REPLY to make the first contact, so you don’t have to wait to ‘reply’….”

    Changing that for forum Rules of Engagement we can make a littler change like that:

    “…Use a COMMENTS to reach someone who does not know you. A COMMENTS lands in a person’s Mentions & Interactions tabs if they don’t know you. People who follow both of you can see your semi-private exchanges. And, you can use a COMMENTS to make the first contact, ….”

    Is for that when a simple “thanks, i appreciate, …” don’t make any sense on other that don’t know you, like twitter you can reply / comment but after like it or start it you can try to add  some interesting point of view; so that i will stop to only comment a “thanks xxx”.

    As a final word, that’s my point of view about your post 😉 and as i just learn with you your post has been rated ➕

    Best regards,


  • Thanks Matthew for pinpointing & addressing this issue, it has been bothering me now for some time (so why didn’t I think of writing a blog post about it??).

    I find it especially irritating when I’ve commented on a blog post: you automatically get all later comments in your Inbox (which is good overall), and with blogs announcing the MoM, or the new SAP Mentors, etc that’s a big pain in the ***.

    Sometimes I deliberately turn off the email notifications of a blog post for that reason (that is, due to some bug I first have to turn them on, and then turn them off again). But I shouldn’t have to do that.

    Let us know where to find the Idea on Idea Place (when posted), because I’ll surely vote it up!

    Cheers, Fred

  • Afternoon All,

    I’m on the other side of the fence on this one.

    I think there’s not enough feedback and fluidity on a lot of blogs and subjects on the SCN.

    If somebody has worked hard, put in the research, compiled the research into logical thought provoking useful text and taken the pain, and yes the blog editor is a pain, to blog all of that, then I think they deserve a thank you.

    Anyone who writes decent blogs, will know, it’s not a five minutes activity, and when I see excellent blogs, on subjects which interest me, but for example aren’t the most popular subjects on SCN and have no comments, I’ll put a comment there, thanking the author for their time and effort and contribution.

    Be careful what you wish for.

    This is a big subject. and needs more thought and a coherent overall strategy, including handling bookmarks, likes, and comments.

    Much as I think Jason Lax is a champion of SCN, I worry that the suggestion/idea above is like an ill thought out government policy to plug one hole and please one group while alientating another and damaging an overall ecosystem.

    Therefore, my suggestion is, revisit the whole system of points, likes, bookmarks, comments and do a study, produce a consultation paper, invite the community to give feedback and find a coherent overall strategy.

    It is also clear to see in the comments, that amongst the thanks and good job comments there are discussions going on regarding the subject of the blog.

    In life, we all have to lead by example, if we see a blog which interests us, and the comments contain lists of thanks and good jobs, so what, lead by example and start the comments thread which discusses the subject of the blog. Why wait for others to start discussing the subject of the blog and browse their interesting comments, why not lead this direction ?

    All the best, and Matthew Billingham ,   great blog 🙂


    • +1 Andy.

      And I’d like to add that sometimes I read a wonderful blog and just want to share it with people that are following me so that they know I found something worth reading.  How do you do that without leaving a comment?

      AFAIC I may simply not know any other workaround than saying “thank you, that was great”. So if anybody knows how to bypass this limitation, I’d be glad to hear it and stop adding those comments that are meant to broadcast some blog posts …



        • Indeed… but I find the activity stream overloaded. Plus, I like to be “Pushed” emails when something good it out, instead of having to “Pull” interesting content from the activity stream. When you’re following a lot of people, you need to check the activity stream everyday to stay up to date. I prefer to store emails for later read.

          • Then maybe before preventing those comments we need a function “Share with followers” that would:

            1) Like the content

            2) Send emails to your followers, but only to those for whom the same article was not already “shared” by someone else they were following.

  • Interesting… On one side I see a lot of sense in what you write, on the other I feel that the whole feedback loop does not work very well on SCN. Sometimes it seems that the smallest minority here cares about netiquette and show their appreciation with a “bookmark, like, rating or a comment”. As such, the only way I have to interact with the few that does and encourage that behavior is by replying with a “thank you”. Or by liking their comment…

    Don’t get me wrong here, but after having spend hours compiling a blog post the most disappointing thing that can happen is to get zero or limited feedback! I know that this drives away potential bloggers, because they simply do not deem it valuable to spend all the time & effort for nothing…

    So, if the behavior of the community doesn’t change for the better and people start to invest the “3 seconds” it takes to rate, like or comment of content, then the only way I see that is left is by thanking those that do with an explicit reply.

    Just my take…

    • Hi Matthias,

      precisely my point too, and that is why I just demoted this on the Idea’s Place because there needs to be a coherent overall strategy and not just fix this, fix that and in the end have a messy confusing system, which as you say, will drive away bloggers who will have the impression their effort and contribution is not appreciated.

      SCN should propose a new coherent strategy, and publish it as a consultation and invite Matthew Billingham and others who are interested in this subject to give their inputs and influence a strategy which will be the optimum for the whole community.

      All the best,


      • I think you present a false dichotomy. It is not either apply a quick fix or come up with a coherent strategy. Both are possible.

        Before we get the patient into major surgery, we can at least staunch the bleeding.

        What I propose is a minor change, it is easy to implement and will provide immediate benefit.

    • Those who care about netiquette are, in my view, those most likely to provide decent content and those most likely to not contribute if there continues a deluge of spam.

      I’m not a major blog writer, but to me a “like” is a simple way to show appreciation. Anything more than that – unless it is adding to the subject – is superfluous.

      Before all this gamification was implemented, to find out whether a blog had had influence was easy – just look at the number of reads it has attracted. That on its own is sufficient feedback.

      • yes but the problem is this is all very populist

        and SAP is such a huge subject with some very popular fashionable areas and some not so popular areas and my worry is how to show appreciation to those folks making the effort to blog in the very important but at the same time not top of the pops areas ?

        Those people are writing fantastic useful blogs, not getting many views, not getting any likes or feedback and feeling very unloved, however their content could be golden and this is why, when I see such blogs I say hello to the writer and thank them for contributing the blog.


        • But you still could. Just please with more than “Thanks, mate.” 😉  And wouldn’t want a creator of a blog rather get earnest likes and comments, that actually say WHY you are thankful for this blogpost, instead of the generic “thank you” of somebody posting the same thing to 10 other blogs and documents in 5 minutes? I know I would. 🙂
      • Hi Matt

        Thanks for pointing this out! (I’m already damaged from all the thanks I handed out recently, as you most likely know) This should definitely make it into the rules of engagement. (I know one could use common sense and figure that on their own) but unless you’ve been active for a longer time you just assume this is common practice and provide the same.. the temping thing about it is it bumps your content pretty easlily I absolutely support your idea though as it gets almost as annyoing as people asking if you missed their reply.


    • Yes. Content should be rated and not flooded with points noise. Your content was most likely soon overtaken by a points gaming scheme which pushed it down or the people who would appreciate it are long gone from SCN because of the idiotic points system.

      I all to often talk to customers and show them how to search SCN, but when googling  and finding SCN content they find the content very poor and have to refine the search terms to “AND JULIUS” or “AND BERNHARD” to get a decent answer.

      Just get rid of the points system and clean up the mess. Rather use the “points” field for a mandatory release dependency indicator. That would at least be useful…



  • The whole idea of the ratings and likes is to promote quality content, and to make lesser content dissapear into the void.

    I think we’ve seen plenty examples that this can easily be gamed by working together with some mutual-likers… with an bunch of “I like you, you like me” and “we give 10 comments to eachother so we gain 10 likes”, the result is that the lesser content is being promoted rather than the quality content

    One idea would be to remove the likes for comments. However, sometimes the comments are more valuable than the initial blog.

    So I repeat what Steve Rumsby, myself and many others have already said: We need to be able to Dislike, or downvote with negative points.

    I still believe the serious people here are in the majority of the points gamers. If the serious people en-masse, downvote bad content, the point gamers will quickly give up.

    Moderators should be entitled to suspend accounts if they purposely add lousy content and show point gaming behaviour. (and execute the punishment as well)

    I don’t care if someone wants to game for points, it’s obvious enough when you do. But I get ticked off seeing an endless stream of nonsensical articles on my favourite professional site.

    If you don’t have anything useful to add, I’d prefer you don’t add anything.

    You can post your goldfish pictures on facebook, 9-gag, Cheezburger, whatever..

    not here.

    Keep this place professional please, that was its reason of inception, and that still is the reason why we come here

    • The whole idea of the ratings and likes is to promote quality content, and to make lesser content disappear into the void.

      And that’s the part of the gamification process that currently isn’t working. We’re certainly attracting more content, and from new people, but the filtering process isn’t doing its job. There are, I think two reasons for that. First, as you said, there are people liking content that shouldn’t be liked, and therefore surfacing that above the good content. But also, people aren’t liking the good content. There are many examples of blogs than have had thousands of views and only 2 or 3 likes or ratings. This has been mentioned many times in discussions about gamification and the points system here on SCN but it still doesn’t seem to be getting any better. It seems rather ironic to propose the creation of a “dislike” feedback mechanism to solve a problem at least in part caused by people not using the existing “like” mechanism enough. Why are we more willing to provide negative feedback for bad content than positive feedback for good content? I’d much rather this was a constructive community.

      Sorry – I didn’t intend this to turn into a rant, and it certainly isn’t directed at you, Tom. I’ve supported the dislike idea before and I started out this comment intending to support it again. But that all changed while I was typing.

      If those of us who are serious really do outnumber the gamers by a significant margin, and if we would only like the good content more often, then surely the bad content would still melt away even if the gamers continue?

      I’m not opposed to a dislike button, and if the current low level of feedback continues maybe it is necessary. I wish it wasn’t, though…

      • Agree.

        That, and the UI is broken:

        • Rating and liking is ambiguous
        • In order to like a post I need to scroll up again
        • Cascaded replies make the text box slimmer, which is really a UI crime

        My impression is that there’s a fair rate of LIKEs where people seem to like the fact that someone they know wrote something more than the actual content (which I’m guilty of myself).

        Maybe a better indicator would be the number of replies liked by someone other than the author…?


      • No offense taken Steve, as I perfectly understand with what you’re saying, and I also wholeheartedly agree.

        The lack of recognition for good content, and the overflow of fake recognition of bad content are simply two sides of the same medal.

        It looks like we’re running into the pitfalls of gamification. For some people, the focus is on the game (points), rather than on the goal (quality content). And some people even start to cheat/game the system.

        [and we all know them. Don’t think we don’t see the obvious, just because we don’t call you out on it. We’re just hoping that at some point, you’ll realize what you’re doing and start to behave]

        So corrective measures are in order:

        A) We seriously need to jack up the acknowledgement of good quality content. I once proposed to change the “report abuse” into “alert moderator” which would then also hold an option for “Highlight good content” If moderators, or matter experts decide that it is indeed quality content, they can highlight it on the homepage and assign a bulk of points to it in order to get things going.

        B) We need an option to downvote bad content. suppose bad content got 5 likes (in essence 10 points). Every downvote should substract 2 points, until it hits 0. (So no negative values possible for a piece of content. 1 bad piece should not affect your other good submissions)

        • thinking along those lines, what about if Moderators had the power to award x points to outstanding content, the same as they can highlight content ?

          If a good answer ina forum can be awarded 10 points for solving a problem, then what about

          moderators awarding x points to quality content.

          Still the more I think about it the more I think points in themselves are creating a challenge.


      • people aren’t liking the good content.

        We’re making a big assumption here that everyone on SCN is capable of critically analyzing and identifying quality content.

    • We need to be able to Dislike, or downvote with negative points.

      I still believe the serious people here are in the majority of the points gamers. If the serious people en-masse, downvote bad content, the point gamers will quickly give up.

      Can we also add, the Activity/Profile of a member includes statistics of abuse raised and accepted by the moderated against them, including break down for type of abuse such as copyright?

  • Comments on blogs especially are designed to provoke intelligent discussion.

    I stopped reading here for a moment in the opening sentense and decided against normal judgement but fair shopfloor experience that the idiotic SCN points system takes lots of whacks in the feedback comments.

    Very unacademic approach, but I will admittedly lean out the window for now and then read on…