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Dear reader,

You (probably) landed here because you’re new to the SCN Community and you want to “do your homework” before you start your journey with us. You’re probably also interested to know what you can expect from the SCN Community as well as learn about common pitfalls, misunderstandings and birth pains so that you spare yourself some blood, sweat and tears.

Important note before you start with the following: I am known to be speaking the truth and to be exaggerating a bit (a lot). Please don’t feel offended by the fact that I am telling things directly without the magical powder that makes things look pink. Also don’t panic because it sounds like the sky is about to fall, that is common in my blogs (so I was told).

Many of the things I am going to say below are negative or can sound negative. I am discouraging from certain behavior and don’t want to paint things pink. The point is to inform you (warn you in case your situation is similar to the ones described) and not to offend you, ok? If you can stay positive, that would help a lot. In return I will do my best to word things nicely.

If the points below are not applicable in your situation -> good for you! In case they are (partly) relevant, I am trying to explain what to do and what not to do in order to become a recognized and valuable member of the SCN Community.

I will appreciate anyone’s feedback and will try to build the feedback into this text to make the thing better. If you say this text is not so useful, ok, fair feedback and I use it for the best. You should do the same. That is the SCN spirit.

What you should read first

Rules of Engagement

Plagiarism: A moderator explains: the plagiarism rule and what is still allowed or The inevitable consequence of the democratization of content: plagiarism (do not forget to read the discussion)

Asking Good Questions in the SCN Discussion Spaces will help you get Good Answers

A day or three in the life of a forum moderator

Inform yourself about various smart way of searching SCN: Search is a Tool: Tips for Better Results or Custom Google Search for the New SCN

What can happen and how to go about it (it happens so often…)

You have a problem for which you need a solution NOW. It is URGENT.

This Community is based on volunteers and good manners. It is impolite and against the rules to start running around shouting your problem is URGENT. If there is someone who can help you reading the SCN right now, he or she will probably chime in and save you. If not, shouting will not help, believe me. Only bad things can happen when you start running around shouting. Firstly you will alert the moderators. That is never good. They will not help you even if they know the answer because you’re acting against the rules and that is not tolerated or even encouraged (by helping the offenders). If you followed the rules, they might have given you the answer already. If you start other funny tricks like posting your question in multiple places, things will get even worse. Your posts will start to disappear and you will start receiving emails about your activity against the rules. In a short term, this is your warning. In a mid-term this is your last chance. You stop it, you’re saved. You carry on, your account gets deleted.

System reaction: Lock thread. Delete thread. Delete user account (for repeated offenders).

You want to boost your career selling the SCN knowledge.

This problem is often connected with the previous point. You sell yourself as an expert that you’re not and to deliver up to the expectations you “sell” what you find on SCN. Sooner or later we will find you (the SCN system with all the tools and reports will find you) and tell you not to ask interview or basic questions over and over again. Also consider the fact that the people you work with (like customer that pays for your work on the project) also come to SCN and can see your activity here. If you’re obviously milking the system although you have no clue and cause problems for the SCN Community as well for your customers, you will get punished.

It is ok to be new to SAP or new to the Community, but you must show some hard work and effort before you ask others to do your work. If you help people first, your chances of being helped will skyrocket, believe me.

Experienced people that would follow your posts on SCN would be able to tell if you’re cutting one problem into a series of “smaller questions” (“divide et impera”), what the problem is and what you’re trying to do. SCN is not a replacement for skill, knowledge and experience.

System reaction: Lock thread. Delete thread. Contact your employer. Delete user account.

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You have very competitive friends, you work for a “funny” company or you measure your contributions by points accumulated.

It is very unfortunate but happens quite often that people exchange the helpful and positive atmosphere and good manners (and respect for the rules) for points and badges. Points system (and all the leaderboards etc.) as well as the badges are a way how to make the contribution process more fun as well as give one a chance to “give something” (give you points) without having to pay for your advice, your time and effort. If your incentive on SCN is to gather points no matter what, your account will get deleted sooner or later no matter what.

When you’re helpful, people will thank you with points. If not, you can think they’re lazy or impolite since they don’t give what costs them nothing in return for your contribution that cost you time and knowledge. But even then you shouldn’t ask for points. That is against the rules. Lead by example -> give points when you’re helped by a stranger and want to thank the person. Don’t beg for points, ok?

Boosting your points score by “alternative methods” is the worst idea you can get. Points are a way how to be polite and can “feel” like “something like money”. But you can’t buy anything with points. You can’t buy reputation with points (it is in my opinion a side effect that people with high reputation also have many points, but there are many many examples of knowledgeable people that are well known and respected who don’t have many points!).

It is something like with money and happiness. You can’t buy happiness with money. Following the same logic you can’t buy a reputation with points. Happy people (mostly) don’t starve from hunger (->have some money). The same way highly regarded people earned some points along the way (although there are many without points… it is about knowledge, manners and attitude, not points).

There are several things you shouldn’t try. The system is not stupid (actually the system is very fast and efficient) and you will bitterly regret it if you try:

  1. a) Create multiple accounts and ask and answer questions between these accounts.
  2. b) You don’t want to do the above with your friends either. There are ways how to identify “bonds that are too close”. You will all get “guestified”.
  3. c) You answer every possible question to harvest points faster. You literally answer “everything that moves”. One of the rules of the Community is that we don’t create noise (in fact we actively kill noise by reporting abuse on things that are FAQ, interview questions etc.) so we don’t answer questions that have been answered million times before. The person asking the question should also follow the rules and search before asking. If that is not the case, you should either hit the “abuse” button or politely tell the person that the question is already answered and move on. When someone hits the abuse button and the thread gets deleted by a moderator, all the points assigned in such threads are lost. If you waste your time by giving an answer but the thread is “noise” and gets deleted tomorrow, your time and points are lost. Rather spend your time on things that add value and make the world better.
  4. d) “Scratch my back, I will scratch yours”. Liking all your buddies’ content in exchange for them doing that the same with your content will send the content to Nirvana. And your friends. And you.
  5. e) There are ways of answering questions that are discouraged (and punished):
    1. Copying help.sap.com instead of linking it
    2. Copying someone else’s answer without linking it
    3. …and some other things that seem to be “low hanging fruit” for the “points’ hunters”. Remember the system is not stupid. We will find you…

System reaction: Delete thread. Delete user account.

You want to share something new and valuable (for you) but the feedback is not so positive.

You’ve gathered enough courage to post your first post. You’re happy about it, proud about it and you see it as a first step in a long term fruitful Community participation. But then something goes wrong and someone (probably an “arrogant” moderator) suggests/ recommends change/ improvements in order to make your contribution better/ compliant with the rules or (this can also happen!) make the piece useful.

If you’re told what you say is wrong, read the next point. If you’re told that your piece is plagiarized, you better fix that fast -> this is a serious crime on SCN which is punished with daffodils daisies (credits: Matthew Billingham, ). If you’re told the level of contributions is too basic, you’re missing references, you stopped half way etc. read on here.

Intermezzo: A real life example of this problem triggered this whole blog. So I will try to be as detailed as possible here and hopefully guide as many confused newcomers as possible. It is not your fault that what you see as super cool new stuff is actually something that has been asked many times before (and also answered without many nuances) and so is considered common knowledge on SCN. But it can become your problem when you don’t see how the Community perceives it and don’t try to “play along”. This is not a group of elitists how some angry newcomers see it. We don’t offend anyone, we don’t protect our territory, we don’t want to chase you away. Nothing like that. But we do protect the atmosphere, the quality of the content and the cooperative spirit of the Community here. If you feel “the whole world is against you”, consider playing by the rules that are much older than your first appearance on SCN.

You want to participate in the forums and your opinion or provided solution is… simply wrong.

How you feel about: You can feel offended by the fact that you’re told you’re wrong. It is very rare here that you’re told you’re wrong but you’re actually correct. Many smart people stick around. In case you want to have a “discussion” about the situation, I can recommend the following:

  1. a) Double-check with Google that there are other people saying what you’re saying. Unless your idea is a total breakthrough (sorry, pal, this is very unlikely), there must be people and evidence already available in the internet that support your claim. Link these ideas to the discussion.
  2. b) Do a background check on the person that says you’re wrong. Is that person a respected member of the community? Is he or she posting on SCN often? Is the person a moderator? The fact that someone is a moderator or a respected long-time member of the community alone does not guarantee he or she is always right. Many people (moderators and others too) have watch dogs on their favorite forums or topics so they are informed about everything that is posted/ happens in their field of expertize. They probably see things touching your problem time to time. So please consider the statistics -> the probability that they know what you’re saying is high and they probably encountered the same problem before -> the numbers are against you here.
  3. c) Everything seems to be against you, but you think you’re still right? Stay calm. Post all sources that support your claim and ask the other participants in the discussion to point out where the problem is. In a civilized discussion one of the people talking finds a flaw in his/ her thinking and the problem sort out itself in a nice way. It is not a crime or a shame to say “I was wrong” or “I didn’t consider this”.

System reaction: Your fellow Community members will give you pointers what you should do. If the problem is serious and you ignore the feedback, your contributions will be changed or removed by the moderator. Repeated offenders are banned.

Your points’ number is not rising despite your desperate effort, the number is even falling!

In case of a problematic behavior the problematic pieces of content are removed. That also removes the points you received for that content. If that happens, running around complaining about the moderators or starting offensive threads against the moderators’ actions is the worst idea you can get. The best idea is to count to ten, start breathing slowly and ask yourself what the problem could be. You are smart, I am sure of that. You will figure that out. In the long run it will mean that you will get credits and build up reputation (for doing things right) instead of being shot in a leg at the very beginning of your journey for playing unfair.

If you made it here, congratulations and thank you for your attention and collaboration. May you have wonderful time with us on SCN and may you become a respected member of the Community.

Cheers Otto

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23 Comments

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    1. Otto Gold Post author

      Thanks Tammy!

      I’ve seen “misunderstandings” and heard too many stories so I had to do something about it. Maybe other well known law enforcers will jump in, help me improve the text and then put a link under the abuse notification mail πŸ™‚

      Cheers Otto

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        1. Otto Gold Post author

          I’ve heard an expression saying something about “pushing the daffodiles”. I thought it is a common way of expressing you know what πŸ™‚

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          1. Jelena Perfiljeva

            I kind of made a connection (mad analythical “skillz”! πŸ™‚ ), but on our side of the ocean it’s “pushing daisies”. There was the TV series with the same name.

            Great blog, now I can just give a link to read to some misguided community members. If we could also somehow put all the rules in a song like in the first Shrek movie (“please keep off of the grass, shine your shoes, whipe your… face!”), that would be the perfect world! πŸ™‚

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            1. Otto Gold Post author

              Oops. What a positive feedback πŸ™‚

              I will change the text accordingly. Thank you for doing the needful. I will reward pointz πŸ™‚ May I revert back to you when I have the song ready?

              Anyway thanks for poping by! You always make me smile πŸ™‚

              Cheers Otto

              p.s.: We wanted to do some blogs to save the SMEs (from the external workforce with their tricks and so) if i remember correctly πŸ™‚

              Last but not least: May you have a wonderful year of 2014!

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  1. Sven Ringling

    thanks for this excellent post. Even though I’ve been contributing for almost a year now, it’s always good to remind yourself of how others see things to re-calibrate your sense of what is right.

    as for

    it sounds like the sky is about to fall, that is common in my blogs (so I was told).“:

    I know exactly what you mean. A Germanic feature (making assumptions based on your name). At b-school, my British fellow students often asked me to review their papers saying “Please: be very German about it”. Asked what that was supposed to be (I suspected, but hoped to be wrong), they confirmed: “very open and blunt. …actualy: …rude”

    well, s’pose that makes you a perfect moderator πŸ˜›

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    1. Otto Gold Post author

      Hi Sven,

      I really really appreciate your comment. I don’t feel that lonely anymore πŸ™‚

      As I said so I was told. I mean well, but things sometimes sound strange, inappropriate, blunt… even rude. I can’t blame my German ancestors (although it is probably more German than …I don’t know… Asian). This is me and always assume we are with friends who know that I am not trying to piss them off, rather help or advise. A wise man once said that we should be greateful for negative feedback, maybe even more than a positive one. When you say “Hey! It’s so great”, you don’t have to give any details. No one minds the absence of details because you’re positive. The wise man said that someone who takes the time to articulate negative feedback (with all the details, reasons, proof etc.) could easily just ignore you and the fact that the person goes an extra mile to help you overcome the weakness is something extra.

      Pity I often regret doing this.

      I guess I drifted off a bit. But you know what I mean and I thank you for the support.

      I am adding you to my favorite list. I also noticed you have something HR-ish in your profile which gives you additional credit and I hope to see you around more often. Maybe we can do something together one day.

      Cheers Otto

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      1. Sven Ringling

        Yep. I think I would enjoy that.

        Whare are you based? Zurich?

        There are few things more difficult than giving really good feedback. One of those is receiving feedback. I went to b-school at Cranfield, where they put a lot of emphasis on the soft stuff and receiving feedback was one of the first things they tried to teach us. Didn’t make me perfect or necessarily even very good at it, but at least less bad than I used to be. Or so I hope πŸ™‚

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        1. Otto Gold Post author

          Basel or Zurich. Does not matter if you’re around, it would be worth a drive πŸ™‚ Why do you ask? Are you around often?

          I learnt a painful lesson over Christmas. One can just laugh about it and move on but I have to think about very often. My father in law shot us on video. So I saw and heard myself on video. You probably know the shock when a person hears his/her voice from a recording. I never realized I sound like a moose. That is the funny part. But it reminded me and keeps on reminding me how different picture we see from what the others see. I don’t have many opportunities to get feedback and if so, then it is without the necessary details. Alltogether it means I sound like a moose which i never realized and probably say many many things that are meant completely different than they’re percieved. Although meant well (always! I am a very positive person and I forget squabbles very fast, ask my wife…) the feedback I offer to the others is probably percieved so differently from what I wanted to express. Needless to say the fact that English is not my mother language is not helping at all.

          If you have tricks or lessons to share, I welcome any adivse I can get.

          Cheers Otto

          p.s.: You’ve made my… evening πŸ™‚

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          1. Sven Ringling

            πŸ™‚

            making someone’s evening is very cool feedback.

            I know that shock of hearing yourself on video. In that instance you are your worst ciritc, because you are not used to it – you have a different expectation. So, you perceive it as bad, even, if others like it.

            Best cure for that:

            A good public speaking training with a good coach and video feedback.

            As for receiving feedback, the best lessen I’ve ever got was:

            don’t argue. Just say “thank you for your feedback”. period.

            Been in Zurich for various ABB firms in 1996-1998, but not much since apart from the occasional visit to friends. But I’ll shout, if I’m around next time.

            please drop a line, if you get to Lomdon one of those days.

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  2. SP RO

    Good blog.

    But.

    Thousands will miss it.

    Because it sits in “About SCN” (mostly
    the place for sap-badge users and medals-prec.stones users)
    ; This blog has a wrong location.

    Because it has a complex title “Landing page for the troublemakers” which, per my understanding, doesn’t reflect the content – I believe
    a SCN new user never read it because it has a non-clear title; This blog has a
    wrong title.

    The majority come on SCN trying to
    get an answer and solve a problem but not to do a homework. Misunderstanding
    ?

    Regarding your “The system is not stupid” i would not agree. It was proven many times that getting false
    reputation is not hard on SCN (and still). The current points system corrupts a content.

    I remember several times when moderators
    were not in time to remove incorrect message. While SCN has too many moderators (as far as I see) just few of them really work. Other moderators only proudly show M-badge and nothing else.

    Regards,

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    1. Otto Gold Post author

      Hello.

      First of all nice to meet you. We haven’t met before I guess. What is your name?

      Secondly thanks for the nicely articulated feedback, I appreciate it. I am around for some time (some years) and thought this would be a good place to put the blog to. What would be your recommendation for a more suitable place?

      I changed the name of the blog several times and then settled with this one. What would be your recommendation? I never thoguht of writing this blog as the first thing the newcomer to SDN gets to see. That would be very bold and could only happen with the huge support from the community. If the community – the people around us I like to talk to and whose opinions I value – says/say I should change it and put it somewhere else, fine. The intention was to help the community by explaining the problematic behavior to those who don’t “get it”. where would you like to see this blog? I was also worried about the fact that my tone is not always friendly enough to be the first thing the newcomers get to see. Anyway you know what I mean now.

      This blog was intended as a place where offenders are send to reconsider what they’re doing so they’re given an explanation and a second chance. If you see a better potential in the text, I would be happy to do anything i can to unleash the potential for the best.

      There are many (including me) that will agree with you on the problematic motivation often linked to the points system. Others are actively fighting back. I don’t do it, because I can’t see SAP changing it. It is a fact we need to live with. My contribution is this blog not an armed revolution against the SAP SCN team πŸ™‚

      You’re right that not everyone works that hard. Not everyone understands what needs to be done so this place is kept clean, nice and full of quality content. As with the previous point I can’t see anything I can do about it, so my approach is to know the right people and ping them directly so they come and fix the thing instead of relying on the “official system”. You very well articulated comment indicates that you know how the system works which should also mean you know whom you can count on. If you have an alternative approach or an advise for me I am one big ear waiting to learn something. No kidding.

      Thank you for the time to provide feedback and I am looking forward to the answers for my questions above/ details about your suggestions. I will try to make the world better for both of us, you can count on that.

      Have a nice day and see you around!

      cheers Otto

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  3. FlΓ‘vio Alves

    Hello, Otto Gold,

    Only bad things can happen when you start running around shouting. Firstly you will alert the moderators. That is never good.

    I couldn’t help but imagine this situation happening outdoors. “Look! There’s another one! Quick! Let’s go get him/her!”. A frantic chase ensues. LOL

    Congrats for this great document!

    Best regards,

    Flávio.

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    1. Otto Gold Post author

      Hi Flavio,

      thanks for a positive comment. I appreciate it. You would not believe how afraid I am that someone takes this personally and it turns ugly. I often mean well but it does not work as expected. You made me laugh, thanks for that. Part of the burden relieved πŸ™‚

      cheers Otto

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  4. Ashutosh Jha

    Thanks Otto for this blog. I had been using SCN for quite sometime and had just started contributing to the community. This blog really provides an insight of how to use this community for knowledge sharing.

    And after reading this blog, I’ll neither be lazy nor impolite in thanking πŸ˜‰ .

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    1. Otto Gold Post author

      Welcome! May the Force will be with you, every time you post! Use the abuse button wisely, my Padawan πŸ™‚ See you around!

      cheers Otto

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    1. Otto Gold Post author

      Hello Phanikumar,

      your comment made my day! Since the first moment of writing this blog I was sure I will get negative comments only stating that I am no moral authority to tell people what to do or not to do. Just to be clear I am not such authority, the above is my world view, nothing more. But the fact that you found it useful and a couple of others as well means I am no false prophet and may have done the world (and SCN) a bit better place. I am sure that is what you’re working on as well.

      Thank you for leaving a comment and nice to meet you!

      May you spend many positive and productive days with us on SCN.

      cheers Otto

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