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Author's profile photo Otto Gold

How to overcome a cultural or a knowledge gap

It is indeed interesting how one piece of content on SCN (with a fruitful discussion) can inspire one for two long blogs. You can find my inspiration here: How to make SQVI /personalized Queries available to other Users. If you want to fully understand why I wrote the first blog called Landing page for the troublemakers (which is only touching the problem indirectly so that the people discussing the original content don’t feel offended, that is not the intention) and this one, make sure you read the discussion below the SQVI piece.

So what is the thing that triggered this blog? There is a situation: you have a new person coming to SCN who wants to contribute. Which is cool. We need more contributors, more knowledge, more discussions and diversity. But because the person is not only a newcomer to SCN but probably also to SAP, the content is not exactly on par with the other contributions. In many cases such content is simply deleted and referred to as noise. One can feel offended by that, I can imagine. I am going to explain what this “noise” means for me and my friends, customers and contacts I meet on SCN every day and how that differs from the perception of the poster (based on some guesses and assumptions, but I am trying to bridge the gap between “us” and “them” using some empathy as well as some cold judgment). This piece of content survived but probably because the discussion was so hot, not because the content was that useful. No offense.

Prevent noise. At all costs.

So what does noise means for me? I am using SCN for some serious work. When I help people, I am creating knowledge and so making the world better. Others do the same for me. If a knowledge has been created here (or somewhere else – like before, there is no need to “recreate” it without adding anything more. We don’t need two duplicates here. We don’t need dozens of duplicates of the same problem. Why? Obviously because we have Google. Every IT person (I assume every SCN user is sort of an IT person) should know or quickly learn how to use Google search. Then you just search for your problem before asking a question, which spares you time (you get your answer immediately) and spares the time of the people that come after you because they don’t have to go through dozens of the same posts looking for the one that solves their problem.

Google is not flawless you can say. Same applies to people. Sometimes you don’t know the right keywords, which can happen. Then it is ok to ask the question again. But ignoring the history and creating yet another instance of the same (way too often totally fundamental) problem is not an option. That is an offense on SCN and you will be treated like an offender if you do it.

It can also happen that the available knowledge does not cover all the aspects of your problem. Then you ask again and that is fine, because you plan to cover aspects that have not been covered yet. You’re creating something new and useful that does not exist yet but probably bothers more people than just you.

Sorry for the short excursion about asking questions. With questions it is the easiest way how to explain that in my opinion. Let’s get back to our original problem  – we have a blog here that covers so basic things in such a naïve way, that the content is not useful at all (it is even misleading), it certainly is not on par with the normal quality people expect from SCN, it is “explaining” something that has been explained many many times before (and better, take version of the same thing -> it does not have the fancy screenshots but it is much better in all other regards… and honestly we don’t celebrate people that can take screenshots and collect them into a document on SCN, sorry pal).

Greed, passion, search and misjudgement

There are at least two possible explanations for this happening. The worse one out of the two is the possibility that the poster wanted to boost his/her points count by posting some “low hanging fruit”. That would be stealing, plagiarism, a copycat that is producing more noise because the poster joint the Dark side (no, they don’t have cookies, but they have some flowers there – daisies, daffodils etc.) and lured by the points system did the wrong thing. If that is the case, the content must be deleted and the poster should be warned. If that is not enough, no one can complain for having his/her account deleted. Learn about the rules and respect them. If you can’t do it, you’re not welcomed. Sorry, pal.

I am not saying this is what happened here. Especially because of the comments the poster added later. But you get to see the point gamers on SCN every day and after some time this is so annoying that you smell it miles away and get very allergic against it. Because it is so common, moderators don’t like to see anything that can be remotely attributed to the points gaming.

The second explanation is simple. A newcomer is passionate about sharing so he/ she gathers the necessary courage and writes the first post. It can happen that the quality of the post is not optimal and so some of the comments on the piece are not so pink and cheery. Let’s analyze what happened and what we can do about it:

a) The poster didn’t search for similar (same) content he was about to create. Well… there is only one person you can blame.

b) The poster did search for similar content but was not able to judge the similarity/ overlaps and he went ahead with his piece anyway. That can happen that you misjudge something. But then when you’re told (by multiple respected people – I don’t include myself here, but count the other respected individuals commenting on the piece), you should say “thank you” and do something about it. Ignoring feedback is a sign that we have a problem. And we didn’t have that problem before the newcomer arrived. That can indicate who is to be blamed here. We are not elitists here on SCN – we don’t need to protect ourselves against the newcomers etc. We are openly sharing our knowledge and experience and we intent to lead by example. We are not doing that to show off, become superstars and then protect our special status.

c) The last option: the poster did a search, found all the other pieces of content saying the same or overlapping with the new piece a lot, but ignored that and went ahead anyway. It means the person went against a wall (yet another version? Deleted…) or the person didn’t have anything else to share.

It can happen one misjudges the situation. Then you get feedback and you “pivot” (a modern way of saying you adjust yourself and the content you’ve produced to the situation).

If you don’t have anything else to share… well, you will probably have to learn something new or find a way how to add something new to the “old” topic.

Imagine this: every person that is new to SAP first learns how to log into the system. At that point of time that is the only relevant thing that he or she knows about SAP and can share on SCN. There are millions of people that first learn how to log into the system and they could all theoretically come to SCN and write a blog on how to log into the system. Would the fact, that they don’t know anything else so they can’t share anything else, be enough to justify millions of “how to log in” blogs? Probably not. Whatever your SAP skills level is, you can say that would be the best thing that could happen to SCN, right?

But that is what happened here. Yet another version of the same content. Sorry, we are not interested unless you add something useful. A minimum requirement is to be able to accept some feedback too.

What I wanted to tell the poster

If I may bother you dear reader with some personal comments, I would like to explain why I commented on the blog the way I commented. My point here will be that I meant well and despite awkward wording there was nothing offensive in my comment so there was no reason to start a fight.

Dear Pavan,

can I ask you a question? What is your goal here?

As I already clarified it could have happened that the person wanted to “start somewhere”. Wanted to start sharing and this was in his opinion the best candidate. I expected an answer in that direction. That would indicate good intentions combined with bad technical realization. It would have given me a chance to say something like “Don’t worry, first time is always tough. Maybe you can improve this and that…”.

Why I ask:

a) Your document is ok, good that you shared what you’ve learnt. If I found that 3 years back in my career I would find it helpful, I guess.

I am being honest here, nothing more than that. I didn’t start my SAP career three years ago, but that was the moment when I first encountered queries and SQVI. I wanted to say that there are probably people out there that find the content interesting in their current position/ situation. The only problem here is that these people could have googled for SQVI and find all the other pieces that came out earlier.

b) Although your document is sort of ok (although covered by many many other documents, blogs, forum posts etc.), IMO the correct process of sharing (in order to become a recognized member of the community) would be to say “yes, sir/ madam” and do what they say. Which means turning your “unique piece” into a stepping stone for the beginners that follow you and want to learn what you’ve learnt without spending the hours in the system or Googling for things (you know Google, right?).

Maybe I am more cheeky than neutral here, but if the poster googled for the topic before posting his “contribution”, he would have seen the thousands of other documents, blogs, help files and more covering the same topic. In this case the number of older documents on this topic was so huge and overwhelming that if he searched, he could not possibly misjudge the situation. The advice to accept feedback from “older” and more experienced is not an offense either. That is in my opinion a normal thing.

c) When I say “do what they say”, it is for multiple reasons. One of them is that the people that commented on your blog above are respected members of this community for a long long time and they mean well. Although you might think they don’t appreciate you enough, it is not like that. They’re actually sacrificing their free time and put some effort into guiding you towards greater good for you and this community (in case it is not obvious, they are helping you becoming a better person and giving your career a boost in case you understand, listen and act upon that).

I am just pointing out the obvious – listen to those that lead by example here and mean well. If you’re new here, you need to adjust yourself to the rules, not try to adjust the rules, ignore the rules or bend the rules to fit your agenda. In my opinion there is nothing wrong with this. When you move to another country you must also respect the language, traditions and laws there. If you don’t do it… don’t be surprised.

d) You ignored all of the comments above. Ok, your call. As far as I can tell you didn’t follow any of the advice you got. Ok, your call again. But to start complaining about the moderators just because you don’t feel appreciated enough (while ignoring all the feedback and improvement options) is IMO dumb. Sorry, I am being fair here, although it is not clear to me if you are interested in fair feedback.

People become moderators here because they care, they’re competent and they’re the most active contributors here. That does not mean they can’t be wrong. But if that happens, you must prove that. You can’t start running around complaining. The chances that they’re right and you’re wrong are very very high. Why can’t you see it? If you want to dispute that, you must earn a right to criticize the people that are earning their right to criticize every day.

e) In case it is not clear what you should do now (you can call it a pressure from the crowd), you should turn your unique piece into the stepping stone I mentioned above. How to do it? You should be telling story A to Z. There are gazillion ways how to learn what you’ve described, but there is no story around that that would make it valuable document for the masses. Maybe you can start with the request you got. Then describe the challenges you were facing. Describe the vocabulary that wasn’t clear to you when you got that task. Describe how you went about it. What you did first, what second. What were the questions you were asking yourself along the way, how you found the answers for these questions and how you combined that knowledge into …the result you needed to get as well as the bigger picture that you learnt.

I am being constructive here and tell the person what I would do to turn the situation in a favorable one. I am not saying everything is wrong. Instead I am saying step by step what needs to be done (one of the options how to turn the table) to help the poster orientate. As  I say in the comment I would find it very valuable to read about the ways and techniques the poster used to learn things, find things, overcome obstacles and so inspire others. The topic is already very well covered, but as far as I can tell there is no text that would explain in detail what a newcomer to the topic is thinking, what is his/ her requirement, what are the options, what are pros and cons etc. If this was done I would find the text fantastic – the topic would be “old”, but the way it would have been covered would be innovative.

I am ready to help you further as long as you play by the book and you’re nice to people. People around you are also nice and mean well for you. I wish you many beautiful days spent by helping people further as well as sharing for the better world.

I am not the only one who thinks this way on SCN. As long as you respect the rules and show good manners, people will help you, answer your questions and involve you in the social life of the SCN Community. Nice goodbye is a natural thing.

We can end this blog right here and everything is said and there is no confusion I hope. Let me add one last personal note. I remember my first days on SCN very well. I have empathy for the newcomers and if you read through my numerous blogs, many of them are meant for the beginners so that they don’t waste their time and move forward faster. No one can accuse me of being rude to the newcomers, I hope. That is why I didn’t understand some of the comments in the discussion that triggered this whole litany. I am not perfect. I am not. And I know it. You’re welcome to comment on this blog to teach me new lessons or just joke with me. Please don’t hesitate to comment, it is much more fun to have a discussion going. May you have a wonderful sunny day,

Cheers Otto

p.s.: I don’t want to add more salt to the wound. Situation sorted out itself rather ok. The poster added some nice comments that change the tone A LOT. Which meansthat all is well with me now and I wish Mr. Pavan Maddipatla a great journey with us on SCN. My offer still stands, so if I can be of any help to your, Pavan, just pig me. This post is not meant to attack you in any way and I only used our ittle squabble as a model example so that I don’t have to explain my thoughts every time this happens again. I hope you can understand that and don’t see the blog above too harsh again. I simply analyzed all possible explanations for what happened and what should have been done or said so that the problem never existed in the first place. Good luck with SCN, Pavan.

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      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member

      Nice Document.



      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member


      SAP has documented almost everything there is to SAP. I may as well say, SAP is over documented!! So why not just have a SAP online help instead of SCN in its current form? 😕

      It will not only save time & effort of people trying to be part of SCN, but also save the time & effort of people repeatedly writing blogs/raising discussions about people of the first kind and harping on quality 😐

      Also, don't you think, the issue is about the kind of people becoming SAP consultants and their level of competence is reflecting in SCN posts. May be SAP should specify certain competencies to for sap aspirants and advise its partners to follow them while hiring!!