This isn’t SAP sponsored content, it is just my opinion. This blog follows on from the SCN Rules of Engagement and points out seven “Don’ts” of SCN Content… according to me, anyhow!

I hope you enjoy… and don’t take it too seriously.

1) Don’t… Write “Great Blog/Document/Post” comments

I really appreciate it when people read my content, and even more if they enjoy it. I like it when people Like or Rate my content – it gives great feedback on what content is enjoyed the most. The bookmarks feature is useful because I can see which content is used as reference material for people to come back to. Thank you if you give feed back.

It’s also great when people comment on content – either to agree, disagree, give some feedback, or ask a question. In my opinion, the best blogs are those that have the best content in the comments.

But… if you post “Great Blog”, then it doesn’t add any value to anyone and they appear in the timeline everyone watching the blog. Take this blog for example. There are 48 comments and I counted 20 that basically say “good blog”. I’m not a points gamer but I’d sure take the 20*(5+2)=140 points for 5 stars and a like for each person πŸ™‚

So if you like a blog… “like it”. If you have feedback or a question, then comment.

2) Don’t… Have high expectations of people in Forums

I sometimes hang out in the SAP HANA forums. Like most people on SCN (apart from a handful of SAP employees), I’m not paid to do it, and it’s a very part time thing. But, I (like a huge number of people here) love to try and help out… where I can. There are two things that really frustrate me.


First, when someone doesn’t provide enough information for an answer, so there is back and forward. Take a few minutes when you post a question to consider what the information required is. Provide as much as you can, including code samples, simple sample data. Chances are that I scour the forums when I have 15 minutes to spare – if I reply needing more information then unfortunately I may not come back. Sorry πŸ™

Second, when there is some expectation of me doing all the work, I get double frustrated. I suspect sometimes that especially new members think that there are people paid to be in the forums. Please be nice to people who are helping out and don’t demand effort especially if you fall into the first category. πŸ™‚

3) Don’t… Pimp your content

Every product at SAP is no doubt fighting for development resource, time and attention. I’d like to specifically take my hat off to the Lumira Data Geek Team, Nic Smith, Mimi Spier and team, for what they did with the Data Geek Challenge. This, combined with the Big Data Bus and Lumira Personal Edition meant that the new Lumira Space in SCN got a huge amount of attention. This was a great way to get attention on SCN and a good way to pimp Lumira.

Another awesome example of how to do it is the SAP HANA Academy content. Love it.

However there are just as many people who post stuff on SCN to pimp their content. To my mind, SCN content (no… any content) should be informational first.

4) Don’t… Copy and Paste


There is a rule in the SCN Rules of Engagement about not copying and pasting from SAP documentation. The other thing that people do is to write a piece of content for one purpose, and to upload it to SCN.


If you mean to write a blog… then if you want people to consume it, then you should post it as a blog, nicely formatted (or have a go at least, I’m hardly a master designer πŸ™‚ ). Same with a document. Some things are nice as PDFs, to safe for safekeeping. But in most cases, it’s just frustrating when people write “This is how I did XXX” and upload a Word document they wrote for some other purpose.


In short – if you want to educate and help people with your content, then take the time to format it properly. It will get 10x the views and 10x the appreciation.

5) Don’t… Spread         Out          Your          Content

Sometimes I write a multi-article blog. I actually generally actively avoid it, because if I say Part 1 of 2, I will probably never get around to writing Part 2. That’s because I’m part-millennial and lose interest. Sometimes however an article is long enough that I break it into two pieces with distinct topics. That’s ok, in my book.

However what some people do is to split one document/blog into 2/3/4/5 pieces and post them separately, for the purposes of getting more points or views, I suppose. Please don’t do this, it’s really frustrating especially when they are attachments! Instead, see the previous point and take the time to format your content in a way that people would like to read.

6) Don’t… Hijack someone else’s content


This is a pet peeve of mine. Please don’t link to your blog from someone else’s blog with “I know you read this, so you really need to read mine”. I’m not sure why but I find this frustrating! Instead, link to someone else’s content from yours. It’s just the right thing to do.

It always feels to me like someone is trying to push their agenda ahead of yours. If you have to – maybe you can include the context of why your opinion is different, and include a link. But just to put the link and one line is strangely wrong. πŸ™‚

7) Don’t do… Le Blabla

The French have a great phrase for this – say it out loud and you will get it. As Mark Twain said: ‘I didn’t have time to write a short letter, so I wrote a long one instead.’, and this is true for content creation. Take the time to make it concise. It will get easier with time. There is nothing worse than verbose content on a site like this, unless you have an excellent writing style (and most of us don’t πŸ™‚ ).

Final Words

I don’t think that people are generally inherently bad, or want to frustrate other people. I suspect most people on SCN do so because they want to, or because some corporate goal asks them to. And getting content right is tough – I’ve been writing for years and I still mess up from time to time. In a big way πŸ™‚

If you’re starting out in SCN, I hope these 7 tips help you write content which is more informative to others. This is my biggest tip to you. Informative content gets views, likes, bookmarks, 5 Stars and therefore POINTS. Most people on SCN like it when they are awarded points; there are a few hardcore points haters but the rest of us feel good when someone says they like the content.

If you focus on helping other people with easy to read, well structured, concise content, then you will be rewarded. If you focus on yourself, points gaming or rushing content out, then you will lose out in the long term.

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55 Comments

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  1. Susan Keohan

    Hey John,

    Great blog πŸ˜‰

    I really appreciate these items, particularly 2, 4 and 5. 

    Re: #2 – Exactly.  I may take a shot at answering your question, but if I don’t even know any context, I’m outta there.  Jelena Perfiljeva had a great idea on idea place where there could be a button on discussion forum posts called ‘Insufficent data’ and if three separate SCN users hit that button, the post would be removed.  Wouldn’t that be a wonderful thing?

    Re: 4 – I’ve seen plenty of blogs that are really someone’s attempt at note-taking/point-hunting.  They post their notes from how-I-did-this as a blog, but fail (again) to give context.  This is not really helpful at best, and at worst, the OP is trying to gain a few points. 

    Re: 5 – Perhaps one of the worst offenders.  A blog of two or three lines, directing you to their 2nd, 3rd and so on.  It’s very frustrating. 

    Again the question comes to rating.  This has been discussed often on SCN – and I am still on the fence about it.  I rated this blog 5 stars and I also liked it.  I have not (in the past) rated bad content with one star – mostly because I feel that even acknowledging that I’ve read it is giving the content too much credibility. 

    I do agree with your other points but these 3 really resonated. 

    As for making easy to read, concise, well structured content, well we all try.  Perhaps I could add another bullet point?  Fewer fonts, colors, and emoticons!   If I read a blog and it’s formatted all over the place and I see more than 2 or 3 smiley faces, I am forced to wonder if it’s worth my time.  A great example came to my email inbox the other day – addressed to ‘Asug’ for one thing.  A professional recruiter used at least 5 different fonts, three different colors, and claimed to have done business with me before.

    Food for thought…

    (0) 
    1. John Appleby Post author

      Well if just a few people who fall into this category read this blog then it’s a win.

      More than 2-3 smiley faces, who would do such a thing πŸ˜‰ Ah, the irony. Lots of emoticons in this blog to try to keep things light. And it’s your #8.

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      1. Susan Keohan

        Aw gee, your emoticons didn’t show up in the version I was reading.  You must’ve put them in later.  At least you stuck to 3-4 fonts and bold and italics and only 2 colors.  That is a very pleasing visual experience.

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  2. Bjorn-Henrik Zink

    Hi John,

    regarding #1, I am also not a gamer, but I do think points is a great way to show appreciation for others contribution. The SCN folks should consider rewarding points for likes on blog post comments (sometimes they are more exhaustive than many blog posts – especially when they are written by Hasso πŸ˜‰ ). Perhaps it will motivate people to write better comments?

    Just a thought.

    (0) 
      1. Andy Silvey

        A nice indicator on that one is the number of bookmarks.

        It still surprises me that nobody has written the book, SAP Hana Reference for Basis Administrators and published it through SAP-Press, This is something you could do John with your eyes closed and your hands tied behind your back, why don’t you ?

        It’s a shame that nobody was interested in this blog, because it would have been interesting to build up some statistics on this, I’ve always been curious what overhead the SLD is putting on overall solution performance.

        Andy.

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    1. Steffi Warnecke

      Hello Bjorn,

      could you explain a bit more, what you mean by

      The SCN folks should consider rewarding points for likes on blog post comments

      Every like gets the receiving user 2 points. Or do you want the likee to get points?

      @John: That’s a really nice list, but I miss the “Don’t… ignore the search function”, too. ^^

      And it took some time till I understood #3.

      Because first I thought, you meant that you shouldn’t format your content eye-catching (pimp it). But now I think, you meant, you shouldn’t promote your elsewhere posted content here. Or am I getting it wrong again? πŸ˜€ Maybe you could elaborate on that part a bit more?

      Aaaand #6 has one more part to it in my mind: Putting your own question into the threads of other people, that have a similar topic… or at least are about the same product. Most of the time those people post it in a lot of threads. I even found this in the comments of blogs and documents.  I’ve seen that a lot here (type of cross-posting) and it’s a big noise-factor IMO.

      Regards,

      Steffi.

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    1. John Appleby Post author

      You know what dude. The worst thing is you came here and read this. Commented. Then came back 5 minutes later to try to be funny. And this is the best you could come up with.

      πŸ™‚

      Just messing with you.

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    2. Henrique Pinto

      LOL jk

      To be honest, I missed my personal #1 SCN rule: search before you ask.

      Actually, search before you do anything on SCN.

      If you want to ask something, chances are someone else has already asked it.

      If you want to contribute with something, unless it’s fairly new, like the next unreleased HANA/Lumira SP, chances are someone (or more than one) has already posted what you had to say.

      And, if you’re in doubt whether you should post or not some content, search! Search for the Rules of Engagement and you’ll get answers to most the questions a SCNewbie might have.

      Cheers,

      Henrique.

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  3. Henrique Pinto

    BTW, I’ve noticed a pattern in your blogs.

    http://www.bluefinsolutions.com/Blogs/John-Appleby/July-2012/The-3-things-a-Retail-Industry-CEO-needs-to-know-a/

    http://www.bluefinsolutions.com/Blogs/John-Appleby/February-2013/Four-tips-to-overcome-four-common-challenges-to-im/

    5 Business Lessons from 2013 – A Year in Perspective

    6 Tips to avoid HANA Out of Memory (OOM) Errors

    And now this.

    So, what’s next?

    8 ways to make it as a hacker in the enterprise software market

    9 things to know before you apply to a Presales position

    10 things I would rather be doing now than this?

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  4. Steffi Warnecke

    Well, this is what it looks like:

    ScreenShot806.jpg

    So this is definitly implemented. ^^ That’s why I was so confused about your comment and thought, you meant something else.

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    1. Bjorn-Henrik Zink

      Hi Steffi,

      I got a handful of likes during the past weeks but they are not in my profile. Is there anyway to move this discussion to another place and I will delete my comments?

      /Björn-Henrik

      (0) 
        1. Bjorn-Henrik Zink

          Ohh, ok, my bad. Perhaps I should have a better look at the points game to avoid these types of comments. MY APOLOGIES to John and everyone, I believe my comments to this blog post are examples of what you should not do and using the search engine before posting anything!

          (0) 
  5. Andy Silvey

    <Tin Hat On>

    <Pokes head above the parapet>

    Hi John,

    6) Don’t… Hijack someone else’s content This is a pet peeve of mine. Please don’t link to your blog from someone else’s blog with “I know you read this, so you really need to read mine”. I’m not sure why but I find this frustrating! Instead, link to someone else’s content from yours. It’s just the right thing to do. It always feels to me like someone is trying to push their agenda ahead of yours. If you have to – maybe you can include the context of why your opinion is different, and include a link. But just to put the link and one line is strangely wrong

    I disagree. I see it like if I am on Amazon or Ebay and I search for something, and when I looking at the search result, at the bottom, it says,

         if you like that, you might also like this

    And in the same respect, if there is a useful blog, and in the comments, somebody highlights another blog which is complimentary, and their intentions are honourable, then for me that’s only useful for somebody interested in that subject.

    We shouldn’t look at this as agendas and pushing agendas or stealing agendas we should look at this as sharing information in the spirit in which that is intended and clustering complimentary information for the greater benefit of all SCN-Kind.

    Andy.

    </Pokes head above parapet>

    </Tin Hat On>

    (0) 
    1. John Appleby Post author

      So in the perfect world you would be right. In reality, I find most people who post links to their content in comments do it for the wrong reasons.

      I am about to go and break this rule today on Carsten Nitschke‘s blog, so I am at best, a hypocrite.

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  6. Ludek Uher

    Perfect blog. I agree with all of the points.  For me number two really hits home. I spend a fair amount of time answering the “forums” and asking for the same basic, basic information is a pain. But it’s a pain that has always been there and I suppose will always be there. E.g.; I understand that we’re all on this fast moving bike and time is a precious commodity. So, blurting out a question without consideration of the details is the result. Which leads to more time taken up, so we go faster on that bike, which gives us less time…

    One point I’d like to add though:

    Before writing anything, consider very, very carefully if you want it to be a Jive Document, Blog or even a Wiki. E.g.; read: The Difference between a Discussion, Blog Post, Document and Wiki then decide what to write.

    (0) 
  7. Ivan Femia

    In relation to point 5

    I used to write blog series, but I decided to split in more blog just to focus on the main purpose of that part.

    To me having a blog that cause you to scroll vertically for more that two times is annoying, I loose interest in the content, so I prefer to split in small chapters to let the people experiment the content and then continue with the next chapter one they have consolidated the previous parts.

    For sure each blog have to end with a precise result/scope… it should not be just a to be continued…

    my 2 cents

    (0) 
    1. John Appleby Post author

      Well this is a style thing so whatever works.

      However I have no problem with scrolling 10 pages if the content is worth it and worth following. On the other hand I hate clicking between blogs when there’s only one piece of content.

      On the other hand, a set of well-structured connected blogs also works.

      So if the structure works for the content it’s all good.

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    2. Ludek Uher

      I agree. I wrote a series of blogs a while back on Knowledge sharing. If it was all in one blog, it was going to be something like a dozen plus pages. So, perhaps one more tip for blogs; keep em short and sweet.

      (0) 
      1. John Appleby Post author

        Yes I think that’s true, and if you want to disseminate a lot of information then a white paper may work as an alternative. People like Jon Reed write amazing multi-page papers that are worth the time to read.

        If you do write a blog series, I recommend to write a set of disparate articles which work on their own, but which have a theme.

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  8. Philipp Eicker

    Thank you John for this blog!

    I am also kind of new on SCN and with your blog you give
    some good advice and in a non-offensive way. In my opinion new members want to
    know how to get started on SCN and they want to do things right. Still we will
    never be perfect and need forgiveness here and there, but I really want to address
    the experienced user to give constructive tips – we want to hear them.

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  9. Suseelan Hari

    Hi John,

    Well documented ! Very nice blog and it is useful to keep SCN clean and successful ! New SCN Members always have lots of doubts after reading SCN rules. After feedback received from moderator. Most of the people came to know do’s & donts. Moderator play a major role in maintaining SCN in the professional way! Keep rocking !

    Regards,

    Hari Suseelan

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  10. Jon-Paul Boyd

    Recent active participant on SCN guilty as charged #1 – enjoyed blog reads, enlightened and posted non-value “great blog”.  Recently been on the receiving end of such and it doesn’t further the knowledge base or constructively question content. 

    I am also guilty of “liking” such comments to my first blog, a first-timer blog nerves reaction!

    Writing concisely and simply is a practiced art – I don’t have it, working on it.


    Folk unable to help themselves – “how can I create an odata service?”. With this kind of thing I’ve tried to help, followed by “search is your friend”, now I can’t be bothered, regardless of potential for easy points made.  Search SCN, then Google, simple. These kinds of threads just pollute. 


    Bookmarking content without liking?  I too am on the fence regarding the points system – would as much good content and swift response to questions be there without it?


    Thanks for the tips John, and only on this occasion for a blog of yours I like, I will not award points, just in case you are gaming.

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  11. Tamilnesan Ganesan

    Hi John Appleby ,


    Really good to see a content like this.

    I do have a small suggestion,


    You have mentioned “don’t” in your blog, It would be even more encouraging if we have “Do’s”.


    I feel that it will help beginners to create good content in SCN if they are clear with “What they SHOULD DO” on top of being aware of “What they should not do”.


    Thanks for this blog John.


    Regards

    Tamilnesan G

    (0) 
    1. Pedro Lavilla

      Pablo Breaking Tip number 1!! πŸ˜†

      A lot of  times, I found the information I needed on reviews from the posts. All these tips should have greater diffusion.

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  12. Siddhesh Ghag

    Point number 2) & 5) so accurately represent the situation in some spaces, especially point no 5) I think most people aren’t aware or choose to willingly ignore that points don’t buy them anything that is tangible and are taking the idea of ‘reputation’ so seriously that they indulge in posting stuff that is already available in detailed enough documentation.

    In many forums, you find that people don’t bother to read the problem in detail nor do they care about suggestions/solutions posted by other members. Maybe, there should be a ‘stop’ sign which is visible or a button which says (I agree that I have read this thread πŸ™‚ ), before they can ‘add comment’ or ‘post reply’.

    Regards,

    Siddhesh

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    1. Matt Fraser

      Well, I’ve written a couple of multi-part blogs, not because of the extra points involved, but because they were longish topics with lots of screenshots, and I found out the hard way that if a blog (or document) got too long (or perhaps it’s a size thing, with the screenshots, even though I tried to optimize their size), then it would just truncate when saving, and half the work would be lost with no recovery. So I started breaking them up if there are screenshots involved to keep the size down. So, that’s #5 I’m guilty of.

      Or perhaps it’s just #7 causing it. Definitely I can be guilty of “le blabla,” as anyone who knows me can attest. πŸ˜‰

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