I’ve just read Gareth Ryan‘s excellent blog post about his deputy work. Now if you don’t know what that’s all about, go read his blog post and then come back here. One paragraph especially triggered me:

Earlier today, I alerted moderator on some content that I believe simply didn’t belong on SCN in the format it had been posted.  To be clear, I usually don’t have any issue with the content I report, it is usually in the wrong space, not appropriate for SCN or some other pedantic reason.  Lately, I’ve been doing this more for lots of marketing, PartnerEdge and event announcement type blogs that I just don’t believe belong as technical blogs on SCN.

I don’t like most of the marketing, event announcement, PartnerEdge and probably more types of blog posts either, but do they really go against the Rules of Engagement? After re-reading them (the RoE of course, not the blog posts) I had to conclude: no, they don’t.

Another question is: do we really want such content on SCN? Well, that depends: even such a blog post can be well written, convey a great sense of humor, or contain some nice story-telling, and as such I wouldn’t alert the moderator automatically.

Back in the old days…

On the other hand there seems to be (or to have been, in the good old days πŸ™‚ ) some general agreement that blog posts should either be opinionated pieces (aka rants) or explanations of a technical nature in order to help others. To back this up I did some digging into the past of the platform, and found this gem, written by Jeffrey Word in 2003:

OK– So I’m the marketing guy for SDN, but the good news is that I’m the ONLY marketing guy for SDN. From the very beginning, SAP decided that SDN would be a “Marketing Free Zone” and that we’d insulate the techies on SDN from the standard marketing crap that gets churned out and that we’d only post valuable techie information on the site.

So far, we’ve been able to keep to that direction. The challenge we face is “How do we tell people about all the cool stuff on SDN without “marketing” to them?” Obviously, the SAP TechEd events are filled with our core group of users and we’re planning on some great stuff to let everyone know about SDN at the shows. But we’re still trying to reach out to even more people than that. So here’s your chance to tell those “idiots” in marketing how to do their jobs.

Tell me how we should connect with all the “techies” out there in the SAP ecosystem. We’re not selling anything, we’re not charging money and we’re offering a whole lot of value. So how should we communicate that to several hundred thousand people and get them excited about SDN?

That’s a very clear statement of intent, isn’t it? So what has happened since then?


Evolution of the platform

Well, for one thing the previous quote stems from 2003, when SCN still was SDN aka SAP Developer Network. The community has enormously expanded since then, also embracing analytics people (BOC), more functional oriented people like the business process experts (BPX), and many more. Also, it looks like SAP employees have increasingly found SCN as a platform to contribute/share/… on.

Main issue

So the key question becomes: now that ‘we’ means something else nowadays as opposed to 2003, does that change the desirability of marketing content being present on SCN?

And my very personal opinion (yes, that’s what blog posts are all about, right?) is: NO. For me it’s just noise I’m sifting through each day, in my case using the general RSS-feed of blog posts. Of course, what’s valuable is again something personal. And sometimes even I can see the value in a blog post which is ultimately meant as marketing. But in general I would like SAP to stop polluting this platform with marketing crap.

To be fair: before making such a statement we should really discuss what constitutes ‘marketing content crap’. And my rough take on that is: it is determined by the recipient. Meaning that the readers of a certain piece of content get to decide whether or not it is marketing. As Dennis Howlett is known for saying: perception is reality!

So, being one of those readers I feel entitled to repeat: “Please SAP, tell your employees to stop polluting SCN with marketing content”.

Final words

Of course I’m only one person on SCN, so my vote might not count for much. That’s why I would be very interested in other people’s perspective on this issue (is there an issue? πŸ™‚ ), and I would especially like to invite SAP employees to join the discussion and let us know how they feel about all this. Because even with all this fuss about marketing stuff, I’m generally very happy that SAP employees have found SCN, contribute to its content (and many contribute in excellent ways), and really are part of the SCN community just like the rest of us!

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  1. Tammy Powlas

    Go Fred….well stated blog

    Another piece of advice for announcements – please read Jason Lax Create a Discussion Thread you should create a discussion without a question mark if you want to make announcements

    I don’t mind the blog posts about events but repeating what is already in press announcements adds to the noise.

    My two cents…

    Thank you, Fred!

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  2. Tom Cenens

    Fred

    I’ve noticed it to and indeed some blog posts are more annoying than anything else, adding little value to the community at large.

    I’m afraid the right people might not catch the blog though so maybe we should act ourselves also and report annoying blog posts as a common reaction to too much marketing?

    Best regards

    Tom

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  3. Joao Sousa

    I come to this site for technical information, not the standard marketing documentation you get in http://www.sap.com.

    Here we don’t want the “it’s so wonderful, SAP will change your world” PPT, which are great for some people but not for someone who wants in depth information.

    And you can (almost) always tell the marketing b*, from real worthy informational material.

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  4. Jansi Rani Murugesan

    Hi Fred,

    I had seen some other companies also posted kind of blogs, specially on their own developed products in SCN. Even after rejected by moderation too, they had argument by saying it was posted just for informations.. but for me, if the blog has value proposition for their own product, i could considered it as Marketing and it should not be published in SCN,

    I would prefer SCN to be as Marketing free zone, marketting blogs should be under dedicated sites like http://blogs.sap.com/

    Thanks

    Jansi

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  5. Frank Koehntopp

    Nice rant, Fred πŸ˜‰

    This probably comes down to a difference in perception between people that knew SDN and the new SCN approach that tries to combine developer communities and social media as a whole.

    It also probably shows that this is a gap that’s difficult to bridge, and probably not even worth trying.

    I have the same developer view, and marketing related posts just seem “wrong” in my timeline. It’s not even that they really are not interesting, it just doesn’t “feel” right.

    I’d much rather see blogs with substance, which seem to have become more rare recently.

    It also complicates the moderation approach – it’s hard to judge if you’re not privy to both worlds, and stuff may get mis-reported or -abused a lot.

    So, to summarize: I share the pain, but I don’t see an immediate solution.

    Frank.

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  6. Michael Shaw

    I’m new here, but this site seems to have a pretty robust method of following the subjects and people the end user is most interested in.  I think at this point most folks are getting pretty savvy at sifting out the garbage they don’t want from a site.

    Of course, I reserve the right to change my opinion as I become more familiar with the site. πŸ˜‰

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    1. Tom Cenens

      Hi Michael

      First things first, welcome! Great to see you’re already commenting on posts πŸ™‚ .

      I do believe you’re right that it’s self regulating to a large extent. It happens though that crappy content gets lots of views though because the title sounds very interesting for example. While no one then reads through the whole piece, the views are there and it gets promoted indirectly that way.

      It’s definitely not an easy problem to solve but creating awareness, what this blog post does for sure, is a step in the right direction 😎 .

      Best regards

      Tom

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  7. Stephen Johannes

    The biggest problem I have with the “marketing blogs” is the quality of the content.  I have made sure when a blog in my area of interest is nothing but “clickbait” I rate and comment on it to let that be known.

    The problem is that Marketers who post here don’t respect our intelligence and think that putting “glossy” style content is acceptable.  I believe if you want to “market” here then the content must have more than a thin veneer.  I really think as a blog author you need to respect your audience and not expect them to settle for a simple explanation(unless it is simple).

    A great example of the disconnect was this blog.AAA and Me: Giving Young Drivers all the Help They Can Get.  I was confused like other people on how the problem was solved and what the solution they used really was.  I had to ask the author for clarification because I couldn’t figure out the point. 

    The only way to solve this problem is for us an audience is to use the rating tool and comments to demand better content.

    Take care,

    Stephen

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  8. Jelena Perfiljeva

    Thank you, Fred, and a big SCN hug! (Hey, Stephen Johannes come read this blog! – [edit] oh, you already came and beat me by 2 minutes πŸ™‚ )

    It just highlights the problem with the “noise” (as well as poorly designed navigation in SCN) that I found this blog through the link from another blog and that blog from yet another link. Long way to go for the content I’m actually interested in.

    To answer for myself – the blogs I’d like to read on SCN are the ones that have soul, that show the human being behind them and their personal experience, thoughts and feelings. In this sense the ‘marketing crap’ is the antichrist of blogging, so they should go where they came from. Or at least be marked with certain number. πŸ™‚

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  9. Audrey Stevenson

    Hi Fred,

    Thanks for the @mention. I could write a whole blog on this topic myself (maybe one day I will!). FWIW, my comment below is probably enough for a blog (sigh…). But I want to focus on three points:

    1. You identified very well not only the increase in marketing content on SCN (at least, traditional marketing content), but also one of the sources of this increase: SDCN has grown and become such an important hub of SAP ecosystem activity that it is now firmly on the radar, especially now that our internal organization reports to Marketing too.

      We cannot turn back the clock, and I don’t think we (the community) should want to, because this new spotlight also has positive implications, like the fact (as you, again, so astutely pointed out) that SAP is listening more and making itself more accessible here—this has become an important influence channel into SAP.

    2. Old habits die hard. There is no other way to put it. Although I can report that many of the upper ranks in SAP, including many SAP Marketing execs, get the new way of doing business in places like SCN—which  in Marketing-speak you’ll hear called “pull marketing” instead of “push marketing,” i.e. don’t post “messaging” content and expect it to be effective in a technical or even business process community, let alone in a millennial world—this requires a fundamental shift in thinking.

      SAP leaders are already spreading the message, as you can see in this external blog post by Maggie Fox, the SVP now responsible for SCN: http://socialmediagroup.com/2013/12/26/thought-leadership-marketing-youre-doing-it-wrong/ but it’s going to take time to take hold among the rank and file who are charged with marketing to the SAP ecosystem.

    3. SAP knows that in today’s world, and in a community like SCN, we need to listen, interact in a one-on-one fashion, promote and encourage authentic community voices, and be ready to help members with the information they need, when they need it, no more, no less, no sooner, and no later. There are initiatives underway that will bring this more to the forefront as time goes on.

      In the meantime, one of my roles and the role of my fellow SCN team members, is to help educate our Marketing compatriots on what it means to really do “pull marketing”. Many of them only know the familiar, old-school, campaign-style way of doing things, and see SCN as a “channel” instead of the community of different audiences that it is.

      Their intentions are good: they want to make sure the SAP ecosystem is aware of the latest and greatest from SAP. But for many of them, this is a journey into brand new territory: social business. We’re on this journey together, and I would ask for your empathy and some patience as SAP learns how to do business better on a site like this.

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    1. Fred Verheul Post author

      Wow! Thanks a lot Audrey. And yes, you should probably write that blog post πŸ™‚ .

      With the information and the insider perspective you provide you make it a lot easier to have empathy with these poor marketing souls at SAP πŸ˜‰ . No real sarcasm here though, you really helped me understand the issues your team is facing within SAP.

      To be honest though, I would still like you, Maggie Fox and all the others who ‘get it’ to speed things up a little, because as you’ve read, a lot of community members are getting fed up with this thing called ‘push marketing’.

      Meanwhile I’d like to second Tom Cenens‘s suggestion to help out from the community side of the house by rating (max 1 star of course) and not liking the content. Or even alerting the moderator when that’s appropriate. Maybe that’ll help to get the message across. (Or am I being naive? Maybe I am, but that’s probably ok…)

      Thanks again for responding and highlighting the issues so clearly.

      Cheers, Fred

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      1. Oliver Kohl

        Maybe we should add an Alert Moderator reason of type Push Marketing?

        Screen Shot 2014-04-17 at 09.07.23.png

        But this would also require some general consensus that we don’t want to see this type of content here, and probably some better definition of what this actually is and how to identify.

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        1. Steve Rumsby

          I currently use “SPAM” to report such things, although that feels a little extreme. I like “push marketing”.

          I find some moderators agree with me and some don’t. There are spaces where I can pretty much guarantee such reports are rejected. I completely agree it would be great to get a general agreement on whether such content is desirable or not here on SCN, and indeed what characterises it. There are certainly grey areas. And then get all moderators on board, and of course get the message out to everyone producing the stuff in the first place.

          Steve.

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        2. Fred Verheul Post author

          I’m a bit hesitant, especially because we would have to state very clearly (and agree on it) that this is content that should be moderator-alerted and we’d have to allow a bit of time for this message to come through.

          But if the SCN content team is willing to announce something like that to all SAP employees (and of course everyone in the community, but the current problem is mainly caused by SAP employees I’m sorry to say), I’m all for it.

          Also, IMO the SCN content team should be the ultimate judge of what constitutes push marketing and should help out the moderators in case of doubt.

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          1. Joao Sousa

            I would be hesitant to add that option, since it’s very subjective, and it will have to be validated by a moderator anyway.

            I think SAP should really use the feedback from the community, because marketing presentations are not in their best interest. I was trying to learn about Decision Service Management and came across this SAP NetWeaver DSM Overview Presentation

            What is this? For me this is marketing b* of the worse kind: “Time from request to productive use: Instant” (slide 25) Is this a joke? Do they think I’m an idiot? Does anyone fall for this?

            In my opinion this type of material should be removed from SCN, because it insults our intelligence, but for others it may be admissible and I respect that.

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            1. Steffi Warnecke

              Joao Sousa wrote:

              I would be hesitant to add that option, since it’s very subjective, and it will have to be validated by a moderator anyway.

              Yes, I see it the same way.

              I don’t think we should add alert-type after alert-type, because I think the reporting should be for content that clearly violates the rules, not something that – almost – nobody has an interest in.

              If it’s badly made, you can use the “General”-type, but the list is pretty long as it is and I bet, there will come other alerts in the future to help with the real violations. So let’s leave some space for those and try to handle this marketing thing another way.

              I like the idea of hearing the community and communicating this to the marketing team to just stop the advertising. I don’t think this should be handled by the members of the community through abuse reports, but by SAP through the internal channels. πŸ™‚

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              1. Joao Sousa

                I like the idea of hearing the community and communicating this to the marketing team to just stop the advertising. I don’t think this should be handled by the members of the community through abuse reports, but by SAP through the internal channels. πŸ™‚

                Exactly, they must understand that it’s not in their best interest. Sometimes I get so sick of SAP marketing, that the only tools I will push to my clients are the ones in the ECC. I’ve been burned so many times by the “This is so great”/”Becomes obsolete” routine, that I will just use what is great about SAP… The ECC.

                SAP communication and roadmaps are all over the place, and they are lucky they have such a great product in ECC. More focused and realistic marketing is needed, when the product are more mature.

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                1. Matt Fraser

                  If only they would actually promote/improve upon the ECC, instead of pushing the fancy new products as if they are the only things that will be supported in future and thus fueling the occasional ‘conspiracy theories’ stating things like ‘ABAP is dead,’ etc.  When I mentioned to our account rep that we had heard that ‘on-premises’ ERP HCM, for instance, was going to be desupported by 2020 and that all customers would have to switch by then to SuccessFactors, and would he confirm or deny if this was the case, that led him to send all kinds of stuff our way about how we could execute a SuccessFactors project.  I just wanted to know if we had to do that, I didn’t actually want to kick anything like that into gear.

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              2. Jelena Perfiljeva

                Exactly – the ideal situation would be not to have such content to pollute the information stream in the first place. I do report some marketing blogs (exhibit A), but when these things are posted the damage is already done as they go onto the “blog roll”, feeds, etc.

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      2. Audrey Stevenson

        Thanks everyone for continuing the discussion here in the comments. Liz Avery brought my attention to a good blog by Gerry McGovern related to this topic: Web professionals need to be bridge builders | Gerry McGovern. I honed in on a comment by Stacey King Gordon, who said “You have to win people over, one by one.” She’s so right, and I’m reminded of the outreach efforts that our SCN team does (Marilyn Pratt, Gali Kling Schneider, among others) with contributors to SCN both from inside SAP and outside SAP, which really are often very individualized. This individualized approach, of course, takes time.

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  10. Sven Ringling

    Definitely agree with you, Fred.

    I don’t like the product manager type of “This is great” content. neither on teh SCN nor on conferences.

    However, to the credit of those posting it: it’s not a black-and-white question. At the end of the day, I create most of my posts for marketing purposes (ok, quite a lot are really educating people, who would never be anything close to customers, but don’t tell my finance director). I believe that’s ok, because it should be valuable content for a significant chunk of the community and teh marketing effect is (hopefully) coming from readers thinking “ah, these guys know there stuff”. But it’s all based on my own personal judgement and I’m probably mor einclined to perceive my own content as valuable than others do. 😳

    So, what we all need is feedback to re-adjust our own judgement about what’s value for the community. Too few members (probably including myself) have the balls to write a comment like “Dear Salesrep., this sounds brilliant, but I don’t feel this content belongs into this community”.
    But I also feel there’s even more need for this regarding low quality, outroghtly wrong and dangerous posts πŸ˜₯ , which drag the community down in larger numbers than marketing posts (at least in the HCM space, can’t really comment on others)

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    1. Fred Verheul Post author

      Hi Sven,

      I’ve not been reading all of your blog posts, but the ones I have read didn’t strike me as marketing type posts. So either I’m a lousy reader, or you know how to disguise your marketing content well πŸ™‚ . Seriously: most of us have something to sell/advertise/… And I’m not fundamentally against it. But especially SAP employees should remember that SCN is the SAP Community Network, and that therefore, they have a greater responsibility to not flock ‘us’ with their marketing stuff than all the other contributors who are part of the community.

      And like you say, it’s not black and white: I try to look at each blog post individually, and judge that post on its own merits. Which brings me back to your stuff which is generally well-written and contains useful information. In such a case I really don’t care whether there also is a kind of marketing message enclosed: that’s good enough for me.

      And about having balls: for me that’s not the problem, my problem is lack of time. But, just this weekend I’ve been having a conversation with Tammy Powlas about this same problem (and been reading this comment by Clinton Jones) and I’ve decided to give it a try. So watch out for me during the next few weeks! πŸ™‚

      Cheers, Fred

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    2. Stephen Johannes

      You are exactly right that each one of us needs to engage the author of the blog constructively if the content doesn’t match our expectations.  I have done this on several blogs publicly asking for clarification/etc when something strikes me not as quite right in terms of quality or relevance.

      When I look at blogs for quality I used four basic questions to frame my evaluation:

      1) Is the topic somehow relevant to SAP community or ecosystem?

      2) Is this original content?

      3) Did the author provide enough content to explain their point?

      4) Is the content of the blog written/organized in logical fashion to be understood by the reader?

      In other words, I want blog author to care about your audience.  If you actually care about your reader then your content will be better.

      Take care,

      Stephen

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  11. JASH JACOB

    Quite well written Fred. While I am quite new to SCN itself, I would really prefer to have a platform which is dedicated more to technical discussions that marketing. I am sure there are enough avenues to market.

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  12. Joao Sousa

    Sorry for being blunt but isn’t SCN a bit biased from the get go? On SCN front page, you have a space for HANA, Mobile and Cloud which are the main platforms SAP is trying to push

    I would dare to say, that they aren’t the things the majority of SCN users are interested in, and yet those are the main topics on the front page (the reason for them being there is marketing related).

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    1. Fred Verheul Post author

      Good observation Joao πŸ™‚ .

      You’re right, there is more to complain about than merely the marketing blog posts. Note however that it’s not the community who determines what is shown on the frontpage. It’s the SCN content team, part of SAP Marketing…

      Luckily I’ve set my activity page as my default landing page on SCN so I never get to see the homepage πŸ˜† .

      Feel free to write your own blog post if you feel strongly enough about it (I don’t).

      Cheers, Fred

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      1. Joao Sousa

        Feel free to write your own blog post if you feel strongly enough about it (I don’t).

        Neither do I, I rather spend my energy on technical stuff πŸ™‚ .

        It still annoys me a bit to see blantant marketing each time I come to SCN. For example the Mobile has very little change, almost always the same content…. I am interested in it, but it has very little “rotation”.

        Why not make the featured spaces customizable? πŸ™‚

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        1. Stephen Johannes

          I really never complained about the welcome page, because that page has always been the same way between platforms in terms of being “marketing-centric”.  I think during my user-testing of the current platform I thought it would have been nice to customize the homepage layout also, but once again I normally ignore the welcome page also.

          Now if you think a particular space is leaning towards marketing too much, then you could actually talk to the space owners(they should be listed on the space landing page).  The space owners are responsible for the content shown on each space landing page.

          Finally I really can’t complain about SAP pushing HANA too much.  That’s what happens when you bet the company on a single platform.  SAP really needs to push HANA hard, because if they don’t there is no plan B, if HANA does not get broad adoption by all existing customers and does not generate new customers.

          Take care,

          Stephen

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          1. Joao Sousa

            I’m not saying the content of those spaces is marketing oriented, what is marketing oriented is their placement on the front page.

            The main hurdle for HANA adoption in the specific hardware requirement. On my latest client, HANA came up too late and they had already bought the hardware….. I dying to get my hand on one of those, but it’s hard.

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    2. Audrey Stevenson

      Hi Joao,

      I’d be curious to know what you mean when you say “On SCN front page, you have a space for HANA, Mobile and Cloud”. What part of the page are you actually referring to? The rotating features at the top of the page, or the Top Liked lists further down?

      Regards,

      Audrey

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      1. Jelena Perfiljeva

        Hi Audrey, Joao probably meant the Top Liked content. I’ve observed the same thing actually – it features all the areas that SAP is currently actively “selling” and it just happens that none of them are of interest to my employer at the moment. πŸ™‚ It’d be much nicer if this was customizable, e.g. I’d prefer to see ABAP and major modules (SD, FI, MM) there.

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        1. Steffi Warnecke

          Yes, I’d love to be able to choose, which spaces are shown on the start page, too. I think, this way it would be much more useful to everybody.

          And I don’t think it gets many clicks at the moment, because I – for example – have bookmarked the activity stream as my start page, so I’ll just go on the homepage when I want to check something (which happens not  very often).

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            1. Steffi Warnecke

              I’d like to see it as “my welcome page”, yes. πŸ˜‰

              MySpace is/was a pre-facebook. I’m not talking about social stuff, I’m talking about to be able to choose, which spaces and their updates should be shown there. I don’t need another acitivity page, I have that already. ^^

              Right now a lot of information there on the front page is not for me. So the page itself is not really useful to me.

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            2. Joao Sousa

              No, we want the start page to feature the spaces that provide information we are interested in, instead of the spaces SAP marketing is trying to push.

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          1. Steve Rumsby

            Same here – my entry point to SCN is the Activity stream. I almost never visit the actual welcome page as it isn’t useful to me. I’m not sure that I can think of a way to make it useful enough to be my entry point, but being able to configure the content shown would be a good start.

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    3. Audrey Stevenson

      Hi All of you who replied,

      This is great feedback, and just know we’re listening and gathering input for future community update projects. Keep it coming!

      –Audrey

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  13. Peter Lane

    Agreed, I’ve found SCN to be tremendously helpful for technical input but I don’t care so much for the marketing stuff and updates on products and the like.

    That said, I stumbled across an SCN blog here recently with a fresh tone and perspective not commonly found in our community.

    Really like the style Stephen Dick !

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  14. Jelena Perfiljeva

    Another blog category I wish we could do away with is the “how SAP is the most awesome company to work for”. Ugh… It’s good when people are happy with their job (and I do mean it), but is SCN really the place for such blogs? Surely SAP must have a Facebook page…

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    1. Florian Henninger

      Hi Jelena,

      I get your point, but yes I think it is. Because we (the techies) need to have young blood between us and moreover we need to show to the new involved that we all are just normal people and not just talking teched all the time.

      It is a wonderful piece of SCN, when I read trough blog it forward or even the blogs aren’t meant that serious πŸ˜‰

      ~Florian

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      1. Jelena Perfiljeva

        Hi Florian, I don’t mind at all the “non-serious” blogs (BIF series have been excellent in particular) but I meant the blogs specifically by the SAP employees that have no other content but how awesome SAP is. Certainly SAP needs “fresh blood”, just like any other company, but if anyone wants to apply for a job at SAP wouldn’t they rather look for info on the corporate sites and places like LinkedIn or Glassdoor, etc.?

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  15. Jeanne Carboni

    Hi all,

    Thank you, @Fred_Verheul for posting and getting this conversation going. I think it is really important for people to understand their audience and what works / doesn’t work.  I am pointing a number of people to this conversation as guidance, to help them avoid posting content that is not appreciated.

    A dilemma we have is that SAP’s audiences who desire community interactions are not limited to product know-how. Traditionally, of course, this was the case. SDN was all about developers. Now, we have many types of audiences who are interested in many different things.

    Personalization is key. We understand that people need to be able to customize what content they need to be informed about. There are projects going on in SAP now that are analyzing those needs and working toward a future where you will only have to see the content you want to see.

    Content taxonomy is also key. Again, the projects that are happening regarding online experience are focused on improving taxonomy to improve user experience.

    Stay tuned for official announcements about these projects and there goals to make your experiences better in the May / June timeframe.

    Also, continue to share your experiences with us in SCN. As Audrey Stevenson mentioned in previous comments, we are listening and making sure that your voices are heard.

    Best,

    Jeanne

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    1. Stephen Johannes

      If the problem was personalization and content taxonomy then doing a simple space reorganization or throwing more tools at the problem would be appropriate.  I have to disagree and I feel that the real problem is content quality regardless of subject.

      My general issue with a lot of the blogs/content in question is the quality of what was produced and not the subject matter.  It’s not that I don’t think the subject is appropriate, but rather that most of the blogs that I have issues do not respect the potential audience.  In many cases a “sensational title” is used that doesn’t match the main point of the written content, or the author fails to make any connection between the topic and overall SAP ecosystem.  

      In a fictional example we could end up with blog that has a title “SAP HANA solves pet overpopulation”.  In the body of the blog it instead discusses how to control feral cat colonies with no mention of SAP and perhaps a link to SAP Marketing site.  The sad part is I have seen way too many blogs structured in this fashion appearing on SCN, they did not at least talk about cats yet πŸ˜₯ .

      So if you want to improve the experience by making the Garbage In – Garbage Out process more efficient, then I guess that’s fine, but until we fix the issue of making sure that the content respects the reader then you will not solve this problem by having better tools to access the same low-quality content.

      Take care,

      Stephen

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    2. Joao Sousa

      Some problems may be solved by taxonomy but not all. In termos of taxonomy I don’t see a big problem, there are enough filters and spaces, so I don’t think that’s really the problem.

      It’s true that SDN audience expanded to encompass all SAP consultant, but it’s target is still consultants and technical people, not the customers. Consultants and technical people want technical, detailed information, not “This is great!” content.

      Unfortunatly some customers still fall for the “This is great!” which is unfortunate because in the end they become unhappy customers, but not many consultants do, and that’s the real target of SCN.

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  16. Jelena Perfiljeva

    Argh, alarming trend alert # 3 – copy-pasting articles from Forbes (or other magazines) and why mention it’s a re-post. Are SCN points so hard to resist? πŸ™‚ Certainly I would be proud too if I got published in Forbes, but I’ve heard there are web sites where people can, like, make announcements in 140 characters or so…

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    1. Fred Verheul Post author

      Good find Jelena!

      To be honest: I’d only read part of it in my RSS-reader and marked it for further reading, as it definitely looked like a nice ‘story’.

      It probably still is, but to post it here without even mentioning it’s a re-post makes it a lot harder to like, at least for me.

      Unless (lightbulb moment?) Forbes read it on SCN too, and decided to publish it on their own website, but somehow I have a feeling that’s not the way things went.

      I’ve heard rumors (maybe someone can confirm/correct me) that SAP even pays Forbes to post articles there. Which makes the cross-posting even more odd IMO. </rant>

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      1. Stephen Johannes

        It brings up to one of biggest missing features in SCN(no I’m not going to request it), was the abiliyt to integrate your social media feeds as part of your personal SCN content stream to see.  In other words you could take your external blog feedback, twitter, linkedin or dare I say facebook and show it as SCN content.  That type of content federation woudl have allowed SAP to do what they are doing without a complete “spam” situation if done correctly.

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    2. Steve Rumsby

      This also falls into my “what on earth does this have to do with SAP” category. The “Business Trends” space seems to be full of such things.

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      1. Jelena Perfiljeva

        In defence of the Business Trend space – SAP is a business application after all, so the space could serve as a glimpse of what crazy ideas our business users could be throwing our way some time soon.

        One might argue that there are other sites for that kind of information. But having such space on SCN could be a matter of convenience (e.g. not having to visit other sites) and also one would expect the content to be pre-selected for relevance to the SCN readers.

        The problem, however, that lately it seems to have become overrun by the re-posts from other sites and blogs that are not even about a business trend (exhibit A), much less have anything to do with the SAP universe. I believe that this space really needs to re-define itself and step up the moderation if it wants to remain part of the community.

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    1. Marilyn Pratt

      Ironic that this comment lands here.  It would be funny if it weren’t so representative of the other thing that seems to urk many members: newbie questions, posted in the wrong space, with no context and little understanding of the workings of the environment.

      This was brought to my attention via the moderation queue of course and wouldn’t be posted unless released, but I am left to wonder how Gouse found this exact entry point for his BI question. If there were better understanding of how that happens, we might do a better job of resolving the problem of the continued flow of such generic and global requests for knowledge.

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      1. Manish Kumar

        It is the first link under first widget in SCN welcome page.

        The parts above it look promotional, making Community News the first widget that looks like something real.

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      2. Joao Sousa

        It would be funny if it weren’t so representative of the other thing that seems to urk many members: newbie questions, posted in the wrong space, with no context and little understanding of the workings of the environment.

        The worse part of all this, is that this is a professional forum so these people are being paid by someone to do a job they are clearly not prepared for, but they have also been left to fend for themselves.

        I think that if one of my subordinates posted something like this, he would be put on a queue for termination because it shows a complete lack of understanding, but I would also feel that something had go wrong, and I had left this person alone with no support. Don’t these people have a senior with them? Are they alone? …. It baffles me.

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        1. JΓΌrgen L

          I would say that a very high percentage of all questions is coming from students  who do not even have a job yet and never had any training either and do not need to fear to be fired for their content.  SCN is the actual Learning Hub of SAP and probably even the first internet experience of some of the posters.

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  17. Gretchen Lindquist

    Fred,

    This has been a very thought-provoking discussion, so thank you for starting it. Back to your original question, I would say that the kind of blog posts we want to see on SCN are those aligned with the SCN mission. What *is* the SCN mission? Good question; I searched for a mission statement and did not find any such thing. If a mission statement were posted on the home page and on About SCN, it would be a guide for bloggers to know if their content is appropriate here and for moderators to accept or reject content. For my taste, if it has no connection whatsoever to knowledge sharing about SAP solutions or services, it belongs in Coffee Corner or somewhere else altogether, but that is just me.

    Perhaps the SCN team could consider drafting an SCN mission statement to enlighten us all, or do they want us members to do it?

    Cheers,

    Gretchen

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      1. Audrey Stevenson

        Hi Fred,

        I was on travel last week to Israel to meet with our colleagues there, so I’m only now starting to catch up on community discussions again. All I can say right now is that these comments and ideas are (again? still?) stirring a lot of thought and discussion in our team. We have our listening ears on, as well as our thinking caps, and are following every posted comment.

        –Audrey

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    1. Florian Henninger

      The big question is, what belongs to SAP? It is a hard decission between good or bad.

      A mission statement ends perhaps in a long roadmap…

      ~Florian

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      1. Michael Appleby

        Hi Steve, Jelena, et. al.

        If we can do it in one paragraph and make it meaningful, you have my endorsement as well.  If it is multiple paragraphs it might as well be the Rules of Engagement and I would argue strongly against one more piece of verbiage that most SCN’ers will not bother to read much less pay any attention to.

        Regards, Mike

        SAP Customer Experience Group – CEG

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        1. Gretchen Lindquist

          Michael,

          One paragraph? Take the link I posted and you will see that the shortest is two words. If they cannot do it in one or two sentences, it is too fuzzy and should be pared down.

          Gretchen

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          1. Michael Appleby

            Sorry Gretchen, I do not see a link in any of your posts here (and I went back through all 71 posts).

            Regards, Mike

            SAP Customer Experience Group – CEG

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              1. Michael Appleby

                Hi Gretchen,

                Not sure how we present ourselves but something like:

                “Our goal is to provide cutting edge technical advice in a comfortable social network environment.  Keeping current with our peers while all members benefit from each contribution.”

                Needs work, but could be something like that was what you were aiming for?

                Regards, Mike

                SAP Customer Experience Group – CEG

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                1. Gretchen Lindquist

                  Michael,

                  Thank you for getting the process started. For my taste, “technical advice’ is too restrictive; it rules out not only the marketing fluff and communications that are only pertinent to SAP employees, but content concerning SAP-related events, education and certification, support issues, and non-technical project issues such as change management and process redesign. I’d rather see a reference to “SAP solutions and services.”

                  Perhaps I am being too literal, but to me, expecting that “all members benefit from each contribution” is setting the bar rather high; as far as I can see, the only SCN space that truly benefits all SCN members is About SCN.

                  How about:

                  The SAP Community Network is an online social organization that seeks to connect SAP’s customers, partners, and employees to provide up-to-date, accurate news, information, and experience-based knowledge about SAP’s current solutions and services.

                  OK, it’s someone else’s turn: what essential bits did I leave out? Does it help clarify which blogs belong on SCN and which do not?

                  Gretchen

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                  1. Michael Appleby

                    Hi Gretchen,

                    I have no problem with your critique and comments.  I just wanted to throw something out there for people to react to.  It helps the brainstorming process to start somewhere.  I modified yours to Simplify Simplify Simplify ( 😈 ) in line with our corporate direction.

                    “SCN is a social meeting place for involved SAP folks to share news, information, and experiences about SAP’s products and services.”

                    What do you think?  Too simplified? 

                    What do others think?

                    Thanks, Mike

                    SAP Customer Experience Group – CEG

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          2. Jelena Perfiljeva

            Guys, would it make sense at this point to create a separate discussion regarding SCN mission statement?

            Otherwise Fred’s next blog would have to be “what kind of comments do we want on our blogs”. πŸ™‚

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            1. Joao Sousa

              I don’t think this is offtopic. The mission statement defines what kind of blogs we want on SCN.

              For example, if the goal is indeed to provide cutting edge technical advice, then all the marketing fluff is misplaced.

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              1. Jelena Perfiljeva

                It’s not the matter of off-topic. On a contrary, this seems like a rather important discussion (sic!) yet most SCN members are probably unaware it’s going on in the comments here. Wouldn’t we want more people to participate?

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