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 🙂 ) 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.
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”.
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? 🙂 ), 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!