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I was reading Before You Ask – Just another guide and thought it’s pretty common to try and help people ask questions the right way. If we are here contributing to SCN is because we actually want to help people in their predicaments, as we would like help with ours when the time comes.

Just today I came across several situations where people either didn’t provide enough information, didn’t acknowledge the help that was provided, or showed any indication that they would follow up after the question (basically they didn’t follow Florien’s advice). The funny thing is that looking at the opening post I had a pretty good idea which people would provide feedback and which ones wouldn’t.

It got me thinking. Are we the ones that support this kind of behavior by trying to answer:

  • Questions with almost no information, and that by the third or fourth response by the OP, still have little information – If he doesn’t bother providing information, why should we keep trying?
  • Poorly written questions, with no punctuation or grammatical correctness (english is not my native language, but at least I try…., some people clearly don’t, and at the very least browsers have spell check)

I see many people, myself included, making all sorts of assumptions with little to no information, increasing the “garbage” in SCN, probably confusing other people who will use search to try and find an answer to their problems. A suggestion made with almost zero information can seem right, and yet be very wrong because it refers to a situation that is not clearly explained or is confusing.

Should we refrain ourselves from trying to help people who clearly haven’t made an effort to be “helpable”? This isn’t something that could/should be enforced, but I have to question if it should considered SCN etiquette to stop “feeding” posts where the OP clearly doesn’t care enough (and people who spend enough time in SCN can already identify them from very far away).

What’s your opinion on this?

Update: To me Customer not ready to send free of goods back But he wants money back for damaged stock is mid-range example. The poster makes a very poorly written post, doesn’t use punctuation and uses capital letters everywhere, wasting the time of anyone who is trying to understand his scenario. Should he be rewarded with an answer? I chose not to, feel free to disagree and comment below.

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30 Comments

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  1. Jitendra Kansal

    You have highlighted a general thought that i believe some members or almost all must be having in their mind.

    We all are here to learn and help each other in all possible ways. At the same time, being a member of this community, it is my/our responsibility to make it clean in terms of acknowledging the help, closing the thread once its been answered, avoiding copy-paste, alerting moderators if any RoE is violated and so on.


    As per as any open thread is concerned, if it has been answered and has been accepted by OP (but has not closed yet), i inform OP either by posting URL How to close a discussion and why as a comment or by sending DM.


    In my opinion, if a new member joins, it would take some time him/her to realize and understand how to behave, what to follow , how to follow on SCN.

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    1. Joao Sousa Post author

      I think I go a bit further. You are talking about educating people after the post is done, and they have their answer, while I question if we aren’t encouraging very poor quality post with the attempt of a “grasping for straws” answer.

      I do this sometimes, see a poorly written question, with no information, and I still try to guess what he wants or what the problem is with little to no information. I believe that maybe this encourages bad quality, because people feel entitled to an answer even if they haven’t made any effort to create a complete a coherent question.

      Maybe people will call me a grammar nazi for this one Re: Customer not ready to send free of goods back But he wants money back for damaged stock but I truly believe we need to encourage better quality in the forums.

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  2. Andy Silvey

    a first step would be that whenever someone opens a question, when they find the answer, they come back and leave the answer.

    There are too many threads where the person comes back and says, I solved it myself.

    This is something we need to fix.

    Andy.

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    1. Dibyendu Patra

      And also there are too many threads are still open, even though the discussion has the correct answer.

      And this is happening for the email notification.

      People open a discussion, and he get the all replies in his e-mail inbox. So he never come back to mark the answer as correct..

      Regards

      Dev

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    2. Joao Sousa Post author

      But can SCN do? Ban the user? Most of the people who do this, only ask one question and never post again, so that isn’t a real issue for them.

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      1. Andy Silvey

        Hi Joao,

        it’s an SCN culture thing and will take time to improve. In the past this has been acceptable but it needs to become taboo 🙂

        Perhaps it needs an SCN Gamification Badge – I close my discussion threads 🙂

        Andy.

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        1. Matt Fraser

          Didn’t that idea get put into Idea Place?  I can’t recall, but I do recall some discussion around it.  I’ll have to go hunt for it now.  Anyway, yes, the whole point of gamification is supposed to be to encourage better/more productive behavior, and this is a behavior we want to encourage.

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        2. Joao Sousa Post author

          The problem is, again, that these users aren’t interested in being part of a community. They want to get their answer, and get out.

          What I was saying, is that you can notice most of these people from the lack of “professionalism” they put into their questions. They don’t care. Should we?

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          1. Colleen Hebbert

            Part of it also are those that want to be part of the community and are eager to contribute don’t enable these guys either

            Suggestion of limiting number of open requests are in SAP Ideas Place but won’t stop the one-off user. Possibly gamification badges to encourage those but more emphasis is needed on the rest of the community – ignore the question; alert moderator; give out a poor rating; etc – do something to show to discourage the members that don’t want to be part of the community. This is difficult for some as ignoring the questions results in less points and badges.

            We should care or we will lose the knowledgeable people in the community and SCN will be reduced to a bunch of “How to” questions that can be found on help.sap or with basic training.

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          2. Steffi Warnecke

            Joao Sousa wrote:

            The problem is, again, that these users aren’t interested in being part of a community. They want to get their answer, and get out.

            That’s pretty much what I think about this in a nutshell.

            Sometimes, when a question isn’t ask good enough to really understand, but at least you see some effort, I try to get to the real issue with some follow-up questions, but I’m doing this less and less.

            Now I refrain from answering those threads, but maybe I should start with Colleen’s approach, too, and mark them with a 1*-rating.

            TW Typewriter wrote something in the mentioned thread:

            It is an unrealistic expectation to think that if you have suggested to write in a certain way (be it the “correct” way); from the subsequent post the changes will be incorporated.

            I can’t agree with that, because in a professional forum like this, that is exactly what we should expect. If I inform the OP that his/her question is not understandable the way it’s written, then it is also in the interest of the OP to change his/her writing style, if an answer to the real problem is wanted. It’s like with every suggestion or constructive critic: if it’s there to help you, don’t ignore it. It was brought up for a reason.

            BTW: Nobody expects perfect English as for a lot of people here English is not the first language (myself included). But what we write should be understandable, otherwise it’s kind of pointless IMO. 🙂

            Regards,

            Steffi.

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            1. Joao Sousa Post author

              I can’t agree with that, because in a professional forum like this, that is exactly what we should expext.

              Exactly, that’s my point. When a person doesn’t bother writing a coherent text, why should we bother answering? Facing the risk of misunderstanding and giving bad advice which is left for posterity.

              And like you say, no one expects perfect english, but there are shades of grey, and a difference between acceptable english and something that only seems like english.


              Again since this is a professional forum, people should take their take to properly proof read and format their text. If they don’t bother, neither should we.

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                    1. Joao Sousa Post author

                      In my opinion, yes. I don’t believe I can lead someone who isn’t looking for leadership or inspiration, only for an answer to a very specific question.

                      They don’t really care if my English is perfect or not, But that’s my opinion.

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                      1. Andy Silvey

                        who are we to judge if people are looking for leadership or not

                        our job is to lead without prejudice

                        your English is perfect, better than mine

                        Andy.

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  3. Typewriter TW

    Dear Joao Sousa

    Thanks …  Dear in simple terms i am going to explain

    Company agreed Like below given

    Ex: I Have Purchased 100 TVS From you and You have given 10 DVD Players Free of cost

    I Have ordered the stock For New year Festival  ..

    Side note : Mainly i have Purchased the stock From you Because  you are giving the free of goods i mean 10 DVD

    Now i have reached the stock On December 27 Th i found 15 Tvs fully damaged

    now i am going to return damaged stock …. But i want Money back Reason is once new year  completed i cant sell Single TV Also ( just ex)

    Now company will be in the loss because they have given Free of cost because customer is Buying 100 tvs so that is way they are giving Free of goods

    so how to handle this type of scenario … If company is ready to Face Lose how FI will show lose ?

    Joao, Steffi,

    Thanks for your comments!

    Clarity in communication is very important…What is the client telling? What are you telling the client?

    I always try to put an extra effort in making myself clear, giving examples etc. etc.

    First thing, in the thread (extract above) the requirement is clear. If someone does not understand, there are some who understood and replied (e.g. me 🙂 )

    Second thing, like every skill, communicating clear needs time, purposeful effort. That is the reason why I said the expectation – for immediate change is unrealistic. It might take time…even years.

    All said, this thread should have been in coffee corner, as this for me is “time-pass”, something to be had with coffee.

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    1. Joao Sousa Post author

      First thing, in this thread the requirement is clear. If someone does not understand, there are some who understood and replied (e.g. me 🙂 )

      That’s not the point. The point is that:

      • We have to read that 10 times instead of one to understand, and we shouldn’t have to do that;
      • We can try to decipher something, and think we understand, but that may not be true.

      That is the reason why I said the expectation – for immediate change is unrealistic. I might take time…even years.

      That assumes that the person can’t do better. I have trouble believing that someones writes like that in his professional work. The formatting is terrible, no punctuation, capital letters everywhere. It’s like assuming a teenager can’t write better after reading an SMS.

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      1. Typewriter TW

        Joao,

        I have trouble believing that someones writes like that in his professional work.

        Why would someone who has the capability to write in a “clearer” way, write below his/her capability? It would defeat his/her purpose of getting help from people, if he writes in an unclear way.

        So your assumption is this person writers clear in his professional work than here. Why do you make this assumption?

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        1. Joao Sousa Post author

          Why would someone who has the capability to write in a “clearer” way, write below his/her capability?

          Laziness?….. You are going to tell me that you never sent a document back because the person who wrote it clearly didn’t even proof read it?

          I review my posts, and most of the times I have errors. Spelling mistakes, phrases doesn’t make sense, etc.

          It would defeat his/her purpose of getting help from people, if he writes in an unclear way.

          Not really. In this case you answered the question, so why should they bother? And that example is but one of many in SCN, some of them much worse. Anyone who searches SCN will know that the standard are extremely low.

          So your assumption is this person writers clear in his professional work than here. Why do you make this assumption?

          Because the way he wrote here is unacceptable in a professional context. I would be fired if I wrote like that in my work.

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  4. Florian Henninger

    Hi Joao,

    missed your entry in the beginning (during my offtime 🙂 ). I feel nearly the same, that’s why I created the blog.

    In my opinion we as the community are needed to identify such posts and make SCN better.

    As I wrote, there might be some questions, which are really hard to understand and the person in front of the PC cannot explain it in a better way out of different reasons.

    Those people need some questions from us to see the wood again.

    But all the questions answered by searching with the title and the basic-questions need to be notified by the moderators. (I’m sorry moderators for the extra work 😉 )

    I mean it is a small gap between. In case of we all are working for/with SAP in a way we need to have demanding to create professional questions/content at all (perhaps not in the coffee corner 😆 ).

    All the other things are discussed in the comments, so I won’t repeat the stuff.

    I’m really happy that there are so much people out there having the same sight as I do.

    ~Florian

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    1. Joao Sousa Post author

      In case of we all are working for/with SAP in a way we need to have demanding to create professional questions/content at all (perhaps not in the coffee corner 😆 ).

      Maybe the gamification of SCN promotes the low standards. People are more interested in getting points for a quick answer instead of requirering a higher standard.

      Don’t take this the wrong way, because the points are a good way to promote the work of those people who contribute to the community and in this age of social media, your SCN profile can almost become another line on your CV.

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      1. Florian Henninger

        Yeah I know what you mean. I don’t think the points are the problem because most of the low-level question and answers are made by the one-stoppers. Moreover I think the problem is, that some people feel to reply everything without knowing the question. That’s why I wrote the blog. All of us have to learn (I also have to improve this skill), to complete the question first before answer it with a suggestion. That does not lift the quality.

        I mean, nobody will develop a report without knowing, what it should show in the end.

        ~Florian

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        1. Joao Sousa Post author

          That’s why I wrote the blog. All of us have to learn (I also have to improve this skill), to complete the question first before answer it with a suggestion.

          That’s exactly my point!

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      2. Thomas Zloch

        People are more interested in getting points for a quick answer instead of requirering a higher standard.

        That’s the root cause for the vast majority of these cases. Back then most of these replies had “plz reward if useful” as signature so the motivation was clearly visible.

        It’s a major pain since the beginning of SDN, and I don’t see a way to cure this without removing any points incentive altogether.

        Thomas

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        1. Joao Sousa Post author

          It’s a major pain since the beginning of SDN, and I don’t see a way to cure this without removing any points incentive altogether.

          I think SCN has done something right since I see less and less those “copied responses” posts, which annoy me because usually they are a list of user-exits that have nothing to do with the actual question.

          Removing points would also have a negative effect because it rewards with quantifiable visibility people who contribute, but we also need to control ourselves.

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          1. Thomas Zloch

            Per my observation, most of the progress in many spaces can be attributed to strict moderation and dedicated members using the “alert moderator” functionality.

            Without it, I bet things would turn worse again rather quickly.

            My personal estimation is that the positive effects of removing the points would outweigh the negative ones.


            Well, this will not happen anyway, so I’ll concentrate on spaces with strict moderation and keep using the “alert moderator” button where appropriate.


            I have never scanned for people having “super blogger” badges or 15K+ points. I find them by reading and liking their posts in spaces that I follow, or by noticing and checking out content liked by people that I follow. Not sure how many of these valuable folks need quantifiable rewards as motivation.


            That said, I think a well-tuned followed people list and activity stream is some of the best features introduced by the SCN migration two years ago.


            Thomas

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  5. Stephen Johannes

    You are right if someone posts a confusing mess, then they should expect no reponses or a confusing mess back.  I really don’t think we have to be the grammar police for questions, but I would hope people would at least try to keep things readable, even if it doesn’t follow the Chicago Manual of Style to an exact tee.

    For an even werider suggestion, you are never going to convert the “one and done”, so don’t worrry about that.  Alert moderator, lock post, delete post are your friends 🙂 .  For those in pattern of behavior, engaging in campaign of stern kindness is probably the best approach.  If they want to build community then engage, if not then discourage away 🙂 .

    The folks who actually might care are more dangerous, and those are you who you need to embarce/engage/challenge 🙂 .

    Take care,

    Stephen

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  6. Jelena Perfiljeva

    Ah, an aspiring SCN deputy! 🙂

    There was a great blog on this called Wouldn’t it be Great if People Wanted to Get Their Questions Answered – more rant”, but it was in Coffee Corner and was deleted when the blogs/documents had to be shut down in that space. I’m wondering if Neal Wilhite happened to have a copy somewhere?

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