I was going to write this blog in a story mode, but after reading The Story of Stone Soup by Ursula Gruen, I didn’t think I could do better.

In the past couple of months, there have been a plethora of conversations about what type of content belongs on SCN. Many of our seasoned community veterans have presented their opinions about what they like and what they don’t like. So we have one audience’s point of view. (See Fred Verheul‘s blog What kind of blog posts do we want on SCN?)

But I have to ask, is that the only audience and does everyone share their opinion? I’m pretty sure that there are more people out there who aren’t even aware of the debate. Why?

Hello, who’s there?

In 2013 there were ~20 million unique visitors who came to SCN. Of those, ~1 million logged in. Overall, an even smaller number did anything more than find the content they wanted and moved on. Let’s face it, there is a lot of great content on SCN and visitors find it through Google search and run with it. Grab and go…it’s great! (I certainly wish I’d had SCN when I was doing R2 and R3 consulting back in the ’90s!)

So how can we be certain that the opinions of 10 to 20 of our most experienced members reflect the broader audience? We can’t, unless we do further investigation. The exercise is complex, especially with Internet privacy laws that limit what we can track. But  we are doing as much as we can with current tools available to us. We are also investigating a new tool that will help us ask people if they like what they are seeing in somewhat of an Amazon style. (Don’t worry, you will be able to check “don’t show me this again”.)

But even without that data, I can answer who SAP wants to engage with, based on SAP strategy.

  • Prospects – If someone is looking to purchase a business application, for example, of course we would like to dialogue with them about their needs, how our products and services can help them, and why we could be their best choice.
  • Customers – This is a very broad audience and could overlap with some of the others listed here of course. We want to engage with our customers to help them get the best results from their SAP products and services. We want to hear their feedback so that we can improve what we provide. We want to know how we can make them successful.
  • Developers – We need developers to engage with us and each other more than ever. With SAP in the cloud, serving up applications that can be used by a broad base of consumers, we need all types of developers to join in and help us meet demand.
  • Partners – Critical to our success, we need close connections with our partners, who help us deliver products and services to our customers.
  • Decision Makers – Like it or not, there will be high level executives who want to connect with others like them to understand their experiences with SAP.
  • SAP Employees – This includes developers and industry experts, consultants, product managers, support engineers, account execs (aka sales) and more. (In my opinion SAP Employees are not an audience in SCN, but more of a host.)

Can I take your order?

With such a broad set of audiences invited to connect, it is obvious that there needs to be an equally broad offering of content and ways to engage. So how do we serve up these varieties to the appropriate audiences?

Currently, we have a very open environment. What is published in one space is viewable by everyone. Additionally, when new blogs are published, they are fed through an RSS feed to Twitter. Anyone who follows that feed could see every blog that is published on SCN.

In the future, we want to offer personalization that enables you to view only the content you are interested in. Efforts are underway now to define the personas and taxonomy so that you will be able to choose what types of posts you want to know about.  This could eliminate the perceived noise that is made by postings you don’t want.

Is that good?

I agree that some pretty poor quality posts get published on SCN . That’s why we have moderators for each of the various spaces. And it is the moderator of the space who determines what content they will allow there. (Although there are a very few occasions when Global Moderators need to override decisions.)We need to let them do their jobs and make the decisions of what gets published and what doesn’t. And when content is poor quality, the moderator should take it down and inform the author of why it was rejected, as well as how they can improve it.

Lately, I’ve seen a lot of “alert moderator” reports, repeated reports after the moderator approved the content, and negative comments to the author. In most cases, the blogs were very well written, and were posted in an appropriate space. So why the need to hit the report abuse button, especially when the space moderator decided to allow the content? I hope that in the future we will take the time to provide some guidance to the author that helps them improve versus shaming them into leaving SCN for good. Isn’t that an aspect of good community?

What do you think?

I expect this post will get a lot of lively discussion, and I welcome it. I’d love to get your thoughts on:

  • What do you think about the audiences shared above?
  • How would you manage this so that various audiences would see only the content they care about?
  • How can we help new members contribute more appropriately?

Jeanne

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9 Comments

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  1. Jürgen L

    First of all a technical question, you wrote Lately, I’ve seen a lot of “alert moderator” reports, repeated reports after the moderator approved the content…..So why the need to hit the report abuse button, especially when the space moderator decided to allow the content?

    How can user B know that content was abused before and got approved by a moderator?

    Not even I, as a moderator, can see that this was the case. This means that nobody can know about a moderator approval except the moderator is going to write his decision as a comment to the content. But this means as well to out himself. I guess most who read this know the names of the few moderators who defend their standpoints in public.

    Now to your questions. I never had any doubt that this is the audience SAP wants to reach. (You missed the pupils, or are they covered under Developers?) And it is certainly a tough situation to get them all under one umbrella and to give them the food they like without annoying the others with ingredients which they don’t like.

    SAP has many home pages like http://www.news-sap.com/

    and Run Better SAP Customer Success Stories to engage with a certain target group. Is there anywhere a strategy to consolidate all these sites and get them into SCN because SCN is the SAP site with the most traffic? If yes, then then they should get their own space and keep posting their blogs there only instead of bringing these marketing postings into the other forums. Further the moderators should be informed about these strategies to adjust moderation practice. Keeping the sites and posting mini blogs (just links to the other sites) is probably the worst situation, especially as we all know that we have a reputation system in SCN and that a blog gets 10 points  So we need to find a balance between those from SAP who want reach a certain audience and those who take such blogs as example for their points gaming.

    I actually like to be informed, but half blogs that have a statement “rest of the story can be read in http://sap… do annoy me instead of informing me. If one is already here with a blog, then present the whole story and don’t try to get me out of here. If the marketing folks do not have enough traffic on their sites, is it then necessary to post the same stuff in another site? Instead of a pure marketing blog in a technical space it could have been a document with some screen shots presenting how the process is executed physically in the system.

    For the last question I actually have to blame the technic and the privacy. Sorry to say it that clearly, but this is the experience from moderation. In the old forum a moderator could see the Email address and could really reach out. I made good experience with the vast majority who could be reached (unfortunately not with all). Nowadays a moderator has this direct message thing. A new member is not used to SCN. He probably does not yet work in the communication stream to see a direct message immediately. He does not know that a number in a green box next to Actions icon actually means that he has a notification or message. And based on his settings in his user profile he may not even get a notification by email if a message is dropped to him.

    So I cannot be certain that he ever got my message.  I would like to help new members posting better, but without having the ability to reach them it is tough and can quickly turn into the contrary when he re-posts the same bad content several times again after rejections.

    And honestly I do not believe that a SCN mission statement could make them post better, maybe a mission to get a new badge can do something. But as usual, even that only reaches the folks who is already familiar with SCN. So we need something to welcome the new members at the door. 

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  2. Marssel Vilaça

    Hi Jeanne,

    When someone searches for SCN for whatever reason, that one is looking for professional growth. may be that immediate knowledge to solve a error or a constant search for new content to be feeded for specific knowledge, even looking for professional status increase.

    The reputation program is very good. To be better the program should go beyond the borders of the SCN, since the big SAP public doesn´t still fully adhered. I fail trying to find “real” people which undestands SCN contribution purpose.  This platform will only attract the big public when we could offer more professional visibility in customers, consultancies and coworkers.

    I had a discussion like that here:

    SCN Contribution – Should I contribute to SCN?

    If one day the SCN become the number one platform for every professional SAP (from HR recruiters until project manager and directors), we’ll be at full capacity to produce the best content for all areas.


    Best Regards

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  3. Andy Silvey

    Hi Jeanne,

    I think all blogs, no matter who the author is, should go through the pre-approval process.

    Obviously this is not something which can be implemented overnight, it will require an army of approvers to keep queues to a minimum.

    Blogs which don’t make the mark can then be sent back with feedback for improvement, which will kill two birds with one stone, enabling an informal content quality mentoring of authors and maintaining the standard of quality on the SCN.

    Since IviewStudio became SDN I’ve read the latest blogs over a coffee most mornings and saved the most interesting ones to my library for later viewing, in the old days that meant copying and pasting to a word document but these days we have save as pdf.

    Since October last year I’ve been publishing a list each month of blogs from across the whole of the SCN which can be interesting for SAP Thinkers interested in technology and architecture, the latest release is here. This has basically served to separate the wheat from the chaf.

    The great thing is, the majority of the community agree with you and want to be part of improving SCN and see the realisation of a better and better SCN following a mechanism of continous improvement.

    This means you have the community buy in, everybody agrees we need more wheat and less chaf.

    What’s needed next,

         Leadership

         A Plan

         Implementation

    If you want thoughts on the plan I will be happy to contribute.

    Best regards,

    Andy.

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  4. Frank Koehntopp

    This discussion is probably just as old as SCN…

    Do I understand correctly – what you are planning to implement is something alike the Facebook Timeline that will try to pre-filter content for you?

    To be honest, none of that would make any difference to how _I_ use SCN. There will always be poor content, the way I avoid it is that I basically only ever read blog posts that are good enough to be picked up and discussed by my Twitter friends. Works for me. You mileage may vary.

    What I agree a hundred percent is what Jürgen says: moderation is – and has been for a while – crippled by a lack of information (moderation history for a user and/or post) and inter-moderator communication. Writing direct messages is just too cumbersome.

    One root cause – to side with Julius – is that the gamification aspect of SCN rewards quantity instead of quality. If writing a blog post is what gives you the most points, that’s what people will do.

    I’m all for a DIGG like approach where stuff gets up- AND down-voted, that is the only thing that seems to be working. Link the points system to that mechanism if you must and it might be going somewhere.

    Until then – my quality filter is my Twitter feed.

    Frank.

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  5. Fred Verheul

    Hi Jeanne,

    I’ve been waiting a while to see other people chime in, but can’t resist the temptation to comment. To help my thought process I’ve written a blog post in my personal space that goes into each of your questions: What kind of blog posts do I want to see on SCN?

    Since the discussion should be here in the About SCN space I’ll recapitulate:

    Q1. All audiences mentioned are valid for SAP to each out to, BUT SAP also has a number of websites to use, all with different characteristics and purpose.

    SCN has always been the community site among those, meant for practitioners/professionals who have to deal with SAP every day. I’d like to keep that focus, and don’t want to see SCN expanding into a site without a soul, that wants to be everything to everybody.

    Q2. For decision makers and prospects (and similar people): use other websites, such as http://www.sap.com or http://www.saphana.com etc.

    Q3. How to help newbies? I’d go for pre-moderation, but only for junior members.

    Two problems that need to be sorted out: changing jobs means (if you’ve coupled your s-user to your SCN userid, as many have) you have to start from scratch. You should be allowed to post content directly under such circumstances. Secondly, moderators should have good tools available for communicating with the junior members (and vice versa).

    I’d be happy to become a moderator…

    Cheers, Fred

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    1. Tom Van Doorslaer

      I remember my first steps as a blogger when pre-moderation was still in place.

      Back then, for the first 5 blogs or-so, xMoshe Naveh (Old Acct) proofread my blogs and sent me an email requesting some changes here and there, and making sure I didn’t use any copyrighted materials.

      I actually quite liked that principle and I learned some good principles. The only major flaw was the understaffing of the pre-moderation team, which sometimes lead to a delay of 4 weeks before a blog got published.

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    2. Stephen Johannes

      A bigger problem with pre-moderation is there is a no concept of a global blog list and there are 150+ (probably larger) places to review good or bad content.  During the pre-moderation days people generally stayed in their area of expertise, but if you felt/had enough inclination to review a blog for “writing/presentations” you could do so.  Oh also the junior blogger system was not based on points/contributions.  Many people who wrote “two blogs” got full contribution rights when the system went in place. In addition there was flexibility to promote anyone at anytime to “senior status” without waiting.

      I’m also going to mention that we tried to have a new “junior space” on the new platform, but that failed due to lack of moderator participation(I’m taking blame here because I suggested it and went off and wrote a book instead 😏 ).  That being said some type of blogger review program which focuses on helping instead of punishing would be great and I think I would be willing to participate.  I always enjoyed on the old platform with the junior blog helping people correct/focus their content so they could shine in the community.

      In terms of audience and content, well there are enough spaces and places to let SCN be a larger “tent”.  However in some parts of that tent, things will be more focused on those of us in the trenches.  It does not however eliminate the requirement that no matter what the audience is, that the content needs to respect the audience.  Respecting the audience is not about writing war & peace in length or Shakespeare in quality, but putting a good-faith efforts towards your content instead of being “click-bait”.

      Take care,

      Stephen

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