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Are We a Learning Environment or a Push Marketing Platform?

Our SCN (formerly SDN) community website was originally created as DevNet, a collaborative learning environment for a global community of IT professionals.

I discovered the fledgling DevNet/SDN back in 2002-2003.  As a “brick and mortar” instructor my experience was in a corporate technical classroom setting with around 20-30 students weekly.  I soon learned that in order to stay relevant and keep learning (even while an educator in a classroom) I needed to get off the stage and move from being a “sage on stage” to being a “guide on side”.  Working to create a more participatory learning and peer-oriented collaboration context in the classroom, I began to coach my students to teach each other rather than just having them rely on me to lecture them. I learned that classroom listening is where the real “magic” and learning takes place.  I learned from my students and they learned from each other.  I stopped talking (as much) and began active listening.  But I still held on to my role as “guide” in the conversation. Then I discovered the online learning environment which was the SAP Developer Network and I found a whole community of potential guides.

These days, in the online community, I’ve turned from being a guide to being a self-declared community advocate.
For me that means something other than being an online facilitator or virtual mentor.  Advocating actually entails amplifying, recognizing and supporting the voices of others.  And it’s not just about listening harder (an important thing in and of itself), it’s also about making others louder (or at least having them heard properly).

But in the 11 years that I’ve worked with this community, there has been a shift (even in ownership) from developer-centric learning environment to a marketing owned platform.

Are we talking? Are we listening? Are we SAP listening to others talking?

Recent Stats And Some Challenges As We Grow in Size

There are challenges we’ve faced over the last decade engaging with this community where there are now over 2.5 million unique visitors (potential voices) monthly and cumulatively over a decade of existence more than a quarter million contributors (active contributing voices).

We’ve grown from 3 moderators (guides) to over 350 moderator/facilitators.

The content stats these moderators govern look like this:

  • Over 500 topic spaces
  • Over 15,000 discussion threads (forum questions) generated monthly
  • Over 1200 blogs generated monthly

Not every contributor here is a learner or instructor. Some contributors are indeed more marketer than listener and some members are more consumers than contributors. Not all the spaces and generated content here constitute an opportunity for learning.   Not all content has intrinsic value for participants.

But I believe that the basic premise of the website is still this: most people on the website (from over 200 countries) come together here to share experience, solutions to problems, learning outcomes and to grow their personal knowledge and expertise.

Challenges In The Social Context

This is, from my perspective, a social, learning network.

Some of the community network challenges I have heard in this social, learning context are:

  • How to make new members feel welcome?
  • How to engage with people in a personal way?
  • How to enable real community collaboration which is an un-brokered peer dialogue?
  • How to foster authenticity?
  • How to address poor or undesirable behaviors?
  • How to ensure the creation of quality content?
  • How to be heard?

Attempts To Meet Those Social Learning Challenges

Some of our experiments have included:

  • Blog it Forward: a pass the baton technique where someone answers a set of personal/engaging/professional questions and invites (by name) others to participate in blogging it forward. This has helped engage newbies, given a “human” face to participants, and uncovered helpful areas of expertise that those who write about themselves share with others.
  • Member of the Month: highlighting leading practices and practitioners of good moderation and participation techniques
  • Missions and Badges: Rewarding and reinforcing good behaviors, acknowledging tasks completed (such as reading the Guidelines for Participation or Rules of Engagement, commenting on and acknowledging the work of others, answering questions to the satisfaction of other participants).
  • Coffee Corner   Providing a Place to Rant (and listening carefully to the rants): A forum called the Coffee Corner became a place where people can discuss “frivolous” and also meaningful things that are beyond the scope of the learning environment, yet might also give many insights and provide opportunities for improvement of the environment    

Unresolved Challenges

Some of the challenges as yet unresolved (or in progress to resolve):

  • Domineering participants
  • Bullying behavior
  • Shaming
  • Lack of cultural sensitivity
  • Lack of inclusive language and behavior
  • Lack of consistent quality
  • Vigilante activity
  • Authentication of originality of work
  • Speaking without listening

Proposed Resolutions or How Do We Maintain a Learning Community?

Fred Verheul raised quality of content issues, sensitivity to the marketing content and touched on many of the core challenges in his post:

What kind of blog posts do we want on SCN?

I’d like to gauge further:

  • How interested are you in maintaining a Learning Community?
  • How do we create a sense of “ownership” and self-governance while balancing structure, form and guidance?
  • What makes this a Learning Community rather than a Marketing Community?
  • How do we access the quality of the learning that potentially happens here?

In the spirit of listening, I’d like to stop talking now and hear what you have to say instead.

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97 Comments

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  1. Andy Silvey

    Hi Marilyn,

    out of curiosity, what does SAP ag want the SAP Community Network to be ? What does SAP ag see as the raison de etre for the SAP Community Network ?

    The http://www.iviewstudio.com which evolved into http://www.sdn.sap.com which evolved into the formidable platform and community we have today http://www.scn.sap.com has huge potential for growth.

    There are so many people in large companies in some way involved in the SAP area, from SAP SME’s to Business System Owners, to Line of Business Managers to Project Managers who simply don’t know about the SCN and what is there and what it is and that’s just a small example. We have a lot of technical and marketing articles, but very little material from the above group of people, imagine getting them engaged and contributing and sharing their knowledge to the benefit of each other and all.

    As SCN is the Social Network for SAP Professionals, if SAP so wished SCN could become the LinkedIn for the SAP world, and again, that’s just one example of the possibilities for future growth and scope.

    You’re right there is a lot of marketing noise, that is the main motivation why I consolidate and publish on a monthly basis the most interesting articles for SAP Architects and Administrators and SAP Technology Thinkers in the SAP NetWeaver Architecture Category. Derek Klobucher does the same for the SAP Business Trends Space for example with the weekly Top 5 Blog Posts in SAP Business Trends. As we can see there is grass roots activity and effort being made to cut through the marketing etc noise and consolidate articles interesting for different groups. Chip Rogers recently blogged about the new service the SCN Daily News which is going some way to also cut through the noise, I responded with some suggestions on that and didn’t recieve any feedback.

    Considering the blog you mentioned by Fred Verheul we can see there is an underlying sentiment from SCN consumers that the content has room for improvement. And this is a self fulfilling prophecy, better content will attract better contributors and consumers which will fulfill itself.

    500 Spaces, and without going into examples a lot of us can give examples where Spaces and Sub Spaces and Categories which made sense in the original land plan these days seem to have mushroomed without a big picture view and these days are contributors to confusion. I’ve suggested in the past that as in database design and normalisation, 1st  normal form, 2nd normal form and 3rd normal form, there really is room for somebody looking at a HP Openview style visio diagram showing the map and inter dependency and connectivity of all of the spaces and looking for ways to rationalise and consolidate and eliminate redundency in the current Spaces and build in a plan and strategy for future growth. I’d be happy to contribute my time to that.

    One of the huge successes of the SAP Community Network is that so many of the members really believe in the community and want it to be better and better and want to help make that happen even giving up their free time to help. Isn’t that a huge success. SAP ag just need to provide more leadership and vision.

    And so we return back to the opening questions, back to the beginning, what does SAP ag want from SAP Community Network ? A ship without a direction and destination will only go around in circles, SAP ag need to have a goal for the SCN and a vision of the future, and when SAP ag has that, everybody here will help to realise it and make it happen.

    I really look forward to see what others think on this subject and thank you for being so open as to include the community in this discussion and invite feedback and dialogue.

    Now my turn to listen.

    Best regards,

    Andy.

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    1. Marilyn Pratt Post author

      Hi Andy,

      Gratitude for your detailed and thoughtful comments!

      I’m going to respond to a few of your points from a perspective of “my opinions are solely my own” .  So don’t expect me in this exchange to speak with the sanctioned voice of my employer…nor am I trying to “answer” you.  I’m still digesting and sharing back.

      I personally believe that the raison de etre (the “reason for being”) of this website and community should be:

      • Knowledge exchange
      • Open Education
      • Open Learning
      • Candid Feedback (assessment)

      As to “social network” …I cringe at the way the word social is being bandied about in this last decade.

      Learning and education ARE social activities. So too are knowledge exchanges and yes, commerce.

      Even a self-determined learning loses meaning if it isn’t in a human-interaction context.  Our software serves people.  We don’t speak machine language for purely mechanical reasons.  We do this (according to SAP) to run better and more importantly to run with purpose.

      This is what education and learning should have us do better:

      • purposefully
      • productively
      • profitably

      3 p’s….and  we provide marketing mnemonics that might be easy to remember and learn from.

      We, at SAP have much to LEARN from our customers.  And as a company we have experts that can educate as well.  I suggest we explore the differences between inform, announce and educate.  I suggest we find ways to assess that learning really happens, that feedback is heard and acted upon.

      Now you also write and remind us that you didn’t receive direct feedback about an important suggestion you made back in May.

      You point out that it is important to consolidate information for better consumption.

      You highlight summaries that provide those consolidation services such as Derek Klobucher ‘s SAP Business Trends top blogs, as well as your own SAP Architecture Focus blogazine and The Daily News from Influencers

      Do I understand you to think that these might be valuable “guides” for others to learn from in order to make content more easily consumable?

      How do we assess the value of the selections?

      Does it become a matter of trusting the knowledge and experience of the sources?

      Again thanks for sharing your thoughts.

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      1. Andy Silvey

        Hi Marilyn,

        Do I understand you to think that these might be valuable “guides” for others to learn from in order to make content more easily consummable?

        Background and History

        I have been one of these coffee morning latest blogs readers since IvewStudio became SCN and blogging started. I’ve saved the most interesting blogs (on subjects in my orbits, on a daily basis) copied and pasted as word documents into my library since the beginning. Thankfully we can do a convert to pdf and save pdf’s these days.

        It was Teched last autumn which motivated me to start listing and publishing on a monthly basis the blogs which I find the most interesting and share that list for the benefit of other like minded people. At that time, for me we reached a point where the blog flow was flooded with lesser quality material, and it was getting very difficult to identify based upon title the great material from the poor material without opening the blog and having a read.

        And I thought if it’s this hard for me it must be this hard for others, and furthermore, if I am saving the blogs I find the most interesting to pdf then why not spend an extra couple of minutes per blog and put them into a list in a consolidated blog and publish it at the end of the month. And that’s how this started and I’ve done it ever since, it’s my little bit of giving and if others like it then great and if not, well it costs me a few minutes per day to build it up.

        And To Answer The Question

        Yes, I do think these ‘guides’ might be valuable for others to learn from, hence why I do it.

        A question from my side…  Should these guides really be necessary ? In the ideal world should it be necessary to publish these guides ?

        No.

        In the ideal world, there should be a mechanism in place whereby, the latest blogs list, only contains the highest quality material and where for a contributor getting material into that list is a badge of honour.

        I have wondered that a useful badge for gamification to motivate higher quality content might be a ‘Featured Content Badge’, which is awarded when a blogger gets their blog listed in the Featured Content in the Space where they blogged.

        The question I have been wondering for a long time, well every time I publish the list of blogs each month is, how can we raise the standard in the latest blogs list, or alternatively how can we remove the weeds so that we can see the roses.

        One field of thought keeps returning and that is implementing a mechanism of proactive positive selection of material which is allowed to go into the list of latest blogs.

        If there could be a way that people can publish blogs, but, a blog which is published will only be visible in the latest blogs list, and the latest blogs list in the Space, if, an Approver has checked the checkbox that the blog may be released to the main latest blogs list and the latest blogs list of the space.

        How would this work technically, probably it would be custom code, we’re from the SAP world and we all accept customisation in some form or other, so probably Jive would have to be customised to for example, have newly published blogs only being released into the author’s Space, and at the same time, the blog entering a rippling stack in that Space where Approvers can read the blog and provided they are satisfied with the quality the Approver can check a checkbox and release the blog to the Latest Blogs List and to the Latest Blogs in the Space List.

        Who would the Approvers be ? There are 350 Moderators and I think 125 Mentors, that’s nearly 500 people to start with, most of whom volunteer their time to the bettering of the community, and these people and others would make up the community of Content Approvers, checking the rippling stacks and where quality content is found, checking the checkbox for the content to be released.

        Those are some thoughts and suggestions.

        How do we access the value of the selections?

        Do you mean how do we assess the value of the selections or how do we access the value of the selections, I think you mean assess (apologies, I am the king of making grammatical errors)

        Firstly, as described above, this solution in my eyes is a short term work around and not the template for future growth, this approach is a sticking plaster and not the solution.

        Still, until such time as this medicine is not needed, then the question remains, how do we assess the value of the selections ?

        We can either trust the contributor who is publishing the guide, or we can put a mechanism in place similar to above, there are 350 Moderators and 125 Mentors who can where possible give their time and their qualified expert opinion to assessing the value of the selections.

        Does it become a matter of trusting the knowledge and experience of the sources?

        Yes, either that, or getting others to give a second opinion and approval. It could be two or three people per space validating the monthly list of most interesting blogs for people interested in that space.

        Comment:

        In my opinion, SCN is the greatest SAP Learning Resource on the planet. I have never been to a Teched, and I keep up with the latest and greatest through a combination of checking all blogs on SCN every day, and checking the latest OSS Notes on my subjects every day. It is actually surprising how many times new information comes to the market in the first place as an OSS Note.

        I preach this to juniors, there is no secret to keeping one’s self update with the latest from SAP, it’s simply a case of effort and discipline to reading the latest blogs and the latest OSS Notes and documentation on SAP Market Place. And this has worked for me. The only ones who know more are the Mentors because they have the advantage of a head start by getting invited to private viewings to the latest interesting ‘stuff’ before it is published to the rest of the world, but that’s life, so no problem.

        As others have confirmed, as a consequence of the roses being hidden by the weeds, simply having an RSS Feed of the latest blogs is not the most time efficient way to get the latest and greatest information. And this is what we need to fix. We need to bring back all of the morning coffee people by clearing weeds away.

        Apologies for waffling on.

        I’ll go back to listening again πŸ™‚

        Best regards,

        Andy.

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        1. Marilyn Pratt Post author

          Again, gratitude for taking such time and effort to craft such an amazing comment and for your valuable suggestions, Andy Silvey .

          Many of us feel that returning to a mechanism that would be more governed and guided in terms of moderating bloggers (not just blogs) and trusting and educating and guiding a blogger to blog interesting, valuable content is indeed needed.

          That would mean restoring the “junior” blogger status, which incidentally would have nothing to do with hierarchies in organizations.  A junior blogger might be even be an executive ….but one with no real street creds for producing SCN content!

          This is a system we had (many moons ago) and when we were 3 or so moderators of blogs we became a real bottleneck for releasing content and approving content.

          In that regard we have evolved with so many “helping hands”.

          I imagine that a “junior”  or newcomer status (I always disliked the term junior as it seems a bit derogatory) would keep blogs being reviewed until a certain level of quality, trust, and acceptance was reached.  When the author was “accredited” the contents wouldn’t be monitored in quite the same way.

          Oh and you are so right about my typos with ACCESS and ASSESS.  I have meant assessment throughout this piece and my comments.  I thought I corrected the error but realized I still left one glaring one in my comment to you.  Now amended.

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        2. Marilyn Pratt Post author

          I have wondered that a useful badge for gamification to motivate higher quality content might be a ‘Featured Content Badge’, which is awarded when a blogger gets their blog listed in the Featured Content in the Space where they blogged.

          I personally love the idea but I do realize that it would need a real manual effort.  I’m shouting out to Audrey Stevenson (presently on vacation) to look at this from a gamification perspective.  And in her absence calling on Caroleigh Deneen to take not and discuss with Audrey upon her return.

          Thanks for these creative ideas to really highlight and reward good content.

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          1. Caroleigh Deneen

            Thank you for sharing, this is an interesting idea. I am not sure of the review process through which content is featured, and whether or not it varies by space. I will discuss with Audrey upon her return.

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          2. Audrey Stevenson

            I am finally managing to respond to this (sorry for the super-long delay!). I can say that something similar to this has been planned since we launched our first set of missions; in this case I’m talking about a badge to recognize the achievement of having your content featured on the SCN homepage. Stay tuned, because the hour draws near when the plan becomes reality… (for the literal types among you: no, I don’t mean within the next 24 hours, but soon…ish)  πŸ™‚

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  2. Susan Keohan

    Hi Marilyn,

    Thanks for bringing this to the forefront (and to Fred Verheul too, of course).

    It used to be that SCN was my morning paper.  Just two short years ago, I made this.

    Now, it’s not.

    I may check my communications feed, but I no longer peruse the blog feed looking for educational content, or community content, or just plain rants.  I don’t even check to see posts by some of my favorite bloggers – which means I am missing a lot of content.

    I don’t have the time or the temperament to scroll through page after page of content that is, to me at least, meaningless.

    So now I consume most SCN information via Twitter (Thanks, Tweeps!) – if someone I am following comments on a blog they saw in SCN, then I head on over.  And while I am there, if I see something interesting, I’ll tweet that.

    That leaves a *lot* of gaps between what I could be reading and interacting on, and what I AM reading and interacting on.

    And thank you Andy Silvey for pointing me to a new way to consume content, without endless filtering.

    I look forward to listening in on the rest of the discussion.

    Sue

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    1. Marilyn Pratt Post author

      Just revisited your podcast, Susan Keohan  . While its sad to hear that SCN is no longer your morning paper, it is interesting to note how you do consume: Twitter.

      I’d love to hear from others about how they consume or prefer to consume or barriers to consumption of content.

      Thanks, Sue!

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      1. Steve Rumsby

        I find SCN content one of two ways. Primarily I use the Activity stream to see content from people and spaces I choose to follow. That’s getting a little busy for me now and I need to spring clean some of my follows.

        I also use the RSS feed of “all blogs” so that I see every blog posted across all spaces. That helps me to see stuff in spaces I wouldn’t normally look at. But also means I see all the marketing posts…

        I very rarely look at the SCN home page or the space overview pages.

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          1. Julie Plummer

            Yes, I agree with Steve! And Sue.

            DOwnsides are: I miss lots of good stuff AND my Activity stream is too crowded :-(.

            UPdate: plus I wasn’t aware of your blogazine Andy Silvey. Will add it to my To-Read list.

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  3. Stephen Johannes

    Although I can still find learning content in a “space” where I want to look, what I feel is missing is the ability to cross-learn new topics.  I feel that some of the noise drowns out the global blog feed, which means I’m less likely to see something new from a learning perspective that could teach or influence my knowledge and/or activities.

    In terms of my learning style, I’m in deep consumption mode right now.  Part of it is due to the site format changes(it changed my contribution behavior), the other part is recovery mode from “oversharing”/work projects.   The other problem is that I see is since SCN is 10+, there is a lot of already shared knowledge.  It’s challenging to create new contributions in older areas where they dont’ repeat existing content. 

    Take care,

    Stephen

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  4. Ludek Uher

    I agree with Andy.

    E.g.;

    500 Spaces leads to confusion

    (I don’t have a solution, but we should be thinking about this)

    A ship without a direction and destination will only go around in circles

    …there is a lot of marketing noise.

    (My concern here is that without a direction, other forces will take over (OK, on a silver platter: Marketing and Sales). And I think I am already seeing this with Lumira. Nature abhors vacuum and the marketing / sales pressures this product exerts are huge…)

    As for how I consume information; communication feed and twitter. To ad to this, we should make it much simpler for customers to choose how they want to follow SCN Spaces; Twitter, RSS, You Tube, what ever. But at the same time, the information must remain highly targeted to the user. E.g.; if they are using Lumira, presumably they are on SCN to find technical information on Lumira. Not Netweaver, not ABAP, not marketing…

    Bit of my own “stuff”:

    I believe that these days, pretty well anything sent “out there” can be thought of as “social media”. But I see a certain level of disconnect between Knowledge Management and SCN when considering the stated purpose of the community:

    • Knowledge exchange
    • Open Education
    • Open Learning
    • Candid Feedback (accessment)

    E.g.;

    1) Wikis are still the ugly duckling of SCN. We really do need to figure out what to do with this (see (3) below).

    2) Quality of authored content (blogs, Jive Documents) is low.

    3) There is a lot of confusion on when to create a wiki, blog, Jive doc (I know there is a blog that explains this, but who reads that, right?).

    4) As long as we gate keep / make secret large parts of the technical knowledge acquired by SAP, we are going contra to being social. Specifically, in my tiny universe, I am taking about KBAs – not Notes for enterprise products (e.g.; BI Platform, CR for Enterprise, etc., etc.)

    5) Do a search on SCN and one of the “Asset Types” is “Support Notes”. SCN does not show any “Support Notes”, rather SCN shows KBAs – for some products…(see (4) above.

    I’m beating an old drum I know, but well, maybe I like the sound LOL.

    In all of this I may come across as anti marketing / sales. I’m not. After all my job to a large degree depends on good marketing and sales, but we need balance and we do need to add a rudder to the ship.

    Someone once said that feedback without suggested solutions is a negative feedback. I hope this is not taken as such. Just spilling my guts…

    – Ludek

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    1. Marilyn Pratt Post author

      Hi Ludek,

      Thank you for your detailed comments and feedback.  It is wonderful that you,Ludek Uher  as an employee of SAP, are also candid and outspoken, and feel comfortable doing this here on SCN.  I see that as one of our core SCN values: giving a place for “real” discourse (as long as it remains civil and doesn’t descend to personal blaming or shaming).  And it is my stated goal to make sure voices like yours are amplified.

      And you’ve touched on many of the “warts” that mar the face of this environment.

      And we will need to keep “beating the drum” even if it has “old skin” to make sure the music is heard (or perhaps to create a tempo shift) so no worries about raising these themes again and yet again.  Many of us return to our favored topics here and that’s what makes this a community of passionate and diverse voices.

      I’d like to respond to what you wrote about “stated purpose of the community” as it isn’t a sanctioned state but rather my own wishful thinking.

      I agree that there exists a certain disconnect between a learning environment and knowledge management and our present “state of community” on SCN.  That’s one of the reasons I chose to write this blog.  It is a provocation invitation to see that disconnect addressed with a clearer mission statement that is supported, accepted and internalized by those responsible for this web domain. It would also be awesome to speak in One Voice around why this community is more than “just another vendor site”.

      As you can guess, I am pretty passionate about this topic but I’m trying hard not to lead or guide (too much).  I want to be listening and give a platform for others to inform.  I’ll be judicious about responding here but I couldn’t resist recognizing your contributions and caring.

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  5. Graham Robinson

    Hi Marilyn,

    a very valuable discussion – and one that should be a permanent thread somewhere. You also know how dangerous it is to ask me for feedback. 😏

    You commented that…

    I personally believe that the raison de etre (the “reason for being”) of this website and community should be:

    • Knowledge exchange
    • Open Education
    • Open Learning
    • Candid Feedback (assessment)

    For me this view, if accepted by all, excludes most of the annoying “background noise” posts that are the primary cause of dissatisfaction amongst the SCN community.

    I, like Sue, spend far less time using SCN compared with two years ago in great part because I have yet to find an effective way to filter out this background noise so that I can quickly scan content that I find valuable.

    I would like to socialise two suggestions that I think could accelerate the “time to value” of all content on SCN.

    The first suggestion is to have an effective and highly visible Wiki. This Wiki would be the repository of all the “what is this?” and “how do I do this?” type content categorised so it can be easily found. (I know we have a Wiki already – I refer you back to the phrase “effective and highly visible”.)

    My second suggestion is to create a formal role of SCN curator to manage the content. Importantly this role is not a moderator – that is something different. It is also not a part time, volunteer job.

    The curators, amongst other things, could identify valuable content in forums and blogs that should be included in the Wiki. They could remove old content that is no longer appropriate. They could be the editors of the Wiki content. They could move mis-categorised content into a more appropriate place, etc.

    Curation, for me, is analogous with gardening. It is 5% creation and 95% ongoing maintenance.

    Cheers

    Graham Robbo

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    1. Susan Keohan

      Hi Graham,

      If I read you right, you are suggesting that the Wiki could potentially eliminate many of the basic questions that are created ad infinitum?  That would be amazing.  That could potentially eliminate hundreds of #notablogs but also thousands and thousands of discussion threads which add absolutely zero value but also subtract value from visiting SCN.

      Along those lines, I’d propose a follow-on…. That all threads which are unanswered after nnn days will not show up in generic searches.  They could still show up in discussion spaces (so maybe someone will actually answer them) But in my recent experimentation with XML, I cannot count the number of useless paths I have wandered down.  This is time-consuming and frustrating. 

      Of course, this also brings me to ‘Search’.  The ability (from within SCN) of seeing which links you have already traveled would be hugely helpful.  So many people (and now, myself included) will use Google searches, because Google does indeed track where you have been. 

      As for curation, I would heartily second this idea.  It’s a job I definitely wouldn’t want, but I think it’s necessary.

      Marilyn, can you please answer:  What is the motivation for all the marketing blogs (besides the obvious) – are SAP employees rated in any way if they produce a blog on SCN?  I suppose the answer will vary wildly, but it’s also important to understand why these blogs are being published. 

      Regards,

      Sue

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      1. Stephen Johannes

        I think Graham might be looking for something like this:

        http://wiki.scn.sap.com/wiki/display/CRM/Customer+Relationship+Management?original_fqdn=wiki.sdn.sap.com

        It doesn’t eliminate all the basic questions, but has curation(by SAP Product management/community).   I can’t claim credit for this effort, but I can say that I encouraged this for the CRM community and at one point was curating content from the forums into the wiki.  My last curation effort ended up as a book πŸ˜‰ .

        Take care,

        Stephen

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      2. Marilyn Pratt Post author

        I wish I could give a simple answer to the motivations behind these kind of “undesireable” blogs but I don’t think there is any one reason.

        I imagine that each author producing content thinks that they are providing some kind of service or fulfilling some kind of need.  There is obviously a great need for blogging educaiton.  I believe Derek Klobucher is providing that internally with success.  More to come from Derek hopefully in the near future.

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        1. Susan Keohan

          Hi Marilyn,

          What I meant was, do we know if an SAP employee’s performance  review is in any way tied to how much they blog on SCN.  But I suspect that answer will be very hard (impossible) to ferret out.

          At any rate, this is going to be a great discussion, and hopefully some great ideas come out of it. (Some already have!)

          Cheers,
          Sue

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          1. Derek Klobucher

            Yes, Marilyn, a key point that I address in my blogging workshop is the common pitfall of marketing writing. Blogs are rarely an appropriate venue for this type of content.

            To your point, Sue, there are SCN contributors who only publish content here because it’s a KPI for them. And they rely on marketing-style writing simply because they don’t know any better.

            It’s one of the reasons that I developed my blogging workshop. I hope we can reach as many SCN bloggers as possible with it!

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            1. Steve Rumsby

              there are SCN contributors who only publish content here because it’s a KPI for them.


              And that is a problem. Whether they write marketing or not, publishing SCN blog posts because they have to is just wrong, surely? That’s just not the ethos of SCN. Worse, it shows what some people within SAP (those that set such KPIs in the first place) think of SCN.


              Steve.

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              1. Andy Silvey

                And this comes back to my point that SAP ag needs to take a look at itself, internally and decide, what does SAP ag want from the SAP Community Network, today, tomorrow, next year, two years time, five years time.

                Make a plan supporting a vision and lead.

                The 350 Moderators on the SCN, the 125 Mentors, the thousands of committed community members will support the SCN Leadership Team to achieve the goal.

                Good weekend all,

                Andy.

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                1. Fred Verheul

                  Andy Silvey wrote:

                  The 350 Moderators on the SCN, the 125 Mentors, the thousands of committed community members will support the SCN Leadership Team to achieve the goal.

                  Good weekend all,

                  Andy.

                  Well, for me personally that very much depends on the outcome of that vision-exercise. If SAP supports the idea of a community site and acts accordingly (by cutting down on marketing type blog posts, wrong KPIs and promoting a world-class wiki), I’ll be happy to support this. If SAP keeps seeing SCN as just another channel to promote their stuff to, I’m not sure I want to be (an active) part of it.

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                  1. Joao Sousa

                    If SAP keeps seeing SCN as just another channel to promote their stuff to, I’m not sure I want to be (an active) part of it.

                    My feelings exactly.

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                  2. Jelena Perfiljeva

                    It’s not just marketing. I’ve seen some new SCN members making comments like “we bought SAP and were told that SCN would be at our disposal” and it seems that SCN is being misrepresented by someone (SAP sales most likely) as an extension of SAP Help Desk.

                    By the way, if you try to look at the SCN home page as a person who is new to both SCN and SAP, would you be able to understand what this web site / community is all about? I don’t think so. Not to mention that it doesn’t seem to acknowledge anywhere that in big part the site is supported by the volunteer members who are not SAP employees who spend their personal time to be here.

                    Then we’re surprised that people don’t take time to read ROE (is there any way to make ‘Getting Started’ link smaller and hide it better?) or come to SCN feeling entitled to the immediate free consulting services. And then another surprise when such members are not felt welcome because clearly the experienced members have a different understanding of what SCN is. Until we get everyone on the same page on this, there will be “challenges”. And that takes us back to Andy’s point – what that page is?

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                    1. Joao Sousa

                      I’ve seen some new SCN members making comments like “we bought SAP and were told that SCN would be at our disposal” and it seems that SCN is being misrepresented by someone (SAP sales most likely) as an extension of SAP Help Desk.

                      Well, then they should get the clear cut answer: “They lied.”

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    2. Marilyn Pratt Post author

      Hi Graham and thanks for dropping by AND for your most welcome opinions.

      There are many discussions internally about the future of the wiki.  Integration into the environment is a technical issue but whether or not they are a valuable vehicle is another story entirely.

      You raise an important point.

      Historically Mark Finnern pushed for a wiki (back in the day) and I remember too that Craig Cmehil and Mario Herger were very vocal about using the wiki for FAQs and to consolidate content and reduce redundancy.  Again a mostly manual process of curating, as you suggest.  And with the vast amount of content and varied topics one could imagine the need for many, many curators.

      Today we have Moshe Naveh as our “technical” wikimaster, but you are suggesting a much broader scope of editorial engagement with the wiki.  I realize that for some topics in the Wiki, such commitment and engagement already exists, but it certainly isn’t normalized or standardized behavior.

      I wonder if the wiki is a robust enough vehicle for such “digests” of knowledge and whether they are being used enough to justify the huge effort to curate them.

      If you look to the wiki as it is today, there is no existing visible way to connect wiki authorship with the profile page of the SCN authors. And while there is a back-end resolving of the wiki members and linking to SCN members. Here is my Marilyn Pratt wiki user and here is my Marilyn Pratt wiki profile and my SCN user profile: The specified item was not found. .

      Pretty confusing, no? And the Space Directory of the Wiki does not have a one-2-one correlation with the SCN topic spaces.

      So there would be a tremendous amount of work to be done.  I’m sure Moshe Naveh can chime in here.

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    3. Chris Paine

      Guess how I got here? noticed a tweet that Robbo posted, and here I am!

      {“rant”: “Why can’t we embedded tweets in SCN, it’s not like almost _every_ other blogging platform out there allows it? – btw have been told that <rant></rant> is sooo passé and been advised to get with it and go JSON”}

      Other than twitter links I’d like to point out a way that I consume SCN currently. I get emails of all the content in the SAP HCP space and I follow a few specific individuals and get emails whenever they post something.

      Most of it just ends up in the unread section of my email – inbox 0 is just not going to happen for me, however it has lead me to a few gems in the past.

      I also have to admit to posting first on my own blog, and then cross-posting on SCN very often. Why? There is the editor and other technical reasons, but I feel that much of the stuff I like to post about doesn’t have a place on SCN and it’s others who convince me to post on SCN. Now perhaps I wrong about this, but to me SCN should be about content and information directly relating to SAP implementations, where I’ve just used SAP as a jumping point to a post about more general points, I don’t think it belongs here. For example, a rant about performance management processes. Perhaps it does belong here, but whilst I might find some of these loosely connected posts interesting, they certainly don’t help if I were to do a search of performance management processes (as relating to SAP implementation details) and one of my rants pops up in the search.

      Likewise, posts about what are the benefits of cloud computing – whilst very helpful to explain the terms to the uninitiated, would, to me, be better outside of SCN. Perhaps I’m wrong – I often am – but if I were to do a search specifically on SCN – that’s not the content I’m looking for.

      Perhaps the danger of “social” is that people like to talk about trivial and ephemeral stuff, as well as the more detailed and referenceable content. The more SCN goes down the path of social connectivity the more we will perhaps need to separate out that “noise” from the content. I wouldn’t, for example, ever search LinkedIn for content, but I probably visit blog posts posted (or at least referenced) on the site several times a week. SCN is, to me, heading a little in that direction.

      Anyway, just my thoughts from a beautiful morning in Dubai airport lounge – Australia/World, look out I’m coming home to the land of reliable internet access!

      Cheers,

      Chris

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          1. Andy Silvey

            Hi Tammy,

            <OffTopic>

            do you by any chance know the answer to this one, how do they do it… when some people create a blog, they do something so that when somebody else reads that blog, and the reader clicks the Tweet button, somehow the blog author’s Twitter User is included in the Tweet.

            Do you by any chance know how they do that.

            </OffTopic>

            Thanks, best regards and nice weekend,

            Andy.

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                1. Steve Rumsby

                  I don’t see it on your profile, and it certainly doesn’t seem to work. I would expect it to work on existing blogs, not just new ones, if it is done right.

                  Steve.

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                  1. Andy Silvey

                    Hi Steve,

                    I added it as Instant Messaging Type and Instant Messaging Name, that’s where I saw yours.

                    Or should it be somewhere else πŸ˜•

                    Thanks,

                    Andy.

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                      1. Andy Silvey

                        thanks Steve, I owe you a beer, the majority of my well maintained bio was invisible to the world and I didn’t know.

                        Thanks to your input I’ve corrected my privacy settings and have made everything visible (which I thought it was anyway) and now the Tweeting works nicely.

                        Have a great weekend,

                        Andy.

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      1. Marilyn Pratt Post author

        Hi Chris,

        So thanks to your airport waiting time you throw us a {JSON}. Of course your witty developer rant language constructs led me to do some further readings…..

        How JSON Is Superior To XML

        Like JSON vs XML we do seem to be looking for simplicity and openness here so a very apt {rant} indeed …..or just some wecome thoughts from your side of the world.

        I imagine that when the quality of content is critiqued most of us look to our own topics and contributions to see if they “meet muster”.  One thing that strikes me personally about your comments is that if more generic topics are “off topic” for SCN, I probably should take my own marbles and go home (no play here).  My topics and themes like inclusion, design thinking, empathy, retrospectives, failure are probably too general to be considered “in scope” by your definition.  Or perhaps you properly challenge me and others of us (let’s say in Business Trends) to think long and hard about how we connect more generic topics to the specificity of our SAP environment.

        In fact even in a topic like Your mission, should you decide to accept it… should be linked to software and products.  Susan Keohan and Nic Smith and I are looking to do just that by the way and make a mission around creating some useful Data Visualization dashboards to help Doctors Without Borders and take that charity activity and make it relevant here.

        Do I understand you correctly? The more we make our passions connect to what matters to SAP Professionals the more successul we might be?  Thanks again Chris Paine!

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        1. Joao Sousa

          My topics and themes like inclusion, design thinking, empathy, retrospectives, failure are probably too general to be considered “in scope” by your definition.  Or perhaps you properly challenge me and others of us (let’s say in Business Trends) to think long and hard about how we connect more generic topics to the specificity of our SAP environment.

          I don’t think it really needs to be about SAP software, but it should at least be related to our work as SAP consultants, or our behavior/engagement in SCN.

          Like you say, there should at least be a conscious effort to relate the topics to either software or our daily work as SAP consultants. But where do we draw the line? Is a management blog appropriate for SCN? We do management daily. In these less technical subjects I believe it’s all about the quality, commitment and the mindset behind the blog, which although subjective can (at least in my opinion) be reasonably determined after reading it.

          For example, Jocelyn Dart’s blog From Developer to Solution Architect: Essential skills for climbing the IT professional ladder, has little to do with SAP, it’s all about management and career, but it’s so comprehensive and valuable that there is little question it should be in SCN. With this title it could easily be fluff, but after reading it … clearly not πŸ™‚ .

          Bottom line, I believe the blogs do need curation, I (and everyone) should be given pointers if the content is less appropriate, but of course there is always that annoying little problem… how do you define appropriate, if SCN’s official purpose is unclear.

          PS: Oh, and there should be a gamification badge for “staring” content. It’s amazing that blogs with 1000 views have almost no review…. it hurts content quality because SCN can’t even use that to determine quality.

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          1. Marilyn Pratt Post author

            Enjoyed reading that you found Jocelyn Dart ‘s blog From Developer to Solution Architect: Essential skills for climbing the IT professional ladder to be such high quality.  I would strongly agree and even dare say that it was in small part an outcome of some passionate discussions we had about skills for developers (we met at the offices in Sydney and then at a conference in Melbourne).  Graham Robinson was also instrrumental in driving that quality conversation.  So perhaps the excellent quality that was the product of Jocelyn’s vast experience in the field and also answering  a need posed by some of the developers.

            In fact I ran a small discussion on the topic and we got some valuable input.

            /wp-content/uploads/2014/08/upskilling_523526.jpg

            There has been  a great deal of “push back” on blogs that are written by employees describing customer experiences.   I wonder if that happens when readers feel that the writing is telling someone else’s story.

            Christine Donato has suffered such push back of late although she is an excellent writer and is highlighting authentic stories.  I imagine she can’t always find customers that have the skill to tell their own stories first hand.  But it would be good to find the path to guiding good writers such as she is in a way that becomes more palatable to our audience. I hope I don’t embarass her here because she (Christine) has been very cooperative and it must be very frustrating to find that contents she spends a great deal of time developing and producing are rejected.  So I’m sure she would love to hear more about why (for example) Jocelyn’s content gets a pass and hers triggers moderation….

            In fact doing such clarification would benefit both sides greatly so I’m shouting out to her here and to Derek Klobucher as well who works with the employee community on improving blog writing skills.

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            1. Joao Sousa

              I’ll check Christine’s blogs more deeply and get back to you. After a brief look at her content, I think the first problem is the titles of the blogs. I haven’t even read them, and they feel to me like something I would read in Forbes (which is not good, when my frame of mind is SCN).

              I believe it has something to do with the titles being catchy, too well written if you will. Compare this to Jocelyn’s title.  From Developer to Solution Architect: Essential skills for climbing the IT professional ladder, it’s kind of boring, it’s professional oriented. You don’t get a feeling she is wanting for clicks. Christine’s titles say “Click me”.

              I’ll read the content more deeply so I can comment, but I just wanted to say this, since I go into them feeling suspicious, and I haven’t even read one word of the content.

              Would be helpful to know if other people feel the same thing.

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              1. Chris Paine

                Fwiw I do not feel the same way. To see Christine’s latest post disappear from the site because it was too professional was a great disappointment.

                Chris

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                1. Joao Sousa

                  I didn’t get to the content yet. πŸ™‚ I’m just illustrating my train of thought which can be accepted or rejected as feedback. Either way I hope I’m not being perceived as “evil”, I could say nothing and keep pushing the moderator button (actually I never did it on her blogs) but I think it helps being honest.

                  It would help if I could see that deleted blog. πŸ™

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            2. Fred Verheul

              Being one of the people who have in the past ‘alerted the moderators’ on Christine Donato‘s blog posts, I think it’s up to me to (try to) provide some clarity.

              First of all (addressing the comments by Chris Paine and Joao Sousa) her latest blog post hasn’t disappeared at all AFAIK: Sage Health Solutions Grows from Start-Up to Huge Success . It has disappeared though from another space into which she inadvertently had cross-posted, which violates the The SCN Rules of Engagement. Which is why I alerted the moderators…

              Secondly: my alerts are never personal (please take my word for that, Christine) but only in the best interest of SCN (in my skewed opinion obviously).

              On to the why: there are a few things that add up here:

              • These articles/blog posts are feel like marketing to me. Because they don’t explain (to the professional audience that we are here on SCN) how certain SAP solutions have helped customers but just state this as a fact. As has been said by others: if it’s true, and those customers are as happy about these solutions as is suggested by the articles, then I’d prefer to hear it directly from them, not from SAP. And as I have stated in the past: push marketing content doesn’t belong on a community site.
              • SAP employees like Christine are, as far as I know, getting paid to write these kind of articles (part of the job). Which makes the articles automatically less authentic than (to stick with the excellent example provided by Joao) Jocelyn Dart‘s blog post which she’s clearly written not as part of her day job, but because she genuinely wanted to share good stuff with the community (didn’t you Jocelyn? πŸ™‚ ). I can’t help it, but on a community platform I get suspicious when professional writers write this kind of stuff, especially when these articles then continue to be published also on http://saphana.com or on Forbes, which is clearly a marketing channel for SAP. Again: no offense Christine, it’s just how I feel about it.

              This last point may give the impression that Christine would better quit writing articles on SCN, but that’s not my point or goal. Not at all. The point is: since she’s doing it not out of personal interest/passion/enthusiasm (well, maybe, but we can’t tell), but ‘just’ because she gets paid to do so, she’s already at a disadvantage compared to ‘ordinary’ community members, sacrificing their lunch break (in my case) to add something valuable. Within the context of the community platform that SCN is of course!

              So I would like to make a suggestion for future articles: it would be much more authentic/convincing if Christine would do interviews with these customers, and then publish these interviews on SCN. That way we would get to hear the customer voice, which would (as long as the text isn’t too much polished up afterwards) give a much more authentic impression, and still Christine (and her colleagues) get to write their content for SCN. That style might not fit Forbes, but these two platforms are very different anyway, so in my opinion there’s no reason to try to write content that fits both. Better address both platforms separately, even if you’re communicating the same success story.

              I hope this helps clarify matters, and I’m more than happy to elaborate (even) more if needed.

              Finally: for what it’s worth, I’m very happy with the whole discussion here. Thanks everyone who’s voiced his/her opinion!

              Fred

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              1. Chris Paine

                Hi Fred,

                This was the post I was referring to.The specified item was not found.

                I’m not sure I subscribe to the notion that more professional blogs don’t have a place on the site. Although I do understand there may be a certain “not my team” resentment that amateurs may feel towards professionals.

                All I can say is inclusiveness, diversity seem to have gone AWOL. Perhaps SCN shouldn’t attempt to be diverse?

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                1. Joao Sousa

                  In that particular situation, I feel it is clearly a Forbes article. Why repost the content?

                  If I’m after this sort of content I’m already subscribing to Forbes on rss or Flipboard, it will just annoy me to see the content again.

                  And do you feel that blog post tries to engage the community in any way? I don’t. A good blog engages, has comments, most of these blog have zero comments.

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                  1. Chris Paine

                    Hi Joao,

                    A good blog engages, has comments,

                    Have to agree that for me, this is also the case! I love engaging conversations. However, a well written piece about how a customer is doing really well with a solution I’m trying to sell to one of my clients, is also really useful for me. I may not comment on it (on SCN), clearly the piece has an audience beyond the SCN world, but it does have value for me. Being able to find most SAP related content on SCN rather than having to trawl Forbes is a plus when looking for this kind of material.

                    However, check out my comment You Can’t Be Listening When You Are Talking about the issues I have with the post being discussed and many other non-technically/solution focused discussions. I certainly don’t have the answers, but perhaps attempting to provide some helps illustrate the problem more clearly.

                    Cheers,

                    Chris

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                2. Fred Verheul

                  OK, thanks Chris. I must have missed that post (well, I’ve probably skipped it because of the title). While I’m not an HCM expert like you, I can hardly believe something as broken as performance reviews can be fixed by just implementing some piece of software, so for me this smells very much like marketing again. Sorry, I can’t help it…

                  By the way: the post is available on the site, so I’m not sure what you meant by ‘disappear’. (Unless the post has been hidden for a while due to multiple alerts, not mine in this case πŸ™‚ ).

                  As for amateurs vs professionals: it shouldn’t make a difference who’s writing (and there’s a lot of professionally written content on SCN that’s outstanding). As soon as it becomes more marketing like though, the ‘professional’ stereotype won’t help their cause IMO.

                  As for diversity and inclusion: SCN is very diverse already (and the better for it), but so far a common trait of most of the members seems to be that they’re professionals working with SAP each day. So whoever writes content for SCN should target that audience primarily, or put a disclaimer on top, like: “marketing stuff, meant for prospects only”. Just kidding of course.

                  At risk of repeating myself once more: SCN is the SAP community platform, and that implies a certain focus, and consequently excludes a certain amount of diversity. It isn’t meant for everyone that can just spell S A P, just as it’s not meant for Oracle professionals (to name just one random competitor).

                  Diversity and inclusion are good, but focus (don’t try to be everything to everyone) is also good. Now we only need to strike the right balance πŸ™‚ .

                  Just my 2ct

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                  1. Chris Paine

                    > Diversity is great, just as long as you’re like us 😈 , a “professional working with SAP each day”

                    Are the people who are trying to promote SAP’s solutions from within SAP really not part of the SAP community? I’d argue that they are. They certainly are professionals working with SAP each day!

                    One would have to argue that you(and I) are also not the target audience for this content. If you look at the statistics of visitors to SCN (I remember seeing a breakdown of active vs inactive vs lurker vs one off visitor, but can’t find reference) you are part of a very small vocal minority. Is it unimaginable that the vast majority of the visitors to SCN only visit very occasionally, and only stay if they see something that catches their attention? Actually I think it’s quite believable, and more well written content will help them stay.

                    Now I’m going to post another reply that will be quite divisive, I’ll be interested in your feedback πŸ™‚

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                    1. Joao Sousa

                      If you look at the statistics of visitors to SCN (I remember seeing a breakdown of active vs inactive vs lurker vs one off visitor, but can’t find reference) you are part of a very small vocal minority.

                      I’m pretty sure that’s the reality, that we are the vocal minority. Now I’m going to be blunt, and this is not directed at you because I’m pretty sure you weren’t trying to imply the vocal minority was unimportant.

                      In professional generated content sites, people generally refer to the vocal minority in the forums as the ones complaining that the content isn’t for them, that the content sucks. Calling them the “vocal minority” usually implies “Go somewhere else, the others are perfectly fine with the site as it is”.

                      In a community site, where most of the content is generated by this vocal minority, you better damn well cater to the vocal minority, because they are the ones that are keeping your OSS bill way lower that he could be if it weren’t for these people that spend their free time helping SAP’s customers.

                      I’m not saying that marketing content has no place here, but keep it one place (SAP Business Trends for example), admit that it is marketing (it’s the first step), and gives us a way to ignore it.

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              2. Joao Sousa

                When I mentioned Forbes I didn’t know the articles was also posted there :). But I completely agree when you say that trying to post the same content in the two sites is misguided.

                Some days ago I was going to write a blog called “Everything has a Con, everything!”. I didn’t write it because it had too little content but to sum it up: any authentic customer story has “lessons learned”, something that went wrong. If everything was marvelous:

                – It doesn’t feel authentic and more like marketing. Only in marketing stories everything is marvelous.

                – We don’t learn as much. We learn from other peoples mistakes, mistakes make posts more interesting to professional consultants.

                And I don’t want this to feel personal but it’s just not the same to hear first hand experience vs professional third party reporting.

                Try to imagine Jocelyn’s blog written by Christine. It would feel hollow, because Christine didn’t make the journey that Jocelyn did. I would probably disregard the blog as inspirational fluff, since Christine would have had no actual experience. She doesn’t have a chance because she doesn’t share “our” (professional consultants) stories.

                I think your suggestion is great. Laurie Cetin made the member of the month interviews, Christine could produce something similar from a customers perspective.

                Rule of thumb: this is a community site so a blog’s first priority should be to engage that community. Cross posting to Forbes is completely against this mantra.

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            3. Steve Rumsby

              Fred got in ahead of me, but since I’ve also hit the “alert” button on some of these posts I’ll add my 2p. I agree with most of what Fred said, but my opinion is a little stronger. Most of my problems with these posts (not just Christine’s and not just in one space) stem from this line in the Rules of Engagement:

              Avoid marketing your company’s products and services.

              Customer case studies – “company X implemented SAP product Y and they love it” – are marketing. I don’t come to SCN to be sold to. I have never seen SCN as a marketing platform. For me, one of its attractions is that it isn’t (well, wasn’t) a marketing platform. Maybe that’s just me? Given that, I don’t see that having these pieces re-written, or written by the customer, or in an interview style, makes a significant difference.

              Steve.

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              1. Steffi Warnecke

                Customer case studies – “company X implemented SAP product Y and they love it” – are marketing. I don’t come to SCN to be sold to. I have never seen SCN as a marketing platform. For me, one of its attractions is that it isn’t (well, wasn’t) a marketing platform. Maybe that’s just me? Given that, I don’t see that having these pieces re-written, or written by the customer, or in an interview style, makes a significant difference.

                Steve.

                I have to say, that I don’t mind implementation blogs by customers (or SAP for that matter), as long as they are not “We bought this, we installed it, all went great. Now everything is shiny!”

                If someone would write a blog about how they implemented e.g. IDM, how they planned it, what obstables they had to jump over, things that caused problems and how they fixed them and get the system up and running in the end with a kind of conclusion at the end on how they THOUGHT it would go and what it would provide and the current ACTUAL situation, I would absolutly find that information helpful.

                The same with a blog about an update project of a software we use.

                The problem I have with the “customer stories” is, that there is no real information in there I can use. “X implemented Y and now they are happy.” I bet they are, otherwise the blog about it wouldn’t exist, but HOW did they get there? So others can learn from their experience, if they go through the same project.

                BTW: Loved the blog, Marilyn, and the discussion it spiked. πŸ™‚

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                1. Steve Rumsby

                  Agree 100%. But then those are not customer success stories, but project implementation stories. Those are things we can all learn from, and in my opinion they do belong here. But not in the business trends space but over in the space for the product they talk about.

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                  1. Audrey Stevenson

                    In content creation terms we call them “case studies,” and before I moved from the role of co-curator/editor of the SCN homepage to my current role as community reputation and gamification lead, those were considered gold in my book.

                    I had countless discussions with potential authors who held such implementation experiences and lessons learned in their heads, trying to persuade them to share it here on SCN so I could feature it. I especially urged SAP teams implementing our own software to share their experiences about their projects, with true-life SAP Runs SAP stories (when written with authenticity, almost the Holy Grail). Only very few of those conversations yielded results–often management nervousness blocked the path, despite my urging that the non-100% shiny (a la Steffi Warnecke) would really add much more value than the purely good side of the experience–but whenever they did, those posts had both high views, great engagement in the comments, and lots of likes.

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            4. Jelena Perfiljeva

              Arrgh, you guys all got ahead of me! Missed my chance to rant. Darn EST time zone! πŸ™‚

              I feel we are inclusive enough on SCN, but it’s one thing to embrace people and another – content they create. Everyone could write something more or less popular or informative or relevant, but I don’t think it’s fair to play the inclusion card every time the SCN members respond negatively to your creation. Personally I liked Christine’s Top 5 Wearables blog (which is an actual business trend) but, as others noted, many other blogs (not just hers) suffer from following the same beaten (and ineffective) SAP marketing template that is easily recognizable by the SCN members.

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            5. Derek Klobucher

              There seem to be some misunderstandings at the root of this string. I’ll try to clear up a few.

              A lot of the content in question appears on SAP Business Trends, which is a space within the SCN for high-level content that doesn’t get into the weeds. So one shouldn’t expect content there to get very technical.

              Tim Clark and I are using that space to cultivate Employee Brand Journalism, allowing SAP employees, contractors and interns to tell the company’s story in a journalistic manner. That often means telling other people’s stories, as opposed to their own.

              Unfortunately marketing-style content gets through, but it’s usually from people who don’t know any better. And it’s a fact of life — unless the community wants to require that everyone’s content pass through an censor before publishing.

              The biggest problem — yes, even bigger than offending community members — is that marketing blog posts don’t work. So Tim and I try to catch egregious offenders while also attacking the root of the problem.

              It’s one of the reasons I’ve rolled out blogging training that’s available to all English speakers within SAP. (Thanks for mentioning that earlier, Marilyn.)

              And though SAP Business Trends is a proving ground for content that will eventually syndicate to SAPVoice on Forbes, you shouldn’t see marketing content on the latter venue. Forbes has a strict ban on SAP-centric content there.

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              1. Joao Sousa

                In the case of SAP business trends maybe it does need more moderation because people don’t understand it. I blame myself because I hadn’t read the “about”.

                It says “The place where IT strategy and business value meet is sometimes difficult to navigate. We hope this community space will make the journey easier. Expert opinion and insight from knowledgeable SAP insiders will open doors, connect dots and inspire discussion around emerging business trends.”.

                I posted a blog there, and I’m not a SAP Insider, nor was I trying to open door or connects dots. My blog was directed at what I believe is wrong with SAP cloud strategy, which I do see as a Business Trend so the error wasn’t conscious.

                I think the content is good (or else I wouldn’t have written it), but according to your description and the space description now I see it’s probably not in the right space.

                And there is too much content, content with zero comments, zero likes, few linkedin shares. That’s a sign that something is wrong no? Maybe gems are getting lost in the middle of all this noise no?

                And Christine blog about HCM. A blog titled “People hate performance reviews until..” And then you find the answer is SucessFactors, come on that is marketing. If you say marketing has no room here, this blog should be edited. Change the title, review the content, but nobody (or few) can say with a straight face that SF cures people’s hate for performance reviews.

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                1. Derek Klobucher

                  To your last point, Joao, I agree that letting the reader get halfway through a post before revealing a company plug is pretty sneaky. It’s a practice that I heavily discourage in the blogging training that I conduct.

                  However, editing published content is not an option that Tim and I have at our disposal. Audrey Stevenson made it clear earlier this year that moderators may not edit published content unless there is “an urgent legal need.”

                  So our options are to (1) censor people’s content before they publish it; (2) delete their content after they’ve published it; or (3) ask them nicely to change their content — and hope they comply. I doubt anyone wants the SCN to devolve into the first option, so we make the best of the other two.

                  Now some authors send their content to me for editing before they publish. I’m happy to say that no one who has accepted my edits has suffered from this type of controversy.

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                  1. Joao Sousa

                    I think (3) is just fine. If a blog has problems, people should get the heads up. I’ve come across two situations.

                    • I’ve had Jurgen send me a DM for a MM forum blog, with tips about how I could make the blog better, and I basically complied because he was right;
                    • I’ve had a blog removed because of the content, but they gave me a chance to republish after I had changed the content to adhere to the guidelines (or rather to general community etiquette) . I did, and today it reached the front page of SCN.

                    I believe moderators play an important job, and unless people are a bit obtuse they will follow their advice.

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        2. Chris Paine

          Hello Marilyn,

          thank you for your comments! as you can see from the posts above I’m actually generally more supportive of a wider range of content than not. If we are to truly consider this to be the SAP Community Network then I believe we should embrace all types of content. I’ll still continue to post outside of SCN in some cases, but that’s because I believe the content deserves a less SAP related audience – e.g. http://www.wombling.com/random/building-a-card-robot/ which went on to be found by a primary school teacher in the UK and printed out for her class.

          I get a lot out of the less technical posts, I also get good value out of the so-called “marketing” posts. Even the posts about “what is cloud computing” that I lamented about, I appreciate. I love the posts on soft-skills and how to improve. All of it is good content and I like it lots. Why? Because all the content I might need has been aggregated for me in one place. I hardly need to consider what the outside world might be thinking about UI design or … If I were to consume SCN by dipping into it and link hopping and reading through the featured content, this would be great.

          However, and I’ll be divisive here (as promised Fred) this is not how I consume SCN. I follow links from external sources – the end point just happens in many cases to be SCN. I follow email notifications about content that may be appropriate for me. I take recommendations from people I trust. I do actually visit other sites to learn about UI/UX and often wish some SAP people were posting there.

          For none of those points does it matter that the content is actually on SCN. It helps me filter the links, it is true! And I can “follow” what people I respect are posting. As I’m likely to be reading something that may at least have a vague connection to SAP if it’s been posted on SCN – but were it posted elsewhere, would I not read it? I think in many/most cases I would.

          But this is not the only way I consume SCN. Very often I will be stuck on a problem. I’ll do a search on Google.

          google search for scn.PNG

          ( image:example of search on perhaps one of the most useless error messages in an SAP ECC system.)

          Note how only the first 5 results that exist in SCN appear in my search? What this means is that unless I have been very specific, very technical,  in my search query, then there is a reasonable possibility that one of those 5 is going to be about something that is not relevant. The more technically irrelevant content that gets published on SCN, the greater the probability I’m going to find more of those links pointing to stuff that doesn’t matter to me.

          I have a solution? – SDN not SCN. If people, and from many of the comments here I’m starting to get a feel, want to be surrounded and consume articles written by people like themselves, with no marketing, no outside views. Then revert to SDN, create an area that is free from all things non-technical, don’t let anyone post unless the topic is a detailed description of the solution (including the bad points!) Do not allow ideas/example from outside SAP ecosystem. Organise this area much more like stackoverflow – allow downvoting of bad content – all content should be technically based so it should be easier to sort out what is bad/wrong from what is right. Work with Google to ensure search results feature the “right” answers to questions. Give people points for identifying and killing off duplicate questions. Be more authoritarian and less inclusive. Developers and solution builders yea! – sales people boo!

          Create another area – called, say, SCN that is more about the community, feature articles from the sister network that are worthy, allow posting by anyone and on any topic, do not have downvoting – encourage empathy and diversity of thought. Publish articles about non-SAP specific topics (like what is good UI/UX, how does design thinking help anyway?) Have “click-bait” for the occasional visitor lured to the site by the non SAP specific content who might just learn that SAP tools might help them with their job.  Promote this as an example of divergent thinking. Ensure that this all appears in a different site when I search on Google.

          Now all this is a bit(a lot) tongue-in-cheek. However, I think it does point out some current issues that I have with the site as it stands. I consume it for two different purposes and I think that these are at odds with each other (I wish they weren’t as I certainly find value with your marbles πŸ˜‰ ) But at the moment, I see a difficulty for the two areas/two reasons to consume the site to co-exist under the same set of rules.

          Cheers,

          Chris

          and btw people it’s Chris Paine not Chris Paine yes both me, but two different email addresses and sets of badges – SAP IdP an multiple S numbers, gotta love it!

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          1. Joao Sousa

            I have a solution? – SDN not SCN. If people, and from many of the comments here I’m starting to get a feel, want to be surrounded and consume articles written by people like themselves, with no marketing, no outside views. Then revert to SDN, create an area that is free from all things non-technical, don’t let anyone post unless the topic is a detailed description of the solution (including the bad points!)

            I think you are misrepresenting a bit what our opinion is, especially what I placed in “bold”. Using “no outside views” makes us seem narrow-minded. It’s not divisive, it’s just wrong.

            Had you just included the “no marketing”, I would say you are right, and you don’t need to create two SCNs, just give us a tool to filter the marketing content (first you have to admit what it is). For example the home page could be the default for new users, but let us change it please, it would go along way in order to make the marketing blogs invisible to the people that don’t care about the them. Right now the only “space” I actively look at for good content is “Top Liked”.

            What I don’t appreciate is being labeled as someone who does not care about “outside views” just because (like Fred) I have a hard time believing that people hated Performance Reviews until….. SuccessFactor! You like her blog, fine, I don’t. Just don’t infer that I’m closed to “outside views” because of it.

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            1. Chris Paine

              Sorry if offence was caused Joao, it was not intended πŸ™ – as I mentioned after that point

              Now all this is a bit(a lot) tongue-in-cheek.

              I was more trying to illustrate and perhaps over-exaggerate the “solution” (which it isn’t – I included the question mark after the “I have a solution?” on purpose ) to make people realise that there are two quite different things happening in SCN, one is technical content, and one is community (which I believe includes so called marketing content) and allowing these to co-exist is a tricky thing.

              If anyone agreed with my “solution” I’d be quite shocked πŸ˜€ .

              Cheers,

              Chris

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              1. Joao Sousa

                No hard feelings πŸ˜‰ I kinda agree with you, I just think it could be achieved with more powerful filters instead of two communities.

                Not all SAP Business Trends content is marketing, and maybe if the title on Christine’s blog post wasn’t so …. “thought provocative” I would have been willing to give it a try.

                Asking me to believe that SuccessFactors had ended the hate of performance reviews … there is a thing called “suspension of disbelief” and she stretched it too far. As my very first post pointed out, the titles go a long away towards the “refusal” of her content.

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              2. Joao Sousa

                Look at this example: 4 Ways the Digital Economy is Circular

                • Check #1 – Is this related to SAP in any way? No I read it twice to check (ok, besides the fact he is a SAP employee).
                • Check #2 – Does the writer engage the SCN community? No, he has made 3 posts since 2012. Not a single comment.

                It isn’t really a matter of being open minded, what I don’t want is SCN to become a dumping ground for this type of arbitrary content (unless I have powerful filter so that I never see it).

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                1. Fred Verheul

                  I think your example should’ve been posted in the Sustainability Space (if there still is one), and would be very appropriate there. FYI: I only think this after having participated in the openSAP Sustainability course which kind of opened my eyes for this kind of topic.

                  And it *is* an important topic (for all of humanity, including the SAP ecosystem) so I would let it go despite the lack of specific relation to SAP.

                  Just my 2ct πŸ™‚ .

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          2. Andy Silvey

            We gotta remember to keep it simple.

            Two communities was tried in the past and proved not to be the medicine it was intended to be.

            If the solution is to create more communities then we’re adding more complexity to the problem rather than solving the root cause, and what happens in the future when the new SDN community gets polluted ?

            There are already a number of SAP websites, for promoting and distributing SAP information, there’s:

            http://www.sap.com

            http://scn.sap.com

            http://blogs.sap.com – this is the perfect site for the marketing material – can’t scn and blogs.sap.com be related and compliment each other in some way

            http://www.experiencehana.com

            http://www.sapdesignguild.com

            [does anybody know any more which can be added to the list?]

            As we can see there are a lot of SAP owned channels for distributing and publishing information.

            If SCN splits into two communities, the technical community will eventually get contaminated and polluted with marketing content, unless…

            the problem is solved at source, with a vision for SCN and then proper proactive governance to support the delivery of that vision.

            There are already enough SAP content sources, and SAP ag should be able to figure this one out and use it as an opportunity to drive the CEO’s vision of simplification across the whole organisation.

            Andy.

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    4. Fred Verheul

      IMHO, two prerequisites for a successful promotion of the wiki to a first class citizen of SCN are:

      1. Converting all existing technical blog posts to wiki content
      2. Refusing any technical blog posts in the future, redirecting authors to the wiki.

      By the way: both are great suggestions Graham!

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      1. Chris Paine

        I have to disagree 😈

        If you stop blog posts with technical content, you might as well shut up shop, because the customers will stop coming, well this one anyway.

        I enjoy reading well written tech blog posts, when done well they are informative and entertaining. I do not feel the same about wiki posts. Indeed if a wiki post was entertaining, it’s probably in need of editing.

        There is a clear difference between the two, and wiki posts are certainly not something I am going to read on the tram on the way to work.

        Have to say, updating wiki’s doesn’t fill me with as much inspiration as writing a blog post either.

        So, whilst I appreciate the need to make wiki’s a first class member of the SCN family, I think doing this at the expense of one of the best features of the site would be a mistake.

        Cheers.

        Chris

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        1. Ludek Uher

          Gotta agree with you Chris. I think it is very cool for SAP to have all these possible sources of information (wiki, blog, jive doc, KBAs, Notes, articles and more). Unfortunately, this very same richness results in confusion for all – SAP employees as well as non SAP employees, be it a user, OEM partner, who ever. I believe the whole SAP KM strategy needs to be reviewed and if found lacking (as I suspect it is), then what ever issues come up need to be addressed. We kinda beat up the wiki / blog / jive doc issue pretty well in this discussion. I suspect we are not going to find a solution here as the way I see it, this is not the right “forum” for that. All we can do is highlight the issues and hope…

          Unfortunately the wiki / blog / jive doc issues is just the tip of the iceberg. The rest of the iceberg consists of KBAs, Notes, articles, tutorials, youtube videos, availability (or lack there off of software updates), gate keeping of what should be public knowledge, duplication of efforts (e.g.; KBAs and Notes), targeted distribution of knowledge, vehicles for distributing knowledge (twitter, facebook, instagram(?), RSS, other?). The richness!. The possibilities! But we (and what’s more important, our customers) are drowning in all of this richness as it is a haphazard, unorganized, directionless hydra. I suggest that someone needs to tame the hydra…

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          1. Moshe Naveh

            Hi All!

            Thank you for your great insights and feedback. Three or four years ago we started a continuous revamp of the SCN wiki that concluded of platform upgrades,improvement of content quality, structure and UI. A great example is the work done by primary support team (the ERP financial space).

            As we are constantly thinking of how to improve the wiki and its strategy I will be sure to include all of you in future discussions.

            Regards,

            Moshe

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            1. Colleen Hebbert

              Hi Moshe

              Improving the Wiki could also involve letting non-SAP employees contribute. In GRC space the site is restricted so a few of us write technical blogs so that we can publish much-needed content.

              Regards

              Colleen

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        2. Fred Verheul

          Thanks for taking the bait, Chris Paine and Joao Sousa!

          I didn’t have time for nuance as you may have noticed. So, to clarify:

          Yes you’re right (and I was wrong, the way I voiced it), there’s still room for technical content to be published as blog posts. Especially opinionated pieces like the last few of Joao should remain blog posts. But I still contend that a LOT of content that’s published as blog posts today could very well be replaced by wiki edits. For instance all those blog posts that are, for some reason, (generic quote following)

          targeting the freshers out there

          when that same content is more or less available in the SAP Help or has been posted 5 years ago.

          With regard to the inspiration for writing one or the other: somehow editing a wiki page (curating content) is seen as less appealing than creating fresh content (blog post). There are at least two reasons I can think of:

          1. For a lot of people (and no, I don’t consider either of you as example) that has something to do with the reward system here on SCN. Maybe it’s time to to do something about that?
          2. A blog post is much more a personal achievement (one author), while contributing to a wiki page is not nearly as visible (especially a couple of edits later). So if you contribute on SCN in order to build a reputation (among other things I’d hope), you better start writing blog posts.

          Somehow we should also change that perception/reality, because without doing so we’ll never lift the wiki to the status and usefulness it could have, no matter how well we integrate it into the Jive platform.

          Cheers, Fred

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          1. Joao Sousa

            With regard to the inspiration for writing one or the other: somehow editing a wiki page (curating content) is seen as less appealing than creating fresh content (blog post). There are at least two reasons I can think of:

            Speaking for myself there are two main reasons why I don’t engage in Wikiwork:

            • Technical accuracy: It’s much easier to write an opinion piece, since it doesn’t have to be absolutely accurate. Absolute technical accuracy means that creating the content feels more like work, and I’m doing this in my free time;
            • Engagement: The main reason I write a blog is to engage the community. the most satisfaction I get from them is engagement and discussions (which can end up correcting any technical inaccuracy).

            Wiki maintenance fails especially on the second one. It’s lonely work. It may seem selfish, but that’s the way it is. I use Wikipedia all the time, and haven’t made a single modification in all these year. Zero.

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            1. Chris Paine

              Joao – you should really have a go at Wikipedia maintenance – there is a definite feel of worth in updating a page – and as it has nothing to do with SAP, it doesn’t feel so much like work πŸ™‚

              However agree with you on engagement and difference between a work presentation and putting a blog together. Whilst I have occasionally had the privilege to combine the two (i.e. used work time and blessing to put together SCN content) mostly it’s late nights and self motivation. Nice point. well made.

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            2. Fred Verheul

              Funny (and sad) you call it (i.e. wiki editing)

              lonely work

              as when the wiki concept was invented it was the (democratic) collaboration aspect that was highlighted as the game ch differentiating feature.

              That may be exactly how we can fix it: by doing this wiki-editing in small teams, supporting and encouraging each other while truly collaborating.

              Just a thought…

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          2. Jelena Perfiljeva

            The “editability” is the blessing and the curse of wiki. If I write a document, for example, I make sure to provide accurate information and if someone corrects me in a comment, I can just update that part. But I feel disinclined to spend time crafting a wiki post that any person can edit afterwards for whatever reason. If it’s an improvement then great, but if it’s not then what? Would we have to engage in some kind of “editing war”? Also currently Wiki doesn’t have any of the like/rate/report functionality of SCN, which is a disadvantage as well.

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      2. Joao Sousa

        I have to disagree on that one. Most of the blogs I write are technical, but they are basically discussions about technical subjects, they wouldn’t really fit in a Wiki because they deal with something subjective.

        Even the more technical one that I’ve published, Account Determination – Why was this account determined? , would have a hard time fitting into a wiki I believe since it’s more about a procedure, then actual configuration details (maybe I’m wrong).

        I think that having the Wiki as a replacement for all the basic questions is a bit utopic. The effort would probably be better spent improving help.sap.com.

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  6. Jelena Perfiljeva

    There is a large Russian community in Brighton Beach in New York where immigrants sometimes live for years without even speaking English. When asked how can they live in America and not know any English they reply: “We don’t go out to America!”.

    Like many others, lately I find myself confined to my own “Brighton Beach” of SCN activity stream from the selected members I’m following (and this is, too, how I got here πŸ™‚ ). And the way SAP seems to be ignoring very visible feedback on the marketing and non-SAP related content on SCN, we might as well be speaking different languages…

    If we are to maintain the Learning Community (it’s still not clear if SAP AG is actually on board with this, as Andy pointed out) then would it be a good idea to adopt… “Simplification”? I hear it’s The Thing now. Use Google. Don’t be a jerk. Speak only if it improves upon the silence. That should cover all the “challenges”, no? πŸ˜‰

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  7. Jane Maduke

    Thank you, Marilyn Pratt, for your article and thoughtful questions. Until I read your article, I didn’t know “learning” was the main focus here. I would be interested in maintaining the learning community: I would like to contribute!

    As an absolute newbie here in SCN, I AM overwhelmed by the number of spaces, the things to do and where to find the most useful content.

    I’m considering starting a blog and one of the most useful pieces of advice I’ve heard from bloggers/mentors is to clearly state why you’re doing it.

    Let’s hear from SAP AG: “Why are you doing SCN?” I’d love to know the answer.

    I’d also like to know if the “marketers” find SCN valuable to them. What is their ROI? When commenters here speak of marketers are they talking about SAP? There must be others…

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    1. Marilyn Pratt Post author

      Hi Jane,

      Good to know that you are eager to participate in and contribute to a learning community.

      Thanks for posing the challenge to SAP of “Why are you doing SCN”.  I can tell you that the developer network SDN was originally created to encourage Netweaver adoption and I would guess that software and platform adoption would be a major driver for any company (that sells such products) creating such a website.  The question is how to do that selling?  Through success stories?  Through product promotion?  Or through providing a value add such as education, learning, unbiased feedback, honest critique and a real community of real practitioners sharing experience .  The question is also: Who is the audience.  A community such as ours may not be able to be all things to all people.

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  8. Nigel James

    Wow Marilyn – so much great content here and glad you are on the case to continually reinvent the site.

    I wonder if the gamification in the wrong sense would lessen if the contribution ability was based on a similar method to Stack Exchange[1]. On the other hand I have been thwarted from contributing to that site from time to because I don’t have the minimum threshold. As a q and a site they seem to root out the content then don’t want. I note they do have down voting – which I know has been down voted from scn when ever it has been raised.

    Thanks,

    Nigel

    [1] – What is reputation? How do I earn (and lose) it? – Help Center – Stack Overflow

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  9. Andy Silvey

    From today’s Daily Telegraph (UK),

    You’ll never guess what Facebook clamped down on Social network stamps out ‘clickbait’ as it looks to improve user experience

    Extract from the article:

    Facebook will use an algorithm to calculate the ratio of users clicking on content versus the number of people who shared it with friends on their news feeds. The amount of time that users spend reading an article away from Facebook will also be taken into consideration.

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    1. Chris Paine

      It certainly helps when you control the underlying platform – you can be innovative and come up with ideas like this. Interesting, when FB monetises on selling your details for targeted advertisements, you’d think they want users to be spending as much time on their site and not on others. Perhaps advertisers are willing to pay more $$ for less navigation happy punters?

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      1. Joao Sousa

        The fact is the better the user experience in Facebook, the more users they will have. Quality links, means people are more willing to use Facebook even if those links keep the people outside the platform longer.

        How many times have you seen people said they quit Facebook because of all the trash on their newsfeed? I blame the people that have too many “friends” and don’t know how to use filters, but as a vendor Facebook must try it’s best to improve the user experience.

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  10. Avirat Patel

    Each initiative has its pros and cons, But It’s up to the users what they want and as a responsible & disciplined user they just focus on giving and taking the knowledge only I would say.

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