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A few days ago, when I started thinking in this blog, I found a document with the Top Five reasons to Join the SAP Community Network:

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1. Learn – Connect with the smartest SAP experts on the planet..

2. Solve a Problem – Post a question in our discussion forums and get an answer in an average of 20 minutes…

3. Connect – Use our advanced networking capabilities to virtually “meet” thousands of experts working on the same SAP products you’re working on…

4. Contribute – Our community relies upon the contribution of non-SAP employees to thrive

5. Build your reputation – Gain recognition as an expert on your topics to build your career as an SAP professional…

Ref.: http://scn.sap.com/docs/DOC-18497

One of this makes lot of noise to me: Solve a Problem (get a response in an average of 20 min). In my experience, I have seen many times users asking very basic questions or very general questions, and even when some of us could alert the user to search before posting or could ask to post specific questions, in most of the times, the users get the response in less time than a very efficient HelpDesk in an international company.

To be honest, a couple of times, I have responded basic questions, just because it is nice to be helpful or I did not want to be rude. The point here is: are we helping other users or are we helping companies to spend less money in consultancy?

With this I am not saying that the SCN community is not a wonderful place to be, I am just bringing a point that in some cases, our intention to help could be future problem for us (the consultants). In my perspective, this is something that need to be resolved with the help of all of us in the community and the intervention of the moderators.

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17 Comments

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  1. Susan Keohan

    Hi Mariano,

    I know you are not alone about feeling like sometimes SCN is treated as a help desk.  Others also feel that questions being asked are very much like ‘Please do my job’ – when the original poster pastes in what are plainly technical specs or requirements and then says ‘Please give me the solution’.

    Perhaps for this very reason, I have fallen out with the discussion spaces.

    I like to think that the people who do go into the discussion spaces will use the ‘alert moderator’ button (although moderators are also free labor) if it’s clear that the original poster has not done their own due diligence (yes, this means SEARCHING) or in the case of the ‘Please do my job’ posts.

    Still, anyone can gently steer people in the right direction, understanding of course that some people are very new here, and are not sure how to behave, and also taking into account various cultural differences.

    The idea of SCN contributors being a virtual (and free) help desk is not a good one – I think that only encourages the behavior above.  Why should I bother to search if someone will do it for me?  Why should I even bother to learn about the technical requirements of my job if I can just post to SCN and someone will answer me with all the code and configuration steps.  Ugh.

    I suspect you have touched a nerve, and there will be other commenters.  Have fun!

    Sue

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    1. Mariano Cabalen Post author

      Hi Susan,

      Was my intention to touch a nerve with my blog and try to reinforce the message that all of us should start filtering this behaviour by alerting the moderator. Now if this does not happen and users can post their basic doubts and get the response, the SCN community could be used as a helpdesk, so I think something else should be done…

      KR,

      Mariano

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  2. Thomas Zloch

    It’s called crowd sourcing. For SAP, I’m sure that the SCN spaces have a “load balancing” function for Active Global Support.

    There is also a substantial misuse by CV fakers and other unethical folks which regard SCN as replacement for training and practical experience.

    Thanks to gamification or other mysterious motives there is always a number of people rushing in to answer FAQs and “do my job” posts (often speculative or low-quality, however).

    But I am too negative here, otherwise SCN is a nice place, I have found a lot of information and great people here, and also gave something back over the years, I guess.

    Support the good cause by alerting moderator on unethical posts, and/or confront the poster with a suitable reply.

    Cheers

    Thomas

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    1. Mariano Cabalen Post author

      Hi Thomas,

      I agree with your thoughts about gamification. I also agree that SCN is a nice place (I have used as a consultant the content of SCN to resolve most of the biggest problems that I found).

      My point is: is enough to have a button to alert a moderator? I don’t have any better idea, I just know that it is not being effective.

      KR,

      Mariano

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      1. Thomas Zloch

        It’s better to use it than not to use it. Effectiveness varies from space to space with the moderation approach. Some are rather strict (but fair), others seem to let everything go, very sadly.

        Also, as I mentioned, it can help to openly confront the people with their misbehaviour, especially when this does not come from a moderator, but from “normal” users showing community spirit. The more, the better.

        I’ll drop by and support you if required ๐Ÿ˜‰

        Thomas

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    1. Steffi Warnecke

      I’ve seen something like this in “my” spaces, too, and always wonder, why SAP employees asked those questions here (and sometimes somewhat basic questions, too) and not just simply direct their queries to the appropriate department. ๐Ÿ˜•

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      1. Mariano Cabalen Post author

        SAP has consultants, same than IBM, Accenture, Tata, etc.. SCN community is an open community, so I would not exclude any of them, my point was different. On a daily basis I see people asking for “free consultancy”, end users or consultants asking questions without even try to search..

        Kind Regards,

        Mariano

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        1. Jรผrgen L

          Literally, it is free of charge.

          Maybe not for the provider of the platform, but they get the invested money  thousandfold back with savings at the support desk. Just imagine all those questions would directly go to them ๐Ÿ˜† . If they would accept calls and had a live stream this could probably be more fun than Saturday Night Live (especially the questions that come in on weekends)

          We only see those who are active, and we certainly see and remember all those who are not willing to put any effort into their chosen way  to get the daily wages. Unfortunately we forget the 90% consumers who never post any query but invest in searching.

          So it is just a minority who acts like a bull in the china shop and makes us forget the majority.

          I actually would not wonder if there is the one or other small company using SCN as an extended workbench. Some people who forward the question to SCN did not even look at them, there is content talking about screenshots without having any, there is personal salutation to the poster himself, and in many cases they did not even understand the question and when asking back they have to approach their users.

          I am actually not really concerned about the response time, even it is quicker than in most companies, which is the companies fault itself because they need KPIs for everything , hence a lot overhead for administration on one hand and reducing heads on the other hand. In SCN you have thousand of experts, in your company maybe just one and he is on the phone or in a meeting.

          My concern is more the quality. When my teacher asked me for the square root of 25 and I would just say 5 then I could not get the full points since I did not provide the way how I got it. In many questions I can see that they just expect this result and are not interested in the background, because they are not interested in solving similar questions next time alone. Just a focus on easy money.

          It takes a lot effort to keep a space clean to some extent. And unfortunately the forum has no real self healing forces (there is no incentive for the active users in helping on that, only the “inactive” users benefit from it).

          Hence I can just call on your power as deputies, click the alert, 2 alerts make this poor content hidden automatically and no one else could give then an answer on such poor questions.

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  3. Gareth Ryan

    Hi Mariano,

    You aren’t alone with your frustrations in these matters, as others have already said.  Things seem to be getting exponentially worse in some of the spaces, where as Jürgen L suggests some people literally use SCN as a support desk system (or at least try to.)

    For a long time, I’ve really wanted to create a couple of blog posts about the whole situation but stopped myself as feel I’d struggle to avoid political and/or diplomatic fallout…  More importantly, those people who are the root cause of the noise don’t bother reading these sort of blogs and hence nothing changes – it’s like speaking to an empty room, as no-one hears you.

    What I will say, is that there are bigger cause and effects at play, and the noise we see here on SCN is actually just a by-product symptom, a smaller part of the bigger problem in our industry.  There are financial and employment issues at play that fall inside the overall mess our global economy has got itself into.

    As a moderator of the ABAP space it is quite scary what must be happening to lots and lots of SAP systems around the world.  And let’s be honest, we only probably see a fraction of the problems here on SCN.  Having said that, I guess I could live with some of the horrendously bad content if the posters lost their sense of self-entitlement and un-earned privilege & respect.  Seeing and experiencing how so many supposed professional SAP consultants behave when faced with a small challenge (moderation on SCN) is pretty eye-opening.  I’m lucky to have always worked and been surrounded with a professional and mature bunch of people and couldn’t imagine even trying to tolerate working with some of the characters that come through on SCN.  Of course, everyone is different behind a keyboard…

    To end my (as usual, too long) post/rant with a positive spin, look on the bright side that as long as so many people are doing so many bad things to SAP systems, there should always be interesting work for those of us who have a vague idea of what we are doing, and how to deliver a quality job. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Cheers,

    G.

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  4. G Lakshmipathi

    Of your five top reasons, I see fourth point is lacking with lot of members.  Initially, when they are trying to learn SAP, they make use of SCN to full extent but at some point of time, once they gained knowledge, they stopped sharing their knowledge.   The purpose of SCN is to help each others and share the knowledge mainly for non-SAP employees who would not get proper training on the latest SAP updates.  It is also a fact that even SAP employees post very basic query without putting efforts to search. 

    Also I don’t understand on your comments “our intention to help could be future problem for us (the consultants)”.  In what way, sharing your knowledge would be a problem in future ?  The more you share, the more knowledge you gain.

    G. Lakshmipathi

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    1. Mariano Cabalen Post author

      Hi G. Lakshmipathi,

      First of all, those are not my Top Five Reasons. You can read the Ref docuemnt included by me and check who is the author.

      Second, I agree 100% that we learn by helping others.. I did not say something different.

      Finally, I said “our intention to help could be future problem for us (the consultants)”, because my point is that if the SCN community is a Helpdesk, and then the companies don’t pay for consultancy (because someone in SCN is goign to resolve the issue without any payment), then this would be a problem for us (the consultants) because we are not going to get a job. That was what I was trying to say…

      KR,

      Mariano

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  5. Kamil Veselรฝ

    Hello,

    I think you doubts about “not getting the job as consultant” and “free helpdesk” is not necessary.

    Yes, you are right, that lot of problems and issues can be solved using the help of members on SCN. But if it is real huge issue, lot of things must be checked directly in the system. And I can’t imagine to post here all the log files and so on. At least because I am not allowed by my company rules. I can ask general questions here, but I can’t sent anything concrete, which can damage my company.

    And I think big companies are very aware of this and they will always pay their own consultants.

    Kind regards

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  6. Jelena Perfiljeva

    This has been an ongoing problem on SCN since day 1 (well, maybe 7 when The SCN Gods went to rest ๐Ÿ™‚ ). If you search Coffee Corner and About SCN you will find tons of discussions and a few blogs on this (just one memorable example). Unfortunately it seems to fall under “you can’t fix stupid” category, so reporting “do my job” posts to moderators is the right (if not only) way to address this. We do need all the help we can get with that since many people still answer basic questions and that’s the real problem.

    In the past there have been several suggestions made, such as forcing to search before opening a discussion; restricting new members (for some time or based on points) from posting discussions; adding a message when creating new discussion, etc. but none of that materialized. (Although all these measures would still have limited success rate.)

    As far as being concerned about advancing one’s own competition – someone (sorry, can’t remember the name) wrote about this on SCN few years ago and suggested to share only 80% of knowledge. This might not sound nice but seems like a practical and reasonable idea.

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