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I get the impression that many folks discussing Activities and Notifications have blank looks when I mention the Communications folder and how valuable it was to many of us, particularly, but not limited to Moderators.    I had been assuming that almost everyone who was familiar with the Jive version of SCN was also familiar with Track in Communications.  Apparently I was mistaken.  So this is an attempt to describe in detail how it was used and why it was so tremendously useful.

In this screenshot, there is a green number on the Communications icon in the upper RH.  The contents in the Communications [hereby referred to as a folder] would automatically display any items which had been marked Track in Communications.  One could mark a Discussion, Blog, Poll, Document, or an entire SCN Community with Track in Communications (link or button) and any updates to the specifically marked item or items in a marked community would show up in the Communications folder.  Any Direct Messages (the former equivalent of Chat) would also be logged there.  It would show all items or you could set a default to only display Unread Only.  Mine was checked most of the time as it is in the screenshot.  The green number on the icon indicated that there were 4 unread items.  It would max out at 50 (sort of like our current Notifications max out at 99)

There was also a Filter dropdown which I believe could show All, Direct Messages, Blogs or Discussions.  I used it primarily as All, but on occasion, I would select Direct Messages when I was a few days behind on clearing my Communications and wanted to see if there were any members I needed to respond to first.

As a moderator for more than one community (now primary tag), one could now see all new/updated items in a single location in chronological order.   Included were also global Announcements as well as Announcements created by Space Editors to display in an SCN Community.  This would allow one to scroll down to the bottom and process all unread items in the sequence in which they occurred.  The page would automatically expand to ~100 items without hitting a Show More Items button (equivalent to More button presently).  It could expand further, but one would have to hit the Show More Items button to do so in increments of ~20 items.  If I was behind in reviewing my Communications, whether due to press of my day job (yes, I do have one) or traveling or on vacation or for any other reason, it might hold several hundred items.  It would occasionally refresh according to no rhyme or reason that I could determine, but for the most part, it was static.  This was important so I could be reasonably assured that I could work from oldest to newest without having to repeatedly expand the page to get to the oldest items at the bottom.

As a Moderator, one of our duties is to review the content for which we are assigned (Communities in the old days, Primary Tags in the new).  Communications put all that content is one place, nice and neatly organized.  On rare occasions that I would be so far behind or when the count on the icon and the list displayed were out of whack (which is why I have this screenshot in the first place), I could hit the Mark All as Read.  I rarely used it except when the count still showed unread content, but the list was empty.

Wow, everything I needed to review (except Moderation, but I will get to that in a moment) including communities that I did not moderate was all there in one place, nicely organized.  I did not have to go to multiple Tag pages or Community Topic Pages, search through my Activities and Notifications, constantly hitting the More button and being swamped by Likes and Votes, Follows and Following, etc.

Moderation was different, but I will present that in the Moderator’s Jam Group.  Suffice it to say that Moderation Alerts (for Moderators) was included in Actions (equivalent to Activity Stream?) but separate from most Notifications (definitely not as it is now).  Unless you were a Moderator AND had one or more Moderator Alerts to process, one would not see the third tab below.

For me and many others, particularly Moderators, that Communications feature was tremendously useful. Anything so marked would display New content (now Questions, Blogs), updates to content including Answers, Comments, and Replies (and only the updated portions), Announcements for followed communities, global announcements, and so on.  Pretty much all the things I wanted to see and none of the stuff that I did not.  Wow again!

I really miss my Communications folder…

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24 Comments

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  1. Samuli Kaski

    +1

    Mike,

    I raised the concern with losing Communications back in May and it didn’t make the cut for the go-live. Let’s hope the short term solution of condensing the activity stream will improve the situation but I feel the features we had with Communications will have to be at least partly re-implemented on the new platform for us to have back the level of productivity we had earlier.

    (3) 
    1. Michael Appleby Post author

      Hi Samuli,
      I also raised those same concerns several times from back in May and throughout the Open Beta.  Fixing the Activities so there is reasonably granular filters available will really help, but they also need to incorporate the Read status after, you know, the item has been read.

      If we are not making it easier for Solution providers (i. e. Subject Matter experts) to find the questions that they are interested in Answering, then the value of SCN declines dramatically.  I really feel that the connection between SMEs and members in search of solutions is the major flaw in this new community.

      The majority of traffic coming here is going to the Archives since that is where the majority of the solutions presently exist.  As they age, there will be less current content of value for providing solutions there and we have to have something that works much better here.

      We have already lost a appreciable number of SMEs from participation due to the inherent flaws or missing functionality.  We need to start building it back in soon or we will lose more as time passes and finding interesting problems does not become easier.

      Cheers, Mike (Moderator)
      SAP Technology RIG

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  2. Veselina Peykova

    Simplicity is, when you can see everything, important to you, at a glance; when you don’t need tutorials to understand what is going on.

    I’d like to point out one nice feature, which is visible in the second screenshot – it is easier to spot moderation notifications (the special icon). Yes, I have violated the rules a few times, when I started participating in SCN. The guidance by our moderators helped me learn how to be a better member. Now, new people risk not seeing and reacting to these notifications on time.

    I am feeling nostalgic… would you re-upload the first screenshot, please?

    (5) 
    1. Sajid Amir

      Veselina would you say that users are receiving too many Notifications now? I believe otherwise. I do agree however that the Activity Stream has too many items in it for capturing the users interests. However, I do not think that the user is in risk of missing a Notification given users only receive Notifications for a few qualified activities. Interestingly I was discussing this same thing with Michael and he expressed the idea of separating the Moderation related Notifications under a dedicated “Moderation Alerts” tab. I found it to be a helpful suggestion and will raise it to IT in our next alignment.

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      1. Veselina Peykova

        I get notifications on comments and on DM’s. I rarely get comments on my own content, because I haven’t asked questions, other than in Using SAP.com tag and I rarely comment on blogs. If these were the days, when I had more time to participate by commenting, I would get more notifications.

        I would really like the idea that we can get moderator’s alerts and notifications on newly implemented site features (please please please… it is almost Christmas) as a separate tab.

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        1. Sajid Amir

          Veselina, I will definitely bring up the feature of having Moderation alerts shown desperately from the Notifications. But I am afraid the ability to show newly implemented site features as a Notification is currently out of scope. But it is definitely something we should keep in our pockets once we have solved some of the more fundamental problems with Activities and Notifications.
          Thanks!

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    2. Michael Appleby Post author

      Hi Veselina,
      Not sure what happened to the picture, but it apparently disappeared after the initial posting.  Fear not, Juergen posted a new picture with comparable information so it should be visible now.

      My thanks to Juergen for his assistance!

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  3. Jürgen L

    hmm, I really feel this layout does not fit into the small strip in the middle of a browser window which is used currently, I would then need zoom to 250%

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  4. Dell Stinnett-Christy

    As one of the SME’s, one of the things that I really dislike about the current Activity stream is that I get a separate notification for EVERYTHING that happens to a blog or question.  In the old Communications screen, There was one item on the left for the blog or question, I could click on it, and then I would see everything that had been posted to that item since the last time I looked at it.  It made it MUCH easier to find the things that I was interested in than the current system.

    -Dell

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    1. Sajid Amir

      Hello Dell, we are doing some work around grouping similar activities per content. The Activity Stream would then have a couple of views. The Grouped view would essentially group all engagement per content and show one item instead of showing all engagement and updates separately. And our current “log” of activities which shows all activities from subscription will also be available. Once we have refined this feature more, I will share further updates with the community.

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    2. Michael Appleby Post author

      Hi Dell,
      Thanks for the feedback and comments.

      I proposed a Master Detail layout where only the selected item would be presented in full detail and the list on the side would allow you to see the Poster and the title.  Obviously very similar to the old Communications folder style.  It is also a very common Fiori application design template.  If the 1DX guidelines are so rigid that we can’t do something similar here, then we need to get rid of those design guidelines.

      After thinking a bit I notice that the Moderator Task list is a Master-Detail design and does not suffer from the wasted white space issue (though the fonts could be substantially reduced).  We obviously worked to a different set of requirements there and we should do the same with both Notifications and Activities.  What we have right now is inadequate and poorly designed for the needs of the community.

      Regards, Mike (Moderator)
      SAP Technology RIG

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    3. Dell Stinnett-Christy

      Thanks for the info Sajid and Michael.  I have struggled since the switch-over to identify questions to comment on or answer, which means I’m not as active on the site as I used to be.  I like being able to answer questions and mentor people on how to do things, but it’s not worth my time if I’m frustrated trying to use the site.

      -Dell

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  5. Sajid Amir

    Michael thank you for sharing your thoughts on the matter here and for meeting me yesterday and expressing some of these concerns to me over the call. I will follow up on the items as discussed.

    (0) 
    1. Michael Appleby Post author

      Hi Sajid,
      It was a pleasure chatting with you even though we talked for a lot longer than originally planned.  I responded to Dell’s post with a new thought on Master-Detail presentation.  Please think it over and discuss it with the appropriate developers and thought control police (sic).

      The nice thing about the Moderator Task page is that you already have a template that you can use rather than designing something new from scratch.

      Cheers, Mike (Moderator)
      SAP Technology RIG

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  6. Jelena Perfiljeva

    I just stumbled upon this blog. It might have appeared in my activity stream, but I had a long vacation around the holidays, so only got to see the last few day’s worth of content when I got back. Which is a pity.

    Other than reading moderators’ response to my alerts, I didn’t use this feature on the website. But I was receiving emails from SCN and I believe when you used “Track in Communications” it triggered the emails.

    Some might remember it was called “watch” on SDN. You could click “watch this thread” and then you’d be notified any update. There was also a list of all “watches” where you could easily disable them.

    What I find is a major loss and disappointment on New SCN is that tracking doesn’t even work like before. E.g. previously, on any blog or discussion I participated in I’d be “on the hook” to get an email every time someone else replied. But now, with the weird answer/comment and comment/comment hierarchy I’m only notified if someone replies to my post specifically.

    E.g. recently I commented on a blog, then was notified OP replied to my comment. Nothing else. But when I opened it (because we don’t see the actual reply in Notifications) much to my surprise I saw many other comments. Why wouldn’t I want to know about those comments? On old SCN I could just disable tracking if I wasn’t interested and, granted, it was sometimes annoying to find 100 “gud blog” emails in your Inbox. But it was still better than missing on the content completely.

    This is “Community” yet I don’t know when community is engaged in commenting on a blog I’m interested? What sense does it make?

    I’ve never felt so disconnected from my digital friends. 🙁

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  7. Ioan Radulescu

    can’t answer you editorial comment on Full screen abap webdynpro 9th of February so I’ll do it here. It’s your call as a moderator to not publish a blog entry, since it didn’t adhere to your publishing guidelines, and you’re right about it. But you shouldn’t trash it, rather just put it in my drafts so that I can still have a reference.

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    1. Michael Appleby Post author

      Hi Ioan,

      What many moderators have been doing is moving the blog to Needs More Work with an editorial comment on the deficiencies.  Some moderators will also add a comment to the effect that it will be deleted after a period of time, usually a week.  Your blog was in NMW for 17 days without a response and without any update to correct the deficiencies noted. It was deleted as part of general clean up of inactive items.

      Regards, Mike (Moderator)
      SAP Technology RIG

       

      (1) 
  8. Matt Fraser

    Hi Mike,

    Thanks for bringing this old blog (wait… a blog on Coffee Corner!? How did that happen? Someone hit Alert Moderator, quick! Oh wait….) to my attention just now. I think you do a good job of enumerating how the old feature worked and what about it was so valuable and attractive to those of us who depended upon it. I was NOT a fan of getting an email for every notification back then, nor am I now, as it’s easy to be flooded with emails, and they get lost in the shuffle. TiC (ha!), on the other hand, was organized and easy to return to, so this was my lifeline.

    I understand there are numerous technical details with the new platform(s) that make this hard, but I agree 100% that, after the revamp of the tagging concept, this is the next most important thing we can do to reinvigorate our community.

    The current Notifications page doesn’t come close. It’s a single list that doesn’t really provide nearly the flexibility of the “Master/Detail” two-frame concept from TiC, regardless of how many filters you put on it. Nevertheless, as the nearest thing to TiC we have today, I am depending upon it, but it could be so much better. And yes, TiC was completely different from an Activity Stream, as well.

    Thanks for being such a vocal champion for this feature.

    Cheers,
    Matt

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    1. Jelena Perfiljeva

      Thanks for reminding me I can “like” this once again! And I can even like my own comment now, weee! 🙂

      I prefered to use emails on SCN but now I actually go to the notifications instead. Would be nice to have more functionality there.

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    2. Michael Appleby Post author

      Thanks Matt, but check out the Tags now.  I have repaired the damage to my reputation as a Moderator!!

      I also don’t like getting a deluge of emails which is what would happen.  I routinely processed between 200-300 items through TiC daily which took generally less than an hour.  Everything I needed to know would be right there and I could blow through all the new content for my Communities extraordinarily quickly.  Now, I can’t do any part of what I used to accomplish so efficiently.  Might be some improvement when the tags are grouped under topics, but that won’t be this year.  Still take at least 3-5 times as long as it used to and while 45 minutes a day was reasonable to spend on reviewing content, 2-3.5 hours a day is too much to squeeze in.

      Thanks, Mike

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