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Understanding the comment thread structure on SAP Community

Why am I not receiving timely responses? – 

I am sure a lot of you have this very concern when posting on our new Community. I wanted to write this blog to clarify some of the confusion around this issue and help users understand exactly how using the “comment” feature appropriately can greatly help.

Being able to understand who is notified when posting a question, comment, or answer may help generate faster responses and avoid confusion. Users may already be aware that SAP Community has two essential types of responses. There are Answers and then there are Comments. While answers can only be published on questions, comments can be published on all types of posts.

Yes, that means users can “comment” on blogs, questions, answers or even other comments. And whenever users post a comment a notification is sent. If you are interested in reading more about Notifications, you can read my other blog, Use Notifications Like a Boss.

You may be wondering who this notification is sent to. And this is where understanding the thread structure on SAP Community can be helpful. I have noticed far too many discussions in the new community cut short due to the improper use of comments. For instance, following are two common use cases when I have noticed the death of a conversation:

User publishes an “Answer” hoping to get clarification on an existing Answer

Issue: Notifications for all “Answers” are sent to the author of the question. Therefore while this action will send a notification to the author of the question, it will NOT notify the other users who have published answers on the same question.

Solution: Use comments! If you come across any question or answer that you require further clarification on, or intend to engage with, use the comment feature located ON the question, answer, or comment:

Comments on questions, comments on blogs, and comments on other comments behave in the same way. To surmise, Answers are only meant to be used when it contains the solution to the problem posed, and is comprehensive and satisfactory. All other engagement and dialogue should be pursued via Comments so the intended users receive the respective notifications, prompting further engagement. If a satisfactory “Answer” does emerge from a “comment” thread, the author of the question and moderators will still have the ability to convert the comment to an answer if needed.

User publishes a “Comment” on the wrong “Comment”

Issue: Not commenting on the right comment may also cause similar confusion resulting in untimely deaths of conversations. As discussions and dialogue often tend to get long on SAP Community, it may be difficult to follow the sequence of comments, and comments on comments in threads. Commenting on the wrong comment may result in sending the notification to an unintended recipient, resulting in no further responses.

Solution: Keeping an eye on the “indentation” and “gap” between subsequent answers or subsequent comments can help keep tab of where to comment:

In the snapshot above, I have tried to indicate the different “levels” of conversations that can be seen in Questions and Answers and Coffee Corner discussions, with the yellow circles indicating comments and the arrow heads indicating the recipient of the subsequent notification due to that comment. For example, notifications for comments by Users 1 & 2 above will be sent to the original poster. Following the same logic, notifications for comments posted by users 3, 4, and 5 will be sent to User 2.

While most of the aforementioned things are pretty much self-explanatory, I realized that the lack of a clear description of these behaviors can make it difficult for some users to use our community efficiently. I hope many of you will find the information shared here useful and will be able to utilize this to engage effectively throughout SAP Community. Please feel free to post questions, comments, & feedback below.

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  • Even if this blog reaches the target audience and the target audience understands and accepts the complex solution, what can you do when the more comments bug prevents you from replying to the specific comment?
    Could you share a temporary workaround – e.g. a certain URL, which you can compose manually in notepad to reply to a comment, where no comment option is available?

    If my understanding is correct, if you are user 8 and wish to notify user 6 and user 4, you need to create two separate comments (unlike what was done in Jive, where you would use @mention in a single comment). Creating two comments for the sake of proper notifications, potentially leads to polluting the activity stream of everybody, who follows you or the content twice as much. I completely understand that activities and notifications are independent (as you have stated in Use Notifications Like a Boss), but it seems, that the current solution for notifications will have a negative impact on the useability of the activity stream in this specific case.

    • Hello Veselina,
      Could you kindly elaborate which bug you mean by the "More Comments" bug?

      And as it stands, user 8 would need to create two comments separately to notify user 6 and user 4 (or respond to them). The comment by user 8 in the snapshot will only send a notification to user user 6. Here we understand that we have a functionality gap as we do not have @mentions yet. However, when such functionalities and gaps are fulfilled, the problem you describe of "polluting the activity stream" will subside.

      And Veselina, we are also working on expanding the Notification service to subscriptions. So users are Notified somehow of new questions and blogs from their followed primary tags. More updates regarding that will be available in the upcoming weeks.


      Sajid Amir

      • By More Comments bug I am referring to the missing comment option when replying to comments - after you reach a certain level of commenting:

        The current example is from csrfattackdetected - 4 attempts needed until an answer gets saved, but it is easy to find in nearly all questions and discussions, where forum members actively participate.
        It is easy to find examples - just look for questions or discussions, where the comments are collapsed (trying to save space, maybe?).
        I am not even asking for fixing the bug right now - merely posting in the blog a temporary workaround in the form of an URL, which we can create in notepad and use to get the comment option appear and refer to the correct comment ID, so that we all can take advantage of the notification functionality.
        In my opinion, the whole concept of collapsing comments is a terrible UI design, but this is a topic, unrelated to your blog.

  • Hi Sajid

    Awesome that you try to get this out there but I kind of agree with Veselina, we need something that's fundamentally simple to follow up threads and comments. Many new users join SCN as SAP spreads out further around the globe, they won't be reading this blog post before they use the system. It has to be stupid simple or it's not going to work out. I noticed answering questions that I loose track of many and as a result don't do follow answering if the person who asked a question has a follow-up question. The volume is just too big to keep track of all it in a manual sense. I want to be notified on whatever if I click "follow". I want each reply and each comment etc.

    Best regards


    • Hello Tom,

      Thanks for your thoughts but these services as they are designed currently are independent of each other. That means User subscriptions have nothing to do with Notifications. We are working on a similar functionality where new questions and new blogs from user subscriptions will be shown to the users (in addition to Email notifications) so they can stay updated on the new content from their followed primary tags.

      However, the channel to view comments and answers from followed content is still Followed Activities in Activity Stream and NOT Notifications. You can read more about Followed Activities in my other blog here:


      Sajid Amir


      • Hi Sajid,

        As Tom mentions, having the need to document a complex design, or needing to defend the design, we are left with the broken/disjointed community feeling of engagement.  I 'Followed' this blog soon after you authored it, because I expected subsequent member dialog and I wanted to follow up with discussions on this topic.  When I made the deliberate decision to press the 'Follow' button in the header, I wanted some form of notice when people replied or commented on your blog.  Almost like I wanted to mirror or shadow the original author of the post.  Because my Activity Feed is very busy, I have missed many of the comment and threaded reply items above ^^.  It was by chance or luck, since it was a Liked comment by someone I am Following that brought me back to the blog.  Depending upon the time of day, a single page of items in my personal Activity Feed may not even be 1 hour of activity.  It is not that the comments by Veselina, Tom, and Sajid were not in my feed, it is simply that I cannot monitor it all the time or page back far enough to see something from possibly 2-3 days ago.  It is less critical that Tom and Veslina see this reply comment in a blog, but they will not receive the same Notification that you are getting because I am replying directly to your comment.

        In the case of a question coming from a community member in need of help, the timeliness of punctual responses falls into the same dilemma I just described.  This can lead to frustration by the askers and the answerers here in the community, impatient cross posting the same question on different tags (which in turn adds more effort and activities to the volunteer moderators), logging of extraneous how-to questions in the support portal, etc. so I continue to look forward to the next updates on this expanded topic of activities, notifications, and emails.



        • Jeremy, you were supposed to use the Blog filter in your activity stream to find the comments. Clearly it's all your own fault and SCN works as designed. [devil smiley, coming soon]

        • Again, Jeremy the question is would Tom want a notification for your comment? Or the one that I am posting now? Even if Tom may be interested, someone else in Tom’s shoes may find what we are talking about unnecessary or unrelated (many such use cases in answer threads and discussion threads.)

          I understand the need for notifications for new questions and new blogs from followed primary tags. But notifications for comments and answers in addition to that from user subscriptions will completely overwhelm the notifications service. And that is why we are hesitant to implement a quick fix (by just notifying users of ALL comments and answers from their subscriptions/participated posts, eventually inundating the Notifications service), fearing the implications of such. However, we are working on solving this problem and realize this is a functionality gap. And I am glad that we have had a chance to discuss this in detail in the past (thanks for raising this again here). We still have a strong commitment to fulfill this need and trying our best to bring a solution to the table as soon as possible Jeremy. Given all this information is already in user’s followed activities, we will be working on implementing more filters that will allow users to isolate these important and new activities as you suggest. We just want to make sure that we do not break something by fixing something. Again.

          Thanks for taking the time to submit valuable feedback Jeremy. As always, it is much appreciated.

          Best Regards,

          Sajid Amir


            Putting the decision to 'Follow' the thread (pushing the button) and making the deliberate choice to get notifications in the user profile settings should help eliminate IT or design concerns about the notification feed being overwhelmed.  The users should have the option to decide the levels of information coming in the notification style push - then the community member decides, not the establishment.

  • Please stop making it look like a "user error" ("wrong comment"? no one asked for this complex comment hierarchy in the first place) and make SAP Community intuitive and logical instead. When such blogs are not needed then we are on the right track.

    • Hello Jelena,

      I am sorry that you feel this way. I was not trying to point any fingers at our users at all! I too agree that users should not have to read such blogs to understand how a website works. But given the widespread confusion on this rather simple topic, I decided to write this anyways and was only trying to help users out hoping not many other discussions end due to this confusion. Apologies here if the way I explained seem over complicated.

      Thanks for reading and commenting anyways.


      Sajid Amir

    • For whatever reason, I was just in Idea Place, and was curious to see what the top voted idea was, and found this one with 67 votes:

      I immediately thought of the debate here, and wanted to loop this in for additional justification to some of the points being discussed.

      If I am doing this properly, by commenting on Jelena's post, I can send a notification to both Jelena and Sajid as the blog author in one step 🙂

  • A user had given an opinion on the issue i faced related to Webi. But i am able to see oly 'Share', 'Accept' and 'Alert Moderator' under the person's name. What should i do if i have to reply to that particular person?

      • Hi Sajid,

        I can see a reply button here but not in the thread which makes it difficult for me to respond to any particular reply. If there is something to be done from my end to enable it, please let me know. Thanks for changing that answer into an appropriate reply!!

  • After how much contributions can a Newbie add comments and reply to a discussion, Sajid Amir ?

    G Lakshmipathi is pretty active with re-arranging and reminding the user what he is supposed to do.

    And also other users often explain this to the posters, like Jelena Perfiljeva .

    But somehow nobody realizes that Newbies do not have the option to do so as you can see in the picture below and from the comment Aditya made right in the previous comment to this blog.

    I am personally find it ridiculous to keep the answer/comment structure and at the same time not giving everybody the ability to make use of it.

    • To my mind the answer/comment concept is completely wrong here and training new users to distinguish between answer and comment is a waste of time. If some approach is not working then it's a common sense thing to accept the failure and return to "reply" concept.

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      • Jürgen L Everyone can post comments and answers but some go under moderation. Maybe the question was closed/locked.

        Vadim Kalinin As I indicated in a comment to Jamie's blog 'Unfortunately the review of answers vs. comments concept weren’t included in this phase of the UX work and will be looked at later on."


        • The question is not closed:

          And because of this uncertainty  I had created a new user to see it myself, the screenshot from above was taken by me.

          • Hello Jurgen, can you please check again with your test account to see if the reply option is available? Maybe there is a time based pre moderation. Not really sure, as Moshe indicates it may be a bug as well. Would appreciate it if you shared what you found.

          • An hour ago I tested whether a newbie can edit and retag questions which are in moderation. So I hope this screenshot is valid too. As you see under my moderation note is no reply link nor a comment button

        • "Unfortunately the review of answers vs. comments concept weren’t included in this phase of the UX work and will be looked at later on" - sorry, but answer/comments concept is the fundamental question and decision has to be taken as early as possible. It may result in the change of Q&A platform.


    • Looks like the archived "documents" containing links to PDF files can't be converted to normal blogs - strange to my mind. As a result - no way to comment 🙁