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Sap Community is sinking

It isn’t sunk but it’s slowly sinking.  But something needs to happen.  I can’t change the platform – but what can I do?

The experiment

Cross-post the same blog into SAP Community and Linkedin.   The results approximately 4500 views on Linkedin and approximately 900 views on SAP Community.  Oh boy – bad result.   And there were a lot more comments on Linkedin.

And some great numbers Robert Russell’s blog on the answers in the community.

BTW – I intend to read how to move around easier Veselina has some great blogs.

SO I received a suggestion for a Linkedin Connection:

I was asked questions:

Why should I join the SAP Community and Partner with SAP?

It will be one of the best places to find answers, new technology, open courses, and it will only get better with each person that logs on.  It is hard to find things, but dig enough and it is there.  And if you want the marketing – that’s here as well.

Why do YOU like SAP?

I’ve loved SAP since I started working on it back in 1997.   It is a platform that is constantly and consistently evolving nothing stays the same.   How cool is that?  From a pure technical view it is, well it is FUN!   I’ve gotten to play in the functional and technical areas.   There is new cloud things coming our way.  Fiori and Personas sound so cool.   I am a fan girl.    What about you?  (Not why a should my company buy it, why do you like it?)

That made me kind of dance around.   OK – yes I’m strange.   But I get really excited talking about all the technology.   Where we were, where we can go.   So as he made me more happy, and less grumpy about the SAP community.  He asked so more questions.

How would I bring new people with new ideas to SAP Community?

Such a hard question.   Such an easy answer.   I’m going to tell everyone I talk with in SAP land about how the community is getting better and can only be better if more people are here.

How much I would benefit from them stopping in.   Then explain that they would like the NEW community that included them.

In other words, simply I’m going to bring a friend.

What is in it for me?

Knowledge is free.   Sharing it is free.   The community was a strong place to get the information.   Come here – you get free courses.   Come here – you get open discussions.   Come here – it is getting better.   As you come back think about all the other people you talk to in SAP land.  Send them back.

As they come back keep giving ideas not only about SAP itself but about how you can strengthen the community by bringing one more person back.

The comments

A large amount of you are right, or I totally agree with you.   That’s good for the ego, but bad for our community.   The big comment that helped me the most is “don’t give up”.    I had given up.   Now I’m going to try to help.

Here are some comments:

  1.   Paid platform – that one wasn’t well liked.
  2.   The following needs to change: The technology, the Strategy, and Engagement.  That one    covered it all.
  3. It would be good if everyone who cares about it, we are a seriously large team if we go for it, starts looking at how can we get this right and we can channel our energy to push SAP in the right direction.

  4. TechEd, the SAP Community team showed the roadmap and some ideas how it’s going to be changed. From what I have seen, I am very much looking forward to that changes because that will bring the community spirit back. One of the “big” things for me is that they want to group tags into spaces so that one can follow a space. Also, Brian Bernard is working on reducing tags since there are definitely too many. Give them a few more months to implement the desired changes and we will see a turnaround in the number of users, questions, blogs, etc.
  5. Use stackoverflow – a different site
  6. Paul flagged your post for me, Michelle. I read it. It’s very fair. I’ve heard this from many others, as well. There is no lack of consensus within SAP that we broke this. I used to post on the old SCN myself. I liked the brutal truth I got in the comments. I liked the knowledge transfer between professionals. We should never have made this feel like a marketing vehicle. More broadly, I believe SAP has an obligation to get out and participate wherever the conversations are taking place – including here, on Dennis’s site, etc. The “fake thought leadership” has to end. This is an industry problem – too much noise, not enough genuine perspective!!! In short – please stay on us about restoring this community. I don’t expect my words to satisfy you. Insist on action. Hold me personally accountable. My appreciation to all who have commented here for your honesty and openness. We WILL earn back your trust!!! Empowering the voice of the community WILL galvanize SAP!!
  7. I want to reinforce Bill’s commitment here; we are absolutely committed to restoring the Community program to deliver the value you expect. First and foremost it needs to represent our commitment to a connection with our customers, partners and developers and that will always be our foundation. I just returned with my team from TechEd where we got a lot of “tough love” just as you are offering here, Michelle. All fair. We did share our new user experience at TechEd and got some early optimism about that direction both there and in this post. We’re optimistic but we know we have much to do to deliver the platform you need and to draw the people and content back. As many have mentioned here the world is very different than when SCN was built and we have a much larger landscape of users, platforms, and business use cases to consider. But we believe the foundation of rebuilding the experiences SCN offered is core to our success and a solid starting point for us. As Bill said, don’t let us relax or lower our sights on this. We will get this right.
  8. True, there are multiple issues. 1) All experienced people are not contributing to it anymore. I see only very few experts who are contributing. 2) SAP community – search capability is pretty bad. 3) Lot of Articles have been archived and the links does not work( as you mentioned). 4) Even the google search brings in more marketing stuff than the actual technical results. 5) Filters are not used very effectively in the postings.
  9. I used to be top contributor in SDN, back in 2005 I even got a free registration award to attend TechED for being a top contributor. Nowadays I don’t even go there as The community page has been made so complicated to find what u need. We abide by Run Simple and yet make our community page complicated and often used lot of marketing contents. We need this platform though where the purpose is we share our knowledge and help each other, educate yourself.

Picture From: https://www.flickr.com/photos/10159247@N04/14422484860/

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17 Comments

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  1. Robert Russell

    Hi Michelle,

    I like the blog but sadly do not have any answer to what I would do to prevent any sinking! I would state that I am on the ship of the community and get more out of it than I put back in. I personally do not like linkedin and will not argue with the number of comments you got from both sites to your post. However views can be difficult to compare depending on how views/clicks are counted. Also it is disappointing (or a true indication of the state of this site)  that you got someone at the top of SAP to comment on an external site rather than here on this community site. My main concern for this site is from my unofficial review of new members to this site – it seems to be in decline.

    https://blogs.sap.com/2017/05/19/unofficial-analysis-of-the-answers.sap.com-question-forums/#people

    My favourite part of SAP Community is the world wide nature of it.

    Thanks for the post it did trigger some thoughts about my contributions to this site but also reminds me that I’m not a big fan of linkedin 🙂

     

    Cheers

     

    Robert

    (5) 
    1. Michelle Crapo Post author

      Agreed – it’s not easy to compare anything.   Views here vs there crazy right?   I guess I would go with the number of comments.

      I love your blog.

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  2. Trond Stroemme

    I couldn’t agree more. I’ve been a member of SDN since before its inception – I signed up for the pre-release version back in 24000 BC or whenever. I still remember when Craig Cmehil or  Mark Finnern (can’t remember who) asked for a screenshot of the SDN landing page showing MORE THAN 100 PEOPLE logged in simultaneously. Yes, that’s how EXCLUSIVE (and fragile) the community was back then.

    I remember the posts of Eddy de Clercq – the Grumpy Old Man – writing about weird stuff that I hardly ever understood but always read because THE GUY WAS FUNNY and it made sense in a wildly entertaining fashion. Like opening your skull and pouring strange liquids into your brain, just to see what happens.

    I remember the GURU OF ALL GURUS, Thomas Jung, before he became an SAP employee. I remember him and Brian McKellar in the BSP forum. BSP, back then, was the only glimmer of light in the SAP developer world, promising a way out of the ABAPosaur world, a minuscule candle of hope in a dark cave – like being at Minecraft level 6 with only one torch left.

    I remember John Moy blogging about the need to re-invent the Grey-haired ABAPer, and later claim the term wasn’t invented by him (he may be right, but it’s still a cool term).

    I remember all of this and more.

    Now, all of this is gone. The community is gone. I’m off to TechEd Barcelona in a few weeks and am seriously contemplating making myself a real fake SDN tee – just to p*ss off those morons at SAP who killed the community.

    Because someone did.

    Maybe it’s evolution. As in “horse and cart is dead – long live the automobile”. Maybe I’m just too old to understand. Maybe the world doesn’t NEED an SAP community anymore. Could be. If so, fine.

    Suit yourselves. I’m out of here.

    (9) 
    1. Michelle Crapo Post author

      Hi Trond,

      That’s the problem – everyone is leaving.    Could you think of one person to bring to the sap community.   And stay yourself even if you just read something and don’t comment.

      We can’t find anything.   We don’t like the new platform.   But we are the community.   Instead of leaving.   Blog it.   Write it in comments.   Ask for something more.

      Is it the end?   Gosh I hope not.   I hope we can bring enough people and ask for the same thing and get it done!

      As you can see I am not an SAP employee.    I’m just someone who completely stopped posting and now I’m back.   I’m back and hoping things get better.

      We NEED an SDN.   We need someplace to vent, to share information, to interact with people like us.   The problem is – we can’t seem to do that in this platform.   SO bring them back.   Have them state the issues.   And hopefuly we can influence change.

      Gurus have left.  Not sure why.   But I’m sure there is a reason.   BUT there are some great GURUs still here.

      Anyway sorry to hear you are out of here.   I wish you would blog with what you want before you go!

      Michelle

      (2) 
    2. Mark Finnern

      Hi Trond,

      Thank you so much for your reply. What a walk down memory lane. Eddy once couldn’t make it to TechEd, so the lovely TechEd Team was kind enough to create a cutout of him. Like the community goat Capra this year, we took him everywhere. He had his own #WhereIsEddy hashtag, mostly Flickr back in the day.

      Or the offer for a community member to have dinner with Shai Agassi and the reply from many: “Who cares about Shai, I want a dinner with Brian McKellar!” 😉

      Both of them concluding they have said enough and stopped being active was actually one of the first little deaths of the SDN community.

      Today I thought I just check what my mentor pals have written about TechEd and it was actually hard to get to it. Yes there are the last 3 posts on the front page. But come on, how hard is it to put a little [more] link just underneath? I helped you out and put the link behind it, just copy past.

      I actually hope you print your SDN shirt, I want to see pictures, it would show that you care and that you want to have the dialog to bring back the deep engagement, the caring, the playfulness and the embrace of the odd folks too.

      Good luck and have fun in Barcelona, Mark.

      (3) 
      1. Michelle Crapo Post author

        Hi Mark,

        What a great response!   If you had trouble moving around, you guarantee that I would have trouble moving around, and finding blogs.

        Thank you for the link.

        Thank you!

        Michelle

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  3. Jerry Janda

    Hi, Michelle:
    I work for the SAP Community, and each time I read one of these posts and its comments, it chips away at me. It’s sort of like reading news updates about your own impending extinction.
    But I’m not quite that pessimistic. I am grateful when I read acknowledgements such as yours that the community is getting better — and will get better still as more people get (re?) involved.
    I think you’ve seen comments in several places about the work happening to make improvements. (You cite a few above.) To be sure, the platform is severely flawed and no one would dare argue otherwise. But I also know who wrote comments #7 and #8 (I happen to report to one of ’em), and I know what their statements mean for the platform.
    It’s important to note, however, that a platform alone isn’t the community. This is why in a recent post (shameless plug! https://answers.sap.com/articles/322248/status-update-i-never-thought-id-see-the-day.html), I tried to differentiate between the two things required for a successful community: the experience and the feeling.
    The former is bad. No need to belabor the obvious. But the latter, I would argue, is better than most people realize.
    I saw evidence of this at SAP TechEd Las Vegas (again…outlined in the post I shamelessly plugged). I see evidence of it in your comments and commitments here.
    So, yes, please don’t give up. Please do bring a friend.
    I’ll be in Bangalore later this month. I hope to be in Barcelona next month. And no matter where I am — here or at an event — I’ll keep fighting to keep the community afloat. And I know a whole lot of people behind the scenes working hard to do the same. More than that, we’re working to get the community shipshape (sorry, sticking with the metaphors) and sailing strongly (sorry, metaphors) again.

    Um…full steam ahead?
     –Jerry

    (4) 
  4. Jamie Cantrell

    Hey Michelle,

    For the most part, I want to stay back and let this conversation happen (as it has across the past year). One correction I do want to state is that I’m not personally aware of any intent to move Q&A off of AnswerHub (re: comment #4 in the list above).

    As the one who co-delivered the preview sessions at TechEd LV, I want to emphasize the fantastic positive response we received for the new design & experience concept (keeping in mind: it’s still in development). I think we will all be greatly relieved to see the implementation of major fixes to the current broken experience. Thanks for hanging in. You should take to heart the fact that while the progress we’ve seen in the past year hasn’t been the speed we’d like, we are seeing a lot of gears turning to improve the pace of delivery, the connection with the membership and user needs, and the support we need both internally and externally to achieve the user experience we all expect.

    And to Jerry’s point above, I was overwhelmed by the vocal support expressed by our Mentors and other attendees at the show. It was heartening in this challenging time for our teams. Thank you again.

    Best Regards,

    Jamie

    SAP Community

    (2) 
    1. Michelle Crapo Post author

      Hi Jerry,

      Don’t let it chip away at you.   I know you and your team are working hard.   The community is not the platform.   But we can’t have an effective community without an effective platform.   That is out of my control.    BUT you can fix it, and I believe everyone is trying to fix it.

      I find myself in the ABAP Connectivity page.   Sliding down to the bottom.   I’m currently working in the ABAP area the most. It’s still an issue if the tag isn’t used.   But……..

      So if there is no one here to create the content, even the best platform will fail.

      Thank you for the comment and the plugs!

      Michelle

      (1) 
  5. Lars Breddemann

    I read both of your blogs and the comments both on LinkedIn and here on SCP.

    What came to my mind (in no specific order) was this:

    1. “Wow that’s rather DRAMAAAAAAAHHH!!!” for talking about a situation sadly had been like this for over a year now.
      My impression over this period was two-fold:
      on the one hand, folks actually somewhat invested into SCP got aware of the problems and worked towards improvements. That should have been a lot more successful but there was/is progress.
      On the other hand, all talk of “upper management” looking into this and standing behind the community so far turned out to be hollow. Brian Ellefritz made promises before, now it’s Bill McDermott himself … doesn’t really make any difference when the outcome is the same, does it?
    2. I never wrote blogs “to maximise the number of views”.
      Sorry, but that’s the last thing I think about when I find a topic that is so interesting to me, that I think: “hey, wow, let’s have other people read that!”
      So, from that perspective, I don’t care about whether LinkedIn gives more reads per post or not. To me, networks like LI or Twitter, Facebook etc. are usually not about community, but about announcing stuff to strangers on the internet.
    3. When reading some of the comments along the lines of “I used to be a SDN/SCN superstar and now I don’t like it anymore” I can’t help thinking …
      “Well, OK, *shrug*”.
      Most of the times, these comments come from people I never heard of before (which doesn’t mean much, given my narrow field of interest here), but really:
      If the platform changes really were the decisive factor for people to take their awesome contribution and leave, then where are all those great contributors publishing their pearls on LinkedIn or other platforms?
      Sure, there are some that made a very public move to a new platform, but my impression is that the majority didn’t bother looking for a new home.

       

      So, could it be that the reason was actually something else? Maybe they lost interest in the
      whole thing anyway. Or maybe it simply wasn’t as important and they just moved on with their lives? Without a doubt, there are so many things that are more important than checking in on SDN/SCN/SCP that it easily can fall overboard – especially when it becomes less convenient all of a sudden.

    Personally, I’ve been considering to leave my engagement, at least for some time, numerous times. And not just here, but also on JAM or StackOverflow. Was that primarily related to that all those platforms are crappy? Nope.
    For me, it’s more related to the lack of interesting content and interesting questions/problems. I really don’t get anything out of answering a newbie question for the 10th time – that just makes me wants to leave. But, so far, every now and then, there is interesting stuff and that then makes me come back.

    Much of this interesting stuff comes in the form of questions. And this is the tricky part, I’d say, in the SAP “Community”. The SAP ecosystem (consultants, partners, experts) lives of a know-how imbalance. Plain and simple. Someone is literally paying you for your knowledge.

    If having knowledge is the prime good in the SAP ecosystem, then why would you give it away for free?
    SAP is incentivised to put know-how out, because then (hopefully) more people use the products and fewer people come back asking questions via support.

    What’s in for partners and experts?
    Gamification and public recognition are certainly helping here, but in a time when most folks just
    struggle to keep up with topics (HANA, no, FIORI, no, XS. no, LEONARDO, no, … ) why would one want to give up the competitive advantage of knowing stuff that a lot of people don’t?

    The idea of the consultant who, in order to be able to work for a client, just needs to be two pages further in the documentation/course material than the client itself, is still very much alive and kicking.

    Looking at this setup from a different angle, there’s another issue: if my business is to know stuff about SAP, then it’s simply not good advertising to go and ask about SAP stuff in a public forum. Better send an email. Better make a call. Better ask in Slack.
    And maybe the recipient does me a solid and answers the question.

    In my experience, that’s largely the culture around knowledge sharing in the SAP world. Getting people to share knowledge and to share questions is hard when simply knowing stuff is equal to currency.

    The “Why?” question I posted before and the very good follow-up blog aimed at re-defining the reasons for being of the community, but when I see the whole discussion still centered in on platform technology issues (which there are far too many, no doubt), then I see that we’re missing the point.

     

     

     

    (4) 
    1. Michelle Crapo Post author

      Hi Lars,

      Excellent comments.   No, I usually could care less about views, comments, whatever…   The point was to try to stir up the community and others about the issue in the SAP Community here.  Hence the DRAMA.   These two blogs I did care about views.   One to bring up the issue again of declining membership.   Two to try to stir up the community to come back.

      I also added a link to my original blog.   There were some graphs and numbers.  I believe here.   I’m starting to confuse myself.

      Sharing knowledge.   The only way I know of getting better – in my mind – more fun work assignments is if I share the knowledge.   Then I can move to the next new thing.  (That’s at work)  Here it’s because I ask things, I blog and want comments so I try to look at some of the ones when work permits.   Or because of the large response over the weekend, before work, and yes even on my vacation on Friday.

      SAP doesn’t always have all the answers.   Why would their be books?  Why are there questions?  SAP is giving us tools.  Teaching us the basics, and we are using them to create different and exciting projects.   We are using them for things SAP never thought about.  We also are forgetting some of the older technology that can help us.   Or our company  can’t afford to send us to training.  Or….   It’s not just SAP that has the answers.

      My work allows for 10% of my time in training.    That means part of it can be just hanging here.

      I HAD left the community completely for a couple of years.   Then I started using the SAP open courses.  Now I’m here, looking for interesting or just plain fun blogs and questions.

      Unfortunately the platform matters if you can’t find what you are looking for.  Or you don’t read something because it is tagged wrong.

      BUT without people there won’t be a community.

      Happy Monday!

      Michelle

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  6. Denys van Kempen

    Hi Michelle,

    Thank you for bringing the subject up. Your post inspired a lot of people to comment, think, and no doubt, take action.

    On a positive note, from my limited perspective, I do not quite observe a sinking ship but stable steady growth. For the SAP HANA Academy, I have been posting a number of blogs on different topics related to SAP HANA. The last one, for example, is about SAPinit and SAPServices.

    These blogs typically provide some context, reference documentation or other blogs, and include code snippets, all of which would be more difficult to do in video format. The objective of the SAP HANA Academy is to provide technical enablement, implementation, and adoption support. Free of charge and free of marketing, for anyone interested.

    I do agree with Lars that the value of a view count is limited. A view count is not a read count, it may just be a mere scroll count, a displayed-on-a-screen count. Let’s not forget that at least part of LinkedIn’s revenue is from advertising.

    Looking forward to your contributions.

    Best,

    Denys / SAP HANA Academy

     

    (2) 
    1. Michelle Crapo Post author

      Hi Denys,

      Totally agree with your comments about a view count.   I just did it because I was interested in seeing the results.   I don’t really usually even look at a view count here.

      I honestly hoped to stir up people to build the community.   I’m glad you see it more as stable.  Maybe it is.   I’ve just heard one too many comments about usability and leaving the community.

      Have a great Monday!

      Michelle

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  7. Ged Hurst

    Thanks Michelle for this.

    I’m really surprised to find – by chance – this blog, because I thought it was just me who was having problems. I used to logon to SDN almost daily, and even though I often had trouble finding things, I always happened on something really interesting which was directly relevant to what we were doing in our SAP on-premise systems. I thought perhaps all the attention had moved on to the Cloud and Fiori (which are less relevant to what I’m doing), and away from ABAP and on-premise (which are very relevant to what I’m doing).

    While we’re on a trip down memory lane, I too miss the contribution of great guys like Thomas Jung, Rich Hielman, Tobias Trapp and Thorsten Franz (some of Thorsten’s stuff has been among the best blogs I’ve seen on any topic).

    I hope someone can figure out what’s wrong and work out a way to welcome back people like me…

    Cheers

    Ged

    (1) 
    1. Michelle Crapo Post author

      Hi Ged,

      No you are not ALONE.   There are many people just like us.   I think the more vocal we become – there is a better chance of change.

      Also – I’ll be putting some of the “old” ABAP stuff here.   I hope you have time to share.   You can always write a ranting blog.

      Thank you for the comment – these mean a lot to me as I know people are actually reading the blog.

      Michelle

      (1) 

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