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Author's profile photo Jerry Janda

Updates to the Rules of Engagement

Every now and then we revisit and revise the rules of engagement. We rewrite rules to make them clearer. We combine rules that we decide are better off together. And we add rules — either because we are seeing behavior that we must discourage or because some broader change has occurred that demands new rules. (For example, we need to give serious consideration to the upcoming changes to profile privacy.)

With all of this in mind, I present to you the latest rules of engagement.

For the most part, you’ll find the rules remain the same. We may have reordered them, but some rules never change. (For one thing, we still expect members to search before posting — even though this is a rule that everyone always follows, right?) However, if you’re interested in learning more about what we’ve rephrased significantly, combined, clarified, or inserted, here’s a summary of some of the most notable updates:

  • Log in and be yourself: This rule was once split into two entries, but we’ve combined them to encourage people to become active community members — especially in the face of new defaults for profile privacy. Speaking of which…
  • Protect your own and other’s privacy: If you read this blog post (or saw the news repeated in other posts, tweets, emails, and just about every place imaginable), you’ll understand why this new privacy rule is required. (Note that some of this rule previously appeared under Provide support feedback through the correct channel. This support rule still exists in the new list, but it now focuses entirely on advice about SAP Support. All the privacy warnings from that support rule now appear in this one.)
  • Choose the relevant language: Most tags default to English — although some tags are available in other languages. This has created a situation where members who speak these languages sometimes choose the wrong tags purposely for their questions or blog posts — which allows them to publish in their native tongue. Since we require proper tags to serve up content correctly, we need people to pick the right ones. At the same time, we want to make content easier to understand for non-native speakers. Therefore, this rule also continues to condemn the use of slang phrases that might not translate well into another language. Ya feel me, fam?
  • Share expertise transparently: The old list had this rule, but we expanded it with the rules forbidding plagiarism and linking to content behind firewalls — as all of these rules are related to sharing personal knowledge in an honest manner.
  • Search before you post: In the past, this always popular rule had emphasized questions and answers. This time, we’ve included blogs in the rule, informing people that they should search blogs before writing and publishing anything — to avoid redundancy and to ensure that their content is unique.
  • Don’t hijack or cross-post content: Hijacking questions has always been frowned upon, but we expanded this rule to cover cross-posting (i.e., publishing the same question or blog post multiple times with different primary tags) as well. (Cross-posting had appeared in the plagiarism rule previously, but it makes more sense to put here.) We also added the old resurrection rule to this one, as it’s another form of hijacking.
  • Be patient when awaiting a response: Whenever I see a question with “urgent!” in the subject line, or when I discover that a poster has sent a moderation alert asking for a fast answer, I cringe a little…as I know how much this infuriates other members. This new rule is probably overdue and one that I think active members will welcome.

And there you have it …an overview of the new rules of engagement for the SAP Community. Not that the SAP Community team prepared them alone. Our moderators provided valuable input as well, and we couldn’t — and can’t — oversee the site without them. The rules guide members, but the insights and hard work of moderators are what truly set the standards for the SAP Community.

Of course, you can make life much easier for moderators by following the rules. So please give the list a read and share the link with all members — from new registrants to long-time contributors. Just copy, paste, and send this url:

Oh, and as you review the rules, please remember the most important one of all when it comes to interacting with other members: “Be professional and courteous.”

Or as a wise man once said: “Be excellent to each other.”

I hope that translates. I don’t want to break rule #4.

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      Author's profile photo Shivakkumar Geetha Venkatesan
      Shivakkumar Geetha Venkatesan

      very nice.

      Author's profile photo Colleen Hebbert
      Colleen Hebbert

      Party on dude


      We still reserve the right to rant, rave, vent and repeat over in coffee corner

      Author's profile photo Jerry Janda
      Jerry Janda
      Blog Post Author

      I'm glad you got the quote. 🙂 I usually have to wait for Jeremy Good or Matt Fraser to acknowledge one of my film references.

      And, yes, people can still rant, rave, vent, and repeat in Coffee Corner...although, let's be honest, ranting is not limited to that section of the site. 😀

      Author's profile photo Jeremy Good
      Jeremy Good

      To validate your point, I managed to ‘Like’ your comment after forcing a refresh of the page and manually logging in…

      Party on dudes!

      Author's profile photo Colleen Hebbert
      Colleen Hebbert

      Ranting elsewhere in community must be on topic


      In coffee corner we can rant about anything. Just imagine if New SCN never had coffee corner!

      Author's profile photo Matt Fraser
      Matt Fraser

      Now that's some serious dredging up of the archives! Of course, we could follow up with the not-dissimilar "Party on, Garth!" "Party on, Wayne!" "Party time! Excellent!" 🙂

      Author's profile photo Jelena Perfiljeva
      Jelena Perfiljeva

      Thanks for an update! I have so many questions... 🙂 Had no idea this was up for a discussion / update. Was this an SAP initiative or was there some kind of community advisory board involved? Just curious.

      1. "Be yourself" - while I've been a supporter of allowing anonymous use of SCN, I'm wondering if there should be some kind of a clause restricting completely generic user IDs. For example, "Craig S." where Craig is a real name, is OK IMHO. But we have too many "SD consultant" or "SAP ABAP" user IDs, most of which are just "fly by night" accounts anyway.
        There are also accounts that use the well-known company names (exhibit A and exhibit B). It's fun to mock their posts on Twitter but on a serious note, there is really nothing preventing someone (like a competitor) from creating an account with a company name and then posting dumb stuff to hurt their reputation. Should this be more specifically / explicitly addressed?
      2. Protect privacy: now I'm confused about the images. Usually I don't post any images of people but if you're blogging about a conference or SIT event there likely will be other people in many pictures. Are we supposed to chase all of them to get a waiver or start blurring everyone? My impression is that if you are at a public event, it gives others an implied permission to take your picture. I feel this part of ROE is not very clear now.
      3. (or rather 4) Languages - it has been said many times already but it's been over a year and I still feel the current arrangement with languages is just not working out. Previous language-specific spaces made more sense IMHO. While I appreciate making this guideline more clear, the non-English content in general spaces, like SD, is mostly either basic questions (I guess OP can't translate the question hence can't search either) or some country-specific stuff that usually no one but the same language speaker can answer, even with translation.
        Please see this old question on the subject. I feel that with regards to languages, we need to take a simpler route and stop pretending we have enough moderators and enough content to justify languages laid over the tags.

      On a bright side, the addition of specific guideline to search for existing blogs is more than welcome from my side. 🙂

      And people were sending moderator alerts to "expedite" the answers, really? Wow... That's the whole different level.

      Author's profile photo Jerry Janda
      Jerry Janda
      Blog Post Author

      Hi, Jelena:

      We needed to update the rules to reflect the changes to profile privacy, but we used that exercise as an opportunity to refine the overall list. We partnered with the moderators to revise the rules, as they are the chief enforcers. (Gosh, that sounds brutal, doesn’t it? But you get the idea…)

      In response to your points…

      1. Agreed. When I see members with fake names and profile pics, I write to them privately and ask them to change to something authentic. Since the rule does instruct people to use their “real identity,” we could technically delete an account for flagrant violation. But I suppose this one is enforced loosely — and once someone has an established account, it becomes more difficult to insist upon a change. (I believe that Boaty McBoatface has been around longer than I have.)
        In the scenario that you describe — where someone creates a fake account to hurt a company’s reputation — I see that as falling under the rules for professionalism and courtesy. If someone is clearly harassing a person or corporation, then we are well within our rights to take action…and we will/do.
      2. To clarify: No, we don’t expect posters to provide waivers for everyone in a photo. If, however, a person in the shot requests removal of the photo, then I believe the privacy laws lean in that person’s favor. (I’m not a lawyer…just erring on the side of caution.) That’s why the rule states: “Content that includes images of others without their permission will be subject to moderation and might be removed.” The operative word is “might.” It’s OK to post the picture, as long as everyone understands that we might need to remove it later. I can’t imagine that happening often though…
      3. I’m aware of the dissatisfaction with the current language setup. And I am not aware of any plans to change anything. When this conversation/complaint comes up — as it has here, in the post you linked to, in other discussions, and in Idea Place — I report it. Again. And that’s all I can do. So, for now, the rules need to reflect reality, even an unpopular one.

      Finally, yes, people really have used moderation alerts to request faster answers. They have also been known to send private messages to our social accounts with their emergency questions -- instead of asking here, where the…you know…technical experts are.

      There’s so much fun stuff happening behind the scenes. ?


      Author's profile photo Satinder Singh
      Satinder Singh

      Jerry, is it ok to mock others using the content from SCN on other platforms ? Is that ok as per community rules ?


      Author's profile photo Jerry Janda
      Jerry Janda
      Blog Post Author

      Hi, Satinder:

      Could you give a link to an example please?

      We can't stop people from saying whatever they want on other platforms, but if it's a case of plagiarism, that's another story.