Rules of Engagement for an Inclusive Community
At the end of June, Craig Cmehil published a blog post that, amongst other things, introduced the members of the new Community & Influencers team and explained each person’s responsibilities. In my case, he noted that I’d be working on new rules of engagement.
And here we are.
The new rules of engagement are now available.
If you go to the new page for rules of engagement, the first thing you’ll likely notice is a new purpose statement. Allow me to share it here: “The SAP Community is an inclusive and receptive environment where all individuals are welcome to seek help and exchange knowledge.”
That statement seems straightforward — perhaps even obvious — enough. But the fact is that the community can be daunting at times, particularly for new members. That’s why “inclusive” and “receptive” are key words.
If you’re following the new blogs from Jamie Cantrell, you’ll see the importance of diversity and inclusion for us. You’ll see this importance in the new rules of engagement as well. We even emphasize it in one of the rules for proper etiquette: “Respect fellow members as human beings, the diversity of our members’ backgrounds, perspectives, education, and experiences.”
Speaking of etiquette, if you look at the updated page, you’ll notice that we split the rules into two clear categories: “participation etiquette” and “unacceptable content.” And we simplified the explanations for the rules in each. Our goal is to make the rules more accessible to all members — so that the community feels more welcoming (in a way that the wordier definitions might not have accomplished).
Paring down the explanations doesn’t mean that all of the rules themselves have changed. Just as before, there are guidelines calling for professional, courteous behavior. There are rules still preventing solicitations and personal information. But some of the previous rules are now gone — or redefined in a way that makes them less stringent. Again, the reasoning behind the changes is a desire to create and maintain a community that’s inviting to “all individuals” (to quote the purpose statement).
As always, moderators — the valuable volunteers who are exemplars of the rules of engagement — will serve as arbiters and coaches. And they’ll react to any alerts that members raise about content. But please note that if the content doesn’t violate any of the updated rules, then moderators won’t remove it. For example: Spam is a no-no, naturally — it even has its own bullet on the list of rules — but an unclear or previously asked question won’t simply disappear. To ensure the best possible experience, moderators and members should guide posters whose questions could benefit from improvements. This type of advice encourages all members to “seek help and exchange knowledge” (again, quoting the purpose statement), whereas deletions and reprimands drive people away.
We fully expect debate to occur occasionally over content, and moderators will work to resolve conflict and reach agreements. To provide a better understanding of moderation, we have published a new page outlining expectations for moderators and explaining their tasks. But with the new rules, we expect fair treatment for everyone — with less need for mediation. We can’t, however, accomplish any of that without your support and cooperation. Please take a few moments to read the new rules. Consider the purpose statement. And let’s work together to offer a community everyone can be — and will want to be — part of.