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Folks,

I’ve already written before about the lack of motivation to blog on SAP Community (SC). It’s been over a year but I don’t see any improvements. The blogging guidelines have been quietly swiped under the carpet. It’s not clear yet how this will help the quality of content or engagement. Anecdotal evidence suggests that the numbers of views, likes, and comments dipped even further.

But we can write and read blogs on many other websites and it’s not what this is about. So far SC is still the best place where one can find a good answer to many SAP questions. There has been no serious competition in this area and I imagine it remains attractive to the SAP customers.

However, since 2016, SAP managed to fail in attracting active new SC members and simultaneously succeeded in alienating the veterans. How did that happen?

You say SAP community, I say SAP Community

The renaming of SCN to SAP Community in 2016 was one of the poorly thought through decisions. And constantly having to type “SAP Community” instead of shorter SCN is not its only ill effect.

Now when anyone mentions “SAP community” it’s not even clear what are we talking about. Is it “SAP community” (as a group of people who work with SAP products) or “SAP Community” (as in the website and successor of SCN)?

There is a part of SAP community that does not actively participate on SAP Community (although most likely consumes the content occasionally). There is a part of SAP Community that does not participate in in-person community events, such as SIT, conferences or user group meetings. There is a part of SAP community where “cool s*t happens” and there is a part where s*t happens without being cool.

But when we just proclaim everything and anything “SAP community” it seems to make it easier to not continue including the less “cool” parts of whatever “SAP community” is. “What do you mean SAP does not support SAP community? Look at all the spending and all the successful SITs and CodeJams!” – “Um, not THAT SAP Community…” – “Huh? It says ‘SAP community’ right here, sooo…”.

SAP also made it very clear that they want to aggressively pursue non-SAP developers and, ultimately, include them in “SAP community”. The cool kids are probably not going to want to hang out on the non-cool SAP Community. So where does this leave us, exactly?

The Platform is Broken

The half-baked re-design of 2016, rushed into production just so that a grand announcement could be made at TechEd, has not been an improvement for the SCN users. 2 years later, SC remains a tool equally frustrating for the veterans and newbies. (This is where full inclusion has already been accomplished, ironically.)

As a company that heavily invests in their own platform, SAP of all organizations should know that you can’t build anything good on a broken platform. Running SC on a broken platform and expecting a different result is a definition of insanity.

Change of The Guard. Or Not

Do you know that Jürgen L, perennial Top Contributor, one of the tenured and most respected SCN members, already left the building? It’s easy to see the result of his absence:

I ran the statistics from the 27 questions in MM tag right before the Jürgen’s departure.

For comparison, similar 27 questions from SAP HANA tag (mind you, here “SAP employees” include well known top contributors, just like Jürgen):

It’s not hard to see that in many tags the same 2-3 people answer majority of questions. This just shows how much we rely on our most dedicated members to offer expertise to share.

One might say, oh boo-hoo, good riddance, time for the old fogies to step down and make space for the new generation. Fair enough. But where is this new generation?

The Stack has Overfloweth

SC is not the only online community going through the rough times. StackOverflow (SO) has been recently undergoing changes to address its reputation as an “elitist” place where no one dares to ask a question anymore.

One of the issues common between two communities is lack of guidance and support for the new members. SO makes use of technology to resolve that. SCN’s solution? Simply declare that from now on we will be “inclusive”.

While searching for a different perspective on the happenings at SO, I stumbled upon this old Reddit post. It is an illuminating read and if you’re truly interested in the community matters I’d recommend reading the comments all the way through.

The first comments support the image of SO as a cliquey website where one cannot post a question without being shut down and dragged through the mud. I will not deny that there are cases when on SC we (myself included) could’ve acted nicer too. But the later comments paint the eerily familiar picture of the active contributors burned out from repeatedly answering the same homework questions.

The Social Contract

StackOverflow code of conduct establishes a clear social contract. If you’re here to ask then the answer to your question will depend on your own effort and someone’s kindness. If you’re here to help then be patient. As much as I love to criticize anything and everything, I’d have hard time disagreeing with this.

SCN used to be a place by professionals and for professionals. But over the years, that social contract, as we say in the US South, “got gone”.

The inclusion that is not supported by platform features and human actions is just a bunch of baloney. And encouraging the drive-by, “dear gurus, here is my client requirement” questions for the sake of generating the content mass is not the inclusion. It is an enablement mechanism for the shady consulting companies.

Those who expect to be treated like professionals need to behave as such.

So what now?

Without a clear definition of (and adherence to) the social contract and a functional platform SAP Community will continue to decline. SAP community, of course, won’t cease to exist. But where will it go? That is the question we need to start asking ourselves. The ball has been in the SAP’s court for so long on this that the game might as well be considered forfeited.

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73 Comments

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  1. Jarret Pazahanick

    Nice job with this Jelena Perfiljeva or Jelena Perfiljeva and I am sure you will get some responses that everything will be fixed as a TOP PRIORITY but all I have seen for past 3-4 years are words as all the good will of what was a crown jewel of SAP (that they didn’t realize) has eroded and is never coming back.

    What is that saying….trust is earned in drops and lost in buckets…….well lets just say the repeated promises with no delivery are pretty shameful for a software company but when you compare SCN to the fires that are putting up with lawsuits, indirect licensing, competitors, bribery scandals in 3-4 geographic regions it is no wonder.

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    1. Jelena Perfiljeva Post author

      Thanks for the comment, Jarret!

      Yes, I imagine the SC matters are priority # 99 for SAP with all the things going on. Are they even interested in doing anything at this point? I can’t know this. All I can do is just to point out that we are in a coal mine and the canary is dead.

       

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  2. Gregory Misiorek

    Hi Jelena,

    from what i’m reading it’s time to start blogging more about the cool future of SAP in the cloud or git(hub) rather than what most of us have to deal with on the daily basis where what happens with the standard code on-prem is not all that cool. my only ‘gripe’ with the platform here is that i cannot easily control my own content as it dissipates into preassigned categories which i don’t quite follow.

    what’s fairly new is the multitude of blogging platforms or even slack with which SC has to compete, even for SAP specific content. if i were to write another blog on blockchain, i may do it not here as i don’t consider it exclusively belonging to SAP, but maybe on a medium page.

    quite understandingly, SC is tied to the events cycle and SAP mentors (and moderators), and has to at least be coordinated with the rest of the value proposition put out by the whole company. also, there’s a backlash on all things coming from the social media. i can’t image SC remaining unaffected by it.

    i realize that i’m not saying anything new here. however, i’m sure that SAP don’t want to lose a blogger with the wit like yours from this community.

    cheers, gm

     

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    1. Jelena Perfiljeva Post author

      Thanks for the comment, Greg! Since I’ve already written about the blogging aspect of SCN I wanted to focus on the Q&A aspect. I have nothing to add on the SC blogging subject. At this point I can’t in good conscience encourage anyone to blog on SC (unless it’s a very specific technical subject) because most likely their effort would just go poof. I bet even if I cross-post this blog on LI I’d get much more feedback.

       

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      1. Colleen Hebbert

        always gotta love a play on words

         

        I also notice that Jelena’s blog is about to crack 500 views – A special award on this platform is blogging on a topic that draws in the crown. Wouldn’t it be awesome when it’s actually SAP product related?

         

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  3. Eli Klovski

    I’d be happy to say otherwise, but every word Jelena wrote is carved in stone.

    I didn’t know about Jürgen 🙁 It is a major loss for SCN (not ‘SAP Community’)! But, I think I can understand the motives, though.

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      1. Jelena Perfiljeva Post author

        I can’t speak for Jürgen but I think his updated avatar kind of hints at the reasons.

        The modest and kind person like him is not the one to engage in public door slamming, I guess.

         

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      2. Colleen Hebbert

        if you don’t follow him and use activity notifications then you would not have seen profile update

         

        I do hope he returns – even if it’s just Coffee Corner.

         

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  4. Joao Sousa

    I basically left SCN in 2015 do to profissional commitments who led me towards other technologies, and only got back to SAP a few months ago. I skipped over the “new SAP Community” problems.

    When I compare my blogs views from 2015 with 2018, I actually had more views on my last two blogs then the previous ones (although ok, the titles were more clic-baity and Abap Testing was “hip”).

    In terms of the quality, I have a hard time saying why people leave or are less enthusiastic, but the amount of garbage on Q&A, that is incentivised by the new “be inclusive” policy, turn me off from that section. You can only read so many Q&As before thinking you’re wasting your time on people who don’t have a clue, and more importantly, haven’t bothered to research before asking. If they don’t respect my time, I won’t respect theirs.

    As a final remark, and as someone who works for a big consultancy, we don’t allow these kinds of posts in our firm. Most of these Q&A show a clear ineptitude that would get you on the “follow closely” list. I see a clear pattern, and I feel many see it too, but political correctness is a necessity in current times.

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    1. Jelena Perfiljeva Post author

      Good to have you back, Joao! You got very lucky by sitting out the whole 2016 transition. 🙂

      You’re right, certain blogs still generate good feedback on SC. But vast majority of content gets just crickets or 1 like or comment and <100 views. Personally, I just stopped reading any SC blogs unless they’re posted in ABAP tag or pop up on “most liked” or it’s someone I know. This is kind of “anti-inclusive” but life is too short, so it’s needed for self-preservation.

      It was actually your comment in another blog that made me think a lot:

      What we can’t come to is the opposite situation of people being too afraid to provide civil feedback and then get injustitly flagged for abuse just because someone felt insulted (with no good reason to be).

      You may be surprised that I don’t feel comfortable writing this, since it’s not a “thumbs up” cheerful post, but rather a concern regarding the indirect consequences of some diversity/inclusion initiatives. Ironically I’ve seen many inclusion initiates completely hostile to constructive feedback about themselves.

      You’re right. We can get so wrapped up in our own righteousness that we end up creating the very problem we were trying to solve. E.g. I’ve heard “oh, I’m afraid to even post on SCN because I’d get moderated or get some nasty comments” etc. Well, now I’m rather afraid to even answer a question. “Afraid” is not quite the right word, I simply chose not to answer because I don’t need the drama that may follow. But the end result is the same.

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      1. Joao Sousa

        On that biog people mentioned bullying on SCN. Real bullying is extremely serious, but I’m talking about real continued harassment not some of the stuff that gets labeled as bullying nowadays. As someone who has been away I asked for examples, and what I got was some vague response that sounded like “It happens, trust us”.

        That scares the sh… out of me. What is bullying here? Am I a bully because I wasn’t “nice” to someone who asked an extremely stupid question like “please tell me what’s wrong with my custom copy of LP10, and no you don’t need to see the code”?

        You start wondering “What do I get by helping? I know what I may lose if one of my posts gets picked up and posted on Facebook or something, and the crazy people start campaigning for me to get fired”.

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        1. Matthew Billingham

          Yeah, I don’t recognise this comment

          Managing the blogging program has made me aware of many topic experts who do not feel empowered to share their knowledge right now because they are afraid to make a mistake and get blasted by others in the community. 

          Until the global moderators took over blog moderation, I regular dealt with ABAP blogs. The most common type of blog was “here’s my cool program” – with no narrative, often coded using obsolete constructs (so, not even a showcase of good programming), and even with glaring errors.

          Three or four years ago, these would be removed with the guidance along the lines of that a simple program listing does not consitute a blog and links to advice on writing good blogs. Then we were told not to remove, but set to “Needs more work” – and after 30 days if there was no engagement, the blog was deleted. This was, in my mind, a good thing.

          I engaged with bloggers. I told them FORMs are obsolete and they should rewrite using objects, that they should have a personal angle and explanations of their programs. As a result, some bloggers never responded, some tried but just couldn’t cut bring the material up to scratch, some almost demanded I write their blog for them to make it publishable, and others actually engaged and we ended up with some pretty good blogs. Their content might not have been the most cutting edge and startling, but they were definitely blogs.

          At no time, so far as I could tell, was there any bullying.

          In Q&A, when rejecting a FAQ (for example), where the poster had begun with “I am new”, I would include in the comments – Being new does not mean that you should search before posting, in accordance with the Rules of Engagement.” I won’t go into details, but it was decided that such phrasing was hostile. So I switched to the template answers, which say pretty much the same thing, but in about 500 words instead of 18 – but at least I wouldn’t be accused of being Mr Nasty of the Nasty People. I’ll be the first to admit that I’m prone to heavy irony and sarcasm, but I do try to rein it in.

          The thing is, there will always be people who will complain if their precious content is redacted or removed. They feel they have a right to be published, or something. Some seem to have real problems with authority! (“How very dare you remove my pearls of wisdom'”). These are the ones who fire off angry emails to the administration. Few satisfied customers (possibly the majority?) will bother. Hence, the administration perceive a problem, where there is, in fact no problem.

          Then I think they fall into the Politician’s Fallacy.

          “There is a problem, we must do something.”

          “This is something.”

          “Let’s do it!”

          As it stands, so long as I’m permitted, I’ll continue to do what I do, in accordance with whatever the fashionable rules are at the time. Hey – maybe my prognostications of doom will be proven wrong!

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          1. Joao Sousa

            The irony is that the “lets be inclusive” initiative ends up not being inclusive to some personality types, which many times are the sites largest contributors.

            Instead of asking people to tolerate others and their flaws, it instead asks the people who contribute with answers to play this cookie-cutter role of the politically correct (but just the ones who answer, the people who ask can act as idiots all they want). In the search to “please” everyone, they end up alienating the contributors who will eventually be feed up with having to act in a way not consistent with their personality.

            I’m not advocating that we should be allowed to bully people, just that there is a wide space between being an aggressive idiot and a “politician” who is afraid so say anything the slightest offensive (and some will still get offended).

            I’m all for inclusion, but that means tolerating different personalities. Diversity should be the goal, instead of having people acting according to an approved interaction template, in a futile effort to please everyone, every time.

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  5. Morten Wittrock

    Hi Jelena

    I’m a veteran, around since early 2006, and I’m certainly neither alienated nor frustrated, not by far, so please don’t include me in those rather sweeping statements.

    In fact, I’d offer the counterpoint that I’m more active on this site than I’ve ever been. Also in the forums aka Q&A section, which I only very rarely visited in the old days. People also seem to have forgotten, that the old forums contained plenty of dubious questions.

    The current iteration of the community site certainly isn’t perfect, but neither were the old ones, that some people apparently pine for. Me, I like the current one.

    Morten

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    1. Jelena Perfiljeva Post author

      Thanks, for your comment! Of course, nothing is ever 100% and nothing is ever perfect. There are always people who will feel or think differently.

      I’m glad you are having a better experience on SC platform. My guess would be that in the SAP Cloud tags there are much less repeated, RTFM, and LMGTFY questions for the simple reason that product hasn’t been around for long and “critical mass” has not accumulated yet.

      Suddenly this reminded me of 2012 when SCN was either slow or just down a lot and the SAP folks (sitting on the same internal network as the hosting server, apparently) were like “what performance issues? It works great for me!” 🙂

      Empathy is just another thing that I feel has gone out the window since 2016.

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    2. Matthew Billingham

      In 2006 or thereabouts, SDN ABAP forums were awash with point hunters, FAQs, basic questions, point gamers and link farms. When the powers that be realised that it was all a bit rubbish, and there was little engagement from professionals as a result, a program of strict moderation was implemented.

      I’d say 2009 to 2016 was pretty much the golden age of SDN/SCN/SC as a result. The dross, at least in my area, was rapidly cleaned away, members either conformed to the rules, or quit. It wasn’t perfect, but it was pretty good. Engagement from experienced professional was high.

      Now we’ve come full circle, and strict moderation is seen as “destroying the community” (yes, that is a quote).

       

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      1. Nathan Genez

        Agreed.  I actually think once SDN became SCN and more moderators were around, things cleaned up a lot which prompted more engagement from a lot of folks.  It was worth coming to.  But now, I don’t see many representatives from SAP blogging (no product managers or solution owners or consultants).  We’re about to see a return to “What’s a cost center” questions and then folks mass replying with the same help.sap.com link.  Why come here for information if there is none to be had?

         

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      2. Joao Sousa

        The “community”. Do the powers that be at SAP think that a guy who comes here and throws a “Dear experts help” question in Q&A really wants to be a part of something?

        Between having a community of professionals who are really committed, or a “community” of randoms who throw a question and leave, SAP seems to prefer the latter. Oh right, in fairy land you can have both, you can have limitless “inclusion” and at the same time respect the time of the people who are really committed to the community.

        I’m such a cynic … I guess the world is really divided in the ones who think we can all “get along” and those you think that can never happen, that some things are just incompatible, that you can’t please everyone.

        PS: Just to make it clear (and it’s unfortunate I need to make this disclaimer) I welcome contributions from all races and genders, but I do have a low tolerance for entitled people who don’t respect my/our time and effort. 

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        1. Jelena Perfiljeva Post author

          This came up in the StackOverflow related discussions a lot. First of all, some bad stuff that has been going on at SO never actually happened on SCN (due to moderation, in large part). Second, unlike SO, SCN has always been meant for professionals. This. by definition, makes it sort of “elitist”. You might not know anything about SAP but being a professional implies basic analytic and communication skills.

          SO, I believe, got a bit overrun by the student questions. Such questions require a completely different approach than those posted by professionals. E.g. I wouldn’t go to my kid’s school and talk to his 3rd grade class the same way as to my ABAP team at work. (And my kid has better analytical skills than shown by some SCN questions, by the way. 🙂 )

          Realistically, I wouldn’t expect SCN questions from an enthusiastic teenager who watched a YouTube video and now wants to learn SAP. But if someone at SAP expects that, those questions need to be managed better. E.g. put them in a separate forum or mark somehow. We put “learner” signs on the new driver’s cars for a reason.

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          1. Bärbel Winkler

            “We put “learner” signs on the new driver’s cars for a reason”

            How about providing a “I’m here to learn” indicator which newbies can add to their profile somehow (perhaps via a specific mission)?

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      3. Jelena Perfiljeva Post author

        I agree completely. For this reason when I search on Google, even for the old issues, I stay away from pre-2009 posts because most are pages of copy-pasted training materials and dead links.

        The Q&A improved greatly when moderation was stepped up. There were more incentives for those answering questions to visit SCN. And, naturally, more questions got answered intelligently.

        I do not really understand where the “destroying the community” assessment even came from. If anyone wants to see what the lack of moderation leads to all they need to do is search for the pre-2009 posts.

         

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  6. Paul Hardy

    What I think happened when the last revamp happened was that a seemingly tiny thing – the loss of being able to be notified by email when someone commented on your blog or mentioned you or whatever … seemed to starve the platform of oxygen and 75% of the brain cells died before the oxygen supply was restored.

    Brain cells cannot grow back and so the recovery from that point – as guaged by number of views of blogs, and indeed number of interesting blogs – has been slow. It is getting better but it is not yet back to the point where I could not go a day without logging in once or twice to see what was going on. Now logging on to SCN is an afterhought as in “I have not done that for a while” rather than an addictive habit.

    The bug that is driving me mad is when you post a comment and then realise you have made a spelling mistake you cannot instantly press the EDIT button and correct the spelling. You get a funny error message.

    That has been there for ages. It is rather like in the ABAP editor where I still to do this very day get error messages like “Variable MONSTERS does not exist. does not exist. does not exist”. If SAP cannot spare the time to fix obvious bugs in the ABAP editor that effect every single developer all day long, then what chance has the SCN got?

    Cheersy Cheers

    Paul

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      1. Jelena Perfiljeva Post author

        And to add insult to injury, when we do that, it creates “orphaned” notifications. E.g. it’s not unusual to get 3 notifications for a comment but then there is only 1.

         

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    1. Jelena Perfiljeva Post author

      Thanks for the comment, Paul! Well, email notification was one thing (there was a whole snowball of problems that still hasn’t melted). But you are probably right about it doing some irreparable damage. Spent a bit too long in a coma there.

      I didn’t want to even mention any specific issues because the powers in charge of SC love to pick one minor detail and then run with it as if it’s the holy salvation. Wouldn’t be surprised if someone reads your comment and is like “that’s it, folks! we just fix this comment bug and everything will be OK again!” 🙂

      I feel the same way about visiting SCN. Went on a vacation for a week and didn’t seem to miss anything.

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      1. Bärbel Winkler

        Thanks for the heads-up, Jeremy! I actually just now had a real life example and was able to fix a typo in a recent comment on another blog post which it let me do without that stupid error message.

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  7. Bärbel Winkler

    Lots of food for thought in your blog post, Jelena, that’s for sure!

    I wasn’t really active a lot during the SDN/SCN “age” and only became involved as a reader and sometimes poster of questions right around the time the SAP Community was launched. I’m therefore obviously lacking the perspective of long time contributors like yourself.

    Speaking for myself, I see the glass as half full and not half empty, most likely due to the fact that I’ve had quite positive experiences a couple of times with some of my questions getting answered quickly and with just the suggestions/solutions I was looking for. Perhaps I just got lucky that I posted those questions just at the right time of the right day of the week where it got noticed by just the right contributor who had the answer?

    As for blogging: as most of you are aware, I only got into this earlier this year and I really enjoy it thus far (even though the platform does has some shortcomings). Granted, I’d also like to see some more interaction on my (and others’) blog posts but there isn’t much I can do to influence that. On the other hand, putting together a blog post for a specific topic – possibly something I’m working on at the moment – helps me as much as those reading it. Why? Because I’m forced to get my thoughts organised to write a coherent post which in turn makes it easier for me to explain what and why this is for to colleagues. Some of my completed blog posts also do “double duty” as far as documentation goes! I’d have to write something up anyway to share/store internally, so why not make it available publicly?

    And a thought about SAP Community: how about setting up some virtual events via a suitable platform for “coffee corner” like get-togethers where Community members could meet virtually to just chat and hash things out? Nothing (too) formal but spread around timezones and whoever wants to join can call in and stay for as long or short as s/he likes.

    Cheers

    Baerbel

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    1. Jelena Perfiljeva Post author

      Thanks for your comment, Baerbel!

      As I mentioned, I would not even see the “change of guard” as an issue. It’s a completely normal process in an otherwise healthy community: some people might feel bored or tired or simply leave for any other personal/work reasons. But then new people, like you, who have no grudges (yet 🙂 ) and can offer fresh perspective and ideas, join and community continues to live and thrive.

      The issue is, as I mentioned, there is no stream of new “SCNetizens” (and here I mean the active members, not just drive-by “SAP ABAP” accounts).

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    2. Matthew Billingham

      I think a big part of the reason for your positive experience, is that you’ve asked really good questions. Not everyone does that, and it’s particularly problematic with newbies.

      However, sometimes I see a question from someone at the beginning of their SAP career that’s clear, that is well expressed (or, given the linguistic skills, there’s an attempt at clear expression!) and that shows the questioner has put some effort into a) finding an answer and b) asking the question. In such cases, even if it’s a topic that’s been covered a hundred times, I’m actually quite happy to answer and guide the poster. The poster will also have a positive experience.

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      1. Bärbel Winkler

        Thanks, Matt!

        I’m not sure but perhaps part of the problem is that it’s sometimes hard to tell whether or not a poster has actually given her/his issue some thought before asking a question. There may well be cases where it’s “accidental negligence” by newbies and not “willfull negligence” but you can’t really tell from how they word their question. I see the same thing in comments regarding human-caused climate change where you often cannot tell if a poster is spreading misinformation because s/he has been misinformed or because it’s done with the intent to actually disinform. It’s therefore usually best when responding to not infer motive (the “why the commenter wrote what s/he did”) but to concentrate on the “what” is wrong with the information shared.

         

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        1. Matthew Billingham

          Indeed, some people just omit detail because they’ve no experience of how to ask questions.

          Jürgen had a lovely example of how he dealt with that. For the first attempt, he removed the question, with guidance about there being not really enough information, and how to ask a good question.

          The result was that the questioner reposted their question – and this time, it was good and answerable.

          However, others given the same treatment, respond with hostility, as though they’re being personally impugned.

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        2. Mike Pokraka
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        3. Jelena Perfiljeva Post author

          This is a very interesting aspect: is an author of RTFM question genuinely lazy and dumb or are they simply unaware / misguided?

          There were actually several comments related to this in the Reddit post I linked as this seems to be an issue on StackOverflow as well. One of the comments actually suggested the same exact process as we’ve been following since SDN: this is handled by the moderators. The author receives a “canned” reply saying their question is not clear / can be easily answered by Google with a suggestion on how to fix it. This spares the author from the public comments and at the same time offers guidance.

          An alternative is to just allow any questions. While it seems very nice and “inclusive” on paper, it actually opens several cans of ugly worms.

          First of all, “cultural differences”. Just like OP might be innocent, the responders may have no intent to offend anyone. “Why the f*k do you want to do this?” could be actually a perfectly acceptable reaction in Europe. “What are you trying to achieve?” is OK for the US. But I find that, in particular, some folks coming from Asian countries expect much more sugary and delicate replies. E.g. someone was offended by a word “bizarre” in my reply. And I honestly could not find a more appropriate word for what they were describing.

          Second, on the forums with many more members (like SO) you can allow it to be somewhat self-regulated simply because one nasty reply can be drowned by 99 nice ones. This might be where SCN was going with voting but because there are 1-2 answers given on SCN there is simply no volume sufficient for self-regulation. So one bad answer becomes an ultimate offense, if you will.

          Third, as I said, you can’t build anything good on a bad platform. Bad environment brings out the worse in people. You come in to SCN with good intentions to help, then you are suddenly not logged in, your typing got lost, you didn’t get notified there was a reply to your answer, there are tons of basic questions and you have to click “moar” button 10 times. It all piles up and, just like OP, we are only humans.

          That’s why personally I’m very much in favor of the moderator model on SCN. And it seems interesting that people who are in favor of “anything goes, just ignore the question you don’t want to answer” are usually the ones who very rarely answer questions themselves and I guess rarely search in Google just to find 10 copies of the same question and a link farm. This model has been proven to work, from what I see.

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          1. Joao Sousa

            In the afternoon I was thinking about the “just ignore the question you don’t want to answer”.

            What is more inclusive? To have most questions ignored because people won’t bother anymore, or to have someone actually guide the person asking the question with tips on how to make it better (and in the process have 1% pissed off about the moderation)?

            What will leave a better impression about the community for the 99% who can handle civilized feedback?

            In this day and age I see too many decision being made in response to angry users, which is catering to the vocal few. It’s very bad move in the long run.

             

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            1. Jelena Perfiljeva Post author

              In this day and age I see too many decision being made in response to angry users, which is catering to the vocal few.

              I feel that someone probably thinks we are the “vocal few” here. 🙂

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              1. Joao Sousa

                Nah, you need Facebook or Twitter campaign for that 😉

                I have to say that if they keep with the “Diversity”, I’ll just stop posting and leave again, because if there is one thing I’m sick and tired of is gender/identity politics. Coming to what should be a developer forum and get that stuff shoved down my throat…

                I can only see so many “white men” before I puke. It’s like SAP wants me to leave, because I’m somehow evil or something. 

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      2. Nathan Genez

        Couldn’t agree more.  The first thing my brain looks for and wants to slam a post on is the amount of effort that the OP has made.  If they’re just copy/pasting from their support ticket into the forum with a “please help” at the end…  Well, I’m not going to help them regardless of the question.

         

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        1. Jelena Perfiljeva Post author

          Same here. Perhaps SAP’s train of thought was “well, these old grumps won’t answer but someone will”. Yeah but how long before the new guns realize they’re being taken advantage of and turn into the same “old grumps”? That would require a constant turnover of people willing to volunteer their time for this. And what quality of the answers (and consequently quality of the content for those who search) will that offer?

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    3. Rob Dielemans

      Hi Bärbel,

       

      When I read your questions it was immediately clear that you are just another SAP professional looking for help. It was clear what you were trying to achieve and you even delved into all of the things that you already tried but failed.

      That is the reason why you got so much in depth help from me and Mike Pokraka .

      I also think that this should be the minimum of any questions and I am of the opinion that all of them that do not conform to this reasonable rule have to be rejected outright which would be an exclusive point of view, one that is not so popular at the moment.

       

      Cheers, Rob Dielemans

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      1. Matt Fraser

        Wow, reading that “lifecycle” document?/thread?/list? from 1995 was very much a deja-vu moment. To Jamie Cantrell ‘s humorous Steamboat Willie comic posted in reply to your comment, where are we today, here, with (New) SAP Community (NSC as distinct from SCN?)? Are we steering toward 6b? Are we mired in 6a?

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      2. Jelena Perfiljeva Post author

        “I’m obviously hoping to get some answers but I also realise that I’m not entitled to get one, let alone quickly.”

        This is the key to success on SCN or SO or in life in general. Don’t feel like you are entitled to be included and you will be.

         

         

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  8. Sergio Guerrero

    well said Jelena. I hope the direction changes sooner than later… for a while there I thought my browser was broken not seeing any traffic. I hope the there is a re-do of the community page and hopefully more attractive for the rest of the people who are still here and maybe bring in a few more. I was always looking forward to coming here and then seeing some people at events like tech ed, SIT, and sapphire.. I have not been able to follow some of the respected members due to the lack of participation. it should also be a part of everyone contributing.. and hopefully sap fixes some of the issues… anyways.. thanks again for sharing these thoughts

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  9. Fausto Motter

    Maybe I´m wrong, but I think that we have 3 mainly points:

    1-) From some years ago, some doubts and questions has been solved in P2P networks, or direct contacts. For example,… how many Skype and WhatsApp groups you know where consultants ask for doubts and answers? There are dozens of this…
    This is a change in user behavior, and we need to surf in this wave to adjust the aim and actions. Maybe we are trying to communicate and interact in a wrong tool (especially when we are talking with new generation that coming…)

    2-) As I wrote some weeks ago, we have a problem based on leadership by example. Make any sense a huge number of mentors without Community profile updated? SAP gave the shirt for some people that, sincerely, don’t do any effort neither spend an hour a month to help and encourage the people and ecosystem to interact with Community…
    The numbered people must work to grow the community and help the others…

    3-) Now the SAP Community should be much more than answer and questions. We can use the community as a platform, but we should reinforce the live contact and attitudes. Meetups, Inside Tracks, Research opportunities, there are a huge opportunity to grow the community and the people contact.

    And, at least, to be positive, congratulations to SCN team by the tutorials challenge. At same time that I saw some problems, I´m feel better when I see the movement and the decisions to back to track. The criticism is good and necessary, but at same time we need to valorize the improvements.

    FM.

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  10. Nathan Genez

    Great blog Jelena.  I have the same viewpoint.  SAP has messed up the community by re-branding it under SAP.com.  I think they selfishly wanted to grab all of the traffic, engagement, views, and commentary with the hopes of it flowing over to other parts of the site.  But they’ve messed up some technical items (tags are not a foundational characteristic to classifying information; they’re supplementary) and engagement has gone down.  This wave has happened before but only in milder doses.  I think a great many hard working and passionate supporters are either leaving or have already left mentally.

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  11. Thomas Grassl

    SAP Community, we hear you.

    When we took on the community, it was important to us to stop blogging about all the great things to come and focus instead on doing. We have been quiet, but only because we needed the time to work through analyzing usage patterns of the community and understanding how this has changed over time, so we could put a plan together and execute it. We will soon share more about the updates coming, but as said we will only make announcements when everything is close to ready. Also, a heads-up: We won’t push out one fix and be finished. We will roll out improvements on an ongoing basis and will also adjust as necessary. This is a community, and communities must be ready to evolve to meet changing needs.

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    1. Jelena Perfiljeva Post author

      Thomas, thanks for your comment!

      I know that you’ve only took over the community matters some months ago. It’s unfortunate but the situation is that whatever credit the community leadership had with the community members has mostly run out.

      We’ve already been thanked for the feedback and told to be patient (without any specific dates) many times in the last 2 years. Lack of willingness to evolve from the community side is not an issue here, from what I’ve observed. The revolving door of leadership, empty promises, glacial speed of changes, lack of communication, and lack of clarity (both strategic and operational) are.

       

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  12. Julien Delvat

    Hi Jelena,

    Your blog is only 2 days old and already has more engagement than most topics!

    Some issues I’ve seen with SAP Community (as in, the new SCN):

    • Losing your content / reputation after changing jobs / emails
      I’ve lost my Mentors badge a number of times, now.
    • Losing your reputation after the reboot of SCN.
      Gamification was driving a certain number of contributor who have left
    • Confusion / separation between blogs.sap.com and answer.sap.com,
      which used to be on a single platform before.

    I hope we can find a way to fix this and attract more contributors.
    Like you, I’ve very frustrated when I see so many unanswered questions.

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    1. Nathan Genez

      And I don’t think their current approach to moderation which can best be summed up by ‘anything goes’ is the correct answer. The quality of SCN continues to go degrade.

       

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  13. Gregory Misiorek

    Not sure if this is going to help anybody or will be taken only as a bit of bashing, but Amazon’s partner website (portal?) is not all that great. they lost my content, followed up once and then decided not worth pursuing the issue any longer, and their technical support is all open source, i.e. you are on your own.

    And this is all coming from a company that is a leader in the cloud business.

    All in all, SAP Community ain’t so bad.

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        1. Nathan Genez

          It’s also a way to give up a control and ownership, something I’ve becoming increasingly more concerned about.  It’s why I don’t blog here anymore and would rather do it on my own website.

           

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  14. Stephen Johannes

    I’m only making a rare unicorn like appearance to say, unfortunately the situation is all “voluntary” and didn’t have to become this way.  Honestly the magic formula to “rebuild” community is there but the platform and lack of understanding of “balance” is what is stopping from re-growth.

    If I were still involved in anything SAP related… well perhaps I would want to spend some time in trying to help fix the fundamentals.  Being inclusive does not mean not having standards.  Having standards doesn’t mean being exclusive.

    The core of the community wasn’t not based on one particular group controlling the whole narrative.  Instead it was based on mutual trust and understanding and desire to help others with problems, with a little bit of recognition throw-in along the away.

    It was not about building a content repository or the best knowledge base, or having the best looking website.  It was strictly about people helping people.   When the focus was moved to improving operating costs, making the website look pretty, building content or anything not focused on people that’s how the community was destroyed.

    No amount of platform features, bug fixes or rules can restore a community until the core focus of allowing people to connect with people to help one another is restored.  All other items blogs, questions, platform, look and feel, technology, moderation rules, acceptable use rules are secondary to this focus.  I know this to be true, because when I stopped focused on being the lean/mean rules enforcer and content generator and focused on helping others with content, that is when my personal benefits from the community increased.

    If you don’t understand that focus must change back to people to people and make the radical changes to enable that, this issue will never be resolved.

    Take care,

    Stephen

     

     

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  15. Simone Milesi

    Honestly, this sounds to me something already written and already read like… dozens of times in the past 2 years.
    And here we are again.
    We (i’m the first one) sound like those old dinos sitting on park’s benches and complaining about good ol’ times forever gone.
    Maybe it’s up to us?
    i do not know.

    What i know it’s that i’m limiting my time here because it’s more a waste of it than giving any real contribute.
    And reading Jürgen L  left.. well, it’s quite shocking and someone should be hearing bells ringing pretty loudly right now.

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  16. Michelle Crapo

     

    Wow – another great person left.  Sad.  I agree with Simone and Stephen.  I see problems, I see people raising problems (Like me).  But what happens after – if it isn’t a platform issue…  Can I do something to help?  Can I do something better?

    I’m trying with creating blogs, reading blogs, and keeping up with coffee corner when I have time.

    To me I love Stephen’s comment and can’t think of a better one.  SDN was this:

    “People helping People”

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