"Are we there yet?"
A question that many parents and viewers of the Simpsons will recognize. The funny thing is, the question can be repeated from the moment "no" is given as an answer.
A better follow up question would be "How do we get there?". You could ask yourself, why do many stick to asking "Are we there yet?" ? In my opinion, because that's the easy way out.
The new SCN
I think we can all agree, we are not there yet. Does this mean the migration of SCN onto a new technology platform was a bad call? No it does not.
Like many community members I have been trying to figure out how to get as much relevant information out of SCN as I possibly can. While the new "activity stream" and "communications stream" seemed to be the answer during the beta phase, things have changed once the new SCN went live.
When I was younger, we (my parents, my sister and me) went on a vacation to France. In the early morning we stopped at a beach to pick up shells that the ocean washed ashore.
At one point I saw a really shiny, big shell lying about right after picking up another one, I kept my head down, focused on the shells in the sand and I reached for the shell. By focusing on picking up that shell, I forgot to watch the incoming waves, a big one hit me and took me along it's path onto the beach.
The sheer volume of connections and the impact of following a person or a place and tracking content in communications has transformed my SCN stream into an ocean. An ocean much like the one on vacation in France.
Checking out relevant blog posts
If you want to check out all blog post recently posted, you have multiple options.
There is the @SCNBlogs twitter account which is plagued by community members creating blog posts which should be discussions.
Another option is using the Browse option on SCN, going to the content tab and use the filter to see all recently posted blogs. The problem here is that you cannot bookmark this page. The only good alternative to bookmarking is placing the URL in your browser favorites.
Another option, one that works best for me for the time being, is using the RSS feeds. What I do is go into a place, for example About SCN, go into the content tab, filter on blog posts and then use the RSS feed option that is available at the bottom of the screen. I'm using Google reader (see picture 1.0) to manage and read my RSS feeds which works fine. While time progresses I will add the necessary places to get the most out of what I want to see in terms of SCN blogs.
Is this the most ideal option? No it is not because I'm forced to go outside SCN to check the content which matters most to me. That is exactly what the new platform and new SCN should be delivering inside SCN through the activity and communications stream.
What matters most
The idea to see "What matters most" is a great idea but somehow it's not happening at the moment. At least it's not working for me.
In the old SCN I mostly followed the blogging scene. What I would like to see now in my streams are the blogs of the places that are relevant to me.
How can this be achieved? By providing the possibily to follow or track content at a deeper level. Instead of only providing the option on a place level, this option could be provided on a deeper level, follow blogs only, follow documents only, follow discussions only or a mix of the previous. This idea would greatly improve my stream to "What matters most".
Idea: Follow or track content on a deeper level
After the new SCN was launched I was excited to see who would connect and how the connections would work out. A good number of community members connected and in all fairness I like to follow back because this enables direct messaging inside SCN.
The problem was immediately visible though, each activity of all connections are being broadcast into my "followed" activity and communications stream which makes it hard to spot interesting content because of the sheer volume of information.
While I want followers to be able to directly message me and while I want to check what they are up to I would prefer to be able to check out what they are up to, to a certain degree. Meaning I would like to be able to choose if I want to see a connections activity in discussions yes or no, blogs yes or no, documents yes or no and so on.
That way I could control the mass of the information flowing through the "followed" activity and communications stream better to really find interesting content and get to the information which matters most.
Follow a connection on a deeper level
Beneficial for SCN itself?
While I cannot make any official statement I can imagine the above options could also be beneficial for the SCN platform itself because it could lower the massive amounts of information being sent and stored. After all each user-id has his/her own stream and for each item a status has to be kept (read, not read).
Top rated content
The top content of a place is also not sufficient in my opinion. I would like to see several improvements in this area. As you have already figured out from the previous chapters in this blog post, in general I prefer tracking blog post activity instead of discussions. Why? Because there are a lot of discussions that I consider "bad quality" or irrelevant for me at the time being.
How will you get to a good discussion then? Just recently Tom Van Doorslaer posted a discussion Debate: Rewards vs Work vs Value in About SCN . That's the kind of discussion I want to catch and contribute to. The solution? I would follow Tom's activity blog wise and discussion wise.
As you can see in picture 1.1 on the Solution Manager place the top rated content consists out of three discussions and two blog posts. The discussions are not the "top" content I would like to see here. In the first discussion Solution Manager 7.1, a community asks general information on Solution Manager. I answered to his questions and a couple of follow-up questions. He or someone else marked my answer with a five-star rating. Since there is only a single vote this discussion is now on top of the "Top Rated Content".
This means that questions like "Where can I find the installation guide for SAP Netweaver?" can become Top Rated Content. Seriously? That's so basic that it should never be "Top Rated Content".
Again, I would like to be able to check Top Rated Content on a deeper level, meaning I would like to go to the content tab, filter on blog posts underneath Solution Manager, scroll down to the bottom and see a top rated content list at the bottom.
Idea: See a top rated content list on a deeper level
Filter to content that matters
Another improvement I would like to see is the option to filter on the number of likes, bookmarks, comments and views. The columns are there but the the filter option is not which is a pity. It's not because a blog post has the most likes, bookmarks or views that the blog post on itself is top content or quality content but at least it means it has moved something. Perhaps a huge discussion is triggered by the blog post and that's what I would like to see and catch as well.
More sort by options
As time progresses I'm sure other ideas will pop-up. The above ideas are the ideas that instantly make sense to me. It might not be what everyone is looking for but then again it will never be the case and everyone is free to create ideas on IdeaPlace. That's what it is there for and for me it works. If you create ideas don't forget to send them out to an audience (something many forget to do) because that's the ideal way to get traction.
I welcome comments and other ideas. If you have an idea, create an idea on ideaplace on put the link in the comments so community members can vote those ideas up.