I have been using the SDN forums for a while now, and I find them very useful. However more and more (this particularly concerns the Web Dynpro Java Forum) I am frustrated by the inane questions that are posted. Questions of the type, "Hello exprts, I am doing Web Dynpro, can you send me the documents? thnx". Even questions in which the title sounds promising, the content is ridiculous. I understand that unless people read the questions no-one will answer them, but with only 1 in 5 questions actually being worth reading, it comes to the point where I am no longer bothering to read through questions in the forum to see if I can help our a fellow forum user.
I think that some way of flagging in the forum overview the number of points/posts that a user who is asking the question has would be a good idea. It would go a long way to helping me, and I would assume others, filter out the meaningless jabber and actually get back to communicating with a forum of users who are actively trying to help each other out. The results would be, I believe, that if you posted useful replies to others, then your questions would in turn be more likely to be read by others willing to help you.
Is this an idea that might have merit?
Each forum displays the top 3 contributors last 30 days (right under the forum summary). Many of us use that list with its corresponding fuller list of users and activity, to track the "leads" in each area. For exampe:<a href="https://forums.sdn.sap.com/topusers.jspa?forumID=40">here</a>. Do you think this information or a link to it needs to be replicated?
One can also look at the <a href="https://www.sdn.sap.comhttp://www.sdn.sap.comhttp://www.sdn.sap.com/irj/sdn/topusers">top forum contributor list</a>
And of course you see number of questions, points, and posts each member has even if they are asking a question by looking at the details of their name.
What am I missing in your query?
My point is that when I am looking at a list of questions, I don't want to have another window open showing the top contributor list. I want to know easily whose questions are more likely to be worth reading than those who aren't.
For example in eBay, an icon is associated with a user id if the user has successfully completed n number of trades, this helps the end-user identify those people who they are more likely to have a successful trade with.
The top 3 contributors in a given forum, are, in my experience unlikely to ask many questions at all! Although when they do I would certainly be interested in their questions - it's not a very useful filtering mechanism. Id suggest that anyone with more than 20 forum points against their user would be unlikely to be asking the I am going to be doing ESS, please send me the documents, my email address is email@example.com type message that so frustrates me within the forums.
In the same way that eBay users have to build up a reputation (status points) before they are able to trade most successfully, SDN users who wish to ask questions from the forums would get more/quicker response if they actively participated in the forums rather than (to steal a phrase from the peer-to-peer file sharing community) just leaching, if it was obvious to people reading questions who these active SDN participants were.
Amazingly as if to perfectly illustrate the point I am trying to make, a user of this forum has recently posted a question that I thought I'd read - which just turned out to be a Implimentations. If I could have seen that the person posting had zero points I might not have bothered to open the question and instead spent that time reading/responding to a more worthy question.
Does this make my point clearer?
Edit: added example thread
Yes, now I've got it. It would be helpful to you to have the point tally next to the author topic. Then you could decide whether the person asking the question is someone you would like to engage with. Or perhaps that the person asking the question has already answered some and has some "karma" or credit to his/her name.
Thanks for clarifying. I see that you are really frustrated by "empty" posts. Your suggestion has merits and I will check to see if it has already been placed on queue. If not, I promise to champion it, if possible to implement.
One last clarification: You do know that on the forum main page, when you click on the author name, you get a quick snapshot of that person's contributions so you can use that easily to make your determination about the questioner. Trying to put that info on the main page might "crowd" the look and feel of the existing columns. Presently we have colums for answered, thread, author, views, replies, last post. You understand that putting another column (author points) might be a usability problem for readers on that page. Think about the width if we were displaying tens of thousands of points for Rich, Bhanu, Robert Negro and company
I second the idea that something is lacking. I have previously suggested the idea of personal black/whitelists <a href="https://forums.sdn.sap.com/click.jspa?searchID=3246730&messageID=3210657">over here.</a>.
Another alternative might be to use the milestone system. Many forums have a rating of sorts visible against all usernames (e.g. <a href="http://forums.contractoruk.com/">this one</a>), and the SDN milestones could fit in nicely. I thought the ebay idea is good, to expand on that perhaps we could add an ebay-style visual indicator (the stars/colours, not the feedback numbers).
Just my 2p.
I've checked Mike's link and found on that UK IT Contractor Portal site: Currently Active Users: 44 (7 members and 37 guests) Most users ever online was 313, 8th June 2007 at 12:40. You have to click into the user names to get the ratings, by the way and I couldn't find anything business relevant posted in the place I looked. Seemed more like a teenage doom game.
They have users like Lucifer Box (super poster) conqrer (not worth listening to) and Diver (lurker not fighter). Reminds me back when I began working with Mark F. and suggested using wizards, super geeks, ubergeeks as means of distinguishing our top contributors. That seems a little purile, now, with all due respect to the contractors worksite that is in Mike's post. And would that be suitable to suits (pun intended)? I'm all for games and fun, but I'm wondering how this would make a difference.
One thing I did like that I saw on Mike's site was the ability to hover over a thread and get a quick view of the text without click thru. Not that the contents were at all inspiring in the summary, but the ability to do that is interesting and would help determine whether to further investigate.
Goodness, if I were a newbie (okay, in many respects I am), how good does it feel to be called "not worth listening to" just because you are new to the forum. The more I look at this, the less I would want to champion it.
I cannot comment about the link Mike provided us, but I would like to answer some of your other points.
I certainly believe that we do not want to move down the path of the more social based forums, which have the less professional user titles, but if we consider the example of eBay (I will accept the point that it is not actual a forum - but requirements of users to gather maximum amount of information with minimum detail displayed is pertinent). In eBay icons are used to indicate the "status" of a user. These are not given funny titles, but directly relate to the status of the user within the community. I feel that a similar approach would be acceptable to our professional community. There is no need to describe the grouping other than by the forum points - 0-10, 11-49, 50-99, 100-249, 249-1000, 1000+ (for example, no need for any further explaination, just come up with some simple icons which indicate this).
Another direct comparison that is worth drawing, is that if I see an item in eBay that is well described and appealing to me, I will investigate further, no matter what the user status. Similarly, if I saw a post titled "Problem implementing IVAC interface in FPM" I would more than likely read the post, regardless of the number of forum points of the user. The user status only acts as a "filter" - if you like - if the title of the post is vague or generic. A user who is asking for "Help with ESS function" who has successfully contributed to forums is much more likely to have a sensible question than one who has never been active in helping other. One could argue that both users should structure the topic of their question better to invite more responses, but where the first language of many of the forum users is not English, is this too much to ask for?
So, to recap, I do not believe that showing a forum points status would stop those people who are new to the forums, perhaps have only just signed up because they are stuck on one specific problem, from getting their post answered.
Given the huge number of very nice users out there who even respond to the inane questions once they have read them, people will still have their questions read and responded to, but it would encourage more interaction - which can only be a good thing for the forums.
I certainly believe that within a community like SDN the idea of "karma" - getting back more if you put in more should be promoted, I would see this as a simple way of achieving that.
I hope that you see this objective as something worth championing.
Message was edited by: Chris Paine - spelling error corrected
@Chris - Points well taken and thanks for spending time to articulate them so fully. It is obvious that you care deeply about the quality here and are patient in getting your ideas about that quality transmitted. Thanks. For my part
@Gareth - I agree that educating folks to spend time researching and doing dilligence should be our common goal. In many cultures, one certainly wouldn't want to hire a professional that needed so much "babying" and homework help. But do consider certain types of behavior you might observe could be related to certain cultural norms. In any event, we need to do our utmost to train. Lots of work goes on in the background to explain, reprimand, occasionally delete such repeated offenders.
So, I've captured the request and checked our database to see if something already exists there as an enhancement and I've uploaded an example of how this might work, if a user was flagged as novice, expert, etc.
Yep, and also thank you for not pointing out that I am also more inclined to answer than not. It could be mild jealousy on the part of those of us who came in before SDN existed and so had to ask silly questions in person and discover the use of public shame as a motivating factor
But although I was half joking re the kindergarten, maybe a Basic questions fora may help separate the easy from the harder. And I know for a fact that one or two of my questions would have been posted to such a fora. Its just a recognition that we can all end up in uncharted waters, or in my case get lost in my own living room.
But I agree only to a point. The legion of interview question queries worries me to the extent that I would rather hear an answer built from experience than one learned by rote. To the extent that I am often tempted to answer such threads with something to the effect that if I ask you a question in an interview, you had better have a real world example specific to your stated work history to back it up. Sadly this approach has been successful on occasion......
Anyway, thank you for your reply.
Hi Marilyn ,
Wow, I didnt' think I'd provoke such a response.... well, for starters I only posted the site as an example of the <i>format</i>, not the <i>content</i>. The software they use is something I see around a lot on the web.
Secondly - and here I have to eat humble pie - I thought the poster's ranking was shown on the thread list page, which was the main thing I wanted to illustrate. In fact it i<i>sn't</i>, so the whole example was a bit, er... 'pointless' (sorry).
I did find your observations amusing though and I can see what you mean by looking under General. I use the Accounting and Contracts forums which are actually quite professional (and given it was after 11pm local time I wouldn't expect too many people online).
On another note, although I'm all for using real names on SDN, there is a very good reason for the use of pseudonyms on CUK as it allows anonymous discussion about sensitive issues. Perhaps the contrast between these serious forums and the others all on the same site reflects the British sense of humour - childish and inane one moment and very serious the next.
Brits also like to poke fun at others and themselves, which perhaps explains the purile nature of the categories in an 'adult' site. Pick a random topic unlikely to be frequented by teenagers and look for a UK forum - e.g.under <a href="http://www.caravan-sitefinder.co.uk/forum/">Caravanning</a> (not one I frequent) I found "cheekymonkey" (Trainee Tent), haggis (One-timer), "jay29" (Captain Camper) and "Road Runner" (Major Motorhome). Go figure...
PS.. For those who missed the meaning behind someone calling themselves "Haggis":
For What its Worth,
This is a great idea and needed because SDN has become a victim of its own success. The inane and stupid questions are nothing to do with the greenness of the questioner, but more to do with the lack of what we used to call CDF in the army, or to put it plainly, a little bit of initiative.
The cause is we keep answering the stupid questions. Why?
My children often ask me questions relating to their homework. At first they ask for the answers - this means they do not have to think too much. And as a parent it is wrong of me to give the answers - better to help them find the answers and concepts so next time they can arrive at the answers themselves. You know - give a man a fish and he'll eat once; give him a fishing rod and he'll eat forever. (And give me a fishing boat and I'll retire
Without wanting to proselytise, SAP is a complex product and we working with this product are supposed to be professionals. By definition this should mean we have the ability to search, analyse and discover the answers from numerous sources. Asking the simple basics - or worse stating "I have started this job and don't have the basic tolls and skills to undertake it" - shows a lack of the fundamental qualities required of an SAP professional.
I don't know what the answer is - perhaps a Kindergarten ICON which the moderators can assign to overly inane questions; or better a kindergarten forum where such basics can be asked. The best solution - and one which sadly the personal qualities of most of those I have met in SDN mean will never happen because they are too nice - is to opt out and not answer. The phrase 'everyone has to start somewhere' is not applicable to a profession fora.
You know it makes sense
Message was edited by: