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SDN Top ContributorsYesterday morning I showed the new Contributor Recognition Program to the SDN moderators. I prepped things until late last night, didn't have a lot of sleep, and was struggling with the technology. Afterwards I realized that I forgot the big picture, why we are doing this. When you work on the details of something over the past weeks, you sometimes forget to step back, tell the bigger picture. This weblog will hopefully fill that gap.

How can you judge the quality of a piece of content within SDN? We were asking ourselves that a couple of months ago. There are clues: If it's a forum post, you can click on the poster's name and see how many posts he has and check some of them out. Similarly for weblogs, if you hang around SDN long enough you get a feeling for which authors you like and may even modify DevToday to give them priority when displaying your daily SDN newspaper. You may check the top forum contributor list, but so far you can't tell that I'm in the top 10 list just because I constantly post annoying questions and never help anyone on the board.

From today on, some of that changed and in the coming months we'll introduce more improvements.

Example: No points for simple forum posts. The best person to judge whether a post is good, very helpful, or even solved the problem is the one who posted the question in the first place. So that person has the power, but also the duty, to give points. It's straight forward. You post a question, you get answers, you check the answers, and if you like them you mark the best one with 'solved my problem', which gives 10 points to that solution poster. At the same time it automatically marks your question as 'answered' with a blue star Problem solved for everyone to see. You can use that blue star to study a topic; you get a feeling for where people are struggling in an area and what the solutions are for these problems. Very good tool to hone your skills.

If you want to raise the quality of the forums, reward the good answers to your questions. It only takes a couple of seconds.

What else can you get points for? For every weblog post you get 40 points. I should say that is the average, since there are big gaps between "check out this event" posts and the elaborate works of art like this one. In these cases we will adjust the points upward to what articles are assigned. Will this always be fair? No, but we'll try so please don't heckle.

For articles and code samples you usually get 120 points. Why do we give them more? We took into account, that it usually takes longer to write and upload an article/code sample. In the SDN survey you told us that the two things that you want to see more of in SDN are articles and code samples. We hope slightly more points work like a rudder at the stern of a large ship, which steers us in the right direction. More details in the Rewards FAQ.

Two more things, as a token of our appreciation of what you have contributed already to SDN. We are giving you one point per forum post and 5 points per weblog post you created in the past. (May take a couple of days until that is reflected in the system.) Why only forum and weblog posts? These are where the most external and internal original content was contributed to SDN.

The goal of this reward program is to be a nice additional incentive for you to participate with quality content. If hunting for points is the sole purpose of your SDN engagement, we overshot our target and will adjust accordingly.

Double the points. To channel the contributions in the right content direction, we added one more thing to the mix. We took a page from the LazyWeb. Their premise is, that things that you want probably already exist somewhere out there on the net, or if you post it people will create it. (It used to be a weblog, but now you post it on your own weblog and ping their side and they add your post to their RSS feed, which you can subscribe to here: RSS feed. There is even one for cultural ideas too, don't know how good they are.)

Their approach is too sophisticated for us, we simply opened the /community [original link is broken] where you can post all the things that you would like to have covered, tools that would make your life easier, whatever is your heart's desire and you can't find yet on SDN. Maybe, just maybe, someone has the solution in his drawer already, just needs to write it up or load it to the download area; and all of a sudden at least two SDN members are happy: you who got your wish and the contributor that got double points.

To bring in some structure, please post one question per request in the forum. That way, people can also post existing SDN solutions and get 10 points for solving the problem. The double points are given after: the solution is posted in the form of a weblog, article or code sample; an answer pointing to the new solution is posted to the forum; and the original requester acknowledged the solution by awarding the 10 points.

We are clearly entering new terrain and the coming days and weeks will show what we, as the SDN community, are making out of this opportunity. Of course there are tons of possibilities to try and game the system, please refrain. If someone thinks gaming is happening please let us know by sending an email to sdn@sap.com. We can give negative points and that will be on your record. We will not hesitate to use that power if we think it is for the health of the community.

Because of all these new elements in the SDN stew, I want to point out that this is a beta run going at least until TechEd. We hope to get there without major tweaking and will reassess the situation and adjust after TechEd.

Oh, and before I forget, there are also some prizes. Everyone who gathers more than 500 points will get a $20 Amazon gift certificate. If you reach 1000 points an additional $30 will be given. There will also be 6 grand prizes for SDN members that are not SAP employees and 6 for SAP employees. We are not giving out what these are yet. Hard deadline is one week before the San Diego TechEd: 12:00 a.m. Pacific Standard Time Saturday, 25 September 2004 - we don't want you to work through the weekend.

And don't forget to have fun while doing all of this!

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