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Some Forum Points Background ...

Former Member
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Hi Forum Friends,

Yesterday I promised to give a bit of background regarding the point system.

I had a really excellent post with history and some interesting information. Got interrupted a couple of times and when I finally posted it, I got the message back that I don't have permission to do so and of course the content was gone too.

New forum edit request: Save as draft every 5 minutes like Gmail does. Love that Gmail feature.

O.K. second attempt a bit shorter.

With the point system within forums I feel a bit like the The Sorcerer's Apprentice one of my favorite poems. The line most often quoted goes:


Der Zauberlehrling              The Sorcerer's Apprentice 
...                             ...
Herr, die Not ist groß!         I have need of Thee! 
Die ich rief, die Geister,      from the spirits that I called 
werd' ich nun nicht los.        Sir, deliver me! 
...                             ...

When we started about 4 years ago with the forums, there was nothing happening.

I looked into old statistics and status presentations from me.

One was from early 2004, where we were celebrating 100 posts a day. Unfortunately the responds rate was frustrating: After 90 days over 34% of all questions were without one answer. Our median time to first reply was 32 hours.

Once we introduced the point system the forums took off. Especially in the ABAP and BI area.

Check the Suggestions forum and you will find old threads with people complaining that they don't get points for their good answers.

We improved the usability, so that you can give points right in the forum thread via radio buttons.

We showed who is the best contributor on top of the forums we listed the top 3. Again great new activity in the forums.

We are proud that the median time to first reply is below 20 minutes, we are also happy that questions without answers after 90 days is in the single digit.

Every half year we ask you about how we are doing. We got a rating of 4.3 on a scale of 1-5 for forums, which is the best area that we have. Also for the first time you rated the points recognition program at 4.0 which is the target for the things we do.

To me it looks like the majority likes it. We may want to ask specifically next time regarding point system and forums.

The posts here in the Coffee Corner clearly show that in some areas especially the active ones our success has negative consequences.

If the turn around time for answers is lightening fast, I don't even bother to search.

Someone is answering with a link to a solution, the next one copies and past the full text of that solution and the novice questioner gives full point to the second one because it looks like more effort was put in.

Some people are motivated by the intellectual challenge of solving interesting problems, by sinking their teeth into an aspect of the system that they have not thought about and finding a solution for it. For the more advanced users these are the most valuable forum members. These members are tuning out because as Anton calls it the noise level from questions that have been answered many times are drowning out the interesting questions. (Just to be clear, we welcome beginner questions, as long as there is somehow apparent that the questioner has taken some steps to find a solution. What is ABAP? I searched for it and came up with 4th generation programming language from SAP. Still not totally clear ..." )

Check the forum threads here for other negative consequences. The spirits that we called and greatly benefited from, are they eating these benefits?

I looked through the forums and I think that our view is a bit too influenced by the super active forums.

Let's take PHP forum and today's top three of all times:

Top 3 Contributors, all times: 1. Craig Cmehil (398); 2. Anton Wenzelhuemer (134); 3. Gregor Wolf (108)

All three total point hunters who should be banned including their IP addresses These are well respected members of the community who rightfully are up there.

It is an information that as a casual visitor I wouldn't have known that Anton can help me with my PHP problems. Cool.

Be careful what you ask for regarding totally taking down the point system in the forums. I waited my whole life for being able to write these words: Let's not throw out the baby with the bathwater

How we can improve quality and reduce noise I will cover in another post. My learning from yesterday, don't put too much into one and loose it all, Mark.

Accepted Solutions (0)

Answers (3)

Answers (3)

darren_hague
Contributor
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Mark,

I respect what you are saying, but I think your selection of an example forum also gives us another insight: the forums with the lowest traffic have the highest quality. Most of the complaints about point-hunters seem to come from people involved with the ABAP forums.

From my viewpoint sitting in the medium-traffic Portal forums, things aren't too bad (although many people are guilty of my pet hate, which is to post long URLs to help.sap.com or sdn.sap.com without using the really useful URL feature to add a title which is easier to understand.

Perhaps the solution is to create a greater number of very subject-specific forums - keep the general purpose ones too, but let's point Anton's bot at those and let the experts hang out in specialist, interesting, low-bandwidth areas.

Best regards,

Darren

Former Member
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Yes, thanks Mark for the interesting run down.

I agree with Darren re the smaller forums, but the problem I see in the ABAP forums is that many posters either (a) don't try to work out which is the appropriate area to post their questions, or (b) get confused which is the right forum (and there aren't enough moderators or untermoderators to shuffle the questions around into the right place).

For example I potter around answering some questions in the UI Programming forum which is described as:

Forum to discuss Classical Dynpro, Screen Painter and Controls Framework(ALV grid, Table Controls), Web Dynpro for ABAP.

but I see lots of ALV postings in the ABAP Objects forum:

Discussions about ABAP Object definition and implementation including encapsulation, interfaces and inheritance in ABAP Objects

... plus there is separate forum for Web Dynpro for ABAP, under Expert Forums » Application Server » Web Dynpro ABAP

So maybe some housekeeping of the forum categories and descriptions would help but, also, perhaps when posting a new thread the user should be asked which forum it should be in, and not just default to the one they happened to be in when they clicked the "Post new thread" link?

Jonathan

Former Member
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Mark -this was really informative. I appreciate the effort you put into it. I had no idea that response times were so bad in the early days.

But although you don't want to throw out the baby with the bathwater, it <u>would</u> be good to throw out the bathwater. You will probably end up with some bathwater left over (but hopefully not too many baby parts went down the drain either).

I bet there's some sort of middle ground out there that would benefit everyone.

Rob

Former Member
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hi mark,

anton would always be happy to help you out with your PHP problems and explore new ideas around it as well as he's always there to discuss SOA issues both with the more advanced discussion partner as well as the newbie.

on the other hand he knows quiet well that he isn't so much of a help in BI or CRM and therefore refrains from answering questions there but nevertheless follows the discussions and contributions with great interest.

well, he's quiet familiar with the usage of search technologies and his knowledge of PHP even allowed him to create a little agent capable of autonomously analysing forum questions, using various search engines to find available answers to those questions, rank them based on trivial algorithms and finally even post those solutions (links or the whole reformatted content of the source) as answers to the original questions.

he did build that as a proof of concept that a lot of actual answers do not beat the quality of a quickly written bot, and to solve the mystery of how someone can submit a 200+ line comment within a minute of the original question.

so, he could use that bot to actually answer dozens of questions each and every minute, 24/7 across all forums. why doesn't he do it and make 10k, 20k points a year? simple. because collaboration means something completely different to him than to "do the search engine" for anybody.

for a conclusion, no matter if there are points or none, you could always go to the PHP forum and post a serious question and soon after you most probably get a reply from craig, alvaro, gregor, anton and others who (as I observed) do not only supply you with a link to www.php.net but seem to have tested the problem in question and come up with a personal and professional solution.

best regards,

anton