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author's profile photo Kaushik Debnath

Should the 2 years old Q&A thread or Question post by Former Member be closed automatically

Hi,

Generally when I search for questions, I come to this scenario that a new person asks the question in a very old question which was raised years earlier, instead of creating a new question. Or say in general, upon trying to search for questions, sometimes, I come across questions where the question was posted years back & later creates confusion as incomplete answer posted by the Q&A thread owner years later & these sometimes leads to wasting time of SCN members as spending time on the Thread to read what is the story going on in this thread, like as below,

https://answers.sap.com/questions/12368454/index.html

So, its my idea that at least 2 years older Threads can be automatically closed, like in our organisations older tickets gets closed automatically after a certain days & certain closing notifications.

Like for the below Q&A thread,

https://answers.sap.com/questions/12342433/icm-error--httpextractsid-sid-wrong-len-1---ignore.html?childToView=12923295#answer-12923295

Also when the Question Thread owner shows as "Former Member", in that scenario, it becomes obsolete to ask for more details to the Question Thread Owner.

Then again this automatically closing thread can also lead to increase of thread No & also at the same time as well as save some time for the Readers. Not sure if this sort of discussion in older Q&A scenario create sometimes confusion for someone or not

So, to improvise SCN or say, to save some quality Time of many people, not sure if this sort of automatically closing of Q&A threads be helpful in such 2 above cases -->

1. 2 years older Q&A

2. Q&A posted by Former Member

So, here comes my question, if this sort of approach could be followed

Upon more digging, I also found a similar blog, with a lot more vast analysis for the same, do not know how is the strategy planned

https://blogs.sap.com/2017/05/19/unofficial-analysis-of-the-answers.sap.com-question-forums/

Thanks,

Kaushik

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31 Comments

  • Dec 03, 2019 at 08:38 PM

    I can agree with the first proposal, but there is an issue with the second - "Former Member" is not permanent status!

    • Dec 03, 2019 at 09:12 PM

      Thanks for your opinion

    • Dec 03, 2019 at 09:40 PM

      Also, "Former Member" can also mean the member is a current member who has chosen not to show their name or other information.

      -Dell

      • Dec 03, 2019 at 09:53 PM

        That's exactly what I am talking about!

      • Dec 04, 2019 at 07:28 AM
        Also, "Former Member" can also mean the member is a current member who has chosen not to show their name or other information.

        Then the designation "Former Member" is a lie.

        "Active Member" would be more fitting and wouldn't tell anything apart from not being "Former".

  • Dec 04, 2019 at 05:00 AM
    these sometimes leads to wasting time of SCN members as spending time on the Thread to read what is the story

    If you say, for the members, it is wasting of time, imagine the fate of Space Moderators. On a daily basis, I used to DM the member more than 4 to 5 times, who hijacked the discussion from an old one and advice not to do so. This is happening regularly and giving additional work load to Space Moderators.

    Now coming to your query, many times, this topic has been discussed with SCN members and Global Moderators and it has been proposed to keep open a maximum of 10 discussions per member beyond which, one cannot create a new discussion but unfortunately, that is not happening. Couple of years back, there was a request from SCN Global Moderators to spend time in giving solution to Unanswered Questions and I gave solution to more than 500 discussions but again, those were not closed properly. Imagine how much time I would have spent in responding to those 500 discussions.

    • Dec 04, 2019 at 05:51 AM

      Hi Lakshmipathi Ganesan,

      Thanks for your valuable opinion. I understand for the "Former Member" matter. Its just a proposal that whoever created a Q&A thread, say 1 year back & is inactive just after that.

      Anyways, 10 discussions per member seems irrelevant to me also. Since SCN is a free platform to support people on their queries, so limitation in using this platform apart from "Rules of Engagement" seems not relevant as it can the modesty/flexibility-of-use of this platform

      So, my suggestion is to get those years old questions closed, specifically those Open Q&A that were migrated from the old SCN, which could save time for the Moderators as well, since every comment or answer in any Q&A thread is subject to moderation

      So, reading opinion from other SCN people, I understand that some new feature should be included which can restrict users to comment/add-answer to 2 years old Q&A thread

      Thanks,

      Kaushik

      • Dec 04, 2019 at 06:03 AM
        Anyways, 10 discussions per member seems irrelevant to me

        As a member, this might be irrelevant but check with other Moderators who feels the pain. People create discussion with silly questions, never respond when they get any inputs and they keep continuing this practice with new questions. As a Moderator, we have to caution the member each and every time. Unless, there is a control as suggested already and enforce a discipline, this will not get changed. Whether their old open discussions auto closed or not, they are least bothered about that.

        • Dec 04, 2019 at 07:22 AM

          How about a different approach: Personal Blacklisting

          If you answer to someone and this someone celebrates the practice you mentioned above, I'd like to put this someone on my personal black list. This information is used for filtering(toggle between invisible/marked) in my Q&A list(fool me once...). No other members see who I blacklisted.

          For you moderators this can be used to enforce question creation limitations based on the blacklisted count of a member(10, 5, none). The generic 10 discussions limit is like a speed limit 'punishing' every member. With this blacklisting counts you could 'enforce discipline' more specific. This reduces your work and saves lot's of time for the engaged answer providers. Two birds...

        • Dec 04, 2019 at 07:44 AM

          Hi,

          I actually do understand the scenario that you are mentioning here from moderator prospective. Using SCN is using in free time for everyone, but i think,10 questions can limit SCN in terms of flexibility to use. Then again comes the same question, that if the User creates 6 to 8 different questions & that remains un-closed for say 3 to 4 years & also the user does not login also during these times, what could be the fate of those open Q&A.

          Also this scenario could happen where the user was using a company mail-address for SCN & now he is working in another company, so there he uses the new company mail-address. We do suggest people to use their own personal mail address for SCN so that the user does not lose anything. So, there comes the scenario where the User only uses using company mail address probably during his free time & then has a Question which maybe even not answered also for say 2 to 3 years

          Now what could be the fate for those open Q&A

          Thanks,

          Kaushik

        • Dec 04, 2019 at 03:59 PM

          I pushed to make the limit to 3-5 open questions. I think ten is too many!! :-)

  • Dec 04, 2019 at 06:44 AM

    I am agree too: close all this old threads

    For me the rule to limit 10 questions by user is not enough.

    A question with more than 1 year of inactivity should not stay open. Nobody take time to read old questions.

    Second point, the context maybe change, the question could be not anymore relevant due to new release, new kernel ...

    Third point, a lot of people ask questions and never give feedback, just imagine 3 or 6 month latter.

    and finaly, this a "public" forum, it should be open for everyone, but it works with public contributors/participants. If it is too complex, too much confusion, .. maybe you will loose all this people making this forum alive.

  • Dec 04, 2019 at 04:10 PM

    This has always been a debate. Including when they changed platforms which Questions would be made available under the new platform.

    I think the limit on questions is to high. IMHO 3-5 open questions should be the limit. But at least they put something in.

    And yes, I think if there is no activity in 18 months on a question it should be closed automatically and no new activity could be posted. A new question can always put in a link to any old relevant postings.

    I always thought "Former member" actually meant a former member. Seems I was wrong. It appears SAP has decided to redefine the English language so that "Former" now means "I don't want anyone to know me".

    Can these people who chose to not display their names still earn badges and complete missions? They shouldn't be able to. Nor should they be able to post or comment on anything.

    Craig

    • Dec 04, 2019 at 04:23 PM

      "Can these people who chose to not display their names still earn badges and complete missions? They shouldn't be able to. Nor should they be able to post or comment on anything." - but at any moment they can switch things back - enable visibility!

    • Dec 06, 2019 at 04:15 PM

      A Former Member essentially has read-only access. He or she can't comment, post, earn badges, etc. And as Vadim notes, people can turn their privacy on and off as often as they want.

      You can find more details -- along with the explanation behind why they're called Former Members -- at https://community.sap.com/resources/privacy.

      --Jerry

  • Dec 09, 2019 at 07:17 PM

    Questions should be closed regardless of authorship after certain time (a year tops).

    This has been proposed at least since 2012 but nothing happened. It's not a novel feature. It's used on Tripadvisor and many other online forums. SAP Support also automatically closes the incidents after some time, and many (most?) companies have similar processes internally, as you said. So this shouldn't be a shocker to anyone, if implemented.

    Related old discussions: exhibit A and exhibit B.

    I'm pretty sure there was already an idea submitted on this in the old Idea Place. Not sure if there is something on the new influence website.

  • Dec 09, 2019 at 08:33 PM

    Closing 2-year old questions is a good point, any effort to reduce the mess of the forum(s) is a good point - I noticed that SAP Community team had also "opened" the archive, which was not a good idea at all.

    • Dec 17, 2019 at 09:53 PM

      I'm also not able to understand the purpose of that exercise. It was actually good to have those questions archived because you could clearly see it's old information. But now people dig up some 2007 question and for some reason decide to jump in.

      When searching in Google, I had no problem finding archived and new questions. Not sure if search within SCN was affected. But that's a fair punishment for not using Google. :)

  • Jan 02, 2020 at 05:41 PM

    I was wondering why would anyone be asking for a code example for CL_GUI_ALV_GRID in 2020 but it turns out the question is from 2009 and someone posted a comment to one of the answers with their own question (completely unrelated btw).

    The person who resurrected the old question posted their own question too.

    I would love to hear from the SCN team what benefits were gained exactly from bringing the archive back without closing the questions.

  • Sep 24, 2020 at 06:15 AM

    I reopen and old subject, to ask again the question of the people ReOpening Question in the forum.

    I could understand, if you find a better solution to add the information for helping people.

    But, most of the time it is just to add "How did you solve this issue ?", if the subject have more than 10 years, it is a non-sens to ask. Less than 2 years you are lucky if the requester could remember the solution used ...

    What do we need to do ?

    • Sep 24, 2020 at 01:08 PM

      Hi, Frederic:

      If I follow your concern...

      We (as moderators) discourage members from resurrecting old (unanswered) questions by adding a comment essentially asking the same question again. We can't always stop them but we do try to correct when we come across this behavior.

      If a member's new question matches an older one -- and that older one a) hasn't been answered or b) has an outdated answer -- it's perfectly fine for the member to ask the same question again. The member could even link to the older question, stating something such as, "I'm having this problem. I searched and saw someone asked a similar question [link to the older question], but it wasn't answered." The added benefit of that approach is it shows that the poster put in some legwork before asking the question...and members always love to see that.

      Anyway, as moderators, that's the general advice we provide. And if you happen to come across someone who does indeed try to resurrect an older question with a "How did you solve this issue?" comment, please feel free to click on Alert Moderator to let us know...as we'll remove the comment and advise the member.

      Kind regards,

      --Jerry

      • Sep 24, 2020 at 01:37 PM

        I understand what you said Jerry Janda; this is logical.

        The only point is regarding the non-answered question. The problem is, 99% of the time, if you provide a good answer this question will not be closed.

        But it is so tiring to see again and again same people re-opening old subject. I don't know if it is possible to add a routine in the forum, to add a warning like "You are answering a 10 years old question, are you sure ..." ?

        • Sep 25, 2020 at 04:45 PM

          Hi, Frederic:

          I understand the frustration. I know that members don't want their feeds cluttered with old content -- especially if it comes back into the feed without anything useful added to it.

          I don't think we want to discourage people from answering an old question though. Even if the original poster is long gone, some of these older questions can provide value to people struggling with the same issue.

          One recent change that we hope might curb some of this behavior: When you hover over a comment or answer, text will pop up explaining what is expected. Unfortunately, some people will always post "Did you solve this?" as an answer...even though there are instructions discouraging this type of behavior.

          RE: the closing of a question -- There's debate about this too. Some members have argued with me that a question should never be closed, because as things evolve, the previously correct answer might no longer be accurate -- or, at the very least, might require comments/clarification. Personally, I see it as something dealt with on a case-by-case basis. If it's a clear answer that will never change, and I see enough members have upvoted the answer, I think it's safe to accept the answer and close the question (even if the OP hasn't taken this action personally).

          --Jerry

          • Sep 25, 2020 at 04:59 PM

            "the previously correct answer might no longer be accurate"

            When we are talking about correct answer we have to consider the product version and SP.

            Something that's correct for one SP can be incorrect for some future SP. That's why I always ask people to provide the product version and SP.

            • Sep 28, 2020 at 06:05 AM

              Your comment is pertinent Vadim Kalinin, I thought this point was only relevant for Workbench, but apparently also for functional people.

              Second point, Jerry Janda, the thing I don't understand with this forum policy, when you ask question on the SAP Support, it has come more an more regulated to be sure, all the informations have been provided, the subject is really urgent, it will be possible to reproduce the bug. Last point, on SAP Support, a question cannot be left open long time. This is totaly contrary to the Public forum.

              Jerry Janda thank you for explaining all these :)

      • Sep 24, 2020 at 03:49 PM

        Jerry Janda

        My understanding so far was that updates performed by moderators (editing or removing content in questions, posting moderator comments) also push the questions at the top of the recently updated lists. Has this been changed recently?

        What reason should we specify in such alerts? Strictly speaking, necromancing questions is not against the RoE (unless this is understood as spamming). I do not see any clear rules in RoE to which a newcomer can refer and understand which threads are considered as too old and should not be resurrected.

        I checked the current list of questions in the first main page of recently updated - 3 out of 15 were necromanced (very small sample size, I know, but it looks consistent with previous observations). To me it seems too much work for community moderators to deal with each case individually, considering that this is not the only kind of behavior that they need to handle on daily basis.

        Frederic Girod

        I am skeptical about the use of popups and warnings on this site. I suspect that they will be just as successful as the texts and tool-tips about answer vs comment :)

        Some time ago Craig Cmehil shared the plans for closing some of the old questions.

        • Sep 25, 2020 at 04:53 PM

          Hi, Veselina:

          Well, any comment (moderator or otherwise) would push questions to the top. I don't think that simply editing makes that happen (and it's rare that moderators actually edit the copy -- usually to remove personal info), but it can happen if something is re-tagged, I believe. I'll have to investigate further...

          No, there isn't anything in the RoE specifically about this, but there are instructions everywhere explaining when people should comment (to request additional details to clarify the question) and answer (to help solve the poster's issue). So if someone is clearly using comments/answers in a way that isn't intended (for example, asking "How did you solve this?" as answer), it's perfectly reasonable to alert the moderator with "other." Yes, I realize that would be more work for moderators (and for anyone who takes the time to report), so it's really a personal decision. I guess it depends on how egregious it is. (For example, if the question is several years old and the OP is a "Former Member," then I would definitely take action to remove the new content and guide whoever left the new comment/answer...)

          Kind regards,

          --Jerry

          P.S. "I am skeptical about the use of popups and warnings on this site. I suspect that they will be just as successful as the texts and tool-tips about answer vs comment :)" I guess I should have read that before responding to Frederic... :)

      • Sep 25, 2020 at 05:26 AM

        Hi Jerry Janda,

        reading this thread forms a big question in my head: If a question is a evergreen, why doesn't it end up in a topic specific FAQ/Wiki? Because it has been literally asked frequently. Sounds for me that SAP is not commited enough if people out there get their problems solved. The excuse that the community should handle this, didn't work in these cases.

        Here are the symptoms of necromanced questions discussed. Why not help at the cause?

        That's no critique on you as moderators. In an ideal world the documentation guys should be in touch with you. The simple links to evergreen questions would be sufficient. They could do the FAQ section with a timeline which solution works for which versions. In the end a link from the questions to FAQ would solve all problems.

        This would be a strong statement for UX.

        Regards,

        Manfred Klein

        • Sep 25, 2020 at 05:00 PM

          Thanks for the feedback, Manfred. We do have a wiki (although I couldn't honestly say whether it addresses what you've brought up), and we do have product teams that create FAQs within their topic sections. Still, the idea that there should be more conversation about documentation for common community questions is certainly worth having on our end...

          The only issue is that an FAQ is static, whereas the forums are dynamic...allowing people to comment, clarify, and provide updated answers. Some questions might be common, but the solutions aren't always 100% the same for every user. I think the forums allow for this type of conversation and nuance. That being said, your point is taken.

          Kind regards,

          --Jerry

  • Sep 29, 2020 at 09:50 AM

    My problem is not about the status of the questions, but about the (lack of) quality of their answers. Automatically closing questions will not fix that problem.
    Even the "stackoverflow" style (up/down voting Q&A) is not valid here because the amount of people in need of reputation.

    Idiotic questions that should never been made are not even tolerated, but answered. Usually with more idiotic answers that could even lead to "SAP capital sins" like manually update a table.

    It's the "Starbucks paradox" pointed by Craig S in another thread: this place is too polite and people who would be "abused" in other places (like SF on its days or stack) because the lack of preparation of their questions, just abuse this place, filling it with crap.

    I'm not asking to begin to blame people, but this place needs a way to clean itself and enforce their users to do some work before asking anything, like:

    - search for previous questions

    - explain their tries and errors done before the question is asked (usually none)

    Sadly, a corporate site requires a Starbuck's style place.

    ...

    BTW, I just noticed that when I talk about SAPFans community I use "we" and when talking about this place, I use just that "this place" expression... It's a hint of something.

    • Sep 30, 2020 at 03:21 PM

      Maybe SAP should use some black ops money, a couple of Caribbean based shell corporations and support/build a site like SAPFans. Or heck.. even buy SAPFans and resurrect it.

      In public they can grudgingly acknowledge the site and let it organically grow with anonymous users. Yet in the background they can mine it for data, discontent with SAP products and changes, out of the box ideas, and real public opinions as opposed to politically correct, sanitized views you tend to see here.

      I think if I had the resources and owned such a company, it would definitely be something I might do to get real intelligence.

      Craig

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