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Down-voting Newbie Questions

Since SAP introduced the feature to up-vote and down-vote questions, I've noticed that newbie questions posted by developers new to SAP technology earn a disproportionate number of down-votes. I frequent the Web Dynpro UI tagged questions and notice the phenomenon there. While up-votes and down-votes may not be used for much more than Karma Points, it seems to me to be an unfriendly welcome to new developers and developers venturing into a new area of SAP development.

If SAP is going to keep the feature, maybe they should force a voter to specify a reason for a down-vote-- along the lines of the way Facebook forces you to select a reason for "reporting" a post. That may help to discourage unwarranted down-voting.

I want to be clear that this observation of mine isn't because *my* questions get down-voted. I always post intellectually fascinating, wildly amusing and deeply philosophical questions that improve the lives of everyone who reads them. :D

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69 Comments

  • Jun 07 at 03:53 PM

    Down voting has no effect on Karma.

    The tag UI Web Dynpro ABAP has 148 questions being asked or answered in 2018.

    7 have downvotes.

    2 questions have one downvote

    3 questions have two downvotes

    2 questions have three downvotes

    for 2 of those questions are the user still active and the user profile shows that they are already around a bit longer ( one since 2007)

    the others are from "former members", so it cannot be known whether the question was from a fresher.

    3 downvoted questions were from the same user.

    0 of those downvoted questions stays without answers.

    Can't say if they are unwarranted as it is not my area. Just my attitude to deliver facts to feelings ;-)

  • Jun 07 at 03:53 PM

    Hi Amy,

    Thanks for your thoughts. Have you looked at all into what characteristics those posts that get downvoted share? The voting system is in place to help give feedback to users on the quality of their post. We have quite a bit of guidance to help new users post quality questions that are likely to get the timely and useful responses they are looking for.

    Here are a few resources to start with:

    About Q&A: https://www.sap.com/community/about/questions-and-answers.html

    Community Rules of Engagement: https://www.sap.com/community/about/rules-of-engagement.html

    In addition, there are other resources on the general About the Community page (https://www.sap.com/community/about.html) that can help (e.g. All About Tags for questions that are downvoted or flagged because they are incorrectly tagged).

    One of the most common offenses that result in downvotes is a 'failure to search.' This means the question has been asked and answered (sometimes multiple times). Others are covered in the resources above.

    Best,

    Jamie

  • Jun 08 at 08:17 AM

    If I can upvote without a reason, I should also be able to do so for downvoting.

  • Jun 08 at 11:24 AM

    Hi Amy,

    I only downvote when the exact question is searchable and yields good results to find the answer, or when it is a spec dump or when it has URGENT!!! in the title .

    And yes, most of the downvotes are to users with little posts, so even thought it is disproportionate that does not mean that the downvote is unwarranted.

    I have a hard time believing that other SAP professionals who downvote newbie questions do not have a solid unwarranted reason for doing so.

    Can you give us examples where this was the case?

    Kind regards, Rob Dielemans

  • Jun 08 at 05:15 PM

    I don't check the profile to see if it's a newbie or not and I downvote the questions that I feel are poorly researched, not clear and, essentially, can't possibly be answered anyway.

    As someone who answers questions frequently, I find downvoting by others very helpful. For example, a list of unanswered questions in ABAP usually has a bunch of them with very vague titles, like "BAPI issue" or "output problem". Such questions could go either way. But if I see downvotes it usually means that other active contributors already looked at the question and found it not possible to answer. This saves me time and I can instead spend it to be actually helpful to someone. (And, by the way, a couple of times I've removed my downvote after OP added more information and clarified the question.)

    If I can copy-paste the exact words from the question into Google and find a possible answer then I report those to the moderators and let them deal with those. (Downvoting would be an incorrect action in this case.) In more busy tags, like ABAP, such questions usually get removed. In others, the moderator might just add a note saying "hey, add more information, we can't answer this otherwise". It's up to the mods and either way is fine with me.

    We've actually just had a side discussion on this in the blog comments (where such things usually happen these days :) ). Lars Breddemann linked some very good articles there, definitely worth reading. I can only repeat a quote from there: “Simple is fine. No effort and research is not.”

    I'd also like to see some more specific evidence on this. The "are we hostile to newbies" issue comes up regularly on SCN. But so far I have not seen anyone present actual evidence. I've heard that the SCN membership is far from declining. And I don't see any reduction in LMGTFY questions. So I wonder if this is actually like "the voter fraud" of SCN? Is there an actual problem?

    Personally, I have not seen any unwarranted downvoting (I don't have any representative statistics on this though nor noticed how many were newbie posts). There were maybe literally 2-3 questions in 2 years that were likely downvoted before OP posted more information. I upvoted those to offset the downvote. I believe that's how the system is supposed to work: upvote offsets the downvote, so if someone disagrees all they need is upvote. And when we report something to a moderator we are already asked for a reason.

    • Jun 08 at 07:21 PM

      To support my comment: here is a fresh example from SD forum. 2 downvotes. It looks like a new account but profile says OP has 10+ years of SAP experience. I honestly can barely understand anything from the question. Even if this came to me at work in a ticket I'd just have to send it back and ask to explain. But this is supposed to be one professional asking others for help.

      Edit: another vague question from the same tag, the profile shows 5 questions, 3 of them downvoted. Doesn't look like we scared this person away from SCN and it doesn't look like they got the memo either. So I'd posit if voting even makes any difference.

    • Jun 11 at 11:56 AM

      Hi Jelena,

      Thanks for your replies. Here's a recent example which received two down-votes though I consider it to be a reasonable question for someone inexperienced in Web Dynpro UI. I too don't look at the profiles of posters to gauge if they're newbies or not-- a person could be on SCN for years but only recently started work in SRM or PPM or SAPUI5 for example and post "newbie" questions in those areas that are new to them-- but I did take a look at the poster for this question after folks commented here and notice another of his questions which I consider reasonable was also down-voted. I've worked with Web Dynpro UI for long enough to sympathize that its many nuances can be difficult to master, and I understand some scenarios may be difficult to Google.

      I suppose at the end of the day, I'm not a fan of down-voting someone's participation on social media platforms and worry that it can discourage the very participation that keeps a social media platform alive and kicking. A lack of up-votes can serve the same purpose while avoiding the negative experience that comes with a down-vote.

      Cheers,
      Amy

      • Jun 11 at 12:51 PM

        I totally agree with you. I don't always understand downvotes on a question and when it is the case I'm authorizing myself to upvote the same question.

        By the way, what is the meaning of downvoting a question ? It's not even educationnal (which may need a few word). I'd rather read a rude answer (something like "why don't you just google it yourself ?") which generally ends by the deletion of the post than a discreet and unexplained downvote.

        Regards

        Frederic

        • Jun 11 at 01:08 PM

          If that was an answer then I had downvoted it, which is unfortunately not possible with comments.

          Reason: an upvote actually effects the Karma, and it is quite counterproductive to upvote low quality questions. Then you should definitely also upvote excellent questions and of course answers.

          And a question where you see "why don't you just google it yourself ?" does not go away by itself or in general. This may be the case when other users had reported it as "failed to search" via the desired function of "Alert Moderator". Imagine a moderator had to read all questions and answers during a day, he could not do his work for the employer who pays him. So most moderators only get to know about such questions if someone raises an alert.



          • Jun 11 at 01:29 PM

            My goal was not to encourage low quality questions. I did upvote the question because this was not a low quality question to me and I was actually interested by the answer (which I don't have).

            • Jun 11 at 01:56 PM

              That's a reasonable practice to counter a down-vote, and I agree the intent or use of down-votes is unclear.

            • Jun 11 at 02:05 PM

              This sounds a bit like ... let me explain with an example: I was in Jurassic World 2 on Saturday. I enjoyed it and visited IMDB.com to vote. I was surprised to see a total of 6.8/10, it was a 8 for me. I voted 8, I did not try to overrule other opinions by giving it a 10, which would be comparable to upvote a question which does not deserve it.

              Of course I agree with you that certain functions and areas etc should be explained (in a central place) I said something similar during my fight against the tag inflation. It is totally unknown for the users which tag should be used for what. There is nothing here which gives an indication or a short description per tag. Now the tags have been reduced from several thousand to below thousand and still more than 50% of my daily activity is retagging. (People seem not to know whether they work in a Business One system or do purchasing in a SRM or just use MM Purchasing from a ERP system)

      • Jun 11 at 07:40 PM

        Thanks for the examples! I don't know anything about Web Dynpro but both questions strike me as poorly written and showing no evidence of the OP searching or trying anything before asking. The second one in particular is just "my requirement" and doesn't even have an actual question.

        So, this falls under "simple question is OK, no research is not", I believe. It's not a question of being new to something. To me, such poorly written questions just seem unprofessional, regardless of someone's knowledge level. And I wouldn't want to welcome them on SCN for this reason.

        Edit: I understand someone may feel bad about a question being downvoted but do we have any factual evidence of this actually affecting the SCN membership? I don't have access to the SCN statistics but, from what I've heard, SCN ranks are not declining and I see no shortage of "dear gurus, here are my requirements" questions.

      • Jun 15 at 09:20 AM

        Honestly, this example looks to me like someone not even trying to solve the issue by himself.

        The first attempt i'd do would be exactly that: read text and concatenate and check the result.

        Isn't that hard, right?

        • Jun 15 at 04:34 PM

          What bugs me most is that people just don't seem to understand that all we know about their problem is what they've written in the question. Sometimes if you suggest to search or try something the response is "I already tried and got this error". Um... At what point were you planning to give us this information? Why not put this in the question? That I just don't understand.

      • Jul 09 at 01:33 PM

        Hi Amy,

        I do not consider the SAP Community a social media platform as a general rule. Coffee Corner might be an exception, but the community is a technical platform first and foremost. Its purpose is sharing information between all levels of participants from newbies/freshers to experts with decades of experience to share. Look at our Tag structure, Rules of Engagement, Community Topic Pages, etc. and see topics associated with SAP Products, Technologies, and Services.

        If there is a desire for social media, we have links to Facebook, Twitter, etc. available for easily changing sites. Many folks who come here may differ on my perspective (they wouldn't be alone in that). These may often be the ones who fail to read before posting content which then gets rejected.

        A common example of such are the questions which appear to be encouraging a dialog rather than providing details of the issue of interest. This is rather similar to what Jelena referenced, though I think the issue is that they are treating their problem as a social interaction. My guess is that the majority of those experts who try to answer questions consider it a lack of effort to either search or post enough information that an expert could actually take a shot at answering. Those questions are frequently rejected by Moderators for FTS/Insufficient Details or ignored by the experts in that technology. Disappointing to those who posted, but my level of sympathy is rather low. When all else fails, read the instructions (aka RTFM). There are plenty of ways to educate yourselves before posting.

        Cheers, Mike

  • Jun 12 at 08:55 AM

    This reminds me of searching for 'Design Thinking' tags, and seeing that all the blogs and questions posted with the specific tag .... have nothing to do with Design Thinking .... but rather UI5 elements, or visual representations, coding, elements, etc.

    I'm sorry, but how can we teach each other how to put right tags in? I think Amy's suggestion with REASON could help a little way. It's open for discussion though!

    • Jun 12 at 11:54 AM

      You can add a comment to any mistagged question. You can alert a moderator and suggest to change the tag to xyz.

      But this is mainly a one to one communication. In modern times I would expect a kind of a speech bubble with explanation when moving the mouse over a tag before I select it.

      Or when I see the Q&A section for a certain tag like this then I see so much unused space where such information could be placed.

      On the other hand I wonder why everything which is just common across countless internet platforms needs to be explained in the last detail for the users in SCN.

      • Jun 12 at 12:56 PM

        Hi Jürgen, i think thats a great idea about explaination of what the tags include in content. With my specific problem in lets say the questions and answers, with the Design Thinking area , there is a far greater number of wrong tags than there is right. That would not be helpful to either comment or alert moderators to.

        But will definitely do it in other cases when i stumble across the odd one out.

        • Jun 12 at 10:12 PM

          your search returns more (125) than it is actually there under the design thinking tag (24), this is the QA page: https://answers.sap.com/tags/617904475839583685536714765406723

          Many of them have actually the SAPUI5 tag. Often the additional tags are picked totally wrong as people seem to read only one word for tags that have multiple words. I see many forklifts driving through the Knowledge warehouse. And others do their goods inspection in Data quality management. And many freshers use the R/3 tag while they probably enjoyed primary school when the R/3 successor ERP was launched and I believe they have never touched an R/3 system.

          Alerts or comments for retagging should be placed immediately when a questions shows up. Weeks or months later retagging only brings old post up among the new posts and the user will not be seen anymore as he had not received an answer in the expected time. The right tag makes at least 50% of the question. You can ask the best question ever and will not receive an answer if you used the wrong tag. But don't be surprised if you receive a reply to a comment which just says "next time I will use the right tag"

  • Jun 12 at 10:53 AM

    I am down-voting questions and answers sometimes (not very often) due to unprofessional behavior of post author.

    What do I mean by minimal professional behavior:

    1. Read before post. Read at least 50-100 latest questions in the interested tag before posting your first question. It will help to understand how to ask questions to get an answer.

    2. Try to search before posting. Nothing to discuss here. Google search provide better results.

    3. Try to provide the information required to answer the question. Not always possible, but at least common sense things like version, service pack, custom program text, configuration, etc has to be provided. Sample: Question: My custom script generate this error: "Error text", whats wrong? Answer: Please provide at least your script text...

    4. Try to explain requirements from the business point of view. In many cases the workaround exists! Sample: Question: I want to know the name of the table storing ... Answer: What do you want to do with this table for business? Answer: I want to extract a list of ... Answer: Simply use a report ... in the client, you will get this list!

    5. Look on your post results after posting! Is it readable? Do you have correct line breaks, are the images inserted using "Insert Image" and with readable resolution?

    The rest I can tolerate :)

    • Jun 12 at 12:56 PM

      "Google search provide better results."

      Maybe that's part of the problem. It's been noted the reason for some down-voting is posters appear not to have searched for an answer prior to posting. That's likely true in some cases, but maybe others are using the search tool on SCN which IMHO rarely yields an answer as it returns too many off-topic and unrelated links to wade through. I too use Google when I'm looking for an answer.

      • Jun 12 at 01:04 PM

        Yes, but to check Google search results is also a professional behavior :)

      • Jun 12 at 03:05 PM

        I'd say that in most cases people simply do not share all the details and post very brief and confusing questions, frequently compounded by very poor grammar, use of regional jargon and such. (Case in point - full details are not shared until the 5th response and it was even "urgent" for OP.)

        I've heard some parents these days are getting concerned that the kids are too used talking to robots like Alexa, so they're forgetting about "please" and "thank you" when talking to the humans.

        Similarly, I'm starting to feel that many SCN questions are written in a way that would be suitable for a search engine or a Help Desk ticket. But this is just not appropriate for a professional website that is supported by volunteers. If SAP wants other results then I guess they'll need to treat SCN like a Help Desk and staff it with paid employees.

  • Jun 13 at 11:50 AM

    In the past one of the criteria I'd use as a moderator for deleting a post was if the post was likely to attract down-votes and not yield anything of quality. That way I could give an explanation and educate the poster an improve the overall quality of the questions posted.

    However, this seems now not to be the direction that site management wish to go in.

    I upvote good interesting questions, I downvote FAQs, lazy questions and badly stated questions.

  • Jun 15 at 09:25 AM

    Being one downvoting and getting downvoted, so i should be impartial :P

    But it's false, i'm pretty partial on this, since i'm about on Jelena Perfiljeva 's line when it comes to downvoting.

    We got a bunch of posts and promises about "the quality of the content" in the new community and when i look in the ABAP tag, i found questions with people just dropping requirements (often clearly interview's questions), without any attempt to solve the issue nor showing any effort put in them.

    So i downvote, without any guilty feeling while i suggest the OP to put some effort and a better explain :)

    • Jun 15 at 09:31 AM

      Just as an example: i got this question of mine downvoted but i can see how stupid could it look to an expert, even if i think it could be a fun POC example :P

      • Jun 15 at 03:59 PM

        Not sure why it was downvoted... It looks reasonable to me. I'm not an expert though. :) It shows 0 votes now, so I guess someone might have upvoted it.

        Personally, I never downvote questions thinking "I'm an expert and this simple question is beneath me, so I'll downvote". That would be wrong.

        • Jun 15 at 04:55 PM

          +1 now. ��

          • Jun 15 at 06:21 PM

            +2 now. Can we get +5 ? Going once, going twice...

            What a great example of how the voting system is rigged to benefit the grumpy SCN incumbents. :)

        • Jun 18 at 11:12 AM

          Well, checking the answer from Gregor and Uwe, i can see why it was downvoted: poor design from my side!

          Anyway, it's nice to see how a question is read only after the SCN rigs the system :D

          • Jun 18 at 06:11 PM

            Doing something wrong should not warrant a downvote, as many people can make mistakes. This is an interesting question that people can learn from, +1 from me.

  • Jun 15 at 04:49 PM

    I think down-voting should have a negative effect on karma and this functionality needs to be encouraged. I almost believed I was the only one using this - Good to know that I'm not.

    I care about this community, give my valuable time here to learn stuff and help others in any way that I can, so I am expecting the same care from the original poster in need of help. If the question is poorly written, or the OP has not searched enough, or failed to provide necessary inputs, or simply have failed as a writer, I do downvote. It is my way of saying "Your question does not deserve to be answered." Simple as that.

    So behold when you see a <-1> right up there on the left, because IT WAS PROBABLY ME.

    Cheers

  • Jun 15 at 05:09 PM

    On a related note, I really want to know who is behind this Ramya G account.

    This person (or could be a group account) has 50+ questions and 0 contributions to SCN. (The profile shows 9 answers but those are "answers" to the own questions that should've been comments.) Usually doesn't close any questions even if answered. And clearly I'm not the only one who noticed such behavior, as seen by a top answer here.

    You might say: well, if you don't want to answer then just ignore and move on. But how long do we need to do this? Are the feelings/concerns of active contributors not important then? Not saying that I am more important but would like to assume we are at least equally important. Respect goes both ways. Otherwise we'll get into a perpetual tug-of-war: "why do I have to search for anything before posting?" / "why do we have to answer if you haven't made any effort?". And this is not helpful to anyone at all IMHO.

    I'm still not clear why it is difficult to a professional adult to write at least a semi-intelligent question on SCN. But if there are legitimate challenges then we need to take advantage of the platform to assist with this.

  • Jun 22 at 04:09 PM

    I answered this one (as much as was possible) in ABAP but downvoted too.

    If anyone wants to be more warm and fuzzy - feel free to upvote or offer a different answer.

    • Jun 25 at 07:13 AM

      So, after the OP has commented on your answer and supplied some code details, will you now cancel the down vote?

      (I'm just curious and can't comment on the question itself, as I'm not familiar with ABAP...)

      • Jun 25 at 08:31 PM

        Not in that case. It seems more like a simple SQL than ABAP question. Still not clear why OP couldn't solve it.

  • Jun 29 at 04:53 PM

    Offer OP a suggestion to search for an SAP note (it was end of the work day and I didn't feel like powering up another browser session) and response: "would be nice if you gave me the note number". Not even "thank you". I rest my case.

  • Jul 24 at 10:19 PM

    It's really discouraging to see down-voting in brand new topics.

    • Jul 25 at 07:22 AM

      If that relates to your last question, I'd certainly agree - particularly if you are not told whether that down voting was done by somebody who wrote a comment to ask for version details (which you as the OP should provide, apparently) or someone else...

      • Jul 25 at 03:25 PM

        Yes Volker, all i'm asking for is some sort of feedback so I know why my question or response was down-voted so I do not repeat my mistakes.I agree that I should have provided the version details, environment or tools that I'm running.

    • Jul 25 at 07:30 AM

      It's also discouraging to see new topics about something already explained more and more time.
      Or to try help someone who gives partial information or that clearly has no idea of which is the requirement.

      To make a cross, you need two planks, you know? :)

      i wonder why none complains when a newbie question is upvoted, because it happens ( 3 upvotes, 1 mine) when the OP clearly understand his "mistake" and shows a good attitude into learning and accepting suggestions like here

  • Aug 10 at 09:05 PM

    Well, that's interesting. After getting a response from OP, I went to remove the downvote but apparently:

    Huh? Why? I can "unlike" anything for eternity but somehow vote has an expiration date?

    scn.jpg (15.1 kB)
    • Aug 14 at 11:06 AM

      This is weird and so unlike any other online platform where indeed I can unlike at any time.

      So was this created because of a technical limitation or did someone think that this added functionality is somehow a good idea?

    • Aug 16 at 09:39 AM

      Let's ask Caroleigh Deneen.

      • Aug 16 at 02:35 PM

        I noticed this too (since it makes testing a little harder). Let me see what I can find out.

        • Aug 17 at 10:16 AM

          Sometimes I vote on a question, but as the discussion develops I change my mind. Perhaps the poster clarifies their meaning and the question is no longer a bad question, but actually quite interesting. Sorry - I down voted you 24 hours ago - you're stuck with it.

          • Sep 07 at 02:59 PM

            So it turns out this is the default configuration on the answers platform (can't change after one day). I shared your input with the community team and they will discuss and consider further. What do you think would be a reasonable limit?

            • Sep 07 at 05:35 PM

              One day after last activity on the thread.

            • Sep 07 at 08:10 PM

              Do you know what is the reason the limit exists in the first place? I've never seen such message for "like", for example, so why does it even have to have a limit?

              Is this how it works on StackOverflow too?

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