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author's profile photo Michael Appleby

Activity Stream: Activities versus Notifications, where do we draw the line?

One of the biggest problems with the Activity Stream deals with its separation into two distinct groups (Activities and Notifications). The logic of the separation should be such that it assists members in seeing some items which are simply informational in one group (Activities) and other items which are there for some level of processing (Notifications). One of the major difficulties in connecting Solution providing experts with Solution seekers is the information overload in these two groups. I have taken out Moderator activities since it is a special case.

Let's look at all the types of things in the Activity Stream that a person, in this case, me, might see:

  1. Chats
  2. Who liked a post
  3. Who voted up or down a post
  4. Posting an Answer to followed Question
  5. Posting a comment to a followed Question, Answer, Discussion, or Blog
  6. New content for Followed Tags or People
  7. Newly Followed People or Content
  8. Newly Following People or Content
  9. Updates for Followed Content
  10. Profile updates for Followed People

I probably missed a few, but these are the main ones I could come up with. Followed Content could be via Following a specific item, Following a poster involved in the content, or Following a Primary or Additional Tag which is assigned to the item.

I think these should be in Notifications with everything else going into Activities:

1, 4, 5, 6, and 9

These are the items which, I want to receive notifications/be able to isolate for review. Effectively, this recreates the incredibly useful Track in Communications functionality we had previously on the Jive platform. Notifications' usefullness would be greatly improved when based on a better split.

2, 3, 7, 8, and 10 are not items which provoke a response either near term or longer term. All that stuff is trivial and can be reviewed when I get bored or need some time for boosting or degrading my own ego (down votes do that fairly well). Keep them separated out from the other items please!

Cheers, Mike (Moderator)

SAP Technology RIG

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  • Dec 15, 2016 at 04:20 PM

    I see some incorrect terms used in 4, 5 (or missing)

    I newer use "follow" for questions, just answer or comment!

    I want to be notified for any content changes (including delete of answer/comment) in the question itself and all answers/comments if I provide comment/answer to this question.

    • Dec 15, 2016 at 04:26 PM

      Hi Vadim,

      When I refer to Following in 4 & 5 (or other items as well), it can be through the Primary Tag assigned to the content or via a Followed member, either the author of the question or whoever might have posted a Comment or Answer. But I definitely agree with notification to cover any content changes related to that particular question however you ended up following it.

      Have you thoughts on the other items belonging to Activities or Notifications?

      Cheers, Mike (Moderator)
      SAP Technology RIG

      • Dec 15, 2016 at 04:35 PM

        I do not think that I want to receive notifications for any content changes for all questions with the tag I follow! Only for the questions where I have been involved with answer/comment.

  • Dec 15, 2016 at 04:54 PM

    Interesting bug if I look on this post using Android phone (using standard browser or Google Chrome) - numbering is missing - replaced by dots):

    On iPad the picture is correct.

    • Dec 15, 2016 at 05:43 PM

      Here in IE 11 I had noticed that the numbered list was showing to the left (or outside) of whatever margin I would see for the rest of Mike's original post. Perhaps it is just being cut-off?

      • Dec 15, 2016 at 05:47 PM

        "numbered list was showing to the left (or outside) of whatever margin I would see for the rest of Mike's original post" - same picture on desktop FireFox and on iPad Safari.

        But on Android the cut-off happens...

        Test in the answer:

        1. line1
        2. line2
        3. line3

        End test

        Tested - it happens only for main discussion text, not for answers!

        • Dec 15, 2016 at 05:55 PM

          Then we are one of the two following options:

          1. Consistent
          2. Consistently Inconsistent

          <...I need the eye rolling emoji here...>

  • Dec 15, 2016 at 06:40 PM

    But isn't this how Notifications / Activities are pretty much already separated?

    2 and 3 (who liked/voted) are already in Activities. Not sure where 10 is, I guess my "followees" don't update their profiles frequently. I'd vote not to get notified about that at all. It's not like SCN is LinkedIn when people change profiles when they change jobs.

    8 - "X is now following you" is already in Notifications. How would Content follow someone? I'm confused...

    7 - "newly followed", didn't see it in the activity stream at all. "Content" - this is confusing again. Do you mean just a notification about the fact that you started following X tag, for example? Those IMHO are not needed at all. Why would anyone need to be notified of their own actions?

    • Dec 15, 2016 at 07:10 PM

      Hi Jelena,

      My followed content is in Activities not Notifications. Except when someone is responding directly to something I posted (like this item here).

      2 and 3, I occasionally look to see if anyone whose opinion I respect has liked something of mine, but it could go completely away and I would not mind terribly much.

      8 "X is now following me" People who follow me are in Notifications and should be in Activities.

      Tags which I follow and People whom I follow generate content for my Activities, but that content is what I want to be seeing in a nice compact list so I can review and perhaps respond to. All that content should be in my Notifications.

      7 Agreed. No need to know who you have followed. But if it needs to be there for any particular reason, don't put it in Notifications. Put it in Activities.

      Updates to status or profiles even of people I follow are not worthy of Notifications. Activities only.

      Hope I have not confused people further.

      Cheers, Mike

      SAP Technology RIG

      • Dec 15, 2016 at 10:08 PM

        OK, I'm with you on 8. When we got notifications by email I used to delete them immediately. There was just one exception when I needed to contact someone, so I started following them and was watching if they'd follow me back so that I could DM them.

        Considering that emails for notifications are coming back, I believe we may need to be more careful what we wish for in the Notifications. Personally, I don't follow any tags. Tried following spaces on SCN and it ended in avalanche of information, so never again. But if I start getting notifications for every single thing my "followees" do my mailbox might overflow. And not always I care to read about it immediately or even on daily basis (no disrespect).

        In general, notifications should be about something that you need to know or something that requires an action. The rest we can consume at our own pace in the Activity stream. E.g. even on a busy day I'd answer a question if OP replied with additional information. So Notification -> email worked great for that.

        I believe that more "compact form" of the activity stream is in the works somewhere and might be coming to SCN sometime in 2017.

        • Dec 16, 2016 at 12:02 PM

          Hi Jelena,

          What I need/desire/prefer is the recreation of the Communications folder. As a Moderator/Space Editor/Active Member, I want all the stuff I need to review in one compact, efficient, sequential by timestamp, list that I can peruse as fits my schedule, that I can filter for Moderation activities, Chats, or just Followed content for all my tags which have been created or updated. Oh, and which is marked as read as soon as I, you know, read it! And didn't have to hit the More button for every 10 items (it should display a minimum of 100 items with scrolling only or have a Show All button for unread content).

          Got nothing like that right now. So the usual moderator task of reviewing ALL the content for which I am responsible has not been possible (only 24 hours in a day and I have a family, day job, dog, cat, house, etc.). So I have not even tried. Does the community suffer from this lack. I certainly would like to think so. I know, not just guess, but know, that garbage content is slipping into our community. Improperly tagged questions, marketing fluff, and generally content inconsistent with the RoE.

          I could not and did not use email notifications before as it would generate too many. Instead I would go directly to the Communications folder. I think email notifications are necessary for many others who are a bit more selective in what they review. I am definitely a volume processor rather than a quality processor (although I what I can). Different strokes and all that.

          Thanks for the feedback!

          Mike (Moderator)

          SAP Technology RIG

  • Dec 15, 2016 at 09:52 PM

    I prefer that 6. is a per-user setting - I don't wish to get notifications, only an entry in the Activity stream if a person, whom I follow, posts somewhere.
    And, to avoid potential misunderstandings by the SCN designers and developers - if J├╝rgen posts a comment to a question with SD tag, where I participated (assuming that I am auto-following this one), I expect to get a single notification, not 4 or 5 or even 10.
    For me the most important items are 1,4,5,9. It will be nice to have separate settings for blogs and Q&A - I think, I have seen people asking if it is possible to get notifications only for Q&A.

    *** Offtopic***
    Is it just me seeing this, or the Coffee Corner opening posts are messed up?

    I checked in several browsers - it looks the same.

    broken-layout.jpg (37.1 kB)
    • Dec 16, 2016 at 11:58 AM

      Nope, not just you. I've noticed it yesterday evening the first time.

    • Dec 16, 2016 at 04:00 PM

      Hi Veselina,

      We definitely need more granularity in what gets email notifications and I guess it is only one step removed from what can be selected to be in the Notification list. I guess the developers would have to weigh in on that one. I prefer to see 6 in Notifications since it is something that is involved in executing (or should be executing) a Moderator's duties.

      As far as CC opening posts, I have no idea. I didn't look it over once I posted it initially. Is it the poster author stuff in the bottom right that you refer to?

      Cheers, Mike (Moderator)
      SAP Technology RIG

    • Dec 16, 2016 at 04:08 PM

      I see the same thing. New bug implemented when fixing old bugs? :)

      • Dec 16, 2016 at 04:26 PM

        I could be wrong in this, but I think, somebody tried to adjust a CSS for the site and things went a tiny bit wrong :)

        I faced a similar challenge a few months ago, when I tried to play with Greasemonkey scripts to make the site experience for me more bearable - you try to adjust a margin or some object, and then you realize that you need to start almost from scratch. I am not a web designer, it could be my lack of skill, but making better use of the horizontal screen estate became quite a challenge for me (I did not have time to finish the script, too much work in my real-life job).

      • Dec 16, 2016 at 04:55 PM

        I think it was back in the Jive beta space, but I remember sharing a whack-a-mole(bug) carnival game image that depicts this...

  • Dec 16, 2016 at 04:30 PM


    I believe we can talk about this till cows go home but it won't make any difference if no one from the SCN team hears it and no one takes action.

    Based on your description, I understand your needs as a moderator are different than mine and, of course, my needs also differ from, say, a more casual SCN user. But I believe there are not more than 5 distinct groups of users here and within each group the patterns would be quite similar.

    What needs to happen (actually this should've happened way before October 10th) is the SCN team needs to sit down with some representatives from each group for a design thinking session to find a reasonable compromise between the user needs and what is technically feasible.

    Again, I don't know why this hasn't happened before but it's still not too late. Trying to address this by asking the SCN members to post questions or Ideas for every single thing is unreasonable and ineffective. We are dealing with a much bigger UI (or rather UX) design issue. Nibbling at it and trying to put on band-aids on this or that won't help a lot. Yes, it'd be more time-consuming to take a step back and invest in some design level changes but ROI on this would be much. much higher.

    I don't know if anyone on the SAP side understands this.

    • Dec 16, 2016 at 05:10 PM

      Just to be clear, Jamie Cantrell is well aware that much of the new SCN design issues are being discussed in Coffee Corner, so she is monitoring this space. If it generates a lot of discussion, the team becomes aware of it.

    • Dec 16, 2016 at 05:25 PM

      Well spoken, as usually, and a great summary of the current situation, methinks.

      And if anyone from the SAP side does listen, it is nice to tell us so:)

  • Dec 23, 2016 at 12:13 AM

    Yes, I can confirm that we are listening. Not always in a position to respond to everything with a satisfying answer, but always listening.

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