A Few Shouts Out

To continue with our give credit where credit is due theme, we’d like to acknowledge the contributions of a at least a few people (for now). More later, we promise.

This blog came into existence because Dave Edstrom, Technical Director at Sun, said “Mike, OneStop is cool. How are you going to share this with customers?” As I mentioned in the first post, I thought a long white paper would bore people to tears, thus the blog came to be.

OneStop transitioned from a one person effort to a group effort while the SunSoft SE force was under the leadership of Fadi Cotran. Fadi recognized the value of OneStop and considerably expanded the resource investment. He asked that the entire SunSoft SE Specialist Group participate.

The consistent format and “SE relevant” navigation was developed by Chris Kampmeier around the year 2000. It’s a credit to his insight that it lives on. Chris is now a Technical Director at Sun.

Fraser Gardiner took over the management responsibility for OneStop in 2003. His hands on support and superb instincts for what is useful and valuable for an SE in the field did much to further the cause.

At the risk of too much “sucking up”, the current Sun emphasis on sharing and transparency comes from our CEO, Jonathan Schwartz. One might even say that it’s our job to do this.

Stale Content is our Enemy

If a user stumbles on any stale content on a web site it is human nature to assume the site is rife with out of date information. We try our best to ensure OneStop content is accurate and up to date. We do this by …

Touching the authors as often as possible.

Automated email reminders are sent to the authors. We classify pages as active, static, or archive. If an active page hasn’t been touched in 30 days the author gets a friendly reminder, after 60 days is a moderate reminder, after 120 it’s severe.

The infrastructure team (Robert and Mike) will personally contact authors of pages that over 120 pages old. If there is a problem, we resolve it.

Page status reports are sent out weekly. These reports include a link status check, usage information, and a feedback log for the page. If a page is less than 30 days old and has zero bad links, the status column contains a smiley. We find that authors like smileys.

Every OneStop page has a Feedback Button where users are encouraged to comment and make content recommendations.

Yes, we hate to admit, occasionally a stale page does sneak by. (There are 460 active pages, 133 static pages.) User’s get truly annoyed when they take the time to look through the page, and after spending 10 minutes perusing, notice that the page hasn’t been updated recently. Every page on OneStop that hasn’t been updated in 180 days gets a prominent caution flag, right next to the Last Updated date, right at the top.

Nationalism anyone?

http://www.geographic.org/flags/new3/bavaria_flags.htmlOne of the fundamental tenants of OneStop is to give credit where credit is due. In short, the people who do the work, get the visibility.

Along with displaying the author of the week on the homepage, we also display the author’s photo and national flag on the OneStop page(s) they own and edit.

Sun Microsystems, of course, is a large global company. OneStop authors, especially those outside of the US, take pride in the fact that their flag is prominently displayed. It reinforces the message that the community and the contributions are worldwide.

I was tickled recently one of our prolific German authors, Roland Rambau, asked that we display the Bavarian flag on his pages. We recently added authors and flags for Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Russia, and Thailand.

Update/Response: if an author is based in one country but of a different nationality they get to post whatever flag they want …  :-)

Consistent Format: boring but important

OneStop is primarily a techie field focused site, and one consistent attribute of of our Systems Engineers is that they are busy. People generally don’t have the time or the inclination to learn another tool or grok a new format. Many of our sites internally are quite different. There isn’t any consistency in where, for example, a presentation or a white paper might be found. We find that OneStop users mostly like to forgo various web cleverness such as gadgets and personal page layout in favor of consistency of content and navigation.

The formula that is working for us is to preface each page with a Short Description (elevator pitch), a list of What Is New on the page, followed with a more lengthy Where To Start section. Have you ever found it frustrating to locate the new information, or what has changed on a product information page? You often find lots of gifs which might or might not be current. A OneStop convention is to list each notable page change in the What Is New section, accompanied by a date.

Each page has up to 17 sections, in the same order. The sections are areas that are of particular interest to SEs. I’m certain there isn’t a single user or author that can spew back the entire list, but people get a feel for what to expect from a OneStop page, and know that they can scan the navigation bar to find it.

What is OneStop?

OneStop is a first stop for Systems Engineers, mostly presales, when they need to understand Sun’s products, technologies, and programs. Sun is chock full of resources, web sites, wikis, blogs, databases – but in most cases the information is in inconsistent locations, formats, and state of currency. Understanding a product/technology/program, determining current contacts, finding the appropriate collateral, training, etc. requires a research project that can take hours or days. Search is one of the resources available, but generally will not provide all, or even most, of what a user needs to know. See Searching the Workplace Web for a description of why search on intranets is so difficult.

The real secret sauce behind OneStop is the OneStop Authors. This is a volunteer community of over 300 people that each own one or more OneStop pages. Each OneStop page correlates to a product, technology, or program. Note that each OneStop author has a day job, so ensuring that the OneStop pages stay current and accurate, and the authors motivated, is part of what we will try and describe in this blog.

Introduction, Setting the Stage ….

OneStop is a very popular internal Sun website used by thousands of employees, many outside of it’s targeted audience.

The intent of this blog is to share what’s working with respect to building, managing, and sustaining a successful web community, and to post and collect thoughts as we evolve to web n.m (2.0++) and beyond.