IBM Connections: Default follow on public files is it logical?

At one of my customers a user complained about the fact that every time he opened a publicly shared file it would automatically ‘follow’ that file. This meant that every subsequent ‘like’, change or comment to that file would show up in his timeline. Of course he could ‘unfollow’ the file but found it irritating that it would follow it at all without him making that conscious decision.

After testing and a little digging by our admins it turns out that indeed this is the default behavior for IBM Connections and can be managed by changing a setting in the files-config.xml:

    <addOnMediaDownload enabled="true"/>

So no big deal but we did have a bit of a discussion as to why this setting is there in the first place and if it is logical. Yes, there is a case to make for auto-follow as that will ensure you keep track of subsequent changes to that file. After all, a publicly shared file that you don’t follow or isn’t in a community that you follow is sometimes hard to track but at the same time it can be quite annoying. In an environment with thousands of users and where public files are shared and mentioned in other sources like the intranet, auto-following a file simply because you opened it once, can cause lots of updates in your activity stream by other people ‘liking’, commenting or editing the file. Information you might not be interested in at all as you only just wanted to read it that once.

To be honest, I think this is one of those settings that can be interpreted either way. The bigger discussion now is do we disable it? This user clearly finds it annoying but what about all those other users? Do they want to auto-follow or not? The setting is org-wide so any change will influence all. You can’t just change the default behavior of a system used by thousands of users without annoying at least some.  I guess this is something that will have to be decided by the the business.

So what do you think: Is auto-follow indeed the logical behavior or not in a Enterprise Social Network and how does your organization handle it?

One thought on “IBM Connections: Default follow on public files is it logical?

  1. Femke, thank you for this interesting post.
    I personally like the feature, since I know it is available. Beforehand I was a bit confused why it happens. Thank you for your clarification.
    It seems to occur with any file that you either downloaded or opened in the preview (Docs).
    Still, as an administrator and trainer for Connections I would prefer that
    1. there is a pop-up as soon as you start to follow a file in this way in order to inform the user.
    2. That every user can turn it on and off (e.g. as part of the news settings) and that the system only provides the default. In my case (for my users) I would pfeffer to have it off by default, even that I would recommend users after a training and a bit of experience to turn it on.

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