Originally posted 02-Mar-23

Stan Garfield

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In Part 1 of this series, I discussed curating search results. In this part, I discuss curating FAQs.

Knowledge managers, information specialists, and special librarians can provide a valuable service by curating lists of frequently asked questions (FAQs) about a topic, along with the most definitive answers. They can do this by reviewing threaded discussions and email messages sent to help desks to identify repeated queries, and copying useful answers to lists that can be filtered, sorted, and searched. Tools such as Microsoft SharePoint offer list functionality that can be used for creating, maintaining, and viewing FAQ lists.

People repeatedly ask questions and get answers through a wide variety of channels, but it is challenging, if not impossible, to go back and find where those questions were already answered. Asking people to search through many different online discussions to find these answers can frustrate them and is ultimately ineffective. Instead, create a list of FAQs and regularly add to it — and edit the existing answers to ensure they are still accurate.

If you observe the same questions being asked and answered multiple times online, in email messages, or in phone calls, add these questions to the list. For text-based queries, copy and paste the questions and answers into a list or database. For phone calls, transcribe them, either manually or using speech-to-text tools. The next time someone posts online, sends an email, or calls, instruct the recipients of these queries to reply by pointing to the most relevant FAQ, as a copied link or as the number in the list.

For example, if someone calls the reference desk and asks how to access the rare book collection, instruct those who staff the desk to respond by saying, “That’s FAQ number 5 in the list available on the library home page,” Or if a community member posts in an online discussion asking how to start a new community, reply with a link to the FAQ that answers that question.

FAQ lists can be read as if they are articles by new users wanting to know more about a set of related topics. Users can be trained to search FAQ lists to find answers more quickly than if using other methods.

Good FAQ lists offer rapid, accurate answers. They save time and effort by eliminating the need to keep answering the same questions repeatedly. They can also supplement enterprise search and community discussions.

Here are suggested sources of questions and answers to mine to create a list of FAQs:

  1. Community threaded discussions
  2. ESN groups
  3. Help desk calls, emails, texts, and chats
  4. Reference desk calls, emails, texts, and chats
  5. Calls, emails, texts and chats directed to subject matter experts
  6. Questions asked during calls and meetings
  7. Enterprise search logs
  8. Chat channels such as Slack and Microsoft Teams

Here are three examples of FAQs provided as part of supporting a Microsoft Yammer network:

Q: How should I use Yammer?

A: Here are five ways:

  1. Use the SAFARIS acronym to remember how to use Yammer.
  2. Be selective in what and whom you follow to limit the noise in your followed conversations.
  3. Ask questions using topics and/or public groups so that others can answer the questions and see the answers.
  4. Ask yourself before sending an email or posting to a private group “could I post this in a public Yammer group instead?” If yes, then do so.
  5. Search Yammer before posting a link or creating a group to see if the link has already been shared or if a similar group already exists.

Q: How do I reduce noise and information overload in Yammer?

A: Here are eight ways:

  1. Make sure you set the option to “Followed Conversations” at the top drop-down menu.
  2. Start by following 1–3 people, following 1–3 topics, and joining 1–3 groups.
  3. Stop following people or topics, or leave any groups, that are too noisy, irrelevant, or otherwise annoying.
  4. Add more people, topics, and groups very selectively.
  5. If you wish to sample the full company feed on occasion, you can toggle to “Top Conversations” or “All Conversations” — you can do this when you have the time and interest to do so.
  6. You can visit groups to keep up with them periodically without having to join them.
  7. You may wish to avoid following individual people and just follow topics and join or visit groups.
  8. Edit your profile to set your email digest and email notifications preferences.

Q: How do I mention someone to get his or her attention?

A: When mentioning someone (typing @ and then a name), be sure that you are choosing the person’s name from a drop-down menu. If the first name does not result in the right person being listed, try the last name. If that name doesn’t work, type the name in the search box at the top of the page, locate the person, click on their name to visit their profile page, locate their username in the URL at the top of your browser, copy it, and then paste that after the @ in your post. You can also use the box below the box you use when posting which shows “+ Add people to notify” to enter the name of a member. This is an easier way, and the search for the name allows you to enter both the first and last name to find the desired person.

In Part 3 of this series, I discuss curating online discussions, and what else to curate as part of a knowledge management program.

The Five Cs of KM

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Stan Garfield

Knowledge Management Author and Speaker, Founder of SIKM Leaders Community, Community Evangelist, Knowledge Manager https://sites.google.com/site/stangarfield/