Originally posted 09-Mar-23

Stan Garfield

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In Parts 1 and 2 of this series, I discussed curating search results and FAQs. This part covers curating online discussions and other types of information.

Online threaded discussions are one of the most important components of any knowledge management program. Curating the content found in these discussions can help it to be easily located later. Knowledge managers should regularly take the time to tag, rename, merge, split, edit, and remove content as needed.

Discussions in active communities cover many topics over time. The result is a large amount of important content that should be readily available for members to retrieve well beyond the time the discussion ends. This is accomplished by adding hashtags to the discussions so they can be grouped together. For example, there could be multiple discussions about collaboration. Adding the #collaboration hashtag to each one will allow any community member to click on that and find all the threads where collaboration is discussed.

A useful curation task is to rename threads started without a helpful subject or title. For example, a member posts to an online community discussion with the title, “Question for the group.” That title does not adequately explain what the thread is about, so renaming it and giving it a title such as, “What archiving software are you using?” is a good action to take. This makes it more likely that other members will read the thread and that it will be findable later.

Sometimes threads get started and are then splintered, frequently due to the way email clients work or by a responder deciding to change the subject line. The result is posts that are part of the same discussion can get slightly different subject lines, despite actually being part of the same thread. Some threaded discussion tools allow such threads to be put back together using a merge function. This allows those reading a thread to see all the relevant posts rather than having to go back and locate separate threads.

The opposite problem arises when a community member replies to an existing thread with an off-topic response. They were probably unaware they were replying to a discussion about something else, and they posted a totally unrelated question. Good threaded discussion tools enable splitting off that unrelated post. This puts it in its own thread so that the threads remain separate and all of the posts in each thread are about the same topic.

Another part of curating discussions is to edit them, or in some cases to remove them. If a thread has a broken link in it, it should be edited with the correct link. If a post contains a misspelled name, it makes sense to correct it. There may be some important information that was missing and could be added.

On occasion, a post may be offensive, obsolete, or inaccurate, and the best action to take is to remove it. For example, if there is a thread from many years ago in which nothing is relevant anymore and it has no historical value, removing it can help prevent confusion if someone were to access it now.

1. Collections: Manage resources collected by the organization, such as books, images, recordings, art, relics, etc.

2. Contacts: Maintain directories showing organizational hierarchy, roles, and responsibilities.

3. Job openings: Share current open internal positions within the organization.

4. Navigation: Structure menus and breadcrumbs in a logical manner consistent with the organization’s structure and terminology.

5. News: Select and highlight the most important and relevant stories.

6. Resources: Maintain lists of recommended sources in a wide variety of categories:

  • Articles
  • Blog Posts
  • Blogs
  • Books
  • Communities
  • Conferences and Events
  • Definitions
  • Periodicals
  • Podcasts
  • Presentations
  • Products and Services
  • Quotes
  • Thought Leaders
  • Tools
  • Training
  • Tweeters
  • Twitter Chats
  • Webinars
  • Websites
  • Videos

7. Success Stories: Collect good examples taken from actual threaded discussions in a Wins group or list, adding text that highlights the success details.

8. Taxonomy: Monitor, add, and edit tags; maintain synonyms in a thesaurus; and ensure content is tagged with appropriate metadata.

9. Methodologies: Collect, publish, recommend, and promote policies, rules, techniques, and procedures that prescribe how work should be performed and provide proven ways to do it successfully. Once a process is used successfully to accomplish a desired result, it can be codified to allow repetition. In some cases, reusing the process is so beneficial that it becomes a prescribed policy. An extensive repository of methodologies collected both from internal and external sources can provide users with process tools to help them do their jobs more effectively. Examples of methodologies include:

  • Design
  • Group Facilitation
  • Project Management
  • Research Protocol
  • Software Development
  • User Experience

10. Intelligence: Obtain information from internal information systems, transaction processing applications, and databases used to run the organization. Use the data from these systems to distill trends, answer queries, and support decision making. This can be done without the need to capture data redundantly. Obtain information from outside sources, including competitive intelligence, analyst reports, industry news, and benchmark data. Providing access to this information supports analysis, strategy formulation, and planning. If such resources do not already exist centrally, obtain and offer them as service to prevent individual departments from purchasing this information on their own.

In Part 4 of this series, I discuss how to curate and provide examples of curation.

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/