7 Replies Latest reply on Jun 13, 2007 1:11 PM by ajohnson1200

    Question/Answer improvement strategies?

      We are having challenges with Questions/Answer Threads in Forums, and anticipate the same as we upgrade to ClearspaceX. Questioners often don''t mark answers as helpful, and people don''t get their points.


      - it is complicated. Especially first-time visitors who drop in to ask a question don''t usually come back to award points. From one of our employees who participates in the forums regularly: "I don''t think the "was this question answered" widgetry works at all.  Maybe it''s just too complicated.  First you have to mark your question as such, then you have to realize you''re supposed to mark correct answers and go back and do it. "


      - we get point nagging. All over the place "fyi...if you find this post helpful, please award points using the Helpful/Correct buttons...thanks" and worse, scolding if you don''t award them.


      Are there any good strategies to make this work better?


      - Visibility? Make ''Open Questions'' big and flashing?

      - Start over? Replace with community ratings?

      - Other ideas?

        • Re: Question/Answer improvement strategies?



          some users may be really afraid to hit "Helpful" or "Correct" as one does not know what happens next. So it could be helpful to have a flash animation which shows how spending points work.


          I guess that one needs some coding to display a flashing footer or text box for all logged in users who read their open question and who have less than five questions answered. The box should contain the please award points text and a link to the flash animation so they may see how it works. Visitors and users which know how it works will not be annoyed by this text.


          Another idea is to calculate a "Questions / Points Spent" ratio and inform the user which did not spend points.



          • Re: Question/Answer improvement strategies?

            hi John,


            Thanks for bringing this up... there are definitely some things we can improve about points / ratings.  A couple ideas you can do yourself without any new features on our part:


            • include text in the welcome / registration emails that talks about the importance of reward points / asking questions, etc..


            • add an announcement to the top of each community discussion page that talks about reward points / asking questions


            • create a page on the site where you talk about the importance of reward points / asking questions, go through the general workflow with a couple screenshots as an example. Maybe make this page an introduction to the community, force users to go through this introduction before asking a question.


            • write a plugin that sends a one time email to participants who have posted questions but haven''t rewarded points reminding them of the functionality and the importance to the community


            • if you have a monthly newsletter, highlight the people with the most points and as part of that, emphasize how important it is to click the ''post as question'' button and to reward points for helpful and correct answers





              • Re: Question/Answer improvement strategies?



                I think these are all good suggestions, but any time you have to do that much user education, it''s a signifier that the design may be flawed.


                I think Q/A is great for a company support forum. It''s a natural pattern when you ask a company a support question and then you go back and tell them that your problem answered, because you feel entitled to an answer. All the tools you provide to track open questions and how long they''ve been open are great for that purpose.


                It''s less great for a peer-peer forum, because answering each other happens all the time naturally, and marking answers as correct is less natural when you''re talking to a peer. At least in our experience, it then easily degrades into just being about points. As an administrator, I don''t care about how many open questions there are, and questions marked "answered" aren''t really more likely to go into a FAQ or be worthy of migrating into a document.


                At the moment, I''m enamored with the idea of using a rating system to identify good answers. Using community ratings for points needs to have anti-gaming measures, though.


                (Hmm, are ratings only implemented for documents? If your suggested model for documents is to go through an approval process (via the Community Approvers in CSX), then ratings are less useful than if you were rating raw community input).

                  • Re: Question/Answer improvement strategies?

                    hi John,


                    I couldn''t agree more with your statement about the differences between the external / company support type instances and internal / employee instances. I do think in some cases that points do make sense. For instance, a help desk might install Clearspace as a way of keeping employees up to date about IT issues, they might have a forum for asking questions about PCs and laptops and PDAs and in that case, it would make sense to have points, but it''s arguably almost an external ''support'' type situation anyway. 


                    Regardless, adding ratings to all content types (blog posts, documents, comments maybe?) is in the works and I''d love to hear any ideas you have about a rating system for good answers. 





                      • Re: Question/Answer improvement strategies?

                        Hi AJ,


                        rating systems are usually as good as the users who vote there. And as there are some users which you trust more than other users it may be nice to have an option to give special users more weight for their ratings. There are usually a few authors and a lot of consumers, so it could help a lot to give authors, active or ''old'' users more weight.


                        But I wonder how much a voting system will help if users don''t like to mark a question as answered. One could anyhow force the users to mark every answer before they post a new thread or reply.



                        • Re: Question/Answer improvement strategies?

                          Hmm, I had a long, thoughtful reply, but I evidently didn''t hit Post. So let''s settle for this:


                          We looove points, we just hate reminding people to close their Open Questions.  Giving an option for user-based ratings moves the pressure from the questioner (who may be a drive-by newbie) back to the community as a whole.


                          In our case, one goal of rating and points is to drive good content worth saving -- FAQs, tutorials, knowledge-base material, etc. Points for answering questions only indirectly drives that.



                          Straw man rating system:

                          - Everybody gets a +1/-1 vote on each piece of content, including comments & replies -- some of the best material gets created in replies

                          - Above threshhold T you get P points (say, above +5, you get 5 points)

                          - Your total therefore may drop if the item drops again below threshold T

                          - Trusted users (high-status or moderators) may get a higher-weighted vote, in part to prevent logrolling/gaming (get 5 of your friends, and we all vote for each other)

                          - If integrated with Q/A system, questioner gets +5 points too

                          - Some sort of admin reporting would also be necessary to identify possible logrolling


                          In our experience, stars don''t work as well, since most people vote the extremes, and you still need to account for numbers of votes, since 100 5-star votes should be more important than a single 5-star vote.


                          Other things on our points wishlist:

                          - admin interface to omit certain Spaces from point totals, like social forums

                          - ability to award points, and perhaps with list of awards (with admin''s comment) then visible on a user''s profile