7 Replies Latest reply on Apr 15, 2016 11:49 AM by benfowler

    Authorship on product docs and knowledge base articles

    benfowler

      Hi all. I wanted to get some opinions on what you've opted for in your external support communities regarding authorship (posted by) for product docs and knowledge base articles. In order to distribute the management of our product docs and KBAs, we're considering the use of a generic user, such as "[Company name] Docs", e.g. "Jive Docs". The alternative is to let actual authors post, which would be our support engineers and knowledge management staff. I can see pros and cons to each. Before we commit prior to our community launch, I thought I would ask you all what you've done or how you've approached this in your instance. Thanks! Especially curious what Keeley Sorokti, @david Kastendick, @harold gross, @jill ross and all you other external support community managers think.

        • Re: Authorship on product docs and knowledge base articles
          Keeley Sorokti

          I would very much like the Knowledge Articles in our Jive-x community to be authored by the person who authored the content so that they get credit for the work and also get notified when someone makes a comment on the document.

           

          I was not able to use the Salesforce connector prior to launch to automatically push over our 200 knowledge articles so manually created them by logging in as each support rep (not sustainable). Going forward we hope to get the connector working which will mean that the articles will come over under a generic community account. We will then potentially edit the documents to @mention the person's community profile in the actual text of the document.

           

          If there were a way to change authorship of content in Jive that would be ideal.

           

          There are others at the company from outside of Technical Support who do not create knowledge articles in SF. I've created a process for them to create knowledge articles in jive as documents and they are authoring those themselves.

          2 people found this helpful
            • Re: Authorship on product docs and knowledge base articles
              benfowler

              Thanks Keeley Sorokti. I recall your story at JiveWorld about logging in as others to get the KBAs posted. Kudos to you for staying true to your vision and putting in the effort!

               

              Our case is a bit different in that our product docs and KB articles will be static - comments are turned off (that's a completely different philosophical discussion!). I like the idea of giving credit to the true authors, but we are thinking of doing that internally.

               

              I also like the idea of a "Company docs" user in that it minimizes confusion on which documents are authoritative, and helps other users more easily identify that type of content.

               

              I think if we had comments turned on, it would make a better case for having the real author post their articles.

              1 person found this helpful
            • Re: Authorship on product docs and knowledge base articles
              jkurutz

              Hey Ben,

               

              This is a fantastic question - one we struggle with a bit ourselves.

               

              I've found that we need a mix, sheerly as a practical matter. Here's some of what drive us:

              • We have a vast trove of internal knowledgebase materials we're working on migrating to our external/hybrid community as Documents. We simply don't have the bandwidth or buy-in to ask every engineer who wrote every item (some of which are just a couple of lines of key information) to log in and copy it over themselves. So for the majority of KB material, we're uploading it under the authoritative general company account "Agilent Technologies".
              • We have literature in our resource library (Application Notes, Technical Overviews) that sometimes has clear authorship stated in the document, and sometimes doesn't. It would be much too complicated to get all those authors involved in the mechanics of posting, so we have an account called "Agilent Librarian" for the purpose of bringing the items in to our community.
              • We have some very helpful service engineers, and a couple of them have ben uploading materials on their own under their names - PERFECT! I hold them up as shining examples for others to emulate.
              • I have one stellar senior support engineer who's written about 300 incredibly useful KB articles for our internal community, and I really want each one of them to bear his name in the external community. When I met him face-to-face before we launched, he told me his materials are safe to share with customers. I don't want to burden him with uploading all this material, so I want him to create an account in our customer community, where I can rig things up so I can post under his name using Jive's Ghost Blog tool. I'm still having trouble getting him to agree and set up an account, probably because the arrangement seems complicated and he's about to retire and doesn't care about authorship. We're still working on this one.

               

              Authorship can be complicated. I'm not sure that setting a single rule would be the best way to get information to customers quickly. Real life, with all its implications of cooperation, buy-in-, credit, visibility, etc. gets a little messy, and sometimes demands a case-by-case evaluation.

               

              Thanks. - Josh

              1 person found this helpful
                • Re: Authorship on product docs and knowledge base articles
                  benfowler

                  Thanks Josh. Great thinking, and I now believe there are real world scenarios that end up dictating the process, as you've described. I have a couple follow up questions, if you don't mind.

                  1) How do you differentiate between the two service accounts (Agilent Technologies vs. Agilent Librarian). It sounds like it's based on the author group and/or resource type?

                  2) Have you noticed any confusion among users or staff when they see different authors on a resource, especially real person vs. service account? Do they perceive one as "better" than the other?

                   

                  Finally, for your proactive and awesome service engineers who are posting on their own, do you give guidelines and templates, or do you clean up the content after the fact? I'm guessing articles can start to look a lot different when you end up having multiple authors, so curious how you've kept the variance to a minimum.

                    • Re: Authorship on product docs and knowledge base articles
                      jkurutz

                      Hi Ben. Happy to help.

                       

                      1) We use the librarian account strictly for posting documents from our resource library - application notes, technical overviews, User Manuals, etc. Sometimes these items have clear authorship on their pdf's front pages, but oftentimes, like with manuals, they're unattributed to begin with. We use the company account Agilent Technologies for uploading materials in bulk and for announcements like alerts to new software patches.

                       

                      Neither account is set up to be interactive in practice. Neither is ever used for starting s Discussion. If someone posted a comment on one of these Documents, and it needed a reply, I would either reply using my own personal account, which states I'm the Community Manager, or I would rope in an expert who would reply using their own account.

                       

                      2) I haven't noticed any difference in how people respond to different generic company accounts, but keep in mind that their use is VERY limited, and no one is actually trying to communicate directly with a customer using a generic account.

                       

                      Indeed, we make it a point that everyone in our community must use their own real name on their account, and groups may not share an account (except for the company accounts, which have limited applications). Early in our development, there were some people interested in having all company responses go through one official generic account, and we turned down that idea. Our aim is to drive personal engagement as much as possible and build on existing relationships. For instance, if a customer has interacted with a support engineer over the phone for many years and knows them by name, they'll easily trust that person's advice in the community...but they have to see their name to know who that person is.

                       

                       

                      As for articles looking different with different authors... I hope I get to the point where we have so many authors that this is a problem. In any case, I'm not too worried, and I'm always happy to do a little cleanup when necessary. In my experience, virtually all customer contributors only create discussions - if it's a Document or a Blog it's almost always an accident. This community is just two months old, but eventually I'll be encouraging selected customers to write knowledgebase articles and blogs and such.

                       

                      Even with employees, I think it's important to embrace a degree of diversity in contributions. If a specified style is enforced too rigidly, then authorship loses individuality, and the material becomes less engaging. When a person's personality is visible in their contribution, the reader is assured that the write is a real human being, and  is thus more trustworthy.

                       

                      - Josh

                      2 people found this helpful
                  • Re: Authorship on product docs and knowledge base articles
                    pegasus829

                    We use a single user, '[Company] Documentation', this was primarily to reduce the likelihood of direct support to that user from customers direct messaging the account. There is however a downside. You'll need to create a mechanism for forwarding any email notifications sent to that user on to your documentation team. Should someone ad a comment to an article, you'd miss the notification as it goes to the email address of the documentation user.

                    1 person found this helpful