5 Replies Latest reply on Jan 23, 2017 12:41 PM by communitygecko

    Making the case for open content

    mnevill

      Does anyone have any good case studies or white papers they can point to that will help show the advantages of having an open community vs a closed one with restricted content?   

       

      I know there are legit reasons behind restrictions like communities based on paid memberships and gating information that is truly sensitive.  On the other hand, I think there are several fears pushing companies towards restricted content that have been well refuted like:

       

      • competitors – If they really want to get in your community they will find a way.  If they really want to get your documentation, they already have it.

       

      • sensitive documents – In my experience, these are not truly “sensitive” meaning they do not contain design schematics or other intellectual property. They simply help a customer configure, use, and troubleshoot a product.  Also, if you just google the document you are looking to protect it is not uncommon to find someone else already posted it somewhere outside of your control.

       

      • slander/upset customers – As long as you are honest, responsible, and reasonable this is a non-issue, not to mention these posts typically have really low views compared to all other content. Some good guidance is found here: Conflict and crisis management. Don’t forget the community typically comes to your defense too.

       

      • spam – There are several tools and configuration options to circumvent this.

       

      In my past life we had one company division with open content in the community and the other with restrictions and had measured a 12X difference in activity.  Not being able to find things, or having to be approved for access to locked down spaces was a constant complaint in the Feedback section and in surveys for all the restricted content.  It was clear that we had a higher customer satisfaction rating for users in the open content areas.  One other important point is with open content external search engines can find it and ultimately become your biggest traffic source.

       

      There is a balance between protecting your interests with restrictions and making things unnecessarily difficult for customers, who won’t come back if they have a bad first experience.  Has anyone else out there fought this battle and won?  What tactics and discussion points helped the most? 

        • Re: Making the case for open content
          communitygecko

          You can actually do both with the help of some smoking mirrors. I had implemented it at Oracle in My Oracle Support Community a few years ago. I plan to write some tips and tricks I have learned and implemented right here, so may I ask you to wait until next week to get at least one way to do this?

           

          There are good reasons for both open and gated (what I call them) communities. You highlight some of those reasons above. I do not believe one supplants the other which is why I came up with a pretty good solution.

           

          Rob->

            • Re: Making the case for open content
              mnevill

              Sure thing.  I'm very interested to hear about your experience.  I do understand reasons for gated communities in certain situations. However, I am a firm believer that if the profile doesn't fit then forcing it out of fear from the list of reasons I provided above is going to have a negative consequence on adoption.  At least that is what I saw and measured in my experience. I wanted to see if my exposure was unique as well as hopefully find some research on this topic.

            • Re: Making the case for open content
              communitygecko

              Please see Glass Door To Gated Communities which I created over the weekend and just uploaded here. As noted, it does not attempt to discuss or debate the gated versus public community question. Rather, it shows one way that was proven successful to expose content in gated communities.

                • Re: Making the case for open content
                  mnevill

                  Thanks for creating that.  The downside is that it is a very manual process to create these pointer pages/articles.  Coupled with that is it can greatly frustrates users to come in via Google by a potential hit like this only to be directed to login page after they took the time to read the teaser. This typically results in a high bounce rate but one could argue at least they came in.  The other side of that sword is, yes they came in but you also may have just given them a bad first experience. Personally I would much rather remove the barrier and let the content be viewed unhindered but that goes back to the gated vs public debate. 

                    • Re: Making the case for open content
                      communitygecko

                      The document only shows a way in to the gated community. In our case, it replaced newsletters and thus the effort was actually smaller with less resources required than we had otherwise spent.

                       

                      Bad experiences are relative to what the experience was before hand. In our case, not being able to find what was needed was a worse experience than finding it, having some part explained and then clicking to get the details if needed.

                       

                      Whether a community is gated or public is all about the business and customer needs. They are both valid accordingly, so agreed it goes back to that debate.