Analysing questions and answers in communities of practice
Analysis of search trends is common in KM – and you can use a similar approach to analyse community questions and answers.
Many organisations analyse internal searches of their Intranet or Knowledge Base, using tools similar to Google Analytics to find out what peopele are searching for, and what they find through those searches.
However your Intranet search engine is not the only tool for finding knowledge – manage aorganisations also use question and answer forums in their communities of practice.
We tried a similar approach of analysing queries in a big online community of practice recently. The queries to the community forum were already characterised into topics, because when you submit a search to this particular community of practice you have to choose which topic it is related to. So that saved us having to assign categories.
We divided these topics into four quadrants;
1. Topic categories where there were few questions, but each one got lots of answers. These tended to be areas of common knowledge, where most people knew the answer and only a few new people did not. For these topics, we could write guidelines or faqs for the benefit of the new staff
2. Lots of questions, lots of answers. These were the important and evolving Knowledge topics where it was worth while setting up community meetings so that we could start to exchange and document best practice (maybe a knowledge exchange, maybe a knowledge market).
3. Lots of questions, few answers. These were the problem areas, where some more research or action learning was needed to start to develop solutions.
4. Few questions, few answers. Our assumption was that these are not particularly important areas, but that it was worth watching them in case they developed into problem areas.