Community Relevancy

There are many ways to show the relevancy of a reply in our communities, but I have yet to see any platform actually call it out in black and white as relevant. Even if it may be there, I have not seen it employed as an important ROI that complements those platforms that have correct/solved and helpful/useful replies. Let me take a small step back to explain how I came to this revelation (at least, it is to me).

Discussing the direction and needs of a new community with a prospective customer, I extolled the ROI value of replies that have been marked as correct/solved or helpful/useful. While the weight of the ROI will also be dependent on the type of community, if the platform has a good search engine the questions that have replies marked correct/solved or helpful/useful will surface with priority when users are trying to find answers. The prospective customer patiently allowed me to finish my train of thought and then started to describe something a bit different, namely how relevancy likely has more value in a reply, question or discussion (non-question post). I was enamored by this feedback and put my listening ears on with the volume up.

As the story unfolded as to why this is important to their business and customers, my train of thought was already thinking about the larger landscape with replies at large. Mind you, I kind of discard “likes” here because it’s neither a popularity contest nor as meaningful to like a reply compared to finding value in a reply. Thinking this through a bit more, it seems to be fair to say that relevancy could be the composition of these types of replies:

  • Correct/Solved
  • Helpful/Useful
  • Interesting/Intriguing
  • Important/Pertinent

They are not all required to make a reply relevant, but there must be at least 1 and preferably more for greater relevancy. This would suggest that when you look at community activity it is actually those replies that are “marked relevant” that will have the most value if you subscribe to this line of thinking:

The model is simple enough and there is plenty of flexibility for gamification purposes, although even here this will depend on both business and customer needs. It is also not intended to downplay the importance of a correct/solved answer in particular because correct/solved answers could be equally as important as relevance in, perhaps, a purely support type of community. Also note that a relevant answer does not necessarily mean it is a correct/solved answer, while on the flip side a correct/solved answer is at least very relevant to the person who asked the question and marked the reply accordingly.

It’s important to note that relevancy is not constrained to just discussions and can be applied to any community object be it discussions, documents, ideas, blogs or polls.

While the devil is in the details of development and implementation, there should be good flexibility so that a business can cater to its customers. The ability to put weights on the factors (do I dare call them the cornerstones of relevancy?) as well as the relevancy itself will be very industry or purpose driven. Having said that, reporting on this is absolutely critical in the form of a dashboard that can be manipulated to show anything much like a good pivot table.

More to come from me on what I think could be a very important evolution in communities. At a minimum, it’s an important customization some companies and organizations may want to consider. I would also add that independent (i.e. Bunchball, Badgeville, etc) and integrated (i.e. Lithium, Jive, etc) gamification providers would do well to consider relevancy with flexible weights, rules and missions.