Continuing the discussion from Introduce yourself (or at least just say hi):
I’ve been in this position before and it’s frustrating! Here are some ideas you could try.
First up, what platform are you using? Are there technological tweaks that you could make to support you while you work on the long term behaviour change? Here on Discourse there is an option to prompt a user to search if they start writing a post that is similar to others (I have it turned off because we don’t need it here). I wonder if you could do something similar.
Longer term, you need to model a change in behaviour. The fact that people are posting before searching implies that the information is harder to find than posting is. Could you put together an FAQ post which you pin to the top of the community? Or add a prompt in your search modal that recommends looking there first?
If the answer to the above is no, you could slowly model the new behaviour by writing and pinning a guideline post which you link to in response to anyone that asks an already answered question. Maybe “Hi [member] – that question has already been asked a few times. You’ll find the answer here [link]. To save time in the future, here is a quick outline on finding relevant information for next time [link]” and then close the thread.
If people see you do that enough, they’ll learn.
Tech-wise, one may use Discourse to power their community. Jeff Atwood’s “Just In Time” theory re, social UX is built right in. However, I think this (FeverBee) community removed the feature. Cannot find the topic discussing that, at the moment. @HAWK can you confirm. Much obliged.
Not-so-tech-wise, have some Large possibly-CAPITAL Letters stating these kinda reminders. And right above the text field designated for writing new topics.
In that reminder, I would speak of why this rule must Be, in as very few yet expressive words possible. All the better if it aligns with the community’s values. Examples: orderliness; saying this makes it easier for fellow and future users to find the answer they seek, and not topics only asking for it.
EDIT: I want Jeff to come in here and see this in situ example of why Online Presence is needed as a default feature. Another topic entirely, aye, but just calling this right here and now…
*Looks down at Sarah and her reply below, like this be CM Hollywood Squares* Aye.
We have a prompt when they go to post a question in our Community asking them if they’ve searched already and we offer our Help guide as well before they post. We went in before launching our company a few years ago and posted answers to questions so people could use the Community to answers to their questions.
Introduce yourself (or at least just say hi)
Funny coincidence… Right after I posted my response above I received an email with someone asking a question that referenced the post that was at the very top of our Community. They inquired about our compatibility with an OS and at the very top was the Announcement about Compatibility. I can’t make this stuff up…
Ok, so if you have the resources in place, it’s the behaviour that you need to change. Have you got a group of moderators or power users that could help by modelling the new behaviour (as per my post above)?
Sometimes, no matter what you do you will find people just can’t be bothered to search, especially if it’s an active community because they figured they will get an answer quickly.
I’ve even seen people ask a question at the bottom of an FAQ page, and the exact questions they’ve asked were plainly displayed at the top.
Do you speak of a specific community, or in general?
For the former I would suggest changing the platform, then. Sounds more like a network than a community.
Networking paradigms exchange information between individuals and constructs–Wholes–acting as individuals. A single authority may control the basic tenets driving an organic pidgin
* as rules of conduct and service, but that does not make the network under their control a community.
A community archives the information–The Word–for the information’s priceless meaning it holds, and not wholly for the individual.
That information benefits a large group, a Whole. The group’s members are the community’s cells assigned specific functions yet honoring each unique individual’s defining hallmarks.
So, they have passion for the knowledge first and then those who choose to dovetail for the purpose of collecting and then keeping The Word. They come together to create a new focused Whole, and thus sustain the frequency of that Whole via ritualistic choreography (also archived for the sake of the Whole and not simply a contact language).
I feel a lot of “communities” today on the internet should be served as a network and not a community. The platform the construct conducts its activities upon does not define what the actual construct be. Just means it needs a more suitable platform to sustain the information’s energy flows unique for what it be.
* For instance, LOLspeak is considered to be one of The Internet’s most prominent pidgins (AKA kitty pidgin). This includes image macros and all the memeific lines to go with them. All of that has a basic syntactical grammar whose standard is upheld by many individuals and Wholes networking sans traditional community. The language itself may be a community in and of itself, but not worth solidifying it into what is considered a traditional community.
The hidden element missed and should instead be is not community, but cooperation.
Requires no preconceived, suggested, obligated strings forming nigh unbreakable social attachments threatening one’s individuality, and ultimately the strings which tie their Self to their origin; their community.
Yet, it has enough thread to make Things Happen for the benefit of those involved.
I have a lot of challenging yet enjoyable experience with finding, forming and securing ways of honest cooperation. Aye, as much as community.
We have moderators to help answer questions. We also have the functionality to search before posting. We use Get Satisfaction.
I’d try an en-masse approach then – every time someone posts without searching and asks a repetitive question, have a moderator close the topic with a note. [quote=“HAWK, post:2, topic:4055”]
Maybe “Hi [member] – that question has already been asked a few times. You’ll find the answer here [link]. To save time in the future, here is a quick outline on finding relevant information for next time [link]” and then close the thread.
As @Sue_John says, you’ll probably never change everyone though, so you’ll need to put the size of the issue into perspective. Is it causing problems for other members, or is it an irritation to staff?
Going through a few dozen or so customer support communities today, most simply put a big search box at the top of the page. It is the primary call to action. People type their question there and the answer comes up (or they can post it as a question).
Think it’s primarily in Lithium communities though.
I definitely agree with Hawk’s suggestion of a reply linking to the topics. I do that, and link to knowledge base content, quite frequently. Since Get Sat does have the merge tool, take full advantage of that where you can as well (though I am sure you are).
Have you gone through and cleaned up the FAQ content you’ve previously posted? Do you post new FAQ content on a regular basis? Sometimes just refreshing this content itself, adding new tags, linking to new resources, adding it to new categories, etc. can help a lot too. When it’s older, sometimes people do see it before posting and just assume that it may be out of date because of the older original posting date.