I came across this statement while I was reading Alavi & Leidner knowledge management paper in MIS Quarterly: “IT can increase knowledge transfer by extending the individual’s reach beyond the formal communication lines.” I totally agree with their statement. IT in my case the ‘Internet’ has definitely breakdown geographical boundaries and allow us to consume and transfer knowledge with great ease.
According toAlan R.Dennis and Iris Vessey in their paper called ‘Knowledge Management Strategies: Knowledge Hierarchies, Knowledge Markets, and Knowledge Communities’ consist of :
1.User locating and selecting new knowledge for their use.
2.User contextualizing knowledge to fit a user environment.
3.User applying the new knowledge in an environment and gradually refine it as they learn how to use it.
Although internet is a good knowledge repository, the cost of searching high quality knowledge from internet is very high. Thus increases the cost of knowledge reuse when we are trying to learn new knowledge from the Internet. In this entry I would like to discuss about Community Rating System and how it can help us to identify high quality knowledge content from the internet.
Online forum is a place that I often visit to get new knowledge. A challenge in an online forum is how we can separate high quality post or answers from junk replies. Forum owners often creates one or more moderators to promote or to bury junk forum post or replies. The draw back of using moderators would be that moderators do not have time to evaluate hundreds to thousands of post in the forums. Furthermore they moderators may not have the necessary expertise or domain knowledge to rate the quality of the forum post or replies.
An interesting approach that I am seeing lately is the trend to leverage on the forum’s community to rate how useful each post is. Online forums incorporate a functionality that enables members to to ‘Vote Up’ or ‘Vote Down’ post and replies in a forum. I like to call this as a Community Rating System. One of the online forum that exhibits a strong community rating system is stackoverflow(http://stackoverflow.com).
I posted a question in stackoverflow on a software development issue.My first aim was to find the most relevant information without reading all the replies to my post. Among all the replies, a user called ‘Romaintaz’ gave the best reply according to stackoverflow members. His post received the highest vote from the community member. His answer solve the problem that I was facing.
Elayne Coakes mentions about the importance of Trust in her paper ‘Knowledge Management – A Primer’. She mentions that trust issue is an important element within a community. How does one know who is the most trusted expert in the online community ? This is where stackoverflow’s community rating system allows the members in the forum earn ‘reputation’. If a member post a good question or helpful answer, it will be voted up by other member.This will gain the member 10 reputation points. If someone post something that’s off topic or incorrect, it will be voted down: the member will loose 2 reputation points.
Community rating system improves the way individuals discover knowledge from a medium where the solicited knowledge goes through little validation or formally managed by an authoritative body . The rating system promotes a social and democratic way to differentiate high quality knowledge from irrelevant information. A well implemented rating system will lower the cost of knowledge reuse by reducing the searching cost of high quality information within a knowledge storage system. Rating system also increase trust between community member by giving each member the ability give other member ratings on their contributions.