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I like the idea, I always like Knowledge Bases when they are used frequently
(meaning relevant information is added when necessary) and they are easily
searchable.

Since we are on the subject, may I suggest something called KBPublisher as a
software solution? I have looked at it in the past and have used the trial
in my searches for solutions for some non-UVM affiliated clients. It seems
to be very good.

http://www.kbpublisher.com/

Just my suggestion... seems to be one of the most popular out there in my
searches. There is also something called PHPMyFAQ that is free and open
source, I have used that as well and it works pretty well actually.

Tyler

On Sun, Nov 8, 2009 at 7:57 PM, J. Greg Mackinnon <[log in to unmask]
> wrote:

> Ah... so perhaps to use a Web 1.0 term (where my brain seems to be stuck,
> sadly... maybe I'll just skip Web 2.0 and upgrade to 3.0 when it comes
> out...), you feel that we need a "Knowledge Base" web application that is
> accurate, succinct, and accessible.  I would agree with that.
>
> -Greg
>
>
> David Todd wrote:
>
> Greg,
>
>     This isn't a complaint.  It's a couple of observations and what I think
> is an opportunity.
>
>     First, most of our clients would not benefit from following
> IT-Discuss.  In many cases, the discussions are too technical and are in
> problem-solving mode.  Most of our clients don't want to participate in
> figuring out how to fix problems, they just want to know that what they're
> seeing is a known problem and, if there is one, what the solution would be.
> Searching the listserv for solutions would likely just confuse most of our
> clients because of the appropriate give-and-take that the list fosters.
>
>     The Chronicle article was about the idea of using the experience of the
> community at large to let individuals help themselves.  While I think that's
> a good idea, that might end up being a case of the blind leading the blind
> (no offense intended -- just that sometimes people don't know what they're
> talking about, as in my response to Zoey early this morning).  I think a
> more beneficial system would be one in which the refined nuggets generated
> by this list would be deposited in a place where they would be more
> accessible and more succinct than they are in the form of discussion
> threads.
>
>     The connection with IT-Discuss is that it seems to me there's an
> opportunity to use the discoveries and knowledge posted on IT-Discuss to
> seed a community information bank with validated information.
>
>     A couple of our distributed support providers have pointed out the need
> and opportunity, and I think the Chronicle article points out that this is
> not just a problem here and that other schools are looking at ways to
> capitalize on it.
>
> J. Greg Mackinnon wrote:
>
> What is the problem with accessing information on IT-Discuss? Listserv
> posts are archived and search-able... they even show up in Google Appliance
> searches (although not with high relevancy, perhaps unsurprisingly).
>
> I am not saying that there is not a problem, just that we need to better
> understand the complaint. Rather than investing lots of time in making just
> one mailing list more easily accessible, I would like to see a solution that
> fixes the perceived problem for all active/relevant mailing lists. Do we
> need a better search front-end for Listserv? Do we need better global search
> integration for Listserv (such as a search widget that can be embedded into
> a portal, or into select UVM web template-based pages)? Do we need to
> replace Listserv with something more modern and flexible?
>
> -Greg
>
> David Todd wrote:
>
> Good Morning, All,
>
> The article below was from this week's eChronicle, and I thought it might
> be of interest to others on this list following the discussion here a couple
> of weeks ago that Bryan Fleming raised on 10/15. Bryan's question was
> whether we have a "primer of technical resources available on campus",
> specifically for IT support staff. We in ETS have been looking at ways to do
> that, especially now that we have redirected some effort to the ETS web page
> (thanks, Jonathan!). But Nick's point on 10/16 was that we have a wealth of
> information on IT-Discuss but no easy way to access it.
>
> As this article points out, other schools are wrestling with this issue.
>
> So, would mining IT-Discuss archives to seed a Wiki be a feasible way to
> start something like this for UVM?
>
>
>
>
>
> *Colleges Try 'Crowdsourcing' Help Desks to Save Money*
> The tech expert at the other end of the line could be you
> Colleges to Try 'Crowdsourcing' Their IT Help Desks 1
>
> Ben Weller for The Chronicle
> By Jeffrey R. Young
>
> At Indiana University at Bloomington, good help is not hard to find, but
> it's pricey. Questions to the 24-hour tech-support help desk cost the
> institution about $11.41 per phone call and $9.39 per e-mail message—and
> last year the help desk handled more than 150,000 inquiries.
>
> All that advice adds up, and at peak times some in need of it are left
> waiting. So, in a few weeks, the university will try something different:
> letting computer users answer one another's questions.
>
> Information-technology people call this "crowdsourcing," a buzzword that
> puts a positive spin on leaving the job of writing and editing to volunteers
> rather than hired experts. The idea is to open a Web site where students and
> professors can post their IT woes and share their solutions. College
> officials tell me they hope it will grow into a self-service support center
> for colleges nationwide—a kind of Wikipedia for campus computer problems.
>
> After all, professors and students everywhere suffer from the same digital
> headaches: glitches in Blackboard's online grade book, corrupted Microsoft
> Word files on the day a term paper is due, problems checking college e-mail
> messages on their iPhones, and the like.
>
> The new database—being discussed by leaders at a handful of
> universities—will let users rate the quality of answers and highlight which
> contributors are the most reliable. Anybody, not just Al the IT Guy, can
> play the part of techno-wizard.
>
> Even talking about such a change represents a cultural shift for many IT
> departments, which were once the unchallenged technical experts on campuses.
> These days many more professors and students are savvy enough to work their
> way through problems on their own, and even to offer solutions the
> sanctioned experts haven't thought of.
>
> In some ways campus tech-support leaders themselves are crying "uncle" as
> the variety of gadgets and software packages that students and professors
> bring to the campus grows beyond what any college can support. When I asked
> Sue Workman, associate vice president for information technology at Indiana,
> one thing that students might contribute to the new Web site, one of the
> first things she mentioned was a video-game console. "A student might say,
> 'My Xbox gave me this error; what can I do?' Or, 'My Xbox quit working;
> anybody know where I can take it to get it fixed?' It might not be highly
> technical, but just something that we probably wouldn't spend money on
> maintaining."
>
> But can the it-takes-a-village approach that built Wikipedia work for the
> narrower world of technical documentation? Will busy professors and students
> bother to contribute? If they do, will their answers be accurate?
>
> And even if such a system is workable and promises cost savings in the long
> run, who will pay for the initial development?
>
> I'll put those questions in the queue for now, with the promise to get back
> to them in the order they were received. First, a few caveats:
>
> No one is talking about hanging up on old-fashioned telephone support.
> Because technology has become so crucial to teaching, research, and managing
> colleges, an IT-support hot line is bound to remain as long as there are
> phones on campuses. The new system would supplement, rather than replace,
> the existing model.
>
> And many colleges already have well-stocked databases of technical-support
> documentation online. Indiana has something called the Knowledge Base, with
> more than 15,000 articles on just about any technology installed on the
> campus (even one on connecting an Xbox to the campus network). Until now,
> though, only help-desk employees could add or revise articles, which means
> the resource is expensive to maintain and not always up-to-the-minute.
>
> Though anyone can search the Knowledge Base (it gets about 18 million hits
> a year), the primary audience is help-desk staff members, who use it as a
> reference library when they answer calls. The new idea is that the expert at
> the other end of the line—or Web site—could be you.
>
> *A Crusader for Crowds*
>
> Dewitt A. Latimer is among the most vocal proponents of the crowdsourced
> model of college technical support. He's chief technology officer at the
> University of Notre Dame, where the help desk is open only from 8 a.m. to 5
> p.m. "But our students don't stop learning at 5 o'clock, and the faculty
> don't stop teaching at 5 o'clock," he told me recently. And, unlike Indiana,
> Notre Dame does not have an online database of advice, even for internal
> use.
>
> A couple of years ago Mr. Latimer attended a college-technology conference
> and had one of those aha! moments. The keynote speaker was Barry Libert, a
> co-author of We Are Smarter Than Me: How to Unleash the Power of Crowds in
> Your Business, who talked about how companies like Amazon.com were tapping
> into user recommendations to increase sales. "I was sitting there in the
> audience," Mr. Latimer said, "and I thought, This concept was very
> applicable to the higher-education space—it just needed somebody to
> recognize it and run with it."
>
> Since then he's been running with it. He helped organize a session that
> drew a standing-room-only crowd at last year's national conference of
> Educause, the education-technology group, and began talk of forming a
> consortium to build a national IT-support database. That conversation will
> continue at a discussion session scheduled for this week at an Educause
> meeting in Denver.
>
> Mr. Latimer also made the case, along with three other colleagues, in a
> bulletin published in April by the Educause Center for Applied Research.
> "While the private sector has quickly caught on to the power of
> crowdsourcing, higher education has not yet recognized those benefits as
> fully," they wrote.
>
> The key to making the database work, he argues, is getting a big enough
> audience by attracting a large number of college partners. To nudge students
> and professors into action, he proposes that each participating college hold
> monthly contests in which the most-frequent contributors win a free iPod or
> some other geeky goodie.
>
> As for accuracy, Mr. Latimer argues that Wikipedia has proved remarkably
> reliable for most types of articles, and that its contributors quickly weed
> out most faulty information.
>
> That's an area that still concerns Ms. Workman, though. "My motto is, Bad
> information is worse than no information," she told me. She said that when
> possible, published items in Indiana's new open database will be reviewed by
> staff members. Contributions that check out will be given a seal of
> approval. Other entries will be 'Use at your own risk.'
>
> What does the help desk think of the new service? "It's a love-hate thing,"
> said Al Joco, a user-support specialist at Indiana, who said he has seen
> plenty of errors on Wikipedia and doesn't want technical answers from "some
> random yahoo." The expert-approved Knowledge Base should remain separate
> from the crowdsourced one, he recommended.
>
> He perked up when I told him that several college-support staffs might
> contribute to a shared database, though. "The more people that contribute to
> a knowledge base," he said, "the better."
>
> *
> Who Pays?*
>
> Early this year, the talks that started at Educause nearly led to the
> creation of a consortium to make a national help desk a reality. Negotiators
> even had a name for the project: "Hosted Integrated Knowledge Environment
> Project," or Hike. But the economy was in the tank.
>
> Now nothing is certain. Notre Dame and some of the other universities
> participating in the talks said they could no longer afford the membership
> fees needed to run the consortium, or the staff time to develop the software
> to make the database work. Even the name has been scrapped, in hopes of
> finding something catchier.
>
> Mr. Latimer still believes that a help desk that involves users is the only
> way colleges can hope to keep up with demand for support as budgets shrink.
>
> Lately he's tried to reach officials of Yahoo, which offers a popular
> service called Yahoo Answers, with the same tools to manage user-generated
> questions and answers that the colleges were thinking of building
> themselves. It would be a "win win" situation, he says, if Yahoo would let
> colleges set up sections of that service, on which the company could sell
> advertisements.
>
> So far, no answer from Yahoo.
>
>