Cut the crap…

Posted on Mar 20, 2012

… or leave it in?

ByAppointmentTo Seal of Approval

That’s what’s been rattling round my head since I saw this tweet from Sam Taylor earlier today.

I get the need for UGC,but when the content is badly scripted, inaccurate & pushed out across business,shouldn't it go past a learning team?
Sam Taylor

I responded with this

@ could that reduce peer feedback to the poor content and in turn any ensuing conversations?
Craig Taylor

and got this reply back from Sam

@ there isn't any of that anyway!!
Sam Taylor

Putting Sam’s last response to one side for the benefit of this blog post, I thought this would be a good opportunity for me to put down my thought as to the ‘allowing UGC to be posted directly into an organisation‘ Vs ‘being approved by L&D‘ debate

So let me start off by listing what I believe the benefits are of allowing UGC to be posted directly into an organisation:

  • It’s fast, as it doesn’t rely upon any approval process
  • It provides the contributor with a sense of ‘being trusted’ as their content has gone ‘live’ immediately.
  • The target audience is far more likely to be able differentiate good content from crap than L&D are and if the correct tools are in place will be able to allow good content to rise to the surface as Mark Berthelemy alludes to in his tweet below.
@ Or else build in filtering mechanisms like ratings and comments so the best can rise to the top?
Mark Berthelemy

As always there are 2 sides to every coin, so here are the potential downsides to allowing the content to be pushed directly into an organisation without any approval process.

  • As the process is fast, this could lead to incorrect and even unsafe information being picked up and used by colleagues before the community as a whole has had the opportunity to vote/comment/feed back on the content.
  • An employee may, in good faith, contribute some content which is found to be lacking in some way by the community. Low ratings and less-than-positive comments may lead to embarrassment  and reduce the likelihood of them contributing in the future.
So now let’s take a look at the ‘L&D filter‘ side of things. In my opinion the advantages are:
  • It provides a comfort blanket for anybody in the organisation who is reluctant to the concept of UGC.
  • It provides a ‘form‘ of QA prior to the content going ‘live’.
I believe the disadvantages of putting a ‘filter’ in place are:
  • Any form of QA being provided via L&D is only likely to be applicable and accurate to L&D focussed content. After all, are we seriously suggesting that L&D could/should be checking content that relates to Ops or Finance or PR?
  • It insinuates a culture of mis-trust as we want to vet your contribution before we release it to the masses.
  • Genuine ‘untapped gold’ could be be lost due to it not necessarily conforming to the ‘norm’. Allow me to explain…
My previous employer had incredibly stringent policies and protocols in place surrounding it’s operational processes due to nature of it’s business. A  very low-tech knowledge sharing platform (that had no filter in place) revealed that advice was being offered that wasn’t technically correct and didn’t conform to the approved process. This was flagged up by a member of that target community. A short investigation revealed that the contrary advice/method that was being offered was not just as safe as the official method but was more efficient, this led to it being formally adopted.
I often wonder that if that advice had been subject to a verification process whether it would have just been stopped dead in it’s track and would never have seen the light of day?
So there are my thoughts on the ‘allowing UGC to be posted directly into an organisation‘ Vs ‘being approved by L&D‘ debate.
  • What do you think?
  • Am I way off the mark?
  • Have I missed anything out (I’m sure I have)?
  • What do you do in your Org?
Image source


One Comment

  1. I agree with allowing UGC to be posted directly. If it went thru any quality control at the outse it would no longer be UGC, because according to the Conced project definition, UGC is ‘content created by teachers and/or students that has not been through a formal process of peer review. Having said that, I believe that subsequent informal peer review should be encouraged, and as Mark suggested, some kind of process to force good content to the top could be applied. Thanks for the post Craig.

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