From Deepika Naruka
We have a team of two persons working on each community of Solution Exchange, a Resource Person (RP), and a Research Associate (RA). The RP is the networking face for the community and encourages members to send in queries. When a query comes in it usually is in a format which requires back and forth calls to the member to understand the exact requirement, in order to refine the query to be posted. When the query is posted then the RP and RP both start contacting members who had indicated an interest in that particular field, or who we think might be able to respond, to send in responses. Responses also come in 'voluntarily' from the community members but usually a little bit of coaxing is required, as members are just about getting used to how the community operates.
Usually we keep the 'reply by' date as the 10th day after the query is posted and on the 11th day a consolidated response (CR) goes out. It's the RA's task to format the CR, and to find out detailed information on the examples, etc. mentioned in the responses through net research primarily, and sometimes through journals, and also by contacting the organizations through phone and collecting information. In addition the RA also does 'additional research' on the specific requirement of the query. And, by the 9th day the RA works on summarizing the responses into a 1-2 page summary, and submits to the RP for the final approval, edits and brushing up of the summary. Once the CR is approved the RA does the final formatting and posts to the community. The whole process is quite time consuming and the stipulated time is just barely enough to cover all the preparations for the CR. But, that is also because we don't yet have a template or something similar for the CR, its in the process though and once ready, that will cut down on some of the formatting time at least. The crunch usually happens when most of the responses come in, on the final 1-2 days and then the summary etc. needs redoing according to the new inputs.
On your question about the level of sustainability in a CoP, I assume you mean the community's involvement (?). I think, it usually takes a couple of months for the community to really understand the benefits of the service. Once members share with the community how the CRs and responses have been helpful in their own work, others start (i.e. those who were just listeners/lurkers) writing in as well. A point which one needs to keep in mind is about members who are members of multiple communities. If I put myself in the member's shoes, s/he will be getting in multiple responses from the different networks in their inbox, vying for their attention, time and at the same time flooding the inbox. In such case I feel it is important to explain the members initially that they might want to start with one community and then go on to expand their memberships to other in 1-2 weeks, as they get used to the whole set-up of emails coming in every day etc. Especially for practitioners on the ground, seeing 20 emails sitting in their account is initially quite confusing and might seem like an unfair encroachment on their time. We are working on a system by which we can send in 'digests' of responses (perhaps once a day) including all responses which came in to a particular query of a particular community. This way instead on 20 emails, the members who get one-email per community they have subscribed to. We are still working on this though. (I myself am a member of a number of e-communities and much prefer getting digests). Of course, finally, the sustainability of participation depends on the value of the CRs and responses, which come in and if members see a benefit in the interaction, it is definitely sustainable. The whole on-line interaction is supplemented with face to face meetings among the members adding the impetus for a member to respond to a query which has come from a person they met, as opposed to a 'faceless' name. We are in fact planning the first workshop for our community, in May. Quite excited about that.
Does this answer your question at all?
In km4dev, do you send out something like a CR? What is the final 'product' that a query poser (and other members) gets?, - could you share one, as I would be interested to see it.