FAQtory Process Observations

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This is where we are collecting our individual and collective reflections on the process of doing the FAQtory project! We can then include any/all of this in the AAR.

Personal Reflections on the Experience

  • Thanks to the FAQ team for making this process so enjoyable! - BR
  • This entire process has been wonderful, working with great people and doing something that - hopefully! - will not only be useful for the community, but make them want to be involved. AND going through archived list emails has been much more fun than I ever expected! - LL
  • Developing further the KM4Dev FAQ in an international team with people bringing in their different perceptions is a fascinating experience for me. One basic pillar for the success of our collaboration so far were the regular phone conferences. Interesting for me how a communication culture and spirit emerged in the team as well as distribution of certain tasks, like Nancy writing simultaneously (!) excellent phone conference notes. I think a project like this would not have been possible only be email correspondence. - Urs
  • I was at first quite overwhelmed when mining the archives to find source materials for the FAQ I was working on. But once I gathered all the material into a word document and started reading it closely, it became fascinating.
  • The amount of wisdom packed into our discussion archives is amazing. AMAZING.
  • In wiki-ing, I find myself watching what my team mates are doing, then copying the things that feel "right" and "useful" to me. Great way to iterate
  • Our monthly phone calls to coordinate and do our decision making have been really enjoyable. They have given us a way to learn more about each other. Personally, I'd work with this team ANY DAY - Nancy
  • Overall, this has been a great individual and group learning experience. By carefully sifting through the (often impassioned) discussions between KM4Dev community members to synthesise my first FAQ, I found myself reflecting deeply on the subject, and learning a lot about my own approach to my work.
  • This has led to (at least) three immediate benefits: (1) a commitment to systematically explore KM in a new and exciting context (2) links to two or three community members I haven't really engaged with previously (3) an idea for another CoP I am facilitating - based on the the Wiki tool and the collaborative process we are applying in the project.

Urs, 3 July 2006

The FAQ project has been quite a learning experience for me - about how communities work and about emerging changes in the way of thinking and working that are triggered off by the Internet.

At the beginning of our project, I was quite sceptical about using the Wiki for developing further the FAQs of the KM4D community, mainly for one reason: I know that many people are overwhelmed by the technological developments and many do not use these possibilities. For this reason I thought it would be better to develop the FAQ further on the existing KM4D website based on Xaraya, so that the users don't have to learn another tool. I also thought it would be good to have everything on one platform so that the search of FAQs becomes easier.

Meanwhile, I'm fully convinced of the Wiki for several reasons. It is simple, text can be edited quickly (much easier than in the content management system of Xaraya (that does not work that reliably in my view), FAQs can be found very quickly with Google.

But it took me some time to become convinced of Wiki. The turning point was for me when I actually started to do things on the Wiki. The first attempts still went along with a lot of grumbling, but the sceptic has become quiet very soon. It was also of great help that Nancy copied once the discussion thread of a question I raised on the KM4Dev list on the Wiki. I think it only took me 30 minutes to edit the text and to send the link afterwards to colleagues who are interested in the topic. Here is the example: http://www.km4dev.org/wiki/index.php/Open_Source_Intranet_Software_Tools

I also realised that Wikis are a great tool for a new way of working. Why keeping ideas, answers, summaries, ... on the local C-drive if it can be published somewhere in the Internet? There might always be the possibility that someone could need this information or even contributes further ideas.

The only disadvantage is that I don't know yet how Wikis could be synchronized, so that I have the FAQs even when I'm offline. Any ideas?

And finally, how could others be convinced of the Wiki? I think it needs two steps: a mental shift how people work and share their information, and practical training how to use the possbilities of the Internet. The best way to learn this is to do it, and to have good colleagues nearby (best solution) or in the Internet space (second best), who help to take the first hurdles in the learning process.

Urs, 22 June 2006

Just feel that it would have been great if we added dates to our reflections so that we can see how our thinking has evolved over the time - and I just did it.

We tried now twice to involve the KM4Dev community in further developing our first drafts of FAQs and both times there were almost no responses. What is the reason for this? Maybe the community has a sixth sense for urgency and favours personal enquiries - and not unpersonal summaries/FAQs. For example: when I sent recently an enquiry to the community for online tools to work with spreadsheets, I received immediately a number of good responses. If we send a few questions about a finalised FAQ that is of general interest, almost nobody reacts.

I think we achieved at least one objective: we have eight new FAQs and even a few more, though not edited, but I think that's a great success. However, I'm not quite sure whether we've achieved to involve the community so that the community will now continue developing the FAQ. My suggestion: could we ask the KM4Dev list who has experience with developing FAQs? How they involve the community? Key success factors? Maybe we should have done so before we started our FAQ project (learning before, during, after... is our mantra, isn't it? ;)

A few people mentioned http://www.solutionexchange-un.net.in/index.htm as a best practice to me, but they have a whole team that works full time to facilitate the discussion and summarise discussion threads.

I think we should go now for the Wiki. Meanwhile, I'm fully converted and convinced, that the Wiki is the right solution for the future. We should copy the remaining FAQs on the KM4D website to the Wiki, close the FAQ section on the KM4D website and provide a link to the Wiki.

Nancy 3 July 2006

I have told the story of this work to others, our process of negotiation on what a KM4Dev FAQ might look like building on the existing FAQs in the content management system. I tell them of our wiki experiment and my inner pleasure seeing the team find the tool useful. I like wikis because they share ownership. They do require a few shared practices and in the beginning, a lot of encouragement. I don't think we have reached the tipping point with the community and more encouragment is needed. That said, the community is a bit unpredictable. I'm never sure what people are going to be interested in. That in itself is interesting to me.

I loved working with the team. The work interspersed with the coordinational (and social/relationship building) telephone calls was wonderful.

Lucie 7 July 2006

This was a great project for many of the reasons already mentioned by my fellow FAQtory team members.

Nancy 24 August 2006

We still need to encourage community members to harvest from discussions and put in FAQ. We did have one totally new FAQ (well, page, perhaps not FAQ) added which also generated a bit of discussion, even in August.


I moved the suggestions to the AAR page, ok? - Nancy