Paul Chin’s article, “Intranet Content Credibility,” in the Intranet Journal discusses ways to ensure the integrity and high quality of the company intranet’s content.
According to the author, users may doubt the credibility of intranet content since these are posted by a wide mix of people using their own expertise and various other sources. Considering that users need to use intranet content in making important business decisions, Chin proposes several ways of ensuring accuracy and credibility.
Digital information gathering, he says, takes away the more personal interaction intrinsic in social information gathering through face-to-face or telephone conversations. To override this concern, Chin recommends building credibility by eliminating anonymity and “putting a face” to every piece of content, identifying it’s source, whether internal or external.
The author emphasizes that content providers should be chosen carefully, and that their background and expertise be presented in an “about us” page. Known authorities that have provided reliable, high-quality content in the past are more likely to be trusted, he opines.
Chin points out the danger of the halo effect, though, which he defines as “the tendency to assign generally positive or generally negative traits to a person after observing one specific positive or negative trait, respectively.” He cautions that a single bad piece of content or a single experience where the user is negatively impacted by intranet content can make users negatively judge the credibility of the intranet as a whole, labeling it as unreliable.
To ensure the integrity and high quality of intranet content, Chin says some companies implement an approval process similar to a publication’s editorial process where an authority or content editor reviews each submitted content and either approves it for production or sends it back to the originator for reworking. He warns that the process should not hinder the timely posting of new information, though. There should be enough quality control personnel in relation to incoming content so as to prevent a bottleneck effect in the filtering process.
Chin recommends erring on the side of caution with regard to any piece of content that may be questionable, saying that “the consequences of posting faulty information far outweighs the fear of missing out on information.” He adds that the date of the original posting of the content should always be stated, along with when it was last changed and who changed it.
The author contrasts the expert edited content managed intranet with the popular peer-edited wikis where “no one knows who input the content, and no one knows who changed it.”
In the end, Chin says, “the true worth of a system is based on the credibility of the people providing the information, the quality of the content, and the trust users have in these content providers.”
I agree with the author in terms of hard information content for the intranet. Perhaps the wiki could also be used along with blogs to elicit feedback and opinions, though. The combination may provide more balance for the company intranet.