Don’t Control Knowledge, Let the Base Free

Don't control knowledge. Let it free.

I tried posting this last week but I’ve been having a hard time, so here’s my second chance to break my many-week silence. Hopefully dropping some knowledge on the knowledge-base will open the flood gates.

There’s been a few times when a knowledge base has popped up in my world lately, from where I put things in a closed internal environment to being available to the public. I’m writing specifically about an internal knowledge base for employees to put some context around what you read here, not the public knowledge base which is another animal.

What role do you need in the knowledge base? This is a question I see and have been asked. Knowledge bases are set up in tiers so each group only has access to what they need and no more.

I’m not convinced this is the best model, or even a good model at that.

It doesn’t work well. Just as trying to organize information into neat categories¬†rarely works and is not useful, so are access levels useless.

This method of organizing and controlling access to information is a remnant of the hierarchy. It takes a lot of management and maintenance to keep information up-to-date, perhaps more than is possible.

It’s helpful for people to know if an article is pertinent to them but by no means is it necessary to lock out access to an entire tier of articles. Everything needs to be searchable and maybe a step further into user-editable. The knowledge base should go into user-generated content territory.

Don’t control knowledge. Let it free.

The Future of the Knowledge Base

The future of the knowledge base lies in user-generated content. A large repository of information edited by the subject matter experts and users alike.

Hmmm, this sounds a bit familiar. Don’t we have something like this already?

Yes! We do!

The best knowledge base in the world for internal uses is a wiki. It has the best of both worlds with information from the experts and the ability to edit and build up more real knowledge.

It also has the benefit of having more eyes on the material to correct those errors because we all know even the experts aren’t perfect.

There you have it, the knowledge base is dead for internal use. It’s all about real-time feedback, real information (not theoretical), and instant gratification (see a problem? Fix it!).

Your Turn

What do you think? Why are wikis awesome or terrible? Why do you think the knowledge base is king or crap? Let me know, I’d love to hear from you in the comments section below.