Yesterday, the 75,000th customer registered in the Lenovo Forums, and this seemed a nice milestone in our journey to take note of. Thinking back to December 2007, when we officially launched the community, I can still remember pacing nervously around my living room on that Saturday morning wondering how quickly this would grow and whether the "If you build it, they will come..." saying would hold true. True it held and then some. Over the intervening months, millions have viewed the site and perused it's content while tens of thousands of discussions have played out, and many have become solutions accepted by the community and so marked. For most support communities, the accepted solutions or paired question and best / correct answer function has become a staple feature. But what if you just want a coherent answer or tip from the community without having to read through a bunch of forum pages?
Perhaps the next logical step in community evolution is the implementation of an integrated knowledge base that provides a work flow to harvest some of the best discussion and solutions and transform these into richer, more concise articles that can be easily browsed, searched, syndicated and socially shared. We've recently added just such a feature to the Lenovo community. As a best practice, I think it is important to recognize not only the individual who authors and edits an article, but those who contributed the original content through forum posts that made their way into the article. Of course, the knowledge base also provides for original articles to be created from scratch, supports pictures and embedded video, easy access from the forum, and includes the ability to share articles effortlessly on Facebook, Twitter, and countless other social networks. Our new Community KB does all these things and then some. I expect there is going to be a learning curve for community members to embrace the new features and to begin to think about the value of creating articles for themselves and others and then sharing them broadly. This technology combines some of the best aspects of a Wiki - the ability for trusted community members to collaborate and recursively edit and update articles with some of the best features of community organization hierarchy, navigation, and perhaps most importantly, individual reputation and earned privileges. Each discussion area has its own knowledge base so users can easily navigate to content that is most relevant to them, or they can navigate up to a product category or even the entire community to view all available articles. As this is an emerging concept, it is still in it's infancy both in terms of available articles and user adoption. I expect the available content to grow quickly over the next few months, and the overall ease of use will improve as we apply further navigation and content integration. Looking ahead, there are several other growth areas for our community this year and I'm eagerly anticipating seeing our 100,000th member register, and then who knows - perhaps a million or more one day in the not so distant future. Hope to see you there!