[unrev-II] Knowledge Repository War Stories...

From: Jon Winters (winters@obscurasite.com)
Date: Tue Mar 07 2000 - 09:28:21 PST

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    From: Jon Winters <winters@obscurasite.com>

    Having learned long ago that we should learn from our mistakes I would be
    interested in hearing any stories of knowledge repositories gone horribly

    In the past I have set up a couple of different web based discussion
    forums and I currently maintain a private NNTP server. The NNTP server
    limits the audience to those geeky enough to know what a newsreader is and
    how to use it. Depending on your target audience this is a good thing or
    a bad thing. In our case switching to NNTP gave us a more technical
    audience and seeded out a lot of the off topic drivel.

    The web based systems reached different audience. Hypernews was working
    great for a photographers forum that I was running. It was very easy to
    use and extremely stable once it was in place. Many of the photographers
    who used it were not computer people and they appreciated the ease of use.

    Unfortunately I had it on a server owned by my employer and they shut down
    the office pulling the plug. One day I would like to re-install Hypernews
    on my own server.

    Lastly I've noticed that new users will always ask the same questions even
    if they have been answered many times before and there are tools to search
    the previous posts.

    Is it human nature to want to ask someone instead of searching a knowledge
    repository? If so then an agent or bot might be in order. The bot acts
    just like a visitor to the site. The bot hangs out and listens for
    frequently asked questions and when it gets a hit it searches the
    repository, old chat logs, etc and replies with an intelligent answer.
    (in chat or email or whatever system the visitor was using when they

    Now the bot should identify itself as a bot and it should be smart enough
    not to send out duplicate replies if the visitor did not find what they
    were looking for the first time.

    Bots should not behave like those dreaded phone menu systems. (if at all

    Being an admin Its also rough to decide what to keep and what to throw
    away. Currently my NNTP server is set to expire articles every 100 days.
    I would like a system that would expire by default after 100 days unless a
    post were flagged as a keeper. Keepers get moved to archival storage.

    The old hypernews system I was using kept everything and over time the
    signal to noise ratio degraded.

    Post your stories if you have them... change the names to protect the
    innocent if you need to.


    Jon Winters http://www.obscurasite.com/jon/
    OpenVerse http://www.openverse.org/

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