Friday, November 23, 2012

Tagging articles as answers


This week I did a couple of training sessions in London on using Trip.  It's great doing these as you really connect with the user, they highlight problems that need fixing and also throw in some ideas.  One person mentioned something that immediately struck me as being useful and fitted with a broad, but vague, theme I've been thinking about for years. One of the librarians asked if she could indicate, in Trip, if a document helped answer a question.

In other words, she went to Trip with a Q, for instance, "Is vitamin D2 better than vitamin D3 in vitamin D deficiency?". She might search and find that a document answers the Q. She would then indicate to Trip that that particular document answered the Q she had.

It's a simple concept but operationalising it is more complex (more below) but also - fundamentally - would it be widely used?  Clearly, if we create an engaging, easy to use system, it's more likely to be used..!

Below are some thoughts on the topic, which I hope will resonate with people.  The process might look something like this:

  • A user comes to Trip and they use the site as normal (but logged in).
  • At some stage we 'highlight' the tagging feature.  Something like 'if Trip has helped you answer a Q, let us know and share'.
  • If they activate this we show them their session history (? use the timeline) and they indicate (via tickboxes) which articles they used (as often a Q will require multiple articles to answer it) and then tag all these with 'These answered my question on X'.
  • We could probably allow users to write a bit of text, to pull it together, give a bottom line etc.  This might well mean we need to allow comments, so people can respond.

The next issue is what to do with this?  A further few thoughts:

  • Activity is recorded in their timeline.  So, a user does a Q&A this is highlighted in their timeline.
  • This collection has it's own separate page.  So, a user can point to each eg tripdatabase.com/qa/vitd2ord3
  • Each user has their own Q&A page, which lists all the answers they've done.
  • How do we index/use this?  Do we add it to Trip answers and this is then searchable? This seems reasonable - but a slight worry about potential bias but that can be mitigated by warning text.
  • On each individual result (for an article in Trip, not a Q&A) we indicate, somehow, that it has been used to answer a question.  In other words a user searches Trip normally and in the results it's highlighted if a user has 'tagged' the article to say it has been useful.
Right, lots of thoughts above - highlighting the issues I'm wrestling with.  It also gives a glimpse of how I work.  This is an early stage idea which needs conversations between me and users (and our techie and designer). 

After this stage - and with your help - I'll try and get our designer to mock this up so we can better explain the concept and make it more tangible.  How long that takes is another issue!



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