9 Essential Questions to Ask When Planning a New Online Developer Community

Summary

A new online developer community should be planned and configured so that the structure, features, and operational practices align with its intended purpose and value. Asking certain questions will help ensure you accomplish this goal.


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Whether planning a community from the start or optimizing an existing community, planning sets the foundation for success by defining the problems to be solved through the community, with consideration for the needs and preferences of the community members, as well as the objectives and measures of success for the business stakeholder; therefore configuring AnswerHub for success.

The first steps in planning the community are to collect all of the background information on the needs of your organization and the users of your community, and to gain a thorough understanding of the current culture and dynamic of the knowledge ecosystem to see how the community could best be implemented. To aid in this process, we recommend that you answer the following questions to help identify how users find answers today, who the producers and consumers are, and discover the baseline effort required to get an answer. Additionally, you will gain an understanding of how the community may wish to contribute, and the level of motivation to do so. The responses you receive can inform feature enablement, engagement tactics, promotion and communication plans, and potential early adopters.

1. When you have a technical question specific to your company related projects, what resources or approach do you most often use to find a solution?

  • Search internal knowledgebase or documentation
  • Email colleagues who you believe may know the answer
  • Ask your question on a chat channel or message an individual
  • Search the internet for similar scenarios
  • Contact your manager, scrum master, or project leader

2. Which is more often the case in situations where you have a technical question?

  • You find or are guided to information that already exists
  • You ask your question and receive an answer and new documentation is created as a result

3. On average, how long does it take for you to find the solution to your question?

  • Not long – usually less than 5 mins
  • A little while – 30 mins to an hour
  • Longer than I would like – more than an hour, but less than 4 hours
  • Too long – more than 4 hours

4. How often do colleagues seek help from you directly via calls, emails, chats, or in-person visits?

  • Often – at least once a day
  • Sometimes – perhaps once a week
  • Not often – perhaps once a month

5. How often are you asked repeat questions?

  • All the time – at least once a day
  • Frequently – one or more times a week
  • Sometimes – several times a month
  • Seldom – I can’t recall a recent time

6. Would it be helpful if you had a place to publish or share your discoveries or to document processes to help the team?

  • Extremely – I don’t have a way to publish articles, but have a lot I could share.
  • Somewhat – There is a formal knowledgebase, but I’m not on the team that publishes articles.
  • Perhaps – I’d be willing to try, but am unsure exactly what I would publish.
  • Maybe – I really don’t have time for that.

7. Would it be helpful if you had a place to suggest ideas for improvement and to see, comment, and vote on the ideas of others?

  • Yes! Many of us have ideas that we share with our managers, but would like to get broader reactions.
  • Maybe – I have some ideas from time to time and would be willing to try.
  • Uncertain – We’ve tried something like this in the past, but it fizzled out.
  • Probably not – I’m very busy and am not sure I’d have the time.

8. What would increase your participation in an internal collaboration community?

  • Confidence that I would receive a useful answer quickly
  • If I could save time by avoiding repeat questions
  • If I could see who might have expertise relevant to my question
  • If I received recognition from colleagues (and even my manager) for the time I spent helping others
  • If my manager supported this as a core part of my job and not just something extra they want me to do
  • If I could have some ownership and control over the areas where I would be participating

9. Assuming a collaborative community was established that provided these opportunities, would you plan to actively participate and encourage others to join?

  • Yes, I would absolutely support this and would want to be involved in helping build it from the start!
  • Yes, I would participate and encourage others – this seems like something that could help us.
  • I would give it a try and if I found it helpful, I would probably recommend it to others.
  • I might try it and would like to hear from others if they find it valuable.
  • I’m not sure, I’d probably see how it goes and might try later.

Conclusion

We recommend you ask these 9 questions, as you will learn from the answers what you need for your developer community. Then, you can plan and configure the community so the structure, features, and operational practices line up with the purpose and value intended.

For more tips and tricks on how to best build engagement for your community, please contact us!

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