What If Your Members Share Bad Advice?
Your members might share really bad advice.
One study of a community of surgeons discovered:
“While 58(43.3%) of threads contained unsafe advice, the majority (33, 56.9%) were corrected. [..] Of the 855 responses, 107 (12.5%) were considered unsafe/dangerous.”
The sample size is small, but the % of unsafe and dangerous responses is clearly a concern.
Naturally, it’s not a huge deal if bad advice ruins a member’s favourite shirt, but it is if it harms their health, wealth, or relationships.
Ideally, the natural process of a community should filter out bad advice. Bad advice is corrected by good advice. The advice shared by members with the best track record is given greater prominence than a newcomer. The recipient of advice can also share what did or didn’t work.
But this is a process that both takes time and doesn’t always happen. The feedback loop doesn’t always work. Top members aren’t always the wisest members. And it doesn’t help you if the bad advice you received today might be filtered out over time.
Some steps to consider here:
1) Measure what kind of advice is incorrect and dangerous. For sectors where bad advice can be life-changing, follow the same methodology as the study to determine what percentage of advice is bad. Put together an expert of 3 to 5 trusted experts (often in customer support/success) to go through a few hundred randomly pulled answers and classify each. This is your baseline.
2) what topics merit careful attention. Identify which topics (if any) could cause critical harm and ensure smart members / internal experts review these for any red flags. Small errors are fine, but nothing which can cause serious harm should remain.
3) Focus on improving the process. Send an automated reminder to members who ask questions to highlight if it worked or not (or do this manually with your top members). Use badging to verify top experts in different fields (as opposed to just the most active members).
You can’t prevent misinformation, but you can take reasonable steps to reduce it.