The dominant online behaviour is image-creation to impress our peers.
We try to impress each other by demonstrating expertise, curating idealised identities, and cultivating a dense network of connections.
It’s difficult to admit we don’t know something. It’s even harder to do it in front of people you know, especially people you consider your peers.
Communities of practice (or knowledge-sharing communities) face this problem often. You can find dozens of people to answer questions. It’s hard to find people willing to ask questions.
They have too much to lose. They think their peers will think less of them, their boss will think less of them, and someone will will demonstrate greater knowledge in their field.
One solution, supported by a study in South Korea, is to allow pseudonymous contributions (yes, even in an internal community). If people can’t be easily identified, they’re free to ask any questions they like.
Yes it may be sometimes be possible to identify the initiator by the content of the question, but that’s better than it always being possible to identify the initiator of the question.
If you’re struggling to get good questions, allow people to ask questions anonymously or using a pseudonym.
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