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Expert

Is the Accepted Solutions feature merely a Temptress?

Those beautiful green checkboxes seduced us from the very beginning. 

We eagerly implemented them, showed them off to all our friends, wrote poetry and ballads about them, and even exposed the accepted solutions right there on the topic lists.

"Look what we have.  We have solutions."

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But we quickly began backtracking, and we're about to rip the feature out altogether (or at least make it less glamorous.)

 

Here's how the backtracking went down:

  • We pulled it out of the topic list because it let the user see the "accepted solution" without first understanding the context - which is often necessary.
  • We removed the ability for authors to accept solutions because they were being doofuses.  Excited to paint the forum green, they'd accept the first thing that seemed like a solution, but later, SME's would chime in with BETTER solutions, which weren't being maintained.
  • So then we gave SME's control of the lustrous green checkboxes because duh they're the experts.
  • But SME's became confused.  Not only could they identify solutions... they could also identify partially proper solutions AND context-dependent solutions

 

That's when Tuesday's dinner got weird.

3 of our core team members (myself and 2 others) were dining at an Italian steakhouse in Chicago Tuesday night.  Prior to food & drinks, Alex proposed something radical:  "Now I've been thinking... hear me out...this is just an idea......"

 

"...If we killed it, would we miss it?"

 

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 *except actual high-fiving b/c it's not 2020 anymore

 

The 3 of us got overly excited for such a restaurant as we dreamed of a future without the stupid green checkboxes.  

 

Questions.

Are discussions PEZ dispensers for mindless, quick fixes?  Or vessels of knowledge and understanding?.

Are "accepted solutions" akin to giving a man a fish, and the discussion+context similar to teaching him how to fish?

Can a superhero truly be understood without the villain & context being understood first? 

Perhaps the answers differ per community.    

.

Practical Matters.

We are starting to realize that (for us)

  • The green checkboxes are so dazzling that they distract from the replies that prompted and scoped them. 
  • The solution is often made up of partial solutions from multiple experts each providing insight from their areas of expertise.

So, we're brainstorming ways to remove/reduce this feature.  1st draft of plans: 

  1. Remove the "Accepted Solution" indicator from the topic lists
  2. Still allow it on replies, but turn it into a green star or something - maybe with the hover text "The OP or a SME has marked this as a helpful response."
  3. Implement SME badges beside their usernames, & slim down Level2+ replies (see StackOverflow) so SME's can chime in with clarifications or affirmations.

.

I'm not against the Accepted Solutions feature; it just doesn't seem right for us. 

 

Has anyone else found themselves with a similar predicament?  Do any of you feel the same predicament now?  Has anyone found effective ways of solving this problem?

5 Replies 5
Khoros Staff

Without trying to sway the discussion, because I do think it's a great question to address.  There are some solutions that are just cut and dry, which typically are most commonly asked questions and largely what your casual customers are going to look for.  I think there is absolutely a place for that in most communities to help drive customers to self-service and self-troubleshoot.

The other solutions as your SME's put it are context-dependent or partial solutions in which the context of the discussion benefits the user.  It grants them the opportunity to provide more details to the discussion to better shape the solution or approaches to solve the stated problem.

I'm intrigued to hear more about your experiment to reduce the visibility of solutions and see what impact that has on spurring better discussion, encouraging members to read more of the topic, and other potential benefits.

Larry Imgrund
Product Manager - Communities
Khoros

For a home improvement community where there is no one answer to a question, it wasn't exactly right for our community either. But we felt it still served a purpose of elevating discussions that had strong advice shared. So we simply renamed it "Most Helpful". 

Jason

 

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Expert

@LarryIyou're absolutely right that sometimes there's a cut-and-dry answer - even in our community.  The Solution module is definitely proper for this.

@JasonHillAgreed that elevation is important.  You may be on to something with the "most helpful' term substitution.  Did you apply this to discussions at the topics level?  (as in... from a list of topics, you see a flag that indicates the discussion is particularly helpful?)

If so, that is an interesting approach - probably better than my plan of removing the indicator from the topic lists altogether. 

^^^^

Your idea got my mind spinning about maybe turning the Solutions component into a "star sticker" system (need to think of new terminology to avoid it appearing as Amazon ratings:)  But remember these foil star stickers? 

foil-star-sticker.jpg

  • "Accept as Solution" becomes "Give a Star Sticker"
  • Who can give a star sticker?  OP, SME's, SuperUsers, Mods
  • Topics List:  note the # of star stickers that exist within that topic  (7 ️'s)
  • Hover text:  "Star stickers indicate replies that have been deemed helpful by the OP, SME's, and SuperUsers."

Still brainstorming.  There's gotta be a better icon than a star sticker.  And maybe a better approach altogether.  Hmm......

 

 

 

 

 

@keithkelly,

We have a card-based format at browsing (topics) level (as we are a very visual community) and there's no indication at that level that a post has a solution. Maybe we should do that. We definitely have the tick featured when you are searching - that is a more traditional topic list view.

Jason

 

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Director

Wow, what a story, @keithkelly😃

I agree with what Jason wrote above - that in some communities, the "accepted solution" feature may make less sense than in others. I like the idea of renaming the "accepted solution" to "most helpful" or something similar. Even in highly technical, expert communities, some discussions don't end up with the best solution. Many times, they end up with workarounds and in such a case "most helpful" sound like a great compromise 🙂

Great discussion here! 🙂

Karolina

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