Quality Content Drives Quality Communities

I am a huge fan of regularly curating the content that comes into the communities I manage.

Digital curation is defined on wikipedia as, "... the selection, preservation, maintenance, collection and archiving of digital assets." When I curate the content in my community, I am tagging, re-labeling, featuring, and organizing content that is easily reusable or relevant for my community. Content that is out-dated, irrelevant for the broad majority of the community, inaccurate, or otherwise not useful is promptly archived or removed.

Like cleaning your house, or weeding your garden, curating the content in your community helps to keep the community feeling fresh and vibrant to newcomers and regular members alike. Additionally, archiving/ removing the unnecessary material will help ensure that both community and organic search results are surfacing the content that you want to be seen. How awkward is it for your company to have a snarky thread come back to life that should have been archived long ago? How frustrating is it for your community member to spend time trying to resolve their problem based on outdated information? The quality of the visible content will speak to the quality of your community.

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If you've never curated your community before, here's some tips to get started:

  • Think about what content is relevant for your audience in the short-term vs. the long-term. Content that will always be relevant is considered "canonical" or "evergreen," and should be categorized so it can easily be found. Short-term content that is no longer relevant should be archived, moved, removed, or sunk (depending on the features offered by your community platform).
  • Consider where you want to surface content from your community, as this will influence your tagging and labeling choices. Do you have labels based on certain products? Are there tags so your social media team can easily find interesting content to share on the web?
  • Look at your data to find out which terms and phrases are being searched for most often in your community. Determine if you have content to support the searches, and if it's possible to feature it in high-traffic areas.
  • Perform searches for common topics and terms, and archive the content that shouldn't be surfaced in the search results. This is a great way to find content that could be confusing to new members.
  • Re-name or re-phrase the titles/ subjects of threads to make the topic clear for someone who will stumble upon the content.

Keep in mind, curating content should not be used as an excuse, or justification for trying to censor a user. Good community managers should know the difference between abuse and a legitimate complaint. Abusive posts should be archived or removed, whereas legitimate complaints should remain until they've been resolved. Removing criticisms is a surefire way to put your brand on the hot seat with your community members, so please, don't do that.

What are your tips for determining what content should be archived vs. curated? I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!