This is the first (I hope!) of several posts as I explore K-Hub. Because it's not every day I get a new toy to play with.
I've been experimenting with online communities since 2002, and thought I'd seen every useful idea already implemented. Turns out I was wrong.
K-Hub has a lot of features common to Community of Practice platforms: you create your Profile and join Groups, which feature Forums, wikis, calendar, etc. But they have an interesting take on Blogs, which I've not seen anywhere else. And it's almost truly excellent.
Where do blog posts belong?
There's only one right answer to that - a blog post's home is with the author's profile. Go to my profile, for example, and you'll see all my Activity across all K-Hub groups. Click on the Blog tag, and you'll get a filtered view of just my blog posts.
All well and good, but it begs a question - given that blog posts are one of the best ways to get a conversation started within a Group, how can you get does a blog post into a Group? Or multiple Groups?
I've tackled this a number of times using various Drupal distributions, but despite some very talented programmers and online community managers, I've never been satisfied with the result - the workflows just get too complicated, both for users (who I saw 'submitting' their post into 1+ Groups) and Group admins. It sounds simple, but the devil's in the detail.
The secret's in the tags
K-Hub's approach is as interesting as it is simple: tags.
Here's an inside view of the Public Sector Communications Group admin page. As you can see, as Admin I can set some tags for this Group - below, I've done a search for all tags matching 'Khub', and selected the tags 'khub' and 'khub platform':
In essence, I am creating a 'tag profile' for the group, which is thus (currently) interested in europe and KHub. I can also select individual bloggers, so that everything they create is automatically proposed to me for import into the Group (update: do this and the tags you choose only operate on those bloggers - i.e., the blog importer will find posts where "Author = (Blogger X or Blogger Y)" AND "tag includes (tag 1 or tag 2)").
Either way, I automatically get a menu of all relevant posts:
As you can see, I then need to 'select to not include', which is slightly problematic because:
There were dozens of matching posts, so I had to manually select each post to not import it. This can be a usability issue for long lists, particularly as I wanted to read each post, and the above interface doesn't provide any links - I had to copy and paste the title of each blog post into KHub search.
Which is why I qualify this as 'almost' excellent - it would be better if I could read the posts in a new tab with a click, and 'select to include', not exclude.
But don't get me wrong - this feature makes two KHub user groups happy simultaneously:
- it enables admins, like me, to quickly pull in a stream of excellent content, either to kickstart a Group conversation or keep it going
- it rewards bloggers for creating content
Finally, it also rewards everyone for using existing tags, which keeps the site taxonomy tidy and improves content discovery for everyone.
Win-wins like that are essential to the success of any online community, and this one's baked into the platform.