1. IntroductionQuandora Question & Answer is a software that facilitates the knowledge sharing within teams and communities. Natively created for technical oriented, distributed teams, we also discovered its community engagement applicability. Available by default as a service (SaaS), we also offer on premise installations on a case per case basis. If interested, please contact us for more details.
The present article will guide you through the processes of signing-up, configuring, using and managing Quandora.
2. Getting StartedIf you want to start using Quandora, the first step is to sign up for a trial. You can use Quandora for free with no limitations during the trial period. After that, if you want to use it on a permanent basis, you can sign up for one of our subscription plans. We offer free plans as well as paying ones, check our Pricing page for details. (Also, we are happy to extend the trial period on a per request basis.)
The sign-up button is in the upper-right corner of our site. Click it to get started. Creating your Quandora is free, asks for minimum information and won’t take longer than 1 minute. The mandatory fields are your e-mail address, the domain name you want to use, and a password. You may also want to provide your name and your company’s name for a more personalized experience.
Once you confirm your e-mail address you’ll be able to use your new tool.
3. Configuring Quandora (For Administrators)Click on your first name placed in the right corner and select Manage Domain. The “Main Domain” tab can only be seen by administrators and is the access route to the admin panel. We’ll make a tour of the most important settings here.
Site SettingsThis tab allows you to change the basic settings for your Quandora-based Q&A site (we also call it “domain”).
– Domain’s title. It makes sense to use your organization, or community’s name for your domain’s title. You’ll have a chance to create more specialized areas within the domain later, via Knowledge Bases. Note, changing the domain title doesn’t affect your domain name which is generated once at the beginning.
– Editor. You can choose whether a Markdown or a HTML editor should be used when creating questions and answers.
– Default Knowledge Base. You can define a Knowledge Base (KB) by default, in which case it will be used as a homepage for the domain, or you can opt not to define one, and the domain’s homepage allows to navigate to the existing KBs. If there’s only one KB in your domain it will be used as a default one.
– Language. Note, it’s a good idea to configure your language if you’re not using English, since this will enable a search feature called stemming. This means if you search by a key word, you will find results containing not only the exact word but also inflected forms of it.
Access PolicyThis is close related to the role of your Q&A. If you decide to only allow internal access, you’ll be asked to define the e-mail domains your company uses. The “moderate sign-ups” and “validation e-mails” options can also be set if you decide to go for external access. Targeting to ease the authentication process, one of the actions we took was to offer more login providers, in addition to Quandora (Google, Github, Yammer or SalesForce) so you have more options to choose from; of course, taking into account the constraints you set for e-mail domains and sign-ups.
User ProfilesThis tab shows you all-time registered profiles and allows you to manually create new users profiles.
Signup RequestsFrom this tab you can control the unanswered signup requests.
NewsletterQuandora offers to the users the option to receive weekly newsletters with the most interesting activity of the past week (questions and users). (This option is enabled by default but users can unsubscribe.)
The administrators can personalize the newsletter by adding introductory and ending texts. It is even possible to use the newsletter to push one-time announcements to the Quandora users by entering a text that expires after being used once.
Knowledge BasesNow that you’ve configured the global authentication options and customized a bit your site, you can start creating Knowledge Bases.
If you got to this point you must already know Quandora is a Q&A platform, so creating a knowledge base and adding some seed questions to it would be a good first step to take. Think of the expertise of the people that will use it, as well as their interests. The success in engaging users widely depend on this research work.
You can have as many knowledge bases as you want – this is the way Quandora is organized. The title you choose should be a meaningful that will easy communicate its content and the topics related to it. And yes, it can be subsequently edited, like most of your settings.
The settings here largely determine the way users interact and use Quandora. This is the place to administrate tags and members roles or rights. This goes independently for each base. There are 4 roles you can set for users: reader, participant, contributor and editor. Nominally you can also choose users to act as managers, which gives them complete rights. If you click on the tags listed you’ll be able to add the text describing it as well as additional info like category or URL.
Google AppsThis is a great feature for companies using Google Apps, as it simplifies the registration process. You can bind your company’s Google domain to the Quandora one and synchronize the users bases of the two applications.
Activity SharingThis tab needs special attention because this plays an important role in helping users to engage. We offer integrations with complementary enterprise solutions like Yammer, HipChat, CampFire or Zendesk (if your company uses different social tools, we’d like to hear about it). If you enable the share option, all the activity from Quandora will be streamed within the specific solution you choose. This can have a very good impact on the users, because it encourages them to intervene on the spot when they have knowledge about a specific issue discussed and other users will be updated on his activity, generating awareness both for the user and for the theme.
MetricsThe metrics provide relevant information about how users engage. By performing regular checks, you’ll get an idea about your members areas of knowledge, interest and engagement. These metrics are delivered by global/ user posts/ event activity graphs and hierarchy tops.
Any of the aforementioned activities can be done and undone as frequently as you consider.
4. Using Quandora
General NavigationThe navigation bar from the top of your page gathers in one place the most useful and frequent actions. Right next to the logo, you have the Search box. This is a major feature of your new product and it will prove a gold mine once the content is created. You can search for information within a specific knowledge base or the whole domain – it supports stemming (it’s not singular or plural sensitive). It also has a “matching questions” feature – suggestions will be listed while typing. If the question was not posted before, you can do it directly from this place, because it also works as a shortcut.
Next you can access the Knowledge Bases. This section is available for all users – everybody gets to see and participate to the Q&A according to their rights. In addition to it, clicking the unfolding arrow next to the knowledge bases give you fast access to creating a new knowledge base (displayed for administrators only).
Here’s what the following 3 icons represent:
The Leaderboard icon shows users ranks according to their reputation points and general activity. This information is available by different time ranges.
The People icon lists all the users. If you want to find a specific user’s profile, use the filter by name option to do it.
The Feedback icon is the most handy option of contacting us. We are permanently open to your feedback and suggestions, so please use it if you have any. Rest assured we read and reply to all of them.
The last menu on the navbar is your name (only the first name is dislayed). The arrow next to it expands the submenus. The Profile and Notifications tabs are available to each users – these tabs gives you access to your own personal profile, allowing you to edit information (name, job title, bio, changing pass…) and change the notifications you get by email (including the weekly newsletter) by simply turning on or off the actions or activities you want to be kept up-to-date on.
The Feedback option is repeated here and right beneath it you can find the latest updates from our product. Clicking on What’s New will open a pop-up window to let you know the newest features from out latest product releases.
For administrators only, this is the place to access the Manage Domain tab described in Configuring Quandora section.
Ask QuestionThe Ask Question button is in the right of your screen, next to the Tags one. Click on it and a new window will be opened. In the title you’ll see the name of the Knowledge Base you’re in and the action you’re about to perform. The question summary is the title that will be displayed for your question. It’s important to comprise in it the core of your question – according to how it’s phrased you can attract more answers, thus increasing the chances of getting a complete one.
The Tags field allows you to add the proper keywords. Don’t forget that memebers can also subscribe to a specific tag, so all its followers will be notified via e-mail about your post. The suggestions function helps keeping a clean tags base, so when you start typing it, if the tag you’re about to use was already introduced, you can pick it from the suggestions list.
Next frame is the editor that allows you to add the full description of your question. You can add the context in which you met that specific situation you’re asking about and any other additional details that are relevant to the information you’re trying to find.
You can also ask your questions directly from your e-mail (the one you used for signing-up). Use as recipient the address (title)+ask+(knowledge base)@quandora.mailgun.org. Use the subject for the summary of your question and write the description in the body of your e-mail.
The same action can be performed from the shortcut I already told you about in the search field.
Answer a questionNo matter if you’re following a knowledge base, a tag, a person or a specific question, you’ll be notified whenever there is any activity. This helps you to be updated with the issues in your knowledge or interest area and also gives you the chance to be among the first to give their answer.
There are two ways of answering a question. One is directly from your e-mail and one from your Quandora domain.
If you received the question via email you only have to hit the reply button. Your answer will be automatically uploaded under that question.
If you are in your Quandora domain, click on the question to read the description of it and read the answers that were already submitted, if that’s the case. To answer it you only need to click on the “Answer this question” button to open the editor and add the text.
The questions forming each knowledge base are organized according to 3 different characteristic: the newest, the most active ot the most popular. You can re-arrange questions positioning by simply clicking on the one you consider most relevant. On the right side you have different interest filters: by tags or by the most active users in that knowledge base. Found a subject that you want to be updated on? Hit the Follow button and you will be automatically notified when new activity uploads (as shown above, you can edit the notifications you receive anytime you want). The Follow option is available for full Knowledge Bases, for specific questions, tags or people.
Invite to answerKnow somebody who you think may have the answer to a posted question? Use the “Invite to answer” button to invite them! You can search among the existing users, or simply invite a person by using his/her email address.
CommentThe comment option is available for both questions and answers. Feedback is very important, especially when we’re talking about a social tool, so adding your notes will count.
NOTE: Do not confuse the comment option with the answer one. The role of the comment is to express same concerns or information related to that question, while the answer is meant to offer the solution.
VoteSame as the comment feature, you can vote both for questions and answers.
This simple but effective feedback form of voting expresses both and interest and presence. You can vote up or down, according to the value and veracity of that piece of information.
EditAvailable option for questions, answers and tags. Be it a misspelling or wrong information, the edit button is active for the content you upload. You can add or remove tags, rectify or improve infromation.
And if that won’t do the job, you can always go for the delete one.
SearchThe search box is on the home bar. It is visible and accessible from every page (except the Manage Domains one). Use it whenever you are browsing for specific content. It will save you time and it’s the most practical way of finding the information you target.
This tool searches for content in the base you are currently in (if the case) or the complete domain. It supports stemming (it’s not singular or plural sensitive) and it also gives suggestions for question as you’re typing.
BrowseIf you’d like to randomly search trough the content of your Quandora, there are 3 categories that you can browse: knowledge bases, tags and members.
Each knowledge bases uses the Newest filter by default to list the question. But you can also list it by 2 other criteria: Active and Popular.
When you click on a question, related topics appear in a dedicated field on the right side.
If you’re more interested in questions and answers with a specific tag, all you have to do is click on that tag to pen its page. After its description, you’ll se the questions tagged with it. On the right side, 2 frames show lists of related tags as well as related users (active members on that subject).
If you want to know more about a specific user, you can search for them in the People tab on the header bar or by simply clicking on their name. A person’ profile contains all their activity listed as a news feed and all other info (bio, followers, related tags, badges they’ve won, etc).
Invite people to joinMore people are using Quandora, more its content and activity are valuable for the users. You can invite people to join Quandora at any time by using the “Invite people” link available in the top right menu under the user’s name.
For organizations using Yammer, we also offer the possibility to invite Yammer contacts. The option is available in the user’s menu as well.
Configure notificationsYou get notified via e-mail for 3 main groups of actions: Your activity, People activity and Newsletter.
Your activity are not your specific actions, but the ones you directly follow or participated in. You can turn on or off notifications that you might get for processes like AnswerMyQuestion, EditMyAnswer, TagMyQuestion, etc
People activity are for new actions notifications (question, answer, comment) and apply to the knowledge bases, tags or people that you’re subscribed to.
The newsletter is a weekly digest on the activity on your Quandora.
5. Managing Quandora
Invite peopleThere are several ways for users to authenticate to Quandora, through different third party apps (Yammer, SalesForce, GitHub), as long as the e-mail domain they created the accounts with, are introduced to the Access Policy tab. If your company uses Google Apps, you have the possibility to synchronize it with Quandora, thus automatically creating all the users accounts.
You can manually create accounts from the Users Profiles tab, situated in the Manage Domain menu or by clicking on the “Invite to answer” button under each question. The only condition is for their email domain to be accepted in the knowledge base you’re inviting them to answer.
If you intend to use it for hundreds of members, the manual solution is not the best one, so if your company doesn’t use Google Apps, the easiest way of doing this is by sending an internal communication. Invite them to join Quandora by explaining the role of the tool and talking about the benefits of knowledge sharing. Don’t enforce the product on them, let them experience it and things will evolve by themselves.
Create some contentDon’t rush inviting users before creating an inviting environment. Add some seed content that they can connect to. Ask some basic questions from their knowledge area or a set of FAQ. Answer yourself some of the questions to give a demo of how it works.
Invite first some reputed managers or other authoritative leaders that will naturally attract the rest of the colleagues. Remember: your role doesn’t stop at inviting users, you also need to engage them. And the best way to stimulate them is by creating interesting content. Be alert about the common interest subjects and give all members the opportunity of offering answers by including questions that asks for their expertise and experience.
Quandora has gamifications features meant to offer different kind of rewards (reputation points, badges), but you can add other incentives anytime, according to your company’s policy and culture.
Use sponsorsBest way to get people on board? Get a bunch of influencers on board first! The others will likely follow. Identify a couple of key people within the knowledge area you intend to use Quandora for. What does “key people” mean? It depends on the organization and culture, but some good candidates include:
- managers: centralizing the questions (hence being able to find them in Quandora instead of asking again) means saving time and frustrations to the team. Which ultimately translates into productivity. As a consequence, they are probably intrinsically motivated for Quandora to work. And, they have the power to get things moving.
- matter experts: they are kind of authoritative figures as far as knowledge is concerned, so they are natural leaders for a knowledge sharing tool.
- popular employees: by their natural charisma and relationships ease, they can have significant influence at an emotional level. (Making these people a perfect complementary group to the matter experts, who operates at a more intellectual level).
Launch topicsUse the topics that members most relate to. Talk with all the managers to launch questions related to situations that employees usually need most help in day to day activities. This will help everyone genuinely engage.
An example. Say your company is going through a change: maybe you just launched a new product, changed the pricing or business model, or have been subject to a merger or acquisition. It’s pretty certain that people have a lot a questions about that, even if there’s been effective communication from the management around the subject.
In this case, you could be proactive and launch a group of questions about that, to encourage people to ask everything and evacuate the potential confusion in a healthy way. How do you do that with Quandora?
– create a tag describing the topic. Ex: new-cool-product-launch (replace new-cool-product with the new product’s actual name), community-edition (supposing you’ve added a free, community edition to a paying product), acquisition or companyname-acquisition (replace companyname with the name of the acquirer).
– create a couple of question under this tag to show the example
– push the tag to the users by using either Quandora’s newsletter and adding the link to this tag into the introductory text; or by using a different communication channel, at your choice: mailing list, social network, Intranet, etc.
Be clear about the goals“Starting to use” a knowledge sharing tool can be a vague and confusing objective for an employee. What does this even mean? What are the expectations? Will this count in my work’s evaluation?
As a manager/leader, you should make it very clear for your team about what the goals and expectations are. Each organization has its own rules and culture, but here are our recommendations, based on our customer’s experience:
- State clearly that, while the knowledge sharing is encouraged and appreciated, it is not mandatory. You want people to participate because they want to, not because they are required. Knowledge is that kind of fragile substance you cannot extract by force.
- There is no such thing as a “stupid question”. If a team member has a persistent question in mind, that means that there’s a real need to be addressed. The wording or categorization may sometimes be faulty, but there’s probably a useful question to be uncovered beyond all that. Make sure you let people know their input is always welcome to make them feel comfortable about sharing.
- That being said, you want people to provide content of quality, so you may want to provide them clear guidelines for using Quandora.
- Last but not least, it may help to set up some specific goals, without making them mandatory. Just think of it as indicative metrics to help people see more concretely what to do. It could be: 2 questions or answers per week, one visit per day, voting every question/answer they relate to, etc
Leverage existing networks or collaboration toolsAlready using an internal mailing list or enterprise social network? These are great communication channels for pushing Quandora content to people. At least at the very beginning before Quandora builds its own organic communication network.
You should use these existing channels to:
- send the initial notification about your Quandora based Q&A domain, including the URL and the general guidelines
- send interesting questions and answers (just the time for people to join Quandora: when they do, they will be notified by Quandora directly)
- send reminders to make sure everybody knows about it.
Collect feedbackAs with any tool, user’s feedback is very important in making the tool as useful and effective as possible. Talk to your users and see what they think – are there any barriers preventing them to properly use Quandora? Are the Knowledge Bases properly defined or they should be renamed, merged or on the contrary split? Are there any technical problems? Do they feel supported in the knowledge sharing initiative by the management? Etc.
6. Final notesWhen acting as a member of a Quandora base keep in mind that the main purpose of this system is to facilitate knowledge sharing. Participate when (and not only!) your advice is asked and try to engage other members that can assist in creating this wonderful, practical and modern type of documentation that collective knowledge can offer. Mutual acknowledgement is a win-win situation.
Quandora was created to contribute to your company’s collective knowledge (be it a professional team or community) and we’d be happy to know it served you at its highest worth. That’s why feedback is so important to us. If this user guide failed in introducing you to its features or you have additional questions, please e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d be happy to answer specific questions.