Content curation as a way to level up communities
In this article, I want to discuss about community content curation. It's a practice that can truly empower communities.
All communities have domain-specific knowledge. For that knowledge to be disseminated within the community, it must first be curated, regrouped, organized, and managed over time.
Community content curation is the act of collecting, organizing, and sharing relevant and valuable resources for the community.
Community content curation is highly valuable, but quite often neglected. This makes it much harder for newcomers to find their way and learn from quality sources. Instead, luck plays a big role in their learning trajectory. In my opinion, communities need to think about this issue and address it if they want to be more inclusive, and increase the chances of success for everyone. And it's not only true for newcomers, it's also true for people who are at intermediate, advanced or even expert level. There is always more to learn, and knowing where to find trusted/validated/recognized information is key.
Many communities rely on teachers, authors, educators and coaches to create cornerstone content (e.g., reference books, courses and trainings). That works, but is certainly not the best we can do in the 21st century. Each and every member of a community has a voice and can contribute to enriching the collective knowledge. Looking forward, my hope is that we will find better ways for communities to "manage" and disseminate their knowledge.
Community content curation provides a better signal-to-noise ratio compared to search engine results
Content curated by Subject-Matter Experts (SMEs) and enthusiastic community members is usually much more valuable than what search engine results and AI-driven content walls provide us with.
Search engine results are driven by "pagerank-like" algorithms. They show results from trusted domains first (along with ads). Those results are rarely the best resources out there. They merely correspond to what the majority of people will be looking at, based on how talented the content creators have been to rank their pages. Many Search Engine Optimization (SEO) experts are able to "manipulate" search engine results to the profit of their customers rather than to the profit of the concerned communities.
Similarly, AI-driven walls of content (eg Facebook, Twitter, etc) are mostly driven by black-box algorithms that favor clickbaity content, thus Click-Through Rate (CTR) and revenue over quality and relevance. Algorithms are obscure and rarely look after our interests. Instead, they care about grabbing our attention for as long as possible, no matter how damaging that can be to our productivity and well-being.
Community content curation is a more sensible way to explore new knowledge
When a community manages to curate relevant content for its current and future members, it paves the way for a more directed and more effective learning experience. Newcomers that are provided with community-vetted resources will be able to explore the topics in a much better way. They won't have to wonder about what to learn and where to learn it from.
Of course it takes time and a lot of effort to amass enough resources and knowledge, but the value compounds, and it benefits everyone.
To take an example, while preparing for a startup project of mine, I've decided to curate content about the existing tools in the Personal Knowledge Management space. I started with tools, but then expanded to list sub-communities, SMEs, articles, books, courses, etc. This became an incredibly useful resource for myself, but also for others. The feedback I received about the PKM Library was overwhelmingly positive. And it's honestly the most basic form of curated content I can imagine!
As I've mentioned in a few articles before, I believe that discovering the key people in a community and their work is a great way to explore new knowledge. By curating content and linking it with people, communities can enable "people-first" knowledge exploration.
Community content curation also helps SMEs and creators gain more of the visibility they deserve, which is a nice side-effect!
Community content curation is a quality review gate
Content curation driven by a community helps filter through the noise. Community members at all levels are able to evaluate the quality of the curated content.
Once a piece of content has been reviewed, it can be evaluated (e.g., the ratio of upvotes/downvotes, freshness/relevance, etc). By systematically reviewing and evaluating curated content, a community can help quality content bubble up to the top, allowing community members to explore quality resources first.
When communities don't curate content collectively, there is no way to centralize quality content. Any list of content created by isolated community members will just reflect their own opinions, which might or might not correspond to the norms/quality expectations of the overall community.
Community-driven content curation can help implement a much more systematic process for filtering through the noise.
Community content curation is the first step toward knowledge management
Curating knowledge is an ideal starting point for community knowledge management. Simply by listing quality resources/content, a community can start surfacing its knowledge. Once surfaced and visible, relevant knowledge can start to be managed, and it can also be better disseminated.
For instance, assuming that a community has curated a list of 100 quality articles or videos about a topic of interest, that community can explore those to capture the key insights and knowledge "nuggets" (e.g., by capturing highlights, writing summaries/reviews, etc). Once identified and extracted, those "nuggets" (i.e., atomic units) of knowledge can be linked together, associated with SMEs/contributors, rated, organized, and shared with the rest of the community (i.e., current AND future members).
As such, community content curation is thus an enabler for a more systematic approach to regroup, amass and manage community knowledge.
In this article, I've argued about the value of community content curation. In my humble opinion, it's an underused approach to start managing the knowledge of a community. More often than not, communities rely on a handful of contributors to do the heavy lifting of creating cornerstone content (e.g., reference books). This is a sad state of affairs. In this day and age, we can do much better.
If your community doesn't curate content yet, then you're missing out!
That's it for today! ✨
Hello everyone! I'm Sébastien Dubois. I'm an author, founder, and CTO. I write books and articles about software development & IT, personal knowledge management, personal organization, and productivity. I also craft lovely digital products 🚀
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