The Art of Creating a Community of Trusted Content

Imagine an online community where customers, partners, and VMware employees come together to create a community of trusted content that benefits all members and visitors. That would be a tremendous resource. But most efforts to unlock, capture, and document the collective wisdom of an online community fail, because they don’t establish a clear definition of trusted content and they don’t inform members how community content reaches a trusted state.

What we mean by Trusted Content

We define it as content that generally has at least one post reply selected as a Correct Answer, and one or more marks given by other members to highlight how much they liked the post or found it to be helpful.

Community is all about collaboration and all members have role to play. When a member finds a post that appears valuable enough to read, whether it’s a post or post reply, we encourage them to go one step further if they found value in what they read and mark the post. The more marks a post receives overall, the stronger the indication that it’s valuable and can be trusted. A post’s level of trust can also grow as members add marks over time.

What we’re doing to generate Trusted Content

The VMware community team is on a mission to inform and encourage our members to embrace and mirror the steps required to create trusted content in the VMTN community. This is a collaborative process that relies on mutual respect and healthy doses of give-and-take.

Trusted content starts with a correct answer being assigned by the Original Poster (OP). It’s one of the strongest and most trustworthy marks a post can receive, as members want to know if the information resolved the issue. Next, we ask community members to provide feedback by marking posts/post replies—e.g., Like, Helpful, I Have the Same Question.

Through repetition, the process of creating and/or identifying trusted content becomes the norm, rather than the exception. If all members embrace these best practice steps, the quality and effectiveness of community content will quickly increase. A great example is the Salesforce Trailblazer community, where its membership maintains a 98% or higher correct answer rate on community posts.

Marking Posts

Again, trusted content starts with members marking posts. And this means going beyond selecting a Correct Answer as most community platforms provide several ways to mark content to show how a member perceived the value of the post. To help VMTN members understand which mark to select, we offer the following guidelines:

Available Marks:                     Defined as:

Correct Answer                         Selected by origin poster to indicate a post reply answered the question or resolved the issue

I Have the Same Question        Selected by members to indicate the information contained within a post is important and relevant to multiple members

Like                                           Selected by members to indicate the information contained in a post reply was something they enjoyed

Helpful                                      Selected by members to highlight the information contained in a post reply helped explain or resolved their issue or question


We ask all VMTN members to adopt and repeat these low effort behaviors that give back to the community, close the question and answer loop, and ultimately create trusted content. 

Thanks everyone and see you in the community.

The VMware Community Team