Imagine using the internet as knowledge

What a dumb idea; directing user search to internet videos to solve IT technical problems.

A vendor tweet said "Think about how powerful it would be... to search your knowledgebase and find YouTube videos!". I recoiled in horror. There are plenty of people off in lala-land about the potential of the internet, but for a vendor to say this is worrying. They are leading their customers in a dangerous direction.

Come on, think about it. Your users turning to internet videos to find answers to support questions. Really? (There's the cue for a few "Yes really..." comments). If you like this idea, I think you are once again confusing your own personal experience with what works for business. If you are reading this you are almost certainly at least part-geek. But half your users in the typical organisation are not. They need protection from the bilge on the internet.

Who validates accuracy? Who determines applicability to your environment? Who decides the answer is actually right and will work?

Think of your experiences researching answers on the internet. My own experience is that I will find at least three possible answers: one is right, one turns out to not apply, and one makes it worse. Only the IT-literate can sort them out. Try to see this process through the eyes of some of your users, then estimate their chances of a successful outcome and a satisfying process.
snake oil
I think there is a strong analogy here with the use of alternative medicines as an expression of frustration with scientific medicine. Science is not perfect, it makes mistakes, it can't solve everything and especially it can't solve everything magically quickly. So people too ignorant of science to understand the difference reach out to alternative voodoo.

In the same way, the imperfection of normal customer support sends people lookign for magic alternatives. One of these alternatives currently in vogue is crowd-sourced knowledge on the internet, FFS. That's about as safe and effective as homeopathy.

The internet is crap, especially when the numbers in a "community" are small. Even when there is a critical mass of people thinking about a particular topic, it is often still rubbish. Look up ITSM on Wikipedia.

Sure sometimes the internet works. Sometimes Chinese medicines work too, because they sometimes contain a useful active ingredient. They are just as likely to rely on the placebo effect and contain (a) nothing (b)undeclared Western medicines (c) dangerous levels of heavy metals and other toxins.

The internet is unreliable, uncontrolled and unregulated, just like alternative medicines. Sure it makes people feel empowered. It also makes them feel sick.

Who curates quality? How do you improve internet knowledge?

Nobody, and you can't. Voting and ranking are emotive and irrational. They are subject to massive rorting. Want 100 positive reviews of your video? Gimme a grand. What vendor wouldn't pay that to top the pops on a search for fixing their competitor's problem. It's only a matter of time before we get trojan videos like those "Your PC is infected" ads.

Directing knowledgebase search to YouTube? My pick for the dumbest idea of 2012.

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