Should Not Validated Articles Be Visible Externally?

We often talk about how customers want to know what we in support know, as soon as we know it.  Publishing knowledge to requestors quickly is one of the benefits of having responders create knowledge in the workflow!  However, we recently got a question about how that plays out in practice.  Should we really publish Not Validated articles externally?  Are there companies who are currently doing that?

There are a couple of examples in which companies have granted visibility to Not Validated articles externally.  As with much in the KCS methodology, judgment (and sometimes experimentation) is required.

  1. One software company we know of has a Quick Publish template, which is essentially a “breaking news” article.  It displays a Not Validated status and many disclaimers about “use at your own risk.”  They used it when they had an emerging issue that was impacting or could impact some determined number of customers.  Customers could subscribe for updates to the article for when a fix had been found/validated.  This allowed the company to do some proactive communication about known/emerging issues which freed up support resources to work on that issue instead of taking multiple calls about it.
  2. A variation on this theme are companies who publish problem articles on bugs found.  These articles include all of the required fields, but the Solution field displays the bug number and its status. Customers can subscribe to the article to get notifications on bug status, as well as any available workarounds. In this scenario, an integration with Jira or an equivalent bug tool to either automatically update the article, or automatically provide an article comment to the author with bug status change is key. This type of workflow prevents many cases being created for known bugs.
  3. Another company, who has a very technically-savvy user community, publishes articles in a Not Validated status for the same “we’re working on it” reasons. In addition, they know from experience that their users want to know as much as possible about an issue, as soon as possible – because often their users can act on it.

On the other hand, we’ve also heard stories of companies who have given customers visibility to Not Validated articles and then revoked that visibility – because those articles were driving more volume to support from customers who were looking for a Validated answer – they didn’t trust (or couldn’t act on) a Not Validated article.  

Yet another variation on this are organizations who work with external partners or third parties and use article audience settings to give visibility to Not Validated articles to just the audience who would benefit from knowing as soon as possible, or those who have a better chance of being successful with that information.

As always, we’re trying to create articles that are findable and usable by an intended audience; often that’s MUCH easier said than done!  While we advocate for designing for the most capable and then managing the exceptions, it takes some thoughtfulness about what knowledge to expose to which audience when.  

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