Long ago, back in the dark ages, forums used the number of posts a member made and how long ago they joined to demonstrate trust and experience.
Is simply posting a lot and being a member for a long time the best way to know which community members are experts?
And is there a better way?
We think so.
What makes an expert, and why are they important?
Community experts are the keystones to any thriving community. You probably recognise a handful in your community. They tend to be active regularly, are often the first to try and help others with their questions and help set a positive example within the community.
Wouldn't it be great if newer community members could discover who these super users were a little easier? These members trying to find their feet in a new community could follow trustworthy individuals, absorb the positive tone of the community, and even get help a little quicker.
In the past, forums have shown trust and experience through basic metrics like post count and the years since they joined. However, these metrics only show that the individual has been around a long time and posts a lot. It doesn't show that they are potential role models or helpful and trustworthy.
Community Experts with Invision Community 5
Invision Community 5 identifies these experts through metrics such as the number of solutions they have, the volume of 'helpful' votes on their replies, the speed of answers and more.
Each forum will have its own experts, so if you have a very broad community, someone who is very helpful in a particular area will show as an expert in that area only.
When a member has been picked as an expert, they'll receive an email thanking them, and they can then opt-in to be shown as an expert along with a regular notification or email with any unanswered questions in forums they are experts in.
I'm absolutely killing it in the Test Forum
Every few months, the experts are recalculated to reflect the organic way communities grow and change. After all, there's little point in showing that a non-active member is an expert. It might even encourage new community experts to keep up the great work and remain active longer.
Community experts have a badge shown with their posts, along with the option to follow them. Encouraging new members to follow trusted community members should be a core part of any community strategy.
Settings and control
Of course, not everyone should be labelled as a community expert, and perhaps, in very rare circumstances, an existing community expert could have a bad day and not represent the community well.
Invision Community 5 gives you the ability to set which groups experts can be picked from and offers you the opportunity to block existing experts, ensuring they won't be selected again in the future.
Over to you
All communities have to be purposeful and provide value. That value may be in close friendships, or it may be in getting answers for problems you have. Either way, locating the most helpful members will help develop trust, provide guidance and increase knowledge within your community.
For transactional communities such as support-based communities, experts are vital in providing timely answers and demonstrating credibility and expertise to others.
As always, we'd love to hear your thoughts. Please let us know in the comments.