Run an internal Q&A forum

Forums like Stack Overflow or Quora have become global warehouses of collective wisdom. Along with Wikipedia, they answer half of the questions you ask Google. Can this model of crowd-sourcing information, that works so well for the public domain, also work for your company and help you accumulate invaluable private knowledge? At OneBar we believe that the answer is YES!

Q&A illustration

We design and build OneBar with a simple philosophy in mind: it should serve as a Single Source of Truth for your company. We’ve experimented with different approaches to what should “The Single Source of Truth” actually be: a chat?, a team wiki?, an integrated search engine?, or maybe a ticket tracker?, and ended up with the idea that at the core it should be a Q&A Forum.

  • Unlike long, often poorly structured wiki articles, Q&As are concise and easy to consume
  • Q&As are very search-friendly
  • If you can’t find an Answer to something, you can always post a new Question which can then be assigned and tracked as an official Request For Documentation.
  • Q&A system can store Answers directly, or just point to documents in other internal systems. This way it becomes an Index for the whole intranet and can partially replace an Integrated Enterprise Search.
  • People already ask a lot of Questions and give a lot of Answers via different communication channels in your company. This information can be easily collected and persisted in the Q&A system.

Q&A for work is not a new idea, and there are other products on the market offering this functionality, but all of them struggle to achieve good user adoption. There is a number of factors making private intranets very different from the public Internet. Relatively low (compared to the Internet) flow of questions, along with a completely different incentive structure create a lot of challenges for implementing a traditional Q&A system internally. We’ve what works and what doesn’t for other products and designed our own. Here’s what we’ve got, and how OneBar is different from everything else.

Slack

Corporate chat is already a go-to place where people seek and give help, and hundreds of Questions are being asked daily. It would be tough to redirect this flow to a Q&A system hence, a good system should deeply integrate with a communication platform. Slack is the most popular chat choice for work these days, and we’ve built OneBar specifically for Slack teams.

  • @onebar
    bot and
    /onebar
    command can search the Question database from any channel or even DM
  • You can assign or resolve unanswered Questions right in Slack
  • We automatically synchronize comments in Slack and the web app for any Q&A
  • You can configure the bot to auto-respond in specific channels
  • You can use our specially designed interface to quickly import conversations from your existing channels and turn them into Q&As
Slack integration OneBar Slack integration

One Question — one Answer

Unlike public domain, internal Questions usually have only one correct Answer. Options create uncertainty, and popular systems typically implement a voting mechanism of some sort to help you pick the best answer. At work, however, it’s better to trust your manager than the crowd. In OneBar we purposefully removed the ability to add multiple Answers. A OneBar Question always has one correct Answer, which can be Updated or Invalidated. This Answer is the current state of Truth, and the rest should go into the Comments section.

One Question - one Answer OneBar Question details page

Search

Unlike a well-structured wiki, with a Q&A system, we’re looking at tens of thousands of tiny documents, which are extremely hard to organize using standard hierarchies (e.g., lists, indexes, tables of content, etc.). We’ve made Search a central pillar of OneBar interface. We constantly iterate and improve upon it. Most people land at a OneBar Question using some sort of Search (in Slack or from the web app) and then dig deeper by following Cross-links or clicking on Tags.

OneBar Search

Tags

Tags are another essential way of organizing information in OneBar. You can model topics, teams, statuses or anything else using Tags. Each tag has a separate page with a fixed URL, which can be used as a F.A.Q. for a topic. Tags help OneBar better understand relations between Questions and People, provide better Suggestions and route Notifications.

Tags

OneBar knows your team

A company is a small world, and just knowing who knows what is already a lot. OneBar automatically imports information about your organization from Slack and then monitors the behavior of every person. OneBar creates a Knowledge Profile for everybody and then uses it to automatically suggest subject-matter experts or personalize search experience (coming soon).

People Suggestions OneBar automatically suggests subject-matter experts

Duplicates

Ten people will express the same Question in ten different ways. This doesn’t mean that there should be ten different records for the same thing in OneBar. From the ground up we’re modeling Questions as something that can have multiple descriptions and provide powerful tools for merging Duplicates.

Synonyms Duplicates manager

Notifications

Work-related questions cost real money and have to be resolved promptly. OneBar implements a sophisticated Notifications system to make sure that no Question is ever forgotten while trying not to be too annoying.

Email notification

Tools for the editors

Everything inside an organization must have a clear owner, OneBar too. It may be challenging to keep a knowledge base with thousands of records in good shape, so OneBar provides convenient tools just for its maintainers to make their life easier.

Editor tools

Analytics

Finally, it is very crucial to know how your knowledge management system performs. OneBar comes with powerful analytical tools that will help you answer critical questions about the state of your KB, measure KPIs, identify knowledge gaps, and more.

OneBar Analytics

Give it a try!

Slack logo color Add to Slack