Stack Overflow’s ‘content health’ automatically flags old or inaccurate content


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Having a robust, searchable record of knowledge makes it easier for workers to find information from across their organization, but businesses face growing challenges ensuring that this knowledge — be it research, technical documentation, or anything in between — is current and up-to-date.

This is something that developer-focused Q&A platform Stack Overflow is setting out to solve, with a slate of new “content health” features that proactively finds and flags outdated content, prompting relevant personnel to update or archive as appropriate.

A team game

Stack Overflow is best known as a platform where developers can go to have all their technical questions answered by the global community. But back in 2018, the company launched Stack Overflow for Teams, which has amassed an impressive roster of enterprise customers such as Microsoft and Verizon, who use the product to collaborate and share knowledge privately inside their organization.

And it’s through Stack Overflow for Teams that the company is launching content health for all customers, following a limited launch that kicked off back in November.

So how does content health work, exactly? Well, Stack Overflow assigns each piece of content a “normalized” health score based on the recency of activity around it, and this is then multiplied by the number of views that the piece of content has garnered. This score is recalculated daily.

Subsequently, users receive prompts via email and in their personalized Stack Overflow feed when their answers or questions are flagged as potentially being out-of-date. A dashboard also allows users to set up content review queues to prioritize which content needs to be reviewed first, based on its age and popularity.

“We allow teams to configure the thresholds on these criteria to control the automated notifications that users are receiving to go update this content,” Stack Overflow chief product officer Teresa Dietrich told VentureBeat. “Users can filter the out-of-date content in their review queue based content type, tags, and keywords in the title.”

Stack Overflow: Content health interface

Next, users can either verify, edit or close the content, while admins can make the content as being “obsolete” so that it’s demoted within search and marked as irrelevant or old.

Ultimately, content health is all about helping companies get the most out of their knowledge management investments — after all, information is only useful if it’s relevant and up-to-date. And this is particularly important at a time when many companies have had to embrace a more distributed workforce, where knowledge may have a greater tendency to become siloed and harder to filter through.

“When enterprise companies launch knowledge management tools, they invest a lot of time and energy populating them with content and documentation,” Dietrich said. “With the rapid changes in technology and the organization, the institutional knowledge quickly becomes outdated and the value and usage of the platform declines.”

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