All intranet content is not the same

I have realised that I’ve blogged about BT’s intranet strategy; our blogs and wikis; publishing tools and our 2009/10 action plan.  But so far I have not covered the different types of content that people publish and use on our intranet in much detail.

Content on the BT Intranet is divided into four different types, to enable information to be managed appropriately and allow users to separate fact from comment.  A fifth category covers services, which are online processes where people do tasks to fulfil their roles.

The categories are:


Formal content is authoritative, reliable & up to date.  People will able to use it with confidence, knowing it is current and relevant.  It is usually information that has a large audience, probably line of business or BT-wide.  

A limited number of people can edit the information, with access controlled by permissions.  People have to undergo mandatory training and need to ask permission to publish.  Usually one person will have clear ownership.

Formal content will usually be found on a web site that is managed via the content management system.  All of the publishing standards are mandatory for formal content.


A group of people will usually own team content, with shared responsibility for editing and ownership.  It can be permission driven, with editors clearly identified, or it can be open for anyone to edit, and possibly require a managed environment.  Team content will usually be for a defined audience, which in some cases could still be all of BT.

Team content will usually be found on one of the collaboration platforms, such as SharePoint.  Most of the online publishing standards are mandatory for team content.


Many of the publishing standards are optional for personal content and will be managed by the publishing platforms.  People do not have to undergo mandatory training and do not need to ask permission to publish.

Crowd-sourced content is community owned information, with an open environment for anyone to edit and contribute.  The management of the information is less stringent because low levels of trust are required.

Many of the publishing standards are optional for crowd content and will be managed by the publishing platforms, such as BTpedia.  People do not have to undergo mandatory training and do not need to ask permission to publish.


Personal content will usually be opinion based content, owned by an individual, who will be the only editor.  It will have very light governance but will be open to a wide audience who can comment on the content.  Personal content will be on platforms such as Blog Central.

I’ll post about the training our publishers need to do for some types of content next.

25 responses to “All intranet content is not the same

  1. Interesting post! What I was wondering is: is this list right? For you I understand it is. But can’t ‘team’ content be ‘formal’ for instance? And isn’t ‘personal’ a security issue? For instance, I’m working on some content I don’t want to share yet (so it’s personal), but in time it will be in the category ‘crowd’? I’ll blog about this and tell you what my categories are. Thanks for sparking this discussion.

    • Samuel,

      Thanks for your comments which I agree with. it is not a hard and fast list which has no flexibility in BT. In fact content does move from personal (a blog) to crowd (a wiki) to formal (a policy document). There is also an overlap as you highlight where it can be more than one type. In cases like that (in fact I had someone ask me this question yesterday) you show what the options can do and leave the owner to decide what they want to use. They can try out one type and if it isn’t working try another instead.

      The main point is they are all managed appropriately with one integrated set of intranet standards, publishing tools, governance and management tools aligned to BT’s intranet strategy.


      • Mark, thanks for the comment on my comment. I agree with you. Your and Richard D.’s work and blog posts help a lot. Looking forward to future posts and discussions.

  2. Your post is very very intelligent and helped me to chirify a lot of thing. Tanks very very much

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  4. Hi Samuel and Mark,
    I think Mark’s categories are defined according to how the content is created and who “owns” it at a given point in time.
    Samuel’s categories (as you explained them here ( are defined in terms of scope and topic.
    Samuel’s categories will probably remain constant throughout the life of the content. Content in any one of these categories may evolve through the categories Mark proposes.
    For example, improving an HR process may start as personal, then become team as an HR team takes the idea and develops it. When they put it out for feedback, it may become crowd (although I doubt this step would really happen in most enterprises!). Once it’s finalised, it’s official content.
    Richard Dennison said (in a conference) that there’s no reason there should not be comments from users on all types of content, even official documents. I don’t know if BT puts this into practice or not. Mark?
    Coming back to the categories, I can see a nice matrix with M’s categories on one axis and S’s on the other.

    Note: Here’s a sneak view on answers on one question in the current Intranet Strategies survey: when asked if there is “commenting on ‘official’ content (e.g. articles written by the communication department, news items, …)’ 60 % have said “not at all” and 15 % have said “yes, in general use” or “optimized”. To be honest, I would have expected lower than 15 %. (These are not final figures, but do represent over 100 intranet managers worldwide.)

    • Jane,

      I agree with your view and how it would fit in amatrix. The answer to your question is ‘yes’ but…..

      For formal content, users are able to feedback in a variety of ways to the owner – phone call, email, forms – but it isn’t visible to other users like a reply to a blog post. As our publishing tools improve then it will be possible to make this visible. It is only the technology that prevents us achieving what Richard says for formal content.


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