Dennis D. McDonald ( consults from Alexandria Virginia. His services include writing & research, proposal development, and project management.

Expertise Management and World of Warcraft

Expertise Management and World of Warcraft

By Dennis D. McDonald

While researching the topic “expertise management” as a follow up to earlier articles posted here, I came across a fascinating article concerning the automated construction of an “expertise database” that I think has some relevance for enterprise expertise management. The article, Automated Expertise Management, appeared in the January 24, 2005 Terra Nova Exploring Virtual World blog. It describes a database service called that is designed for players of Blizzard’s World of Warcraft (WoW) gaming environment.

The Thottbot database allows WoW players to seek out helpful information about various events, objects. and strategies that occur in World of Warcraft. The database is constructed (according to the Terra Nova article) from automated submission supplied by a World of Warcraft software add-on called Cosmos. When Cosmos is correctly configured and a player of World of Warcraft plays the game, details of gameplay are automatically sent to Thottbot and these in turn are indexed and made available to gameplayers.

Bloggers are familiar with the process. You add a code snippet to your blog. When the page loads, the code snippet executes and (say, in the case of Google Analytics) the action sends details of the page to a remote database where it is aggregated, indexed, and published for subscribers.

Relevance of such a process to the construction of an “enterprise expertise management database” seems clear. Data that track source, target, and content of an enterprise’s internal Intranet search, navigation, and communication behavior could be automatically tracked and used as the basis for an internal “knowledge network” network or meme analysis. The analysis could identify individuals in an organization who are frequently targeted with emails containingwords, phrases, defined tags, or other content related identifiers. Such data could be parsed and interpreted to aid in construction of the “knowledge map” I described in a previous post here.

I’m assuming that products and services like this may already be on the market and are targeting enterprise knowledge market applications; if so, please let me know by sending me an email. This is an area of consulting that greatly interests me.

One of the most interesting aspects of the Terra Nova article is the discussion that followed the original article; it’s an intelligent (and mostly polite) review of the ethical issues that arise based on the use of Thottbot while playing WoW. The issue discussed is, does use of Thottbot constitute an “unfair advantage” for the Thottbot user that disadvantages other players of WoW that do not use the Thottbot database? If you subscribe to the notion of “all’s fair in love and war” you’ll find the discussion quite interesting.

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