A brand new way to search for knowledge at work

Massive product updates for Obie and some design thinking behind them

Summer (or lack there of) here in Canada is near, and it’s only been 2 months since our last product update (a major one, at that) but we have so much to share, including some massive changes and updates to the product, that we couldn’t wait another minute. So, let’s get right into it:

  • /obie — a completely brand new way to search for knowledge at work. You can now type /obie in any channel and ask questions privately with the ability to share relevant knowledge that Obie returns with a click of a button. The /obie slash command with respect your integration settings and Book permissions.

Note: if you’re an Obie customer and have not already authorized the new Slack scopes, you will not be able to see the slash command. You can click here to authorize.

tl;dr

Now, you may be thinking: “shouldn’t Obie have already worked with slash commands?”. Perhaps. A lot of bots have leveraged the slash command within the Slack platform, but we don’t think it’s an obvious user experience for all users in every application. So we wanted to share some design thinking behind why we decided that we will introduce this important change now, after so long.

See at first, we thought users wanted to interact with Obie directly. We imagined a very private user experience for the product, and while that was true, increasingly we saw our most successful users bring Obie into channels—within the workflow of how and where questions are naturally asked. Our initial answer to that was Obie Suggest which is a feature that, like the name implies, suggests relevant FAQs, documents or knowledge articles to questions that naturally occur within channels Obie has been invited to (without having to mention him). While Suggest remains one of our most powerful features, we identified an increasing need to replace the, quite frankly, clunky user experience of mentioning @ Obie. The main challenge with this original experience is that it gums up the channel with unwanted information and is distracting to others in the channel. We believe we now have the best and most flexible way to search for knowledge across your organization, no matter where you are in Slack. Give it a try!

  • Add FAQs from conversations in Slack using the new Obie ‘message action’
  • Obie Suggest was already a feature, yes, but nameless—voila, now it has a name! We’ve also made some pretty important improvements since its beta debut over a year ago. You can now upvote, downvote, see up to 12 results (3 per page), ‘Ask a Channel’, manage FAQs and of course, share with channel!
  • Content verification is now baked into the Obie FAQs feature (on by default). You can adjust the verification interval (amount of time before Obie deems knowledge out of date) under Configure > Advanced > Content Verification. You can also turn on Content Verification BETA for Google Drive, Confluence and the Obie knowledge base.
  • FAQs got a brand new facelift in the web. We think this represents a much more intuitive and real-estate efficient feature. No functionality was hurt in the cosmetic experimentation of Obie FAQs.
  • We’ve limited results to 3 per page when asking Obie questions (via DM, slash command or Suggest) to a total of 12. Hopefully, this is a little easier on the eyes.
  • To combat the “you don’t know what you don’t know” issue, we’ve added the currently active integrations to the search loading message to give users an idea of where they can expect to get knowledge from.
  • Content Creators rejoice! This global user permission can now access and add FAQs in the Obie web interface. Just head over to teamname.obie.ai/faq to give it a try.
  • We’ve completely redesigned the user onboarding and ‘help’ messages head-to-toe (not exciting to most) which includes the ability to formally invite your teammates and fellow knowledge experts to Obie (formally, that is)You can do this in the web by clicking ‘Invite People’ just below your team name.
  • Big search improvements are coming to Obie. We’ve completely rebuilt the underlying search technology from the ground up over the last 6-months. This includes our natural language processing as well as our search algorithm. We are releasing these improvements in phases, so this certainly will be the first of many updates you’ll hear about it. Phase 1 is in BETA and on for some teams. Let us know if you’re brave enough to try it!
  • On a similar note, Obie now returns the keywords he detected when he cannot find anything at all. Great for troubleshooting or rewording your question to find what you’re looking for.
  • You can now see the number of upvotes or downvotes that a given result has in accordance to the question asked (specifically, the ‘topic’/keywords extracted from that question). Our goal, always, is to try and give you the most context possible to find the knowledge you need at work. Hopefully, this will help solidify whether or not the knowledge you’re trying to access is still relevant.

Noteworthy bug fixes:

  • Having to login/authorize too many times. Oh boy, well, we’re sorry. We sincerely thought this was rectified months ago. Turns out, it wasn’t. After finding a pesky (and quite hidden) browser expiry setting, this is finally put to rest. Sorry for the extra step in getting what you need.
  • Google Drive (Team Drives) users were experiencing some sync issues after some API changes to the way Obie recognizes newly added documents. This should be rectified indefinitely.