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It may come as a shock, but online communities or forums for IT professionals do actually work - in the US at any rate.

A survey of over 200 US-based IT professionals, published this week by King Research, shows that 100 per cent of those who participate in online communities say they get professional benefits from the experience. And 85 per cent also say they get personal benefits.

Professional benefits include being able to keep up with new developments and solve problems faster. Personal benefits include career development and peer networking.

A staggering 93 per cent of the sample claim to be able to do their jobs more efficiently and save time by using community sites to solve system administration problems. As many as 82 per cent say they save at least one hour a week by using the information found in online communities, and a third say they save three or more hours a week.

Interestingly, most of those surveyed (98 per cent) also say they see the information from online communities as "typically accurate and trustworthy".

Despite the strong positive response, online communities could improve. Respondents said the main complaint is the need to scan several different sites to get the answers they want. A whopping 94 per cent said, for example, they have to visit more than one source of information for each problem, and 75 per cent would prefer a single source of answers.

The survey is sponsored by system management software developer Kace, which supports its own community site Appdeploy Live as part of its KBOX product. Other community sites referred to in the survey include Yahoo!, Google, and Tech Target.

Kace says AppDeploy Live is a knowledge base updated by over 16,000 contributing professionals, with access to data on over 60,000 applications and processes. It claims over 100,000 visitors a month.

The complete survey is available from Kace here (pdf). ®

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