GARDENDATA.ORG, AN INTERACTIVE FAQ DATABASE FOR CONSUMER HORTICULTURE

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  • 1 Department of Horticulture, University of Kentucky, N-318 Agricultural Science Building North, Lexington, KY 40546-0091, (rdurham@uky.edu)

GardenData.org developed from a need, identified by a survey of Kentucky county Extension agents, for a database resource to assist in answering frequently asked questions (FAQs) from home gardeners and consumers. A team, consisting of representatives from both the University of Kentucky and Kentucky State University and made up of an administrator, horticul-ture specialists, county Extension agents, and agricultural communication specialists, worked together to create GardenData.org. Development of the database of FAQs in consumer or home horticulture began in 2004 and all content is peer reviewed by Kentucky Extension specialists before making answers publicly available. An interactive prototype program was launched for use by county Extension agents in February 2005. Following a positive response Gardendata.org was made publicly available in Summer 2005. Clients are asked their electronic mail address and Kentucky county in order to enter the web site and to become a repeat user of GardenData.org. Once they have conducted a search of available FAQs, clients may submit a question to GardenData.org to be answered by Kentucky Extension personnel. From recent data (December 2005 and January 2006) the self-service rate for the site is greater than 95%, indicating that most visitors are content to search existing FAQs rather than ask a new question. As new questions are submitted, they are answered by Extension personnel, reviewed and added to the growing database of FAQs.

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