Choosing the Right Content Type

Document created by timothy_hales-esristaff Employee on Apr 24, 2014Last modified by lfountain-esristaff on Dec 23, 2019
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There are many different content types within the GeoNet Community, and it is very important to choose the correct content type (Questions, Discussion, Blogs, Documents, Polls, etc.) so you can achieve your desired goals.  Below are the main content types that are available, including suggested best practices. 


The GeoNet Community Team regularly collects and reports on how each content type is used across the GeoNet Community. When the content types are used correctly, this gives us more accurate metrics, and most importantly, it helps us measure and better understand which content types are most frequently used and how valuable they are to you, our members. 


We appreciate your help in using the correct content types. As always, consider and follow the GeoNet Community Guiding Principles when sharing, creating, and collaborating on content.


Table of contents


A question is where the author is seeking a specific solution to a problem they are having. The questions functionality allows the author and administrators to mark the correct response to the question, allowing the author and others to find that solution faster.

When to use it: Use the Question content type when you are seeking a specific answer to help solve an issue. 

When not to use it: Don't use Questions when you want to have an open-ended discussion. Instead, use the Discussion content type (see below). 

Example: Re: Story Map Zoom Level

Additional resources:

Creating Questions



The Discussions content type is designed to allow you to have an open-ended conversation where you are seeking different points of view, and there is no specific solution to the issue. Discussions come in two varieties: threads and questions. The difference is determined by what the author is looking for.

  • Thread views: A thread is where the author is seeking a different point of view, and there is no specific solution to the issue. These are generally used to formulate plans of actions and make business decisions. An example of a thread would be “What Three Words - Global Addressing System”  In this case, there will be many points of view, and each will help you reach a decision.
  • Flat views display comments and replies chronologically in the order they were received, and there is no indentation between responses. This view can be helpful if you like to see comments in the order they were made. However, it can become difficult to follow conversations between people when a discussion is longer than a few comments.

When to use it:  The best way to use the Discussion tool is when you want to have an open conversation, get varied feedback, or want to formulate plans of actions and make business decisions. 

When not to use it: If you're trying to get a specific answer to an issue, you should NOT use a Discussion. It's best to use the Questions (see Question section above).

Example: What Three Words - Global Addressing System

Additional resources:

Creating Discussions 

Participating in a Discussion

Creating Questions


Blog Posts

Similar to documents, a blog post is intended to convey information to the community in the form of an article or story. It helps drive engagement through comments and allows readers to share their thoughts, opinions, or ask questions about the post. A good example of a blog post is the announcement of features for a product release or updates about an event.

When to use it: Use a blog content type when you are trying to share a news story, product update opinion, or thought leadership.

When not to use it:

  • Do NOT use blogs only to share a single link or if you want to collaborate on a topic.
  • To quickly share links or start an open-ended conversation, use the Discussions content type (see above).
  • If you want to share updates on information that you will be regularly updating, use collaborative Documents (see below).

Example: Hurricane Maria Mapping Project: We Need Your Help 

Additional resources:

GeoNet Training: How to Create a Blog

GeoNet- Manage Blog Post

Creating Blog Posts



Another content option within GeoNet allows you to upload files such as PDFs, Zip files, Word Docs, Excel, PowerPoint, Visio, and certain images. Files can also be attached to most content types as well. This is another option if you need to add a file. Please be sure also to include a description of what the file is within the body of the post. This helps with search optimization within GeoNet and gives the reader a context of what they are viewing or opening.

When to use it: Use files for uploading files you want to share and get feedback on. 

Note: There are limitations to uploading a file. For example, if other GeoNet Members do not have Visio, they cannot open the Visio document. And depending on the Member's device, they may not be able to view the file. Remember your audience when choosing to upload a file.

Example: Esri Education Institution License Program Overview - International - July 2019

Additional resources:

Uploading Files



Documents, similar to Google Docs, are native documents you write directly in the community and use to collaborate with multiple people. The Document content type is designed to be a collaborative document by nature. Anyone with the Create permission on Documents will also have editing permissions. This means when you create a document, other users will have access to edit your document unless you choose the option to restrict authors at the bottom of the page before publishing.

Note: You can also upload files from your local machine to attach to documents. Uploaded files can be used in lieu of a collaborative document if you already have the document locally. 

When to use it: Examples of collaborative documents are when you need to create several versions to share and track meeting notes or create how-to guides, policy outlines, workflows, training materials, step-by-step how-to's, etc.

When not to use it: Do not use Documents to share news/events updates, start open discussions or stand-alone questions. Use the other content types above for each respective need. 

Example: Compress Geodatabase Tool 

Additional resources:

Creating Collaborative Documents

Creating a Copy of a Document



Polls are quick surveys that allow users to vote for one option that best fits the question posed by the poll. The strength of polls is their ability to help make important decisions by simplifying the response to a choice. Once the votes are in, the author of the poll can then see what decision needs to be made without having to sift through various comment responses.

When to use it: Use a poll to gather information for research, query, demographics, or a consensus for a specific topic in a group or space. 

When not to use it: Don't use a poll if you are trying to solve a question or problem that should be posted in a question. 

Example: What type of databases are you using?

Additional resources:

Creating a Poll in GeoNet



Creating a Message will allow you to send a personal message to another GeoNet Member. The message will then appear in the Member's inbox and they can reply. If their email notifications are turned on, they will also receive an email alerting that a message was sent to their GeoNet inbox.

When to use it: Messages can be used when sharing a space, group, or content type, links, or other information that is only going to a select few members in GeoNet.

When not to use it: Don't use messages to send out a blanket blast to others in the community. Remember to use the GeoNet Community Guiding Principles.



Additional resources:

Creating and Sending Messages to Other Members

Connecting to Other Users



 The video module allows users to directly upload a video from their computer to the community as its own content type.  Additionally, the module allows the use of the webcam to record directly into the community. 

NOTE: Videos must be MP4, YouTube or Vimeo or another allowable URL source to be uploaded or embedded and the user must have permissions to upload a video within the group or space. Video size is unlimited. However, timeouts, loading issues and lag may occur with large videos over 1GB depending on a user's internet/network/browser. 

When to use it: Videos are a great way to share information, entertain, or to provide a simple how-to in GeoNet. Remember to use videos from a reputable source that falls within the GeoNet Community Guiding Principles.

When not to use it:

  • Don't use video that does not come from a reputable source.
  • Do not use video to create a GeoNet specific how-to instruction. If creating a GeoNet specific how-to, please contact the GeoNet team at to discuss your how-to needs and how we can help.

Examples: How to Get Analytical Insights from your GIS

Additional resources:

Uploading videos


Have a great idea that could help improve Esri products or services? Visit ArcGIS Ideas space in GeoNet and submit an Idea. 

When to use it: Post an Idea when you have confirmed that another member has not already submitted your idea. Read Submitting a New Idea for further steps. To submit a post, you must be a GeoNet member. 

Please Note: Esri staff and distributors cannot submit an Idea to ArcGIS Ideas. Please read the Idea Submission Policy for more details on posting and Idea in ArcGIS Ideas.

When to not use it: Do not use ArcGIS Ideas for suggestions to improve the GeoNet Community, have a question rather than an Idea, or want to share a step-by-step process for using an Esri product or feature.  You can post GeoNet enhancements to the GeoNet Resource Hub.

  • All ideas should be submitted in ArcGIS Ideas space and not in individual product spaces such as ArcGIS Pro, ArcGIS. Submit in the ArcGIS Ideas and then select the correct product category and tag. 
  • Also, only customer members can submit ideas. Esri Staff and distributors should use internal channels. 

Example: Audit log for ArcGIS Online 

Additional resources: 

ArcGIS Ideas

Submitting a New Idea

ArcGIS Ideas FAQ

Statuses for ArcGIS Ideas

Idea Submission Policy

Suggested Tags by Category for ArcGIS Ideas


Creating Content TypesCreate Content Image

Now that you know a little about content types, you can choose a content type based on your collaborative goals. Then, click the pencil icon to draft a discussion, document, blog post, etc. or select any of the content type links at the top of any of your attention streams.


Private vs. Public Content

By default, the content you create is public in the community and searchable. The power of GeoNet is that everyone in the community can benefit from shared and collaborative content. However, in some cases, you may want to limit who sees content and who can collaborate on it. Or, you can choose to publish your content in a private group that limits content to approved members.


Monitoring Your Content

You'll automatically follow all content that you create, so you'll receive an update in your Inbox whenever anyone responds to your content or, if it's a document, changes it. You can also delete any comments on your content, as well as remove the content entirely.

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