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Meta-answers and sibling answers
Answer ID 1111   |   Last Review Date 12/16/2018

What are meta-answers and sibling answers?


Answers, Meta-Answers, Relationships and Siblings


A meta-answer is best thought of as a "container" for an answer or answers. The meta-answer defines some basic properties of the answers within it, such as product and category assignments and common file attachments. For example, you have one answer that you need translated into different languages, or one answer that is slightly changed for different customers.

Answers that are assigned to the same meta-answer are quite closely related in that the individual answers within the meta-answer typically answer the same question, but provide different information to different groups of end-users.  These answers are called sibling answers.  Sibling answers share the same meta-answer ID at the database level and share product and category values.

Siblings:  The concept of the meta-answer runs behind the scenes with regards to answers and sibling answers. Within Oracle B2C Service, the term "meta-answer" does not display within the answer record or the console.  However, sibling answers that are listed on the Relationships tab within an answer still share the same meta-answer ID in the database and share product and category assignments.

The Siblings Answers section of the Relationship tab may be disabled in your workspace. To enable the Siblings Answers section, you must enable the Siblings Visible property in the workspace. To enable this property, use the steps below:

  1. Open the answer workspace for editing.
  2. Click on the Relationships tab.
  3. Click the body of the tab and change the Siblings Visible property to True. 
  4. Save the workspace.

Similarly, on the Files or Attachments tab, you can enable the Siblings Visible property as well.  Open the answer workspace for editing, click the Attachments tab and click on the attachments control item on the body of the tab.  Then from the Design options at the top of the workspace, set the Siblings Visible to be True and save the workspace. This enables a second section on the tab.  Attachments added to this lower section of the tab display for the answer and all its siblings. This allows you to attach one file attachment and display it for all siblings.

For more information on editing workspace properties, refer to Answer ID 2518: Setting Properties in Workspaces.

Meta-answer ID values: Answer IDs and meta-answer IDs are distinct fields in the database. These fields may have different values for answers within your application.  For example, an answer with an Answer ID of 250 may have a Meta-answer ID value of 234.

To determine the meta-answer ID associated with an answer, you can create a report or view that lists both the answer ID (a_id) and the meta-answer ID (m_id) from the answers table as output columns. This allows you to easily see and compare the ID values for each answer.

Meta-answer uses: In most cases, there is only one answer for each meta-answer (container). However, sibling answers are frequently used for the two conditions below:

  1. Your site has multiple interfaces that uses more than one language pack, i.e. English and German. 
  2. Your site utilizes privileged access (as enabled by the ANS_PRV_ENABLED configuration setting).

Multiple Language Sites

Sibling answers are used specifically when your site has multiple interfaces and uses more than one language pack ; for example, if your site has an English interface and a Spanish interface. The meta-answer groups similar answers across multiple interfaces and languages. In this case, the question and solution are similar in content, but individual answers must be created for each language used. By grouping these similar individual answers (siblings) together, you can more easily find and maintain the content of all the sibling answers.

For example, if you had one question about warranty information answered in different languages on each of your interfaces, the meta-answer is what "contains" or relates all the associated answers together. The answers would all share the same product and category information, and if the warranty information ever changed, you could easily locate and adjust each sibling answer.

Privileged Access

When privileged access  is enabled, you can provide different answers to your site visitors depending on which level of access they are configured for. While the general question may be the same for all of your end-users, the specific content of the answer may vary for the different levels of privileged access.

An individual answer can be created for each level of access, but the meta-answer feature allows you to group the individual answers as siblings so that you can update the product and/or category values all at once or find the related answers based on the meta-answer ID.

Note: With conditional sections, it is easier to use a single answer to support multiple privileged access users. For more information on using conditional sections, refer to Answer ID 2309: Adding Conditional Sections to Published Answers.

For example, if you have a company that has access to a privileged level of information that contains a more detailed answer to a question, you can create sibling answers that are associated with the same meta-answer. In this case, two answers would belong to a single meta-answer -- both the simplified version of the answer that is accessed by everyone, and a detailed version of the answer that can be accessed only by the specified company.

Visibility:  When two or more sibling answers exist, only one answer will display to the end-user. When used with privileged access, the answer assigned to the highest access level as listed in the Access Levels table is what displays to the user. That way, only the privileged content displays to your privileged users and the answer assigned to the Everyone access level does not display to privileged users. If the end-user does not have privileged access, then the Everyone answer will display to that user.

Enabling or Disabling Meta-Answers / Siblings 

Sibling answers display only if the answer workspace allows siblings to display.  For information on modifying answer workspaces to include sibling answers, refer to Answer ID 2163: Accessing Sibling Answers.

When copying answers, you can enable the Create Sibling Relationship check box so that the new answer is a sibling to the answer that is being copied. If the checkbox is clear, the new answer will be a stand-alone answers that does not share a meta-answer ID or product and category assignment with the answer that was copied.