Knowledge Base

Learn how to add/manage sources in public/private repositories for enhanced BoltAI functionality.

Michael Stephenson avatar
Written by Michael Stephenson
Updated this week


The Knowledge Base, integral to BoltAI, is divided into two distinct repositories: public and private. As you contribute various sources of knowledge, the Knowledge Base expands, directly enhancing BoltAI's capabilities. The richness and quality of the information added are pivotal in maximizing the effectiveness of BoltAI's tools.

Public vs. Private

Public Repository

This repository is utilized by both BoltBot and Copilot.

  • BoltBot: It learns from this repository to deliver round-the-clock support to students and families, becoming more adept at handling a wide range of student inquiries and engaging in more natural conversations.

  • Copilot: It taps into this repository for assistance in creating and writing content, such as campaigns and pages.

Private Repository

Exclusive to Copilot, this repository is a specialized, secure, and tailored resource designed to meet the unique needs of your institution. It significantly enhances Copilot's functionality, making it a powerful tool for your internal users.

  • Tailored Information Access: The private repository allows for the inclusion of information specific to the departments/teams using Element451, such as internal policies and processes.

  • Enhanced Efficiency: By providing quick and accurate responses to specialized queries, the private repository cuts down the time staff spend searching for information, thereby boosting productivity.

  • Consistency in Information: With a centralized private repository, you ensure that all staff have access to the same information, leading to consistent responses and policies across the institution.

  • Continuous Improvement: The private repository evolves into a dynamic repository of institutional knowledge as it is utilized and expanded, thereby continually enhancing Copilot's effectiveness.

The information added to your knowledge base should be factual, clear, and from authoritative sources of truth. Our website loader (more on that below) makes capturing lots of information at once easy, but be sure you are only capturing correct and relevant information.

Adding + Managing Knowledge Sources

Adding Sources

  1. Navigate to Data + Automations > Knowledge.

  2. Select Public or Private from the left menu to add a source to the appropriate repository.

  3. Click on + New Source in the header.

  4. Add a title to the source at the top of the dialogue box. Give each Knowledge source a meaningful title, whether added as text or content from a URL/website. Not only does this assist human staff with maintaining your school's knowledge, but it also helps BoltAI identify the best content to use when assisting you or your students.

  5. Select the type of source.

  6. You can optionally tag a Knowledge Source with one or more categories to help organize your knowledge.

  7. Once you've completed the fields for your Source, click Save.

  8. After you add a knowledge base article, Element will take a few minutes to "learn" the information, which will become available when prompted on Conversations.

Though machine learning can parse dense blocks of text, you may want to make it legible so a human editor can maintain it. Additionally, you should regularly review the content in this section for accuracy, as important deadlines and other information may change over time.

Viewing Sources

  1. Navigate to Data + Automations > Knowledge.

  2. Select the appropriate repository (Public or Private) from the left menu.

  3. A list of your sources is provided in a table format, displaying the following information:

    • Title: The title of your source.

    • Type: The type of your source (Text, URL, Website, or Custom Answers).

    • Categories: The assigned categories of your source.

    • State: The current learning state of the source.

      • Learning: The source is in the process of being learned by BoltBot.

      • Learned: The learning process has been completed by BoltBot.

      • Failed to Learn: There was an error with the learning process by BoltBot. This may happen with websites outside your domain with protective firewalls preventing us from collecting and learning the information. If this happens, you can click the three vertical dots to open the menu and delete this source.

    • Description: The description of your source.

Editing Sources

To edit a source:

  1. Navigate to Data + Automations > Knowledge.

  2. Select the appropriate repository (Public or Private) from the left menu.

  3. Locate the source you wish to edit.

  4. Click the three vertical dots icon to the right of the source description.

  5. Select Edit.

Previewing Sources

To take a quick glance at the source's information:

  1. Navigate to Data + Automations > Knowledge.

  2. Select the appropriate repository (Public or Private) from the left menu.

  3. Locate the source you wish to edit.

  4. Click the three vertical dots icon to the right of the source description.

  5. Select Preview.

Forcing Source to Relearn

To force Element451 to relearn a source:

  1. Navigate to Data + Automations > Knowledge.

  2. Select the appropriate repository (Public or Private) from the left menu.

  3. Locate the source you wish to be re-learned.

  4. Click the three vertical dots icon to the right of the source description.

  5. Select Learn.

Deleting Sources

To permanently delete a source from the knowledge base:

  1. Navigate to Data + Automations > Knowledge.

  2. Select the appropriate repository (Public or Private) from the left menu.

  3. Locate the source you wish to delete.

  4. Click the three vertical dots icon to the right of the source description.

  5. Select Delete. You'll be prompted to confirm your action.

Types of Sources


Knowledge can be added to the text box. When copying and pasting text, there are a few things to remember:

  • Text does not retain any rich formatting (such as links, bold, styles, etc.)

  • When pasting in data from a table or similar source, be sure it is clear which data relates to what other data.


Add knowledge from a single webpage via the URL option. Simply add the URL (including the protocol, such as https://)

Important Notes

  • When you add a URL source, BoltBot reads and learns the content but will not return the actual URL as the answer. If you want BoltBot to return a URL for an answer, we suggest adding a Text source with relevant links.

  • For both URL and Website types, BoltBot will relearn your URL daily to capture any website updates if the ‘Daily Sync’ option is enabled; otherwise, it will sync only once during load.


Add knowledge from a collection of URLs. The URL you select should point to a main page/directory folder. Using the main page URL, our website loader generates a sitemap. You can then select multiple pages to teach BoltBot. This allows broader website knowledge.

In order to load websites, the selected website must have a sitemap.xml entry to provide the content of the website to the Knowledge Base.

We recommend keeping individual Website Knowledge sources to 20-30 pages.

For both URL and Website types, BoltBot will relearn your URL daily to capture any website updates if the ‘Daily Sync’ option is enabled; otherwise, it will sync only once during load.

File Upload

Directly upload files with any of the following formats to the Knowledge Base: .eml, .html, .json, .md, .msg, .rst, .rtf, .txt, .xml, .jpeg, .png, .csv, .doc, .docx, .epub, .odt, .pdf, .ppt, .pptx, .tsv, .xlsx.

📙 Note: When using the File Upload type, if the upload fails on a PDF file, it could be because it is too large and complex. We suggest trying a smaller file or, if you have one available, upload the .doc or .docx version.

Custom Answers

Create predetermined question-and-answer pairs for your most frequently asked and important questions.

Custom Answers are prioritized over other sources in your Knowledge Base. However, BoltBot may paraphrase these answers appropriately and include additional information from relevant sources.

For example, let's take this Custom Answer: "How many programs are offered at Fire University? There are 20 undergraduate programs, 10 graduate programs, and 5 certificate programs."

When asked about the programs at Fire University, BoltBot might say, "Fire University offers a total of 35 programs."

While this paraphrase is accurate, it's not a word-for-word match. BoltBot uses the content of the Custom Answer but adapts it based on the conversation's context. Custom Answers are given priority but are not repeated precisely.

  1. To add a new custom answer or group of customer answers, click the + sign.

    💡Pro Tip: You do not need to add each custom answer as a separate source. Once the side sheet opens after clicking the + sign, you can add as many relevant questions and answers to this "group" as you would like.

  2. Give this source a title at the top of the page. For example, if you add questions about the application process, you can title it "application process."

  3. Type your question (e.g., How do I apply?)

  4. Type your answer (e.g., You can apply to Training University by completing a common application or using the TU application at

  5. You can add additional Q&A pairs to this "group" of custom answers by clicking the + sign again, or if you are finished, click Save.

Importing and Downloading Custom Answers:

  • You can import an existing list of questions and answers via CSV file. Click the upload button and attach your file (it must contain two columns: question and answer). If you are editing an existing group of custom answers, importing a CSV file will overwrite the current data with the questions and answers from the imported file.

  • To export or download this group of custom answers, click the download button to initiate a CSV file download.

    If you need to update an existing group of custom answers, we recommend using the download feature, editing the CSV provided, saving your changes, and importing the CSV back into Element451.

While custom answers will be prioritized before other knowledge, BoltBot may paraphrase the response when appropriate. BoltBot may also provide additional information from other relevant knowledge sources.


Integrate YouTube content directly into your Knowledge Base. BoltAI reads and processes video transcripts, making all spoken content within videos accessible for queries and assistance through BoltBot or Copilot.

Add videos one by one using the YouTube Video source type or upload multiple videos from a single YouTube Channel using the YouTube Channel source type.

  • YouTube Video: Add a single YouTube video URL.

  • YouTube Channel: Add a channel handle to select one or more videos from that channel. Once you add the channel handle, the list of videos will automatically populate. Use the checkboxes to select which video(s) you wish to add.

The video's privacy setting must be configured to either be public or unlisted in order for it to be used.

Best Practices for Adding Sources

Maintaining an effective Knowledge Base is an ongoing process, but here are some best practices to help get you started:

Follow the 3 C's

Curated knowledge is the best knowledge. The large language models that power BoltBot and Copilot are reasoning engines. While LLMs can utilize a large volume of content when responding, following the three C's will provide the best results.

  • Curated: Use knowledge sources you know are relevant and correct.

  • Concise: Don't use 10 words when 5 will do. BoltBot and Copilot can take those facts and make them conversational.

  • Clear: Ensure knowledge is well written to convey its meaning and conflicting information is not provided.

Following the 3 C's (good for bots and people alike) will ensure that your new AI-powered team members provide the best results and answers possible.

Use Varied Source Types

While prioritizing custom answers, also consider adding URL sources and dedicated text articles that directly address common or anticipated questions.

Directly Include Specific Information

Clearly state crucial information in your text and custom answer sources, such as "We offer 10 graduate programs" or "We have 6 certificate programs." Including explicit content like this ensures it becomes the most relevant information, helping BoltBot provide precise answers without relying solely on the relevance of retrieved chunks.

FAQ + Troubleshooting

  • I want to get up and running fast! Can I index my entire .edu site using a single website knowledge source?

    While it is technically possible to index entire websites (although larger sites may reach our rate limit), there are downsides to this approach. One is that many college and university websites have outdated or contradictory information listed on different pages. By adding an entire site, we may inadvertently include information that could confuse BoltBot.

    Using the Website loader, you can start at a path you are most confident in. For example, if you work in admissions like You can also select/deselect one or more pages/paths to include/exclude from your website knowledge source.

    We recommend keeping individual website knowledge sources to, at most, 20-30 web pages.

  • I want the BoltBot to know my Instagram, Facebook, Linkedin, and other social platforms.

    You can easily add your Instagram, LinkedIn, Facebook, and other social handles to a text or custom knowledge source. For various reasons, do not use the URL or Website loader to read your social media content.

  • BoltBot is returning the wrong answer based on what I have in the Knowledge Base.

    Understanding how BoltBot searches and retrieves content is crucial when adding sources to the Element451 Knowledge Base, regardless of the source type. This insight ensures that your content effectively meets the needs of student inquiries.

    • Understanding Semantic Search Across All Sources: BoltBot does not retrieve entire contents but selects segments—chunks—that best match the search query. This process applies to all types of content, be it URLs, custom answers, or text articles. For example, if a student asks about the total number of graduate programs, BoltBot retrieves relevant snippets from the available content, not the whole source.

    • Prioritization of Custom Answers: BoltBot is specifically configured to prioritize custom answers within the knowledge base. This ensures that when specific queries are matched with predefined questions and answers, the most accurate information is presented. For instance, if the anticipated question is, "How many graduate programs do you have?" a custom answer would be configured as: "We offer 10 graduate programs, including programs in X, Y, and Z." This structured approach not only increases the relevance of the response but also ensures that students receive direct and comprehensive information tailored to their inquiries.

    • Example of Search Limitation: If the query is "total number of graduate programs," BoltBot might pull various chunks from across the knowledge base that mention graduate programs. However, it only selects chunks deemed relevant, which may not comprehensively reflect all available programs. For instance, if only four programs are mentioned in the retrieved chunks, BoltBot might incorrectly report that there are only four graduate programs.

    Be sure you are adhering to our Best Practices for Adding Sources.

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