Is user-generation a myth ?

27Sep09

User generated content seemed to be something we take for granted as “content generated by users” . But is this really true ?  Few would dispute that less than 1% of visitors are actually generate content in most user-generated sites. Does this mean that about 1% of “ordinary visitors” generate content ?

Our experience is that this is untrue. Users do not generate content – enthusiast do.  Online content generation seem to be a direct product of:

  • Lowering of barriers to entry (eg. digital photography and vediography)
  • Availability of forums in which content is cricked and appreciated and sometimes monetized
  • New and niche content  opportunities

But the content creators are not users. Neither are they professionals. They are a  new category of people whose interest and expressive ability is being enabled by the web.

User generated forums have become welcoming places for those who harbor pet ambitions that were not fulfilled through their professional or carrier choices.  Very often they are self taught and self motivated. They are now being referred to as semi-professionals.

It is therefore, extremely misleading to call content generated by them – user generated content – as it implies that normal users generated content, which is not the case.  Its this extremely small, yet dedicated and passionate group of people who are creating content -not users.

User Generated Content may be then just a social network based  online content sourcing activity attracting a new breed of content creators.

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3 Responses to “Is user-generation a myth ?”

  1. 1 JL

    Great article, Sivam. Interesting insights and rings close to what experts are beginning to realized after spending a great deal of effort chasing after the elusive ‘Joe the Contributor’. Not just in the realm of designs, in fact, as Forbes just had an article not long since your article about how the ‘virtuosos’ and ‘obsessed individuals’ are driving the crowdsourcing and open source movements : http://www.forbes.com/2009/09/28/crowdsourcing-enterprise-innovation-technology-cio-network-jargonspy.html

  2. Thanks, its a very interesting article. Here is another one questions some of the key concepts behind user-participation.

    http://blog.p2pfoundation.net/the-cooptation-of-user-participation/2009/09/29


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