The Cesspool of User Generated Content

Greg Linden of Findory has an interesting, funny, and nail hitting take on the future of user generated content. In it he says…

Now, many are building their own playgrounds for community-generated content, miniature versions of the World Wide Web. As the experience of the Web shows, we cannot expect the crowds to selflessly combine their skills and knowledge to deliver wisdom, not once the sites attract the mainstream. Profit motive combined with indifference will swamp the good under a pool of muck. To survive, the goal will have to shift from gathering content to uncovering good content.

The experience of the World Wide Web as a whole should serve as a lesson to those building the next generation of community-powered websites. At scale, it is no longer about aggregating knowledge, it is about filtering crap. We need seek the signal in the noise and pull the wisdom from the din.

How true. Even on a relatively small site like Performancing admins spend more time removing dross than writing themselves. Im quite fond of the Digg style of user votes, but ultimately im not certain if those models of content aggregation are sustainable.

A good candidate for quote of the day I think eh?

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15 thoughts on “The Cesspool of User Generated Content

  1. Oh well, in a certain way all the listed filters are somehow ‘human’. At least the activities are triggered by human beings.

    Above I have already said: “I love UGC when there is some kind of editorial workflow/filter with a valuable feedback installed.”

  2. Give me a ranking (and explanation) which factors you find most useful for filtering good from crap?!

    #1 – Human

  3. back to subject … How will good content be filtered in user generated content context (one or n contributors)? What are the expectations and what are the technical possibilities?

    I don’t think that one- or two-factor (clicks, most recent) sites will survive. The approach to filter the content is simply too flat. I think it would be great for every blog (= product catalog) if a multi-factor ranking is embedded in the system to give readers (= clients) a chance to dig the best from THEIR point of view.

    Embedded cluster search could help. Good and sometimes very helpful is Clusty (link to an example) when searching for fuzzy subjects.

    Other approaches: hits, visitors, page impressions, inbound links, outbound traffic, user-, visitor-, author-ranking, keywords, tag clouds

    Give me a ranking (and explanation) which factors you find most useful for filtering good from crap?!

  4. Thanks for the prompt explanation Nick. I have no shortage of ideas, just a shortage of time. Can you run some of that past me (more time) Nick? 😉

  5. >>blog

    yep, definately. and i’d love to see something more from you on here, it’s be most welcome. you can also email me nick@perf to run ideas past me if you have any questions TDavid


    Just an experiment really. users gain points for contributing to the site, i’ve not written about it, cos part of the experiment was to just see if anyone noticed, and if it affected member contributions with no announcement or explanation hah..

    i’ll either write it up or remove it shortly though..

  6. LOL, I guess the “Helping bloggers succeed” part in the masthead isn’t obvious enough. You guys are doing a great job moderating this site because I don’t think I’ve ever seen an off-topic article here. Thanks for the hard work and dedication.

    I’d like to contribute something here again soon, it’s been awhile. Perhaps this is just me, but what’s the best way to submit new articles these days? Just use our own performancing blogs here? The FAQ says that’s the way to go.

    And what’s the story with these points in the sidebar? I did a search for that but I’ve not found an explanation for them yet. Maybe you guys could put a ‘?’ next to the points with a link to what the points mean and are for, if anything?

    Thanks again and keep up the good work.

  7. Mostly people just gettng the wrong idea on the subject matter at performancing. But religios/political rants, automated junk spam, commercial ads and all sorts of weird stuff gets posted here on a daily basis.

    Most of it gets removed really quickly, as at least during euro hours chris or i are usually not far away, but sometimes over the weekend it can stay on the site for a while..

  8. Nick, did I miss something here: “… admins spend more time removing dross than writing themselves.” From where? Comments? Forums? Off topic articles/posts?

  9. I think Wikipedia is great – talking about the German part.

    I hate user generated content (UGC) when it becomes some kind of web n.0 cost effectiveness plan of the big media and publishing houses. Some newspaper publishers know that they have to do something in the Internet but the only thing some of them did was to create public blog like pages where everybody can write about everything. They don’t pay for it, get bad content and after a while close the whole thing because they don’t get any revenue.

    I hate UGC when it is lifted to the top by stupid automatic mechanisms. Digg is a good example for a bad one factor decision (clicks). I don’t visit Digg anymore.

    I love UGC when it is lifted to the top by clever automatic mechanisms. I am not sure if Flickr is feeding the interestingness explorer automatically but they have so many competitive factors to choose from that it is no problem to create great pages.

    I love UGC when there is some kind of editorial workflow/filter with a valuable feedback installed.

  10. Wikipedia has never impressed; like so many online communities, it springs out of the ground to great promise, but it seems as if the “yahoo factor” inevitably emerges. Anonymous is as anonymous does…

    I have conflicting views of Diggs. It’s an interesting user-controlled filtering site, but you have to wonder how long it is before special interest groups quietly flood it en masse with the goal of biasing the results.

    Lacking a better idea, I still believe the “quality content” model will involve linked chains of trusted small content generators (blogs/narrowly defined communities).

  11. I think a better model might be found on the DailyKos site, where users identify the best user-generated content with their votes. Still, it’s important to note that Kos is not MySpace; there is a core of skilled content generators attracting the users.

    Frankly, I see more promise in the Diggs model, where community content generation is replaced by community content filtering. But then, the profit motive invades that too…

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