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It’s no secret that I am passionate about user comments on news stories. I am an advocate for user-generated content and building online communities. I take every opportunity I find to comment on blogs about comments.

I believe I will continue to do that for quite some time. At least five years. Well, maybe two. We’ll just have to see what happens after that. In an ideal world, most news organizations will have realized that they need to embrace comments and hire the staff to manage them by then. If that happens, I will have to find another soap box, but that’s okay. I’m sure I will.

Providing the community with a platform is the ultimate community service, in my opinion, and it’s an important and highly valuable service. It just has to be managed. Set your expectations ans uphold them. Create a community standard! It’s not that hard.

So if you see a post about comments, or you write a post about comments within the next two years, send me the URL so I can add my two-cents. Or, just leave it in the comments area below.

There is a great deal of talk about user-submitted comments on news stories taking place all over the blogosphere. Some say nix them, like that Gawker piece that annoyed me to no end. Others say don’t. Some say they are of immense value, and I tend to agree.

People want to share their thoughts and engage with others. That’s what this social media thing is about right? So how can you actively promote social media, and the benefits of starting a dialog, or consider yourself any kind of “community servant” and discount user-comments? Think about it.
It just doesn’t make sense.

I’ve seen some of the most intricate, thought-provoking comments on news stories. I’ve seen exchanges between the community that command attention and that would easily stand alone as an individual blog.
On the flip side, I’ve also seen some of the most unbelievably crude comments riddled with so much hate that it made my skin crawl.
So the answer is this. If you value comments, as you should…KEEP THEM.
But clean them up.
This is an area that newspapers or any news organization can easily get a handle on.
Hire moderators. Elevate the conversation and show the community that you want to provide an outlet and positive experience.
Maybe it’s me, but this really isn’t rocket science. It’s simply innovation.

If you’re looking for an easy way to get your community members talking, write a quick blog complaining about an issue in your life and they will quickly commiserate. It’s human nature. Throw out a topic and let them run with it. Keep in mind though, that it It has to be something they can relate to, so don’t go on and on about something that matters only to you and expect people to care enough to jump on board.

Were you stuck in traffic this morning? If so, you weren’t the only one. Complain about that, and stories of individual traffic woes will follow. Trust me. l did it just today in my editor’s blog.

My complaint of choice? Gas prices. Who doesn’t want to complain about that?

Try it. Everyone can stand a little free commiseration. And do come back and share your success story.

Managing user-generated content can be tough, and weeding through it looking for the best can be a daunting task. But maybe that’s not your issue. Maybe it’s integration and getting the traditionalists to get on board. Do tell. What’s your biggest issue?

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This is a personal blog. The opinions expressed here represent my own and not those of my employer. Feel free to challenge me, disagree with me, or tell me I’m completely nuts in the comments section of each blog entry.

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