User-generated content is defined by Wikipedia as “on-line content that is produced by users of websites as opposed to traditional media producers such as broadcasters and production companies.” If you’ve been at all involved in interactive marketing over the past year you’re no doubt knee deep in articles and opinions praising user-generated content. And I do believe that there has been a fundamental shift in the way the web is used today – users expect to be able to interact with other users on the web, create their own content and respond to other users’ content. And there’s no going back (thankfully). But sometimes user-generated content just isn’t as good as content produced by professionals.
Case in point, one of my favorite websites is The Onion. If you haven’t seen The Onion, you’re missing hilarious parody news stories like:
Great stuff. The Onion is produced by professional writers and they won’t even accept submissions from the general public. If you want to write a story for The Onion, well you better submit a resume and work there full time.
I recently read about a new website on one of my favorite blogs (HipMojo.com) that is attempting to be The Onion in the new world of user-generated content. It’s called Uncyclopedia. Essentially it’s a place where users can write their own content and stories (a mix between Wikipedia and The Onion really). While the idea is interesting and certainly there is a need for it, the stories just aren’t as funny as The Onion. And if there’s one thing we’ve learned, if the content isn’t good then there’s really nothing you can do to keep users coming. For example, a few of their headlines are:
While those stories are slightly humorous, they really don’t hold a candle to The Onion, which puts out quality content on a weekly basis. So while I’m a big believer in user-generated content, we’re still living in a world where content is king and that’s not going to change anytime soon.