29th April 2007

Reuters missing the point on web 2.0 participation rates

posted in Uncategorized |

Recently Reuters wrote about a study that claimed, among other things, that:

Web 2.0, a catchphrase for the latest generation of Web sites where users contribute their own text, pictures and video content, is far less participatory than commonly assumed, a study showed on Tuesday.

According the the article, this position was defending based on the following:

  • .16% of visitors upload videos
  • .20% of visitors upload photos
  • 4.6% of Wikipedia visitors edit content

This is just another weak article looking to gather eyeballs about the latest trend: social networking (I guess it worked, I looked at it).  Now, I am in the camp of believing there is a big social networking bubble building (maybe more on this later), but I hardly go along with the point of this article and associated study. 

In my view it misses the point of what user participation is all about.  There is a continuum of contribution types from thick to thin that all bring value to the participative web.  So, what is User Generated  / participation?

  • Video uploads? and or the ratings they receive?
  • Photo uploads? and or the ratings they receive?
  • Q/A pairs in forums and newsgroups?
  • Digg votes?
  • User reviews in Amazon?
  • Votes in Dell ideastorm?
  • Blog posts?  Blog comments?
  • Bookmarking in delicious?
  • etc…

I’m in the “it is all of these things camp”…and more.  This article essentially looks only at what I would call “thick” or heavy content contributors.  I believe the value of the “thin” contributor to community is dramatically under-appreciated by community developers/hosters/strategists - and now by researchers.  More people (maybe me included) authoring and talking about the same topics…or more users asking and answering the same questions in communities brings rapidly diminishing value to the overall community.  Over time, the fairly easy contribution of tagging and rating arguably brings the greatest value (think Tag Drafting).  It seems that today the thick community contributors get all the props!  Well, it’s high time props go to the thin contributors!!! 

Keep of the great work tagger’s, rankers, raters, voters, etc….


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      This entry was posted on Sunday, April 29th, 2007 at 10:31 am and is filed under Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

      There are currently 5 responses to “Reuters missing the point on web 2.0 participation rates”

      Why not let us know what you think by adding your own comment! Your opinion is as valid as anyone elses, so come on... let us know what you think.

      1. 1 On April 29th, 2007, Howard said:

        I’m surprised that 4.6% of people edit Wikipedia content. As that seems much more labor intensive than uploading content to Flickr or Youtube.

      2. 2 On November 16th, 2007, Lessons from a "Blog Post gone wild…" : Community Group Therapy said:

        […] community contributors:  I once blogged here about thick vs thin community contributors.  Digg proved their example from the previous post.  Prolific "Diggers" are the […]

      3. 3 On July 17th, 2008, Ned said:

        I agree completely that these numbers distort true participateion of the thin sort.

        Have you ever seen any participation rates for thin contributors, e.g., rating in Netflix or YouTube?


      4. 4 On July 19th, 2008, Sean said:

        Thansk for the comment Ned. Around this same time this came out which I think is decent: http://blogs.forrester.com/charleneli/2007/04/forresters_new_.html

        I like the descriptions…though the metaphore is poor in my opinion. The ladder visual might suggest some things that aren’t true…for example:
        People are likely in more than one place on the ladder - large overlaps.
        There is not a progression/climbing so to speak.


      5. 5 On July 22nd, 2008, Ned said:

        Thanks much Sean. Very helpful.

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