Online revolution is often referred to as “Web 2.0”, “New Media”, “we media” or “social media.” While much of this “user-generated content” is being created by young people who’ve grown up surrounded by digital tools, they certainly don’t have a monopoly on the concept.
According to the Pew Internet Project, approximately 48 million Americans have posted content to the Internet, from family photos to blogs to YouTube videos. And it’s not just the well-off or well-educated that are doing it.
High-speed Internet access has become more affordable, while digital production tools are easier to use than ever before. New platforms allowing people to post content online using telephones have opened up user-generated content to an even larger audience. This has translated into a democratization of online content. The Pew research even suggests that lower-income users and people with limited education posting content online in numbers on par with their well-off, better educated peers.
As social media has become ubiquitous, it’s also begun to make some professional content producers nervous. User-generated content is generally of lower production quality than professional content, and is sometimes anonymous or of questionable value. One only needs to spend a few minutes surfing around YouTube to get a sense of the wide range of quality, with much of it being on the lower end of the scale.
Having said that, quality content does rise to the top, usually through one of two methods. Some sites employ a gatekeeper model in which website managers review and vet content before it’s posted, preventing inappropriate content from appearing on the site. Others use a model in which the online community is given access to all content, rating and reviewing it so the best content rises to the top.
Managing User Generated Content
While the majority of people submitting content will have the best intentions, sometimes they may do things that should raise flags. In other cases, people might try to use this as an opportunity to air grievances or cause trouble, so it’s necessary to be on the lookout for content that’s inappropriate for public consumption.
First, there’s the question of who should be reviewing the content. At minimum, web site owner should have peronaly review materials and all post before publishing. Need to make sure that “auto post”, “post without moderations” turned off. No post should be published without moderatin.
It’s necessary to have someone with strong editorial judgment, who can identify the potential pitfalls of a given piece of user content, and pay attention to the details of the stories being shared.
For larger web site, whoever is tasked with reviewing the user content will probably need some assistance, whether from other staff or interns. In either case, these teams must be trained to recognize certain red flags, so user content is scrutinized appropriately before being published publicly.
Managing Different Media Types
Blos and forums owners migh be delaing with three different types of content from the public: audio, text and photos. Each of these media types have their own specific issues that should be discussed.
Audio types of content.
Since users will be submitting their audio over the phone, you shouldn’t expect the sound quality to be stellar. Having said that, there are ways you can help members of the public to submit audio that’s as useful as possible.
It’s recommended that you publish basic guidelines on your site, such as the following:
Use your home phone rather than a mobile phone, because the audio quality is better;
Try to find a quiet place to make the call;
Don’t play any music while you’re talking;
Avoid using obscenities in your story;
Please stick to stories about your own personal experiences during the war;
If you have multiple stories, please submit them separately;
If there’s a maximum time limit, be sure to inform users.
Text and photos types of content.
Along with looking out for the aforementioned concerns, you
should emphasize the importance of submitting original works rather than stories from other sources. The concern is that a user might take a war story or image they’ve found elsewhere and submit it. Even if they give appropriate credit to the author, there are serious copyright concerns, as you would have to get written permission from the owner of the material to republish it. With that being the case, you need to make it clear to users that they can only submit their own content, and under no circumstances should they copy and paste materials from other sources.
For text entries, you can always copy and paste sections of a particular submission into a search engine like Google to see if it’s been published online. Another useful tool is the search engine a9.com, which also allows you to search the text of books sold by Amazon.com. This functionality is particularly powerful since it can help you identify text that’s been lifted from published materials.
Unfortunately, there isn’t a photo search tool that allows you to search for identical copies of the same photo.
Once again, though, search engines can help. Yahoo.com, flickr.com, google.com and altavista.com, just to name a few, all allow you to conduct image searches. So if a person submits a photo supposedly from Berlin, you can search and see if it’s been copied off the Internet. Even searching for generic terms like “Classic Music” will show you a list of the most popular photos for this topic, and you can familiarize yourself with some of them to recognize possible copyright infringements.
Remember, there’s no way to prevent copyright infringement 100%. The key thing is for you to make a good-faith effort. If a copyright holder ever contacts you and claims their copyright has been violated, the best thing to do is to take the content down immediately until the issue can be resolved. Usually the act of taking it down will satisfy copyright holders.