Thursday, October 12, 2006

Community skills

Lots of post and comments recently about online community, I've certainly written a couple of posts about user-generated content and it was a big part of the Guardian Media Group chief executive Carolyn McCall's AOP speech.

One of the issues it throws up is the skills that are required by publishers to monitor and run all of these new community projects, particularly blogs and other types of users generated content.

The blagging blogger, in the celeb thread below (?!) has posted on this and it's worth starting a thread of its own:

"The online community is really beginning to drive the agenda isn't it? Having said that there does appear to be a skills gap out there. Witness Kevin Anderson, new head of blogging at The Guardian's email to staff:

"We need someone with basic online community experience to help us for a couple of weeks go through the threads at Comment is Free and monitor comments for libel and violations of our talk policy. Right now, we can guarantee two weeks of work, but there might be scope for ongoing work. References required..."

These are issues we're currently looking at on Brand Republic. As part of the relaunch we're going to be posting lots of user-generated content, which all needs to be looked at. And to service that we're hiring a community editor as one of the key members or our new expanded team. It's a big job, but a new and no traditionalist area of journalism, which could in a few years be commonplace.

At the recent AOP conference a speaker from CNET, Tom Bureau, managing director, spoke about the vast amount of UGC they were getting and the systems that had been put in place (you could only post after being a member for so long and good posters were rewarded), which goes someway to answering the problem.

But as the Kevin Anderson comment above shows it’s a huge problem and it only takes a little slip (a big slip will work also) to get through to open you up, which means ideally that everything that is published has to be checked once and anything even vaguely smelling of trouble is flagged for more senior eyes.

Part of the key to this is laying down a strict set to rules and one of these rules is avoid talking about individuals where possible (tough for Comment is Free to do), but easier for us maybe although still very challenging.

UPDATE: Obviously good timing to have this post. Yesterday a Florida woman has been awarded $11.3m after she was libelled online.

The award, believed to be the largest verdict of it sort relating to individual postings on bulletin boards or blogs, was handed down by a jury in Broward County, Florida, against a woman from Louisiana. The sum included $5m (£2.7m) in punitive damages

While British judges can't pump up court payouts with punitive damages it's worth remembering this when considering the mass of UGC posts and comments.

According to a report in the Guardian With almost two new blogs created every second, and 1.6m postings each day, said the San Francisco site Technorati, the mass of unmediated comment from individuals is changing the face of media law.

"This is a growing trend because of the exponential growth in the number of people publishing on the internet who do not have the training or oversight of traditional hardcopy publishers," said Dave Heller, a lawyer with the New York-based Media Law Resource Center which monitors legal actions arising from the web.

Craig Delsack, a media lawyer in Manhattan, said that many bloggers were publishing first, thinking later: "People are thinking they can say what they want but they don't realise the long-lasting implications of what they write and that they can be held accountable. Posting is not like having a conversation in the bedroom with your boyfriend."


At 12:46 PM, Anonymous UGC Issues said...

do you think that we could get to the stage where media owners are paying for the top suppliers of UGC?

We've seen this on TV with payments to members of the public for video footage (such as the capture of the failed tube bombers in London on ITV)so could you see this transfered online in a blogging environment?

At 1:01 PM, Anonymous confused from devon said...

With such ease to comment, how can you keep your site focused on Marcoms? if your users start talking about things like football or cheese tasting can you still call yourself the UK's largest Marketing website? or is this the whole point of web 2.0?

At 1:29 PM, Blogger Gordon said...

re UGC issues - definitely 'rewards'. It might be monetary, depending, but it could be other forms of status. The CNET guy talked about promoting their top users (giving them profile).

For instance if you were running a music section of a sight and you were getting people to review, you are providing them career opporunities to some degree. so there is a impetus to do a good job and stick to the rules.

But if the money is there paying for good UGC (in the same way papers pay for news tips) is a definite.

Re keeping focused, all good sites should have community areas where members of that community can go off topic.

we'll definitely be putting up areas in our new forums where you can talk football or cheese (?!).

The point there is you get to talk football with people in the same business of you. it could be seen as another form of networking.

you might for instance form a marcoms football group.

Or like softball - it is a big industry thing (the ad league) so you might well have groups along that basis as well.

At 3:33 PM, Anonymous chris moyles said...

football, cheese or...rosamund pike?

this blog is like the terry wogan radio show. it's all about the irreverent banter!

At 3:59 PM, Anonymous Anna Gram. said...

God are you guys sure? Online isn't about censorship it's about freedom. Radical ideas should be allowed to thrive online. Do we seriously believe this blog would be better if all comments were seriously moderated? Down with censorship! Online should not, will not be beaten down by dinosaurs from old media, obsessed with controlling content. No one, whether they be Rupert Murdoch or Michael Hesletine should stop freedom of speech.

Not that all of the content on this blog is good. Obviously most of it is...Only some of the comments are silly. Now and then though it's good for us all to have a giggle. Eventually I imagine we'll all be censored.

Rosamund Pike appears to be a regular topic of discussion here. Everyone appears to love her. And yet she's nothing to do with advertising or marketing. Does that matter though really? Surely the fact we're on BR lets you all know we're in the industry?

To summarise: Had you censored the comments on Pike we'd all be worse off. I know I'm not the only person who loves letting off steam on this blog. Sometimes i comment on the stories, sometimes not.

But enough about me. Let's talk about mediaweek television. Originally thought this was a bad idea, now though I'm thinking it could be interesting. God whatever next!

At 4:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

there's too many 'd's in that but good effort nonetheless

At 4:05 PM, Anonymous west end boy said...

so it's the first letter of each sentence right? There's one mistake

At 4:26 PM, Anonymous Anna's Gran said...

Gosh people really care about relevancy these days. Or don't they? Obviously they are just trying to vent because they wish they had the witt to banter freely online. Don't we think that censoring something to be "marcomms focused" limits the possibilities of free and open communication?

Frankly I think we spend too much time worrying about propriety. Unless you're dead (or a Tory), it's fun to let loose once in awhile without the pressure of other people's watchful and scrutinising opinion. National censorship on something as harmless as a marcomms blog site would be a shame-- just enjoy it.

At 4:27 PM, Anonymous on the brink. said...

Interesting comment from anna. How much work did that take? Advertising seems to be becoming more invasive these days, is this anagram habit a sign of things to come? Very worrying if it is. Even though i love a good joke this is too much. And no, i'm not joking.

Most people in this industry are hard working. Alright some are cokeheads but most are hard working decent people. Some might not see the wood for the treets but our work really matters. To me, advertising is actually art. Even if it's sometimes bad art. Really, it's art and literarture, both images and words combinging in a magical way.

Synergetic? Do we really need to use such words? Executives in this industry love to use words like that. Get over yourselves i say! Really this industry talks a load of bollocks sometimes. Even I sometimes forget that. Even I sometimes get caught up in this madness.

What's it all about though really? Having worked hard for years now I still find myself crying at three in the morning, wondering what the hell i've done with my life. You know what, that's the first time i ever admitted to that.

Alright so i'm having a bit of a breakdown. Maybe i shouldn't admit it here. Is this wrong of me?

In the end time will be my judge. Not that I have any more time to waste. Something tells me my bosses won't let me stick around to find out. Alright I'll leave. Let me walk out with my dignity still intact. Everybody hurts. Sometimes.

At 4:41 PM, Anonymous A friend in need said...

Hold on a sec, here. Are you really telling me that you choose to have a breakdown on an online blog? Perhaps you’re taking everything a little seriously. Please, just go get some fresh air and get a cup of coffee. You know you can get everything into perspective again.

Brink—can I call you brink? I work in the same industry as you, and I know how hard it can be to realise that we are duping innocent people into getting rid of money that they earn through hard work. Right now, capitalism seems a cruel and unstoppable force. That said, there are a lot of good things in the world, and I would even venture to say that the wheels of advertising help those good things thrive. Have you enjoyed some of the art and culture of our capital city? Do you spend some time walking through the plethora of gardens and open spaces that we have on our doorsteps? A life is not measured by a job; no, life is what you make it. You can also quit—there’s other jobs.

At 11:07 AM, Blogger kenobi said...

Who cares what the blogs discuss.

The ad sales team can sell on the fact that thousands of people are engaging with their brand and using their platform to have fun / chat. Bums on seats count.

At 10:21 AM, Anonymous Vader said...

Is Kenobi a journo? Clearly the point being made is that if the blog discussion isn't relevant then traffic to the site will be low and thus it'll be almost impossible to sell on. It's hard enough to sell as it is without fuckwit journos rambling on about totally irrelevant bollocks all day.


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