Derek on the term UGC

One of the rock stars of the online community world, Derek Powazek (author of Design for Community) comments on the term User Generated Content:

Can I make a suggestion? Let’s all stop using the phrase "user-generated content." I’m serious. It’s a despicable, terrible term. Let’s deconstruct it.

User: One who uses. Like, you know, a junkie.

Generated: Like a generator, engine. Like, you know, a robot.

Content: Something that fills a box. Like, you know, packing peanuts.

So what’s user-generated content? Junkies robotically filling boxes with packing peanuts. Lovely.

Full read is great, as always. I’m not sure I completely agree, but it’s an interesting discussion. Ben also weighs in on the discussion.

I do think that whatever term is used to more easily describe user participation in marketing activities will end up turning into a "traditional marketing" concept. Marketers are still basically in the mindset that it’s about getting your message out to as many people as humanly possible, rather than focusing on those who really make a difference whether one or one thousand or one hundred thousand. UGC concepts seem to be primarily focused on retooling the mass market mindset for mass market + user participation. Just looking at some of the entries on the User Generated blog clearly shows that.

And then of course there’s the issue of the ability for users to post anything they want (good or bad) vs. the needs of the brand to remain positive on the product/service. More on that later.

(As a related side note, one of my several fanboy moments at SXSW a few weeks back was getting to finally meet Derek in person. Great guy!)


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