Posts Tagged user

A window on Africa

By Patrick Smith

In vast countries like Nigeria the mainstream press doesn’t always have the kind of penetration into all areas that one might want. With government propaganda added into the mix, it’s often hard to get a picture of what is going on across the country. Citizen journalism can play an important role in plugging this gap. Shutterfeeds aims to do just that.

This is Nigeria’s first user generated photo agency. Covering everything from politics to fashion it has something to offer everyone. People in villages largely cut off from life in the rest of Nigeria are able to tell their stories though that most accessible medium, the photo.

With corruption and propaganda still a big problem in Nigeria Shutterfeeds aims to “decipher what is propaganda and what is not, providing alternative individualistic news sources”. With elections just around the corner the fledgling agency could play an important role in exposing any cases of violence or vote rigging that might arise.

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The downfall of Digg

By Patrick Smith

Digg was for a long time the king of the user generated news world. In recent times however it has seen its number of users fall and on 19 March founder, Kevin Rose, announced his departure.

There are many factors that have contributed to this downturn, but high among them is the adoption of many of Digg’s features by mainstream media. Its influential nature was its very downfall.

Back in 2006 when the site launched, the news agenda was dictated by large media corporations. Nowadays whether a news story goes viral and gets shared by large numbers of people is more important than where it features on a news site’s front page.

The number of shares that a story gets is the equivalent of a Digg ranking and most media companies now put substantial effort into generating this kind of interest in their stories. Nearly all now feature a plethora of share buttons for different platforms.

There have been other things that have contributed to the sites downfall. It has been dogged with criticism and controversy, not least last year’s Digg Patriots scandal. The Guardian revealed how conservatives were organising themselves to systematically clicking “bury” to downgrade stories deemed to have a liberal slant.

Digg is not dead yet but with all commentators predicting its demise it may not be long until its bell tolls.

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User generated content “not journalism”

Patrick Smith

NBC digital chief says videos sent in by viewers is not journalism.

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Harder to post means better to read

Patrick Smith

A drop of 50,000 to 4000 in the number of reader comments might sound disastrous for a news site, but it’s all part of an eastern European paper’s plan to improve the quality of posts.

The most popular news site in the Czech Republic, Novink.cz, was being swamped with comments, often of a low quality and all needing time consuming moderation. Their solution was to make it much harder for users to post.

Anyone wishing to contribute, now needs to apply for a user name that will be sent to them by snail mail. Only then are you allowed to comment, with your name and town displayed. As a result the site has seen the number of page hits rise by a third due to an improvement in the quality of the content.

Other Eastern European sites are leading the way too. Pravda.sk, one of the leading dailies in Slovakia, ask readers to authenticate their identity through SMS.

With user comments always on the up, if western sites want comments to have real value they’re also going to have to think about making it a little harder to post.

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Why do people contribute online?

Emily Fairbairn
What turns a passive reader online into an active participant? What makes them comment on a story or post a photograph? So many of us skim content online but won’t bother to comment, because that requires a  more in-depth level of engagement which we will not necessarily give, in our hurry to click through to the next story.

In her perceptive blog on the BBC College of Journalism website, Claire Wardle attempts to answer the question ‘what makes people send in their stuff?’. Research she did back in 2007 showed that one of the most significant reasons that people did not submit material was that they felt that they “did not know enough to comment or add anything.”
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Revealing Youtube user identity

Patrick Smith

With Youtube this week ordered to hand over the identity of a suspected stalker, will all posters now be held accountable for their ill-thought-out ramblings?

The judge at a New York court ruled recently that the identity of a person posting abusive, stalkerish videos and comments on Youtube had to be revealed, so that legal action could be taken against them.

While this case is about harassment and not libel, it’s bound to open up a can of worms around defamation too. I don’t know about you, but when I post something on a site I haven’t always considered the legal repercussions, and I certainly don’t have a libel lawyer looking over my shoulder.
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