IDT Partners

  • history YouTube
  • YouTube Premium
  • Social impact YouTube
  • about 
  • solutions 
  • careers 
  • User-generated content

    User-generated content (UGC), alternatively known as user-created content (UCC), is any form of content, such as images, videos, text and audio, that have been posted by users on online platforms such as social media and wikis. The term "user-generated content" and the concept it refers to entered mainstream usage in the mid-2000s, having arisen in web publishing and new media content production circles. The BBC adopted a user-generated content platform for its websites in 2005, and TIME Magazine named "You" as the Person of the Year in 2006, referring to the rise in the production of UGC on Web 2.0 platforms. CNN also invested in developed a similar user generated content platform, known as iReport. There are several other examples of news channels implementing similar protocols, especially in the immediate aftermath of a catastrophe or terrorist attack. Social media users are able to provide key eye witness content and information that may otherwise have been inaccessible. Due to new media and technology affordances, such as low cost and low barriers to entry, the Internet is an easy platform to create and dispense user generated content, allowing the dissemination of information at a rapid pace in the wake an event taking place. However, UGC is not solely limited to mainstream news or media.

    The role of the passive audience therefore has shifted since the birth of New Media, and an ever-growing number of participatory users are taking advantage of the interactive opportunities, especially on the Internet to create independent content. Grassroots experimentation then generated an innovation in sounds, artists, techniques and associations with audiences which then are being used in mainstream media. The active, participatory and creative audience is prevailing today with relatively accessible media, tools and applications, and its culture is in turn affecting mass media corporations and global audiences.

    However, a concentration phenomenon is occurring globally giving the dominance to a few online platforms that become popular for some unique features they provide, most commonly for the added privacy they offer users through disappearing messages or end-to-end encryption (e.g. WhatsApp, Snapchat, Signal, and Telegram), but they have tended to occupy niches and to facilitate the exchanges of information that remain rather invisible to larger audiences.

    The BBC set up a user generated content team as a pilot in April 2005 with 3 staff. In the wake of the 7 July 2005 London bombings and the Buncefield oil depot fire, the team was made permanent and was expanded, reflecting the arrival in the mainstream of the citizen journalist. After the Buncefield disaster the BBC received over 5,000 photos from viewers. The BBC does not normally pay for content generated by its viewers.

    The distribution of UGC across the Web provides a high volume data source that is accessible for analysis, and offers utility in enhancing the experiences of end users. Social science research can benefit from having access to the opinions of a population of users, and use this data to make inferences about their traits. Applications in information technology seek to mine end user data to support and improve machine-based processes, such as information retrieval and recommendation. However, processing the high volumes of data offered by UGC necessitate the ability to automatically sort and filter these data points according to their value.

    There are many types of user-generated content: Internet forums, where people talk about different topics; blogs are services where users can post about many topics, product reviews on a supplier website or in social media; wikis such as Wikipedia and Wikia allow users, sometimes including anonymous users, to edit the content. Another type of user-generated content are social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or VK, where users interact with other people chatting, writing messages, or posting images or links. Media hosting sites such as YouTube allow users to post content.

    Video games can have fan-made content in the form of mods, fan patches, fan translations or server emulators. Some games come with level editor programs to aid in their creation. A few massively multiplayer online role-playing games including Star Trek Online and EverQuest 2 have UGC systems integrated into the game itself. A metaverse can be a user-generated world, such as Second Life.

    Wikipedia, a free encyclopedia, is one of the largest user-generated content databases in the world. Platforms such as YouTube have frequently been used as an instructional aide. Organizations such as the Khan Academy and the Green brothers have used the platform to upload series of videos on topics such as math, science, and history to help aid viewers master or better understand the basics. Educational podcasts have also helped in teaching through an audio platform. Personal websites and messaging systems like Yahoo Messenger have also been used to transmit user-generated educational content. There have also been web forums where users give advice to each other.

    The use of user-generated content has been prominent in the efforts of marketing online, especially among millennials. A good reason for this may be that 86% of consumers say authenticity is important when deciding which brands they support, and 60% believe user-generated content is not only the most authentic form of content, but also the most influential when making purchasing decisions.