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User-Generated Content in the Internet

The term was first used or came to prominence in 2004 by Dale Dougherty of the US publishing company. The term has been defined in many ways. Rob Brown captures this well. Therefore, I will quote him here: “It can be described simply as the version of the web that is open to ordinary users and where they can add their content. It refers to the sites and spaces on the internet where users can put words, pictures, sounds and videos. It is a very simple idea in theory.

In practice, it signifies the transfer of control of the internet, and ultimately the central platform for communication, from the few to the many. It is the democratization of the internet.” (Brown, 2009, p.1-2).

User-Generated Content (UGC)

As the name suggests, it includes all media content created by end-users on social media platforms or publicly, instead of the content from corporate bodies. UGC include audio like podcast and music, video like YouTube, text like wikis, blogs, and graphics (images and pictures) like Flickr.

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There are three requirements for any content to be considered UGC. First of all, it needs to be published on a publicly accessible website or on a social networking site accessible to a particular set of people. Secondly, it needs to demonstrate a reasonable creative effort; and thirdly, it needs to be created independently of professional periods and practices. (OECD, 2007)

Sajithra and Patil (2013) suggest ten components of social media, namely:

  1. Social Networking
  2. Microblogs
  3. Blogs
  4. RSS Feeds
  5. Widgets
  6. Linking and posting
  7. Content Rating
  8. Bookmarking sites
  9. Audio podcasting
  10. Video podcasting

Types/classifications of Social Media

This paper explained the six classifications of social media as suggested by (Kaplan & Haenlein, 2009) and the OECD (2007).

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The six categories according to Kaplan and Haenlein (2009) are collaborative projects, blogs, content communities, social networking sites, virtual game worlds, and virtual social worlds.

Collaborative Projects

Collaborative projects are platforms that give the avenue for huge number of users to jointly create content at the same time. In other words, it is a collaborative end-users content creation platform. The main principle here is the idea that there is strength in numbers and potential to minimize mistakes (in the case of wikis). Here a distinction must be made between “Wikis and other text-based collaboration formats”, which is a website that permits users to add, remove, and then edit and change mostly text content collectively, and Group-Based Aggregation and social bookmarking, which allows group-collection of links to internet articles or media content and then rate them.

Collaborative projects perhaps are the best representation of UGC democratization. Notable examples include free online encyclopedia Wikipedia, Writely (by Google), Writeboard and social bookmarking website Digg and (Kaplan & Haenlein, 2009; OECD, 2007).


As pointed out earlier the word “blog” is a contraction of “weblog”. A blog is defined as “a type of webpage usually displaying date-stamped entries in reverse chronological order” (Gill, 2004; OECD, 2006b). Blogs have a title, mostly have a date stamp and usually allow comments and are the earliest form of social media as indicated earlier. They are updated at a frequent interval and may comprise of text, images, audio, video, or a blend. Although blogs are usually run by an individual, many organizations use it to share and/or deliver information to their stakeholders. Examples include WordPress, Blogger, Nucleus CMS and Movable-type. It is said that there are over 200 million blogs in existence.

Content Communities

Content communities allow the sharing of online multimedia content among users. There are various forms, comprising audio/music (Podcast like iTunes, FeedBurner, Sound Cloud, and @Podder) text (e.g., BookCrossing, where over 1,891,000 memberships from over 130 countries share books), pictures (e.g., Instagram, Picasa, Flickr, GigaPan), videos (e.g. Vimeo, YouTube), and presentations (e.g., Slideshare, VoiceThread, 50+ Web Tools). Content communities do not require users to create a personal profile page, with some instances where basic information such as the date of initial membership and the number of media content shared.

Social Networking Sites (SNS)

SNS allows members to connect to friends and colleagues, to send emails and instant messages among themselves, to blog, to meet new people and to post personal profiles with information about them. The personal profiles can comprise of photos, video files, images, audio, and blogs. Examples of SNS include Facebook, which is the largest, MySpace, WhatsApp, QQ, WeChat, Q-Zone, Tumblr, Instagram, Twitter among others. SNS is particularly popular among young internet users. Not surprisingly, SNS is also popular among organizations that use it to support the creation of brand communities (Muniz & O’Guinn, 2001) or for marketing research in the context of netnography (Kozinets, 2002).

Virtual Game Worlds

Virtual worlds comprise of online game-like platforms that duplicate a 3D environment in which users subscribe. Users can appear in the form of personalized avatars and engage with each other as they would in real life. Kaplan & Haenlein (2009) suggest that Virtual game worlds are the epitome display of social media because they offer the highest level of social presence and media richness compared to collaborative projects, blogs, content communities, and social networking sites (SNS). In addition, Virtual game worlds are in two categories; it first requires users to abide by the stringent guidelines in relation to a massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG). Examples of this include Microsoft’s X-Box, World of Warcraft, Sony’s EverQuest and Sony’s Play Station. They serve as channels for in-game advertising (product placement). The second category of virtual worlds are explained below.

Virtual Social Worlds

This second form of virtual game worlds, called virtual social worlds enables users to select their behavior more freely and practically live a virtual life similar to everything done in real life. Unlike the virtual game worlds, there are no rules restricting how users interact between themselves, except the basic ones like the physical laws of nature. Examples of virtual social worlds include Active Worlds, Entropia Universe Second Life, and Dotsoul Cyberpark which allows users to build objects with the opportunity to have an associated intellectual property right.

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Cite this page

User-Generated Content in the Internet. (2019, Nov 30). Retrieved from

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