Content Participators, Again

So lately I learned that people have been talking about the content creators/participators/cosumers model already – seems like Bradley Horowitz from Yahoo was the first, outlining this model a year ago (he chose the name “synthesizers” for the people who add content) and Luke Wroblewski added more UI-related discussion of this (he calls them “power participants”. Personally I still haven’t found a term I really like yet). I think Luke sees participators as similar to the desktop “power users”, and therefore explains the potential conflict between simple UI for consumers and the need for more powerful features for participators.

All good stuff and recommended reading. My 2c for this discussion: the word “Casual“. I think many of the post-content is created in a spur-of-moment manner, as in the examples in my first post – leaving a blog comment on a whim, jumping in to correct a piece of information in a Wikipedia entry. Thus I think to one way to encourage participation is to allow a quick, simple way for to add content – for example not requiring a user to create an account (which is why I think CAPTCHA is much preferrable to logins for preventing spam) and, if possible, offering some sort of template when the content created is more complex.

The template bit might require some explanation. The idea is to spare the user from having to figure out how to fill some blank text area. In the comment case it’s easy: you get a field for your name, a field for your email and a text area for your comment. In a Wikipedia article it’s more complex, since you need to describe a certain issue, and you’re not sure where to begin. I think Wikipedia would have been easier to use if they had templates – for example, a template for a country will have sections for “population”, “climate”, “geography” etc. This is obviously not easy in Wikipedia, but can be done in most sites that cover less ground than it does – and to boot you also some meta content for better content retrieval, so you don’t have to rely solely on tags

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