Community-Edited News and Social Search

Prolific journalist and blogger Mark Glaser takes a detailed look at social media and community-edited news. More specifically, he asks whether the users who do the tagging, reviewing and in some cases editing that fuel some news sites’ notable success (i.e., Digg) should share in the fruits of that success. In other words should they be paid? Longtime blogger and Weblogs founder Jason Calcanis (now with AOL, leading Netscape’s comeback) thinks so. Digg CEO and Cofounder Jay Adelson doesn’t. An interesting read.

This applies in some ways to social search Web sites such as Insider Pages, Judy’s Book and Yelp that utilize user participation to populate their sites with value-added ratings, reviews and commentary. This can be a valuable source of trusted content, but stimulating user participation has been a challenge. Like Digg, some social search sites have incented user participation by giving them an online identity and a place to have a local voice that is set around the reviews that they create. Insider Pages has also come up with interesting ways to stimulate community interaction. This is an interesting model that gains a virtually free source of trusted content on local businesses, given that professional reviews have proved to be a major expense for local sites that have attempted to provide them (i.e., Citysearch).

One downside, however, is that until user participation reaches a certain level in a given geography, reviews can be sparse and inconsistent across the entirety of business listings in that area. Similarly, applying this model across different geographies with different overall proclivities for social media (i.e., San Francisco vs. Omaha) can create challenges. Motivating these reviews is therefore an important challenge for social search sites. We'll explore this challenge and others, and survey the social search space in an upcoming report.

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