post on his blog today, my friend Allen Stern takes issue with Digg winning the "Best User Generated Content Site" award at Friday night's Crunchies Awards. Allen, who provided the web with excellent live blogged coverage of the event based on the video stream describes the scene online after Digg's win: "The chat room went off on the selection simply because Digg is not a user-generated content site."In
"With Digg, you find a good piece of content, and then submit a link to that story on Digg. That's it. The Digg submitter submits 250 characters to describe the story but 97.85% of the time, the submitter is pulling the description from your story," argues Stern. But he is overlooking one major part of Digg: the comments.
According to Wikipedia (a site Stern specifically cites as an example of UGC), user generated content "refers to various kinds of media content, publicly available, that are produced by end-users." Wikipedia lists discussion boards as a type of UGC site (it even lists Digg as an example of a user generated content web site). Digg's comments act in very much the same way as a discussion board -- encouraging people to comment on news stories, videos, and images (very often leading to more comments than are made on the original source article).
Stern's objection to Digg being a user generated content site seems to focus around the word "content" -- as Stern argues, much of the submitted content is unorginal. But the comments on Digg, no matter how useless some might find them, are original media content provided by the users for publication on Digg -- which is enough to fit the Wikipedia definition, at least (and this is why we might say the comments section on any media site are an example of user generated content). In some cases, Digg provides utility for users to respond to content that doesn't allow commenting at the original source (i.e., many mainstream news articles). These responses qualify as user generated content in my opinion.
But even if you agree with Stern that Digg is light on user generated content (and there is certainly a case to be made there), there is no denying that Digg is a user generated site. Digg has very little -- if any -- editorial oversight, and the content on the site is dictated by users. As the HD DVD crack episode last May showed us, Digg may not have much control over its users do with the site's content at all.
That said, while I think it is fine to call Digg a user generated content site, I see Stern's point. When you say "user generated content" you think of YouTube or Wikipedia before you think of Digg -- i.e., the sites that immediately come to mind are those where there is a major creative element to the content being contributed by users. But if Digg isn't a user generated content site, it is certainly a user something site. So how about this: user managed content site. (You can even drop the word "content" if you'd like.)
What do you think? Is Digg a user generated content site? Let us know in the comments below.