Wikipedia is one of the world's most popular websites and, in the eyes of some, was largely responsible for the demise of Encyclopaedia Britannica.
The good news for publishers: the market for encyclopedias is relatively small, so Wikipedia's popularity has had a relatively limited commercial impact.
The bad news for players in the travel space: the Wikimedia Foundation's entry into online travel may have broader commercial implications.
Last September, Google acquired Zagat, a company that built a world-famous brand around printed restaurant guides.
Thanks to the internet and the rise of user-generated reviews sites like Yelp, Zagat like so many other print publishers had seen a stunning reversal of fortunes before Google swooped in to buy it.
Social media and Web 2.0 (a term that, incidentally, we don't hear much of anymore) were supposed to make the internet a more democratic place. On today's internet, just about everybody has a printing press, and the little guy has equal opportunity to distribute a message. The best, we're often told, will rise to the top.
Of course, anyone who is involved with user-generated content and the popular web services through which user-generated content is shared and promoted, eventually learns that the internet isn't as democratic as it's supposed to be.
Have a pressing question? Need an answer? Chances are you'll
turn to your friends and family, but doing so isn't always easy. Time
and distance often separate us from the people we know, and sometimes a
second or third opinion is needed.
So what's the solution? If the company has its way, the answer to that
question is Facebook. Yesterday, the world's largest social network
announced that its much-anticipated product, Facebook Questions, has
entered beta and is being released to a growing number of Facebook
The iPad? Hot. Social media? Hot. Magazines? Not so hot.
What do you get, however, when you put them all together? One startup is trying to find out, and some notable venture capitalists and angel investors were eager enough to pony up $10m to help it.
For many online publishers, user-generated content is often created
through commenting systems that allow users to engage in discussion
around a publisher's content. In many cases, these user-generated
comments are more interesting than the content they are in response to.
That's a boon to publishers.
But comments can be problematic. Trolls and spammers, often anonymous,
can wreak havoc and turn a friendly experience into an experience
plagued by hate and vitriol.
On Wednesday, an Italian court convicted three Google executives. Their crime? Google failed, in the eyes of the prosecutor, to pull down a video uploaded to Google Video.
The video, which showed several students in Turin bullying a classmate with Autism, resulted in 10 months of community service for the uploader. But because Google 'allowed' the video to be uploaded in the first place, an Italian prosecutor chose to charge four Google executives for criminal defamation and the violation of Italian privacy laws.
When you delete a photo that you had uploaded to a social network, what happens?
You might expect that it's deleted. After all, why would Facebook, for instance, want to store that old photo of you and Aunt Hilda any longer than it has to? Even you don't want that photo.
Make no doubt about it, social commerce is a reality online. From online reviews to cutting-edge social media experiments, user-generated content is playing an increasingly important role amongst businesses that sell and market online.
Bazaarvoice is a provider of social commerce technology and services. We spoke with Sam Decker, the company's Chief Marketing Officer, about the state of the market and how companies can make use of user-generated content to benefit their businesses.
Last week, we reported on Encyclopaedia Britannica's pending changes to Britannica.com that would enable users to contribute content to the Britannica's online entries.
The move was clearly designed to take a page out of the book of the user-generated online encyclopedia Wikipedia, which has come to dominate the online market.