Monthly Archives: April 2011

The y2p panel judges “Readers’ Tips” at The Sun


You might not think The Sun, with all its reliance on puns and tits, is the right kind of place for UGC. But hidden away in the dark corners of the website is the Readers’ Tips page, a brilliant example of all that UGC can be – good, bad, ugly and funny.

So the y2p team chose tips to explain what works and what doesn’t – you can click on the images to see an expanded view.

This perfectly exemplifies the Sun’s attitude – a bit cheeky and thoroughly down-to-earth. This is something that journalists would never have the inventiveness to come up with, and it’s a nice insight into the slightly peculiar lives that the readers lead. But I don’t think I’ll be taking their advice on this one…

This made me literally laugh out loud because 1) it sounds ridiculous 2) it’s the type of thing I would do and think is perfectly sensible and 3) I’m kicking myself I didn’t  think of it first. Don’t worry though, I’ll be doing it from now on. What I like about this page is that the postees aren’t afraid of sounding silly and the readers obviously like picking up the tips. Just remember to turn the straighteners off.

This is such a practical suggestion, the kind of which you’d only get from another punter who’s not trying to sell you anything. I can’t imagine DIY websites suggesting it. This UGC works for me, freely sharing information and not expecting anything in return.

This UGC is pants! These white-knickered buttocks could only appear on a website for the toosh-loving Sun. They’d be considered too bad taste for a more sober news platform, and they’re right. Secondly the suggestion is utterly useless – why would you stick your post-it note somewhere you can’t even see it, why not post on the fridge? I’ve got a feeling we’re witnessing the more exhibitionist UGC here – Karen seems confident enough about her bottom to want to show it off.

This typifies the best and worst of UGC. While there can be no doubt of the deterrent effect of a snake in one’s flowerbed, Roy’s effort lacks the key details which a professional journalist would give. For example, to say nothing of potential ethical conundrums, is the breed of snake a determining factor? Ought the snake to be on duty full time, or would the aroma of a part time snake be sufficient? Oughtn’t Roy to include a more expansive discussion of the necessary fencing arrangements round the flowerbed? In short, this tip is a clear indication of UGC’s questionable reliability.

UGC is about making your readers feel like they are a part of your publication and share in a community of readers. The value of the tips is not in the suggestions themselves, but the sharing process. I think it’s important that we see pictures of the readers and their families on the page. You might not bake your flapjacks in a bun tin, but it’s hard not to be touched by darling little Katie.

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The UK vs. USA – can StreetLife step up to EveryBlock?


EveryBlock.com is the answer to every American nosy neighbour/journalist’s prayers. It keeps them up-to-date with all the news and civic goings-on happening in their city, neighbourhood and block. It covers everything from building permits, restaurant inspections, local blogs, and photo-sharing to local business reviews. Launched in 2008 the site has grown rapidly – last month it brought in around 220,000 unique visitors.

Screen-grab of EveryBlock.com - what's the latest in Manhattan?

But what about all the nosy neighbours/journalists in Britain?

We have OpenlyLocal, JournalLocal and even FixMyStreet, which allow us to access valuable local governmental information or to moan about the rife potholes after the big freeze. But we’re losing out on the sociability of Everyblock.com, dubbed the social network for the neighbourhood. On this site users can update their status, “follow” specific locations and share posts on Facebook or Twitter.

But this might all be about to change now that StreetLife.com has hit our hoods… Like Everyblock, StreetLife is a social network based on local communities. Users can talk to individuals, groups and even local buinesses with the aim of sharing advice, skill sets and resources (Big Society eat your heart out). You have a news-feed, local chat function, private message facility, and incase it all gets to much, you have control of how much information you receive.

A screen-grab of the StreetLife Welcoming

But will it work?

I asked Paul Bradshaw if there was a UK answer to Everyblock, and he responded:

The same sentiment applies to StreetLife.com. The Freedom of Information Act in the UK is far more limited that the US, where there are no restrictions on who may access government information under the FOIA. The only requirement is that the requester must be a member of the public.

This is what social media journalist and hyperlocal blogger Joseph Stashko had to say:

Are we too saturated by social media as it is? Do we need another account to check and maintain? Or will the fact that, like EveryBlock, we can link up and share with Twitter and Facebook enhance our social networking experience?

In Joseph Tartakoff’s recent review of EveryBlock he said: ‘there’s lots of potential for abuse; a search for “conversations” in my neighbourhood brought up only two entries, which were both essentially advertisements’. StreetLife could rapidly become less about ‘community spirit’ and more about promotional plugging.

I looked up my local street on StreetLife and was pleasantly surprised to find lots of interesting posts. I know that Felix, just opposite, has had his bike stolen, where my local optician and pharmacist is, who’s having a loft conversion and who’s selling up. I’m excited by this, it’s nice to feel part of something local and as a journalist it’s  a great source for stories.  I’m not sure I’m ready to abandon StreetLife yet, it’s in it’s early days but it could grow into something interesting…

EMILY ARCHER