A Conversation on Participation

“Why don’t we let people get involved. Give them a way to upload their short movies / photographs / demo-tracks / homages to our product / ideas / knitting patterns / kazoo melodies / etc. They can win prizes.”

“Would you do it?”

“What do you mean?”

“Well, would you upload something?”

“Um, yeah, I guess so”

“Would you…? Honestly…?”

“No… But… Um… Well… It’s not really aimed at me is it…?”

“So you wouldn’t, but they will right?”

“Yeah, it’s what they’re doing isn’t it?”

Whenever you have an idea, or someone else has an idea that requires participation, just ask them (or yourself) one very very simple question: “Would you do it?”. You may not be the target audience, but you’ll know, deep down, if what you’re suggesting is right.

5 thoughts on “A Conversation on Participation”

  1. Couldn’t agree more. Why is it that questions of motivation are ignored whenever digital planning (and especially UGC) are concerned?

    This is a worse sin than the “If you build it, they will come” attitude of the nineties – perhaps we could call it the “infinite phone-in” mistake. At its worst, this error presumes that there are a large number of people out there who (a) have a burning desire to share their content, and (b) don’t already know about the well-publicised, high-traffic channels that currently let them do this.

    As you say, it’s always an error to plan around a “they”. At the very least, one should plan around a “he”, “she”, or “you”. Best, of course, to plan for a “we”.

  2. I think you need to drop a few more Web2.0 cliches Iain.

    For a fresh dose of buzzwords like tags, wikis and blogosphere you need to install the Web2.0 Bullshit Generator.

    Like all good Web2.0 apps it’s still in beta, but that just makes it even cooler surely.

    Download it at http://emptybottle.org/bullshit

  3. Iain, you know I totally agree with you on this. I find myself in a daily struggle trying to convince people to keep it simple and ensure users can participate with a minimum of effort and investment in time. And…have fun while doing it. Creating “user-generated” content sites seems to be the thing everyone want’s these days, but they forget to ask themselfs if the user would be interessted in creating said content in the first place. And, more importantly…will the user genreated content be any fun to watch in the first place. I think the coke site AKQA recently did is a good example of this thinking.

  4. Iain, you know I totally agree with you on this. I find myself in a daily struggle trying to convince people to keep it simple and ensure users can participate with a minimum of effort and investment in time. And…have fun while doing it. Creating “user-generated” content sites seems to be the thing everyone want's these days, but they forget to ask themselfs if the user would be interessted in creating said content in the first place. And, more importantly…will the user genreated content be any fun to watch in the first place. I think the coke site AKQA recently did is a good example of this thinking.

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