Friday, February 15, 2008

Grauniad takes a hit on user generated content - lessons for travel

This is not hot news as such but has raised a few issues.

The Guardian website has fallen foul of its readers this week following a blog post penned - apparently - by a 19-year-old heading off on his first jaunt to Asia.

Readers reacted with varying degrees of scorn, dismay, anger and vitriol to the drivel penned by Max Gogarty as he explained what travelling to Asia meant to him ("finding himself") amongst other things.

Guardian's "Comment is Free" editors have since closed the comments section of the blog post. Yes, we recognise the irony.

Was this a wise decision?

And what conclusions can be drawn about travel and UGC?

First of all the Guardian brand was taking quite a pasting in the comments, so in some respects it probably was a good idea to halt the discussion - regardless of the ramifications for its supposed CiF channel.

There are no direct comparisons to a travel brand being on the end of such carnage (as Travel Weekly put it) through user generated content.

It appears at this stage that consumers are - on the whole - far better behaved and balanced in their approach when it comes to commenting on what they would perceive to be poor products.

What travel companies, especially hotels, appear to be doing as a result of bad ratings on sites such as TripAdvisor is reflecting on the problem and rectifying it before the issue spirals out of control.

Consumers are unofficial watchdogs these days.

Unfortunately the Guardian seems reluctant - or doesn't know how to, some would argue - to admit it has made a mistake in commissioning something likely to disappoint its readers.

It will recover, of course. But many will remember this - at times, hilarious - faux pas.

Kevin May, editor, Travolution

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Nathan said...

Thing is, if this was genuine UGC the Guardian could easily defend it: "You (users and media taste-makers) asked for UGC, so don't complain when it isn't professional-standard".

But an editor calling up some well-connected fellow and commissioning him to pen a piece every week? That's not UGC, it's just a column. People expect columns to be of a professional standard.

To me that's a big part of why it backfired - the ed should have thought harder about what kind of content this is and what people would expect from it.

Travolution Blogger said...

Nathan: the point we are making about UGC is with regards to the user generated content created by those who left comments.

you're right though. graun ed should've thought harder about the impact of the original post.

Darren Cronian said...

What a great peice of marketing eh? Skins new series starts soon on C4.

A writer apparently from Skins starts to write a blog on one of the UK's most popular media sites.

Comments closed; What is the point of that when the going get's tough..

Whose betting we won't see another blog post from the travel editors Son?