Dagan is head of online communities at News Group Digital, which puts online London’s The Sun and News of the World, the two largest selling (3.2 million daily in the case of The Sun) tabloids in the English-language. Those newspapers’ websites attract 10.6 million unique users each month. The average user looks at 23 pages during the time.
The sites have begun to offer the beginnings of customized content. The sites provide each user with a widget that travels with them through each page of the site. The widget currently factors only the user’s gender and favorite football team, but really only football team. It colors itself in that team’s color, displays the team’s logo, and hyperlinks to the discussion area about the team. If the user is female, it just colors itself pink.
The challenges a popular tabloid faces when using user-generated content are:
- How to balance freedom of speech versus England’s strong laws against libel and contempt?
- How to protect children against offensive content?
- How to deal with an online public that is nowadays less amenable to editorization by the host newspaper and also to waiting for content to be pubished>
- How to achieve high quality content?
- How to remove objectable content quickly and effectively?
News Group Digital employees seven people full-time as user-generated site moderators. They don’t directly explain to a user why his objectional comment was removed, because such conversations tend to be endless, but the site does have a section entitled ‘Why Your Posting Was Removed.’