WebbyConnect: The Mullet Theory

Business in the front, party in the back.

It’s not just for that oh-so-cool hairdo anymore, but one way to approach the handling of User Generated Content on Web sites. The idea works likes this: Keep the words of wisdom from the pros that attract your audience front-and-center, and move the UGC stuff to a lesser role — at least on the Home Page.

This was the topic of one session at WebbyConnect this week, and it became obvious that many times the UGC stuff is better done and more attractive for the audience than the gems penned by the pros. "Finding talent from across the world," is what David Gensler of Keystone Design Union calls it.

Gensler is also part of Behance.net, a site featuring the creative works and portfolios of a wide-range of artists. Check it out.

OpenSalon, a UGC site spawned from Salon.com, puts the spotlight on the community. "We’re beyond pleasantly surprised by the quality of the writing," said Joan Walsh, editor in chief of Salon. "We’re putting two or three things (from the public) on the cover every day." She said the satirical nature of some of the submissions is amazing. "The Onion should be really scared," she said.

The ability for readers to leave cash tips for the authors hasn’t yet caught on, but it’s an interesting idea. Suggested tip amounts are on each post, but readers can opt to leave any amount. So far, "zero" has been the amount selected by most readers.

A fun example of the satirical content is a feature called "28 Attacks in 28 Days," with Mortimer Hayden Smith, which features political attack ads like none other.

Andy Cohen, VP of productions and programming for Bravo, said his audience "comes to our site expecting a lot, and we give them a lot." Bravo.com has become an essential part of the company, implementing viewer voting in shows such as "Make Me a Super Model." Cohen said he stared his own blog three years ago, and it has since spawned a campy online Web show "Watch What Happens." Viewers vote throughout the program and also call-in with questions for guests in their "after show" format. "It’s fun. It’s a lot of extras," Cohen said.

He added that anytime somebody comes to his office for an interview "I have my assistant grab a video camera and we talk for five minutes. There is so much freedom on the Web to do what you can’t do in 45 minutes on TV."

The pressing question of the week, raised by someone from the back of the room, remains: "WDCA." Translation: "Where Da Cash At?"

Leave that for the folks running the business up front.

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