If It’s User Generated, Does That Mean It Isn’t Expert?

Jason "The Content Librarian" Eiseman recently called attention to a March Newsweek piece speculating on the future of user generated content, titled Revenge of the Experts. As Jason so succinctly puts it:

The gist of the article is that the current trend of user-generated content is on the way out in favor of a renewed interest in expert-vetted content.

The report has generated discussion (read some of it here at Lost Remote). Jason disagrees with the thesis; a point of view he expresses in no uncertain terms.

It is frankly difficult to agree with a piece of journalism that declares "The expert is back" (did the expert ever really go away?) but we are always pleased to see conversation around the topic of user generated content.

Filtering (vetting) matters; we imagine few people would argue with that. (How truly useful to most of us is an unconstrained fire hydrant of raw information?) Luckily, innovations over the years – layer upon layer upon layer – have provided Internet users with outstanding alternatives to the kind of filtering once done solely by news editors in an "old media" world. We suspect there’s no going back – and that there is room for everyone.

Filtering is, among other things, a way of determining value. There are many ways to make that determination – expertise, authority, popularity, and peer review are just a few taking center stage online today.

At JD Supra, our particular brand of user generated content is valuable because it is the work of experts – lawyers and other members of the legal community. The content in our directory arrives online with the credibility of having been generated by professionals who are, in essence, already vetted. (Look at their case decisions and professional and academic credentials for more on this.) And every piece of work is attributed to its credible source – court filings, briefs, articles, and alerts are linked to professional profiles, and vice versa.

The value of the work is obvious – which makes the value of sharing it obvious, too.