Assessment · Assessment 3

Participation and Users Created Content

Class: Thursday

Teacher: Fiona Andreallo

Student: Xiaoluan Yang 460225988

Participation and User Created Content

This essay bases on the article, Participation and User Created Content, written by Hinton and Hjorth in 2013 and contains my personal understanding after referencing other related knowledge and examples.


Participation is regarded as the term to describe the distinctive function of social media, say Hinton and Hjorth (2013). With the rapid development of web 2.0 and the increasing use of electronic equipment, people browse the Internet more frequent than before. Meanwhile, new media platforms provide users with opportunities to interact and communicate with others online and hence shift their role from audiences to participants of the Internet world. The online interactions could be receiving or giving a “like” to others’ Facebook post, or maintaining a private blog (Hinton & Hjorth, 2013). Blog owners maintain their own cyberspaces through uploading blogs, photos, and videos; in addition, they may interact with their fans and followers by commenting and discussing. The relationship between the Internet, social media and participants is tight. Social media rely on users to evolve and develop, however, without the Internet connection, users could not access to the media platform to create digital content and then they could not become participants.

In the article written by Flew (2008), participation is a concept used in at least two ways. First, from the perspective of digital devices, the access to the new media is unequal. For example, Rural Gujarat is where people lack electricity and other basic fundamental facilities, life in there is hard and the Internet seems far away from them. Another use of the concept is that in the growing creative industries, participation links to the wider digital democratic content.

Users as producers – “Produsers”

The rise of digital media, especially the Web 2.0 environment, has changed online audiences into participants. Media based on the Internet could be regarded as a communication platform which audiences act as generators, from the politics perspective, Gross (2009) gives the attitude that this platform provides citizens with chances to rise their opinions as a “produser”, the term created by Bruns (2005, 2006). Hinton and Hjorth compare two kinds of participation behavior, first is a simply reply on a news event or a short comment. This is named “user generated content” (UGC), in which user respond content created by others. The second one is a more involved behavior, known as “user created content” (UCC), in which users create content by themselves. For example, bloggers post their own articles on blogs, or internet-savvy upload their own videos on YouTube. These two kinds of participations, no matter the degree of involvement, tell us that the online users are not passive audiences but active produser. Henry Jenkins (1992, cited in Hinton &Hjorth, 2013), a cultural theorist who is passionate about studying the way how audiences get involved with the media points out that in fan communities, the role of fans is produser since they do not only throw themselves into communication but also take part in the creation of original media content. In another digital platform, massive multiplayer online games (MMOG), a high degree of player participation is the very reason why games develop and evolve well (Humphreys, 2004). This is because the players themselves create most of the content by following the rules and tools that are provided, thus to this extent, their created content completes the whole design of the game, explains Humphreys (2004).

(Figure 1: UGC)


(Figure2: UCC)


(Figure3: Massive Multiplayer Online Game)

User Created Content(UCC)

The way people record their life change from keep diaries on notebooks to share photos online because of the rapid development of portable electronic devices and the easier access to the internet (Hinton & Hjorth, 2013). In the new media environment, people are able to create and forward media content at almost anywhere and anytime. Same as the massive multiplayer online game (MMOG), the successful operation of social media platforms, such as Facebook, YouTube and twitter, rely heavily on the user created content. User created content is regarded as the media content created intentionally by users. The intention of producing this content might be valuable to some degree. For instance, Wikipedia is a well-known platform in which encourages online citizen to share knowledge of different fields. Everyone could have the access to create a term and give the introduction of it. Hinton and Hjorth (2013) argue that compared with the traditional encyclopedia that is strictly edited, Wikipedia could not provide a hundred percent precise knowledge as the traditional one could. Tim (2005) believes that even small bugs could be fixed thoroughly on this open space with enough spectators. However, Hinton and Hjorth support their argument with evaluation of crowd behavior and believe a majority of users would stop correcting error after hearing the strong opinions from individuals. Therefore, while online produsers provide valuable knowledge, they also give information with questionable reliability.

Screen Shot 2017-04-21 at 17.12.38.png

(Figure 4: Wikipedia)

Citizen journalism

The widely use of social media accelerates the trend of sharing personal opinions online. In cyberspace, users are allowed to produce content and give respond on almost all content, even news events (Hinton & Hjorth, 2013). Citizen journalism is the term describe the disagreement between traditional news reporting and participative media, it is accompanied by the emergence of portable electronic devices such as the smartphone with camera function and access to the Internet. In addition, the trend of using social media platforms for moment recording drives them to share major and minor things of their life, and when this extends to the share or responds on news events, it forms citizen journalism (Hinton & Hjorth, 2013). The main platform occurs citizen journalism is the blog with a user-friendly system that allows people to publish news events in their daily life even they do not have the technical skills to maintain the website. This way of news publication becomes more convenient after the smartphone becoming increasingly available. With mobile smartphones, photos and videos could be taken immediately when events occur, and similarly, web citizen could view the publication instantly. Furthermore, when the content is published on social media with higher popularity than blog, such as Twitter and Facebook, the speed of exposure is more dramatic and even uncontrollable. Under this situation, traditional media could not catch up with this striking exposure speed for making a response.


(Figure 5: Citizen journalism. Retrieve from:

Criticisms of citizen journalism

There are three main kinds of criticisms of citizen journalism in the book of Hinton and Hjorth (2013). Firstly, compared with professional journalists who are well trained in writing news articles and holding interviews, citizen journalists do not have enough skills to publish a formal news report. To all intents and purposes, this argues that those social media platforms that citizen journalists publish news events do not have the ability to help them become professional journalists. Even some of the citizen journalists are skillful writers with critical thinking, professional journalists are still more important in no matter real society or cyberspace. Another criticism is that the editing process of citizen journalism is rough whereas that of the traditional journalism is rigorous. Professional journalists write news articles carefully and with a lot of attention to details, however, citizen journalists complete that process without particular rules. This would lead to a consequence that any political affiliations or prejudices in terms of citizen journalist are difficult to determine. Last but not least, citizen journalists are more vulnerable than journalists who work in news companies when legal retaliation happen on them because they lack the employee protection from news companies.


The Internet is a double-edged sword that allows everyone to produce almost any content anytime and anywhere with Internet connection. Its convenience wins popularity but the content shared by Internet users might be overload or unreliable. Smart electronic devices and social media platforms encourage people to create digital content, which shifts online audience to “produser” rapidly. When produsers create news article with photos or video frequently, criticism journalism occurs. New media platforms assist citizens to get rid of the control of the government, providing stories and pictures that professional journalists could not gain (Bird, 2011). However, citizen journalism also brings issues about impartiality, quality and reliability. In the future study, whether designing a social platform or game, it is important to know how to get users involved in and to create digital content, also, what needs to be considered carefully is the potential of participation degree because it could be different under different conditions.


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Bruns, A. (2006). Towards Produsage: Future for User-Led Content Production.

[online] Available at: [Accessed 24 May 2010].

Flew, T. (2008). 20 key new media concepts: pp.21-37. New Media: An introduction

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