Complete monthly visitors: 23.9 million. Headed up or down? Up.
Back before Web 2.0, before the dotcom crash, before even your grandma discovered email, there was Craigslist. And this success machine just keeps growing: local classifieds and forums for 450 cities worldwide, community moderated, generating 8 billion pageviews a month. Thats massive. The bare-bones site creates revenue from job listings; it claims to receive more than 1.5 million job listings a month. Its a wonder more Net entrepreneurs havent more actively copied this model.
Complete monthly visitors: 23.6 million. Headed up or down? Up. The popular Flickr takes a more purely community-based approach than hosting sites like Photobucket: its all about people visiting the site and sharing photos with friends and family. The site has attained tremendous mind share its the first place many people think of for sharing photos online. (Unless they want to post them on their own site, in which case they use Gallery.)
Its this mindshare and sense of the communal that will allow Flickr to survive in a field crowded by the like of Kodak Gallery and Community Webshots. Its a destination, which is the key to user-generated success.
Complete monthly visitors: 17.7 million. Headed up or down? Up.
All movies, all the time, the Internet Movie Database takes the best of both worlds: it combines quality content created by professionals plot synopis, reviews, cast lists, and movie trailers with an easy-to-use comment system for user-generated feedback. So we learn what the peanut gallery thinks but we also get accurate information. It would a gargantuan task to try and outdo IMDB. One of the sites more interesting features is its list of the Top 250 movies of all time, rated by users of course.
Complete monthly visitors: 16.9 million. Headed up or down? Up.
Who needs editors? The user votes (Diggs) on this site enable the entire Internet to vote for what news is most important. The Digg This icon attached to articles in online publications has become ubiquitous, as publishers pay homage to the Power of Digg. The ultimate sign that Digg has arrived: the Wall Street Journal recently announced it will add a Digg This icon to its moneyed pages. Wow.
A popular parlor game among the Internet chattering classes is discussing Digg acquisition rumors; the latest is that an unnamed media company is considering spending $300-400 million on Digg. Expect that number to levitate over time.
Complete monthly visitors: 4.5 million. Headed up or down? Up
A news-based community, with user forums and polls, Topix takes a unique slant: its locally focused, so users in Portland, Maine argue and kvetch about different issues than users in Portland, Oregon. In a neat touch, the sites editors (the minority of users who sign up for this unpaid job) help run the site. And you thought local newspapers might survive the Internet nope.
Beyond User-Generated: in the Year 2525
While sites driven by users are the Web trend du jour, another trend is not so quietly growing: machine-driven content.
Google, of course, is in the forefront. The search giants Google News site, which aggregates a sprawling legion of news sources, is assembled without human help. The all-powerful Google spider crawls the Web, gobbling up headlines and presenting them on one well-organized page. Instead of an editor, its the Google algorithm that makes the choice, presumably based on some advanced form of Artificial Intelligence that the Google brainiacs have programmed in.
Actually, Google News is hedging its bet: rather than go all-machine, all the time, it has started an odd experiment: odd experiment by the people who are written about in the stories. Its kind of a human-machine marriage journalism without the expensive humans, but with unpaid humans adding content and value. Its the evil genius of Google at its most revenue enhancing.