The days of companies controlling the creation and distribution of engineered content are fading. An explosion of user generated content (UGC) has reshaped the Web development landscape.
UGC is Ruby on Rails latest strategy to hand over the creation of documentation to those who care most about its long-term success, its community.
User Generated vs Engineered Content
Engineered content is created by established knowledge experts and content owners who are part of an official team. UGC, on the other hand, is created by users themselves.
The benefits of UGC are:
- User opinions: The popularity of the content is based on user ratings and opinions.
- User interaction: Allows all users the choice of becoming participants rather than just spectators. Also, it provides knowledge experts who aren’t part of the team with a medium in which to share their knowledge
- Content restriction: Many more methods of content entry, making it less restrictive.
- Content coverage: A wider content provider base means more areas of knowledge can be covered.
- Quantity of content: Increases traffic and crawlable content.
- Content linkability: Increases engagement.
- Content strength: Content containing targeted keywords that will be crawled by search engines and indexed highly.
Rails new social documentation site
Built on top of APIdock, a social software documentation application, Rails-doc gives you a chance to contribute by writing documentation or rating content. It also provides easy access to documentation for a full line of Rails versions. A super-fast keyword search gives quick answers to quick questions and the full search looks through everything and finds everything that can be found with your given search term.
Remember Zend’s quick-start contest? The idea was to get people involved in the process of writing documentation. But the problem with this is that contests are not very social, there’s no teamwork involved. Users don’t want to compete, they want to help, they want to be part of the community. Engineered content doesn’t allow this. Not surprisingly, they only received 2 contributions.
Perhaps there’s a lesson to be learnt here.