Cover by Sean Power, Alistair Croll

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Tailoring the Monitoring Mix to Collaborative Sites

If you’re running a collaboration site, you want to be sure users engage with your application; create, edit, and rank content; and spread the word. You also want to mitigate bad content and stop users from disengaging.

You’re in a unique position: compared with a transactional or media site operator, you have much less control over your destiny. You’re dependent on your visitors and your community to generate content and build buzz. You also need to walk a fine line between rewarding a few extremely active participants and making sure that content is open and democratic.

How Much Did Visitors Benefit My Business?

Secondary metrics: click-outs; subscriptions

While the advertising side of your collaborative site is run like a media business, from a collaboration standpoint you care about users that are creating content, whether through uploads, writing, ranking, or editing. You also care whether this content is valuable—are others reading it?

A second factor is how much users are engaging with the site. Do they track comments on items they’ve created? Are they building social networks within the site and rating one another?

On many collaborative sites, a small population of users will generate the majority of content. This can actually be a liability for site operators: a big attraction for collaborative sites is that they harness the long tail of public opinion and provide more targeted content than the mainstream media. Sometimes, the ...

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