User-generated content refers to content on a website or online platform submitted by a user instead of the website's owner. Some websites, like forums, wikis, and social networks, are entirely based on user-generated content. Others, like personal blogs, government websites, or news publications, may not include any user-generated content. While the staff at a website doesn't create user-generated content, it is most likely monitored and regulated to avoid harmful or illegal activities.
The Computer Hope website, for example, primarily features content like this article, which the Computer Hope team has written. While we accept feedback about our pages, our website's visitors do not edit or create them. The user-generated content on this website is on the forum, comprised of threads created by the site's visitors.
User-generated content can also refer to reposts. Although a large company may technically be considered a user on a social network, it can still share user-generated content with its followers. If a company retweets another user's photo or testimonial to advertise a product or service, it can be considered user-generated marketing.
User-generated content is sometimes abbreviated as UGC or UCC (user-created content). These terms are interchangeable.
Examples of user-generated content
- Photos or stories shared on Instagram and Facebook
- Tweets on Twitter
- YouTube videos
- Questions or answers submitted on a forum like Quora
- Product reviews on shopping websites like Amazon
- Wikipedia articles
- Third-party mods in video games
- Custom maps or characters in a video game
- Repositories on GitHub
- Comments on a news website
- Music on SoundCloud
How do I find out if content is user-generated?
On most websites, visitors must create or log in to an account to post content or make comments. In these cases, user-generated content is usually indicated by the uploader's username, or avatar displayed somewhere in the post. Some websites, like Wikipedia and 4chan, keep the identities of content creators anonymous. For this reason, it can be helpful to know what kind of website you are visiting. On wikis and anonymous forums, most of the content is user-submitted. If you're still unsure about the source of a website's content, reading an "About" section can usually point you in the right direction.
On forums like Reddit, people often refer to the creator of a thread or post as "OP" (original poster). On anonymous forums, "anon" (anonymous) is also used to refer to a user. These are both substitutes for mentioning someone's username.