Community-curated works (CCW)

I am pleased that my post on an alternative term for ‘user-generated content’ has gained a little traction. The (corrected) blog highlighted my post which prompted Josh Bancroft to agree. Well, at least we’re in violent agreement that “user-generated content” needs to go, but the ideal term to replace it has yet to be revealed, perhaps.

Jeff Moriarty says CCW “sounds like like way a museum cares for its relics… things that the normal person cannot touch”. (I guess that must be from the “curated” rather than the “community”.)

Mike Mathews also dislikes “curated”:

I do have a problem with “curated” as well, it means more “overseen”, “assisted” or “managed” instead of created. Brent [previous commenter] suggested “donated” or “invested”, both good suggestions. I’d like to add for consideration: “written”, “created”, “developed”, “produced”, “prepared”.

I contemplated “created” when I first tried to think of a replacement term. But for me “create” doesn’t capture the essence of how wikis work best. Wikis work best over longer scales of time, by allowing — encouraging — continuous incremental improvement. Certainly you can jump in and make dramatic changes (and most Wikipedia articles benefit from this every so often, and maybe Wikibooks too), but most stable, reliable, high-quality content comes from 95% tweaking and 5% dramatic changes. On other wikis like Wikimedia Commons, Wiktionary or Wikisource, dramatic changes are almost never appropriate.

Wikisource in fact demonstrates how well the wiki model and methods work with very little “creation” to speak of at all, since it’s solely about adding value to existing works. Other wikis like fan wikis or documentation wikis would rather be scraping into the “creative” domain by my reckoning.

“Developed” and “prepared” would be OK by me, except they are fairly empty terms. “Curated” seems to be too austere — how about “maintained”?

Or, any new suggestions from left-field? I am not wedded to CCW, only to finding an alternative to “user-generated content” for describing the things that wikis produce.

31 August, 2008 •



CCW is a wonderful creation! I’ve been using it left, right and center and I’ll be quoting the original post in my thesis.

I’m glad it’s not just me that’s found it insightful. I really hope CCW catches on in the wider wikimedian community to describe what we do and how it is so much more than individual users generating stuff (content).

As for “curate” – I’m quite happy with the word. It implies the careful arrangement of our content in a way similar to that of a gallery exhibition. We don’t just post words and pictures – we curate them into a ‘show’ to demonstrate their meaning to the world. “Maintained” speaks to stopping link-rot etc but curate adds the higher order thinking required.

Witty lama · 31. August 2008, 23:59


Yes, I think “curate” suits the Wikimedia projects very well, but wiki projects more generally may not find it so appropriate.

pfctdayelise · 1. September 2008, 00:13


Hi, I was intensely involved in setting up Wikisource (first in English and in recent years more in Hebrew). I actually wrote the section you link to on “adding value to source texts.” It was extremely important to me that Wikisource policies would never limit content to just copying and pasting, but also allow us, as a community, to build mechanisms and add content that would make existing texts better accessible to the public and more valuable to the reader.

I love your suggested term, “community curated works” (CCW); it describes exactly what we are doing at Wikisource. I think the verb “maintain” is just fine in this context too. This whole thing should be pointed out in the Scriptorium! Good luck!

Dovi · 1. September 2008, 03:54


Hey, thanks for the commentary! Just FYI, it’s, not .com

Steven Walling · 1. September 2008, 08:25


I don’t have a big problem with ‘UGC’ though every term (including ‘G’) leaves something to be desired.

The best alternative is Peer Production.

Peers might be users, people, communities, corporations, but they’re in some sense peers.

Production encompasses creation and curation, emphasizes the ongoing nature of both, and avoids naming the product, which there is no good name for across, except perhaps ‘resources’ or ‘stuff’.

If the product must be named then depending on the field or level of generality being discussed, Peer Produced Culture/Data/Encyclopedias/Film/Knowledge/Media/Music/Resources/Science/Software/Works.

Another strategy for replacing ‘UGC’ is to forget about who and how content is produced and focus on the status that allows things like ‘User Generation’ or ‘Peer Production’ to take place. Ex:

“Our website relies on UGC


“Our website relies on peer production”


“Our website relies on free cultural works”

…then debate whether to say FCW or free culture or open knowledge or …

Mike Linksvayer · 1. September 2008, 10:23


@Steven, sorry about that, I fixed it now.

@Mike, I don’t see “peer production” or “participatory culture” (another term I like, but somehow not quite the right noun) as being equal with “free culture”. Public domain artworks are free cultural works but they are not “peer produced”. And lots of peer produced works are not free cultural works at all.

Of course there’s that big ol’ grey area where peer producers treat non-free works as if they were free anyway, which might make this distinction moot in a decade or so…

pfctdayelise · 1. September 2008, 12:12


Not saying that peer production (or similar) == free culture (or similar), saying that in some contexts either term works, and in such it can be advantageous to use the latter.

Separately, public domain works are peer produced to the extent they are curated in a peer production fashion … as I say above, one of the advantages of produced/production is that it encompasses creation and curation.

Mike Linksvayer · 1. September 2008, 15:01


Also got a ping by Liam Wyatt and Andrew Lih on Wikipedia Weekly episode 62.

pfctdayelise · 22. September 2008, 21:43

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