Study finds weak participation on Web 2.0 sites

By Reuters

Story last modified Tue Apr 17 23:11:19 PDT 2007

Web 2.0, a catchphrase for the latest generation of Web sites where
users contribute their own text, pictures and video content, is far
less participatory than commonly assumed, a study showed on Tuesday.

A tiny 0.16 percent of visits to Google's top video-sharing site,
YouTube, are by users seeking to upload video for others to watch,
according to a study of online surfing data by Bill Tancer, an analyst
with Web audience measurement firm Hitwise.

Similarly, only two-tenths of one percent of visits to Flickr,
a popular photo-editing site owned by Yahoo, are to upload new
photos, the Hitwise study found. The vast majority of visitors
are the Internet equivalent of the television generation's couch
potatoes--voyeurs who like to watch rather than create, Tancer's
statistics show.

Wikipedia, the anyone-can-edit online encyclopedia, is the one
exception cited in the Hitwise study: 4.6 percent of all visits to
Wikipedia pages are to edit entries on the site.

But despite relatively low-user involvement, visits to Web 2.0-style
sites have spiked 668 percent in two years, Tancer said.

"Web 2.0 and participatory sites (are) really gaining traction," he
told an audience of roughly 3,000 Internet entrepreneurs, developers
and financiers attending the Web 2.0 Expo industry conference in San
Francisco this week.

Web 2.0, a phrase popularized by conference organizer Tim O'Reilly,
refers to the current generation of Web sites that seek to turn
viewers into contributors by giving them tools to write, post, comment
and upload their own creative work.

Besides Wikipedia, other well-known Web 2.0 destinations are
social-network sites like News Corp.'s MySpace and Facebook and
photo-sharing site Photobucket.

Visits by Web users to the category of participatory Web 2.0 sites
account for 12 percent of U.S. Web activity, up from only 2 percent
two years ago, the study showed.

Web 2.0 photo-sharing sites now account for 56 percent of visits to
all online photo sites. Of that, Photobucket alone accounts for 41
percent of the traffic, Hitwise data shows.

An older, first generation of sites, now in the minority, are
photo-finishing sites that give users the ability to store, share and
print photos.

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