What is the best way to pull/access content for a user-contributed content site?


I am in the process of launching a startup and was wondering if I could get some peoples opinions on this. My platform is going to be a collaboration-type site (similar to Wikipedia). How did they originally acquire content from their volunteers? Did they write a bunch of articles themselves and then build a base of users to help them? Or did they pull content from somewhere and adapt it.

The other alternative would possibly be to pull content from Wikipedia to start and then adapt from the site. Is there a best way of going about this?

Thanks so much


asked Jan 12 '10 at 03:43
46 points
Top digital marketing agency for SEO, content marketing, and PR: Demand Roll

2 Answers


Seeding the site with your own content will set the theme, format, tone
and minimum standard for the subsequent
user generated content.

If it's good content, it will also attract
attention and traffic which may
'convert' to contributing users.

With this in place, you'll then need to come up with a system and an environment that really motivates people to share and contribute. I've studied this long and hard, and I can tell you that this is an incredibly hard thing to pull off.

This presentation by Kevin Rose has some great content.

answered Jan 12 '10 at 06:14
Benjamin Wootton
1,667 points
  • Hi Benjamin, Thank for your comments, you are exactly right. I looked at that presentation and plan on adding to my Posterous today. Good content is the key. – Sthomps 14 years ago


Note that "pulling content" is also called "plagurising." At the very least you need to check on the type of creative commons licensing and make sure that's even legal.

Even if it is legal, I wonder what value you're adding by just pulling. I understand the idea of "seeding," but if copying Wikipedia is sufficient then I don't understand your value. If you meant use some info from Wikipedia as a basis and inspiration, then of course that's a good idea.

To get people involved: Can you define what "people" that would be? Can you define a subset of your potential audience who are especially into this and would be self-motivated to participate? Then write up some guest posts about what you're doing and see if you can get onto relevant blogs where those people hang out.

If your story really is compelling, everyone should want to hear about this and participate. If not, you'll have trouble making this work.

answered Jan 12 '10 at 06:53
16,231 points
  • Hi Jason, Thanks so much for your comments. You are right about everything. Of course there is no point in merely copying content from Wikipedia, because there is no value for the customers. When asking the question, I just wanted to get the opinions of people who have experience in the industry. Using Wikipedia would be just for a basis and simple description, which we would make unique. This would help us in our product/market fit and build up the site slowly. RSS aggregation is also a potential method of "pulling" information to the site, which provides valuable content for users. – Sthomps 14 years ago

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