Ranking tactics on the formation of online ‘communities’

While discussing YouTube, José van Dijck argues that the site’s interface influences the popularity of videos through ranking tactics that promote popular favorites (Reader, page 94). How do ranking tactics impact on the formation online ‘communities’?

You are in the cover of Time magazine

"You" in the cover of Time magazine

Attribution Some rights reserved by David Fraíz

The homepage of YouTube has provided a directly delivered feature which adopted a ranking tactic. Videos are categorized into different blocks and the ones with the most number of views are designed to appear in the homepage of YouTube, just like mini-versions of  Time magazine, the face printed in the cover will most probably be read first by the readers. The ranking tactic thus created a “star-system” that each content provider or co-producer are encouraged to become the one in the top list, because the success of the produced content contributes to a physiological satisfaction (Van Dujck , 2009,52). Furthermore, creators are rewarded economically if they have gained a certain level of popularity. YouTube will contribute a advertisement banner besides the popular clip and shares its revenue with the content creator (Van Dujck, 2009, 52). As a result, the ranking tactic psychologically and economically encourage the creator to generate and upload more contents onto its site.

The “star system”, which is generated by the ranking tactic has created tremendous YouTube celebrities who stood out from the general content providers, and has generated small fan communities by interacting with their fans and subscribers. It created a celebrity-centered system where information is spread from an individual to the surroundings. However, even with the success-driven or commercial-driven phenomenon that generate the tension of competition within the user communities, there is still a large number of video creators who treat the process of work (create video for economic gain) with a sense of play (creating content for fun)(Van Dujck, 2009, 54). As a result, the process of making video has become an activity that mixes play and work to express personal taste, style, hobby etc, to enhance their sense of identity (Stebbins, 1992, 2).

In addition for normal content producer to get into the centre, the required to demonstrate more into the content, which stimulate their demand to improve their computer and film skills, and create a tendency from amateur towards professionals. For instance, use the top-rated clip of today as a case study. The video creator as an amateur, has produce his video by editing different sequences of shoot, inserting animation and subtitles, adding sound effect and credit scene to make his video more visually stimulated and worth viewing, apparently, he had done his research about the recent popular videos.

By encouraging productive activities, content providers increase their commercial value on their business, through the process of consuming behavior tracking, and potentially use the content providers as free laborers ( Van Dujck, 2009). Through collecting personal information and record information of usage, setting and recent viewing, for instance (Van Dujck , 2009, 48), user behaviors are extensively revealed, which could then become a Market research tool used to distribute the advertisement more efficiently. Thus, the power of chosen video that is owned by video consumers are gradually undermined by the platform owner, who targets the market of each online community by tracking the consumer behaviors.

In conclusion, the ranking tactic that is adapted by platform providers has physically and economically encouraged users to continuously create contents and distribute them into the platform that in turn, improve the economic value. Meanwhile, a more competitive environment is generated by this ranking system within the user community and requires armatures to improve their video skills. Users as content provider has combined work and play into the video making, which has enhanced their identity.

Reference

Dijck, José van (2009) ‘Users Like You? Theorizing Agency in User-Generated Content’, Media, Culture and Society, 31 (2009): 41-58.

Stebbins, R. A. (1992). Amateurs, professionals, and serious leisure. Montreal, McGill-Queen’s University Press.

YouTube, 2011, most popular in YouTube, accessed in 4th of May, 2011, fromhttp://www.youtube.com/

YouTube, 2011,GUY BUG in channel of Ray William Johnson, accessed in 4th of May, 2011, from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cb3hoZu3hzY&feature=topvideos_entertainment

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About Blair Gu

“Be the change that you wish to see in the world.”
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