I don’t just “use” the Internet, so why am I a user?

Heh, I was reading Mary Hodder’s post about the correct term to call people who generate content and thinking back to why I hate the term “user generated content.”

It’s because whenever I hear that term I always translate it to “slave generated content.” Here’s why: there’s a lot of companies who are expecting you to help out their business models (including the one I work for — I’m challenging everyone I talk to inside Microsoft to stop thinking about monetization — except for the teams who are building monetization systems — stop thinking about “user generated content” Those thoughts will lead you down a bad path).

Why do I hate those thoughts? It’s deeper than just being a content slave for someone to make a ton of money off of by putting ads next to my words. No, it’s an attitudinal thing. If you look at folks who make content as a partner then you’ll make better experiences for everyone. And, everyone is now able to create content — as I just demonstrated a few minutes ago to EUFA.

The problem is we don’t have good language. When I’m on Flickr I’m a photographer or a commenter. When I’m here I’m a writer or a blogger. When I’m on Craig’s List I’m a job seeker or a buyer or a seller. When I’m on MSN Search or Google I’m a “searcher.” When I’m on Memeorandum I’m a “reader.”

“User” just seems so unsatisfying. “Participant” is a lot closer. What do you think?