Title:Learning from Amazon and eBay: User-Generated Material for Museum Web Sites
Authors:Gail Durbin
Publication:MW2004: Museums and the Web 2004

Museums have a way to go in understanding what has long been apparent to commercial sites: you don't have to sweat it out over all your content if you are prepared to allow visitors to generate it for you. eBay and Friends Reunited have sites entirely built on user-generated content, and Amazon is increasingly leaning on users to develop content that adds depth and vitality. Museums can learn lessons from this approach. At the V&A we aim to be the Number One museum Web site for art and design, and our curators are world experts in their fields. In these circumstances it would be easy for the site to communicate in one direction only, but we are keen to ensure the site works in both directions and that we draw on the expertise and enthusiasm of visitors as well. We also want visitors to our Web site to feel they can contribute to the work of the museum and develop their own creativity. We have not yet persuaded a curator to moderate a chat room or ventured into any of those other potentially labour intensive Web activities, but in the last year we have used a wide variety of ways of incorporating visitor-created content into our Web site.