User-generated content

Miserable User Generated Content

Have you ever noticed a good number of people seem to have a default mode of negative? I don’t mean those poor, unfortunate women who suffer from bitchy resting face either. Everyone seems to enjoy it to some extent, from the hard core Debbie Downers of the world who light up when there’s something to complain about, to the people who just want to enjoy a good chuckle at someone else’s expense.

Sometimes there’s a very good reason to seek out the negative. You might be cruising Yelp looking for a new restaurant, so you read all their less than stellar reviews to find out their biggest problem. Or maybe you’re trying to decide to buy from a user on eBay so you skip right to the negative reviews to see what issues this person has had that couldn’t be worked out. Secretly, you enjoy reading them, and the more problematic a person is, the more enticing the read.

Other times, it’s for sport. How many times have you found yourself laughing at other peoples misfortune watching those ultimate fail videos on YouTube? How about all that time you’ve spent on fmylife reading everyone’s posts about life fails? The old saying is true. Misery loves company, which makes a little suffering big business.

I came up with an idea (certainly not a new one) for a user generated content site where users could post funny gripes about their lives. I was thinking fmylife with pictures and video. There is nothing particularly unique about this idea. It’s a simple concept that is obviously incredibly popular. I think I was drawn to it because there was so much saturation out there. That might not make much sense, but in my head there’s always a better way.

I built the site with all free plugins. The only premium part of it was the Eleven40 Genesis theme 1 which is a favorite of mine that I run on a couple other sites too. I got the site the way I wanted it and then lost interest. It’s almost as if once the challenge of getting things working is complete, I either don’t have the knowledge or the motivation to tackle getting visitors to the site.

My favorite part of this project was the name. I thought about the face of a miserable person and then tried to imagine what it would take (other than life in general) to duplicate that face. I came up with biting an onion, and the OnionBites website was born. An Onion Bite would be a post of something that upset you, pissed you off, or basically anything worth venting about.

A lot of the sites I put up are abandoned because I can’t get them the way I want after a short time, but this one ended up exactly how I wanted. It looked clean and everything worked. Sadly, when I visited the site briefly to write this post, the WP User Frontend plugin seems to be effed and the form to submit is showing the shortcode. Maybe something changed that I have to update, or maybe the plugin is just broken. *shrug*

It’s time to let this one go as well. Just like nearly every other domain I mention here, this one is for sale 2 as well if you’re interested. I’m only selling the domain, but if you’re interested in duplicating the current look and functionality, I’d be more than happy to share the plugin list with you.

  1. Shareasale affiliate link
  2. Sedo direct sale link

Me Gusta User Generated Content Theme

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It amazes me how popular those meme or captioned picture related sites have become. Websites like 9gag, quickmeme, knowyourmeme, failblog, and LOLcats all receive heaps of traffic. Those entertaining posts are ideal for the shrinking attention span of internet users. So how do you get your slice of that pie?

I did a few searches for user generated content WordPress themes and the available options appeared quite thin. I seem to have a knack for wanting to play in areas where there’s not many out of the box WordPress solutions readily available. (see Photo Battle, Software Repository) In my opinion the standout in this category was the Me Gusta theme from CosmoThemes.

If I had to pick one site to compare Me Gusta to it would be with a complete sidebar instead of that stunted, non-moving one 9gag has going on. I actually prefer the long sidebar because if you ever managed to snag as much traffic as 9gag, you could fill up all that space with ads and affiliate stuff to make a little coin. With over four million Facebook likes, these people must be cashing in big time so if there’s a site you’ll want to try and emulate, it may as well be this one.

So what does this theme have to offer? It’s got the nice layout as I mentioned, it has a nice one click like (or love rather) button next to each post, a built in lightbox for images, a not safe for work feature that shields a photo from view unless you’re logged in, Facebook comments integration, and an easy to use control panel with many configurable options in the WordPress admin dashboard.

The theme does have a couple of things I’m not crazy about too. For example, the whole keyboard window thing that jumps in front of you like a pop up ad is annoying. The caption for it is actually “advanced navigation for a better experience”, but I honestly find it a nuisance. Luckily you can easily disable this feature. The other issue I have is registration. For a user generated content theme, they don’t put the register link in an obvious place or easy to find. I don’t like that you have to (know to) click on the login button to even find the register link.

Despite these minor problems, I still think Me Gusta is the leader of the pack for this niche and I hope they continue to update, improve, and develop the theme further. Just because you’re on top today does not guarantee that same success for tomorrow if you get lazy playing king of the hill. I like to call it the Blockbuster effect.

I’ve included a screenshot of the Me Gusta options panel within WordPress down below. If it looks like something you might be interested in exploring further, be sure to check out the Me Gusta demo.