There has been nothing short of an uproar regarding the recent changes to Tribe.net’s design and interface. Longtime users of the site began viral reactionary content creation which is making effective use of community building to voice discord with the direction of a website.
The changes were rolled out on January 18th and the response was violent “Tribe: New and Unimproved,” “Revert Tribe Now,” and “I Hate the New Tribe Look” sprang up and garnered members rather than the offically sanctioned comment tribe, “Tribe’s New Look.”
Many users of the site reacted by flaming the changes. The more interesting comments were those that voiced dissapointment in the change and commented that they felt especially wronged because of their personal investment or personal equity which they had invested.
Web 2.0 is all about community, and the response to Tribe.net’s changes is undoubetedly a warning sign for all those who venture into development of a community based website. In order to make it quickly to the top of the web these days, you must leverage the power of user-created content. But by asking users to put the skin on the skeleton of a web 2.0 project you’re opening yourself up to reactionary content creation if you end up threatening a user’s personal equity.
This is the problem Tribe.net is facing. Tribe has matured to the point of having a rather large userbase but has failed to keep up with the popularity of sites like Myspace and Friendster. In a move to come further into step with what works, they re-vamped the layout, interface and ad placement for all of their pages. But the popular opinion of their existing user base is that Tribe is headed in a direction.
The question defaults to how a Web 2.0 site like Tribe should treat user opinion manifested in reactionary content creation. Should the site address these tribes with a tailored message? Should virtual social-dissent be quashed? The answer lies in the loss of participation from core users and whether this can be balanced from new users expected from the “brighter and more friendly” interface.
Tribe.net isn’t the only site to experience growing pains from an organized malcontented user base, Flickr.com underwent similar criticism from its user base upon its aquisition by Yahoo! As sites become incresingly on each user’s free content contribution to propell them forward an obligation of honoring these user’s personal equity grows as well.
It will be up to each site to determine how far they can go against the opinion of internet denizens personal equity and how they will deal with the viral reactionary content creation that results from discontent.