Paying users of social networks.

Jason Calacanistalks about how hiring the top digg users has brought netscape forward and will change the future etc etc.

Techcrunch asks if the balance is shifting towards paying users and also says netscapes pageviews have increased etc.

I think both views are wrong,  this is one of the few cases where I can look at whats going on with hindsight and the current players think this is all new unique and exciting.

The top 20 or so users on these sites will direct and set the culture of a site.  People who do not agree with the leaders,  ie their stories don’t make it to the top  will get pissed off and leave the site.   Eventually  you will start to get cliques forming that vote each others stories and take over a category,  much like what is happening at digg right now.

Now unless the top 20 of your users are intune with your audaince  your site will go nowhere.   Jason was able to buy his way into the market by taking away diggs leadership and instantly have some good stories brought up to the top. 

So what will happen to digg?   Pretty much nothing,  even if they banned the top 50 users the next 50 users would step up and become the top users and work as hard as the top users are now.    Because of the way the system works  the users 50 -100 have very similar interests as the top 50.  The top 50 just happen to get them up faster for whatever reason.  Social Media follows the power law,  if the A listers in the tech industry got hit by a train tomorrow,  there would be a completely new A list within a month.  This only works  if you have website or industry with thousands of contributors.

So what is the take away from all this?   If you want to buy your way into a market buy the top contributors your competitors.   If you are a huge site, develop a LOT of clique busting techniques.   When you get large numbers of contributors they all end up becoming friends,  or share a very narrow range of interests and ideas.   I have hundreds of thousands of users contributing to my site in various ways.   In places such as the forums i’ve gone and banned the top 50 users several times as cliques just get to out of control and have no connection to the mainstream anymore.   In the next few months  we will see digg  battle its top members as they fight to control the cliques and its not going to be pretty.

14 Responses to “Paying users of social networks.”

  1. Brad Says:

    Interesting writeup on Wikipedia and its user base that correlates with what you are talking about.

  2. Money Making Forum Says:

    I totally agree Markus, we are moving away from paid users.

  3. mad4 Says:

    What did the top 50 users say when you banned them? How long were they banned for?

  4. M. Says:

    If you compare Digg vs. Netscape using Alexa – (which is admittedly sketchy in terms of measuring actual traffic, but its all we’ve got to go on) -you find that Netscape’s page views have been slipping over the past three months. Digg’s hasn’t, at least not as much.

    But let’s take Jason as his word, and say the front page views have doubled. Does that mean that other page views on the site have fallen, perhaps dramatically? Is that the best overall strategy for the site?

    Also, if the page views have increased on the front page so heavily… how much of that is from all these people – including fellow Diggers – checking out Jason’s experiment? What kind of bounce is it because this is a “new” concept in general? How long will this last?

    It seems to me far too early to call this a success. Because the 1% are happy now, but in six months from now, when they start to realize all the work they do for a part-time paycheque, won’t they become discouraged by it? When they start to realize they are getting paid minimum wage for the job, or less…?

    On the other hand, Jason never paid his bloggers that well from what I gathered, and that worked very well for Weblogs Inc.

    Still, working for prestige is one thing, but entering pay into the equation makes it another. If you talk to HR people and management consultants, they’ll often warn you about rewarding people with bonuses, vs. rewarding them with prizes or non-monetary perks.

  5. M. Says:

    Actually, my mistake: Reading Jason’s post again, he doesn’t actually say they’ve doubled page views. He says they’ve had more votes and stories submitted in the past week than before… His post is strictly about how other critics are interpreting his move to pay top users.

    Which again calls into question the real long-term success of the idea.

  6. Stephen Sclafani Says:

    Good points Markus. Another example is YouTube and Revver. It wouldn’t make any sense for YouTube to start paying people now but makes perfect sense for Revver.

  7. On.. Paying for users and moneytising the web. « BuzzSort Says:

    […] I’m not one of those people that looks backwards too much, however I’m one of those people that longs for the time when money wasn’t such an equation on the web. People built websites because they wanted to, rather than looking at what Google Adwords paid the most. Up until recently the best thing about the webs current configuration and focus was the fact that community driven sites like,, wikipedia etc. were all doing it because they felt compelled to. However as has been reported widely, has changed that by taking Digg’s top posters and paying them to contribute to […]

  8. WinExtra » Blog Archive » Does reputation have a price sticker? Says:

    […] This first really came to a head when Jason Calacanis over at the revamped raided for its top posters with what basically amounted to a job offer – come post for us and get paid for your time (you can read more about this here, here, here and here). […]

  9. Digg fights its top users. « The Paradigm Shift Says:

    […] Digg starts fighting its top users,  this is no great surprise as it is exactly what I predicted would happen.   The web 2.0 crowd loves to think that digg is something new and revolutionary but at the end of the day all it is,  is a forum with a different user interface.   Digg like forums before it is still subjected to the same infighting, trolls and instead of thread hijacking you have vote rigging. […]

  10. Deep Jive Interests » Beggars and Tyrants: The Rich Irony of Growing and Managing Social Networks Says:

    […] But every time Kevin Rose, or whoever is running Digg, makes unilateral changes that affect everyone without acknowleding the community that drives Digg, he is snubbing everyone who contributes, large and small. And sends a message, as Markus of points out, that he can do what he wants, when he wants, and whomever he wants to do it too — and that’s his prerogative.  He can (and should) delete, at will, the very core of the People that have built the community that Digg runs on — regardless of what they think, if Kev thinks it best. […]

  11. Notes on Paying Users « timtowle Says:

    […] What are the reasons to pay users? – Give back to your users. Within a community model (after all every site is a COMMUNITY these days), isn’t it churlish not to share the wealth? – Ensure core content. See Mr.Calcanis again, and his 1, 19, 80 rule. – Ensure freshness and quality. – Build content and user base quickly. – Stops user churn, especially of core users. – Competitive advantage/matching competitive offering. Especially when coming from behind […]

  12. NEW SITE GETS BANNED FROM DIGG WITHIN 6 DAYS - Steve Says: is getting cocky and banning small web sites just because digg’s users submit them to digg and digg’s moderators don’t like it. is the latest victim of Digg’s “We are big, you are small and we can do whatever we want” attitude.
    First some background.
    After running the website for the last year we realised there was a demand for a scifi digg type website – 6 Days ago was born and is powered by open source Pligg and the YouTube API.
    So what went wrong?
    The site went live on the 22 March 2007. People submitted stories and video links to digg and other sites, Yahoo, Simply and Reddit. Having a submit button makes submitting very easy and fast but that could be a problem.
    Let’s get to the point
    Digg’s moderators decided that since the link pointed to my site and the posts are mainly videos from YouTube ScifiDigg should be banned from digg and no other links from can be posted to digg.
    Digg’s response
    I contacted digg to find out what happened and why they blocked my site. The response I got from them was that my site violated their terms of use, by copying another site. I explained to them that although the video is streamed by YouTube we give the facility for original coments to be added.
    The response I got was that they do not allow sites that copy other sites to be submitted to digg. I told them that according to their rules they should also ban Yahoo news, since it does not have an original content but republish articles from PCWorld, Reuters, MACWorld and others. Also falls under this category other major sites like, and many more that are doing exactly the same infact they should ban YouTube because the video content is often copied from other video websites. But hey, they are big sites and digg can’t pick on them without repercussion, like they can pick on small blogs that try to establish themselves.
    So what have we learned?
    · Digg’s users don’t really determine what gets promoted, but digg’s moderators do.
    · Digg have a different set of rules for small site and different rules for big sites, even though both are doing the same.
    · Digg will ban a small site just because one of its user’s submitted an article that other digg members liked and promoted, but moderator didn’t like the link.
    · Digg will not listen to reason when told that the site did not violate its TOS.

    I am going to create a clone Watch this space!!!

  13. automotive floor jack Says:

    I must say, that I can not agree with you in 100%, but that’s just my opinion, which indeed could be wrong.
    p.s. You have an awesome template for your blog. Where did you find it?

  14. Does reputation have a price sticker? — Shooting at Bubbles Says:

    […] a job offer – come post for us and get paid for your time (you can read more about this here, here, here and […]

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