Interesting little debate going on the blogs this morning. Anil Dash wants Flickr to pay its users, particularly the ones who put the most popular content onto the service. Caterina, co-founder of Flickr, answers back, says more to life than money.
That sounds cool, but there certainly is a belief among mainstream big company publishers I’m listening to that “user generated content” (I HATE that term) is how they are going to build profitable businesses. Basically, they are looking at bloggers and photographers and others as cheap labor. Get the stuff for free, stick ads next to it, and make a ton of money. That basically explains a large percentage of the Silicon Valley startup’s business plans lately too.
I feel the same about these folks as I felt about the folks who talked about “making sites sticky” in the late 1990s. They created business opportunity by being selfish and greedy. Which is sorta funny, when you think about it, isn’t it?
The real way to create a sticky site turned out to be to send people away from your site more often than anyone else.
It’ll be interesting to see if the best way to build a really great Internet business and a great Web-based community just might be to pay people to write, take photos, record podcasts, and give their knowledge into the system. Hmmm, what are the two of the hottest companies? eBay and Google. They pay their users, particularly ones who are popular (I have friends making $10,000+ a month off of Google ads, for instance).