Hmmm. I think I have the story straight now. Jason McCabe Calacanis from Netscape (otherise connected to WeblogsInc/AOL/blogsmith),

Hello. My name is Jason. I’m the CEO of the blogging network Weblogs, Inc. On this blog I write about the startup experience, my life, my bulldog, and my Knicks.

put a proposal out there on this thread called Paying the top DIGG/REDDIT/Flickr/Newsvine users (or “$1,000 a month for doing what you’re already doing.”) This proposal was to

… I have an offer to the top 50 users on any of the major social news/bookmarking sites:We will pay you $1,000 a month for your “social bookmarking” rights. Put in at least 150 stories a month and we’ll give you $12,000 a year. (note: most of these folks put in 250-400 stories a month, so that 150 baseline is just that–a baseline).Now, this offer is going to get a big response I know, so we’re going to have to limit to a dozen or so folks.

However, I’m absolutely convinced that the top 20 people on DIGG, Delicious, Flickr, MySpace, and Reddit are worth $1,000 a month and if we’re the first folks to pay them that is fine with me–we will take the risk and the arrows from the folks who think we’re corrupting the community process (is there anyone out there who thinks this any more?!).

An interesting offer. So bloggers become journalists, without the training. Nothing wrong with that. I have a friend who years ago used to write stuff on PC games for friends and family. He eventually was offered a job at on one of the Playstation magazines. No ‘experience’ but a lot of passion.

The issue has been around ‘stealing’ the top bloggers from one community and putting them on another. Kevin Rose one of the founders of Digg blogged back here:

Jason,
Clever PR stunt, but man, in the end I believe it’s going to do more damage for Netscape than good. Ya see users like Digg, Del.icio.us, Reddit and Flickr because they are contributing to true, free, democratic social platforms devoid of monetary motivations. All users on these sites are treated equally, there aren’t anchors, navigators, explorers, opera-ers, or editors. Jason, I know AOL has given you access to their war-chest, but honestly, take that money and invest it into site development. Listen to your existing community. Think of what your loyal Netscape users must think – you’re essentially telling them that they aren’t good enough and that you have to buy better users. You can have the best submitters in the world, but if your community doesn’t support you it will never work.
As for the top users controlling digg, yes, on digg quality content rules. If users are consistently posting quality stories, they will make the homepage. Let me give you the real numbers from the database. As of right now there are 444,809 registered digg users. Since launch there have been 38,848 popular homepage stories, of which 11,943 were from the ‘Top 100’. That means historically less than 1/3 of homepage stories come from the ‘Top 100’.
Hope this helps – clone on,
Kevin
ps – have a beer and relax, it’s just diggnation šŸ™‚

Calacanis comes back again here. And so on and so forth. Oh and there’s a podcast episode 55 on diggnation/revision3. And others have got involved.

My opinion? Neither digg NOR Netscape own the community. The community owns the community. People come and people go. All the time. Active passionate leaders simply disappear. If good bloggers are seen as following the money, their readership may drop. Great bloggers will use a sassy attitude with a bit of whimsy thrown in and their adoring public will continue to adore them.

Why are Netcape/AOL/Weblogs.inc paying? That is the real question. If they want the content for their site, fine. After all Belle de Jour got her UK tabloid gig on the basis of her blog. Riverbend got Girl Blog in Iraq published as a book and has been nominated for the Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction, on the basis of her blog. Content is content.

If it’s the community, that’s another thing again. A much more dangerous game to play, raiding another’s community or trying to. There are soooo many elements – passionate writers and insightful leaders are just two roles in a community – so taking a slice and not the whole thing is tricky.

Netscape need to look to the secondary layer of responses on blogs – again, I’m not a fan of blogs they are anti-community. But look to which bloggers respond on their blogs keeping conversation going. Are there cliques/swarms/hives forming? Friends/enemies that have to support/disagree with everything their friend/foe posts? Will the newly-employed blogger be able to bring the different swarms with him/her? A well-read blog is not a community. It’s all in the dialogue.

There are some brilliant ways to reward members for staying loyal to a community and some equally stunning ways to reward members for creating content. I never thought that handing over cash was one of them. Good luck to those who have just gained employment as bloggers, good luck to Netscape in trying to instil content and possibly community into their online strategy, and good luck to digg, though I don’t think they need it. Oh and good luck to you too, dear reader. Do you need it?

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