This is what Shawn Morton would look like if he had been made of LEGO -- the personal website of Shawn Morton
UPDATE: This blog has been retired as of August 2011. See this post for more information or connect with me on Twitter.
Saturday, July 29, 2006
Calacanis has deleted all of my comments

In addition to the joke post I mentioned earlier, Jason has now decided to delete all of my comments to his blog. Luckily, I saved a copy of them just in case.

First, Jason claims that people like Michael Arrington of Tech Crunch are upset about the idea of paying amateurs.

My response was:

"19. Arrington isn't questioning whether bloggers or "amateurs" should get paid. He is challenging your overall product strategy and this transparent attempt to get publicity for Netscape.

Nowhere in his piece did Arrington say you shouldn't pay people. What he did say, that I'm sure upset you, was that it would not help you.

I totally agree with him. Even if you do get some of the Digg users (and I'm guessing it won't be the top 20 you're shooting for) to take your money, I am betting that they won't abandon Digg. So you'll basically be paying someone to syndicate Digg. Why not use their RSS feed instead?

You're missing the critical piece of the puzzle in the success of sites like Digg -- the existing community. It'd be like offering to give someone free drinks to come to your bar (so that their friends will come and pay for drinks) when all of that person's friends still go to another bar (and they like it better). The offer isn't enough to change one person's behavior, not to mention the entire group.

And as previous posters have said, your "man of the people" front is a joke, too. You built Weblogs Inc (and now Netscape) by being a content pimp. Let someone else do all the work and then give them some table scraps and some empty praise in your blog."

Next, he claimed that the media "elite" are so upset over his $1,000 offer.

My response to Michael Arrington's comment was:

"11. Michael:
I made the same point in the comments of his previous post yesterday.

As a prototypical fame whore, we can't expect Jason to use logic in defending his product. He would rather blow this publicity stunt up into some power-to-the-people movement rather than address the real problems with Netscape.

I wonder if Jason and team considered whether any Netscape users actually wanted Digg-like functionality before building it. I'm betting that, like so many other companies do, they saw that Digg was successful and they wanted to be successful, too. Surely, just copying Digg would be enough to be successful, right?

And for the record, I think people should be paid if they want to be paid. The fact that so many people are doing hours and hours of work every day without asking for a penny shows that there is much more to it than money (and it also shows how little Jason understands about social networking and UGC).

And then yesterday, I had a little debate with a user named Christian who had Jason's back on his post titled, "Classic."

I started off by responding:

"Again, Jason's fanboys aren't paying attention. NO ONE IS SAYING PAYING PEOPLE IS A BAD IDEA! Give that a minute to sink in.

What people are saying, that Jason is trying to avoid, is that paying people WILL NOT HELP NETSCAPE.

For some reason, like Jason, most of the commenters are debating an issue that no one else is disagreeing with.

Arrington's TechCrunch post, which set off Jason's first (of many) rants, didn't criticize the idea of paying people. It criticized Netscape's product strategy.

And in my earlier comments, I pointed out that people should get paid IF THEY WANT TO. The fact that none of the Digg users have asked for money means that they have no problem doing it for free (and it means Jason doesn't really get the motivation behind user-generated content).

Jason, do you care to address the real issue that has been criticized (Netscape's product strategy and the message it sends to old Netscape users)? Or are you going to continue to argue something that everyone is on board with?

I bet I know which one you'll choose.

Christian came back with this and this (which is still on the site and quotes my response).

So I said:

"20. Christian:
The quote you dug (not dugg, btw) out of that article was one I hadn't seen. However, it still doesn't say it is a bad idea. It seems to be looking for more justification/clarification.

Having read Jason's blog for quite a while, my point is that he can't ever discuss the stuff in the middle. It's an extreme in either direction. So in this case, it is "everybody thinks paying people is a bad idea, except me. YA ME!" That is not the case at all.

And to say that Digg users have been "suckered" is ridiculous. Do you really think that no one realizes how much time and energy that they spend contributing? You might as well claim they have been hypnotized by Kevin Rose and he is sending instructions through the Diggnation podcast.

And finally, I still contend that neither Jason nor you understand the motivation behind user-generated content. For the really hardcore contributors, IT ISN'T CONSIDERED WORK! That's why the thought of getting paid seems weird/insulting/whatever to them. Most of them do it for some other reason (recognition, to help out others, etc.).

So it isn't that the system is suckering people and that they don't realize it. It's that they are motivated by something other than money and that they don't consider what they do as work. That's where the big disconnect is in this idea.

Sure, some people on this blog have commented that they would take $1,000; however, none of them were the top users that Jason seeks. So until someone shows me the target (the top Digg users) switching over, I'm sticking by this opinion.

And finally (again), you're right. No one knows if this idea will work for Netscape. I was just trying to clarify what Arrington was asserting (and that I agree with) because Jason had twisted the message to serve his latest cause/PR stunt.

About Shawn Morton

Married father of 6; VP of Social Media at JPMorgan Chase; gluten-free; gadget enthusiast; hair metal aficionado; #Movember man View more on LinkedIn.