The Trouble With The Social Web

January 22, 2007 – 11:54 am

by Darren

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We’ve all heard about how the social web would consume the internet, and that user-generated content is really some sort of remarkable idea. But is it? The idea has been around for a long time: give people tools and they’ll build content for you. But there’s one big problem with this scenario: when the people realize that you’re making money from their efforts, the whole game changes.

Take Digg, which was so wildly successful. Before long, they attracted the attention of clones like Netscape, where the head man in charge said that all contributers of content should be paid. This planted some seeds through the social news community, and the reasons that people were contributing to Digg changed. Now, I’d almost guarantee you that corruption reigns supreme at the website, and very few “regular bloggers” make the front page, without some sort of payola.

Why will the top users contribute for free if the website owners make millions from the website? Mainly they’ll do it if they can self-promote. But self-promotions as tradeoff for information doesn’t really seem like that great of a deal. Self promoters aren’t know for accuracy. So somewhere down the line, social media will have to come up with a system that rewards (monetarily) the best users based on some sort of quality system.

A lot of what users generate is crapola content, also. Much of it is second rate in presentation. It doesn’t take much for users to slap together some content, especially if doing so will result in a perceived gain for them. But how can communities like this grow in the end?

2007 will be a pivotal year for websites like Digg and Reddit. We’ll see if they actually can make any leap to the mainstream.

Do you use any of the social media websites?

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