More Navigators at Netscape (or What our paid bookmarkers are really doing. Hint: it’s not just bookmarking)

We’ve hired another bunch of great Navigators to work at Netscape. These are folks who are either experts in their field and/or the best social bookmarkers in the world. We pay them for work–yes, I know that’s a crazy Web 3.0 idea.

Seriously, these folks are not paid to just submit stories, they get paid to:

  • a) submit great stories
  • b) close down duplicate stories
  • c) train users on how to participate in a social news site
  • d) let folks know when they break the rules on a social news site (i.e. posting spam, a press release, a dupe)
  • e) shut down spammers
  • f) shut down voting rings
  • g) post intelligent comments and keep discussions on topic

This brings our total to 23, and I don’t see an end to how far we can expand this program. These users add a huge amount of value and I believe we could go right to 50, 100, and in two years perhaps 250 navigators. That’s only 8-10 per channel, and 100 Navigators at $12,000 each a year would cost us $1.2M a year, and 200 would push us to $2.4M–that’s an OK number given the payoff.

Of course, I’ve got prove this model and we are going to prove it 5-10 navigators at a time. So, to my Navigators PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE make me look smart by growing the Netscape community and getting folks involved/addicted to social news! Every time you pull someone in, educate them about the concept, and nurture them along we win. We win, the program expands and the virtuous cycle continues.

Now, these folks are not just submitting, they are community leaders. Think of them as the crossing guards, bus drivers, teachers, landscapers, sanitation workers (at times with all the spam!), and the support staff in your local town. Our town makes money and we need–and can afford–to pay folks to keep the town running nicely.

Now, digg is a commune and that works for them–more power to them!

This is a new space and folks can approach it differently. digg is the Burning Man of social bookmarking: no one gets paid (except the founders), there is no money involved (except for the millions in advertising), and it’s all for the common good of the people (with the exception of the founders who are looking at a $200M exit)…. but I digress. 🙂

Now, I love going to Burning Man for a couple of days, but I like living in the very well run town of Santa Monica. Perhaps you feel differently and want to live on the commune, and that’s OK.

The concept of the global Internets (and Interwebs and associated series of tubes) is that anyone can make their own version of the world. In our version of the world people get paid for their work, it digg’s they get recognition.

Time will tell which model works better… I think digg’s is more idealistic vision and Netscape’s is much more practical. If digg becomes the farm league for Netscape that’s fine, that’s what Flickr is to Getty Images and what TypePad is to Weblogs, Inc. and Gawker.

best,

Jason

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