Great story in the WSJ about the buzz being generated by the top users at digg, Reddit, Newsvine, delicious, stumbleupon, and of course Netscape. The article really shows how the top users in these systems have become more than just “users,” and the WSJ seems to really get that folks can be paid to do a job and not be corrupted.
Of course, when you pay people to do an editorial job you have setup a system for them to do so without compromising their ethics. We did this at Netscape by letting the Navigators blog/bookmark things they selected (i.e. unlike PayPerPost we didn’t tell people what to blog about–let alone tell them it had to a be a positive result).
AOL is really doing a great job of supporting Netscape from what I can see. They haven’t cut the budget, and it seems that the tech roadmap that we setup when I was there is being executed on brilliantly (it really is an amazing tech team over there!). The Netscape 9 browsers is ground breaking no many levels, and the stats from Netscape six months in are *exactly* like digg’s after six months (250,000 stories and 150,000 members @ Netscape–not to shabby!).
AOL is sitting on a powerhouse with Netscape and I hope the give it a full two year runway because that’s what it takes to build a community system like this. Netscape is the #1 or #2 social news system in the world and AOL owns 100% of it–that’s big. CondeNast owns the #3 system with Reddit, and digg is probably gonna get snapped up by Yahoo, Google, or Newscorp I’m sure. So, AOL got essentially a free foothold in this emerging space because Jon Miller, Ted Leonsis, and Jim Bankoff made a long-term bet that is *just* starting to pay off.
I really hope Randy Falco, Ron Grant, and the new team over there let Netscape continue to grow because these systems could wind up being the core of the next generation portals.
My plan was to go to 50 Navigators with six months, and I think Netscape is at around 25. I highly encourage the team over there to get right to 50 Navigators @ $1,000 a month and then start a second program with 200 Navigators at $500 a month. This second group of Navigators who have a lower hurdle of work (say 100 stories per month baseline), but would be focused on the 30 channels. So, you would have 250 Navigators total with 6-10 on each channel. This would make the channels full and give Netscape a chance–for only $250,000 a month–to really own the broad social news space.
As the story showed digg, reddit, delicious, and Newsvine are the perfect place to look for emerging talent and pay them.
If I was CEO of StumbleUpon I would raise $10M and pay the top 250 folks $500 a month for contributing to the system. It would make the system go off the charts.
Anyway, I’m out of the social news business… although I wish I wasn’t I really love what Netscape’s doing and I talk to members of the team and community over there on a daily basis.
PS – The 9.0 browser is amazing!!! Great job… don’t forget my News drop down menu!