Delicious Taggers Exploited, Stiffed?

Internet Outsider: Delicious Taggers Exploited, Stiffed? Henry Blodget asks the question, “Did Delicious exploit–and then shaft–its taggers?” His answer is a resounding no. Picking up on a similar theme and question that Anil Dash raised a few months back about Flickr not sharing the wealth with their users, Blodget reflects on a growing question surrounding whether those of us who participate in social networks are somehow due something for our labor and time in making our respective social networks that much better for us and also coincidently more valuable for their owners.

Henry’s opinion: “Until someone suggested the concept of exploitation, I assume that Delicious’s taggers were the happiest bunch of users in the world. Here was a cool new technology that allowed them to tell others what they found interesting, that allowed them to “vote,” as it were, that allowed them to express themselves and influence others by virtue of their Internet exploration and editorial decisions, that allowed them to lead the vanguard of the next wave of Internet innovation, that allowed them, in some cases, to become famous within the growing community of Delicious fanatics, many of whom looked up to them and wished that they, themselves, were so talented and multi-faceted. Before someone shouted “unfair!”, I imagine, most Delicious taggers were having the time of their lives. (Why else would they have been doing it?)”

I think Henry hits the nail on the head. Nobody’s forcing anyone to tag at Delicious and nobody is forcing anyone to upload photos to Flickr, nor is anyone forced to submit stories or vote on stories at Digg. Most users do it because they are participating in something that they enjoy, feel is cool, and gain personal satisfaction from. And why shouldn’t the creators of these great new technologies profit from building something that enables so much delight?

Certainly there is an increasing market for creating social networks. There is immense value to search, advertising and PR in social networks. Yahoo! is smart to recognize the value of these businesses early on.

But the thing that Flickr and Delicious and Digg do right is that they in fact highly value the community that is responsible for their success. They continue to embrace the community and work to make their respective community experiences better and better for the members involved. As long as the community continues to be valued then it will thrive, increase and become even that much more valuable. There is nothing wrong with this.

Although I suspect that sites like Delicious and Flickr and Digg may in fact find various financial mechanisms to reward their top users in the future, at bottom perhaps the greatest feature of these communities of all is that people who are there are in fact genuinely motivated by interest and not money. People who love the technology, love the attention and love the fun will always build a better social network than people who are only in it for the money.

And by the way, how long until Yahoo! buys Digg anyways?

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