Sunday, August 06, 2006

Netscape Favoring Navigators?

Is Netscape favoring their new paid Navigators?

If you look at the home page or any of the section pages, you'll find them dominated by stories from their new paid Navigators. Is this by chance or design?

I'll bet it's the latter.

I'm on Netscape

I was checking Netscape and found that a story about this blog has made the front page!

Here is the link:

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Boycott the Navigators

One of the other top users on Netscape shared this idea with me-

Let's boycott the Navigators.

Don't vote for any of their stories on Netscape. Instead vote up non-Navigators' stories. This will show Jason how he wasted his money.

I like the idea. What about you?

Site Now on Digg

This site has been entered on Digg. You can vote for it here:

It's now on Reddit too:

Anyone want to enter it on Netscape? I'd love to see if we can get it to the front page! I'll bet CK or one of the Anchors will delete it.

Navigators Announced

All the new Navigators have been announced here.

Does anyone else notice that the Netscape homepage is full of articles about how great Jason is for thinking of this idea? I guess Jason has a built-in crew to vote for stories about how great he thinks he is. As my spouse said, this guy sure is full of himself.

I did some research. Five of the ten Navigators already work for Jason as bloggers for Weblogs, Inc. All Jason did was hire his own people and then make a big deal about people switching to be paid by Netscape. Only 3 of the people were top Digg users.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Another Top Users Comments

This is an email I received from another top user on Netscape.

Here's the way I see this playing out:

-In a couple days, Jason will very publicly announce the new "Navigators." It will get a ton of press about how so-and-so switched from Digg to Netscape.

-Jason will tell current Netscape members to "keep submitting" great stories as the may add more folks in the future, and we'll be at the "top of the list." Some current Digg users will begin submitting on Netscape too in the hopes that they too will be hired.

-Other users, attracted by the idea of making an extra $1,000/month, will start competing for the spots. It will become highly competitive, and you and I will be left in the dust. If we do try to compete, it will be much harder to find stories that have not already been submitted. We will have to spend much more time and energy finding stuff.

-Six months will come and go, and no new Navigator positions will be announced. If inquired about, Jason will say at this time it doesn't make sense to add more Navigators for whatever reason, but they'll keep an eye on it. His goal of getting people to compete for future positions has been realized. He's getting people to submit a ton of stuff for free because they are hoping that someday, they'll be hired. At this point he doesn't need to pay anyone anymore. He'll use some excuse he's probably already thought of. Even when no new positions materialize, these new competitors will keep at it because they are just competitive like that. They want to be top.

-The success of Netscape however will not really depend so much on how many people are submitting stories, but how many are actually voting on them. It will take a long time for the average web user to be educated as to how important it is to vote on stories they like. Thousands of users, not understanding the concept, will leave Netscape. Ratings will plunge, and the critics will jump on that. If it can weather the storm, it will eventually begin to attract a new audience back, but that will take months if not years.

-In the end it all depends on how AOL does in their switchover to free services and how much patience they have. AOL will need ad revenue FAST to make up for the loss of subscriber revenue. If Netscape is losing too much ad revenue due to a drop in numbers, AOL may have to do something different. What? I don't know as they are kind of out of strategies. Also, someone else (Yahoo?) will buy Digg and it will put even more pressure on Netscape. Budgets will be cut, and even if Jason wanted to, he may not be able to pay users going forward (I doubt he will).

Personally, I think this is a master plan by Jason. He's very smart and very shrewd. He is hated among a lot of Silicon Valley, and not all of that hate is unjustified. I am sure he has thought out everything I lined out here. He knows this paying users thing is little more that a publicity stunt, but he needs to make this Netscape work. He has eyes on being put in charge of AOL itself someday.

As for me? I'll probably continue to submit an occasional story or two, but I don't have the time to compete for a position. I would rather devote that energy to my own blog and other projects. It's a shame really. No one was unhappy in the least until Jason announced he was going to pay people. I probably would have continued happily submitting stories. I never aimed to become a top user. It just happened.

The Set-Up

You don't know me.

I am one of the top 15 users on Netscape. What does this mean? Since Netscape relaunched in mid-June 2006, I have entered more news stories on the site than most other people. Many of these news stories have landed on the front page of the site.

In case you don't know the back story, the Netscape web portal was in serious trouble. It was losing thousands of visitors every month. AOL owns Netscape. They brought in Jason Calacanis to overhaul the Netscape website. Jason is the CEO of Weblogs, Inc, which he recently sold to AOL for an insane amount of money.

Jason's idea for the site was to copy Digg, a popular social news site. On Digg users enter news stories to share that they found on the web. Other users then "digg" or vote on these stories. The more diggs a story receives, the higher its placement on the site. Users can also comment on the stories.

When Netscape launched, it was largely criticized for being a Digg clone. Long time users of Netscape complained that their portal was taken away from them with no warning. Since I had never heard of Digg, I decided to check out this new Netscape. I liked what I saw and soon became an active user of the site. I have found hundreds of quality news stories on the web that I have entered on Netscape. The stories I have entered have been very popular and have received many comments. It was through active users like me that this new Netscape began to attract a new audience.

I was an active user of the site because I enjoyed it. It was fun. Sure there were other places on the web I could have spent my time, but I chose to support Netscape because I liked the community there. I never thought of compensation for my participation.

A couple of weeks ago, Jason Calacanis announced that he was going to hire 10-12 people to become Netscape Navigators. These people would be responsible for entering at least 150 stories a month exclusively to Netscape and receive $1,000/month compensation. Naturally I was interested since I was already on track to submit at least that many stories. I was told by some guy named "CK" that I was being considered and to keep up the good work. I continued my active involvement with Netscape with the eye on earning that extra income.

A week or two passed by, then suddenly a couple days ago Jason announced that only top users from other sites like Digg would be eligible for the Navigator positions. I was immediately contacted by other users who like me wondered why Jason would not want to reward the very people who had helped Netscape get off the ground. A variety of excuses were given from the idea that we didn't have a "following" to the fact that we had no experience. Never mind all the stories I had already entered. They didn't count.

Let's get one thing clear here: I was not the one who brought up the compensation. Jason was. I had never even heard of the guy until I started using this new Netscape. I wouldn't have minded doing this for free, but if people are going to be paid for it, shouldn't I be considered too? It annoys me to think that Jason would think those of us who started out with Netscape wouldn't be good enough to be hired. Jason and CK have told us via the Netscape site and Jason's blog to keep up the good work and we will be considered in the future. I'm annoyed though that this "CK" fellow led me on to believe I was eligible when all along I wasn't. I feel used.

Some of the other top users have told me that they think that this is all a publicity stunt by Jason. They think he has no plans to hire us or anyone else down the road. I think they are right. One other users told me that Jason seems to get annoyed if you even ask about it.

So since I am not good enough to be a Navigator for Netscape, all I can say is "Bye bye." I'm going to go check Digg out. I'm sure I'll be welcome there.

This is my first entry on this blog. In future entries I will tell you how Jason is still taking advantage of people.