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.

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