Can You Buy a Community?

I wasn’t going to say anything about Jason Calacanis’ announcement today that he was looking to buy Newsvine’s, Digg’s, and Reddit’s top link seeders for a thousand bucks a pop, but the fine folks at Reddit said it with zero words better than I ever could (note the logo):

It’s an interesting experiment for sure: whether you can take a user base of 12 million that isn’t a community in any way, pull their aging but comfortable portal out from under them, pay a bunch of users from other sites to entertain them, and then get them injected into a new community before they decide to go elsewhere. It hasn’t caught on yet, and I imagine that 99% of Netscape’s current user base has yet to vote on a single article, but it’s still very early in the game.

People like to point to Digg as a model that has clearly worked, and they are thus far correct, but one important thing to keep in mind is that other models may work as well and perhaps even better. There will never be only one winner in the community-driven news world. There will be many, and each will bring their own philosophy and style to the table. Our philosophy at Newsvine is to provide the best news reading, news writing, news gathering, and news debate possible. We’re only four months into our public launch and still have miles to go, but big companies trying to buy our best contributors isn’t what keeps us up at night… it’s continuing to evolve, continuing to innovate, and continuing to respond to what our community is telling us they want.

8 comments on “Can You Buy a Community?”. Leave your own?
  1. Andrew Mager says:

    Excellent remarks Mike. I looked at that story earlier today and it makes sense to me… I find myself on Digg 10 times a day, and if an article has a lot of diggs, I click it simply because it has a lot of diggs.

    I feel like if more people like an article and like it, I will be more tuned to scan it myself. Social media excites me every day, and I am loving the way Newsvine is gaining strength.

  2. Joshua says:

    That’s an interesting article, but I have doubts that it will work.

    It’s the same old adage of post counts. If you’ve ever been to a tech forum that counts how many posts you tack up, the amount of worthless posts is astounding. When people feel like they are getting rewarded for something, they will tend to focus on the reward and not the task. I’m thinking that the type of people that enter into this contract will begin posting whatever crap they can find on the internet just to make their baseline.

    It’s already tough to find quality weblog comments and news submissions, let alone encouraging quantity over quality. A reward system sounds interesting, but maybe just counting how many submissions someone makes is the wrong way to go about it. A better model might be, say on Digg, rewarding a user for how many other people dugg the article. I.e., any article over 500 diggs, the user will recieve $.005 per digg, but any article under 500 will subtract from that. Something along those lines. That method has its problems too, but I am sure there is a more creative and stable method than simply paying someone a monthly salary to submit worthless content.

    Can a community be bought? Sure. Anything is possible. Is Jason’s method the right way of doing it? I don’t think so.

  3. Sean Madden says:

    Don’t worry Mike, I can’t be bought for any price.

  4. milo 317 says:

    Good article, Mike, nowadays you can buy everything….

  5. Colin says:

    I think Calacanis’ idea is great, and will benefit the ‘seeding’ industry/community as a whole.

    What is a store that allows anybody to set up a booth and sell their items? It’s called a flea market. What is a store that buys from specific, high-quality producers. It’s called a super market.

    Calacanis wants to build a super market, not a flea market. The community can choose where they want to browse for their links. I like that idea and I think it will work quite well for Netscape.

  6. BCM says:


    How about an update on Newsvine? How is it doing? How many users have signed up? What percent login on a daily or weekly basis? I’m interested in learning how successful the site’s been thus far.

  7. Mike D. says:

    BCM: Site’s doing great so far. June was our biggest month and July has blown it away so far. This when most news sites are experiencing the standard summer downturn.

  8. Miguel says:

    Bahh. I don’t think losing a writer or two will really affect Newsvine. There are tons of good writers in the community already. Personally, I think that’s what keeps it running and interesting.

    Regarding the last comment from BCM:
    Yeah Mike. I was actually wondering if you could give us a ballpark for the number of members at Newsvine (I’m reeaally curious…). I’ve been writting since November ’05 now and I have seen a HUGE increase in the amount of people visiting. The site is amazing! I love it.

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