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A couple of days ago, the seemingly highly caffeinated Jason Calacanis offered to pay $1000 a month to the top posters on Digg, Reddit, Flickr and Newsvine for the social bookmarking they are already doing. This led to a rousing argument with, among others, Mike Arrington at techcrunch.

“The concept of “free” content producers, which I think WIRED called crowdsourcing, is going to be a short-lived joke. A loophole in the content business that will be closed by savvy startups which identify the top 5% of the audience and buy their time.”

Some folks, notably Mke Arrington, were shocked, Calacanis said, while others “realize that it is the totally logical evolution of “crowdsourcing” and Web 2.0.”
Arrington responds:

“I have a couple of observations on this. Netscape has a massively larger audience than Digg, but has absolutey failed to impact Digg growth at all. AOL placed a big bet on this product, and I imagine they want to see fast results. They aren’t getting those results. Jason’s post is a sign of desperation more than anything.
At the end of the day, the Netscape product is a soulless reproduction of one of the most interesting cultural experiments occuring on the web right now….The obvious question is, will Jason will be the fall guy when it comes time to point fingers?

Raves Calacanis:

“How dare we offer people money for their work?!?!!? How dare these people get paid for their time!??!?! … I tell you what Mike, if you’re so offended by the concept of people getting paid for their work, why don’t you work for free….Credibility and authenticity can exist in a commercial environment (say, like the.. ummm.. real world!).

I think Calacanis has a point. But I agree that Netscape’s Digg imitation is completely uninteresting. It’s gotta be hard being a hard-headed entrepreneur inside failire-laden AOL.