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Digg at risk: 'Social A Listers' poached by Netscape

Powerhouse AOL is wielding its financial muscle and business savvy to bolster its newly redesigned “Digg-like
Written by Donna Bogatin, Contributor
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Powerhouse AOL is wielding its financial muscle and business savvy to bolster its newly redesigned “Digg-like” Netscape.com portal by poaching “three of the top 12 DIGG users.”

According to AOL and Netscape.com exec Jason Calacanis:

Seriously, the fact is that the top 10 users on DIGG are responsible for 30% of the front page stories on DIGG. That's 3% of total front page stories each!!! Think about that for a second... the top 10 users of DIGG do 3% of the work each--that is stunning. They get paid nothing but they are responsible for 3% of the total content on the home page. Wow. Like WOW, WOW, WOW!

Last weekend, in “Web 2.0: Top five social risks list,” I put forth the notion of “Social A-Listers” in the Web 2.0 environment and discussed the disproportionate power they hold:

SOCIAL 'A' LISTERS: Validity of Democratic Platforms

The other side of the Social Freeloaders quandary is what I call a 'Social A Listers' dilemma.

Rose believes that his Digg is a 'true, free, democratic social platform.' As in any 'democracy,' however, 'power' is concentrated within the hands of a small number of hard working, motivated 'volunteers' aiming to maneuver the 'system' to their advantage. In “Digg contributor: Social Web can be a 'very cruel place'” I quote a Digg commenter on the frustrations of a seemingly 'inequitable' Digg system:

The problem is not only those who don't want to take part, but also the actual crowd that does post the comments. Ever since the bury system was implemented, digg has become a very cruel place. More so, submitting stories is very hard, especially when it seems that only a small percentage of users get their stories miraculously on the front page, while the rest of us schmucks get snide remarks from the other users for even trying to post a story.

Last month in “Social freeloaders: Is there a collective wisdom and can the Web obtain it?” I put forth the notion of Web 2.0 “Social Freeloaders” and point out the risks Web 2.0 properties run in relying on a “small core community” of users to generate content:

Wikipedia’s ‘small core community’ that does the vast majority of the work reflects the extremely low ratio of contributing users to non-contributing users throughout the new social Web that relies on user contributions for its content.

From Wikipedia to de.licio.us, and from YouTube to Riya, both not-for-profit endeavors and purely commercial enterprises are staking their entire existence on user-generated content that is unreliable, inconsistent and difficult to come by.

In “Calacanis new 'Robin Hood' of the Web?” I postulate on Digg’s Reaction to Netscape’s “offer” to Digg volunteers:

Calacanis’ 'generous' public 'recruitment' announcements may be welcomed by 'poor' volunteer Social Web contributors as 'Robin Hood' style sharing of wealth.

On the other hand, small Social Web start-ups at risk of losing the volunteer contributors they depend upon to generate their content, may view Calacanis’ public 'recruitment' announcements as 'Robin Hood' style poaching.

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