Getting paid to play… social networking for cash…

A new social network site is offering to pay users for taking part. Yuwie aims to reward users for activity and referring more friends to the network, taking inspiration from old-style pyramid schemes.

You get paid for changing your profile, posting content, and when users look at your profile and content. And you get a share of everything from anyone you introduce, and anyone they introduce, up to the 10th level. So far, so multi-level marketing.

As for the actual site, it’s OK. It’s no Facebook beater for functionality, but it’s comparable to Myspace etc, with more focus on connecting and gaining views than actually on your profile appearance. Not surpising for something which is about getting an absolute shedload of connections in an attempt to grab some cash.

The scheme itself gets detractors picking up on the pyramid nature of the scheme, the high input versus low reward, and the encouragement to spam everyone you’ve ever met in the quest for a few more cents. And I think they’re all valid points.

If you do still want to try it for yourself, obviously I have to advise you to use my referral url: http://r.yuwie.com/badgergravling

I also have to say that so far, any commentary on the site gives rise to spam posts from Yuwie fans/employees/bots, so I look forward to 20 comments on this post tomorrow. And then deleting them all.

The interesting thing for me is how many people will be enticed to take part in the experiement. Most Long Tail and UGC fans promote the idea that the prosumers in the long tail aren’t doing it for the financial reward.

I’d strongly and heavily debate that someone spending hours creating videos, songs, apps and blogs isn’t looking for some type of reward, and that it’s a lack of opportunities to be reimbursed currently which has meant a focus on reward from social recognition and status etc. Sharing and exchanging ideas and knowledge improves the standing of everyone involved, but that tends to be more readily accepted by those who can afford to do it.

And when something like Yuwie comes along offering the chance to combine financial reward with social status and recognition it’s an interesting case study.

As of tonight, Yuwie is claiming 183,448 users, 78,471 this month, and 2697 today. That’s a fairly good curve to be on for the short term. How the business idea and interest pans out will be more interesting, as more people will be spreading the word about their good and bad experiences, and others could adapt the business model.

Interestingly Alexa shows a huge growth for Yuwie over the likes of Virb (which is a far nicer networking tool for design etc), although obviously it’s far smaller than most of the established names at present.

If not, there’s always the low paid, labour intensive prospect of Amazon’s Mechanical Turk. Or Deviantart for artists. Or for musicians, how about Amie Street to upload and sell your music for a web 2.0 crowd set price.

There’s a lot of options for the talented but financially uninterested. And the one great thing about the internet is that if you invest the time and effort, you can hedge your bets by going for more than one outlet…

Now that’s a Long Tail…

Amazon’s Mechanical Turk gives a home to the desperate and the spammers

I’d heard about Amazon’s Mechanical Turk before, but never really had a chance to play. It’s a system to allow you to earn cash for doing jobs computers can’t do for companies and individuals.

But don’t start hoping you could earn much cash from your desktop. The average pay for work ranges from $0.01 to under $1. Ignoring the crappy exchange rate, and bearing in mind most tasks will take at least five minutes or more…I’d guess the best wage you could earn is about $9 an hour.

It also seems home to people seeking spam comments packed with keywords, or to get marketing and survey calls made for them.

But my favourite has to be the request from Steve Stedman.

He’s offering $0.01 for a comment of any kind on his blog. Which is kind of fair enough I guess, if he’s desperate for any kind of affirmation (but isn’t it a bit like hiring an escort?).
But he makes one cardinal sin in his HIT request on Mechanical Turk:

“No reference to Mechanical Turk should ever be made in your comments.”

That turns it into a cynical exercise. And it’s made me completely disregard any comments on his blog, of which there are quite a few…I’m also now suspicious about the actual content and purpose of his blog…Which I ‘spose I should link here. I’m quite tempted to spam it with mechanical turk links…