Friday, 18 January 2013

Does Good Content Pay for Itself?

I've recently begun to see a trend on reddit that in my opinion is weak evidence for the theory that piracy is a result of sub standard content. Good content really seems to pay for itself. On reddit there is a feature called reddit gold. If someone thinks a particular comment is really good they have the option of buying the commenter "reddit gold" which gives the user who receives gold access to a lot of beta features on reddit. The money goes towards maintaining and developing the website. Over the past few months I've seen a definite increase in the amount of reddit gold given away for really good comments. This ranges from excellent in depth explanations of difficult to understand concepts on /r/askscience to hilarious jokes on /r/AskReddit. This little comment I saw on AskReddit today was what inspired this blogpost.
The author of the comment with the gold star beside it was gifted reddit gold by some random dude on the internet.
And the truth is, it really was funny. I think that was the hardest I'd laughed in months! And someone thought it was literally worth money and gave the user reddit gold for content that was really free anyway.

But maybe I'm wrong. Maybe this actually indicates that the rate of piracy will stay the same but that more people will be willing to pay for the content. If more than one person gave that user reddit gold then there would be number beside the comment indicating the number of times he was awarded with gold. Thousands and thousands of people read AskReddit everyday (I think the actual number should be about half a million. /r/AskReddit has over two million subscribers. Half a millions feels like a good estimate of the active users.). So out of all these people only on person gifted this guy reddit gold. Of course, there are a lot of other factors at work including the fact that most people will see it as a waste to buy reddit gold to random dudes in a reddit thread. The whole point of supporting content generators by actually buying their content is so that they get an income and are able to generate more good content. In most reddit threads comments like these are a one off incident, a stroke of luck. The comments are usually not made by professional comedians. So it really doesn't make sense to fund the commenter. But the actual funds are not going to the commenter. The funds end up with reddit. So I guess reddit gold is way for users to help fund a website where they get so much information and entertainment.

Now that I think about it reddit really has some awesome content ( if you look in the right subreddits). It's a really awesome place to hang out on the internet. And millions of people visit the site every day. And the voting system in place ensures that the best content generated on the site always floats to the top. So it really is providing many of its users with a service. Geniuses in their own fields generate good content by being awesome at what they do. Sites like reddit generate good content by collecting and concentrating all the best stuff generated (very often due to chance) by its users using the collective intelligence voting power of the site's millions of visitors. It's an arena where ideas and thoughts (a lot of them bad, some of them good) fight to the death and the best ideas rise to the top by a process of "natural selection". And the structure of the website enables this to happen. So in a way good content really is paying for itself on this site. The site provides a service which allows the collective intelligence of the website to generate amazing content and people voluntarily pay for it using reddit gold!
I wonder how much of reddit's income is generated by reddit gold ...
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