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Mick Weinstein
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Mick was editor-in-chief and VP of Content at Seeking Alpha from November 2005 to April 2010. He's now the head of content at Covestor. Contact him by emailing mbweinstein (at) gmail.com or follow him on Twitter (http://twitter.com/mickwe) or on his Tumblog (mickw.com).
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  • Seeking Alpha: An Andersonian Free Success Story 4 comments
    Jun 30, 2009 11:15 AM

    An interesting debate has broken out between Malcolm Gladwell and Chris Anderson over Anderson's new book, Free: The Future of a Radical Price. In his review for The New Yorker, among many altogether legitimate points, Gladwell questions one premise of Anderson's regarding new media:

    If you can afford to pay someone to get other people to write, why can’t you pay people to write? It would be nice to know, as well, just how a business goes about reorganizing itself around getting people to work for “non-monetary rewards.”

    Anderson, who is a Seeking Alpha contributor, responds with a very good example of a ad-supported Wired blog named GeekDad that carries posts written by passionate contributors who are not particularly interested in being paid for their copy:

    None of them are doing it for the money, but instead for the fun, audience and satisfaction of writing about something they love and getting read by a lot of people.... Somewhere down the chain, the incentives go from monetary to nonmonetary (attention, reputation, expression, etc).

    I think Seeking Alpha is another good example of Anderson's model. In fact, Chris himself demonstrates this - by giving us the right to freely repost his blog, he gains access to our readership of over 4 million unique visitors a month, and can promote his books and Wired alongside his articles. There's probably not a whole lot of overlap between our readership and Chris' on his blog, so most of the exposure Chris gets on SA is incremental. Our market-focused readers get Chris' insight on long tail business models and the digital economy, and Chris gains more exposure for his ideas and raises demand for his books and services.

    We don't pay any of our now 3000-plus contributors. Rather, we offer exposure to a much larger and valuable readership than most could reach otherwise, a platform for vibrant and intelligent discussion of their ideas, plus a bunch of other benefits like free conference tickets, research tools and journalist credentials. We do pay our superb - and relatively small - editorial and contributor relations teams to filter articles for quality, edit for clarity and broad distribution, and to support our contributor base to gain more from SA. So, Mr. Gladwell, that's

    how a business goes about reorganizing itself around getting people to work for “non-monetary rewards.”

    And you can drop the scare quotes - there are very real rewards that are not immediately monetary. It's a partnership between our contributors and SA, not "getting people to work" for anything but mutual benefit.

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Comments (4)
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  • jmb95959
    , contributor
    Comment (1) | Send Message
    "work" does not have to be another 4-letter word - some folks really enjoy sharing their knowledge and opinions and their payment is having others read, share and converse about what they write.... intrinsic rewards vs. extrinsic rewards.


    monetizing the output is another issue as is how any revenue ... or costs ... are shared.


    ..IMHO and no charge.
    30 Jun 2009, 12:41 PM Reply Like
  • Stone Fox Capital
    , contributor
    Comments (9682) | Send Message
    most people on this site though write for monetary reasons. Maybe not from SA, but from getting SA readers to use their services.
    30 Jun 2009, 01:14 PM Reply Like
  • Mick Weinstein
    , contributor
    Comments (103) | Send Message
    Author’s reply » Absolutely, Stone Fox - that's why I said the rewards are 'not immediately monetary' - many (if not most) SA contributors are promoting paid services (money management, subscription newsletter, etc.) alongside their articles and that's a model that works really well.


    On Jun 30 01:14 PM Stone Fox Capital wrote:


    > most people on this site though write for monetary reasons. Maybe
    > not from SA, but from getting SA readers to use their services.
    30 Jun 2009, 01:34 PM Reply Like
  • SA Editor Jonathan Liss
    , contributor
    Comments (493) | Send Message


    Excellent piece! I think the newspapers have made the mistake of falling out on Gladwell's side of this argument - they are too tied to the old way of thinking to envision a new one. I'm not saying the Times and Journal should stop paying their reporters... but there are many ways they have failed to make the transition to new media. Not envisioning forms of compensation that are non-monetary for their contributors and communities is one way they have failed big time - now their very survival is at stake.
    30 Jun 2009, 02:58 PM Reply Like
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