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Communications of the ACM

ACM Opinion

Want a Better Web? Here's an Idea: Pay For It

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Credit: Wired

This week, Patreon announced that, since launching in 2013, 1 million fans have signed on to pay Internet "creators" like Pakman every month to keep on producing stuff online. That's double the 500,000 active patrons the platform said it had last year. Patreon says it's also doubled the number of creators on the site in the past year to 50,000. Together, they stand to make $150 million in 2017.

Finding new ways for enterprising creative types to make money online is great. But a more existential question simmers: What's the best way to foster a better web? Maybe fishing for more clicks and more eyeballs watching more ads isn't the way.

"There's a difference between what people will consume and what they will pay for," says Patreon's CEO Jack Conte. "People consume incendiary content like candy. But will they pay ten dollars for it? Nah."

In other words, the incentive structure of the free web might encourage one type of content that differs dramatically from the kind incentivized by the paid web. The former rewards volume of attention while the latter depends on depth of interest and engagement. 

From Wired
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