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The Netscape vs Digg war has escalated to new heights over the past few days and is reaching some sort of crescendo today after a Netscape security hole was spotted by – presumably – a Digg fan, who promptly inserted a pop-up with the message:Hi to all you Diggers out there ;  ).

For those of you not following this sometimes hilarious battle of wits, the conflict escalated after Jason ‘mad dog’ Calacanis offered $1,000 to the top Digg contributors to migrate to Netscape, which is widely viewed as a clone of Digg.

Digg’s Kevin Rose suggests that this is nothing more than a “clever PR stunt” and expects it to “do more damage to Netscape than good”. He might be right. He too thinks Netscape is a copycat.

Jason has pedigree in the area of PR. He instigated a long-running feud between himself and Gawker head honcho Nick Denton, who both traded veiled and not-so-veiled insults in a blogosphere dominated by their respective companies (Gawker Media, Denton; and Weblogs, Inc, Calacanis, now AOL-owned). People who know them tell me that they are apparently on good terms, but the PR value of their public bickering has done a lot of good to both parties.

But with Kevin Rose, this seems to be getting a bit more personal. It ain’t engineered PR, folks, and who knows where it will end?

Rose argues that: “Users like Digg, Del.icio.us, Reddit and Flickr because they are contributing to true, free, democratic social platforms devoid of monetary motivations. All users on these sites are treated equally, there aren't anchors, navigators, explorers, opera-ers, or editors.”

Meanwhile Calacanis says: “You're making money from advertising and you can easily afford to pay the top 12 users $1,000 a month each - share the wealth dude! Why not carve out 10-20% of your revenue for users? It only makes sense that folks should be paid for community leaders.”

No doubt about it, this is superb PR – outrage normally is. I am writing about it. Many others have windmilled into the fray, taking sides, squaring off. Why? Because ultimately this is about a bigger issue: should be paying people for user generated content?

Jason thinks we should: "In six months paying top bookmarkers will seem obvious."

Kevin doesn’t. And neither do some of the top Diggers that have been approached (some might say 'poached') by Jason.

What do you think? Do I have to pay you to find out?

Chris Lake

Published 27 July, 2006 by Chris Lake

Chris Lake is CEO at EmpiricalProof, and former Director of Content at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter, Google+ or connect via Linkedin.

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