Pete Cashmore over at Mashable has a write-up on USuggest.com, a new social shopping site that cuts users in on affiliate fees when someone makes a purchase based on their product recommendations. Like everything in the Web 2.0 space, social shopping sites are launching at a furious pace, and letting people profit from their efforts seems reasonable and a good way to help distinguish yourself. Or is it?
I’ve only taken a quick glance at USuggest, so this isn’t really about them in particular. But in the study organizational behavior, there’s a widely accepted dynamic that suggests that something that someone enjoys doing as a volunteer suddenly and perhaps not surprisingly starts to feel like work as soon as it becomes a paid effort.
If anyone’s going to profit off these sites, that group might as well include their users. But one of the unresolved issues here and with other community-oriented sites (think of people who Digg for nothing versus those who are paid to do the same thing –submit interesting news items –for Netscape) is the tension between doing something for the joy and help it provides to a fellow member of the community versus doing it to generate an income, even if it’s just pocket change.