Mahalo has a community program
Wednesday, June 13, 2007 by Dave Winer.
Jason Calacanis announced earlier today that Mahalo now has a way for people who aren't on their payroll to create and maintain pages on their human-powered search engine. Each author and page has to be approved by one of his staffers. Authors get between $10 and $15 per page. Not sure what tools they have, or what protocols they support (that's what interests me most right now).
But $15 seems like not very much money. Do a little math to see how many pages you have to write to make a living. Suppose an employee costs $100K per year after benefits, that means they must do 6666 pages per year. If a book has 300 pages, then a Mahalo staffer would have to write 22 books a year to earn a fairly modest salary. All this is assuming that there is no disparity, that internal authors are paid the same as external ones.
I don't see why people should line up to do this work? I mean, I understand why Jason wants them to do it (he puts ads on the pages). But what value do they provide to authors? I suppose at some point there is flow, but you're not allowed to spam them, so it's just a good feeling that you're helping people? But isn't Jason going to get a personal jet if this thing is successful? Seems like a bit of a plantation to me.
Yes, he's flowing some of the money to Wikipedia, but isn't it obvious that he's wanting to displace Wikipedia's position in Google. Search for almost anything on Google and you'll find the Wikipedia page either at the top or very near the top. Today Mahalo is nowhere, but Jason, the kickass promoter that he is, plans to change that!
So, I don't understand the business of Mahalo, although at a technology level though, I do, and have some ideas. Basically everything we've done with the OPML Editor applies. I'm going to ask Jason for some money to develop the editor (it's an open source project after all, and he's got lots of VC money) so we can put together a great editorial toolkit for Mahalo authors both internal and external, and leave it to him and others to figure out the economics.
Christian Burns has a theory about the economics.
Brian Benz: "Anyone who has written a technical book with a traditional print media publisher will recognize these numbers."