Heh. I'd ask you to file this one under "crazy brainstorming ideas" but it is the third time I've been inspired to scribble down and evolve this idea. Over at Techcrunch there's a quick feature on Seriosity. What Seriosity allows you to do is attach a virtual e-payment to emails you send. Not real money. This is a virtual currency; the Serio. I agree with the psychology. People like to collect things. One of the reasons, I think, sites like LinkedIn do well is because people like to be seen to have connections. They collect connections. Attaching Serios to emails means your email will stand out. If you're collecting Serios then you're much more likely to open an email associated to 100 Serios (and keep the 100 Serios for doing so) than you are to open an email from a name you do not recognise (and earn nothing). Serios are there to make your emails stand out.
Arrington argues that the Serio is pointless and worthless unless you're allowed to cash out (as you could with beenz and other boom currencies). He may be right.
The debate reminded me on my past ramblings on Blog Comments 2.0 and CAPTCHA versus Cash. Each post discusses the idea whether people would be willing to pay a micro deposit in order to leave a comment on a blog. Real money. You'd invest something like 0.1p (which would be 0.05c currently) in order to comment. If the blogger approved your comment then you'd get this back. If not - then you'd loose it.
The idea is that if you're an average user you might invest up to, what, 10p (100 comments!) a day. Not much of a risk. Of course, you'd loose 0.1p now and then but could make it back by not approving unwelcome comments on your blog. Once you get over the initial technological and psychological hurdles this would not be too scary at all. Spammers, on the other hand, would risk £pounds as they dumped thousands of comments a day and would be unlikely to get anything back.
This real money solution depends on Google or someone else cracking micro-payments. However, there is an alternative.
Do I think a real money solution would work? Today, right now, when I think about this - nah. No. Never. People are unwilling to comment on a blog when there's a
rel="nofollow"around. It seems that if people need an incentive (all be it a small and free one) in order to be persuaded to comment then the psychological barrier that paying to comment represents would be unscalable.
Maybe Seriosity and I can combine ideas. You use a virtual currency in order to leave blog comments. If your comment is approved you get the virtual token back. If your comment is rejected then the blogger keeps it. You can cash in your virtual currency for - gosh, extra hosting space for your blog, Google Checkout cash, a mention on a Seriosity/Digg hybrid newspaper which highlights blog posts or maybe you could use your comment currency in conjunction with a site like co.mments in order to ensure your contribution triggers an email alert.
Thoughts? I promise it's free to comment!