In summary, the proposal on the table is this:
- K5 will create a new "Feature section" focusing on Digital Identity (more on what that is in a minute).
- The section will be like any of our other sections (technology, culture, etc.), except for being highlighted in some way on the main page, with a small indication that it is sponsored by DigitalIDWorld. Anyone may submit articles on digital identity, and voting will work like it would in any other section.
- DigitalIDWorld will submit articles as well, which will usually also appear on their site. Their submissions will be voted on as usual by everyone.
When a DigitalIDWorld story is voted up to either section or front page, they will pay K5 a fee. The exact amount isn't decided yet, but it will be in the $100 range, most likely. The total cost to them will be capped at $1000 a month, to start with. This is kind of a trial period. So, once they've had ten articles posted in a month, they can keep contributing, the rest are just free.
- DIW will pay K5 a flat fee simply to create the focus mini-section, and highlight it in a box on the front page. They will submit articles syndicated from DIW, but voting on these will proceed as with any other article, and have nothing to do with payment. (See update at the bottom)
- Articles that you vote down will
not be paid for, and will not appear on the site. As noted above, this will have no effect on income either way.
I hope that's a fairly clear description of how the arrangement would work. Now I'll try to address some of the questions you probably have.
What is Digital Identity?
A Digital Identity is the representation of a human identity that is used in a distributed network interaction with other machines or people. The purpose of the Digital Identity is to restore the ease and security human transactions once had, when we all knew each other and did business face-to-face, to a machine environment where we are often meeting each other for the first time as we enter into transactions over vast distances.
For example, a Microsoft Passport account is one kind of digital identity. Sun's collective effort, Liberty Alliance, is another. Digital identity is a fairly broad collection of technologies and ideas that all relate to creating and managing an identity in an online space.
DigitalIDWorld is intended to be an industry hub, to provide news, analysis, and discussion of the emerging digital identity market. They already have some good articles, but one thing they're lacking is a voice for the non-corporate stakeholders in all this. That is, you and me, the people who will ultimately be using (or not using!) all these new technologies. Digital identity is an industry that is just beginning to realize it is an industry, and it's one that ordinary people, and online privacy advocates especially, should have a strong interest in helping to steer.
That is where we come in.
What do we get?
K5 gets some good articles on a topic that is about as "technology and culture" as it gets, and I get some income to help keep the site running, and keep it independent. The kinds of articles they will be submitting will cover both technical and social aspects of digital identity, and should be fairly well mixed. I do urge you to go check out the site, and read what's there now. It's a pretty good indication of the kinds of things they're concerned with.
As the project progresses, they will continue to contribute articles written by various people working or thinking within the digital identity space, both from the industry side and from the end user perspective. And if the idea works the way I'd like to see it work, our feature section will also have articles by any of you who have something to contribute to the subject.
What do they get? (AKA: What's the catch?)
There ain't no such thing as a free lunch, as we all know. And neither Andre nor Phil are bad businessmen. So why are they paying us to consider posting articles that they write? You guessed it, deep down at heart, it's a form of marketing. But don't let the "M" word scare you off! I wish all marketing was like this.
Basically, they want DigitalIDWorld to grow to become the hub, the journal of record, for this new industry. They're planning to hold a conference in October, and they want it to be packed to the rafters with people working on, or thinking about, digital identity related issues. Yes, they plan to make money holding the conference.
So they thought, what better way to build awareness of the site and the digital identity market than by reaching out to the people it will most affect, and who will most likely be working on it or using it in one way or another? And that, dear K5ers, is you.
We, perhaps more than anyone, hate being marketed to. So rather than blow a lot of smoke up our collective ass and try to push us to go to their conference, they figured that it would be better for everyone if they just support the site, and contribute good stuff, and assume that people who are interested will become more interested through discussing the technologies and issues. The hope is that those of you with some kind of legitimate excuse will badger your employers to send you off to the conference this fall, but no one's going to try to force you to. By thinking and talking about the subject, we help get it wider recognition as an important subject, and that eventually helps their site and their conference somewhere down the line.
The stories they will be contributing will not be thinly-disguised advertising. This is assured, ultimately because you will be voting on them, and you are all highly attuned to advertising in disguise. But I don't think it will be a problem anyway, because they understand that you aren't here to read about someones whizzy new product. They will do their best to provide articles that are thought-provoking and of interest to K5ers.
So that's it? It's a done deal?
No. That's what this article is for. Right now, I think it's a good idea, and they think it's a good idea. We're set to go. I made it clear, though, that K5 is a community, and you are the ones who have to have the final say in something like this. So if the general opinion is "No!" then it won't happen.
I won't hesitate, though, to use my "bully pulpit" to try to allay any fears you might have about the idea, and to attempt to convince you it's a good one. I'm unabashedly partisan in favor, on this one. But the final decision is yours.
I hope that gives you a good idea of the scope and workings of the proposal, so I'll turn it over to you. The poll will probably stand as the "vote of record" on this one, so don't vote on it before you've thought it over.
Update [2002-4-3 13:13:38 by rusty]: Lots of good comments here. I want to address two points that have come up repeatedly in the discussion.
First, about what it means to be a "section." What I have in mind is probably not best described by the word "section." It wouldn't be like the regular, permanent sections; it would just be a small box, highlighing articles on this subject. If any of you remember when we had feature boxes for Inoshiro's security articles, or Paul Dunne's Linux Bookshelf, it would be like that. Think of it as a mini-section.
Second, and more importantly, the pay-for-voting issue. It seems like almost all of the opposing comments hinge, in large part, on the introduction of money into the voting system, in one way or another. I don't think it's a big deal in this case, but I also see your point about the ethics of it.
So, I've talked to Andre and Phil, and modified the proposal a bit. Instead of stories being paid for when they are voted up, I've proposed that DIW will pay us up front just to create the focus section. They will still submit stories for it, but the money will have nothing to do with whether their stories (or any stories) are posted or not. The payment is just for creating a special interest section, and marking it "Sponsored by DigitalIDWorld" with small text and a link.
This changes the character of the agreement in a positive way, I hope. Basically, they will be giving me money for highlighting a topic dear to their hearts. You are, as always, the final arbiters of quality in the articles, and our income will not be tied to your voting decisions. This should remove the concerns about voting just to help out K5, which I don't want to see happen either.
This change is not definitely approved yet, but Andre is for it, and if Phil agrees, we'll consider it the new plan. It turns out that this is what Phil thought we were agreeing to in the first place. So it looks like I'm the idiot here. If you were opposed originally, please let me know if this changes your view.