Today bloggers discuss comment ownership. They are debating whether comments should belong to the blog/service or to the commenter. Ironically the meat of the discussion is in the comment threads. Rob La Gesse deletes his FriendFeed account (all comments disappear), Robert Scoble declares that he owns his comments, Mathew Ingram asks if Scoble owns his comments, Hank Williams calls for a comment copyright mechanism, Fred Wilson points to Disqus, Disqus posts “Commenter Bill of Rights”, Josh Catone asks who owns your comment, does it matter where you leave them?
We all know who owns the comments. Comments belong to the person who writes them. The question for us is how much are our comments worth?
When you write a note in Delicious it propagates to FriendFeed, to Facebook, to Twitter, then to other social places on the web. Do you currently own it? No. Does your comment attract visitors and in turn generate ad revenue? Yes. Do you get anything from the ad revenue? No. What do they say? “In return you are getting the service for free”. Are you really getting a worthy service for all your comments, votes, photos, bookmarks, videos, and all your invaluable social connections? Think about it.
What we need is open contribution metrics at any service. To be able to debate on how much we give to a social web service and how much we get in turn, we have to be aware of the amount of our contribution.
User Labor Markup Language (ULML) is created because of this issue. ULML is an open data structure to outline the metrics of user participation in social web services. Our aim is to construct criteria and context for determining the value of user labor for distribution. We believe that universality, transparency, and accessibility of user labor metrics will ultimately lead to more sustainable service cycles in social web.
* Images above are shots from a sketch based on a cell packing algorithm in the Meta-Control series.