Is BlogBurst a force for good, or evil?

I know I’m coming late to this particular party, but I’ve been thinking a bit about the implications of BlogBurst, the newly-launched service from Pluck (which also does a feed reader/aggregator). The idea behind the service is that you sign up and BlogBurst syndicates your blog posts to various newspapers, in the same way services like Scripps-Howard or Knight-Ridder syndicate columnists or cartoonists to the Brantford Expositor or the Greensboro Statesman-Review or whatever.

There’s just one difference with Scripps-Howard and other syndication services, however, which is that the columnists or feature writers whose material is sent out actually get paid. Let me be clear on that – they get cash. Money. They don’t get links, or trackbacks or referrers or whatever, but money (although maybe not a lot, unless you’re Dave Barry). By now, you’ve probably figured out what one of my beefs with BlogBurst is. Blogs that are syndicated get traffic referred back to them, but other than that they get nothing – although the terms of the agreement, which are mentioned here, say that Pluck may pay some form of honorarium or royalty. But those who sign up do so on the understanding they will not be paid.

As Darren Rowse of Problogger.net notes, bloggers should think long and hard about whether this makes sense for them. As my friend Mark Evans has pointed out – and Tris Hussey in the comments on Mark’s post – unless you think syndication is going to turn into traffic that you will then be able to monetize in some other way, it’s probably not worth it. Which makes you wonder who would sign up for BlogBurst. From the comments at Problogger.net, it looks as though authors and speakers or consultants who want to raise their profile would be interested, because they are looking to make money through some other outlet. A pure blogger (if there is such a thing) probably wouldn’t see it the same way.

One of the larger questions that this kind of thing raises, I think, is how much of Web 2.0 and the interest in it is just companies (newspapers, in this case) looking for ways to profit from the content of others without having to pay them? This is something I’ve written about before, as have others, and I think it’s going to become more and more of an issue. In that sense, maybe BlogBurst is a sign of things to come.

Update:

Adam from Pluck contacted me via email and said that contrary to some of the early reports, the company is planning a compensation model of some kind — it just doesn’t know how it’s going to work exactly yet. As he put it, “There actually will be a blogger compensation model after the beta period. Initially, of course, we do need to fully understand the dynamics of the whole system and determine the best monetization model for bloggers and publishers alike.” So stay tuned. BlogBurst has (what else) a blog at BurstBlog.com. Adam also has a blog where he has demonstrated what a BlogBurst feed would look and act like.

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