Back when we broke the story in June, Silk Road’s anonymous administrator said he wouldn’t allow weapons to be sold on the site. But since then, an entire subcategory for firearms has sprung up.
This is why I’m always looking for noncommercial (I would go as far as to say non-entrepreneurial) ways to do things. The thing that all business models seem to have in common is that at some point they lose their innocence. If there’s some pale you’re not willing to go beyond, at some point a competitor will be, and your scruples are your competitive disadvantage. Commerce will always be an arena in which nice guys and gals finish last. In related news, the Diaspora community finds itself in need of a business model:
Number four, DStar must take action to place JD on a sound financial footing. I see two ways to do this: (1) advertising, and (2) subscriptions. Most likely, both will be needed.
Analytics: Nearly every site uses some sort of analytics, if only to help with allocation of server resources and deploying anti-spam and anti-cracking defenses. I imagine that some idea of what features are used and in which sequence they get used is going to strongly influence which features get the most developer attention, also. JD should implement a solution like Piwik, until effective analytics can be integrated into the Diaspora software as a plugin. Without analytics, JD will have no way to know how to adjust the appearance and operation site to enable it to become profitable.
Advertising: Although Google’s adsense is said to be the more profitable ad network, there is absolutely no way that JD can use it. JD is going to have to build its own ad network (using OpenX or a similar application) or contract another ad network to service the site. However this is done, ads shown on JD need to respect its users’ privacy and the integrity of the Diaspora experience. This means no expanders, none of those popups when you roll over text, no “please view this ad while the page loads”, and positively no “you were discussing cats so we’ll show an ad for XYZ cat food”.
Subscriptions: Subscriptions are an excellent way to pay for some of the costs of operation. Subscription-only would chase away those who cannot afford it, or those who object to paid-only sites. Subscriptions as a “see fewer ads, subscribe” would be the best option.
The trouble with “see fewer ads, subscribe” as a business model is that the advertising becomes a value-subtracted feature. Soon the feature is not the advertising itself but the tamper-resistance of the advertising. Advertising is replaced with adware. Ick.
As for the analytics, if the real reason is to help with the allocation of resources within Diaspora, etc., then by all means make the analytical data available to the public. Assuming your analytics provider doesn’t contractually obligate you to do your analytic work behind a curtain…