One of my favorite bloggers and thinkers about social media, Anil Dash, has a blog post up on Medium titled You Can’t Start the Revolution from the Country Club. Go read it because he's talking about some important stuff.
In his post Anil observes that in many of the most interesting new social media services, there is a sense of exclusivity built into the experience. A velvet rope as it were. And in many cases, this is being done to produce signal instead of noise, to make the consumption experience easier, and to produce "quality content." Anil calls bullshit on that. And so do I.
I have learned the power of inclusivity from writing this blog and watching this community evolve. Everyone is welcome here. Everyone can comment. Nobody's comments get nuked unless they are spam or hate. And I have a very high standard for hate. The community can and does police this place. And that allows anyone to come in here and be a regular. And that is what has created the magic.
If you look at some of the best communities on the web, like reddit for example, they all follow this approach. It makes for a noisy and messy experience. But it works and it scales.
This is my basic argument for free as a business model. Once you insert money into the equation, you are excluding important voices. Once you insert exclusivity into the quality model, you are excluding important voices.
Some of these "country clubs" as Anil calls them may succeed. But they don't inspire me. They don't invite me (in the behavior sense of that word). I'll hang out in public if you don't mind. It suits me.