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I Have 50 Dollars (ihave50dollars.com)
647 points by thehodge on Aug 17, 2012 | hide | past | web | favorite | 196 comments

Commenters seem to be missing the point of this. Go visit the signup page, and right at the bottom you'll see this tagline:

If you can spare $50 for a social network I'm guessing you can spare $50 to help put an end to slavery. Yeah, it's 2012 and it's still a pretty big problem. That shit is unacceptable. Really. </whiteguilt>

Personally, I'm not the fan of the "don't spend money on anything until the world's problems have been cured" style of thinking, but it's certainly a novel idea.

Now all they have to do is fix the title of the signup page. Right now it says Signup For App.net.

EDIT: Interestingly, the domain name of freetheslaves.net belongs to "Superhuman Ventures, LLC." I don't know enough about how people taking donations work, but I find it pretty strange that Free The Slaves have a long list of directors and staff (https://www.freetheslaves.net/SSLPage.aspx?pid=285) but no mention of what their corporate structure is. Is this unusual? Should they explicitly be a charitable organisation?

> Commenters seem to be missing the point of this.

A plug for a charity that's three clicks in, and occupies, what, 5% of the copy written for this site, can hardly be considered the main point of the site.

The site is a parody of App.net. Simple as that. He also offers an alternative thing to throw $50 at if you have a spare $50 to throw around.

Thank you for this. Perhaps it's early, but the fact that the site is a parody wasn't initially obvious... I was thinking it was just another start-up with a snarky copy writer.

The parody quality of the site is more readibly apparent to someone more skeptical of app.net in the first place.

i thought it was pretty obvious from the very name of the site.

Their board and staff consist of 27 people, including all directors. The breakdown of their expenditures structure is on the right sidebar of the donation page:

5% Fundraising

11% Administration

84% Programs and Services

At the bottom of the same sidebar are links to their past financial documents, up to 2010 ( http://www.freetheslaves.net/Document.Doc?id=251 ). In that are their compensations per-employee on page 7 and 8. Of the 12 employees listed, no one received compensation of more than $36,000, and the total compensation for all of them was less than $80,000. Most received zero compensation. The average hours each work per week are also listed, so one can take an educated guess about the corporate structure.

Their total revenue (~$2.9 mil) and expenditure (~$3.1 mil) are listed on page 12. For that year, they operated at a ~$200k loss, leaving them with ~$1.1 mil in assets at the end of the fiscal year. More itemized details are available within.

I think it's good to be skeptical of charitable organizations given the corruption that has been exposed in some non profits. As to why 2010 is the last available? The 2011 returns were due in April 2012. Perhaps they're waiting on approval from the IRS before publishing it. Someone else could chime in here with a better reason.

As for the "don't spend money on <x> until <y> is resolved" mentality...I see it all the time:

"It's such a shame that people spend money on Instagram/Facebook/Twitter when space travel/clean energy/cancer research/etc is such a greater cause..."

The communist anti-capitalism rhetoric of the mid 1900s was similar: comparing the luxuries of the rich against the suffering of the lowest common denominator. Perhaps there was a similar pitch on the capitalist side against communism--I just don't see it.

I think the beauty of this organization (and most non-profits) is that it's based on voluntary participation. They're not forcing anyone to donate. Their emotional manipulation is on par with the typical commercial for weight loss, beer, cologne, anti-depressant medication, etc...and in my opinion, their cause is more noble.

> The communist anti-capitalism rhetoric

Black and white much? This idea that everything that's anti-capitalist or anti-stupid-ways-we-spend-money is communist is absurd.

The anti-capitalism rhetoric of the "mid-1900's" was a full-on propaganda campaign put out by government agencies and supported by the very real threat of nuclear total annihilation. Comparing a complaint about the stupid ways we spend money and organize our priorities to the Cold War is a bit of a stretch. I fear communist comparisons are becoming the new Godwin's law.

In reality, the guilt mentality discussed above is much more similar to the ultra-realist perspective of the comedy of Louis CK— http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8r1CZTLk-Gk —in that it is ridiculous that we have the immediate concerns that we do, but is, in fact, entirely true, and it's observant and useful to point that out.

It is not, however, communist.

So, in the mid-1900's there was this thing called Communism. It was a real thing, practiced in many different countries self-consciously. One of the tenants of Communism as it was practiced was that capitalism was bad, and one of the things that Communist countries did was to release anti-capitalist propaganda. So when today we talk about communist anti-capitalist rhetoric, we're not calling all anti-capitalist rhetoric communist, but rather referring to that particular subset of anti-capitalist rhetoric which was, indeed, communist.

This does not mean that such arguments are not straw manning the issue. However, it does mean that they're more nuanced than whatever the argument is that you're trying to debate with above.

Excuse me for a one-off useless comment, but a Communist country never existed. USSR was not communist.

Communism is being described as "A communist society would have no governments, countries, or class divisions."[1] Hence, no rulers. Communism in its essence is a form of Anarchist society.

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Communism#Etymology_and_termino...

For most idealistic -isms, I doubt any implementation could exist that would satisfy the -ism's true believers (particularly since those implementations would have flaws that would need to be disclaimed).

2011 taxes were due in April, but so long as all the money is in (possibly in estimated tax payments with an extension form), most people and organizations don't need to submit the full paperwork until six months later. Rather famously right now, Mitt Romney hasn't. (He's promised to make this year's and last year's returns public, but this year's isn't done yet.) So, it's quite possible that a bare-bones charity is also taking advantage of the extension.

(You won't get any refund until you file the full return, you'll get hit with penalties if your estimated payments undershot the actual tax due by very much, and shorter deadlines may apply in particular cases, like people filing from overseas. But most folks can get the full six months.)

Political commentary aside, his comment is accurate and should not be downvoted.

Taxes are due in April, usually on the 15th. Income returns and information returns are nominally due in April but the filing deadline can be extended to September. Extending the filing deadline does not extend the deadline for payment, so taxpayers seeking extensions should pay their estimated taxes by April and will receive a refund if they later discover that they overpaid.

Also clicking on http://ihave50dollars.com/ > Contact Us > huh?, redirects you to this ted talk: http://www.ted.com/talks/lisa_kristine_glimpses_of_modern_da...

Most organizations, companies, and wealthy individuals extend their filing dates to September. Consequently, it is likely that they have not yet filed their 2011 return.

According to Charity Navigator, it seems the Free The Slaves is very accountable, transparent, and financially effective, with a maximum 4 star rating: http://www.charitynavigator.org/index.cfm?bay=search.summary...

I'm not sure why the LLC owns the site though.

The registrant is probably an artifact of Superhuman Ventures doing the web work for the non profit on a paid or volunteer basis. Small non profits tend to be pretty disorganized about stuff like this.

> Commenters seem to be missing the point of this.

Probably because it's the most poorly presented social statement... ever. Requiring users to go as far as to try and sign up (with no indication it's anything other than a developers idea of a dumb joke) is... silly.

In my opinion it is brilliant, because the site holds a mirror up to yourself. When you read the message, you were actually willing to spend $50 for a some virtual sh*t (compared to wiping out slavery).

That's the best position to get someone in to give a few bucks for something good. Even if it's not the full amount of $50.

Except that the website is so obviously a big joke from the start, that the people who “try” to sign up aren't taking it seriously.

(Also if you think that $50 can wipe out slavery you're incredibly naïve. At least the return on investment when you spend that $50 on “virtual crap” is more clear. That's why people will continue to spend more money on “virtual crap” rather than charities, however undeniably noble their intentions are.)

I think you underestimate two things: - hipster web people who will sign up for anything without thinking - $50 which are a small lottery win for a 3rd world family

I am sponsoring an eight year old boy from Kamrabad Uchcha Vidyalaya (East India) for 20 euros monthly. That includes school material (for the whole class), health insurance (for his whole family) and nutrition support (again for the whole family). And no, I've never seen him personally.

But my sister did when she was a volunteering doctor for one year in his area. I really don't want to argue with you, but I believe that it is less naïve to at least try to help with $50 than not to try it at all.

Now let's back those awesome 3d glasses on kickstarter...!

Mylan Engel wrote a fantastic paper (albeit about childhood starvation) about how we are in fact morally obligated to donate to relief funds based on (in his words) beliefs we already hold. I highly recommend it. "Hunger, Duty and Ecology: On What We Owe Starving Human Beings"

I closed the tab, after reading four lines and thinking, wow someone went this far to make a joke out of it?

Came to HN to find my answer. I guess that may work given that app.net users will eventually know what's up.

Twitter actually played a notable part in taking down several repressive regimes over the past year or two. I no longer trust Twitter to be reasonably available to the oppressed in a year or two, given their crackdown on third-party clients (like mobile clients). App.net is intending to be a platform for everything, and "everything" includes "bringing communication and openness to purge corruption out of the darkest corners of the world".

Yes, "everything" also includes "taking hipster photos of my meals and sharing them with my hipster friends", and that's closer to why I actually signed up, but the implicit claim that $50 towards a project as ambitious as App.net does _nothing_ to solve the world's social ills is very questionable.

I don't think people in 3rd world countries will be able to afford app.net accounts for $50.

And 50 dollars to save the rain forest. 50 dollars for starving children.

50 dollars for social problems, like states that still have death penalty. 50 dollars to allow people to get education and make the world better.

Oh, if everyone who has 50 dollars spare would spend them, we could transform the world into a global utopia by just using what we have and waste anyway. You know what? It could even be done for free if everyone would spend a little of time and his/her skills. Like really, we could just fix problems by moving things around. Best example: Current (as inefficient as it is) food production could RIGHT NOW feed everyone on this planet THRICE(!) (says the WHO, not some random person). It just needs to get there, which also isn't a huge deal if we simply would use the infrastructure we have RIGHT NOW. I don't know, maybe we could even do it without much effort if we would just take use of what's wasted here anyways (because nobody invests into people using that infrastructure, because of the financial crisis that (in a way) forces people to do nothing).

So, if it is that simple, why don't we and change things to finally be able to do something we all want and can be really proud of?

Maybe I am a dumb idiot, but I honestly don't know.

What about getting together and just try to do it? Anything we've got to lose? I mean most people here I guess know to value the experience you get from failing.

It just needs to get there

Which is an ongoing problem, given perpetual interference by politicians. Consider Sam Kinison's solution: If 10 people pitched in $50 each, they could move one of those people to where the food is.

> given perpetual interference by politicians.

...and war lords.

Like I said: politicians.

the camera guy has a sandwich

I think the inequality and poor distribution and needs fulfillment is structural.

It starts with the belief system which is more or less Social Darwinism, even though many people don't want to admit that.

If you can correct that flawed perspective and make the world truly more egalitarian, the next basic problem is figuring out how to create a system or fundamental operating principles for a system which results in holistic efficiency while at the same time supporting local adaptation and evolution.

Slavery's a pretty good social problem to start with! I mean, if you're gonna solve any of them.

If the western world (re)colonized all the dysfunctional nations run by warlords that prevent relief from getting to people that need it, that would be very helpful. Strangely, nobody seems to consider this solution. Imposing order and good government on areas with pathologically bad governments seems obviously good.

If you can end slavery for $50 I'd love to hear that plan.

If that's the call to action, it's the worst I've ever seen. The signup page doesn't even look like it has anything else to scroll down for.

This tactic is, IMO, a variety of concern trolling. I am also not a fan. Thank you for bringing attention to it.

this was not handled well - the $50 is first and the purpose of the mission is somewhere after that.

I was thinking it should have been called 'i had fifty dollars, but i gave it to these people'

Honest question - what does modern slavery have to do with white guilt? According to the wiki entry on modern slavery "Most are debt slaves, largely in South Asia, who are under debt bondage incurred by lenders, sometimes even for generations."

I'm not sure of the source Wikipedia uses - from experience working in South Asia / Middle East, there are certainly many economic 'slaves', people who's pay (or lack thereof) and contractual obligations make them de facto slaves, but outside of that there is a not inconsiderate amount of what you might more traditionally call slavery in countries such as Mauritania.


Good night that was painful.

ihave50dollars.com is a spoof of join.app.net (duplicate layout of main page, text changed), which is a no-ad paid-membership version of Twitter, which apparently got VC funding to some people's amazement. An attempt to sign up takes you to an "end slavery" charity.

Yeah, sounds stupid to spell it out like this. Not everyone knows what app.net is, nor what its backstory is (I still don't). Ergo the spoof garners a well-deserved WTF.

WHY someone felt compelled to create the spoof is still a mystery to some of us.

I think the spoof was created was because (a) app.net has no value proposition other than wanting $50, and (b) that there were over 100K people out there who put in money regardless.

(No value proposition is more accurately no value proposition for the site by itself. It does have a value proposition if it does billions of users like twitter, but that there is no realistic way of getting there.)

$50? That's like, what, 12.5 cups of $4 coffee? Just skip Starbucks for 3 work weeks and bam! no-risk social network.

But you can't make that comparison! With a cup of Starbucks coffee, I know the extraordinary quality I'm getting. This walled social network is a life-or-death gamble.

I believe libria was mocking nearly everyone's use of "oh it only costs X cups of coffee."

It's worth about 10 bottles of water!

"A thing is worth only and exactly what others are willing to pay for it." Obviously it's worth $50 to 100,000 people. Some of us would like an ad-free version of Twitter that, by paid signup, screens out much of the...um...less interesting participants. Sounds like they've got 100,000 users already, which seems a good start.

I've always thought that was a very shallow definition and this has just helped me finally realize why I think that.

Basically, I could announce that I'm offering a service whereby you give me $50 dollars and I call you gullible. If I find 100,000 people willing to do that, it would mean that my service is "worth" $5,000,000 dollars.

The "worth" you're talking about does not seem to me as a very good indicator of whether we're improving the world or not.

Obtuse straw-man hypotheticals do not make for convincing argument. To the contrary, the fact that you can't find anyone to pay you $50 to call them gullible shows that "service" isn't worth $5M. Unless, of course, you consider politicians...

If you're not involved in the transaction, you're not in a position to decide "whether we're improving the world or not". Millions daily spend ~$50 for an extravagant meal, far beyond nutritional needs, and having nothing but excrement to show for it. Would you discount those goods/services as "not improving the world" and not worth millions of dollars?

Codemage's comment neatly explains Facebook's current predicament though. All of us suck at valuation it seems.

Clarification: we suck at predicting what something's value to others will be.

"$50 for an extravagant meal, far beyond nutritional needs"

"Would you discount those goods/services as "not improving the world" and not worth millions of dollars?"

Yes. Considering how people actually starve because of speculation with food, and considering global warming, I wouldn't even blink when saying that makes the world worse.

So I'm all for stepping on that toe and see where it leads. Kinda like making wearing fur uncool -- why not? Where is the problem?

I think it's closer to 12,000 users. From join.app.net:

"We eventually raised $803,000 from over 12,000 backers during the campaign."

100,000 is a terrible start, IMO. Many millions of people made Google+ accounts and while I like Google+ far more than Facebook, I'm still essentially forced into using Facebook because the overlap of Google+ users to people I care about following is virtually nil. I don't see how the same won't happen for the vast majority of users when it comes to Twitter/App.Net except it will feel even worse for the App.Net users since they blew 50 bucks.

Twitter sucks but reproducing their network effect is a huge undertaking, especially when you're charging for it, and IMO 100k users as post-hype starting point is way too low for App.net to have a reasonable chance of succeeding before running out of money.

Not necessarily. I could pay for something and decide afterwards that it was in fact not worth it and ask for a refund or simply not fall for it again. If this happens it doesn't mean the first exchange of $50 delivered $50 of worth back to me.

See, I have my doubts about this... I dont think that many people actually signed up. I feel pretty strongly App.net is using the "Reddit" model of making themselves popular with fake users. "See all these cool people on this exclusive network? U know u want to fork over $50 to be a part of this special club..."

I'm willing to bet at least half of App.net users are bots used to incentivise people to join "to be a part of the club"

I paid for app.net, and I'm a human, and I haven't posted anything because I don't have anything to say yet. Note that you don't automatically get into the alpha if you pay -- you have to request, presumably because they guessed there were people like me who care about supporting app.net more than they care about saying anything quite yet.

> WHY someone felt compelled to create the spoof is still a mystery to some of us.

someone was simultaneously bored and disdainful of app.net.

I'm going to be the first developer to build an app on the ihave50dollars API. It's going to be a dating app, because what chick wants to hook up with a guy who doesn't even have $50?

"We're going to Taco Bell for our first date, I spent my dining budget on a social app."

I spent my last $50 to join ihave50dollars.com. I no longer have $50. I hope nobody finds out, it will ruin my reputation within the network.

Don't worry. After login you'll be automatically redirected to ihad50dollars.com .

>First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.

It would appear that App.net is now at stage two.

And they will never get past that. I wouldn't mind it being stuck in stage one though. All the App.net spam has seriously degraded the HN quality overnight.

At least I know what app.net is. There are so many new things mentioned on HN every week that it's hard to keep up. Oh, CloudPython is up to version 2.1 you say? And now it supports 50% more bogons? Wow!

Oh come on, it's not that bad. There's never more than a few articles at once, and it's a legitimate hacker topic since anyone would have to be a fool to build on Twitter these days, and yet it is a very ripe API that people want to build on.

I think you are right. People want to build on App.net. The problem is ~10,000 people have signed up and there are already ~100 apps for app.net[1]. To me that sounds like a developer circle-jerk. Developers and other technophiles typically have disposable income, love to bash incumbents and jump on the next bandwagon. App.net satisfies all of those desires. It will be interested to see if anyone else really cares.

I just don't think trading one man's walled garden for another is what we need. We need an email-like solution to this problem. Something open and federated.


It's not just articles. App.net pops up in almost every comment thread about anything even remotely related to social networks.

It's a phase. Like the bitcoin stuff. It'll taper off.

It's a phase. Like the bitcoin stuff. It'll taper off.

Until app.net becomes a bitcoin exchange...

And then it'll crash and burn due to bad infrastructure decisions.

You got odds on that?

The fact that some geniuses were laughed at does not imply that all who are laughed at are geniuses. They laughed at Columbus, they laughed at Fulton, they laughed at the Wright brothers. But they also laughed at Bozo the Clown.

-- Carl Sagan, "Broca's Brain"

Survivor bias.


When one of those things occur in isolation, that doesn't automatically mean you're fighting for truth.

For example, app.net was never in the being ignored phase, it's got plenty of hype and it doesn't even exist yet.

Also, there's plenty of things that get mocked and nothing more. Sometimes laughter results from fear, sometimes it just results from genuinely finding something hilarious.

But thanks for comparing app.net with Gandhi, that just made it funnier :P

I'm sorry, can't refrain from correcting you. It's Gandhi not Ghandi. And I see this mistake very prevalent.

> And I see this mistake very prevalent.

Oh the irony.

Murphy was misquoted.

From the linked article on wikipedia:

“Not to be confused with Murphy's law.”

Muphry's Law is something different (yet related).

The mistake is prevalent.


You see this mistake frequently.

I don't normally do these corrections, but I can't help myself in this case.

  > do these corrections
Oh the irony.

ad infinitum

There's nothing wrong with that sentence. I don't do those corrections, as in, I don't do that thing where you pedantically correct every little tiny "error" I can find. Got it smart guy?

No need to apologize, thanks actually. I wish people would correct grammar more often, certainly mine, and doubly so when it comes to names.. why get used to writing stuff wrong, when I can get used to writing them right :)

why get used to writing stuff wrong, when I can get used to writing them right

In that case....

"wrong" and "right" are adjectives, while "writing" is a verb which you are using the words "wrong" and "right" to modify. However, adjectives should only be used to modify nouns and pronouns, not verbs. In this case you should use an adverb:

why get used to writing stuff incorrectly, when I can get used to writing them correctly

If you prefer, you can use "writing" as a noun and continue to use "right" and "wrong":

why get used to the wrong way of writing when I can get used to the right way

I hate people who correct grammar on the internet, but you did make the mistake of asking. Sorry.

Those are flat adverbs, actually. :p

Why, I thank you! But I will also have you know that "Sorry." is a sentence fragment. When correcting others, you should always try to correct them rightly, not wrongly, even if it may sound odd sometimes.

(tee-hee :)

In case you intended to take that advice to heart, you can use 'right' and 'wrong' as adverbs in all but the most formal contexts, and possibly even then too. They're called 'flat adverbs,' and there's a great video post from MW that you can find if you Google the term.

I wish people would correct grammar more often

Please, no. I avoid taking part in grammar threads, but a plea for more has drawn me out. There are few things that derail conversations more than pedantic quibbling about "do" or "make". Take a look at this subthread: a bunch of people who feel better about how they've shown themselves able to one-up others but zero interesting discussion.


My biggest feature request for HN: private comments. Let me reply to a poster privately. Then if I see somebody who looks like a non-English speaker who has made a mistake or somebody who has misspelled a name, I can correct them without causing this kind of useless thread. Not to mention private conversations (where you could say more than you are willing to say publicly) started around interesting comments could turn epic.

Please pursue your private comment idea further than this comment. I think it's a fantastic idea. Would you be able to (or know someone who could) make that change? http://ycombinator.com/arc/arc3.tar

Way to quote me out of context.. I specifically said I wish they'd correct me more often. I never mind, and wish people could flag themselves as language learners or forgetful ^^

That said, I still agree with your complaint. Marking a reply as off-topic (voluntarily, though of course admins should be able to override this), with each comment potentially having a sub-thread with off-topic replies, is something I'd like to see here, and have planned for my own CMS. Best of both worlds, and with unlimited nesting of that, you could even go off-off-topic, or off-off-off-topic.

And sometimes they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they forget all about you.

Indeed, that line of argument is a form of the Galileo gambit[1], which is just a way to rationalize ridicule or criticism by claiming an unfounded correlation between opposition and eventual victory. Yes, many people who eventually succeed are criticized or laughed at initially - but people who eventually fail are often criticized or laughed at initially as well.

[1]: http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Galileo_gambit

The original reasoning can also be interpreted as an instance of http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Survivor_bias

Alright, I read the damned post and I still have no idea what it's about. Is it supposed to be satire, or some other wink and nod approach to...something?

Either I'm just not all that bright, or they took a swing and missed on their message.


It's making fun of the idea of paying $50 to sign up for a years membership to this service.

Try to sign up (by clicking the "I have 50$" button on the right.

  Our team has spent the last 9 years building social
  synergy, developing paradigms, talking on out mobile
  phones and more.
Jesus wept.

Edit 30s later: Oh it's a spoof. My faith in humanity restored.

I am not really interested in all the twitter/app.net hoo-haa but I find it intriguing that we are at a stage that one guy develops a product and charges $50 for it. And the rest of the world mocks him for not making it free.

People are not mocking app.net for not being free. They are mocking it for being a generally silly idea borne of nerd-rage against 'the man' err... Twitter... wait, what?

Yes they are.

They are mocking it because they think it's a privileged network only for people who are willing to pay the grand sum of 50 US Dollars. It was the same story with svbtle. This smug sense of entitlement is frankly disgusting.

I used to follow Dustin Curtis. I liked that each of his blog posts had a unique theme/layout/typography/imagery.

Then once he became popular what does he do? He built svbtle, a blog network of bloggers who all have pages and posts that look identical...

I also avoid the greater-than-thou grouping.

They asked for $500,000 to make a Twitter clone and they got it. Who's laughing at whom?

Where Dalton is going I don't know (and I feel he's generally a pompous ass when he speaks/writes) but... I think app.net is a matter of OWNERSHIP. Ownership of your data and ownership of the company.

Companies are beholden to those who pay. If it's the users who pay, the power is with them. I like that idea. If it's the advertisers, they don't need to care as much about the user, see FB and Twitter.

Stuff DOESN'T have to be free. I pay for many things, and in general the things I pay for are better than things which are free.

I have no problems with the $50 or the request for it. Those who do should buy GIMP, while I use Photoshop.

If that's the cost of friendship, consider it paid.

All joking aside, I agree with the message. I almost signed up for app.net today, but didn't (after finally noticing the charge aspect (not gonna lie, didn't really look into it)) because it is NOT going to overthrow anything, let alone Twitter.

The warm sentiments of no ads is nice, but end-users don't give a shit. $50 is MONEY, free--adversely--isn't.

I'll be happy if people can prosper from app.net, but I don't see much happening there that didn't happen at google+.

I would never pay for something like that, I barely see a use for ad-supported social networks, but those that pay will feel a psychological pressure to make use of their investment, it will also create a feeling of privilege; whereas something like Google+ is seen as free, open and less valued, and therefore needs to vie for the attention.

We whine and bitch about not having control of our data, about some corp having central authority over everything and yet we decide to ignore status.net and pay $50/year to something that doesn't even exist yet. Go figure.

It's almost as if there is more than one person involved in these actions!

This is quite funny, it made me chuckle.

Now, putting the joke aside, let's be real. Whilst the majority of you aren't willing to spend $50 (Including myself), the fact is, some people already have and they have managed to raise a lot of money.

I suppose it doesn't matter what product you have as long as you know how to market it and most importantly, solve a problem.

Whilst App.net may be ideal for developers because it considers their requirements, I highly doubt whether main stream users care the problems that App.net is trying to solve. None of my friends would pay for a social network, and neither would I. Why? Because I can use my phone and there's plenty of other free alternatives.

Either way, I wish App.net all the best but I rather keep my $50.

I suppose it doesn't matter what product you have as long as you know how to market it and most importantly, solve a problem.

What problem does app.net solve? Honest question, because it surely doesn't solve the problem of walled gardens.

They have a product they're charging $50 for and they have 1000 customers. Whether you see a problem being solved or not, there's clearly $50 of value in the eyes of these 1000 people, and that's what a business is.

People can pay $25 to adopt a star, which is just a certificate saying you spent $25 on a certificate. That's a legitimate business (or charity) even though it's idiotic. Lots of businesses are about solving the problem of too much thickness in your wallet and your head.

I know... like televangelists.. I was merely wondering if there is more to it.

I mean, people DO (intend to) develop apps for it.. how many of them are solving actual problems, and how many just make them in the hope that people will use them? You know, the latter would kinda make app.net meta-kool-aid for kool-aid brewers, but that's snarky, and also premature. So I'm really, honestly asking, and willing to consider answers.

Yes, I am skeptical, but I'm trying to not be too much of a bigot. After all, asking doesn't cost anything :D

Asking is free, but what you ask frames the debate, and the truth is that Twitter would have had no hope of satisfying you if you'd scrutinized it like this. It's convenient that App.net is so clearly positioned as for-pay Twitter because trying to explain what Twitter is or why you'd pay for it is impossible if people don't already see the value in what Twitter does. What actual problems does it solve? Now that we have App.net in the debate, everyone can point to "network effects" as if that's the whole story but that's certainly not why Twitter was created or what got the early adopters interested.

World-changing apps solving actual problems? It's been two months, man! For how long was the web nothing but "Welcome to my home page! It's under construction!" with blinking text and animated GIFs?

What? The poster I replied to said

I suppose it doesn't matter what product you have as long as you know how to market it and most importantly, solve a problem.

So I asked, what problem does it solve. That's all. Since you're not even the one who claimed it solves a problem, why not, you know, let me ask that question in peace, instead of moaning about me asking it?

Oh, I'm sorry, I didn't realize you were having a private debate.

I was asking those who think app.net solves a problem which problem it solves; that includes at least the person who seemed to imply (I'm not sure if they did) it does, as well as anyone else. And it may even include you; feel free to give it a shot. Just not interested in reasons for not answering it - lack of responses does the same in less bytesize.

Twitter keeps piling up requirements on developers using their API to maintain their brand identity. App.net is going to allow developers to do whatever they want. So it's everything technical you can do with Twitter, plus everything they shut you down for doing.

I see we're going in circles, considering

it's convenient that App.net is so clearly positioned as for-pay Twitter because trying to explain what Twitter is or why you'd pay for it is impossible if people don't already see the value in what Twitter does.


Did anybody notice the background behind this? https://heello.com/live, from the founder of Twitpic, which actually has a very close goal as App.net.

I just noticed this. Um. Sad. Really sad.

Why sad?

not made by Heello / Twitpic

Yikes. That's confusing (malicious?). It left me with a sense of distaste for heello. You guys may want to clarify.

If you can't tell that a site called iHave50dollars.com is a joke... there is a good chance you are confused about a lot of things. It might be time to questions your assumptions about life.

Am I not hip enough, I don't understand the point to this.

I must not be hip either because I don't understand the point of App.net.

It's a twitter you pay for where none of the people you follow are on it.

What's not to get?

The website is a little obtuse. I think it's a pay-for Twitter without ads.

It's mocking app.net

Voluntary charity can of course be a noble and merciful thing.

That said, strike at the fucking root people.[1] The problem isn't slavery. Slavery is a symptom of the problem. The problem is bad economies, which come from bad government. If you're not working on trying to find ways to encourage good government you're a hobbyists, not professionals, and you should take claims like "Our goal: to end slavery in our lifetime."[2] off your website.

If you are interested in improving bad governments then for God's sake don't listen to intellectuals. Read the people who've actually done it.[3] It's not as good as a controlled experiment, but it's way better than pure talk.

[1] I'm actually not sure about 1st world countries like the U.K. There might not actually be a root to strike at there.

[2] https://www.freetheslaves.net/SSLPage.aspx?pid=285

[3] http://www.amazon.com/Singapore-development-policies-and-tre...

I am offering a 6month same as cash interest free loan for those lacking the $50. Check my profile for more details...

I'm kind of disappointed. None of the comments so far have pointed out the fundamental logic flaw in this.

Buying the membership doesn't prove you HAVE 50 dollars, it proves you HAD it.

I couldn't initially determine the level of seriousness of this page.

I spend too much time on HN.

"There are people [VERB] in [COUNTRY]" has never been a satisfactory argument to me, and this seems to just be the digital version of that.

"Are" is the verb. I didn't understand what you wrote because of that until after a few passes.

Try [GERUND] or better, [VERBing], maybe?

A gerund is just a form of verb, it doesn't prevent it from also being a verb.

It is a form of a verb, but it essentially becomes a noun. Which brings me to my next point- [VERBing] is a participle in this case, not a gerund, since it's an adjective modifying "people."

It doesn't become an adjective, it very much remains a verb. If it is, for example, "people dying" then it's not saying "they are dying people", it is saying that the people are currently dying, i.e. an action, using a verb.

"People are dying" Doesn't make dying a verb any more than "people are fish" makes fish a verb.

>it is saying that the people are currently dying

How about just [SENTENCE] ?

Whether you personally like an argument or not has no standing on its validity and strength.

"There are people [VERB]"


What? The argument is that people are X, and in what country they are X is completely irrelevant. It's called being a human, try it sometimes.

Where can I sign up if I don't have 50 dollars?


The punchline is to show you a video about ending slavery along with a comment about how spending money on that is more worthwhile than a social network.

The video was created at TEDx in Maui. TED is one of the most expensive social networks in the world, charging thousands of dollars to attend the main conference, which is the foundation of the TEDx programs.

Accidental endorsement of Dalton?

When you give, your intent is not to pay for a bunch of mailers to be sent out, killing trees and increasing the world's CO2, and your intent is not to hire some Ivy+ grad with a major in making themselves feel better about helping people as they sit at their desk and drink their Starbucks mocha. You want to free slaves, feed the homeless, feed the starving children, cure cancer. Don't give to those that waste that generosity, and don't support sites that don't tell you where your money is really going.

In this case, supposedly the overhead is 16%. That isn't great, but it is in the "meh" category for me. I'd rather give to the Salvation Army that only takes ~5% overhead. In addition, I'd like to see what the 86% going to programs and services is really accomplishing.

Nice start, clean design but it looks like signup is broken. It redirects to some random TED talk :p

This is for a Charity? Well they botched that then IMO.

After clicking the top "alpha.ihave50dollars.com" link (and others) you end up at heello.com. So I then understandably thought the site was a "snark-attack" by the Heello/Twitpic guys.

After all, Heello was started by Twitpic when Twitter was just starting to clamp down on their API usage and was about to start their own photo service -- so Heello was started pretty much in the same spirit as App.net was -- at least in the sense of "Hey! I'm pissed at Twitter, so now I'm gonna make a competitor clone".

So I wonder, why doesn't anyone mention this Heello? Does the App.net guy have more Hacker Mojo than the Twitpic guy? Is this Heello guy pissed that App.net got paid $700k+ for doing what they wanted to do 1-2 years ago?


This was not made by Heello / Twitpic & has no affiliation with it.

More free publicity for Dalton, he's not going to mind.

So? Good for him. In the big scheme of things, money is the consolation price. This however is a spoof, it hits bullseye, and it's actually intelligent. You cannot buy that with money.

How many posts have you seen on HN in the last days that mentioned "I put my money where my mouth is"? I came across 3 or 4, one poster even quoted their app.net welcome e-mail, haha...

Now this. Priceless. I couldn't stop laughing reading the page, and the fact that they actually refer you to a worthy cause when you try to sign up makes it all the better. 10 million out of 10 possible points for style, to quote Douglas Adams.

It actually comes of as teen angsty and narrow minded. The type of nonsense ignorant people like to spew because they can't grasp that we can focus our collective effort on many things at the same time, that we can spend money on our own interests and still be a positive force in the world.

> "It actually comes of as teen angsty and narrow minded."

The site? Or some of the reactions to it?

> "The type of nonsense ignorant people like to spew because they can't grasp that we can focus our collective effort on many things at the same time, that we can spend money on our own interests and still be a positive force in the world."

LOL? Now you're really reaching for it.

Except, that isn't even close to the actual quote: "Okay, so, ten out of ten for style, but minus several million for good thinking, okay?"

Oops! Paraphrase then o_O

How the f did I jumble it up like that? I said that so often over the last 20 years... huh. Thanks, better late than never. I Should read the book again.

You should! Make sure you pick up the 6th book by Eoin Colfer (of Artemis Fowl fame), 'And Another Thing...' who's actually done a marvelous of picking up the series where it left off after Douglas Adams' extremely unfortunate passing.

With all the handwaving and yelling around this issue I find this really refreshing.

This is fucking excellent satire. Hilarious.

I think this parody is right on. The app.net pitch is all about the fact there is a fee. Why not build a cool app, ask for a fee and _then_ explain the reason for the fee?

Because it's not an app, it's a platform, and for a social platform to be cool it needs to have critical mass.

A critical mass of people with $50.

This is like falling into a worm hole that takes you back to when Twitter was competing with Pownce and Jaiku for marketshare.

What a bizarre situation.

finally, some truth shed on this developer-centric bubble of a "company"

From ebay:

> The seller will only ship to confirmed addresses. To complete this transaction, you will need to enter your information again.

by my address is confirmed. What gives?

I only have 49.99 :(

You should make ialmosthave50dollars.com

I have 50 dollars is a great satire of yet another social network (app.net) that promotes non-social interaction..

is this the new reddit?

I think I'll go for a higher-end market, so I'm launching ihad5000dollars.com tomorrow.

I don't have $50. I don't use twitter. I won't even login to Facebook anymore.

Thus I lol'd at this.

I would pledge to support this fine and fantastic platform!!!

The video on the main page is just a link to the sign up...

So, so good. You earned your $50.

This is beautiful.

why not 50dollarsbacon.com

i don't get the reference but the domain is a winner for sure.


Yes, you're supposed to laugh.

Actually, this really pisses me off. Heaven forbid that all the hard work we do as developers actually come with a reasonable compensation option... like money. I think more sites need to go pay only, I'm tired of every advertising company on the internet knowing more about my buying preferences than I do. Support developers FFS.

That's a legitimate complaint. This attempt does seem to point out how a basic online tool is considered "first world luxury" even though it might be, and probably is, an important tool that will help a lot of people create value (new companies, mergers, sharing of information that may save people money by propagating best practices etc). (Sorry for the salesman pitch.)

I mean you don't go out and guilt a carpenter for money because he bought a nice power saw instead of using a manual one?

This just goes on to imply that internet "goods" are frivolous commodities further degrading the idea of paying for software.

I wonder if they did this similar thing for other 'tangible' goods, like this silver plated ballscratcher http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0010NWP9K.

Some things are only really useful as protocols. We don't pay for the email or http protocol either. We pay for the hosting, not for the ability to interact with others - we pay for the actual resources, not proprietary ideas. At least those of us who live in the amazing world of wonders that is the future.

Why pay for federation of content and relations, and subscription to updates? I mean sure, feel free, but for me that's just throwing money on something that isn't just pointless, it's actually counterproductive.

It is NOT buying a powersaw, it is making a contract with someone who saws your stuff. And the criticism is "when that guy runs away or starts being silly, you will STILL have to learn how to saw a piece of wood, so maybe learn that right away." - not that it's always bad to pay money for convenience.

It's the difference between a literate person paying someone to summarize the newspaper for them, and someone who can't read doing the same, never developing the desire to learn reading and writing. The latter should raise red flags. In that sense, app.net offers zero improvement over twitter and facebook. It's just another dead end.

The reason social networks are not for pay is because of "network effects":


It's hard enough to get a network going, let alone make people pay for it.

I don't follow this reasoning. Social networks do tend to rely on network effects, but must they?

It sounds cyclic. Social networks need lots of users because they can't charge their users directly, and they can't charge their users directly because they need so many users.

I don't know that app.net has to replace Twitter for everyone. Can't they be smaller and yet successful, precisely because they charge users directly?

No, social networks need lots of users because their value is related to the number of connections. If I don't know very many people on a social network, it isn't very valuable to me.

Therefor, to offer the most value to users, those building social networks want to get rid of barriers (including payment) that might prevent more people from signing up. That, then, gets reinforced by the cyclic relationship between the fact that indirectly monetizing users tends to pull in relatively little per user while marginal costs of hosting an additional user are minimal - but the initial dynamic is an artifact of the nature of social sites to begin with.

I think you're taking a huge leap in your reasoning. Sure, I want lots of people I know on the network. But beyond the roughly 200 of those, I don't care if the network has a hundred thousand users or a hundred million.

Before facebook, social networks could provide a lot of value by saturating small demographics. Example: If all Swedish teenagers are on playahead.se and can all talk to each other there, they don't gain much from network expansion. The reason those networks need to grow beyond the clique where they're successful is that their business model can't sustain itself on a small number of paying users.

If app.net saturates the demographic of "people who care enough about Twitter's new API to chance $50 away," I could talk to 50% of my Twitter circle even if the total number of users on app.net is only 1% of Twitter's.

Most people I know couldn't give two hoots about talking to random people on the internet, even interesting random people. All they care about is their friends (and maybe famous/notable people). If your social network contains < 100,000 people, chances are it doesn't contain many friends, so most people will discount it. Now, us techies are used to a degree of anonymity, and are used to interacting with people we haven't met, so I don't think it is impossible that app.net will be successful in that demographic. I think it is akin to Netflix: some people just want to watch a movie, it doesn't really matter which one so long as it is a decent one; these people might like Netflix. But others only really care about that specific movie their friend said was good; chances are Netflix doesn't stream it, and they will be disappointed.

Nah facebook stopped being useful once my dad and aunt would read and post stuff there. It turned from a hangout at a friends place into sunday supper.

Well, the effect doesn't preclude the possibility that there are connections you specifically want to avoid. My point was just that the value of the social network is the connections - Facebook would be even less useful if none of your friends were on it in the first place. Managing who sees what in a way that jives with social dynamics is still something these networks are figuring out. Charging $50 is far more likely, however, to keep out my unemployed friends than my well employed parents.

The value of a social network is never in the technology. It's always in the users.

join.app.net is making the same mistake as diaspora, facebook, myspace, etc. You can't charge someone real money when you aren't the one providing the value.

??? This doesn't even make a tiny bit of sense.

Thanks, you just get me the exact term I'm looking for. It's hard to explain to "smart" people without using any computer-ish/science-ish/math-ish terminology

And yet 12,000 people payed to get a network going. Myself included.

So then we support developers by buying things like Sparrow, which get bought out and shut down.

When I purchase an app like Sparrow, I do it to satisfy an unmet need. That they got bought out doesn't eliminate any of the value I got from purchasing the app.

Buying an app with the intent of supporting someone implies that you're doing them a favor, and that you're not getting value for value.

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