The good happens when community is created and supported:
People do things for many reasons, but it’s always about getting something of value back. The value may be a psychic reward of doing something good for someone else. It may be ego. It may be money, or the ability to save money. In community-driven websites it may be contributing a tiny bit of effort to something that gives the overall community, and thereby individuals, great value. Usually it’s a combination.
The bad happens when the work of some is exploited by others, such as :
the tendency of site owners to rely on free labor. The method goes roughly this way: “You do all the work and we’ll take all the money, thank you very much.” …
You are invited to translate the site into another language, because you are such a generous person. If you are a badass programmer, however, you are invited to apply for a job and make some actual money.
… If you are generous enough to do this kind of work for free, please consider doing instead it for a nonprofit site of some sort. Please don’t be giving away your time to mega-wealthy media barons.
Even when our intent is to make things better for ourselves and our online community, mega-wealthy media barons are often making money from our labor (see MySpace). Giving away our labor is what we (those who use the internetz tubes) do everyday when we rank items on Amazon or Netflix, and participate in MySpace, Facebook, and other social networking sites, improving their services. But at least in these cases, participants get something positive out of it, even if they don’t get paid for their efforts.