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Ad-free Twitter competitor App.net paying developers a share of $20K a month to help build out its ecosystem

If you’re an anti-ad citizen of the social media universe, you’ve probably heard of App.net. It’s essentially a platform that’s akin to Twitter, but charges a membership fee to make your experience entirely ad-free while also supporting an open, creative developer community. After raising well beyond its $500,000 goal to create the platform six weeks ago, the startup is now taking the next leap in expanding its services by offering developers their share in a pool of $20,000 a month to develop with its API.

“We envision a developer ecosystem that supports a wide variety of applications,” App.net CEO Dalton Caldwell writes in the announcement blog. “For example, we expect to see App.net-enabled games (a simple chess app has already been created), group messaging, collaboration, and frankly things that we haven’t thought of.”

To be eligible for the Developer Incentive Program, applicants not only have to own an App.net account but supply financial information to receive payments — if they prove to be worthy of the position. This means developers should — and will — be programming things App.net members specifically want. This feedback will come from monthly member surveys about the apps they use most commonly. The developer payouts will be calculated by the score your app receives from feedback on top of the total feedback score, multiplied by the incentive pool money (which is estimated to be $20,000 at the time of the announcement). For example, if App.net members rated your app a 5 and the total combined feedback score is 100, your monthly payment for your contributions would amount to $1,000 (it’s simple math, but we’ll humor you: 5/100 x 20,000).

App.net Incentive Program feedback survey

“The goal of this program is to financially reward the development of great App.net applications,” Caldwell writes. At the moment, there are eight iOS App.net apps and three in the Google Play store. Many more are in development, and Caldwell has noted they span a variety of categories and are “very impressive.”

While it’s purely optional, it’s a wild incentive program that should have developers seriously considering the opportunity — especially given how Twitter is steadily restricting its own API and thus the capability to develop for the platform. Obviously, the extra money isn’t a shabby bonus, but the ability to work off informed opinions of social media members who are willing to pay for a better Web experience could only help both parties reach a happy medium in the online space. Of course the largest hurdle for App.net and its developer ecosystem is getting users on board and invested in an alternative and somewhat underground service. Pulling time away from the Twitters and the Facebooks of the Internet is a challenge, and it’s something App.net will have to continue to deal with. 

The App.net Inventive Program is set to launch October 1st, with applications still accepted on a rolling basis.

[Correction: The article has been updated to reflect that the $500k raised from Kickstarter was in fact its fundraising goal and not the amount it raised. App.net raised a total of $803,000.]