Torrents in exchange for personal data, collaboration

The Pirate Bay has nothing to do with this post but their logo is pretty neat so here it is.

I conducted a mini-poll yesterday, as a follow-up to a blog post I wrote on the need for creators to get creative around torrenting and piracy. This is how I thought and the results of the poll (disclaimer – I’m aware this might not hold up to full scientific scrutiny, so take all of this at face value please):

Targeting and contribution

I targeted the torrenting community via a couple of sources; Ernesto at TorrentFreak was kind enough to RT my query to his/their 36k followers. I started two threads on Reddit, on in the /r/torrents subreddit and one in the /r/piracy. I also shared the poll on Facebook and to my own followers on Twitter and Scoopit. Most visitors came via Twitter, but Reddit was a very close second.

All in all, at the time of writing, 207 people have answered the poll. I could wait for more, but the trend regarding the answers has been the same from the first 20 answers onwards, so in that sense there’s really no need.


I decided to use a maximum of five different alternatives so as not to scare people off. A couple of the questions had to do with giving up personal information in exchange for getting to torrent a movie legally, one was asking if a user would agree to be used as conduit to his/her friends, and a the last two asked about co-creating or collaborating in some way, in exchange for the right to torrent a movie.

The results

38,16% said they’d be willing to have three to five targeted ads sent to them. This is to be expected; we’re subjected to targeted ads daily anyway, so if we really can get something meaningful in exchange for our attention, why not? Now, how to make sure everyone just doesn’t go to the loo when these ads are on? Creatively (and with the risk of annoying people), why not ”gamify” shudder this process? Show three targeted ads (and this implies you’ve given the provider SOME information about yourself, in order for your ads to be able to be targeted) and before letting the user start torrenting, have a three-question quiz that has something to do with the content in the ads. ”So, how much IS the Double Cheeseburger this week?” or ”What color was the new Galaxy SIII?” etc. Make it fun enough and people might not mind answering them.

 22,22% were willing to give out their social media presence – Facebook, Twitter etc – in exchange for the right to torrent a movie. Now, this is in a way a one-trick pony; when someone’s got your FB Like they’ve got it, and they needn’t give you another movie one week later (unless you un-Like and Like again, not sure how that works). One solution would be to have one particular company be the sponsor of one particular movie. Say – Coca Cola sponsors Django Unchained; you Like Coke and you get to see Django. Next week it’s Intel with The Hobbit, and so on – or a combination of several sponsors per movie.

15,94% would agree to collaborate creatively with writings, graphic designs, logo suggestions etc. I think this is pretty neat. Granted, you couldn’t be sure of the level of the participants and the quality of submissions, but I’m not sure you need to think of it that way either. If someone creates something for your project, they’ve invested a bit in it. Since what I want to achieve – through great content and meaningful interaction / collaboration – is a sense of loyalty (that goes both ways, naturally), this might be a very good step on that road. Especially if I view this as one step on the road to creating a community around the content. I’m fully aware that this needs some serious planning and that a lot of mistakes will be made and a lot of case studies examined, but if one in six torrenters would be willing to contribute creatively, we should be able to harness that.

The last two – ”do 30 mins of promotional work for an NGO such as the Red Cross or UNICEF” and ”promote something to five of your friends” – only got 10,63% and 7,73% respectively. This, I believe, has to do with integrity. On the Internet, no one wants to be seen as a lackey to someone else, an errand-boy doing the bidding of some master – not even if the master is someone like UNICEF. Everyone has a reputation and a facade to uphold, and no one wants that to be disrupted by Big Corps.


Well, in brief, I think it’s quite clear that people don’t mind being subjected to ads to get what they want. We would need to become more meaningful with the ads though. What I’d like to do is experiment more with the collaborative possibilities – how to do it and what to actually do.

Thanks to everyone who participated! To a future with still better content and better distribution models!

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