illustration (attribution, if any possible, is at the end of the article)
Ethics are relevant when they ask you to sacrifice something, not so much (or not only) when it's easy… and ethical fundraising, for content creators, won't be on Tsū.
If you're interested in social media, then you've seen posts about tsu.co recently. And if you produce content, greed is likely to kick in, and you'll be tempted to think "what harm is there?" or "if I'm producing, why would I not be paid?" or any other justification that makes it acceptable to join and invite people to join… One of the best justifications I've seen (even if I explain below why I disagree) is at
Greed will bias judgements (e.g. easily leading to telling half-truths, e.g. "I'm just trying this new network, to see how it works" when really it's "I'm just trying to see if I can earn money for no extra effort" ), so using our heads is key! Intentions do matter.
The referral scheme on Tsū is unethical, and you shouldn't join (nor ask others to join).
Some people will immediately say: "oh this is not a pyramidal scheme, it's <any other label less negatively tainted>"
Experience says different; don't be naïve out of greed!
All you may see for now is people posting more outside of Tsū, about Tsū, than inside (by their own admission! —you didn't need to join to see this)… which is to say that people spend more time recruiting than actually posting content. This might be easily pushed aside as "they're just enthusiastic about it", but you're naïve.
When an early adopter creates a "short URL" like http://bit.ly/JoinTsu (well anonymised and official-looking, to put a veil on the fact that she —specifically— would forever benefit from you registering via her rather than via someone else), it is a classic case of marketing avoiding the disclosure of conflict of interests and hiding defects.
Other attempts might include classic flattery and "VIP" badges, as in plus.google.com/+LudovicMoreeuw/posts/F3qaDcu2SZq alongside their "feel free to join" (I guess some pyramidal recruiters have a sense of humour).
At least some people disclose the potential conflict of interests, so if you feel 'compelled' to join Tsū, do so via the profile of someone honest with you!
All the people dreaming of passive income (that is, all greedy people, that is… all people to an extent or another) have naturally understood that their interest is to hire for Tsū as fast as possible, as early as possible, due to the pyramidal structure…
People thus focus on hiring, not on posting. The revenue decreases exponentially with degrees of separation, but early adopters will often tend to get a wider audience anyway so one wants to 'hire' early adopters… Moreover, exponential growth is possible at the beginning of the network growth: for early adopters, although income decreases exponentially with degrees of separation, the size of the tree also increases exponentially… The latter will no longer be true for people joining once the network matures, and greedy people are rushing to get you to join via their profile.
It's all the more possible that no post is visible prior to joining the network, so people just need to praise the system outside of it. You cannot even see / check how they actually use the system until you joined, i.e. until you endorsed them forever.
What they post there is a copy-paste of what they post somewhere else (if only because Tsū doesn't make the content public, so their audience would be extremely limited if they posted anything "exclusive" there), don't fall for the fear of missing out!
If you want content providers to get income because you appreciate their content, that's a sign of wisdom on your part, taking some responsibility for providing means to what you want to see continued… but you should then consider how you can pay/help them directly, rather than via a pyramidal scheme that will dilute your money to many others, and via watching adverts (that's not such a wise way to pay someone: it's very wasteful —a lot of money goes somewhere else, e.g. to create and distribute the ad itself— and you're delusional if you think that you're immune to adverts polluting your mind)!
Being a responsible child
Given how the tree or pyramidal reward system is described, being a responsible content creator requires you to think very carefully about who would be your parent and their parent and their parent' parent before you join.
So far, I found it hard to find someone or some organisation I'd like to forever receive $29.70 every time I make $45 (assuming that'd ever happen). Nor do I particularly trust that people have chosen their 'parent' with care…
If you don't think according to this line, you might easily fund pornography or drug dealers; don't think I'm exaggerating! Searching for posts about Tsū last night on g+, one invitation by an early adopter was plus.google.com/u/0/110687742008964069144/posts/aACGLHRegkX
and while I won't allow myself to judge negatively this particular person, I will allow myself not to support the porn industry (gplus.wallez.name/W8E6Po4sthd). So I won't just join Tsū by a 'parent' of who I don't know the 'parent'… I can hide behind the "I don't know" but that's disingenuous: volunteer blindness doesn't provide morally-valid excuses.
Financially supporting forever the person via who you join Tsū (and their own 'up' chain) is absolutely unappealing: should I later strongly disagree with my 'parent' in the tree (everyone makes mistakes, some can be easily forgotten, some need feedback…), I'm condemned to either continue supporting this person no matter what (getting 66% of what I get), or start gaming the system.
So it's a big responsibility to pick one's parent one will never want to stop endorsing!
So even beyond the conversation about the tree-based system potentially supporting unethical activities, it's a big responsibility to pick the profile that you'd use as entry point. And guess what?
I've unfortunately not seen tsu.co/RedCross or tsu.co/UNESCO yet…
Gaming the system
About gaming the system (e.g. once you want to stop supporting your Tsū parent)… you're actually incentivised to game the system immediately!
You should open multiple accounts: if one of your accounts is the parent of another of your accounts (which will be the truly active one)… then you can keep $74.70 of every $100 in revenue rather than just $45!
Even if you're not using multiple accounts, you have a interest in ordering the people from your family by activity level… then make the least active the top of your sub-tree (the initial joiner endorsing someone outside the family), then the second least active, etc. This way, the most active account of your family will support primarily your family rather than the rest of the world.
Pyramidal schemes are unethical. Any blind, forever endorsement is unethical: endorsement without choice to retract or to provide feedback is unethical… e.g. voting Republicans just because your family "has always voted Republicans" is unethical! Habits are not context-sensitive ethics, they're preconceived biases.
Pyramidal schemes also don't work (they can be gamed too easily, I've told you how to do it above to maximise your revenue by making your whole family join in a well-chosen order)!
Some will simply make bots that click 'likes' or even 'ads', to claim part of the pie… and you won't get as many clicks with genuine content and a genuine audience! It has already started:
I create a lot of content… and it would be nice if people who appreciate the content and want new content to be published regularly supported the costs of creation.
But I'm not joining Tsū (even if I know how to prevent income dilution)… because I didn't find a 'parent' which would be a charity I believe in, because I don't see how I could endorse blindly and forever any 'parent', because I would thus "have" to game the system from the word 'go' just to be ethically careful.
But also because I think it would be unethical to then invite you, using my 'reach' here just so that your content forever supports me there, even if I stopped producing anything, or even if I started writing unwholesome ineptitudes (e.g. calling for violence against other religions, as some buddhists unfortunately have done).
If you want to support the content I create, please do so without dilution and without subjecting your mind to additional adverts (I'm on g+ because there's no advert… even if I know google can collect information used to better target adverts on other sites);
please do so via koan.mu/donate.htm