The first component of App.net’s incentive plan for developers has just been revealed. The service will begin distributing $20,000 per month to developers who make apps for the platform. And those payouts will be based on user satisfaction ratings for those apps.

The plan was scooped by Jon Mitchell at ReadWriteWeb, but is detailed in an extensive post on the App.net blog. In the post, App.net founder Dalton Caldwell details the program as a way to “financially reward the development of great App.net applications.”

In order to make sure that the monthly outgoing monies are ending up with the most deserving candidates, they’ve decided to use direct feedback from the users of third-party apps in order to divine how they should be split.

Caldwell explains:

We have spent a lot of time thinking about how to create a system that actually incents the creation of innovative, imaginative, and useful apps. This is easier said than done. For example, we can’t simply count the number of posts generated by an application because that wouldn’t accurately reflect how much value an App.net member feels they receive from the app. With this in mind, we are implementing a system that is driven by direct feedback from members.

And here’s how that system will look:

incentive program1 520x314 App.nets incentive plan: Paying out $20k per month to app developers based on user feedback

The survey will go out once a month in emails and will be preset using an algorithm to reflect your basic usage of apps.

The plan will disperse at least $20,000 per month to eligible developers and will begin on October 1st. The allocation of the money will be set based on the scores of developers and they must be participants (accepted) in the Incentive Program if they wish to get money from it. The program is optional for developers and they’re free to monetize their app however they like. There is a basic warning given that users not feel pressured into giving good feedback. This means that any developers who directly solicit votes will be suspended.

“Rather than having a large number of “one-size-fits all” apps, we want to encourage developers to think about new and customized experiences across a wide variety of categories,” says Caldwell. “We’ve already seen a number of apps developed for the platform that are very impressive, and we look forward to seeing many more.”

One of the major questions about App.net was how it would reward developers on its platform for building all kinds of apps, especially as it was created with a developer-friendly ballot. Twitter has taken the opposite tack lately, severely limiting which kinds of apps it will allow on its ecosystem without severe restrictions.

Clearly, App.net wants to differentiate itself in that regard, and this is a first step. As a ‘for-pay’ communication platform, App.net may be an outlier in this age of free networks like Facebook and Twitter, but I believe that the real-time web is too important to entrust it to just one company, so competition and new ideas are never a bad thing.

Image Credit: ALI AL-SAADI/AFP/Getty Images