I think I understand why.
Although it's possible this is an entirely well intentioned program to create a successful software platform (ie so App.net doesn't dissappear) it reminds me of getting a Christmas present which is a donation of a goat to an African family.
Now, I'm not afraid to admit that I'm an extremely selfish person. I live like a king and complain about things which aren't really problems.I feel bad just thinking about it.
So once or twice in the past I have donated a little money to charity. And even though I know that it'll probably end up paying for a consultant brand manager, I feel better about myself and the world. It's a good feeling. The reason it feels good is because I chose to do it. It's a feeling of power. I exercised my will unselfishly and made the world better.
When someone else makes that choice for you, you don't have any choice. When someone else donates to charity then they get the good feeling. And then they get the same good feeling again because they're giving you a "gift" too. All you get as the recipient is a card and no gift. You don't get the good feeling. You feel cheated.
Such is the situation for App.net members. App.net are giving away $20k every month. Where does this money come from? It is the money people paid for the service. Not for clients, or games, or developers. For the service.
Now I don't know how many users they have, but the annual membership fee of about 6000 people is going to be spent on a bonus for developers. The users are supposed to feel good because they can tell App.net which apps they found most useful. But that's like saying - should we throw your money down the toilet or set it on fire? Wouldn't it be better to use that money to decrease subscriptions or improve the service?
Also, if the majority of people only use one or two apps (eg. Netbot) , won't these (already successful) developers clean up?
If a user wants to support a developer, let them donate directly or pay for the app. Wasn't the whole idea to pay for what you get?
I wouldn't even mind so much if they helped out small, hand-picked independant developers who are doing innovative work. But this is just using other peoples money as a bribe and expecting them to like it...
Here's Ricky Gervais on Charity Goats - NSFW language