[MONEY] Growth of virtual economies

Michael Lorrey (retroman@together.net)
Mon, 05 Jan 1998 19:42:09 -0500

I have come across a site that some of you may have already seen, but
from what I can see, is an excellent indication of the beginnings of a
completely virtual economy.

Check out http://www.experts-exchange.com/

What it is, is an independent technical support site for all sorts of
computer software/OS's/equipment/etc. that is operated by its members.
The way it works is you register as a user. Initial registration gives
you 300 'points' to spend on asking technical questions of people who
are registered as 'experts'. There are no qualification requirements to
be an expert, you just have to also register as an expert if you feel
you can contribute, and users acknowledge that they cannot hold the
exchange nor the 'experts' responsible for the advice given. Anyone who
is an expert can offer suggested solutions, and if one works, the user
can confirm the successful solution, evaluate the quality of the
solution given, and award the points they originally bid, plus any
quality points based on the grading by the user, to the account of the
expert who was correct.

Here is the financial thing I am getting at: Once you 'spend' all of
your 300 initial points, you can buy more points for $0.10 a piece. This
means that for experts, they can themselves earn points that they can
use for free support from experts in other areas. While this is
currently a closed system that obviously requires input from 'real
money', this could eventually build up enough of a 'point supply' to act
as a mini economy of its own, and this is a harbinger for being expanded
to a whole slew of internet products and services that would eventually
independent of the real money system.

I registered as both user and expert. I then went to the directory of
questions on the NT operating system, hoping to find that someone else
had asked, and hopefully gotten a solution to, that case sensitivity bug
I had found in NT last week (as you can 'purchase' the solutions to
previously asked questions for a discount from the original solution
cost). I found a guy who was asking a quesiton about RAM vs. virtual
memory allocation, which I knew the answer to, so I replied with the
answer, as well as with another related tip for increasing performance.
THe original bid by the user for the solution was 50 points, but he said
my solution improved his performance so much that I got 200 points for
such a quality answer. So now I've got 500 points to spend on support
quesitons of my own. I earned $20 worth of support with just 5 minutes
of typing. How bout that???

			Michael Lorrey
mailto:retroman@together.net	Inventor of the Lorrey Drive
MikeySoft: Graphic Design/Animation/Publishing/Engineering
How many fnords did you see before breakfast today?