Re: [MONEY] Growth of virtual economies

Brian Atkins (
Mon, 05 Jan 1998 21:14:52 -0500

Over at Hypermart, we have considered implementing our own
internal economy. We offer free hosting for businesses, and
the way it currently works is that each and every business
gets the exact same set of features (10MB of space, their
own domain, unlimited bandwidth, etc.).
We use regular NNTP-based newsgroups for most of our user
interaction, and have a couple of "help" newsgroups where we
find many of the users answer questions that get posted even
before we can get to them.

What we are considering is giving members a set amount of credits
when they join and they can decide what services they need
to have. So one person might really need some Real Audio
streams, but only need 5 megs of space, or someone might need
20 megs of space but don't need their own domain, etc. Then
they could earn additional credits by answering problems,
finding abusers on our system, and whatever else we can think

At any rate, I think what we are considering expands on the
type of thing at experts-exchange by offering our hosting
services in a kind of internal market economy, where the "costs"
of our various services would fluctuate depending on how much
demand there is for each of them. I think this would allow us
to offer some services like Real Audio or NT hosting that cost
us $$$ without having to buy enough streams/servers for everyone.

Michael Lorrey wrote:
> 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
> 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
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> Inventor of the Lorrey Drive
> MikeySoft: Graphic Design/Animation/Publishing/Engineering
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> How many fnords did you see before breakfast today?

The future has arrived; it's just not evenly distributed.
                                                       -William Gibson
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