Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Market Failure: No Disqus For Micropayments!

Comment on: The tip jar by Bijan Sabet

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What's great about disqus is that I'm already logged in! Not having to log in makes it easier for me to leave a comment on your content. Facilitating comments increases the chances that people will comment (share their input).

I'm guessing that eventually somebody will create the equivalent of disqus for micropayments. Hopefully this will happen sooner rather than later! With one click I'll be able to give you a penny, nickle, dime or quarter for your content (I would have given you a dime). Facilitating micropayments will increase the chances that people will give (share their input).

I recently programmed/launched the world's first micropayments forum. For some reason people haven't been signing up in droves! My guess is that most people do not see the connection between spending and abundance. Abundance depends on letting people know that they are on the right track. And this is best done with actions (spending) rather than with words (likes, votes, stars, thumbs up, etc).

One fascinating question is whether PWYW or OPFA will be the future of micropayments. My guess is that PWYW will be dominant in the future. It doesn't make sense to require a minimum amount of money for tips/donations. Anybody who thinks otherwise probably hates poor people. Naw, they probably don't hate poor people. They just aren't interested in their monetary input (sacrifice)!

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See also:

Rescuing Robin Hanson From Unmet Demand
Are Anti-Discrimination Laws Necessary?

The Connection Between Spending And Abundance

Omnilibrium article: Stars vs Spending

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This forum should replace the star rating system with a monetary rating system. If you like a post... rather than giving it more stars... you'd spend more money on it.

I've shared this idea in other forums and so far the response has been... underwhelming. Unfortunately, most people who are nonplussed with the idea don't bother to explain their hesitation.

Here's what I recently posted in the Ron Paul Forums... Micropay, Vote Or Dance For Quality Content. You'd figure that if anybody is going to love the idea... it would be a bunch of capitalists. But if you look at the poll then you'd see that this is not the case. So far only one other member voted for micropayments.

People just don't see the connection between spending and abundance.

I like orchids. I spend money on orchids. Orchids are a lot more abundant than they used to be. Am I responsible for their abundance? Hah. The amount of money that I spend on orchids isn't even a drop in a bucket... or a drop in a pool... maybe it's a drop in a very large lake.

Do I benefit because I can spend money on orchids? Hardly. I benefit because other people can spend money on orchids.

Dahlen wrote this article... Bureaucracy in Public and Private Institutions. Beneath the article it says, "Would you like to read similar articles in the future?" Yes, I would like there to be an abundance of similar articles in the future... so I clicked "+2". Voila!?

If only that's how economics worked!!!!!!

"Would you like there to be an abundance of Laelia speciosa in the future? If so, just click "+2"". *click* Voila! Abundance!!! Laelia speciosas growing and blooming on every tree in the world!! Awesome!

But this really isn't how economics works. Economics requires sacrifice to work. It requires blood, sweat and tears.

If we want an abundance of articles from Dahlen... then we have to compete him away from the alternative uses of his valuable time and energy. And we can't effectively compete by giving him stars or votes or thumbs up or "likes". These worthless trinkets do not accurately communicate our valuation of his time and energy. As a result, we increase the chances of suffering from a scarcity of Dahlen's articles.

In order to effectively compete Dahlen away from the alternative uses of his valuable time and energy... we have to give him something valuable in return. We have to give him our blood, sweat and tears... aka money.

If I spent a penny on Dahlen's articles... would this be a drop in a large lake? No. Would it be a drop in a pool? No. Would it be a drop in a bucket? Maybe. Would it be a drop in a large cup? Maybe. Would it be a drop in a shot glass? Maybe.

Right now this is a pretty small group. Maybe I'd be the only one spending any money on Dahlen's articles. But for all I know one of you is really rich and you really love Dahlen's articles. This will benefit all of us who want an abundance of his articles in the future. But what are the chances that any of you really rich though? Pretty slim!

There's this guy named Sherwin Rosen who came up with Superstar Theory. Basically, larger markets make bigger superstars. Right now omnilibrium is a pretty small market.

Am I the only one interested in turning Dahlen into a small superstar? Probably. Small superstar? Heh.

Maybe this image by Alex Gregory will help?




It's a guy working and thinking about golf, then he's playing golf thinking about sex and then he's having sex thinking about work.

The moral of the story is that we're always comparing the value of our present activity against the value of the alternatives. We're always weighing our options. For Dahlen, one of his options is to write articles on this forum. At any given time he derives x amount of value from this activity. If he's deriving y amount of value from playing golf... then as soon as x > y... he'll stop playing golf and start writing articles on this forum. The important part to understand is that, if we don't communicate our valuation of his articles... then x will be smaller than it should be. And if x is smaller than it should be... then he'll spend less time writing articles... which means that there will be a shortage of his articles.

Let's make up some numbers to work with...

Playing golf = y = $12

At least initially... Dahlen gets around $12 dollars worth of value from playing golf. So if he told you, "hey, I'm off to play golf" you could persuade him not to do so by giving him $12.01.

Writing articles = x = $10

At least initially... Dahlen gets around $10 dollars worth of value from writing articles.

And I say "initially" because all activity is subject to diminishing returns. For every beautiful woman, there's a guy that's bored with having sex with her.

We can imagine Dahlen playing golf and rather than thinking of boobs... he's thinking of the $10 dollars worth of value that he'd derive from writing articles.

y > x = continue playing golf
y < x = start writing article

Personally, I don't derive any value from Dahlen playing golf. So I'm not going to give him any money to play golf. What I do derive value from is reading his articles. So my mission is to help Dahlen make an informed decision. I have to communicate to him the amount of value that I derive from his articles. Let's say that I derive on average... 5 cents from each of his articles. I communicate this to him by giving him 5 cents for each of his articles.

As a result of this information that I've shared with him... while he's playing golf the number in his head is no longer $10... now it's $10.05. This is how much value he'll expect to get from writing an article. My 5 cents has made writing an article a marginally more attractive alternative. Perhaps he'll spend just a little less time playing golf and a little more time writing articles.

The more of you that give Dahlen 5 cents for his articles... the more attractive an alternative writing becomes for Dahlen. If we get x up to $13... then we're doing a better job of competing him away from golf. If we get x up to $20... then this is an even better number for him to think about while he's playing golf. We want to make golf as costly as possible. We want the opportunity cost of golf to be very high.

This is the general idea. What we know for sure is that Dahlen can't possibly make a truly informed decision in the absence of our valuation of his articles. He's not a mind-reader. He can't reach into our brains and pull out our valuation of his articles. And he can't act on information that he does not have. So without our valuations... it's a given that he'll allocate inadequate time to writing. His misallocation will be to the detriment of everybody who positively values his articles.

To zoom out a bit... if this forum facilitated micropayments... then Dahlen wouldn't be the only one who knows our valuation of his articles. Everybody would know our valuation of his articles. Everybody would know everybody's valuation of everybody's articles. In other words, we'd know the demand for articles. Well...not perfectly. But perfectly when compared to our current knowledge of the demand for articles. And knowing the demand for articles would ensure a better supply. This is how and why markets work. We use our money to inform each other... and, as a result, we all make better informed decisions.

What I'm saying isn't economically novel. You should know this if you've read Hayek's Nobel Prize winning essay... The Use of Knowledge in Society. What's novel is applying this essay/economics to forums. Just like it was novel for Jimmy Wales to apply it to encyclopedias.

From Hayek's essay...

"Which of these systems is likely to be more efficient depends mainly on the question under which of them we can expect that fuller use will be made of the existing knowledge."

Wikipedia is more efficient than regular encyclopedias because it makes fuller use of the existing knowledge. This forum can be more efficient than regular forums because it makes fuller use of the existing knowledge...

"We must look at the price system as such a mechanism for communicating information if we want to understand its real function—a function which, of course, it fulfils less perfectly as prices grow more rigid."

also...

"The price system is just one of those formations which man has learned to use (though he is still very far from having learned to make the best use of it) after he had stumbled upon it without understanding it."

This is why Wales hasn't created a forum that facilitates micropayments. It's a lot easier to grasp that information is dispersed than it is to grasp how payment is used to quickly communicate the most important information that we have.

Omnilibrium is like an island. How many of us are here? 30? 40? We can rely solely on words to communicate with each other... or we can also communicate with actions (spending). When has any group failed because of too much communication?

And besides, the available evidence supports the conclusion that stars or "likes" do not increase engagement...
A widespread assumption is that the more content is liked or shared, the more engaging it must be, the more willing people are to devote their attention to it. However, the data doesn’t back that up. We looked at 10,000 socially-shared articles and found that there is no relationship whatsoever between the amount a piece of content is shared and the amount of attention an average reader will give that content. - Tony Haile, What You Think You Know About the Web Is Wrong

The Internet's Buried Treasure Problem

PalmTalk thread: Micropay, Vote Or Dance For Quality Content

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The problem with forums is that they're full of buried treasure. Unless a thread is stickied, no matter how much useful information it contains... it will eventually be pushed off the first page. And then it will be pushed off the second page... and then the third page and so on.

A google search can easily help people find buried treasure... but, it can just as easily help people find buried trash! And the internet has a lot more trash than treasure.

What's needed is some group rating effort to highlight the quality content. Here are some possibilities...

1. Unlimited micropayments

Each member would have the option of using paypal to put money into their digital wallet. Under each post would be four coin buttons... penny, nickle, dime and quarter. If you value this post at a nickle, then you'd click the nickle button. A nickle would be transferred from your wallet to my wallet and the value of the post would increase by a nickle. I could spend the nickle on other posts... or save up my nickles and cash out and buy an orchid.

If I spent my money on my own posts... their value would go up accordingly... but my money would be transferred to the forum owner's wallet.

2. Limited micropayments

Everything else is the same as the previous system... but there's no paypal. Everybody initially gets a dollar in their wallet. If you spend all your pennies... and want to spend more pennies... then you'll have to earn money by creating posts/threads that other members spend their pennies on. The supply of money in the forum only increases when a new member joins.

3. Likes/Votes

Rather than using money to rate posts/threads... members could "like" posts/threads. There are quite a few websites that use "likes" (or votes) to rate posts/threads... for example Reddit, Quora and StackExchange.

4. Dancing

Bees dance more vigorously to communicate when they discover an especially good food source. We can dance if you want to.

Analysis

In order to help people find the most valued or liked post/threads... it would have to be possible to sort posts/threads by their value, likes... or dance vigor.

The problem with dancing as a rating system is that... uhhhh. We'd have to watch a lot of dance videos?

The problem with voting as a rating system is that you don't equally value everything that you like. For example, the most voted for post in the Reddit orchids group has 84 votes. This effectively communicates the post's popularity, but tells us absolutely nothing about the post's value. In order for us to have a better idea of the post's value... Reddit would have to facilitate micropayments.

It might help if you can see the disparity between like/value. Let's say that Netflix allowed all 60 million of its members to allocate their monthly fee. Assuming a monthly fee of $10 dollars... then here's what one of my monthly allocations might look like...



Even though I like all of these movies/shows, clearly I don't value them all equally. The higher the blue bar (payment), the more I value it, the more pressing my perception of scarcity/shortage. The reason that I value The Man From Earth the most is because I perceive a severe scarcity/shortage of educational and entertaining movies. And the more money allocated to The Man From Earth... the faster we'd have an abundance of educational and entertaining movies.

Just like the more money allocated to the drought tolerant epiphytic orchid Laelia speciosa... the faster we'd have an abundance of Laelia speciosa. And the more money allocated to glowing plants... the faster we'd have an abundance of glowing plants. Can you imagine a midnight stroll down a street that has trees covered in glowing orchids?

The more money we pay, the shorter the path from scarcity to abundance. This is why limited micropayments are better than likes and unlimited micropayments are better than limited micropayments. We don't want to limit the incentive for creators to allocate more of their limited time/energy/effort/expertise to the creation of educational/entertaining posts/threads. Not biting the hand that feeds you? Good. Paying the hand that serves you quality content? Better.

Micropayments aren't difficult to facilitate. I recently proved this by programming/launching a very basic, no frills, micropayments forum... RudeBagel. Please sign up and give it a try! You'll find $5 dollars already in your wallet so you can see how it works. I haven't set up sorting by value yet because there's not enough content. So you can give me a hand by posting anything you want.

And to be very clear, the point of RudeBagel is simply to demonstrate that it's very possible for forums, and other websites, to facilitate micropayments. The code that I've written is publicly available and I'll do the same with any future code that I write. If anybody happens to be proficient at php then let me know. Given enough eyeballs all bugs are shallow! (Linus's Law... equally true for debugging orchids...)

The goal is for every website to facilitate micropayments. On the homepage of every website would be 5 tabs...

24 hours, week, month, year, all time

The default tab would be 24 hours. When you visited the homepage you'd see the 20 or 40 most valuable threads/stories/articles/videos/photos that had been created in the past 24 hours. If you clicked on the "all time" tab you'd see the website's most valuable content ever. On the right hand side of the page would be keywords/tags/checkboxes for popular categories. You could use them to filter out results that didn't interest you.

Right now the Orchids on Trees flickr group has 2,400 photos in it. The photos are sorted by date added... but you should also be able to sort by value and filter by date/keywords. And in order for the values to be correct... you should be able to easily spend a penny, nickle, dime or quarter on your favorite photos. Not only will this help other people find the treasure... but it will also incentivize photographers to supply more of those same type of photos.

The clear internet trend has been to make it easier and easier to share content. Each second a new mountain of content is created on the internet. When there's so much content... we're going to need a lot of prospectors! In order to accurately communicate to others the quality of a content discovery... we can either spend more money... or we can vote... or we can dance more vigorously.

Let me know if you have any questions or concerns.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

How Much Should You Manage?

What China is doing takes a lot of political guts as well as an extraordinary capability to calculate, govern and manage. - uzairumair, The Wrong Economic Question
I chuckled out loud when I read this.

Bob: I'm hungry!
Sally: Me too!  Let's go eat someplace.
Bob: What about that Chinese restaurant around the corner?
Sally: Dumpling Dragon Spring Heaven?  That place went bankrupt.
Bob:  Yeah, but the new owners have an extraordinary capability to calculate, govern and manage!  I've heard it's a lot better now.
Sally:  Ok, let's check it out!


  1. Under Mao Zedong's (MZ) management, millions and millions of people starved to death.  
  2. Under Deng Xiaoping's (DX) management, millions and millions of people were lifted out of poverty.


Deng Xiaoping isn't my hero because he was a better manager... he's my hero because he gradually reduced how much the Chinese government managed.  China hasn't improved because of good management... it has improved because the detrimental consequences of bad management have been much more limited.

How much any organization or individual manages should be determined by consumers/taxpayers.

See also: Tax Choice Tax Rate

The Forced-Free-Rider Problem

Reply to: The Reality of War Prosperity by Gina Arnold

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The unseen is really difficult to see! Imagine if we replaced the green “Recommend” button with four coin buttons… penny, nickle, dime and quarter. If I clicked the quarter button then a quarter would be instantly transferred from my digital “wallet” to your digital “wallet”. And the value of your story would increase by a quarter. Then we would be able to search Medium for “Mises” or “Bastiat” and sort the results by value. Whose story would be the most valuable? Can you guess how valuable it would be? $10 dollars? Maybe the author would have received a total of $10 dollars for their story? That $10 dollars should be in their pocket right now… but it isn’t. This is the unseen.

Here on Medium we don’t know what the demand is for stories related to Bastiat or Mises. Is this a problem? Does the demand even matter? Do we really need to see and know the demand for stories in order for the supply of stories to create the maximum possible value?

The management of a socialist community would be in a position like that of a ship captain who had to cross the ocean with the stars shrouded by a fog and without the aid of a compass or other equipment of nautical orientation. -  Ludwig von Mises, Omnipotent Government

Medium is a socialist community. There’s no compass. There aren’t any micropayments. There should be, there could be, but there aren’t.

Maybe “Recommendations” adequately function as a compass? How could they when the person “spending” them isn’t sacrificing anything in the process? Value is a function of sacrifice. Sacrifice is how we communicate value. If all it takes is one click to sacrifice a penny to a story… if you don’t click the penny then either you don’t value the story or you’re a free-rider. Right now I’d click a quarter button for your story. But I can’t… because there isn’t one. This is the forced-free-rider problem.

A while ago I wrote a lengthy story about how Medium, and other sites, should facilitate micropayments. Obviously Medium didn’t get the message. So I recently launched RudeBagel. It’s the first micropayments forum. You should join! Then we can see how many Medium writers we’ll have to poach before Medium starts facilitating micropayments. After that happens we’ll watch the dominoes fall one by one until there’s only one place left that doesn’t have a compass… the public sector. But by then everybody will understand the value of a compass.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

The Efficient Allocation Of Threads

Thread for Techist Forum: Most Valuable Content Up Front
RudeBagel: Internet 1.0 (Altruism) vs Internet 2.0 (Incentive)

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My first post!

According to the stats... this forum has 259,037 threads. That's a lot of content!

My feedback, as you might have guessed from the title, is for the most valuable content to be up front.

On the homepage there would be 5 tabs...

24 hours, week, month, year, all time

The default tab would be 24 hours. Anybody who visits the homepage will see the top 20 most valuable threads that have been created in the past 24 hours. If they click the "week" tab then they'll see the top 20 most valuable threads that have been created in the past week. If they click on the "all time" tab they'll see the 20 most valuable threads of all time.

How cool will that be? Any visitor will easily be able to find and enjoy the most valuable content that this forum has to offer!

On the right hand side of the page would be various checkboxes for popular categories. If the visitor is interested in seeing the most valuable threads within certain categories.... then they could uncheck boxes to filter out the threads in categories that don't interest them.

The gnitty gritty is how to determine value...

1. Dictatorship - Trotter goes around assigning value to threads

2. Democracy - we all can give posts a "thumbs up" or "like" or "vote"

3. Market - micropayments... we spend our pennies, nickles, dimes and quarters on posts that we value

The problem with the first system is the problem with all dictatorships... invariably there are significant disparities between the dictator's valuation and the crowd's valuation. If Trotter is allergic to peanuts then his valuation of peanuts is $0 dollars... which is clearly a lot less than the crowd's valuation of peanuts. If he's a vegetarian then his valuation of steak is $0 dollars... which is clearly a lot less than the crowd's valuation. If he hates Apple then his valuation of Apple is $0 dollars... which is clearly a lot less than the crowd's valuation of Apple. So the homepage would be missing many results that many visitors would value a lot more than the displayed results. Basically, the 259,037 threads would be incorrectly sorted.

The problem with the second system is that, just because I like peanut butter doesn't mean that I'm always going to fill my shopping cart with peanut butter. There are many items at the grocery store that we'd vote for... but we don't put them all in our shopping carts every time we go shopping. "Liking" isn't prioritizing. You don't equally value all the things that you "like".

Imagine if Netflix allowed members to allocate their monthly subscription fees to their favorite content. Assuming a monthly fee of $10 dollars... then here's what one of my monthly allocations might look like...


These are all movies/shows that I like... but clearly I don't value them all equally. I value The Man From Earth most of all because I perceive a significant shortage/scarcity of movies that are both educational and entertaining. How many other people are in the same boat as me? I don't know. Nobody knows. "Likes" don't accurately communicate value. So again, the 259,037 threads would be incorrectly sorted.

Which leaves us with the market. Markets are all about shopping (weighing/prioritizing/spending/sacrificing). Does the idea of shopping for threads appeal to anyone? Would you really like the opportunity to decide how many pennies this post of mine is worth to you?

Indeed, the mental transaction costs, aka cognitive costs, take a toll, even, or especially, for a 100 bit ($.003) transaction. This is why replacing ads with micropayments is a non-starter: far fewer people tip. It's not because they are miserly, it's because the act of tipping takes not only an extra physical step, but also exacts a mental toll. In contrast, ads are hassle free for the user. Micropayment systems have to address these mental transaction costs if they are going to have any longevity. - Emin Gün Sirer, Micropayments and Cognitive Costs

On reddit... is there a mental toll when you upvote something? Nope. What about on youtube when you give something a thumbs up? Nope. What about on facebook when you like a post? Nope. There's no mental toll because there's no cost. But without cost there's no valuation. This is because valuation is a function of sacrifice.

Reddit, youtube and facebook aren't very good markets. Their users aren't shopping. Their users aren't spending their hard earned money. Their users aren't considering the alternative uses of their money. Their users aren't prioritizing. Their users aren't deciding whether some content is worth it. Their users aren't deciding whether x > y. Their users aren't trying to get the most bang for their buck. Their users aren't deciding whether they truly need another jar of peanut butter. Do their users experience a mental toll? No. Do their users see the most valuable content on the homepage? No.

There's no doubt that these websites are successful... but they aren't the future. All it will take is one forum where enough members are willing to shop for threads. The honest to goodness demand for threads will determine the supply of threads. There will be a larger and larger supply of content that's worth paying for. Visitors will easily find the most valuable content on the homepage and the internet will pivot accordingly. One small leap for this forum... one giant leap for the internet.

Programmatically it's not difficult to facilitate micropayments. A week ago I shelled out $60 bucks for hosting and spent a few days modifying the phpbb software and database so that members could click penny, nickle, dime or quarter buttons under each post. I launched the website a few days ago... here's a screenshot...




Yesterday I discovered $49,382,720.75 dollars in my wallet. Heh. Evidently some hacker tried to prove... something. What comes to mind is the story of the three little pigs. I'm the little pig that built the straw house. The wolf blew it down and proved that houses are a bad idea. Well... no. The wolf proved that I'm clueless about database security. I'm sure that all of you know more about database security than I do. My brain is mostly filled with economics. Which is why two heads are better than one!

The database security issue will never be perfectly resolved. But I think it can be resolved well enough to deter Joe Hacker. And by the time there's serious money involved... then serious money can be spent on serious security expertise.

From the economic perspective it makes sense for people to be able to spend money on their own posts. It also makes sense from the economic perspective that the money they spend on their own posts does not go back into their wallets. Instead, it would go into Trotter's wallet.

A logical conclusion that people jump to is that this would result in the homepage being filled with advertisements. Yes... and no. Once we can spend money on posts then the idea of "advertising" as we know it goes out the window. When everybody can receive money for their posts/content... then everybody will essentially be trying to sell their content.

Let's say that I start a thread... "How can I avoid being hacked?" What am I doing? I'm offering a discussion for sale. If you want to know the answer too... then you'll buy my discussion by allocating a quarter to my thread. The quarter will go into my wallet and the thread will be 25 cents more valuable. The more people that buy my thread...

1. the richer I become
2. the more valuable the topic becomes
3. the more exposure the topic receives
4. the more likely it is that it will be answered
5. the richer the best answerer becomes

And then, when a visitor goes to the homepage and clicks the "all time" tab, they'll see "How can I avoid being hacked?" at the top of the list. The visitor will say, "Woah! I've always wanted to know the answer to this question!" So they'll click on the thread, sort the replies by value, and learn the most valuable answer. They'll appreciate the answer so much that they'll immediately sign up and allocate money to the thread and to the best answer.

Can some big hosting company spend enough money on its thread for it to show up on the homepage in the 24 hour tab? Sure. But can it afford to do so every day? Is it going to spend $10 dollars a day? $100 dollars a day? Would it be the only one? Maybe there are going to be 5 hosting companies spending $100 dollars a day to get their threads in the 24 hours tab?

If you're a hosting company, why not save up to get your thread in the week tab? Or the month tab? Or the year tab?

Better yet, instead of spending money to boost your thread... why not spend your money creating a thread that's so educational and entertaining that members will gladly boost it for you? In other words, why not spend your money to create the thread equivalent of a charmercial?

So yeah, the homepage will end up full of advertisements... but no, it really won't be a problem.

From what I read in this thread... "The future of Tech-Forums"... this forum is in need of a pivot. And I can't think of a more daring, exciting, dangerous and revolutionary pivot than allowing members to shop for threads. We'll all benefit from a group effort to put the most valuable content up front.

Clearly people are more than happy to freely share content. The 259,037 threads on this website are proof of this. But right now there are other websites... like Quora and StackExchange... that are winning at Internet 1.0 (altruism). But whatever altruism can build... incentive (Internet 2.0) can build even bigger and better...

But man has almost constant occasion for the help of his brethren, and it is in vain for him to expect it from their benevolence only. He will be more likely to prevail if he can interest their self-love in his favour, and show them that it is for their own advantage to do for him what he requires of them. Whoever offers to another a bargain of any kind, proposes to do this. Give me that which I want, and you shall have this which you want, is the meaning of every such offer; and it is in this manner that we obtain from one another the far greater part of those good offices which we stand in need of. It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker, that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest. We address ourselves, not to their humanity but to their self-love, and never talk to them of our own necessities but of their advantages. - Adam Smith, Wealth of Nations

If Bob, a member of this forum, takes the time and makes the effort to find and share content that we value... then it should be stupid easy to reward him for doing so. This will incentivize him, and others, to allocate more/time effort to supplying our demand for valuable content. The result will be a virtuous cycle of value creation. Threads on the homepage will quickly increase in value.

In summary, facilitating micropayments will ensure better...

1. sorting
2. support

We've all got pennies. Let's put them to good use. 259,037 threads is way too many threads for any single person to valuate. But it's not too many threads for the crowd to evaluate. Given enough eyeballs, all Easter Eggs are exposed. We'll do the work of searching for and valuating Easter Eggs so visitors won't have to. Buried treasure is cool for movies... but not for forums.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

RudeBagel - First Micropayments Forum

I really love the idea of micropayments.  If you're willing to pay even a little, then it should be stupid easy for you to do so!  A lot of little contributions can really add up.

Unfortunately, I haven't been able to persuade any of my favorite websites, ie Medium, to facilitate micropayments.  Just how hard could it be to allow one-click-giving?  I decided to find out.

After shelling out $60 bucks for hosting, I spent a few days modifying the code for phpbb forum software and voila!  I created a very basic, no frills, micropayments forum...




$9.35 = the amount of money in my wallet
$0.57 = the amount of money allocated to the post

The way it works is pretty simple. You paypal me money and I update your wallet.  If you value a post at a nickle, then you click the nickle coin button...

1. A nickle is transferred from your wallet to the poster's wallet
2. The value of the post is increased by a nickle

There's no page refresh.  There's no transaction fees/costs of any kind.  And whatever ends up in your wallet is 100% yours keep.  When you want to cash out, you PM me the amount you'd like and I paypal it to you.

It's as easy to value a post on RudeBagel as it is to like a post on Facebook.

In order to create this very basic ajax valuing system, these are the pages that I modified...

overall_header.html (1 line of code)
navbar_header.html (~2 lines of code)
viewtopic.php (~ 5 lines of code)
overall_footer.html (~ 1/4 page of code)
viewtopic_body.html (~ 1/2 page of code)

... and here's a new page...

ajax_value.php (~ 1 page of code)

To give credit where credit is due... this "ajax like" code was quite helpful.

The code that I myself wrote is a trainwreck. I'm sure it's all types of wrong, and in the wrong places... so there's plenty of room for improvement.

I could have spent many more days, weeks, months and years improving and developing the functionality and features of this micropayments forum... but that would have defeated the very point of facilitating monetary feedback/guidance from the crowd! :D

If there are any features/functionality that you'd like added...then you could post your suggestion in the feedback forum. It's probably a good idea to only have one suggestion per post. That way, if/when people allocate money to your post... then there won't be any ambiguity.

Yes, you can allocate money to your own posts. When you do so though, the money won't go back into your wallet. Basically you're "boosting" your own post. Kinda like on facebook. But with this forum... everybody and anybody can also help boost your post. It's crowd boosting/amplifying. Every post can be crowd sponsored.