Today we are starting an experiment.

What we are testing may not work. However, if it has a chance of working we want to know, and if it doesn't work, we want to know why.

Starting today we are testing a bitcoin-based donation model to fund Hubski. We are not using real bitcoin or real donations. However, we are asking that to the best of your ability, consider than the donations are real, and act appropriately.

Here's how this donation model works:

When you donate to Hubski, these funds are converted into bitcoin, and deposited in your 'donation bank'. When you share a post or circle-dots-to-the-clockwise (bloop, uphub, etc.) a comment, some bitcoin are transferred out of your donation bank. These bitcoin may be split between Hubski and the author of the post of comment. You determine the amount of bitcoin transferred with each share, and the ratio of the split between Hubski and the author. If this were not an experiment, you could withdraw your balance at any time.

You can find the balance of your test donation bank in your profile. There is also a link there to your donation settings. You can use your donation settings to control how much (imaginary) bitcoin is transferred with each share, and the ratio of the split between Hubski and the author.

We are well aware that there are reasons why this idea could be considered good, and reasons why it could be considered to be terrible. We have discussed many of these reasons. However, as I have previously written, the current model for funding a social aggregator is flawed. We want to make more informed decisions regarding our future funding model, and this experiment is designed to help us do that.

For this experiment, we use the unit 'bit', which equals 1/1000000 bitcoin. Currently, 3500 bits has a value of about $1 USD.

As stated above, this is just an experiment, and these bits are not real. Do your best to pretend that they are, but understand that they will be erased after the experiment is complete. We expect to run the experiment for about 2 weeks.

Feel free to share feedback and your predictions below. I am sure we will have plenty to discuss when the experiment is complete. Thanks in advance for your participation!

We are running the experiment with 20 test donors, each starting with 35000 bits. We have selected 12 people to be donors. If you want to be one of the remaining 8 test donors, let me know below.

Update: We now have our 20 initial donors. 700000 imaginary bits are now floating about. Let's see how they move. Thanks!


I'm amused that y'all's big idea for rescuing Hubski from the funding miasma of social networks is Micropayments - the Great White Hope of People Who Don't Understand Economics.

I'm further amused that you decided to hide the mechanics under a layer of abstraction by leveraging the most volatile trading token you could find.

Finally, the fact that you've given it to 20 users, none of whom have any real idea what's going on or why, as a measure of a site-wide result kinda tickles me pink.

This is a bad idea. You're adding friction to the one aspect of the site you want to be frictionless (Hubski: the discouraging web). For the people whom you have incentivized to Share The Love (STL), you've given no guidance as to expected measures, what the economics actually mean for the site or what everyone else is doing. For the people whom are just watching the experiment you're simply letting them know that you added a weird useless marker to 20 Secret Shoppers.

I suspect the end result will be "mk learns why micropayments are a bad idea" which, if this is what it takes, is entirely worth the trouble.

HOWEVER if this means that you're going to play games with profit models, I'm all for it... assuming we can try some different games. I have a few ideas. Shall I list them elsewhere, since this discussion is already unwieldy?

EDIT two hours after writing this, and with very little else in my feed at the moment, I've determined that I've donated 250 bits and earned 17.3 bits. In other words, this comment has earned me about half a cent in play money. Which, as boldboldness points out, is fucking insulting. Chapter 4.

posted 1820 days ago