Friday, February 9, 2007

Qotw4: Free riders/ sharers on forums

A gift is give- and- receive sort of thing. But in present forums and emails, lots of people can be both givers and receivers. A public good is indivisible and non excludable. The problem is how to get someone to contribute without being freeriders (Kollock, 1999). You can easily just lurk around the place without bothering to post anything. I frequent animal lover sites and read the message boards. One can also post on forums that talk about anime, another favorite subject! I visit this forum where everybody posts anime fanfiction. So far I haven’t had the time or motivation to write a story yet. I just upload it on . That's a place to do your writing and it is legal to discuss and wax about your favorite anime bishounens!

Kollock says: The second challenge is one of coordination: even if a group of individuals are motivated to contribute toward a public good, they will need to coordinate their efforts and this will involve its own set of difficulties and costs (1999).

"Commons are institutional spaces in which we are free of the constraints imposed by the requirements of markets." (Benkler 2003)

The Beauty of Free Gifts!

The pro is you make friends, and you are connected loosely. If you are sick, for example, you may come across a support group forum to help you get motivated. You are not alone although you are bedridden. Non- profit organizations don't have money to make beautiful advertising or maintain attractive websites and can turn to the gift economy. Information is shared worldwide and become pointers can be exchanged for free.

Linux And its specialty

By 1994 Linux had become a powerful and useful operating system and was officially released. This software is free to anyone who wants it and constantly being revised and improved through the volunteer labor of many programmers (Kollock 1999). From the effort of a private student, this is an example of collaboration with many people to produce a brainChild.

I got this image from here where you can download freeware.
Free software can also be shared, photoshop, beta versions of anti virus programs, firewalls. Students can benefit from these editions which are readily available for use. Buying the actual one is encouraged as you need updated versions each time.

When you make freeware, your invention can come under four kinds of freedom in license. I think the best one is Public domain software, because the author has abandoned all rights! Then you can move in (Wiki, 2007)

For less developed countries, free software is Good. This means that they can delve into new technologies which the poor would not dream of, unless they were rich like Britons. This is beneficial for Africa and Cambodia. Then the people can have access to Word or some programs to be educated(Daffara & González, 2000)

Cons-heavy costs!

It is hard to find resources that are not expensive. Anything online may be cheaply provided, but this cannot last if lower costs and cheaper processes can't be found(Benkler 2003).

Complete loyalty to a group is infinitely rare. People are nomadic. I have moved to another forum group this week, because the last one was all about ozone layers and sulphur. I did not realise that the members were scientists. I just could not relate to their content! They should post on an environmental page, their entries were simply long threads!

Why would somebody be so noble as to post a software free?

On a discussion in class, an expert on piracy told us that if you don't share your software with others your membership may be terminated. The clause is to download, Then share. Most people only want mutual benefits. If there was no money to be had, a user may just make a software and be obligated to make it shareware. For instance, he just wants to fix a glitch on his game and it may be noble of him to wish to share, but that's not his only aim in life.

My take:
I think that free riders number a majority of us. If they are obliged to share what they have learnt, this becomes a boon to the gift economies. Charity organizations and poor people actually benefit from the internet's gifts. Say you wish to talk to others regarding a hobby no one around you seems to have, friends abound online!


Benkler,Y. (2003) The Political Economy of Commons. Retrieved Feb9,2007 from

Daffara,C. and M. González,J. (2000). Free software/open source- Information Society Opportunities for Europe?.Retrieved Feb 9,2007 from

Kollock, P. (1999). The Economies of Online Cooperation: Gifts and Public Goods in Cyberspace.Retrieved Feb9,2007 from

Wikipedia(Feb3,2007). Free Software. Retrieved Feb9,2007 from


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