The barter system lives!
December 11, 2002 12:03 AM   Subscribe

The barter system lives! is a recently unveiled bartering hub where you sign up, list three items you're willing to send away to new owners and start out with three credits for items of the same kind you listed, then accrue more credits every time someone requests one of your items.
posted by leahzero (25 comments total)
Wow, that's a really good idea. I hope it works out, from the look of some of the listings it appears there's still a few wrinkles to be ironed out.
posted by Dillonlikescookies at 12:17 AM on December 11, 2002

there is nothing to browse, it's almost empty
posted by bureaustyle at 12:25 AM on December 11, 2002

Hmmm. The biggest problem is that the items won't necessarily match in value. I could trade an expensive computer book and only get a cheap novel in return.

If only there was some kind of universal way to exchange items. Instead of a 1:1 system, you could assign a number of credits to each item, based on its value, and users could give you the correct number of credits in exchange for your item. You could then use the credits to trade for other items.

This would even work for trading services, not just physical items. If the vendors got on board, the credits could pay for shipping of items, Web hosting, and just about anything!

We could call the new system "Money".
posted by mmoncur at 12:42 AM on December 11, 2002

bureaustyle - The site went live on Dec. 8th. I think the idea underlying it is great, so I posted a link now, hopefully to get more people interested. I've got tons of stuff I'd like to get rid of, but the money I'd get from auctioning it would be negligible, so I rather like the idea of trading stuff I don't want for stuff I do want. The user base just needs to expand.

mmoncur - I think you're missing the point. If you wanted the (depreciated) monetary value in return for your stuff, you'd obviously use eBay or some other auction site. This site seems to be more about how much an item is personally worth to you. Maybe your computer book is expensive, but if you don't use it anymore, what's it worth to you? Then suppose some other user has a different expensive computer book he doesn't use anymore either...but you could definitely use it. Wouldn't it be better to just trade them instead of auctioning them?
posted by leahzero at 1:00 AM on December 11, 2002

See if you have something like this in your area.

The bonus is that you actually get to interact with people around you! Probably the reason why (at least partly) offline barter is so perennial, and the fully online sort has always failed.
posted by a_green_man at 1:04 AM on December 11, 2002

a green man -- craigslist is great for bartering directly, but if I want to trade a vibrating broomstick for pancake cooking lessons, I might have a hard time finding someone to barter with. The credit system works as a way to abtract the barter value (without making it currency) and then allows people to give what they want, recieve what they want, but not necessarily with the same person.
posted by 4easypayments at 1:13 AM on December 11, 2002

Many communities have local trading networks, eg, BarterWorks.
posted by todd at 4:29 AM on December 11, 2002

4easypayments - but this credit system is a form of currency if it is doing what you say and removing the need for the double coincidence of wants [eye-paining colour scheme!]. Still, it seems like it would be more fun than toiling with e-bay and certainly quicker and easier.
posted by saintsguy at 4:57 AM on December 11, 2002

Seems like a decent way of putting my old crap into the hands of someone else who may think it isn't crap. numerous computer books, hardware, etc...
I like the idea, now to see if it can fly.
posted by a3matrix at 5:16 AM on December 11, 2002

[this is good]

I think I could really use something like this. I have a lot of videos and CDs that wouldn't bring in nearly enought money on eBay to offset the hassle and expense of posting each item. However, I hope that the people who run Trodo are going to monitor the items posted for trade, as someone is already not playing by the rules.
posted by thewittyname at 5:18 AM on December 11, 2002

There should be a way to post what you have to trade and then also post what you are looking for in return. SUch as:

I have: 1 pair of size 10 green vinyl platform shoes from the 70s, lightly scuffed.

I want: comic books, especially Disney, vintage lamps, old postcards, suncatchers, preferably purple.

etc etc. You get the idea. That way people could barter based on what they can offer you in return.

I'll give you three Li'l Orphan Annie water-stained comics and one old postcard depicting a Kansas wheat field postmarked 1937 for those green vinyl platform shoes.
posted by archimago at 9:59 AM on December 11, 2002

Bartering is already pretty common on dj forums in trading vinyl...
posted by iamck at 9:59 AM on December 11, 2002

I love this idea, and registered. My fear would be that people might sign up, get the initial three credits for the three items they list, spend the credits, and then close their account without having to send anything out. What can be done to prevent that?

The other problem I'd foresee is that eventually, the site might be overrun with a lot of stuff that no one wants, like six year old computer manuals, Reader's Digest condensed books, and the various solo projects of the Spice Girls.

I also don't like that the books section isn't divided into hardcover and paperback.
posted by MegoSteve at 10:42 AM on December 11, 2002

One problem with this setup is that items will tend to be on the junky side. Although it's true that one person's trash is another person's treasure, it doesn't necessarily mean that all garbage is great.

Barterers will want the most return for their credits, so they will offer the least desirable, smallest (to ship) things in their inventory. For example, I signed up, and am offering a Michael Jackson CD that I got for free at a free movie screening. While there may be somebody out there who might actually want to listen to "Invincible", the going rate for the CD seems to be about $3 - not much more than free.

So, the obvious tactic is to give away everything you got for free or that is now essentially worthless: promotional CDs, bad Christmas gifts, outdated software, etc. Who wants to trade for a promotional CD?

Like a flea market, as the number of items (read: crap) goes up, so will the number of gems.
posted by swift at 10:45 AM on December 11, 2002

The theory is, I suspect, that if you list junk no one wants, you'll never send it out and get credit for it. You'll get the first three intro credits and that's it. I hope that doesn't lead to newbies cherry-picking all the good stuff and/or people making multiple accounts.
posted by MegoSteve at 11:04 AM on December 11, 2002

my favorite barter site is the Bay Area based Obtainium. It seems to have started out as a way to get and swap stuff for Burning Man, but it's up year round. You negotiate your own swap, the site's just a condiut.
posted by jessamyn at 11:34 AM on December 11, 2002

List stuff on Trodo. When a person asks for something, you ship it. When they get it, they give you feedback and you earn a credit. Use credits to get stuff from any other Trodo member, for free. [From the home page]

I hate to sound like a dumbass (ehem... just leave it at that please), but I don't get it... not fully.

If I have a walkman to "give away" and someone requests it (and I assume that I have to give to the first person who asks?), I send it to them for free (other than the shipping charges I suck up). They receive it and give me positive feedback. Then I earn credit based on this feedback?

What do I do with credit? I'm just confused.
posted by Witty at 1:47 PM on December 11, 2002

Oh wait... do I spend credit when I request something... hence the problem with spending my 3 free credits and bolting before having to send out anything?
posted by Witty at 2:02 PM on December 11, 2002

You spend credit when you request something. You renew your credit every time you send something out. (I think.)
posted by MegoSteve at 2:08 PM on December 11, 2002

If two friends fake transactions, they can build up counterfeit credits. That would undermine the system.
posted by mecran01 at 2:33 PM on December 11, 2002

If two friends fake transactions, they can build up counterfeit credits.

I don't see how that would work. Each transaction takes a credit from one person and gives that credit to the other person. It's like energy - it can't be created only exchanged.

Although it's refreshing to see so many people working on the problem of how best to game the system.
posted by willnot at 2:58 PM on December 11, 2002

I'll bet (hope!) there are vigorous moderators watching the database. As I haven't signed up yet - do you need to supply a snail mail address? It should be simple to suspend an account if it duplicates the address of another account. Also they should consider allowing users to specify "I won't ship to PO Boxes" and such. And I think maybe they should change the sign-up to getting just one credit to start off with even though you have to list three items, and then getting your other two credits after you successfully send to someone else.
posted by leahzero at 3:05 PM on December 11, 2002

The biggest problem is that the items won't necessarily match in value. I could trade an expensive computer book and only get a cheap novel in return.

I agree.

We could call the new system "Money".

"Money?" you say. Not very catchy imo ;) Well, anyway, this new idea will work well if "money" is worth the same everywhere...I just thought of a couple of new words though..."Exchange rates." The biggest problem with "exchange rates" is that the "money" from different countries won't necessarily match in value. This makes a bartering system on a world wide scale more appealing.

Also what mecran01 said, definitely.
posted by lucien at 4:22 PM on December 11, 2002

I stole that idea from the quicktopic thread on

Let's say Ted and Mark open an account. Mark fakes a "sale" of three items to Ted. Ted gives feedback. Mark has three more credits. Rinse and Repeat. Mark eventually owns the Trodo universe.

If they iron the bugs out it'll be nice. They should probably enable a .10 transaction cost or something.
posted by mecran01 at 6:01 PM on December 11, 2002

It's doubtful they will add a transaction cost, mecran01, as that pretty much kills the bartering concept.

The two friends scenario is a weakness. The Trodo folks would do well to write up a FAQ about the measures they've taken for fraud prevention. I instantly thought of another bad scenario when I first heard of this thing: you send an item to someone; they don't give you feedback; you don't get your rightful credit.
posted by leahzero at 1:45 AM on December 12, 2002

« Older Mefi Friend   |   New Google Toys Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments