Go Big or Go Home - Generating $500,000 for Contributors

Stephane BoucherFebruary 18, 20168 comments

In a Nutshell

  • A new Vendors Directory has been created
  • Vendors will be invited to pay a sponsorship fee to be listed in the directory
  • 100% of the basic sponsorship fee will be distributed to the *Related Sites community through a novel reward system
  • The goal is for the directory to eventually generate - drum roll please -  $500,000 on a yearly basis for contributing members on the *Related Sites
  • Members will choose how the reward money gets distributed between themselves through the 'Have a Beer' reward program
  • The reward program will be as generous as the Vendors Directory will be successful

The Vendors Directory

Have a look at the new Vendors Directory.  I am particularly proud of the Twitter and Youtube aggregators.  Over the course of the next several months, I will be improving the directory based on your feedback.  I will also be contacting hundreds of vendors and offering them to be listed.  For a modest $500 annual sponsorship fee, they will receive a lot of exposure. The offer will be fine tuned until a majority of vendors find it valuable to pay the sponsorship fee.  The goal is to eventually reach $500,000 in annual sponsorship fees to be returned to contributors.

$500,000 is a big number and it won't happen overnight.  But I believe there is potential for a positive feedback loop (virtuous circle).  As sponsors will pay the listing fee, rewards will be paid to contributors, which will encourage the creation of more content, which will in turn attract more traffic to the sites, which will make it more attractive for vendors to pay the sponsorship fee.

The Reward System

I want you, the members of the *Related Sites, to choose how the reward money gets distributed between yourselves.  To that end, I came up with a system that I believe will be fun, easy to use and fair.

Introducing the "Have a Beer" reward system.

I don't know how popular beer is with engineers in your country, but here in North America, correct me if I'm wrong but this has to be engineers' favourite drink (it used to be anyway in my time).  So while Facebook has the 'like' button and Reddit has 'upvotes', behold the *related sites' "Have a Beer" button:

You will start noticing this button all over the place. It will be attached to most blog posts and new forum replies.  The number besides the mug will increase as more members will click on it and will represent how many beers will have been offered to the author for the given post by fellow contributors.

Of course, no actual beer will be shipped to anyone, so if beer is not your thing - no worries!  The beer is a metaphor, a symbol that represents camaraderie, friendship.  Thank you for your help - Have a beer my friend!  The value of a beer will be set to $2 (USD). So in the case of the example above, 8 beers would represent a $16 reward to be eventually paid to the author of the post.

Initial Conditions

In order to initialize the positive feedback loop and make it gain significant momentum, up to 10,000 members will get approved over the course of the next few weeks/months to participate to the reward program and each member will be credited 10 beers-to-be-awarded into their account.  If you are good at maths, you understand that 100,000 beers will be injected in the system over the course of the next several months.  

As you may have guessed, a beer-to-be-awarded is a beer that cannot be redeemed.  It can only be offered (awarded) to another member by clicking on the "Have a Beer" button.

As members will start awarding beers between themselves based on the quality of their contributions, I will be talking to vendors and offering them to sponsor the reward program in exchange of significant exposure through the Vendors Directory.  As vendors will agree to pay the fee, awarded beers will be paid, starting with the first beers that were awarded.

In other words, I will inject beers in the system without having yet the reward money to pay for them.  For that reason, if you get awarded beers, there might be a delay before these beers translates into cash into your Paypal account.  Although the goal is for the Vendors Directory to generate revenues (rewards) at an equal or faster pace than the beers are awarded, there could be episodes, especially at the beginning, where the opposite will be happening.

So if you quickly become a *Related Sites Superstar and get awarded tens and tens of beers by other members, don't leave your current job yet.  Let's first experiment together and see if we can make this work and translate your beers into cash.

Update #1!  We have our first vendor who agreed to pay the $500 listing fee: Quantum Leaps (check them out!)  So 250 beers already in the system!
Update #2 We have our second vendor!  Thank you Abelon Systems!
Now 500 beers in the reward pool.

The Bottom Line

The intention here is to create a knowledge sharing environment which is fun and filled with positive energy.  I know that because money will be involved, there will be complications and some people will try to abuse the system.  But I am so excited by the vision of a self-sustaining system that would reward its most appreciated contributors, that I am willing to go through the obstacles to make it happen.  The road towards the ambitious $500k annual goal won't be straight - several adjustments will have to be made.  Your patience while we find together the sweet spot in making this new reward system work is greatly appreciated.

Are you in?

If you would like to see where this leads, offer a few beers to your peers and maybe be yourself rewarded for your contribution, then please make sure to fill your profile with as much details as possible.  Because there is money involved and to prevent robots, spammers and trolls to abuse the system, I will approve participants one a time. By looking at your profile, I need to have confidence that you are:

  1. a real person
  2. qualified to contribute (at least some EE or ECE background / experience)

A well written short professional biography can help you get approved and maybe a Linkedin account to back it up?  Make sure to use an email address that you read on a regular basis so you know when you have been awarded a beer, or when a payment is coming..

And if you want to be eligible to receive rewards, you need to enter a Paypal address and be eligible to receiving Paypal payments through their Mass Payment system.

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Comment by texaneFebruary 17, 2016
Hi Stephane,

this is a good idea ... lets give it a try !

Maybe I missed it, but I do not understand how the money is to be share.
For instance, if a vendor injects 100$ in the systems. Is it shared equally
between all the members ? Or are more money given to the one having
more beers ? Also, I 100$ is available for sharing, and you have 101 members
having 1 beer each, how is the sharing done ?

Also, did you think about vendors wanting to contribute some physical items ?
For instance, a scope for 1000 beers ect ... Maybe it would help some vendor
to donate.

[ - ]
Comment by texaneFebruary 17, 2016
Also, would be great if the number of given beers can be select in the confirmation window ...
[ - ]
Comment by stephanebFebruary 17, 2016
Hi Fabien,

you can see it this way. A pool of reward money being filled as vendors pay to be listed in the Vendors Directory. When there is money in the pool, I distribute it by paying the beers (2 dollars each) to the first members who were awarded the beers.
So for example, let's say that a vendor pays a $500 listing fee. There is now $500 in the reward pool. Let's also say that at this moment, 400 beers have been awarded so far between members. I can then initiate a payment for 250 beers, starting with the first 250 beers that have been awarded. The remaining 150 beers stays "unpaid" until another vendor contributes more money to the reward pool - and so on.
Does it clarify things a bit for you?
[ - ]
Comment by texaneFebruary 17, 2016
Ok, I understand. This is a first come first serve policy. As you say, you have to track the order beers have been attributed. One other solution, may be simpler for you to implement, would be to not distribute any money until the total donation amount is superior or equal to the amount of beers ...
[ - ]
Comment by habaneroFebruary 22, 2016
Nice idea, but do you have some kind of anti-corruption strategy? I.e. people trying to steal the money by offering beers to their "friends".
[ - ]
Comment by stephanebFebruary 22, 2016
Thank you for your question. Yes, there are safeguards in place. But let's not forget that only a handful of individuals will try to abuse the system and the damage they can do if they manage to trick the system will be limited by the amount of beers one individual can offer.
[ - ]
Comment by iansFebruary 25, 2016
I think this is a good plan - I like the idea of being rewarded with beers
Would you be open to smaller vendors e.g. service companies/consultancies being on the vendors directory? I'm always looking for new ways to get our name out there and this seems like it would be a relevant place.
Maybe there could be two directories - one for silicon/software vendors, the other for service/consultancies, that way people could just go to the one they are looking for?
[ - ]
Comment by stephanebFebruary 25, 2016
Thanks for the positive comments ians! I will get in touch through a private message.

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