I'm wondering if anyone's considered a sort of "MeFi Resources Pool". April 23, 2004 10:14 AM   Subscribe

I'm wondering if anyone's considered a sort of "MeFi Resources Pool". By that I mean a site where members can go and list things that they have access to and then when another member needs something they can check the pool to see if anyone else can help. For example, if someone needed a new X and someone else worked in an X store then person A could get X for a good deal and person B helps out another member. And, it just so happens that person A owns a book store, etc etc. Is this just a ridiculous idea because the person who owns the electronics store is gonna have 50 people asking for a good deal on a television or is this something that may be useful and if so, what's the best way for something like this to work?
posted by dobbs to MetaFilter-Related at 10:14 AM (27 comments total)

posted by dgaicun at 10:33 AM on April 23, 2004

I think it's a great idea--if someone needs a new computer or something, why not go to someone they (sort of) already know? And if it includes discounts, all the better!

posted by amberglow at 10:39 AM on April 23, 2004

The hypothetical electronics store owner needn't advertise that fact about himself if he didn't want to.

I would need to hear more about how this would work, but on the face of it it sounds cool.
posted by orange swan at 10:47 AM on April 23, 2004

Sort of a combination AskMe and craigslist, right?
posted by Lynsey at 11:01 AM on April 23, 2004

The hypothetical store owner needn't give good deals, either. If he chooses to sell to MeFi members for cost+pennies, then that's his choice.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:03 AM on April 23, 2004

Why not just use AskMe? As in:
I'm looking for a new 32" TV set. I see that BestBuy has it for $x.xx, Costco has it for $x, and Bob's Electronics Hut will sell me a brand I've never heard of for $x. Is there anyplace you know of where I can do better?
And then people who need whatever it is can feel free to respond or not.

F'r instance, there are things I have access to (corporate perks and whatnot), but I wouldn't necessarily think about what they were unless someone said "hey Vidiot, do you know where I can find x for cheap?"
posted by Vidiot at 11:26 AM on April 23, 2004

Vidiot, I think that would work, but would potentially clutter an already fast moving askMe. Maybe a MetaHelpout or MetaHand that looks and feels like askMe (ooh matt, can it be Yellow, please, I love yellow!)
posted by jmgorman at 11:31 AM on April 23, 2004

This would not help our image as a bunch of hippie communists.

BTW, I've got a load of Lenin bobbleheads and Grateful Dead posters if anybody needs them. Will trade for ganja or back rubs in the van of your choice.
posted by Hildago at 11:43 AM on April 23, 2004

jmgorman, you sure you want yellow?
posted by mathowie (staff) at 11:44 AM on April 23, 2004

This is kind of like the opposite of AskMe.

AskMe is a "pull" operation where you send out a call for what you need. What you're describing here, dobbs, is a "push" operation, where you cry out what you've got.

There are a few elements of human nature that work against this:

1) Lots of people are willing to offer something who will then flake when someone takes them up on it. Especially if the offer was just inserted into some database a long time ago.

2) People like to get what they can, whether they really need it or not. If someone has a special inside connection for something good, others will want in just for the hell of it. This wears out the person with the connection for the sake of people who don't have a real need.

3) Any special access anyone may have to something is usually granted on limited terms. Special price for you, my friend, not you and your grandmother and all your friends.

4) Any forum for extending offers of anything will immediately be taken over by advertising interests, or otherwise self-serving offers.

5) A "push" system like this requires people to make an effort up front, to build the database of what's available, with no immediate use for the information, or demand for the offers. People aren't good at selflessly building something for the future, not knowing when it will pan out.

6) This will lead to a limited base of "offers," and probably most people who have an immediate need for something will not find a way to fill it there. They will conclude that the forum has no value.

I think "pull" just works better. Someone has a need. They make it known. At that time, if someone has a way to fill that need sitting around, they can say "Oh yeah, I've got that." No one expends any effort that's wasted. However, declaring the extent of everything you have to offer right up front is bound to entail some wasted effort, since there probably won't be demand for absolutely all of it.

It's a good idea, dobbs. But I think it works best in very tight circles, like neighbors who all keep their tools in the same shed.
posted by scarabic at 11:48 AM on April 23, 2004

No one expends any effort that's wasted.

Well, okay, this isn't really true. I read a lot of AskMe questions that I just can't contribute anything to. The ones I read and immediately skip could be construed as wasted effort.
posted by scarabic at 11:52 AM on April 23, 2004

Our profiles already show who's near us geographically, why not add a list of "resources" we can offer? If the format is somewhat constrained it probably wouldn't be too hard to search. That might mean you'd be listed as "having tools you can borrow" but not as "I have a 3/8 drill" so some back-and-forth would still be necessary.
posted by tommasz at 11:58 AM on April 23, 2004

you sure you want yellow?

Aieee! My eyes!
posted by Vidiot at 12:00 PM on April 23, 2004

I have considered doing some sort of craigslist thing someday, where members can sell stuff or post job openings for others, but it could be a lot of work to just copy functionality that's out there.

This idea sounds ok in theory, I just think as it is proposed it's not different enough from Ask Mefi to get much traffic or use, and could be a lot of people begging for stuff and few people giving stuff away. I think Ask MeFi probably fills the need somewhat.

But on the other hand, if anyone here have any way to hook me up with a new HDTV set, I'd be happy to take advantage of it. I tend towards LCD or Plasma, but smaller sizes are fine. Also DLP is acceptable. Free memberships to anyone that helps me out! :)
posted by mathowie (staff) at 12:18 PM on April 23, 2004

The real question is, at what point will MeFi become an entirely self-sufficient socioeconomic meta-society so that I can stop leaving the house entirely?
posted by IshmaelGraves at 12:25 PM on April 23, 2004

Sure, why don't we start a MeFi NGO? We'd give up all of our belongings to and move to a colony in Vermont. Instead of 111, I'd assume a new identity as Ramayana Sunshine and spend the whole day bashing capitalism while removing lice off my hair. Our luminous guru Anasazi Flowerchild (formerly known as mathowie) would get to sleep with all the women and father as many children of the revolution as he wished.
posted by 111 at 12:25 PM on April 23, 2004

111, don't tempt him!

('cause it's always fat guys like me who end up puffing, pedalling away on the bicycle-powered Webserver.)
posted by Vidiot at 12:41 PM on April 23, 2004

It's not about free tho; it's about discount, or just trusted seller. I post that I want an external firewire hd, then someone here who sells them can respond, with a quote. There are plenty of places to either offer free stuff, or ask for it (freecycle or craigslist being 2 of them), but very few where you actually "know" the person/place you're patronizing.

(but go with a mustard yellow instead of the bright crayola)
posted by amberglow at 12:41 PM on April 23, 2004

ok, you win. No yellow. Now turn that thing off, it's bound to hurt someone.
posted by jmgorman at 12:44 PM on April 23, 2004

> For example, if someone needed a new X and someone else worked in an X store then person A could get X for a good deal and person B helps out another member

Q: Why did God create the goyim?
A: Well, someone has to buy stuff at retail.
posted by Capn at 1:04 PM on April 23, 2004

I've got a pile of big rocks in my backyard. And a small herd of old washers and dryers in my basement.

And I've got an extended idea vaguely along these lines to change the American economic system (a little, anyway) and it's mine, mine I tell you!...mine, mine I tell you! Mine, preshussss!...mine! mine! [ falls into gaping volcano ]

Oh, and I've got a few pre-G3 Macs. I'm short on 56K modems though.

posted by troutfishing at 1:31 PM on April 23, 2004

What about trade.mefi? I have cheap deals on old newspapers, and I'll give 'em up for cheap deals on new cars or gold bars. etc.
posted by bonaldi at 1:36 PM on April 23, 2004

"Instead of 111, I'd assume a new identity as Ramayana Sunshine and spend the whole day bashing capitalism while removing lice off my hair." - 111, do you think a guru with a good head full of lice could subsist on the lice alone? On the lice and a little vitamin C?

Anyway, sounds good as long as I can start my own little subterranean cannibalistic sub-cult. It would be kind of like the Morelocks and the Eloi.

Uh oh. I'm getting weird. I'd better go now, before I wind up writing one of my little "flights of fancy" - like the one about the Cold War era use of frozen pizzas to shield against psychic spying.

posted by troutfishing at 1:43 PM on April 23, 2004

What if you reversed it? What if instead of "I have access to TVs at cost!" the posts would be what people are in the market for, "Looking for a front screen projection system" and then anyone who is in the mood and can patrol these want ads and if they can help out, they do. They'll also be able to pick and chose who they want to help without stepping on any toes.

To me, this is not something that should be done on ask, though twice I've been tempted (tv and bike). Ask should stay the way it is, but I think there's some potential for.... something.
posted by dobbs at 2:26 PM on April 23, 2004

I'd like my name to be "moonglowglassnoodle". Okay, maybe not; ask me later. I just have to say "wow", though, to scarabic's comment. I'm impressed - and I'm not being snarky. I love it it when someone can put insightful business/strategy/marketing/whatever/you-get-the-idea ideas so clearly into forms that I can grasp immediately.
posted by taz at 2:35 PM on April 23, 2004

well, i remember my idea about a mefi yard sale was received with no fanfare. I still think a Mefi auction for charity or for a member in need would be a good test run
posted by clavdivs at 8:48 PM on April 23, 2004

This is kind of like the opposite of AskMe.

And we shall call it....

posted by NekulturnY at 6:41 AM on April 25, 2004

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