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I'm looking for the article or blog post where Jeff (I think) talks about stackoverflow as a place where experts will contribute things for free that no amount of money could convince them to do.

(I'd like to use that quote to help answer a question in a Boston Review article about why people spend time working on Wikipedia instead of playing video games)

Update 2: it was Joel at a Google Tech Talk. Here's a transcript of what he said:

Karma is based on the philosophy that you can't just pay people to answer questions. ... There's something fundamental going on here, that people are willing to do for free what they're not willing to do for small amounts of money. ... If you asked me how much it would cost to provide a day of my consulting, there is no price, but I've spent at least a day answering people's questions on stackoverflow. ... what I call the "Econ 101 management method" of very very small payments, ... the market is not clearing at those low levels, but people will to do things for free in order to contribute to the world.

Update: He was quoted on ReadWriteWeb :

Anthropology: The Art of Building a Successful Social Site
The Nine Building Blocks of Social Engineering
5. Karma: People are willing to do for free what they're not willing to do for small amounts of money according to Spolsky

I'm still looking to see if there's text somewhere where he expands on that.

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Dunno what the article is, but it sounds a lot like one of the chapters from 'Predictably Irrational'. –  Zoredache Nov 15 '09 at 10:21
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It would be nice for someone to test the theory that no amount of money could get me to answer questions. –  oxbow_lakes Nov 15 '09 at 14:05

3 Answers 3

up vote 1 down vote accepted

It might have been (Joel) here. But I'm not going to watch it again.

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yup, thanks, he says it here: "Karma is based on the philosophy that you can't just pay people to answer questions. ... There's something fundamental going on here, that people are willing to do for free what they're not willing to do for small amounts of money. ... If you asked me how much it would cost to provide a day of my consulting, there is no price, but I've spent at least a day answering people's questions on stackoverflow. ... People will to do things for free in order to contribute to the world." youtube.com/watch?v=NWHfY_lvKIQ#t=20m12s –  user133312 Nov 15 '09 at 12:27

This sounds like the podcast where Joel debated with Jason Calacanis about the merits of paying experts (e.g. Mahalo) versus not paying people (e.g. the SO Trilogy):

Joel’s big objection to Mahalo is that, like the now-defunct Google Answers, it turns an intrinsic motivation for asking and answering questions into an extrinsic motivation (hey, I can get paid real money for this!)

Jason maintains that money is not the primary motivator on Mahalo. He calls it a “Skee-Ball Economy”, where you are playing skee-ball for fun, and getting lots of tickets to cash out and buy fun things. It’s a “token economy”. You can’t make a lot of money, but it (theoretically) adds a secondary driver to an already fun activity.

That's the summary from Jeff's writeup... the exact quote you're looking for is probably in the podcast itself.

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That podcast is interesting, and Joel's comment about Mahalo occurs 20 minutes into the podcast. But Joel's earlier Google Tech Talk, linked above and mentioned by Henk, is closer to what I was thinking of. –  user133312 Nov 15 '09 at 13:59
    
And you should always pick quotes that mostly closely match your own personal agenda. –  Frank A. Krueger Nov 15 '09 at 18:31
    
What are you talking about, Frank Krueger? What agenda? Sounds a bit sinister. –  user133312 Nov 19 '09 at 5:30

I feel like it's something average between Are You a Digital Sharecopper and 9 Ways Marketing Weasels Will Try to Manipulate You.

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