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Foreword: I've read the other questions about the Make Money Fast(TM) (like Offering actual money as a bounty?).

The basic idea is to offer money to the site for quick support on a probably complex question. Say I want to be spoon fed on a problem like "How can I compile Eclipse at home?" and I offer $20. Or I have a production problem that costs me $1000/h and my Xyz specialist is sick in hospital.

The money would just buy you a place at the top of all the question pages for a limited time, and it would go directly to SO (so no use to game the system to milk it for money).

Some ideas for details:

  • Half the money must be paid in advance to open the question (so you can't back out even if you don't get an answer) plus you can set a time limit. If you don't get an answer within the time limit, the money is lost (well, SO is $10 richer).

  • When I accept an answer, the rest of the money must be paid. Which probably means that I have to pay all the money in advance and SO refunds 50% or all the money must be paid and SO gives a voucher for 50% of it for another question. That would also discourage people to pay half the price by simply not accepting an answer.

  • I was also thinking about giving twice the reputation for such questions but that's probably not a good idea. The pressure to answer these questions should be to support SO even more. Maybe add a merit badge?

  • Another idea was to need a certain reputation for this (like the bounty system). But a lot of people who need such assistance don't have the time to build rep. So maybe such questions need moderator approval or maybe the approval of someone with >10K rep.

What am I missing? :-)

[EDIT] I'm aware that SO has no problem to raise money right now. But venture capital has to be paid back eventually and so far, no one has come up with many good ideas to help making money to pay for the traffic we cause.

I've been thinking about this for a long time (like most people here) and this idea seemed to me to be a first step into a direction that isn't altogether wrong. Apart from that, I only see one solution: Ask for donations like the WikiMedia foundation does. Unlike them, SO doesn't even have a product to sell.

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I downvoted because it is a bad idea. –  Kobi Jul 21 '10 at 8:34
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How so? Explain your reasons or we'll stay dumb forever :-) –  Aaron Digulla Jul 21 '10 at 8:34
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SO absolutely does have a product to sell: eyeballs on adverts. It's the same model which pays my monthly wage... –  Jon Skeet Jul 21 '10 at 9:30
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This is just a little too close to experts-exchange ... –  Tim Post Jul 21 '10 at 10:00
    
It doesn't seem that different to the process by which StackOverflow had its logo designed... –  Will Dean Jul 21 '10 at 11:30
    
@Aaron, this sounds like something you could attempt yourself, however it is NOT something which is appropriate for any of the StackExchange websites. This is why you are getting downvotes. Also, doesn't "rent-a-coder" have this model? –  devinb Jul 21 '10 at 11:49
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I think this is a nice idea in itself, and it might be interesting to see a jobs.stackoverflow.com focused on freelance jobs. But it shouldn't be mixed with SO proper. –  Pëkka Jul 21 '10 at 16:14

4 Answers 4

up vote 28 down vote accepted

I think it's a bad idea. If things like getting your answer up start costing money, active users (who are giving away their time for free to answer questions) will start demanding their share. It would seriously pollute the atmosphere on SO. Also, active users might (rightly) start feeling a bit like cattle offered to the highest bidder. I don't like it, and wouldn't want to be active in that kind of system. I think monetization for the SE network has to work in other ways.

By the way, IIRC, SO has been making a profit for a long time already just through ad sales and tags.

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+1 - This would make SO no better than EE which I hated, hate, and will continue to hate...not unlike CDDB either, using users to get all the content for free then charging for it suddenly. I love the free atmosphere (as long as it's a sustainable model for the team), and more than willing to help. It's a learning experience for the answerers as well, and a resume of sorts...start charging for answers and that balance of mutual benefits goes out the window. –  Nick Craver Jul 21 '10 at 10:25
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+1 for "active users might (rightly) start feeling a bit like cattle offered to the highest bidder." –  Aaron Digulla Jul 21 '10 at 14:38

Personally I think that the bounty is enough. There are (at the moment of this writing) only 132 open bounties in SO. This makes for a subset that can easily be scanned and answered. The bounty expresses the want for an answer, but also the will of the asker to participate in the site, as he had to accumulate enough rep to start a bounty.

Having "paid for questions" stick to the top of the list for a certain amount of time would eventually lead to a start page with very slow changes. The top few pages probably would be quite static. Would a question with more bucks stick longer? Even worse, this would make the first pages even more static.

If I were interested in the day to day questions, I would have to scroll by the first few pages. This would lead to a situation in which "non paid for questions" will not get answered any more or much less, as they do not appear to the casual user any longer.

Now, if we would have another page just featuring buck loaded questions, that would be equivalent to bounties.

Maybe - for the very urgent questions - one could think about being able to start a bounty without waiting the 2 days. Maybe there would be a need to limit the number of such bounties (one at the time per user)?

And if you got a good answer, nobody at SO will send your money back.

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+1 for "making front page static" –  Aaron Digulla Jul 28 '10 at 15:29
    
I share the idea of the OP. You could perfectly pay money to place a bounty if you don't have enough reputation. Now, I also agree with the accepted answer. –  rds Jan 15 '13 at 22:29

You're missing the answers of your linked question. And the difference of intrinsic and extrinsic motivation.

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Okay. Lets take that apart. The first point of first answer of the linked question is still valid. But the other points won't matter because trolls wouldn't have an inclination to game the system. –  Aaron Digulla Jul 21 '10 at 8:36
    
Next people won't make money, so the motivation is still to shine (+ help SO stay online), not in making money for themselves. –  Aaron Digulla Jul 21 '10 at 8:37
    
Then we have "coders for hire": Still valid. "Really bad idea" why did this get any votes? "People will hold off answering bounty questions" Would not happen with this proposal. Anything else? –  Aaron Digulla Jul 21 '10 at 8:38
    
If you do it, to help SO, then it is extrinsic motivation, no matter if you get the money or the SO team does. Even getting rep for helping is questionable. So far it seems to work, but adding another motivator will not improve the system. "Look here, I can help the SO team getting money for their awesome site! How can I answer this ...?" –  Ladybug Killer Jul 21 '10 at 8:48
    
SO isn't a charity that needs help to stay online; It is (now) an enterprise backed by $6M of venture capital. This is not a good way to monetize the site. –  Pëkka Jul 21 '10 at 8:58
    
Venture capital has to be paid back eventually and I haven't found a better idea to do that so far. I don't like it either, but someone has to pay for the bandwidth. –  Aaron Digulla Jul 21 '10 at 9:07
    
Pekka: Only $6m? Then SO will only last one more month (blog.stackoverflow.com/2010/05/announcing-our-series-a) because that's their monthly burn rate. –  Aaron Digulla Jul 21 '10 at 9:13
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@Aaron: No, that's not their monthly burn rate. The bit of the blog you were looking at is just doing the calculation that they can last for ($6M / monthly burn rate) months. How on earth would SO be spending $6M per month? Even Jeff can't buy that many plastic guitars. –  Jon Skeet Jul 21 '10 at 9:21
    
@Jon: I would have some ideas :) –  Ladybug Killer Jul 21 '10 at 9:32
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@Aaron I still think it's a bad idea. If things like getting your answer up start costing money, active users (who are giving away their time to answer questions) will start demanding their share. It would seriously pollute the athmosphere on SO. Also, active users might (rightly) start feeling a bit like cattle offered to the highest bidder. I don't like it, and wouldn't want to be active in that kind of system. I think monetization for the SE network has to work in other ways. By the way, IIRC, SO has been making a profit for a long time already just through ad sales and tags. –  Pëkka Jul 21 '10 at 9:45
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Go answer that question, cattle @Pekka! –  Ladybug Killer Jul 21 '10 at 9:49
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@Lady mooooooo! –  Pëkka Jul 21 '10 at 9:54
    
Can someone copy Pekka's comment and paste it as an answer? –  Kobi Jul 21 '10 at 10:03
    
@Kobi I added it. –  Pëkka Jul 21 '10 at 10:05

My own approach is that if time matters for the user that asked a question the time factor of answering, affects the reputation in accordance with votes.

So money might not be needed...

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