Comedy of the Commons

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"The countereffect of the tragedy of the anticommons, the increased usefulness of a resource as the result of many individuals using it, has been dubbed the "Comedy of the Commons" by Carol M. Rose in a 1987 article that appeared in the University of Chicago Law Review." (


"In the Comedy of the commons, the opposite results of the Tragedy of the commons effect are witnessed. That is, individuals contributing knowledge and content for the good of the community rather than extracting resources for their own personal gain. Examples of this are free and open source software and Wikipedia. This phenomenon is linked to "viral" effects and increases in prominence as individuals contribute altruistically and for social gain.

The phenomenon is sometimes called the Inverse commons as well as "comedy of the commons" and the "cornucopia of the commons."

It is one of four outcomes:

The prevalent outcome depends on the details of the situation. The inverse commons outcome is likely when the cost of the contribution is much less than its value over time. Information has this property. For example, it costs very little for a Wikipedia contributor to enter knowledge from their experience into Wikipedia's servers, and very little for Wikipedia to serve that information over and over again to readers, generating great value over time. Unlike the pasture of a physical commons, information isn't degraded by use. Thus the value of Wikipedia increases over time, attracting more readers some of whom become contributors, forming a virtuous cycle.

If a resource is economically scarce, then tragedy of the commons occurs when property conventions are lacking. If something is not economically scarce - many people can use it simultaneously - then comedy of the commons may occur. If economic scarcity is a necessary characteristic of property, then the comedy of the commons only happens to non-property."

More Information

^ Rose, Carol M. (1986). "The Comedy of the Commons: Commerce, Custom, and Inherently Public Property". Faculty Scholarship Series: Paper 1828. Retrieved December 28, 2011. [1]

^ Dan Bricklin (October 12, 2006). "The Cornucopia of the Commons: How to get volunteer labor". Retrieved December 28, 2011. [2]