Positive Free Riding

From P2P Foundation
Jump to navigation Jump to search


J. Hofmoki:

"The so-called ‘free-riding problem’ reflects the principal of social dilemma – a conflict between individual self-interest and the community. In a classic CPR scenario (costly exclusion and rivalrous consumption) the production of such goods normally would call for voluntary contributions from community members. However, this is in conflict with the maximization of individual benefits among community members who, following homo oeconomicus logic, are not be willing to pay for goods which are otherwise freely accessible.

Empirical studies on human behaviours in typical CPR scenarios have proven that homo oeconomicus logic may not be predominant (Stiglitz, 2004: 156). In the following section, I shall present additional concepts explaining diverse nonpecuniary motives among people involved in the consumption and production of Internet goods. In case of positive free riding, even while retaining the homo oeconomicus assumption, free riding behaviour can be beneficial for those users who are actively involved in the production of a given Internet good. “Internet reduces the cost of free riding… each free rider actually adds value to the final product. If the free rider is completely passive, she adds value by adding market share (and thus increasing the space for reputational returns to contributors). If she is just a little bit active, the free rider becomes a de facto tester and might just report a bug or request a new feature. The Internet reduces the communication costs of doing all that to just about zero” (Weber, 2000:36). P. Kollock calls Linux an ‘impossible public good’; i.e., having characteristics making it impossible to materialize, if the classic free riding social dilemma remains intact. (Kollock, 1999:3- 25).

There are obvious inter-linkages between positive free riding and the network effects discussed earlier. This is because network effects materialize with the increased number of users, including passive free riders (Weber, 2004:154)." (http://dlc.dlib.indiana.edu/archive/00003831/00/Hofmokl_213801.pdf)