Wikicurrency

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Introduction / Proposal[edit]

The money systems of the world are varied and diverse, but not many people know you can make your own money system and start trading in it. Money systems follow the 'fax effect' whereby the more people use it, the more useful it becomes. A lot like other wiki projects really.

So I am not proposing a currency for wiki users, BUT I am proposing a place where users of alternate currencies can list their goods or services in a directory, and what currency they will accept for their work. In a cross-linked fashion, the site will list various currencies for use in your local community or on the internet. Each currency will have its own subdomain for quick access for regular users of that currency.

Essentially the project will be an online version of what users of alternate currencies need. This includes:

  • Information on alternate currencies
  • A place to thrash out alternate currency development theory
  • Directory listing of users goods and services and currencies accepted
  • Some kind of score rating system of users based on past trades

So while not attempting to become a massive information database like wikipedia, the this project requires the wiki format for the following reasons:

  • It is to be user editable and user maintained
  • It reflects the open, free content nature that we've come to love
  • It will be a place where people need to constantly update pages

In many poor places throughout the world people are unable to get work done because there is no money to pay for it even though there is lots of work to be done. Creating your own currency for that community bypasses that problem and allows economic interaction, spurring growth and development. Having this resource would be invaluable since it would be a just-add-water approach to community currencies that would allow people to start using their own currency right away, as and when new communities or projects require a new currency to interact with.

  • Other: This is not a complex financial project but a resource designed for people who already use alternate currencies. With luck this will be all of us in 10 years time. However a cursory understanding of how our money system works and how alternate systems would work is vital. Please read the recommended links mentioned on wikicurrency.org

The debate[edit]

Questions, comments and debate here!

Please note "community" and "alternate" may be used interchangably when they lead the word currency.



My concern about this project is not so much where to put it with existing Wikimedia projects (factual details could be put in a number of places, mostly Wikipedia, and "manuals" about alternative currencies in Wikibooks) but more with the very narrow scope of this project. Narrow in the sense that I don't see people in general using this, but rather a very small community of potential users. I fail to see how a large community in general would ever form from this proposal. Most new projects should appeal to a widespread audience that is in general verifiable (like Wikinews and Wikipedia) or is useful as support projects to help other projects in general (like Wikisource and Wikicommons). Roberth 11:41, 10 July 2005 (UTC)

It may seem that this project only targets a very small community but in fact its targetting many many small communities, all over the world, all of whom can grow. Also the alternative money idea is unknown to something like 90% of the planet. As wikicurrency.org suggests at the moment, the idea is to help community currencies grow, not come about as something to be used once the alternative money idea is well entrenched and established. I would also refer to the graph about halfway down the page on http://www.transaction.net/money/internet/ which shows 1400 individual community currency systems in use worldwide, as of 1996! The actual number of individual people using these systems is thus unknown and the number of 1400 is 9 years out of date. cyclotronwiki 14:57, 10 July 2005 (GMT)

Another area that would be useful (although not necessary) would be to identify funding sources to keep a project like this alive. One of the complaints currently about expanding and adding new major projects to the Wikimedia collection of sister projects is limited funding sources. Each physical server costs a significant amount of money to operate, especially over a long period of time. Right now funding goals seem to be met due to general popularity of Wikipedia and several other project, but this can't always be counted on. Roberth 11:41, 10 July 2005 (UTC)

I cannot comment too much on funding at this time, but I sense that people who use this system would donate. cyclotronwiki 14:57, 10 July 2005 (GMT)

The other major issue to respond about is how a proposal like this would conform to banking laws of various nationalities. Again, if all you are going to do is pull together factual bits of information regarding alternative currencies, you might want to create either a Wikibook or a Wikipedia Wikiproject (advantages/disadvantages to either approach). Admitedly an opinionated review site (judging quality of various things like movies, books, automobiles, and in this case currency systems) is not really supported by Wikimedia at the moment. That, however, is beyond the scope of what it appears you want to accomplish. Roberth 11:41, 10 July 2005 (UTC)

True

On the other hand, if you start to keep a log of financial transactions, you are in effect becoming a bank, and banking laws are incredibly complex to get a handle on even in one country, like the USA. In fact, in America, most banking laws are done on a state-by-state basis, and until recently it was illegal for one bank to carry on business outside of the state they were formally chartered in. Even now it is very difficult to be involved in interstate banking... within America alone. If you try to deal with international banking laws in a multinational environment (such as would be expected with a Wikimedia project... all of these projects are very international in scope, and not just Europe and USA either) there are several international organizations that you would have to deal with, each with their own bureaucracy. As soon as the first bit of money, even a bartering system, takes place you would have to start meeting those requirements. IRS and SEC filings would also have to be involved (particularly because the servers are based out of Florida for most Wikimedia projects). Suggesting that you can avoid taxes going with alternative money systems is more a quick way to go to jail, as the IRS has considered ways to tax things like Frequent Flyer miles, another alternative money system. Roberth 11:41, 10 July 2005 (UTC)

The idea behind this is not to be a bank. It would issue no money and store no money. All these things are done by the individuals who are using alternate currencies and issuing currencies. They themselves who use each particular currency would be responsible (power to the people remember) for working out their own tax liability and whatever legal hoops they would need to jump through. However this project could also provide tools and information for dealing with their local/national/state laws about tax etc. Each country does have its own laws and the wiki system of collaborative effort is the best way for normal people to piece the gloom. If they are trying to dodge tax thats up to them and law enforcement will have to go after them. This project would be the communicating medium for people who want to use their own currencies. Most currencies hosted here would indeed have a small amount of users, in the few hundreds/thousands and be in a small geographical area like a small town or rural locality, but remember there are thousands of such currencies (1400, by 1996 figures) and its just going to grow. Keeping the record of transactions does not make you a bank, it makes you a ledger, and thats one part of a successful alternate currency, you need an impartial ledger. As this is wiki based each currency in each community can have their own people looking after what each currency needs. The project itself would not get involved with what people do with their own currencies and could not be liable for anything they do. The key to realise here is that this project is not about what the world currently needs but what it will need. Forget that only small communities are going to be served by this and think that thousands, soon tens of thousands of small communities are going to be served by this. cyclotronwiki 14:57, 10 July 2005 (GMT)

Rob you need to create a new user page for meta and paste a link or something to your real user page. Thanks for all this thought. What do you think about more use of alternate currencies?


I have used some alternative currencies in a number of situations. Most notably are on-line communities (like MUDs or Trade Wars or more recently games like Everquest) and "incentive" programs where virtual cash (sometimes in the form of actual paper currency) is given to encourage participation.

One of the more successful I've seen is a program run by a local Head Start agency that gives virtual cash to parents based on their participation in the program, including attendance at key meetings and getting kids to important health care checkups. These virtual "bucks" are then redeemed at an auction of donated goods at the end of each year, but the money can be kept for future auctions. I've even seen parents "pay" for babysitting and other similar activites between each other using this virtual cash.

This "Wikicurrency" idea needs to be expanded quite a bit more, and I'm still not completely sure how the MediaWiki software can be modified to accomodate the needs of this sort of project. Yes, I'm aware that a computer could be "hardened" to accomplish a task like acting as a currency ledger, but that is not a trivial task. I'm even aware of some "virtual paper currency" systems that allow you to "print out" money from a home computer, but are still valid and even have protections against counterfeiting (really!). The legal aspects of this are a bit harry, and don't dismiss them too much. Particularly because this doesn't deal with literary copyright issues but a totally different area of law, the Wikimedia Foundation is going to be extra cautious in trying to set something up.

In terms of the factual information, as opposed to the financial transaction ledger issues, A good place to start gathering that information together would be at Wikipedia, as a new Wikiproject portal. Each alterantive currency system can have its own Wikipedia article, with a common portal to tie everything together as a coherant package. If you need help to set this up, I would be willing to work with you on that. If this project ever gets green-lighted as a separate Wikimedia project, that content can be trans-wikied over easily, and it does give you a place to start for now.

If you think this is something that should be set up and going, keep up the work. Know that the odds are against you making this successful, but hard work and perserverance will pay off in the end. --Roberth 14:17, 26 July 2005 (UTC)

I do not think this is a good idea (here). I am opposed to such a thing as Wikimedia project. It might be a good a idea to have such a wiki, but not under the Foundation's umbrella. The topic is clearly political, so I see problems with NPOV here. I'm sorry but I see no politics here. Please give evidence for your statement. It is also not about creating free content for everyone. It seems to be a platform for users of alternative currencies. It is a combination of a free content zone, a place to develop the alternate currency idea, and a platform for said users. Maybe you should apply for such a thing at Wikia instead: http://www.wikia.com/ I have applied for a wikia, no response yet Best regards and good luck with your project, --zeno 13:15, 13 July 2005 (UTC)

MattisManzel 16:06, 2 August 2006 (UTC): Maybe the eTerra-wiki is an alternative?