Pay By Karma

At least once a day some ask me for free help. They usually send me an e-mail telling me the "found me on the Internet", in many cases the call me "Sir", but the fact remains the same, they ask me for free help.

They don't offer anything in return. Not money, not public recognition, and sometime not even a "thank you".

Today, after giving the person some pointers how to proceed, I also told her that I find the the assumption that just because I give away a lot of free content I am also available for free help, ridiculous.

And then asked her:

Will you give something in return? Will you give free help to some other people so the Karma will be passed on?

to which she replied

Interesting and inspiring message :) Will make it 2017 resolution. Thanks for helping me.


I am sure there are several precedences to this, I just don't have the time now to research.

I wonder if there could be a system to measure the "Karma" of a person, e.g. the amount of free help s/he gave to others.

Sound very much like "money".

The problem with money is that many people, especially those who come from a less developed country, or just a poor neighborhood, will have a lot less money than someone from a rich place.

Free time?

Free time on the other hand is, I think, more equally distributed.

Actually even that is not equally distributed: people from less developed countries usually have a much lower life expectancy, so much less time on earth. People who earn substantially less money might want to have multiple jobs to enlarge their income giving them less free time.

In addition, something I felt very powerfully last summer when I visited New York. People who work low-income jobs in Manhattan will probably need to commute 2 hours each direction to find a place where they might afford the livening or they might need to live in an apartment with a lot of other people to reduce the cost/person. In the former case they burn a lot of time commuting.

Karma based payment

Anyway, my thought was to allow people to trade in "Karma". So if someone helps me I could use my existing Karma to pay that person and that person could "buy" help from others using this Karma.

Yeah, I know. It sound awfully similar to money.

How to get Karma

How could someone with 0 experience in programming get some Karma to pay for help in programming?

One way would be to use their free time to some other voluntary work. On the Internet it could be contributing content (or translation) to Wikipedia. Or transcribing and translating TED talks.

Even I have a project, the Code And Talk site where people with little other knowledge could help.

Outside of the Internet there are also plenty of opportunities. Helping elder people. Helping disabled people. Helping children. In general helping people weaker than you.

I don't have any idea how this Karma could be really measured and traded. Money does not seem to be a good substitute for this, though I am not sure what feature of money is the problem? The fact that you can inherit it? Maybe thinking about that could lead some other basis for exchange of value.

To to use free time to advance in life

Thinking about the ridiculous amount of time we spend commuting watching football (or call it soccer if you like), or watching soap opearas. We could use a large chunk of that either for self advancement (e.g. learn something new, listen to a podcast) or getting Karma. Even if you don't get paid with money, you could get paid by Karma to make contributions to various projects. Tech or not.

Anyway, it is time to go back to my work and earn some money...

Published on 2016-12-20 by Gabor Szabo