I don't know for certain if this is the place to ask this question, but there I go. Let me know if I must delete this (or do it yourself if you can, no problem).

My classmates and I are developing a market system to share homework and information using a custom currency. However, if nobody has money we won't be able to earn resources by selling our homework.

The thing I thought about was giving each one of the users a concrete quantity of money to start with but, how much do I have to give to each person? What can I focus on to find the optimal quantity?

  • People get money commensurate to what they initially contribute.
    – RonJohn
    Jul 5 '21 at 13:54
  • 5
    "a market system to share homework". That is -- of course -- cheating, and money.SE can't condone that.
    – RonJohn
    Jul 5 '21 at 13:55
  • 1
    Cheating issues aside, what else can you do with the custom currency aside from buying homework in your market? If nothing else, then it seems like the only purpose of the currency is to avoid people being able to buy more homework than they contribute for sale, but that kind of defeats the purpose of this set-up, which seems to be to reduce the total amount of work spent on homework within a large pool of customers.
    – chepner
    Jul 5 '21 at 14:50
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    If you don't have a notion of the total value of the enterprise, just use something arbitrary, such as each player starting with two $500 bills, two $100 bills, two $50 bills, six $20 bills, five $10, five $5, and five $1.
    – Lou
    Jul 5 '21 at 17:47
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    There is a famous article by Nobel-prize winning economist Paul Krugman that explores a similar question in detail with a babysitting co-op, and it becomes a parable about macroeconomic money supply and recessions. The point is, keep an eye on "recessions" and inject more money supply to promt demand if needed: pkarchive.org/theory/baby.html
    – user662852
    Jul 6 '21 at 15:41

I’ll assume that the teachers are fine with the system you’ve set up. Otherwise, plagiarism software would quickly put you out of business.

The way to create a market system is to base it on trade: equal value of items exchanged.

You can start by assigning a monetary value to items contributed. You might allocate 1 credit for each piece of information contributed, then charge 1 credit for each piece of information retrieved. Or you might give 10 credit and charge 1 credit, etc, depending on what you deem to be both fair to the users and enough of an incentive that people will want to keep using it.

This way, you get onto the system by contributing something of value, then you use what you’ve earned to buy something else of value.

Contributions are not equal. Smart kids would be able to contribute more valuable resources, while you might not be interested in anything the other end of the class contributes. If people earn credits when others ‘pay’ to download their stuff, the smart kids would end up with a lot of credits but not have much incentive to spend whereas the struggling kids would need the material but not have many credits to spend.

You might be better off just sharing things openly. Entry is by contribution of some material, then they can browse to their hearts’ content. If people start contributing rubbish, the moderators can have a word with them.

  • Roger that. Gonna try that bit of advice out. Jul 5 '21 at 18:44

If prices are allowed to float, then the market will sort itself out. That's even more true if you allow your money to be subdivided - if you can give somebody a fraction of a token.

Suppose you give everybody one token. Somebody wants some help, and needs to decide how much to offer. They think 10% of their money is about right and will therefore offer 0.1 token.

Suppose instead, you gave everybody 1 million tokens. Somebody wants some help, and needs to decide how much to offer. They think 10% of their money is about right and will therefore offer 100 thousand tokens.

It ends up making no difference, other than how many 0's are on the end of each transaction.


A system like this is about give and take. The amount of "money" each person starts with is essentially the number of "takes" each person can do before they have to "give".

Let's say you trade homework helps, and each help costs a doubloon (or whatever you call your currency). If each person starts with five doubloons then they can get five helps before they have to help someone else. If it's ten doubloons, ten helps. Increasing the number of doubloons increases the chance that someone will take lots of helps and never give any.

In essence it's the maximum amount of debt each person can have. And of course nothing to stop you giving everybody more money if you need it later.

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