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Monthly Archives: September 2007

I’ve been contemplating ways to alter the economy to help with many of the concerns expressed here recently. One thing occurred to me and I thought perhaps I’d see what the assembled wisdom thinks. What if we did this: Remove the Fortune Cap. Remove (or at least reduce) the Weekly windfall tax. But, we begin to make thot owners (aka majority share holders) responsible for the dividends. Meaning, the dividends that are distributed to the shareholders are paid for by the thot owner. The thot owner would have the ability to set the dividend rate and this information would be posted. Remember that dividends are partially calculated by the number of click throughs on a thot’s link. Therefor owners would have to pay out money in an amount that is a function of: the rate they set, the number of click throughs, and the number of shares owned by the public. I can think of many implications to something like this, but I want to know what you think. Discuss amongst yourselves…

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A couple of changes tonight, nothing huge: Added a few new links to the ‘Browse’ page that link to several new views of the list (like biggest gainers, etc.) There will be more of these soon. The order shown on the main list is no longer strictly tied to the Market cap alone. The new formula for this ranking also factors in the total number of shareholders. Fixed the split stock ticker bug that was mislabeling many thots. Now thots with a market cap of zero are considered to have junk status and will be delisted within 24 hours. I believe the bug that caused some traders to see negative bank balances has been removed (but we’ll see what happens tomorrow). Removed a lot of spam postings.

Posting Policy to be Clarified:
In the next couple of days, a clear policy will be posted to the site that defines some rules for posting thots. Basically, I want to make sure that everyone understands what types of posts will trigger de-listing. This will include things like: linking to something that is not a URL, posting titles or descriptions that are not representative of the linked file, and so on. When this is posted, moderation of posted thots will become more aggressive.

Problems with the economy:
Lot ‘o talk about how there is too much money flowing in to the economy. I believe that one of the fundamental problems is that, unlike a real economy, there is nothing to do with thollars other than re-invest them into the market. So, we’re going to start experimenting with new things to do with your credits. You’ll see the first part of this soon.

Split stock graphics:
The split stock ticker graphics are currently supposed to indicate that a split occurred within the last 24 hours. That may be too long a time since things move fast around here. The red ticker graphics are supposed to indicate that the thot is currently at junk status and will be de-listed shortly.

Problems today:
There were some problems today with thots flipping into negative values. I believe that the cause has been corrected, but time will tell.

I hate bugs.

As stated earlier, almost all development time over the past few days has been monopolized by my ongoing war with a bug. The bug was miscalculating shares, causing all sorts of awful things like: allowing sale of shares shat don’t, negative numbers of shares, and so on. It’s been a long, weary battle. Being neither an economist nor an application developer, I’ve perhaps needed more time than I should have. But, today, I’ve seen the first sign that the bug may be dead. I don;t want to be presumptuous here, but the numbers are looking good this morning. There have been a few anomalies, but nothing like the problems encountered on previous days. In my last post, I questioned whether it was a code problem or legacy problems in the data. If the bug is indeed dead, the best I can say is that it was a combination of the two. In any case, if this is behind us (fingers crossed), I can proceed to start improving the site again. There are some other more minor bugs that I’m aware of, having to do with dividends and some other things, so those will be attended to soon.

I find the current discussion about the effect of taxation fascinating, and I’m currently contemplating the strategy for opening things up. I appreciate everyone’s patience and enthusiasm.

There’s been a lot of feedback lately and I’m going to address some specific questions/concerns in an upcoming post as time allows. Until then, here’s an update on the site along with a preview of some upcoming stuff.

Improvements and additions to functionality have been on hold until I can sort out the bugs associated with the changeover. There has been one particularly confounding bug that’s at the root of 80% of the feedback this weekend. Basically whatever it is, it’s caused some thots to allow purchase of shares that don’t exist. This has a ripple effect that causes all sorts of strangeness as things get progressively more and more out of whack. For example, people have been getting incorrect reports of what percentage of a thot they own. That caused some unexpected thot acquisitions, among other problems. What is so annoying about this one is that it’s not occurring consistently. Given the number of transactions now happening, it’s actually quite rare. But nothing can work unless fundamentals like this are solid. My current theory is that it’s not an error in the code (although there were plenty of those earlier), but an after effect of earlier bugs that have since been corrected. As I mentioned earlier, there were a number of problems right after the changeover. I think this pushed things off balance and things have continued to tip further over since. While investigating this, I found widespread inconsistencies in the record, in terms of numbers of shares assigned to thots, public ownership, etc.

Tonight, I’ve manipulated share numbers for the thots a bit to normalize these inconsistencies. No changes were made to the ownership records, so no one should have lost shares in any way. If my theory is correct, things should proceed normally from here on out. If that doesn’t happen, then there must be a problem in the code.

Some of things that are going to be added, once all this is settled include: Improved navigation, event reporting, many different list views (like: biggest gainers/losers, acquisition targets, etc.), user profile pages, more commenting (possibly including a discussion forum), more integration of user lists, email notifications, placing buy and sell orders, and possibly redeeming thollars for items other than shares (both virtual and real).

UPDATE: Things are still screwy. It’s a code thing. Grrrr.

Well the changeover happened. There have been, of course, many bugs. But, things are slowly starting to get under control. If the bug reports continue to slow, we can proceed to add functionality and make the site easier and more interesting. Thank you for all those who have been reporting problems. It’s not possible for me to respond individually, simply because of volume, but I really appreciate it. If you continue to encounter issues, please, send in another report.

Also, thank you to those few of you who found problems and didn’t report them as well. I’m learning to never underestimate the ingenuity of motivated people.

All in all, I think that the changeover is having a positive effect on things. Hopefully we can soon lift some more restrictions like the fortune cap. At the moment I’ve removed the the 15 and 5 minute trade restrictions. We’ll see how that goes.

UPDATE: And just when I think I’ve got the door closed, they start crawling in the windows.

UPDATE 2: I’ve made quite a few tweaks tonight. I found some serious flaws in the logic that was causing miscalculations on all sorts of things like available share values. As traffic increases these things tend to cascade and spin out of control faster and faster. This is what led to some of the negative values that were reported today. I need to learn that coding at 3am is probably not conducive for reliable results. Hopefully things will start to stabilize now and the market will settle back into a good rhythm. Complicating all this, is of course the fact that there are residual effects of the bugs still in the system (in the form of large balances and number of shares). Let’s wait and see what happens.

Today was the busiest day yet on ThotMarket, btw.

Well, we’ve rolled out the first stage of the new ThotMarket economy. I’m too tired to write a comprehensive overview of everything that has changed and the reasons for them, but here are some highlights:

Fixed Shares:
When you create a new thot you now have to enter a total number of shares to bring to market. You also have to enter the number of those shares that are available for trade with the public. The rest are shares that you hold privately.

When all the shares on the market for a given thot are purchased, trading is frozen until more shares become available. That will happen when: someone sells shares, the thot manager adds more shares, or releases shares from his/her private stash.

If another user buys more shares than a thot manager, then that user acquires control of the thot.

Controlling Thots:
The majority stockholder for a given thot has a controlling interest in that stock. They act as the thot owner. When shares are purchased by other traders, this value is transferred to the thot owner. The thot owner (manager/controller/or whatever we end up calling them) has the ability to add additional shares to the market. This is important because since there is now a fixed number of shares for all thots, they can only climb so high. It going to be more work and more expensive to nurture a thot to the top. The controller can ensure that no other trader can gain control of the thot by making sure that they own more than 50% of the total shares. BUT, there’s a catch…

Thots are now ranked by Market Capitalization:
Previously thots were ranked solely by their trading price. Now, they are ranked by Market Cap, which is the product of the trading price and the number of shares owned by traders (other than the thot owner). Therefore, the more shares that are owned by the public, the higher the rank will be. But, the more shares that are available to the public, the higher the likelihood that another trader will acquire control of the thot.

Thots can be acquired:
As discussed above

Owner shares will erode with inactivity:
For each day that a thot owner doesn’t log in to the system, they will lose 4% of their controlling shares to the public market. That way, users that have been run over by a bus, or gotten a new girlfriend, won’t wield permanent control over their thots.

Stock will split above $1000/share
When trade price exceeds $1000, a 2:1 split will occur. This will not effect the Market Cap, or shareholder’s balances, but it will help make things more affordable for other users.

The Massive Windfall Tax is gone (sort of)
This much hated monster is no more. For the time being, however, there is a cap in place that will not allow to to amass more than a billion thollars. Hopefully that cap will be removed soon, but I want to keep it there at first, as we see how the new economy performs.

We messed with your shares/balances
Yes, in order to do the migration, manual manipulation of the market was done. Unlike previous occurrences, I don’t believe that we reduced anyone’s balances, or shares. Instead we added shares and thollars to some. This was done mostly to ensure that the original thot owners have a controlling share of their thots at first. Its now up to them to decide how to manage the thots. We felt this was the most fair tactic. Also, some money was injected into the lower class.

I forgot to mention, there’s no more cap on the number of shares you can purchase.

The next set of things will include more reporting mechanisms. For example there is not currently a reporting mechanism for users that shows when stock splits have occurred, or thots have been acquired by other traders. Obviously this is vital information for traders.

I’ll write all this stuff up more formally for the site in a bit. If things go nuts in the market, I may put the brakes on again. In many ways this is like starting over, so I’m sure that there are problems, bugs, etc. In any case, have at it.

I’ve posted a note to the beta page discussing the upcoming changes to the market. I had been planning to do the switch over next weekend when traffic was lower, since the site will have to be down for a while. But, traffic was not down this weekend. In fact, traffic has increased steadily for the last several days. I’m concerned that the increasing activity and exposure that ThotMarket is enjoying makes the switchover to the fixed-share model more urgent. So, it will probably happen during the week some time.

It is both thrilling and terrifying to see this thing taking off. I’m reminded of that old commercial from the dot com days: Some guys are launching a website. They nervously await the first order to come in. When it does, they all cheer. Then the next order comes in. And a couple more. Suddenly the developers are cheering , whooping, jumping up and down. The counter keeps rising. They are ecstatic. Then they realize that the counter is spinning out of control. Orders are coming in at a ridiculous rate. Pretty soon the crowd is panicked, slumped over their desks, and breathing into paper bags. We’re not quite there, but I do feel pressure to get this thing working at full force.

Making such a fundamental change to the underlying system at this point is a little scary.

I’m thrilled to report that ThotMarket officially turned a profit today. That is, if I don’t include the value of the time I’ve invested. Nothing huge, but it’s the principle that counts. Anyway, I thought this was a very cool event given all the dot coms I dealt with over the years that never got this far.

Well not really, but hopefully the fix is on its way. There been much discussion lately ways to improve the system. Its looking more and more like we’re going to be shifting to a finite-share model that will more closely resemble real market dynamics without having to rely so much on artificial caps and penalties. My resistance to this move has largely centered around my concern about the system becoming too complex for users to operate, especially new users. When we originally launched Thotmarket (almost a month ago) I had a lot of concern that the process of bringing ipos and trading shares was already too complex. Based on the performance of the site and user feedback, it looks like that was not the case for most people. The new model will be slightly more complex in terms of offering new thots, but I think, will bring some intriguing new elements to the marketplace. The biggest challenge at the moment is creating a strategy to gracefully migrate the current market to the new model without hitting the reset button. This shift will likely occur before we start introducing the community features I mentioned in an earlier post. It will involve halting trading for a period of time and as currently mapped out, it will have some profound effects on the movement and rankings of thots. I’m hoping to post more specific details in advance of the shift so folks aren’t too surprised when it happens. Thanks for all the fantastic feedback lately. Many of these ideas have grown directly from user comments.