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Want a million dollars?

by kwaping (Priest)
on Oct 03, 2006 at 15:30 UTC ( #576104=perlmeditation: print w/replies, xml ) Need Help??

Have you heard of the Netflix Prize? Well, I think the talent here has a good shot at winning it, so I registered a team named "".

If you'd like to join the team, please message me with your full name, email, and country and I'll add you to the list. Also reply to this node, so we can all see who's part of the team. Any prize money won will be evenly distributed (post-tax) among contributing team members.

I'll have more information posted to my home node as it comes available, such as private forums and CVS/SVN information.

It's all fine and dandy until someone has to look at the code.

Replies are listed 'Best First'.
Re: Want a million dollars?
by tilly (Archbishop) on Oct 03, 2006 at 21:20 UTC
    May I be cynical?

    There is this contest for a million dollars. I know a bunch of smart folks. I'll try to get them interested in being on a team with me, and I might make a bunch of cash off of their talent.

    I see what is in it for you. But what is in it for me? If I was motivated enough to seek this million dollars (I'm not), and I'm smart enough to possibly succeed (possibly = low odds in my case), I'm not going to want to be partnered with a large group of people, most of whom are going to contribute very little to my effort. But many of whom will be quick to say that they contributed something. That sounds like a headache. Doubly so since it is well known that large groups of people tend to suffer from apathy. Read The Logic of Collective Action for more on that.

    If I wanted to put in the work, I'd register my own team, download the data, and try a bunch of things by myself, or with a small number of highly motivated friends. I wouldn't participate in a perlmonks team. I believe that my way of thinking is likely to be common among the people who are most likely to do the work.

    I therefore predict that if someone from perlmonks wins the prize, they won't be participating in your team.

      That's why I proposed to declare upfront that the money goes to some worthy cause instead of splitting it. This way they could avoid the gaming - ie subscribing to the team and doing nothing in hope that others will do it for you. I think the apathy of big teams comes from the feeling of unfairness. I've seen somewhere an article with the thesis that people would sacrify their own good to punish what they see unfair, this is in our nature. So the only way to motivate people to do something in a big team is to show them that there cannot be any unfairness. goes to some worthy cause instead of splitting it. This way they could avoid the gaming...

        Not entirely.

        Consider the value of adding to one's resume the claim of participation (membership) on the prize-winning team in a big-bucks competition.

      Who's to say kwaping isn't one of the "motivated / smart" people you mention, and this is his/her effort to get together a small group of people to do just that. Maybe s/he doesn't have the right friends for the job, but is excellent at choosing good people and organising them?

      I agree that less is more (that phrase could have been invented for talking about the size of programming teams) but there's nothing in the OP that mentions "getting as many people as possible to participate".
        The way that kwaping set about soliciting for contributions is evidence against his or her excellence at choosing and organizing people. Feel free to trawl kwaping's posts looking for evidence of great ability.

        Again, I'm not saying that my cynical response is correct. But it was my first response, and I presented it because I think it is useful for people to learn to be a little bit cynical in analyzing proposed opportunities.

        Update: grinder [pointed out that I said troll where I meant trawl. Fixed.

      I was originally going to try it by myself, but I figured I'd see if anyone else wanted to join in the fun. My grand idea is to have the winning team be a sort of open source movement. Of course, PM was the first place that came to mind for a community of brilliant programmers.

      Do you really think I'm the type of person that would fool a bunch of people into doing the work for me so I could get a cut of the money? Doesn't my mere presence on PM (and rank obtained) suggest that isn't the case? I would agree with your cynicism if I had just joined and had zero posts previous to this. But I think you're really reaching in this case.

      It's all fine and dandy until someone has to look at the code.
        Sorry, but your presence and rank on perlmonks don't mean much to me. You are person 438 in Saints in our Book. Anyone who shows up and votes religiously on this site for a few years should be able to reach a rank like that. That doesn't say much about what you personally are like, or how good you are.

        I have paid no attention to you in the past so I don't know what you're like. Glancing at your highest rated nodes and looking for one that shows your level of Perl knowledge, I see Using a module more than once. This shows that you have fundamental misunderstandings about how Perl works, and shows that you are not in the habit of looking in perldoc first for answers. (perldoc -f use would have given your answer.) Sorry, but this doesn't inspire confidence in your ability to realistically contribute to a problem like this.

        Furthermore as a personal bias, I dislike the groupthink on this site that says that people from this site are all great. Not only do I dislike that groupthink, but I tend to think relatively poorly of the people who subscribe to it, and doubly so of those who expect me to subscribe to it. So you get a bad reaction from me by insisting that your presence on perlmonks demonstrates that you can't be the kind of person that my (admittedly cynical) first reaction suggested you might be.

        I'm not saying that my cynical response is accurate, but it really was my first reaction. And as much as you might dislike it, I don't think it was particularly unfair under the circumstances.

      A reply falls below the community's threshold of quality. You may see it by logging in.
Re: Want a million dollars?
by zby (Vicar) on Oct 03, 2006 at 16:32 UTC
    People would much more eagerly contribute if the money was assigned to a worthy case (like The Perl Foundation?).
      That's a great idea! Once we have the core team together, we can vote on where the money goes. Either that, or each member individually can decide where their share goes, if we decide to split the money.

      It's all fine and dandy until someone has to look at the code.

        If you want people to sign up, I'd strongly recommend splitting the money up (note - how do you split "fairly"?) and then having the individuals decide where to contribute the cash.

        If I wanted to sign on and donate my $25,000 in winnings (or whatever) to the Perl Foundation, then good for me! If I want to be greedy and pocket the $25,000, then good for me! My point is that if someone is participating with the goal of winning mad cash (and, realistically, whats the harm in that?), then they wouldn't sign up for a team where they're guaranteed to get nothing other than warm fuzzies. They'll go off and join another team where they can actually bank their winnings and you'll be down a contributor.

        And, assuming you're going with the "split up the funds" approach, flesh out how the winnings will be divvied out now. Yes, yes, I know that this is masturbatory fantasizing about your lottery winnings, but if the team does win, it's invaluable. What if I sign up for the team and then contribute nothing. Do I still get a share? What if I submit a few small patches or optimizations, but nothing necessary. Do I still get a share? Do I get as big a share as the guy who designed most of the infrastructure? Does he get as big a share as the 3 guys on IRC who actually created the algorithm?

        Don't get me wrong - I like the "even split" approach and I think it'll cause the fewest headaches, but there would also have to be some sort of criteria to be met before you get a share, beyond just signing up.

        I know we're all brothers and sing and dance together as one, but plunk a million bucks into the middle of it, and all sorts of problems will pop up. I'm also not lobbying against setting up a team here, just rattling off the secretarial things that are important. Remember - this is quite a bit different from just getting 6 of your friends together on a team. For an intents and purposes, the vast majority of us on here are strangers. So lay down the ground rules before you offer to share a million bucks with people you don't know.

        how about saying, e.g. a third of the money goes to the perl foundation, and the rest is splitted up between contributors?

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