Trade it on Trodo!

John Rhodes of Webword has just launched the secret project he has working on and enigmatically referring to for the last few months. Trodo is an on-line trading community, where people can hook up and swap books, CDs, DVDs, and other stuff.

Note that it’s swap, not sell. Unlike Ebay, you’re not trying to maximize your profits from the items you list. One book gains you one “credit” for another book. When you sign up, you have to list at least three items you’re willing to trade, and this gives you an initial three credits. With these credits you can then request items from other users.

The economics of this credit system are very interesting. You might think that it would be easily abused. Because each book (or video, or DVD) is worth exactly the same as any other (1 credit), what is there to stop someone from only listing old, decrepit pulp paperback novels, but only requesting shiny new computer books? Well, the credit system itself acts as a brake on this kind of behaviour, because apart from your initial three signup credits, you only get more credits when someone requests one of your items, and you fulfil that request.

If you list nothing but rubbish, no-one will request your items, so you won’t be able to request other people’s “good” stuff. You therefore have an incentive to list items that other will find attractive enough to request from you.

There are many other interesting aspects to the system. Why don’t you hop on over there and take a look?

3 comments

  1. Hi Martin,

    You offered up an amazing summary of how Trodo works. I think your comments about the Trodo economic model are particularly good. I’ll try to add some theoretical details for fun. The way that I have explained the Trodo economic model is like this. In traditional barter, the exchange is synchronous and person to person. In other words, people must meet, agree on relative values, and make trades one on one. This makes traditional barter painful. However, Trodo is an asynchronous, person to network system. In other words, we don’t have to meet at the same time to make a trade. Furthermore, individuals don’t make person to person trades. You offer your items up for trade to the entire system, and you request items from the system. The Trodo credit system eliminates the need for you and I as members to see eye to eye. All like items are equal; hassle and haggle are eliminated. This is also the reason why listing good and bad items isn’t too much of an issue. You might not like your old Cure CD, but another person (any person!) in Trodo might think your Cure CD is very high value. In fact, the system allows people to trade up for items of higher value. What you enter has low value to you, therefore when you ask for an item, it will probably have a higher value to you than what you offered to give away. You are always trading up!

    How does this compare to eBay? Unlike eBay, you don’t have to worry about profit. You just have to worry that at least one member will want the item. With a large number of members, the chances that just one person wants your item will go up. Then again, your item will compete against other items. The system will regulate itself in this way as it grows. Also, unlike eBay, you can list your item for as long as you want. Enter the item and wait for a request. Keep it there as long as you want.

    I have a lot more to say about Trodo but I’ll reserve my comments until a later time. I’ll be writing articles about Trodo for WebWord too.

    To conclude, I have some questions. What will it take to get people signed up for Trodo? What kind of marketing tools and techniques should we use? How can we make this grow? I’m listening to your feedback!

  2. Trodo is basically a defunct site–it’s still operational (at least, partially–I never can get it to pull up the dvd page), but there is no activity there. The Cheshire Kat (a spin off from Trodo seeking to resolve some of the problems mentioned above) is a great place to trade with over 600 members. If you are interested in swapping movies, books, music, games, and more, why not join an active trading site?

    http://thecheshirekat.com

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