Chain thread theory.....


Now then.

The idea for the chain letter I’m thinking of has been around a long time. “Write your name on the bottom of the list, and send a dollar to the 3-5 people above you. Soon you’re name will move up and you’ll get thousands of dollars in the mail!”

Now, normally they are illegal, because they are a scam.

But I was curious if anyone had ever seen something similiar on the Internet.

This board would be a perfect base to work from. Just have folks express a real interest, and collect a bunch of names that would actually do it.

Then send out the list.

If everyone has agreed to do it, would it be illegal? I’m sure the Reader would frown on this, but other than that, what’s to stop folks from doing this?

Would it work?

It’s still a scam. Having a pre-arranged list of interested parties does not change that fact that the last people to get in on the list never see any return on the money they put into it.

Why is that? I’ve never really understood, if everyone did it the way it is said to be done, why it wouldn’t work.

Using the Internet would enable it to work in a better way… a massive group of people all sending money at once, rather than a “pyramid” type set-up.

It still wouldn’t make it a mathematically workable idea; you can’t create new money just by pushing numbers around; somebody will lose out.

if everyone puts in $5.00 then we all divide the pot up evenly, then everyone recieves $5.00 and there is no scam. If one person recieves more then it causes the rest to recieve less, and those are the ones that are cheated. Then its a scam.

I am not interested in participating either.

You really are serious, aren’t you. You’ve never seen an e-mail pyramid scheme. must have some pretty good spam filtering.

Quoting this because it’s a perfect description of the issue at hand. If you can somehow wave your magic internet wand and come up with a scheme that avoids the pitfall described by Ficer67 then we’d all love to hear the details.

No, I’ve seen them before, both on paper and in e-mail.

See, the basic problem with these, as near as I can tell, is that a bunch of people would just put their names on and send it out without sending the money.

What if you had a group of dedicated people, maybe a couple hundred, maybe only 20 or so.

You know, I’m positive there would be a way to work this so that it worked. Maybe a database of some sort, to indicate when folks have been deleted from the list, or everyone working from one list on a website… Hmmmm…

The reason it doesn’t work is quite simple: you need an infinite number of people to keep the scheme going.

Even if everyone in the entire world participated in an honest fashion, the last people to come on board would still lose out.

Pyramid schemes are the equivalent of perpetual motion machines; Ficer67 sums it up nicely; if some people take out more money than they put in, Where does the extra money come from?.

Tristan, no offence intended here, but you need to be a little more specific than ‘I’m positive there would be a way to work this so that it worked’.

Ok, I think I’ve got it.

The names are kept in one location, that everyone references. This would only work with a group of people that trust each other, and are at least mostly honest.

Say we have 100 people doing it. Al is #1 on the list. Everyone on the list sends Al $5.

Al reports back to the list manager that he has started gettign his money. After a few days, Al is taken off the list, and Bob is up. Same deal, on and on down the list, slowly.

While it is true that nobody is actually creating money, since each person in theory is out the $500 they had to send to everyone (collectively) it might work as a short term way to infuse folks with substantial funds on short notice.

If you put a spacer of a week (or even 2) between the time you take Al off the list, and open up Bob, you’d be set.
I think the trick is, it’s not a truly closed system, unless this is a bunch of folks with no external income… you’re not counting on it to make you a fortune, but say you want to get funds up in a hurry for an investment or some such…

OK, that sounds like the original “building society” concept.

This was back in industrial revolution times. A group of people agree to contribute a certain amount per week for a certain number of years. As soon as there’s enough money to build a house, it gets built, and there’s a ballot to decide who gets the house. The scheme continues until everyone has a house.

It was popular at the time, because there wasn’t anything better.

The person who gets picked first enjoys a huge gain, but the person who gets picked last gains nothing.

When you say ‘Al is off the list’, does this mean that having received his payout, he no longer contributes to the scheme?

Congradulations. I think you’ve just invented modern banking. Except for the part where the list manager charges a small fee on each transaction.

And, if you replace the “ballot” from the building society story with some other contingency requiring cash in a hurry, and allow Mangetout’s idea of letting ‘A’ off the hook after he’s got his payout, you end up with a mutual insurance scheme.

So I guess this stuff was thought of centuries ago.

I am Jack’s deep sense of stupidity.
Sorry for the trouble, folks.

No trouble; better to speak these ideas out and find they have already been done than keep silent on what might be a genuine innovation…

Here’s the best way! If you are reading this, take 5 dollars US (or the same in your home currency) out of your pocket. Carefully examine it. Put it back in your pocket.

It’s legal. It’s (nearly) foolproof. Nobody gets hurt, except the occasional unlucky git whose dog eats the money.:smack:

And sometimes, you can even get the fiver back after such an incident, if you’re really determined.

And don’t be too hard on yourself, Tristan. Some of the biggest money making ideas on the net have been the result of taking an old concept and using the internet to either circumvent limitations inherant in the old way of doing it, or just amplifying the scale. Cafe Press and eBay spring to mind.

Well thanks.

I think the closest I’ve come to a “money making innovation” before was trying to find an old printer on Ebay… heheheheh
Thansk for not dragging me to the pit though. I appreciate it.