Looney Labs Rabbits Mailing list Archive

Re: [Rabbits] Rabbit Only Items in Dangling Carrot (was Re: Gray'mids?)

  • FromMarc Hartstein <marc.hartstein@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • DateSun, 28 Jan 2007 15:05:39 -0500
On Sun, Jan 28, 2007 at 01:06:12PM -0500, Seth Ruskin wrote:
> First, let me apologize. I never meant to insult you or imply anything 
> about you or your situation. When involved in discussions like these, I use 
> "you" to refer to "the reader" and thus I'm addressing the list as a whole. 

> It's intended, and you're also apparently missing the point of a
> reward.


Apology accepted.  If I didn't say it clearly last night, I'm sure you
weren't intending to be hurtful.  I have a lot of trust in the sort of
people who choose to become Rabbits, that we're very much not the sort
who would go out of our way to hurt people.  I'm quoting the above to
point out to you a place where you (to me) clearly weren't using "you"
to refer to "the reader", but rather to me.  I do this so that you might
better understand where I was coming from in being frustrated with your
response, and also to show you that you might not be as careful as you
think you are with your use of language in emails like these.

> It encourages the exchange of ideas, as if someone sees a flaw in my 
> reasoning, they're open to respond to it. If I used "I" and "me", then I 
> would've been talking to myself, shutting everyone else out of discussion. 
> If I used "he/she/they" I would be referring to a fictional person off 
> list, who wouldn't even have this issue, because they wouldn't be a Rabbit.

This is an interesting idea, which I intend to think on further.

> Second, I think understand what you see as a flaw. I just don't see it as 
> one, but as a benefit the Looneys put in to make things easier. But to take 
> the focus off of you (as Marc), I'll just explain why I see it as a benefit.

I obviously can't tell whether you do.  I think the flaw is a negative
side-effect of the benefit.  I think we can have the benefit without the

[snip most of an excellent description of the current system and its
benefits.  Go read it if you haven't already.]

> But Looney Labs has recognized that people don't always have the time to 
> run point-earning events or do point-earning projects. So they added in a 
> bonus feature on the Rabbit-exclusive items. Instead of having to bank 
> Rabbit Points until you have enough for the Rabbit-exclusive item, you only 
> have to spend 1 Rabbit point on it. Once you've spent that one Rabbit 
> Point, you now have the option of reducing the remaining Rabbit Point cost 
> of the item by 1 for each dollar you spend on it.

Unfortunately, introducing this feature in the particular way they have
has produced a side-effect which I think is negative.  Because you have
the option to substitute your dollars for points, you have the
opportunity to engage in a degenerate form of banking which I think of
as hoarding.

The line of reasoning goes like this: You have a limited number of
Rabbit Points.  You don't know when you'll get more.  There are items on
which you need to spend a minimum of one Rabbit Point.  You get to
choose how many you actually spend on the item.  Points, once spent, are
gone.  If you want to preserve the opportunity to get future rewards
which require you to spend Points in an uncertain world, you should bank
points against this possibility.  The optimal choice would be to spend
points in such a way that you always have the exact number you need to
be able to make any point-required purchases you might wish to.  If only
you were prescient.  Instead, you should be sure to keep enough Points
in the bank to be able to make future purchases.  In fact, the safest
thing to do is to *never spend points unless required to*.  You spend
one point on any item for which points are required, and otherwise spend
dollars, hoarding your points for possible future need.  In fact, if the
pace at which rewards which you desire become available is greater than
the pace at which you expect to receive points, this is the optimal

Point hoarding is completely contrary to the intent of the system.  The
person is thinking of the rewards as items to be purchased rather than
as rewards, and the points as tokens which allow them to make these
purchases.  It also discourages the person from claiming rewards
immediately in certain situations.  I think it should be possible to
tweak the system to remove the encouragement to this sort of behavior
without introducing other flaws.

> So now you have a greater opportunity to get Rabbit-exclusive items than 
> before. Yes, you still have to use budgeting skills if you want to ensure 
> that you have enough points for future purchases. But that's comes with 
> assigning different point values to items based on quality and/or rarity. 
> It's the necessary evil of variable cost systems. You just have more 
> flexibility in how you budget for future purchases under the Looney Labs 
> system, choosing how much to bank based on how much money you think you can 
> afford now and in the future.

Partly.  But it also comes partly with the variable expenditure system
where you get to choose how much of the cost of a purchase you want to
make in Rabbit Points, and how much in dollars.  It's this second
budgeting which has a degenerate case I see as a problem.

> P.S. You (the reader) may have noticed that what was referred to as 
> "hoarding" I've labelled as "banking". It's just semantics. I've assigned a 
> positive connotation to concept by saying "banking" and I recognize it as 
> such. "Hoarding" has a negative connotation and would have made the above 
> jarring to read if I'd used it.

This is interesting, because I'm also making a distinction here.
"Hoarding" is what I think of as the unintented drive toward keeping
points around in case they're *needed* for a later reward.  This is a
preference to spend dollars rather than points whenever possible
(spending dollars in preference to points on any carrot-marked items).
The extreme case of this is spending the minimum of one point on
Rabbit-only items and spending dollars on everything else.  I see this
as being quite different than eschewing a lesser reward in order to
save, or bank, points to be able to receive a larger reward later.  The
latter is a positive, and intended, outcome of the system.

I'd suggest that the two-point variant system with variable "karma"
costs for rewards removes the incentive to "hoard" (no incentive to
hoard points, no ability to hoard "karma") and increases the incentive
to "bank" "karma" (you can get the small reward now or bank the "karma"
to spend on the bigger reward later).

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