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Request for Information: Open Classified Ads

One of the barriers to local money adoption is the limited number of things you can buy with it. A typical community of 100 middle class people, generally only provide each nonessential services and a few second hand goods. A community that small hardly constitutes a local economy.

Various things need to be done to address this problem.

Firstly, communities need to act strategically to attract and reward providers of essential goods and services, I mean food, energy, healthcare, education, transport, construction. These both involve building relationships at the local level, so sorry but no technology can help there.

Secondly, the money needs to be made more portable, so it can buy things in other systems. I am getting around to this. CES already does it, but in a silo, (soon to be opened up).

Thirdly, along with more portable local currencies, we need to be able to search for goods and services more widely than the local system. The traditional LETS model of independent isolated groups isn't appropriate any more.

So I'm calling for an open classified ads directory.

  • It should be accessible via an open API, so that it can be integrated into local community web sites where users manage their affairs. In fact, for my purposes the directory doesn't even need a web front end, or a marketing strategy.
  • Every offer in the directory should have a coordinate and it should give search results in order of distance from a point.
  • There should be a category system that supports localised categorisation. This is a tricky problem. Alternatively we need to be working with local communities to agree on a taxonomy.
  • Each directory listing should come with a privacy setting which determines who can see it, and who can contact the owner
  • Ideally there should be some kind of reputation system or trust algorithm. This is a very interesting area, but may fall between the local and the global scopes. Most of the user data is stored locally, and each node in a mesh of trust needs to have elaborate privacy settings.
  • Each entry should store the following information. Whether it is offered or wanted. Title, body, user id, user coordinates, range that the user is prepared to travel, privacy, pricing, expiry date, quantity and currencies accepted / offered.

I know of about 30,000 users who need such a service, and I'm ready to write a Drupal module to work alongside the mutual credit module. But perhaps I'm barking up the wrong tree? Perhaps there is a peer to peer solution or synchronisation is more appropriate than a central repository? Please share your expertise.

Comments

I run a classified ads site dedicated to sharing, and I’m about to set up a LETS community so I’m interested on many levels. I know Local Exchange which we are looking at for the LETS software is written in Drupal, but I know little about Drupal, the new yours2share website I’m working on is a Joomla system.

I’ve also long wanted a decent open source classified software.

I'd need to sit and think for a while about your first list of requirements - I know categories is always a difficult issue.

I also run a small classified ads site aimed at the local community (www.e-beira.com). And we (meaning myself and some other users) also wish to implement a complementary currency of some type. This desire has grown directly from observing that people desire to exchange things locally and that many of these people are euro-poor.

Our classified ads site seems perfect as the beginnings of a directory of goods and services for the currency, and such a directory is likely to be an essential part of any currency (as Matslats clearly states here). For a start, we already have a community of some hundreds of users, many of whom are likely to be interested in a complementary currency.

But how to integrate this classified ads site with whatever currency software we choose?

For me, at this point in time, the major question with respect to software is reliability. Large overarching schemes are prone to grind to a halt. It would be terrible to have a local community fail because development of the software it relies on stops; at this point in time I'd be devastated to lose what we have grown already. For this reason, with perhaps hundreds of users already depending on us, we have to tread very cautiously indeed. Already I feel quite trapped by the Joomla ads module we are using; the thought of migration (and particularly managing the user experience during transition) is quite frightening.

So... although I like the advanced ideas presented in this blog entry, I think it would be difficult for me to jump aboard – much as I'd like to. On the other hand, we are just starting out and anything is possible. We are just beginning a search for suitable software to run our CC.

As for questions such as category taxonomy, I think these are secondary to my concern above.

Good luck.

Steve

We have a lomg term desire for a means whereby people can list their eco-social projects in a searchable way (perhaps a faceted search) in order to find co-workers, helpers, supporters and the like - with the ability to exchange cc's for help - our view being that there is an unlimited amount of project work to be done and not enough collective intelligence and effort being deployed in a way that builds coherence ... This would extend the cc remit beyond the normal goods and services (and thus open the market up).

There is no need for there to be detailed project descriptions on the same site (although these could be there) as the searchable site should allow links to the place where the detail and the collaborations can take place ...

Gaia University is already configured to take cc's in exchange for tuition although this system is barely used at present ...partrly due to an absence of champions ...

We'd love to talk about this more and to develop a brief to create something that can bring project work in to better coherence.

Cheers

Hi Steve,

We recently converted a Joomla driven site, Southern Oregon Time Bank to Time and Talents, the software that supports hOurworld.org We are an international network of service exchanges operating on a single proprietary platform. Ours is a cooperative with a non-profit wing. We'd be happy to provide you a tour, and you are free to look about yourself. Oh, access to hOurworld is and will remain free.

Best,
Stephen (you know, with a ph...)

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