My question is related to "virtual economy system" so it's kinda political.

I have a question and answer website like SE, however, there are both free and paid questions. An OP can devote money to post a paid question, and the user who answers it, will earn that money.

Users earn the privilege to answer paid questions by answering free questions. How many free questions should they be required to answer? Here is my suggestion:

  • 3 answers per day
  • 15 answers per week
  • 20 answer per month
  • 50 answer per year

Just to be clear, "3 answers per day" means that a user must answer 3 free questions each day to be able to answer non-free questions.

Note: I just count the answers that have either zero votes or a positive vote score plus answers that are written in the last hour or before.

Well are these numbers fine? Or should I increase/reduce them?

2 Answers 2


It looks like you reward users based on quantity rather than quality. Typically users will follow the trail you set up, and will answer many questions instead of producing a few quality answers.

To get a quality site where users want to spend and earn money, you need to strive towards counting votes instead of answers. If you change your numbers from answers to upvotes, I think you have a better chance succeeding with your Q&A site.

  • 1
    hmm .. seems reasonable .. thx, +1
    – Shafizadeh
    Sep 12, 2016 at 4:49
  • Well there is a problem .. in this case users try to create multiple accounts to give themselves upvote :-) ..
    – Shafizadeh
    Sep 12, 2016 at 5:32
  • 1
    @Shafizadeh Any system can be breached, and Stack Exchange have superior systems that analyze this kind of behavior. You need to address those issues too even if it's a hard one to implement :) Sep 12, 2016 at 6:08

The number of free questions a user should be required to answer would depend on the desired quality of answers and the usage of the site. Answering questions is a time investment and your users have finite time.

High quality answers typically take much longer to produce than low quality answers. If it is fine for free questions to have low quality answers then you can set a large number and vice versa. You also need to balance this with the time constraints that your users have. The number of questions a user can answer would depend on the amount of time they are willing to devote to your site. If you set limits that they can't achieve users will not participate on your site.

You can determine the average time it takes to produce an answer of the desired quality and probably look at session times to figure out these numbers.


I've been doing some research myself on rewards in virtual economies. Given your approach, I think there are some additional factors you may need to take into account.

Volunteering as tax

If your site has paid questions then many of your users will join to earn money exclusively. Requiring users to answer free questions before they can earn money on your site makes a usually voluntary action mandatory. Volunteering doesn't function in this way so users who want to earn money will interpret this as a tax on their time. Users will be dissatisfied with this and probably rebel. Some will leave, some may stay and voice their displeasure consistently. Most will begrudge answering free questions and the quality of their answers will be poor.

Erosion of altruism

The presence of free questions on your site implies that altruism may play a role in motivating your users. There are at least two reasons I think altruism can become eroded as a motivation on your site.

Image motivation means that we care about what others think of our intentions. Monetary incentives for prosocial activities have been found to work best in private.

The results of the laboratory experiment, illustrated also in a field study, support our hypothesis that monetary incentives depend crucially on visibility: monetary incentives are more effective in facilitating private, rather than public, prosocial activity

Performing these types of activities in public makes us vulnerable to onlookers questioning our true motivations. Are we doing good because we want to do good acts or because there is an upside? Users who answer free questions for altruistic reasons will worry that others view their intent as qualifying to earn money thereby reducing their motivation.

Additionally, financial rewards can permanently erase internal motivations.

Results indicate that (a) when money was used as an external reward, intrinsic motivation tended to decrease; whereas (b) when verbal reinforcement and positive feedback were used, intrinsic motivation tended to increase.

Users who have joined for altruistic reasons will be motivated to answer free questions. But, since answering free questions will allow them to earn money they will soon become less motivated by their initial altruism. Over time they will view answering questions as transactions and will be predominantly motivated by the financial incentive.

  • Thx . . . . . +1
    – Shafizadeh
    Sep 12, 2016 at 18:55

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