Gift Economy

"Not all economies are based on maximizing personal gain - some are founded on giving" - Pinchot, 1999

Gift economy is the exchange of information through content, web pages, posts, discussion boards and video. With active users globally sending email, sharing profiles, posting and sharing information, one can receive and give to others within networks, even if they are in a foreign country. Within a virtual marketplace, where users can buy and sell practically anything over the Internet, the first step is the Gift Economy. Gift economy connects a diverse community of individuals, buyers and sellers, as well as small businesses free in the gift economy. Gifts are the exchanging of free information and services or even making a profile for others to see. Before the exchange of money there is an exchange of services and information and these gifts come from user to user, user to distributor. They are fundamental for Internet commerce because without it, relationships and interactions would not happen for money to be moved and exchanged afterward.

Creative Commons

Gift economies are demonstrated by the exchanging of stories through video. eBay allows for virtual gifts to be wired to other users, which could be in the form of video and Creative Commons. The selling of homes may propel one to use old footage to help with the sale. Creative Commons is the use of old media to make new media. This has helped users sell their homes through eBay. Creative Commons is not usually used for economic gain, it is used for non-profitable creativity (Lessig, 2010). However a user has used it for economic gain on eBay, and it worked, because bids went from $16,200 had increased to $18,600 in one day (Makovsky, 2012). This meant more offers and traffic to the property than before in comparison to agency selling. This was shown on an eBay advertisement for the Green Acre home. Gifts like video from user to user is tied with the buying and selling of goods. This is the video that helped the user sell his property on eBay, adding to internet commerce as a method.


Gift economy and Internet Commerce is based on how one shares information (Veale, 2003). Posts, advertisements and communities exchanging information, are all forms of gifts in Internet Commerce. The content is free, therefore it is a gift. eBay allows for Classified Ads that connect buyers and sellers, who then complete the sale outside of eBay. You'll see "Classified Ad" in the listing and search results. This service is free, and payments or exchange of goods happens outside the virtual space of eBay. One can also subscribe to the Answer Center where fellow members ask questions about buying and selling on eBay. You can also share tips and information that you feel will be useful to fellow members. Each thread is limited to 10 replies, to keep responses focused and concise. Answers may be rated for usefulness by the member who asked the question, or other viewers who found the information helpful. There are also EBay's discussion boards where people meet other members, get advice, and share information. These gifts are essential for Internet commerce because it brings people together.

Production, distribution and consumption without money and material wealth

Reciprocity, exchanging things for mutual benefit rather than money.
With more than 94 million active users globally collaborating in a virtual space, the gift economy may also be seen with a simple thank you exchange (Viale, 2002). It costs nothing to thank someone or partake in politeness. eBay is the world's largest online marketplace enabling folks around the world to buy and sell a world of goods, however before a tangible product is traded, people are connected through the gift economy by exchanges of politeness. A community of buyers, sellers, and small businesses are impacting the Internet Economy by these free gifts because in 2010, the total worth of goods sold on eBay was $62 billion. On average more than $2,000 every second. (eBay, 2012) So gift exchanges without material wealth are fundamental for Internet commerce because $62 billion is a prosperous pay packet as a result.

Voluntary Payment Methods

Gifts on eBay are also seen if one bids with other buyers to get the best deal. A bid is a free gift given to the seller by many, allowing the bidders to watch the item and see how the bidding is going. When the listing ends, the highest bidder wins the item and completes the purchase. When one volunteers a bid, knowing they may not get a return the exchange is valuable because payments made voluntarily are a valuable extension of the gift economy. (Veale, 2005) Another form of volunteering on eBay is known as trading assisting. Trading Assistants work without being payed, and are experienced eBay sellers in your area who will sell your items for you on eBay for a fee. By hiring a Trading Assistant, you can take advantage of their selling expertise, save time and effort, and still reap the rewards of selling on eBay. Trading Assistants voluntarily work for their users, by listing items, answer customer service inquiries, to collecting payment and shipping the item to the winning buyer. This gifted service offered by users is fundamental for internet commerce because it is a steppingstone for currency exchange.

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