Do me a favour

Author: Laila

What NEED does this meet?

Communities don’t share their skills or knowledge in the same way any more. In the past you’d know if your neighbour was a plumber or an expert in bonsai trees, and you’d happily exchange favours. This site would be a way for people to offer their skills or knowledge in exchange for the skills or knowledge of others.

What is the APPROACH?

Each individual can register the skills or knowledge they are happy to share (a social bookmarking style approach could be taken for the collection of entries). They can also register skills or knowledge they might be interested in receiving as favours – this would just be a starting point more than anything else.

As part of the registration users should be asked what format they’re prepared to help in (format for exchange), for example by email, by phone, in person, by post and so on.

When you need a favour you need to be logged in and can then search the skills exchange website. The search should allow you to match several things:

– skills or knowledge wanted (required)
– skills or knowledge you can offer in return (optional)
– format for exchange
– your location

You should be able to sort the results by a number of factors for example; how close they are to you.

When you’ve identified someone you want to exchange skill/knowledge with you should be given the option to email them through the site. You should never see postal address or phone number etc, these should be exhanged by users themselves.

One added thing that could be nice to have is the ability to add ratings and/or comments on a person you’ve been in touch with. People can then leave thanks or warnings.

What are the BENEFITS to people?

The benefits:

– get skills or knowledge that may not be accessible to you otherwise (too costly, too far away, not in a format to suit you etc).
– develop your existing skills or knowledge further by putting them to use.
– learn from other people’s skills or knowledge.
– encourage sharing and networking within local communities.
– develop your job prospects in the same way as volunteering might.
– not for profit groups could use the resource to identify people for short volunteering tasks.

What is the COMPETITION?

I believe there are some volunteering sites where you can register your interest but these focus on full roles or projects normally for organisations. This website would differ because it would allow for small bite sized exchanges as well as bigger things. It would also allow for individuals, and not just organisations, to benefit.

What BUDGETS & LOGISTICS are required?

I don’t believe it would be very difficult to build since it uses functionality already in use on other websites.

I can’t practically estimate the cost of build but can say that once established I don’t foresee any major ongoing costs.

I could foresee some need for moderators or administrators to handle any disputes if they occur.

4 Comments

  1. I read about something similar at open.dot.coop

    Their system was called PlaNet.

    Their idea was much more ambitious though.

  2. It’s a good idea. I call the general concept “microvolunteering” but Do me a Favour is a much better project name.

    There are many proposals on this site related to the whole general concept of community currencies. To summarise (with trepidation, knowing how pedantic and sectarian some CC people are), there are three basic kinds of exchange and accounting:

    – an arbitrary (often local) currency, where people can price their exchanges however they wish: exemplified by LETS (local exchange and trading systems). This is closest to how conventional markets work as the price of goods/services in the market is determined by the sellers/buyers via competition.

    – where the number of hours that someone works for someone else is recorded: exemplified by TimeBanks, TimeDollars etc. This is a more egalitarian approach as everyone’s time is valued at the same rate – but usually doesn’t provide for the exchange of goods.

    – the recording of the number of favours, as you have proposed, where each favour effectively gets a value of 1. This tends to imply that each favour will be small and roughly equal to all the others, which is fine if that’s what you want to focus on.

    Some people will argue the toss ad infinitum about which approach is superior, but it seems to me that they’re designed to address different requirements therefore it’s horses for courses.

  3. Thoughtful response, Adrian to http://www.mysociety.org/?p=192#comments – and am duly warned about pedantic and sectarian community-currency folk!

    I agree it’s horses for courses. Create-your-own-currency is meant to address this by having a variety of settings that groups can choose for their off-the-shelf currency. I’m glad you found it interesting. Thanks for dropping by!

    .

  4. During a conversation with a close friend we came up with the exact same concept!! How very odd, maybe it was the alcohol we consumed….. Well done Laila, glad to see there are others in the world interested in changing the world, at a local level, FOR FREE.
    I do think that HOWEVER, it is in our modern natures to place value on everything, be it advice, ideas, labour or skills. We came up with the idea of capping. ie: Value your own skills to a rough figure & again value the favour that you need, BUT it should be no more than perhaps £500 or £1000. At the end of the day, if you’re asking for a favour, you’re inviting someone to help you, and this requires trust, blind trust, which can be abused. But, this favour society requires a leap of faith and trust in humanity so I say WHY THE HELL NOT?