Sunday, February 13, 2011

24 days after launch

It’s been a very interesting, exciting and difficult 24 days since the launch of the Moral Experiment. I didn't expect the experiment to explode on to the scene, but I didn't realize it would be so difficult to direct traffic to the site either.

I am currently only advertising to my friends and family on facebook/twitter. I am using them as a test bed to improve future participant’s experience. I wanted to know what their first impressions were. Most of the feedback had been very positive. They were excited and thought the site was original and potentially rewarding. A few of my friends have asked me if the experiment is a pyramid scheme. I told them no and gave them the following reasons.

Firstly: the Moral Experiment is not an investment scheme. The money that is paid is for subscription to the Moral Experiment only; this is one pound a month. The participant will never see that money again as it will be used for the referring participants ‘Moral Earnings’.  Participants can earn via marketing their unique URL to new potential participants. This is not illegal it’s called affiliation or sales.

Secondly: There is no promise of instant lucrative returns. ‘A pyramid scheme is a non-sustainable business model that involves promising participants payment’ -

There is no promise of free money, participants earn ‘Moral Earnings’ via affiliation. Moral Earnings are only accumulated via direct referrals; this is known as affiliation, connections, relationships, associations. The Moral Experiment only uses the subscription fee paid by a participant for the referral participants  Moral Earnings. Therefore the money exists, is real and has been paid.  Affiliation is no different to an estate agent, or any sales person, getting a commission for attracting a customer to a product and selling it to them. In the case of the Moral Experiment the commission is the referrals subscription fee.  There is nothing illegal or wrong with this sales technique especially when it’s used to generate money for charity. The point of the Moral Experiment is not to make participants millionaires. This is not a get rich quick scheme. The point of the experiment is for participants to have earned enough real money for their true morality to be tested. A participant would need a massive social network to earn any meaningful amount of money. Remember Moral Earnings are called Moral Earnings because a participant needs to earn them. There is no free money!

This technique is exactly how Google’s ‘Adwords’ works and how Google make billion’s each year. Google refers people to a site based on a search term. Google takes a payment for the referral, (pay per click) - Google has a bidding system where site owners bid for the max amount they will pay for a referral on a search term. With the Moral Experiment it’s a fixed rate. The referrer participant will receive the referred participant’s subscription fee minus PayPal and admin fees. Again, this is not how a pyramid scheme works.

Hearing from my friends and family has made me think about how to instill trust in the Moral Experiment. I don’t want potential participants of the Moral Experiment to think it’s just another money making internet scheme or scam. There is a danger of this if the marketing is not right. This is not the intension of the Moral Experiment but by its nature some participants of the Moral Experiment could make money for themselves. Participants can also make money for charity but this seems to be overlooked when people look at the selfish aspects of the experiment.

Building trust:
The Moral Experiment is a registered certified PayPal Application. The site was reviewed by the people at PayPal, they liked it and approved the use of PayPal and how the software works J. I hope this will put participants at ease when paying subscription fees online.

I have also added live feed functionality. Every time a new participant joins the experiment the total to charity, total to self and average morality will be updated. I want participants to see total transparency with all Moral Earnings. So far people have been really moral as I write this blog the current stats are - Live Feed: Total donated to charity £46.32, Total taken for self £2.50, Average morality 94.72%.

The Moral Experiment Limited is a registered UK Company No. 7424966. As a UK company the Moral Experiment needs to comply with UK fair trade laws.

What happens when participants join the Moral Experiment from the root of the site with no participant referral? This is my moral dilemma and moral dilemmas are anonymous. I would like to add that one of the initial intension of the Moral Experiment was to generate funding for a charity my sister ‘Katie Bushell’ works with. Tilinanu is a charity that supports orphanages in Malawi. My sister is currently raising funds to build a boy’s orphanage. If you would like to read more about my sisters amazing work and the charity she supports please go to the following websites:

Just to add, I am comfortable with my morality.

What’s Next:
I feel that the Moral Experiment is almost complete from a software point of view there is not much left to do. From a branding and marketing point of view I am at the foot of the mountain. I think I still need to tweak the site to make the core message stronger. I also don’t want people to take the whole thing too seriously. Yes it’s an experiment into human morality and yes the results will be an indication or trend but its still just a bit of fun. Remember that we are all very different and one person’s concept of morality could be totally different to yours. We must not judge people at face value. Every single person on this earth no matter the demographic is unique, treat them that way. The experiment does have known flaws; participant need access to the internet and have PayPal account.  These flaws cut huge demographics out of the experiment. I hope one day we could extend the experiment to them. One step at a time.

More Charities:
I want more charities to benefit from the Moral Experiment. I am going to try and attract charities from all different area so participants have a broader choice when deciding on how much and where to give their moral earnings. If you know any charities that would like to be a beneficiary please let me know. It’s totally free for the charity to get involved. The charity just needs to have a valid charity number and a PayPal account to receive donations.

The Results:
So far there are too few participants participating in the experiment to draw any valid conclusions. But there are a few interesting trends that are starting to appear which we can ponder over.

Does gender play a part in morality?
So far the females that have taken part in the experiment that have referred participants to the site have all been very, very moral. Females are sitting at 100% morality, whereas males are a close second with an average morality of 91%. Still impressive if you as me.

Does employment play a part in morality?
Employed participant have given the most in total but have a lower morality than retired participants who are currently sitting with 100% morality.

Does gambling play a part in morality?
So far neither none gamblers or gamblers are 100% moral but none gamblers are so far more moral that gamblers. None gamblers 97.10% vs gamblers 86.46%

The experiment has begun. I am excited and nervous. I really hope people see the potential good in the Moral Experiment and take full advantage of it.

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