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Ripeanu, Matei et. al. “Gifting Technologies:  A Bittorrent Case Study.” First Monday 11.11 (2006). 2/15/2010.

Ripeanu et.al. set out to discuss how gifting economies work in sharing communities operating bittorrent as their distribution platform.  To address the problem of freeriding in these bittorrent communities, the authors provide two options: 1) provide incentives as direct rewards to members for sharing resources or; 2) consider the motivations of members who share beyond the instant gratification or expectation of immediate reciprocation that incentivizing systems promote.

To understand why gifting is more prominent in bittorrent technologies rather than other p2p platforms like KaZaa or Gnutella (where freeriding numbers are as high as 85%), the authors consider the ease of use of the bittorrent technology itself.  Because of the relative ease of use in creating new torrents, the lack of resource drain on bandwidth because of distributed chunk trading and the unobtrusive, highly efficient nature of bittorent clients, sharing is much easier to sustain among OS members.

The authors provide a couple of recommendations for bittorrent communities to increase gifting:

  1. Promote gifting and trading through incentivizing.
  2. Support cultural norms for gifting or, in other words, socialize the gifting process so that creation of identity and participation in community – rather than indexing of material and resource accrual – become the bases for the desire to gift.
  3. Make gifting safe by deterring illegal gifting in legally focused OS communities.

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