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I was thinking about this also, and it has been mentioned to the admins.
Luis, @KonradZuse has indeed talked to me about this. I am so glad to hear these ideas from you all. Please know that I take them seriously. I am a little busy with a new launch. You may see that in a couple of weeks. But we will circle back to this soon after.
I have very mixed feelings. It would totally change the site. And I'd rather not see OpenStudy become a 'two tier' site the way the US health care system gives those who can pay superb services and uses the profits to cover very spartan care for the rest. Tentatively, carefully implemented, I can see how it could work. I'm curious: would there be some capability for scheduling, or a calender where students can book lessons with tutors. Or do you see it as just be a "hire" button for whomever happened to be online? It also has the potential to really, really exacerbate current problems and disputes about what is and is not acceptable tutoring. For example, I can see certain 'students' saying, "Well I'm paying so give me answers" and certain 'tutors' becoming quite popular by, for a fee, providing them. Problems which should be better solved than they are now before setting up a hire tutor system, perhaps?
Blues, thank you. This was the sort of thinking behind our hesitation. But we continue to appreciate all this discussion. Would love a solution where we could offer this site and make money to support it. (-:
My idea was this.... We would have a list of certified teachers who we know are legit, because like you said MANY issues arise. 1. Students wanting only answers. 2. Teachers failing to give correct explanation/answers causing student to waste time/money. 2.5 unhappy students. 3. How will it affect the rest of the site? 1. We need to lay down a list of rules. Things such as keeping to the CoC where guiding the user. 2. Since they would be certified like mods by the Admins/Mod team, they will be known as users who can answer the questions promptly, and explain it very well. 3. IMO it's not going to change the site. If I was a teacher I would still answer q's for free, I just wouldn't be as prompt or on top of it. The thing about having a tutor would be a dedicated commitment. If you scheduled for 4pm EST you would have to be there. What about users who want tutors ASAP. IMO there shoudl be a way to notify(just like how reports are done for us mods/admins) where a teacher will help. Now the biggest issue is payment... Are they paid directly from the student(like a paypal transaction) or will OS be in the middle?
KZ, I agree but I think the smallest issue is payment. The biggest is making the system remains open and equitable. 1. Payment: I think it is right and fair that OS should be in the middle, and as a brokering fee receive a percent of the proceeds. They provide the server, platform that connects students with tutors, administrative and technical support and not to mention the bulk of the financial support that keeps the site running. And one (big) argument for implementing this system is that it would move OS toward a revenue generating site, which would increase its ability to get funding from corporate sponsors. That question is whether the ability to raise revenue from corporate sponsors gained by such a move would outweigh the ability to raise revenues as a non profit. 2. Ethics: I keep trying to figure out a way where the site would go on providing top quality service to all users, with no unfairness between paying students and everyone else, while at the same time providing something meaningful for the money to those who pay. And I keep hitting a wall. 3. Global economics and price setting: So I meet some good friends on here, one of whom lives in India (I don't). I recommended this person a book which is distributed in my N. American continent, but not in India. In terms of local wages relative to the local costs of living, this person makes substantially more and lives substantially better than I do. But the absolute cost of shipping the book from the US to India was about $25, in US dollars. For him, the better part of a week's income. For me, about 5% of a week's income. I bought it and shipped it to him. This site is used by many people in many different countries - how would prices be set and managed in such a way as not to be prohibitive to everyone who doesn't happen to live in the States, Canada or Western Europe? 4. Tutor/student selection: I agree that selecting a pool of approved tutors (and possibly approved students too) who can charge/pay for tutoring is the only possible way to deal with the just answers crew, with money on the line. I even like it in the context that wanting to be eligible for charging/paying use of the site will encourage good tutoring and good study habits among users who previously did not follow the code of conduct. Stickier is the method by which users are given a tutoring license or a study license. Are they selected by the mods? Are they elected by people who already have tutoring licenses? The first smarts of dictatorship and will need some regulation, otherwise the messages to mods Re: "I WANT TO EARN $$$" will be out of control. The second brings up conflicts of interest - why would a band of good tutors who essentially hold a monopoly on the service want to spread profits? Every method I can think of for actually implementing this idea breaks down. I see other benefits/problems with this, which I can go into later, but I have to go. Suffice it to say, I see this as an intriguing, perhaps even enticing, business model. But it throws up just too many problems, and problems which would be a wrecking ball in the site if mismanaged, for me to support going down this street at the moment. My vote remains "No."