You know, even if the money you stole for "the little children OMG think of the children" really reaches the intended recipients, which it probably won't if this is a typical 3rd world development fund, you still betrayed everybody's trust and you're actually proud of it.
Sam Odio is either the worst kind of stealing hypocrite out there, or he's genuinely living in a cardboard box under a bridge giving all his money away to charity. I think I can guess which one is the case.
I apologize for the tone of this post, but the sheer amount of arrogant jerkiness on display here actually makes me angry; and that's saying something.
On the plus side, I suppose now we know who kept on abusing the card (people were wondering in other threads).
You people are really starting to stretch, what is really going on here? Do you hate coffee? Starbucks? People who drink at starbucks? People with money? People who aim to show that most people are basically good? What is it?
Are you trying to speak to the reference class that includes me? I don't drink coffee (I dislike the taste, but I wouldn't say I hate it), but I also don't have a Starbucks anywhere close enough to me that I would bother to visit it. The only thing I've done with this card is read about it.
Now, what I am is a game designer. What I'm trying to say by calling this a "social experiment," is that a system has been created here with technical restrictions, but no social restrictions—rules, but not norms. Just because, at first glance, it shares some attributes in common with systems that do have norms, such as good will funds, does not mean that that is what it is. Basically, what we're talking about here is a game.
Note that what something is and what something was designed to be are entirely different facts about that thing. The game I mentioned above, Chain World, was designed to be a semi-religious experience in the passing of a unique gameworld from one person to another. However, the system, as expressed through its rules, does not hold to that experience; instead, it is largely a game of keep-away and fundraising where whoever has the game, makes the rules, and the aspect of the playing of the "inner game" (the one on the USB stick) has fallen away almost entirely.
Similarly, although the intention behind this social experiment might have been to create a charity, the system as expressed through its rules does not make for a charity. It makes for something between gambling and leaving money laying on the street. It would be very simple, technically, to enforce socially-normative usage of the card such that it would be a charity—but that was not done, which means that a charity was not the strict intent, leaving people free to interpret the intent of the game as they please.
Also, if you think an experiment like this could possibly demonstrate "that most people are basically good," you're quite far off—the fact that the system is voluntary to join, and that consequences from inside the system do not leak outside, creates what in game design is called a Magic Circle: a division between the social norms of the outer and inner "realities." When such a division is created, a new set of norms (a "social contract") is established between the players of the game, usually reflecting game-theoretically-optimal behavior considering the technical restrictions of the game world. For example, in the social contract of the players of a fighting game, the exploitation of bugs in the game to win is both allowed and encouraged.
Those who try to apply the social norms of the outer reality (such as fairness, generosity, etc.) to the reality within the magic circle, are usually considered to be wrong-headed by those who form the community of players of a game. They are called "scrubs", and they call the tactics of the game's community "cheap." Basically, this is what you seem to be doing.
Now, of course, if you really see the card as a charity, and not a game, then you'll tend to be angry at the people who do see it as a game—just like people are angry at the financial industry for seeing US debt as a game instead of some moral imperative to fix, or like people are angry at pharmaceutical companies for seeing drug creation as a game instead of a moral imperative, or like people are angry at spammers for seeing selling viagra as a game instead of a moral imperative (to not do, in that case.) But none of these people will change, because the systems they're participating in create incentives for their (game-theoretically-optimal) behavior, rather than for what, outside the magic circle, would be "moral" behavior. To change the behavior, you either redesign the game to have different incentives—or you destroy the magic circle by allowing the consequences to leak, such as by making certain in-game actions have out-of-game legal consequences, and thus make the game into whatever sort of moral system it would be in regular, polite society.
I am referencing the distinct group of people who appear to be defending Sam Odio. What seems to be going on is there are a few members of society, Sam Odio seemingly included, who believe that since Sam Odio was "participating" in the experiment that we should not criticise his actions. This shows an aborted understanding of right and wrong, for it is very possible for Sam Odio to both have participated in the experiment (I object to the suggestion that he did, but lets ignore my objection for now) and for Sam Odio to have acted in a morally reprehensible fashion deserving of a great deal of criticism. The more I think about it now this morning, the more I realize that this sounds like a case of aspergers.
(I take it that's what you mean to say?)
Care to give your definition of goodwill? Or are you just going to repeat things and not justify your apparent condescension?
Sorry, I probably came off more condescending than I intended. I'm only trying to inject a measure of perspective. People (yourself included) are acting like this was a "miserable" and "disgusting" thing to do. He could have stolen the money and never said a word (which would have been lame), but he played within the bounds of the experiment by reporting his contribution.
I am not acting like it is, I am saying that it is.
And yes, I know that I am doing that... since I am doing it. Regardless of wither or not it was within the bounds of the experiment it was an asshat thing to do.
(Though people may use it as a sign a conversation has jumped the shark, it need not be.)
I'm betting most of the people abusing the card aren't sending the proceeds to charity...
I'm willing to bet most of the other people stealing from the card aren't rich and successful YC graduate entrepreneurs either but somehow that makes what he did much worse in my opinion. He's also a rich guy lecturing people on how they should be donating every little bit of their excess money to charity. I'm sorry but something about this whole constellation is making my blood boil.
As a side effect he can claim the karma points for the entire good deed he described, on his own account. Then his experiment would get a much nicer feel.
Seriously tho, it seems like this backlash is getting a bit out of hand. There was a silly, whimsical social experiment, and this guy had a silly, whimsical hack on it, now people are calling to destroy his business and run him out of town on a rail. So it wasn't the best decision, so what? Let's keep things in perspective here, friends.
Nobody is saying that we should destroy his business. People are saying that we should avoid supporting it.
As for running him out of town on a rail? Well actions like this are not exactly acts of good community building...
My point was simply that given any situation, the fact that we expect something to happen doesn’t automatically excuse any of the participants of responsibility for their choice. I am not judging the OP, merely pointing out that “everyone’s expectation of outcome” is not a valid defence if he has done something wrong. If you believe he hasn’t done anything wrong for other reasons, that’s fine, carry on.
Please don't get me wrong. I love the spirit in which this experiment was conceived. At the same time, it's a shame that such an obvious miscalculation scuttled the whole thing so soon. It isn't easy to keep a good thing going.
the phenomena of golden calf has been known for millennia.
Condense enough value into one spot/artefact, and you'll get some people attracted to and mesmerized by it, the people who can't control themselves around it, coming close and touching it, not necessarily to privatize, just to feel and be around it and be associated/connected with it exactly like it happened with Odio. It is strange though that the triggering threshold for such behavior happened to be that low (ie. for anybody working in hi-tech and living in Bay Area) - iPad/$600 - that is surprising result of the experiment.
>Diverting the money to a more worthy (in his view) cause
there is big difference between diverting your own money from buying coffee/movies/etc to a supposedly more worthy cause (ie. act of charity) and diverting somebody else's money (such an act has different names and none of which is charity). How much of his own money he diverted to such a worthy cause?
sigh This is such a silly, stupid point to make:
Buying an iPad? What about world hunger!? Going to the movies? What about the modern slave trade!? Painting a picture? Women in Sudanese refugee camps can't go to the bathroom at night without fear of rape, and here you painting a picture. The way you take your privilege for granted makes me sick, you selfish bastard!!!!
Yes there are problems in the world. Does this mean no one is allowed to do anything frivolous until they are all solved? In my opinion, no.
Get off your high horse, OP.
EDIT: Neat project tho! Took the originator's project in a new, unexpected direction, which makes it even more interesting. Kudos!
I didn't see OP as criticizing frivolity, I saw him more criticizing Jonathan's suggestion that this game was meaningfully altruistic.
Eye of the beholder I guess.
heh... fair enough! In fact, I totally agree. I don't actually know much about the original project, besides the mechanics of it. Perhaps Sam could explain this in the post? as it is he just comes off as condescending for no clear reason.
It's about utilitarianism, I think you'll like it, it's making the same point you are.
(It's called "The Shallow Pond and The Drowing Child - By Peter Singer")
edit: (If you read the paper, it's discussing exactly what parent was describing, and is completely relevant to the discussion)
As I said before if the experiment was really only about the coffee and not about the money on the card then Jonathan should have his tweets update with units of coffee, not quantity of money.
The experiment was set up in a way where money was front and center and coffee was only secondary.Also, if it was just about coffee why have an API?
With this twist Jonathan's experiment is even more brilliant.
1) Sam commented in the previous thread about buying food for homeless people from the card 
2) Sam's brother Daniel was one of the first to mention the possibility of the card being hacked . His startup also funneled close to $600 into the card .
The whole thing started as a social experiment. Sam clearly considers what he's doing a part of the social experiment. I think it's still ongoing -- I fully expect another post, possibly later today or tomorrow morning, detailing the different reactions to his "I bought $25 of food for the homeless" comment and his "I bought $675 worth of food for starving kids in Africa" comment. Couple that with "me and my brother actually paid in what we took out" and we've got the makings of quite the experiment!
 http://news.ycombinator.com/threads?id=danielodio -- $100, $49, $300, and mentions of a total of $85 on twitter
There is a difference between Random Acts of Kindness (Jonathan's card) vs charity.
I think making someones day a brighter place can have a tremendous knock-on effect. If an anon gave me a cup of coffee, I might be more willing to donate to charity for anons benefit. To "pay it forward"( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pay_it_forward)
I don't find it convincing the suggestion that it would have been more effective to donate that coffee as charity, as opposed to promoting a society more amiable to giving.
I'm definitely not a yuppie, I like starbucks coffee. Maybe I want to get a coffee every now and then. I would be interested in participating in Jonathan's experiment. But somebody like Sam would ruin it for me. It just doesn't add up to me.
If it was for a small locally-owned coffee shop, it's a given that the folks charging/refilling the card are the same people frequenting the shop with you every day. I can't imagine this wouldn't drastically affect the way the experiment turned out; the social obligation is much stronger when you can connect anonymous people to faces or names, even if you don't know exactly who is participating.
Basically I've heard that line before ("how can you X when Y is going on in the world??") and it's basically just a way to feel morally superior and boost your ego, it doesn't actually achieve a useful end. You can use this line on basically anything people are doing that can be considered art, and unless you're suggesting that all artful pursuits be indefinitely suspended until the world is free of problems, it's an inconsistent, nonsensical argument.
tl;dr: I like the project, I dislike the attitude.
Fwiw, anyone who knows me know I don't have a holier-than-thou attitude (though I took one for this post). This was mostly meant as an edgy/controversial twist to the social experiment: how do peoople react when someone takes the money (which is a public good) and imposes their own morals on it (even if it's for good)?
I work for a charity/non-profit but that doesn't prevent me from seeing the value in a shared good experiment.
Asides from the myriad of other issues in your post, the most important one is that you completely ignore the fact that many people may donate quite a bit to charity, but also may wish to involve themselves in a thing like Jonathan's card. The two are not mutually exclusive, and deriving value from the latter may encourage someone to do more of the former. It looks like you were too short-sighted to actually think any of this through though in your attempt to make a selfish point.
What's wrong with thinking about an experiment that hacks the original experiment? I thought this was Hacker News.
That something is that it is pretentious as fuck.
That's as illogical as it is self-righteous.
When people noticed that money was disappearing off Jonathan's card $100 at a time, most people thought it was an uninformed, karma-less nobody stealing from the card. It is incredible that the transactions are due to some educated do-gooder imposing his beliefs onto the donors of Jonathan's card.
I've read many of Sam's comments before, and respect them as thoughtful and intelligent. However, just because you don't like the idea of "yuppies buying yuppies coffee", doesn't mean that you should try to destroy Jonathan's card. Some people feel good and more connected with others by adding to and taking from Jonathan's card.
By taking money out of the system, you are in effect going against donors wishes and imposing your own beliefs on them. It is almost like taking from the vault of a charity that you dislike and giving the proceeds to your charity of choice. Its less atrocious than pocketing the money and buying an iPad, but obviously still bad.
EDIT: I feel sorry for Jonathan and his good intentions.
Yeah, you can exploit this, but are you doing anything fun or interesting by it?
I live in a community that has a lot of cyclists in it. If I'm at home, I tend to spend a lot of time on my front porch working on my bikes with my friends. Most of them know that I keep some tools slightly "hidden" there, and I've told all of my friends that they're welcome to come over and use them if I'm ever not there.
Could they steal these tools?
Would they would demonstrating some OMG SECURITY HOLE in my "Ryan's Porch" scheme?
No. They'd be acting like assholes, which is exactly what this guy is doing.
I'm an amateur locksmith. I usually keep a half diamond pick and a torsion wrench in my car, and sometimes I even carry it in my pocket. Could I steal half of the bikes locked up across the street from my house?
Could I break into buildings and steal things from them?
What if I donated the money to poor people?!
Sam Odio, you're being a jerk here. Knock it off.
140 comments here would imply that it is at least interesting.
That doesn't mean the breakin itself is interesting.
(What I meant was that the "hack" wasn't interesting)
OP/Sam, I understand that you believe there are worse problems in the world. I have no doubt that you are correct. However, this does not change the fact that your own social experiment amounts to you taking advantage of the good will of those who contributed to the Starbucks card by stealing from them. Contributing the money to a charity afterwards does not change this fact.
You are not Robin Hood stealing from a corrupt Sheriff of Nottingham. So please don't act like it.
Nothing in the tales of Robin Hood suggests he would rob an honest rich man.
Sam Odio stole from the fund, Sam Odio stole from zacharycohn.
1) Claimed that a large purchase was him buying food for two homeless guys:
Sam, is this true? Did you actually buy food for some homeless guys (and then later decide on this strategy), or was this cover for your experiment?
2) in response to a comment about the card being ripe for abuse, he said the balance seemed to be holding at a low and steady value, and "That would imply that the card is currently being used as intended."
Interesting, then, that he's most definitely not using the card as intended. An "edgy/controversial twist" for sure.
Lots of people who were exposed, maybe for the first time, to the idea of a stranger doing something nice for them for no reason, and then to the idea that they might then do something nice for a stranger in return, have had that illusion shattered. There is no act so charitable that somebody won't steal from it.
You take money from yuppies to give to charity. The people who run the charity take 10% off the top to pay the bills— they have children too, you know. When the food actually gets on the ground, local warlords come and take half for themselves.
The yuppies still drink coffee, the charity still pays its salaries, the warlords still try to kill each other, and children are still starving to death. The experiment has changed nothing— except that a few of those yuppies maybe believe in the idea of random acts of kindness just a little bit less.
Point well made.
Jonathan's experiment was letting people experience other people's generosity and let that change their minds.
And then Sam comes and ruins everyhting. And he's totally convinced that he's doing the Good Thing.
You're not, Sam. You are destroying an opportunity for people like me to become less individualistic assholes.
The amusing thing is Sam thinks he's done something really amazing or insightful. The whole 'donate to charity angle' is just Sam trying to justify his actions and put a veneer of credibility on his uninspiring actions.
I believe that about as strongly as Sam believes that donating to Africa will help (this time is different!). Buuut I wouldn't feel justified in stealing from a charity in order to act on that belief.
It led to a lot of accounting for me, but the final tally was something in the vein of 800 transactions in an unbroken chain.
The high points involved folks buying $50 or more worth of transactions, down the line. The low points involved people trying to put down $20 and the next person using all of it up on silly frappucinos.
To answer another topic, I think that the assertion here that buying Starbucks coffee for someone else as intrinsically frivolous, when we could be doing something valuable, like perhaps Saving the Children, or Helping Starvation, is itself frivolous.
Helping one another is helping one another, and criticizing how it's done is missing the point altogether. I have to wonder where the utility is in comparing the weight of one charity versus another. It seems pointless.
Then here is what happened:
People started using the tray, taking them as well as leaving them. Then one day a guy started showing up at the store. He would intermittently dump the tray into his knapsack whenever there were enough pennies. Not only he did this for many days, but later he also proudly publicly announced that how he did it. Since all the people who show up at the store are rich and wealthy, it makes more sense to give that money to poor in some other parts of the world.
If this logic is acceptable then I should be allowed to break apart any petty charity collection box and use the money for the purpose I deem more noble.
Not really. Jonathan's Card is not charity. It's like saying you should be able to take change from the give a penny, take a penny tray at the supermarket and drop it into the breast cancer awareness tin instead.
Having said that I'm not at all surprised by the outcome just didn't expect something like this. Now I'm sure some yuppie wannabe is going to try and score an iPad for themselves.
"It's not much different to taking money out of the church collection plate and donating it to a charity that you prefer over the churches. Whilst I acknowledge this could be considered an extension of Jonathon's social experiment - it's hardly insightful or clever - you took money from an open fund and spent it. Hardly mind shattering stuff. The whole 'charity versus coffee' justification is little better than the 'think of the children' arguments that are used in similar ways. For the record, I don't think what you did is theft or immoral (it was a social experiment after all), but it was just a lame move that served no purpose and made no point."
... and now it doesn't appear in my stream and i can no longer post on the comment thread.
(^) There is a chance I'm just not understanding how to use G+ and Sam has done nothing of the sort - I only started using it recently.
Wow, This is some serious sense of entitlement of someone else's money/experiment.
I don't believe in many of people's belief. However its their beliefs and it is Jonathan's (and other donors') social experiment. If you do not agree with its philosophy, don't participate in it, but ruining it would be as senseless as me trying to make a personal mission to harass people on having belief's other than mine.
Perhaps Sam made this script well after there was a question as to whether or not the card had been hacked, but if not, this is just funny.
Also note that danielodio put some of his startup's money on the card ($100, $49, $300 mentioned in HN comments, and a total of $85 mentioned on twitter). So he almost paid for Sam's withdrawals.
EDIT: I find myself wondering if, in a few hours, Sam and Daniel will give this as a further explanation, and reveal that they'd actually donated the full amount to the card that was taken out. The whole thing is a social experiment; it may not be over.
To say nothing of the condescension and insults Sam Odio has heaped upon people who thought it was a pretty neat idea. He would still have a large amount of apologizing to do, assuming added what he took.
An analogy: You have some clothes, and you build a little covered rack outside your house on the street and put a sign up that says "clothing swap, takes some for yourself or leave some for someone else." Some people take some clothes and drop some off. THEN some guy comes along and says "this is BS, it's just a bunch of yuppies trading clothes" and proceeds to take all the clothes and bring them to the goodwill, where he believes they'll be put to better use. He does this a few times.
Now, if I were the project founder or a clothing donor (or taker), I would be pretty pissed if someone decided to take all the clothes and give them to Goodwill because s/he thinks "they'll be put to better use" there.
1. There's an ulterior goal here (community building) that is scuttled by you taking all the clothes
2. How do you know I don't give to poverty related charities already
3. I have my reasons for not giving to Goodwill
4. Even if you think it's stupid it's not your decision.
On the other hand, if I leave a pile of dollar bills in a bowl on the street with a sign that says "please take only one," would it be reasonable of me to get upset when someone takes more than one? In my opinion it would not be reasonable. Someone abusing the system was the inevitable conclusion of this experiment. That doesn't make what he's doing "right," per se, but it seems silly to rage about something that was predictable with 100% certainty.
EDIT: downvoter: which part didn't you like? I put a couple of different points in one post (I know, my fault) so I can't tell what you're objecting to. :P Just curious.
All arguments to make this experiment analogous to any "Take/Leave" scheme is flawed on these accounts. (Not that I don't appreciate the analogies, I do.) Would Sam (or anyone) have acted the same had they been in the same position with any of the "Take/Leave" assumptions. My guess, no. Sam like the anonymity of being able to take without consequence. Now that he has revealed his duplicity he's not liking the consequences.
There are far less scummy ways to do something like this. Game a Bing promotion, take advantage of lax security in some other MegaCorp rewards programme - or gasp use your own money. Mind you, those guys are more likely to sue than a disparate bunch of well-meaning folks.
The service received a cease and desist letter from the government...
Sam Odio seems to exhibit the traits of a sociopath,defined by the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual as "...a pervasive pattern of disregard for, and violation of, the rights of others that begins in childhood or early adolescence and continues into adulthood.
Why YC supports people like this is beyond me.
The reason I left the comment is that I myself am a YC alum and it makes my quite upset when I see members of the YC community behaving in ethically questionable ways. It reflects poorly on the YC community and threatens the reputation of the entire program.
Just build something similar that doesn't involve taking advantage of J's Card. Man up.
On a slightly darker note: He sure seems proud of himself for donating to a charity that keeps children barely alive, just long enough for them to have more children that no one can provide for. It seems slightly counter-productive to me.
If there was an easier way to cash in Starbucks gift cards, Starbucks could take over Western Union.
I understand that it's not necessarily an unexpected consequence, but that doesn't make it okay.
Q: What happens if you let everyone contribute to and take from a Starbucks card?
A: We are in the process of finding out, and the answer wasn't what we expected!
Why isn't this just an interesting, unexpected result? Furthermore, condemning this guy is like condemning Lulzsec for exposing security vulnerabilities. Do you think that no one would have figured this out if OP hadn't? He's exposing the vulnerability and sending the proceeds to charity, would you prefer that Mr. Unscrupulous just silently steals it all?
That doesn't make the misuse of it okay.
Just because it's easy doesn't mean it's okay. I can reach in and grab $50 from the tip jar at a restaurant while the cashier's back is turned. I can walk into most stores, stuff something under my jacket, and walk out.
Just because it's easy doesn't make stealing okay.
Both of your examples of ignore that there is an "appropriate" level security for those contexts. The tip jar is in the plain view of other diners and staff; the store has staff and video surveillance. I'll leave it to others to decide whether an unsecured cash account accessible to millions of anonymous users has appropriate security in place.
I think a more accurate scenario is:
Q: What happens if you let everyone contribute to and buy coffees from a Starbucks card? A: We are in the process of finding out but some very smart but unethical folks are pulling funds outside of coffee purchases and ruining the pot for everyone else.
You gave them food to reduce their suffering. They bought drugs to reduce their suffering.
You should only give if you can detach yourself from what people will do with it. A gift with strings attached is not a gift.
Yes, they do. When any funds were contributed the presumptive use was that the funds were to help someone down the line get a cup of coffee if they really couldn't afford one. To say they don't have can't claim determination is like say anyone who contributes to aid projects sent to Africa can't be upset when it is siphoned off by corrupt politicians.
"to transfer the money off the card I had to do it IRL, at a Starbucks location"
I don't know about you, but I'm not going to do business with someone (here the Founder of Freshplum) if they enjoy hacking credit accounts in their free time.
His reason for doing so is so poor that I worry about his ethics in other affairs.
1) What if it had been anonymous and "Ego free". Would you feel better about it if it were disconnected from status?
2) Most people would agree that giving to charity is better than giving a coffee (note I said charity, not Africa specifically. There can be some debate over whether aid helps or harms Africa, but I'm less interested in that now). If charity > coffee, why is this such a bad thing?
3) I understand the hostility to statements about "You should be doing charity instead" because there's always an element of hypocrisy to them, but if the statement is divorced from the person, isn't it correct? So why should there be so much hostility when it's put into practice in this case?
I'm not trying to judge anyone for their opinion here, I'm just curious about their reasoning since it differs from my own.
2) It was not his to give. The money was put forth by other people for the express purpose of being used by others for coffee.
3) No, the statement is not correct. "You should be doing charity instead" is a poor philosophy because it does not recognize the needs of individuals that need to be fulfilled by themselves. This philosophy cannot be universalized because it expects too much of people.
"*I* should be doing charity instead"
"*You* should be doing charity instead"
why he's installing memcache for a single-server wordpress I have no clue - just install wp-super-cache and use .htaccess to do rewrites to static files - only way to bypass the (lack of) performance nightmare that is wordpress
Everybody expects participants in this experiment to be divided into givers and takers, right? Why would anybody donate and then claim if they could just buy their own cup? The very nature of the thing is that both party's are anonymous, so the givers have no right or expectation to the "worthiness" of the taker or the purpose it is put to (on-selling included). However, it is clear that the hope and intention is to spread good will and kindness.
Originally, Jonathan provided a means to distribute these gifts to random strangers. The demographic was somewhat limited by technical and geographic constraints but Sam figured out a way to broaden (a small portion of) the benefits to a wider audience. To my mind that is entirely in keeping with the spirit of the original experiment (i.e. spreading goodwill and kindness).
Also, it's worth noting that Sam did not explicitly moralize about this - other than to say that he didn't "find the idea of yuppies buying yuppies coffees very interesting".
Can anyone explain why it has provoked such an aggressive response?
EDIT: I've no connection with Jonathan or Sam or Starbucks (really).
Would everyone be up in arms if he didn't publish how he did it on his blog and publicly post the code on github and instead used it to buy himself coffee for life?
He saw a "flaw" in the system and is publicizing it. Sounds pretty holy to me. Certainly holier than buying yourself a luxury item from an exploiting corporation, meanwhile deluding yourself into thinking you're doing something good for society by donating 5 bucks to said cause.
And, they (we/I) are not deluding themselves into thinking they are doing something good for society. They/We are showing goodwill to others.
Sam is just part of the experiment. Yes, he's spoiling the good fun of buying coffees for each other, but if it weren't him taking the money, it'd be someone else. At least we still have data on the where most of the money went.
The fact that most people aren't assholes was sufficient to let the system work for a while. A few people being assholes occasionally is survivable but somebody who makes a system out of it and publicizes it probably isn't. In short: "this is why we can't have nice things."
Think about it another way: right now, McDonalds doesn't charge you for napkins, straws, ketchup packets, salt packets, or toilet paper. All that stuff is just FREE - anybody could take however much they want!
A sufficiently motivated asshole could figure out a way to break that convenient social phenomenon too and it wouldn't take any more cleverness than this did. It's not a cool hack, it's taking something other people find useful and ruining it for everyone. Suppose you systematically stole all the toilet paper and paper towels from Starbucks bathrooms. To sell on eBay or whatever. Eventually they'd have to install pay toilets, hire washroom attendants, or just remove access entirely. One motivated jerk can easily make life a little less convenient for everybody in a great many ways, but that doesn't mean he should.
Rich people toying with the emotions of the proletariat? I am truly shocked that such a thing happens in America!
Regardless, it's certainly a shitty thing to do.
Another way to look at it is as a common fund dedicated to the purpose of buying coffee. Using it for anything else seems like embezzlement.
1. If the experiment initiator here didn't see something like this coming (someone taking advantage of a free pot of money), he is naive beyond belief.
2. An experiment not turning out how you DESIRE it to does not mean it's "ruined;" to the contrary, it's how learning happens. "Oh, I didn't know that would happen!" takes notes <- Science
Morally, though, I agree this is all kinds of wrong.
It's nice that he's trying to increase the awareness of starving children. But I don't see why he feels he needs to basically destroy the system Jonathan has come up with.
Yes, apparently the one second you were thinking about your own needs, or anyone OTHER than a very poor person, was selfish and horrible. We should all stop buying things, walk out into the street and start screaming at the futility since there are people in the world who are worse off than us.
You're seriously arguing that a hack that converts money into fat, caffeinated Americans and corporate profit is better than a hack that hacks that hack to feed the poor? We should be finding more ways to prevent the conversion of money into American fat. In fact: as a doctor, there's my challenge to you: please find ways to catch calories before they land in middle-class American bellies and convert them to some better good.
I know the HN crowd is pretty libertarian, but Sam's behavior is, by definition, thoroughly with the scope of acceptable behavior in a libertarian polity. By the way, Sam's fairly successful startup guy. If you're on HN and not your text editor, you should probably be noting this is how successful entrepreneurs behave, and emulate Sam.
I find this entire episode disgusting and if being a "successful entrepreneur" means acting like a douchebag like Sam, may I never be successful. Incidentally, MOST successful entreprenurs I know (and many are far more successful than Sam could ever hope to be) don't act like this. They have better things to do than jack money off a community Starbucks card so that they can create Internet drama.
Better things to do than steal coffees from wealthy Americans in order to feed starving people ...
The internet drama is being created by others.
I see this as a really interesting, surprising outcome of the experiment, not a "subversion" of it. FWIW people in his sphere of influence appear to have added more money on than the worth he subtracted.
Why stop at coffee? Steal their cars too. Evict them from their homes and set up shelters in them. Kidnap their children and hold them for ransom.
"see this as a really interesting, surprising outcome of the experiment, not a "subversion" of it."
The Stanford Prison Experiment was invalidated by people acting grossly out of what is reasonably expected from people. As a result, the scientific value of the experiment was completely lost. That is what Sam Odio appears to have attempted to cause here. He didn't want to participate, he wanted to destroy the experiment because he found the very notion of such an experiment to be offensive.
Because missing out on a cup of coffee is not going to really affect anyone involved in this experiment in any significant way. They probably drink too much of it anyway.
>The Stanford Prison Experiment was invalidated //
Excuse me? It was a highly successful experiment it demonstrating how moral judgement can be manipulated, how people react to roles and outward signs of authority.
To say an experiment was invalidated suggests that it didn't have the right outcome, experiments don't have right outcomes they have results. Sure results can show that you should have used a different methodology or that more experimentation is needed but results aren't wrong unless they fail to show what happened in the experiment.
Contrary to popular believe, the scientific value of the experiment was lost. It's only real value today in the field is as an example of how not to run an experiment.
I strongly disagree. It has informed psychological experiment strongly since, yes partly by being an example of how not to conduct experiments but not wholly. It has also strongly informed understanding of human nature and the conditions in which minimal pressure can modify moral action.
Under test was how "assignment of a label" would affect the development of "norms, rules and expectations". The results showed how such assignment could affect a persons character dramatically even to the point of drawing in Zimbardo to the point that he had to be corrected by his partner to stop the experiment.
http://www.prisonexp.org/links.htm is a good source.
The agreement wasn't that you can hack the pin of the giftcard, then transfer over all of the money to your own account.
That's essentially stealing from the 'coffee and sandwiches' charity for your own personal reasons.
Its a violation of the trust given to him by the community, and rightly puts a sour taste into many peoples mouths.
You're seriously arguing that that we should re-evaluate our outlook by slinging around childish insults?
Now, I don't like you too, Mr Doctor (don't you like that deference doc?) The same way I dislike Sam. The same way I dislike condescending people. Don't hit me to show me I am weak unless you are about to create a meaningful relationship or we already have one. If I know my weakness and you are a martial artist I will bow to you. If I don't know it then perhaps I don't need to know my physical weakness in the first place. Maybe I live in a respectful city and physical strength is irrelevant and will always be for me.
It wasn't a cool hack at all. Proof: most people (at least here) dislike it. The guy that did GoDaddy said something along these lines «Expect the only fare you will encounter is the one you will pay to take the bus». So it is expected that someone would do that. And he finds himself cool. And he's wrong (in the absolute) because he is outside his field of expertise doc.(Mark Cuban, billionaire, missed a great shot on the show Shark Tank. My friend, millionaire, an expert in direct selling told me.) He is the pretty pictures guy. I won't deny him the ability to be a well rounded person, but he didn't show it.(Plus he in YC so he got something good, like anybody. I'll just hack my way to his valuable side and steal it from him for a greater purpose of course)
The most stupid person here is perhaps me. I am taking my time to reply to you and expect a decent number of people to read. While Sammy O' is doing things. Like impeaching young Africans to learn the lesson he taught us. There are jackasses in this world who will take away something from you(like responsibility of yourself). And they'll call it justice, I mean "you don't know how to hack? You must take hacking classes with my pristine prestijuicy school. Or you'll be unhappy and a bad bad hacker. I mean how can you be happy fending for yourself? Owing all you have to yourself? Nevermind all those people who say that fending/the travelling toward the end is source of happiness like Lionel Richie." The guy of this article http://www.spiegel.de/international/spiegel/0,1518,363663,00... (thanks for the link byrneseyeview) says it all. Adolescent everywhere in the Western world express it. (Yes, more on the artificiality of adolescence in Teen 2.0 by Dr Epstein http://drrobertepstein.com/index.php?option=content&task... . I read the first version so I am not sure about this one. Newer version of books tend to be... "politically dorrect"/condescending. I hate that.)
(If my parents said to me at 12: You can't take responsibility for yourself! Do as I say! Eat my food!. I would have ran away (or become a contented and dependent fool). I am lucky they are cool.)
Not sure if that means there's more of a reason to exploit it or not, at least Sam's doing it for good =)
My experience is that when confronted with the evidence, the people behind “viral marketing campaigns" have no trouble ‘fessing up, they usually boast of it and use it to drum up more business for their “social media agencies.”
A company like Starbucks as zero incentive to lie about it and a huge disincentive. If even one employee spills the beans that it was a marketing stunt and that Starbucks is lying, their brand equity takes a huge hit.
It is difficult to “prove” things one way or another to the standards of science or law, but I’m personally satisfied that it was not a marketing stunt.
I suppose there’s room for conflicting views over how much damage that might be, but I can’t see any marketing person thinking that it is worth the risk.
"Mobiquity has no professional affiliation with Starbucks."