Ever since being invited by the Commons Strategy Group to attend the Economics of the Commons conference in Berlin in 2013, I have been contemplating how the commons as a message and practice can be developed and extended. How can we encourage collective action and a ‘commons movement’ to better govern shared resources for the benefit of all? How can we exploit the power of the internet and online games in contributing to a ‘commons movement’?

The basic idea of the commons game is the development of a social process that rewards individuals for completing a “commoning act”, as defined by the collective group. Individuals are rewarded for their actions through the allocation of credits. Participants can use these credits within a ‘commons’ marketplace to access and offer services and goods with other commoners.

Potential Software/Platforms:

I have found two systems that, in combination, may provide the required functionality for the proposed game.

1)    Co-budget:

Co-budget is a good system for deciding on commoning acts through a democratic process as it allows users to suggest and decide on the commoning acts that will be funded.

Thus, Co-budget solves the problem of how to decide and reward commoning acts in the commons game system.

2)  Neeboz:

Neeboz is an online marketplace that encourages the sharing of skills and resources within local neighbourhoods through the allocation of credits for trade.

As a marketplace, it rewards users for offering and exchanging skills/services/resources in their neighbourhood by providing credits (which they can then use to access the resources of their neighbourhood). This credit system ensures that people can hold the value of a service or offer they provided in credits, and use these to elicit a service from a third person.

Neeboz tracks the credits and all other marketplace activity so that it may be gamified.


Co-budget and Neeboz would be used to run a small-scale test of the Commons Game. This is how it could work:

•    Develop a crowd fund campaign, asking for $10 to play the game. (the game is time limited and would go for 6-10 weeks)

•    Start with a modest target of 100-250 players. We could scale it up later once we became more confident the system works well. We would likely start with Melbourne to do a small scale test, then Australia wide to reach bigger numbers.

•    If the game were funded, the money would go into social media, administration, and gaming support.

•    Each of the game players would be allocated a set number of Co-budget credit. (to know about how co-budget works, see this video).

•    Players would use the Co-budget system to propose and vote on commoning acts.

•    Players would fund any of the commoning acts they want to.

•    Once a commoning act is funded, the proposer would carry out the commoning act, and would be rewarded with the credits they wanted for that act. (for example if they promised to clean up the local creek for 50 credits – if and when the act was funded, then they would get that credit as soon as the creek was cleaned / they provide a short video or photos of their commoning act).

•    That credit would then be available to use on the trading platform Neeboz.

•    Players would use the Neeboz platform to trade and exchange skills/resources, and receive bonus points for various categories (eg. most diverse trading / highest quantity of trading, etc).

•    People could use their Neeboz points to put back into the Co-budget system, to fund more commoning acts. Thus, technically a player could focus on providing services on the Neeboz platform to earn credit to fund Co-budget commoning. Commoning acts are verified by a twitter or blog post by the doer with a picture or video of the act.

Jodie and I are building a team around this idea with the expectation of carrying out this experiment in 2017. Please post feedback, questions and contact me to become involved.

Have a look at this visual representation for more clarity:


Published by jramos

José Ramos is a researcher, writer and advocate for commons-based social change. He focuses on such areas as future political economy, planetary stewardship, innovations in democracy and governance, the conjunction of foresight and action research, and transformative social innovation.

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