A question, or really a related set of questions, has been bugging me for going on 2 years now: How to avoid the free rider problem? What are the incentives for individuals to participate in and contribute to an open project? (e.g., an open source development project, or a digital reference consortium — that is, a project for which expertise is required but not rewarded, in that participants receive no financial compensation.) How to motivate people with expertise to participate?

I heard this story on NPR a few days ago: Futures Market to Predict the Next Flu Pandemic

Apparently the University of Iowa B School is running the Iowa Health Prediction Market, which is just one of the Iowa Electronic Markets, which include Political Markets and demo “Classroom Markets.” The participants in the flu market are health care workers: exactly the sort of professionals that are needed for their expertise but who I would think, being busy people, have the least incentive to participate in this sort of thing. So how does Iowa get them to participate? Again, there is no financial compensation here: some of the IEMs trade in real money, though not the health markets, due to “legal constraints and the ethical environment surrounding health related issues.” As far as I can tell it’s just whoever is interested. There is a flu market for North Carolina; I wonder if anyone I know is participating? Further research is required.