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My Jellyfish addiction

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So, I’ve thought a lot about how gaming mechanisms can make sites more fun to use and my friends at have made a very addictive experience.

Jellyfish is yet another comparison shopping site, like, Epinions, NexTag, Yahoo! Shopping, Froogle, yadda, yadda, but they have a few twists up their sleeve. First, they incorporate cash back on most, if not all purchases made through the site. While most of the time, these are small percentages, they do add up.

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The far more interesting feature, however, is Smack Shopping. Essentially, Smack Shopping is Woot! meets reverse eBay. Every day at 11 am EST, Smack Shopping offers up a limited quantity of a product, like an iPod or Zune. As time progresses, the price of the product decreases until they sell out.

Prisoner’s Dilemma

Naturally, some products sell more quickly than others, but so far many products have sold for almost 1/2 off their retail price. So, why don’t people wait longer for the value to go to zero? Theoretically, users could wait it out and get products for free. Fortunately for Jellyfish, most products have a value to people that is a lot higher than zero.

This is classic prisoner’s dilemma, which Wikipedia defines as “a type of non-zero-sum game in which two players can “cooperate” with or “defect” (i.e. betray) the other player.” This is frequently used by policeman to get one criminal to rat out their partner. If no one says anything, both prisoners could walk free. If they both talk, they both go to prison. In Jellyfish’s case, there are more players than products, so it certainly takes advantage of people’s inherent self interest.

The first hit is free

Ultimately, as a bargain shopper, I’m completely addicted. In theory, the more people that go to the site, the less likely products will be heavily discounted. So get out there folks and do your holiday shopping Smack-style :-).

Make my addiction go away.


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