The Button

I'm currently intrigued by the button, a social experiment launched by Reddit a few weeks ago.

If you haven't heard of it, the button is attached to a timer counting down from 60 seconds. Each Reddit user may press the button only once, after which the timer resets to 60 seconds.. After pressing the button, the user will receive a coloured flair badge showing the value of the timer when they pressed the button. Simple. 

There is more information on the announcement post or in this Washington Post article

It strikes me as a very interesting experiment in a number of ways. Firstly, it's sort of a variant of the prisoners' dilemma that everyone can play at home. I would like to see what happens when the timer gets to zero but the scarcity of the profile flair means that one of the many reddit users out there will press the button.

Also, the flair has no value other than it's scarcity, yet there is still a desire for the rarer types of flair. There are a significant number of people who have stopped the timer at 59 or 60 seconds but that could just be because of internet latency. There are currently very users who have waited longer than 30 seconds to press the button. 

Finally, as there become fewer and fewer non-pressers, it will become more and more common to receive rarer colours. Even today, 15 days since the launch, I'm seeing the timer below 50 seconds way more often than just a couple of days ago.

As it says on the Reddit page: "We can’t tell you what to do from here on out. The choice is yours." The concept is brilliant in its simplicity.

Full disclosure: I do have a reddit account but don't use it often. I haven't pressed the button. Yet.