mauler's Occasional Report on Everything2 Wealth Distribution and the GP System

Seven years ago, at the height of the "Occupy Wall Street" movement, I ran some numbers comparing wealth inequality on Everything2 (as measured in GP), with wealth inequality in the United States (you can find the original writeup here).

A few years later, I ran the numbers again to see what, if anything, had changed (you can find that writeup here).

Now, since it is has been just about exactly 10 years since the GP system was first introduced, let's check in and see where things stand today, and how the GP wealth distribution on E2 has or hasn't changed.

As of this writing, there are 1489 E2 users in possession of at least 1 GP, up from 1380 in 2014, and 1159 in 2011. Of these 1489 users, 142, or just shy of 10 percent, have 1 GP and 1 GP only, and 751 users--the bottom 50%--each have 13 GP or less.

Meanwhile, the richest 1% of users today--a total of just 15 Everything2 users--control an incredible 543,066 GP between them, or an average of 36,204 GP each.

With 1,188,335 total GP in circulation as of this writing, this means that the richest 1% of Everything2 users control nearly 46% of all the wealth on E2. This wealth distribution is very similar to the richest 1% in the United States owning about 40% of all of the wealth.

However unlike the real world, which has trust-fund babies like Paris Hilton and vast differences in compensation based on profession, as exemplified by the monstrous annual bonuses "earned" by Wall Street executives, most wealth on E2 is gained through actual effort and hard work and is gained at the same rate of compensation by all. For the most part, the richest E2 users gained their wealth through massive amounts of voting on writeups, which is generally the surest and fastest method to gain GP on E2. Although there are a few shortcuts to GP wealth, such as blessings from administrators, even these GP grants are almost always awarded for feats of meritorious service open to all users, such as participating in E2 Quests.

Compared to the last time we ran these numbers four years ago, the GP system on E2 seems remarkably stable. The size of the pie has gotten slightly larger, with 250,477 more GP in circulation (a 21% increase), but there are also 109 additional users with at least 1 GP (an increase of 7%). This is down from a 19% increase in users with at least 1 GP in the three year period from November 2011 to November 2014, so user growth has clearly continued to decelerate.

Whereas GP wealth inequality on E2 plunged in the initial three-year period from the introduction of GP in November 2008 to November 2011, with the wealth of the richest 1% decreasing from around 80% to around 45%, E2's wealth distribution has remained remarkably stable since then; the richest 1% held 44% of all GP in November 2011, 45% of all GP in November 2014, and they hold 46% today. The (extremely) slight increase over time since 2011 reflects the fact that our richest noders are also among our most active noders, and therefore gain GP slightly faster than others.

Even with the size of the 1% increasing slightly from 14 to 15 noders, the average net worth of each member of the 1% increased by 6,083 GP, up from 30,121 GP four years ago - again, these are some of are most active users!

Overall the average net worth of all noders with at least 1 GP increased slightly, from 680 to 798 GP, suggesting an annual inflation rate of around 4%. When we ran these numbers four years ago, the inflation rate for the previous three-year period was just 0.5%, which suggests either that that today's noders are more active than before, that they are spending slightly less GP than they used to, that the awards for quests and contests may be higher in recent years compared to in the past, or some combination thereof.

Nevertheless, a 4% annual rate of GP inflation does not seem especially high, especially compared to the absurd levels of XP inflation the GP system was originally created to fix, so on the whole the GP system seems to still be functioning quite smoothly, as it heads into its 11th year of existence.