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Google's Tip Jar Uses Crowdsourcing to Help People Save Money

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Google is using its Google Moderator product to help people share ideas on how to save money in recessionary times. Moderator is a tool that helps groups determine which questions should be asked at all-hands meetings, conferences, and online Q&A sessions, among other scenarios. Google has set up a site called Tip Jar, which is powered by Moderator, to gathers money-saving tips in one place and allow visitors to vote and rank them in order of usefulness. The most popular tips will rise to the top of the list. And users can submit tips to the lists as well.

Google’s Tip Jar breaks down tips by categories, which include finance, shopping, food, vacation, family and others. A sample of some of the more popular tips include:

  • “Go to the grocery store with your belly full. You won’t buy too many things because you just ain’t hungry.”
  • “Utilize online bill pay with your bank. It keeps you in much closer contact with your money, as you can keep a very close eye on your balance and be in much less danger of overdrafting. It saves you money on stamps and paper checks.”
  • “Buy a flask and carry your coffee/tea to work with you. Coffee and tea only costs pennies to make yourself, but costs $1 or more elsewhere.”
  • “Eat out one fewer time each month. If it costs you $25 to eat out, but only $5 to eat in, then the $20 you save each month allows you to almost completely fund a $500 emergency savings account.”

Although Google designed the site to provide tips about saving money, there are many users who are making suggestions on other subjects, such as how to be more environmentally-friendly in everyday tasks. Those tips could easily be an entire separate site, so there is definite potential to create Tip Jars for popular and trendy topics.

Tip Jar is a good example of the power of Moderator. Google Moderator is a fairly useful tool to engage a crowd, whether it be within an organization or across the entire web. Google Moderator even caught the eye of the Obama Administration, which recently used Moderator to power part of its Open Government initiative on Change.gov. Moderator was built by Google Platform Engineer Taliver Heath as a side project on top of  Google’s App Engine.

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