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Zero-Sum Systems and Member Rotation

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Nenicirene's picture

Maerlyn asks:

It was actually reviewing that page when the thought hit me, Delaw. The whole concept behind zero sum is that zero sum... but if you snag 40 people out of that listing at random and put 'em in a raid you don't get a zero sum.

Yes, points are re-distributed among the raiders present when an item drops and the bid goes through, but those not there at the time DON'T get those points re-distributed to them, and you do in fact start getting the more regular/frequent raiders accumulating more points in toto.

I still may be missing something, but it's still looking to me like a system predicated on a belief points are being re-distributed evenly, when in fact--when you actually stop to examine it--they're not (in anything outside a 40-man static raid group). I just can't see how zero sum is in any way compatible with a rotation.

The intent is not to distribute points evenly to everyone ever entered into the system, but to distribute them evenly to people based on their participation in successful effort. (The successful part is causing some issues in BWL, but that's another issue.) The reason for using a zero-sum system is to prevent inflation. Since points are redistributed between people as opposed to created by raiding and destroyed by winning loot, the average point total of all individuals in a given raid will average close to the starting amount of 1000 points.

This should ensure that your points are worth the same amount regardless of how frequently you raid. Yes, someone who raids twice as often will earn twice as many points, but will have twice as many opportunities to spend those points. The key is that the net effect point-wise of long-term combinations of earning and spending is zero. Thus, the person who raids twice as often will wind up earning twice as much loot, as it should be.

Systems that are not zero-sum tend to have inflationary or deflationary pressure over time. Specifically, in inflationary systems, the points coming in exceed the points coming out, and thus if you're not raiding at every possible opportunity, the relative spending power of the points you do earn will not keep up with the people who are raiding as much as possible. Under a deflationary system, which is quite rare in practice, different sorts of problems crop up depending on what sorts of rules are in place regarding the ability to purchase items and variation in prices, but the net effect is that newcomers and infrequent raiders tend to win more than their fair share of items. (And since most systems are designed and administered by the most frequent raiders in the group, you can see why such systems are rare.)