Hughes, D. and Coulson, G. and Walkerdine, J. (2005) Free riding on Gnutella revisited:the bell tolls? IEEE Distributed Systems Online, 6 (6). pp. 1-18. ISSN 1541-4922
A new analysis of free riding on the Gnutella network updates data from 2000 and points to an increasing downgrade in the network's overall performance and the emergence of a "metatragedy" of the commons. Individuals who use peer-to-peer (P2P) file-sharing networks such as Gnutella face a social dilemma. They must decide whether to contribute to the common good by sharing files or maximize their personal experience by free riding, downloading files while not contributing any to the network. Individuals gain no personal benefits from uploading files (in fact, it's inconvenient), so it's "rational" for users to free ride. However, significant numbers of free riders degrade the entire system's utility, creating a "tragedy of the digital commons."
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