FAQ

Update 3/9/09:

People, some of you (and you know who you are) are not “getting it” in the ideas department. If there is any line in your idea which includes the words “the government” together with “should subsidize,” then it is NOT a WhyTheHeck idea. You can post it as a comment to another idea. Like someone wants the government to go out and buy a ton of stock to raise stock values. And someone else wants the government to build a theme park in Syracuse. This is not to say those are bad ideas (I mean, maybe they are but our missions is not to judge others), just not the type of easily implemented win-win “free” idea which we are seeking.

Read the “editors choice” list or (it will be up in a day or so) the March Idea of the Month to get a sense of the style we are looking for.

Q: How Do I Post An Idea?

A: You must register for the site and use the administrative interface. Click the “Register” link toward the bottom of the menu on the righthand side. Fill out the form and then click the “Login” link also near the bottom of the menu, and use the password that was emailed to you. This will bring you to the “admin interface.” Select the “Write” tab at the upper left, and then select the “Post” sub-tab. Once you’ve saved your idea post, it will be posted on the site after review by the WhyTheHeck team. If you have any problems with this process, please contact us.

Q: What about posting comments?

That’s easy. No registration necessary. However, as of now we are no longer posting positive comments, however flattering, which do not advance the discussion either positively or negatively (finding flaws). Just for the record, we get a lot of one-line comments saying “that’s a smart idea” or something similar. It KILLS me not to post those any more but they take up space which should be used for more substantive comments.

Q: Describe the site in a paragraph

A: It is America’s Marketplace of Ideas, the eBay of Creative Problem-Solving — a communty blog where people can propose solutions to society’s problems, and where people looking for such ideas can find them. We are offering a $1-million prize for the first idea implemented as policy. America is a country of prizes — there is no field of endeavor which does not bestow prizes. For instance, there is even a prize for the person who looks most like their dog. But there has been no award for the best ideas. Until now.

Q: What qualifications do I need to post an idea?

A: A brain.

Q: Okay, what is the real agenda of this site?

A: There is none, other than what it says. This site and the prize money aren’t financed by a political organization. The site’s owners don’t have a formal agenda which they want to accomplish to further their own self-interest or their clients’ interest. The postings by the principal site owner cannot be neatly characterized as belonging to one party or the other, or to a special interest group, though having recently bought a house through a realtor, he could not be considered a champion of real estate broker rights, as one of the postings indicates. Public records will show that the principal owner has contributed roughly equally to candidates of both parties through the years.

Q: Who owns the site?

A: Al Lewis is the majority owner, prior to any investment by a third party. He is the inventor of disease management, according to Google. Widely accepted now, disease management was very much “out of the box” when Al first got involved. His website, www.dismgmt.com describes this “day job” in disease management.

Q: Where is the prize money coming from?

A: The site’s principal owner, Al Lewis, is currently financing the prize, pending recruitment of a sponsor..

Q: What kind of ideas are you looking for?

A: The first idea implemented as major policy, wins the prize (unless the prizewinner is not eligible due to affiliation with WhyTheHeck). Ideas most likely to be noticed, and maybe win, are those which make most Americans or America as a whole (or the world as a whole) better off while making very few people worse off, “expanding the pie” but doing so with a major eye towards fairness. Solutions requiring the government to spend money (they don’t need our help for that) are not likely to be implemented, nor are those which require people to act differently without giving them incentives. Those which are most likely to win are those identifying and addressing market breakdowns (such as the archaic, monopolistic and self-serving real estate sector, which exacerbates the housing crisis) or opportunities to align private and public interest (such as trying to raise the price of gasoline to cover the full costs of gasoline, without causing pain to drivers). Or creating something out of nothing. Perhaps the msot quintessentially WhyTheHeck idea is the Stimulus Gift Card. Or “Pennies from Hell’ about how to make consumers and retailers and the environment better off.

The ideas should be FOCUSED and not comprehensive like “ten points” to address something. being FOCUSED allows for greater ORIGINALITY in the focused ideas. No one is going to listen to a posting on a site with a barely prounceable name like WhyTheHeck to set overall policy. If they do, and maybe one point overlaps with your ten points, it will be hard to qualify for the award because it might have just been random chance. Where we and you add value — and where you are most likely to win an award — is in a laserbeams of logically reasoned but previously non-obvious innovations and improvements.

Q: Are we allowed to copy ideas from this website into our media?

A: Unlike with Major League Baseball where people are no doubt clamoring to review the highlights of the 2008 World Series, you do not need our Express Written Consent to reproduce, rebroadcast or otherwise use the accounts and descriptions on this website. Our licensing agreement is simple: Go ahead, copy postings as much as you like, with proper citations. If you post your idea on this site with no stricter copyright notice, that is the licensing agreement you are using. You are encouraging people to cut-and-paste your idea(s) into other media — that gets them noticed. No one will be able to take credit for your idea because it will be perfectly obvious from the date-stamp on WhyTheHeck where the idea originates. If you want a stricter copyright, post that at the bottom of your idea, but it becomes your responsibiltiy to enforce it. Otherwise, using the ideas on this site without limitation is encouraged, the only exception being that though you may copy them into other media, you agree not to repackage them and sell them.

Q: Don’t you find it hypocritical that by trademarking “America’s Marketplace of Ideas” in order to advertise that you offer a free market in ideas, no one will be able to use the phrase “America’s Marketplace of ideas” without your permisson?

A: Yes

Q: Is WhyTheHeck guaranteeing that the prize will be awarded?

A: WhyTheHeck is guaranteeing that if someone eligible for the prize wins according to these rules, the prize will be awarded. WhyTheHeck employees and relatives may win the contest but the prize is not awarded to them if they do.