August 15th, 2004

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Why Multi-Level-Marketing Schemes Can't Work

After much agony and discovering exactly why you can't interrupt() threads in an Applet, I present to you

The MLMulator, an applet that numerically models a queue-style multi-level-marketing scam, such as (to which the default settings have been tweaked). This is the sort where you pay your money (or sell your e-mail address to spammers) and wait in line. Once the money accumulates to a certain level, the first person in line gets the whatever. But that requires many more people to join the line to get bonuses to everybody who joined the line to get that person's item...

Well, you wind up running out of people. The MLMulator will frequently tell you that you'll never get your iPod, or whatever, because the Earth's population simply isn't large enough... It uses an Euler approximation to a logistic growth model, to emulate how you may start telling people already waiting for their prizes. It makes a lot of assumptions in favor of the scheme- and look at the numbers that come out...

So in conclusion: If any of y'all see someone asking about, please point them to the MLMulator. Its default settings are a very polite estimate to their situation- and the default number of people in line is definitely low. But tacking on a zero seems to make the program say that it'll never happen...imagine that.

Full description, applet, information, and source code availible at
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