Lin-Manuel Miranda declares war on bots

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No, don’t do that! They’re our friends, and declaring war, will only…

Oh, ticket-buying bots.

Yeah, sure, go nuts.

######On the other hand, I welcome and pledge obedience to the real robot overlords.


This makes it sound like enforcement is doing a good job of fining violators.
If that’s the case, there’s no reason to get criminal courts involved.
Just tie the fines to the profits.

ie. if a scalper is selling tickets at $1000 over face value, make the fine $2000.


This was an issue here in Canada last week.

Tickets for the Tragically Hip’s final Canadian concerts went on sale on Friday, and sold out within a minute. Minutes after that the scalpers were selling them online for $1,999 US.


This is just UberScalper disrupting the calcified ticket monopolies.


But the bots are just doing a form of ticket arbitrage with high frequency trading applied to show ticket arbitrage to give consumers fair market prices. They add a form of liquidity and lower volatility to the market. Do we really want to stop the invisible hand by adding burdensome regulations merely because some people have to bear the fair price the market will bear? That sounds like Socialism. Liberty sides with the robots.


So only sell the tickets over the phone.

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Lin’s already been trying his best to battle the scalpers through Ham4Ham (raffling off the first row seats at $10/seat) and having special programs to allow inner city students to see the show for free. I applaud anything he can do to encourage laws to combat it; displaying the markup price on the ticket would be an important step in the right direction. Because of the ways ticket brokers operate and the way Ticketmaster refuses to alert buyers when they’re being shuffled off to a broker rather than Ticketmaster proper, many people have no idea they’re buying scalped/botted/brokered tickets.


Out of curiosity, does anyone know what the transaction fees involved in a scheme like the one below would amount to? It seems like a logical plan; but I don’t know what the transaction costs are, and those seem most likely to doom it, if it is in fact unreasonable.

Instead of the ‘lottery’ being the mad dash against the overloaded servers to buy tickets, have a suitably leisurely period(hours to days depending on popularity and preference) during which people can purchase what are effectively lottery tickets, each one unique with the available tickets matched randomly to the pre-purchased ‘lottery’ tickets after the sale period. Depending on transaction costs and your desire to keep out the casual, you could make reservations free, at a nominal cost designed to defray expenses, or full price of tickets, refunded if you don’t win.

This obviously wouldn’t stop all bots; if the delta between sticker price and resale price is high enough getting an actual human with a legitimate credit card to put in an entry on your behalf becomes easily viable, as do various methods of spoofing the existence of more buyers than you would usually appear to be; but it makes it slightly more difficult and reduces the crunch-time factor.

Would this work? All those small transactions or refunded large transactions too expensive?


First of all, I hate doing this with celebrities, but everything about Lin-Manuel Miranda leads me to believe he is a real mensch and I would probably squee like a schoolgirl if I met him.

I desperately wish I could see Hamilton, but a trip to NYC and the ticket are astronomically out of my price-range. I’m actively avoiding any of the music because what I’ve heard so far is so good, and I want to hear it in context.

I’m glad to see that LMM is trying to make it so even poor schlubs like me can see it.


At that point it becomes just that; a lottery. The business model being to make money off each lottery ticket sold, not each real-life theatre ticket. Making the bulk of the money off the lottery losers, not the few winners.

How about using a version of “capcha” to weed or at least slow down the bots? Or make them non-transferable as some systems have done. Either way, they should also harvest the 1%ers cash by auctioning a small portion of the tickets the day before the show, for the people who want to spend $2k on the spur of the moment.

At that point, you need to authenticate at the gate, either by checking the name or the credit card against a piece of ID.

It’s not impossible, but it adds more complexity and more delays to the process of getting people in the doors.

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The slight costs of checking ids at the door are much lower than the costs of scalping.


I think this is one of those “better the plebs pay $400, than we pay a nickel” situations.


I’d been avoiding it for exactly the same reason, but ended up listening to the cast recording in its entirely, and it’s terrific. Since nearly the whole musical is sung-through, the cast album is virtually the entire show, so while you’re missing the visuals, it’s still a good way to experience it. That said, I’m hoping the tour comes to my area.


There are three currencies in play here: $, inconvenience, and uncertainty. The market will make you pay in some combination of these.

The Econ 101 response is “raise the $ price until scalping is no longer worthwhile”. That has the benefit that the $ goes to the showmakers not the scalpers. I gather that LMM wouldn’t like that solution because it’s guaranteed to price many people out entirely.

His solution would be to let people pay with inconvenience (having to sit at the computer until the right moment), and his complaint is that the bots are not inconvenienced, so have ruined that market. One could fix that by having a block of tickets sold at a box office (again at a prespecified time), rather than on-line. Personally, I think his suggested solution (prosecute harder so we can restore one particular “old way” that tickets were sold) is moronic and shows a distinct lack of imagination. If the current system is too easily subverted, then change it!

The other standard way to let $-poor people see the show is to charge them in uncertainty: have a lottery. There already is one for Hamilton:


Just make people put names on the tickets.

You put in your name when you buy, the ticket has your name on it and may not be used by anyone else. Nameless tickets will also be sold, but not at the beginning, maybe only after a week or so. Maybe you also hold a limited set of tickets aside for “nameless” purchases a week after ticket sales open.

You don’t need laws for this, just a smarter way of selling tickets.

I remember RENT had a deal where some front-row seats were sold for $10 at the box office 30 minutes before the show, so poor people might have a chance to see it if they wanted to/could camp-out in line beforehand.

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Yeah, because the last thing we want is angry, disaffected bots off the street and sitting in a theater appreciating human culture. Let’s get them back out onto the streets, staring menacingly at traffic where they belong!