Our Government Has Somehow Managed To Suggest An Even Worse Name For The Sharing Economy

Image courtesy of afagen

If you want to bash your head against the closest rock whenever you hear that a new service wants to be the “Uber of [fill in the industry],” you are not alone. Both the industry and the general public have struggled to come up with names for the new model of sharing cars, homes, etc.: there’s the sharing economy, the gig economy, and now, the government has its own idea for a term that might be worse than all the rest.

No one seems to be able to agree on an acceptable name for the industry, but heck, have we been trying, as Quartz points out: along with the gig economy and the sharing economy, there’s the platform economy; the on-demand economy; the peer economy; the Uber economy; the networked economy; the bottom-up economy; the collaborative economy; and the new digital economy.

Into that pot of boiling “meh” comes the U.S. Department of Commerce’s nominee, “digital matching firms.” Is this some kind of weird government dating service?

No, according to a recent paper [PDF] the department released this month, it’s companies that have certain “defining characteristics,” including: companies who use information technology systems available on things like mobile apps to “facilitate peer-to-peer transactions”; firms that rely on user-based rating systems for quality control; and businesses where workers use their own tools most times to provide a service, and have flexibility in deciding their typical working hours.

Some exceptions include companies that aren’t digital matching firms, but are still “sharing firms.” Which sounds confusing, but means companies with online classifieds like Craigslist. Those services do match consumers with goods and service providers, but don’t have rating systems and don’t process transactions on their own through a digital platform.

In an effort to navigate these murky waters and land on a style for Consumerist to use going forward, we thought we’d ask our readers to weigh in.*

*We won’t necessarily abide by this unless we want to.

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