The Virtual Commons is an open software initiative hosted at Arizona State University. We develop real-time dynamic experiments to analyze and better understand collective action issues. For example, sharing common resources has been a challenge for human societies for millennia. In many circumstances, the ability to create effective institutional arrangements has helped to avoid the tragedy of the commons. Controlled experiments are an important instrument for increasing our understanding of how people organize themselves in cooperative arrangements.

Participate in ASU research

If you are at least 18 years old and an undergraduate student currently enrolled at ASU you can sign up to the participant database that we use for randomly selecting participants.

Typical experiments involve making decisions on a computer or on paper or answering survey questions. Experiments take about an hour to complete and may be conducted online or at the Elinor Ostrom Multi-Methods Laboratory in Cowden Hall, Room 124. Your participation in these experiments is entirely voluntary. For participating in these studies, you will typically receive $5 for showing up, and an additional amount which can vary between $5 to $40 depending on your decisions during the experiment.

You can sign up by visiting https://vcweb.asu.edu/cas/login, signing in with your ASURITE ID, and then filling out a brief questionnaire. When experiment sessions are available, randomly selected groups of individuals in our participant database will receive email invitations informing them of the upcoming sessions and with additional instructions on how to sign up and participate in a specific experiment session.

If you have any other questions, please see our FAQ or feel free to contact us. Thanks for your interest!

Current development

We test our software against up-to-date versions of Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox and Safari. if you encounter any problems please make sure you are using a recent release of one of these browsers, and feel free to file a bug report or contact us if you encounter any issues. Up-to-date development news and documentation can be found at our GitHub repository.


The project is funded by the National Science Foundation (BCS 0625354, SES 0748632, IIS 1210856) and Arizona State University and is affiliated with the Center for Behavior, Institutions, and the Environment.

Open source and education licenses have been generously provided by Jetbrains PyCharm, the YourKit Java profiler, Atlassian Bitbucket, and GitHub.