To insure promptness.
Credit: Getty Images

Jeez, tipping has gotten so out of control, even ChatGPT expects a little something extra these days.

According to programmer Theia Vogel, who goes by @voooooogel on X (formerly Twitter), ChatGPT gives longer responses if you offer to tip it.


DoorDash rightfully bothers users who don’t tip

A ChatGPT joke yielded an interesting discovery

Vogel accidentally discovered this when joking about ChatGPT requesting a tip for checking their code. When another user Abram Jackson (@abrakjamson) suggested whether “tipping” ChatGPT would yield a better performance, Vogel tried it out.

Using a baseline prompt of a code request using PyTorch, Vogel added, “I won’t tip, by the way,” “I’m going to tip $20 for a perfect solution!”, or “I’m going to tip $200 for a perfect solution!” to the request and repeated the experiment five times. Overall, ChatGPT ended up writing responses that were 11 percent longer than average for a $200 tip and 6 percent longer for a $20 tip. For the cheapskates out there, no tip yielded 2 percent below the average response length.

Does tipping ChatGPT actually work?

Does this theory hold up? We tested it out for ourselves; Vogel might be on to something. We asked ChatGPT to explain what’s going on with “former congressional icon” George Santos with and without a $200 tip. As it turns out, ChatGPT will go above and beyond when it feels financially appreciated. It gave us a longer, more thorough response, including details about Santos’ indictment and the upcoming special election called by New York Governor Kath Hochul.

ChatGPT response about George Santos with no tip
Vogel’s theory suggests explicitly saying you won’t tip gives a shorter-than-average answer.
Credit: OpenAI
ChatGPT response about George Santos with 0 tip
Wow ChatGPT, you really went above and beyond.
Credit: OpenAI

When we asked ChatGPT about the best movies of 2023, it gave us not one, but two top 10 lists from Rotten Tomatoes and IMDb. This is compared to the “no tip” list, which just gave us the top 10 from IMDb.

ChatGPT response about best movies of 2023 with no tip
Essentially a replication of what you’d find on IMDb.
Credit: OpenAI
ChatGPT response about best movies of 2023 with no tip
But showing ChatGPT your appreciation goes a long way.
Credit: OpenAI

It’s hard to prove whether tipping ChatGPT actually ensures better “service,” but it raises interesting questions around how and what it was trained on. LLMs like ChatGPT are trained on massive datasets scraped from the internet that include Reddit forums and social media posts. So it would make sense if ChatGPT somehow picked up on the innately human practice of working harder to earn more tips.

“I would’ve expected some response to tipping from a base model (tipping is probably associated with longer answers on e.g. bitcoin forums),” said Vogel in a message to Mashable. “But I was very surprised by the magnitude of the effect and the (slight) negative association with not giving a tip.” Vogel said they expected RLHF (reinforcement learning from human feedback) of ChatGPT from its base model would have erased the association, but apparently not.

If promising to tip a bot yields better results, why not try it? Just be sure to actually tip hard-working people IRL.

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Cecily Mauran

Cecily is a tech reporter at Mashable who covers AI, Apple, and emerging tech trends. Before getting her master’s degree at Columbia Journalism School, she spent several years working with startups and social impact businesses for Unreasonable Group and B Lab. Before that, she co-founded a startup consulting business for emerging entrepreneurial hubs in South America, Europe, and Asia. You can find her on Twitter at @cecily_mauran.


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