eli5 What the people on the stock exchange floor are doing with their papers.

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I know they are buying or selling stock, but what are the papers and how does anyone keep track or hear what they are buying or selling?

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Nowadays, not much. Those papers may be notes that they are keeping. But all the actual trading nowadays happens digitally.

There used to be people on the side of the “pit” where the traders stood who were monitoring the trading. When two traders agreed to trade they’d note down the trade.

This partly worked because pits were quite hierarchical – particular traders/companies had particular places, often based on seniority. So it was easier to keep track of who’s who.