People have ideas. Some are good. Some are bad. It is difficult to keep up with them, it is difficult to filter them and discover things. It is difficult to follow idea updates. It is difficult to describe ideas. It is difficult to get feedback on ideas. 

Many ideas are never shared, or are shared to few people and forgotten even though they have potential to be further developed and grow. Also people have similar ideas but are not aware of each other projects. Ideas can be merged together, shaped and changed for the better. Teams can form. I propose to build a directory of project ideas to address these and other issues.

I am scouting interest and critique for this idea. I can build a prototype for it, but it needs feedback beforehand. If you are interest to critique or get involved a bit, please contact me.

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Hey,

This (meta idea :) ) comes up sometimes, my simplistic answer is that I think it solves a problem that doesn't really exist, or if it does, then I personally don't understand it.

User Interviews / Product Market Fit

My "challenge" to you would be to find a real person (or 3 people, or 10) who has one of these pain points, and couldn't solve it using this forum (for example, the search bar), or by posting updates to their project or posting asking  for feedback as you are doing here (+1 for that!). And I'd ask this person "what would you search for [or otherwise do] in the new tool? Would you do that now if I told you the tool is ready?". And if they say "omg yes", that's a promising first step for product market fit.

What I wouldn't do is ask people "what will others probably want". You'll get replies about complicated filtering mechanisms, but then if you ask "would you use it yourself?", I predict you'll get "no". I encourage you to find actual potential users.

Network Effects

After you have a product idea that real people actually want to use, you have the normal problems of "why would anyone search for ideas there if no ideas exist + why would anyone post an idea there if nobody searches for ideas". I wrote a shortform about this

Join forces with others?

If you're passionate about solving this, I'd consider joining the EA Wiki and/or helping CEA develop this feature. Maybe the thing missing is a "project" tag? I don't know. I think there is a big advantage in collaborating with a project that has a critical mass of users, especially if you resonate with their team+philosophy

Or maybe don't listen to me!

Maybe I'm just slowing you down and you could open an Airtable, post about it, and see what happens

P.S - I am a potential user!

I tried going over ideas that EA CTOs could pick up and build. I ended up posting this, but I consider my search to have generally been a failure - almost no results.

I believe that the users of this idea have repeatedly popped up, e.g. the many lists of everything that people spend many hours creating (coaches, AI safety organizations, etc.). The issue seems to be that the current tools to manage these things are not adequate. For example, all of these lists are not in a universally discoverable place so it's difficult for people to find. They are either uneditable, or editable by anyone, and both setups are not helpful. If it's uneditable, the content cannot easily be kept up-to-date, and if anyone can edit it, this introduces quality issues. I am not certain if the EA Forum or EA Forum wiki feature are meant for this sort of more arbitrary, less factual content, e.g. projects and projects ideas. This in in fact one of the reasons Golden exists as a competitor to Wikipedia.

TL;DR: If you think those are your users, probably talk to them. Can you describe a version of an EA directory of ideas that they would use right now?

Maybe even be concrete, draw it on a paper (or Google Doc) and ask them what they'd click. Don't be vague, like "imagine the ideas on the list were really good", put examples. Or if you don't have any, find a user that would add examples.

My prior is that there is a version of "EA directory of ideas" that would work really well, but I'm not sure what it is, and (especially in a project that has a network effect) I wouldn't assume that "if you build it they will come"

 

Again, just my priors, totally feel free to ignore

Thanks Yonatan! Perhaps I should have made it clear in my comment, but I have already performed or am in the process of performing these steps, and am aware of this associated validation toolkit (which is one of many possible toolkits to follow when validating an idea) in my roles as an entrepreneur and product manager.

A few other examples in addition to the ones I listed are the Pineapple Operations talent directory and the EA Mental Health directory. I believe that going to publishers first, rather than users, is one way to overcome the network effects, since there is clearly demand on the publisher side, and people are consuming what known publishers are creating. Publishers are then connected with users and are aware of user concerns around information consumption. Going to the commenters reading EA lists is another way to reach users (and is also validation for the idea).

I'm a little worried that blanket statements like "This (meta idea :) ) comes up sometimes, my simplistic answer is that I think it solves a problem that doesn't really exist, or if it does, then I personally don't understand it." immediately discourage the adoption of ideas and could be unhelpful if the idea itself is useful. A similar idea with modest variations, or executed in different ways, could indeed be useful. I'm seeing promising early validation for this idea. I also think it's important to highlight that two people can try to validate the same idea and see drastically different results.

I think that it's incredibly difficult to add features like this to the EA Forum, but I do believe that working on others with this is highly valuable. I happen to be a user of this broad idea in many ways, including not having access to a shared directory of technical talent in EA to find collaborators. If you have any EA CTOs in mind for this idea, please let me know!

In terms of describing a concrete version of this idea, I have a large vision for this, but in short: it would be great to enable people and organizations to publish organized collections of information that are better structured, easy to access, and support a range of contribution systems (including voting and reputation-weighted voting to decide on adding entries). People and organizations currently use Airtable bases, Google Docs/Sheets, and the EA Forum. None of these systems are collaboratively editable, so they're poor for enabling community knowledge. They're also not great for structured knowledge (especially docs and posts) and they're not very user accessible (the broader post mentions easy filtering, for example, which could be better in published Airtable bases).

Nice!

I'm not good enough at writing to transfer this point.. I'm just sharing thoughts and priors, no need to even convince me, I don't want my comments-about-problems to become discouragement-or-something.

 

 

If you have any EA CTOs in mind for this idea, please let me know!

You can post something in the forum with "Looking for CTO" in the title, or add the "software" tag to this post, or comment here, or post in the EA Software Facebook group, or post in the software engineering subforum.

(Consider asking people to, if they don't want to join, to explain why not, if you want)

 

By the way, another project that seems a bit similar is https://alignment.dev/

I like this idea and I would put some money towards funding it if EA had crowdfunding mechanisms [put that in your list]!

A big spreadsheet would be perfectly fine as an MVP. 

I support. I think this would be helpful and would use this. (I work for Charity Entrepreneurship).

To be honest, I think that the best project in this space would simply be a newsletter. I think it could be valuable if a single person with good judgement followed a huge number of different EA channels to see what ideas people were posting and what stages various projects were in/what assistance they needed.

Of course, it would be important to check with people running a project whether they would be ready for drafts to be shared with a wider audience as I personally know that I wouldn't want my own ideas shared too widely before they were ready.

Another way of doing newsletter is:

  • That single person could be a moderator in EA directory of ideas. That person could add missing ideas on his own account to this directory.
  • System could generate newsletter automatically based on directory content.
  • You could subscribe to personalized newsletter generated just for you, based on the preferences you select.
  • You would be able to edit content on the directory to hide things.

Personally, I wouldn't want to hear every idea that someone has randomly thought up or added to the directory, but only a curated selection. So if I had to choose one I'd take curation over personalisation. But it may be possible to do both.

Hey!  I am interested in EA communication and idea rendering. At Cornell, I have been brainstorming some work in with a knowledge system called a Zettlestracken using software that visually plots / generates connections between ideas/notes. 

 

Perhaps the system I have started to design may be useful for this. Feel free to reach out to me if you're interested! I'll DM you my email! 

I've been starting to use Obsidian.md for knowledge management and am really interested in seeing how knowledge graphs (e.g. graph database platforms like Neo4j)  could be applied towards improving community coordination.

Seems like we may have similar interests! Just DM'd you.

Seems like both of you are working on similar things to what I'm working on at Cosmic and with a few other projects, will send some DMs!

@Brendon_Wong @Quinn @Coleman did anything come out from this? I would be interested in knowledge graphs for personal knowledge management as well as for KM within the EA community.

I had a great chat with Quinn who shared some excellent insights about the space! I'm continuing active work on Cosmic, although it'll probably be at least several months before the alpha is ready, and longer for community features to arrive. We're excited by lots of use cases. Since you run a directory project, one relevant use case is creating organized, interoperable, and collectively updated collections of structured community knowledge, like all of the EA orgs, projects, etc. in existence.

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