What do you think about using part of the money that one pledged to donate to the most effective charities as prize money for an essay or comment contest?
Why this might be useful to do:
- One might have questions that would be particularly useful to get more clarity on and that are not worked on as part of any other giving opportunity, while oneself isn't in the best position to answer it oneself.
- Even if those questions are only valuable for ones' own altruistic ambitions, if answering it has enough potential to help you do the most good, that seems useful.
- It might be a good way to incentivize more people thinking about EA-related questions.
- Past essay or comment contests seem to have yielded good results. Quick skim copy-pasted from an earlier comment of mine:
- Call for: Essay on "How to evaluate small-scale giving opportunities", prize: 300$, result: no entries in time (two commenters signalling interest)
- Call for: Arguments/comments for or against donating to the EA Hotel, prize: 100$, result: 35 comments, looks good
- Call for: Arguments/comments if psychedelics are a potential EA cause area, prize: 400$, 200$, 100$, result: 114 comments, looks good
- Call for: "Spaced Repetition literature review" on LW, prize: 385$, result: 2 reviews, Gwern won (and the prize seemingly motivating him to write it)
- Call for: Essay Contest: Cryonics and Effective Altruism on LW, prize: 1BTC (then 350$), result: 5 essays, all rated positively
Why this might not be a good idea:
- The GWWC pledge talks specifically about donating to organisations, so this case is not covered.
- One might ask irrelevant questions and wastfully direct the attention of EA community members.
- (but of course nobody is forced to participate + people can leave comments about how useful they believe the question to be)
- It might be easy to fool oneself into thinking that answers to one's questions are the best use of money.
- (though I imagine that there could be some easy steps that help avoiding this; e.g. "Try to talk to at least two knowledgable people if your question makes sense" or "What could you learn that would cause you to act differently in the future?")
- If one is willing to spend one's money on this, one maybe should also be willing to spend a couple of days thinking about the question oneself and writing it up and potentially get feedback, which is relatively easier for others to give.