[ Question ]

Funding essay-prizes as part of pledged donations?

by MaxRa2 min read3rd Feb 20211 comment

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Giving What We Can
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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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. It might be a good way to incentivize more people thinking about EA-related questions.
  4. Past essay or comment contests seem to have yielded good results. Quick skim copy-pasted from an earlier comment of mine:

Why this might not be a good idea:

  1. The GWWC pledge talks specifically about donating to organisations, so this case is not covered.
  2. 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)
  3. 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?")
  4. 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.

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I think it is a worthwhile idea. However, I can say from experience that writing any such written work is usually a very difficult task, and here it is better to immediately contact the experts, rather than just wherever. For example, I have already found people who do online paraphrase and you can easily get an altered text here and pass anti-plagiarism. So I usually do so when I write, and the written work is very needed. I recommend you do the same.