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persis comments on Announcing the 2017 donor lottery - Effective Altruism Forum

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Comment author: persis 22 December 2017 02:37:51AM *  0 points [-]

I think the words 'write-up of their research and reasoning' in the OP imply something much more substantial.

Yes, you're right. I was thinking of a more detailed and substantial post on why the winner selected their charity / charities. Although it wouldn't have to be onerous, I expect one or two paragraphs with accomanying links to research would be good enough.

In either case, I agree that it'd be bad for this to feel like a cost that stopped people entering, so I'm endorsing your phrasing, and I'll edit my previous message to point this out.

While I agree that deterring people from entering because of social pressure is not a good outcome, I'm not entirely sure I agree that the conclusion is that there's no expectation for the winner to share their reasoning. I place more value on the upsides of transparency than the potential downside of feeling social pressure, and I wonder if there isn't another way to alleviate the social pressure while still maintaining something like a "low bar" expectation for the winner to share their findings.

For example, CEA could share the winner's reasoning anonymously.

Comment author: Paul_Christiano 22 December 2017 04:58:47AM *  2 points [-]

What are the biggest upsides of transparency?

The actual value of the information produced seems modest.

Comment author: persis 24 December 2017 10:06:26AM 0 points [-]

What are the biggest upsides of transparency?

Two specific upsides that come to mind:

  1. If the winner chooses to use the opportunity to research a novel or speculative cause area, intervention or charity which they might not otherwise have thought worth their time. I could see a lot of learning value in this.

  2. If the winner's incentive to enter the lottery is purely because it's a lottery and with a large enough contribution to the pool they like their odds at being able to influence more money towards their preferred charity. This would be contrary to the expected reason for entering i.e. to research impactful donation opportunities. I'm not sure if this is likely to happen, or if it even matters if some participants are incentivised to behave like this, but I'd be curious to learn if it happened.

A generic upside to transparency is just general learning value from research, which I agree might be modest. Although that also depends on variables like: how thorough the winner's research is, whether they rely on popular findings in EA or branch out, how informed the readers are, etc.