I did not before this see a reference to preshold offering a “take my money whether we hit the goal or not” option. That certainly offers more flexibility and gives patrons more control.
But as to setting the goal, there are still problems with the nature of setting arbitrary sub-goals, and crowdmatching is in part about being more flexible instead of these hard thresholds.
This is still misunderstanding. The issue is that you aren’t here only promoting the benefits of preshold, you’ve stated problems with crowdmatching. But those problems seem to be based in misunderstanding.
You were objecting to crowdmatching because of the idea of doing more as more people join goes against what seemed intuitive to you. And I’m emphasizing that this do-more aspect of crowdmatching only applies when you haven’t reached the goal. The quote above wasn’t about preshold but about your critique of crowdmatching.
- Also, they are worried about what to focus on given their own limited resources (i.e. the problems with fragmentation and lots of failing projects instead of a few successful ones).
Both crowdmatching and preshold work against fragmentation by discouraging people from putting in all they can without coordination from others. Both approaches help coordinate the resources to have a critical mass of support for some projects so that at least some succeed.
This does seem closer to the core distinction here. I agree that I’m focusing on infinite projects when it comes to crowdmatching, but I disagree with much of your characterizations.
An infinite project may never be completely done, checked off, but it still has real results and can do more or less. There’s just as much of a freerider dilemma with infinite projects because freeriders get 100% of whatever results are available from infinite public goods projects. Yes, unilateral contributors also get some value back from their donations, since they give the project more resources, but their return on that investment is less than the infinite return of a freerider and also less than the return they’d get if their donations are matched or if they are part of a mutual-assurance threshold situation.
Finally, infinite or not, cost estimates are often just guesses. Projects in general go notoriously over-budget, but if you start out by asking for a huge buffer to cover that possibility, it looks bad, wasteful, and is more likely to not get supported. Better to work transparently, state goals for budgets etc. but not have some hard threshold. Patrons can decide month-by-month if a project is being effective or not with the funding they have and whether they deserve continued or additional funding.
A plain tipping jar is very ineffective at converting more freeriders into patrons. Matched donations make a real difference, as shown by a long history of matching pledges in one-off campaigns and in things like employer-matched donations to charities. The plain tipping jar without mutual assurance has been clearly shown to be typically pathetic.
Crowdmatching really does addresses point 1: you won’t be the only or among the few doing “all you can”. You will either be among the few doing little more than minor tipping that costs you very little or you will be part of a larger group doing more.
Neither crowdmatching nor preshold fully address point 2. As long as something is public goods, freeriding is possible. In crowdmatching, people could just not pledge and take whatever results others achieve (little or a lot). In preshold, people could not just not pledge and hope that others hit the threshold without them or reasonably conclude that if the preshold goal fails without them, it was likely to fail regardless (their one minor pledge wouldn’t have made the difference).
That latter point is the same as not voting in an election. Your one vote is almost guaranteed to have no impact on the outcome.
So, accepting that fully addressing freeriding is impossible with public goods:
Crowdmatching offers hesitant patrons the opportunity to get matched and a better ROI… since there isn’t a hard threshold, their matched input really will mean some extra resources for the project and thus really mean more return, and it’s the infinite nature of the project that makes this work. They can’t say, “it’ll just get there without me” because with them it will get further, regardless of how far it would get without them.
Preshold offers hesitant patrons some mutual assurance and threatens them with the idea of getting nothing at all when the project fails, so there’s at least some increase in the chance of getting a result by participating, even though that’s weighed against the chance of success while still freeriding.
I think you may be missing the holistic aspects of the platform we’re building around crowdmatching.
There’s NO risk of giving too much because we can and will adapt the platform by the time any project is even in sight of the idea of “too much”. We won’t even accept for crowdmatching projects that actually only need a modest amount and no more — they aren’t even our focus. They do exist, and preshold is a good model for them. But unless/until we add preshold, we won’t* allow such minor, finite projects. We won’t even give patrons the opportunity to be scared about giving too much.
Besides everything else, if a project doesn’t seem to deserve all its getting, patrons can and should drop their pledge. That accountability is part of why sustaining patronage is superior to one-off campaigns.
Giving too little? Besides the fact that you can still donate outside of Snowdrift.coop, this concern is more real. The point is that we’re emphasizing that the way to give more is to recruit more patrons. But this is the biggest tension point for crowdmatching and while it involves some risk, it doesn’t come with the threshold risk of being marked a “failure” because an arbitrary sub-goal threshold wasn’t reached. Crowdmatching is thus a lot safer for projects who have that reasonable fear of running threshold campaigns.
To some extent, we’re asking skeptics like you to let the system get launched, consider participating, give it real world experience and see if the giving-too-little really can’t be addressed by just giving the right set of options to projects and patrons to find the balance that works. Our current pledge options are just a place to start.
Besides options like differing pledge levels or projects setting different base pledge amounts, we can offer projects a sort of threshold where crowdmatching doesn’t kick in until it’s a certain level. There’s a lot of room for adaptation of crowdmatching without losing the core concept. But maybe it won’t even be needed because the basic concept will work fine once we promote it and bring on some projects, which is our immediate focus (aside from necessary steps for a working platform, governance etc).
This is well-put enough but too strong. Tweak the snowdrift dilemma from the one-off to iterative. Then accept it as fuzzy. It’s not all-clear or nothing, it ranges from partly-cleared enough to struggle through to mostly-cleared-for-now etc. and can be stretched to think about the idea of generally maintaining a usable road etc. The core ideas of the dilemma remain throughout stretching the game that way. And all those stretches move the game closer to reality with its real-world infinities and fuzziness.
To say “don’t have anything to do” is simply not right. It’s very much to do with the dilemma, just not in a strict, original simple game form.
I’ll reiterate the general welcome for perspectives from anyone else as obsessive as we are (not because I want that quality but because I assume only such people will read through this massive topic! )
Thanks @sandra.snan for the in-depth and thoughtful exchange