Overall, the wiki articles have not been updated in many years. The writings serve as a description and philosophical laying out of the Snowdrift.coop vision. The overall vision is still solid, but we’ve learned a lot and discussed a lot in the time since the last updates.
I have aspirations for our main, most accessible introductory material to better express core points. I’ve accepted now that the wiki articles are not directly the quick-intro but are the more thorough explanations. I still want the articles to be as concise and effective as possible with high signal-to-noise ratio.
I just published a rewrite of this page on the wiki: Snowdrift Wiki - The Snowdrift Dilemma
In conjunction, some tweaks were also done to Snowdrift Wiki - Fundraising and Social Psychology
What are the changes to the “Snowdrift Dilemma” article?
For perspective, the first versions originally talked about game theory generically and contrasted Snowdrift game vs Tragedy of the Commons vs Prisoner’s Dilemma. At the time, I was writing for an audience that I took to be somewhere between ignorant and quite into game theory but just not specifically the Snowdrift game. Unfortunately, that led to some confusion. We had suggestions for alternate mechanisms that were based on accepting completely that the Snowdrift game was the full issue, and people thought through their preferred solutions. Some people objected to simplification, imagining that we were ourselves being overly prescriptive, seeing the world through this simple game analysis.
So, the page was later revised to get away from being too academic, too rigid. It aimed to push the Snowdrift scenario closer to the projects we plan to support. It described the idea of a neighborhood, everyone wants to get through… Overall, it avoided specific numbers and strategies in an effort to avoid the confusion from reading it too strictly. But the more vague rewrite lost the simple game dynamics for people who want to just make sense of the core theory.
So, the new update I just finished is more thorough. It lays out the simple one-off, 2-player snowdrift game. It discusses the dynamics. It then goes on to discuss the various influences on changing dynamics. Comparison to Prisoner’s Dilemma remains but in a footnote. This update deals with the specifics of the game while including thorough discussion of nuances so that readers won’t rush to apply the game too strictly to scenarios that vary from the basic version.
Although there’s room for editing and improving the page still (especially adding potential layouts/charts/illustrations), it’s a good reference now. We can discuss more introductory summaries of the Snowdrift scenario in other appropriate places and link them to the wiki page for the deeper reading.
I plan to revisit other pages with similar consideration. Specifically, the economics discussion of what are public goods. That will get fleshed out with the updated ideas discussed at length in the forum topic Framing idea for introducing newcomers to concept of public goods - #22 by wolftune
Once we have a good thorough reference for the definition of public goods including the complex nuances (things can be more or less public, it’s not an absolute all-or-nothing definition), we can update the basic introductory articles to capture these core points (that we’re aiming at the basic question: “how can we cooperate to economically support work that fits with abundance and sharing rather than rivalry and exclusion?”)
The crowdmatching mechanism page and connected articles also need revision. Eventually, all of the wiki needs updating. My priority isn’t to be completist but to prioritize capturing the key language and insights that we’ve come to over the years. That will then be a grounding from which we can develop the rest of our work.
Please read the new article. I think we all get this stuff pretty well, but I want to make sure that the core team and community are all on the same page in our understanding of these key concepts which inform the project. We should all be able to discuss the snowdrift dilemma with accuracy and clarity, and wherever appropriate, link people to the wiki article. And we should all feel comfortable with the contents of the page and knowing what it says when we refer people to it.