Some quick thoughts:
There is no way to say that I think the problem is not big/neglected/solvable. Hence ratings provide little information. It could be that only 1 in 10 people think that a problem is solvable, but if enough people think about voting on the cause, it will have a higher solvability rating than a problem that is in a less prominent place within the website. And if you sort problems by “most attention required”, then problems that received most votes initially will continue receiving more votes. Instead of a checkbox, I would put a slider so we could vote how solvable a problem is.
People who know very little about problems can vote, and their votes will weight the same as people who know a lot about arguments for and against the issue. If someone mentions the website in some animal discussion group, you might get many people voting favourably for animal causes and skew the results. Hence, as it is, it’s currently more of a popularity contest rather than something that could be helpful prioritise. And the EA survey might be better for gauging popularity of various causes.
Scale-neglectedness-solvability framework needs to be applied with care and not all the readers will do that. Maybe a different phrasing of questions would help. E.g. instead of “think this is a solvable problem” you could have something like “if we doubled the resources dedicated to solving this problem, what fraction of the problem would we expect to solve?” (taken from here). Also, it’s unclear whether this is the best framework for prioritizing causes, it’s been criticised. And we already have ratings for scale-neglectedness-tractability at the 80,000 hours website, I’m not sure this will give more accurate ratings.
I like how the website looks, how it’s organized, and how fast it is though. I think that it could be a good idea to have a website for cause prioritization discussions. Although I think there would be a big chance that it wouldn’t become popular, even if you do it well. One way to make such website that I imagine could maybe be useful is if you could post various arguments for and against a cause area, and other people could upvote/downvote/comment on these arguments, or propose different ways to phrase them. I remember that a couple of years ago some Scandinavian EA wanted to make a platform that was similar to this but I can’t find it now.
Also, in case you didn’t know, there are two wikis about cause prioritisation: http://priority.wiki/ and https://causeprioritization.org/ Maybe information in them could be used in some way.
Thanks so much for your thoughtful feedback—I really appreciate it.
A few responses:
Don’t you think there will be at least some people who view certain problems as not big, neglected, and/or solvable? I was thinking it’d be interesting to see which problems received the most “votes” across each of these 3 dimensions
I definitely agree with your concern that problems that receive the most votes initially may continue to receive more votes. Would your suggestion for addressing this be to remove the ability to sort by “most attention required,” or do you have any other ideas?
I thought about doing a slider but felt a checkbox required less thinking/effort, and I thought that on aggregate there was still value in seeing which problems were “checked” off the most
To your point about the weighting of votes based on people’s backgrounds, doesn’t this come down to the pros and cons of a democratic voting system?
I completely agree with you that the phrasing of the statements needs to be used with care. My thinking though was that a statement like “think this is a solvable problem” would be easier to understand and therefore more likely to get a response than a statement like “if we doubled the resources dedicated to solving this problem, what fraction of the problem would we expect to solve?”. Thoughts?
If you happen to find the Scandinavian EA, would you mind connecting me with them please?
Finally, thanks for those two wiki links—they were very useful!