It's been a couple days since the funding plea, so I thought I'd like to take this chance to compare self-reported donations to short-term karma gains. Naturally, I voted on none of these comments. Note that after posting this, the karma on these posts will almost definitely change; the values here are for 27/8/11 at around 9:00 GMT.
So, the data:
- Kaj_Sotala ~172USD, 5 karma
- Rain 12000USD, 25 karma
- Nisan 100USD, 16 karma
- pengvado 10000USD, 36 karma
- JGWeissman 2000USD, 24 karma
- Benquo 1000USD, 18 karma
- AlexMennen 285USD, 7 karma; and 30USD, 2 karma
- wmorgan 1000USD, 13 karma
Note: two people (Kaj_Sotala and Rain) reported monthly commitments, but as far as I understand only the yearly pledge is matched, so for the purposes of this informal study I treat them as reporting X*12 USD donations, instead of X/month.
There's not enough data for an honest causal analysis (I tried), but there are a few observations one can make. Intuitively one expects karma to be determined by the donation amount, the duration of time since the posting, and some unknown error.
First observation: the users with the best USD/karma exchange rate made modest contributions early. Nisan came out best, with $6.25/karma — though some of this karma may be due also to the fantastic signal, on their part, that they overcame a rational hazard to make this donation. (Also, EY responded afterward, confounding the karmic flow with his wake.)
In this spirit, we now name "doing the least restrictive, obviously acceptable thing, instead of doing nothing while contemplating alternatives" Nisan's razor, (ニサンの剃刀, perhaps) unless it happens to have a better, previously-existing name.
Second observation: Hyperbolic discounting is alive and well. Those reporting monthly donations have karma below comparable one-shot donations, though both monthly data points did come slightly later than their one-shot counterparts.
Third observation: Large donations are really inefficient at netting karma. pengvado paid $277.48/karma; no one above 1000USD paid less than $50/karma.
Naturally, there's little point to this analysis. If anyone is trying to maximize net karma by donating to SIAI, something is probably wrong with their priorities.