Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Why should I join Shared Nation? What’s the benefit to being part of it?
Shared Nation is a fun and convenient way to meaningfully contribute to solving the world’s biggest problems. You join by contributing a small amount of money (and, in the future, volunteer time). After an period where you can endorse your favorite projects, voting begins. Each day of the voting process, you make quick votes between several solutions. We combine everybody’s votes to rapidly select a winning project that gets a majority of our funds (more than 83%) and a small group of runners up (who split 10%). It’s a highly efficient way to actively engage with solving the world’s biggest problems that does not require a lot of time from any one person.
Q: Why do projects agree to be judged in the Shared Nation?
Shared Nation is a new source of support and feedback for innovative organizations and projects. The requirements to enter a round of funding are relatively few-- primarily involving a relatively short description of the innovation or initiative for which they seek support. Shared Nation makes much faster decisions than traditional funding mechanisms that rely on expert panels and provides a great deal of exposure and feedback from the public.
Q: Do projects have to be non profits?
No, projects do not have to be non-profits.
Q: Are my contributions tax-deductible?
They are not. The virtual nation is not structured as a non-profit (which would make your contribution tax-deductible) because nonprofit organizations cannot give money to for-profit entities, and some of the candidate projects here might have a for-profit or low-profit business models. That said, Shared Nation as an organization will never profit from this work; it is truly a pass through for the collective voice of the group. We will use a small percentage of contributions (roughly 7%) for operating costs (i.e., staff) and administrative costs (i.e., payment processing) but all other funds will flow directly winning projects. We will supply public financial statements at the end of each year to verify this.
Q: How will my money be used? Are there any requirements for winners?
Currently, the money Shared Nation collects from its citizens is given as an unrestricted gift to the winning organizations that submit the project description (or to the organization they designate). This may change as the Shared Nation grows and collects larger amounts. The Shared Nation will follow the projects that we support, and invite them to provide updates on their progress which we will share with our members.
Q: How does this compare to crowdfunding sites such as Kickstarter, Indiegogo, or StartSomeGood?
In Shared Nation, people pool their resources and then collectively decide which projects to support. This is very different than existing crowdfunding sites, which take a market-based approach in which people make individual decisions to invest in different projects. The emergence of these market-based crowdfunding sites are an important development in society, but Shared Nation was formed to unite people together in massive, digitally-coordinated, collective action. We believe that some problems cannot be solved by markets (or even well-meaning foundations or billionaires) alone, but can be solved through mass action.
Shared Nation is also unique in that rounds focus on specific issues (such as climate change or income inequity), and in the future participants will be able to donate time (in addition to money), as well.
Q: What problems will Shared Nation focus on solving? What are “global commons problems?”
Shared Nation will focus mainly on addressing global commons problems. Global commons problems are problems that are shared by all residents of the planet like climate change, biodiversity and population displacement. Since nation states and individual philanthropies are not equipped to solve such problems on the urgent timeframe required, we’re experimenting with the Shared Nation as an alternative. (In no way are we rejecting those other institutions; we just view what we’re offering here as a helpful complement.) We will expect to run a Shared Nation round every quarter, starting with a round that focuses to solutions to climate change. Thereafter we will determine other topics with input from all of you!
Q: Why can’t I vote on any project I want to?
We encourage everybody to spend as much time as they like to browse the projects, and to share your perspective by adding comments or by rating existing comments. However, you can only vote on the projects that you are randomly assigned by Shared Nation-- until we get to playoffs, when every citizen votes on every project. We’ve designed this intentionally, rather than letting citizens vote for any project. One reason is that it gives each citizen the same amount of voting power, while not requiring much time from any citizen. It also reduces the risk of one project getting a number of people to join a round in order to skew the results in favor of that project. Each person only gets to vote on a fraction of the projects (before playoffs), so there is less incentive to join Shared Nation with the goal of trying to bias things towards one project.
Q: Does Shared Nation's voting system find the best projects?
Our voting approach is highly efficient: each participant votes on only 10 pairs of projects before we narrow it down to eight finalists. We are, thus, sampling the citizens preferences rather than asking every citizen to rank each project in order to determine the finalists. During finals, every citizen does vote on every project, ensuring the most-favored project will win if it makes it to finals.
We ran some simple tests and showed that with 100 candidate projects and 2,000 citizens, there is a 97.5% chance that the project that is the most favored by the citizens is identified as one of the top eight finalists after only 10 pairwise votes. This result was based on the assumption that there is only a 65% agreement among all citizens about which of any two projects is best. If there is higher agreement among citizens, the most-favored project would be in finals even more than 97.5% of the time. It would also increase the percent chance that the most favored project makes it to finals by having more citizens, fewer projects, or having more finalists.
Q: Why does the Shared Nation community do pairwise voting?
Q: What happens if there is a tie between candidate projects?
In the event of a tie in voting results, the winner will be the candidate with the highest number of endorsements (i.e., expressions of support enumerated on each candidate project's page) from Shared Nation citizens. In the event of a tie in number of endorsements, the winner will be drawn randomly.
Q: Why can't I register for a tournament once the playoffs have started?
You cannot register for a tournament during playoffs because we close registration for new participants at that time. We know there is no perfect solution, but we think it increases the fairness of the process. The idea is to prevent people affiliated with a participating organization from being incentivized to wait and see if their favorite org makes it to playoffs before joining the round, which goes against the principle of mass-aggregation and collective action.