Jacob O'Bryant
Hire me
Sane political discourse

7 January 2021

One of society's fundamental problems is that bad information often spreads faster than good information. On top of that, social media isn't set up well for controversial debates. Making a political post on Facebook is like peeing in the pool (I try to resist the urge myself, but sometimes I just can't hold it in any longer). So I watch helplessly while the country is overrun by crackpots. I don't think I'm alone in this feeling.

I think that Findka will be able to help. It's designed to make good information spread faster. How does it do that?

For one, Findka counters recency bias. Most good information has a long shelf life (aka "evergreen content"), but websites typically only show you content that's new. For something to spread on social media, it has to generate lots of interest quickly. This puts evergreen content at a disadvantage—it gets drowned out.

In contrast, Findka doesn't boost content just because it's new. When articles are submitted, they get shown to a small sample of users. Over time, the ones that are upvoted get shown to more people. Since this process takes a while, shallow content has a harder time going viral: it's unlikely to keep getting upvotes after some time has passed and people have cooled off.

What about debate? Think of a trial. You've got a set of evidence. There are two opposing sides which each present the strongest possible argument for their case. The jury members decide which argument is stronger. This seems like a pretty good model.

Forming opinions well is difficult because we have to compare too many options at once. Imagine a trial where instead of two attorneys, there were a hundred. The jury members wouldn't be able to hold all the arguments in their head at once. They could sample a few of the arguments and select the strongest one they found, but there's no guarantee that the best arguments were in the sample at all. Welcome to politics in the information age.

Even if you're confident you've formed the right opinion, defending it is still difficult. There will always be some angle you haven't researched yet. When you voice your opinion, you're potentially signing up for a game of rhetorical whack-a-mole. No sane person has the time or energy for that.

Findka sort of helps with this already since you can upvote the essays that have strong arguments. But for political issues, it might be good if you could also link articles together. For example, you could tell Findka that article A refutes (or supports) some of the points in article B. If you want to explore a particular issue, Findka could help you navigate through all the related articles. You could see which ones have the most upvotes overall, and you could see which ones got the most upvotes from people who are similar to you.

Politics isn't a focus for Findka right now. But long-term, improving political discourse is probably the most important thing that Findka could do.

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