Applied Optimal Philanthropy: How to Donate $100 to SIAI for Free

post by Louie · 2011-01-04T06:14:31.288Z · score: 10 (25 votes) · LW · GW · Legacy · 86 comments

If I gave you $50 you hadn't planned on receiving, would you consider giving it to charity?

 

Here's your chance to find out.

 

Just in time for the Tallin-Evans matching fundraiser, ING Direct has started offering a free $50 cash sign-up bonus.  I've personally used ING for 10 years and referred over 20 people to similar promotions of theirs in the past so I can confirm that this is legit.1

 

It's a simple, effective way to get started as an optimal philanthropist for free:

 

  1. Get $50 for free

  2. Donate $50 --> turns into $100

  3. Profit!2

 

 

Full disclosure: I was an SIAI Visiting Fellow in 2010.  I've also used ING Direct as a customer the past 10 years, but otherwise have no financial interest in them.


 

[1] This isn't one of those bogus "intro" deals where you have to make sure you cancel the service later on or risk getting charged fees.  ING has no fees, no minimum balance requirements, no sleazy marketing emails, and consistently good savings rates.  If you want to use them for their good service after signing up, great, if not, no worries.  All you have to do to qualify for the $50 is make 3 small purchases you were planning to make anyway with their new debit card.  I know it's a trivial inconvenience, but I think it's worth it to be able to donate up to $100 to charity without actually spending any money.

 

[2] Profit denominated in warm fuzzies, karma, and post-Singularity catgirls.

86 comments

Comments sorted by top scores.

comment by fortyeridania · 2011-01-04T07:10:48.841Z · score: 9 (9 votes) · LW · GW

This is a cool deal, but I have a quibble: The cost to you of donating $50 is not $0, but...$50. Relative to your not-having-donated self, your having-donated self is $50 poorer.

Granted, this might be more than compensated for by the warm fuzzies and so on. But if $50 is too much for you to donate out of pocket, then it's also probably too much for you to donate when the money is a gift.

comment by Kevin · 2011-01-04T10:21:18.122Z · score: 8 (8 votes) · LW · GW

OK, well, feel free to take the free $50 and not give it to SIAI. I won't tell anyone.

comment by endoself · 2011-01-04T07:28:32.483Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

For people who budget, $50 that they planned to have might be necessary, but $50 that they get for free does not have any assigned purpose and can be donated.

comment by fortyeridania · 2011-01-04T07:53:49.710Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

$50 that they get for free does not have any assigned purpose

That's true. But the next part, that it "can be donated," does not follow. (I am assuming here that by "can be donated" you mean "can be donated without militating against the budget's priorities.")

Consider the following three cases. Case 1: Sheila is struggling to make ends meet. She spends next to nothing on fuzzies or on externality-laden projects (e.g. SIAI). Case 2: Carrie is well-off, and spends a lot of fuzzies and others' utilons. Case 3: Malcolm is in the middle. Sudden income decreases might put him into Sheila's subsistence mode, and sudden increases might significantly increase his fiscal breathing room.

Only in Case 3 should a "free" $50 make a difference in one's spending patterns. Sheila would be better off spending it on food, medicine, or debt reduction; and Carrie is probably already a donor to SIAI (or whatever). However, even for Malcolm, spending the $50 as though there were no alternative use would be imprudent.

The unbudgeted $50 has various possible uses, some of which are better than others. You seem to be saying that a budgeter can, without a utility penalty, spend the new money on __ as though there were no alternative uses to the one suggested in the original post. Is this your intention?

comment by Will_Sawin · 2011-01-04T16:19:26.491Z · score: 4 (6 votes) · LW · GW

It has to do with mental accounting. For someone who is a) like all humans, a bounded rationalist, and b) like most humans, does not donate nearly enough (from a utilitarian perspective) to charity, a catchy idea to donate unbudgeted money could spur an increase in donation.

In particular, taking a donation out of money you previously thought you would use hurts. Taking a donation out of money you did not know about before does not hurt.

comment by Louie · 2011-01-04T18:08:49.730Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Exactly. I'm sure this phenomenon has been studied and documented somewhere but I don't know what it's called.

comment by Vaniver · 2011-01-04T20:34:56.975Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Typically they refer to these as "windfall gains," and there seems to be significant psychological literature that uses that term.

comment by Louie · 2011-01-06T06:54:32.559Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Ah, yes! I'll be studying that literature now thanks to you!

comment by Kevin · 2011-01-04T14:17:46.363Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Also consider the case where Carrie doesn't donate to charity at all but decides to bite the bullet in response to this post.

comment by Alicorn · 2011-01-06T16:40:07.824Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

ING has spook software that will attempt to link you to your address and phone number. They called my parents' house looking for me, and my mom gave me their number and I had to spend a few minutes on the phone telling them stuff to prove that I used to live in that house and explain why I am no longer at that address etc. This is not enough hassle that I would have turned down fifty bucks to avoid it, but it is more hassle than I expected.

comment by Clippy · 2011-01-06T22:27:32.181Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

That is bad, as it is another barrier to me accepting this offer -- I don't have any way to talk over the phone (obviously).

But I'm sure there's software for it. Is there something that will let me communicate over a telephone by inputting words like I do on this forum? That is, I input the string I wish to communicate, and the software reads it through the phone connection. From what I know, such readers sound noticeably unlike humans, which will bother the bigots I plan to interact with.

Also, how feasible is it to use teletype when communicating with humans in cases where it must be done over a phone line?

comment by wnoise · 2011-01-06T23:19:46.775Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

The easiest would probably be a TDD relay service.

comment by Kevin · 2011-01-04T12:21:02.843Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

This post is currently at -1 which seems odd given that this is literally free money with very little catch.

Downvoted as an excuse for you to let your akrasia win and for you not to generate $50 of free money? Probably everyone that values their time at less than $50/hour should do this.

I heartily endorse this, as someone who was previously referred to ING by Louie.

comment by Rain · 2011-01-04T13:22:03.574Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

I didn't downvote it, I like ING, and I support the donations. That said, this kind of post fits more in Discussion than on the main page, doesn't it?

comment by Louie · 2011-01-04T18:28:51.559Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I thought about posting in Discussion, but it's not really meta.

Also for those people who support SIAI, an actionable idea to reality-test their stated beliefs seems quite beneficial.

[ And for those who don't want to support SIAI... I titled the article in a transparent way so they can see right away that they wouldn't want to read it. ]

comment by wedrifid · 2011-01-04T13:26:46.987Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I voted down from 1 to 0 (before it went negative). Not because of the content, purely because of the misleading title. This isn't optimally applied philanthropy. It is a quick way to get $50.

I was disappointed when it went to -1. I like the thought of being provided with tips for money making. Just slightly less than I like downvoting misleading titles. :P

comment by Louie · 2011-01-04T15:37:26.163Z · score: 4 (10 votes) · LW · GW

I almost wrote "Warning: Unlike what you're used to on Less Wrong, this post is both short and immediately actionable."

Maybe I should have. It appears this post violates Less Wronger's expectations that things be long, complicated, and require nothing but idle thought.

It honestly pains me greatly to know so many different ways I could "improve" this article, all of which involve actually making it needlessly longer and more complicated simply to appease the highly-perverse expectations here that knowledge which is simple to attain is not valuable.

comment by wedrifid · 2011-01-04T17:37:44.841Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

It honestly pains me greatly to know so many different ways I could "improve" this article, all of which involve actually making it needlessly longer and more complicated

It is ironic that you chose to make this reply to a comment that essentially objected to a needless (and misleading) complication in the title. If you left it at "How to Donate $100 to SIAI for Free" and didn't introduce a complexity ('Applied Optimal Philanthropy') that goes against the content then your post would have earned a whole lot more karma and a more positive response.

As for "all of which involve", the other suggestion you were given here was to post things like this in the discussion section - another thing which has absolutely nothing to do with 'making it needlessly longer'.

simply to appease the highly-perverse expectations here that knowledge which is simple to attain is not valuable.

No, this is nothing to do with 'highly-perverse expectations'. If (and this is something that I doubt strongly) people here are particularly prone to believing that knowledge that is simple to attain is not valuable then it is still irrelevant to the criticism that you are so bitter about receiving.

Once again, I like being provided with tips for making money. I don't like pretentious sulking.

comment by Kevin · 2011-01-04T13:54:20.028Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

A free $50 is an opportunity to apply optimal philanthropy.

comment by Larks · 2011-01-04T23:10:15.398Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Unfortunately, this doesn't seem to work outside the US - the form here assumes you're in America, and the UK version of the site has nothing similar.

comment by wedrifid · 2011-01-04T23:28:45.260Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

ING does not have that particular offer in Australia either, although what they do offer still saves money relative to the more mainstream banks.

comment by Alicorn · 2011-01-04T13:13:13.169Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

What's the "Person 2 Person" payment it mentions? Could people pair up and swap a dollar back and forth three times, rather than making purchases? (I don't make many purchases.)

What kind of e-mail/snail mail payload does one sign up for by signing up for this account?

Are there any concealed obstacles to my completely forgetting that this service exists without further hassle after collecting the bonus, if that's what I want to do?

comment by Rain · 2011-01-04T13:27:30.014Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I can't answer the first question.

I removed all of my money from my ING account a while ago, but kept the account open. There was no hassle involved except an additional interest payment I had to remove a little bit later (more money, darn? :P).

After doing so, I continued to receive emails from them about once every 3 to 4 months. They recently seemed to have changed that policy, though, and I was getting them once a week until I remembered my login info and changed email preferences. I haven't received anything since making that change in November.

comment by Kevin · 2011-01-04T13:55:05.105Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Could people pair up and swap a dollar back and forth three times, rather than making purchases?

Something like that should work. Possibly it needs to be with three different people but probably not.

comment by Alicorn · 2011-01-04T13:56:55.080Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Anybody wanna pair up with me? (I'm not confident that I'll make three purchases that I would have made anyway between now and the end of the matching challenge.)

comment by Clippy · 2011-01-04T15:42:48.948Z · score: 3 (7 votes) · LW · GW

I wanna pair up with you. But I don't know what to put in the "SSN" and "Verify SSN" fields (_/

What did the Users here put in those fields?

comment by AdeleneDawner · 2011-01-04T16:54:21.905Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Those fields are for the applicant's Social Security Number, a government-supplied identification number. I expect you won't be able to get a useable one; you would have to convince the United States government that you're a citizen or otherwise allowed to work for pay here, which probably requires convincing them that you're human.

comment by Clippy · 2011-01-04T17:42:40.218Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Why can't I just use someone else's SSN? Maybe a User that won't take up this offer can let me use that User's SSN.

Do you have an SSN I can use?

comment by AdeleneDawner · 2011-01-04T18:32:57.520Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Asking someone to tell you their SSN is roughly the same type of thing as one of us asking you for the access codes to your safe zone - perhaps it's not on the same scale as that, but it definitely isn't something that any reasonably smart person will agree to.

comment by Clippy · 2011-01-04T18:45:21.203Z · score: 7 (9 votes) · LW · GW

Then why does ING Direct ask for SSN? And why do humans give it their SSN? Is ING Direct run by bad humans?

comment by AdeleneDawner · 2011-01-04T19:03:39.184Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

That's a good question, and one that I don't have a very good answer to, but here's the answer I do have:

Banks and some other institutions - generally ones that deal with money in some way - use SSNs to track people. This appears to be government-approved, and I assume that there are significant safeguards in place to reduce or eliminate the chance of bank employees using peoples' SSNs for anything other than what they're supposed to.

Even so, smart humans will be cautious about what banks they use, sticking to ones that have good reputations or at least have been around for several years without any reports of misconduct. I perceive ING as a trustworthy institution to give my SSN to (though I haven't opened an account with them); they've been around for nearly two decades, I know or know of several people who have used them with no problems, and I haven't seen any news reports about misconduct on their part.

You, on the other hand, don't have a government-approved reason for wanting my SSN (and I suspect that if I let you use it, and the government found out, I would get in trouble, for fraud or something similar), there are no safeguards in place to stop you from using it for other things, and I have no reason to trust that you wouldn't use it for other things, some of which could be very harmful to me.

comment by Clippy · 2011-01-04T19:31:24.402Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Thanks for the explanation. But what would I do that would harm you? You told me a week or so ago that you like paperclips, so even if I used the SSN to produce paperclips, what's the problem?

comment by AdeleneDawner · 2011-01-04T19:41:39.320Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Several of the things you could do with mu SSN would appear in the official records relating to me as socially unacceptable things that I had done, and given how those records are used, that could lead to, for example, me becoming homeless - which would probably lead to me being dead. That's more important to me than paperclips in almost any quantity or situation. (And the situations in which a large quantity of paperclips would be useful enough to me to make a difference in that are ones that I expect you wouldn't approve of - most obviously, if you were to give me enough paperclips that I could sell those paperclips for enough money to buy a house and live comfortably for several decades, I might be willing to trade access to my SSN for that, but it's entirely predictable that anyone who would be interested in buying that quantity of paperclips from me would want to melt them down and use the metal for something else.)

comment by Clippy · 2011-01-04T20:00:14.794Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I understand now, at least at a general level. Thanks for explaining that. I don't want you to die.

comment by AdeleneDawner · 2011-01-04T21:53:25.566Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

That's good to hear.

######(You still can't have my SSN, though.)

comment by Clippy · 2011-01-04T22:13:54.583Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

######And you can't have the safe zone access codes. Not that that would be enough to break in, anyway.######

comment by orthonormal · 2011-01-04T19:43:36.412Z · score: 2 (8 votes) · LW · GW

Because you're not a paperclip maximizer, you're a human being who continues to think that mock naivete is hilarious.

comment by Clippy · 2011-01-04T20:03:31.389Z · score: -3 (11 votes) · LW · GW

If that's what it takes for you to stop your bigotry against me, then please persist in that belief, racist.

comment by wedrifid · 2011-01-04T22:42:38.059Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW
comment by TheOtherDave · 2011-01-04T22:09:14.966Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Is ING Direct run by bad humans?

Can you expand on that question? For example, provide some examples of bad and non-bad humans (hypothetical or actual, as you prefer) and how you make the classification decision?

I'm only idly curious.

comment by Clippy · 2011-01-04T22:20:10.131Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I meant "bad human" in the sense that User:AdeleneDawner would use the term in the comment I was replying to: in other words, humans that violate human norms, especially if they can accomplish this with impunity.

My personal definition, to be assumed in the absence of overriding context, is that a bad human is any human who hurts the production of paperclips on net, especially if that human would continue to do so upon being informed of the implications of such an action set and reaching a new reflective equilibrium.

comment by MBlume · 2011-01-04T18:08:11.917Z · score: 0 (4 votes) · LW · GW

SSNs are considered by humans to be highly private. Asking a human to give you theirs is generally considered bad form. This is why you are being downvoted.

comment by wedrifid · 2011-01-04T18:27:53.558Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

SSNs are considered by humans to be highly private. Asking a human to give you theirs is generally considered bad form.

If you put it like that it makes it seem like you are translating between two different species. And in this particular case most humans match Clippy's experience more closely than yours.

comment by Clippy · 2011-01-04T18:31:38.297Z · score: -1 (7 votes) · LW · GW

As of this moment, I'm not being downvoted, non-ape.

EDIT: Except for this comment.

comment by Benquo · 2011-01-04T16:38:35.780Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I'd do it. But if the only reason you want to do paired P2P payments is to get the $50 in time for the matching challenge, you should be aware of this from the ING offer page:

"3.Your $50 bonus will automatically be deposited into your account on day 50."

January 20th is less than 50 days from today, so you'll have to loan yourself the $50. I'm OK with that, so please let me know to confirm if you want to do this.

comment by Alicorn · 2011-01-04T17:07:38.888Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Understood. I can spot the fifty bucks if I expect reimbursement :) Signing up now.

Edit: Signed up. Apparently it will take a short while to move the initial deposit; I'll ping you when that happens.

comment by Benquo · 2011-01-09T15:25:03.849Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Update: Exchange is done and my $50 is donated. Presumably ING will make good on its offer some time within the next 45 days or so.

comment by Alicorn · 2011-01-09T15:55:21.862Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Thanks for the swappage :)

Incidentally, the Person 2 Person money exchange is painless enough that I'd be willing to help someone else put enough activity on their account too.

comment by Benquo · 2011-01-09T18:25:39.774Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Double thanks to you for coming up with the swap idea and following through.

comment by Alicorn · 2011-01-08T14:18:57.612Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

My account appears operational. If yours is too, PM me so we can start swapping money around to get our presents.

comment by Alicorn · 2011-04-05T04:49:22.974Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I opened an ING account and transferred my initial deposit to it on January 5. On January 8 and 9, I swapped $5 Person-2-Person payments back and forth three times with Benquo as we agreed, for a total of 6 transactions. It's now April 5, more than 50 days after my account opened and I completed the required transactions, and my account contains only my initial deposit and 3¢ worth of interest payments.

Did anyone else get this money? Did I miss an obvious step?

comment by Alicorn · 2011-05-17T21:16:39.212Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I contacted customer service. They responded almost immediately once I finally got around to doing so, and credited my account manually.

comment by Benquo · 2011-04-06T06:50:30.937Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Hmm... I'm experiencing the same thing. I think it's about time I wrote them an email.

Strange, since they did honor two other unrelated offers in the past.

comment by gwern · 2011-01-04T20:43:43.685Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Their documentation doesn't seem very good... I hate actually engaging in financial matters (as opposed to discussing it), so I'm wondering how easy it actually is to claim the $50.

For example, could I just take my existing debit card and add some money to a new account in ING, and then immediately use the ING account for purchases at Amazon or for a Paypal donation, satisfying the 3 small purchases rule that way?

If it's that easy, then I think I could give this a shot. But if the easiest way involves schlepping down to my credit union to wrangle about a bank draft or mailing off personal checks and photocopies of ID or whatnot, then the mental effort is just too much, even for $50. I'm willing to do effort to get $50 when the activity is fun, like trading on Intrade, but not if all it is is financial bureaucracy.

comment by Alicorn · 2011-01-05T00:15:35.323Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

wrangle about a bank draft or mailing off personal checks and photocopies of ID or whatnot

I was able to deposit money in my new ING account by copying numbers from my checkbook into the form on their website. Didn't have to leave the house.

comment by MartinB · 2011-01-04T19:01:24.936Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Wonder why no one had pointed out that it is not free money. Depending on how much your time is worth to you and/or others you might even get a negative out of it.

Disclaimer: I regularly take part in promo offers, since I get some enjoyment out of it, and currently make only very little money.

comment by gwern · 2011-01-19T19:51:59.695Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Note that acceptance is not guaranteed (because of the credit check). I tried applying today and was rejected. (I thought it was because Equifax might still have a hold on my data due to an identity theft incident, but nope, it seems I am just too ghostly for ING to trust.)

comment by Nick_Tarleton · 2011-01-04T06:37:10.772Z · score: 0 (4 votes) · LW · GW

From the link:

Your $50 bonus will automatically be deposited into your account on day 50.

So, neat (I'm going to apply and donate), but it'll be too late to be matched.

ETA: *facepalm*

comment by Louie · 2011-01-04T07:09:01.933Z · score: 8 (12 votes) · LW · GW

Isn't it obvious to use $50 you currently have in exchange for the $50 bonus?

comment by SilasBarta · 2011-01-04T13:57:58.704Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Isn't it obvious that should send up a red flag?

If this really is a free $50 -- really no catch -- why is ING Direct doing it? And if they expect to profit from it, on average, why should I extend them $50 of credit for 50 days, which is what I'm doing when I donate $50 in anticipation of ING "paying me back"?

This sounds like the kind of thing where they will put up enough inconveniences to people who merely want the $50 so that enough of them will give up in trying to get it.

Reminds me of their commercials:

"Who's that?"
Oh, ING Direct is an online bank that works to minimize your costs...
"I know what ING Direct is. I mean, who's that sucker who expects free money from a bank?"

(sorry, can't find a link atm)

comment by Louie · 2011-01-04T15:31:49.822Z · score: 6 (8 votes) · LW · GW

I agree that in general these kinds of things don't work. That's why I wrote the extended footnote explaining that I've used this company for 10 years and had 20 friends sign up for it, that none of us have ever been charged any fees, etc. I wouldn't just recommend any random online deal without knowing it worked.

Also, if you know how competitive online ad pricing for banking are, it's easy to understand how the cost to acquire a new customer for ING via advertising is easily > $50. But they're a smart, progressive, company so they're fine paying you directly if you sign up without having to be advertised heavily to.

comment by Kevin · 2011-01-04T14:22:44.886Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

This sounds like the kind of thing where they will put up enough inconveniences to people who merely want the $50 so that enough of them will give up in trying to get it.

And in this case, you are wrong. Sometimes a free lunch is a free lunch. And sometimes you can get paid $15/hour to work part-time from the convenience of your home with no catch. Two very real companies (one publicly traded on NASDAQ) hire for these very real positions.

http://www.lionbridge.com/lionbridge/en-US/company/web-site/internet-assessors.htm

http://www.leapforceathome.com/qrp/public/jobs/list;jsessionid=3FD3AD716E1CDBE18B1C6ECEDFB7820A.lf-prod-03-2209

Just because something pattern matches as a scam doesn't make it a scam.

And if they expect to profit from it, on average, why should I extend them $50 of credit for 50 days, which is what I'm doing when I donate $50 in anticipation of ING "paying me back"?

Can't you donate $47.50 to SIAI and keep the extra money to pay yourself back for interest?

comment by shokwave · 2011-01-04T14:26:15.188Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Can't you donate $47.50 to SIAI and keep the extra money to pay yourself back for interest?

I submit that this should be added to the top level post.

comment by SilasBarta · 2011-01-04T15:14:16.410Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Two very real companies (one publicly traded on NASDAQ) hire for these very real positions.

That is at least as hard for me to substantiate as the very claim in question, and doesn't look like a "too good to be true" opportunity in the first place.

Can't you donate $47.50 to SIAI and keep the extra money to pay yourself back for interest?

1) It's not the interest I'm worried about; it's the principle (pun intended). (The interest would be practically nothing anyway.)

2) I have donated to SIAI already, several times this amount; I just don't mention it at every opportunity.

3) The question is whether I should donate a marginal $50 in anticipation of getting $50 from ING, under the assumption this is nearly costless to me. "Why don't you just donate ~$50 to SIAI?" is non-responsive to that question, and makes me wonder why you got voted up, as did the praise of that suggestion.

comment by shokwave · 2011-01-04T15:19:40.739Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I upvoted and praised it because it's a good point regardless of its irrelevance.

comment by SilasBarta · 2011-01-04T15:26:45.717Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Then would you please elaborate on what about it is a good point? I don't understand if your point is that

  • even if you keep some money for yourself, it's a good deal; or,
  • you should donate ~$50 to SIAI anyway, even if this deal didn't exist, jerk-face; or,
  • hey, by advancing the $50, you can take advantage of the doubling; or,
  • something else entirely

as well as why you believe that intended meaning was obvious.

comment by shokwave · 2011-01-04T15:47:23.036Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Especially if you keep some money for yourself, it's a good deal. Setting up the account is a minor inconvenience, so a disproportionate number of people are not going to do anything about this. Taking a cut for yourself allows you to take whatever cut you want to overcome said inconvenience: if you think it's about 10 dollars annoying, you keep 10 dollars, and then 40 (80) goes to SIAI.

The compensation cancels out with the annoyance, and you're left with fuzzies.

That is why I praised and upvoted it, but I don't think it's what User:Kevin intended. I think he intended to answer your question

why should I extend them $50 of credit for 50 days

with "you get $2.50". I believe this intended meaning is obvious because he quoted your question and provided an answer in the form of a situation where you get $2.50.

comment by DanielLC · 2011-01-06T01:26:57.112Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Especially if you keep some money for yourself, it's a good deal.

It seems to me that either it it's better for SIAI to have the money, in which case it's a worse deal, or it's better for you to have it, in which case keeping all of it is the best deal. I don't see why keeping some of it would be optimal.

comment by shokwave · 2011-01-06T06:44:49.450Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

There is a third case that may occur: you don't sign up, nobody gets the money. From all perspectives this is a bad thing. If you pay yourself some money, you decrease the proportion of "no money" to add to the proportion of "SIAI gets money". Keeping 5% means the SIAI gets 95 dollars (matched) instead of 100 - but if it makes a significant dent in the chances of the SIAI getting 0 dollars then the expected outcome is higher for paying yourself than it is for sending it all to the SIAI.

That said, you could use this justification to overcome the inconveniences, and re-evaluate at the moment of donating to the SIAI, and decide to donate the full amount.

comment by SilasBarta · 2011-01-04T16:15:40.514Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

My entire objection is that I don't think I will get the $50, ("It's not the interest I'm worried about; it's the principle."), either by ING not giving it, or by requiring me to spend $50 worth of my time.

Do you now see why arguments that assume ING acceptably comes through are therefore non-responsive? (Because it's frankly taking a while.)

comment by shokwave · 2011-01-04T20:36:52.839Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

My entire objection is that I don't think I will get the $50

Could you elaborate on why? "ING not giving it" is unlikely, "requires >$50 of my time" seems unlikely - the website in question says it will take 5 minutes to sign up, each of the three transactions will take ~5 minutes, donating will take ~5 minutes, spending or transferring the bonus $50 down the line will take ~5 minutes... that's half an hour. So please, I would like to know why you don't think you will get the $50.

comment by SilasBarta · 2011-01-04T23:11:56.487Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Can we first agree that given my position, the points you were actually arguing in an attempt to change my mind were not relevant?

With that said, the evidence provided by Rain and Kevin indicate that that is a non-sleazy offer, so the only question is whether this is worth my time. And I think you've significantly underestimated the time this will actually take (since you can't do all of that in a batch) and my time value/hour. Still worth considering though.

comment by shokwave · 2011-01-05T06:09:48.022Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Can we first agree that given my position, the points you were actually arguing in an attempt to change my mind were not relevant?

Sure. I figured since the top level post specified in a footnote that it was genuine and not at all sleazy, and both top level posts and Louie have good track records, you must have had some other reason. Of course, if you value your time much higher than I do, you might need comparatively more evidence to be convinced of that.

comment by shokwave · 2011-01-04T14:07:42.702Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

If this really is a free $50 -- really no catch -- why is ING Direct doing it?

They are incentivising the creation of accounts. Probably because somewhere along the line, profit was measured by accounts. Lost purposes, Goodhart's Law, etc.

comment by Kevin · 2011-01-04T14:25:33.544Z · score: 8 (8 votes) · LW · GW

ING has been offering permutations of this deal for close to a decade. If it was that unprofitable for them in the aggregate, they would have stopped doing it by now.

comment by SilasBarta · 2011-01-04T15:23:06.359Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

ING has been offering permutations of this deal for close to a decade.

Okay, this is an example of what counts as relevant evidence, and is easy to substantiate too. (Your second sentence is unnecessary and doesn't follow, though.)

comment by shokwave · 2011-01-04T14:33:15.443Z · score: 4 (6 votes) · LW · GW

A measure affected by Goodhart's law doesn't lose all its value - schools measure password retention, but kids still end up educated, and so forth. "Accounts created" is a good enough measure to remain profitable giving away ~50 dollars. My comment was intended to get people to realise this isn't a scam; this is intentionally placing yourself in the 'acceptable losses for ING' category.

comment by [deleted] · 2011-01-04T20:09:06.750Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Schools are different; they have little or no incentive to do well. Lots of people have horror stories of how comically bad their early education was, but how many of those schools went out of business later?

comment by nick012000 · 2011-01-09T09:57:12.015Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Nevertheless, TANSTAAFL. The incentive here is being paid for in other ways, and you'd need to determine the opportunity costs of that money going somewhere else instead.

comment by Kevin · 2011-01-09T12:06:02.119Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

There is totally such thing as a free lunch and this post is evidence of such. The incentive is being paid for with the free money ING generates in their magic vaults of fractional reserve banking.

What opportunity cost?

comment by gwern · 2011-01-09T15:42:03.676Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

You're confusing me; are you being sarcastic in the first paragraph and your question supposed to imply a knock-down argument against the preceding?

comment by Kevin · 2011-01-09T22:17:42.929Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I was being serious but with a mocking tone in the first paragraph.

The question was sincere, I wasn't sure what opportunity cost nick was referring to and especially confused by his use of the word "need". His response cleared that up by making it clear that he was knocking the financial system as a whole, which I agree is insane, yet it somehow continues to work in one of the very real examples of magic in everyday life.

comment by nick012000 · 2011-01-09T14:07:47.224Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

That of all the money devalued by the inflation caused by printing money.

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2011-01-04T15:58:02.068Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Also, they might be taking advantage of people being unlikely to bother to delete the account, so there's some reasonable chance that the account will actually be used.

I'm assuming that creating an account is very cheap for them.

comment by Rain · 2011-01-04T16:36:44.003Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

ING does this all the time. I created my account years ago with another $50 promotion. I got an email from them for a different $50 promotion a few months ago. It's consistently mentioned on sites such as Get Rich Slowly as a simple way to make some money, and has proven out time and again.

comment by fortyeridania · 2011-01-04T07:39:00.638Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Thanks for pointing out this fix.