Funding Proposal

Roadmap and Objectives

For the countless millennia that psychoactive substances have been present in human civilisation, there has not been an established, universally applicable lexicon for articulating experiences of altered states of consciousness. The absence of such terminology has limited our ability to fully understand our own experiences and made discussion and research in this domain difficult. People who have noticed this absence have been driven to volunteer countless hours of their free time to document their experiences and coin, define, and categorize terms, ultimately culminating in the Subjective Effect Index.

Effect Index is the website that hosts the Subjective Effect Index (SEI), a database of 233 effect descriptions that strives to serve as a comprehensive map of all potential experiences that can occur under the influence of any class of psychoactive compound, particularly hallucinogens. The existing SEI has been increasingly used to facilitate discussion within online psychedelic spaces since around 2012. However, it has not yet reached a level of completeness and polish that would allow it to serve as a universal terminology set. By improving and completing the SEI, we intend to create a tool that will improve our collective ability to research altered states of consciousness and greatly enhance the academic, clinical, therapeutic, personal, and cultural relevance of psychoactive compounds.

Under the employment of Mindstate Design Labs, a Y Combinator startup, I am leading a project to develop a new version of the SEI with unparalleled comprehensiveness and academic rigor. Prominent scientific researchers such as Thomas S. Ray, Andrew B. Newburg, and to a lesser extent Robin Carhart-Harris are serving as advisors throughout the index's development, and it will be published as a publicly available open source research paper.

This project will greatly improve the overarching organisational structure of the Index and more than double the number of distinct defined effects. It will incorporate a comprehensive literature review of other rudimentary altered state of consciousness ontologies, such as psychometric tools and informal classification systems found within books and online resources. We intend for this project to be fully open source so that it can become a ubiquitous resource analogous to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, providing a defined common lexicon so that researchers and laypeople alike can discuss altered states of consciousness in a succinct yet meaningful way.

Thanks to my employers, the creation of this particular aspect of the project is already underway. However, new funding will be needed to integrate the improved SEI into the Effect Index website and empower the Subjective Effect Documentation community to continue improving the index in our ever-evolving world. This document details what we still need to bring Effect Index to its full potential as a global source of subjective effect knowledge and discovery.

Web Development

- ($28,053 - $30,000)

My biggest priority for this project right now is improving the infrastructure behind our website. The existing website has evolved over time through the generous contributions of multiple community volunteers, but it is presently not able to accommodate any significant changes to the overall structure of the content. While we have an excellent starting point, there are a number of important features and improvements that will need to be implemented to turn this project into a platform capable of serving as a dedicated community resource for establishing, showcasing, and progressing the field of Subjective Effect Documentation.

To maintain and implement improvements to the website, I would need to contract with a single freelance web developer, preferably on a long-term basis. My first choice for this role is a specific prominent community member who is highly capable, passionate about the project's goals, has an in-depth understanding of this project, is familiar with the website's backend code, and has been helping us work on it for a number of years.

For in-depth details on each aspect of this, feel free to look at our spreadsheet here. Otherwise, we have included a summarised list of our specific goals below.

  • User interface and profile improvements: Better, more customizable user profiles would facilitate writers, artists, replicators, and other people involved in our project to showcase their contributions and general online presence, therefore encouraging higher quality community contributions. We would like to implement:
    • A way to change the order of replications on user pages so that they are better suited for use as portfolios.
    • A way to better manage the categories of user pages, and the order of the users in them.
    • Simplified trip report submission to our report index. Reports would then undergo moderation and manual approval before being integrated into the Subjective Effect Index via the effect tagging process.
    • Upgrading the user interface to allow direct upload of images, videos, gifs, and audio files without resorting to an external FTP client. This would allow replicators and visionary artists to submit their own content easily to relevant effect pages and prevent changes in third-party services from disabling community assets.
    • Upgrading the trip report editor to fix numerous issues to make writing trip reports easier, as well as making trip reports easier for machine learning to process and reliably analyze. These changes include the input fields needing to be more strict with the values they accept, as well as converting between units for the user. The medications list should also be a separate list of meds and dosages, similar to how the substances box works. A more consistent time format would help with readability and ML processing. The editor should also strip whitespace around input fields.
    • A live preview for the VCode editor would be immensely helpful, especially for large content and formatting-dense articles.
    • These changes would take an estimated 190 hours to add (~$5130 USD).
  • Structural improvements: To remain a relevant resource, the website should be upgraded to accommodate the following:
    • The newest edition of the Subjective Effect Index is being developed under Josie Kins’ work with Mind State Design Labs, and we should have the website fully prepared for the new effects and general overarching structure of the ontology by the time it is published and available to the public.
    • A directory of other Altered State of Consciousness Ontologies, with direct comparison to the Subjective Index. This will essentially be a user-facing showcase of the literature review that Josikinz is already working on with Mind State Design Labs.
    • These changes would take an estimated 180 hours to add (~$4860 USD).
  • Ideally as many pages outside of effects, articles, etc, should be editable within the UI of the website to the maximum extent that is practically possible. This will take inspiration from the way in which MediaWiki allows people to do much the same thing.
    • We’ll need to make embeddable vcode components for a wider array of site features: tabs, read more button, tabs for viewing multiple versions of an article or article section allow creation / editing of arbitrary pages with vcode
    • changing an article's icon in the web editor
    • We need version control for articles, much like with MediaWiki. This would allow us to track edits and revert changes more easily. Something which is essential for giving people more editor privileges.
    • These changes would take an estimated 160 hours to add (~$4320 USD).
  • A function for redirecting effects to other effects or webpages, so you create an effect that essentially serves an alternative title which people may search for. (~10h / $270)
  • Implement timestamps into the error log.
  • Automatic citation generation in a set format would make managing citations easier, as well as preferring DOIs. (~20h / $540)
  • Some things such as the “project” tab could have a scrolling TOC on the side? Discuss. (~30h / $810)
  • The “About Us” button on the page only displays after hitting “read more”. Most people probably won’t click “read more”. This is a small thing but should absolutely be fixed.
  • Implementing analytics to see what pages people interact with / how they interact with them (eg, what elements are clicked the most?) would be helpful when designing articles to see which elements convey information better, and so on. (~50h / $1350)
  • A discord bot to post updates / help manage the EI (eg, when someone submits a new trip report). (~20h / $540)
  • The main page should be overhauled with new information and content, as well as phrasing such as “Hallucinogenic substance classes” being updated to use modern language. (~15h / $405)
  • A way to search through all articles / vcode components for text, to aide in updating content and fixing references to broken components. (~30h / $810)
  • Proper error handling and status codes from the API, instead of returning 500 for everything. (~30h / $810)
  • Embeddable gif support in the image viewer. (~15h / $405)
  • Articles that were published before the publish date system was added are missing a publish date. Adding a box to manually enter a date would be ideal. (~5h / $135)
  • Article and report editing improvements: We would like to implement various goals in order to make the creation and editing of content on the Effect Index easier and faster for editors.
    • Article formatting templates, to make creating standardised articles easier. (~15h / $675)
    • Fixing bugs and issues with the editor, such as visual issues with regards to account permissions. (~11h / $297)
    • A live preview for the VCode editor, and showing the article side-by-side instead of a tabbed view would make editing formatting easier.
    • A component for showing substance durations and dosages would be nice to have, when referencing a specific substance.
    • Inline citation links would be great (similar to mediawiki). The current css for them should also be more aesthetically pleasing. Currently the citations are too big and with too much space around them. (~30h / $810)
    • Overhaul the replication gallery. I would prefer to have not just the option for slideshows, but collections of tiled thumbnails for a more presentable showcasing. (~60h / $1620)
    • Tickboxes for managing profile roles, and managing effect tags rather than freestanding boxes would make site management easier. (~11h / $297)

Depending on the number of features we are implementing and at an hourly rate of $27, we estimate that this platform overhaul would cost $30,000 to fully implement. Furthermore, once implemented it would directly contribute to the Phenomenology, Practise, and Psychedelic Projects of the EPRC.

This project is ethically driven as a means of maximizing harm reduction and empowering people to make informed choices, for the benefit of the global community. So if you're passionate about the field of psychedelic and general phenomenological research, the potential for formalized Subjective Effect Documentation as a legitimate field of study, and the need for a truly comprehensive, universally applicable map of substance and other practice-induced altered states of consciousness, then please consider donating to our fundraising campaign.

Every little helps and will go directly to the cause, thank you in advance.