DardanBastiaan comments on Testing an EA network-building strategy in the Netherlands - Effective Altruism Forum

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Comment author: DardanBastiaan 03 July 2017 06:06:02PM *  3 points [-]

First off: sign me up. There's a bunch of (potentially) relevant networks I'm connected into in Leiden, e.g. Amnesty, ISN (International student network), LDU (Leiden Debating Union), EUSA (European Student Association), but in which I have yet not been able to get through the change I should have pushed harder for. For example, I once had the idea to set up a debating tournament as to not only raise awareness, but do so amongst those who would be most open to its message and most able to then do something about it, namely debaters. This particular idea might not be as feasible as I once thought it was, but there's always other opportunities to be thought of.

Here are potential network collaborations that we’re exploring right now: Local/student groups These would clearly define their target groups and offer newcomers a path to learn about EA principles and build up their capacity to do good (established groups like EA London and EA Berkeley are inspirations to us here).

Based on having been in a book club with a community of about ~300 individuals, it's really difficult to get a large group of individuals to be consistently involved. It follows that this strategy has a high risk of failing, demotivating those involved in the failure from staying involved in EA. If you want to go ahead with this, it needs to be thought out well.

Comment author: remmelt  (EA Profile) 03 July 2017 10:49:24PM 2 points [-]

Thanks for the points!

First off, you might be interested in helping continue the EA Leiden group (the current organiser has just finished her Masters and is going back to Germany): https://www.facebook.com/?_rdr#~!/profile.php?id=100015874785676 Please let me know if you want me to connect you with her.

Comment author: remmelt  (EA Profile) 03 July 2017 11:19:34PM *  3 points [-]

Second, I lean towards focusing on enabling a handful of small number of highly-committed and capable people in a network instead of trying to shift hundreds of people towards EA.

Besides the outsized impact that these few individuals can have, the time cost of coordinating a large group of slightly motivated people (as you alluded to) and the difficulty of fostering a rigorous EA culture and network effects within such a group for those who the concept 'clicks', mean that I personally have a strong preference for quality over quantity (similar to Kevin Kelly's 1000 true fans concept or Y Combinator's advice of focusing on making initial customers love the product).

To some extent, EAN's strategy leans this way because we focus on building EA Networks instead of influencing existing networks.

The broad reasoning done by Sjir and I (based in part on useful advice given by others in the community) are build on layers of unproven assumptions. I can imagine counterexamples for local groups such as having low cost, low bar ways of getting people acquainted with EA like pub socials, to help build up a core circle of people.

In general, I want to be wary though of aiming for short-term effects by collecting many people instead of building up our collective capacity to solve big problems.

Comment author: DardanBastiaan 04 July 2017 11:33:15AM *  1 point [-]

Looking at the list of friends to the Leiden chapter, I am impressed with both the amount of people on it as well as with the amount of talent I know some of these folk to possess. On the other hand, the activities thus far planned out and put out there these past few months, based on for example the 2 people that attended the last event, seem to have been largely unsuccessful.

There is a middle road, I think, combining the best of both our views. Rather than having a core group hosting activities which very few would attend, I envision having a core group that first raises awareness throughout Leiden and otherwise working pragmatically, which could include hosting events, to further the EA agenda. If some of these people are anything I know them to be, i.e. highly talented, motivated individuals, then we'd be able to stick together based on our shared passion and desire for a stimulating environment alone. The risk of such a group falling apart would in that sense be far smaller than what I had estimated it to be in my previous post.

Anyway, again, I very much look forward to working more closely with you and those already active in Leiden.

Comment author: remmelt  (EA Profile) 04 July 2017 02:03:03PM *  0 points [-]

Yes, I think connecting with potentially interested people on existing platforms makes sense for local groups, as an example. The subtle difference for me is that you wouldn't try to 'convert' the entire existing network but instead have targeted conversations with participants (e.g. talking with altruistic, analytical people at an Amnesty event or inviting people to schedule a cup of coffee at the end of your own event).

I'll connect you with the current organiser. Looking forward to exploring this idea further with you!

Comment author: DardanBastiaan 03 July 2017 11:17:00PM 3 points [-]

Ah, I totally missed about a chapter having opened this april. But yes: I'd be very much interested in helping continue the EA Leiden group, so feel free to connect me with the current organiser.