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RyanCarey comments on Centre for Effective Altruism (CEA): an overview of 2017 and our 2018 plans - Effective Altruism Forum

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Comment author: RyanCarey 19 December 2017 08:14:04PM *  9 points [-]

That is an excellent update. The strategic directions broadly make sense to me for all of the teams, and I, like many people, am really happy with the ways CEA has improved over the last year.

One item of feedback on the post: the description of mistakes is a bit long, boring, and over-the-top. Many of these things are not actually very important issues.

One suggestion re the EA Forum revamp: the lesserwrong.com site is looking pretty great these days. My main gripes --- things like the front being slightly small for my preferences --- could be easily fixed with some restyling. Some of their features, like including sequences of archived material, could also be ideal for the EA Forum use case. IDK whether the codebase is good but recall that the EA Forum was originally created by restyling LessWrong1, so the notion of stealing that code comes from a healthy tradition! Also, This last part is probably a bit too crazy (and too much work), but one can imagine a case where you post content (and accept comments) from both sites at once.

That aside, it's really appreciated that you guys have taken the forum over this year. And in general, it's great to see all of this progress, so here's to 2018!

Comment author: sdspikes 19 December 2017 08:21:11PM 5 points [-]

Yeah, we have talked to the LW 2.0 team a bit about the possibility of using their codebase as a starting point or possibly doing some kind of actual integration, but we're still in the speculative phase at this point :)

Comment author: Gregory_Lewis 20 December 2017 01:03:22AM 3 points [-]

I agree both with Ryan's overall evaluation (this is excellent) and that the 'mistakes' section, although laudable in intent, errs slightly too far in the 'self-flagellatory' direction. Some of the mistakes listed either seem appropriate decisions (e.g. "We prioritized X over Y, so we didn't do as much Y as we'd like"), or are the result of reasonable decisions or calculations ex ante which didn't work out.

I think the main value of publicly recording mistakes is to allow others to learn from them or (if egregious) be the context for a public mea culpa. The line between, "We made our best guess, it turned out wrong, but we're confident we made the right call ex ante" and "Actually, on reflection, we should have acted differently given what we knew at the time" is blurry, as not all decisions can (or should) be taken with laborious care.

Perhaps crudely categorising mistakes into 'major' and 'minor' given magnitude, how plausibly could have been averted, etc., and putting the former in updates like these but the latter linked to in an appendix might be a good way forward.

Comment author: casebash 20 December 2017 08:02:31AM 0 points [-]

Would love to see LW2.0 become the new code base, but it still undergoing rapid changes at the moment and isn't completely stable.

Comment author: RyanCarey 20 December 2017 01:44:34PM 2 points [-]

Sure, although the tech team could presumably just wait six months while they work on other stuff.