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Ben_Todd comments on Why not to rush to translate effective altruism into other languages - Effective Altruism Forum

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Comment author: Ben_Todd 07 March 2018 10:39:30PM 2 points [-]

Some concerning data in this recent post about local groups: http://effective-altruism.com/ea/1l7/2017_lean_impact_assessment_evaluation_strategic/

One other striking feature of this category is that all of the top groups [in terms of new event attendees] were from non-Anglo-American countries. While this is purely speculative, an explanation for this pattern might be that these groups are aggressively reaching out to people unfamiliar with EA in their areas, getting them to attend events, but largely not seeing success in transferring this into increased group membership.

Comment author: DavidMoss 08 March 2018 07:33:42PM *  4 points [-]

Thanks for the citation!

We agree this doesn't look good for (non-Anglo-American) groups running large events as outreach, in that it looks like it doesn't bear fruit in terms of increasing members or other outputs. But note the rest of the paragraph you quote, where we say:

it seems plausible that EA groups outside of the traditional geographical areas may face distinct challenges and require more tailored support (such as translation of materials).

One possible explanation for the observation above is that these groups' large events in non-Anglo-American countries don't bear so much fruit because they lack the supporting background and infrastructure (like translated materials). So, for example, if someone attends a large event in London they can easily immediately check out lots of EA websites and materials, find places to follow-up and so on; if someone attends a large event in a different country without these touch-points and critical mass, then not so much. Of course, it may also just be that these areas were less fertile ground for receiving EA message in some other way.

It's also important to note that it's not clear from the data we provided above that non-Anglo-American groups distinctively receive low payoffs from large events. If you look at the specific graph you'll see that these groups are pretty clear outliers, reporting events with many more people who are unfamiliar with effective altruism, but it's not that Anglo-American groups are running large events with lots of people unfamiliar with EA and receiving comparatively larger payoffs: rather it's that most other groups are just not running such large events with so many people unfamiliar with effective altruism. So what is distinctive about these groups is that they are running large events with lots of unfamiliar attendees at all, not that they are running these large events and failing to receive payoff.