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Please Take the 2018 Effective Altruism Survey!

The 2018 EA Survey has just been released! We hope that as many of you as possible take it via this link.

 

The survey takes about 10-20 minutes to complete, depending on how extensively you answer the questions.

The annual EA Survey is conducted by Rethink Charity, with support and assistance from several EA community organizations intending to help the community better understand our actions, values, demographics, and ideas. You can find the most popular post from the 2017 EA Survey here.

All results will be aggregated, anonymized, and made available to members of the EA community, so we can better share useful knowledge among each other. Within the survey, you’ll have the option to publicly share selected information about yourself in several EA venues, if you opt in.

If you know anyone else who might be interested in completing the survey, we’d encourage you to pass along this direct link or share this post!

Comments (21)

Comment author: RandomEA 25 April 2018 08:19:31PM 12 points [-]

I was planning to give some feedback on the 2017 survey instrument after the last post in that series, which I had assumed would finish before the 2018 survey was released. Since my assumption was wrong (sorry!), I'll just post my feedback here to be considered for the 2019 survey:

  1. One major aspect of EA is the regularly produced online content on this forum and elsewhere. It might be useful to ask about the average number of hours a week people spend reading EA content as that could help people evaluate the value of producing online content.

  2. You could also ask people whether they've attended an EA Global conference. The responses could be used as a proxy to distinguish more involved and less involved EAs, which could be used in analyzing other issues like cause area preferences.

  3. For the question about career path, you could add advocacy as a fourth option. (80,000 Hours treats it as one of the four broad options.)

  4. For the same reasons that race was included in the 2017 survey, it could be useful to ask about parental education (as a proxy for socioeconomic background).

  5. You could ask people how many of their acquaintances they have seriously attempted to persuade to join EA and how many of those did join. This could provide useful data on the effectiveness of personal outreach.

  6. Another question that may be worth asking: "Have you ever seriously considered leaving EA?" For those that answer yes, you could ask them for their reasons.

  7. I think it could be useful to have data on the percent of EAs who are living organ donors and the percent of EAs who intend to become living organ donors. The major downside is that it may cause people to think that being a living organ donor is part of EA.

  8. Borrowing from Peter Singer, I propose asking: "Has effective altruism given you a greater sense of meaning and purpose in your life?"

  9. You could also ask about systemic change: "How much do you think the EA community currently focuses on systemic change (on a scale of 1 to 10)?" and "How much do you think the EA community should focus on systemic change (on a scale of 1 to 10)?" You could include a box for people to explain their answers.

  10. Lastly, you could ask questions about values. A) "Do you believe that preventing the suffering of a person living in your own country is more important than preventing an equal amount of suffering of a person living in a different country? Assume that there is no instrumental value to preventing the suffering of either and that in both cases the suffering is being prevented by means other than preventing existence or causing death." B) "Do you believe that preventing the suffering of a human is more important than preventing an equal amount of suffering of a non-human animal? Assume that there is no instrumental value to preventing the suffering of either and that in both cases the suffering is being prevented by means other than preventing existence or causing death." C) "Do you believe that preventing the suffering of a person living in the present is more important than preventing an equal amount of suffering of a person living several centuries from now? Assume that there is no instrumental value to preventing the suffering of either and that in both cases the suffering is being prevented by means other than preventing existence or causing death." D) "Do you believe that it is bad if a person who would live a happy life is not brought into existence?"

Comment author: Peter_Hurford  (EA Profile) 25 April 2018 09:13:29PM 2 points [-]

Thanks for the feedback. We can definitely consider a lot of these for the 2019 Survey. :)

Comment author: Peter_Hurford  (EA Profile) 25 April 2018 09:12:44PM 2 points [-]

after the last post in that series, which I had assumed would finish before the 2018 survey was released

Yeah, this is a very fair assumption to make, but our publication kinda fell apart with the December holidays (we're an all volunteer team). This year we're intending to plan out our analysis publication with a lot more dedication and organization.

Comment author: SiebeRozendal 29 April 2018 11:10:47AM 0 points [-]

B) "Do you believe that preventing the suffering of a human is more important than preventing an equal amount of suffering of a non-human animal?

This is an important question! I have the suspicion that many people value animals at a rate that should make them focus their resources (at least their donations) towards animal charities, but that they are unaware of this.

However, the question is somewhat ambiguous.Some people believe humans can suffer more than animals ever can, such that preventing the suffering of a human may be 100 times more important than that of a non-human animal. On the other hand, with the original question you capture the degree of speciecism. In that case, I would add "assume some non-human animals can suffer as much as humans can" so you're sure they interpret it in the way you want.

Borrowing from Peter Singer, I propose asking: "Has effective altruism given you a greater sense of meaning and purpose in your life?"

Nice one! Relatedly, capturing whether we actually are sacrificing our own utility: "On net, has effective altruism increased or decreased your overall well-being?"

Comment author: number42 26 April 2018 06:04:09PM 0 points [-]

For the same reasons that race was included in the 2017 survey, it could be useful to ask about parental education (as a proxy for socioeconomic background).

Clever idea, seconded.

Comment author: Henry_Stanley 25 April 2018 08:33:17PM 11 points [-]

Probably too late to change it, but for the question "how did you hear about this survey?", the EA Forum isn't mentioned :P

Comment author: number42 26 April 2018 06:02:14PM 3 points [-]

Oh, no one reads this. We're all bots.

Comment author: ozymandias 25 April 2018 07:36:14PM 11 points [-]

The EA community climate survey linked in the EA survey has some methodological problems. When academics study sexual harassment and assault, it's generally agreed upon that one should describe specific acts (e.g. "has anyone ever made you have vaginal, oral, or anal sex against your will using force or a threat of force?") rather than vague terms like harassment or assault. People typically disagree on what harassment and assault mean, and many people choose not to conceptualize their experiences as harassment or assault. (This is particularly true for men, since many people believe that men by definition can't be victims of sexual harassment or assault.) Similarly, few people will admit to perpetrating harassment or assault, but more people will admit to (for example) touching someone on the breasts, buttocks, or genitals against their will.

I'd also suggest using a content warning before asking people about potentially traumatic experiences.

Comment author: kbog  (EA Profile) 25 April 2018 08:02:55PM *  7 points [-]

I didn't notice the community survey until I saw your comment. I had to retake the survey (answering "no my answers are not accurate") to get to it.

I think there will be selection bias when the survey is optional and difficult to access like this.

Comment author: number42 26 April 2018 06:06:07PM 1 point [-]

Yeah, I'd make it more visible, and flag it more earlier - it's a good idea which could use more responses.

Comment author: Peter_Hurford  (EA Profile) 28 April 2018 11:02:42PM *  1 point [-]

Right now 10% of people taking the EA Survey are also taking the anonymous survey, which is not unreasonable. After the main survey marketing is over, we may follow up and market the anonymous survey further.

Comment author: AviN 26 April 2018 02:24:18PM 1 point [-]

I didn't see it either.

Comment author: Alex_Barry 25 April 2018 09:04:00PM 0 points [-]

I also missed it the first time through

Comment author: Peter_Hurford  (EA Profile) 25 April 2018 09:23:44PM *  5 points [-]

Thanks. We've never run an anonymous feedback survey before or a survey about sexual assault, so we're definitely open to any suggestions. We did work with Kathy some on this and we also drew some from the SlateStarCodex Survey.

Comment author: John_Maxwell_IV 26 April 2018 07:47:20AM *  10 points [-]

Thanks for doing this!

Under "Have you received career coaching from 80,000 Hours?" there are 3 options: "I have received career coaching", "I have not received career coaching, but would like to", and "None of the Above". I think if "None of the Above" was replaced by "I have not received career coaching, and would not like to" then you'd more accurately measure people in that category.

IMO the EA survey is a super powerful tool that's currently underused. Here's an idea bank for future surveys:

  • Ask what skillsets people in the community are attempting to build, and what career paths they are trying to move into. Maybe we can forecast talent gaps in advance and build/recruit for those skills, or identify if there's a glut of people moving into a particular area. Bonus: In order to help people coordinate to avoid gluts, also ask people how dedicated they are to their current career path/how much career capital they've built. Then if I'm in an overpopulated career area, and I know I have less career capital for this area than the average, I know I'm one of the people who is best-positioned to move out of it. (You might even set people from the survey up with each other in order to overcome coordination challenges of this type.)

  • A lightweight method for facilitating comparative advantage trades: In addition to asking people what career they are personally working on, also ask them what careers they think more EAs should work on. Then have EAs who are just getting started with the movement and feeling directionless look over the freeform responses for ideas. That way I can continue in a career path I have comparative advantage for while still getting to influence how our collective career capital is allocated on the margin.

  • You could also ask people if they are open to being contacted by EA organizations that are recruiting for their skills. 80K says talent gaps are big and junior hires are valued at over $1M by EA orgs. I'm guessing a lot of hires currently happen through networking, which is a relatively inefficient process. Using the EA survey as a talent clearinghouse could generate millions of dollars of value on an annual basis. I assume you'd first want to talk to EA orgs to see if a process like this might work for them. I can think of a few advantages of this relative to using LinkedIn: career profiles optimized for what EA orgs are interested in, avoid sketchiness of unsolicited LinkedIn messages, probably a more comprehensive and up-to-date database of potential hires. Also, I remember CEA complaining that a lot of people are interested in EA, but it seems harder to get people seriously involved. Maybe sending emails of the form "EA organization X wants to hire you!" could help overcome inertia. You could still use mutual connections on FB/LinkedIn to measure involvement & dig up references. One complication is you'd want to separate the survey into "professional" and "personal" sections to control what information potential employers see, but I think the potential upside is worth it.

  • Add calibration questions.

  • Ask people which causes they've changed their minds about and why.

  • Ask EAs about their biggest productivity bottlenecks.

  • Ask people what mental health issues they suffer from.

  • Ask people how much $ they have in donor-advised funds etc. that they are saving up for future giving opportunities, and what circumstances would trigger donation. In general, it'd be nice to know how the community as a whole currently balances giving now vs giving later. Asking people about the circumstances that would cause them to donate could also help unendorsed donation procrastination.

  • How many people read/contribute to online EA discussions? Why or why not?

  • What factors are holding people back from being more involved in EA? Why do people choose not to work for EA organizations?

  • LW and SSC surveys might have more ideas. (A number of the above ideas are things I remember from the LW survey that I wish the EA survey had.)

Comment author: RandomEA 03 May 2018 04:53:06AM 2 points [-]

Ask people which causes they've changed their minds about and why.

I second this. Specifically, I think people should be asked what their preferred cause area was when they first got involved in EA. This would allow us to know the proportion of long term future people who first got involved in EA through global health, which is information that would be useful for a number of different reasons.

Comment author: SiebeRozendal 29 April 2018 11:16:56AM 1 point [-]

I suppose question 56 is meant to measure something like "inclination to deliberate", but 3 out of 5 questions are materialistic contexts (shopping, dining) that EA's might not think much about, even if a lot of other contexts would trigger a lot of deliberation. Especially for dining there are often just a few vegetarian and even fewer vegan options on the menu, so that item especially doesn't capture the intended concept I'm afraid.

Comment author: Chosh 28 April 2018 03:59:32PM 1 point [-]

For the (bonus) question on comparing impact of an "average" charity with the best one, it would probably be worth specifying whether we mean mean or median, as I know some people here expect (I think myself included) a very significant difference between mean and median.

Comment author: arikagan 06 June 2018 12:57:36AM 1 point [-]

It could also be useful to specify a few other things about the question, such as whether charities saving future lives are legitimate to include in the calculation and whether the language about helping the world's poorest people was specifically intending to restrict the set to global poverty charities.

Comment author: adamaero  (EA Profile) 26 April 2018 02:29:24AM *  1 point [-]

11) Do you know of a local EA group?

I know of a local EA group near me

I do not know of a local EA group near me

-> -> I know there is no local EA group near me.

Comment author: Khorton 25 April 2018 11:38:29PM 1 point [-]

Given the number of 80k recommendations about policy careers, I was surprised "policy" wasn't a broad career option.