John_Maxwell_IV comments on Please Take the 2018 Effective Altruism Survey! - Effective Altruism Forum

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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.