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Why more effective altruists should use LinkedIn

People in the community often talk about how nice it would be if there was an EA social network: somewhere with a database of everyone interested in effective altruism, that you could search by skills/location/experience/cause, that would show how involved someone is in the community, and where you can message and chat to the other members.

 

In fact, there has been more than one attempt to build such a social network from scratch. One of these was pushed by me and 80,000 Hours back in 2012-2013. And I recently heard about a proposal to try again.

 

But such a network already exists, and it's called LinkedIn.

 

What we need is for everyone in the community to join a group on LinkedIn. One already exists here with 300 members. 80,000 Hours also has a group with over 1200 members, rising at about 20 per week.

Then you can:

 

  • Use advanced search to search the group by any linkedin data fields, including skills/education/keywords/causes/location/company.
  • For everyone in the group, you can see how connected they are to others in the community, giving a proxy for level of involvement.
  • Chat on a shared private forum
  • Message other members, so long as you have a mutual connection, which reduces the chance of spam.

This is far better than making our own social network, because most people already have LinkedIn profiles containing a huge amount of data, AND they keep them up to date because they need to in order to get jobs. With past attempts to make our own networks, no-one keeps their profile up to date or regularly visits. In addition, the features are much better because thousands of person-years of work have gone into making the code.

It's even better than just using Facebook because we have all the employment information we want. (Downside being that LinkedIn's interface is worse, and people use it about 10% as much.)

Some advanced features we could also add:

  • Ask everyone to put "effective altruism" as a cause in the cause section of their profiles. This helps to spread awareness. If people fill out global poverty, animal welfare, catastrophic risks etc. then we'll be able to search by cause too.
  • If people make "effective altruism" as one of their skills, then people in the community can endorse them for that skill. This provides a proxy for how dedicated someone is to effective altruism.
  • People could mention how much income they're pledging on their profile too.

The main feature that's lacking is donations tracking. However, we already have Giving What We Can's My Giving platform for that, so I suggest people just use that for now.

What to do right now:

Join the 80,000 Hours and Effective Altruism LinkedIn groups.

 

Comments (14)

Comment author: vipulnaik 05 June 2016 03:12:21PM 2 points [-]

Couple of points.

  • It seems that effective altruists and similar folks have gravitated more towards Facebook than LinkedIn, largely because I think they generally like to spend more time discussing things, and Facebook is a much better place to carry out discussions (it has a good system for notifications, tagging, comments, replies, emoticons, etc.) LinkedIn is more heavily used by people who want networking benefits rather than as a place to carry out actual, on-site discussion.
  • In general, there is a tendency among some self-identified EAs to build their own tools, or their own versions of reality. It's somewhat like the Not Invented Here syndrome. Look at all the Facebook groups with names of the form "EA X" -- while some of the names make sense, others mainly serve to restrict discussion of X, when more could be gained from engaging with the wider pool of people and thought on X. The relatively low use of LinkedIn (which is the standard in the business world) and the significant effort spent on building niche tools is another facet of this.
Comment author: John_Maxwell_IV 10 September 2016 09:49:48AM *  0 points [-]

LinkedIn is more heavily used by people who want networking benefits rather than as a place to carry out actual, on-site discussion.

An advantage of LinkedIn is that it has fewer irrelevant distractions than Facebook. I'm not sure how big of a factor this is.

Look at all the Facebook groups with names of the form "EA X" -- while some of the names make sense, others mainly serve to restrict discussion of X, when more could be gained from engaging with the wider pool of people and thought on X.

One could say the same of many university clubs and university-branded Facebook groups. Humans are inherently tribal--it can be problematic at a certain level, but I wouldn't worry about this kind of stuff. (Though I guess if there's already a good Facebook group on a particular topic, it could be suboptimal to create an EA-branded duplicate.)

Comment author: Ben_Todd 06 June 2016 04:44:27PM 0 points [-]

Facebook is definitely better for discussion. A big difference is that is has about 10x the level of activity.

Comment author: RandomEA 31 August 2016 11:05:47PM 1 point [-]

Would it be a good idea to create a centralized mechanism that would allow EAs who have a job to indicate their willingness to review the resumes of EAs who are seeking a job in their profession? Job seeking EAs do currently have the ability to seek help from EAs with jobs, but some of them may be reluctant to do so unless the other person has explicitly indicated their willingness to spend time doing this.

Comment author: tyleralterman 03 June 2016 05:35:40PM 1 point [-]

+1

Though I suspect it will be difficult to get to a sufficient threshold of EAs using LinkedIn as their social network without something similar to a marketing campaign. Any takers?

Comment author: MichaelDickens  (EA Profile) 03 June 2016 11:34:40PM 3 points [-]

Why would it be difficult? LinkedIn is already quite popular, and the groups Ben named have lots of members.

Comment author: lissy  (EA Profile) 03 June 2016 06:28:55PM 2 points [-]

LinkedIn addict here but somewhat new to effective altruism. Please let me know how I can help!

Comment author: Ben_Todd 03 June 2016 10:39:34PM 2 points [-]

One slightly boring, but very useful thing, would be posting more of the good job opportunities from here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1062957250383195/ To the 80k linkedin group.

Also inviting more people to the 80k group who should be in there.

Comment author: Ben_Todd 03 June 2016 10:40:09PM 1 point [-]

Yes, though if people just join the group it's already very useful, since then you're searchable. The group doesn't need to be highly active to be useful.

Comment author: John_Maxwell_IV 10 September 2016 10:05:10AM *  0 points [-]

Ben Todd mentions the ability to search based on skills/education/keywords/causes/location/company. It took me a minute to figure out how to do this. It's not possible to search by company from the search box on the 80K group main screen. Instead you have to click the "Advanced" link next to the main LinkedIn search box in the middle of the top toolbar. Then there's a place to check the 80K group in the upper right. http://imgur.com/a/xqYYg

Comment author: Denkenberger 10 June 2016 01:15:53AM 0 points [-]

Good suggestions. However, I can't seem to find the cause section in my profile-could it be called something else?

Comment author: John_Maxwell_IV 10 September 2016 09:52:17AM 0 points [-]

I had to click the edit link next to one of the "Organizations you support" under Volunteer, then choose the "Other" checkbox and type in Effective Altruism. Not a very intuitive interface at all.

Comment author: Andy_Schultz 11 June 2016 09:56:01PM 0 points [-]

I had to click on View More under Add a section to your profile, and then a tile appeared called Causes you care about. I checked the Other checkbox and typed effective altruism.

Comment author: Linch 10 June 2016 05:09:13AM 0 points [-]

"Causes You Care About" is under the "Volunteer" section