Comment author: Kerry_Vaughan 08 November 2016 05:29:25PM 0 points [-]

I'll start things off by putting some of the content I really liked as replies to this post.

Comment author: MichaelDickens  (EA Profile) 08 November 2016 03:42:49AM 7 points [-]

I believe that when people describe content as "best", what they usually mean is "most fun to read", which is probably not what you want. People naturally like things better when they're fun to read, or when they "feel" insightful. People enjoy reading motivational blogs, even though they're basically useless; people do not enjoy reading statistics textbooks, even though they're extremely useful. I don't believe I personally can do a good job of separating posts/articles that are important to read and ones that I enjoyed reading.

On the other hand, I cannot think of a better strategy for curating good content than asking people to submit the posts they like best. Maybe something like peer review would work better, where you get a small group of people who consciously optimize for finding valuable articles, not necessarily interesting ones?

Comment author: Kerry_Vaughan 08 November 2016 05:23:21PM 1 point [-]

Agree with this. I'm not yet sure how we'll select the best posts, but I think it will be some combination of votes and talking with experts to distill the content down.

11

The Best of EA in 2016: Nomination Thread

Basic Idea The CEA team is thinking of creating a list of the best content from the Effective Altruism community during 2016. This would be distributed on effectivealtruism.org and potentially in the EA Newsletter and elsewhere. The goals of the project would be to: Help busy people stay up-to-date with... Read More
5

Three Heuristics for Finding Cause X

This post is cross-posted from effectivealtruism.org. In the  October 2016 EA Newsletter , we discussed  Will MacAskill’s idea  that discovering some important, but unaddressed moral catastrophe -- which he calls “ Cause X ” -- could be one of the most important goals of the EA community. By its very... Read More
Comment author: georgie_mallett 29 September 2016 09:20:10PM 2 points [-]

Thanks for the question, although I’m sad that you didn’t include my jokes... ;)

I had this in an earlier iteration of the post (I’d cut it for the sake of brevity) so I’ll just paste here with some additions:

“There will be comparatively more time spent on converting medium-sized groups into large groups: we know that most of the impact so far has come from this. [In addition, focusing on city group growth is more likely to be counterfactual than focusing on university group growth]

So why spend any time at all on making sure that groups don’t die out? Well, we want to grow the community, but there is also an abundance of value in:

a) Making the community welcoming b) Building a diverse community c) Strengthening the commitment of existing EAs

...and thus having an overall greater impact.

If there is a recurring issue that people feel lonely or unwelcomed by the community [see the EA Survey and the Local Group survey], this is something we need to address for the long-term impact of EA.

Likewise, if group growth is solely dependent on pre-existing hospitable conditions and no one is helping the less likely candidates, not only do we reduce our chances of having a counterfactual impact, we’ll also miss out on a wealth of viewpoints that represent valuable opportunities for impact. [As well as making local group work more susceptible to the Schelling Effect.]”

On seeding new groups and seeing if they get large vs improving our services for the hundreds of groups we’ve already seeded:

Seeding groups and simply “seeing if they get large” would be ok - it would mean we nudged them to take the first step - but it wouldn’t be great. The point is that, based on what we’ve observed from the hundreds of groups we’ve seeded, we think they wouldn’t “get large” without our intervention. We think most of them would die out, so our work to provide encouragement and guidance is extremely valuable.

Comment author: Kerry_Vaughan 29 September 2016 10:12:05PM 2 points [-]

Thanks for this.However, I'm still a bit confused.

You seem to be saying that devoting resources to smaller groups is useful for:

a) Making the community welcoming b) Building a diverse community c) Strengthening the commitment of existing EAs

But, presumably, all of these goals are better accomplished by spending resources on the groups with the most people since all of these benefits depend on the number of people in the groups.

It could be that you think preventing groups from dying out is important for improving diversity in the community, but this could only be true if some demographics are systematically more likely to trying to start an EA group and fail. Otherwise, we would expect the demographics of chapter leaders to roughly match the demographics of EA as a whole.

The reason I'm asking all of this is to try to compare models of why groups succeed and why groups fail. Presumably, our goal is to create vibrant, self-sustaining communities like those in SF, London, Boston and elsewhere. I have a lot less on-the-ground experience than you do, but I think there are roughly four phases that a group needs to go through to be effective and sustainable.

1) The group is founded by (or quickly attracts) a highly dedicated, energetic, and skilled founder. 2) The founder is able to attract a small group of highly dedicated chapter members to help found the group. 3) The group establishes tactics for regularly attracting new chapter members. 4) The founder sets up a system for passing leadership of the group onto a highly dedicated chapter member.

I think the skill of the founder matters a great deal because getting people to join a chapter is much harder early on than it is later. This is because chapters are more valuable the more people are in them. We should expect that recruiting the second person is going to be much harder than recruiting the 20th person.

My rough hypothesis is that we probably lack the ability to substantially improve the skills and abilities of founders and so the supply of excellent founders is probably the bottleneck on establishing sustainable groups.

If this is true, then it makes sense to spend time identifying and cultivating highly-dedicated founders, but it probably doesn't make sense to spend much time trying to save groups from disappearing. I'm interested in whether your agree with this model and if not, where you think we disagree.

Comment author: Kerry_Vaughan 28 September 2016 09:12:00PM 1 point [-]

Thanks for the post.

A quick strategy question for you. You mentioned that

1) Most of the impact comes from the largest groups 2) Local Groups risk death or dormancy due to loneliness

Given 1), I'm interested in why you've decided to work on interventions for 2). It seems plausible that a better use of resources would be to double down on the large groups and seed new groups mostly for the purposes of seeing if they get large.

11

Review of EA Global 2016 Marketing

This post is a summary of some of the most interesting findings from reviewing the marketing activities conducted by CEA to promote Effective Altruism Global 2016. This is intended as a resource for others working to promote the effective altruism community, sharing what we found worked well and which activities... Read More
Comment author: Kerry_Vaughan 14 September 2016 12:12:26AM 2 points [-]

Thanks for posting this and thanks for the feedback.

Speaking just for myself, I made three useful updates from this post and from reflecting on EAGx overall.

1) Having Roxanne be the only person on the EAO team directly responsible for EAGx while in school was probably asking too much of her. Roxanne is extremely capable, but the amount of work this entailed was more than could be reasonably expected. I think this is classic planning fallacy on the EAO team's part.

2) I think it was a mistake to run both EAGxBerkeley and EAGxBoston at the same time, as our first EAGx events. We knew this would be tough at the time but probably should have either declined one of the two events or made it clear that our level of support would be lower than it might be usually.

3) Finally, my biggest update is that clarifying what a person running a project can and cannot do unilaterally is more important than I expected. Many of the situations described here happened in the communications interchange going from the EAGxBerkeley team to Roxanne, to others at EAO and back again. I should have made it clear to Roxanne what situations she should ask for advice and what situations she should ask for permission. Had I empowered Rox to make a few more decisions unilaterally, I think things would have gone a bit smoother.

By the way, the EAO team merged into CEA shortly before Effective Altruism Global. Members of the team are now working under CEA's Community and Outreach team headed by Tara. Most of the EAO team's projects (including EAGx) will continue under the new structure.

Comment author: Kit 28 August 2016 02:05:06PM *  2 points [-]

I think a stronger argument can be made in favour of the chosen marketing methods. It would probably conclude with something like 'the huge value of a small number of extra links formed between otherwise-disjoint groups outweighed the minor weakening of cooperation standards across the community'.

Owen's comment shows that the numbers can be big on the other side too, but valuing brands is a notoriously hard problem. In the hope that people refer back to this discussion when considering future strategies, here is an explicit estimate of one component of the value of avoiding minor harm to trust, for this specific case. It works by assuming that anyone put off from CEA simply shifts collaboration from one organisation to another, causing efficiency loss from wasting comparative advantages, not total loss. It also recognises that I made an unusually large update, and the average will be much smaller. Bracketed items are multiplied together to give an italicised item in the next line.

(present value of a GWWC pledge, $73,292 x number of pledges next year, 856) x size of CEA compared to GWWC proxied by headcount, 2.45 x (my unusually large update to engagement with CEA, 30% x perceived relative strength of other affected people's reactions, 17.5%) x relative advantage of CEA over competition, 17% x proportion of people with negative reactions, 48%

= (value realised by GWWC next year, $62,737,952 x size of CEA compared to GWWC proxied by headcount, 2.45) x (average affected person's shift from CEA to elsewhere, 5.25% x relative advantage of CEA over competition, 17%) x proportion of people with negative reactions, 48%

= value realised by CEA next year, $153,707,982 x (inefficiency from one affected person's shift, 0.88% x proportion of people with negative reactions, 48%)

= (value realised by CEA next year, $153,707,982 x proportion of CEA value lost 0.42%)

= value of one year of CEA minor reputation preservation, $638,849

This model does not incorporate the effects EAG marketing can have on other EA organisations' reputations (I suspect large), the value of not putting people off the movement entirely (unsure), or the effort required to clean up one's reputation in the unlikely case that lasting harm is incurred (low in expectation?) To handle overoptimisation, I have tried to keep inputs conservative rather than discounting explicitly.

My guess after public and private discussion is that the approach which captures the most total value would be something like aggressive marketing (including pushing known EAs hard to tell their friends, slightly-more-than-comfortable numbers of chaser emails to applicants, and focussing almost entirely on the positives of attending) while avoiding anyone feeling deliberately misled. Obviously CEA is better placed to make this call, and I hope the broad discussion will help guide future decisions.

Comment author: Kerry_Vaughan 13 September 2016 12:12:49AM 1 point [-]

I realized I never indicated what I thought after the discussion. I now endorse the position Kit suggests:

My guess after public and private discussion is that the approach which captures the most total value would be something like aggressive marketing (including pushing known EAs hard to tell their friends, slightly-more-than-comfortable numbers of chaser emails to applicants, and focussing almost entirely on the positives of attending) while avoiding anyone feeling deliberately misled. Obviously CEA is better placed to make this call, and I hope the broad discussion will help guide future decisions.

Thank for the very valuable discussion!

8

Improving the Effective Altruism Network

This post is an edited transcript with slides from the talk I gave at EA Global about improving the value of the Effective Altruism Network. Looking at Effective Altruism from the lens of network effects has proven especially helpful in thinking about some of the important questions in EA movement... Read More

View more: Prev | Next