Comment author: Denise_Melchin 13 October 2018 10:37:03PM 10 points [-]

Personally, I still think it would be very useful to find more talented people and for more people to consider applying to these roles; we just need to bear in mind that these roles require a very unusual skill-set, so people should always have a good back-up plan.

I'm curious what your model of the % value increase in the top hire is when you, say, double current hiring pools. It needs to be high enough to offset the burnt value from people's investments in those application processes. This is not only expensive for individual applicants in the moment, but also carries the long term risk of demotivating people - and thereby having a counterfactually smaller hiring pool in future years.

EA seems to be already at the point where lots of applicants are frustrated and might value drift, thereby dropping out of the hiring pool. I am not keen on making this situation worse. It might cause permanent harm.

Do you agree there's a trade-off here? If so, I'm not sure whether our disagreement comes from different assessments of value increases in the top hire or burnt value in the hiring pool.

Comment author: Khorton 14 October 2018 11:15:53PM *  2 points [-]

Personally, I still think it would be very useful to find more talented people and for more people to consider applying to these roles (Ben)

It needs to be high enough to offset the burnt value from people's investments in those application processes. (Denise)

In theory, there's no real conflict between these two statements. Doubling the number of people who would consider applying for a post shouldn't impose a major cost on those potential applicants. At the same time, we could take steps to make it clearer to potential applicants what exactly the hiring criteria is, so we're not wasting people's time.

In fact, I think it would probably be ideal if we increased the number of people who consider applying for each EA job but decreased the number actually applying!

Comment author: Khorton 13 September 2018 04:13:47AM 2 points [-]

From your post, it seems like the advantages of a new cause prioritization journal are:

-Peer review

-Articles all posted in one place

-Increased incentive for academics to write thoughtfully about cause prioritization, because publishing on the topic would become more beneficial to academics' careers

-It might make cause prioritization more credible or mainstream

My main questions are:

-Are there any major benefits to creating a journal that I've missed?

-What does it take to create a credible journal? How costly would it be to the community? Are we even capable of it?

-Are there any in-between options that provide the best of both worlds? For example, could we add a peer review function to the forum (maybe posts that have been peer reviewed get a star)? Could we set up a blog that acts as a central reference point for all the work on cause prioritization and incentivizes writers to move the field forward?

Comment author: markus_over 11 September 2018 02:27:49PM 2 points [-]

Coworking sessions sound interesting. The fact that few groups utilize them, but those that do do it apparently very frequently, seems to suggest that it may be underrated. Could people from groups that do this on a regular basis elaborate on the format? Is it about organizing the group itself, i.e. preparing events etc.? Actively working on research topics? Or just generally people from the group meeting to work on things they personally need to get done? Would you say this specific setup increases productivity substantially?

Comment author: Khorton 11 September 2018 03:45:57PM 6 points [-]

I've attended several co-working sessions with EA London. In my experience, they've been 2-5 people working independently on stuff they need to get done. For example, on a typical day Holly might be responding to messages and emails, David might be writing the EA London newsletter, and I might be doing a literature review for my dissertation. It's nice because we occasionally bounce ideas off of each other, and because eating lunch together is much more pleasant than working and eating alone.

Comment author: DavidNash 09 September 2018 07:46:13PM 0 points [-]

Would it be possible for posts/comments to have to be approved before getting posted, or at least for users that haven't gained a certain amount of karma.

Comment author: Khorton 09 September 2018 07:59:14PM 1 point [-]

Even if it's possible, I prefer instant updates. Spam gets down-voted quickly and moderation of every post is very labour intensive.

Comment author: Khorton 05 September 2018 12:02:06AM *  0 points [-]
Comment author: adamaero  (EA Profile) 30 August 2018 01:42:43PM *  2 points [-]

It seems like the new idea you're adding to the forum is that local EA groups should earn money together.

No. Earning money together is not what I mean. Example. A two hour work meetup is scheduled. Unlike a purely social meetup, such as meeting at a bar, this type of meetup will involve working contracts. It makes sense to increase morale by contributing to one charity at the end of the day for the event. This is just what I see happening. Perhaps even a competitive aspect, the top contributor gets to pick the charity. When telling others, "We raised $$$ for charity last meeting" verses "We raised $$$ for SCI last meeting." There is a huge difference! All charity is not good.

My gut reaction is that freelancing with a rotating group

Do most idea discussing meetings (opposed to pub-esque social gatherings) involve a lot of new people? This is where it depends on group size. It's not for very big meetings (e.g., EA London).

Example. For Engineers Without Borders, we have a general meeting every other week, and every other alternative week there are four different types of "work" meetings. The general meetings involve a short introduction to who we are, our past projects and current project. The work meetings involve working on different aspects of the project. The grants work meeting involves writing grant applications. Another work meeting involves, depending on phase of the project, designing or learning how to contribute to the CAD blueprint. Actual work is being done at least every other week.

For a regular weekly EA meeting, say, at a university, I heard that most members are not new. I presume most universities have mostly a non-rotating group. It sounds the same as Engineers Without Borders meetings. Most people are not new. Regardless, it wouldn't matter the skill level. That's the whole point! Skilled members help non-skilled members. Again, doing a contract in, say, a Power Point presentation can be self-taught. This can be worked on, the process of learning, at such work meetings. IFF someone needs help, someone else at the event probably knows more, or at least can be a sounding board to help.

But easy jobs won't pay well. You'll be competing with developers in very poor countries.

Ideally, a few easy jobs could start new people off. Although, I see the majority of contracts being programming contracts.

create a small business with a few talented EA friends

I mean doing contract work on the side--especially for EA university groups. Additionally, most GWWC pledge signers are involved in software development (i.e., programming).

revolving door of people to teach

This keeps going back to group size. For EA London, I wouldn't expect this type of initiative to be the norm for events.

I think a better way to have impact is to improve our performance at our day job.

This would not be the case for university students. Most of us are working low-income jobs.

I just think it's not the optimal use of groups' time.

My main point is that certain people new to EA, such as the guy that came along with me to the EA Madison event and family members, think that EA is itself useless. "Nothing was accomplished. Ideas were discussed."

“We got a lot of young professionals and students, and some young professionals really liked the ideas. But because we don’t have anything concrete for them to engage in this, it’s a really big gap for them to engage in the community.”

effective-altruism.com/ea/1ow/whygroupsshouldconsiderdirect_work

Having group events with 5-50 people working, learning and growing would show these dissenters that there are EA meetings where good things are actually accomplished. Instead of a specialized philosophy club discussions, there would be action happening.

Freelance work is one example. Volunteering locally is another. Sure, with that same amount of time, it wouldn't be a good as doing a contract job and donating to AMF or something. But volunteering locally is doing something. That something is better than discussing advanced ideas, such as moral patienthood or predictive models. Don't get me wrong, I love discussing ethics and morality. I enjoy ripping into the big meaty center of a technical discussion. Yet, instead of talking about what to do or how we could do certain things marginally better, we can practically do something with that time: salads. Lots and lots of salads.

Comment author: Khorton 30 August 2018 07:08:13PM *  2 points [-]

You keep coming back to this focus on doing "something," which has been suggested on the forum before. You seem to think that freelancing together beats many other alternatives. Why do you think that freelancing is competitive with other options discussed in the articles you cited?

Examples of "something" that could be (and often is) done instead of freelancing contracts:

-animal advocacy

-political lobbying

-research or writing an "Effective Thesis"

-making yourself more employable for after you graduate

-hosting a fundraiser

EDIT: I keep focusing on the freelancing point, because that's the unique aspect of your post. But maybe the freelancing idea wasn't your core concern - maybe you were more focused on talking about why local groups should do direct work. In that case, I think you'd find better discussion in the comments of one of the already-posted groups or with the leaders of the local group you visited than on this new post.

Comment author: Khorton 30 August 2018 09:41:51AM *  5 points [-]

It seems like the new idea you're adding to the forum is that local EA groups should earn money together.

My gut reaction is that freelancing with a rotating group that's open to anyone would be an inefficient way of making money. Normally, the process of applying for jobs takes a while, so you'd really have to know in advance who's going to be attending the meet-up and what skills they have.

You might solve this by always taking the same type of jobs--maybe you always work in HTML because it's easy. But easy jobs won't pay well. You'll be competing with developers in very poor countries.

Another way to solve it could be to create a small business with a few talented EA friends and plan to donate the profits (cf Founder's Pledge). That way you could expect commitment, know skillsets in advance, and don't have a revolving door of people to teach. You'll be able to take on more challenging, specialized jobs that will pay you more. I'm not sure Upwork is the best place to find those jobs, but if you have technically talented and altruistic friends, maybe freelancing or starting a business is a good idea.

For most of us, I think a better way to have impact is to improve our performance at our day job. Getting a raise/bonus/promotion will almost definitely be worth more than freelancing. For some people, improving their performance at their day job means learning something new; those people might want to start a reading or study group together (EA London has a few). For other people, improving their work performance comes down to putting in the hours at work, and what they need from EA events is a place to socialize and be reminded why they do what they do.

I don't think the idea of freelancing together is a bad one, I just think it's not the optimal use of groups' time. Let me know if you disagree with anything I've said. - Kirsten

EDIT: Improving their performance at their day jobs will often also be a way for people doing direct work to have impact, even if they don't get paid extra.

Comment author: Denise_Melchin 25 August 2018 03:52:56PM 2 points [-]

Cool study! I wish there were more people who went out and just tested assumptions like this. One high level question:

People in the EA community are very concerned about existential risk, but what is the perception among the general public? Answering this question is highly important if you are trying to reduce existential risk.

Why is this question highly important for reducing extinction risks? This doesn't strike me as obvious. What kind of practical implications does it have if the general public either assigns existential risks either a very high or very low probability?

You could make an argument that this could inform recruiting/funding efforts. Presumably you can do more recruiting and receive more funding for reducing existential risks if there are more people who are concerned about extinction risks.

But I would assume the percentage of people who consider reducing existential risks to be very important to be much more relevant for recruiting and funding than the opinion of the 'general public'.

Though the opinion of those groups has a good chance of being positively correlated, this particular argument doesn't convince me that the opinion of the general public matters that much.

Comment author: Khorton 26 August 2018 12:51:40AM 4 points [-]

Public opinion would likely matter for government funding in democracies.

Comment author: kbog  (EA Profile) 24 August 2018 06:12:16AM *  0 points [-]

Yes, yes, and yes. In Scott's post he defines unkindness as anger or sarcasm - not the use of words like "abnormal" that just tickle us the wrong way.

Comment author: Khorton 24 August 2018 05:46:09PM 2 points [-]

But, like... What you said made me feel bad and was also unhelpful. I gained nothing from it, and lost a good mood. So why say it?

If you had suggested a useful resource or alternative, I would have thought your comment had merit.

Alternatively, you could have shown compassion by reflecting back what you heard - saying something like, "It sounds like making trade-offs on a daily basis is very emotional for you, so you donate a set percentage to cope. That might be the best solution for you right now. However, that doesn't mean it's the best solution for everyone."

Comment author: Milan_Griffes 23 August 2018 04:41:27PM 1 point [-]

This seems hard; sorry to hear about it :-/

For what it's worth, I've found self-laceration like this to be both really bad for my mental health and really bad for my personal efficacy.

Comment author: Khorton 24 August 2018 05:34:44PM 2 points [-]

Rather. That's why I've donated a set percentage for about a decade now. "Set and forget" direct debits are both easier and more effective than constantly questioning which expenses are strictly necessary and which are luxuries. Budgeting how much goes to charity and how much goes to my expenses also makes it easier to get along with friends and family. "Sorry, that's not in the budget" is easier than "Sorry, visiting you is less important than deworming strangers' children."

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