Comment author: direct_feedback 21 September 2018 03:50:31PM 5 points [-]

I found it to be a pleasant read, thanks. I always like clear distinctions between concepts and I feel your article does this well. The article also seems to include several partially implicit recommendations. I feel these recommendations should either have been made more explicit and more structured or should not have been there.

  1. In various parts of the article you make a connection between the effectiveness of a community building organisation and them receiving money. To me it is unclear whether you are recommending that more money should be allocated towards community building (in which case I feel there is a lack of supportive evidence presented) or whether you are just posting a hypothesis (in which case I feel it is presented too much as a recommendation).

  2. The conclusion of the article also seems to hold a recommendation. To me it is unclear what the difference is between your recommendation and the current situation. Right now I feel slightly confused and if pressed I would guess (based on the paragraph including the “-yay, meta!-” comment) that you would like to cut out a middle layer?

These are just two examples, similar issues arise for me with the other recommendations. A possible way of solving this (next time?) could be to include your recommendations as bullet points in your conclusion and explicitly state to what open question the recommendation pertains and how your recommendation differs from the current consensus opinion or current situation. I think this will facilitate discussion.

Overall I like it as I feel all your recommendations seem both relevant and sensible. I just feel it could be improved by being more explicit and structured in your recommendations.

Comment author: konrad 25 September 2018 11:56:39AM *  3 points [-]

Thanks a lot for this, much appreciated! This gave me the chance to clear up some things for myself. It’s hard to get direct_feedback. ;)

There are two key points I tried to get across with this post and that I should have highlighted more clearly:

  1. Propose new language to talk more productively about network and community building; and
  2. Present and illustrate reasons for why I think this lingo is needed and closer to reality.

Regarding your points:

I) Effectiveness and receiving money: I would want to encourage people who are able to/want to invest significant amounts of time into EA work to figure out what kind of direct, non-”community building” project they could start/contribute to (without significant downside risks) before they start building a local group or alike.

Most of such work will likely look similar in many places: offer career coaching to the most promising people you can find. Being able to coach people requires you to stay on top of things. 1-on-1 discussions leave plenty of room to avoid negative impact and learn quickly.

I could see community development happening in a more meaningful way through such outcome oriented work than through "starting a local group and organizing meetups". Such concrete work helps to a) develop individuals’ expertise much more directly and b) produces the outcomes that can prove alignment to the larger network with fairly tight feedback loops. Later, they can figure out their comparative advantage and, with support, tackle more risky prospects.

To have the time to do that though, one has to have money. My recommendation here wouldn't be to simply pay more people to have this time. I could e.g. imagine that the "network development organisation" offers “EA trainings” to promising individuals. If completed successfully, people receive a first grant to build up their community through such direct work. Grants get renewed based on performance on a few standard metrics that can be built upon over time.

Some of this is already happening, but I see much room for improvement by modeling these structures more explicitly and driving their development more openly.

II) Conclusion: I’d recommend to define labels, roles and accountabilities within the network more clearly.

We often label CEA, LEAN, and EAS as "community building orgs" - but all three actually have quite different roles. I believe that it would be better if these organisations explicitly defined their respective roles. It is not clear to me that these three organisations really are working on similar things beyond the fact that the same label is used for their activities. I would claim they mostly aren't, and the few things they all do could be more efficient and improved faster by only one.

What is different from reality? Mostly the labels and definitions - which I hope should give a clearer sense of what everyone is doing and thereby ease the development of the network as a whole.


I aimed to contribute to a common understanding of what the network is, what communities are, how to build good ones, who has which responsibilities, how to define them better, how to make sure the network maintains high quality, and how to make people learn/understand all of that.

In the process of writing the other articles in our series on EA Geneva’s “community building”, we got much feedback that especially the latter point of “how to make people learn/see/understand all of that” is currently a big issue. Many people seem upset with how they are received when they are trying to contribute/start something in good will. Due to a lack of clarity, they end up wasting their own or EA orgs time and it is frustrating for everyone involved.

We could make network building and community building much more effective if we employed better terminology, had a clearer vision of what the ideal network development structure might look like and could be collectively working towards it - or at least discuss it better. I hope this contributes a little to that process.

15

Better models for EA development: a network of communities, not a global community

[EDIT: I recommend to first read this comment which clarifies the raison d'être of this post. The post should make more sense afterwards.] Intro Whenever this post mentions ‘we’, it refers to EA Geneva. This article aims to contribute to developing a better understanding of ‘community building’. It is the... Read More
Comment author: vegjosh 19 August 2018 04:20:05PM 1 point [-]

Thanks for posting this! I like the model you have proposed. It seems like your group hosts many events throughout the year, and I am curious about a few statistics to help calibrate the usefulness of this model to EA Madison: 1) Size of public events 2) Number of members 3) Number of people in the core 4) Frequency of events

We have a smaller group (roughly 6 - 10 regular attendees) that can attract larger numbers for Giving Games, and I am trying to determine how we can grow it into a larger group with more regular events like you describe.

Comment author: konrad 20 August 2018 10:27:13AM *  1 point [-]

Hey Josh, Relevant question, thanks!

1) Our public meetups attract 15-30 people, varying with the theme. Sometimes there are a lot of newbies/random people.

2) We currently have 83 members, our growth seems likely to continue at ~20ppl/quarter but we expect only 20-50% to become regulars and only around 10-30% to become actively involved beyond attending a meetup here and there. We currently don't have data on how many people really stay around for more than a year - we have now introduced an annual member status renewal.

3) As we will run our first advanced workshop next week, this number is currently at 15 only (people actively involved whom we know have the knowledge already). We expect it to go up 2-4 fold until the end of this year and then grow more linearly.

4) We have:

  • 1 public and 1 non-public themed social each month
  • During semesters, monthly intro and advanced workshops
  • One of our student groups has weekly meetups during semesters and runs an intro seminar
  • We aim for monthly discussion dinners, this is less fixed though
  • We meet monthly with our self-improvement group and have bi-weekly open individual debugging/training/planning/gettingshitdone sessions
  • 1-on-1s are usually at around 1-3/week per FTE, but there are weeks with double that in Fall and Spring
  • Sub-communities and working groups have had similar monthly rhythms so far (hard to say because we only properly started those in May)
  • We seem to have a co-organised introductory event once a quarter
16

Local Community Building Funnel and Activities - EA Geneva

  1. Intro This is the first post in a series on EA Geneva’s community building efforts. Links will be added with the publication of the other posts. Community building tactics (activities and engagement) Community building strategy (concepts and considerations) Measuring impact (goals and metrics) Organisational structure (decision-making and coordination)... Read More
Comment author: Lukas_Gloor 25 May 2018 04:18:40PM *  1 point [-]

Probably intuitions about this issue depend on which type of moral or religious discourse one is used to. As someone who spent a year at a Christian private school in Texas where creationism was taught in Biology class and God and Jesus were a very tangible part of at least some people's lives, I definitely got a strong sense that the metaphysical questions are extremely important.

By contrast, if the only type of religious claims I'd ever came into contact with had been moderate (picture the average level of religiosity of a person in, say, Zurich), then one may even consider it a bit of a strawman to assume that religious claims are to be taken literally.

I think this concern is somewhat relevant to the broader discussion, too, because you seem to imply that we can't (or even shouldn't?) make any advances on non-metaphysical claims before we haven't figured out the metaphysical ones.

Just to be clear, all I'm saying is that I think it's going to be less useful to discuss "what are moral claims usually about." What we should instead do is instead what Chalmers describes (see the quote in footnote 4). Discussing what moral claims are usually about is not the same as making up one's mind about normative ethics. I think it's very useful to discuss normative ethics, and I'd even say that discussing whether anti-realism or realism is true might be slightly less important than making up one's mind about normative ethics. Sure, it informs to some extent how to reason about morality, but as has been pointed out, you can make some progress about moral questions also from a lens of agnosticism about realism vs. anti-realism.

To go back to the religion analogy, what I'm recommending is to first figure out whether you believe in a God or an afterlife that would relevantly influence your priorities now, and not worry much about whether religious claims are "usually" or "best" to be taken literally or taken metaphorically(?).

Comment author: konrad 08 June 2018 12:32:27PM 0 points [-]

Thanks, this makes sense.

As someone who spent a year at a Tennessean high school surrounded by Baptists, I understand your experience. I just ended up with a different conclusion: no one is interested in the metaphysical questions because they have to be settled if you want to continue living your "normal" life. What looks like interest in the metaphysical questions is a mere self-preservation mechanism for the normative ethical claims and not to be taken at face value.

To me, it seems faulty to assume any believer "reasons" about the existence of god, their brains just successfully trick them into thinking that. That's why I felt it was weak as a metaphor for anti-realism vs realism. So from an outside view your metaphor makes sense if you take believers to be "reasoning" about anything but felt to me like it was more distracting from the thing you meant to point at, than actually pointing at it. The thing being:

I think it's going to be less useful to discuss "what are moral claims usually about." What we should instead do is instead what Chalmers describes (see the quote in footnote 4). Discussing what moral claims are usually about is not the same as making up one's mind about normative ethics. I think it's very useful to discuss normative ethics, and I'd even say that discussing whether anti-realism or realism is true might be slightly less important than making up one's mind about normative ethics. Sure, it informs to some extent how to reason about morality, but as has been pointed out, you can make some progress about moral questions also from a lens of agnosticism about realism vs. anti-realism.

Comment author: konrad 24 May 2018 01:15:34PM 1 point [-]

Thanks for writing this up in a fairly accessible manner for laypeople like me. I am looking forward to the next posts. So far, I have only one reflection on the following bit of your thinking. It is a side point but it probably would help me to better model your thinking.

And all I’m thinking is, “Why are we so focused on interpreting religious claims? Isn’t the major question here whether there are things such as God, or life after death!?” The question that is of utmost relevance to our lives is whether religion’s metaphysical claims, interpreted in a straightforward and realist fashion, are true or not. An analysis of other claims can come later.

Do you think analyses of the other claims are never of more value than analyses of the metaphysical claims?

Because my initial reaction to your claim was something like "why would we focus on whether there is a god or life after death - it seems hardly possible to make substantial advances there in a meaningful way and these texts were meant to point at something a lot more trivial. They are disguised as profound and with metaphysical explanations only to make people engage with and respect them in times where no other tools were available to do so on a global level."

I.e. no matter the answer to the metaphysical questions, it could be useful to interpret religious claims because they could be pointing at something that people thought would help to structure society, whether the metaphysical claims hold or not.

Thus, I wonder whether the bible example is a little weak. You would have to clarify that you assume that people sometimes actually believe they are having a meaningful discussion around "what's Real Good?", assuming moral realism through god(?), as opposed to just engaging in intellectual masturbation, consciously or not.

If I do not take those people (who suppose moral realism proven through bible) seriously, I can operate based on the assumption that the authors of such writings supposed any form of moral non-naturalism, subjectivism, intersubjectivism or objectivism, as described by you. Any of which could have led to the idea of creating better mechanisms to enforce either the normative Good, the social contract, or allow everyone to maximally realise their own desires by creating an authority ("god") that allows to move society into a better equilibrium for any of these theories.

In that case, taking the claims about the (metaphysical) nature of that authority to be of any value of information/as providing valuable ground for discussion seems to be a waste of time or even giving them undeserved attention and credit, distracting from more important questions. Your described reaction though takes the ideas seriously and I wonder why you think there is any ground to even consider them as such?

I think this concern is somewhat relevant to the broader discussion, too, because you seem to imply that we can't (or even shouldn't?) make any advances on non-metaphysical claims before we haven't figured out the metaphysical ones. Though, what you mean is probably more along the lines of "be ready to change everything once we have figured out moral philosophy", not implying that we shouldn't do anything else in the meantime. Is that correct? If so, this point might get lost if not pronounced more prominently.

Comment author: Ervin 09 March 2018 01:42:50AM 8 points [-]

Huh, given the odd funding splurges (things like a $60k EA Grant for developing a new version of Less Wrong for people to have fun intellectual discussions on, and I believe a similarly luxuriant amount to EA Geneva) I'm surprised an organization which does as much as Rethink Charity isn't already fully funded by the movement building fund. Does anyone know how much money got donated to that and where it's gone?

Comment author: konrad 11 May 2018 03:05:56PM 0 points [-]

Just to clarify: EA Geneva has not received any funding from CEA to date - we are waiting on the decision from the recent community grants round.

Comment author: konrad 02 May 2018 08:22:39AM 7 points [-]

Awesome, thanks a lot for this work!

From what I understood when talking to CEA staff, this is also thought to replace handing out copies of Doing Good Better, yes? If so, I would emphasise this more explicitly, too.

Comment author: konrad 11 October 2017 06:50:30AM 1 point [-]

Further, I think there are more case studies that could be provided by other groups (like ours). Do you have documents where others could contribute? That way we can compile a bunch of anecdata over time that might turn out more valuable insights.

In response to Political Ideology
Comment author: konrad 22 May 2017 12:25:46PM 1 point [-]

I find your posts a little hard to read because of the long hyperlinks that stand in stark contrast to the black. I'd recommend linking just one word, maximum two or three (you can still edit these posts).

Will read properly later! Thanks for writing these five apparently very interesting pieces!

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