This was a great read, and just the kind of post I have been waiting for! I think that almost all of the principles should be helpful to keep in mind for anyone engaging in this kind of public discourse. In my opinion it is very important to increase the quality of communication and thus quality of knowledge across EA folks, both current and future, both internally and towards the general public; these kinds of posts would seem to help out there.
Of course, I might slightly overvalue this kind of discussion, since I don't know about the demographics of the EA community, and might be somewhat similar to the earlier self you mentioned in the post, frustrated at not being able to learn and get up to speed about the topics I care about. I don't know whether there is a demand for these kinds of information in the next generation, although it might be interesting and somewhat relevant to find out. I wonder if anyone has an idea about that?
Either way, thank you very much for taking the time to make these thoughts public, I—as well as many others, it seems—really appreciate it!
One reason this might be good is to prevent spambots from making top-level posts.
Yes, of course, but I haven't seen spambots in comments so far, and thus would guess that they wouldn't become a problem on top level either.
Topics like this are sensitive and complex, so it can take a long time to write them up well. It's easy to get misunderstood or make the organisation look bad.
At the same time, the benefits might be slight, because (i) it doesn't directly contribute to growth (if users have common questions, then add them to the FAQ and other intro materials) or (ii) fundraising (if donors have questions, speak to them directly).
Remember that GWWC is getting almost 100 pledges per month atm, and very few come from places like this forum. More broadly, there's a huge number of pressing priorities. There's lots of other issues GWWC could write about but hasn't had time to as well.
If you're wondering whether GWWC has thought about these kinds of questions, you can also just ask them. They'll probably respond, and if they get a lot of requests to answer the same thing, they'll probably write about it publicly.
With figuring out strategy (e.g. whether to spend more time on communication with the EA community or something else) GWWC writes fairly lengthy public reviews every 6-12 months.
Upon revisiting this post and the comments it has garnered, I found myself wondering about another thing I'd like to ask from you:
How would one go about getting involved with the work of CEA or, say, 80,000 Hours? What kinds of skill sets would be essential for having a high impact while doing such meta work? Do you consider the potential impact for doing meta work to be higher than when earning to give?
Also, thanks for the detailed responses so far! I can see why it's not reasonable to place writing on topics like these on high priority, but it doesn't exactly give a sense of transparency either. Not that I would know how important or effective giving a sense of transparency would be, though.
I was wondering about why there is a 5 karma requirement to publishing an article. Was there problems before that was put into place?
It would also be handy to be able to get a weekly digest of top voted posts or something similar in my email.
Thanks for moving this post to here rather than FB. I think it's a good discussion, however, I wanted to flag:
None of these criticisms are new to me. I think all of them have been discussed in some depth within CEA.
This makes me wonder if the problem is actually a failure of communication. Unfortunately, issues like this are costly to communicate outside of the organisation, and it often doesn't seem like the best use of time, but maybe that's wrong.
Given this, I think it also makes sense to run critical posts past the organisation concerned before posting. They might have already dealt with the issue, or have plans to do so, in which posting the criticism is significantly less valuable (because it incurs similar costs to the org but with fewer benefits). It also helps the community avoid re-treading the same ground.
Why are issues like these costly to communicate outside of CEA, and why don't they seem like the best use of time? I'm not sure about what amount of interest is there for something like that, but I would imagine that this could sharply reduce the amount of investigating people outside of these organizations need to do, allowing them to use their time better as well.
Do you know whether there have there been any serious efforts to gauge the usefulness and cost of better communication?
Another new member here; while I'm familiar with how Reddit works, I find this whole forum a bit confusing. Thus, in an effort to make it a tad less confusing for myself and to perhaps point out some things that might result in potentially interested participants abandoning the site and the movement, I have some questions to ask:
1) Is this the right place to ask about things related to the whole EA movement, and what they are doing? Not just questions regarding individual research topics or concerns, but rather to provoke discussion and meaningful debate on how to improve the way of thinking and the means available to us for making a difference? Is there a collection on such discussion somewhere?
2) What kinds of things should be made into an article, rather than a comment on the open thread?
3) Why was a fork of LessWrong chosen over a traditional message board with well-defined categories that can help one focus on discussing the things they find relevant? With new articles posted only every few days, this might not be a problem, but surely it makes finding coherent posts on one topic a nightmare? I haven't explored the search function in detail yet, but assume that it's not helpful unless you know exactly what you are looking for.
4) Are there any other places for discussing effective altruism? What kind of proportions of unique users do the different EA-related websites have?
Apart from these, I have a huge amount of questions related to all sorts of aspects of the movement, and quite frankly find the current content available somewhat lacking beyond the very basics. Sure, the movement covers a large amount of people with possibly wildly varying opinions on all sorts of things, but I think that within those potential disagreements there might be a possibly untapped opportunity to learn more about both the situation of the world and ourselves.
While GiveWell in my opinion provides excellent reasoning behind the many things they do and thorough, detailed and well argumented thoughts on how they plan to approach things, I was not able to find much similar content or discussion elsewhere. If someone can point me to the right direction, that would be very much appreciated!
Best regards to all of you, and thank you for the time.
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