Comment author: Mojmir 11 July 2018 08:29:39PM *  0 points [-]

Thanks for the write-up, I was wondering how concretely did you run the 1-1s. I saw the list of questions in the google slides, did you just ask people to discuss any of these? Also, did you pair people up or did they pair up themselves?

Comment author: saulius  (EA Profile) 12 July 2018 10:58:14AM 1 point [-]

People were free to talk about anything they want. I'm pretty sure we told that using the questions was optional. I changed the post slightly to make it more clear. Personally, I didn't use the questions in any of my 1 on 1s. I know some people used the questions and they said that the first two questions ("When did you know that you wanted to be altruistic and why?" and "When did you realise you care about effectiveness and why?") resulted in long and not very productive conversations. So I moved them to the end in the questions document. I think that the list of questions has a lot of room for improvement. Maybe next time I will say that if they want to use the questions, they should look through the list and decide which question they are the most curious about.

We paired people up ourselves. We tried to pair up people who don't know each other well and have something in common (e.g. both are excited about the same cause area). We considered letting people pair themselves up but had reservations because some people might get upset if no one wants to talk with them. However, at the end of the first day we told people that if there is someone they'd like to be paired up with on the second day, they can write it on a piece of paper and put it in the box (so that only we could see their preference). But very few (2-4) people did that.

Btw, we will run an event that is all about 1 on 1s (https://www.facebook.com/events/330349444169839/) to see if it is a good stand-alone event (because it could be that it works only in the context of a weekend/conference/retreat). I'll write here about how it went, if I'll remember to do it :)

In response to Open Thread #40
Comment author: remmelt  (EA Profile) 08 July 2018 08:24:24PM *  18 points [-]

The EA Forum Needs More Sub-Forums

EDIT: please go to the recent announcement post on the new EA Forum to comment

The traditional discussion forum has sub-forums and sub-sub-forums where people in communities can discuss areas that they’re particularly interested in. The EA Forum doesn’t have these and this make it hard to filter for what you’re looking for.

On Facebook on the other hand, there are hundreds of groups based around different cause areas, local groups and organisations, and subpopulations. Here it’s also hard to start rigorous discussions around certain topics because many groups are inactive and moderated poorly.

Then there are lots of other small communication platforms launched by organisations that range in their accessibility, quality standards, and moderation. It all kind of works but it’s messy and hard to sort through.

It’s hard to start productive conversations on specialised niche topics with international people because

  • 1) Relevant people won’t find you easily within the mass of posts

  • 2) You’ll contribute to that mass and thus distract everyone else.

Perhaps this a reason why some posts on specific topics only get a few comments even though the quality of the insights and writing seems high.

Examples of posts that we’re missing out on now:

  • Local group organiser Kate tried X career workshop format X times and found that it underperformed other formats

  • Private donor Bob dug into the documents of start-up vaccination charity X and wants to share preliminary findings with other donors in the global poverty space

  • Machine learning student Jenna would like to ask some specific questions on how the deep reinforcement learning algorithm of AlphaGo functions

  • The leader of animal welfare advocacy org X would like to share some local engagement statistics on vegan flyering, 3D headset demos, before sending them off in a more polished form to ACE.

Interested in any other examples you have. :-)

What to do about it?

I don’t have any clear solutions in mind for this (perhaps this could be made a key focus in the transition to using the forum architecture of LessWrong 2.0). Just want to plant a flag here that given how much the community has grown vs. 3 years ago, people should start specialising more in the work they do, and that our current platforms are woefully behind for facilitating discussions around that.

It would be impossible for one forum to handle all this adequately and it seems useful for people to experiment with different interfaces, communication processes and guidelines. Nevertheless, our current state seems far from optimal. I think some people should consider tracking down and paying for additional thoughtful, capable web developers to adjust the forum to our changing needs.

UPDATE: After reading @John Maxwell IV's comments below, I've changed my mind from a naive 'we should overhaul the entire system' view to 'we should tinker with it in ways we expect would facilitate better interactions, and then see if they actually do' view.

In response to comment by remmelt  (EA Profile) on Open Thread #40
Comment author: saulius  (EA Profile) 08 July 2018 11:25:32PM *  2 points [-]

It seems that what we need in this forum is categories/subforums. What we currently have is one subreddit. Conceptually, there’s little difference between https://www.reddit.com/r/EffectiveAltruism/ and this forum, people just use them differently. What I think we need is a whole new website like https://www.reddit.com/ that would have subreddits like “AI policy” and “Community building”. Your homepage would be customised based on subreddits you subscribed to. Maybe there could even be subreddits like "Newcomer questions" and "Editing & Review" at the same website that do not contain novel thoughts like posts on this forum. And there would be a subreddit “Old EA forum” that would contain all posts in the current forum but no new posts. Perhaps that is too complicated, maybe we just need few categories that you could filter by (and webpage would remember you user’s filter). I haven’t thought much about this, these are just my first thoughts.

Comment author: SiebeRozendal 13 June 2018 01:28:44PM 0 points [-]

What did you think about the length of the retreat? Would people have liked to stay longer? We're planning to organize a retreat from Thursday to Sunday in The Netherlands in between Christmas and New Year's.

Comment author: saulius  (EA Profile) 13 June 2018 08:03:27PM *  1 point [-]

I don't know, we simply didn't talk about that at all. My guess is that 4 days is not too long. EA globals sometimes last 3 days, if you include the social on Friday. I believe that a recent group organisers' retreat lasted an entire week. An AI camp lasted 10 days. These latter two events are not quite the same, but I guess you could ask Remmelt Ellen whether they felt too long, I believe he was present in both of them. Hmm, the fact that your event is during winter could matter a bit though, because going outside is usually a refreshing change of atmoshpere during such things.

By the way, this was not a retreat, we did it in an office in London and people slept elsewhere.

Comment author: Jiri_Nadvornik 13 June 2018 07:58:05AM *  1 point [-]

Hi Saulius. CZEA retreat organizer here.

Thank you for this report.

We did "concept explaining somewhat differently:

  • a) people could fill out form w/ list of concepts they can/want explain several days earlier. They also had links to recommended articles for many of concepts offered.
  • b) during activity we projected on a screen list of groups (~3 people learning, one teaching) and what is their concept for this session.
  • c) after 15 minutes we hit the gong and projected list of new groups with new topics.

It seems to me that Circling and Hamming circles need the people to feel close and trusting each other. We thought about doing Hamming circles on Saturday evening but decided to do something else because the atmosphere was not right. How well it worked for you?

Comment author: saulius  (EA Profile) 13 June 2018 07:24:22PM 0 points [-]

oh, I didn't notice that there was a question about circling as well. There are circling meetups where I did circling with strangers and it was great. So it's not necessary to be close with people before, though the experience is quite different if you are. I imagine that many people will find circling awkward no matter what but in this case I think we simply did not have enough time to get into it. We only allocated 1 hour for it (and I'm not sure even that is enough) and then we decided to do it in the park but walking to the park took much more time than expected. It was the lowest rated activity (3.7) but I didn't include it in the table of the article because I believe that it wasn't given a fair chance.

Comment author: Jiri_Nadvornik 13 June 2018 07:58:05AM *  1 point [-]

Hi Saulius. CZEA retreat organizer here.

Thank you for this report.

We did "concept explaining somewhat differently:

  • a) people could fill out form w/ list of concepts they can/want explain several days earlier. They also had links to recommended articles for many of concepts offered.
  • b) during activity we projected on a screen list of groups (~3 people learning, one teaching) and what is their concept for this session.
  • c) after 15 minutes we hit the gong and projected list of new groups with new topics.

It seems to me that Circling and Hamming circles need the people to feel close and trusting each other. We thought about doing Hamming circles on Saturday evening but decided to do something else because the atmosphere was not right. How well it worked for you?

Comment author: saulius  (EA Profile) 13 June 2018 12:31:25PM 1 point [-]

I see, that is very different.

I only know about the feedback I already presented and the one hamming circle I myself participated in. In my circle all 3 of us were quite connected already. It may have helped but I'm not sure it was necessary. Both of them didn't know what to do with their careers so it was like a mini career-coaching session. It felt productive.

Comment author: Jiri_Nadvornik 13 June 2018 08:07:03AM 0 points [-]

A little bit more info about explaining concepts activity.

Comment author: saulius  (EA Profile) 13 June 2018 11:33:46AM 2 points [-]

I believe you meant to link to this comment of yours :)

Comment author: MichaelPlant 12 June 2018 01:43:12PM 4 points [-]

Thanks for writing this up. Three questions

The numbers on how useful things are seem quite low to me. What did you write as the ends of the scale? I'm thinking in terms of net promoter scores where anything below a 9 or a 10 is considered neutral or bad.

Can you explain Hamming circles? I couldn't find out how they worked even after a quick google.

Did you ask people if there was anything they wanted to do on the weekend but didn't do? I'd be curious to see if people came up with anything.

Comment author: saulius  (EA Profile) 12 June 2018 03:32:34PM *  1 point [-]

3) Because of your question I added a link to the summary of the responses to the feedback form to the article. Here are responses I see that suggest different activities:

  • Perhaps a little more discussion about actual causes e.g. what should be done about AI
  • In addition to the 1-1s(which were really useful), the could have been some more structured socialising (eg having people come together in groups of 3 and talk about what they care about, what their problems are, etc and switch groups in eg 5 minute intervals)
  • Maybe one minute intros could be on a post it on a wall so that people coming a day late still know who does what.

We also had some event ideas ourselves that we decided not to include in the weekend:

  • Community health session (a discussion of ways to improve the health of the EA community, be that through more diversity, more mutual support etc.)
  • Self-care for the altruistic (discussion and support session)
  • Discussions/anti-debate on cause prioritisation
  • Watching a video of a talk together and then discussing it (vote on a talk to watch during the event)
  • Values session: discussing why we have certain moral values
  • Problem-solving circle (participants raise problems they have and others try to help them)
  • The Humane League Work Party (Encouraging companies to commit to improving conditions on farms - writing letters & emails, phone calls, petitions. Would have been an option throughout the event.)
  • Gathering and interpreting data relating to the impact of charities for SoGive
Comment author: MichaelPlant 12 June 2018 01:43:12PM 4 points [-]

Thanks for writing this up. Three questions

The numbers on how useful things are seem quite low to me. What did you write as the ends of the scale? I'm thinking in terms of net promoter scores where anything below a 9 or a 10 is considered neutral or bad.

Can you explain Hamming circles? I couldn't find out how they worked even after a quick google.

Did you ask people if there was anything they wanted to do on the weekend but didn't do? I'd be curious to see if people came up with anything.

Comment author: saulius  (EA Profile) 12 June 2018 02:44:42PM *  1 point [-]

2) I will ask the person who ran Hamming circles to explain it, I only participated in half of the event myself. You can get some idea from the slides (slides 21- 28).

Comment author: MichaelPlant 12 June 2018 01:43:12PM 4 points [-]

Thanks for writing this up. Three questions

The numbers on how useful things are seem quite low to me. What did you write as the ends of the scale? I'm thinking in terms of net promoter scores where anything below a 9 or a 10 is considered neutral or bad.

Can you explain Hamming circles? I couldn't find out how they worked even after a quick google.

Did you ask people if there was anything they wanted to do on the weekend but didn't do? I'd be curious to see if people came up with anything.

Comment author: saulius  (EA Profile) 12 June 2018 02:14:41PM *  1 point [-]

1) >"The numbers on how useful things are seem quite low to me..."

On the scale 1 was "Useless" and 10 was "Life-transforming". But just before asking for feedback, I made a change in the slides and added this meaning to the ratings of the events:

"3 - £100, 5 - £1,000, 8 - £10,000, 10 - £100,000 (e. g. career change)"

I explained it to people as well. This was... not smart. Because of this, some respondents gave low scores to all the events. E.g. someone said that the weekend was "Far more valuable (10-30x the counterfactual)" but did not gave any event a rating that is higher than 4. Others ignored the point and gave high ratings for all events.

That's why I weighted and normalised the ratings. If someone said that the weekend was "Vastly more valuable (>30x counterfactual)", I multiplied all their ratings by a constant so that their highest rating would be 10. If they rated the weekend as "Far more valuable (10-30x the counterfactual)", I multiplied all their ratings so that the highest rating would be 9. 8 for "Much more valuable", 7 for "Somewhat more valuable", and 6 for "About as valuable".

In response to Open Thread #39
Comment author: fergusb1232 29 May 2018 10:02:11PM 1 point [-]

Hi everyone.

I've been thinking about the potential effectiveness of lobbying for legalisation of psychedelics (whether individually or as part of a total legalisation of drugs) or the effectiveness of encouraging their use, legal or not, in terms of increasing the empathy of a population (and therefore their likelihood of becoming EAs).

Given their reputation for making people more open to new ideas, psychedelics could significantly bolster the number of people who agree with and act on EA principles.

Does anyone know of any research into anything related / any good articles on this?

Comment author: saulius  (EA Profile) 12 June 2018 12:47:54PM 0 points [-]

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