Looking for EA work for your spare time? Look at (and add to) this list!

post by Peter_Hurford · 2015-07-12T20:07:20.000Z · score: 9 (11 votes) · EA · GW · Legacy · 44 comments


  What are the criteria for adding a project?
  Where Should You Start?
    If you have a comment other than a project idea, comment here.

.impact is having it's second workathon (happening now! read about the first one here) and one thing we're trying to get a clearer picture on is what useful things people can be doing to have an impact in their free time.  Last time EA Ventures put out their call for EA project ideas they got a lot of feedback.  I'm hoping we can do that again.

Therefore I'm posting all of .impact's project ideas in this thread as comments on this thread.  You can discuss individual project ideas in the comments.  You can vote up the projects you think are highest impact.  You can vote down the projects you expect to be a complete waste of time, though be friendly and explain why you think so in the comments.  And you can add your own project ideas here!


What are the criteria for adding a project?

We're looking for projects that can be moved forward with less than ten hours of work a week.  If it's to the point where working on this project requires quitting your full-time job, I suggest you look to EA Ventures instead.


Where Should You Start?

There are a bunch of activities that every EA can do to boost their own impact.  This is a great starting point for anyone who is interested.  Use the EA Task Suggester to find one of these tasks.

Particularly high leverage tasks include:



If you have a comment other than a project idea, comment here.


Comments sorted by top scores.

comment by Peter_Hurford · 2015-07-12T20:41:39.774Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

[EA Wiki Contributor]

Some people in .impact have put together a EA Wiki. We need some help in getting the Wiki off the ground with some articles. Involvement could be very low commitment -- contribute whenever you want for as long (or as little) as you'd like. But we also could use a higher-commitment person to brainstorm how the EA Wiki could be useful.

comment by Evan_Gaensbauer · 2015-07-18T00:35:30.748Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

I'm actually thinking of lots of things I could contribute. I don't know yet exactly all the best ways it could be used, but I'm in for brainstorming EA-wiki uses.

comment by AlasdairGives · 2015-07-12T20:46:26.498Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

If you are based in the UK. Sign up with Sainburys supermarket for an Everyday Shopping Card that will donate 4% of your spend on groceries to SCI.

comment by Peter_Hurford · 2015-07-12T20:39:28.411Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

[Help with Improving the EA Forum]

We're recruiting for programming work on the EA Forum. You can see our queue here. Feel free to get involved if you're a Python programmer. Also feel free to file an issue there if you'd like anything changed to the EA Forum (we may have a dedicated thread for EA forum suggestions in the future).

comment by Ervin · 2015-07-13T07:36:26.926Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

That queue looks like it has some nice features, and I look forwards to seeing them all, but it also looks like you (and the rest of the tech team) are a good way through sorting through them. That's the only reason I didn't upvote this - it doesn't seem like there's much more we'd want for the forum besides what you guys can already cover, but it's been a great community asset!

comment by Peter_Hurford · 2015-07-12T20:37:20.845Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

[Expand the EA Donation Registry]

The EA Donation Registry exists to allow EAs to record their donations and show them with others. However, the platform could use some extra development. We've considered adding charts or extra commitment devices and we'd like to market to sign up more donors. We need a creative person to work on developing this further. If interested, contact Tom Ash at tog.ash@gmail.com.

comment by Peter_Hurford · 2015-07-12T20:18:32.807Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

[Help Mentor EA Chapters]

There's a big "chapter push" happening this summer, coordinated across those supporting local presences via GBS, GWWC and the local effective altruism network. This'll include seeding new presences, but also helping them grow.

Central to this will be finding 'mentors' who can talk to them, in particular from other groups. This needn't be a heavy commitment - to find out more or explore helping out, contact Jonathan Courtney on jonathan.e.courtney@gmail.com and if you decide to sign up with him he'll pass you back to the local effective altruism network to assign to other groups across the network.

(If you'd like a mentor, tell kijewskijoseph@gmail.com, giving your name and EA presence location.)

comment by MichaelDickens · 2015-07-14T21:40:48.316Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

Relatedly, it would be useful to compile research on what makes groups successful. I haven't seen anything like this oriented toward helping EA chapters be more effective.

comment by Nekoinentr · 2015-07-15T02:44:38.105Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

Yeh, anyone could organise this by posting in their Google group and Facebook haunts. I'd be interested to see an objective take on that too.

comment by Evan_Gaensbauer · 2015-07-18T00:38:48.019Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

I wasn't aware of those groups. I know lots of people who run effective altruism groups, so I can help coordinate multiple perspectives on running a local effective altruism group. I could post that in those groups as well as on this forum.

comment by jonathancourtney · 2015-07-12T20:26:41.167Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

I have also made a quick video explaining the project- check it out here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3boEcNVFw_U

comment by Tom_Ash · 2015-07-14T16:50:01.519Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

[Get as many EAs as possible to do all the small things they can do]

Join the team of people working on this (the projects so far are indexed here), including finishing up the Small EA Task Suggester and then, most importantly, getting as many EAs as possible to take these actions via promotion, outreach, etc. As always, there's lots of room to take the initiative, but there's a team to work with too.

comment by Peter_Hurford · 2015-07-13T00:35:08.136Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

AI Impacts has many open research topics, but you might want to check in with them to make sure you don't duplicate work.

comment by Peter_Hurford · 2015-07-12T20:44:03.943Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

[META POST -- Comment here if you want to say something other than posting a project]

comment by Tom_Ash · 2015-07-12T23:30:57.574Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

I'm posting all of .impact's project ideas in this thread as comments on this thread.

The full list of project ideas that people have added to the 'Projects' page on the .impact hackpad wiki can be found there. As it's a wiki, anyone can and is encouraged to add any ideas, or any projects they're working on.

This thread contains more neatly packaged volunteer opportunities from the list of these on the .impact hackpad wiki - to which anyone can also add.

comment by AlasdairGives · 2015-07-12T20:56:10.450Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

I added something in the spirit of the OP below. But just quickly - might it not be better distinguishing more between EA activities (Short quick things you can do) and EA Work/projects (Longer term commitments requiring a decent amount of time to bring to a successful conclusion) Albeit that there is obviously not a clear dividing line.

comment by Tom_Ash · 2015-07-12T21:45:11.195Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

Agree. There are (other) people trying to cover actions/activities/the short quick things you can do at http://effectivealtruismhub.com/actions

comment by Tom_Ash · 2015-07-14T16:53:43.161Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

Indeed, I've just recorded their efforts in another comment here.

comment by Peter_Hurford · 2015-07-12T20:23:07.125Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

[Help Provide Expertise on EA Policy Comments]

Though adversarial charity is unlikely to be effective, supporting efforts at creating evidence based policy could greatly improve outcomes and political rationality moving forward. Effective Altruism Policy Analytics is requesting assistance in finding experts and producing policy comments.

comment by Peter_Hurford · 2015-07-13T00:38:51.699Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

You can take action to do volunteering to help farmed animals, including leafleting, running a pay-per-view event, doing an online veg ad campaign, doing humane education, staging a protest, or running a vegan food sampling event.

comment by Peter_Hurford · 2015-07-12T20:48:48.260Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

[EA Content Marketing Videos]

It seems like there's a lot of EA content in writing, but not as much in high-quality, easily digestible videos. Charity Science started working on one, but then decided to pursue different strategies. It would be cool if someone interested in videos wanted to pick this up.

comment by Evan_Gaensbauer · 2015-07-15T00:44:16.764Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

My friend Andrew and I were talking about how this could be valuable. I'm familiar with the animation on YouTube content creators such as MinutePhysics, ASAP Science, Thought Bubble, and Kurz Gegast. I think animated videos can express better abstract and heavily technical details, which would work well with spreading effective altruism virally. Kurz Gegast and Thought Bubble are both businesses which might be available for hire. I expect hiring them might be too expensive, but I'll check it out. Even if they're affordable, a cost-benefit analysis might not yield confidence it's worth the investment. Julia Galef uses some program to help generate illustrations for her YouTube series on rationality for cheaper, but they're not as high-quality.

Otherwise, video content could just be produced by people giving presentations. I think just talking at a screen in a monotone voice wouldn't work. Presentations like the TEDx ones effective altruists have presented in the past work well, but access to a conference-style presentation isn't usually available. I think shorter videos that explain individual ideas are better for sharing and spreading than hour-long lectures on video. Others feel free to make suggestions for other video content to inspire video content made for effective altruism.

I'm willing to get in front of a camera and talk, but I don't know if that will be enough. If someone else is interested in such a project, I'd love to help with writing for it. I'm glad others are talking about this.

comment by jonathancourtney · 2015-07-12T20:28:49.640Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

You can also join the Giving What We Can Mailing list at the bottom of any of the main pages of the website:


comment by Peter_Hurford · 2015-07-13T00:36:49.188Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

You can volunteer with the Foundational Research Institute, including research on many of their open research questions (though do contact them first).

comment by Peter_Hurford · 2015-07-12T20:56:57.389Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

[EA Interview Series]

There used to be a series of interviews with EAs. These were pretty fun. It would be fun to have more of them.

comment by Evan_Gaensbauer · 2015-07-15T00:35:27.192Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

I'd like to interview some effective altruists.

comment by Peter_Hurford · 2015-07-18T21:34:33.452Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

Go for it. :)

comment by Ben_Rhodes · 2015-07-17T12:01:13.186Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

Presumably, these would be interviews of major EA players?

A possible, complementary, interview series might look something like this. This is a interview series my girlfriend produced (unrelated to EA) interviewing people using photography. You click on each picture and hover over it to see their responses to interview questions. Would it be a good idea to interview 'ordinary' EA's through this method? I ask because she would probably do one if she thought there was sufficient interest.

comment by Peter_Hurford · 2015-07-18T21:35:35.040Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

I think that would make sense.

comment by Peter_Hurford · 2015-07-18T21:34:16.292Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

Apparently David Moss and Richard Clarke are (independently) looking to produce interviews. See https://www.facebook.com/groups/effective.altruists/permalink/902327553156936/

comment by Peter_Hurford · 2015-07-12T20:39:56.857Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

[EA Forum Moderation]

Ryan Carey is looking for a new moderator for the EA Forum.

comment by RyanCarey · 2015-07-12T22:20:34.282Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

Alison Woodman has been kind enough to take on this role for the last couple of months, and seems to be running things very smoothly. If anyone wants to offer their help to Alison, then they can get in touch with her (and me) at contact@effective-altruism.com. :)

comment by Evan_Gaensbauer · 2015-07-18T00:36:18.875Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

I'd be willing to help. I'll contact you by email.

comment by Peter_Hurford · 2015-07-12T20:52:44.220Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

[Marketing EA to Atheists]

Atheist groups (e.g., the Secular Student Alliance) may be particularly receptive to EA ideas since they're already somewhat consequentialist and rationalist in their thinking. Charity Science has tried to network with atheists and didn't find it as high impact as other things they were trying, but maybe someone else would have better success, maybe someone with more atheist connections.

comment by Ervin · 2015-07-13T07:36:53.059Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

What would this involve exactly?

comment by Peter_Hurford · 2015-07-13T16:05:03.639Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

I don't have any concrete detail because no one has had time to really think it through. Basically it seems like atheists might be a receptive niche market for fundraising / marketing EA ideas. But someone would need to come up with the details themselves.

Charity Science used to do this by going to local atheist meetups and talking to people there and by going to atheist conferences.

comment by impala · 2015-07-15T17:35:46.247Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

Charity Science used to do this by going to local atheist meetups and talking to people there and by going to atheist conferences.

That seems totally unquantifiable - were they actually going to track how many donations it led to, or just say that one in X people (for some high value of X) seemed like they were/"must" be convinced of effective charities and then mark down a guess at their whole lifetime giving to them as impact?

comment by Peter_Hurford · 2015-07-16T02:03:31.572Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

It's not too difficult to track donations, I think, since we were going to suggest that donations be made through the Charity Science page. In fact, at the time, we were even pivoting more toward "donate to Charity Science" than "donate to AMF", which would have made the case more solid.

Our actual plan for tracking was to offer a donation matching campaign if people sent in their donation receipts (even if they donated from before the campaign), so we thought that if all else fails we had a good chance of figuring out who donated after that.

And to be clear, at no point was the plan to come up with some X and then claim lifetimes of impact. If we did that, we'd still be out there networking full time. ;)

comment by number42 · 2015-07-17T00:58:04.676Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

Isn't Charity Science Canadian? Organisations like that and GBS in Switzerland seem to have an advantage in that (domestic) donors often have to give through them, whereas in their home countries the charities strongly prefer donors to give directly to them. That's not particular replibable though, though donation matches are more so.

comment by Peter_Hurford · 2015-07-12T20:17:16.233Z · score: 0 (4 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

[Design Badges for EA Profiles]

We think EA Profiles could be expanded to have cool badges for people doing EA tasks. You would get a badge for doing things like (a) signing up for Shop for Charity, (b) running a fundraiser, (c) attending a meetup, (d) going to EA Global, etc. The list is debatable, but badges seems cool.

This would require a designer to create the badges (something we don't have) and a programmer to implement the badges (I think we have this part covered).

comment by Tom_Ash · 2015-07-14T16:52:01.210Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

I think the most important task in this vicinity is actually getting as many EAs as possible to do all the small things they can do, which has its own comment. We can largely subsume the above under that and in particular the Small EA Task Suggester, with the badges/EA Profiles integration a possible extension of that.

comment by Peter_Hurford · 2015-07-15T00:57:05.136Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

Ah, but then who's going to recruit people to join the team recruiting people to get people to join the team? ;)

comment by Tom_Ash · 2015-07-15T02:27:23.230Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

That'd have to be a meta .impact - clearly even more important!