What's Changing With the New Forum?

post by aarongertler · 2018-11-07T23:09:57.464Z · score: 17 (11 votes) · EA · GW · 15 comments


    What sort of posts do we encourage?
    Discussion norms
    Reading and Commenting

This post is a guide to how the new Forum differs from the original.

Some of these topics -- for example, the new karma system and moderation standards -- are discussed in more detail in the Forum’s initial announcement post. [EA · GW] The announcement is a few months old, so this guide adds up-to-date information on certain topics.

We also have a more general guide to the new Forum [EA · GW], which covers discussion norms and post creation. Some of the guide’s material is repeated in this post.

If you have questions or feedback about the forum, use the blue speech bubble in the lower-right-hand corner of the screen to get in touch!


Posts on the new Forum are split into two categories:

Frontpage posts are timeless content covering the ideas of effective altruism. They'll usually be posts that are useful or interesting to a wide range of readers, but they can also discuss more advanced ideas.

Community posts include discussion of particular issues within the community, or updates from organizations. This content may not have ongoing relevance, but is useful for increasing coordination in the community in the short term, and discussing important community matters.

We’ve made this a separate category so that new users can learn about the ideas before they engage with the community, and so that people can select which types of content they want to engage with.

If your post is about applying EA methodology and perspectives to the world, it will be moved to Frontpage. It will go to Community if it is focused on the EA community. Keep in mind which section you’re writing for with each post.

If a post seems to fit both sections, it will be moved to Community by default, so that users around the world can discuss ideas on Frontpage without having to keep up-to-date on community issues.

You can view either category on its own page, or use the “All Posts” view to see everything. We may add more categories later, but these are the only active ones.


We’ve been talking with users about their experience engaging with the Forum, and have some suggestions for altered norms that will resolve some of the issues they raised.

What sort of posts do we encourage?

Discussion norms

In the past, we’ve received feedback from some users who found posting on the Forum to be intimidating. Posts sometimes got a lot of criticism without many positive suggestions, which led to brief and unproductive discussion.

We want users to feel comfortable and secure about posting new content. To this end, we encourage the use of supportive skepticism. It’s fine to criticize an idea, but it’s even better to support its strongest parts, do your best to patch the holes in it, and be kind when handing it back to its owner. The goal of the Forum isn’t to defeat bad ideas; it’s to find good ideas, even when they appear in the context of a flawed argument.

We also accept anonymity. Many users publish under their real names, but we’d rather you publish under a pseudonym than not publish at all.


On the old EA Forum, moderators mostly focused on removing spam and offensive posts. We don’t want to have much stronger moderation, but we do want to be a little more active, mostly aiming to encourage the best users and maintain the norms we’ve set out above.

We will do this according to our moderation guidelines [EA · GW]. Mostly, this will simply involve giving positive feedback to contributors, and we expect to use moderation powers (e.g. deleting comments) very rarely.


Reading and Commenting



CEA will fund monthly prizes for the best posts published on the EA Forum. (We will do this for 3 months, and will consider further funding based on results.)

The prize amounts are as follows:

The first contest covers any posts made in November.

The winning posts will be determined by a vote of the moderators (Max Dalton [EA · GW], Howie Lempel [EA · GW], Denise Melchin [EA · GW], and Julia Wise [EA · GW]) and the current top three Forum users (Peter Hurford, Joey Savoie, and Rob Wiblin).

The moderation team uses the email address forum@effectivealtruism.org; feel free to contact them with questions or feedback.


Comments sorted by top scores.

comment by richard_ngo · 2018-11-08T10:45:51.092Z · score: 13 (6 votes) · EA · GW
Posts on the new Forum are split into two categories:
Frontpage posts are timeless content covering the ideas of effective altruism. They should be useful or interesting even to readers who only know the basic concepts of EA and aren’t very active within the community.

I'm a little confused about this description. I feel like intellectual progress often requires presupposition of fairly advanced ideas which build on each other, and which are therefore inaccessible to "readers who only know the basic concepts". Suppose that I wrote a post outlining views on AI safety aimed at people who already know the basics of machine learning, or a post discussing a particular counter-argument to an unusual philosophical position. Would those not qualify as frontpage posts? If not, where would they go? And where do personal blogs fit into this taxonomy?

comment by Maxdalton · 2018-11-08T11:03:30.716Z · score: 5 (4 votes) · EA · GW

Hi Richard, I think you're right that "basic concepts" is incorrect: I agree that it's important to discuss advanced ideas which build off each other. We'd want both of the posts you mention to be frontpage posts. I'll suggest an edit to Aaron.

By default, we're moving all content to either Frontpage or Community, since we're trying to have a slightly less active moderation policy than LessWrong. We might revisit this at some point. You can still click on a user's name to see their personal feed of posts.

comment by aarongertler · 2018-11-08T18:52:49.774Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA · GW

Thanks for this feedback, Richard! I've edited the post to better define the Frontpage category.

comment by Jess_Riedel · 2018-11-13T17:25:04.899Z · score: 5 (3 votes) · EA · GW

Consider changing the visual format a bit to better distinguish this forum from LW. They are almost indistinguishable right now, especially once you scroll down just a bit and the logo disappears.

comment by aarongertler · 2018-11-13T19:48:21.065Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA · GW

Thanks for the feedback, Jess! I'll make sure our tech team sees it.

comment by Emanuele_Ascani · 2018-11-11T08:35:54.094Z · score: 5 (2 votes) · EA · GW

It seems that now it is possible to upvote my own posts anonymously. The eternal question naturally rises: should I? In theory I think my post is useful, otherwise I wouldn't have posted it, but at the same time if I upvote it, it feels like giving a high-five to myself. On a more serious note: is this a bug or a feature?

comment by aarongertler · 2018-11-11T22:38:07.994Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA · GW


Do you mean that you're able to vote on posts when you aren't logged in? If so, that's a bug, though I haven't been able to replicate it myself.

If you mean that you can vote on your own posts from a different account you created, that's not permitted on the Forum [EA · GW]:

It’s fine to make a pseudonymous account in order to express views you wish to keep anonymous. It’s not acceptable to vote multiple times on the same material, to use multiple accounts to express the same opinion multiple times, or to impersonate other people.
comment by Emanuele_Ascani · 2018-11-12T08:54:34.900Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA · GW

No, I mean that you can upvote your own posts with the same account you used to post them. You can even upvote your own comments with the same account you used to comment.

Edit: it seems like that now there is a pre-casted vote when you post something, but you can still turn it in a strong vote.

comment by Maxdalton · 2018-11-12T10:23:55.076Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · EA · GW

That's right, this is intended as a feature. All comments and posts start with a weak upvote (we assume you think the thing is good, or you wouldn't have posted it). You can strong upvote your content, which is designed as a way for you to signal-boost contributions that you think are unusually valuable. Obviously, we don't want people to be strong-upvoting all their content, and we'll keep an eye on that happening.

comment by Larks · 2018-11-12T02:46:36.854Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · EA · GW

The new Lesswrong also has Greaterwrong, allowing people to use the old style interface if they find that easier. Is there any way to do the same for the new EA forum?

comment by riceissa · 2018-11-12T03:01:23.954Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · EA · GW

There is https://ea.greaterwrong.com/.

See also this comment announcing it.

comment by Ozzie Gooen (oagr) · 2018-11-09T11:38:38.829Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · EA · GW

Is it possible to cross-post on LessWrong? I know the alignment forum seems to have this.

comment by jpaddison · 2018-11-09T19:17:11.627Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · EA · GW

You can do link posts, but the way the alignment forum does it relies on them sharing the same database.

comment by Habryka · 2018-11-10T00:54:39.273Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA · GW

It seems plausible that at some point we want to build one-click functionality to crosspost between the two forums, but since they will probably have slightly different moderation guidelines, standards and focus-topics, we will probably always keep comments separate (which is not the case for the alignment forum).

comment by Maxdalton · 2018-11-08T10:30:21.025Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA · GW

Moderation notice: Stickied in Community to give context for people familiar with the old Forum.