Neglected EA Regions

post by DavidNash · 2020-02-17T11:25:32.678Z · EA · GW · 9 comments

One area that seems to be neglected in EA is community support for people outside of Europe/U.S.A.

It may be worth supporting wider regional groups for areas with a lower concentration of people interested in EA.

The idea is that over time people will join the groups and if they get larger, country groups can be created. At the moment people sometimes don't see a group for their country or it is abandoned and they are unable to coordinate.

This way people can indicate their interest by joining a group and when someone joins who does want to organise, they already have a network of interested people.

Here are Facebook groups for three regions I think are particularly neglected.

Latin America


Middle East

For completeness here are some other groups outside of Europe and North America.


Comments sorted by top scores.

comment by cafelow · 2020-02-18T09:07:39.223Z · EA(p) · GW(p)

One data point suggesting the positive impact of setting up facebook groups for places that have no groups:

Back in 2014 or 2015 LEAN set up an "EA Christchurch" facebook group, that I was able to stumble upon. By posting on this group I found another couple of interested people in my city, and we've had a small but thriving EA group since. I might not have had the gumption to start a local group (or may have taken a lot longer to start) without that facebook group connecting us.

Of course that doesn't mean this strategy will work in other situations, or whether the strategy could just have easily been net negative, but I believe it was very positive in our situation.

Note at first I was very suspicious that the admins, and most of the members, were not from Christchurch, so if you haven't already you might want to explain who you are and what you are hoping to do for the group on the group page.

Replies from: gworley3
comment by G Gordon Worley III (gworley3) · 2020-02-18T19:37:36.753Z · EA(p) · GW(p)

This makes we think of a useful perspective on this post: we still have a long way to go to spread EA within the cultures/regions where it has already taken root such that there is still a lot to be gained from doing that without dealing with the added complications of taking EA to new cultures.

comment by G Gordon Worley III (gworley3) · 2020-02-17T18:51:00.657Z · EA(p) · GW(p)

I don't have a source for previous discussions, but it's been my impression that expansion of EA to new regions/cultures is currently intentionally conservative due to a belief that success hinges on getting it right the first time and the difficulty of crafting the EA message to resonate with a particular culture.

Replies from: DavidNash
comment by DavidNash · 2020-02-18T11:17:27.287Z · EA(p) · GW(p)

There is this post - Why not to rush to translate effective altruism into other languages [EA · GW].

And this post [EA · GW] I wrote where one conclusion is that maybe there should be less focus on location when thinking about movement building.

I'd agree that it makes sense to get it right first time but maybe that's one reason to have someone involved in EA community building able to filter and help people who are interested in EA in neglected regions.

Replies from: Jan_Kulveit
comment by Jan_Kulveit · 2020-02-18T13:42:00.787Z · EA(p) · GW(p)

FWIW the Why not to rush to translate effective altruism into other languages [EA · GW] post was quite influential but is often wrong / misleading / advocating some very strong prior on inaction, in my opinion

comment by Jan_Kulveit · 2020-02-17T20:11:18.468Z · EA(p) · GW(p)

I don't think this is actually neglected

  • in my view, bringing effective altruism into new countries/cultures is in initial phases best understood as a strategy/prioritisation research, not as "community building"
    • importance of this increases with increasing distance (cultural / economic / geographical / ...) from places like Oxford or Bay

(more on the topic here [EA · GW])

  • I doubt the people who are plausibly good founders would actually benefit from such groups, and even less from some vague coordination due to facebook groups
    • actually I think on the margin, if there are people who would move forward with the localization efforts if such fb groups exist and other similar people express interest, and would not do that otherwise, their impact could be easily negative
Replies from: DavidNash
comment by DavidNash · 2020-02-18T11:33:36.490Z · EA(p) · GW(p)
I doubt the people who are plausibly good founders would actually benefit from such groups, and even less from some vague coordination due to facebook groups

I agree that Facebook groups are most likely not the ideal coordination tool, but I haven't found a platform that is as widely used without having bigger flaws.

I also agree that the impact could be negative if there are people who would build communities just because they met via Facebook but I think a lot of that depends on how it is used. One check is ensuring that people who join understand EA and have a connection to that region. Another is having filters and coaching for people do want to organise, which should reduce the chance of a negative outcome whilst making it easier for a positive one.

I think having someone involved in EA create the various focal points means that we are less likely in the future to see groups appear that have no connection to the wider EA network and research but have already become the default organisation in their area.

Replies from: Jan_Kulveit
comment by Jan_Kulveit · 2020-02-18T14:05:50.459Z · EA(p) · GW(p)

I'm not sure you've read my posts on this topic? (1 [? · GW],2 [EA · GW])

In the language used there, I don't think the groups you propose would help people overcome the minimum recommended resources, but are at the risk of creating the appearance some criteria vaguely in that direction are met.

  • e.g., in my view, the founding group must have a deep understanding of effective altruism, and, essentially, the ability to go through the whole effective altruism prioritization framework, taking into account local specifics to reach conclusions valid at their region. This basically impossible to implement as membership requirement in a fb group
  • or strong link(s) to the core of the community ... this is not fulfilled by someone from the core hanging in many fb groups with otherwise unconnected ppl

Overall, I think sometimes small obstacles - such as having to find EAs from your country in the global FB group or on EA hub and by other means - are a good thing!

Replies from: DavidNash
comment by DavidNash · 2020-02-18T17:32:35.134Z · EA(p) · GW(p)

I think I agree with the minimum recommended resources you suggest, but I don't see Facebook group membership requirements as the only filter. It's more likely to be based on seeing what people write/projects they do/future attendance at EA events.

Sometimes obstacles can be good but maybe there are people who would be really great organisers if they just knew one other person who was interested or were encouraged to go to EAG.

A tangential issue that might be part of this disagreement is that anyone can decide to become a group leader, create a meetup page and start telling people about their version of EA as there is no official licence/certification. That would require more thought as to whether having official groups is a good idea.