Wild animal welfare in Hans Christian Andersen (Julia Wise) 2019-11-12T00:42:05.726Z · score: 9 (2 votes)
Forum update: New features (November 2019) 2019-11-09T01:00:50.805Z · score: 37 (14 votes)
EA Forum Prize: Winners for September 2019 2019-10-31T08:01:50.508Z · score: 16 (12 votes)
Reflections on EA Global London 2019 (Mrinank Sharma) 2019-10-29T23:00:11.710Z · score: 24 (9 votes)
How we think about the Forum 2019-10-15T16:24:04.447Z · score: 23 (11 votes)
Who runs the Forum? 2019-10-14T15:35:21.353Z · score: 40 (28 votes)
EA Organization Updates: September 2019 2019-10-10T10:05:47.305Z · score: 33 (12 votes)
List of EA-aligned email newsletters (did I miss any?) 2019-10-09T09:51:46.668Z · score: 15 (7 votes)
80,000 Hours: How useful are long-term career plans? 2019-10-09T01:03:42.279Z · score: 11 (4 votes)
EA Handbook 3.0: What content should I include? 2019-09-30T09:17:55.464Z · score: 43 (23 votes)
EA Forum Prize: Winners for August 2019 2019-09-24T03:06:08.264Z · score: 32 (14 votes)
Take 80,000 Hours' Annual Impact Survey 2019-09-18T04:26:40.144Z · score: 13 (4 votes)
Book launch: "Effective Altruism: Philosophical Issues" (Oxford) 2019-09-18T00:23:14.849Z · score: 37 (20 votes)
Forum Update: New Features (September 2019) 2019-09-17T08:43:31.904Z · score: 34 (13 votes)
EA Organization Updates: August 2019 2019-09-12T08:54:50.734Z · score: 25 (12 votes)
EA Forum Prize: Winners for July 2019 2019-08-20T07:09:17.771Z · score: 24 (10 votes)
How do you, personally, experience "EA motivation"? 2019-08-16T10:04:18.156Z · score: 31 (14 votes)
EA Organization Updates: July 2019 2019-08-07T13:27:10.778Z · score: 48 (27 votes)
The Unit of Caring: On "fringe" ideas 2019-08-02T03:56:40.650Z · score: 66 (27 votes)
The EA Holiday Calendar 2019-07-30T09:03:32.033Z · score: 21 (11 votes)
William Rathbone: 19th-century effective altruist? 2019-07-30T06:14:12.215Z · score: 15 (8 votes)
EA Forum Prize: Winners for June 2019 2019-07-25T08:36:56.099Z · score: 32 (14 votes)
Editing available for EA Forum drafts 2019-07-24T05:56:20.445Z · score: 90 (41 votes)
EA Forum Prize: Winners for May 2019 2019-07-12T01:48:57.209Z · score: 25 (9 votes)
EA Forum Prize: Winners for April 2019 2019-06-04T00:09:45.687Z · score: 29 (14 votes)
EA Forum: Footnotes are live, and other updates 2019-05-21T00:26:54.713Z · score: 24 (16 votes)
EA Forum Prize: Winners for March 2019 2019-05-07T01:36:59.748Z · score: 45 (18 votes)
Open Thread #45 2019-05-03T21:20:43.340Z · score: 10 (4 votes)
EA Forum Prize: Winners for February 2019 2019-03-29T01:53:02.491Z · score: 46 (18 votes)
Open Thread #44 2019-03-06T09:27:58.701Z · score: 10 (4 votes)
EA Forum Prize: Winners for January 2019 2019-02-22T22:27:50.161Z · score: 30 (16 votes)
The Narrowing Circle (Gwern) 2019-02-11T23:50:45.093Z · score: 37 (17 votes)
What are some lists of open questions in effective altruism? 2019-02-05T02:23:03.345Z · score: 23 (13 votes)
Are there more papers on dung beetles than human extinction? 2019-02-05T02:09:58.568Z · score: 14 (9 votes)
You Should Write a Forum Bio 2019-02-01T03:32:29.453Z · score: 21 (15 votes)
EA Forum Prize: Winners for December 2018 2019-01-30T21:05:05.254Z · score: 46 (27 votes)
The Meetup Cookbook (Fantastic Group Resource) 2019-01-24T01:28:00.600Z · score: 15 (10 votes)
The Global Priorities of the Copenhagen Consensus 2019-01-07T19:53:01.080Z · score: 43 (26 votes)
Forum Update: New Features, Seeking New Moderators 2018-12-20T22:02:46.459Z · score: 23 (13 votes)
What's going on with the new Question feature? 2018-12-20T21:01:21.607Z · score: 10 (4 votes)
EA Forum Prize: Winners for November 2018 2018-12-14T21:33:10.236Z · score: 49 (24 votes)
Literature Review: Why Do People Give Money To Charity? 2018-11-21T04:09:30.271Z · score: 24 (11 votes)
W-Risk and the Technological Wavefront (Nell Watson) 2018-11-11T23:22:24.712Z · score: 8 (8 votes)
Welcome to the New Forum! 2018-11-08T00:06:06.209Z · score: 13 (8 votes)
What's Changing With the New Forum? 2018-11-07T23:09:57.464Z · score: 17 (11 votes)
Book Review: Enlightenment Now, by Steven Pinker 2018-10-21T23:12:43.485Z · score: 18 (11 votes)
On Becoming World-Class 2018-10-19T01:35:18.898Z · score: 20 (12 votes)
EA Concepts: Share Impressions Before Credences 2018-09-18T22:47:13.721Z · score: 9 (6 votes)
EA Concepts: Inside View, Outside View 2018-09-18T22:33:08.618Z · score: 2 (1 votes)
Talking About Effective Altruism At Parties 2017-11-16T20:22:46.114Z · score: 8 (8 votes)


Comment by aarongertler on EA Forum Prize: Winners for September 2019 · 2019-11-07T11:06:07.210Z · score: 6 (4 votes) · EA · GW

As I note in the post, the summaries are meant to reflect my thoughts on posts that won, which aren't always posts I personally voted for. Leopold's paper got a lot of support from other judges. I don't see myself as a strong judge of economic content, so I focused in my writeup on features I thought could contribute to good Forum discussion (clarity, authorial engagement).

Keep in mind that the Prize isn't meant to reward the best research; it's meant to highlight Forum posts that exemplify what we'd like other posts to be doing. To me, that's "helping people learn something important while encouraging discussion", which implies a focus on readability and engagement. A linkpost with no summary, commentary, or discussion, even if it links to an excellent paper, wouldn't necessarily be a good Prize candidate.

(That said, I'm talking about how I think of the Prize; other judges have their own criteria.)

Comment by aarongertler on Be the Match: a volunteer list for bone marrow donation · 2019-11-06T02:25:07.796Z · score: 4 (2 votes) · EA · GW

While I don't have anything to add to other commentators on the cost-effectiveness estimate, I like this post for several reasons:

  • In addition to the practical impact, thinking about bone marrow donation can be really good practice for figuring out the return on someone's time and energy (I could picture this being a trial task for an EA research org)
  • It seems to me as though EA will best thrive if members try to be especially moral even beyond their careers and donations.
    • This doesn't mean trying to achieve moral sainthood or enlightenment, but it does seem... coherent, I suppose, for people in EA to be the sorts of people who will clean up litter when they see it, help someone up who's fallen, be polite to store employees, and at least consider giving blood or bone marrow (assuming that the calculations work out).
    • A community full of people who are in the habit of "doing the right thing" in small ways seems like it has a better chance of lasting for a long time, to the general satisfaction of its members. (Getting good at noticing when something is wrong and needs correction also has highly EA-relevant implications, e.g. around community health and taking action when someone's behavior is causing a lot of disvalue.)
Comment by aarongertler on Be the Match: a volunteer list for bone marrow donation · 2019-11-06T02:15:50.238Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · EA · GW

What do you mean by "all the downvotes"? The post has 24 karma on 14 votes. The highest-karma posts on the Forum usually come in at 2-2.5 karma/vote. If we assume those posts have close to zero downvotes, that points to this post (1.7 karma/vote) having... two downvotes, probably?

Comment by aarongertler on Words for "in-vitro/fake/cultivated/lab meat" used in Russian · 2019-11-06T01:56:33.782Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · EA · GW

I have no practical reason to want to know how Russian media refers to cultivated meat, but I still found these factoids interesting! Thanks for taking the time to post this. (I wonder whether GFI worked out any non-English terms when they decided to start saying "cultivated meat"; I don't see any indication of that after skimming the post.)

Comment by aarongertler on EA Hotel Fundraiser 6: Concrete outputs after 17 months · 2019-11-06T01:54:11.201Z · score: 15 (9 votes) · EA · GW

I appreciate the amount of organization that went into this post, as well as the counterfactual confidence figures and karma scores (there are a few missing scores, but given that you can see details about internal links Forum posts by hovering, that's not too important).

I'm not a donor and I don't expect to donate in the future, so my opinion doesn't much matter here, but I'd be interested to learn more about what Hotel occupants think they'd be doing if they weren't living there. PhD research on semi-related topics? Working random jobs to pay rent and getting nothing "productive" done at all? Working on the same projects, but going into debt or drawing down savings to fund them?

Comment by aarongertler on Should you familiarize yourself with the literature before writing an EA Forum post? · 2019-11-06T01:46:29.308Z · score: 7 (6 votes) · EA · GW

If someone wants to toss off a quick idea with low confidence, it doesn't seem too important to dig deep into literature; anyone who wants to take the idea more seriously can do related research themselves and comment with their results. (Of course, better literature than no literature, but not having that background doesn't seem so bad.)

On the other hand, if someone wants to sink many hours into writing a post about ideas in which they are confident, it seems like a very good idea to be familiar with extant literature.

In particular, if you are trying to argue against expert consensus, or take a firm stance on a controversial issue, you should read very closely about the ideas you want to criticize, and perhaps even seek out an expert who disagrees with you to see how they think. Some of the lowest-value posts I see (all over the internet, not just on the Forum) are those which present a viewpoint along the lines of "experts are generally wrong, I've discovered/uncovered the truth!" but don't seriously engage with why experts believe what they believe.

Readers interested in this post may also like this post on epistemic modesty.

Comment by aarongertler on EA Forum Prize: Winners for September 2019 · 2019-11-04T21:56:30.614Z · score: 4 (2 votes) · EA · GW

Yes, this is plausible. Any prize-awarding system has to make tradeoffs between the size of a prize, the number of prizes, the bar for recognition, and so on. It's good to have this feedback that we may be overemphasizing the amount of the top prizes, compared to the value of recognizing more posts.

Comment by aarongertler on EA Forum Prize: Winners for September 2019 · 2019-11-04T13:52:04.497Z · score: 4 (2 votes) · EA · GW

Yes, that was a great post! It got quite a few votes from the judges as well, but wasn't in the top three. Kudos to Dobroslawa.

Comment by aarongertler on Making Donating Fun · 2019-10-23T09:46:36.040Z · score: 6 (4 votes) · EA · GW

(Note: I'm glad you wrote this post, because the Forum is a place for ideas! I'm giving off-the-cuff feedback here that will sound negative, but that doesn't mean I think the post was bad.)

The main difficulty with any proposed app project is that almost all apps get close to zero users -- including plenty of apps that seem like they should be popular, or at least don't obviously seem less entertaining than their more successful competitors. It's hard to get traction in crowded markets, and "mobile games" is a crowded market.

It's true that very few mobile games have a social mission. However, this means that you're targeting an unusual set of people. Most people (I assume) download mobile games as a form of low-cost entertainment; they're unlikely to be interested in an app whose sole purpose is to take their money, even if it's for a good cause. If someone wants an app that will help them donate to charity, it's unlikely that they'll be looking for one with a game layer between them and their beneficiaries.

There are certainly people in the world for whom this hypothetical app would be useful and entertaining and persuasive (in terms of getting counterfactual donations), but I don't think those people are common, and that adds another difficult problem to the initial problem of "getting users for your app".

Comment by aarongertler on The Germy Paradox – Filters: A taboo · 2019-10-23T09:31:59.262Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · EA · GW

Regarding your second point: How many buildings are bookstores, compared to other types of buildings which burn down more frequently? And how many people have any kind of grudge against bookstores or their employees? I'd guess that which buildings are burnt down is mostly a function of availability + animosity.

Comment by aarongertler on Ramiro's Shortform · 2019-10-23T08:35:45.868Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · EA · GW

I'd never heard of this app before -- thanks for bringing it to my attention!

The most prominent "EA donation" app I'm aware of is Momentum, which has multiple full-time employees and seems to be pushing hard to get American users. I don't know what their user acquisition numbers are like thus far.

Comment by aarongertler on Updated Climate Change Problem Profile · 2019-10-23T08:16:04.345Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · EA · GW

Just commenting here to say that, as a Forum moderator, I love everything about this series of interactions! Props to Roxanne for asking, mchr3k for having notified 80K, and Rob for posting his thoughts on the situation.

Comment by aarongertler on What is wild animal suffering? · 2019-10-19T00:52:22.809Z · score: 13 (9 votes) · EA · GW

I'm excited to see Animal Ethics cross-posting its content!

Readers: If you found this introduction helpful/interesting, you might also like these other Forum pieces on the topic:

Comment by aarongertler on Who should I put a funder of a $100m fund in touch with? · 2019-10-16T10:31:22.018Z · score: 5 (3 votes) · EA · GW

What does it mean to have a fund dedicated to "internet monetization"? Are they trying to make grants to organizations that help online creators find financial support for their projects?

Comment by aarongertler on What would EAs most want to see from a "rationality" or similar project in the EA space? · 2019-10-10T07:22:29.889Z · score: 9 (2 votes) · EA · GW

More thorough evaluation of productivity techniques, particularly those based on some form of group commitment/incentive that couldn't easily be replicated by a lone practitioner.

One aspect of this: Which forms of "standard" business training actually seem to work well? I've heard good things about Toastmasters; what about Getting Things Done training? Cialdini's courses on influence? People have paid a lot of money for these things for a long time, which is no guarantee of efficacy but still hints that they should be investigated.

Comment by aarongertler on Analgesics for farm animals · 2019-10-08T04:09:11.643Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · EA · GW

Do you have any links to share w/r/t the advocacy groups already working on this? Or the names of particular groups?

Comment by aarongertler on Why do social movements fail: Two concrete examples. · 2019-10-08T04:06:36.434Z · score: 7 (5 votes) · EA · GW

I enjoyed reading this!

One note: Having a few more links to basic information (e.g. a general summary of the Spanish Enlightenment, a list of behaviors/actions recommended by General Semantics) would have helped me better understand both writeups. (I can Google this kind of thing, of course, but I might not find sources as good as those you consulted in your own research.)

Comment by aarongertler on [Link] What opinions do you hold that you would be reluctant to express in front of a group of effective altruists? Anonymous form. · 2019-10-04T23:42:45.919Z · score: 18 (6 votes) · EA · GW

It would be impossible to summarize my opinion of everything that's been written here. However, I'll second some commenters by noting that many of these views, if published, would likely be net-positive for the author (assuming that the full explanation was well-reasoned and specific).

Examples of posts I think could lead to reasonable discussion (there are many others):

"We should evaluate reducing abortions as an EA cause."
"In the grand scheme of things, chickens don't really matter."
"I'm pretty skeptical about polyamory." (This has limited relevance to EA outside of the Bay Area, so I'm not sure how much sense it makes as a Forum post. That said, if you wanted to try it out, I know someone who might want to be your co-author.)
"There's a lot of Girardian mimesis going on in EA cause prioritization." (I'm not sure what you mean by that, but I'd be eager to find out!)
"CEA has been a long-term counterfactual net negative to the movement and might be better off disbanding or radically reforming (except for Julia Wise's dept, who seem to be doing great work)." (Given that I work at CEA, I'd really like to hear more details about your views; we collect a lot of feedback on our various projects, but we're always open to more.)

I understand why someone might be reluctant to post about their views; good criticism is hard to write, and it's hard to predict how Forum users might respond to your ideas.

That's why I (one of the Forum's moderators) offer feedback and editing services to anyone who wants to publish a post. I'm not a perfect oracle, but I'll do my best to predict how people might react to your arguments, and suggest ways you might clarify your points. If you don't wind up publishing, your views will be safe with me.

(You can also use an anonymous email address or Forum account to send me a Google doc; I will encourage you to use a name, but I'll provide feedback either way.)

Overall, while collecting anonymous feedback has benefits, it seems much better to me that these points be expressed in full posts that can be discussed in detail, and I'd like to facilitate that process.

(If you're uncertain about the value of this process, I can refer you to others who have sent me work, and they can give [hopefully] unbiased feedback.)

*Of course, some of the views expressed on that form would invite widespread disapproval without strong evidence (e.g. personal attacks) or seem like trolling and would likely be received in that spirit (e.g. "right wingers should be euthanized").

Comment by aarongertler on Should CEA buy · 2019-10-04T23:21:39.273Z · score: 15 (8 votes) · EA · GW

Two-letter domain names, even for some extensions more obscure than .org, are typically very expensive. For examples of pricey two-letter .orgs, see and from this list; they sold for $22k and $28k, respectively.

(Also, if someone has held onto a two-letter domain name for many years, there's a good chance they've been approached by domain traders — who are numerous and proactive — and refused to sell even for a competitive price.)

Comment by aarongertler on Why did MyGiving need to be replaced? And why is the replacement so bad? · 2019-10-04T22:37:07.052Z · score: 9 (8 votes) · EA · GW

I'm a former MyGiving user, and I now use the dashboard. I remember having more problems with MyGiving than I do with the new dashboard, but I'm not really a "power user" in either case, so I may not notice some of the changes. What specific functionality do you miss?

Comment by aarongertler on [Link] What opinions do you hold that you would be reluctant to express in front of a group of effective altruists? Anonymous form. · 2019-10-03T22:27:23.549Z · score: 5 (3 votes) · EA · GW

I downvoted the post for the reason Michelle specified, though I will second that I'm glad Oli took the time to point out the comment.

Comment by aarongertler on [link] Andreas Mogensen's "Maximal Cluelessness" · 2019-10-03T21:08:40.049Z · score: 4 (2 votes) · EA · GW

Haven't read the full paper, but I'm recording some brief thoughts on cluelessness here for my own records. In a clueless world, the value of having an active EA-style movement that is at least partly longtermist may come from:

  • Having a group of people watching the world carefully for potential opportunities to reliably improve the long-term future, so that they can alert the wider world when something comes up that might not be seen by people interested in world events for non-longtermist reasons
  • Having a group of people developing relevant skills (which seems a bit different than "saving resources") in case such an opportunity appears, so that action can be taken more swiftly
  • Offering people with a common interest in longtermism a reason to spend time with each other and hang together; perhaps our research isn't particularly useful in a clueless world, but even people skeptical about their ability to have an impact now might find value in other activities (whether that's "writing fiction about existential risks" or "spending research effort on short-term causes as a way of having more certain impact, in case we don't become more clueful within our own lifetimes")

I'm sure these ideas aren't original, and (as with anything I write), I'd be glad to see links to places they've been expressed in a better way.

Comment by aarongertler on Behind the Scenes at a GiveDirectly Call Center · 2019-10-03T20:06:43.499Z · score: 4 (2 votes) · EA · GW

GiveDirectly really only funds one thing: direct cash transfers. By keeping their operations very simple and streamlined, they're able to work more efficiently. Your contact might be able to find support from other funders who specialize in projects like his, but GiveDirectly doesn't have the infrastructure in place to support and monitor a project of that kind (at least, as I understand their functioning).

Comment by aarongertler on Long-Term Future Fund: August 2019 grant recommendations · 2019-10-03T19:01:34.877Z · score: 25 (11 votes) · EA · GW

Regarding Chris Chambers:

The Let’s Fund report linked in the application played a major role in my assessment of the grant, and I probably would not have been comfortable recommending this grant without access to that report.

While you discuss what you believe the positive effects of his work might be, you don't really get into why you think he is the right person to do this project, or why/whether you think this project is stronger than other meta-science initiatives (maybe it was the only such project that applied? Are there others you'd be interested to see apply?).

I assume that some of this is addressed in the lengthy Let's Fund report, but would you be open to summarizing which parts of the report you found most compelling in Chris's favor?

Comment by aarongertler on Merging with AI would be suicide for the human mind - Susan Schneider · 2019-10-03T18:10:48.044Z · score: -5 (2 votes) · EA · GW

I assigned this the "Personal Blog" category for now, because mind uploading isn't a common topic of EA conversation and the relevance of this to existing cause areas isn't entirely clear. Are there organizations you can point to that are working on this problem, and/or a case someone has made for why uploading is a valuable cause area?

Comment by aarongertler on [Link] What opinions do you hold that you would be reluctant to express in front of a group of effective altruists? Anonymous form. · 2019-10-03T17:23:48.087Z · score: 20 (11 votes) · EA · GW

On detractors writing: Given some of the comments on the survey, I would be surprised if quite a few answers hadn't come from people who have no connection to the EA community save as critics. For example:

EA is a waste of money and time. Another example of tech minded people trying to reinvent the wheel.

This doesn't seem like someone who actually spends time on the EA Forum (or, if they do, I wish they'd do something they found more enjoyable).

Comment by aarongertler on Chart showing effectiveness of schooling internvetions · 2019-10-02T22:22:11.538Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · EA · GW

This isn't the thing you were looking for, but this report contains a similar graphic. This other report also has a good list of interventions (p. 35), though it only covers costs rather than cost-effectiveness.

Comment by aarongertler on Harvard's Agathon Career Fellowship: A Post-mortem · 2019-10-02T04:33:36.296Z · score: 4 (3 votes) · EA · GW

Thanks for writing this! I find that I wind up linking to postmortem assessments like this one quite often when people ask me for advice about their project ideas, and I'd be surprised if I never have cause to share this (as I've shared similar Forum writeups from EAGx Boston, SHIC, etc.)

One question: How did you attempt to get responses for your exit survey? 7/15 is a pretty low rate, and while I see why it's not great to bother people too much once they've finished your program, I'd be interested whether many of the non-respondents reported "no change".

(I've been at a few EA events where surveys were conducted at the end of the event, everyone filling them out at once, but I don't know whether that was practical for a program like this, where people may have needed time to think afterward in order to answer with confidence.)

Comment by aarongertler on Should I give to Our World In Data? · 2019-10-02T04:27:19.216Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · EA · GW

Did you ever hear back from Max Roser? I'd be interested to hear his thoughts, as the donation page on the website is bare-bones, with no information on runway, projects they might pursue or not pursue based on certain funding targets, etc.

Comment by aarongertler on Donor strategies for separating "how much" from "where" to donate · 2019-10-02T04:08:32.182Z · score: 7 (2 votes) · EA · GW
Jeff Kaufman and Julia Wise: goal is 50% of pre-tax income; their donations are consistent with this goal
Ben Kuhn: goal is 50% of pre-tax income; donations for 2017 and 2018 have been consistent with this goal
Haseeb Qureshi: goal is 33% of pre-tax income; donation amounts since 2015 are consistent with this goal
Aaron Gertler: goal is 10% of pre-tax income

...for what it's worth, I think I've been pretty consistent, too! :-|

(I haven't given exactly 10% each year, but since I gave a higher percentage in years when I made more money, the average since I made my 10% pledge is extremely close to 10%.)

Also, this post is really good, serving as the best explainer I know of on this topic, and I'm glad I finally caught up and read the whole thing.

Comment by aarongertler on Is pain just a signal to enlist altruists? · 2019-10-01T22:41:18.499Z · score: 9 (6 votes) · EA · GW
Physical damage which is self-induced is less painful. They give as examples “runner’s high”, cosmetic procedures like hair removal, and self-harm.

I wonder how certain we are that this is about pain levels, rather than the addition of emotions like uncertainty or alarm to pain that comes from others. If I knowingly cut myself with a knife, I'm ready for the pain; I can predict what will happen and steel myself. If someone else cuts me with a knife, I'm not prepared in the same way, and many other negative emotions are going to be flooding my system.

This makes me wonder whether accidental self-harm is more painful than purposeful self-harm (e.g. I cut myself while cutting up vegetables). If not, evidence for social factors mediating pain; if so, evidence for the role of surprise.

Comment by aarongertler on EA Handbook 3.0: What content should I include? · 2019-10-01T09:23:10.613Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · EA · GW

Thank you for the suggestion! Because so many more authors will be cited, I expect that the sourcing will be more diverse (at least, this is true of the list I've compiled so far). If there's any other content you think has been overlooked in past introductory materials, I'd be grateful to hear about it.

Comment by aarongertler on Candy for Nets · 2019-09-30T05:11:47.816Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · EA · GW

Thanks for sharing this on the Forum! I didn't want to repost it from Facebook, since it was a personal story, but I'm glad to see it made available to the world.

Comment by aarongertler on Does improving animal rights now improve the far future? · 2019-09-26T06:54:41.805Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · EA · GW

If we reach a point in history where humans can upload themselves and survive without the consumption of physical resources, the world will look different in so many ways that almost every cause area we think about will be totally unrecognizable. This is a thing that could someday happen, but that doesn't mean there's any less value in bringing about the end of factory farming much sooner.

Comment by aarongertler on Effective Altruism and Everyday Decisions · 2019-09-26T06:48:12.178Z · score: 10 (3 votes) · EA · GW

I think people would be more likely to read the chapter if you had another sentence or two on what it was about (this is a good rule of thumb for links on the Forum).

Comment by aarongertler on Book launch: "Effective Altruism: Philosophical Issues" (Oxford) · 2019-09-19T23:27:00.743Z · score: 5 (3 votes) · EA · GW

Seconded! Most library books are read only a few times; libraries are generally eager to order books if they know they'll have an audience. If you make a request in person, you could mention that your local EA group has multiple people interested in the book, if you are a member of such a group -- I imagine that would be helpful.

Comment by aarongertler on Progress book recommendations · 2019-09-18T08:57:45.731Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · EA · GW

In case you didn't see, this post was featured on Marginal Revolution a while back! (I assume they found it on the Forum rather than your private blog, since they've featured many other Forum posts.)

Comment by aarongertler on Forum Update: New Features (September 2019) · 2019-09-18T00:14:17.439Z · score: 5 (3 votes) · EA · GW

So far, it seems as though people have been treating them like non-intensive posts (e.g. friendly commentary/pushback, no point-by-point criticism). That seems good to me, but my vision of how Shortform should work may change as the feature gets used more often.

Comment by aarongertler on Effective Altruism London Strategy 2019 · 2019-09-17T09:22:14.760Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · EA · GW

Relatedly, we've occasionally tried to think of better alternatives to "optimal world" language on CEA's website. I even tried some timed/targeted brainstorming, and nothing much came out of it. If anyone has suggestions for language that is a bit less utopian but still keeps the "get the best things done" idea, I'd love to hear them!

Comment by aarongertler on New protein alternative produced from CO2 · 2019-09-17T09:07:00.621Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · EA · GW

Stopping by to say that I find it very comforting when the people I hope would have talked to each other about their projects actually did talk to each other about their projects. Three cheers for communicating with do-gooders outside the community!

Comment by aarongertler on How big a problem is misuse of pesticides? · 2019-09-16T21:07:45.829Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · EA · GW

I think you'll get more answers to this question if you give a bit more information at the start. Some points that would be helpful:

  • What are some problems that might result from the misuse of pesticides?
  • Have you read any articles/books about the problem that you could link to?

In general, it's easier for people to respond to ideas/arguments than to come up with opinions from scratch. I may not have a good estimate for "scale of the pesticide issue," but if someone tells me they think pesticides cause X deaths per year because of reasons Y and Z, I can evaluate those claims to see how closely I agree with that person's estimate.

Comment by aarongertler on [Solved] Was my post about things you'd be reluctant to express in front of other EAs manually removed from the front page, and if so, why? · 2019-09-12T22:46:09.513Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · EA · GW

Thanks for clearing that up! I'm glad we don't have to track down a categorization bug :-)

Comment by aarongertler on [Solved] Was my post about things you'd be reluctant to express in front of other EAs manually removed from the front page, and if so, why? · 2019-09-12T19:24:48.277Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · EA · GW

Your post shouldn't have started on the front page, because all posts start out in the "personal blog" category by default, which is only viewable from "All Posts". Some posts are then classified either as "frontpage" (shows up on the front page) or "community" (shows up on the community page). Because your post was about community discussion norms, it was a better fit for the "community" category.

If posts that haven't been categorized are showing up on the front page, something unexpected is happening with our code -- do you happen to have a screenshot of this? Or is it possible that you were viewing the "All Posts" page?

(People with questions about moderation // Forum features are also welcome to PM me on the Forum or email me directly.)

Meta-note: This post will stay in the "personal blog" category, because that's what we generally use for questions with a single "correct" answer, especially if they are questions about how the Forum works. See here for more on categorization.

Comment by aarongertler on Come hang out with EA Princeton! · 2019-09-11T12:23:55.311Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · EA · GW

Note on moderation: For local events in areas outside of major cities, we generally use the "personal blog" category. This means the post will be less visible for most Forum users (for whom it won't be relevant), but still shareable with targeted audiences.

Comment by aarongertler on Movement Collapse Scenarios · 2019-08-31T23:53:29.034Z · score: 13 (9 votes) · EA · GW

I'm glad people want to look for evidence that CEA (and other orgs) is being adequately self-reflective. However, I'd like to give some additional context on Glassdoor. Of the five CEA reviews posted there:

  • Two are from people who have confused CEA with other organizations (neither of those were cited in John's comment)
  • One is fairly recent and positive (also not cited)
  • One is from September 2016, at which point only three of CEA's current staff were employed by the organization (three-and-a-half if you count Owen Cotton-Barratt, who is currently a part-time advisor to CEA).
  • One is from March 2018 -- more recent, but still representing a substantial departure from CEA's current staff list, including a different executive director. A lot can change over the course of 18 months.

I'll refrain from going into too much detail, but my experience is that CEA circa late 2019 is intensely self-reflective; I'm prompted multiple times in the average week to put serious thought into ways we can improve our processes and public communication.

Comment by aarongertler on Our forthcoming AI Safety book · 2019-08-30T23:55:53.297Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · EA · GW

Can you say any more about the circumstances under which your book is being published? What kinds of books does your published normally release, if you are working with one? What audience do you plan to target?

Also, for other users' reference, "EPFL" refers to a bilingual French/English university in Switzerland.

Comment by aarongertler on Why I Am Not a Technocrat · 2019-08-20T07:07:40.709Z · score: 9 (5 votes) · EA · GW

When you write linkposts on the EA Forum, it's good to include a brief explanation of how the content relates to effective altruism and/or which points you thought were most important. This makes it a lot more likely that the post will create discussion. This is a good recent example of a linkpost that does this without much extra work -- just a relevant excerpt and a one-sentence explanation.

For now, I'm leaving this post in the "Personal Blog" category; if you add some more details, I'll move it to the "Community" category.

Comment by aarongertler on Rethink Grants: an evaluation of Donational’s Corporate Ambassador Program · 2019-08-19T10:36:57.076Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · EA · GW
It's plausible that some of these are as cost-effective as the GW top charities, but perhaps not that they are as cost-effective on average, or in expectation.

I agree, for most values of "plausible". Otherwise, it would imply TLYCS is catching many GiveWell-tier charities GiveWell either missed or turned down, which is unlikely given their much smaller research capacity. But all TLYCS charities are in the category "things I could imagine turning out to be worthy of support from donors in EA with particular values, if more evidence arose" (which wouldn't be the case for, say, an art museum).

Comment by aarongertler on Effective altruism and net-positive living · 2019-08-15T13:06:32.458Z · score: 6 (3 votes) · EA · GW

This is really detailed and well-written, and this comment doesn't do the essay justice, but I do want to make a few points:

Before tackling any human-specific problem, there is a more fundamental issue that all other issues need to comply with.

This is a controversial statement, and I'd have liked to see more justification for it. It sounds as though you consider "biocapacity" to be a source of catastrophic risk to humanity -- is that actually the case? If so, what does a "biocapacity catastrophe" look like? Are we doomed to run into dangerous shortages of key resources, even if we make the natural adjustments available to us (e.g. raising the price of scarce materials)? What are some experts' "timelines" for when we might see catastrophic effects from overtaxing the planet?


Ethical offsetting has a contentious history in EA; you may want to read that post and its comments, and see whether any critiques (there or on other posts you find) ring true to you.

For your plan in particular, donating to many different charities to offset resource use has complexity costs. You also risk not realizing when a charity's impact gets much lower for some reason (e.g. low-hanging fruit dries up, the charity's mission changes).

What are some advantages to this approach, compared to the more common "donate money to the one or two organizations I think are most effective, without regard for how they do or don't compensate for things I've done"? Do you think it's likely to be personally interesting/compelling to people who wouldn't otherwise have EA inclinations?


Regarding Cool Earth: you might find this critique of the organization interesting (it challenges some of the numbers you cited in your post).

Comment by aarongertler on Ask Me Anything! · 2019-08-15T12:40:51.548Z · score: 4 (3 votes) · EA · GW

Given the broad range of topics covered, it's difficult to place this post into a particular category -- some questions are more "Frontpage", others more "Community". Will's answers are likely to include a mix of content that fits into both categories, but is probably a better fit for "Community" overall, because the kinds of questions people wound up asking were mostly related to topics for which we use that category.