Posts

CEA's Events Team is Hiring! 2022-09-21T15:35:36.273Z
Doom Circles 2022-07-08T13:29:23.374Z
Hiking: an analogy for sustainable work 2022-05-31T18:15:53.742Z
Apply to attend an EA conference! 2022-05-20T20:10:25.681Z
The best EA Global yet? (And other updates.) 2022-02-13T16:00:53.185Z
[Updated] EA conferences in 2022: save the dates 2022-02-09T16:36:20.221Z
Help CEA plan future events and conferences 2021-12-09T19:54:59.870Z
Please post reflections on EA Global: London ($500 bounty) 2021-12-04T12:41:37.186Z
CEA’s events team: capacity building and mistakes 2021-11-03T08:08:17.433Z
Suggest activities for the EA Picnic 2021-06-18T01:22:05.875Z
Applications are open for EAGxVirtual 2020 2020-05-16T07:56:57.439Z
EA Global Live Broadcast 2020-03-20T21:47:05.353Z
Virtual EA Global: News and updates from CEA 2020-03-17T02:40:03.766Z
The EA events ecosystem: How to get more involved (as a participant) 2020-01-27T11:51:18.798Z
The EA events ecosystem: How to get more involved (as an organizer) 2020-01-27T11:42:16.407Z
Applications for EA Global: London 2019 are now open 2019-07-11T11:18:45.251Z
Save the dates for EA Global: San Francisco & London 2018-02-22T16:16:11.142Z
Applications are open for EA Global Boston 2017-04-01T16:01:18.215Z
Save the Date for EA Global Boston and San Francisco 2017-03-04T03:29:44.296Z
EAG 2017 Boston Update: moved to June 2017-01-23T19:03:51.669Z
EA Global 2017 Update 2016-12-06T16:10:31.148Z
Review of EA Global 2016 2016-09-20T15:51:03.917Z

Comments

Comment by Amy Labenz (AmyLabenz) on Case Study of EA Global Rejection + Criticisms/Solutions · 2022-09-26T13:26:57.154Z · EA · GW

I’m not sure. She linked to both sources her post, so I don’t think the issue is that she doesn’t know about them.

I did give her quite a bit of feedback on her application and things she might include/ways she might get involved in the future, which would have given her some additional insight into how we think about the process. That might be what she means.

Comment by Amy Labenz (AmyLabenz) on Case Study of EA Global Rejection + Criticisms/Solutions · 2022-09-26T12:23:59.350Z · EA · GW

A number of people have asked me whether I gave Constance permission to post a selection of my private Facebook communications and my email/the events team’s emails as part of this Forum post. I did not. I felt a bit uncomfortable with this, but I also did not ask her to take them down.

I saw that she had some suggestions for how I could improve my messages and my emails / other events team emails in the redline comments, and I agree some of her suggestions would have been improvements.

Comment by Amy Labenz (AmyLabenz) on Case Study of EA Global Rejection + Criticisms/Solutions · 2022-09-26T11:17:15.125Z · EA · GW

I was the person at CEA who spoke with Constance. I don’t remember asking her to promise anything, and CEA certainly didn't suggest an NDA. (Though I was surprised to see my private correspondence with her published here, since we didn't discuss publishing it.)

I don’t think I gave Constance additional insights into the admissions process that aren’t already published fairly widely (see here and CEA comments here). I did give her specific feedback on her application and her fit for the event, and other advice about how to get more engaged with the community but I did not ask her to keep that between us. I agree that we could improve communications, and we are reflecting on that.

Comment by Amy Labenz (AmyLabenz) on Case Study of EA Global Rejection + Criticisms/Solutions · 2022-09-24T19:02:25.144Z · EA · GW

Quick point of clarification: on the call, I recall Constance saying that her heart was set on EAG and that she was not interested in EAGx. Perhaps there was a miscommunication or I misunderstood, but that is the information I was working with throughout communications.

Comment by Amy Labenz (AmyLabenz) on Case Study of EA Global Rejection + Criticisms/Solutions · 2022-09-24T18:59:02.851Z · EA · GW

Hi Constance,

Quick point of clarification: I don't know what the anecdotes are referring to, but for what it's worth, we have 3.5 CEA FTEs working on EAG along with venue/production staff and volunteers. We do not have the ability to monitor all attendee interactions, nor do we want to.

We do have a community health point of contact onsite at all of our events. This person is available in case anyone experiences harassment, bullying, has a mental health concern, or needs other assistance.

Comment by Amy Labenz (AmyLabenz) on Case Study of EA Global Rejection + Criticisms/Solutions · 2022-09-23T13:54:49.244Z · EA · GW

Thanks for the suggestion, Zach!

I did explain to Constance why she was initially rejected as one of the things we discussed on an hour-long call. We also discussed additional information she was considering including, and I told her I thought she was a better fit for EAGx (she said she was not interested). It can be challenging to give a lot of guidance on how to change a specific application, especially in cases where the goal is to “get in”. I worry about providing information that will allow candidates to game the system. 

I don’t think this post reflects what I told Constance, perhaps because she disagrees with us. So, I want to stick to the policy for now.

Comment by Amy Labenz (AmyLabenz) on Case Study of EA Global Rejection + Criticisms/Solutions · 2022-09-23T12:52:28.224Z · EA · GW

Thanks for flagging this concern. I was worried someone might get the impression that this was related to animal welfare. While we don’t discuss the specifics of people’s applications publicly, that is definitely not the reason: we don’t penalize people for favoring animal welfare, global health, or existential risk reduction (or other prominent EA approaches).

Comment by Amy Labenz (AmyLabenz) on Case Study of EA Global Rejection + Criticisms/Solutions · 2022-09-23T12:43:08.738Z · EA · GW

Hi Constance,

I was sad to read your initial post and recognize how disappointed you are about not getting to come to this EAG. And I see you’ve put a lot of work into this post and your application. I’m sorry that the result wasn’t what you were hoping for. 

After our call (I’m happy to disclose that I am “X”), I was under the impression that you understood our decision, and I was happy to hear that you started getting involved with the in-person community after we spoke. 

As I mentioned to you, I recommend that you apply to an EAGx event, which might be a better fit for you at this stage.

It’s our policy to not discuss the specifics of people’s applications with other people besides them. I don’t think it would be appropriate for me to give more detail about why you were rejected publicly, so it is hard to really reply to the substance of this post, and share the other side of this story.

I hope that you continue to find ways to get involved, deepen your EA thinking, and make contributions to EA cause areas. I’m sorry that this has been a disappointing experience for you. At this point, given our limited capacity, and the time we’ve spent engaging on calls, email, and Facebook, I’m going to focus on building up our team in order to run more EAG and EAGx events.

Thank you for sharing your thoughts on the process more generally. My team is focused on EAG right now, but we plan to reflect on any structural changes after the event.

Comment by Amy Labenz (AmyLabenz) on CEA's Events Team is Hiring! · 2022-09-21T18:23:12.039Z · EA · GW

Here it is! Updated the image in the post too. 

Thanks for getting us, Nathan! LFG is the Events Team motto :) 

Comment by Amy Labenz (AmyLabenz) on CEA's Events Team is Hiring! · 2022-09-21T18:19:14.090Z · EA · GW
Comment by Amy Labenz (AmyLabenz) on Open EA Global · 2022-09-16T15:13:57.747Z · EA · GW

I can see why people are confused by this situation. I don't think it would be appropriate for me to give more detail publicly it's our policy to not discuss the specifics of people's applications with other people besides them. 

We do want people who aren't sure if they'll get in, including students, to apply! But we suggest they should also consider applying to their nearest EAGx and not only to EAG.

We don't plan to tell people a recipe for getting accepted beyond the overall info we share with everyone about the event and the application process, and info about getting more involved in events like EAGx and local groups for people who have been away from the community for a while or who aren't yet that involved. 

In some cases, the things that would need to change aren't realistic to change. In other cases, telling people essentially what we want to hear would largely defeat the purpose of those aspects of the application.

We know people are concerned and confused sometimes about EAG rejections. Sometimes there are genuine uncertainties. In our experience, in many of the cases where people have been upset, there were clear reasons to reject them that we cannot share based on background or behavior, and we would recommend keeping that hypothesis in mind.

Comment by Amy Labenz (AmyLabenz) on Open EA Global · 2022-09-03T19:46:50.531Z · EA · GW

I’m really sorry to hear this. It is concerning to hear that being rejected from EAG made you feel like you were “turned away from even hanging out with people.” This is not our intention, and I’d be happy to chat with you about other resources and opportunities for in-person meetings with other EAs. 

We also get things wrong sometimes so I’m sad to hear you feel like our decision impacted your trajectory away from a highly devoted version of your life. The EAG admissions process is not intended to evaluate you as a person, it is for determining whether you would be a fit for a particular event. It seems possible that you applied at a time when we were experimenting with a policy that prioritized people who were not yet highly engaged but were in a position to become highly engaged (I’m guessing this because you say your “newbie” partner got in). Our admissions process has changed over time and currently we consider things like engagement with EA, epistemics, and ability to gain things from the event or provide mentorship to others (for example, if people are currently making a decision and have a plan to use conversations at the conference to influence them). 

As an example of the imperfection of the process, EA Global once rejected an application from someone who then went on to work at Open Philanthropy less than 2 years later. One change we have made since 2020 is to not outright reject sparse applications, but rather send a message saying that we did not have adequate information to approve an application, and suggest the applicant update their application if there is anything more they think we should know. 

Thanks for your comment and I’m sorry to hear how our admissions process impacted you.

Comment by Amy Labenz (AmyLabenz) on Open EA Global · 2022-09-01T21:43:47.625Z · EA · GW

Thanks for the comment, Hayley!  Btw, I loved seeing your dog Maple with the EAG swag in your original post, so cute 🥺 🐶 

Comment by Amy Labenz (AmyLabenz) on Open EA Global · 2022-09-01T21:35:07.885Z · EA · GW

Thank you! I'm so glad :) 

Comment by Amy Labenz (AmyLabenz) on Open EA Global · 2022-09-01T20:35:57.103Z · EA · GW

This comment (seen on Kerry Vaughan's Twitter) hit me hard:


That comment hit me hard too. 

In general, it hurts to make people feel bad and if I was optimizing the event for making myself/EAs feel good it would look different. 

I had an hour long call with the person who made that post and was able to connect them with resources and explain the admissions process and considerations that go into it in a way that seemed to help. I think we could do a better job of explaining these things publicly and I think we should do that.

Comment by Amy Labenz (AmyLabenz) on Who's interested in an EA unconference style virtual convening on gather dot town to mirror EA global? · 2022-09-01T20:33:31.472Z · EA · GW

I'm not certain of the admissions standard for that particular event, but the description says they "welcome those at all levels of engagement" so my guess is that the admissions process is for screening purposes. 

Eli mentioned in his reply to Scott that using an admissions process lets us try to screen out applicants who have caused problems at past events or who seem likely to cause problems. I'd have to check with our Community Events team to be sure that's the reason here. 

Comment by Amy Labenz (AmyLabenz) on Open EA Global · 2022-09-01T20:28:33.057Z · EA · GW

It is hard to talk about admissions in too much detail publicly. I agree that we want to make sure attendees have an understanding of EA but we also want to avoid the “guessing the teacher’s password” problem.  We also check for reasoning skills/epistemics. In other words, some people don’t know much about EA principles, but manage to exhibit good reasoning skills as they make the case for a clear plan, or by explaining that they are uncertain and laying out which options they are thinking about.
 

Comment by Amy Labenz (AmyLabenz) on Open EA Global · 2022-09-01T20:26:56.740Z · EA · GW

Thanks for the suggestion. We did do a parallel virtual event before and decided against doing it again because virtual underperformed the in-person event and split our attention. We were considering running our own separate virtual event this year, but instead, we are supporting  EAGx Virtual next month.

Comment by Amy Labenz (AmyLabenz) on Open EA Global · 2022-09-01T20:24:40.878Z · EA · GW

We haven’t tried a fully open event, but our 2016 was closer to open than our more recent events and came with various drawbacks.

Comment by Amy Labenz (AmyLabenz) on Open EA Global · 2022-09-01T20:21:04.622Z · EA · GW

Here are some suggestions written by Julia Wise from our Community Health team. 

Comment by Amy Labenz (AmyLabenz) on Who's interested in an EA unconference style virtual convening on gather dot town to mirror EA global? · 2022-09-01T20:11:18.966Z · EA · GW

In case you missed it, EAGx Virtual is next month! https://www.eaglobal.org/events/eagxvirtual-2022/

Comment by Amy Labenz (AmyLabenz) on Doom Circles · 2022-09-01T20:09:10.609Z · EA · GW

<3

Comment by Amy Labenz (AmyLabenz) on Open EA Global · 2022-09-01T19:22:46.587Z · EA · GW

Thanks, Max! I agree that's confusing.

As Eli said, we are planning to revamp our website. 

In the meantime, I've edited the homepage to be more accurate / to match the information on our FAQ page and admissions page to say:

"EA Global is designed for people who have a solid understanding of the main concepts of effective altruism, and who are making decisions and taking significant actions based on them.

EA Global conferences are not the only events for people interested in effective altruism! EAGx conferences are locally-organized conferences designed primarily for people:

  1. Familiar with the core ideas of effective altruism
  2. Interested in learning more about what to do
  3. From the region or country where the conference is taking place (or living there)

See our FAQ page for more information."

The edits should show up shortly if they haven't already.

Comment by Amy Labenz (AmyLabenz) on Doom Circles · 2022-07-09T14:24:00.437Z · EA · GW

Thanks for the follow-up! I'm working on a different format that I think might address some of your concerns (I posted this quickly to link to it in an email about the new format). 

I agree I should add a caveat above. It seems like you and others are getting the impression that I think this is the best way to get feedback/I'm an expert on Doom Circles (which is understandable, since I chose to post about them!). I'll write something quickly now (I don't have childcare at the moment, so might make changes next week). 

Also agree I could have done more to explain the importance of setting norms. I'll make a note to revisit next week when I have more time. 

Really appreciate you pushing to make sure I understood the feedback :) 

Comment by Amy Labenz (AmyLabenz) on Doom Circles · 2022-07-09T13:59:16.797Z · EA · GW

I'm really you've had a bad experience with negative, anonymous, unsolicited feedback and then felt bad about feeling bad. That sounds really tough. 

I'm glad you decided to post and wanted to reply to say thanks for sharing your experience. Given how tough negative feedback has been for you in the past I think that was brave, so wanted to reply and upvote to thank you. It sounds like a Doom Circle would not be a good fit for you and that's totally ok. I think having good self-knowledge and setting boundaries is great :) 

Comment by Amy Labenz (AmyLabenz) on Doom Circles · 2022-07-09T13:54:37.119Z · EA · GW

Thanks for your comment. I'm glad to hear you feel more comfortable setting boundaries now. I think it is a good flag that some people might not be in a place to do that, so we should be mindful of social / status dynamics and try our best to make this truly opt-in.

I agree there are other types of feedback that are probably better for most people in most cases, and that Doom Circles are just one format that is not right for lots of people. I meant to emphasize that in the post but I see that might not have come through. 

Comment by Amy Labenz (AmyLabenz) on Doom Circles · 2022-07-09T13:51:00.954Z · EA · GW

Yeah, I can see why you say that. I actually don't think I've done one with the ceremonial framing but I was trying to make a linkable description of Doom Circles, so I got information from folks who worked at CFAR. I would be interested in trying one with the framing, but I think I'd be too bashful to say the words he used myself :) 

Comment by Amy Labenz (AmyLabenz) on Doom Circles · 2022-07-09T13:48:23.055Z · EA · GW

Copying from the link, I think they were pretty explicitly doing something experimental. I wasn't involved in the workshop, I suppose they found the previous experiment with Hamming Circles useful and wanted to try a variation: 

The mathematician Richard Hamming allegedly liked to bother his colleagues at Bell Labs, as follows. First, he would ask a given fellow, "What are the most important questions in your field?" And then, after the poor fellow answered, he would follow up: "And why aren't you working on them?" (The full story here; an interesting alternate take on how to work on important problems, from Richard Feynman, which we'll also be incorporating)

We will spend the weekend following Hamming's fine example. We will ask ourselves "What are the most important questions in our lives (or in our organizations/work), and why aren't we working on them?" We'll also bring CFAR standard tools, and some new ones, to bear on this question. The goal is to send us all forth, at the end of the weekend, to make real progress on the problems that matter most to each of us (for both our own lives, and the world).

This workshop will be in the same spirit as the previous alumni-only Hamming workshop, but we expect the content to be once again quite experimental - a lot of the things we tried out in the last Hamming workshop ended up getting folded in to the regular 4-day workshops, so we'll be building on that further body of experience, and probably trying out a bunch of new ideas. It will be raw, it will be unpolished, and it will probably be really interesting. In particular, be warned that the nature of this workshop means we may be pushing on folks harder than we do at most other CFAR events, so please only sign up if that sounds like something that a) you want, and b) will be good for you.

Comment by Amy Labenz (AmyLabenz) on Doom Circles · 2022-07-09T13:40:32.419Z · EA · GW

Oops! I intended to include the low number thing and I guess I didn't (I've your recommendation above). I'm not sure if that's how CFAR designed it but I also prefer small circles. I'm pretty sure I also agree with the other two, though I'm not sure about point two. I could imagine possibly getting good insights from someone who I didn't know well at the point of doing the circle but who had developed an impression of me somehow (I'm imagining that's what happened in Kaj's case, but I'm not sure about that). 

Comment by Amy Labenz (AmyLabenz) on Doom Circles · 2022-07-09T01:51:38.062Z · EA · GW

I didn't realize who I was talking to until after you sent me a DM (posting on the Forum used to be nightmare fuel for me but I am doing it more, in part because of some feedback from a Doom Circle). Anyway, I agree you probably wouldn't enjoy it. I think we could do a version together that would be safe for you, but no pressure at all! <3

I've added a disclaimer to the top of the post to make it clear that this isn't for everyone, I hope that helps!

Comment by Amy Labenz (AmyLabenz) on Doom Circles · 2022-07-08T21:48:02.891Z · EA · GW

Thanks, Jakub! 

I can't remember discussing feedback that I thought was wrong (and I agree with the reasons Kaj shares about why this can be disruptive during the Doom Circle). I have followed up with people about feedback that I thought was apt/useful to get more information. In a couple of cases, after discussing further, the person offered to help me address something they raised and I took them up on it :) 
 

Comment by Amy Labenz (AmyLabenz) on Doom Circles · 2022-07-08T21:39:08.836Z · EA · GW
Comment by Amy Labenz (AmyLabenz) on Doom Circles · 2022-07-08T21:32:01.945Z · EA · GW

Thanks, Kaj! This is really helpful. This inspired me to make a  picture of you as a cackling mad wizard using DALL·E. Let me know if you'd like to see it!

Comment by Amy Labenz (AmyLabenz) on Doom Circles · 2022-07-08T20:59:10.065Z · EA · GW

Thanks! Doom Circles are a specific format that CFAR came up with years ago. I didn't mean to suggest that this is the best format or the best way of giving feedback. But it is one that I've found useful sometimes and I wanted a link to use as a reference :)

I'm working with a colleague on a format that is closer to a combination of this and red-teaming a particular project. If it goes well I might post about that as well (I needed a link to Doom Circles for an email about the new format, which is what prompted this post). 

Comment by Amy Labenz (AmyLabenz) on Doom Circles · 2022-07-08T20:30:22.180Z · EA · GW

I'm not familiar with the opposite type of circle format. I have a few events coming up over the next month, so might not get back around to this, but I'd like to put more thought into a format like this. 

A couple of things that I have done that come to mind: 

  • At a recent retreat, a colleague and I ran something like a doom circle followed by "gratitude/excitement" circles and I quite liked it. 
  • In the "gentle" doom circle I described above we did something like an even split of doom followed by saying nice things. I found the nice really helpful too because I had blindspots about positive things that others in the group could see more easily. 


Another thing that comes to mind is a quote from the Manger's Handbook "It's downright criminal to hold back positive feedback from people. Don't be afraid to praise even tiny things. Remember that when you give negative feedback you're generally picking up on tiny things."

Thanks for raising this. I'll be curious to hear if other people have done things in this direction. 
 

Comment by Amy Labenz (AmyLabenz) on Doom Circles · 2022-07-08T17:26:51.503Z · EA · GW

Thanks! Edited in the main post. Please let me know if you see other things I should change. I was wanting a link to Doom Circles for an event and didn't find one, so wrote this up and pushed it so it would be available to link to in an email. I'm guessing I missed a bunch/phrased some things in suboptimal ways  :).

Comment by Amy Labenz (AmyLabenz) on Doom Circles · 2022-07-08T17:20:20.352Z · EA · GW

To be clear, I think it can be unpleasant! The vibe can be something like "speak the truth even if your voice trembles" or it can be more gentle, depending on the participants and their preferences. 

Some things I wrote down from my last doom circle:

  • I don't write enough / share my models enough
  • I don't make time/money tradeoffs enough
  • Something about my Midwestern accent might make people underestimate me
  • People feel confused about why I don't live in a hub and this might make them think I'm not serious
  • I should consider spending more time learning about technical topics
  • I don't prioritize my physical health enough, buy professional clothes, etc and this might make people underestimate me
  • I sometimes don't use reasoning transparency enough, which can make it hard for people to understand why I think certain things


None of this felt particularly hard to hear for me. If people had gone on and on about the appearance stuff or said it in deliberately hurtful ways  I'd probably have gotten pretty tired of it. I've made a bunch of changes as a result of this feedback, so it was quite useful to me and worth the discomfort. But YMMV!

Comment by Amy Labenz (AmyLabenz) on Doom Circles · 2022-07-08T17:03:31.636Z · EA · GW

Thanks for the feedback! I meant to post this as a description of a type of activity that won't be right for everyone. I needed a link to the description and couldn't find one online so wrote one. It sounds like this kind of activity might not be right for you, which is totally ok! :)

Comment by Amy Labenz (AmyLabenz) on Doom Circles · 2022-07-08T14:51:13.603Z · EA · GW

The original CFAR alumni workshop had a warning:
"be warned that the nature of this workshop means we may be pushing on folks harder than we do at most other CFAR events, so please only sign up if that sounds like something that a) you want, and b) will be good for you."


It seems like the moderators might say something like that at the beginning. I'll add that as a suggestion in the post. I'd be curious if you have other suggestions for striking the right tone/setting up the right social dynamic.

Comment by Amy Labenz (AmyLabenz) on Doom Circles · 2022-07-08T14:46:36.602Z · EA · GW

Maybe there is another "gentler" variant that might involve setup with a spiciness level (like Hot Seat) or with additional guidance like the suggestions from Admonymous:

Giving admonition

Some suggestions for ensuring your feedback is constructive:

  • Be gentle. As long as you get the message across, there is no need to be harsh. Receiving even nicely-worded negative feedback can be difficult. Put yourself in the recipient’s shoes and imagine how you would feel if you were on the receiving end of the message you just wrote.
  • Be specific. Provide as many details as you can without deanonymizing yourself (should you wish to remain anonymous). Bad: “Your meetings are wasting people’s time.” Good: “When you arrange meetings, sometimes they are ineffective because there isn't a clear purpose and you don’t stop people who go off-topic.”
  • Admire. Just as the recipient may need your feedback to change behavior that bothers you, they may not be aware of the good aspects of their behavior, and even if they are not blind to them you can encourage them further by giving explicit praise. Use Admonymous to encourage positive behavior as much as you use it to change negative behavior.
  • Pick actionable things. Make sure the recipient can act upon your admonition. Even better, provide some suggested courses of action. Bad: "You're annoying." Good: "Some habits you have are annoying. It would help if you made fewer clicking noises, and let others speak more in conversations."
  • Don't abuse. It's easy to be mean when anonymity protects you. Remember that the goal is helping the recipient, not making them feel bad."

... replacing "anonymity" with "doom" 

Comment by Amy Labenz (AmyLabenz) on Doom Circles · 2022-07-08T14:39:16.907Z · EA · GW

Makes sense, thanks for flagging.  

I also think normally, people tend to have strong social rules in place to "be nice". When someone shares a goal they have, or if someone has something that seems to be holding them back there is pressure not to say the ways we expect them/their efforts to fail.

For example, I think one of the most common pitfalls with new managers is ruinous empathy:

Ruinous Empathy is “nice” but ultimately unhelpful or even damaging. It’s what happens when you care about someone personally, but fail to challenge them directly. It’s praise that isn’t specific enough to help the person understand what was good, or criticism that is sugar-coated and unclear.

Ruinous Empathy is seeing somebody with their fly down, but, not wanting to embarrass them, saying nothing, with the result that 15 more people see them with their fly down — more embarrassing for them. So, not so “nice” after all.

A Doom Circle is meant to be a special, voluntary space where these rules are suspended. I agree there are risks and some people probably shouldn't participate. I also think it is useful to have facilitators who can share the risks mentioned in the "Should you try this" section as part of the setup. 

I'll be testing a new variant of this at an event soon so might have more suggestions in the next month or so.

Comment by Amy Labenz (AmyLabenz) on Doom Circles · 2022-07-08T13:50:58.734Z · EA · GW

Thanks! I'm actually working on a moderated, project-focused version for an upcoming event. That's what motivated me to look for a description of Doom Circles. I'll check this out :) 

Comment by Amy Labenz (AmyLabenz) on Hiking: an analogy for sustainable work · 2022-06-01T11:41:19.534Z · EA · GW

Thanks for sharing! I considered including different numbers but landed here. I agree that this can also apply to numbers lower than 40 (or higher than 60) and I've had many great colleagues over time who have worked quite different hours. 

FWIW I originally shared this analogy with my team when someone was struggling and I wanted to help them feel ok about taking time off and working fewer than 40 hours a week. 
 

Comment by Amy Labenz (AmyLabenz) on Hiking: an analogy for sustainable work · 2022-06-01T11:27:12.177Z · EA · GW

I probably should have mentioned that I'm Head of Events at CEA, so I'm setting the expectations and ambition level. It is much easier for me to adjust work capacity for other teammates, but I'm choosing between doing some things myself or them not happening. It is true that I could decide to be less ambitious, but I don't want to :)

I have been building lots of capacity on the team this year (maybe quadrupled FTEs on the Events Team?), but we've also added a Retreats Program and Community Events Portfolio, scaled EAG, etc. Hiring for the team has probably been the biggest thing to take my time this year, and it is often time-sensitive because people need to know whether they are a fit. Events are also time-sensitive: an event has a set date, so it comes whether you're ready or not. 

I think it would be sad if I decided to scale down EAG or host some number of fewer events or miss a hire because I think I'm supposed to take time off, even if I wasn't finding it particularly restful. All that said, I'm taking time off this week to go visit my niece for her first birthday! 

Comment by Amy Labenz (AmyLabenz) on Announcing What We Owe The Future · 2022-04-01T00:34:46.261Z · EA · GW

Pre-ordered my hardcover! I'm excited :) 

Comment by Amy Labenz (AmyLabenz) on The best EA Global yet? (And other updates.) · 2022-02-17T14:48:40.478Z · EA · GW

We put a lot of emphasis on networking and tried to communicate the importance of reaching out to fellow attendees. We also worked with Swapcard to improve the networking app, and felt that this had a positive effect. In general, we think most of the connections resulted from chance conversations or booked one-on-one meetings--- and we were pleased to see that people reported having around 12 one-on-one meetings each. (We can also confirm that people who had more meetings had more connections, although causality is not clear.)

Comment by Amy Labenz (AmyLabenz) on The best EA Global yet? (And other updates.) · 2022-02-17T14:47:38.246Z · EA · GW

Sure! We'd be happy for some red-teaming or suggestions on how to improve our work.

Comment by Amy Labenz (AmyLabenz) on [Updated] EA conferences in 2022: save the dates · 2021-12-16T10:00:02.472Z · EA · GW

Thanks! The last time we hosted three (Bay, UK, East Coast) was in 2017. I’m very excited to do it again.

We planned to host two in 2019 but had to cancel the SF event due to COVID and only hosted one in-person EAG in 2021 (with the EA Picnic as a smaller in-person event this year).

Comment by Amy Labenz (AmyLabenz) on Should EA Global London 2021 have been expanded? · 2021-11-10T18:06:46.256Z · EA · GW

Maybe it is important for folks to know that I have personally relaxed a lot about COVID risk. I think for most people in our target audience/demographic (young vaccinated people) the value of attending EAG is worth the risk. This is not because I think we create a space with near-zero risk of COVID exposure, but rather, as I say below, COVID is not the bulk of the risk/cost of this event. 

I don’t make EAG decisions based on my own models alone, which is why I consult community leaders and the COVID Board, and why we encouraged attendees to do their own calculations and decide their own risk tolerances. I expect people shouldn’t come if they are particularly cautious and (as you stated) some didn’t. (As a parent of unvaccinated young children, I think about my risk tolerance differently than I expect a typical attendee does - I understand this is a personal thing that will vary by people’s circumstances.) I’m glad people could decide for themselves whether the value was worth the risk (many chose to attend, some didn’t). Perhaps I should have been more explicit about this.

Comment by Amy Labenz (AmyLabenz) on Should EA Global London 2021 have been expanded? · 2021-11-09T22:50:13.040Z · EA · GW

Thanks, Nathan! It was great to see you at EA Global. 

You're right that we didn't share the specifics of our reasoning - I think that might have been the right call at the time given the tradeoffs of spending time on public communications vs. object-level preparation for the event, but I can understand how community members felt in the dark and we regret that.

To make explicit some of our reasoning: we think that the cost from COVID of the event was likely quite small relative to other costs of the conference. A back-of-the-envelope calculation from one of our COVID advisory board members suggests that the total counterfactually-adjusted COVID cost was ~1% of the other costs of the event (primarily attendee time, but also financial costs). We think that doubling the number of attendees may have grown the fraction of all costs attributed to COVID from 1% to something more like 2% — so while higher, it was still not one of the biggest costs of the event as a whole. So I want to acknowledge that, while we considered this aspect of the event and took precautions to limit the spread of COVID, we genuinely didn’t view COVID risk as a major cost to attendees: we probably spent more time worrying about whether the logistics would work. We stand behind this prioritization.

(The BOTEC was done after we had decided to expand the event, but when we consulted our advisory board, community leaders, and our own judgment of the benefits and risks before the expansion, it felt very clear that the benefits would exceed the costs by a large margin, to the extent that a detailed BOTEC didn’t seem like a good use of time. Our post-decision calculations seem to validate that view.)

Regarding staff capacity, we have been very stretched as a team this year. I fully came back from parental leave in mid-April. We ran EAG Reconnect in March, the EA Picnic in July, the EA Meta Coordination Forum in September, and EAG London in October. For much of that time, I was the only full-time staff member on the Events Team: we had one other part-time employee and two contractors. COVID-related precautions added (rough guess) 20-40% additional production time. We brought on two part-time contractors to help with admissions processing in the final weeks and brought on two additional contractors to assist with production for the week of the event (and, as usual, were helped by many wonderful volunteers during the event itself). 

We knew we were stretched too thin and ran a hiring round, but the new hires had just started or not yet started at the time of EAG London (and running the round took capacity from the otherwise stretched team). I hope and expect this will pay off in 2022.