Comment by Ervin on How to improve EA Funds · 2018-04-04T22:58:49.139Z · EA · GW

Looking at the EA Community Fund as an especially tractable example (due to the limited field of charities it could fund):

  • Since its launch in early 2017 it appears to have collected $289,968, and not regranted any of it until a $83k grant to EA Sweden currently in progress. I am basing this on - it may not be precisely right.

  • On the one hand, it's good that some money is being disbursed. On the other hand the only info we have is . All we're told about the idea and why it was funded is that it's an "EA community building organization in Sweden" and Will McAskill recommended Nick Beckstead fund it "on the basis of (i) Markus's track record in EA community building at Cambridge and in Sweden and (ii) a conversation he had with Markus." Putting it piquantly (and over-strongly I'm sure, for effect), this sounds concerningly like an old boy's network: Markus > Will > Nick. (For those who don't know, Will and Nick were both involved in creating CEA.) It might not be, but the paucity of information doesn't let us reassure ourselves that it's not.

  • With $200k still unallocated, one would hope that the larger and more reputable EA movement building projects out there would have been funded, or we could at least see that they've been diligently considered. I may be leaving some out, but these would at least include the non-CEA movement building charities: EA Foundation (for their EA outreach projects), Rethink Charity and EA London. As best as I could get an answer from Rethink Charity at this is not true in their case at least.

  • Meanwhile these charities can't make their case direct to movement building donors whose money has gone to the fund since its creation.

This is concerning, and sounds like it may have done harm.

Comment by Ervin on Cognitive and emotional barriers to EA's growth · 2018-03-09T22:49:33.008Z · EA · GW

Seconded, this is worth sharing more broadly via the facebook groups!

Comment by Ervin on Announcing Rethink Priorities · 2018-03-09T01:42:50.710Z · EA · GW

Huh, given the odd funding splurges (things like a $60k EA Grant for developing a new version of Less Wrong for people to have fun intellectual discussions on, and I believe a similarly luxuriant amount to EA Geneva) I'm surprised an organization which does as much as Rethink Charity isn't already fully funded by the movement building fund. Does anyone know how much money got donated to that and where it's gone?

Comment by Ervin on Announcing Rethink Priorities · 2018-03-06T20:42:50.454Z · EA · GW

Do you/Rethink Charity need funding? I presume the EA Community fund is throwing a healthy amount of money your work?

Comment by Ervin on 2017 LEAN Impact Assessment: Qualitative Findings · 2018-01-04T00:24:35.638Z · EA · GW

Lastly, it seems like it would be nice if you could get notifications when a new person is found near you and if people to opt-in to receive messages from other EAs.

This would be a handy feature.

Comment by Ervin on Why You Should Be Public About Your Good Deeds · 2015-12-30T05:51:56.446Z · EA · GW

I'm not a huge fan of cross-posting things here that have appeared on organisational blogs before. Amongst several other problems it makes the EA Forum feel deader, like those subreddits filled only with link promotion. On the other hand I know you're one "little guy" (or perhaps "little outfit") without your own major blog, so need to post somewhere, so this is hardly the worst offence.

Comment by Ervin on CEA is launching a winter fundraising round · 2015-12-22T21:06:16.493Z · EA · GW

I agree that GiveWell could be considered part of EA. Ultimately I see that as a merely semantic question. My and I think AGB's point is that the donors who follow GiveWell aren't self-identified members of the "EA movement", and aren't giving because of EA outreach specifically. It appears that organizations doing EA outreach specifically get much more than 5% of the money donated by members of the "EA movement" who were inspired to give by those organizations.

Comment by Ervin on Impossible EA emotions · 2015-12-22T20:36:32.027Z · EA · GW

Sadly, I don't think there's a way to make it a good 'front facing' pick, because it would seem too 'hardcore' to newcomers.

Comment by Ervin on CEA is launching a winter fundraising round · 2015-12-17T17:26:33.086Z · EA · GW

Perhaps more relevant, even if they don't identify as EA, where the silent donors give is influenced by EA. So I think there's still a good case for including them in the money moved.

Can you explain why you're thinking that they're influenced by EA? It seems at least equally plausible that they're influenced by GiveWell, which is distinct from most EA meta-orgs, and operates using a different model. Are you thinking that there's another influence on them, like 80k or GWWC?

Comment by Ervin on Final Round of the Impact Purchase · 2015-12-16T20:47:25.399Z · EA · GW

It's excellent to see you complete this! Good luck. Do you plan to write-up an evaluation of the project, and your thoughts on the best ways to ensure good EA work gets funded?

Comment by Ervin on The Effective Altruism Newsletter & Open Thread - 15 December 2015 · 2015-12-16T19:32:34.660Z · EA · GW

GiveWell staff members published where they plan to make their personal donations in 2015.

Many put their money where GW's mouth is and give to AMF, notably.

Comment by Ervin on The Effective Altruism Newsletter & Open Thread - 15 December 2015 · 2015-12-16T19:31:04.809Z · EA · GW

What general EA meta activities do you all think do most good, and how do they compare to each other? Which ones should we as a movement be encouraging and if appropriate funding people to undertake?

Comment by Ervin on The Effective Altruism Newsletter & Open Thread - 15 December 2015 · 2015-12-16T19:26:06.906Z · EA · GW

This discussion of climate change was interesting:

Comment by Ervin on Is legacy fundraising actually higher leverage? · 2015-12-16T19:25:16.239Z · EA · GW

By 'they' do you mean Charity Science? Is that who Ben Todd's talking about?

Comment by Ervin on More on REG's Room for More Funding · 2015-11-23T18:43:49.519Z · EA · GW

This looks promising potentially. Does REG have an itemised expansion budget it can share, either with potential donors or publicly? Is it possible to see accounts detailing expenditure over the last year or two?

Comment by Ervin on The Effective Altruism Newsletter & Open Thread - 26 October 2015 Edition · 2015-10-30T23:24:00.718Z · EA · GW

Has their been an evaluation of the impact of EA Global yet? Do we have any indication of any wins it yielded?

Comment by Ervin on Why we need more meta · 2015-09-27T15:55:59.069Z · EA · GW

I was also hesitant about CFAR ... Good point regarding GPP .... Not sure about 80K

Its meta in Hurford's sense, which is different from Todd's - it's indirect, and has a chain of causality to impact that has extra points of failure. That's what many of Hurford's arguments spoke to. GPP and 80K also count as meta by this definition.

Anyway, taking all this into consideration I get $3.2m meta, $62m non-meta for a ratio of 5%. (Plus $2.1 million in "grey area")

Are you counting donations from people who aren't EAs, or are only relatively loosely so? They can correct me if I'm wrong but Hurford didn't seem concerned about those.

Regarding the survey, do you feel that it's biased specifically towards those who prefer meta, or just those who identify as EA?

I don't know about the Oxford line, but the general feeling where I am and among international EA's I've talked to is that the survey tells us more about the people who are more engaged in the international community, identify more as EA's and participate online, are more dedicated, etc. Most other sources confirm that these people _do_ particularly favour meta, that many came from the large old LessWrong community, that they're heavily consequentialist, etc.

Naturally finding out about and establishing contact with as many other people as possible would also be valuable, including less engaged random GWWC and even GW donors. I don't know about GWWC Central, but my local chapter plans to help get next survey to as many people as possible.

Comment by Ervin on Looking for EA work for your spare time? Look at (and add to) this list! · 2015-07-13T07:36:53.059Z · EA · GW

What would this involve exactly?

Comment by Ervin on Looking for EA work for your spare time? Look at (and add to) this list! · 2015-07-13T07:36:26.926Z · EA · GW

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

Comment by Ervin on July Open Thread · 2015-07-08T16:42:23.870Z · EA · GW

Could the tech team (tag Peter Hurford and Tog Ash) add some allowed HTML tags maybe?

Comment by Ervin on Effective Altruism Policy Analytics, cooperative documents and feedback · 2015-06-28T02:21:04.407Z · EA · GW

I've been looking for EA projects to fund - what's your budget for this year, and is it funded?

Comment by Ervin on Giving What We Can needs your support — only 5 days left to close our funding gap · 2015-06-28T02:18:01.552Z · EA · GW

Thanks for the response. You're right, the relevant question isn't keeping GWWC going but is if there are promising new growth opportunities that the extra funding will pay for, which you say there are this year. There's also some neatness to GWWC being able to support/grow its staff with 10% of the total yearly donations of the people who pledge 10% via it. I haven't thought whether that's the appropriate model, but it provides a way to pace growth rather than keeping going until you've matched their total donations.

Comment by Ervin on Giving What We Can needs your support — only 5 days left to close our funding gap · 2015-06-27T00:39:34.249Z · EA · GW

It's worth reassuring people that even if the full goal isn't met it isn't a disaster - there isn't a funding gap for keeping GWWC itself going, which could presumably be done quite cheaply. I know there's a perception that this fundraising round has been a struggle, and there's been a lot of scepticism about it (e.g. (here)[]). But that isn't that damning: it was bound to happen at some point at which GWWC asked for more money to fund more paid employees, rather than keeping going until GWWC got as much money as the people who've signed it's pledge are giving.

Comment by Ervin on I am Nate Soares, AMA! · 2015-06-27T00:31:19.851Z · EA · GW

It could be useful to mention that sort of thing on future AMAs

Comment by Ervin on I am Nate Soares, AMA! · 2015-06-18T02:23:19.826Z · EA · GW

Ah, I meant would he still be answering questions that got asked later.

Comment by Ervin on 2015 Summer Welcome Thread · 2015-06-18T02:22:25.149Z · EA · GW

Nick Cooney's book is fantastic, even better than Singer's. (Far from being animal focused, it doesn't mention animal rights much at all.)

Comment by Ervin on I am Nate Soares, AMA! · 2015-06-11T20:05:49.874Z · EA · GW

Now that MIRI is focused on math research (a good move) and not on outreach

Any links on this?

Comment by Ervin on I am Nate Soares, AMA! · 2015-06-11T20:05:07.146Z · EA · GW

What path did MIRI's staff take there? How many came from other charities?

Comment by Ervin on I am Nate Soares, AMA! · 2015-06-11T19:57:35.669Z · EA · GW

Will you still be answering questions now, or in future?

Comment by Ervin on Suggestions thread for planning and executing the 2015 EA Survey · 2015-05-22T18:27:21.296Z · EA · GW

I got into a conversation with 'Telofy' about his post about dissociation being a necessary or helpful approach for some Effective Altruists, and he suggested that it might be useful to use the survey find out how many people have the problem he described there or find his solution useful.

Comment by Ervin on Dissociation for Altruists · 2015-05-14T15:39:45.024Z · EA · GW

It may be useful to find out how many people have this problem or find this solution useful. Does anyone share or not share it?

Comment by Ervin on Should you give your best now or later? · 2015-05-12T03:01:29.341Z · EA · GW

Is this post missing part of it?

Comment by Ervin on Request for Feedback: Researching global poverty interventions with the intention of founding a charity. · 2015-05-12T02:59:58.249Z · EA · GW

You can 'retract' which crosses it out, signalling 'don't bother reading'.

Comment by Ervin on Request for Feedback: Researching global poverty interventions with the intention of founding a charity. · 2015-05-12T02:58:57.502Z · EA · GW

I now think this was a huge underestimate.

Comment by Ervin on Request for Feedback: Researching global poverty interventions with the intention of founding a charity. · 2015-05-06T19:45:29.686Z · EA · GW

I'd estimate a thousand, about.

Comment by Ervin on Peter's 2015 Q1 Personal Review · 2015-04-27T18:01:52.860Z · EA · GW

Seems like another uncharitable implicit argument against the EAs known for favouring robustness (GiveWell, the Vancouverites, people skeptical about leafleting and metacharities and xrisk on those grounds). I've heard experts say the most important parts of asteroid detection are fully funded. If they weren't people would generally accept funding them as a priority.

Comment by Ervin on January Open Thread · 2015-01-27T11:40:28.420Z · EA · GW

Tagging is a killer feature of Facebook.

Comment by Ervin on January Open Thread · 2015-01-27T11:38:20.378Z · EA · GW

Also, it would be worth trying to work out what about a career in the arts they think is required for their happiness and seeing whether you could find higher impact alternatives that provided this.

Comment by Ervin on January Open Thread · 2015-01-27T11:37:09.553Z · EA · GW

Depending on what you mean by the arts I suspect that would be very likely to be low impact. That would suggest trying to convince them to change course though I think that's not likely to be successful, meaning it would be best to focus on other people.

Comment by Ervin on Donate to keep Charity Science running · 2015-01-27T10:02:17.762Z · EA · GW

Have you considered doing something that could go viral like the Ice Bucket Challenge? The potential upside from that would make it worth a shot for the effective altruist community.

Comment by Ervin on Donate to keep Charity Science running · 2015-01-27T08:37:20.820Z · EA · GW

Could you say more about particular plans, like the "large sponsored fundraiser which will be run simultaneously by local EA groups around the world"?

Comment by Ervin on Donate to keep Charity Science running · 2015-01-26T19:52:31.831Z · EA · GW

I've been following the reports you and Xio and Joey have been writing on all the different fundraising methods you've explored, and will consider a substantial donation (since I'd want to keep you running and pay for a sizeable chunk of time experimenting). It would be a shame for effective altruism if you guys had to shut down abruptly given your demonstrated commitment to measure results and shut projects down if they don't raise money. I assume it would be a waste of knowledge and expertise and contacts you've built up too. It'd be helpful if you could comment on that. In particular is there a way to invest to create potential for more money raised in the future, or build up resources of any sort that can be used for whatever seems highest impact?

Comment by Ervin on Should Giving What We Can change its Pledge? · 2014-10-22T23:12:30.283Z · EA · GW

I could see situations where it's not best for me to donate >=10% (like this year since I'm a student)

If you're a student you're not counted as having an income, and I believe you only have to give 1% of living costs (someone from GWWC can correct me if I'm wrong!). Besides that, having a pledge you have to fulfil every year seems like a valuable thing - it's good to be a stickler for honesty. If you're planning to donate or already donating but can't commit to 10% every year yet, you could always declare that rather than taking the pledge yet, and then decide whether to take it later.

Comment by Ervin on Should Giving What We Can change its Pledge? · 2014-10-22T22:53:58.578Z · EA · GW

I'm not sure these people are much more easily excluded by the current pledge. You could still get people who have very bizarre beliefs about the best way to help people in poverty.

Technically that's possible but in practice GWWC members don't currently tend to have those beliefs - the pledging community has a clear feel of being focused on evidence-based poverty charities. The new pledge that's being consulted about would certainly include more people, and AlasdairGives is right that there's nothing in it that'd exclude the large numbers of people who tithe to their churches. If they joined in mass (which is unlikely absent a concerted effort to sign them up) that would certainly change the feel of the community to me.

Are you saying that you genuinely care more about people alive today than people who will live in the future?

It's worth noting that many people do, and that this isn't obviously indefensible. So people can genuinely care more about existing people or existing creatures :-)

Comment by Ervin on Should Giving What We Can change its Pledge? · 2014-10-22T22:30:09.955Z · EA · GW

I think that cause agnosticism is probably the most important novel ingredient of effective altruism, so seeing this kind of sentiment is disheartening. (I don't have strong views on the pledge itself.)

As I said to Jess Whittlestone, it's worth being clear that the attitude that AlasdairGives expresses isn't a narrow-minded rejection of people who favour other causes and more general EA types. If you read him charitably, he's saying that he joined because he sincerely thought that GWWC-recommended charities were the ones which he should support, and that he wanted to express this rather than joining a club for EA types in general. Not that he favours a commitment to a narrow cause for its own sake.

I'm glad that you're open to GWWC being a poverty-focused community, so this may not ultimately be an important disagreement :-)

Comment by Ervin on Should Giving What We Can change its Pledge? · 2014-10-22T22:14:34.763Z · EA · GW

Saying you wouldn't want to take the pledge for this reason seems a bit like saying you don't want to be part of the EA community because it contains those people.

I see why you might say that, and understand your position, but I hope you can see how it could be a little uncharitable to those of us who feel crowded out of what was originally an organisation that made a compelling case about our obligation to help people in the developing world (with things like the calculator showing that many potential GWWC members were in the richest 1-5% of the world). You say that changing the pledge would just include additional groups, and that this wouldn't define it. But - without having anything against people who are focused on different causes! - I don't think we should broaden the pledge (or other global poverty pledges/groups) just because we can do so without technically excluding people who took the old version.

You make it sound a bit like I'm being unwelcoming to other groups. But I think that they have their own venues (look at the size of LessWrong and its meetups), and that there's merit in having multiple venues with clear purposes. Being "part of the EA community" is more amorphous than having taken a pledge to help those in the developing world, so I'm happy to be in a (non-formal sense) part of a community that contains singularitarians, animal welfare activists and many others. But if I found that I'd taken a pledge which was then changed to drop its original focus on the developing world and stated rationale, I'd see that as a broadening which wasn't automatically good.

[It] could include singularitarians and rationalists, but certainly wouldn't be defined by it

This is true in one sense - if I've committed to doing X as the best way to do Y, then however many other people then commit to Z as the best way to do Y, that doesn't change the definition of my commitment. But, purely as a hypothetical, imagine that GWWC central made a big effort to sign up lots of new members from a particular group - either singularitarians or vegan outreach activists or something else. And imagine that they dwarfed the original member base, which might be seen as a big success. That would 'define' GWWC in _a_ sense.

Also, note that the current pledge doesn't actually exclude singularitarians, rationalists etc.: "The change is not likely to make a difference to people who think that the best way to help others is to ensure that the future will go well, since the pledge already explicitly includes people who will live in the future, as well as those alive now."

I was initially puzzled by this, as the text of the pledge is:

"I recognise that I can use part of my income to do a significant amount of good in the developing world. Since I can live well enough on a smaller income, I pledge that for the rest of my life or until the day I retire, I shall give at least ten percent of what I earn to whichever organisations can most effectively use it to help people in developing countries, now and in the years to come. I make this pledge freely, openly, and sincerely."

I'm guessing that a singularitarian could read that as something she could sign up to as she's technically aiming to "help people in developing countries" - just by helping the entire population! It seems a bit of a stretch, but I can see that. It's less obviously something that CFAR does.

Anyway, I've violated my original plan not to comment more until I had extra time, but I hope this helps you understand where I'm coming from :-)

Comment by Ervin on The Harvard Research Center in Creative Altruism · 2014-10-22T21:48:13.442Z · EA · GW

I'm unsure, as I don't know how many people see late additions to the open threads. It's the sort of thing which'd go in LessWrong Discussion versus. LessWrong main so maybe its a data point for creating a discussion section.

Comment by Ervin on Should Giving What We Can change its Pledge? · 2014-10-22T18:00:40.749Z · EA · GW

To answer this question:

if you aren’t yet a member of Giving What We Can, would you join if this change was made?

I'm not a member, but I've been seriously considering joining for a while, and probably wouldn't join if this change was made, as a large part of the appeal of publicly joining GWWC is being part of a community focused on global poverty, rather than of singularitarians, rationalists and the like (who have their own communities).

Comment by Ervin on Should Giving What We Can change its Pledge? · 2014-10-22T17:54:55.585Z · EA · GW

I find myself really quite strongly against this. I'll try to find the time to compose a comment explaining why, but for now I'll simply state this as a data point.