The Life You Can Save's 2019 Annual Report 2020-06-18T19:22:57.870Z
Peter Singer on the 80K podcast 2019-12-18T17:17:42.194Z
A Framework for Thinking about the EA Labor Market 2019-05-08T19:33:06.076Z
The Life You Can Save's 2018 Annual Report 2019-04-24T20:47:08.714Z
A new, lower risk way to teach effective giving 2018-12-20T00:47:29.047Z
Narrative but Not Philosophical Argument Motivates Giving to Charity 2018-11-26T18:18:38.587Z
A Research Framework to Improve Real-World Giving Behavior 2018-10-04T18:25:56.012Z
The Giving Game Project's 2017 Annual Report 2018-06-05T20:58:50.122Z
The Life You Can Save's 2017 Annual Report and 2018 Strategic Plan 2018-05-03T19:53:48.663Z
The Giving Game Project's Vision and Strategic Plan 2017-05-23T23:21:42.879Z
Are Giving Games a better way to teach philanthropy? 2017-05-13T00:36:41.371Z
The Life You Can Save's 2016 Annual Report 2017-04-26T22:46:55.707Z
A Request for Funding from The Giving Game Project 2016-08-01T18:17:05.548Z
The Giving Game Project's Annual Report 2016-07-20T18:07:47.070Z
Wish Peter Singer a happy 70th birthday! 2016-06-20T21:03:15.599Z
The Life You Can Save's 2015 Year in Review 2016-02-12T23:22:45.302Z


Comment by jon_behar on Are there any other pro athlete aspiring EAs? · 2020-09-10T19:36:56.000Z · EA · GW

This sounds like a great idea Marcus!

I’d love to put you in touch with Charlie Bresler, the Executive Director of The Life You Can Save. In addition to being an avid tennis fan, Charlie has been very interested in working with athletes to promote effective giving for a long time. TLYCS has worked with a bunch of celebrities before (though unfortunately no athletes yet), most recently as audiobook narrators for the 10th anniversary edition of the book the organization is named after. If you PM me your email address I’ll connect the two of you.

Comment by jon_behar on Should EA Buy Distribution Rights for Foundational Books? · 2020-06-18T19:40:25.256Z · EA · GW
Presumably most of that is sunk cost and what the publisher ought to care about is discounted expected cashflows from the book.

I think that’s conceptually right. But it brings up another important point: negotiating to buy the rights was time-consuming and frustrating. And part of the annoyance was due to the publisher not acting as economically rational as you’d expect. We actually spent years saying things like “surely there’s a figure for which you’d be happy to sell the rights, could you just let us know what that number is?” There really wasn’t any progress until we got a (pro bono) lawyer involved who has a lot of experience in IP negotiations. Once she took over working with the publisher, things started moving along (though still at a relatively slow pace).

Comment by jon_behar on Should EA Buy Distribution Rights for Foundational Books? · 2020-06-18T15:33:19.458Z · EA · GW

The book rights cost $30,000 to acquire.

It’s important to note, however, that there would likely be a ton of variation for different books. This would likely depend on what the publisher paid the author in advance and how many books they've sold / how much money they've made back.

Comment by jon_behar on Should EA Buy Distribution Rights for Foundational Books? · 2020-06-18T15:32:36.709Z · EA · GW

Good idea! Just set myself a reminder to look at this a year from now :)

Comment by jon_behar on Should EA Buy Distribution Rights for Foundational Books? · 2020-06-17T19:08:11.867Z · EA · GW

Not sure, I'll check with the team and get back to you.

Comment by jon_behar on Should EA Buy Distribution Rights for Foundational Books? · 2020-06-17T19:07:43.165Z · EA · GW

I don't think Singer has considered doing this for other books, but I'm not positive about that.

Comment by jon_behar on Should EA Buy Distribution Rights for Foundational Books? · 2020-06-17T19:03:32.365Z · EA · GW
The EA Meta Fund gave $10,000 for this, which seems very worthwhile. Of course, this may not be the full cost, and this also covered some other things. I like that they included free audiobooks; we should probably do that too if we pursue this.

FYI, this $10,000 grant (while greatly appreciated) was a (small) fraction of the total cost of the new edition of TLYCS. However, that project was significantly more ambitious that simply buying the rights and publishing an ebook; it was closer to writing, editing, and publishing an entirely new book given the scope of the updates. The project also included a complete overhaul of TLYCS website, which was largely outsourced. Finding and working with the celebrity narrators for the audiobook was also labor (and therefore cost) intensive, though this wouldn't be relevant for most books.

Re: a retrospective, there’ll likely be a more detailed one down the road, but TLYCS’s 2019 annual report includes a good deal of discussion about the early experience around the book project.

Comment by jon_behar on Should EA Buy Distribution Rights for Foundational Books? · 2020-06-17T18:58:17.667Z · EA · GW
The key question here, is whether (and if so, to what degree) free download is a more effective means of distribution than regular book sales. So we should ask Peter Singer how the consumption of TLYCS changed with putting his book online.

Free distribution seems to have helped a lot. The original version sold ~45,000 copies in its first 10 years; in its first 6 months, we’ve distributed roughly the same number of copies of the 10th anniversary edition.

The original edition has presumably had more readers than the updated version so far: over 10 years you can rack up a lot of library checkouts and used book readings that aren’t captured in the sales numbers, and people are more likely to consume a book if they’ve paid for it than if they got it for free. But based on the first 6 months, I’d expect the new edition to be read many more times over the long term, and for that to be driven by it being freely available. (I'd also expect factors like promotion by the celebrity narrators of the audiobook to increase distribution.)

Comment by jon_behar on EA Survey 2019 Series: How EAs Get Involved in EA · 2020-05-28T20:22:30.646Z · EA · GW

Terrific, thank you!

Comment by jon_behar on EA Survey 2019 Series: How EAs Get Involved in EA · 2020-05-28T17:42:10.278Z · EA · GW

Thanks David, that all makes sense. For future iterations of this analysis, I’d be strongly in favor of adding a sentence about Peter like you had in last year’s summary.

Comment by jon_behar on EA Survey 2019 Series: How EAs Get Involved in EA · 2020-05-27T00:04:50.771Z · EA · GW
Personal Contacts (14%), LessWrong (9.6%) and 80,000 Hours (9.6%) are still the main ways most people have heard of EA over time.

Shouldn’t Peter Singer be on this list? He showed up in 203 of the open ended responses (9.5% of 2137 total responses), and that doesn’t count any open ended comments that didn’t mention him by name or non-open ended responses that he’s associated with (e.g. the people who answered they heard about EA through TLYCS the organization, which I work for in the interest of disclosure).

Thank you for conducting and sharing this analysis!

Comment by jon_behar on How to share the basic concept of EA on social media? (Facebook in my case) · 2020-04-24T14:37:24.242Z · EA · GW

I like the book distribution idea, but would suggest using the updated 10th Anniversary edition of The Life You Can Save. While its focus on global poverty makes it narrower than Doing Good Better, it has several advantages:

· The audiobook and ebook are available for free

· The celebrity narrators (e.g. Kristen Bell and Paul Simon) add credibility

· It’s more up to date

That said, I think it’d be really interesting to do an experiment comparing the efficacy of distributing each book.

Note: I work for TLYCS the organization

Comment by jon_behar on What are examples of EA work being reviewed by non-EA researchers? · 2020-03-30T17:08:27.515Z · EA · GW

The “Worm Wars” could arguably be an example (though the contentious research was not just from the EA community)

Comment by jon_behar on AMA: We are Jon and Kathryn. We work with The Life You Can Save. Ask us anything! · 2020-01-23T20:02:09.501Z · EA · GW

Most of the people on The Life You Can Save’s team have significant experience in the for-profit sector, which I think is relatively rare in the EA community. Charlie Bresler, our Executive Director, used to be the President of the Men’s Wearhouse. And before I served as COO for an extended period, I spent ~10 years in the finance sector at Bridgewater Associates. So I think those experiences helped shape The Life You Can Save’s culture. For instance, I think due to the diversity of the backgrounds of our team members, we may engage with a significantly more diverse range of stakeholders on a day-to-day basis than many “typical” organizations in this field. The advantage of this is that it provides us with a variation and depth of expertise to draw upon when we are making strategic decisions about our organization’s mission and approach.

Additionally, our team is also, generally speaking, older than most of the EA community. I’m not sure I can point to specific things that causes us to know about, unless I go with a tongue-in-cheek answer like “what the 1980s were like”.

Comment by jon_behar on AMA: We are Jon and Kathryn. We work with The Life You Can Save. Ask us anything! · 2020-01-23T20:00:17.231Z · EA · GW

Here’s how our Oxfam information page describes why we recommend them. (FYI, on each charity’s information page we have an FAQ explaining our recommendation).

We recommend Oxfam for donors who want to support a large, multinational organization working to fight global poverty in a wide variety of ways and in a wide variety of places. Because Oxfam is so large, including them as a recommended charity also significantly expands the tax-deductible giving options and program locations we can offer our global audience.
Due to the breadth and scope of its work, Oxfam’s impact is inherently difficult to measure and attribute, but we believe that some hard-to-measure work, like advocacy, can be a powerful way to help people in extreme poverty. Full disclosure: Peter Singer is a member of Oxfam America’s Leadership Council, an unpaid advisory body of significant Oxfam donors. Peter’s wife, Renata Singer, was employed by Oxfam Australia in the 1990s as their publications officer.

The fact that we don’t recommend The End Fund definitely shouldn’t be interpreted as a negative assessment of their work. Rather, it relates to your other question about the “paradox of choice.” We recommend SCI and Evidence Action (which runs Deworm the World), and generally don’t want to recommend many charities performing similar interventions without a compelling reason, as we think this will be confusing to donors.

In some cases, we do think there’s a good reason to have multiple charities performing similar interventions. For instance, we added Malaria Consortium to our list (which already included AMF) when GiveWell rated the former’s marginal cost-effectiveness as higher than the latter’s. We also have multiple food fortification recommendations which were added at the same time, and which we didn’t feel like we had good reason to distinguish between, but once those were already on our list we declined to add the Food Fortification Initiative when GiveWell later added it as a standout charity.

As the previous examples show, there’s some path dependency to our list (i.e. the order in which we add charities matters). This reflects our belief that 1) all else equal, we want our list to be simple for donors with minimal overlap and 2) we think removing a charity from our list because we added a similar one that might be slightly better would send an inappropriately negative signal about the charity we removed.

Comment by jon_behar on AMA: We are Jon and Kathryn. We work with The Life You Can Save. Ask us anything! · 2020-01-23T19:59:05.129Z · EA · GW

We’ve worked with HNW donors to determine which of our recommended organizations are the best match for the donors’ specific values and causes of interest. So far we haven’t done any bespoke research for donors, though this is definitely an area we expect to expand into in the future.

We’ll sometimes get inquiries about causes outside our scope. Where possible, we refer them to EA resources, such as ACE for animal welfare and Founders Pledge’s research on climate change. (We also have links to those two organizations at the bottom of our charity selection methodology writeup in a “beyond global poverty” section).

Comment by jon_behar on AMA: We are Jon and Kathryn. We work with The Life You Can Save. Ask us anything! · 2020-01-23T19:58:25.576Z · EA · GW

We recommend a significantly broader set of charities than GiveWell, which is an intentional strategy to offer donors a wider range of options. That said, in the near-term any additions to our list are likely to come from GiveWell. We had been sourcing new recommendations from Impact Matters as well, but they’ve recently pivoted away from the in-depth “impact audits” we’d been relying on and toward much shallower reviews of many more charities. We’ve written up our selection process in more detail here.

Down the road, we’d like to add dedicated staff to work on charity assessment. The primary obstacle to this is lack of funding. We expect this staff would curate research from GiveWell and other sources more than doing primary research. We think dedicated staff would be helpful in expanding our list into cause areas where there’s donor demand (e.g. education and climate change), developing an overall fund and funds for specific cause areas, and offering more concierge services to high net worth donors.

Comment by jon_behar on AMA: We are Jon and Kathryn. We work with The Life You Can Save. Ask us anything! · 2020-01-23T19:58:01.777Z · EA · GW

This is something that’s definitely on our radar screen due to climate change’s outsized impact on people living in extreme poverty. We also think it’s a cause area that’s of interest to donors (both our existing donor base and others). However, it’s unlikely that we’ll move forward on this until we have the capacity to add dedicated staff for charity assessment.

Comment by jon_behar on AMA: We are Jon and Kathryn. We work with The Life You Can Save. Ask us anything! · 2020-01-23T19:57:29.261Z · EA · GW

These aren’t really surprises, but the experience reinforced a couple of things: celebrities are really busy, and they have a huge reach (e.g. 1 instagram post from Kristen Bell led to over 1000 people downloading the book and subscribing to our newsletter.)

At least a few of the celebrities seem interested beyond seeing us as a random good cause. As an example, Michael Schur really engaged with the intellectual substance of the book in the foreword he wrote for the new edition. And that probably shouldn’t be surprising, as his show The Good Place is essentially oriented around some similar themes.

Comment by jon_behar on Long-term investment fund at Founders Pledge · 2020-01-13T17:23:24.032Z · EA · GW

1. Agree that equity valuations outside the US are much less extreme. But if you’re building a diversified portfolio, global fixed income and US equities are probably going to play a large part. So avoiding lower expected returns in those asset classes would require an element of active management, which I think raises the hurdle for this project significantly since active management is both expensive and hard to do well. Given the goals of this fund, I would think a passive Risk Parity strategy (which includes a lot of fixed income) would make a lot of sense.

2. Good point. I would still argue that if there’s an intention to deploy money when “market changes make investing much less attractive”, it makes sense to try and define those types of conditions ahead of time. And if you were going through that exercise a couple of hundred years ago, I’m pretty sure “widespread negative real yields” would have made the list.

Comment by jon_behar on Long-term investment fund at Founders Pledge · 2020-01-11T00:26:24.716Z · EA · GW
Money would only be deployed when there is a strong case that allocating to a funding opportunity is higher-impact from a longtermist perspective than keeping the money invested. This could happen, for instance, if our estimate of the expropriation rate rises greatly, legal and/or market changes make investing much less attractive, or we identify a truly extraordinary funding opportunity that we don’t expect to be filled by others.

I think this fund is an intriguing idea. But I think there’s an argument that current market conditions would suggest deploying funds now rather than investing them. Interest rates are at extraordinarily low levels, which suggest lower than normal expected future returns not only for fixed income instruments but also other asset classes that compete for capital with fixed income. To put into context how low current rates are, a 2015 analysis found that “rates remain at the lowest levels in the last 5,000 years of civilization.” Since then, rates have gone even lower. As of August 2019, “About $15 trillion of government bonds worldwide, or 25% of the market, now trade at negative yields, according to Deutsche Bank.”

To be clear, I think this argument applies to the general class of “donate now vs. invest and donate later decisions” EAs make, not just the proposed longtermist fund (where it might apply less due to the especially long time horizons). But my impression is that EAs are often too quick to assume they can always achieve investment returns in line with historical long-term averages, when they should only expect to do so over very long time horizons or when starting valuations are also in line with historical long-term averages.

Of course, it’s also worth noting that the “valuations are currently high so on the margin EAs should give more now” argument could have been made several years ago, and those years have generally been good ones for asset prices…

Comment by jon_behar on The tenth-anniversary edition of The Life You Can Save is here for free! Please share (and enjoy)! · 2019-12-06T19:32:30.456Z · EA · GW

Thanks to everyone who’s helped share and promote the book launch! It’s very early, but so far the numbers are looking good. Here’s an excerpt of an email I sent to my colleagues at TLYCS looking at metrics for the book launch on Giving Tuesday:

Here are the highlights:
Money Moved up 100%: We moved $16,477 through Network for Good (online donations through our site, excluding Australia) on Giving Tuesday (GT), up almost exactly 2x vs. $8244 from GT last year. The real picture is even better than the headline numbers, as we’ve seen a substantial improvement in recurring giving, which the new site really emphasizes. On GT18, we had only $340 in recurring gifts. This year, we had $1332 up almost 4x. (In both years, recurring gifts were almost entirely monthly).
Very strong subscription growth: We’ve gotten ~1500 subscriptions through the new site, almost all of which have come via the book download. We now have ~16,500 total subscribers, so this is a big bump for us: so far this week, we’ve increased our newsletter audience by 10%!
~2000 Book Downloads: We’re still nailing down some aspects of our download tracking, so please take these numbers with a grain of salt. Downloads are also our hardest metric to contextualize; we don’t have a great benchmark for our performance. That said, we’ve seen about ~2000 book downloads, split roughly evenly between the e-book and audio-book. Those downloads come from roughly ~2600 people who submit the download form (people can complete the form multiple times), so we may see more downloads as more people follow the instructions in the emails they’ve received (though we should also expect some attrition). Audiobook downloads are split roughly in half between people who download the full book or just a chapter, meaning roughly ¼ of downloads are partial downloads of one or more chapters. (Important but not urgent: we should consider ways to nudge people more toward the full book, and ways to get people who download 1 chapter to download more in the future.)
Web Traffic: We had over 6000 visitors on GT, up ~2x vs. 2600 on GT 2018, 3600 on 12/3/18, and an average of ~2800/day throughout November 2019. Traffic looks good across all our channels. The one exception is Referral Traffic which looks quite low, meaning we haven’t been getting a lot of traffic from links on other peoples sites so far. But we’ve had large increases in visitors from social media, our email campaigns, and direct traffic (people typing the URL directly) the latter of which could be related to a lot of things including some podcast ads that started yesterday. We should expect to see more referral traffic as we get deeper into giving season.
Comment by jon_behar on Which Community Building Projects Get Funded? · 2019-11-18T20:58:35.660Z · EA · GW

I like this additional categorization, the "community infrastructure" distinction seems valuable. Thanks for sharing!

Comment by jon_behar on Institutions for Future Generations · 2019-11-12T19:38:42.863Z · EA · GW

Balanced budget amendments and/or debt limits

Comment by jon_behar on Ramiro's Shortform · 2019-10-17T18:21:09.103Z · EA · GW

The Life You Can Save is working with an app-development company called Meepo (which is doing pro bono work) to build a non-profit donation app, which is currently in beta. You can learn more about this project, and how to download the beta version, here.

Comment by jon_behar on Making Donating Fun · 2019-10-17T18:20:44.622Z · EA · GW

The Life You Can Save is working with an app-development company called Meepo (which is doing pro bono work) to build a non-profit donation app, which is currently in beta. You can learn more about this project, and how to download the beta version, here.

Comment by jon_behar on List of EA-related email newsletters · 2019-10-09T15:07:18.535Z · EA · GW

The Life You Can Save's newsletter would be good for the Global Health and Development section

Comment by jon_behar on EA Handbook 3.0: What content should I include? · 2019-09-30T23:44:18.999Z · EA · GW

I would love to see Neil Buddy Shah’s talk Beyond Top Charities get included.

Stepping back, one of the themes of that talk is that EA’s homogeneous demographics make it very susceptible to important biases. I hope the new handbook has content by a significantly more diverse set of authors (in terms of gender, race, age, geography, etc.) than the previous edition.

Comment by jon_behar on EA Meta Fund and Long-Term Future Fund are looking for applications again until October 11th · 2019-09-19T14:35:58.972Z · EA · GW

Exciting that applications are now rolling!

Could you add the application link to the Meta Fund’s webpage, so that people know that applications are welcome and how to apply?

Comment by jon_behar on Best EA use of $500,000AUD/$340,000 USD for basic science? · 2019-08-27T19:44:30.943Z · EA · GW

Would Innovations for Poverty Action or D-Rev be possibilities?

IPA conducts lots of RCTs and helps governments design evidence backed policies. D-Rev designs medical devices to meet the needs of on-the-ground health providers serving people in extreme poverty. Neither is “basic science” in the traditional sense, but they definitely do work that struggles to get enough funding from academia and industry (or other sources).

The Life You Can Save (which I work for) recommends both organizations, and could facilitate a tax-deductible gift through TLYCS Australia (a registered nonprofit in Australia). We’d be happy to have someone from our team talk with you and/or your relative if that be helpful.

Comment by jon_behar on 'Longtermism' · 2019-08-02T19:40:39.794Z · EA · GW

There are plans to use longtermism (both the term and the idea) in disciplines beyond moral philosophy (e.g. the Global Priorities Institute’s longtermist research agenda which includes economics in addition to philosophy). So to “prevent confusion”, it’s important to understand whether other fields are using the term, and what other people are likely to think when they hear it.

FWIW, I think for most people something like “ultralongtermist” would do a better job of communicating the time frames Will is talking about.

Comment by jon_behar on 'Longtermism' · 2019-07-26T18:34:13.941Z · EA · GW
‘Longtermism’ is a new term, which may well become quite common and influential. The aim in giving the term a precise meaning while we still have the chance is to prevent confusions beforethey arise. This is particularly important if you’re hoping that a research field will develop around the idea. I think that this is really crucial.

I don’t have an issue with EAs using ‘longtermism’, but it’s decidedly not a “new term” and already has an existing academic literature in non-EA disciplines. So any attempts at disambiguation (which I applaud) should address how the term is currently being used. If you search for it on Google Scholar, you’ll find lots of results on “long-termism” from a business perspective (typically related to investments or corporate governance). I looked through a few pages of search results without seeing anything related to EA.

Google also provides an interesting perspective on hyphenation. I was originally in the “who cares?” camp, until I noticed that google returns different results for “longtermism” and “long-termism” (I used an incognito window and would advise the same for anyone trying to replicate this). “Long-termism” returns results associated with the business use cases (including various definitions); I don’t see anything EA related until halfway through the 2nd page of search results. This makes sense since the existing literature generally uses a hyphen.

Googling “Longtermism” returns some business/definition results, but has a lot of EA content on the first page including the first result (ForeThought Foundation). That said, Google asks if you meant “long termism” (which gives the same search results as the hyphenated version), suggesting there’s not a ton of people searching for the unhyphenated term. I don’t think EA should adopt a hyphenating convention based on short-term search engine optimization, but this does seem like a relevant consideration.

Comment by jon_behar on Age-Weighted Voting · 2019-07-15T20:32:45.599Z · EA · GW
Age and wisdom: I suspect that this isn’t a major consideration in the choice between these voting systems: if we wanted a more epistocratic system, we would move quite far away from either of the current system or the age-weighting system.

I think you’re being pretty cavalier about the “intelligence vs. wisdom” issue. Paul Christiano’s comment “I personally think that I'm better at picking policies at 30 than 20, and expect to be better still at 40” rings very true to me (I’m 40), and I’m pretty sure my friends (mostly in 30s and 40s) would emphatically feel the same way. I’m curious about the age of the oldest person you got feedback from, and what they thought about this idea.

Re: epistocracy, it’s true there are policies that could increase the average intelligence and/or wisdom of the electorate. But those are typically the same policies that have historically (and/or currently) been used to disenfranchise marginalized people. As one example of the baggage attached to these policies, here’s how Wikipedia describes how literacy tests have historically been used in the US:

From the 1890s to the 1960s, many state governments in the United States administered literacy tests to prospective voters purportedly to test their literacy in order to vote. In practice, these tests were intended to disenfranchise racial minorities. Southern state legislatures employed literacy tests as part of the voter registration process starting in the late 19th century. Literacy tests, along with poll taxes, residency and property restrictions and extra-legal activities (violence, intimidation)[2] were all used to deny suffrage to African Americans. The first formal voter literacy tests were introduced in 1890. At first, whites were generally exempted from the literacy test if they could meet alternate requirements that in practice excluded blacks, such as a grandfather clause or a finding of "good moral character." (emphasis added)

Personally, to give future people more representation I’d favor legislation like limits on budget deficits, overall debt levels, and programs with upfront benefits but big deferred costs (e.g. it’s easy to offer a generous pension if all the costs come down the road). One of the easiest and most common ways to “steal” resources from future generations is to run up big debts they’ll need to pay off.

Comment by jon_behar on Running Effective Altruism Groups: A Literature Review · 2019-07-10T17:04:46.703Z · EA · GW

Thanks for writing this, great resource!

Couple of things to note re: Giving Games

1) I think it’s really important to distinguish between speed GG (basically tabling events) and longer GG workshops. Groups have had success with both approaches, but they accomplish very different things. Speed GGs are really about starting a lot of conversations, getting people onto mailing lists, and trying to identify a small percentage who seem like they might buy in a lot. GG workshops are about digging into the ideas behind high impact giving, and trying to get people on board with them.

2) This upcoming semester we’ll be working with One for the World to collect a lot of great data on how GG work for groups (pledges, attendance, subscriptions, etc, absolute and relative to a control). This will incorporate a lot of improvements that have been made over the years, and should be the most representative of what groups could reasonably expect going forward.

3) There’s a field experiment from a few years back that found groups running GG workshops attracted more attendees than speaker events, especially if the speaker wasn’t a VIP (such as a charity CEO)

(I founded and operated the Giving Game Project and continue to advise it).

Comment by jon_behar on I find this forum increasingly difficult to navigate · 2019-07-05T22:48:04.523Z · EA · GW

I suggest a putting a “help” button in the editor, right next to the “save as draft” and “submit” buttons. This info should be super easy to find when someone’s writing a post.

Relatedly, when the instructions are being refreshed for the planned update I think it’s important to run them by someone non-technical (and probably at least one generation older than the person writing the instructions) to see if they can understand them.

Comment by jon_behar on I find this forum increasingly difficult to navigate · 2019-07-05T20:50:16.099Z · EA · GW

Testing a reply with an image copy/pasted from a public google doc (shows up as camera in the editor)

Edit: it worked! Good to know about this workaround (though the direct google doc import Ben mentioned would still be preferable since it'd deal with footnotes too).

Comment by jon_behar on I find this forum increasingly difficult to navigate · 2019-07-05T20:25:15.497Z · EA · GW

Great to learn about that group, maybe worth a top-level link post?

Google Forms is free and very easy to use if you want to do a poll without being restricted to people with FB accounts.

Comment by jon_behar on I find this forum increasingly difficult to navigate · 2019-07-05T20:21:55.420Z · EA · GW

Cool, direct import from g-docs would do the trick from my perspective. Thanks for the update!

Comment by jon_behar on I find this forum increasingly difficult to navigate · 2019-07-05T19:36:32.694Z · EA · GW

Re: pictures, ability to do pictures in comments would be nice. But my frustration was really around this:

Click the image of a photo on that bar, and you'll be able to add the URL where your image is hosted. The Forum doesn't support attachments, but there are a lot of sites where you can upload an image for free. My favorite is imgbb.

This is a real pain, and a disincentive to using charts or tables. I write in google docs for a variety of reasons, including because it’s easy to get feedback from people. So once I’ve written a draft, edited, sent it out for feedback, revised it, given it a final edit, and at long last have it looking the way I want in a format that’s used around the world, I don’t want to have to upload a bunch of images to some site I'm unfamiliar with, then insert each of them into the post.

I’d like to do be able to do a simple copy/paste. Inserting attachments would still be frustrating, but a significant improvement on the status quo. In either case, I’d like there to be clear and easily accessible instructions (people shouldn't have to figure out the imgbb solution on their own). Hope this clarifies where the frustration stems from, let me know if you still have questions.

Comment by jon_behar on I find this forum increasingly difficult to navigate · 2019-07-05T19:33:09.614Z · EA · GW

Re: search, “effective altruism” was probably a bad example but I guess I’d like to see that return something like CEA’s guiding principles (or whatever the old search version did). “Bednet” is probably a better example. You’d expect this to turn up something about bednets and/or AMF. Instead, it returns three results that mention bednets but are in no way about them.

1. Charity Entrepreneurship Research Summary (22 karma, 3 years old)

2. The age distribution of GiveWell’s charities (13 karma, 4 years old)

3. What consequences? (25 karma, 2 years old)

Interestingly, searching for “bednets” instead of “bednet” yields very different results:

1. 8 ways to free up donation money without sacrifice

2. Where should anti-paternalists donate?

3. Kidney donation is a reasonable choice for effective altruists and more should consider it.

I’m not sure exactly what my algorithm would be, I imagine it’d involve keyword matching in the title, in the text, karma, recentness, etc. Let’s say someone wanted to find “After one year of applying for EA jobs: It is really, really hard to get hired by an EA organization”, which I believe is the highest karma post in forum history. And it has a title that you can’t expect people to remember. I’d definitely want that to be the top result if someone searched for “jobs” (it’s the 7th result, requiring an extra click to see) or “ea job market” (doesn’t show up).

Comment by jon_behar on I find this forum increasingly difficult to navigate · 2019-07-05T18:38:15.728Z · EA · GW

Agree with Khorton there’s a balance to be struck. But I think it’s critical to be able to provide feedback like 'The latest version has reached the point where I just don't see the point of visiting the forum any more'. It’s “particularly loaded” in the sense that it conveys a strong opinion, but that’s a good thing. If it were expressed in a mean way, that’d be a big problem. To me, that comment read like a simple statement of a fact that the forum team would definitely want to know.

Michelle, FWIW I haven’t voted on your comment. While I disagree with you on whether the tone was appropriate and how good the new search is, I really appreciate your give a clear explanation of your downvote of the OP and hope others follow this example.

Comment by jon_behar on I find this forum increasingly difficult to navigate · 2019-07-05T18:24:11.699Z · EA · GW

btw, I had to google what a markdown editor was so perhaps the instructions could be made more accessible to laypeople

Comment by jon_behar on I find this forum increasingly difficult to navigate · 2019-07-05T18:21:48.041Z · EA · GW

My frustration centered around not being able to take a post I’d written in google docs and simply paste it into the forum to post without extra work. I’ve run into two problems trying to do that: pictures and footnotes. It didn’t help matters that I wrote a post with a ton of footnotes before they became supported, but even now that they are it’s a pain to use the markup editor instead of just copy/pasting things. I’d strongly prefer to get this and the search functionality taken care of before adding new functionality (e.g. sequences).

There are also things I like about the new forum. The notifications about replies is a huge plus, and the question and link post types are a clever nudge to engage people. I’m sort of on the fence about the frontpage/community distinction. I sympathize with the intention, but worry that it buries time sensitive news that EAs need to know about (e.g. when a grant application window opens).

Last but definitely not least, thanks Ben for your openness to feedback (even if some is critical) and lack of defensiveness! Strong upvote.

Comment by jon_behar on I find this forum increasingly difficult to navigate · 2019-07-05T14:04:02.807Z · EA · GW

Michelle, I’m very surprised you find the new search functionality to be an improvement. I thought the old search worked quite well, but find the new functionality nearly useless. Unless I know the exact title of a post and search for that, I routinely get results that are tangentially/un-related, old, not-well-upvoted, or all of the above. For example, the top results when searching for “effective altruism” are:

1. Effective Altruism and Religious Faiths: Mutually Exclusive Entities, or an Important Nexus to Explore (9 karma, 4 years old)

2. Effective Altruism & Slate Star Codex Readership (3 karma, 6 months old)

3. Effective Altruism subreddit (9 karma, 3 years old)

The comments that are returned are similarly old and low-karma (though I do love that the new search returns both posts and comments). I also tried searching for “bednets”, “artificial intelligence”, and “jobs” all with similar outcomes.

I actually wanted to post screenshots of the search results, but couldn’t figure out how to insert pictures (I figured out a workaround in the past, but I can’t remember what I did, only that it was time-consuming and extremely annoying). More generally, I’ve found the process of posting quite frustrating (which I’m not alone in). I strongly upvoted the OP for these reasons; I hope this isn’t read as a lack of appreciation for the hard and extensive work that people have put in on the new forum.

Comment by jon_behar on EA Survey 2018 Series: Do EA Survey Takers Keep Their GWWC Pledge? · 2019-07-03T21:42:17.036Z · EA · GW

Great post, very thought-provoking! I understand the rationale for excluding student pledge-takers from this analysis, but I think looking at the share of this cohort that goes on to give >=10% after graduating could shed some light on the broader attrition question. Also seems highly relevant to the strategy for campus chapters of both GWWC and One for the World.

My hunch is that the graduation stage would be the “leakiest part of the funnel”, because a) it’s a lot more palatable to donate 1% of a small amount than 10% of a larger amount; b) after graduation people’s social circles are likely to be less EA-centric.

Comment by jon_behar on Is EA Growing? EA Growth Metrics for 2018 · 2019-07-03T20:56:31.680Z · EA · GW

To get a better sense of “how many members does EA have?”, going forward I suggest asking organizations for data on unique website visitors rather than pageviews since the latter somewhat conflates number of people and degree of engagement (pages per session).

Comment by jon_behar on Needed EA-related Articles on the English Wikipedia · 2019-06-30T16:24:49.199Z · EA · GW

The original book was well received and got significant amounts of attention (e.g. an excerpt ran in the NYT, Peter was on the Colbert Report to talk about it, etc.). It was also highly influential, and has contributed to the way a lot of EAs (including Cari Tuna) think about giving. I’m not sure how many languages it’s been translated into, but it’s a pretty good number.

The organization has also received attention from a variety of major media outlets and has moved a considerable amount of money to effective charities (~$5.25 million in 2018 and expected to be much higher in 2019). With the publicity push around the release of the new edition, there should be much more media attention around the corner.

Also, Peter Singer is clearly notable and disambiguating the book and the nonprofit will help clarify discussion about Peter. The disambiguation is becoming even more important with the new edition (which will have substantial changes), as there will soon be two books and a charity all with the same name.

Comment by jon_behar on Needed EA-related Articles on the English Wikipedia · 2019-06-28T21:27:30.100Z · EA · GW

The Life You Can Save (which I work for) would be very interested in getting a Wikipedia page set up. My understanding is that Wikipedia doesn’t allow employees or volunteers to create one, but we’d be very happy if someone in the EA community took it on themselves to create one. There’s already a Wiki page for TLYCS the book, so we’d be hoping to get a new separate page for the non-profit organization. And this disambiguation would be particularly helpful prior to the 4Q19 release of the updated and revised 10th anniversary edition of the book.

Comment by jon_behar on Is EA Growing? EA Growth Metrics for 2018 · 2019-06-21T14:44:33.611Z · EA · GW

Thanks for clarifying Ben!

Comment by jon_behar on Is EA Growing? EA Growth Metrics for 2018 · 2019-06-04T04:04:17.376Z · EA · GW

Thanks Aaron, very helpful data and context.

Vipul wrote up observations on Forum traffic from Sep 14-Dec 16, which seems to be based on data from Google Analytics. Any way to splice this data together with the more recent history?