Announcing EA Hub 2.0 2019-04-08T08:54:43.775Z
Why Groups Should Consider Direct Work 2018-05-27T20:37:57.821Z
2017 LEAN Impact Assessment: Evaluation & Strategic Conclusions 2018-02-28T07:14:36.604Z
2017 LEAN Impact Assessment: Qualitative Findings 2018-01-03T20:42:54.335Z
2017 LEAN Impact Assessment: Quantitative Findings 2017-12-08T20:54:09.759Z
2017 LEAN Impact Assessment 2017-09-17T00:48:59.235Z
Local Group Support Overview: CEA, EAF and LEAN 2017-08-11T22:07:51.877Z
2017 LEAN Statement 2017-06-28T20:12:33.491Z


Comment by Richenda on EA Hub’s new features · 2019-12-30T17:26:02.604Z · EA · GW

Choosing how much and what of previous data to keep and use was a challenging decision which the team took very seriously. GDPR changed things quite a lot, and we have to factor in our responsibility to keep data private and secure. If people don't come back and reclaim old accounts, some on the team feel leery of holding onto data indefinitely because that might not be the most responsible thing to do. Additionally, we made functional and structural improvements to the site when we rebuilt that means it does not perfectly follow on from what was before, and we needed to prioritise.

Comment by Richenda on After one year of applying for EA jobs: It is really, really hard to get hired by an EA organisation · 2019-03-13T02:23:40.928Z · EA · GW

The revamped EA Hub will be aiming to contribute to this problem.

Comment by Richenda on After one year of applying for EA jobs: It is really, really hard to get hired by an EA organisation · 2019-03-13T02:13:59.905Z · EA · GW

In addition to what Peter describes, if we do a simple content analysis of forum threads or blog posts in the last 3 or so years, ETG feels like it's become invisible. Long term EAs like you and me most likely do still think it's cool because when we became EAs it was a huge part of it and probably a big part of what drew us in (in my case, certainly - I became an EA the year GWWC was launched). But that doesn't mean that this is the subtext that newer EAs are getting. I feel like the opposite is true, and I find that deeply concerning.

Comment by Richenda on After one year of applying for EA jobs: It is really, really hard to get hired by an EA organisation · 2019-03-13T02:04:54.842Z · EA · GW

Couldn't agree more!

Comment by Richenda on After one year of applying for EA jobs: It is really, really hard to get hired by an EA organisation · 2019-03-13T01:36:20.769Z · EA · GW

>"The problem (for people like me, and may those who enjoy it keep doing so), as I see it: this is an elite community. Which is to say, this is a community primarily shaped by people who are and have always been extremely ambitious, who tend to have very strong pedigrees, and who are socialized with the norms of the global upper/top professional class."

I wish this were shouted from the rooftops. Literally all the discourse around talent and jobs that I have come across to date in EA has frustrated me because of how this goes unremarked. As you say, many of the ideas that are discussed as the most natural and easy thing in the world are really like 'go be an astronaut' to normal humans. Having said that...

>"In elite culture, you're expected to be very positive in professional settings. You're expected to say "exciting" a lot, to call things "awesome," and to thank people creatively and effusively. In non-elite culture, there is no such expectation, and displays of extreme enthusiasm about work don't go over that well. Even at full enthusiasm-as-lived-experience you're unlikely to display it in the same way as someone well-versed in elite culture norms. This may get you called a downer."

I'm not sure I recognise this. I mean... my experience of every work place I've encountered, from being a barista through to LEAN manager, has been that there is pressure to be more positive and chirpy than I personally deem sincere or accurate. Reading this as a Brit I also wonder if you're describing the American elite. I cautiously guess that this wouldn't describe German workplaces very well either. But generally I do think that there are a heck of a lot of class factors involved here, and I often worry that the community isn't adequately switched on to these.

Comment by Richenda on After one year of applying for EA jobs: It is really, really hard to get hired by an EA organisation · 2019-03-13T01:05:34.779Z · EA · GW

I second Howie's observation that there is just a really wide range.

Not just depending on neuroticism and other job applications but also writing talent. I expect people from physical sciences to take longer and find it more of a pain. I take between one hour and ninety mins for a cover letter, and I have four CVs that I modify slightly. So I don't often take more than two hours in total.

Comment by Richenda on After one year of applying for EA jobs: It is really, really hard to get hired by an EA organisation · 2019-03-13T00:39:49.105Z · EA · GW

I doubt you're an outlier to be honest. Though I may swing more pessimistic than average.

Comment by Richenda on After one year of applying for EA jobs: It is really, really hard to get hired by an EA organisation · 2019-03-13T00:35:40.692Z · EA · GW

I strongly prefer cover letters because they give me the opportunity to frame myself in the way that I think I should be seen.

Comment by Richenda on What Activities Do Local Groups Run · 2018-10-02T20:47:20.906Z · EA · GW

My cautious guess would be that a bottleneck is groups actually identifying something to work on. Once they've set their course and found a good opportunity, from then it flows much more easily.

Comment by Richenda on What Activities Do Local Groups Run · 2018-10-02T20:46:18.477Z · EA · GW

Yes, as you saw.. we separated out data from organisers and data from members. For groups with more than one organiser, we asked for them to nominate just one respondent to answer as 'organiser' and the others to fill out the survey as normal 'members'.

Comment by Richenda on Why Groups Should Consider Direct Work · 2018-06-14T20:04:09.267Z · EA · GW

You're right that often there aren't good opportunities for groups to do anything direct, and so I've spent a lot of time thinking about whether LEAN can help in this regard. I think that a lot of the reason that groups struggle is to do with coordination. For instance, I received an email with a long list of voluntary activities from an EA org after I published this post. So definitely part of the issue is providing better conduits between organisations and groups. The reason this is difficult is because groups are often so transient. But if more projects were to be listed on places like that might result in a pipeline emerging. The main thing, though, is finding ways to help organisers seek out opportunities specific to their areas. As we've all been agreeing in these comments, it isn't always going to be the right thing for a group to do. But I frequently speak to groups that have good opportunities literally fall into their laps based on specificities of their location and context. And there are also really good examples of organisers who were able to find aligned groups, organisations etc. in their community to collaborate with. So some of what we can do involves writing up good examples of how people went about this to help organisers who are casting about for additional opportunities. And yes of course, if a group has an alternative that is higher impact, then this wouldn't be needful. It varies from group to group, who their audience is and what the most effective course is.

Comment by Richenda on Why Groups Should Consider Direct Work · 2018-06-14T19:29:00.623Z · EA · GW

My impression on this is there are large differences between "groups" on the "direct work" dimension. And it may be somewhat harmful if everybody tries to follow the same advice (there is also some value of exploration, so certainly not everybody should follow closely the "best practices").

Yes, I am very strongly of this opinion towards all advice for EA groups.

Comment by Richenda on Why Groups Should Consider Direct Work · 2018-06-14T19:19:48.290Z · EA · GW

Hi Charlie. Thanks for your reply.

By prioritising direct work, we run the risk of losing people who would benefit greatly from, say, career planning sessions or 1-1 meetings. This is because even with the best people, being active in moving them through the funnel is super essential, and if you engage in a tradeoff with retaining people earlier in the funnel, it's very plausible that they will stagnate.

To be clear, I don’t suggest universally prioritising direct work over other activities, only that direct work (given its benefits) should be considered in some circumstances. Typically, I would expect this to involve EA groups running a portfolio of activities which includes direct work opportunities alongside other activities. In many cases, EA groups won’t be so strictly bottlenecked by sheer number of hours available to run activities, but rather by interest of attendees (and event organisers) or ideas for events, and so on. For example, there is likely a limit to the number of times that career workshops or 1-1 meetings can be repeated (especially in the case of medium-smaller groups), which may be met before organisers run of our time or energy to run any more events. This is particularly so if different kinds of events would engage different organisers to run them and attendees to attend them and engage them in different ways. I would also anticipate diminishing returns on core activities, such that even if, for example, career workshops or 1-1s are the highest impact activities (on average), on the margin additional different activities may be more impactful (as well as complementary to these other activities).

That said, I'm happy to discuss the hypotheticals presented here.

First, responding to your point that 'we should try to get a few people through the funnel'. On the one hand, it is precisely my point that there are high-potential, high talent individuals who won't go all the way through the funnel (or who will leave/regress/value drift, despite having passed through the funnel) precisely because there aren't sufficiently engaging opportunities for them to get their teeth into.

On the other hand, while I agree that it is plausible that in some or even the majority of cases, a small number of high impact individuals will deliver more value than a large group of lower impact individuals, I am very wary of concluding too far in advance where this balance lies. There are some cases where a dispersed group of individuals can collectively have a major impact (EA NTNU), there are cases where a group does not have any individuals that are likely to fit into CEA's model of either becoming major donors or moving into high impact careers, and finally there are cases where groups are able to push a few high talent individuals through the funnel while also more deeply engaging less high impact individuals (CZEA). Finally, as clarified above, I think there are some high impact individuals who won't go all the way through the funnel unless you provide them with tangible practical options. In this instance pushing folks through the funnel is directly aligned with increasing opportunities for direct action.

Supporting those who are willing to do indirect and high-impact work is in fact supporting those who are willing to do the most good, and people we should most want in our community.

It's not entirely clear to me why you think that this is the case. Many individuals likely to make enormous sacrifices to do the most good , are also likely be turned off by a group that is insufficiently practical. I know from our qualitative interviews with EA Organisers in 2017 that many organisers with a proven record of impact also experience the need for regular and tangible experiences to retain their motivation, optimism and enthusiasm. This is why I argue that it "seems prudent to adopt a psychological model of EAs that better reflects reality" in this article.

I think I'm pretty much in agreement that if a group is doing these things, then direct work is probably an improvement. However I don't think that groups should be doing these things. The relevant comparison should be made between the best known community building activities that groups are able to do. Career planning sessions combat the above, and can (as an example) successfully act a first line of defence against people who want to be more active.

Your suggestion that most EA Groups aren't made up of regular discussion groups is interesting. The impact assessment results, many of which were shared in this article, do illustrate that a significant number of groups are in fact busying themselves mostly with discussion meetups. I would not wish to speak a word against this, because in some cases that is the right strategy for the group in question. The role of many groups is to keep existing EAs motivated and supported while they individually deliver impact through earning to give or career progression. However, many groups reach a certain stage where they've saturated their networks with career workshops, they've attracted all the high impact individuals that they are likely to in the near future, and they begin to run out of options, and report struggling to retain interest and group motivation. I think, too, that the data shared in this article shows that some individuals don't feel that outreach activities are very satisfying. e.g. this quote from a member who completed the Local Group Survey, regarding ways the community could support members better: "More social events and more direct impact (rather than indirect, like spreading awareness and getting pledges).”" It is telling that the single most recurring request LEAN receives from organisers is for ideas and suggestions for further activities and volunteering opportunities.

Comment by Richenda on Why Groups Should Consider Direct Work · 2018-05-28T18:09:08.908Z · EA · GW

Thanks Charlie. Just posting to say I've seen this and will respond more fully soon!

Comment by Richenda on Why Groups Should Consider Direct Work · 2018-05-28T17:19:19.872Z · EA · GW

Thanks Michal! I wish I had already read your post about fetishising the long term (which I'll do now!) as I definitely would have referenced it here! These are great additional points that I wish I'd written ;)

I agree totally that there are a lot of risks to conservatism and over-caution when it comes to taking action. Another metaphor I came across years ago was that 'you can't steer a car if it's not moving'. CZEA is a really inspirational example of striking this reflexive balance of doing, but doing in an experimental and analytical fashion.

Comment by Richenda on Why Groups Should Consider Direct Work · 2018-05-28T17:07:38.089Z · EA · GW

Thanks Matej. Yes I agree entirely!

Changing a career is a direct action, but not everyone is able to do it all the time. It is important for groups to have the ability to engage people in tangible or more abstract way. I think this could diversify ea ideas, members, and avoid it to be a group of mathematicians and philosophers talking together, about their favourite subjects.

This is especially a really important point that I've also been thinking a lot. Our philosophers, mathematicians etc. are great, but there are many other personality and thinking types that are underrepresented in our movement. Anything we can do to attract and integrate more people with different cognitive approaches seems very valuable!

Also, as you suggest... I think there are a lot of EAs who are not necessarily high earning, and not everyone has the material means or opportunities to donate much or switch to the most frequently recommended careers. It's important to demonstrate to people that you can make a real difference, and that your involvement is valued, regardless of your position in life.

Comment by Richenda on Review of CZEA "Intense EA Weekend" retreat · 2018-04-16T05:40:47.673Z · EA · GW

Also, communities in Brno and Bratislava have become more active after their members attended the retreat. This is fantastic!

I think I know what my next birthday party is:

Play cooperative board games about saving the world (e.g. Mansions of Madness) An AI Safety themed LARP

Comment by Richenda on Review of CZEA "Intense EA Weekend" retreat · 2018-04-13T01:26:47.008Z · EA · GW

We don't have that, so we have to go by models, guesstimates, anecdotal personal experience, and expert opinion.

There is some relevant social research on it:

RCTs, in my view would be unsuited to measuring anything actually useful about groups, however tempting the idea is. There are so many variables muddying the water for such assessment that you would end up just fabricating without realising.

Comment by Richenda on Review of CZEA "Intense EA Weekend" retreat · 2018-04-13T01:23:07.798Z · EA · GW

Hi Dunja,

Actually there is empirical research on this! LEAN interviewed EA group organisers as part of the 2017 LEAN Impact Assessment, and actually face to face, in person experiences such as retreats and EAG frequently came up as the most significant, landmark influence for a fair few successful organisers in actually kick starting them into getting something going, and also giving them the confidence, reassurance and optimism to see it as a worthwhile investment of their time.

I was slightly surprised by how much of a big factor this was for people, but the evidence seems pretty strongly supportive at this stage.

Comment by Richenda on Reading group guide for EA groups · 2018-04-09T20:22:52.394Z · EA · GW

I've added this to the EA Groups Resource Map:

Thanks Risto!

Comment by Richenda on Why we should be doing more systematic research · 2018-03-26T05:32:25.384Z · EA · GW

I haven't heard of anything, I'm afraid.

Comment by Richenda on Why we should be doing more systematic research · 2018-03-15T22:14:30.087Z · EA · GW

I've been thinking for awhile that there's a surprising lack of historical research in EA. I mean not that surprising given the dominance of STEM backgrounds, but rather in the sense that it's such an obviously useful tool to exploit.

Comment by Richenda on Introducing Czech Association for Effective Altruism - history · 2018-03-15T19:30:47.633Z · EA · GW

Thanks for sharing this. I'm looking forward to the second part!

Reflections like this are amazingly valuable for the movement building community. I'm especially interested in how you factored in the local context in order to choose the best strategy for EA in the Czech Republic. I also totally agree that it's great to hear perspectives that come from outside of the Oxbridge/Silicone Valley bubble - and even the anglophile bubble.

A lot of people are grappling with the issue of how to appropriate EA in non-English communities. I'll be sharing this report with each of those that approach LEAN with these challenges.

Comment by Richenda on Founders Pledge is seeking a Community Manager · 2018-03-09T01:01:02.368Z · EA · GW

Hopefully when CEA develops the EA Forum in the coming months there will be a designated section for job listings :)

Comment by Richenda on 2017 LEAN Impact Assessment: Evaluation & Strategic Conclusions · 2018-03-04T23:08:02.725Z · EA · GW

Hi Tobias. From what Sarah (developer of the CEA groups app) told me, the tool will provide a dashboard where organisers can use CRM functionality to track their members, categorise them, and communicate with them efficiently. The EA Hub does not plan to provide anything along these lines at all.

Since its launch in 2014, the EA Hub has offered:

  • Personal profiles for EAs
  • A donation registry
  • A map of EAs and of EA groups
  • Group profiles
  • The EA wiki
  • The EA Survey
  • Various guides and information

The planned change will be to rearrange content and services so that the user interface is significantly more accessible and appealing. The main addition is to create a high quality home for written guides and resources relating to EA groups. Primarily, this does not involve creating new content but rather gathering existing content from across the community, and synthesising these into a practical and convenient tool. Of course copyright and authorial permission will be carefully attended to. We may make some minimal functional changes such as removing the EA groups feature (which we would then replace with a more simple directory, since we know of many visitors who found a local group on the EA Hub via google, and thus became counterfactually connected). We are very happy to keep people informed in the coming months as development unfolds, thanks!

Comment by Richenda on Viewing Effective Altruism as a System · 2018-01-10T20:37:36.188Z · EA · GW

"I’m not suggesting that quantitive facts should be ignored during the hypothesis generation stage, just that we need to understand the hypothesis space before we can choose appropriate metrics, otherwise we may artificially limit the set of theories that we consider."

I very much agree with this view methodologically. This is why we used qualitative research methods in addition to quantitative for the LEAN impact assessment. There is real risk of narrowing perspective and obscuring important factors from view if you commit to specific metrics prematurely. Qualitative research design is based on the aim of keeping the research process grounded and inductive, always responsive to unanticipated factors, regularly revisiting fundamental problem framing and steering sharply clear of methodological individualism, which is the approach you described (

In the case of the impact assessment (where LEAN was trying to judge how effective our group support programme is, and how much impact groups have), we could look at metrics like group size, the number of individuals converted to EA, lifestyle changes, donations, pledges, events held and so forth. However qualitative interviews were used to piece together more complicated pathways that connect different nodes. The EA network is relatively small, which means that detailed examples can be very informative. I would like to see mixed methods of this kind used more.

If people want to avoid methodological individualism while still using quantitative techniques, social network analysis and multiple correspondence analysis are two quantitative techniques that many sociologists have used in order to tackle similar issues when working with much larger datasets. Social network analysis allows you to map out 'pipelines' of the kind you described in order to identify which nodes in the community are the most prominent and influential in terms of providing critical connections.

We don't, however, even need to do any more empirical analysis of EA to know that what you say is true... that many of the most important, high impact and high yield developments and achievements come down to an interaction between different community and information sources all coming together in a fortuitous way for a given trajectory. We can be sure of this not only by reflecting on examples in EA but also because this is simply a sociological human fact (often analysed and illustrated in the sprawling 'social capital' research field). The question then becomes, as you suggest, how do we cultivate the right environment for these vital spontaneous connections and interactions to take place?

My opinion on this is that we already do very well in this regard. Not through any virtue per se, other than the fact that the smaller a community is, the faster and more readily connections will arise (too small, of course, and you run out of useful nodes). However we definitely can do better, and the most urgent area for practical intervention is restructuring this forum in order to better serve the EA online community. This is something that has come out very clearly both in the 2017 Local Group Survey but also our interviews with group organisers. I think it is also quite self evident. On offer for budding EAs are either dead backwater Facebook groups with no life, or monstrous central groups with hundreds of members where only the most confident EAs feel comfortable posting. The forum is similar. Although the option of anonymity probably empowers some people to speak up, there is a much larger collective of lurkers who will feel too intimidated to contribute. A system of subforums that allow sheltered zones targetted at different kinds of EA would encourage a good deal more to come out of the woodwork and allow them to connect to one another. Individuals could then progress from a newbie friendly subforum to more 'advanced' or in depth content and conversations. I'm very happy that CEA will be taking on a restructure of the forum in the coming months.

Another area that can be optimised is the streamlining and organisation of content into a more user friendly and accessible format. This is something LEAN will be working on in the near future both in terms of making existing content more navigable but also in terms of continuing to make bespoke introductions between aligned individuals and organisations, but also helping EAs and EA groups to find one another more easily (like through our map of EAs) and through maintaining up to date contact information, and ensuring that it is easily found.

Comment by Richenda on 2017 LEAN Impact Assessment: Qualitative Findings · 2018-01-04T19:23:20.198Z · EA · GW

Hi Kevin, I'm sure some would benefit from more resources on moral theory. I think casebash is right, though, that we are comparatively strong on theory, but comparatively weak on available practical actions. With the LEAN programme we still have a fairly long wish list to deliver for groups on before we'd be in a place to be worrying about adding theoretical material. The responses in this assessment so far suggest that most organisers are very happy with the quality and variety of written resources that already exist, but that they want to see existing content tidied and presented in a more uniform and accessible way. It also seems that organisers would most value new material in the area of movement growth and outreach technique, and on the issue of impact assessment methodology. So this would probably be the first thing to address before writing more theoretical exposition. That said, if EAs want to write such pieces and post them in personal blogs or here on the forum, you can be sure that many organisers are watching the forum and finding that useful.

Comment by Richenda on 2017 LEAN Impact Assessment: Qualitative Findings · 2018-01-04T19:04:47.181Z · EA · GW

I mostly agree. However there are definitely some strategic, management-level things that have to be decided when it comes to the Hub. There are an infinite number of fantastic ideas from EAs regarding what things they might want to see, and it's not a straightforward matter to judge how best to go forward. Particularly when it also means making sure we complement the platform that CEA is developing. Some factors include major choices about things like which codebase we continue with, creating a structure that allows highly skilled EAs in tech to contribute to some degree when they want to, and also making sure we don't waste resources making a start with something unless we're confident we'll be able to maintain it appropriately in the long run. Those are just some of the matters involved, and in this regard available bandwidth, both of myself and our tech labour has been a limiting factor for sure.

However we've been making a lot of fast gains since we hired our new tech officer, Larissa, in November. We also have the guidance of seasoned EAs working in tech, and I'm very optimistic about 2018!

Comment by Richenda on 2017 LEAN Impact Assessment: Qualitative Findings · 2018-01-04T04:41:57.200Z · EA · GW

We agree about the EA Hub. However we were overstretched across too many projects, and have been in the process of identifying which things to prioritise, and which cost-effective things we can deliver to a high standard. This assessment and decisions in the next few months will be critical for the direction of the site.

Comment by Richenda on 2017 LEAN Impact Assessment: Quantitative Findings · 2017-12-21T19:21:56.526Z · EA · GW

Thanks Siebe, I'll add your suggestion to our list of stuff to do.

I'm glad was helpful for you guys. I think that there are demographic differences in terms of which places have strong participation and which places don't. In the UK I had never heard of until I became involved in EA. We know that it ends up being highly useful for a minority of groups, and non trivially useful for others. We allow people to experiment with it, but then aim to check in on groups every few months or so and close down the groups if it turns out to be no good for that particular location. I have been toying with the idea of contacting Meetup to ask if they would share their internal data on regional use patterns. I doubt they'd want that information public though.

Comment by Richenda on 2017 LEAN Impact Assessment: Quantitative Findings · 2017-12-10T04:14:09.077Z · EA · GW

It's a fair question, and one I've been seriously thinking over since I took over LEAN. As Tee suggests, websites are enormously useful to a small number in a way that makes up for the time and resources 'lost' by making it available in cases where it doesn't pan out as that effective. Secondly, a lot of the answers we got in interviews amounted to 'well right now we haven't made use of our website, but that's because we don't have the tech manpower and need help to get what we want from this'. So I think there are groups that would be making good use of it if it was more user friendly, or if we were able to provide some minimal support for content management. Overall I think that the static site generator you're working on is a perfect compromise. We'll continue taking a critical eye, and may still pull the plug at a later date if we think it's not cost effective. But right now I think it will be.

Comment by Richenda on Local Group Support Overview: CEA, EAF and LEAN · 2017-08-23T17:33:18.149Z · EA · GW

Hi Rhys,

Yes, Universities are especially good environments in which to start EA groups for a number of reasons (lots of young people with plenty of free time who are actively reaching for new ideas, experiences and activities, a lot of infrastructural support from institutions, student unions, a captive audience, etc.)

We are very mindful of the differences between local groups and University groups. Internally we work on building expertise about these differences, and customising the support and advice we give based on the nature of the group in question.

We have also drawn on the expertise of other successful student based movements. For example, the Secular Student Alliance has some excellent group growth and management guides which we pass on for recommended reading (while giving full credit, of course).

Comment by Richenda on Discussion: Adding New Funds to EA Funds · 2017-06-17T05:32:38.735Z · EA · GW

I really like the idea of doing more to identify new potential cause areas. Vetting is really important, but I'm wary of the idea of anointing a specific EA org with sole discretion over vetting decisions. If possible, democratic vetting would be ideal (challenging though such arrangements can be).