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Stockholm Student Hackathon: Lessons for next time 2022-07-06T15:48:25.944Z
Fønix: Bioweapons shelter project launch 2022-06-14T03:44:16.678Z
Making Community Building a more attractive career path 2022-04-06T19:28:59.046Z

Comments

Comment by Vilhelm Skoglund on Are too many young, highly-engaged longtermist EAs doing movement-building? · 2022-06-19T18:38:35.865Z · EA · GW

Hey!

Thank you for a good post. I think this is a relevant question, and I agree with Stefan that it would be good with more data on this. Fwiw, in Sweden, my 50% confidence interval of the share of highly-engaged longtermists under 25 doing movement-building is  20-35%.  However, I don't think I am as concerned as you seem to be with that number. A couple of thoughts:

  • I think the answer to how young longtermist who should be doing community building is very dependent on the counterfactual - what they would be doing otherwise. And my experience as a community builder in Sweden trying to help young longtermsist is that there aren't that many better opportunities out there right now. (Note that this might be very different in other contexts.)
    • I would be super keen on seeing more opportunities for young longtermists to engage in EA!
  • Going off that, I think community building can be a very good place to get a better understanding of all the different career options and start exploring some, before doing object-level work to assess fit/contribute in another domain. And I think I would be more concerned with young EAs and longtermists focusing in on one path very early on, if they don't have a very particular/obvious personal fit or preference. I know of at least a couple of people who after doing community building have come to update their plans in a way I deem positive and unlikely to have happened otherwise.
  • On a related but more speculative note I think community building can be a good place to build a better sense of cause agnosticism and connections to people in different cause areas, which I think is beneficial for the EA and longtermist movement over the long run.
  • Data suggest people leave their community building roles rather quickly, indicating that people do pivot when finding a better fit (see more: https://forum.effectivealtruism.org/posts/ewCdRr2ZBkrwXMaoX/making-community-building-a-more-attractive-career-path-1)
  • Pure speculation on my part but I think community building can be an especially pleasant way to get heavily involved and build social connections to other EAs and longtermists early on, thus making it more likely to keep people engaged over the long run.

Note that I might be biased as I am a community builder myself and think community building is one of the most impactful things many could do, not only young people. Somewhat relevant to this question, this is actually something I have been concerned about when giving advice to students. Obviously, I try to be objective, but it is hard to shy away from the fact that it will always be top of mind for me and just something I am much more knowledgeable about, making it more likely that I will bring it up. 

Comment by Vilhelm Skoglund on Are too many young, highly-engaged longtermist EAs doing movement-building? · 2022-06-19T18:37:41.703Z · EA · GW

Hey!

Thank you for a good post. I think this is a relevant question, and I agree with Stefan that it would be good with more data on this. Fwiw, in Sweden, my 50% confidence interval of the share of highly-engaged longtermists under 25 doing movement-building is  20-35%.  However, I don't think I am as concerned as you seem to be with that number. A couple of thoughts:

  • I think the answer to how young longtermist who should be doing community building is very dependent on the counterfactual - what they would be doing otherwise. And my experience as a community builder in Sweden trying to help young longtermsist is that there aren't that many better opportunities out there right now. (Note that this might be very different in other contexts.)
    • I would be super keen on seeing more opportunities for young longtermists to engage in EA!
  • Going off that, I think community building can be a very good place to get a better understanding of all the different career options and start exploring some, before doing object-level work to assess fit/contribute in another domain. And I think I would be more concerned with young EAs and longtermists focusing in on one path very early on, if they don't have a very particular/obvious personal fit or preference. I know of at least a couple of people who after doing community building have come to update their plans in a way I deem positive and unlikely to have happened otherwise.
  • On a related but more speculative note I think community building can be a good place to build a better sense of cause agnosticism and connections to people in different cause areas, which I think is beneficial for the EA and longtermist movement over the long run.
  • Data suggest people leave their community building roles rather quickly, indicating that people do pivot when finding a better fit (see more: https://forum.effectivealtruism.org/posts/ewCdRr2ZBkrwXMaoX/making-community-building-a-more-attractive-career-path-1)
  • Pure speculation on my part but I think community building can be an especially pleasant way to get heavily involved and build social connections to other EAs and longtermists early on, thus making it more likely to keep people engaged over the long run.

Note that I might be biased as I am a community builder myself and think community building is one of the most impactful things many could do, not only young people. Somewhat relevant to this question, this is actually something I have been concerned about when giving advice to students. Obviously, I try to be objective, but it is hard to shy away from the fact that it will always be top of mind for me and just something I am much more knowledgeable about, making it more likely that I will bring it up. 

Comment by Vilhelm Skoglund on Making Community Building a more attractive career path · 2022-04-11T21:01:11.031Z · EA · GW

Really appreciate the pushback! Would be keen to hear more about your thoughts and I'll set up a meeting.

Comment by Vilhelm Skoglund on Making Community Building a more attractive career path · 2022-04-11T21:00:02.558Z · EA · GW

Thank you!

For context, CEA used to pay $70,000 annually to community builders in San Francisco, with lower salaries in areas with lower costs of living.


I think this was from the last grant period (2021-2022) and that it was slightly less before that.  

Now CEA have updated their payment policy, with salaries baselined to $90,000 in San Francisco, with a cost of living adjustment for other locations, ...

This is starting this grant period (from 2022).

Comment by Vilhelm Skoglund on Making Community Building a more attractive career path · 2022-04-11T20:57:25.024Z · EA · GW

Thank you very much for this input Peter. I would love to chatt and will reach out in a private message.

Comment by Vilhelm Skoglund on Making Community Building a more attractive career path · 2022-04-11T20:56:32.917Z · EA · GW

I think all have the option, but that it might be hard. So providing support to do this might be relevant.

Comment by Vilhelm Skoglund on Making Community Building a more attractive career path · 2022-04-11T20:55:56.589Z · EA · GW

As said I think this is an intersting idea, but I can see practical / legal issues with having a organization in one country having workers in multiple different countries. But regional orgs in places like the US and UK might be good. Also, even though one might not be able to be technically hired, having a joint back office for many things just seems good.

Comment by Vilhelm Skoglund on Making Community Building a more attractive career path · 2022-04-11T20:51:56.003Z · EA · GW

Thank you for the input!

I really like the mentoring idea. My intuition is that many would be up for this, if it was easier. 

Hiring mid-career CBs also seems like a good idea, both because they are likely to stick around longer and have more life experience / career capital and might be able to give more relevant guidance, contacts etc. Though I think it is good to have young people in many contexts.

Support with boring tasks would be beneficial and I do think it could be done "centralized", like Markus Amalthea Magnuson is doing with altruistic.agency. 

Comment by Vilhelm Skoglund on Making Community Building a more attractive career path · 2022-04-11T15:32:30.426Z · EA · GW

Thanks for the comment!

I agree the area is probably the most important factor for potential impact of a group. Thus, it seems especially important that you have capable CBs in those areas. (Though I am not sure it is most important to have really good people in e.g. The Bay as there already is a community in the Bay and it seems easier to do comunity building there. And also less low hanging fruit.)

It seems imoprtant with quick knowledge transfer, but I don't think it replaces the need of having people in the role longer. I don't think it will help us getting to the next level. Also, I do not think peer support is enough. And rather than "doubling down" on something we are already doing good I think additional resources should be aimed and other forms of support. 

I don't really understand you comment:

  • Community builder roles might not be perceived to be as prestigious as other roles as they might not get as many applications as other roles. 

It seems to me more that community builder roles don't enough applications, because they are not percieved as prestigous?

I agree the national/city/university context might lead to local citizens being more interested/qualified!
 

Comment by Vilhelm Skoglund on Making Community Building a more attractive career path · 2022-04-11T15:21:21.631Z · EA · GW

Wow - thank you for the many great comments! Will shoot you a PM. Quick thoughts:

I agree - I think we should target passaionate people and I think this should be something that CEA and CB-orgs consider when recruiting people. To some extent though, I think it is important to also proactively make people more passionate about it! 

Career capital problem
If I'd hear that one of my friends is going to be a community builder for 10 years, I would worry what they'd work at after that.

I'd expect that EA is one of the orgs that would pay the most in the world to community builders (EA really thinks it's important + EA has money). So if even EA doesn't pay "well" (however the person defines it), this is discouraging.

I don't agree with it being a problem that someone would be a community builder long term. But I  think it could be becuase I have a different definition of community builder. I think it is a broad term that could include things like the Global Priorities Project, CEA and ambitious local groups with multiple employees.  

I very much agree that community building can be a good excerise in founding a startup! Thank you for the case. 

I do think the people I talked to were honest with thinking their new job being more important. I also think many (thought not all) were correct. I also want to stress some people did not mention this.  

I agreee weekly 1-on-1s would be good, but that they should be optional.

Many people did mention peer support as one of the best parts of the job. I am sorry if this post gave another impression!

Haha - I love it "EA Community Building for EA Community Building". There is obvious metameta issued here but I do think it would be valueable. And to some extent this is what CEA is doing. 

Thank again! Please hit me up if you would like to talk more about this!

Comment by Vilhelm Skoglund on Making Community Building a more attractive career path · 2022-04-11T14:58:58.096Z · EA · GW

I like this! 

Comment by Vilhelm Skoglund on Making Community Building a more attractive career path · 2022-04-11T14:57:57.112Z · EA · GW

Yes, it was discontinued shortly after being launched. I am not sure why, but would be very curious to learn why. 

Comment by Vilhelm Skoglund on Making Community Building a more attractive career path · 2022-04-11T14:56:57.668Z · EA · GW

I am also curious why there aren't set up orgs in central locations that can employ people. And I am hoping to get some input on from CEA / similar actors. 

To be fair though, many city/national groups (e.g. EA Sweden that I run) are set up as non-profits and CEA are happy to fund those organizations, that in turn employs group organizers.

Comment by Vilhelm Skoglund on Making Community Building a more attractive career path · 2022-04-08T16:59:53.972Z · EA · GW

This is an intersting idea! I can see som practical / legal issues with having a organization with a few hired people in many different countries. But it should defintely work for the US and UK, where many community builders are based. Also it should work with "regional hubs" in other locations. And even though one might not be able to be technically hired, having a joint back office for many things just seems robustly good. Maybe EA Nordics can lead the way with some experiments here!

Comment by Vilhelm Skoglund on Making Community Building a more attractive career path · 2022-04-08T16:53:00.923Z · EA · GW

I also think this is a very good point and that we should consider titles. However, I think one often pretty easily can spin community building as being something more legit / impressive outside EA. I call myself "Executive Director" of EA Sweden, and I do think that sounds pretty good on a CV. Also, with the new funding situation in EA and the many talented people in the movement I actually think strating / running an EA group can be a good opportonity to build an impressive organization.

Comment by Vilhelm Skoglund on Making Community Building a more attractive career path · 2022-04-07T08:51:16.555Z · EA · GW

Thank you for the comment and encouragement! 

I agree that community building has been promoted as important, but then implicitly undervalued by the actual prestige, funding and support offered to existing or aspiring community builders. And I think this is detrimental to EA. However, I want to stress that I am very encouraged about the efforts CEA are putting into making community building more attractive. I also think it is encouraging to see 80k giving more and better coverage on community building now and Openphil highlighting it in their new grantmaking. 

Really appreciate your thoughts, and would love to discuss this further in private - I'll send a message.

Comment by Vilhelm Skoglund on Making Community Building a more attractive career path · 2022-04-07T08:42:15.515Z · EA · GW

Thank you for the comment!

The survey was only sent out to community builders in city and national groups. Also the exit interviews where with people from city and national groups, but three of them had been university organizers. And you are right, the name 'community building grants' doesn't make it obvious that it excludes uni groups. I should make this clearer in the post - will edit! 

However, previous work included input from uni group leaders and before posting this post I shared it with uni group leaders, to see if they had differing views. I could sense there was some systematic differences, but the main points seem to be shared.

As said in the post I plan to do further work on this and one of the most important thing to do I think is getting input from other community builders (uni group organizers / cause area group organizers / unpaid group organizers) both to get a more robust picture and see if there are important differences. One thing I feel a little hesitant about though is how to translate findings related to other community builders into actions, given that many of them don't really have a clear "home", who might be able to adress issues. I would love input on this.

Comment by Vilhelm Skoglund on Making Community Building a more attractive career path · 2022-04-07T07:39:51.990Z · EA · GW

Thank you for the input!

I agree mentorship seems really important and I know it has benefited me alot. The idea of creating a culture / expectation that senior CB's have formal mentorships  with junior CB's sounds good, largely becuse I think characteristics that make for a good CB make for a good mentor. However, I think it is really important that the senior CB mentors feel excited about it, as that seems necessesary for a fruitful mentorship. Also, I think it would benefit from some kind of coordination / scaffolding / guidance. It would also be relevant to check in with CB's on this, as I think quite a few feel like they are in somewhat of a CB bubble only interacting with peers and not getting enough high level input / recognition. Furhter, I think it is important not to forget about senior CB's as I think mentorship can be beneficial for a long time.

Having regular check ins, even when there aren't specific questions also seems like a good idea. It actually came up alot during interviews. And there seems to be demand for getting an oppurtunity to reflect and being held accountable, but also to vent and get recognition. Very good point about specifying how this would or would not affect the CB's future evaluations!

I'd love to input from  the career 1-1 training workshops you ran! I'll reach out for a meeting.     

Comment by Vilhelm Skoglund on Announcing the actual longtermist incubation program · 2022-04-01T15:54:50.880Z · EA · GW

EA Sweden nominates Lowe Lundin - looks like your everyday swede, but don't let the blonde locs and innocent blue eyes fool you. This guy is wandering encyclopedia who eats enough for three people and has the hart of four people.

Comment by Vilhelm Skoglund on Should we produce more EA-related documentaries? · 2022-02-23T17:00:12.612Z · EA · GW

Thank you for the doc! I really like trying to come up with a relevnt framework. I'll check it out more later!

I agree that this is to some extent premature. I guess what made us jump the gun was that the person who would interested in funding something is explicitly aimed at high budget vidoe content. But from a more general EA standpoint it seems very important to compare different mediums. 

To give some push-/feedback I also think it would be intersting to think about how different mediums might  interact and what the best "media portfolio" would be. My intuition is that different forms of media can serve different purposes, as you are alluding to in your spreadsheet. And to some extent they might be strengthening/dependent on eachother.  

Comment by Vilhelm Skoglund on Should we produce more EA-related documentaries? · 2022-02-23T16:52:28.443Z · EA · GW

I agree with most things you say. A few thoughts.

How well do you think learning/success from a youtube series would translate into making something bigger? It seems to me they are kind of different beasts, though things such as what topics seems to generate more interest might be relevant. Also, I feel uneasy about outsourcing to much. I see the upsides in having someone with an estalished channel. And obviously we would want to have someone excellent doing it. But it seems we should be able to find a capable EA to do it and I would feel much more comfortable nowing that a value aligned person was leading it.  

Great thought on how to set uo a documentary for success. My intuition would also be that it would be higher expected value to go big. However, I do believe chances of success would be rather slim anyways, so my guess is that we would want to try at least a few before deciding it isn't woth the effort.

(Again I want to stress that I am a total lay man in this.)  

Comment by Vilhelm Skoglund on Should we produce more EA-related documentaries? · 2022-02-23T16:38:18.147Z · EA · GW

Hej! 

Thanks for great pushback.

First, shortly addressing the idea that there are documentaries on many EA related topics.

I agree and I believe you very likely have a better grasp of this than me. But, as you yourself suggest, I think there are gaps. E.g. I have not seen anything on wildlife animal welfare, relevant on AI x-risks, Longtermism, Civilization resilience, S-risks, Whole brain emulation etc. I am not sure these would be the best things to do a documentary on (which is part of the reason for writing this) but it at least seems worth considering.

If you had to choose a cause area/specific topic in EA to do a documentary on - what would you choose?

Moving on to the question of focusing on a specific cause area/topic or EA in general.

To some extent I agree with you. I think the possible upside of a documentary regarding the core ideas of EA is larger than the upside of a documentary on a certain cause area. However, I also believe that the possible downside is bigger. And being very risk averse with the EA brand, and not sure that a documentary could induce inclination along with awareness, I feel very hesitant to promote an explicit EA documentary. Here I think it is important to consider the telephone game effect and, to my impression, bad experiences from early mass media outreach on the general concept of effective altruism. Further, I feel we should not be in too much of a hurry with getting people on board with EA, as premature mass communication/recruitment could lower the long term potential.

That being said, I do believe something like “a big Cosmos-style TV series” (like you mention in your next comment), would be relevant further down the line. It seems such an effort would allow for greater breadth (how many ideas one can explore) and depth (how much nuance one can add to the ideas). Also, I think it makes sense to learn from doing other documentaries first.

One thing I’d be keen to hear your thoughts on is something in between. Let’s say a documentary about longtermism that really focuses on central EA ideas, without being EA branded. Do you think that would be more impactful than a documentary on a more specific cause area? Or do you think the documentary must be “EA branded”?