How to use the Forum


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Julia_Wise

Effective altruism is a joint effort. Our goal is to make the EA Forum the central place for collaborative discussion about how to do the most good we can.

What we’re aiming for

We encourage:

  • Writing that is accurate, kind, and relevant to the discussion at hand.
  • Scout mindset: “The drive not to make one idea win or another lose, but to see what’s there as honestly and accurately as you can.”
  • Clarity about what you believe, your reasons for believing it, and what would cause you to change your mind.
  • Making concrete predictions where possible.
  • Summary articles: Distilling previous ideas and debates can be really useful, because it allows people to get up to speed quickly and build on previous knowledge.

We don’t worry much about:

  • Polish: We’d rather hear an idea that’s presented imperfectly than not hear it at all.

We discourage (and may delete):

  • Unnecessary rudeness or offensiveness
  • Materials advocating major harm or illegal activities
  • Abuse
  • Spam
  • Other behavior that interferes with good discourse

Other pointers:

  • When you disagree with someone, approach it with curiosity: try to work out why they think what they think, and what you can learn from each other.
  • When you criticize someone’s point, consider doing so supportively.
  • Keep an eye out for ways you might be biased — ideologies, people, or causes that you’re particularly attached to.
  • Try to focus on important questions, and the important parts of important questions to keep content useful and to the point.
  • You can flag material that you think is inappropriate for the site, and the moderators will take a look.

Finding content

Frontpage posts

Posts on the frontpage have been recommended by other users (via upvotes), or have been curated by moderators as especially useful or interesting.

All posts

Select the “Daily” section to see posts in all categories, sorted chronologically.

Sequences

Sequences of posts allow you to follow a longer train of thought on a topic.

Community

This is the place for posts about the EA community itself (including EA organizations) rather than object-level discussion.

Following users

Love someone’s work? Click their username and you’ll see the option to “subscribe to this user’s posts.” You’ll see their new posts in your notification area.

Writing content

You can make a new post by clicking on your username in the upper right and selecting “new post.”

Personal blog post

By default, your posts will be published to your personal blog. Other users can follow your blog if they wish, and they’ll see notifications when you post.

You can use posts to jot quick ideas or questions, to publish polished research, or anything in between.

A post will be more visible to other users as it gets more upvotes. If it’s upvoted enough, or if moderators curate it, it will appear on the frontpage.

Link post

We encourage you to post links to content from other sites. You can do this by selecting the link icon when you go to make a new post. When you post links, please either quote or write a summary of the content to get discussion going.

Community posts

If you’re writing about the EA community itself, giving an organizational update, or discussing specific strategies for community building, your post will be moved to the “Community” section.

Sequences

To add a sequence, visit forum.effectivealtruism.org/sequencesnew and follow the instructions to add an image, description, and title.

Karma

When you vote articles up and down, you give the users karma points. The karma points are equal to the number of upvotes minus the downvotes, and by default, the higher rated posts are more visible. The karma is the number shown next to each post or comment.

You don’t need any karma to post, comment, or vote.

Voting

You can vote up or down on posts and comments. For content you think is especially good or bad, you can give a “strong upvote” or “strong downvote” by clicking and holding (on a computer) or double-tapping (on mobile). The strength of your votes is affected by your level of karma; more details here.

You are encouraged to also leave constructive feedback about what was helpful or unhelpful about the material you’re voting on:

“That example helped clear things up for me.”

“I didn’t find this relevant.”

“Mass voting” on large portions of a user’s content simply because it belongs to that user is not acceptable. Please judge each post or comment on its own merits.

Profile

Let other users know more about you. To edit your user profile, click your username in the upper right and select “Profile.”

It’s fine to make a pseudonymous account in order to express views you wish to keep anonymous. It’s not acceptable to vote multiple times on the same material, to use multiple accounts to express the same opinion multiple times, or to impersonate other people.

Moderators

Currently (as of August 2018), moderators are Denise Melchin, Howie Lempel, Max Dalton, and Julia Wise, using the email address forum@effectivealtruism.org. Please feel free to contact us with questions or feedback.

Moderators can access

  • The IP address a post/comment came from
  • Voting history of users
  • Identity of voters on any given post/comment

This information will only be used to identify behavior such as “sockpuppet” accounts and mass downvoting. The moderators will not view or use this information for any other purpose.