EA Forum Prize: Winners for April 2019

by aarongertler 6mo4th Jun 20192 min read12 comments

29


CEA is pleased to announce the winners of the April 2019 EA Forum Prize!

In first place (for a prize of $999): "Interview with Jon Mallatt about invertebrate consciousness," by MaxCarpendale.

In second place (for a prize of $500): "Farmed Fish Welfare Report," by kierangrieg.

In third place (for a prize of $250): “Literature Review: Distributed Teams,” by Elizabeth.

For the previous round of prizes, see our March post.

What is the EA Forum Prize?

Certain posts exemplify the kind of content we most want to see on the EA Forum. They are well-researched and well-organized; they care about informing readers, not just persuading them.

The Prize is an incentive to create posts like this. But more importantly, we see it as an opportunity to showcase excellent content as an example and inspiration to the Forum's users.

About the winning posts

Note: I write this section in first-person based on my own thoughts, rather than by attempting to summarize the views of the other judges.

On a meta level, I appreciate how each of April’s winners shows a different approach to how the EA movement can collect knowledge:

  • “Farmed Fish Welfare” is a report commissioned by an EA organization.
  • “Distributed Teams” is a literature review commissioned by an individual.
  • The Jon Mallatt interview, also commissioned by an individual, features the knowledge of an expert collected and transcribed by a member of the EA community.

Thanks to professional organizations and curious individuals, our community is always learning more about the world. This information — wherever it comes from — needs a place to live, and I’m happy that the Forum can provide one.

MaxCarpendale’s interview with Jon Mallatt is a satisfying follow-up to the research plan he posted on the Forum last year. The EA movement isn’t the first group of people to think about consciousness, and I’m personally happy whenever I see us learn from other groups with similar concerns. This transcription is smooth and readable, and includes additional citations which provide further context to Mallatt’s statements.

The facet of this post that most excites me is how scalable the method is — I hope to see many more such transcripts from MaxCarpendale and other EA researchers.

While kierangrieg’s report on fish welfare first appeared on the website of Animal Charity Evaluators, the author added a lot of extra value by:

  1. Writing a novel summary of his findings in the Forum post.
  2. Responding at length to a comment on the report.

Eventually, I’d like to see every major research article in EA find its way to the Forum, ideally with summaries and authorial responses. This report is an excellent example of how to bring interesting work to a broad audience.

Elizabeth’s artfully-written literature review covers a topic of practical import to many EA organizations: does remote work… work? And if so, how do we maximize its potential?

I won’t go into detail on her findings (read the review!), but I’ll point out some features of the post that I especially liked:

  • A “highlights and embellishments” section which shows the author’s key takeaways from the dozens of isolated facts presented in the full review
  • A “sources of difficulty” section which points out weaknesses in the available data
  • The occasional use of personal anecdotes to illustrate points (I appreciate the way that anecdotes aid memory, as long as they’re used to support solid research)
  • The author’s inclusion of a PDF link (Cramton 2016) that they obtained directly from another researcher, giving readers access to information they might not have been able to find themselves

The voting process

All posts published in the month of April qualified for voting, save for:

  • Posts written by CEA staff and Prize judges
  • Posts with no votes from users other than the author
  • Link posts pointing to content not written by the user, if they contained little or no content outside of the link

Prizes were chosen by six people. Three of them are the Forum's moderators (Aaron Gertler, Julia Wise, and Denise Melchin). The others were the three highest-karma users at the time the new Forum was launched (Peter Hurford, Joey Savoie, and Rob Wiblin).

Voters recused themselves from voting on posts written by their colleagues. Otherwise, they used their own individual criteria for choosing posts, though they broadly agree with the goals outlined above.

Winners were chosen by an initial round of approval voting, followed by a runoff vote to resolve ties.

Feedback

If you have thoughts on how the Prize has changed the way you read or write on the Forum, or ideas for ways we should change the current format, please write a comment or contact Aaron Gertler.

29