We’ve received some excellent submissions to the Community Builder Writing Contest. This post announces early-bird winners (selected from submissions received before March 30). 

Note that the contest is still underway, and we are accepting submissions until 30.

Three Early-bird winners

The first $1000 prize goes to Amarins and Joris P for “Should you use EA in your name?” An update on PISE’s naming experiment.

Abstract: Last year, we hypothesized that a name change could increase the success of EA university groups. Since then, we have gained new insights from user interviews and an alumni survey, as well as a progressing understanding of community building. It seems like we previously overestimated the advantages and underestimated the disadvantages of not having EA in our group name. Looking back, we believe that the success of other aspects of our experimental approach to community building became conflated with the results of our name change. 

The second $1000 prize goes to Matt Goldwater for Grappling With The Hinge Of History Part 2: Bayesian Dilemma.

Will MacAskill thinks there’s a 0.1 to 1% chance the current century is the hinge of history. Toby Ord thinks there’s a ⅙ chance there’ll be an existential catastrophe by 2120. Holden Karnofsky thinks the odds we’re in the most important century are 15-30%.

Yet Ord’s (and presumably Karnofsky’s) biggest disagreement with MacAskill isn’t related to climate change, nuclear war, pandemics or AI. It’s about how to set a Bayesian prior.

The third $1000 prize goes to electroswing for Announce summer EA internships farther in advance.

Promising talent may be less willing to consider a summer position at an EA org once they have already committed to another opportunity… in order to make the most of the talent pool at top universities, EA summer internship programs might want to consider making a conscious effort to process applications on an earlier timescale. 

Honorable mentions

We also decided to offer five $200 honorable mentions for early-bird submissions. 

Prizes go to:

Comments about winning entries

This section is mostly for people who are still considering submitting to the contest. I describe some features of the winning entries that made them stand out.

I think the different winners showcase a few different “types” of submissions.

  • Reflections from student groups: Amarins and Joris draw on evidence from their student group as they explore an interesting and relevant question (should student groups have "EA" in their names?) Their analysis is rooted in their experiences as group organizers, and their post is rich with examples. I also appreciate the reasoning transparency and the "aim to explain" spirit of their post: they make it easy for the reader to see why and how they reached their conclusions.
  • Forming an inside view on a complex topic: Matt Goldwater tackles an ambitious question: Is this the most important century? His analysis focuses on the ways in which experts disagree. And by understanding the sources of these disagreements (cruxes), he makes progress on developing his own model.
  • Casting the spotlight on an area for improvement: Electroswing makes a straightforward point: EA internships should have earlier deadlines. They also show us that many EA internships are announced after talented students have already finalized their summer plans. I think there are many issues like this where “casting the spotlight” can be valuable. When you’re not thinking about it, it’s easy to miss; but when the spotlight is on it, it seems so clear. If this post causes even one EA internship to be announced 1-2 months earlier next year, I believe this will be one of the most valuable posts of the month.

I would be excited to see more reflections from student groups, attempts at forming inside views, and direct/tangible suggestions for community-builders. But don’t limit yourself– if you have something that doesn’t fall into one of these categories, feel free to submit!

Some details about the contest

  • We received 28 submissions between March 12 and April 1.
  • We asked participants to list approximately how many hours they spent on their submission. The median was 6 hours, and the average was 15 hours.
  • The early-bird winners were reviewed by two judges (me and Aris Richardson).
  • Note that additional prizes will be announced once the contest is over. Early-bird submissions will still be eligible for the prizes from the main prize pool.

What’s next?

Submissions are still open until April 30 (see here and submit here). Looking forward to the next round of submissions!


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