Sequences are collections of posts on a common theme, or that build on each other. They help authors to develop ideas in ways that would be difficult in a single post. You can also add posts written by other people to a sequence if you think they should be read together.
The EA forum is mostly structured as a newsfeed. This is great for the people who are already highly engaged with EA, but it's terrible for creating a shared repository of knowledge. Newcomers will quickly get lost and even veterans might have trouble communicating if they have read different posts on different days. Sequences solve both problems: They can store crucial knowledge for long periods of time and it allows for different posts to easily build on top of what has come before. Newcomers could read the introductory sequences first and not immediately get lost in a sea of incomprehensible ideas and jargon. Veterans can structure their posts more easily and don't have to worry that people can't follow their reasoning. The structured nature makes sequences also more fun to read than a random selection of posts.
You might be surprised to learn that the EA forum has sequences. It isn’t often advertised and it also isn’t visible in the sidebar. Until a few days ago there were only four sequences available on the whole site, but over the past couple of days I have been looking for posts that belong together. I have written some introductory blurbs and have collected and photoshopped images to serve as cards and banners. Right now you can see the eighteen new sequences that I’ve made, as well as all the other sequences, if you click on this link: https://forum.effectivealtruism.org/sequences
I do have a couple of suggestions for the mod team:
- Can you make the sequences more prominent? Maybe have a fifth icon in the sidebar for sequences?
- Can someone create an “introduction to EA” sequence? I would love to do it, but I think that this should be done by an actual mod or someone from an official EA institution.
- Can the sequences be better organized? I think an “introduction to EA” sequence should be the first thing that people see when they click on the “sequences” link. Right now there is an “EA motivation” sequence that I would place on top of the page, but since it was created first it stays at the bottom. Maybe pin the most important ones and have the others be ranked according to what the median karma of the posts in the sequence is?
- Right now most sequences are still displaying my name, even though I didn’t write them. The mods have thankfully already changed the name for the “moral anti-realism” sequence, but ideally the other sequences should be properly credited too. Maybe the whole sequence should just be handed over to the authors themselves, since they might not like the descriptions and images I have created (I did message them). That way they can also just add new posts to the sequence without having to contact me first.
- The image cropping tool for picking the card image doesn't work. It basically ignores whatever I wanted to crop and selects the entire image instead. Not a huge priority since I can just manually crop the images in photoshop, but if you find the time it would be a small site improvement.
- Right now to create a sequence you have to pass through two screens. On the screen where you select the images and blurbs you can't select the posts and vise versa. This makes it harder to see how the images will actually be displayed, since they are later partially covered up. Switching back and forth is also a hassle, especially when the posts you have selected sometimes disappear. It's not a huge priority, but again, it would be a small site improvement.
Lastly, I wanted to ask the community if they have any other suggestions for posts I can turn into sequences? You can of course do it yourself by clicking the plus-button, but if you want me to do it or if you just want me to make some images/blurbs for you, just let me know in the comments.