Hide table of contents

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:

  1. Can you make the sequences more prominent? Maybe have a fifth icon in the sidebar for sequences?
  2. 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.
  3. 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?
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.





More posts like this

Sorted by Click to highlight new comments since:

I also really value sequences! I’m working on an (extremely janky) web app to read sequences of content, as a way to learn web development.

I hope to eventually make it into a nice app that people can use to easily make their own sequences of EA content from around the web, and for people to discover and read this content.

You can check it out here (doesn't work great on mobile yet, unfort) : https://react-sequences.web.app/

I’m keen to work on it more once I stop having RSI 😅, so if people do have comments and feedback would love to hear it.

I just want to say I love your images. Sorry for the difficulty in cropping them.

Thank you! The cropping in photoshop only takes five minutes at most, so it isn't a big deal. All of the images are made with creative commons images, except for "moral anti-realism" (which I took from Lukas' own page, so I assume he has the rights) and "rwas library" which I found on a bunch of websites with no indication of it's status (if it does get copyrightstriked I'll photoshop a similar looking image).

Btw, could you add an "EA Forum (meta)" tag to this post? I can't add tags at the moment.

Live bug, I'm working on it.

Fixed, and added.

Thanks for doing this!

Those also sound like good suggestions to me; glad to see/hear that some have already been implemented.

Another suggestion: Maybe the top part that shows the sequence name and the left and right arrows should appear on all posts that are part of sequences, even if you found your way to the post in some way other than via the sequence?

Currently, with Lukas Gloor's anti-realism posts and Luisa Rodriguez's nuclear posts, if I click the link to the posts from within the sequence, I see that top part. But if I get to the post some other way (via tags, their user profile, a search, another link, etc.), I don't. This means there's no way for someone who gets to those posts in most ways to even know they're part of a sequence.

A downside of this suggestion is that the sequences in questions weren't made by the users themselves, so it's possible that the users don't want that top part to appear. In these two cases, I'd guess the users would be happy with that, but it'd be possible for someone to make a sequence whose scope, framing, order, etc. seems weird to the authors involved (e.g., if the person strings together posts from different authors).

Another complication is that, in some cases, a post might be added to more than one sequence. Maybe if that happens, the mods should get a notification and should use their best judgement as to which sequence is used for the top part by default?

(I'm not sure if mods will look at this comment by default - maybe I should message one?)

I think it's great that you've made these sequences!

Could you make one for this sequence: https://forum.effectivealtruism.org/posts/TwJb75GtbD4LvGiku/moral-anti-realism-sequence-1-what-is-moral-realism

(I ask partly to save myself time but mainly because I don't actually subscribe anti-realism and I haven't made any other sequences, so me having that as the only sequence on my profile could give the wrong impression about my own views. Whereas you've got lots of sequences, so it's less likely to seem to represent your views.)

Thanks! I actually already made that sequence, you can find it here: https://forum.effectivealtruism.org/s/R8vKwpMtFQ9kDvkJQ

Ah, great, thanks!

I didn't spot it earlier since it doesn't show up on either your profile or Lukas' - any idea why that is?

No problem!

Good question! I asked the mods if they could put Lukas' name underneath the sequence, since he wrote it. The sequence does show up on the sequences-page, so I'm guessing that when they changed my name they simultaneously removed it from my page, but forgot to subsequently add it to Lukas' page. That's just a guess though. Should I message the mods about it?

Ah, I didn't think to check that page. (Edit: Also, I hadn't actually read your post, and now that I'm reading it I see that you mention this sequence in the post itself, which is a tad embarrassing, haha.)

I think it'd be nice if this showed up on Lukas's page, as long as he's happy with that, so might indeed be worth messaging the mods?

This could be turned into one quite quickly https://forum.effectivealtruism.org/posts/kFmFLcdSFKo2GFJkc/cause-x-guide

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.


The EA handbook is being turned into a sequence.

I love that sequence, but it's specifically about motivation and how to cultivate it. An "Introduction to EA" sequences would ideally focus on introducing some of the key concepts and organizations. Something like Doing Good Better, but with a little more focus on the movement.

At the moment, we still plan to add more material to the initial sequence (I'm glad you liked it). 

I'm currently working with someone who is writing an "EA encyclopedia" with detailed articles on a number of key terms and concepts, which will eventually replace many of the tags on the Forum (turning this site into something like an EA Wiki). I expect the existence of those articles to make producing further introductory material much easier, and I've deprioritzed further sequence-writing until that content starts to be available.

That said, a good intro sequence is something I won't be able to produce quickly given all my other work. If someone wants to try producing part of it themselves (particularly if they're introducing a certain cause area), I'd love to see that! I can review that person's work, and what they've done could become part of an "official" introduction.

Curated and popular this week
Relevant opportunities