Note: Updated 20 May 2019 to add the "Personal Blog" section and clarify some differences between Frontpage and Community content.
This is a reference post to explain the distinction between the EA Forum's Frontpage and Community sections. We’ll update this post over time to add examples and clarifications.
- Allow people who are newer to the community to become engaged with core ideas before engaging with community discussion, which might seem insular or confusing to people not aware of the specifics.
- Allow people to choose to engage with quite different types of content.
The Frontpage is for discussing ideas relevant to doing the most good, which we expect to be useful even to people who are not particularly involved with the effective altruism community.
Most Frontpage posts will be relatively “timeless”, covering topics which one would expect to still be relevant in 5-10 years. Of course, as we make progress on these research questions, some of the content may be superseded, but the topics are likely to stick around.
Frontpage content also shouldn’t make significant reference to organizations, individuals, or events in the community. This is not to say that Frontpage posts can’t assume prior knowledge: it’s useful for making progress that some core concepts can be assumed. But it should not be assumed that you’re socially connected with the community, or familiar with the organizations in the community.
Examples of Frontpage posts:
- Cause prioritization research (“What is the scale of mental health as a cause area?”, e.g. this piece on the whether neglectedness is a good predictor of impact)
- Research on specific promising causes (“Here’s a new idea related to AI policy”, e.g. this post on measuring dietary change)
- Research on specific strategies for doing good (“This is a new consideration in favor of earning to give”, e.g. this post on how to think about talent gaps)
- Summaries of core concepts (“I couldn’t find a good summary of the expanding moral circle, so I wrote one up”, e.g. this post on how to think about the good we do)
- Research related to general features of building effective communities, or the effectiveness of community-building in general (“Here’s what the literature says works for increasing diversity”, e.g. research on burnout, how useful is debate to effective altruism?)
The Community section is for discussion of community topics, organizational updates, and more situation-specific posts:
Examples of Community posts:
- Organizational updates (“We just started this project! We’d like feedback on how we’re doing X”, e.g. this post on a crowdfunding platform or this organizational update)
- Discussion of specific community building strategies (“Our group tried running this type of event, and we found…”, e.g. this post on watching EA Global videos)
- Discussion of issues in the community (“EA isn’t welcoming enough”/"X happened at Y event", e.g. this post on how EA has been gaining more mainstream attention)
- Situation-specific discussion (“I think that this organization should pay more attention to Y”, e.g. this post criticizing an organization and their response)
- Discussion of the Forum itself, with the exception of occasional announcement posts written by people who work on the Forum.
We also have a third category: “Personal Blog”. All posts start in this category by default, and most of them are moved to Frontpage or Community.
Examples of posts which might stay in the “Personal Blog” category:
- Posts whose authors asked moderators not to move them (e.g. because they want a post to be read by a smaller audience, rather than promoted to every Forum visitor)
- Posts that don’t invite discussion (e.g. an unusual question about a Forum feature that a single moderator can answer in full)
- Posts not aimed at a broad audience (e.g. an advertisement for a local event in an area without many EA community members)
- Posts that appear to be rough drafts or otherwise incomplete (moderators will message authors in these cases; it's not uncommon for a post to be accidentally published before it is finished)
- Posts that promote commercial products or services
- Posts that are unrelated or only loosely related to effective altruism
If your post contains some general points, but you also want to point out how it relates to a specific circumstance, we recommend:
- Limiting discussion of the specific circumstance to a paragraph or two, and focusing most of your post on general points. This will keep the post eligible for Frontpage designation. If the post isn’t clearly weighted toward general content, we will put it in the Community section.
- Alternatively, you can create two separate posts that you link to each other: a Frontpage post discussing your general points, and a Community post going into more detail about your specific circumstance.
Of course, this distinction is likely to remain somewhat fuzzy. Posts are more likely to be on Frontpage the more "timeless" they are, the less they make reference to particular events and organizations, and the more they set out facts/considerations rather than trying to persuade. But sometimes, we will have to make judgment calls.
We anticipate edge cases around assessments of the (relative) value of organizations. If these assessments are focused on the principles of assessing effectiveness or the effectiveness of different interventions, they are likely to be on the Frontpage, whereas posts on the operations of particular organizations, or incidents relating to those organizations, are likely to be in Community.
Comments on Frontpage posts which are focused on topics which are normally discussed in Community will be removed. (The text of removed comments will be sent to their author, along with the reasons for deletion.) Users are encouraged to start a separate thread for discussion in Community, and link from the Community discussion to the Frontpage discussion.
Moderators will decide which posts are moved to the Frontpage or Community section - users need only publish their posts. All posts begin in the Personal Blog category by default. We are happy to discuss the principles behind moderation, and will sometimes (but not always) be available to discuss moderation decisions.