Wherever you are in the world, you can still be part of EA Global: London (October 29-31).

We’re no longer accepting applications for in-person attendees, but we’re excited to announce our free virtual attendee package, which includes:

  • A profile on the Swapcard event app, giving you access to:
    • Hundreds of profiles of other virtual attendees
    • Messaging and meeting scheduling with other virtual attendees
    • 50+ organisation profiles (including their latest research and jobs)
  • 24 virtual speed meeting sessions covering a range of cause areas and affinity groups
  • A virtual opening reception and after-party in Gather
  • The opportunity to interact with the live stream of our keynote sessions by:
    • Submitting and upvoting questions for speakers
    • Live text chat with other attendees

To attend the conference as a virtual attendee, you’ll need to submit an application by 8 am UTC on 28 October.

Apply now

EA Global conferences are for people who have made a career plan, volunteered, or donated a significant proportion of their income on the basis of effective altruist principles, either currently or in the past. Applicants should be quite familiar with the ideas of effective altruism and will need to provide an example of how they’ve applied these ideas to their career, study, or donation plans.

If you’re relatively new to effective altruism, you’re welcome to join us as a virtual attendee. The virtual environment is a good place to explore and practice the key ideas of effective altruism before attending an in-person conference.

If you have any questions, please contact us at hello@eaglobal.org.

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14 comments, sorted by Click to highlight new comments since: Today at 3:56 AM

(Not sure where to provide feedback on the conference, writing here because it mentions SwapCard, and the stuff I say here probably affects virtual attendees too, even though I'm an in-person attendee)

EDIT: Other people reporting many of these, including possibly a huge vulnerability where you can read anyone's "private" messages if they are part of an organization

I really dislike SwapCard. It has some ridiculously stupid and annoying things, some of which really should have been fixed after the literal first time anyone ever used it for a conference:

  • As far as I can tell, I am literally unable to tell SwapCard that I'm not attending a meeting that conflicts with a time I am leading a discussion. I've tried canceling the meeting on two different pages on the web app, as well as the phone app. The web app provided zero feedback, the meeting just stayed uncanceled. The phone app told me that I can't cancel the meeting because I'm not the organizer. I looked for a place to say "I can't attend this meeting", and didn't find one.
  • It seems to be impossible to meet people for any amount of time other than "30 minutes". I can't even schedule a second meeting to get it up to an hour, I think. (Although maybe what's happening is that it's noticing that there's no time that works, now that my schedule is nearly full?)
  • ^ Thanks to the above two points, I can't book a new meeting to replace the one to be canceled, because I already have a meeting (that I can't cancel) and I'm not allowed to have another meeting. Instead I have to make a slot free so the other person can schedule the meeting. (And of course they might not be free, I have no way of checking. Or possibly someone else will snipe that slot on my calendar before they can do so.)
  • Want to change the location of your meeting? You have to cancel and re-book, I think. Which, as we've established, is not something you ever want to do.
  • It doesn't always merge message threads with the same person. Multiple times, I've gotten a followup message from someone, that SwapCard presents as though it were the first message I got from them. If I want context (which I usually do need), I have to go find their original message to me.
  • If you accidentally click away from a drafted-but-not-sent message, you lose the message.
  • It seems to have zero warnings about conflicts in your schedule. Conflicts are hard to notice, because instead of having a calendar view, it has this strange "list of events" format.
  • Until recently, there was simply nowhere on the site (to my knowledge) where you could see all the scheduled events happening at a particular time. Now, the Agenda tab does this (though still with an annoying "list of events" format), but I'm pretty confident it didn't previously.
  • As far as I can tell, the "connection" feature serves no purpose other than to waste time and make people uncertain about what it means to be "connected".
  • Sometimes I click on a profile card and nothing happens (i.e. it doesn't seem to link to an actual profile).
  • If you're hosting an event, SwapCard won't put it on your agenda, and people might book meetings with you at those times unless you specifically mark yourself as unavailable.

I would have been happier with a Google Sheet with separate sheets for attendee profiles (with some way to contact them), speakers, organization profiles, and another sheet contains the agenda in a sane calendar-like view. People can schedule meetings using their existing calendar. (I'd assume this is also less work + less money for CEA.)

(EDIT: I work at DeepMind, which is part of Alphabet, which makes Google Sheets, which one might technically consider a conflict of interest, though honestly that connection hadn't even crossed my mind when I first wrote the comment)

There are definite downsides, e.g. attendees might not want to share their email widely, Google Sheets is less pretty / "professional" (gotta love that "professional" = "looks better independent of functionality"), the search functionality is a bit worse. It's also quite plausible that there are features other people find valuable that I don't care about and haven't discovered. But at least for me SwapCard is not worth it.

FWIW, I found the Swapcard app to be a net improvement to my EAG experience.  I found it easier to schedule meetings than my default approach of Google Sheets + Calendly links + emails.  I wonder if part of it is that people seem more responsive on the app than via email?  

Not trying to detract from Rohin's experience.  Just pipping up in case it's helpful. I also ran into a number of the issues that Rohin had, but just sighed and worked around them.  

Disclaimer: I work for 80,000 Hours, which is fiscally sponsored by CEA, which runs EA Global.  

Hi Rohin, thanks for your feedback. Even if it mentions many bad points and personal opinion, it's highly valuable to keep improving our product :) Let me reply to each of them.

  1. Inability to cancel a meeting  is actually a critical bug, that will be fixed in our weekly release tomorrow.
  2. Slot time and duration are defined by the event organiser, as most of the time they prefer to decide it themselves. But we plan to add an option that the organiser will be able to enable in order to "let participant define their own time slot"
  3. You can have only one upcoming meeting with a same participant, once it's past, you can book a new one.
  4. Actually only Event Organiser can edit a meeting location. But that's a good feedback that we have added to our backlog.
  5. Having duplicate conversations is not ideal I agree, we are currently working on a better solution for this.
  6. Good feedback, we will disable the ability to exit the modal by clicking outside if there is a message already written. Will be done this month.
  7. You can manage  per slot your availability, in order to not receive meeting request on some specific slots. We do not have yet something automatic linked to session attendance, it's in our backlog, along with the "Calendar view".
  8. Events happening at the same time are grouped below a time sticky header. Calendar View can improve readability on some specific cases (wide screen only, not too many sessions that overlap)
  9. Connection feature allow people to get in touch, have a private conversation, personal note and scoring on each contact, exchange their contact details, and export them.
  10. This is weird, if you can provide a video it would be awesome, so we can reproduce and fix.
  11. Related to number 7.

Thanks all of you for your feedback and support, we work hard to make your event experience the best as possible, please continue sending us your thought or even apply to join us ! :)


Godefroy, CPO of Swapcard

Thanks, I'd be glad to see these fixed! I don't remember where exactly (10) happened unfortunately.

Thank you for offering a virtual option! So excited for EAG London 2021 : Virtual Edition!!

What level of screening are you doing for virtual attendees? I'm trying to remember what I included on my virtual profile - suddenly hearing that access to my virtual profile which I thought was going to be exclusively shared with about 200 highly engaged EAs is now something you're advertising as a selling point to a larger audience was a bit of a shock.

Hi Kirsten! Virtual attendees will only see the profiles of other virtual attendees. Similarly, in-person attendees will only see the profiles of other in-person attendees.

Our criteria for accepting virtual attendees is broadly similar to EAGxVirtual 2020. We provided a more detailed description of who should apply in the post above:

EA Global conferences are for people who have made a career plan, volunteered, or donated a significant proportion of their income on the basis of effective altruist principles, either currently or in the past. Applicants should be quite familiar with the ideas of effective altruism and will need to provide an example of how they’ve applied these ideas to their career, study, or donation plans.
If you’re relatively new to effective altruism, you’re welcome to join us as a virtual attendee. The virtual environment is a good place to explore and practice the key ideas of effective altruism before attending an in-person conference.

Is it possible to opt in to be seen by both virtual and in person attendees? In the past I've found the connections via virtual events to be super valuable.

We're planning to keep the two audiences separate during the weekend of the conference but provide an opt-in option from the Monday onwards. We haven't figured out the technical aspect of that yet, but that's our intention.

Oh okay! That makes a lot of sense and I'm much more comfortable with that. Thanks for clearing it up.

I edited the original post to make this clearer.

For what it's worth, I was still confused about this until I read this comment thread - the post felt like it was describing virtual attendees joining EAG, it now feels more like you're running a separate and simultaneous virtual event

Update: I've reviewed my profile and deleted anything I'm not comfortable sharing with a wider audience. The question about "how I can help other people at the conference" was the biggest update I think.

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