We are in the process of implementing a major project on the Forum — turning our current system of tags into a full-fledged “EA wiki”.

Under this system, many of the tags used for posts will also serve as articles in the wiki. Many articles in the Wiki will also serve as tags that can be applied to articles.

However, there are exceptions in both directions. Some tags don’t make sense as wiki articles (for example, “EA London Update”). And some articles are too narrow to be useful tags (for example, Abhijit Banerjee). These will be marked as “wiki only” — they can be found with the Forum’s search engine, but can’t be used to tag posts.

The project is made possible by the work of Pablo Stafforini, who received an EA Infrastructure Fund grant to create an initial set of articles.

Why is an EA wiki useful?

EA content mostly takes the form of essays, videos, research papers, and other long-form content. If you want to find a simple definition of a term, or a brief summary of a cause area, you often have to find a particular blog post from 2012 or ask someone in the community.

A wiki can serve as a collection of definitions and brief explanations that help people efficiently develop their understanding of EA’s ideas and community.

It can also host more detailed articles that wouldn’t have a reason to exist elsewhere. Even if no one person wants to e.g. summarize all the major arguments to give now vs. later, ten people can each contribute a small portion of an article and get the same result.

CEA tried to do some of this with EA Concepts, a proto-wiki with well-written articles on a range of topics. But the project was deprioritized at one point and never picked back up — mostly because it takes a lot of time and energy to create and maintain anything close to a complete list of important concepts in effective altruism.

The EA Forum seems like a better way to do this, for a few reasons.

Why host this on the EA Forum?

There have been multiple attempts to create an EA wiki before, including EA Concepts, but none have really taken off. It’s hard to get the necessary volume of volunteer work to compile a strong encyclopedia on a topic as broad and complex as effective altruism.

Building a new wiki on the EA Forum has a few advantages over using a separate website:

  • Constant attention: Hundreds of people visit the Forum every day. While tag pages don’t get many edits now, we’ll be doing a lot of work to promote them over the next few months. Anyone who visits the Forum will be prompted to contribute; if even a small number decide to help, I think we’ll have a larger collection of volunteers than any past EA wiki project.
  • Strong SEO: The effectivealtruism.org domain gets a lot of traffic, which means it tends to show up in search engines for relevant terms. Once we’ve set up a collection of heavily cross-linked wiki articles, I expect that the articles will begin to draw a lot of new visitors to the site.
  • Automatic updates through tagging: While the whole “articles are tags” thing can feel weird at times, it also means that many articles will be attached to an ever-growing list of relevant posts.
  • Professional support: The Forum is run by CEA and draws from the technical work of developers from both CEA and LessWrong. We constantly add new features, and if something breaks, we have the resources to fix it. CEA’s resources also allow us to provide incentives for Wiki editing (more news on that soon, but not in this post).

What are the next steps?

Pablo’s approach involves setting up as many relatively short articles as possible, to give editors something to work from. He started by creating ~150 “stubs”, or one-sentence articles, that he expects to develop in the coming months (he has begun to expand some already). He will continue to add more content for the foreseeable future, but all of his articles are open for editing — he plans to incorporate editors’ efforts as he goes, and appreciates the help (the project is too big for any one person). 

We’re still in the process of setting up everything we’ll need for what I plan to call “the festival” — a time of intense tagging and editing where the community gets together and really kicks things into gear. The festival will include prizes for the most helpful editors, and perhaps other treats. (Update: A previous version of this post mentioned the use of a progress bar to track tagging, but we're already at 80+% of posts with 25+ karma having tags, so there isn't much progress left to make; we'll skip the bar.)

That said, we’ll still be keeping track of edits and tagging efforts before then! If you want to help out, don’t wait for the festival — there’s a lot of good work to be done, and you can get a head start on winning a cool prize :-)

You can see all of our tags on the Tags Portal, and many of our “wiki only” articles on this page (I’m still adding the last few — check back in a day or two). 

Within the next month, we plan to have a single page which includes every tag, sorted by category (likely similar to LessWrong’s portal).

Note that we’ll be merging a lot of tags in cases where Pablo’s additions overlap with existing tags (e.g. “Meat Alternatives” and “Animal Product Alternatives”). However, we’ll combine material from both tags in the process, so good edits will be kept whatever happens.

Start your edits!

We’re really excited about the potential of the Forum’s wiki, and we hope to see lots of edits — this is a great way to make a visible contribution to the community in just a few minutes.

Some types of edits that can be valuable:

  • Adding more details about the topic
  • Adding links to other related tags
  • Adding references to material people can use to learn more about the topic

Try to take the perspective of someone who doesn’t know much about the topic and just stumbled across it. What should that person know? Can you explain that in a way that doesn’t require specialized knowledge of other EA topics? What other things might they want to read if this topic interests them?

Other ways to contribute:

  1. Tagging. This whole project will work much better if posts are reliably linked to relevant tags. This doesn’t just mean adding a tag for the first time — upvoting tags you think fit a post especially well is also helpful!
    1. An easy first step is to make sure your own posts are well-tagged.
    2. To steal from LessWrong’s excellent guide to tags:
      1. “Think of tagging as creating a curated list of material on a topic that someone interested in that topic would want to find. If a post touches on a topic but extremely tangentially, it might not be worth tagging it. If a post is low quality but technically discusses a topic, it isn’t necessary to tag it either.”
  2. Tag creation. If a term doesn’t come up as a tag when you search for it, it doesn’t exist on the Forum. If you think it should, create it!
    1. More from LessWrong: “A good heuristic is that a tag ought to have three high-quality posts, preferably written by two or more authors.”
  3. Tag suggestion. If you think some tags should be merged, notice a duplicate tag, etc., you can leave a comment on this post, or send me a private message on the Forum (if you comment on the tag itself, we may not see it for a while).
    1. Keep in mind that the wiki is very much "under construction" — if you notice something obvious that should be fixed, assume that you are correct and that we're unlikely to object. We appreciate your help!
    2. If you want to suggest that we add a tag, but don't want to create it yourself, you should share your idea on Michael Aird's tag suggestion post, where others might see it and offer feedback.

Any questions?

If you have ideas for features that could improve the tagging system or the Wiki, please let us know in the comments.

Note that you can see a further-along version of the system at LessWrong (FAQ). If you see something on that site, assume it’s possible for us, though we may not have it set up yet.


New comment
74 comments, sorted by Click to highlight new comments since: Today at 1:00 AM
Some comments are truncated due to high volume. (⌘F to expand all)Change truncation settings

This sounds very interesting and promising! I'm glad Pablo, CEA, and the LessWrong team are doing this work, and hope a bunch of site users will also (continue to) help out as you suggest.

I suspect some readers of this post might be interested in previous discussion about or attempts to create EA-related wiki-like things. If so, they can find some at the Wikis tag.

In-page search for pages to link to

Ideally it would be really easy to link to other pages in this EA wiki. I think the normal nomenclature is [[page]] and if there were a search feature as well, it would lead to everything being more networked. 

Actually, now you mention it, I'd really like this for regular Forum posts and (especially) comments too; I'd like to be able to type "[[" and then start typing the name of the post, automatically see a drop down menu with posts that include that text in their name, and then just click on it to have the name appear in the text, with the right hyperlink. At the moment, I have to open a new tab, find the post, and either copy the title and then separately the link or write title and copy the link. I do a lot of linking to other Forum posts from within Forum posts and comments, so this is a little annoying. I think ideally this would also show LessWrong posts, since people link to them fairly often too.  I say "(especially) comments" because I almost always draft posts in Google docs, where this feature wouldn't really help me, whereas I write comments in the Forum editor from the start.
  1. Why can’t the existing content from EA Concepts be used to seed the new Wiki?
  2. Are you planning to use prizes or other incentives after the “festival” is over? If not, how do you plan to handle the ongoing (and presumably increasing) maintenance burden? Do you have a (very rough) estimate for how much volunteer time will be required once the Wiki is up and running?
  3. Why is a dedicated EA Wiki better than adding EA content/perspectives to Wikipedia? I think using the main Wikipedia would have numerous advantages: easier to make incremental progress, seen by more people, more contextualized, many more languages, forces EA to interact with opposing ideas, larger volunteer pool, etc. 

Why is a dedicated EA Wiki better than adding EA content/perspectives to Wikipedia?

That seems like an interesting question. I'm wondering if one reason to use a separate Wiki is that some EA-relevant topics might not meet Wikipedia's notability requirements (i.e. couldn't get their own article there).

My guess is that’s ~90% feature, 10% bug. I think most of the value of an EA Wiki would come from content that’s both EA relevant and notable by Wikipedia’s standards, and that the EA Wiki content most likely to go stale would be that which didn’t meet external notability standards. More importantly, if you want to get EA ideas into the mainstream, at some point you're going to have to convince people outside EA that those ideas are notable.  Wikipedia seems as good a place to do so as any, since it has established procedures for assessing new content and the payoff for success is getting EA ideas included in the world's most accessible repository of knowledge.

My guess is that’s ~90% feature, 10% bug. I think most of the value of an EA Wiki would come from content that’s both EA relevant and notable by Wikipedia’s standards, and that the EA Wiki content most likely to go stale would be that which didn’t meet external notability standards.

How familiar are you with Wikipedia? I ask because I've been an editor for 17 years (though only active at certain periods) and my sense is that Wikipedia's notability standards would be a very poor criterion to judge whether the EA Wiki should have an entry on a given topic. Such standards are in line with a "deletionist" editing philosophy for which I don't see a plausible justification (see Gwern's In Defense of Inclusionism for discussion) [I now see that Aaron had already linked to this essay]. Furthermore, even if those standards were justified for Wikipedia, I don't think they would be for a specialized wiki, which is meant to be of interest to a much narrower audience and whose criteria for inclusion should reflect this specialist focus.

More importantly, if you want to get EA ideas into the mainstream, at some point you're going to have to convince people outside EA that those ideas are nota

... (read more)
Thanks for this thoughtful and informative response Pablo! I've consolidate my responses to a few comments including yours here [https://forum.effectivealtruism.org/posts/X6SyxmhYEo4SofyAL/our-plans-for-hosting-an-ea-wiki-on-the-forum?commentId=Bcq3LR7sni2HeSbqF].
Thanks! Responded there.

I'm somewhat sympathetic to the points you make in the first paragraph, though I don't think they will apply universally. E.g. I would expect that"hinge of history" or "patient philanthropy" are both relatively unlikely to go stale in an EA Wiki and won't meet Wikipedia's notability criteria. (Though not sure, I'm not that familiar with these criteria.)

I feel less compelled by your second paragraph. I would guess that most of the actual work to get concepts into the mainstream, establish notability etc., will need to be done outside of Wikipedia: e.g. actually founding a nonprofit, publishing a paper, and getting established media to write about you. So by the time you even have a chance to convince other Wikipedia editors that some topic meets their notability criteria, a lot of work has already been done - and the community doing that work may well be able to make good use of a Wiki that can already support them while doing that work.

"hinge of history" or "patient philanthropy"

Those concepts definitely fail to meet Wikipedia's notability standards, and I think they are a good example of why those standards are inadequate for the EA Wiki.

Thanks for raising these issues Max! I've consolidate my responses to a few comments including yours here [https://forum.effectivealtruism.org/posts/X6SyxmhYEo4SofyAL/our-plans-for-hosting-an-ea-wiki-on-the-forum?commentId=Bcq3LR7sni2HeSbqF].

As you stated, there are some advantages to running this project through Wikipedia:

  • Bigger audience
  • Greater context/longer articles that dig into more topics
  • Many articles exist in other languages
  • It has formatting options that the Forum doesn't (yet)
  • Contributions from people outside the EA community, including viewpoints that wouldn't be as likely to come from Forum readers

However, there's no reason we can't leverage a lot of this with the Forum's wiki. In many or even most cases, I'd expect that the "further resources" section of an article will include a link to the topic's Wikipedia page (or some other detailed resource). 

And I'd hope that the people who already work on EA-related Wikipedia pages will keep doing so; I agree with you that this seems really valuable for helping to make EA ideas more mainstream. 

However, there are some issues with trying to run everything through Wikipedia // benefits to making a wiki here:

  • As Max said, there are notability concerns about a lot of potentially good content. And my impression is that over time, Wikipedia has become progressively more strict about what qualifies as "notable" (see this Gwern essay, though perhaps things have gott
... (read more)

Thanks Aaron! Consolidating my replies to a few different comments here.

I think the notability concerns are real, and greater than I’d originally thought. Pablo has lots of experience as a Wikipedia editor and I don’t, so I’ll defer to him. And it does seem quite telling that Pablo originally tried the Wikipedia approach for a “few months and felt pretty disappointed with the outcome.” 

That said, I’m still pretty sure there’s a lot of low-hanging fruit in terms of content that’s notable, EA relevant, and not on Wikipedia. “Longtermism” is a good example. I also suspect (though more experienced Wikipedia people should weigh in) that if we made good progress on the low hanging fruit, terms like “hinge of history” and “patient philanthropy” would be perceived as considerably more notable than they are now. (FWIW, I also think that having tags for things like “hinge of history” is a perfectly reasonable Minimum Viable Product alternative to a dedicated Wiki.)

To clarify my position, I do think a dedicated EA Wiki would be extremely valuable. But I think there’s a significant chance that a dedicated EA Wiki won’t be completed and/or maintained. That’s what’s happened to multiple pre... (read more)

Hi Anonymous,

Thank you for your thoughtful and extended feedback. I appreciate the time you have taken to raise a number of valid concerns. I will just respond to a few of your points, since much of what you say is in reply to Aaron's previous comment, and I don't want to interfere with that conversation.

I think the worry that the Wiki may fail due to insufficient contributions is very real. As you note, none of the previous attempts to build something like what we are trying to accomplish here have succeeded. And it appears that this is a common phenomenon with general efforts to create specialist wikis. Forecasting is one of my hobbies, and I'm well aware that the base rates aren't in our favor.

This was is fact my primary concern back when I was considering this project for a grant application. The reason I eventually decided to go ahead—besides feeling that I had a somewhat higher shot at success than my predecessors based on my experience editing Wikipedia and the insight this experience gave me about my capacity to feel motivated long-term by a project of this nature—was that I thought I could gain more information by just trying things out for a few months. The money costs fo... (read more)

Thanks Pablo… I appreciate your thoughtful engagement with my comments, and all the hard work you’ve put into this project. I’m not at all concerned that “the main paid content-writer fails to stay motivated” since that can easily be solved by finding a suitable replacement. I worry a bit about “insufficient volunteer effort”, but mostly see that as a symptom of my main concern: whether organizational commitment can be sustained.  If CEA has a good understanding of what it will cost to create and maintain the necessary content, technical platform, and volunteer structure and commits to (indefinitely) paying those costs, I’d feel pretty optimistic about the project. I’ve expressed some concerns that CEA is underestimating those costs, but would like to let Aaron respond to those concerns as I may be underestimating the paid staff time CEA is planning or otherwise missing something.
7Aaron Gertler2y
Note on this response: I really appreciate your engagement on this! My goal for this comment is to clarify some things I didn't go into much detail on before, and better represent the way we're currently thinking about the project (as something CEA cares about a lot and will continue to care about). I agree with all of this. However, I think CEA would have to tread carefully to support this work without violating Wikipedia's rules about paid editing. I may think about this more in future months (right now, I'm juggling a lot of projects). If you have suggestions for what CEA could do in this area, I'd be happy to hear them. Meanwhile, I'll declare this as clearly as I can, using bold text in lieu of cash: I am very happy to see work done on EA-relevant Wikipedia pages, and I think that such work ought to be appreciated by the community at large (and, where appropriate, considered in grant applications, job applications, etc.) I also have experience with an employer's (valuable) internal wiki, and I appreciate this point. However, I'd expect that keeping information extremely up-to-date (e.g. making weekly updates to a large range of entries) is going to be more important for a corporate wiki than a conceptual wiki.  My employer's internal wiki had lots of articles that were constantly becoming wrong, in ways that would impede our work if the wrongness wasn't corrected ("this is no longer the password you need", "this menu item has been renamed", etc.). On the other hand, articles like "Longtermism" or "Wild Animal Suffering", may be expanded from time to time, but it's rare that text in such an article will suddenly become wrong.  This doesn't mean that decay isn't a concern — just that it's less of a crisis than it would be if e.g. a company were to stop making it anyone's responsibility to edit their own wiki. I think I wasn't clear enough in what I meant the "15-20 hours" to represent, and I may have come off as blasé in a way I didn't intend. Quoting myse
The paid editing restrictions are a bigger issue than I’d originally realized. But I do think it would be helpful for an experienced Wikipedia editor like Pablo to write up some brief advice on how volunteers can add EA content to Wikipedia while adhering to all their rules. Sounds like Pablo has some other experiences to share as well. That plus a list of EA content that would be good to get on Wikipedia (which I believe already exists) would probably be enough to make some good progress.

But I do think it would be helpful for an experienced Wikipedia editor like Pablo to write up some brief advice on how volunteers can add EA content to Wikipedia while adhering to all their rules.

Darius Meissner and I are in the process of writing exactly such a document.

I feel like another thing that might help with causing more EAs to actually do this (as opposed to helping them do it better) is finding a way to make the impact of editing important Wikipedia articles more legible [https://forum.effectivealtruism.org/posts/Z94vr6ighvDBXmrRC/illegible-impact-is-still-impact] to other EAs and more likely to benefit one's status. Maybe it could be as simple as someone high-status in EA emphasising how valuable this is in a salient way (like a new top-level post, rather than a comment or an old post) and encouraging other EAs to link to their Wikipedia user profile from their EA Forum bio.
Nice! In the meantime or in addition, some readers of this thread might be interested in some related things Brian Tomasik wrote: * The Value of Wikipedia Contributions in Social Sciences [https://reducing-suffering.org/the-value-of-wikipedia-contributions-in-social-sciences/] * Tomasik's ideas for pages to create or improve [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:Brian_Tomasik/Pages_to_create_or_improve] (I think I've only skimmed these myself.)
Out of interest, do you mean all normal tag pages that can be used for tagging, or all "wiki-only tag pages", or both types of tag pages put together? (Also, I've appreciated everyone's contributions to this discussion here.)
Thank you Aaron for this detailed engagement!  Sounds like we’re agreed that Wikipedia editing would be beneficial, and that working on Wikipedia vs. a dedicated wiki isn’t necessarily in direct conflict. As I wrote to Pablo [https://forum.effectivealtruism.org/posts/X6SyxmhYEo4SofyAL/our-plans-for-hosting-an-ea-wiki-on-the-forum?commentId=RNHbn5uqrYotBCQL8], my biggest concern about this project is that CEA won’t sustain a commitment to it. Pablo has a grant “for many months to come”, but what happens after that? How likely do you think it is that CEA/EA Funds will pay for Pablo or someone else to work full time on content creation for years to come? If you think that’s unlikely, then you need a realistic “volunteer-only” plan that accounts for the necessary staff, incentives, etc. to implement (and if there's not a realistic version of the "volunteer-only" plan, that's a good thing to learn ahead of time. ) In the same vein, I’d suggest giving serious thought as to the likelihood that an EA Wiki will remain “one of your highest priorities” (and/or a top priority for one of your colleagues) over a timeframe of years not months. Honestly, a significant part of the reason I’m concerned is because I feel like accurately estimating the cost of projects (and especially the costs to keep them up and running after an initial push, including the opportunity costs of not being able to pursue new projects) has been a historical weakness of CEA’s and likely the root cause of CEA’s historical “underlying problem” of “running too many projects.” [https://www.centreforeffectivealtruism.org/our-mistakes/]  
2Aaron Gertler2y
These are all reasonable concerns, and I agree that there are cases where CEA hasn't done this well in past years. As soon as the wiki is up and running, and we have a sense for what "maintenance" looks like for Pablo and I (plus the level of volunteer activity we end up with after the festival), I think we'll be in a much better place to make contingency plans, and I picture us doing much of the research/planning you called for in April. (I work in a series of monthly sprints; this month's sprint is launching the wiki, and future months will involve more thinking on sustainability.)
7Aaron Gertler2y
1. A lot of existing content from EA Concepts is being used to seed the new Wiki (I didn't mean to give the impression that this wasn't the case). However, some of Pablo's articles weren't related to EA Concepts articles, and some EA Concepts articles didn't seem like a good fit for the Wiki or have gone obsolete (e.g. articles on various evaluators' charity recommendations from 2017), so not everything made it over. 2. I wouldn't be surprised if we continued to have additional "festival" events every so often, as a chance for people to look over lots of articles and notice things that needed updating. Aside from that, we'll have me and Pablo continuing to work on this for the foreseeable future, as well as (potentially) one or more other contractors. And I expect the greater prominence of the wiki to bring out a lot of editors naturally — existing tags have already gotten a lot of volunteer contributions, and it's really helpful to be able to say "you should throw that in the wiki for [TOPIC]" when someone shares something interesting. 1. I don't have a great estimate for how much volunteer time we'd need to keep things running, but I'd expect the bare minimum to be less time than Pablo and I are putting in, such that further volunteer contributions are a nice addition rather than an existential necessity. If we were volunteer-only... maybe 15-20 hours per month? That's enough time for a few dozen minor edits plus a couple of substantive new articles. 3. I'll answer this question in my reply to your second comment in this thread.
Glad to hear the EA Concept content was leveraged!  I've consolidate my responses to a few comments including the rest of yours here [https://forum.effectivealtruism.org/posts/X6SyxmhYEo4SofyAL/our-plans-for-hosting-an-ea-wiki-on-the-forum?commentId=Bcq3LR7sni2HeSbqF].

Making a Wiki successful is always about seeding content. There's a lot of past content that could be copied over and updated, but it's not pleasant work, so it's good that Pablo has a grant.

I think it would be helpful if wiki only tags had an icon marking them as such and a programmatic way to request that the tag be unlocked and added to a post.

2Aaron Gertler2y
This is a good suggestion — I'll pass it on to the developers.

Allow every page to have a karma rank and then advanced search and ranking

Want to find the best EA books? Rank them by Karma
Want to find the EA orgs in animal advocacy? Search them by that filter. Etc etc.

What would be worthy of an up vs down? I was thinking something along this line also though, but my thought was rank them based on didactic potential according to an SNT framework - If you think it is a really important concept(S) but not many people know about it(N), and people would be interested if they did find out (T), this is the highest priority page.  Is this what you meant by best books or were you just thinking rank them by how much you liked them?
3Nathan Young2y
I think anything would better than nothing. But yes ideally you could have a number of things to vote on - enjoyableness and usefulness. Or get people to estimate how much they'd have paid to read the book or something. But I think just straight up or down is a good place to begin.

Allow pages to have numerical entries 

This is a database, so it might as well have room for numerical entries. Allow pages around projects to have estimates of number of staff, spending, etc etc added and searched.

2Aaron Gertler2y
I could imagine this being a future feature! That facet of Wikipedia is well worth imitating.

Low friction editing

I'd love to see it being very easy to suggest an edit on a page, even if that edit requires approval. An edit button at the top which immediately allows you to add suggestions for instance.

Even better would be that all pages are editable all the time and that anyone can type as they read, but I doubt that will be popular (though it would generate much more editing).

6Aaron Gertler2y
All tags are already "editable all the time", other than a few we've locked as "admin only" for various reasons (e.g. the "frontpage" tag, which isn't really an article). The editing process is the same as for Forum posts — very easy! If you're referring to posts rather than tags, that's a very different suggestion.

I think this Wiki has a decent shot at success, similar to other niche resources like SEP and Wolfram Mathworld, given the clear need, and Pablo's and engineers' efforts. And it would be super-useful if it does so.

Two current bug/feature requests:

  • It's currently very unclear where to find the Wiki content. For example, I expected to find it  here and also here. Reading this discussion (by Pablo and Michael), I expected to see the Wiki page being discussed, or at least a link to it, but I couldn't.
  • I think the idea that you're presenting Wiki pages as mo
... (read more)

It's currently very unclear where to find the Wiki content. For example, I expected to find it  here and also here. Reading this discussion (by Pablo and Michael), I expected to see the Wiki page being discussed, or at least a link to it, but I couldn't.

If what you're after is a list of all wiki-only tags (which I believe are "the wiki content" as it stands), then a partial list is available here. Aaron linked to that in the original post here: 

You can see all of our tags on the Tags Portal, and many of our “wiki only” articles on this page (I’m still adding the last few — check back in a day or two).

(If you just meant the link to the relevant Forethought page, then Aaron's reply to you here already covers that.)

4Aaron Gertler2y
The "all tags" page will eventually (within the next few weeks) link to all articles, including those that are currently "wiki only".  The wiki-only version of the tag being discussed was merged with the active tag, so the wiki-only version no longer exists (see subsequent posts in the discussion). That's how we've decided to refer to those entities internally (the wiki as a collection of articles, some of which are also tags). This decision was made over the weekend, so previous discussion of the wiki is a bit of a hodgepodge — we'll use the less confusing system in future discussions (and try to enshrine it in the UI as well).

Suggestion: Make it so that, when editing a tag page / wiki entry, you can see a preview, like you currently can for posts and like you can on Wikipedia.

I think there's no reason to do this when using the default editor, but it'd be handy when using markdown. (I keep getting the formatting or links a bit incorrect when using markdown.)

Yes, I would also value this feature.

Suggestion: Make it so the tag labels in the "Related entries" section of an entry automatically update when someone changes the name of a tag.

I just changed the tag "Global dystopia" to be called just "Dystopia", then realised that the old tag label would still be included as a "Related entry" for at least one other entry. I can change this manually, but that takes up some time and requires that I know which other entries mention that entry in the "Related entry" section (or that I do some sort of search to find them, which would take more time). So it'd ... (read more)

There is already a (clunky) feature that enables this. If you hyperlink text with a tag url with the url parameter ?userTagName=true, the hyperlinked text will be replaced by whatever the current name of the tag is. E.g. If the tag is called "Global dystopia" and I put in a post or other tag with the hyperlink url /global-distoptia?useTagName=true and then it gets renamed to "Dystopia": 1. The old URL will still work 2. The text "Global dystopia" will be replaced with the current name "Dystopia"   See: https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/E6CF8JCQAWqqhg7ZA/wiki-tag-faq#What_are_the_secret_fancy_URL_parameters_for_linking_to_tags_ [https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/E6CF8JCQAWqqhg7ZA/wiki-tag-faq#What_are_the_secret_fancy_URL_parameters_for_linking_to_tags_]
The way Wikipedia solves this is by 1. automatic redirects from the old to the new URL. 2. manual changes to the name (as opposed to the URL) of the links to the article, as needed. So on the technical side, we ideally would want (1) redirects to be automatically created whenever the name (and hence associated URL) of an article changes, and (2) a "what links here" feature so that an exhaustive list of articles linking to the article whose name has changed can be generated, to facilitate the introduction of the required manual changes. I'll reach out to the tech team and see what they think about this.
I actually think redirects are already being automatically created, though I'm not sure.
2JP Addison2y

Suggestion: Some way of displaying quantitative info about how much someone has contributed to this EA wiki

Off the top of my head, I see roughly two options for what info to display, and roughly three options for where to display this.

Options for what info to display:

  1. Just the total number of pages the user has created, edits they've made to pages, and comments they've made on the discussion/talk pages associated with wiki pages
  2. The user's "wiki karma"; a parallel system similar to the current Forum karma system but separate from that. People could upvote or
... (read more)

Allow the submission, search and ranks of jobs.

There is no reason why the EA forum shouldn't become an even more effective jobs board than 80k.

6Aaron Gertler2y
80K has a deep network of contacts who send them jobs, and has a staff member who spends many hours/week keeping their job board up to date. I think it would be very difficult to find enough volunteers to replicate that effort on the wiki (especially for things that change as quickly as job openings). If I could find that many dedicated volunteers, I'd prefer to have them work on things that an org with 80K's resources isn't already doing.
1Nathan Young2y
I think if you give people the option to submit jobs, either they'll use it or they won't. If they do then it will be a useful resource for EA. I think that the off moments of 1000s of eas could be at least comparable to 80k's network tbh.  I think my prior is that people like random crowdsourcing more than you think.
5Aaron Gertler2y
The EA Job Postings [https://www.facebook.com/groups/1062957250383195] Facebook group has 10,000 members  and has existed for many years. It gets something like one new posting per day (maybe a bit more?), and the average posting gets maybe five likes (the Facebook equivalent of an upvote). I think it would take considerable effort for the Forum to get the same kind of awareness for "jobs" functionality, and even that level of awareness wouldn't necessarily come close to what 80K provides (I suspect the average person would find 80K's job board much more useful than that Facebook group). There are features we could build to improve on the Facebook group, but that's time that developers aren't spending on other features; likewise, moderating job postings to make sure they actually fit on the Forum takes time that moderators aren't spending elsewhere. I'm not saying that the Forum couldn't provide a reasonable job board eventually — maybe we will! — it just seems like a low priority compared to a variety of things where we have no "competition" (for example, improving the articles on the wiki and creating useful features for listing and categorizing other things). You've made a lot of suggestions on this thread: work on one of those suggestions trades off against work on others. I think you may share an instinct of mine — to say "oh, this doesn't seem hard to program" — but working for several years with the programmers behind the Forum has taught me that my instincts in this area are not reliable.

Combine EA hub profiles and EA forum profiles and then allow them to be easily tagged


Have you thought of how to address link rot? I could imagine it making sense to automatically store one archived version of each external link using perma.cc or something!

We archive every page we link to in the bibliography section as a PDF. I don't know if the tech team has a system in place for generating dead link notifications, but I made a note to inquire further.
I don't quite see it. For example, where are the pdfs for "Christiano, Paul (2014) Certificates of impact, Rational Altruist, November 15." here? [https://forum.effectivealtruism.org/tag/certificates-of-impact] Ideally, a link to an archived version should be continuously available, or at least appear when the link goes down. Totally separate issue: I wonder if the wiki hompage [https://forum.effectivealtruism.org/tags/all] should have the address wiki.effectivealtruism.org? 
I think the ideal situation is to always have the best link available, and only that link. Currently, the original links are all active, so we list those. If and when they break, we will replace them with corresponding links to the PDFs. For example, the URL https://impactpurchase.org/why-certificates/ would become something like https://forum.effectivealtruism.org/tag/certificates-of-impact/why-certificates.pdf. Does this approach address your concerns? Coincidentally, I thought about that just a couple of days ago. An advantage is that the links could be of the form wiki.effectivealtruism.org/article whereas at present they have the form forum.effectivealtruism.org/tag/article, i.e. and extra tag/ that would cease to be necessary under your proposal. Perhaps this also helps with SEO? I'll ask the tech team.
Ah, sounds great! Yeah, this would be more elegant!
I am told that the EA Forum has no system in place for handling link rot, so I will explore Wiki-specific solutions.


1. An equivalent of pingbacks on wiki entries for when other entries link to them

2. Pingbacks for when a wiki entry links to a post

On 1: I recently made an entry on the APPG on Future Generations. In Related entries, I included the entry on Institutions for future generations. That latter entry is the larger thing of which APPG on Future Generations is just one example, so it doesn't necessarily seem worth adding APPG on Future Generations to the Related entries section of the Institutions for future generations entry, but it'd still be nice i... (read more)

Suggestion: A way to see all the tags/entries I've made or edited

Maybe this already exists? This also overlaps with some things that have already been suggested, I think.

Wikipedia have a version of this.

Reasons why this'd be handy include:

  • Then I can watch over those entries like a good shepherd, perhaps fixing up other people's edits that are useful but make it a bit messy, mess up the flow, aren't perfectly clearly phrased, etc.
  • Then when I retire I can look back at all the entries I contributed to, in the way normal people might look at pictures of their
... (read more)

Adding more details about the topic

Quick question to understand how I can help here: Is this about editing the texts on the tag pages themselves or about writing articles that plug gaps in the content that is covered by the articles that have a certain tag? If it’s the first, is there a way to quickly get a ranking of the most stub-like tag pages?

Thanks! I love this!

4Aaron Gertler2y
This is about editing the article pages (we're using "article" to cover everything that has a page, and "tag" for articles that can be used as tags, rather than being "wiki only"). Writing additional posts is also a good thing, of course! If you start to feel as though you are writing a post on the article page, make your content a post instead (and then you can link to it from the article page). We don't have a ranking system or a "stub" designation yet — that's a LessWrong feature we'll be importing soon, though, at which point we'll probably be marking many articles as stubs.
2Dawn Drescher2y
Thanks for the clarification, and looking forward to the stub finder system! :-)

I expect many people currently use tags primarily as handy ways to find or share collections of posts on a given topic (I know I do), and I think that that usage is quite valuable. 

But if some wiki entries are long, then users won't immediately see the list of posts which have the associated tag. 

Users might not even be aware that there is such a list further down on the page (they might think the page is just a wiki entry). E.g., this could come up if I shared a tag page with someone as a way of saying "here are some posts you might want to chec... (read more)

4Aaron Gertler2y
We already have a "read more" label that affixes itself to long wiki entries after a certain number of (either words or characters, not sure).  This is what I see when I open one long entry [https://forum.effectivealtruism.org/tag/org-update]: Do you see something else? If so, the "read more" feature might be bugged. I think this feature means we don't need the others you suggested, though I liked suggestion #4 the most out of those.
Yeah, I see long entries that are also tags (rather than wiki-only entries) that way.  From memory, I think I was just speculating about a possible issue without having actually seen that issue on any pages. So it seems my comment was unnecessary and roughly my first or second suggestion was already implemented!

One question I have about this is who the main target audience(s) for this wiki are? I think there are a few ways one could operationalise that question, such as:

  1. What percentage of readers do you expect/hope will be quite engaged members of the EA community, vs less engaged members, vs people who've heard of EA but never engaged, vs other people?
  2. What kinds of EAs do you expect to make the most use of this wiki?
    • E.g., people who work at EA orgs, people who don't work at EA orgs (who might therefore have a harder time getting oriented to key ideas and resourc
... (read more)

Use Roam.

I find Roam a fantastic database building tool and it might be good to just use it here rather than building our own.

I don't think this is a great suggestion since I think we'll want different features, but if it could be built on top of Roam, I think it would be much better. 

Tag suggestion. If you think some tags should be merged, notice a duplicate tag, etc., you can leave a comment on this post, or send me a private message on the Forum (if you comment on the tag itself, we may not see it for a while).

That sentence seems to be more about suggestions about tags than suggestions of tags. For the latter, people are also welcome to comment on this post I made last year: Propose and vote on potential tags

Or do you think that it's now better to centralise such suggestions in comments on this new post instead? I'd guess it's... (read more)

4Aaron Gertler2y
I've just subscribed to your post, so I'll see comments in either place.  It seems a bit better to have a single post people can subscribe to if they want to participate in discussions of this type, so I'll change the post to recommend people use your post. (And yes, people should also feel free to make tags if they want to see them, as I said in this post.)
Yeah, to be clear, my bracketed bit was to prevent my comment accidentally giving the impression that I think people should default to suggesting rather than creating tags. I don't think your post would give that impression :) 
  1. I can't find the exact location right now, but someone on LW made a web visualization of EA academic papers - lines between papers representing citations. I was thinking something like this could be done for the forum in general with hyperlinks but it might be cooler to do it with the wiki. The thought behind it outside of just being a cool visualization is that many thoughts come in clusters and being able to visualize the thoughtspace you're in might help you breakthrough plateaus more easily and visualize how things connect within ea.
  2. more of an open question but I think its relevant to think about how atomic you make the pages, as in how much ideas are embedded/hyperlinked vs written out in full.

A focus on user experience.

The core aim should be to make this database something that EAs actually use to find things in their daily lives.