EA Forum Prize: Winners for December 2018

by aarongertler 10mo30th Jan 20194 comments

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CEA is pleased to announce the winners of the December 2018 EA Forum Prize!

In first place (for a prize of $999): "2018 AI Alignment Literature Review and Charity Comparison", by Larks.

In second place (for a prize of $500): "Cause Profile: Mental Health", by Michael Plant.

In third place (for a prize of $250): "Lessons Learned from a Prospective Alternative Meat Startup Team", by Scott Weathers, Joan Gass, and an anonymous co-author.

You can see November’s winning posts here.

What is the EA Forum Prize?

Certain posts exemplify the kind of content we most want to see on the EA Forum. They are well-researched and well-organized; they care about informing readers, not just persuading them.

The Prize is an incentive to create posts like this. But more importantly, we see it as an opportunity to showcase excellent content as an example and inspiration to the Forum's users.

About the December winners

"2018 AI Alignment Literature Review and Charity Comparison" is an elegant summary of a complicated cause area. It should serve as a useful resource for people who want to learn about the field of AI alignment; we hope it also sets an example for other authors who want to summarize research.

The post isn’t only well-written, but also well-organized, with several features that make it easier to read and understand. The author:

  • Offers suggestions on how to effectively read the post.
  • Hides their conclusions, encouraging readers to draw their own first.
  • Discloses relevant information about their background, including the standards by which they evaluate research and their connections with AI organizations.

These features all fit with the Forum’s goal of “information before persuasion”, letting readers gain value from the post even if they disagree with some of the author’s beliefs.


"Cause Profile: Mental Health" is a strong investigation of a cause which hasn’t gotten very much attention from the EA movement.

Especially good features of the post:

  • An introduction which serves as a useful guide to a long analysis.
  • Summaries of each section placed under the section headers, making navigation and comprehension even easier.
  • Endnotes which help readers verify information for themselves.
  • The use of a classic framework for impact analysis (scale, neglectedness, and tractability), which helps readers compare mental health to other cause areas that have been evaluated using the same framework.

We hope to see more such investigations in the future for other promising causes.


"Lessons Learned from a Prospective Alternative Meat Startup Team" is a well-organized and highly informative discussion from a team that tried to start a high-impact company. The authors provide useful advice about entrepreneurship and summarize the state of alternative-meat research, a key topic within animal welfare. While they decided not to move forward with a startup, the team learned from the experience and also produced value for the EA community by sharing their story on the Forum.

We’ve been impressed by similar “postmortem” articles published on the Forum in the past. Going forward, we hope to see other people share lessons from the projects they pursue, whether or not they “complete” those projects.

The voting process

All posts made in the month of December qualified for voting, save for those written by CEA staff and Prize judges.

Prizes were chosen by six people. Three of them are the Forum's moderators (Max Dalton, Denise Melchin, and Julia Wise).

The other three are the EA Forum users who had the most karma at the time the new Forum was launched (Peter Hurford, Joey Savoie, and Rob Wiblin).

Voters recused themselves from voting for content written by their colleagues. Otherwise, they used their own individual criteria for choosing posts, though they broadly agree with the goals outlined above.

Winners were chosen by an initial round of approval voting, followed by a runoff vote to resolve ties.

Next month

The Prize will continue with a round for January’s posts! After that, we’ll evaluate whether we plan to keep running it (or perhaps change it in some fashion). We hope that the Forum’s many excellent December posts will provide inspiration for more great work in the coming months.

Feedback on the Prize

We'd love to hear any feedback you have about the Prize. Leave a comment or contact Aaron Gertler with questions or suggestions.