Open Thread #44

by Aaron Gertler1 min read6th Mar 201910 comments


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EA Forum posts are often hard to find through Google search

E.g., when searching on Google for "Long Term Future Fund," this result only shows up at the bottom of the second page of search results, even after many user profile pages that seem much less relevant. Maybe this something that can be fixed in some ways?

I guess the solution would be to use the forum's own search feature, but many people (including myself until just now) don't routinely use that feature and prefer using Google search.

Another example: Searching on Google for "random funding max daniel effective altruism forum" doesn't lead to this result, you have to search for "random funding max_daniel effective altruism forum" instead. I wasn't aware that Google responds to the "underline" character, and it seems strange that it's so sensitive to it.

Maybe this is all Google's mistake, but I find this a bit hard to believe.

I've also noticed this occasionally; thanks for providing a specific example I hadn't seen so far. The Forum's search feature has improved since we launched, but I also use Google sometimes, and it seems like they should be able to index us well.

The tech team will look into what's going on (especially with regard to the "underline" character response, which I agree is strange).

You might also try using Google's Search Console to better understand how Google is scraping the site and what users are searching for (if you aren't already using it).

Hmm, this is what I get when I search for "Long Term Future Fund":

The post shows up right at the top in a list of results for the EA Forum. The same happens in incognito and Firefox.

For the other one, yeah, it does seem to depend a lot on the underline, which seems weird but appears to be how Google decides to interpret that.

Is there any charity/project/company/research trying to effectively improve people's mental health by encouraging them to frequent green spaces?

Please, don't misunderstand me, I'm no green activist, but I've seen so many mentions to increasing anxiety and depression (I'm not sure if it's true), and so many diagnoses (it's the internet, the economy, the culture...), and its rebuttals ("actually, everything is getting better, according to this graph..."), and Michael Plant has written many convincing pieces about the importance and neglectedness of mental health... but almost no one mentions that we're the first (maybe the second) generation to spend most of our lives indoors. I could provide some anecdotal evidence, but I guess the link between green spaces and happiness is very plausible and generally not contested by literature.

(I wouldn't say it could cure depression, but it might improve welfare. Our bodies and brains were designed by evolution to run on savannah and hunt big game... I mean, even people i know that went through stressful situations in the wild actually use to treasure these memories with joy; I mean, I know I was tired and and wet and trying not to freeze to death... but it seems like I was having fun. I don't think anyone needs to get into the middle of the jungle to get the benefits of green spaces; we should probably observe some positive effect if we could just get young people from cold climates to go to a park a little bit during winter, instead of closing themselves at home for four months)

In my experience, the "most of our lives indoors" topic comes up in conversation at least occasionally within EA, sometimes accompanied by discussion of how important it is to go outside and move around. I often tell people that I go "stir-crazy" if I don't get in a long walk at least once a day, and I've gotten zero confused reactions and quite a few "me too" reactions.

I don't think the topic gets written about very often, but these Slate Star Codex posts (1, 2) did catalyze a lot of experiments with indoor plants.

The talks from EA Global 2018 in San Francisco have been available on YouTube for a few months. They're now also available in podcast format at EARadio . (The podcast is an aggregation of publicly available talks relevant to EA. It isn't affiliated with the CEA.) The EA Global London talks will be released over the next couple of weeks.

Subscription links:

The London talks are all available on YouTube right now, though we are still in the process of releasing complete transcripts.

I sometimes think about seeking funding outside of EA to increase the amount of available EA funding.

But I never made serious work of it. I have no idea what is available, or where to look. Governments? Foundations? With which ones does an Xrisk project have a chance? What's a good strategy for applying to them?

I'd be very happy if someone dived into this.