EA Forum Prize: Winners for November 2018

byaarongertler3mo14th Dec 20185 comments

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

In first place (for a prize of $999*): stefan.torges, "Takeaways from EAF's Hiring Round".

In second place (for a prize of $500): Sanjay, "Why we have over-rated Cool Earth".

In third place (for a prize of $250): AdamGleave, "2017 Donor Lottery Report".

*As it turns out, a prize of $1000 makes the accounting more difficult. Who knew?

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.

That said, the winning posts weren't "exclusively" great. Our users published dozens of excellent posts in the month of November, and we had a hard time narrowing down to three winners. (There was even a three-way tie for third place this month, so we had to have a runoff vote!)

About the November winners

While this wasn't our express intent, November's winners wound up representing an interesting cross-section of the ways the EA community creates content.

"Takeaways from EAF's Hiring Round" uses the experience of an established EA organization to draw lessons that could be useful to many other organizations and projects. The hiring process is documented so thoroughly that another person could follow it almost to the letter, from initial recruitment to a final decision. The author shares abundant data, and explains how EAF’s findings changed their own views on an important topic.

"Why we have over-rated Cool Earth" is a classic example of independent EA research. The author consults public data, runs his own statistical analyses, and reaches out to a charity with direct questions, bringing light to a subject on which the EA community doesn't have much knowledge or experience. He also offers alternative suggestions to fight climate change, all while providing enough numbers that any reader could double-check his work with their own assumptions.

To quote one comment on the post:

This sort of evaluation, which has the potential to radically change the consensus view on a charity, seems significantly under-supplied in our community, even though individual instances are tractable for a lone individual to produce.

"2017 Donor Lottery Report" is a different kind of research post, from an individual who briefly had resources comparable to an entire organization -- and used his fortunate position to collect information and share it with the community. He explains his philosophical background and search process to clarify the limits of his analysis, and shares the metrics he plans to use to evaluate his grants (which adds to the potential value of the post, since it opens the door for a follow-up post examining his results).

Qualities shared by all three winners:

  • Each post had a clear hierarchy of information, helping readers navigate the content and making discussion easier. Each author seems to have kept readers in mind as they wrote. This is crucial when posting on the Forum, since much of a post's value relies on its being read, understood, and commented upon.
  • The authors didn't overstate the strength of their data or analyses, but also weren't afraid to make claims when they seemed to be warranted. We encourage Forum posts that prioritize information over opinion, but that doesn't mean that informative posts need to avoid opinion: sometimes, findings point in the direction of an interesting conclusion.

The voting process

All posts made in the month of November, save for those made by CEA staff, qualified for voting.

Prizes were chosen by seven people. Four of them are the Forum's moderators (Max Dalton, Howie Lempel, 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).

All voters abstained from voting for content written by themselves or by organizations they worked with. 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 rounds for December and January! After that, we’ll evaluate whether we plan to keep running it (or perhaps change it in some way).

We hope that the Forum’s many excellent November posts will provide inspiration for more great material in the coming months.

Feedback on the Prize

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