People use the Forum for many reasons. One of the most important is asking for help, feedback, information, or anything else that might help them to do more good.
Type of requests
One way the Forum supports requests is with question posts. In 2020, users published about one question per day, and almost all of them got at least one answer.
There are four other ways of making requests which use tags:
- Many posts invite readers to volunteer or participate in a project. These posts should have the Get Involved tag, as long as the option to get involved persists.
- Some posts invite readers to upcoming events relevant to the community. These posts should have the Events (Future) tag, as long as it is still possible to participate in the event. (This is not generally a request per se, but it fits into the notion of the Forum as a place where time-sensitive opportunities can be found.)
- Organizations (and individuals) can use the forum to communicate to potential donors that they seek funding. For this, use the Funding Request tag.
- Other posts include concrete requests but don't fit the previous tags. For these, use the Requests (Open) tag, as long as the request is still relevant.
- In particular, this can be used to solicit feedback on a post or a proposal. You might consider reading Asking For Advice first.
How to write a good request
- Be concrete, if possible. When posting a request, let people know what, precisely, it is that you want. Make sure to explain when you'd consider the request granted or on what time or situation the request wouldn't be relevant anymore.
- Be brief, or make a clear summary. This is true in any post, but here in particular we want readers to quickly know how much this post is relevant to them or to someone from their network.
- Clarify how important the request is to you. Requests can be driven simply by curiosity, or they can be critical to an impactful project. Any reason is fine, but it helps readers know how to engage with the request when the motivation is clear.
- It's okay to make many requests. Make a request whenever that might help you. You should feel completely at ease; As long as you keep to these norms and the points below, readers will only help you if they deem it worth their time.
- Close the request when it's done or irrelevant, by downvoting the Requests (Open), Events (Future), Get Involved, and/or Funding Request tags.
- You should also upvote the Requests (Closed) tag. This will help people understand when a request stops being relevant, even if the post doesn't include a clear deadline.
- For multiple requests or questions, consider using the comment section. After you've published your post, you may want to write each question/request as a single comment to which people can reply with answers/feedback. This helps discussion stay focused, and helps readers understand what you are asking.
How to bolster the request system
- Upvote requests that you think are important, whether or not they are relevant to you. This makes them more likely to reach people who can help.
- Share posts with people who can help. If you know of people who may be willing and able to help an author, send them a link to the post.
- Help to tag requests. If you see a post that is clearly making a request, add any relevant request tags it doesn't have.
- Help to close requests. If you see a request that seemed to no longer be relevant, downvote the request tags. If you aren't sure, leave a comment to ask about it.
And of course, help the OP and fulfill the request if you're in a good position to do so!
If you are giving feedback, consider reading Giving and Receiving Feedback first.
We hope that the Forum continues to develop as a platform where EAs don't just discuss issues, but also help each other. By more effectively directing helpful people to where their skills are needed, we can strengthen the community as a whole.