Why more effective altruists should use LinkedIn

by Benjamin_Todd 3rd Jun 201616 comments


People in the community often talk about how nice it would be if there was an EA social network: somewhere with a database of everyone interested in effective altruism, that you could search by skills/location/experience/cause, that would show how involved someone is in the community, and where you can message and chat to the other members.


In fact, there has been more than one attempt to build such a social network from scratch. One of these was pushed by me and 80,000 Hours back in 2012-2013. And I recently heard about a proposal to try again.


But such a network already exists, and it's called LinkedIn.


What we need is for everyone in the community to join a group on LinkedIn. One already exists here with 300 members. 80,000 Hours also has a group with over 1200 members, rising at about 20 per week.

Then you can:


  • Use advanced search to search the group by any linkedin data fields, including skills/education/keywords/causes/location/company.
  • For everyone in the group, you can see how connected they are to others in the community, giving a proxy for level of involvement.
  • Chat on a shared private forum
  • Message other members, so long as you have a mutual connection, which reduces the chance of spam.

This is far better than making our own social network, because most people already have LinkedIn profiles containing a huge amount of data, AND they keep them up to date because they need to in order to get jobs. With past attempts to make our own networks, no-one keeps their profile up to date or regularly visits. In addition, the features are much better because thousands of person-years of work have gone into making the code.

It's even better than just using Facebook because we have all the employment information we want. (Downside being that LinkedIn's interface is worse, and people use it about 10% as much.)

Some advanced features we could also add:

  • Ask everyone to put "effective altruism" as a cause in the cause section of their profiles. This helps to spread awareness. If people fill out global poverty, animal welfare, catastrophic risks etc. then we'll be able to search by cause too.
  • If people make "effective altruism" as one of their skills, then people in the community can endorse them for that skill. This provides a proxy for how dedicated someone is to effective altruism.
  • People could mention how much income they're pledging on their profile too.

The main feature that's lacking is donations tracking. However, we already have Giving What We Can's My Giving platform for that, so I suggest people just use that for now.

What to do right now:

Join the 80,000 Hours and Effective Altruism LinkedIn groups.