Many people first get involved in effective altruism through Facebook.
However, the largest EA-related Facebook group (“Effective Altruism”) has less activity than it could. The group’s moderators are volunteers without much spare time, and that time tends to go into basic group management (removing spam, approving posts, etc.) rather than sharing content or shaping conversations.
CEA is looking for someone to support better discussion in the group. You could help make the space more welcoming, more informative, and more productive for its members, especially those who are new to EA.
This contractor would be responsible for:
- Collecting and posting good material from outside the group.
- CEA can help with this — our Content Specialist, Aaron Gertler, can suggest material and help you set up an RSS feed of solid EA sources.
- Answering questions in discussion threads, and linking to further information where it seems helpful.
- Generally being a kind and helpful presence in the group.
- Flagging discussion to moderators when it seems to break the group’s rules, or otherwise demands a response.
You would report to Aaron Gertler, and be subject to additional feedback from the group's moderators as they see fit.
In practice, this means Aaron will occasionally check on your contributions, but there probably won't be much contact unless you have questions or actively want feedback. (That said, CEA hasn't had contractors for work of this type before, so things may play out differently than we expect.)
Who are we looking for?
These are some traits our ideal contractor would have.
It’s okay if some of them don’t describe you — you can and should still apply if you think you'd be good at this.
- You’re happy to help onboard people who are new to EA, and don’t mind answering “beginner questions” or discussing topics you’ve discussed many times before.
- You read a variety of EA sources and enjoy keeping up to date with what’s happening at various organizations and in different parts of the community.
- You have a good understanding of why people in the community have different beliefs and can fairly represent those beliefs even when you don’t share them. For example, you should be able to explain why some EAs favor various cause areas, even if you disagree with their prioritization.
- You can engage cordially with people whose views you disagree with. You have tolerance for the frustrations that can come with social media discussions, and you do your best to guide discussions in productive directions.
- You’ve been involved in EA online communities in the past, so that we can see some track record of how you discuss things online.
Why should you consider this position?
- You’d be providing a really helpful service to the group's members, many of whom want to learn more about EA but aren’t easily able to do so given the group's current state.
- We’d pay you the standard CEA contractor rate of $25/hour. We expect that you’ll end up working 2-4 hours per week, but that probably means something like “15-30 minutes per day”, as shorter and more frequent visits will probably help the work go well. (This will be up to your judgment, however.)
- This position will give you a lot of practice at supporting an online community and finding information related to effective altruism. This could be useful for several career paths in the EA community. (For example, CEA’s Aaron Gertler wrote this post, and his job involves a lot of community management.)
How to apply
We aren’t asking for a writing sample or anything like that. Just fill out this form, and answer the questions as best you can.
Applications will close on Friday, 22 January, at 11:59 pm PST.
Nice to hear that you're planning to devote more time to Facebook group management!
I just checked, it looks like this group has around one post and several new comments every day. How much are you aiming for?
To me, the main Facebook group is great but already know seems like a bit too many different discussions in one place and a bit too much happening. If most people check it once a week or less, that would mean 10+ new posts every time they check it, of which only some are relevant.
I liked David Nash's approach of cause-specific Facebook groups (e.g. "Int'l Development & EA") and then try to focus the conversation on in the relevant Facebook group - thereby improving the "signal to noise" ratio for everyone.
What do you think of that? Could such a position also help manage some of the other most active Facebook groups (such as "EA career discussion", "EA Job postings", "Int'l Dev" etc.) if the admins of those groups could use?
The nice thing about having someone working on the biggest group is that it's a good "test case" for that person (or other such people) playing a similar role in smaller groups. Lots of new content = easier to see whether the work makes an impact.
Other notes on this position:
In general, I agree that cause-specific groups offer a better and more focused experience general groups on Facebook, but I also think that "Effective Altruism" is the right place to start this new experiment in paid moderation.
This seems useful. I'm curious if CEA would consider having this contractor also do something to improve what's happening over at the EA subreddit: https://www.reddit.com/r/EffectiveAltruism/
I've looked at a few threads on the subreddit over there the last few weeks and unfortunately it seems to me like the quality of much of the discourse there is significantly worse on average than I've seen in any EA Facebook group. It doesn't seem like a great way for new people to hear about EA for the first time. I'm not sure what should be done to improve the situation.
Maybe an 80/20 to improve it would be to write some new high quality intro / overview posts and pin them to the top indefinitely? Maybe have a copy of the EA Forum Digest pinned to the top until the next one comes out, with an archive of past digests saved there? Having the date of the digest in the title might get more people who go to the subreddit to click on it.
I agree that the discussion in that subreddit is not very good.
Do you think it would be a good idea to encourage EAs in other spaces to upvote a post about this and have it be the most upvoted post on the sub? So people see it when they sort by top of all time. Currently the most upvoted post is at 261, not a lot.
Reasons against this:
-Vote manipulation or something
-Maybe such a post could leave a negative impression of EA (framing is very important here)
-Such a post could stay in the top even after the subreddit becomes better, although in that case it could just be strikethrough'd with an edit on top saying the post is not relevant any more.
I think that would be good to do in addition to a pinned post.
I would strongly argue against this, primarily because it is against Reddit's rules. Although subreddits do get to choose many of the policies in their own space, vote manipulation is a rule that is enforced site-wide.
I'm not a moderator of the Reddit space, but I'll see if I can find out who is. Having a few pinned resources seems helpful. It looks to have grown quite a bit since I last saw it, and I've updated more toward wanting to fix it up a bit.
Agree, would be great to have all active online EA discussion platforms (Facebook, reddit etc.) moderated at least a little bit to make sure as many people as possible have a good experience engaging with EA content (and not just those on the EA forum).