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Summary

In an effort to improve communication infrastructure, the EA Anywhere Slack workspace has recently undergone major changes to accommodate several professional and affiliation Slack workspaces like EA Entrepreneurs, EA Global Discussion, EA Creatives & Communicators, and more. The project was initiated by Pineapple Operations because the old structure was inefficient and overwhelming - others have made similar observations. We believe making it easier to track discussions and reducing the number of workspaces will increase activity, avoid information loss and prevent duplicated communications. 

If you have a Slack workspace you’d like to merge with EA Anywhere’s, reach out to us!

Why consolidate?

  • With too many workspaces, the infrastructure of the EA movement becomes increasingly overwhelming and confusing, and it’s difficult to keep up with new workspaces. Having a central Slack gives people access to a broader range of communities at once.
  • People don’t have the time or energy to check multiple Slacks, which results in low activity. Some discussions just don’t reach the critical mass, and valuable connections are not happening.
  • Most of the workspaces were on a free plan that hid messages and files older than 90 days. Consolidation around a few paid workspaces prevents groups from losing historical information.
  • There is overlapping membership between Slacks (we estimate between 10-50%), so consolidation makes it easier to track communications.

These reasons were true for the dozens of Slack workspaces we identified with low activity and limited facilitation.

Why EA Anywhere?

EA Anywhere is an online discussion space for the global EA community and a touchpoint for people without local groups nearby. It plays an important role in supporting other virtual ecosystems in EA: we host EAGxVirtual conferences, provide support and share knowledge with other online groups. 

EA Anywhere Slack is on a paid Pro plan and has active facilitation from a full-time community organizer, which makes it a good choice for this project. We can provide support for groups joining the space, including events promotion, Zoom accounts, Slack integrations, and knowledge-sharing calls. 

There is a demand for informal conversation spaces and networking that the EA Forum doesn’t currently provide. We are inspired by Slack-based communities that thrive and create value for thousands of members without becoming too overwhelming.

Progress to date

We reached out to workspace owners with our proposal and received positive feedback. In most cases, we merged the users and message history.

List of Slack workspaces we have already merged or consolidated (thanks to the admins of these groups!):

  • EA Global Discussions
  • EA Entrepreneurs
  • EA Creatives & Communicators
  • EA Generalists
  • EA Housing
  • EA Tech Network
  • Public Interest Tech
  • EA Project Management
  • EA Supply Chain Logistics
  • EA Math and Physics
  • Product in EA
  • Effective Environmentalism

We already see the benefits of increased coordination:

  • Members are engaging with other groups and projects that have been locked into small workspaces.
  • Members are more willing to ask questions and ask for advice. Activity in the #all-questions-welcome channel increased four-fold compared to the previous three-month average, with both new and former members engaging in discussions. 
  • Organizers have an easier way to promote opportunities and events.

📈 As of April 30th, a month after the merger, the initial hype subsided but the activity is still twice as high: 

  • 90 members who posted weekly (44 before)
  • 360 weekly active members (210 before the merger)

We will continue using Slack Analytics to track the activity and send a follow-up user survey in Sep 2023.

Next steps

If you are interested in starting something, instead of creating an independent workspace, use the EA Anywhere Slack. Anyone can create a private channel for your group and/or project. However, if you need a public channel, read this post (applies to channels as well as workspaces) and reach out to Sasha.

Examples of groups EA Anywhere would like to support:

  • Cause area-specific channels and/or people willing to help manage them
  • Professional groups e.g. career paths
  • Meta-groups that support the community e.g. digital nomads, housing/couchsurfing, etc.

If you are unsure whether or not your group belongs in EA Anywhere, or should you start a separate Slack, reach out to us during Office Hours or book a call!

We are currently still in the process of merging with other Slacks and reaching out to more workspaces for consolidation. If you already have a Slack workspace you’d like to merge with EA Anywhere’s, please, submit a short form

 

Acknowledgments: Thank you to David R, David N, Elika, Jeroen, Simon, Mart, and several others for their cooperation and feedback in making this initiative possible! 

Many thanks to Dion Tan and Marisa Jurczyk for the feedback on this post!

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Sorted by Click to highlight new comments since: Today at 1:32 PM

I'm excited about this – the proliferation of slack workspaces in EA has gotten out of hand. Thanks to everyone who worked on this, and thanks Sasha and Vaidehi for writing it up!

Seems like a great move. Thanks for all involved in doing underrated coordination.

Very excited about this! FYI, this also makes EA promo a lot simpler for the local groups! 

At risk of saying a lot.. Especially in non-hubs, I sort of think the default funnel should be to help local EAs engage in online EA spaces more and more. It's a lot easier to find your niche and collaborators once you engage with way more people in international community, and the changeup in flow of ideas that you see being involved in more than your local group is good too. But it's been hard as an organizer to know which virtual communities to promote (EA newsletter? Check. 80,000 Hours? Check. Virtual communities? Where to start...). 

I've def suggested various slacks to local EAs, but with mixed results. Basically it has felt like no online community was quite big enough to reliably pull the attention of people who start in a local community and already have their local infrastructure. I get the affection for your local group, but in the long run, I think some EA's preference for EA local groups and the people they know is limiting them (eg, your local community only has so many entrepreneurs compared to the EA Entrepreneurs Slack).

Anyway, ~one virtual Slack community is far less confusing and more enticing :) It means the average local EA can basically track 2 Slacks, their in-person group and EA Anywhere, and have everything they could want at their fingertips. That's just a huge difference! Def already promoting it! :)

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