Make a Public Commitment to Writing EA Forum Posts

by Neel Nanda1 min read18th Nov 20209 comments

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I'm a really big fan of commitment devices and accountability. I find them a really effective way to take a fuzzy thing I would like to do someday, convert it into a clear plan and intention, and ensure my future self sticks to it and keeps motivated and focused.

And one commitment device that I think should clearly exist, is a way to publicly commit to writing an EA Forum post! Especially since Aaron has been repeatedly encouraging more people to write things. So I thought it would be an interesting experiment to create a post where people can comment with a commitment to writing a post.

Obviously your mileage may vary, and some people find commitment devices aversive and stressful. But other people (like me) find them super useful, and so I hope having a natural way to do it is helpful. I like to think of this kind of thing as a very concrete and irreversible way to set an intention for my future self. 

If this idea sounds appealing, and you have a vague idea for a post that you're procrastinating on writing, please leave a comment! And if you'd find it useful, I'm happy to follow up with you for further accountability.

Suggested format: 

Commitment: I commit to writing a post on [TOPIC] by [DEADLINE]

(And remember the planning fallacy! I recommend adding at least a week to the first deadline you came up with)

(Credit to Rafael Albert for suggesting this! And to the Effective Altruism Focusmate group for causing that call to happen!)

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Commitment: I commit to writing a post-mortem about 'a series of EA Cambridge events I organised, where members prepare & give talks on EA topics as a commitment device for learning more about EA' by 7pm Sunday 20th Dec

Commitment: I commit to posting a post-mortem on some rationality workshops I organised for EA Cambridge by 7pm on December 6th

Your blog is awesome, looking forward to reading these posts and anything else you put on the Forum!

Good timing and great idea. Considering I've just read this: https://forum.effectivealtruism.org/posts/8Nwy3tX2WnDDSTRoi/announcing-the-forecasting-innovation-prize I'll gladly commit to submitting at least one forum post to the forecasting innovation prize (precise topic remains to be determined). Which entails writing and publishing a post here or on lesswrong before the end of the year.

I further commit to publishing a second post (which I'd already been writing on for a while) before the end of the year.

If anybody would like to hold me accountable, feel free to contact me around December 20th and be very disappointed if I haven't published a single post by then. 

Thanks for the prompt Neel!

Awesome! I'm looking forwards to the posts :) And I've made a note to check in on 20th Dec

If anybody finds minor monetary commitments more helpful than  (or helpful in addition to) minor reputational commitments, I'm happy to accept promises of relatively small amounts of $s (I recommend targeting more than $10 and less than $150) conditional upon you not writing the posts you said you'd write. 

I further commit here to counterfactually spend the money on pure hedonism, so you don't have to worry about being improperly incentivized by me donating that money instead.

(I was on the other side of these commitments in the past and have found them quite motivating).

I commit to posting a review of GiveWell's methodology (focusing on deworming) before 23:59 31st December

Commitment: I commit to writing a post on a vague idea about where most of the value of the long term future is and how sensitive it is to different values by 7pm on 11th December.

Thanks for suggesting this Neel!