Style guide

The EA Wiki Style Guide should really stop trying to be funny by writing things likeusing examples such as "Steven Pinker encourages the use of logical punctuation [...] 'if you have a temperament that is both logical and rebellious'."

A donation of $1000–2000$3000–5000 to the Against Malaria Foundation can avert the death of a child under five.

When possible, specify the relevant pagepage, chapter, or chaptersection numbers. This should be done by adding, between the year of publication and the closing parenthesis, a colon followed by a space and the relevant page or chapter numbers. By default, the numbers are assumed to refer to pages, so there is no need to provide an explicit indication (i.e., “p. 5” is unnecessary). In contrast, whenindication, such as p. 5 or pp. 10–12. When chapters or sections are being referred to, indicate that by using the abbreviations "ch." (singular)/"chs.", and "chs."sec." (plural)./"secs.", respectively.

This section should include every work cited inline, as well as works especially helpful for users interested in reading further. Below these suggested readings, you may include a sentence summarizing the work's contents. (To add such a line using the editor, without creating an extra space, press Shift + Enter.)

Citations should immediately follow the text for which the citation is provided. This is typically a clause, a sentence or a paragraph, or the elements of a range or an enumeration.

Inline citations indicate sourced text parenthetically, with the last name of the author or authors followed by the year of publication, with no intervening punctuation.

80,000 Hours was called High Impact Careers for a year or so before adopting its current name (MacAskill 2014).

Citations should immediately follow the text for which the citation is provided. This is typically a clause, a sentence or a paragraph, or the elements of a range or enumeration.

In its current form, the technology was first described by Carl Shulman in 2009 (Shulman 2009), and the idea was further developed in a 2014 paper by Shulman and Nick Bostrom (Shulman & Bostrom 2014).

Public approval for preimplantation genetic diagnosis for intelligence has been found to range from 13% (Hathaway, Burns & Ostrer 2009: 140) to 19% (Winkelman et al. 2015: 668) to 28% (Kalfoglou et al. 2004: 11).

When adding an inline citation for works authored by more than one person, list all the authors if the work has three or fewer authors, and otherwise only list the first author followed by "et al." Use an ampersand (&) to separate the last two authors and otherwise use a comma.

Currently the only existing vaccine is just 35% effective and its use is slightly less cost-effective than that of insecticide treated bed-nets (Gessner, Wraith & Finn 2016).
According to one meta-analysis, each dollar spent on the Scared Straight program had a net social cost of over $200 (Aos et al. 2004).

When possible, specify the relevant page or chapter numbers. This should be done by adding, between the year of publication and the closing parenthesis, a colon followed by a space and the relevant page or chapter numbers. By default, the numbers are assumed to refer to pages, so there is no need to provide an explicit indication (i.e., “p. 5” is unnecessary). In contrast, when chapters are being referred to, indicate that by using the abbreviations "ch." (singular) and "chs." (plural).

According to one view in AI strategy, the concept of a decisive strategic advantage discloses an important connection between two seemingly unrelated ideas: those of a fast takeoff and a unipolar outcome (Bostrom 2014: ch. 5).

Separate multiple references within the same inline citation with semicolons.

Cari Tuna read Peter Singer's The Life You Can Save, which introduced her "to the idea of not just trying to do some good with your giving, but doing as much good as you can." (Tuna 2011; Gunther 2018)

Bibliography

This section should include every work cited inline, as well as works especially helpful for users interested in reading further. Below these suggested readings, you may include a sentence summarizing the work's contents. (To add such a line using the editor, without creating an extra space, press Shift + Enter.

Selgelid, Michael J. (2016) Gain-of-Function research: Ethical analysis, Science and Engineering Ethics, vol. 22, pp. 923–964.
A paper outlining the main moral considerations surrounding gain-of-function research.

Posts from the EA Forum are eligible for inclusion, just like any other work, despite the fact that these posts would typically also be tagged and therefore show up below the article. The bar for tagging a post is lower than for adding a post to the article's list of recommended readings, so in general a small subset of posts tagged should appear in the bibliography.

 

Formatting citations can be quite time consuming. Currently, we do not require contributors to format citations properly: you are only asked to provide enough details to allow a contractor that we have hired for this purpose to handle the rest.

It is tedious to specify all the rules that govern how the different types of work should be cited in the bibliography. Below, we provide sufficient examples to allow contributors to infer the underlying rules, followed by a series of notes that make the most important rules explicit.

Books

Ord, Toby (2020) The Precipice: Existential Risk and the Future of Humanity, London: Bloomsbury Publishing.

Anthologies

Bostrom, Nick & Milan M. Ćirković (eds.) (2008) Global Catastrophic Risks, Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Theses

Beckstead, Nick (2013) On the Overwhelming Importance of Shaping the Far Future, PhD thesis, Rutgers University.

Papers

North, Ace R., Austin Burt & H. Charles J. Godfray (2019) Modelling the potential of genetic control of malaria mosquitoes at national scale, BMC Biology, vol. 17, pp. 1–12.

Blogs

Diabate, Abdoulaye (2019) Target Malaria proceeded with a small-scale release of genetically modified sterile male mosquitoes in Bana, a village in Burkina Faso, Target Malaria's Blog, July 1.

Websites

Open Philanthropy (2016) Center for global development — general support 2016, Open Philanthropy, February.

Magazines

Tuna, Cari (2008) Denzel charms Silliman students with ‘sexy smile’, Yale Daily News, April 25.

Newspapers

Vastag, Brian (2012) ‘Radical’ bill seeks to reduce cost of AIDS drugs by awarding prizes instead of patents, The Washington Post, May 19.

Book chapters

Jamison, Dean T. et al. (2013) Infectious disease, injury, and reproductive health, in Bjørn Lomborg (ed.) Global Problems, Smart Solutions: Costs and Benefits, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 390–438.

Working papers

Wilkinson, Hayden (2020) In defence of fanaticism, GPI working paper no. 4-2020, Global Priorities Institute, University of Oxford.

Reports

Sandberg, A. & Nick Bostrom (2008) Global catastrophic risks survey, technical report no. 2008-1, Future of Humanity Institute, University of Oxford.

Interviews

Koehler, Arden, Robert Wiblin & Keiran Harris (2020) Hilary Greaves on Pascal’s mugging, strong longtermism, and whether existing can be good for us, 80,000 Hours, October 21.

Conversations

Crispin, Natalie, Teryn Maddox & Tom Adamczewski (2020) A conversation with Dr. James Tibenderana, Helen Counihan, Maddy Marasciulo and Dr. Arantxa Roca, GiveWell, May 11.

Videos

Dalton, Max & Jonas Volmer (2018) How to avoid accidentally having a negative impact with your project, Effective Altruism Global, October 27.

Comments

Rice, Issa (2019) Comment on 'Cause X guide', Effective Altruism Forum, September 1.

Unpublished works

Arrhenius, Gustaf (2021) Population Ethics, Oxford: Oxford University Press, forthcoming.

Parfit, Derek (1988) 'On giving priority to the worse off', unpublished.

Notes

Use italics for major works (books, journals, magazines, newspapers, and websites). Use simple quotation marks for minor works (chapters, papers, articles, posts, and web pages) if the title is not also a hyperlink, otherwise omit the quotations.

Doing Good Better

Astral Codex Ten

'Famine, affluence, and morality'

Beware surprising and suspicious convergence

Use title case for major works and sentence case for minor works.

List each work in a separate line ending with a period and no extra line breaks.

For interviews (including GiveWell and Open Phil "conversations"), do not include the interviewers in the list of authors, since usually their names are mentioned in the title.

Koehler, Arden, Robert Wiblin & Keiran Harris (2020) Hilary Greaves on Pascal’s mugging, strong longtermism, and whether existing can be good for us, 80,000 Hours, October 21.

Crispin, Natalie, Teryn Maddox & Tom Adamczewski (2020) A conversation with Dr. James Tibenderana, Helen Counihan, Maddy Marasciulo and Dr. Arantxa Roca, May 11, 2020, GiveWell, May 11.

As with inline citations, list all authors of a work if the work has three or fewer authors, and otherwise only list the first author followed by "et al." (in italics and with a period at the end). Use an ampersand (&) to separate the last two authors and otherwise use a comma. Only for the first author should the last name precede the first name.

Use "vol." and "p." to indicate volume and page, respectively. For volume or page ranges, use "vols." and "pp.", with the first and last volume or page in the range separated by an en dash (–). (As noted in the Numbers section, such dashes should be used for all numerical ranges.)

If a web page does not credit an author, list the name of the website.

For interviews, web pages, newspaper articles and magazine articles, provide the month and day of publication, when available.

If a work includes both the date of publication and the date it was most recently updated, cite it using the former, but append the date of update parenthetically, like this:

Tomasik, Brian (2009) Do bugs feel pain?, Essays on Reducing Suffering, April 7 (updated 28 July 2017).

Provide links to all works cited. These links should be attached to the entire title of the work, and should be constructed as follows:

  • If the work has an associated digital object identifier (DOI), use a URL of the form http://doi.org/number
  • If the work lacks a DOI but has an ISBN, use a URL of the form https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Special:BookSources/ISBN
    • If the work is a book chapter, use the ISBN of the book containing that chapter. The link should still be attached to the title of the work—in this case, the book chapter—rather than to the book itself.
  • If the work lacks both a DOI and an ISBN but otherwise has an associated canonical URL, use that URL. (This will typically be the case with web pages, newspaper articles, and magazine articles.)
    • If the canonical URL no longer works, link to the version archived on the Wayback Machine, if it exists. Otherwise do not include a link.
  • If the work lacks a DOI, ISBN and canonical URL, do not include a link. (This will typically be the case with books published before 1967, when ISBNs were first issued.)

Table of contents

  • Organization of articles
    • Titles
    • Sections
    • Section headings
  • Tone
  • Varieties of English
  • Abbreviations
  • Emphasis markers
  • Quotations
  • Punctuation
  • Dates and time
    • Dates
    • Time
  • Numbers
  • Currencies
  • Units of measurement
  • Mathematical symbols
  • Vocabulary
  • Links
    • Internal links
    • External links
  • Related entries
  • Citations
    • Inline citations
    • Bibliography
      • Books
      • Anthologies
      • Theses
      • Papers
      • Websites
      • Magazines
      • Newspapers
      • Book chapters
      • Working papers
      • Reports
      • Interviews
      • Conversations
      • Videos
      • Comments
    • Notes

The termterms 'effective altruism', 'existential risk' and its cognatesother expressions commonly abbreviated in informal discussion should not abbreviatedbe spelled in full and—unless they occur as part of a name—should be spelled in lowercase.

The Centre for Effective Altruism

Criticism of effective altruism

Criticism of EA

The Effective Altruism movement

anthropogenic x-risk

The Centre for Effective Altruism

The Centre for the Study of Existential Risk

  • Organization of articles
    • Titles
    • Sections
    • Section headings
  • Tone
  • Varieties of English
  • Abbreviations
  • Emphasis markers
  • Quotations
  • Punctuation
  • Dates and time
    • Dates
    • Time
  • Numbers
  • Currencies
  • Units of measurement
  • Mathematical symbols
  • Vocabulary
  • Links
    • Internal links
    • External links
  • Related entries
  • Citations
    • Inline citations
    • Bibliography
      • Books, anthologies, thesesBooks
      • Anthologies
      • Theses
      • Papers
      • Websites, magazines, newspapersWebsites
      • Magazines
      • Newspapers
      • Book chapters
      • Working papers
      • Reports
      • Interviews
      • Conversations
      • Videos
      • Post commentsComments
    • Notes

Books, anthologies, thesesBooks

Anthologies

Theses

Websites, magazines, newspapersBlogs

Websites

Magazines

Newspapers

Jamison, Dean T. et al. (2013) Infectious disease, injury, and reproductive health, in Bjørn Lomborg (ed.) Global Problems, Smart Solutions: Costs and Benefits, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 390–438.

Parfit, Derek (1987) Divided minds and the nature of persons, in Colin Blakemore & Susan Greenfield (eds.) Mindwaves: Thoughts on Intelligence, Identity and Consciousness, Oxford: B. Blackwell, pp. 19–28.

Crispin, Natalie, Teryn Maddox & Tom Adamczewski (2020) A conversation with Dr. James Tibenderana, Helen Counihan, Maddy Marasciulo and Dr. Arantxa Roca, GiveWell, May 11.

Koehler, Arden, Robert Wiblin & Keiran Harris (2020) Hilary Greaves on Pascal’s mugging, strong longtermism, and whether existing can be good for us, 80,000 Hours, October 21.

Conversations

Crispin, Natalie, Teryn Maddox & Tom Adamczewski (2020) A conversation with Dr. James Tibenderana, Helen Counihan, Maddy Marasciulo and Dr. Arantxa Roca, GiveWell, May 11.

  • Organization of articles
    • Titles
    • Sections
    • Section headings
  • Tone
  • Varieties of English
  • Abbreviations
  • Emphasis markers
  • Quotations
  • Punctuation
  • Dates and time
    • Dates
    • Time
  • Numbers
  • Currencies
  • Units of measurement
  • Mathematical symbols
  • Vocabulary
  • Links
    • Internal links
    • External links
  • Related entries
  • Citations
    • Inline citations
    • Bibliography
      • Books, anthologies, theses
      • Papers
      • Websites, magazines, newspapers
      • Book chapters
      • Working papers
      • Reports
      • Interviews
      • Videos
      • Post comments
    • Notes

Working papers

Wilkinson, Hayden (2020) In defence of fanaticism, GPI working paper no. 4-2020, Global Priorities Institute, University of Oxford.

Reports

Sandberg, A. & Nick Bostrom (2008) Global catastrophic risks survey, technical report no. 2008-1, Future of Humanity Institute, University of Oxford.

The term 'effective altruism' and its cognates should not abbreviated and—unless they occur as part of a name—should be spelled in lowercase and not abbreviated.lowercase.

The Center for Effective Altruism

Criticism of effective altruism

Criticism of EA

The Effective Altruism movement

Posts from the EA Forum are eligible for inclusion, just like any other work, despite the fact that these posts would typically also be tagged and therefore show up below the article. The bar for tagging a post is lower than for adding a post to the article's list of recommended readings, so in general a small subset of posts tagged should appear also in the bibliography.

In general, give preference to the singular over the plural:

existential risk

existential risks

The term 'effective altruism' and its cognates should be spelled in lowercase and not abbreviated.

To insert an em dash on MacOS, press Option Shift -;Option-Shift-Hyphen; to do so on Windows, type 0151 while holding Alt.Alt. You can also use a shortcut application like AutoControl Shortcut Manager or AutoHotkey to make this punctuation easier to access.

For ranges—including date and page ranges—use an en dash (–). To insert an en dash on MacOS, press Option -;Option-Hyphen; to do so on Windows, type 0150 while holding Alt.Alt. You can also use a shortcut application like AutoControl Shortcut Manager or AutoHotkey to make this punctuation easier to access.

This section should include every work cited inline, as well as works especially helpful for users interested in reading further. Below these suggested readings, you may include a sentence summarizing the work's contents. (To add such a line using the editor, without creating an extra space, press Shift + Enter.

Selgelid, Michael J. (2016) Gain-of-Function research: Ethical analysis, Science and Engineering Ethics, vol. 22, pp. 923–964.
A paper outlining the main moral considerations surrounding gain-of-function research.

Posts from the EA Forum are eligible for inclusion, just like any other work, despite the fact that these posts would typically also be tagged and therefore show up below the article. The bar for tagging a post is lower than for adding a post to the article's list of recommended readings, so in general a small subset of posts tagged should appear also in the bibliography.

 

If the title involves a conjunction, use 'and'"and" rather than an ampersand (&).

If the title involves a conjunction, use 'and' rather than an ampersand (&).

Should entry/tag names use "&" or "and"? E.g., should it be "sentience & consciousness" or "sentience and consciousness"?

It seems like recent entries/tags - since the announcement of the wiki, not just tags - are mostly using "and". And maybe that looks more encyclopaedic. So I guess we should go with that?

4Pablo4moYes, they should use "and". I updated the Guide to reflect this.

There are many entries/tags for which there is a very related EA-aligned Facebook group (see here for a directory to such groups). I think that, in all such cases, it'd probably be good to add a link to the relevant group in an External links section in the entry/tag. (This is for the obvious reason that many people checking out the entry/tag might also find the Facebook group useful, e.g. to find more info, get career advice,  or share relevant drafts for feedback.) 

Before I go adding all those links, does anyone think that that's a bad idea?

As for how related the Facebook group should be in order for it to be linked to, the rule of thumb I'm leaning towards is "Each Facebook group should only be linked to from one entry/tag. If the Facebook group seems relevant to multiple entries/tags, that suggests that those entries/tags should probably link to each other in the Related entries section, and the Facebook group should just be linked to from the most relevant one. This should still allow the readers most likely to be interested in the group to find it."

E.g., I'd link to the Risks of astronomical suffering (s-risks) Facebook group from the s-risks entry; but I wouldn't link to it from the entries on suffering and pain, existential risks, trajectory changes, the long-term future, mind crime, etc.; but I'd ensure many of the latter entries link to the s-risks entry.

(I also plan to post in the relevant Facebook groups to mention that the relevant tags/entries exist, so people can check out the posts, tag more posts, or edit the entries [though I'll skip groups where I did this already last year or this year]. But I feel more confident that that makes sense to do, and it's not really a matter for this style guide anyway since it involves promoting rather than editing the entries.)

4Pablo4moI don't a strong opinion either way. Part of me wants to encourage people to use the Forum to conduct these discussions, rather than point them to a group on a closed social media platform with mediocre editing and commenting features, especially insofar as this to a significant extent happens because of network effects and trivial inconveniences (rather than revealing an inherent preference for one venue over the other). I also worry slightly that linking to Facebook may make the entries look a bit amateurish and not intellectually serious. On the other hand, I recognize that such links could help users find relevant content and connect them to others with similar interests. I'd like to know what others think before we make a general decision on this. (By the way, I'm using 'entry' as a neutral term to refer to what may, depending on what functionality is emphasized, be either called a 'tag' or a 'wiki article'. We may want to use that term in the future.)

For interviews, web pages, newspaper articles and magazine articles, provide the month and day of publication, wheneverwhen available.

If a work includes both the date of publication and the date it was most recently updated, cite it using the former, but addappend the date of update parenthetically, like this:

If a work includes both the date of publication and the date it was most recently updated, cite it using the former, but add the date of update, as follows:update parenthetically, like this:

If a work includes both the date of publication and the date it was most recently updated, cite it using the former.former, but add the date of update, as follows:

Tomasik, Brian (2009) Do bugs feel pain?, Essays on Reducing Suffering, April 7 (updated 28 July 2017).

What should our norms be, or what is the legal situation with, copying text from LessWrong wiki entries verbatim as the text for a Forum wiki entry? 

I guess we should probably paraphrase and cite them, rather than copying verbatim, but maybe we don't have to and sometimes it's better (to save time) to at least allow a verbatim copy?