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What is the EA Wiki?

The Effective Altruism Wiki (henceforth, the Wiki) attempts to build an online encyclopedia of effective altruism.

Who can contribute to the Wiki?

Anyone with an EA Forum account can edit the Wiki. A team of admins reviews new articles.

How does the Wiki relate to the tagging system?

Tags are labels that can be attached to posts, and that help us organize the Forum content. Adopting a clever innovation introduced by LessWrong, we allow Wiki articles to also serve as tags, and vice versa. Thus, clicking on a tag both generates a list of all posts sharing that tag and displays the contents of the corresponding Wiki article. Extending the tag system in this way allows us to integrate the Wiki with the Forum better.

Why is the Wiki valuable?

EA content currently exists scattered in countless blog posts, forum articles, scholarly papers and even social media threads. We believe that there is considerable value in presenting all this content in summary form and organized systematically in a single location.

This helps those new to effective altruism familiarize themselves with its core ideas, and allows experienced effective altruists to find additional publications on a topic of interest. It also contributes to making effective altruism concepts more notable and recognizable; makes this content more easily discoverable on search engines; and facilitates its inclusion in other reference works, such as Wikipedia or the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

How can I contribute to the EA Wiki?

If you think you may be a good fit for it, you should consider contributing to the EA Wiki. 

The easiest way to become involved is to look at the list of entries in need of work. These entries are flagged with a variety of 'TODO' flags, which tell you what sort of action is required. You can also flag entries yourself, if you notice that the entry requires a particular type of improvement.

I have no experience with wikis. Can you help me get started?

Don't worry—it's pretty simple. Here's some basic guidance:

  • Organize the articles into sections. Start with a concise summary of the subject in the lead section, followed by as many sections and subsections as the article requires, and ending with a bibliography section. Optionally, you may also include, after that section, an external links section and a related entries section.
  • When appropriate, provide references. Attach an inline citation to the clause or sentence you want to reference, as well as a full citation in the bibliography section. Inline citations should include the last name(s) of the author(s) and the year of publication, and can also include page or section numbers. Inline citations should not include any other information. Do not worry about the proper formatting of references in the bibliography; we delegate this task to an assistant who is already familiar with our conventions.
  • Use internal links only (i.e. links to other EA Wiki articles, or "wikilinks"), except in the bibliography and external links sections.
  • Write in an encyclopedic tone. Avoid slang, colloquialisms, legalese or unnecessary jargon. Avoid stating as facts claims that would be disputed by someone endorsing reasonable epistemic standards. Avoid making value judgments.

You can see examples of articles that conform to these standards here and here, and learn more by consulting our Style Guide.

Where can I find a list of all Wiki articles?

Here is a list of entries organized thematically, followed by a list in alphabetical order.

See the Recent Tag & Wiki activity section of the Wiki dashboard. It shows all Wiki edits and comments, sorted in reverse chronological order, and omits any other Forum activity.

I would like to add references, but it is tedious to do this by hand. I'm also confused by your citation format. Is there a way to make this whole thing less annoying?

You shouldn't waste time formatting references. Instead, either simply provide minimal bibliographic details for the work you want to cite  (e.g. "Ord, Precipice") so that we can then give it the appropriate format, or use Zotero—a popular reference management software—in combination with our  Citation Style Language (CSL) file, as explained in what follows.

  1. Download the EA Wiki CSL file.
  2. Download and install the Zotero desktop app, the Zotero Connector browser extension, and the Zutilo plugin.
  3. Open Zotero and go to 'Preferences'.
  4. Under the 'Cite' tab, click on the plus sign and select the file you downloaded in step (1).
  5. Under the 'Export' tab, select 'EA Wiki (markdown)' in the 'Item Format' dropdown menu.
  6. Go to 'Tools > Zutilo Preferences'.'
  7. Scroll down until you see 'QuickCopy items' line, then select a convenient shortcut key and click 'Apply'.

You are now ready to insert properly formatted references. With the cursor on the work you want to cite, just press the shortcut key you selected. This will copy the citation to the clipboard in the correct format, which you can paste into the EA Forum editor. Please note that the editor needs to be configured to use markdown. If you don't want to use markdown, you can instead convert the markdown to HTML, and then copy and paste the rendered HTML into the editor. To do this, you can use an online markdown to HTML converter, or your favorite text editor.

To cite a work not currently in your Zotero database, you can add it easily using the Zotero Connector. We recommend setting up a keyboard shortcut. In Chrome, go to 'Settings > Extensions > Keyboard Shortcuts', then scroll down to Zotero Connector. In Firefox, go to 'Settings > Extensions & Themes', click on the wheel, then 'Manage Extension Shortcuts' and scroll down to Zotero Connector.

The Wiki is missing an entry on a topic I would like to see covered. Can I create it?

First, check that the topic is not already covered by an entry with a different name. Once you have confirmed that the Wiki is missing an article for this topic, you can propose it here and receive feedback. We recommend this option for most new entries, since it gives experienced users the chance to make useful suggestions. Alternatively, you can also create the entry without asking for feedback. This approach may be appropriate if you think the entry is clearly worth adding (e.g. an entry for GiveWell's newest top charity). However, the entry may be removed if the admins decide that it fails to meet our criteria for inclusion.

What are the criteria for inclusion?

The Wiki takes a broadly "inclusionist" approach and welcomes articles on any topic, as long as they are appropriate for an encyclopedia focused on effective altruism. As a rough heuristic, an entry that is a suitable tag for at least three existing posts is probably worthy of inclusion. 

We may try to codify the inclusion criteria more precisely in the future. We may also revise these criteria in response to external feedback or as we gain more experience.

At the moment, anyone can add new articles, though only admins can delete them. Wiki policies were drafted by the admin team and are periodically revised in response to feedback from contributors. Currently, the admins have the final say on all decisions related to the Wiki. However, we hope to explore other resolution mechanisms for Wiki disputes and other governance structures for the Wiki in the future.