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What is the EA Wiki?

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

Who can contribute to the Wiki?

The Wiki can be edited by anyone with an EA Forum account. New articles are reviewed by a team of admins.

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 not only generates a list of all posts sharing that tag, but also displays the contents of the corresponding Wiki article. Extending the tag system in this way allows us to better integrate the Wiki with the Forum.

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 EAs to find additional publications on a topic of interest. It also contributes to making EA 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 for you to become involved is by looking at the list of entries in need of work. These entries are flagged with a number of 'TODO' flags, which tell you what sort of action is required. You can also flag entries yourself, if you notice that the entry is in need of 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 any Wiki edits and comments, sorted in reverse chronological order, and omits any other activity from the Forum.

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 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 on it. 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 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?

Currently, the Wiki has explicit inclusion criteria only for some types of entries.

Entries about individuals. To have a dedicated Wiki entry, a person has to satisfy one of the following two conditions:

  1. The person is core figure in EA, who has made seminal intellectual contributions to effective altruism or who has played a key role in the creation of one of the organizations from which EA emerged (we consider those organizations to be 80,000 Hours, the Centre for Effective Altruism, GiveWell, Giving What We Can, LessWrong and Open Philanthropy).
  2. The person is an independently notable figure who is also connected to EA in a significant way. The person may be so connected by virtue of being part of the EA community or sharing its ideas; by having made significant contributions to EA; or by being the object of significant attention by the EA community. (Examples of such a connection include having published academic research of clear EA relevance; being involved in an EA-aligned project, such as a company or a nonprofit; being a historical figure of clear EA interest; and being widely perceived by the EA community to have had an extraordinary positive social impact.)

Entries about organizations. Dedicated entries may be created for any organization that is clearly part of the effective altruism community. Tentatively, this criterion also encompasses EA groups, though it may be subject to revision in the future.

In the future, we may try to codify the inclusion criteria for other types of articles. 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, though in the future we hope to explore other resolution mechanisms for Wiki disputes, and other governance structures for the Wiki.