169 karmaJoined Dec 2016


Thanks for taking the time to write this up and share it Jessica!I just also want to highlight a couple of other resources available for those planning retreats:

Often each doc is written from a fairly specific perspective, so it can be useful to look through a few different ones to get a feel for the different options available.(I think there are also some more floating around, but I am doing a bad job of tracking them down at the moment).

Hey Jeffrey,

Great to hear you are interested in starting an EA group! I hope your event today goes well, and apologies for the delayed response. I work on the CEA group team to provide support to EA groups. Here are some of my thoughts for new groups starting out:

It is key that anyone leading a local group has a solid understanding of effective altruism, so that they can answer questions from community members, and avoid potentially giving anyone a misleading impression of EA. This means having a level of knowledge at least equivalent to the EA handbook, or Doing Good Better. If you feel you don’t yet have this level of knowledge, then we recommend you take some time to grow your knowledge now, and start your group later. If you're not sure, we're happy to talk with you about what makes sense to do, just get in contact at groups@centreforeffectivealtruism.org.

We have collected together a common set of resources we expect to be of use to many groups in this Google drive folder and there are also resources hosted on the EA Hub as mentioned by Michal.

For guidance on group strategy also see this page on effectivealtruism.org which contains many links to other helpful resources, and for information about getting CEA funding for your group see here.

We also recommend new groups fill out this Google form, to help us at CEA keep track of the groups, and provide you with more personalised support.

Finally to get more regular information about running a group we recommend signing up for the monthly EA groups newsletter, as well as the group organisers’ Facebook group, and the group organisers’ Slack.

I'm not quite sure what argument you are trying to make with this comment.

I interpreted your original comment as arguing for something like: "Although most of the relevant employees at central coordinator organisations are not sure about the sign of outreach, most EAs think it is likely to be positive, thus it is likely to in fact be positive".

Where I agree with first two points but not the conclusion, as I think we should consider the staff at the 'coordinator organizations' to be the relevant expert class and mostly defer to their judgement.

Its possible you were instead arguing "The increased concern about downside risk has also made it much harder to ‘use up’ your dedication" is not in fact a concern faced by most EAs, since they still think outreach is clearly positive, so this is not a discouraging factor.

I somewhat agree with this point, but based on your response to cafelow I do not think it is very likely to be the point you were trying to make.

But should we not expect coordinator organizations to be the ones best placed to have considered the issue?

My impression is that they have developed their view over a fairly long time period after a lot of thought and experience.

Just to clarify, when I say that my sense is that there are two types of EA, I mean that I sense that there are two types of effective altruism, not that I sense that there are two types of effective altruists.

Ah I see. for some reason I got the other sense from reading your comment, but looking back at it I think that was just a failing of reading comprehension on my part.

I agree that the differences between global poverty and animal welfare are more matters of degree, but I also think they are larger than people seem to expect.

I am somewhat confused by the framing of this comment, you start by saying "there are two types of EA" but the points seem to all be about the properties of different causes.

I don't think there are 'two kinds' of EAs in the sense you could easily tell which group people were going to fall into in advance, but that all of your characteristics just follow as practical considerations resulting from how important people find the longtermist view. (But I do think "A longtermist viewpoint leads to very different approach" is correct.)

I'm also not sure how similar the global poverty and farm animal welfare groups actually are. There seem to be significant differences in terms of the quality of evidence used and how established they are as areas. Points 3, 4, 7, 9 and 10 seem to have pretty noticeable differences between global poverty and farm animal welfare.

As far as I can tell none of the links that look like this instead of http://effective-altruism.com work in the pdf version.

I also missed it the first time through

as people who aren't actually interested drop out.

This depends on what you mean by 'drop out'. Only around 10% (~5) of our committee dropped out during last year, although maybe 1/3rd chose not to rejoin the committee this year (and about another 1/3rd are graduating)

2) From my understanding, Cambridge viewed the 1 year roles as a way of being able to 'lock in' people to engage with EA for 1 year and create a norm of committee attending events.

This does not ring especially true to me, see my reply to Josh.

To jump in as the ex-co-president of EA: Cambridge from last year:

I think the differences mostly come in things which were omitted from this post, as opposed to the explicit points made, which I mostly agree with.

There is a fairly wide distinction between the EA community in Cambridge and the EA: Cam committee, and we don't try to force people from the former into the latter (although we hope for the reverse!).

I largely view a big formal committee (ours was over 40 people last year) as an addition to the attempts to build a community as outlined in this post. A formal committee in my mind significantly improves the ability to get stuff done vs the 'conspirators' approach.

The getting stuff done can then translate to things such as an increased campus presence, and generally a lot more chances to get people into the first stage of the 'funnel'. Last year we ran around 8 events a week, with several of them aimed at engaging and on-boarding new interested people (Those being hosting 1 or 2 speakers a week, running outreach focused socials, introductionary discussion groups and careers workshops.) This large organisational capacity also let us run ~4 community focused events a week.

I think it is mostly these mechanisms that make the large committee helpful, as opposed to most of the committee members becoming 'core EAs' (I think conversion ratio is perhaps 1/5 or 1/10). There is also some sense in which the above allow us to form a campus presence that helps people hear about us, and I think perhaps makes us more attractive to high-achieving people, although I am pretty uncertain about this.

I think EA: Cam is a significant outlier in terms of EA student groups, and if a group is starting out it probably makes more sense to stick to the kind of advice given in this article. However I think in the long term Community + Big formal committee is probably better than just a community with an informal committee.

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