Alyssa Riceman

32 karmaJoined Aug 2023


Ooh. This does, indeed, look like pretty precisely the sort of thing I was envisioning, yes! Albeit less search-optimized than ideal, I think, in light of how I failed to find it even when actively running searches for e.g. "effective altruism at tech companies" in my first pass at trying-to-locate-prior-work-before-resigning-myself-to-doing-the-thing-myself.

Still, this sure does seem like pretty solid prior work in the field! Enough that I will likely pivot over from "try to build the thing myself" to "try to figure out how to improve the preexisting thing", at least for the time being. Thanks for the pointer!

My broad image of what the plan would look like is something to the effect of:

Build a website whose main page consists of a large table of mappings from company names to EA subgroups within those companies, sorted alphabetically for ease-of-browsing. Then there are two branches currently coming to mind for how to gather information into the table: either a second page consisting of a submission-form for "here's some new information to add to the table", or wiki-style editing of the main page.

Then the first difficult hurdle: there needs to be some sort of moderation / fact-checking in place on the user-submitted data, in order to avoid problems with trolls submitting fake information, plus ideally also to avoid problems with its listings going stale. The wiki route is somewhat more accessible-to-editors, which on the one hand means staleness will be less of a danger but on the other hand means trolls will be more of one; but either way there are likely to be nonzero problems on both fronts, if the list gets at all big.

And then the second difficult hurdle: making the people who might benefit from the list aware of its existence. In one prong, this means search-engine-optimization; in another prong, this means posting it on the EA Forum; in a third prong, this means finding people who curate lists of EA-resource-links and letting them know about the list as a thing-that-exists-and-might-be-worth-linking; and plausibly there exist additional relevant angles that I'm currently failing to think of.

If I were working on this purely by myself, I'm reasonably confident that I could do the basic "create website and stick it at a URL somewhere" step, and plausibly I'd be able to figure out the search-engine-optimization and the spreading-word-of-its-existence. (Post on EA Forum, post on the EA Discord channel I'm in, mention its existence to friends who might know of other good places to post about it, et cetera.) However, I feel pretty much entirely inadequately-equipped for the task of moderation-of-user-submissions-to-the-list. So I suppose that's my big bottleneck, currently.

(Also important, on the side, is ensuring reasonable initial seeding of listed companies. Ideally people would be able to look at the list and see both Big Companies With Huge Numbers Of Employees and smaller startups, because otherwise I worry the list would end up with only people in one of those company-types submitting information to the list, on the assumption that the other type is Not The Target Audience, and that'd produce a list-usefulness-reducing feedback loop. I myself work for a single big company, but ideally I'd want to accumulate ~10 initial list-entries of varied company-size prior to posting about the list too much in the broader social sphere, so that most people's first impressions of the list would end up being of its being already-seeded.)

Hi! I'm Alyssa. I've been abstractly in favor of EA since around 2014ish when I first encountered it in the LessWrong-sphere, and actively doing the 10%-donations thing since starting my first job post-college in 2021. I've been adjacent to the EA community throughout all of time, but haven't been contributing much to it myself; thus, prior to now, my interactions with the EA forum have been purely reading-ish, rather than posting-ish. But now I've finally found something worth posting about! And thus I'm now here, introducing myself for real.

The 'thing worth posting about' in question is: slightly under two weeks ago, I found an EA channel in my company's Slack, including a nice straightforward pointer to "here are the various EA charities which the company is willing to do donation-matching towards". Previously, I'd looked up various particularly-effective charities in the company's donation-matching tool and found that it wasn't matching with any of them; but, despite this, there apparently are some it matches with! (In particular, CEA's various funds.) My company does up to $10,000 in donation-matching per person per year; I've been entirely missing that opportunity, due to not knowing the right search to find charities-relevant-to-me it's willing to match donations to; as of joining this channel, I now have that knowledge. This is going to let me move significantly more money, over upcoming years.

...and that channel, whose information is going to let me move tens of thousands of extra dollars over the next few years, only has 20 people in it currently. In a tech company with multiple hundreds of thousands of employees. It seems overwhelmingly likely that there are many more effective altruists at my company who are in the same position as me-as-of-two-weeks-ago, wishing they could get matches on their donations-to-EA-charities and not realizing that they have actually-practical options for means by which to do so.

So this has me thinking: at my company alone, there's most likely an opportunity to move tens-to-hundreds of thousands of dollars per year in matched donations by just advertising that channel, or the information therein, better. (Or more, if I roll a critical hit on successful advertising, but I'm currently expecting to get only a handful of people, given my inexperience with the field.) I've started scheming, accordingly, about how to spread the word within my company's internal systems.

But I've also started thinking: there exists more than one company. Most likely, there exists more than one company with circumstances similar to those in mine, donation-matching systems and other such impact-multiplying opportunities which large fractions of their EA-inclined employees either don't know about or don't know how to take advantage of. Therefore, it seems to me that the thing to do here isn't just to advertise company-specific EA resources within my company's channels for such things, but also to set up a larger public list. For each company, here are any relevant links to any EA subcommunity / company-specific EA-resource-listing / etc. that might exist for that company.

I myself don't have the skills to assemble or maintain such a list in well-optimized fashion, currently. I wouldn't know how to search-engine-optimize it, or how to keep its information accurate and up-to-date in the face of how it will almost certainly require submissions-from-the-public, or suchlike. And thus I figure this forum is the natural place to turn, likely to contain people who both have relevant skills and are likely to value employing those skills towards the end of creating and maintaining such a list. (Or, perhaps, to contain people who have arguments-I-have-yet-to-think-of regarding why this isn't as high-value an enterprise as it currently appears to me that it's likely to be, such that I should deprioritize it actually.)

(...possibly I should be making a top-level post about this, rather than just dumping it in the open thread like this? But I am sufficiently unfamiliar with local norms about what warrants top-level posting, currently, that I'm erring on the side of at least starting with this open-thread-post, instead.)