19 karmaJoined Oct 2015


I realize belatedly my original post sounds like its talking in terms of absolute advantages still :) But having a general sense of the 'ratios' between the different skillsets the median young EA possesses would be useful for comparative purposes I think. Maybe presenting that information in terms of ratios rather than absolute figures can also help ward against the anxieties of being part of (at least what I perceive to be) such a highly talented community. This might be easiest to do with things like SAT scores, where you have actual numbers to work with. But if this is a bad/incorrect way to think about comparative advantages I'd appreciate the correction.

Come to think of it, this sounds less feasible but some sort of comparative advantage calculator (intending to do exactly what you describe in your edit but compared against the average EA) sounds like it could be useful, if difficult to achieve.

Will: Has 80k or someone else considered writing up a profile of the typical EA in the scenario you note (early career, willing to choose just about any career option if it maximizes good) to give people a better understanding of what standard we should be comparing ourselves to when assessing our comparative advantage? I can see this being particularly useful for people with many good options who don't know where to go. From what I see, most people I've talked to seem to be relying on informal conversations and intuitions about their peers that might easily be wrong. Something like: Early career EAs as a group are very skilled at x but seem to lack y skills as compared to the demands of the 'EA job market'. Their median SAT/GRE scores are xyz (if that data is available), so to be considered particularly quant-y as compared to the group you should be in the x-y range, etc. Something like this but updated & tailored to help people coordinate amongst themselves would be great: https://80000hours.org/2014/03/coaching-applications-analysis/. If such a resource exists already, it'd be marvelous if someone could point me to it.

I just received an email from the AMF that made me really happy: that by donating more than half of my research stipend this summer to various EA charities, I've moved 312 insecticidal nets to serve around 562 people. Somehow it feels more real to actually know the numbers :) I've also been writing more about EA things - I wrote an article about this summer online, which seemed to be pretty well received around my social circles. Hopefully I inspired some people to think more about their own donations.

That seems like a good idea! I'll keep the posts on this forum here for posterity but I'll move everything to facebook in a bit / post on .impact. Thanks for pointing me to those resources!

Hmm, okay. I appreciate your thoughts - thank you very much for sharing them. I really appreciate it. I'd vastly prefer if other people also weighed in on this because I don't have any formal expertise on any of these issues, just saw an opportunity to help and took it. I also want to stress that I don't own the page and you should feel free to jump in and make changes you feel strongly about - that's the whole point of decentralized control. That being said, some thoughts:

One risk is that of increasing resource proliferation, i.e. that by adding more web pages for some purpose existing ones already fulfill, it will actually make it harder for someone to find either, or deem any of them more "authoritative" than others.

Agreed. I preferred the Wiki page over Google doc alternatives for this reason, because it was an existing page already part of the EA website complex that I could co-opt with reasonable justification. But I concede that the Wikia doesn't seem to be much used (or at least, I didn't know about it until very recently despite a lot of internet browsing around EA issues) and so perhaps this could still be considered adding another website to the list. Do you have alternative suggestions for where something like this should be hosted? If the website was sufficiently linked to from other sources (e.g. at the "Read more about EA" section of the EA site), would this solve the problem, or do others remain?

Judging by what happens when you google "effective altruism" the obvious place to keep a "semi-official" reading list/library is somewhere at http://www.effectivealtruism.org/

I think there are merits to easily edited platforms like Wikia (for instance, there is a greater chance this will be revived in the future if/when it is deemed necessary) but please feel free to correct me on this, or argue why the advantages of switching domains outweigh the disadvantages. A small concern: I was hoping that this list would be helpful beyond the mere beginner level (i.e. for people like me), for instance by referencing people to debates about EA topics they wish to learn more about. For that purpose, I'm not sure effectivealtruism.org is actually the logical place to find such a site, because I'm not sure many EAs actually hang out there currently. (Maybe I'm just the outlier? I don't know.)

divided into the three suggested levels (beginner etc.) so that it is obvious where to jump in.

I have reservations on this particular suggestion. Right now I've tried to organize the Library by topic area, and I really want to have sections under each cause area for controversies - would it make sense to supersede this structure by instead organizing by level of difficulty? What I could do instead, for instance, is just organizing by difficulty level within each section - putting Beginners first and Intermediate second. Totally open to more thoughts on this though, because I haven't thought about it for a long time.

make sure outdated resources (or those that have been superseded by better ones for the same purposes) disappear from the web altogether, or even redirects to the new page once it exists.

I was hoping if/when the library became useful enough to outcompete existing introduction sheets, it would be naturally linked to from the other places EAs generally congregate (this website, maybe in the "Getting Started" section, Reddit, sticky-posted on Facebook, etc.). Before then, it seemed presumptive to suggest such a thing :)

I've also been thinking about what to do with the additional reading lists scattered around the web, and I'm neutral on my options. What I've done now is linked to the existing lists themselves (in the first section: "EA General Reading Lists"), but I could theoretically also have absorbed the content of those lists - i.e. the actual readings within them - and just given credit to others where credit was due. If the Wikia absorbs and

P.S. By profession I'm a web developer and I'd love to help out with the more technical parts of this project, if that kind of help is needed.

That is very kind of you! I'm going to send you a PM right after I post this.


OK, so a brief summary of questions to resolve:

  • Do we switch domains? (I'm leaning no but I've also sunk time into this so I might be biased or blind to the most compelling reasons. This also seems like the most pressing to concern.)
  • If not, how do we make sure this list is easy to find, if/when it's better than existing resources? (I agree on a mixture of more links to the page / better SEO - anything else to consider?)
  • What to do about the other resources, again if this list becomes better than existing ones?
  • How to structure such a thing - by topic area? by difficulty level? By topic then difficulty, or difficulty then topic?

Excellent suggestion! I'll tinker with that idea on the wikia page. I'll also put the SHIC reading list onto my list of links to add.

Awesome - The EA wiki library looks like the best way to do this idea, so I'll start to work on that over the next few weeks.

Hi - this sounds like something the forthcoming Oxford Institute for EA might find worth taking up.

It sounds like a good idea, although I have a few concerns:

-increasing dialogue between the EA community and academic philosophers

I think there could potentially be greater benefits from EAs publishing their ideas in other journals that have wider readerships. I'd be surprised if publishability was a serious bottleneck for EA researchers right now; as far as I can tell many EAs have already been able to publish their articles elsewhere.

Perhaps if there are specific topic areas the EA community generally is supportive of (maybe obscure x-risk ideas? Wild animal suffering / the finer points of population ethics?) that are heavily under-researched but cannot be published by conventional journals, it could be worthwhile to create journals based on those topic areas. Maybe if we have a specific academic goal in mind - e.g. pushing for higher research standards in a field - creating a journal could additionally allow EAs to have more influence in pursuing that goal.

-allowing readers to find the most important new contributions in one location

Do EAs actually learn about EA mostly through academic journal articles? I'm skeptical this is the primary way that EAs find their information sources. (But maybe I'm wrong).

Additionally, I'm not an expert on the world of academic publishing but some open access journals look very fishy and I'm not sure how seriously this journal would be taken. e.g. Jeffrey Beall annually publishes a list of predatory publishers.

I wasn't aware of the EA wiki library before but that seems like a good idea and I'll go do that. Thank you for suggesting it! If it becomes a comprehensive / worthy enough resource one way to make it more publicly known might be to post it as a stickied note on the facebook group / add it to this forum's other resources page. I'll look into SEO ideas also (since its a wikia page I'm sure other people will join.)

I haven't used stack exchanges much, but I'm curious to see how helpful they are. What do you envision the stack exchange being used for? My concern is that there seem to be too many places for discussion groups on EA topics already and if the stack exchange doesn't offer significantly different benefits over existing platforms I wonder if it would lead to a more fractured community/generally be net bad.

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