Bella

Head of marketing @ 80,000 Hours
1386 karmaJoined Feb 2020Working (0-5 years)Bethnal Green, London, UK

Bio

Hello, my name's Bella Forristal. I work at 80,000 Hours, as a marketer. I'm interested in animal advocacy, moral circle expansion, and normative ethics. Previously, I worked in community building with the Global Challenges Project and EA Oxford, and have interned at Charity Entrepreneurship. Please feel free to email me to connect at bellaforristal@gmail.com :)

Comments
81

What a nice idea! I'd buy this for a friend where I'd feel less comfortable making a donation in their name.

Question: What will you do with the un-redeemed vouchers?

In commerce, the company just keeps the money at a tidy profit. Would Effektiv Spenden just keep it?

Commenting to help out any other people confused by the mathematical notation, because I couldn't find this out with Google (but ChatGPT got it for me):

Expectation: In probability and statistics, 'E' is often used to denote the expected value of a random variable. For example, E(X) would represent the expected value of the random variable X.

(Of course, given that I didn't know that, I have no hope of following the entire post, but at least I now understand roughly what the claim is)

Hi! Thanks for this post and for your inspiring work :)

I think there might be a formatting issue with your 'impact per $' spreadsheet, where some of the columns and rows are misaligned, making it a little hard to read.

Also, a couple more questions about the model:

  1. What is 'welfare module' (column H)?
  2. How did you estimate that 50% of farmers would need to change their practices to comply?
  3. How did you estimate that 50% of farms would comply with the standard?
  4. Have you considered discounting for the fact that these certification schemes might have decided to make these changes anyway? Did they become more stringent in years prior to 2022/23?

I also wondered if you've thought about whether any of these certifications might have counterveiling negative impacts, e.g. by allowing farmers to increase stocking density, or by encouraging consumers to purchase seafood over other food. I haven't read any of the certifications in full so these examples might be total nonsense :)

No worries if you don't have a chance to get to these questions!

Thanks for replying & editing the OP — appreciate it! :D

I wonder if your third point about advertising might be a differentiating factor

Yeah — to my knowledge, we have the biggest team focused on outreach of any (single) EA organisation (3 FTE). I think this is probably a big part of it. 
 

...we’re not seeing a “normal level of growth”. While growth had generally been the norm pre-FTX, we’re now either seeing zero growth (EA forum metrics) or outright contraction (EA Funds donations/donors, EA.org intro page, EA newsletter).

I think that's fair enough — we're talking about "telling a story" about a bunch of data points here, across several years, each of which might have a whole load of complex factors driving them. I think my view here is not very resilient to new info/new ways of looking at it, and I agree some of the data seems like it fits a lot better with your high-level story with mine.

That said, I'd point out that:

  • EA Forum engagement hours are still above early 2022 levels, if I'm reading the graph correctly, which was my claim above
  • The EA Newsletter shrinking is probably mostly driven by where the signup is advertised, and how much.
    • It also looks like the newsletter has barely grown since 2018, so I'd guess CEA are not actively trying to get many more signups.
    • Also, isn't the main place it's advertised the EA intro essay? So if traffic to that page has dropped, signups will drop -> they're not independent sources of data on interest in EA dropping. 
      • Put another way, it'd be really remarkable if the newsletter could still grow when its signup page was being shown to fewer people!

Hey! I work at 80k doing outreach.

Thanks for your work here!

I think the data from 80k overall tells a bit of a different story.

Here’s a copy of our programmes’ lead metrics, and our main funnel metrics (more detailed). 

As you can see, some metrics take a dip in Q1 and Q2 2023: site visitors & engagement time, new newsletter subscribers, podcast listening time, and applications to advising. 

I’d like to say four things about that data: 

  1. It seems pretty plausible to me that lower interest in EA due to the FTX crash is one (important) factor driving those metrics that took a dip. That said: 
  2. All of those seem to have “bounced back” in Q3 
  3. Our website (and to some extent podcast) metrics are very heavily driven by how much outreach & marketing we do. In Q4 2022, we spent very little on marketing compared to the rest of 2022 & 2023, which I think is a significant contributor to the trend. 
  4. It looks like the second half of 2022 was just an unusually high-growth period (for 80k, and I think EA more broadly), and falling from that peak is not particularly surprising due to regression to the mean. Maintaining a level of growth that high might have been possible, but it would be historically very unusual. 

To make a more general point, I think a number of the metrics you cite in the post show returning to levels from early 2022, or 2021, which (at least to me) doesn’t seem like ‘worrisome deterioration of EA activity’ but rather something more like ‘a return to a historically normal level of growth for EA.’

Awesome, I got the UK ebook! I'm so excited to see this launched and I hope people love the book!

My favourite feature isn't on here at all, which is making yourself automatically unavailable during sessions/talks you've said you're going to!

This is so cool to see! Thanks for putting it together and for posting :)

Just an FYI, Week 11 refers to the 80,000 Hours career guide, but actually links to our key ideas series, which we've now stopped updating.

Bella
3mo56
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Thanks for sharing this — it feels like you really didn't "have to" in some sense, but I appreciated some of the insight into how the process is going and reading your learnings!

Thanks for your thoughtful comment, & thanks for providing some more explicit/concrete examples of the kind of thing you'd like to see more of — that was really helpful!

(And I hadn't read that article you linked before, or thought about the "missing middle" as a frame — thanks!)

I think I'm now more confident that I disagree with the argument you've laid out here.

The main reason is that I disagree with your claim that we'd be able to do more good by reviewing our methodology & de-emphasising neglectedness.

I basically just think neglectedness is really important for what I'm trying to do when I'm trying to do good.

I think there are really compelling arguments for working on e.g. immigration policy and criminal justice reform, that are going to appeal to a much broader audience than the one on this Forum. You don't need to be, like, a 'moral weirdo' to think that it's unnacceptable that we keep humans in near-indefinite imprisonment for the crime of being born in the wrong country.

And I think the core strength of EA is that we've got a bunch of 'moral weirdos,' who are interested in looking at ways of doing good for which there aren't clear, emotionally compelling arguments, or that don't seem good at first. E.g. when improving education, everyone thinks it seems good to provide teachers and textbooks, but fewer people think of removing intestinal parasites. [1]

I recognise this isn't anywhere close to a watertight defence of the current main focus of longtermists versus the other kinds of interventions you highlighted, but I think it's the core thing driving why I don't currently buy the argument you laid out here :)

[1] putting aside for one second the arguments about whether this actually works, lol! Was just the first example that came to mind of something deeply "unsexy" that EAs talk about.

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