Hi! Not sure if you'll see my response, but in case you do: join #effective_altruism in LW Russia Slack and let's discuss strategies.
We're not sure at the moment about the best strategy. Social network activity would probably be good if you have a wide network of friends and you write well, or would be close to useless if you just routinely repost each VK group post to a few friends.
I haven't seen this 80,000 Hours post, thanks. Seems like you're right and we've overemphasized earning-to-give in our activities so far.
I don't think "going to the people" would be a wise idea at this moment. EA at its core is much more fit for intelligentsia than for peasants (going by Narodniks termonology), and we need this core to stay strong, in my opinion.
Also, I am the leader of the Moscow LessWrong community, actually.
I'm assuming you meant Yuliy? If so, he still maintains the lesswrong.ru website and a public page on vk.com, but he disengaged from the community and LW meetups a few years ago.
I'm not really sure.
It might be because of Soviet Union cultural influence, the whole "let's build the future ourselves which will be significantly different from our current reality" idea. And also there was a Russian cosmism movement which still has some followers, even though it currently looks more like an art movement than anything substantial.
It might also be because a few people managed to start KrioRus (cryonics company) and Russian Transhumanist Movement 10-15 years ago.
Of course, these two reasons are not mutually exclusive.
Checking in: I'm Slava and I'd be glad to answer any further questions. Jason, thanks for writing this post!
Yes, we're in touch :)
I started the Moscow EA group in February. We had five meetups so far, one every 3 weeks. Our attendance is 5-10 people, with 4-5 people attending on the regular basis.
We're meeting at the local rationality space Kocherga (the website is in Russian only), which me and my cofounder started back in September 2015. There's a lot happening there besides EA, such as popular science lectures, LessWrong meetups, rationality dojos, etc. It's pay-per-time-spent and can be classified as a social entrepreneurship (not a non-profit, among other reasons, because NGOs are problematic in Russia). Kocherga is not profitable yet, but if we manage to get it off the ground in the next few months, I believe we have a lot of potential to grow and use our resources to help EA movement. That's a big "if" at this moment, though.
(On the potential conflict of interest because we're collecting money for attending EA meetups: on our second meetup I announced that paying for the meetup can be redirected to charity of the visitor's choice if they wish to do so. Nobody took this offer, and generally everybody agrees that sending this money our way is a better choice at this point than donating it. I'm ready to revisit this if anybody brings up this issue again.)
On the more specific topics:
1) We organized the first Giving Game on the Physics Day at Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology. I believe it was the first Giving Game in Russia ever. We collected ~$100 from 68 people, 12 of them subscribed to our EAHub mailing list as the result.
We're going to do another Giving Game at the Moscow Geek Picnic this June.
2) I set up the website for the Russian audience.
3) Our volunteers translated two articles from EA Handbook (these are posted on the website linked above), and a few more are in our editorial pipeline.