Wiki Contributions


ChanaMessinger's Shortform

I hope to flesh this out at some point, but I just want to put somewhere that by default (from personal experience and experience as an instructor and teacher) I think sleepaway experiences (retreats, workshops, camps) are potentially emotionally intense for at least 20% of participants, even entirely setting aside content (CFAR has noted this as well): away from normal environment, new social scene with all kinds of status-stuff to figure out, less sleep, lots of late night conversations that can be very powerful, romantic / sexual stuff in a charged environment, a lot of closeness happening very quickly because of being around each other 24/7, anything going on from outside the environment that's stressful you have less time and space to deal with. This can be valuable in the sense of giving people a chance to fully immerse themselves, but it's a lot, especially for younger people and it is worth organizers explicitly noting this in organizing, talking about it to participants, providing time for chillness / regrounding and being off the clock, and having people around who it's easy to talk to if you're going through a hard time.

ChanaMessinger's Shortform

Template for EA Calls

Over the last six months, I've been having more and more calls with people interested in EA and EA careers. Sometimes I'm one of their first calls because they know me from social things, and sometimes I'm an introduction someone else (eg at 80k has made). I've often found that an hour, my standard length for a call, feels very short. Sometimes I just chat, sometimes I try to have more of a plan.  Of course a lot depends on context, but I'm interested in having a bit of a template so that I can be maximally helpful to them in limited time (I can't be a career coach for everyone I'm introduced to) and with the specifics that I can give (not trying to replicate / replace eg 80k advising).

Posting so that people can give advice / help me with it and/or use it if it seems helpful.


  • What's your relationship to EA?
    • I think I currently either spend no time on this or way too much time. I'm hoping this question (rather than "how did you get involved with EA?" or "what do you know about EA" will keep it short but useful). I'm also considering asking this more as a matter of course before the call.
  • What are your current options / thinking?
    • This is a place where, for people early in their thinking (which is most of the people I talk to) I tend to recommend a 5 minute timer to generate more options, advise taking a more explore attitude
    • Frequently recommend looking for small experiments to find out what they might like or are good at
    • I tend to recommend developing a view on which of the options are best by the metrics they care about, including impact
    • When relevant, I want to make a habit of recommending useful reading / podcast
    • Sometimes trying to raise people's ambitions (
  • I want to find out what sets them apart / their skillset, but I don't currently have a really good way of doing this if I don't already know that doesn't feel interview-y
  • The ways I think I can often be most helpful, especially for people really new to institutional EA is to tell them about landscape
    • giving an overview of orgs, foundations, and types of work
    • tell them what I know about who else is working on things they're excited about
    • sometimes that some of their interests aren't a focus of most EA work / money
    • asking about their views on longtermism
    • what people think are the main bottlenecks and do they have an interest in developing those skills
      • management
      • ops
      • vetting / grantmaking
  • If they're talking to me specifically about community building / outreach, I give my view on the landscape there: what's happening, what people are excited about, etc.
  • I also have given my thoughts on how to make 80k advising most helpful
    • Be honest about your biggest uncertainties and what you want help from them on
    • Really try to generate options
    • I wonder what else I can say here

It's possible I should ask more about the cause areas they care about - that feels like it's such a big conversation that it doesn't fit in an hour, but maybe it's really crucial. Don't know! Still figuring it out.

Think about EA alignment like skill mastery, not cult indoctrination

I like the "skill-mastery" framing, and have both "think about it in the shower" and "gears-level mastery" as orientations in my thinking. I didn't have deliberate practice cached as much, nor the cluster of the three, but I think it's good and reminds me of the way the rationality community talks about the need for rationalist dojos and practice to actually become more rational.

EA outreach to high school competitors

If any of the people who run debate camps or major tournaments are into EA or open to it, I'd be excited about talking to them or intro-ing them to other people, fwiw.

EA outreach to high school competitors

I have a similar model to you about these students. How in touch are you with current high schoolers doing this kind of thing?

EA outreach to high school competitors

Cool! Are you still in contact with friends still in high school and doing LD?

EA outreach to high school competitors

Hey! I have been on the lookout for people connected to debate. I was my school's Public Forum debate coach for four years, but I wouldn't want it to come from me, and I don't work at that school anymore. I spoke with one very good mock trialler recently who might try out speaking to his organizations and the national competitions. If you're still in contact with high school debaters, let's talk!

EA outreach to high school competitors

Agreed that this is promising! From my perspective in the outreach space (high school teacher, SPEAR/ESPR instructor, had lots of conversations about this at EAG with people running other outreach), this is generally well-accepted, though afaik debate and non-math but still STEM competitions haven't been implemented yet*, and I've been pushing for that.

There's few enough people in these competitions (especially in UK/US, which Richard Annilo may not have been talking about) that I think there's a definite risk of over reaching out to the same people (and generally coming on too strong), so I'd recommend communication before action, but I think if folks have specific connections to the relevant communities, they should definitely make that known and they might be the right liasons for suggesting summer programs/readings/internships through the competitions themselves or through the social networks that come out of them.

If someone has these connections, I'm super happy to talk to anyone considering doing this kind of outreach (or can recommend other people to talk to). Just message me through my profile here.

*I've been in touch with a science bowl and mock trial student who is running an EA related science bowl and considering doing some outreach at mock trial national competitions. It's definitely possible there's other outreach I don't know about.

Open Thread: Winter 2021

Cool! Peter McIntyre is working on things like #1 and might be interested in 2 and 3 as well. That doesn't mean you shouldn't try it on your own, but that might be someone to get in touch with!

I need help on choosing a research question

Doesn't look like I'm able to access the diigo doc, not sure if others are having that problem. I recommend Michael Aird's repository of tons of open research questions, some organized by topic.

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