Ivy Mazzola

2405 karmaJoined Jan 2019Seeking workMariposa Dr, Austin, TX, USA



I'm experimenting with "norms-pledges" to help reduce forum anxiety. Maybe it could be a good social technology IDK. Click [Show More] to read them all:

🕊 Fresh Slate After Disagreement Pledge: I hereby pledge that if we disagree on the forum, I will not hold it against you. (1) I will try not to allow a disagreement to meaningfully impact how I treat you in further discourse, should we meet in another EA Forum thread, on another website or virtual space, or IRL. I know that if we disagree, it doesn't necessarily mean we will disagree on other topics, nor does it necessarily imply we are on opposing teams. We are most likely on the same team in that we both wish to have the most good done possible and are working in service of finding out what that means. (2) Relatedly, I pledge to not claim to know what you believe in future, I can only confidently claim to know what you wrote or believed at a given time, and I can say what I think you believe given that. I know that people change their minds, and it may be you or me who does so, so I understand that the disagreement may not even still stand and is not necessarily set in stone.

👨‍👩‍👧‍👦 No Gatekeeping Pledge: I hereby pledge that if I am seeking a collaborator, providing an opportunity, or doing hiring or anything akin to hiring, and you would otherwise be a top candidate if not for the following, I will try not to gatekeep: (1) If  an opinion you've shared or broken-norm you've done (on the EA forum or elsewhere) is relevant in a potentially negative way to our collaboration, that I will ask you about it to gain clarity. I will not assume that such an incident means you will not be  suitable for a role. I will especially try hard not to make assumptions about your suitability based on old or isolated incidents, or if your digital footprint is too small to get a good picture of who you are and how you think about things. (2) I will not penalize based on someone being a social or professional newcomer or being otherwise unknown to me or my colleagues. If the person is a top candidate otherwise, I will do my due diligence to determine cultural fit separate from that. 

🤔 Rationalist Discourse Pledge: (1) I hereby pledge to try to uphold rationalist discourse norms as presented here and here, and comedically summed up here.

🦸‍♀️Preferring My Primary Account Pledge: (1) I hereby pledge that this is my main EA Forum account. I will never use multiple accounts to manipulate the system, as by casting multiple votes or stating similar opinions with different accounts. (2) I also pledge that, although I can't be sure what comes, I strongly intend to not use an anonymous or different account (alt or sockpuppet), or any account other than this, my primary account. I pledge that I am willing to take on some reputational risks on this, my primary account, in service of putting truth, transparency, integrity, and a complete narrative over my own anxiety, and to give ideas I think are worth advocating for the best chance at adoption. Therefore I pledge that I will not use an alternate account out of general anxiety around personal or professional retribution or losing clout. CAVEAT 1: I reserve the right to use an alt account in cases where *specific* retribution or other  danger can be expected in my  particular instance. As example: I reserve the right to use an alt account out of concern about riling up a suspected stalker, specific known bad-faith actor, specific known slanderer, etc. CAVEAT 2: I also reserve the right to use an alt account for the benefit of others. Example:  in cases where revealing my own identity would reveal the identity or betray the privacy of some other party I am discussing. 

🙇‍♂️Humility in Pledging Pledge: I hereby pledge that I take these pledges for my own self-improvement and for altruistic reasons. It's okay to disagree that pledges are useful and important for you. (1) I don't expect others should necessarily take a norms pledge. I believe the pledges only work if people take them after deep consideration, and I don't expect I can know all the considerations for others' situations. Therefore I understand there may be situations that it is actually right that a user avoid taking a pledge. Therefore I will not judge others for not having taken a pledge, including that I will not dismiss other's character if I see other accounts without a pledge. (3) Additionally, I don't presume that others not taking a pledge means they would even necessarily act differently than that pledge would imply. I don't assume their intentions are even different from mine. Perhaps a person is new to the idea or just trying to protect their energy by not opening themselves to criticism. (3) I won't automatically dismiss a user's reasoning if I see the user violating norms pledges I've made. I still will give their claims a chance to stand on their own merits. (4) If you see me violating a pledge I've taken, I will always appreciate if you bring it up to me. 


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Okay but, before I say, I'd like to clarify that I don't think I'd be perfect at this, which is one reason I'm not leading weird things. But I think if you are gonna make requests like that of employees you live or travel with, you basically have to be. (because it gets so much harder then, and this type of communication that makes weirdness safe is the leader's responsibility not the employee's).

Okay, at risk of sounding cringe, it's things like:

  • Hi Chloe, some of us were talking about going to St. Barths for the day, would you like to come? As a separate question, would you be willing to help get things ready so we can make it happen before the ferry leaves at X, and possibly be available for some ops tasks throughout the day trip too? Before you answer:  I realize it is your day off today, so I wonder if there is a good solution for that? My thought was maybe you can take your day off tomorrow and I pay you overtime to make up for the surprise? I don't know, does this appeal to you or what do you think?
  • Hey Chloe, the group of us would really appreciate an Ops lead for today's trip. But before I ask, I want to clarify that there's no pressure at all. It's completely up to you as I bet I can wrangle people to turntake as things come up instead. If you want to take it on though, we can discuss how to make up for your day off or what overtime pay makes sense. Feeling keen or no?
  • Hi Chloe, asking as a friend, not your boss.. We were thinking of going to St. Barths and we wonder what might be your happy price for helping today? Or do you not even want to be engaged with in this way and want your days off to be sacrosanct? I understand that navigating the social stuff while also being employed by me is probably awkward and I'd like to give you the chance to take the lead and clarify on what feels beneficial, not just passably appropriate, for me to ask you about bonus tasks like this. [hopefully this conversation happened early on but it could happen then if not]
  • [After any reflective but nonconclusive response] Okay, that makes sense. Hm. I am noticing that I want you to have time to think about it, but then feel conflicted that I am on a deadline to make this St. Barth's trip happen. So let's get some quick takes, and if you still aren't sure, hang back and just enjoy your day to yourself as you planned and as I've noticed you like to do :) Sound good? [Okay] Ok, what's your gut take on what minimizes your expected regret? ... And, gut take, what maximizes your expected joy and wellbeing?
  • [As a friend, relies on a jovial environ Chloe is already included in] Okay everyone, let's put our heads together to make this St. Barths trip work! Raise your hand if you're coming and I'll delegate something to you, you can trade your tasks if you want. Chloe could you chime in if you think I'm missing anything? [Everyone, before they head out: Thanks Chloe, enjoy your day :) ]
  • [If Chloe helps, with or without bonus pay, give lots of check-ins and thanks throughout the day]

    I mean, it would depend on how everybody is/the feel of the group, and how much Chloe was needed Sunday, and how much this is considered personal (make offer out of my pocket/crowdfund out of group's personal pockets, eg "guys before I ask Chloe to work on her day off is anyone willing to put some money forward for her overtime pay? Let's get some revealed preferences out in the open as to how much we really want this trip and need help with it) vs professional (okay it can be considered a teambuilding exercise but it forces you the leader to think how important it is compared to next week's work because she will need more time off).

    But I feel pretty confident that people can patchwork something together to make this type of thing feel happy and good. Rationalists get weird looks for speaking in this way and coming up with frank, novel solutions, but honestly it can make all the difference. Of course, you have to sort people out in interviews to make sure there is a cultural fit for this level of flexibility and frankness. 

    I'm curious what others would think of being approached in such a way. Especially Alice or Chloe but I can understand them not responding

    (Edited to try to escape the cringe but probably failed)

This was written after reading Chloe's update

Note: I'm trying to focus on "What are good practices for people trying weird things?" rather then "Should NL/Kat/Emerson be disbanded/reprimanded" until NL posts their rebuttal.

I notice I'm feeling confused that I'm not reading the type of dialogue I tend to hear in EA/rationalist spaces. Weird arrangements def cut out normy safeguards, but I feel this community does actually have tools to mitigate harm that can come with trying those weird arrangements. I mean this separate from org operational norms like compensation clearly written and signed, and good accounting. For the day-to-day stuff, it's conversational norms that have evolved alongside the "trying of weird things", probably for good reason. Norms like frank-but-respectful communication that cuts through discomfort and COI anxieties rather than burying or amplifying them, and tries very hard to perspective-take, check in, and prioritize the other person's preferences.[1]

I think, eventually, the community could discuss questions like: "If any, what tools/communications norms can help mitigate risks of weird experiments" and "How can leaders who want to try weird arrangements ensure that they are personally ready to navigate a day-to-day landscape which is highly likely to feel destabilizing at times if they communicate poorly? How can CEA and funders ensure the leaders are right in their self assessments here?"


  1. ^

    Example: In Emerson's shoes, if I hoped for Chloe's help with the St. Barths trip, I can think of ~4 ways he could have approached that differently, guided by rat/EA socialization and processes, that would have been way preferable, even very good on net for Chloe. I can respond with a list if people don't get what I mean.

Wow. Sincere apologies you went through that. Even if Kat and Emerson thought they were being reasonable (no comment), and/or even if bad instances were few and far between (no comment), such instances would affect me and most people I know very deeply. Probably including the multi-month hangover and residual pain today. And that matters, and is something we need managers/bosses/colleagues to consider. Even if it was only painful at the time, that would matter. Really sorry. 

P.S. I previously put a "changed my mind" react to this comment, but I really meant "brought new things to mind". Put them in other comments

This was written after reading Chloe's update

Note: I'm trying to focus on "What are good practices for EAs who want to try weird things?" rather then "Should NL/Kat/Emerson be disbanded/reprimanded" until NL posts their rebuttal.

I'm feeling concerned about some specific stuff I'd put in the "working in unusual vistas" bucket. I feel weird because Nonlinear has listed "travel" as a perk on job listings, when it can easily be more of a burden, and looks like it is for certain members of their team (while others have more of the benefits and less of the costs). As someone who lived in East Asia for 7 months across as many different islands/regions, it is really hard to be productive and happy for me in that type of nomadic life. I think it's hard for most people. But the last ~year, seeing NL's (and Kat's[1]) positive posts I'd been rethinking that. Now, what I'm reading from Chloe is more in line with my memories of the hassle and why I recommend against it. So I think re: job listings:

  • Necessary travel should not be listed as a job perk, but a key job trait with both pros and cons and emphasis on suitability for certain less than common personalities. And hirers for travelling positions should try really hard to sort out the people who won't like it.
  • It should be made clear how much of an assistant's job description is literally "dealing with the hassles of travel and working abroad for the team". To their credit, the NonLinear job listings do address this, but it is at the bottom and general. I mean it should be semi-granular on the listing, like "~10 hours/week", because I think the amount it was for Chloe (sounds substantial) might have been a surprise and added to reasonable resentment and trapped and useless feelings. 
  • I also think "helping your boss with their personal tasks" should be discussed more granularly (maybe it was in interviews IDK, but seems good to get specific early and in writing)
  • I additionally suspect (with low confidence because I don't know what's normal in business/nonprofits) that for personal tasks, accounting and pay source should be different for those hours, maybe.
  1. ^

    Less relevantly, I have seen Kat promote working abroad and nomadic living as seemingly a really good solution to EAs who follow her on Facebook or her blog. I feel weird that I have not seen Kat post a cons list for travel, but this is a footnote because I also think it isn't generally her responsibility in her personal social media to talk about more than what she is excited about. It is everyone's responsibility to do their own research/not be easily influenced by what they see on social media. But personally, I think in future if I see someone recommend EAs try nomadic living/work in remote vistas, I will ask revealing questions (like "Do you have an assistant whose job it is to make this easier for you?") even though it might feel rude.

(Take my strong upvote, I think people downvoting you don't realize you are the author of the post haha)

[Edit: I now realize that this is what Spencer discussed below and other people have been discussing too. But maybe the community norms roadmap makes it seem less pie-in-the-sky]

I first had this idea about that Toby Ord post a few months back, and regret not writing it up then.

Idea: I think people who write something that could be considered a "criticism" (or worse, a "hitpiece") should send a heads-up message to the person in question, with their finished post attached.

Example: "Hey, I have written [this post] about things I am concerned about regarding you/you project. I plan to post it on the EA Forum on [date]. I understand this is unfortunate and troubling from your perspective and you will probably want to respond. That's why I'm letting you know my publishing date. You have until then to write a response, which I expect you will want to post shortly after I make this one go live. (optional: I am available to read your response post before I publish my piece if you wish, but I would need your retort by [earlier date] to take your response into account.)"

How it might become a norm:

  1. Forum mods and power users could comment on critical posts that giving heads up with final drafts attached is the advised way for future criticism.

  2. After seeing this advised for month or so, users would start actually doing it. And they would probably add transparency blurbs about it at the tops of their criticisms and responses, further educating readers on criticism norms.

  3. After seeing this recommended and practiced for a couple more months, the cultural norm would be established.

  4. Once the norm is established, people who don't give warning of their criticism and time for response should be frowned upon/possibly even given a moderation warning.

Being blindsided by people posting bad stuff about you on a forum really sucks, and the ongoing threat of such a surprise is bad for the community. I think a norm like this could do a lot of good and be low effort for critics.

I think it's probable that Ben tried to do something fair like this here by talking to Kat/Emerson, but I think that doesn't do the full thing. For example, Kat may have felt that she had responded adequately to some of the concerns over chat, enough that they would be dropped from any final piece, and be surprised and blindsided to see some parts dug up here. [Edit: She may also be surprised by the very confidently-worded conclusion Ben made against Nonlinear.]

That's why I think sending the actual final draft of the post with some buffer time to compose a public-facing response is much fairer. I admit that refuting things in writing can be very time consuming, so it's still helpful and good for the critic to offer a conversation. But if a conversation occurs (as it did here), I think a final draft and chance to write a response for the forum should still be offered, in addition. There's no replacing seeing the precise claims as-written before the rest of your community does.

Very excited about this! FYI, this also makes EA promo a lot simpler for the local groups! 

At risk of saying a lot.. Especially in non-hubs, I sort of think the default funnel should be to help local EAs engage in online EA spaces more and more. It's a lot easier to find your niche and collaborators once you engage with way more people in international community, and the changeup in flow of ideas that you see being involved in more than your local group is good too. But it's been hard as an organizer to know which virtual communities to promote (EA newsletter? Check. 80,000 Hours? Check. Virtual communities? Where to start...). 

I've def suggested various slacks to local EAs, but with mixed results. Basically it has felt like no online community was quite big enough to reliably pull the attention of people who start in a local community and already have their local infrastructure. I get the affection for your local group, but in the long run, I think some EA's preference for EA local groups and the people they know is limiting them (eg, your local community only has so many entrepreneurs compared to the EA Entrepreneurs Slack).

Anyway, ~one virtual Slack community is far less confusing and more enticing :) It means the average local EA can basically track 2 Slacks, their in-person group and EA Anywhere, and have everything they could want at their fingertips. That's just a huge difference! Def already promoting it! :)

I like both these suggestions a lot. I just wonder if anyone can chime in if the CH Team might struggle to get NGO status without being part of CEA. I wonder what their altruistic mission statement would be summarized as?

Perhaps this is a silly question and NGO status is easier to get than I think.

Same, I have never heard any of these. Perhaps some people are saying these things, but I'd be very surprised to, say, hear anything like this being shared in the EA leaders Slack (not that I'm in it but as someone who has spoken to many EA leaders, they are all chill)

EAs tend to speak in really nuanced ways, so the furthest I've heard someone go is saying things like "I've found Bayesian reasoning to be an irreplaceable tool and want us to help new EAs learn it and be aware of the value themselves" or "Eating vegan has been shown to increase compassion for animals, and I also think it is important to behave in compassionate ways regardless of impact calculations". The frugal thing.... I can't even reword that because I haven't heard EAs speak that way ever, except from one student organizer who got the idea I think from his own head connecting the dots in the way that made sense to him (he was kind of on his own, not in a hub, and he was organizing before CEA's UGAP program provided better mentorship to student organizers. I think now that he has graduated and gotten a real job he has gotten over this as he sees how complicated it is to navigate life when being abnormally frugal).

I have this inkling that maybe if people are saying such "rules", it might be more of a self-soothing technique for some EAs that have struggled to get recognition and the jobs they want in EA? Gatekeeping/no-true-scottsman type stuff? IDK just a vibe, trying to get status where they can maybe. Or maybe they are just dealing with a lot of unexamined distrust toward people different from themselves, as neurodivergents, nerds, and activists tend to do IME?

Sorry it took me so long to come back.

Okay thanks for clarifying that you only mean that some private reception by CEA was unkind. Some others have attempted to paint EA forum response with a negative brush and if it isn't true. People here might not be the most warm but they try pretty hard to avoid unkindness.

Tbh I think I understand your frustration a bit from experiences in my own life, like feeling like I've done someone's dirty work or grunt work and then being pushed aside. That said, feelings being what they are (unreliable, even if if they are sometimes right), I still wonder if a misunderstanding happened about who you spoke to or if there was forgetting rather than willful dishonesty on anyone's part, but I guess that is between you, them, and decision-makers. Although I'm more interested in the prevalance of sexual assault in EA and how that is handled, I wish you luck in your professional goals.

I agree with you about liability and have been finding that odd it hasn't been mentioned too. That said, I think that shouldn't be the main concern tbh, or even a primary one (there is so much else on the table to focus on). Also, publicizing things out of concern for CEA getting pinged for liability seems to me to be putting the cart before the horse. So personally, I'd just put that concern to the side and try to do the right thing, and take a lot of notes, and hope that trying to do the right thing washes out in court  god forbid anyone tried to move forward with that. My understanding is that CEA is trying to do the right thing and has been for some time. It's good to encourage people to try to do better.. I guess I just would want to see that as actual encouragement not like... worded in a way that easily strikes fear into the hearts of EAs that we are about to deal with another big public fiasco without having had adequate time to handle and respond to whatever last one.

I agree my response was defensive (and reactive though I tried to separate that bit out into a different comment). One of my intentions is definitely to defend EA (always with finding and protecting the truth as primary even more important goal though). Even if I go too far some of the time, at least I hopefully move the overton window toward defending EA as being acceptable and normal. I actually think people (not just EAs, but everybody) are morally obligated to defend themseves, and often others. Right now, the world spins based on claims and responses... accusations and rebuttals. As long as that's the case, I think it's almost always ethically warranted, even necessary, that someone come in and speak an honest, good-faith, altruistically-intentioned response that points out potential pitfalls, alternative considerations, and such. Frankly most people who stumble across this piece won't be informed enough to do it themselves.

Anyway, best of luck.

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