Could you possibly share how much the ACE off-set was? I have been having trouble finding a good number for this when people ask me about it.
General Positive Notes:
I think building relationships between EA professionals and groups is highly valuable and think that programs such as residencies could be really beneficial.
As someone, who had not met too many EA professionals (outside of community builders) until fairly recently I can at least attest to how beneficial it was for me. I was able to have deep discussions on EA issues with those who knew more about EA than anyone I had met before. This led to me changing some of my ideas on things and generally having a better understanding of where EA stands on things. (My answer: a lot of disagreement)
I learned a lot and now have a much better network of EA connections which I have been increasingly realizing the importance of.
There is a possibility that my experience was especially beneficial since I met many professionals at once. (Through a MIRI workshop, Community Building Grantee Retreat, and EAG London all within a span of 3 weeks. ) I think this was particularly beneficial and encourage programs that allow this type of interaction between EA Professionals and group leaders in the future.
However, I still see the prospect of a residency program as very promising. Many of my group members (Yale EA) will not be able to attend EAG (especially with EAG accepting fewer undergraduates) and have very few opportunities to meet EA Professionals. (EAGx is a possible place for this however there are a lot fewer EA professionals at EAGx as compared to EAG)
In my one-on-ones and our community surveys we have heard one element of feedback again and again which is the desire to hear from people who have careers in EA and more experience than us.
As for things like the SSC trip - the group was only able to visit for a very short amount of time. (Most had to leave after about an hour I believe) There were a number of members that I think could have really benefited from meeting them that weren't able to because they were unavailable at that time. So I think the point of having a larger window to meet people is a very good one.
I really agree with Neel's concerns in this write-up. This is particularly potent with my group as many did not come from a rationalist background and some have had poor experiences when meeting Bay Area rationalist EAs. I think the right person could avoid these problems by communicating with group leaders beforehand as mentioned in this post. I still do worry though that it is just generally difficult to change aspects of one's personality in different contexts.
I also strongly second the point that this person does not act as a representative of the EA community as a whole. I think this would need to be very clearly communicated. I can imagine situations in which group members who had never met an EA professional before immediately take what this particular one says as a testament to what EA as a whole thinks. I also worry that if people had a particularly negative interaction that they might generalize that to EA as a whole as well. I think this person would have to maintain awareness that this might be happening throughout the program and actively seek ways to reduce the possibility.
I also think there are other ways to increase interaction between EA professionals and group members but am not sure what exactly those would look like. We have had some good interactions with guest speakers in our dinners following talks but these are often larger groups than optimal. It would be great to have more EA professionals at EAGxs and have career fairs similar to those at EAG. (This might happen in some - Fair warning that I am basing all of my knowledge of EAGxs on EAGx Boston)
Overall, I am generally in favor of something like this residency program happening and think it would be great if Yale EA got to be a stop. I think that if the right person is picked and is aware of these concerns that this could definitely be very positive.
For the past couple of bazaars we have been following the aim to get lots of email sign ups but I am starting to wonder if this is the best strategy for us. At Yale in particular the bazaar is super hectic and first-years end up signing up for tons of panlists. It seems like that leads to not that many people actually reading all of these emails.
In our experience people are exceptionally more likely to come to things after being personally invited as compared to reading about it on an email. I agree that the bazaar is much too loud and hectic for a good conversation on EA but you can at least have a pleasant conversation that shows that your group has interesting and nice people who don't just care about sign-ups.
In our experience, getting people to sign up for one-on-ones is probably the most effective way to introduce them to EA and encourage them to come to events. Next to that, though, would be having a short pleasant conversation and really encouraging them to come to your next event.
I think this slower strategy also plays into the idea that most of the value will be in a smaller amount of people. If there is one person who seems particularly interested I would prioritize chatting with them over getting email sign ups from people who are only somewhat interested.
An additional lessons learned from this past semester is to focus on one thing to advertise (most likely an intro event). We were trying to advertise the fellowship, into talk, and open board meeting all at once which became pretty confusing for people. However, in the past when we focused on only the fellowship, many people thought that our group was /just/ the fellowship when we really have many more activities and events. So getting people to an event or one-on-one where you can thoroughly explain your group seems like the best option in my experience.
I think the idea of recording is interesting and could be valuable but I do think some groups may be uncomfortable having their meet-ups recorded. Another idea might be to invite a member from another group to join in over skype and share feedback after. I think, though, this would only work for an activity like a discussion group rather than social events. The downside to this as compared to a recording is that the meeting cannot be re-reviewed by multiple people in the same way. The upside, though, is that this might be an interesting way to bring in a new perspective to a discussion and introduce your group to the broader EA community.
Similar to Aaron I am a huge fan of writing up "lessons learned" right after events. I have found these to be really helpful for both reflecting on the event yourself and discussing the event with others. The lessons learned do not have to have solutions but rather can be a list of things that went well and things that did not. Then you can compare with others and hopefully converge on a list of best practices.
I agree, though, that it would be nice to have a designated place where groups can share these notes as it can often be intimidating posting on the forum. Possibly the Facebook group could be good for this?