Joe Rocca

12 karmaJoined Jan 2022Singapore


Joe Rocca

Hey David, congrats on launching this! Really well-designed site. So great to see the WAS discussion steadily spreading out of academia. It's obviously still quite fringe, but it's progressing faster than I expected. Big thanks to people like you, Humane Hancock and others who are laying the groundwork to bring the discussion into the mainstream.

I thought I'd let you know that my bank card was temporarily blocked due to "Vegan Hacktivists" sounding shady to someone at my bank's fraud department - I'm not sure if you can change this with Donorbox or your bank, but if you can it might make sense. Although this could be a rare/one-off thing that has only happened to me.

Also, while I'm here, some random bits of feedback - please feel free to completely ignore these:

  • It would be great to have a "promising directions" page to show people that, actually, there are tractable things that can already be worked on. E.g. many countries have already ~eliminated certain diseases that cause a lot of suffering for wild animals - like rabies, via mass vaccination. And contraceptive baits are already in use to control population sizes of certain r-selected species. These programs are currently "selfish" in that they're mainly for the benefit of humans, rather than to help the wild animals themselves, but it shows that tractable and large-scale programs are possible, which is exciting and I think somewhat surprising to many people.
  • It may make sense to have a page that tries to put a "vivid" picture in the reader's mind about what suffering can be like in the wild. The existing pages give statistics and broad descriptions, but humans often benefit from stories/descriptions of individuals - e.g. (as mentioned in one of the videos you embedded) a deer suffocating to death due to nasal bots, or a young chick that falls out of the nest and dies over the course of many hours or days. It may make sense for this section to have videos and photos, and would perhaps have some sort of CSS effect to censor the whole section, with an explanation and a button for the viewer to actively choose to view the content. I say this because although actively choosing to view this content is not something that many people will do, for those who do view it, it can have a very profound effect in terms of grounding the "abstract" and "statistical" aspect of the overall explanation - concretely showing how cruel nature can be. This sort of thing was helpful for me when I was introduced to WAS. There are some particularly terrible videos that I don't necessarily suggest that you include (especially because predation is already overemphasised as an aspect of WAS, in regard to early-stage tractability), but which definitely did work to remove my nature-documentary-tinted glasses, and may do so for others, but you'd obviously want to gate them with some very strong content warnings.
  • I'm not sure, but I think it might make sense to exclude the earthworms and insects from the pie chart. The scale is likely already enough to make the point after fish, and the point may get muddied when worms and insects are added - since there are many people who think their capacity to suffer is far, far less than the larger-brained animals. Obviously it shouldn't matter to add these in, because it's more wild animal suffering, regardless of how small they think it is, but I feel like everyone is convinced at the scale where fish are added, and adding insects and earthworms makes the point less "clean" for a subset of viewers, and for little additional benefit.

And a few very minor points that I am only adding because it's clear by the quality of your sites that you care about attention to detail:

  • On the "Even Worse, Wild Animals Suffer in Terrible Ways" page, the drawing for the "accidents" button should probably show a non-human-caused accident - e.g. a deer limping with a broken leg, or something like that? Since the road kill situation should probably fall under "anthropogenic harms". I only say this because I think accidents/injuries are a bit underrated even in discussions between people who are reasonably informed about WAS, and so I think it's worth giving people the correct "at-a-glance" impression here.
  • In the video player, when you click the play button, it loads the youtube player, which then requires the user to click a second time (on the youtube play button) to actually start the video. IIUC, you need the user to click the embed, since auto-play functionality (after clicking your "fake" play button) won't include sound, but you don't want to load all the embeds up-front. So on desktop you could trigger the embed load when they click the video thumbnail from the side-menu (and do away with "fake" play button), and on mobile, perhaps you could load the embed when the video container enters the page (you can use IntersectionObserver like this). If you want to keep the fake button for aesthetic reasons, then you could use `pointer-events:none` on it so the click goes through to the embed (that was loaded with the IntersectionObserver) underneath.
  • In the "Other Resources You Might Like" section, I missed the fact that there are other categories (blogs, books, podcasts) that I can toggle through. It was only when I viewed the page on mobile that I noticed, since they are expanded into their own section with horizontal scrolling. I wonder if it might make sense to use that mobile format for desktop too?

Thanks again to you and the other contributors for putting this site together!

Wasn't sure if cross-posting works properly for events. Seems like this is just a normal post, so head over here to RSVP: https://www.lesswrong.com/events/vhBRSrbm4cYMzCws3/singapore-small-casual-dinner-in-chinatown-5

Agreed, and I'd just add that it's better to set up a proper custom domain rather than just a redirect, since a bunch of people will inevitably copy the post-redirect URL around, even if the EA team themselves are careful to only link to the custom domain. It's a 2 minute job - just need to log into the domain management where effectivealtruism.org is registered and add a CNAME record that points internships.effectivealtruism.org   to   ea-internships.pory.app