All of Khorton's Comments + Replies

2-factor voting (karma, agreement) for EA forum?

I would find this helpful - I'm tired of being downvoted when I provide useful information to support an argument that people overall disagree with!

Job, skills, and career capital suggestions for 18-year-old

I agree with the other commenters. I also wouldn't underestimate the value of your current job! Hopefully at this job you can notice, and also ask your boss and coworkers, some of the things you're particularly good at and interested in.

For example, you may find you are particularly good at working with customers, or planning ahead and making the most of your time during your shift, or spotting ways to potentially improve the fruit stand. Try to keep track of any little stories or examples of how you've been helpful, as they can be useful at helping you figure out what type of job you might like to try next and also in interviewing for that next job.

Mental support for EA partners?

Oh, another thought actually - it sounds like your partner is really structuring their life around their EA beliefs, and you have somewhat different beliefs. You might find some articles about interfaith relationships interesting, even though EA isn't a "faith", because some of the points about working through different values and beliefs might be useful.

Mental support for EA partners?

I shared this post with my non-EA husband and asked for his views. He said he thinks all couples have some values that are different from each other, and that he feels like he supports me being involved in EA and I support him in his goals (I thought that was very sweet).

Sorry I can't be of more help on relevant articles or support, but thought you might be interested in another answer on the first two questions!

I agree with this, and just wanted to add a resource. My mom told me about this concept in couples therapy, Differentiation, which is basically what Khorton suggested. Here's how my mom put it in a wedding toast: "[The husband] recognized that his needs and those of his beloved diverged profoundly. He was able to feel his own feelings and hers — to love and honor her even in difference. No matter how well aligned we are with our partners, there will be profound differences. We love not in spite of the differences but also because of them. [The wife] would not be the person she is without the concerns she manifested." She also sent me a podcast on this: [] (I haven't listened to the whole thing, but the discussion on Differentiation starts at ~10:30.)

Oh, another thought actually - it sounds like your partner is really structuring their life around their EA beliefs, and you have somewhat different beliefs. You might find some articles about interfaith relationships interesting, even though EA isn't a "faith", because some of the points about working through different values and beliefs might be useful.

You don’t have to respond to every comment

It's really nice when people engage with comments, especially with useful comments, but I worry by making it into a norm we're losing more than we gain as a community. Will MacAskill for example has mentioned a couple of times that he finds posting on the Forum really uncomfortable because of the comments, and in his last post explicitly said that he wouldn't respond to any comments. In other situations, people might have to decide between writing a second post about a different topic and responding to the comments on their first post.

I agree with you that... (read more)

I totally agree that there are some times when it's correct for people not to respond. But overall I think it's pretty clearly good to have some norm for the reasons above. Because I think that a lot of good things come out of getting to the bottom of stuff, I'd typically prefer that people posted half as many things if it meant they'd engage properly with comments on those things. I really worry that with no norm here we might lose something important about EA culture.

I think the ideal equilibrium should incur both some pain from less-response-than-we-mig... (read more)

You don’t have to respond to every comment

Strong upvoted, I think this is an important norm to promote and was really clearly written. Thanks for posting!

Where to donate goods/textbooks/items ~effectively in the UK/US/beyond?

I'm probably in a different in situation because I'm working now but:

If it's a valuable item, I'd sell it (and potentially donate the money, or use it for whatever else I use money for!)

If it's not especially valuable but someone else might find it helpful, I donate it somewhere convenient or give it to a friend, not worrying about any positive impact beyond the item being reused

I’m also working and shouldn’t let this effort distract me too much. Maybe the way I wrote it made me sound like a student? The textbooks are built up over years of teaching and getting free copies of these things.
A laundry list of anxieties about launching my blog: any feedback appreciated!

Hey, this is very relatable! With regards to finding an audience, one thing that can work really well is if you can get to know some other people in EA (or who are generally the type of audience you're looking for), and let them know when you have a new post out.

If your target reader is someone who's pretty involved in EA, you might try: -reading and commenting on the blogs of other people in EA, and they might read yours in return -sharing with your EA friends on Twitter or Facebook (people will just scroll past if they're not interested, as long as it's ... (read more)

7Holly K10d
Hey, thanks for your input, those are all helpful points. Yes, perhaps I’ll seek out a few people to ask for feedback.

I don't understand what this post is trying to say

The dangers of high salaries within EA organisations

Thanks, I strongly upvoted this comment because of the list of detailed examples.

Two Tiny Requests from HIA, Two Mins of your Time

Okay, I'm just gonna come out and say it: there's no way I could complete both of these requests in two minutes and every time I see the headline it drives me crazy!

7Marcus Daniell16d
Did you try? I just tried it myself: followed three accounts in 17 seconds (having lost a couple of seconds in starting my stopwatch), which gave me 1m43s to think about my network and whether it includes athletes. Also open to alternate headlines, e.g. Two tiny requests from HIA, A Variable Amount of your Time Depending on your Click Speed, Network Size, and Desire to Spend Time on the Task.
The dangers of high salaries within EA organisations

How common do you think it is for an EA organisation to pay above market rate? I think of market rate as what someone might make doing a similar role in the private sector. I can think of one or two EA organisations that might pay above that, but not very many.

Yeah I think this is a good question. I can think of several of the main EA orgs that do this, in particular for roles around operations and research (which aren't generally paid that well in the private sector, unless you're doing it at a FAANG company etc). In addition, community-building pays much higher than other non-profit community building  (in the absence of much private  sector community building). 

Some of these comparisons also feel hard because people often do roles at EA orgs they weren't doing in the private sector e.g. going f... (read more)

The dangers of high salaries within EA organisations

I disagree with this post for the reasons Stefan's outlined. To provide a specific example, I know people in EA who provide financially for their children; for their spouse (in one case, their spouse has a disability, in another their spouse can't work for visa reasons); and/or for their ageing parents. Regardless of how mission aligned they are, people with financial responsibilities can't always afford to take a pay cut.

Thanks for raising this and I totally agree with your point. I think I could have been clearer in two aspects of this:

  • Exceptions obviously apply. I'm not advocating for everyone getting paid a uniform amount or it being decided independent of personal circumstances. If people have circumstances or dependents which means they need additional income, they should obviously get it. So even with 'moderate' salaries at EA orgs I spoke about, I think both of the examples you should still get paid what they need.
  • Additionally I'm not talking about paying everyone "
... (read more)
Miranda_Zhang's Shortform

One approach I found really helpful in transitioning from asking a manager to making my own strategic decisions was going to my manager with a recommendation and asking for feedback on it (or, failing that, a clear description of the problem and any potential next steps I can think of, like ways to gain more information).

This gave me the confidence to learn how my organisation worked and know I had my manager's support for my solution, but pushed me to develop my own judgment.

Thanks, this is a good tip! Unfortunately, the current options I'm considering seem more hands-off than this (i.e., the expectation is that I would start with little oversight from a manager), but this might be a hidden upside because I'm forced to just try things. : )
Hiking: an analogy for sustainable work

"My work continues to pile up while I’m gone, so I’m more stressed if I force myself to take time away."

This is often true whether or not you actually need the time away. I think this can sometimes be addressed at the team level, either by adjusting expectations about what will be achieved in a particular quarter or year, or by building extra capacity into the team so that everyone's work can be covered by someone else when they're away and no one comes back to a huge backlog.

4Amy Labenz1mo
I probably should have mentioned that I'm Head of Events at CEA, so I'm setting the expectations and ambition level. It is much easier for me to adjust work capacity for other teammates, but I'm choosing between doing some things myself or them not happening. It is true that I could decide to be less ambitious, but I don't want to :) I have been building lots of capacity on the team this year (maybe quadrupled FTEs on the Events Team?), but we've also added a Retreats Program and Community Events Portfolio, scaled EAG, etc. Hiring for the team has probably been the biggest thing to take my time this year, and it is often time-sensitive because people need to know whether they are a fit. Events are also time-sensitive: an event has a set date, so it comes whether you're ready or not. I think it would be sad if I decided to scale down EAG or host some number of fewer events or miss a hire because I think I'm supposed to take time off, even if I wasn't finding it particularly restful. All that said, I'm taking time off this week to go visit my niece for her first birthday!
Request: feedback on my EAIF application

Are one of the regular attendees are your sessions in Romania willing to be a reference? If I were giving the grant, I'd be interested to talk to someone who's actually been to events you've hosted!

3Ariel Pontes1mo
Yeah, sure! I didn't think of adding them cause they're even newer to the community than me, and in the description of this section they say: And also they would be the same people that I list in my team of volunteers… So I figured it would be a bit redundant…
Sorry to hear! I think you might have clicked it during the split-second I was updating that page. Please could you give it another try and send [] a screenshot of whatever error you're getting if it doesn't work
Some potential lessons from Carrick’s Congressional bid

I think it's immoral to (attempt to) buy seats in a democracy; it goes against my values.

Fundraising in order to try to make sure voters are aware of your candidate and his message is fine, but "buying seats" isn't.

Thank you for this statement.  I am  including the current results from FEC filings here.  It is clear that there was not only a lot of money spent to buy the election, but there was a good deal of subterfuge.  Contributions to other PACs from Protect our Future were made just late enough to escape reporting until after the election.  

One of the mysteries about this election was what the Justice Unites US Pac was.  It spent almost $850,000 on canvassers for Flynn and touted itself as an AAPI led and run organization.  Cam... (read more)

EA and the current funding situation

This was a really inspiring reply to read Ivy.

Some potential lessons from Carrick’s Congressional bid

Just because some people loudly opposed it, doesn't mean most people who opposed it were loud.

(I imagine there were also a lot of people like me who simply chose not to investigate whether or not they thought this race was competitive with donations elsewhere - in my case because I'm not American so couldn't donate either way.)

I'm sorry someone was an ass to you.

Some potential lessons from Carrick’s Congressional bid

Yes, it was one thing to say the money was worth it because of the (small) chance of Carrick winning, but saying it was worth it for the information value alone really stings when you think about how far that money could go if donated elsewhere.

Organizational alignment

Yes for sure, it was meant to be a "yes and" to the post, not a criticism of Caroline!

Organizational alignment

making compensation heavily dependent on how much value you add setting an organization level culture that emphasizes teamwork, deemphasizes individual status, etc

It's worth being aware that some of these options don't play nice together. For example, if you hire people who are intrinsically motivated by your mission and try to emphasize teamwork, you'd probably want to pay them fairly without emphasizing money too much. (According to my Educational Psychology professor) there's some evidence that offering to pay for results erodes intrinsic motivation and doesn't improve results for intellectual problems.

0Charles He1mo
This is insightful! Personally, I would consider appending “for onlookers”, in this particular instance, as the OP is probably extremely versed in the issues and has a strategy that considers these tradeoffs.

I am concerned about some of the long-termism push but didn't get that vibe from this post, as an alternate perspective

Edit: wow why is Michael getting downvoted though, wtf? different people can have different impressions of the tone of a written piece of work, it's not harmful to point it out

I don't think we should only downvote harmful things, we should instead look at the amount of karma and use our votes to push the score to the value we think the post should be at. I downvoted the comment because: * Saying things like "... obviously push an agenda...." And "I'm pretty sure anyone reading this... " Has persuasiony vibes which I don't like. * Saying "this post says people should defer to authority" is a bit of a straw/weak man and isn't very charitable.
Perhaps people didn't like the cult-ish comparison? But criticising someone for saying they are feeling something is cult-ish is, um, well, pretty cult-ish... Or perhaps it's people who can't properly distinguish between "criticising because you care and want to improve something" and "criticising to be mean" and mistakenly assume I'm doing the latter (despite my strenuous attempts to make it clear I am doing the former).
If EA is no longer funding constrained, why should *I* give?

We still don't have enough money to bring everyone out of extreme poverty, even if EA spent all its money. The fact that I can still save a child's life with my donations really motivates me to help where I can.

That said, as a student, it might be worth saving until you've finished your studies, especially if you don't have a safety net to fall back on (like parents or a spouse).


I think we should be willing to accept more "people work on agendas they're not fully bought into" if the alternatives are "there are a bunch of epistemic distortions to get people to buy into agendas" and "nobody can make bets which involve coordinating more than 6 people".


Some clarifications on the Future Fund's approach to grantmaking

Rob, I think you're consistently arguing against a point few people are making. You talk about ongoing correspondence with projects, or writing (potentially paragraphs of) feedback. Several people in this thread have suggested that pre-written categories of feedback would be a huge improvement from the status quo, and I can't see anything you've said that actually argues against that.

Also, as someone who semi-regularly gives feedback to 80+ people, I've never found it to make my thinking worse, but I've sometimes found it makes my thinking better.

I'm not s... (read more)

If it's just a form where the main reason for rejection is chosen from a list then that's probably fine/good.

I've seen people try to do written feedback before and find it a nightmare so I guess people's mileage varies a fair bit.

I've got a similar feeling to Khorton. Happy to have been pre-empted there. 

It could be helpful to consider what it is that legibility in the grant application process (for which post-application feedback is only one sort) is meant to achieve. Depending on the grant maker's aims, this can non-exhaustively include developing and nurturing talent, helping future applicants self-select, orienting projects on whether they are doing a good job, being a beacon and marketing instrument, clarifying and staking out an epistemic position, serving an orientation... (read more)

EA and the current funding situation

It is not reasonable to expect people to spend 1 to 2 hours listening to an idea that is not relevant to them.

-5Anthony Repetto2mo
Where are the cool places to live where there is still *no* EA community? Bonus points if there is unlikely to be one in the future

It's slightly less reversible socially. I find my core social connections in a city have fallen to one side by about two years after I've moved somewhere else, and take several months of effort to pick up again.

Of course, that might suggest a new solution: move for a year or two, then come back to your city and just don't talk to the EAs!

Khorton's Shortform

I would love to read more posts that takes an assumption or belief and asks "if this were true, what would that mean for EA?"


-If [choose one: dignity/fairness/beauty/freedom] is intrinsically valuable, what does that mean for EA? How does that affect our cause areas, charity and career recommendations, and community norms?

-If we assume that input from a wide variety of people provides robustly better outcomes when it comes to representing humanity's values, what would that mean for far future-focused work?

-If we assume the EA movement has ~$200 billion in assets by 2030, such that funders are looking to donate $10+ billion per year, should we be expanding into new cause areas?

Why Helping the Flynn Campaign is especially useful right now

Thanks for posting, I think this is a more than fair and very thoughtful challenge.

Why Helping the Flynn Campaign is especially useful right now

The phone banking form doesn't have dates so I don't know which Monday it's asking about?

It's about every Monday - the next one being in three days. However, I recommend that you sign up even outside of these slots because there are still opportunities to do phone calls!
Some clarifications on the Future Fund's approach to grantmaking

I've heard this story from two of my friends as well, both of who received answers a few weeks after they proactively reached out

Some clarifications on the Future Fund's approach to grantmaking

I disagree that it's impossible to give constructive feedback on 1700 applications.

I could imagine FTX Future Fund having a couple of standardized responses, rather than just one. For example:

  1. Your application was rejected because based on the information provided it did not appear to be in scope for what we fund (link to the page that sets out what you fund)
  2. Your application appears to be in scope for what we fund. We weren't currently confident in the information provided about [theory of change / founding team / etc]. It might still be a good fit for
... (read more)

It seems many of the downsides of giving feedback would also apply to this.

I think lower resolution feedback introduces new issues too. For example, people might become aware of the schema and over-index on getting a "1. Reject" versus getting a "2. Revise and resubmit".


A major consideration is that I think some models of very strong projects and founders says that these people wouldn't be harmed by rejections. 

Further considerations related to this (that are a little sensitive) is that there are other ways of getting feedback, and that extremel... (read more)

EA Tours of Service

No, this makes sense thanks - I think I don't have a clear enough sense of CEA's structure so I got confused

EA Tours of Service

This post makes me wonder, do EA organisations ever offer permanent staff the flexibility to do a secondment or loan to another organisation? I could imagine someone from CEA and someone from Allfed being loaned to Rethink Priorities while they try to start a particular megaproject, for example, with the security that they can return to their original employer after a set period of time if the megaproject hasn't worked out.

EA Tours of Service

Did Max write this and Ben post it? I got confused when it talked about "my tour of service"

Nope, it was written by me. I tried to explain that bit with footnote 2 – let me know if you have suggested wording changes to make it more clear!
EA and the current funding situation

Researchers? People who develop and test different approaches to doing good at a rapid pace

Tentative Reasons You Might Be Underrating Having Kids

Just a comment to say that I'm totally fine with people discussing the costs and benefits of having children with regards to doing good, but it doesn't match my value system. In my value system, people are intrinsically valuable in a way that's not good to put a number on. I like EA because I still think we can put a number on different approaches to helping people, though.

I think conversations like this also make me uncomfortable because I try to keep clear boundaries between the part of my life I live for others and the part of my life I live for my fami... (read more)

I find these arguments intellectually interesting to a degree. But like you, my aesthetic preference is just that people who personally feel like having kids should have kids, and those who personally don't feel like having kids shouldn't. If we followed that dollar-store rule of thumb I expect things would go roughly as well as they can, all things considered.
Some clarifications on the Future Fund's approach to grantmaking

oh wow, when I made the comment we were at -1 and +2 respectively, I agree this was a bigger reaction than I was expecting lol

EA and the current funding situation

I think this could be a standalone post

Strongly agree as well!
7Vaidehi Agarwalla2mo
(fwiw strongly agree! Even in it's current form I think it would start a really interesting / valuable discussion)
5Nathan Young2mo
Yeah, I thought I'd test the waters then write it up if people thought it was valuable. Do you have any other frames for what the community might be?
EA and the current funding situation

Agreed, I love management and improving organisational systems, and was really surprised by this comment!

Some clarifications on the Future Fund's approach to grantmaking

What I've heard from friends is that everyone's heard back now (either a decision, or an email update saying why a decision might take longer in their case). If you haven't heard anything I'd definitely recommend emailing the fund to follow up. I've known a couple of people who have needed to do this.

Please DM me if you submitted an application to our open call through our "Apply for Funding" form, but still haven't heard back from us (or are experiencing some other problem). Also, please note that if you filled out the "Expression of Interest" form, "Recommend a Prize" form, or "Recommend a Grant/Investment" form, we will get in touch with you only if we want to further explore your idea. 

Some clarifications on the Future Fund's approach to grantmaking

Weak downvote because "Have you considered following the style and norms of other comments on the forum?" is needlessly rude

5Charles He2mo
Yes, this is fair. The current vote score seems a little harsh though. Anyways, I just got off a call with a collaborator who was also very excited about my comment—something about “billionaire” and “great doom”. Yes, strong funding for x-risk is important, but in my opinion, I think there could be greater focus on high quality work more broadly.
If you had an hour with a political leader, what would you focus on?

I worry a little that if OP pitches policy poorly (or well, but in the wrong context), they might reflect badly on their friend.

But in a situation where the politician's open to hearing from you, I wouldn't be especially worried.

If you had an hour with a political leader, what would you focus on?

It's not intellectually dishonest for someone to refuse to trust you with information that could destroy their career.

Demandingness and Time/Money Tradeoffs are Orthogonal

I've actually just found the data and posted it. You can see all the pay bands for everyone in the department, both junior and senior!

Demandingness and Time/Money Tradeoffs are Orthogonal

Oh I see, it really is DIT!

I would point out that the "maximum pay band" likely represents the Permanent Secretary, of which there is one. The context was about unequal pay amongst DIT executives. So "pays people £265k" is probably not accurate.

Maybe you think I'm being a bit pedantic (and I probably am) but I feel like the way it's drafted right now suggests civil servants routinely get paid a lot more than they actually do. Even at the executive level, managing budgets of billions of pounds, very few senior civil servants get paid more than £200k - it's ... (read more)

6Charles He2mo
It seems like there would be some really easily available stats for salaries (histogram, means, medians). I'm not saying you need to present this. It's that it's this info is unlikely to be secret, and wrong answers are easily contestable, so my sense is that your anecdotes have authority and should be trusted.
Volunteering abroad

I imagine the kinds of volunteer work you can do in your home country are less likely to be harmful in a foreign country. For example, in my home country I've volunteered picking up litter, painting houses, running children's events, etc.

I don't expect it to be "effective", but it doesn't sound like that's the main reason you want to do it, and that's okay!

Load More