I'm Executive Director at the Centre for Effective Altruism. I used to be a moderator here, and helped to launch the new version of the Forum in 2018.


EA Survey Series 2019: How many EAs live in the main EA hubs?

Thanks for the extra analysis, that's interesting. Good point that it depends on your purpose.

Also, just to be clear, I didn't intend this as a criticism of the OP at all - this point just came up in conversation yesterday and I thought it was worth sharing! I find these posts really helpful and keep coming back to them as I think through all sorts of problems.

EA Survey Series 2019: How many EAs live in the main EA hubs?

I think some people might look at this to choose which EA hub to live in or where to found an organization (of course, not everyone can/should live in a hub).

I think it is easy to overlook the density of EAs when making such a decision: e.g. Oxford's population is ~60x smaller than London's and its land area is maybe 100-300x smaller. So the travel time to visit another random EA tends to be much lower, and it's a lot more likely that you bump into people on the street. (My impression is that Berkeley is somewhere between Oxford and London, but I don't know the details.)

CEA Mid-year update (2020)

Thanks for sharing this! I found it somewhat surprising that the scale of effect looks like it's bigger for comments vs. posts. (I imagine that the difference in significance is also partly that the sample size for posters is much smaller, so it's harder to reach a significance threshhold.)

EA Forum feature suggestion thread

I don't know if you've seen - that has a dark mode (in the left hand menu). 

What are some good charities to donate to regarding systemic racial injustice?

I think that applying EA principles and concepts to different areas is really valuable, even if they’re areas that EA hasn’t focused on a lot up to this point. I’m glad you asked this question!

CEA's Plans for 2020

I think a very common failure mode for CEA over the past ~5 years has been: CEA declares they are doing X, now no one else wants to or can get funding to do X, but CEA doesn't actually ever do X, so X never gets done.

I agree with this.  I think we've been making progress both in following through on what we say we'll do and in welcoming others to fill neglected roles, and I'd like to see us continue to make progress, particularly on the latter.

CEA's Plans for 2020

I agree that it’s important that CEA reliably and verifiably listens to the community.

I think that we have been listening, and we published some of that consultation - for instance in this post and in the appendix to our 2019 review (see for instance the EA Global section).

Over the next few months we plan to send out more surveys to community members about what they like/dislike about the EA community members, and as mentioned above, we’re thinking about using community member satisfaction as a major metric for CEA. If it did become a key metric, it’s likely that we would share some of that feedback publicly. 

We don’t currently have plans for a democratic structure, but we’ve talked about introducing some democratic elements (though we probably won’t do that this year). 

Whilst I agree that consultation is vital, I think the benefits of democracy over consultation are unclear. For instance, voters are likely to have spent less time engaging with arguments for different positions and there is a risk of factionalism. Also the increased number of stakeholders means that the space of feasible options is reduced because there are few options that a wide spread of the community could agree on, which makes it harder to pursue more ambitious plans. 

I think you’re right that this would increase community support for CEA’s work and make CEA more accountable. I haven’t thought a lot about the options here, and it may be that there are some mechanisms which avoid the downsides. I’d be interested in suggestions.

Anyway, I definitely think it’s important for CEA to listen to the community and be transparent about our work, and I hope to do more of that in the future.

CEA's Plans for 2020

Yes, we’ve thought about this. We currently think that it’s probably best for them to spin off separately, so that’s the main option under consideration, but we might change our minds (for instance as we learn more about which candidates are available, and what their strategic vision for the projects would be). 

This is a bit of a busy week for me, so if you’d like me to share more about our considerations, upvote this comment, and I’ll check back next week to see if there’s been sufficient interest.

CEA's Plans for 2020

I think this is a really important point, and one I’ve been thinking a lot about over the past month. As you say, I do think that having a strategy is an important starting point, but I don’t want us to get stuck too meta. We’re still developing our strategy, but this quarter we’re planning to focus more on object-level work.  Hopefully we can share more about strategy and object-level work in the future. 

That said, I also think that we’ve made a lot of object-level progress in the last year, and we plan to make more this year, so we might have underemphasized that. You can read more in the (lengthy, sorry!) appendix to our 2019 post, but some highlights are:

  • Responding to 63 community concerns (ranging from minor situations (request for help preparing a workshop about self-care at an event) to major ones (request for help working out what to do about serious sexual harassment in a local group)).
  • Mentoring 50 group organizers, funding 80 projects run by groups, running group organizer retreats and making 30 grants for full-time organizers, with 25 case studies of promising people influenced by the groups we funded.
  • Helping around 1000 EA Global attendees make eight new connections on average, with 350 self-reported minor plan changes and 50 self-reported major plan changes (note these were self-reports, so are nowhere near as vetted as e.g. 80k plan changes).
  • 85% growth over 10 months in our key Forum metric and 34% growth in views of EA Global talks.
  • ~50% growth in donations to EA Funds, and millions in reported donations from GWWC members

Of course, there are lots of improvements we still need to make, but I still feel happy with this progress, and with the progress we made towards more reliably following through on commitments (e.g. addressing some of the problems with EA Grants). 

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