Reasons for/against Facebook & plans to migrate the community out of there
Epistemitc Status: My very rough thoughts. I am confident of the reasons for/against, but the last section is mostly speculation so I won’t attempt to clarify my certainty levels
Reasons for moving away from Facebook
Facebook promotes bad discussion norms (see Point 4 here)
Poor movement knowledge retention
Irritating to navigate: It’s easy to not be aware that certain groups exist (since there are dozens) and it’s annoying to filter through all the other stuff in Facebook to get to them
Extremely high switching costs
start-up costs (see Neels’ comment)
harder to pay attention to new platform
easier to integrate with existing scoial media
Offputting/intimidating to newer members
Past attempts haven’t taken off (e.g. the EA London Discussion Board, but that was also not promoted super hard)
Existing online space (the Forum) is a bit too formal/initimidating
How would we make the switch?
In order of increasing speculativeness
One subcommunity at a time. It seems like most EA groups are already more active in their spaces other than Facebook, but it would be interesting to see this replicated on the cause area level by understanding what the community members’ needs are and seeing if there’s a way to have alternatives.
Moving certain services found on Facebook to other sites: having a good opportunities board so people go to another place for ea jobs & volunteer opportunities, moving the editing & review group to the forum (?), making it easier for people to reach out to each other (e.g. EA Hub Community directory). Then it may be easier to move whatever is left (e.g. discussions) to a new platform.
Encouraging ~100 active community members to not use Facebook for a week as an experiment and track the outcomes
Make the Forum less intimidating so people feel more comfortable posting (profile pictures? Heart reacts? Embedded discord server or other chat function? Permanent Walled Garden?)
Things I’ll be tracking that might update me towards how possible this is
LessWrong’s experience with the Walled Garden
The EA Hub is improving our Community Directory & introducing some other services in 2021 possibly including 1-1 Matching and an Opportunities Board.
Cause area Slacks
Effective Environmentalism Slack group (not very active right now, but we haven’t done a lot of active efforts to encourage people to use the Slack yet. Might do this later in the year).
IIDM & Progress Studies Slack
Changes in Forum culture over time
If there are any EA groups or subcommunities already moving away from Facebook, please let me know so I can track you :)
I want to emphasise this point, since I think it applies to both new and more experienced members. I personally find it quite high mental load to actively pay attention to communities on a new platform. Some of these are start-up costs (learning a new interface etc), but there are also ongoing costs of needing to check the new site, etc. And it is much easier to add something to an existing place I already check
I don’t think the Forum is likely to serve as a good “group discussion platform” at any point in the near future. This isn’t about culture so much as form; we don’t have Slack’s “infinite continuous thread about one topic” feature, which is also present on Facebook and Discord, and that seems like the natural form for an ongoing discussion to take. You can configure many bits of the Forum to feel more discussion-like (e.g. setting all the comment threads you see to be “newest first”), but it feels like a round peg/square hole situation.
On the other hand, Slack seems reasonable for this!
There is also a quite active EA Discord server, which serves the function of “endless group discussions” fairly well, so another Slack workspace might have negligible benefits.
Another possible reason against might be:In some countries there is a growing number of people who intentionally don’t use Facebook. Even if their reasons for their decision may be flawed, it might make recruiting more difficult. While I perceive this as quite common among German academics, Germany might also just be an outlier.
Moving certain services found on Facebook to other sites: [...], making it easier for people to reach out to each other (e.g. EA Hub Community directory). Then it may be easier to move whatever is left (e.g. discussions) to a new platform.
I think the EA Hub is in a good position to grow and replace some of the functions that Facebook is currently being used for in the community.