The Frontpage/​Community distinction

Note: As of 24 Au­gust 2020, we no longer have a sep­a­rate “Com­mu­nity” cat­e­gory for posts. In­stead, posts about the EA com­mu­nity will get a “Com­mu­nity” tag. This page is gen­er­ally out­dated, other than the sec­tion about which fea­tures of a post might lead to a “Per­sonal Blog” des­ig­na­tion.

Up­dated 20 May 2019 to add the “Per­sonal Blog” sec­tion and clar­ify some differ­ences be­tween Front­page and Com­mu­nity con­tent.

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This is a refer­ence post to ex­plain the dis­tinc­tion be­tween the EA Fo­rum’s Front­page and Com­mu­nity sec­tions. We’ll up­date this post over time to add ex­am­ples and clar­ifi­ca­tions.

As we’ve dis­cussed be­fore, we have two differ­ent sec­tions for dis­cus­sion. The rea­son to have two sec­tions is to:

  • Allow peo­ple who are newer to the com­mu­nity to be­come en­gaged with core ideas be­fore en­gag­ing with com­mu­nity dis­cus­sion, which might seem in­su­lar or con­fus­ing to peo­ple not aware of the speci­fics.

  • Allow peo­ple to choose to en­gage with quite differ­ent types of con­tent.

The Front­page is for dis­cussing ideas rele­vant to do­ing the most good, which we ex­pect to be use­ful even to peo­ple who are not par­tic­u­larly in­volved with the effec­tive al­tru­ism com­mu­nity.

Most Front­page posts will be rel­a­tively “time­less”, cov­er­ing top­ics which one would ex­pect to still be rele­vant in 5-10 years. Of course, as we make progress on these re­search ques­tions, some of the con­tent may be su­per­seded, but the top­ics are likely to stick around.

Front­page con­tent also shouldn’t make sig­nifi­cant refer­ence to or­ga­ni­za­tions, in­di­vi­d­u­als, or events in the com­mu­nity. This is not to say that Front­page posts can’t as­sume prior knowl­edge: it’s use­ful for mak­ing progress that some core con­cepts can be as­sumed. But it should not be as­sumed that you’re so­cially con­nected with the com­mu­nity, or fa­mil­iar with the or­ga­ni­za­tions in the com­mu­nity.

Ex­am­ples of Front­page posts:

The Com­mu­nity sec­tion is for dis­cus­sion of com­mu­nity top­ics, or­ga­ni­za­tional up­dates, and more situ­a­tion-spe­cific posts:

Ex­am­ples of Com­mu­nity posts:

We also have a third cat­e­gory: “Per­sonal Blog”. All posts start in this cat­e­gory by de­fault, and some are then moved to Front­page or Com­mu­nity.

Ex­am­ples of posts which might stay in the “Per­sonal Blog” cat­e­gory:

  • Posts re­lated to per­sonal health or pro­duc­tivity (un­less there is a clear con­nec­tion to EA work; for ex­am­ple, a post on re­search pro­duc­tivity)

  • Posts whose au­thors asked mod­er­a­tors not to move them (e.g. be­cause they want a post to be read by a smaller au­di­ence, rather than pro­moted to ev­ery Fo­rum vis­i­tor)

  • Posts that don’t in­vite dis­cus­sion (e.g. an un­usual ques­tion about a Fo­rum fea­ture that a sin­gle mod­er­a­tor can an­swer in full)

  • Posts not aimed at a broad au­di­ence (e.g. an ad­ver­tise­ment for a lo­cal event in an area with­out many EA com­mu­nity mem­bers)

  • Posts that ap­pear to be rough drafts or oth­er­wise in­com­plete (mod­er­a­tors will mes­sage au­thors in these cases; it’s not un­com­mon for a post to be ac­ci­den­tally pub­lished be­fore it is finished)

  • Posts that pro­mote com­mer­cial prod­ucts or services

  • Posts that are un­re­lated or only loosely re­lated to effec­tive al­tru­ism

If your post con­tains some gen­eral points, but you also want to point out how it re­lates to a spe­cific cir­cum­stance, we recom­mend:

  1. Limit­ing dis­cus­sion of the spe­cific cir­cum­stance to a para­graph or two, and fo­cus­ing most of your post on gen­eral points. This will keep the post el­i­gible for Front­page des­ig­na­tion. If the post isn’t clearly weighted to­ward gen­eral con­tent, we will put it in the Com­mu­nity sec­tion.

  2. Alter­na­tively, you can cre­ate two sep­a­rate posts that you link to each other: a Front­page post dis­cussing your gen­eral points, and a Com­mu­nity post go­ing into more de­tail about your spe­cific cir­cum­stance.

Of course, this dis­tinc­tion is likely to re­main some­what fuzzy. Posts are more likely to be on Front­page the more “time­less” they are, the less they make refer­ence to par­tic­u­lar events and or­ga­ni­za­tions, and the more they set out facts/​con­sid­er­a­tions rather than try­ing to per­suade. But some­times, we will have to make judg­ment calls.

We an­ti­ci­pate edge cases around as­sess­ments of the (rel­a­tive) value of or­ga­ni­za­tions. If these as­sess­ments are fo­cused on the prin­ci­ples of as­sess­ing effec­tive­ness or the effec­tive­ness of differ­ent in­ter­ven­tions, they are likely to be on the Front­page, whereas posts on the op­er­a­tions of par­tic­u­lar or­ga­ni­za­tions, or in­ci­dents re­lat­ing to those or­ga­ni­za­tions, are likely to be in Com­mu­nity.

Com­ments on Front­page posts which are fo­cused on top­ics which are nor­mally dis­cussed in Com­mu­nity will be re­moved. (The text of re­moved com­ments will be sent to their au­thor, along with the rea­sons for dele­tion.) Users are en­couraged to start a sep­a­rate thread for dis­cus­sion in Com­mu­nity, and link from the Com­mu­nity dis­cus­sion to the Front­page dis­cus­sion.

Moder­a­tors will de­cide which posts are moved to the Front­page or Com­mu­nity sec­tion—users need only pub­lish their posts. All posts be­gin in the Per­sonal Blog cat­e­gory by de­fault. We are happy to dis­cuss the prin­ci­ples be­hind mod­er­a­tion, and will some­times (but not always) be available to dis­cuss mod­er­a­tion de­ci­sions.