Running an AMA on the EA Forum

AMAs (“Ask Me Anything”) are some of my favorite posts on the Forum, and I’d love to see more of them.

I sometimes ask specific people if they’d like to run AMAs, but you don’t need an invitation to do this! Anyone can run an AMA if they want to.

How do AMAs work?

  1. (Optional) You can reach out to me if you have questions or concerns.

  2. You write a post explaining who you are, and what sorts of things you’d like to answer questions about.

  3. You tell people when you plan to answer questions, and whether you’ll still answer more questions that pop up after that.

  4. You hit “publish”, and then share the post as you see fit (the more places you tell people you’re running an AMA, the more questions you’ll get).

Two great examples of AMA posts: Ajeya Cotra and Owen Cotton-Barratt (you can also check the tag for lots of other examples)

Other notes

  • You don’t have to commit to answering every question. Feel free to set a narrow window for when you plan to respond, and to skip questions as you see fit.

  • You don’t have to share your name to run an AMA. However, if you want to run one anonymously, a moderator may reach out to ask for evidence about your experience (this is standard practice on Reddit, where the AMA format first became popular).

  • We frequently pin AMAs and share them on social media, but this may depend on what else is pinned/​being shared when your AMA goes up — I can’t guarantee it for any specific AMA.

What makes a good AMA?

Some good reasons you could run an AMA (though I’m sure there are others I haven’t thought of):

  • Your job has some relation to EA’s goals and you want to share your experiences

    • Note that this doesn’t just mean “working at an organization with an explicitly EA mission”. It could also mean:

      • Working at a nonprofit in an EA-linked area (e.g. the Gates Foundation)

      • Working at a for-profit in an EA-linked area (e.g. Impossible Foods)

      • Working in a position where you’ve learned things about running an organization well (e.g. COO at a fast-growing startup)

      • Working in a position where you know a lot about some area that is important to EA’s mission (e.g. political lobbyist)

  • You know a lot about something EA-related and want to share your knowledge

    • Example #1: A PhD student in economics who recently worked on an RCT in Kenya and can answer questions about “on-the-ground” development work

    • Example #2: An avid reader who’s been exploring nuclear policy for fun and has a strong grasp of that literature

    • Example #3: Michael Aird gave this a try, and I really appreciate him for it!

  • You have some other experience you think people on the Forum would benefit from hearing about

    • Example #1: You grew up in an area with a lot of extreme poverty and have firsthand experience with the types of people GiveWell’s charities aim to help

    • Example #2: Your parents own a farm that raises animals for large meat producers, and you have firsthand experience with that industry (and with how some farmers react to animal welfare efforts)

    • Example #3: You’ve run a bunch of AI-box experiments and have thoughts on what they tell us about AI alignment (or maybe you think the whole thing was a waste of time, which would also be interesting to hear about)

If you have a very narrow range of things you want to talk about, a regular post might be better than an AMA (e.g. a post summarizing a research paper you wrote, rather than an AMA about the paper). But there’s nothing wrong with trying the AMA option.

Any questions?

If you think you might want to run an AMA, but have questions or concerns, I’d be happy to talk!

Write to me at aaron.gertler@centreforeffectivealtruism.org, or send me a message on the Forum, and I’ll be in touch soon.