How to use the Forum

Effec­tive al­tru­ism is a joint effort. Our goal is to make the EA Fo­rum the cen­tral place for col­lab­o­ra­tive dis­cus­sion about how to do the most good we can.

What we’re aiming for

We en­courage:

  • Writ­ing that is ac­cu­rate, kind, and rele­vant to the dis­cus­sion at hand.

  • Scout mind­set: “The drive not to make one idea win or an­other lose, but to see what’s there as hon­estly and ac­cu­rately as you can.”

  • Clar­ity about what you be­lieve, your rea­sons for be­liev­ing it, and what would cause you to change your mind.

  • Mak­ing con­crete pre­dic­tions where pos­si­ble.

  • Sum­mary ar­ti­cles: Distill­ing pre­vi­ous ideas and de­bates can be re­ally use­ful, be­cause it al­lows peo­ple to get up to speed quickly and build on pre­vi­ous knowl­edge.

We don’t worry much about:

  • Pol­ish: We’d rather hear an idea that’s pre­sented im­perfectly than not hear it at all.

We dis­cour­age (and may delete):

  • Un­nec­es­sary rude­ness or offensiveness

  • Ma­te­ri­als ad­vo­cat­ing ma­jor harm or ille­gal activities

  • Abuse

  • Spam

  • Other be­hav­ior that in­terferes with good discourse

Other poin­t­ers:

  • When you dis­agree with some­one, ap­proach it with cu­ri­os­ity: try to work out why they think what they think, and what you can learn from each other.

  • When you crit­i­cize some­one’s point, con­sider do­ing so sup­port­ively.

  • Keep an eye out for ways you might be bi­ased — ide­olo­gies, peo­ple, or causes that you’re par­tic­u­larly at­tached to.

  • Try to fo­cus on im­por­tant ques­tions, and the im­por­tant parts of im­por­tant ques­tions to keep con­tent use­ful and to the point.

  • You can flag ma­te­rial that you think is in­ap­pro­pri­ate for the site, and the mod­er­a­tors will take a look.

Sign­ing up

Any­one is wel­come to sign up for an ac­count on the Fo­rum. How­ever, your first post or com­ment won’t show up right away. As an anti-spam mea­sure, one of the Fo­rum’s mod­er­a­tors will check the first post or com­ment from each new user be­fore au­to­mat­i­cally ap­prov­ing their fu­ture posts and com­ments.

If more than 24 hours pass and you still don’t see your post or com­ment, please con­tact Aaron Gertler, our lead mod­er­a­tor.

Find­ing content

See this post for in­for­ma­tion on how we sort posts into differ­ent cat­e­gories.

Front­page posts

This is the space for most ma­te­rial about how to do good effec­tively.

All posts

Select the “Daily” sec­tion to see posts in all cat­e­gories, sorted chronolog­i­cally.

Community

This is the place for posts about the EA com­mu­nity it­self (in­clud­ing EA or­ga­ni­za­tions) rather than ob­ject-level dis­cus­sion.

Fol­low­ing users

Love some­one’s work? Click their user­name and you’ll see the op­tion to “sub­scribe to this user’s posts.” You’ll see their new posts in your no­tifi­ca­tion area.

Writ­ing content

Up­date: You can get feed­back on drafts you’ve writ­ten, or ideas for a post you’d like to write, from Aaron Gertler, a Fo­rum mod­er­a­tor and CEA con­tent writer.

You can make a new post by click­ing on your user­name in the up­per right and se­lect­ing “new post.”

You can use posts to jot quick ideas or ques­tions, to pub­lish pol­ished re­search, or any­thing in be­tween.

A post will be more visi­ble to other users as it gets more up­votes.

Per­sonal blog posts

By de­fault, your posts will be pub­lished to your per­sonal blog on your pro­file page. Other users can fol­low your page to see no­tifi­ca­tions when you post.

Link posts

We en­courage you to post links to con­tent from other sites. You can do this by se­lect­ing the link icon when you go to make a new post. When you post links, please ei­ther quote or write a sum­mary of the con­tent to get dis­cus­sion go­ing.

Front­page and Com­mu­nity posts

If you’re writ­ing about ideas rele­vant to do­ing the most good, and which might be use­ful even to peo­ple who aren’t closely in­volved with the EA com­mu­nity, your post will be moved to the “Front­page” sec­tion and be visi­ble on the front page of the fo­rum.

If you’re writ­ing about the EA com­mu­nity it­self, giv­ing an or­ga­ni­za­tional up­date, or dis­cussing strate­gies for com­mu­nity build­ing, your post will be moved to the “Com­mu­nity” sec­tion, which can be ac­cessed from the fo­rum’s side­bar menu.

For more on this dis­tinc­tion, see this post.

Ques­tion posts

You can se­lect “Ask Ques­tion” from the main menu to cre­ate a “ques­tion post”. Th­ese have a slightly differ­ent for­mat which sep­a­rates an­swers from dis­cus­sion about the post. They work for any ques­tion, but we hope they’ll be es­pe­cially use­ful to peo­ple who are new to effec­tive al­tru­ism and want to learn more.

(It’s to­tally fine to ask ba­sic ques­tions about EA con­cepts, even if you think they might have sim­ple an­swers! The Fo­rum is meant to be a re­source for the whole com­mu­nity, in­clud­ing peo­ple at any level of ex­pe­rience.)

Karma

When you vote ar­ti­cles up and down, you give the users karma points. The karma points are equal to the num­ber of up­votes minus the down­votes, and by de­fault, the higher rated posts are more visi­ble. The karma is the num­ber shown next to each post or com­ment.

You don’t need any karma to post, com­ment, or vote.

Voting

You can vote up or down on posts and com­ments. For con­tent you think is es­pe­cially good or bad, you can give a “strong up­vote” or “strong down­vote” by click­ing and hold­ing (on a com­puter) or dou­ble-tap­ping (on mo­bile). The strength of your votes is af­fected by your level of karma; more de­tails here.

You are en­couraged to also leave con­struc­tive feed­back about what was helpful or un­helpful about the ma­te­rial you’re vot­ing on:

“That ex­am­ple helped clear things up for me.”

“I didn’t find this rele­vant.”

“Mass vot­ing” on large por­tions of a user’s con­tent sim­ply be­cause it be­longs to that user is not ac­cept­able. Please judge each post or com­ment on its own mer­its.


Aside from mass vot­ing, you can vote us­ing any other crite­ria you choose. If it helps, you could con­sider these recom­men­da­tions from a fo­rum which uses the same vot­ing sys­tem. Here’s an ed­ited ex­cerpt:

Con­ver­sa­tional Flow (nor­mal votes): Use nor­mal votes when you like (or dis­like) the effect a com­ment has on a con­ver­sa­tion.

  • “Ah, good point.” (+)

  • “Hmm. This gives me some­thing to think about.” (+)

  • “Thanks for cit­ing your sources!” (+)

  • “I think this con­tains an er­ror.” (-)

  • “This is tech­ni­cally fine, but an­noy­ing to read.” (-)

  • “I don’t think you’re be­ing very char­i­ta­ble.” (-)

Im­por­tant Con­tent (strong votes): Use strong votes when you think other peo­ple should go out of their way to read some­thing (or definitely avoid it).

  • “I learned some­thing new and use­ful.” (++)

  • “The ar­gu­men­ta­tion or thought pro­cess here im­proved the way I think.” (++)

  • “This con­tains many fac­tual er­rors or a lot of bad rea­son­ing.” (--)

  • “This is liter­ally spam.” (--)

Profile

Let other users know more about you. To edit your user pro­file, click your user­name in the up­per right and se­lect “Pro­file.”

It’s fine to make a pseudony­mous ac­count in or­der to ex­press views you wish to keep anony­mous. It’s not ac­cept­able to vote mul­ti­ple times on the same ma­te­rial, to use mul­ti­ple ac­counts to ex­press the same opinion mul­ti­ple times, or to im­per­son­ate other peo­ple.

Moderators

Cur­rently (as of March 2019), mod­er­a­tors are Denise Melchin, Aaron Gertler, and Ju­lia Wise, and the mod­er­a­tion team uses the email ad­dress fo­rum-mod­er­a­tion@effec­tivealtru­ism.org. Please feel free to con­tact us with ques­tions or feed­back.

Moder­a­tors can access

  • The IP ad­dress a post/​com­ment came from

  • Vot­ing his­tory of users

  • Iden­tity of vot­ers on any given post/​comment

This in­for­ma­tion will only be used to iden­tify be­hav­ior such as “sock­pup­pet” ac­counts and mass down­vot­ing. The mod­er­a­tors will not view or use this in­for­ma­tion for any other pur­pose.

Support

If you no­tice a bug, have a ques­tion about us­ing the Fo­rum, or want to offer a sug­ges­tion, you can reach our sup­port team us­ing In­ter­com (the blue chat box on your screen). You can also email the team at fo­rum-sup­port@effec­tivealtru­ism.org.