Introducing Dialogues + Donation Debate Week

TL;DR: Donation Debate Week (21-28 November) has started! Just in time for it, we’ve added the Dialogue feature built by LessWrong[1], which allows you to create and publish a conversation with another user.

Consider using this thread to set up dialogues with people who disagree with your donation views!

New Forum feature: Dialogues! + It’s Donation Debate Week!
Set up a dialogue to debate someone about donation choice. Write a post about where you think people should donate or how people should vote in the Donation Election.

Donation Debate Week: discuss donation choice and how we should vote in the Donation Election

Donation Debate Week is a chance to stress-test your own thinking about donations, help others make better donation decisions, and move the needle in the Donation Election.

Some specific ways to participate in Donation Debate Week

(Not an exhaustive list!)

  • Comment on this post to find a dialogue partner for a debate about donation choice (or how people should vote). This could help you test the arguments that drive your personal donation choices and to clarify your uncertainties. (Example dialogues are here.)

    • Here are some example comments you could use to set up a Donation Debate Week dialogue:

      • “I think GiveWell’s Top Charities Fund is my best bet for a global health donation. Change my mind!”

      • “I can’t decide whether AI safety should be my top longtermist cause. Help me clarify my cruxes?”

      • “I’m skeptical of wild animal welfare work. Anyone want to debate with me? (Note: I might not end up having enough time.)”

      • “Is AI safety no longer neglected? I don’t want to donate because of this feeling. Up for having a dialogue with someone who disagrees.”

  • Write posts aimed at shifting how people think about donation choice (or where they’re voting).

    • (like this post arguing that the majority of OpenPhil’s neartermist funding should go to animal welfare).

  • Share estimates of the cost-effectiveness of some donation opportunities you’ve explored.

  • Read what others are writing.

  • Or, as always, ask a question, write a quick take, comment on other people’s posts, and upvote posts and comments you appreciate.

Voting for the Donation Election begins on December 1st, but it doesn’t close until December 15th, so don’t worry too much if your posts aren’t ready for this week.

Screenshot of the timeline

How dialogues work

We’ve just added this feature, so it might be buggy (contact us or comment here if you find bugs!) and we will probably be changing it a bit in the future. There’s also a chance that we’ll remove it entirely at some point if it isn’t getting much use.

Finding a partner for a dialogue

The first step to creating a dialogue is to find someone (or a small group of people) to have a dialogue with. Here are some suggestions for how you could find dialogue partners:

  • Asking someone you know, or private-messaging

  • Commenting on a post you’re interested in discussing with someone.

  • Commenting here if you’d like to talk about donation choice

  • Posting a quick take (inviting people to change your mind, discuss your uncertainties, or anything else)

Setting up the dialogue

To create the dialogue, hover your mouse over your profile in the top right corner.

Screenshot of what happens when you hover over your profile.

After you click on “New dialogue” you will get the following pop-up:

Screenshot of the pop-up

Title your dialogue. You can change this later. Add the participant(s). (You can add more participants later.) Click “create dialogue”. The other participants will get notified.

Writing and editing your dialogue

Next you’ll see the dialogue editor. Here, you can write and edit your dialogue collaboratively. Nothing is public or final until you decide to publish. The other participants will be able to see everything you write (even in your drafting box).

Screenshot of the dialogue editor

To write the body of the dialogue, use the drafting box with your username on it. Write your comment and click submit to insert it above the drafting boxes. You’ll be able to see the other participants’ comments as they write them.

Once you have both started writing, you can:

  • Suggest edits to the other participants’ comments by typing in their writing box or in one of their already submitted comments.

  • Move your comments around in the dialogue, or suggest moving your partner’s. To do this, hover over your submitted line of dialogue, and click and drag the square which appears above the top left corner.

You don’t have to write your dialogue in one sitting. However, to avoid your dialogue being deleted between sessions, make sure you “save as draft” when you exit the dialogue editor. You can find the “save as draft” button to the left of the publish button, right at the bottom of the page. You will get notifications when your co-author submits new comments.

When your dialogue is finished, any of the participants can publish the dialogue. You will appear as co-authors on the finished post. Your dialogue will be treated like a normal post.[2]

Example dialogues on LessWrong:

Example dialogue (a recreation of a discussion that happened before we shipped this post)


We’re announcing dialogues. It’d be a shame to not use a “dialogues” format for the announcement. I think we should really try to have a dialogue in the announcement post about this.


Hmm- but won’t that sound sort of corporate and cringey?


Yeah, I can see it sounding corporate-cutesy. Maybe we’ll think of something better in time (we should probably work on the main announcement for now, I guess).


Oh yeah we’ve got ages. I’m sure we’ll think of something!


I guess worst case, we can do some kind of silly meta thing where we talk about how we should announce it.

  1. ^
  2. ^

    I.e. it will appear on the Frontpage (rather than a special dialogues section)