What’s Changing With the New Forum?

This post is a guide to how the new Fo­rum differs from the origi­nal.

Some of these top­ics—for ex­am­ple, the new karma sys­tem and mod­er­a­tion stan­dards—are dis­cussed in more de­tail in the Fo­rum’s ini­tial an­nounce­ment post. The an­nounce­ment is a few months old, so this guide adds up-to-date in­for­ma­tion on cer­tain top­ics.

We also have a more gen­eral guide to the new Fo­rum, which cov­ers dis­cus­sion norms and post cre­ation. Some of the guide’s ma­te­rial is re­peated in this post.

If you have ques­tions or feed­back about the fo­rum, use the blue speech bub­ble in the lower-right-hand cor­ner of the screen to get in touch!

Categories

Posts on the new Fo­rum are split into two cat­e­gories:

Front­page posts are time­less con­tent cov­er­ing the ideas of effec­tive al­tru­ism. They’ll usu­ally be posts that are use­ful or in­ter­est­ing to a wide range of read­ers, but they can also dis­cuss more ad­vanced ideas.

Com­mu­nity posts in­clude dis­cus­sion of par­tic­u­lar is­sues within the com­mu­nity, or up­dates from or­ga­ni­za­tions. This con­tent may not have on­go­ing rele­vance, but is use­ful for in­creas­ing co­or­di­na­tion in the com­mu­nity in the short term, and dis­cussing im­por­tant com­mu­nity mat­ters.

We’ve made this a sep­a­rate cat­e­gory so that new users can learn about the ideas be­fore they en­gage with the com­mu­nity, and so that peo­ple can se­lect which types of con­tent they want to en­gage with.

If your post is about ap­ply­ing EA method­ol­ogy and per­spec­tives to the world, it will be moved to Front­page. It will go to Com­mu­nity if it is fo­cused on the EA com­mu­nity. Keep in mind which sec­tion you’re writ­ing for with each post.

If a post seems to fit both sec­tions, it will be moved to Com­mu­nity by de­fault, so that users around the world can dis­cuss ideas on Front­page with­out hav­ing to keep up-to-date on com­mu­nity is­sues.

You can view ei­ther cat­e­gory on its own page, or use the “All Posts” view to see ev­ery­thing. We may add more cat­e­gories later, but these are the only ac­tive ones.

Norms

We’ve been talk­ing with users about their ex­pe­rience en­gag­ing with the Fo­rum, and have some sug­ges­tions for al­tered norms that will re­solve some of the is­sues they raised.

What sort of posts do we en­courage?

  • We en­courage sum­maries and ex­pla­na­tions, and see them as the foun­da­tion of in­tel­lec­tual progress. De­bate is im­por­tant, but high-qual­ity de­bate is difficult un­less each side’s point of view has been clearly ex­plained, with sources that sup­port their claims.

  • We en­courage origi­nal re­search. We hope that stu­dents, aca­demics, and in­de­pen­dent re­searchers will post their work on the Fo­rum, even if it’s in­com­plete or un­pub­lished.

  • We en­courage un­pol­ished and shorter-form posts. We’d rather hear an idea that’s pre­sented im­perfectly than not hear it at all. If you’re strug­gling to pol­ish an idea, or a piece of writ­ing, oth­ers in the com­mu­nity may be able to help—but only if you share it! Our karma sys­tem pushes pop­u­lar posts to the top of the page, so you don’t have to worry that your post will “crowd out” other con­tent.

  • We en­courage linkposts. You can con­tribute a lot to the Fo­rum by shar­ing in­ter­est­ing ma­te­rial, whether or not you wrote it your­self. By shar­ing to the Fo­rum, you make it eas­ier for oth­ers to find the idea, and cre­ate a space to dis­cuss it.

Dis­cus­sion norms

In the past, we’ve re­ceived feed­back from some users who found post­ing on the Fo­rum to be in­timi­dat­ing. Posts some­times got a lot of crit­i­cism with­out many pos­i­tive sug­ges­tions, which led to brief and un­pro­duc­tive dis­cus­sion.

We want users to feel com­fortable and se­cure about post­ing new con­tent. To this end, we en­courage the use of sup­port­ive skep­ti­cism. It’s fine to crit­i­cize an idea, but it’s even bet­ter to sup­port its strongest parts, do your best to patch the holes in it, and be kind when hand­ing it back to its owner. The goal of the Fo­rum isn’t to defeat bad ideas; it’s to find good ideas, even when they ap­pear in the con­text of a flawed ar­gu­ment.

We also ac­cept anonymity. Many users pub­lish un­der their real names, but we’d rather you pub­lish un­der a pseudonym than not pub­lish at all.

Moderation

On the old EA Fo­rum, mod­er­a­tors mostly fo­cused on re­mov­ing spam and offen­sive posts. We don’t want to have much stronger mod­er­a­tion, but we do want to be a lit­tle more ac­tive, mostly aiming to en­courage the best users and main­tain the norms we’ve set out above.

We will do this ac­cord­ing to our mod­er­a­tion guidelines. Mostly, this will sim­ply in­volve giv­ing pos­i­tive feed­back to con­trib­u­tors, and we ex­pect to use mod­er­a­tion pow­ers (e.g. delet­ing com­ments) very rarely.

Features

Read­ing and Commenting

  • When you view a list of posts, those you haven’t read (or that have new com­ments) are high­lighted in blue.

  • When you view a list of posts, you’ll only see ti­tles by de­fault, but you can pre­view the con­tent by mous­ing over a ti­tle and click­ing “show high­light”.

  • You can click a user’s name to be taken to their pro­file; from there, you can see their past posts and com­ments, mes­sage them, and (new fea­ture!) sub­scribe to their con­tent (you’ll get a no­tifi­ca­tion when­ever they post).

  • You can turn your vote into a “strong vote”, which adds or sub­tracts more karma, by hold­ing the vote but­ton for an ex­tra mo­ment. Your up­votes and down­votes gain karma as you ac­cu­mu­late karma; see this post for de­tailed num­bers, and this post for sug­ges­tions on when to use strong votes.

Writing

  • The de­fault post ed­i­tor is a WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get), so posts will look the same on the Fo­rum as they do in your ed­i­tor.

  • You can use Ctrl-4 (Cmd-4 for Macs) to add LaTeX to a post; this is es­pe­cially use­ful for for­mat­ting equa­tions. We like this guide to writ­ing math in LaTeX.

  • You can re­quest au­to­matic cross-post­ing from your per­sonal blog to the EA Fo­rum, as long as you write about EA-rele­vant top­ics. Please fill in this form if you would like us to do this for you.

Prizes

CEA will fund monthly prizes for the best posts pub­lished on the EA Fo­rum. (We will do this for 3 months, and will con­sider fur­ther fund­ing based on re­sults.)

The prize amounts are as fol­lows:

  • First: $999

  • Se­cond: $500

  • Third: $200

The first con­test cov­ers any posts made in Novem­ber.

The win­ning posts will be de­ter­mined by a vote of the mod­er­a­tors (Max Dal­ton, Howie Lem­pel, Denise Melchin, and Ju­lia Wise) and the cur­rent top three Fo­rum users (Peter Hur­ford, Joey Savoie, and Rob Wiblin).

The mod­er­a­tion team uses the email ad­dress fo­rum@effec­tivealtru­ism.org; feel free to con­tact them with ques­tions or feed­back.