EA Forum Prize: Winners for November 2018

CEA is pleased to an­nounce the win­ners of the Novem­ber 2018 EA Fo­rum Prize!

In first place (for a prize of $999*): ste­fan.torges, “Take­aways from EAF’s Hiring Round”.

In sec­ond place (for a prize of $500): San­jay, “Why we have over-rated Cool Earth”.

In third place (for a prize of $250): AdamGleave, “2017 Donor Lot­tery Re­port”.

*As it turns out, a prize of $1000 makes the ac­count­ing more difficult. Who knew?

What is the EA Fo­rum Prize?

Cer­tain posts ex­em­plify the kind of con­tent we most want to see on the EA Fo­rum. They are well-re­searched and well-or­ga­nized; they care about in­form­ing read­ers, not just per­suad­ing them.

The Prize is an in­cen­tive to cre­ate posts like this, but more im­por­tantly, we see it as an op­por­tu­nity to show­case ex­cel­lent con­tent as an ex­am­ple and in­spira­tion to the Fo­rum’s users.

That said, the win­ning posts weren’t “ex­clu­sively” great. Our users pub­lished dozens of ex­cel­lent posts in the month of Novem­ber, and we had a hard time nar­row­ing down to three win­ners. (There was even a three-way tie for third place this month, so we had to have a runoff vote!)

About the Novem­ber winners

While this wasn’t our ex­press in­tent, Novem­ber’s win­ners wound up rep­re­sent­ing an in­ter­est­ing cross-sec­tion of the ways the EA com­mu­nity cre­ates con­tent.

Take­aways from EAF’s Hiring Round uses the ex­pe­rience of an es­tab­lished EA or­ga­ni­za­tion to draw les­sons that could be use­ful to many other or­ga­ni­za­tions and pro­jects. The hiring pro­cess is doc­u­mented so thor­oughly that an­other per­son could fol­low it al­most to the let­ter, from ini­tial re­cruit­ment to a fi­nal de­ci­sion. The au­thor shares abun­dant data, and ex­plains how EAF’s find­ings changed their own views on an im­por­tant topic.

Why we have over-rated Cool Earth is a clas­sic ex­am­ple of in­de­pen­dent EA re­search. The au­thor con­sults pub­lic data, runs his own statis­ti­cal analy­ses, and reaches out to a char­ity with di­rect ques­tions, bring­ing light to a sub­ject on which the EA com­mu­nity doesn’t have much knowl­edge or ex­pe­rience. He also offers al­ter­na­tive sug­ges­tions to fight cli­mate change, all while pro­vid­ing enough num­bers that any reader could dou­ble-check his work with their own as­sump­tions.

To quote one com­ment on the post:

This sort of eval­u­a­tion, which has the po­ten­tial to rad­i­cally change the con­sen­sus view on a char­ity, seems sig­nifi­cantly un­der-sup­plied in our com­mu­nity, even though in­di­vi­d­ual in­stances are tractable for a lone in­di­vi­d­ual to pro­duce.

2017 Donor Lot­tery Re­portis a differ­ent kind of re­search post, from an in­di­vi­d­ual who briefly had re­sources com­pa­rable to an en­tire or­ga­ni­za­tion—and used his for­tu­nate po­si­tion to col­lect in­for­ma­tion and share it with the com­mu­nity. He ex­plains his philo­soph­i­cal back­ground and search pro­cess to clar­ify the limits of his anal­y­sis, and shares the met­rics he plans to use to eval­u­ate his grants (which adds to the po­ten­tial value of the post, since it opens the door for a fol­low-up post ex­am­in­ing his re­sults).

Qual­ities shared by all three win­ners:

  • Each post had a clear hi­er­ar­chy of in­for­ma­tion, helping read­ers nav­i­gate the con­tent and mak­ing dis­cus­sion eas­ier. Each au­thor seems to have kept read­ers in mind as they wrote. This is cru­cial when post­ing on the Fo­rum, since much of a post’s value re­lies on its be­ing read, un­der­stood, and com­mented upon.

  • The au­thors didn’t over­state the strength of their data or analy­ses, but also weren’t afraid to make claims when they seemed to be war­ranted. We en­courage Fo­rum posts that pri­ori­tize in­for­ma­tion over opinion, but that doesn’t mean that in­for­ma­tive posts need to avoid opinion: some­times, find­ings point in the di­rec­tion of an in­ter­est­ing con­clu­sion.

The vot­ing process

All posts made in the month of Novem­ber, save for those made by CEA staff, qual­ified for vot­ing.

Prizes were cho­sen by seven peo­ple. Four of them are the Fo­rum’s mod­er­a­tors (Max Dal­ton, Howie Lem­pel, Denise Melchin, and Ju­lia Wise). The other three are the EA Fo­rum users who had the most karma at the time the new Fo­rum was launched (Peter Hur­ford, Joey Savoie, and Rob Wiblin).

All vot­ers ab­stained from vot­ing for con­tent writ­ten by them­selves or by or­ga­ni­za­tions they worked with. Other­wise, they used their own in­di­vi­d­ual crite­ria for choos­ing posts, though they broadly agree with the goals out­lined above.

Win­ners were cho­sen by an ini­tial round of ap­proval vot­ing, fol­lowed by a runoff vote to re­solve ties.

Next month

The Prize will con­tinue with rounds for De­cem­ber and Jan­uary! After that, we’ll eval­u­ate whether we plan to keep run­ning it (or per­haps change it in some way).

We hope that the Fo­rum’s many ex­cel­lent Novem­ber posts will provide in­spira­tion for more great ma­te­rial in the com­ing months.

Feed­back on the Prize

We’d love to hear any feed­back you have about the EA Fo­rum Prize. Leave a com­ment or con­tact Aaron Gertler with ques­tions or sug­ges­tions.