Summary of Core Feedback Collected by CEA in Spring/​Summer 2019

Introduction

The Cen­tre for Effec­tive Altru­ism (CEA) aims to grow and main­tain the Effec­tive Altru­ism (EA) move­ment. As part of that work, it is im­por­tant for us to un­der­stand the needs, val­ues, and con­cerns of mem­bers of the EA com­mu­nity.

CEA col­lects feed­back from com­mu­nity mem­bers in a va­ri­ety of ways (see “CEA’s Feed­back Pro­cess” be­low). In the spring and sum­mer of 2019, we reached out to about a dozen peo­ple who work in se­nior po­si­tions in EA-al­igned or­ga­ni­za­tions to so­licit their feed­back. We were par­tic­u­larly in­ter­ested to get their take on ex­e­cu­tion, com­mu­ni­ca­tion, and brand­ing is­sues in EA. De­spite this fo­cus, the in­ter­views were open-ended and tended to cover the ar­eas each per­son felt was im­por­tant.

This doc­u­ment is a sum­mary of their feed­back. The feed­back is pre­sented “as is,” with­out any en­dorse­ment by CEA. This feed­back rep­re­sents a small (albeit in­fluen­tial) por­tion of the EA com­mu­nity, and should be con­sid­ered in con­text with other sources of feed­back.

This post is the first in a se­ries of up­com­ing posts where we aim to share sum­maries of the feed­back we have re­ceived. The sec­ond is here.

CEA’s Feed­back Process

CEA has, his­tor­i­cally, been much bet­ter at col­lect­ing feed­back than at pub­lish­ing the re­sults of what we col­lect. This post is part of our at­tempt to ad­dress that short­com­ing and pub­lish more feed­back, but, un­til more can be pub­lished, we want to share more de­tails about the types of feed­back we col­lect.

As some ex­am­ples of other sources of feed­back CEA has col­lected this year:

  • We have re­ceived about 2,000 ques­tions, com­ments and sug­ges­tions via In­ter­com (a chat wid­get on many of CEA’s web­sites) so far this year

  • We hosted a group lead­ers re­treat (27 at­ten­dees), a com­mu­nity builders re­treat (33 at­ten­dees), and had calls with or­ga­niz­ers from 20 EA groups ask­ing about what’s cur­rently go­ing on in their groups and how CEA can be helpful

  • Calls with 18 of our most pro­lific EA Fo­rum users, to ask how the Fo­rum can be made bet­ter.

  • A “medium-term events” sur­vey, where we asked ev­ery­one who had at­tended an In­di­vi­d­ual Outreach re­treat how the re­treat im­pacted them 6-12 months later. (53 re­sponses)

  • EA Global has an ad­vi­sory board of ~25 peo­ple who are asked for opinions about con­tent, con­fer­ence size, for­mat, etc., and we re­ceive 200-400 re­sponses to the EA Global sur­vey from at­ten­dees each time.

The feed­back sum­ma­rized in this doc­u­ment some­times agrees with other feed­back we have re­ceived, and some­times dis­agrees. This doc­u­ment gen­er­ally pre­sents feed­back “as is” in an at­tempt to give an ac­cu­rate sum­mary of peo­ple’s re­sponses, even if the feed­back here dis­agreed with opinions we have got­ten from other data sources.

Solu­tions Men­tioned in this Document

In ad­di­tion to ex­am­ples of con­cerns re­spon­dents raised, this doc­u­ment con­tains efforts CEA has im­ple­mented which may ad­dress the con­cern. Efforts are on­go­ing, so these ideas are not in­tended to be fi­nal solu­tions, and we will con­tinue to iter­ate as we gather more in­for­ma­tion about how things are work­ing. Ad­di­tion­ally, the solu­tions were not nec­es­sar­ily trig­gered by this feed­back – many of these pro­jects were started be­fore the feed­back round was run, were in­spired by other feed­back, etc.

Ex­ec­u­tive Summary

Things Which Are Go­ing Well

  1. CEA’s Com­mu­nity Health and Events Pro­jects. Re­spon­dents felt that the Com­mu­nity Health team does im­por­tant work to keep the com­mu­nity safe, and there is a strong ar­gu­ment for a cen­tral en­tity like CEA to over­see com­mu­nity health. EA Global is the “flag­ship” event of the com­mu­nity, and smaller events run by CEA were also pos­i­tively re­garded.

  2. EA Com­mu­nity Mem­bers are Smart, Ta­lented, and Thought­ful. Re­spon­dents fre­quently men­tioned that the EA com­mu­nity is com­prised of very smart, very promis­ing com­mu­nity mem­bers who ac­tu­ally care about the world. They felt that EAs were gen­er­ally fo­cused on im­por­tant ques­tions, and gen­uinely try­ing to get the right an­swers.

  3. EA Com­mu­nity Mem­bers are Kind. Re­spon­dents also men­tioned that EAs are “nice” or “kind” and have high in­tegrity norms.

Things Which Could Be Improved

  1. Ex­e­cu­tion Is­sues. Re­spon­dents men­tioned sev­eral times that CEA “over­promised and un­der de­liv­ered”. EA Grants is one ex­am­ple: CEA did not re­spond to ap­pli­cants with grant de­ci­sions in the time we promised. En­sur­ing that we are able to make good on all of our promises has been a key fo­cus of CEAs in 2019; for ex­am­ple, we did not have an open Grants round in 2019 to en­sure that we were not stretched thin.

  2. Com­mu­ni­ca­tion and Brand­ing Is­sues. Re­spon­dents felt that some CEA pro­jects, such as EA Global and the EA Fo­rum, con­tain con­tent which is not rep­re­sen­ta­tive of what they feel is the best of EA. CEA has worked to make EA Global talks more rep­re­sen­ta­tive, and to high­light the best con­tent on the Fo­rum.

  3. Com­mu­nity Wel­com­ing­ness. Sev­eral re­spon­dents men­tioned con­cerns with how wel­com­ing the com­mu­nity is (or seems) to out­siders. Com­mon con­cerns were a de­sire for more epistemic hu­mil­ity and wel­com­ing­ness to out­siders. CEA has in­tro­duced sev­eral pi­lot pro­jects, in­clud­ing the Guides pro­gram at EA Global, to be­gin to ad­dress these con­cerns in our own pro­grams. For ex­am­ple, the Guides pi­lot pro­ject at EA Global matches first-time at­ten­dees with re­turn­ing at­ten­dees, to cre­ate a warm wel­come. 87% of at­ten­dees at EA Global SF 2019 stated that “EA Global is a place where I felt wel­come.”

  4. De­mo­graphic Diver­sity. Re­spon­dents also men­tioned con­cerns about de­mo­graphic ho­mo­gene­ity in EA ham­per­ing the move­ment. CEA shares these con­cerns, as de­scribed in our state­ment on D&I. CEA has made some progress in this area. For ex­am­ple, when hiring CEA staff or re­cruit­ing EA Global speak­ers, we have pro­cesses in place to seek out ex­cel­lent can­di­dates from un­der­rep­re­sented groups. CEA staff and EA Global speak­ers are now ap­prox­i­mately evenly gen­der bal­anced. How­ever, we know we still have work to do here. We are pi­lot­ing pro­grams like Guides, Fel­low­ships, and af­finity group mee­tups at EA Global to build con­nec­tions, so­licit feed­back, and fur­ther move the nee­dle to­wards an EA that is more di­verse.

Things Which Are Go­ing Well

CEA’s Projects

Com­mu­nity Health

Re­spon­dents were uniformly pos­i­tive about CEA’s Com­mu­nity Health pro­ject. Ju­lia Wise has been the con­tact per­son for the com­mu­nity for sev­eral years, and Sky May­hew joined in Jan­uary 2019.

Some re­spon­dents com­pared the EA com­mu­nity to other com­mu­ni­ties they are a part of and felt that EA takes the safety and welfare of its con­stituents more se­ri­ously. Re­spon­dents noted that hav­ing some­one whose full-time job it is to help the com­mu­nity be healthy makes a se­ri­ous im­pact on the com­mu­nity’s welfare.

Sev­eral re­spon­dents had per­son­ally worked with CEA on pre­vi­ous com­mu­nity health cases, and felt that they were han­dled re­spon­si­bly, pro­fes­sion­ally, and with a com­mit­ment to con­fi­den­tial­ity and other best prac­tices.

Events

Re­spon­dents ap­pre­ci­ated CEA’s events, par­tic­u­larly EA Global. They felt that hav­ing an over­all con­fer­ence for the com­mu­nity was helpful and lends EA cred­i­bil­ity.

Re­spon­dents men­tioned that EA Global:

  • has smoothly run­ning lo­gis­tics,

  • is lower cost than most con­fer­ences,

  • has a wel­com­ing at­mo­sphere,

  • and is thought­ful about the ad­mis­sions process

EA Com­mu­nity Mem­bers are Smart, Ta­lented, and Thoughtful

Com­mu­nity Mem­bers are High Achievers

Re­spon­dents felt that the EA com­mu­nity is made up of ex­tremely smart and tal­ented peo­ple. EA has a large early-ca­reer de­mo­graphic, and re­spon­dents felt that those peo­ple gen­er­ally had promis­ing ca­reers ahead of them.

Re­spon­dents de­scribed com­mu­nity mem­bers as gen­er­ally an­a­lyt­i­cal and thought­ful. Com­mu­nity mem­bers have in­ter­nal­ized ideas around how im­por­tant it is to be care­ful, to be open to chang­ing one’s mind, be driven by one’s best un­der­stand­ing of the world, and be ac­cu­rate. Some re­spon­dents men­tioned that EA lead­ers have es­pe­cially strong epistemic rigor.

Re­spon­dents also stated that, be­cause the EA com­mu­nity is do­ing such im­por­tant work, EA has a very com­pel­ling pitch for a cer­tain sub­set of peo­ple, and has been suc­cess­ful in at­tract­ing them.

Com­mu­nity Mem­bers Gen­uinely Care

Sev­eral re­spon­dents felt that one of the most re­mark­able as­pects of the EA com­mu­nity is that peo­ple were not only ask­ing im­por­tant ques­tions but also gen­uinely try­ing to get the right an­swers and take ac­tions to make the world bet­ter based on those an­swers. Th­ese ques­tions re­volve around a gen­uine de­sire to help oth­ers and make the world a bet­ter place. EA com­mu­nity mem­bers are will­ing to make profound com­mit­ments to im­prove the world.

EA Com­mu­nity Mem­bers are Kind

Sev­eral re­spon­dents re­marked that EA com­mu­nity mem­bers are “nice” or “kind”. EA com­mu­nity mem­bers com­bine an­a­lyt­i­cal un­der­stand­ing with com­pas­sion and mo­ti­va­tion to be good.

Some re­spon­dents felt that the EA com­mu­nity is bet­ter at talk­ing things over and dis­agree­ing than other com­mu­ni­ties they are part of.

Over­all, re­spon­dents felt that the EA com­mu­nity serves as a “mag­net” for peo­ple who both care about the world and have an an­a­lytic and thought­ful ap­proach.

Things Which Could Be Improved

Ex­e­cu­tion Issues

Grants

Ex­e­cu­tion prob­lems in EA Grants were no­table to sev­eral re­spon­dents. Our cur­rent Grants staff mem­ber has a post forth­com­ing with a more in-depth re­view, and I will up­date this post with a link once that is pub­lished. Edit: that post is now pub­lished here.

Funds

Re­spon­dents men­tioned two broad con­cerns about EA Funds:

  1. Funds did not ad­e­quately com­mu­ni­cate with com­mu­nity mem­bers and donors.

  2. Funds was tar­geted to meet the needs of a small set of donors, but was ad­ver­tised to the en­tire EA com­mu­nity.

The first con­cern is re­lated to one listed on our mis­takes page:

Our short­com­ing: Dur­ing the first 21 months of the EA Funds, some funds made reg­u­lar dis­burse­ments of dona­tions but oth­ers dis­bursed more rarely than was ex­pected. Com­mu­nity mem­bers re­quested more trans­parency about how much money was in each fund and when it would likely be dis­bursed. In April 2018 we stated in a com­ment on the EA Fo­rum that we ex­pected to pub­lish a post with more in­for­ma­tion in the next few weeks, but we did not pub­lish more in­for­ma­tion un­til Au­gust 2018 (af­ter an ad­di­tional post from a com­mu­nity mem­ber ex­press­ing con­cerns).

Steps taken: In Oc­to­ber 2018, we an­nounced new man­age­ment teams for most of the funds, and a new three-times-yearly reg­u­lar grant­mak­ing sched­ule. We im­ple­mented a dash­board for each fund, where the pub­lic can see how much money is in each fund.

In ad­di­tion to the new man­age­ment teams, sched­ule and dash­board, we have im­ple­mented a sys­tem for proac­tively emailing donors who opt in when dis­tri­bu­tions are made, and sev­eral funds teams have posted reg­u­lar grant re­ports on the Fo­rum, in­clud­ing the Long Term Fu­ture Fund April recom­men­da­tion, which be­came one of the most com­mented Fo­rum posts of all time.

On the sec­ond con­cern: our ini­tial pro­posal for what the Funds might grant to in­cluded things like “Pro­vid­ing a fund­ing stream for more un­usual, risky, or time-sen­si­tive pro­jects, par­tic­u­larly where the Open Philan­thropy Pro­ject might have brand-risk con­cerns.” Many donors may not want their dona­tions go­ing to­wards “un­usual, risky, or time-sen­si­tive pro­jects”, and re­spon­dents were con­cerned that the Funds were ad­ver­tised to too broad a set of donors, in­clud­ing those for whom the Funds may not have been a good fit.

CEA has sev­eral pro­cesses which ad­dress this: (1) we’ve up­dated the Fund pages to more clearly ex­plain why some­one may choose not to donate to a fund (e.g. the Long-Term Fu­ture Fund), (2) we have pub­lished past grants, and (3) we don’t cur­rently un­der­take paid ad­ver­tis­ing, email mar­ket­ing, or di­rect out­reach to peo­ple out­side our net­works. Note that we do link to EA Funds from com­mu­nity-fo­cused web­sites such as Effec­tiveAltru­ism.org and have not pri­ori­tized re­mov­ing links to the Funds from those pages, which may have been a mis­take on our part (our staff does not have a con­sis­tent view on whether those links should be there).[1]

EAGx

Re­spon­dents re­ported con­cerns that CEA promised sup­port to EAGx or­ga­niz­ers that was not de­liv­ered. For ex­am­ple, we took a long time to re­spond to ques­tions from or­ga­niz­ers, and did not provide them with con­tent we had promised.

CEA has scaled back the num­ber of EAGx’s from 11 in 2016 to 3 in 2019, and in­creased the num­ber of staff work­ing on events, to en­sure that we can provide ap­pro­pri­ate lev­els of sup­port. Our mis­takes page has more de­tail.

Groups

Re­spon­dents pointed out that most of our groups, in­clud­ing some of our strongest groups at key uni­ver­si­ties, have never re­ceived a visit from CEA staff and that the amount of sup­port we provide to groups is limited. CEA has ex­panded our groups sup­port, in­clud­ing mak­ing the newslet­ter monthly, and pro­vid­ing Com­mu­nity Build­ing Grants. More in­for­ma­tion can be found in our 2019 up­date. More in­for­ma­tion about mis­takes can be found on our mis­takes page.

General

A gen­eral theme run­ning through all of these ex­am­ples is that CEA promised more than we de­liv­ered. In 2019, we have made a con­certed effort to be care­ful with our com­mit­ments and only agree to things we are con­fi­dent we can de­liver. This is re­flected in in­ter­nal pro­cesses, such as a com­mit­ments pro­ject in Asana where we record and reg­u­larly track progress on any com­mit­ments we have made, as well as ex­ter­nal hu­mil­ity in scal­ing back the num­ber of pro­grams and promises we make.

Com­mu­ni­ca­tion and Brand­ing Issues

EA Global

Re­spon­dents men­tioned two pri­mary con­cerns with past EA Global events:

  1. CEA at­tempt­ing to “push” ideas like longter­mism on at­ten­dees with­out trans­par­ent rea­son­ing.

  2. De­mo­graphic di­ver­sity at EA Global is not rep­re­sen­ta­tive of what re­spon­dents want.

Dy­lan Matthews’ ar­ti­cle about the EA Global SF 2015 con­fer­ence is one no­table ex­am­ple of the first con­cern: be­cause AI Safety was sim­ply pre­sented as a cru­cial prob­lem area for EA with­out back­ground in­for­ma­tion and rea­son­ing about why AI safety is so cru­cial, at­ten­dees (in­clud­ing Matthews him­self) were turned off. Re­spon­dents also men­tioned that some posters and themes at pre­vi­ous EAG’s felt in­sincere or pa­ter­nal­is­tic. Re­spon­dents gen­er­ally felt that re­cent EAG’s were sig­nifi­cantly bet­ter than ear­lier ones.

Our EA Global ad­vi­sory board was mixed on the ques­tion of whether to have pub­lic themes, with the ma­jor­ity say­ing they “nei­ther agree nor dis­agree” with our hav­ing pub­lic themes. In 2019 EA Global did not have pub­lic “themes”, and our con­tent was cho­sen in line with our view on rep­re­sen­ta­tive­ness. At EA Global SF 2019, for ex­am­ple: 9 talks were on AI, 7 on an­i­mal welfare, 7 on global health and de­vel­op­ment, 4 on hori­zon scan­ning and 9 on meta. We dis­cussed the theme of “stew­ard­ship” with each speaker as a way to en­courage them to think about wel­com­ing­ness and hu­mil­ity in en­gag­ing with out­side stake­hold­ers.

Diver­sity is dis­cussed be­low but re­spon­dents noted that, since EA Global is the “flag­ship” event of EA, de­mo­graphic skews at the event are es­pe­cially im­pact­ful.

EA Forum

Re­spon­dents felt that the qual­ity of con­tent on the Fo­rum is mixed, and that the posts are not always rep­re­sen­ta­tive of EA think­ing. For ex­am­ple: there have been 12 posts on psychedelics on the fo­rum in 2019, and only 4 on malaria, de­spite malaria be­ing a much more main­stream cause within EA. Re­spon­dents were par­tic­u­larly con­cerned that new­com­ers may get an in­ac­cu­rate pic­ture of what the com­mu­nity val­ues.

CEA has re­cently in­tro­duced the “com­mu­nity fa­vorites” sec­tion to bet­ter high­light high-qual­ity posts and is adapt­ing the Effec­tive Altru­ism Hand­book for the Fo­rum, to lead new read­ers through key ideas in EA. Our monthly Fo­rum prize high­lights what the mod­er­a­tors feel are the best posts and com­ments in that month. We also proac­tively reach out to high-qual­ity con­trib­u­tors to en­courage them to post con­tent, and make it easy for peo­ple and or­ga­ni­za­tions to cross­post to the EA fo­rum.

EA Community

Welcomingness

Re­spon­dents re­ported that while EAs are gen­er­ally kind, the EA com­mu­nity can be un­wel­com­ing to peo­ple who are un­fa­mil­iar with EA. This seems par­tic­u­larly true of so­cial events in the Berkeley area. Com­mon con­cerns were peo­ple not mak­ing an effort to reach out to new­com­ers and get them in­volved in con­ver­sa­tions, and peo­ple do­ing a “naïve con­se­quen­tial­ist” eval­u­a­tion of ev­ery­one they meet (an ex­treme ver­sion of this is some­thing like: “I only want to be friends with peo­ple who are work­ing on 80,000 Hours pri­or­ity paths”).

There is a cu­ri­ous ten­sion be­tween re­spon­dents re­port­ing the EA com­mu­nity as ex­cep­tion­ally nice while still re­port­ing it as be­ing some­times un­wel­com­ing. Re­spon­dents sug­gested a few pos­si­ble ex­pla­na­tions:

  1. Pri­ori­ti­za­tion is an in­her­ent part of EA, but it’s challeng­ing to do in a way that is not offputting. Given this, EAs are wel­com­ing, but that may still be un­wel­com­ing to cer­tain peo­ple.

  2. Similarly, EAs tend to use things like quan­ti­ta­tive mod­els in reg­u­lar speech, in a way which could be per­ceived as “cold” to out­siders.

  3. Fi­nally, re­spon­dents agreed that there was wide vari­a­tion among EAs in wel­com­ing­ness, and that this can ex­plain peo­ple’s differ­ent ex­pe­riences. Sev­eral re­spon­dents said some­thing to the effect of “most of the peo­ple I would want to in­tro­duce a promis­ing young per­son to are in­volved in EA, but many of the peo­ple in­volved in EA are not peo­ple I would want to in­tro­duce a promis­ing young per­son to.” The EA Face­book group was fre­quently cited as an ex­am­ple source of offputting con­ver­sa­tions, while peo­ple in lead­er­ship roles in EA or­ga­ni­za­tions were cited as be­ing un­usu­ally wel­com­ing/​friendly.

CEA hopes peo­ple will ex­pe­rience the EA com­mu­nity as ex­cep­tion­ally con­sid­er­ate. We are con­tinu­ally im­ple­ment­ing changes to hold our­selves ac­countable to this in­ter­nally. We think in­di­vi­d­u­als and lead­ers can make a differ­ence in their own com­mu­ni­ties and or­ga­ni­za­tions in this re­gard, and hope that our efforts en­courage oth­ers to do the same. As some ex­am­ples:

  1. On the Fo­rum, Aaron posts friendly and en­gaged com­ments on posts from first-time au­thors, both to im­prove those au­thors’ ex­pe­rience as well as pub­li­cly dis­play the kind of norms we want to see.

  2. EA Global SF 2019 pi­loted two pro­grams: the Guides pro­gram, which con­nects first-time at­ten­dees with more ex­pe­rienced at­ten­dees, and the Fel­low­ship pro­gram, which con­nects peo­ple in­ter­ested in a ca­reer path with oth­ers fur­ther along in that ca­reer path. 87% of at­ten­dees at EAG “agreed” or “strongly agreed” that “EA Global is a place where I felt wel­come.” Both pi­lots were suc­cess­ful and will be scaled up for EA Global Lon­don.

  3. Some CEA staff send a per­sonal mes­sage to a new­comer once per week thank­ing them for be­ing in­volved.

Epistemic Humility

Re­spon­dents felt that EAs some­times come across as over­con­fi­dent or ar­ro­gant, and that the com­mu­nity can be too in­ward-look­ing. They felt EAs should be pa­tient and open to peo­ple with differ­ent views who are se­ri­ously and thought­fully try­ing to en­gage in anal­y­sis of hard prob­lems. We should be mind­ful of our rel­a­tive in­ex­pe­rience about many things, and grate­ful for busy peo­ple who take the time to try to con­tribute their ideas.

Many of the pro­jects referred to in the “wel­com­ing­ness” sec­tion are also in­tended to help with hu­mil­ity, as CEA wants our pro­grams to re­flect our own com­mit­ments to the so­cial norms we want to see, in­clud­ing both wel­com­ing­ness and hu­mil­ity.

EA Global brings in thought lead­ers from out­side the EA com­mu­nity to speak on is­sues rele­vant to our work, such as Philip Tet­lock and Bon­nie Jenk­ins.

Diversity

Re­spon­dents re­ported that the rel­a­tive de­mo­graphic ho­mo­gene­ity of the EA com­mu­nity is a con­cern. Re­spon­dents were aware that the EA com­mu­nity ap­pears to be more young, white, ir­re­li­gious, male, and from Europe and North Amer­ica than the world as a whole, and gen­er­ally they agreed with CEA’s stance on di­ver­sity and in­clu­sion. They noted that un­der­rep­re­sen­ta­tion from cer­tain groups can con­tribute to EAs from some groups not feel­ing as wel­come as other com­mu­nity mem­bers, and re­duces the chances of achiev­ing our shared goal for a bet­ter fu­ture.

Re­spon­dents also men­tioned a de­sire for more di­ver­sity of in­tel­lec­tual back­grounds, skills, ex­pe­rience, and in­ter­ests. Some re­spon­dents were con­cerned that EA se­lects too heav­ily for cer­tain types of peo­ple (e.g. those in­ter­ested in quan­ti­ta­tive, to­tal­iz­ing moral frame­works) at the ex­pense of se­lect­ing out peo­ple with other rele­vant skills and ex­pe­rience. Some re­spon­dents felt ho­mo­gene­ity in these ar­eas is re­lated to or causes de­mo­graphic ho­mo­gene­ity (e.g. peo­ple with more ex­pe­rience tend to be older).

As men­tioned above, this is a con­cern CEA shares. We do not yet know all the ways that CEA might con­tribute to ad­dress­ing this con­cern, but we are very in­ter­ested in ex­plor­ing this ques­tion and con­tin­u­ing to sup­port di­ver­sity and in­clu­sion efforts in our or­ga­ni­za­tion and pro­grams.

We think do­ing good work on di­ver­sity and in­clu­sion should be about a lot more than mere num­bers of peo­ple; it should fo­cus on the ex­pe­riences of in­di­vi­d­u­als and groups. That said, we also think it can be helpful to have com­mon knowl­edge about cur­rent data. As of this writ­ing, CEA staff is 47% fe­male. 49% of speak­ers at EA Global Lon­don 2019 were fe­male (com­pared to 29% of re­spon­dents to the 2018 EA Sur­vey who iden­ti­fied as fe­male). 26% of speak­ers at EA Global Lon­don 2019 were peo­ple of color (com­pared to 22% of EA Sur­vey 2018 re­spon­dents who iden­ti­fied as non­white). For EA Global Lon­don (Oct 2019), we have added de­mo­graphic ques­tions to the reg­is­tra­tion form and post-event sur­vey, in the hopes that we can bet­ter com­pare at­tendee data to EA Sur­vey data in the fu­ture.

Ac­tu­ally Do­ing EA

Re­spon­dents pointed out that EA is hard: dig­ging through sources and cre­at­ing de­tailed mod­els is la­bo­ri­ous, time-con­sum­ing work. They were con­cerned that too few EAs are do­ing this work; for ex­am­ple, one per­son re­ported that ALLFED’s cost-effec­tive­ness model was the only cost-effec­tive­ness model they could re­call hav­ing been posted on the Fo­rum in the past year, and it re­ceived rel­a­tively few com­ments.

The past sev­eral months have seen a sig­nifi­cant uptick in the amount of de­tailed anal­y­sis on the Fo­rum. Luisa Ro­driguez’s work on nu­clear war, Leopold Aschen­bren­ner’s work on ex­is­ten­tial risk and eco­nomic growth, and Saulius Šimčikas’ work on an­i­mal welfare com­mit­ments are a few ex­am­ples.

Conclusion

The EA com­mu­nity has ac­com­plished a lot, but we have a long way to go. CEA greatly ap­pre­ci­ates re­spon­dents tak­ing the time to provide feed­back, and you tak­ing the time to read this.

We have two re­quests:

  1. First, if you have any feed­back for CEA as a whole, please feel free to email me (ben.west@cen­tre­fore­ffec­tivealtru­ism.org) or fill out this form. We are also happy to con­nect you to spe­cific pro­ject own­ers.

  2. Se­cond, we en­courage you to be ex­em­plars of the wel­com­ing, hum­ble, and in­tel­lec­tu­ally rigor­ous com­mu­nity our re­spon­dents felt was im­por­tant for suc­cess, and to keep en­courag­ing us at CEA to do the same.

Credits

(Note: Un­like most of my posts on the fo­rum, this is writ­ten in my offi­cial ca­pac­ity at CEA.) Al­most ev­ery­one at CEA con­tributed to writ­ing this doc­u­ment, but I would like to es­pe­cially thank Sky May­hew, Ju­lia Wise, and Amy Labenz for sub­stan­tive ed­its. I would also like to thank the peo­ple who pro­vided feed­back for their care­ful thoughts and be­ing gen­er­ous with their time.


  1. A pre­vi­ous ver­sion of this ar­ti­cle said that CEA “does not cur­rently proac­tively ad­ver­tise EA funds”; it has been up­dated to clar­ify that we do link to it from some web­sites, but do not do other sorts of ad­ver­tise­ment. ↩︎