Our programs exist to have a positive impact on the world, rather than to serve the effective altruism community as an end goal. This unfortunately means EAs will sometimes be disappointed because of decisions we’ve made — though if this results in the world being a worse place overall, then we’ve clearly made a mistake. This is one of the hard parts about how EA is both a community and a professional space.
Naturally, people want to know things like
- Why didn’t I get admitted to a conference, when EA is really important to me and I’m taking actions inspired by EA?
- Why didn’t my friend get admitted to a conference, when they seem like a good applicant?
We can understand why people would often like feedback on what they could have done differently or what they can try next time to get a better result. Or they just want to know what happened. When we have a specific idea about what would improve someone’s chances (like “you didn’t give much detail on your application, could you add more information?”) we’ll often give it.
But we get thousands of applications and we don’t think it’s the best use of our staff’s time to give specific feedback about all of them. Often we don’t have constructive feedback to give.
Many of the things that go into a decision are not easy to pin down — how well we think you understand EA, how we think you’ll add to the social environment, how much we think you’ll benefit from the event given the program we’ve prepared, etc. These things are subjective, and in a lot of cases, reasonable people could disagree about what call to make. There are also cases where we’ll just make mistakes (by our own standards), sometimes in favor of an applicant and sometimes against them.
How we communicate about our programs
In responding to public discussion of our programs, sometimes we’ve gotten more in the weeds than we think was ideal. We’ve provided rebuttals or more information about some points but not others, which makes people understandably confused about how much information to expect from us and what the full picture is. It also uses a lot of our staff time. As the EA community grows, we need to adjust how we handle communications with the community.
What you should expect from us going forward:
- When we think there are significant updates to our programs that the community should know about, or when there seems to be widespread confusion or misunderstanding about a particular topic, we’ll likely write a post (like this one).
- We’ll likely be less involved in the comments or extended public back-and-forth.
- We’ll read much of the public feedback about our programs, and will definitely read feedback you send directly to us (unless it’s extraordinarily long). We won’t respond in-depth to much of the feedback, though.
- Our programs are a work in progress, and we’ll take feedback into account as we try to improve them.
What we hope you’ll do:
- Feel free to express your criticisms, observations, and advice about our programs. This could be publicly if you think that’s best, or by writing to us directly. Our contact form can be filled out anonymously. Or you can reach specific programs at firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, or firstname.lastname@example.org, or community health’s form.
- In general, we think it’s a good idea to fact-check public criticisms before publishing. If you send us something to fact-check, we’ll try to do so.
- If you think we’ve missed important considerations or information on a decision, like about someone’s application, you can send us additional information.
On events specifically:
- We try to run a range of events that serve the breadth of the community.
- We recognize that there are people who are really dedicated to doing good, but whose approach isn’t a good fit for all our events.
- For example, people working all kinds of jobs and donating have historically been the lifeblood of EA. CEA wouldn’t exist without these people. But EA Global is mostly geared toward people who are making other kinds of decisions.
- There are a lot of options besides EAG. The EAGx conference series serves about twice as many people as the EAG conferences, has broader admissions standards, and takes place in a much wider variety of places (including virtually). Giving What We Can has virtual events year-round connecting members. A lot of the action is in local groups around the world. Some groups have organized unconferences and other more social events. The EA Forum and other online spaces are useful spaces to swap research, ideas, and advice. Virtual programs provide discussion spaces for thousands of people each year.
More info about events admissions.