This post is part of an ongoing series: Events in EA: Learnings and Critiques.
Elika worked (as a contractor) for the Centre for Effective Altruism (CEA) to run EAGxBerkeley. This post is written in a personal capacity, and are not the views of or endorsed by CEA.
- Do a better job of auto filling application forms with information from previous applications.
Applicants with less community experience who might be a good fit for the conference don’t necessarily know community communication norms. The following suggestions aim to provide more context and transparency around the process of application processing, without providing information that would allow applicants to goodhart.
- Make important questions mandatory to reduce the rate of incomplete applications.
- Adding context to questions (e.g. for some questions, if the answer is not at all related to EA it's hard to know if the person misunderstood the question, or just has had very limited interaction with EA)
- Asking applicants to provide specific, concrete answers to questions rather than vague generalities (e.g. “I’d like to learn more about EA” is very vague, it would be more helpful to know what specifically they’d like to learn, and what they already know)
- Tell applicants not to assume the organiser knows who you are (I think it's generally bad for culture and status).
- Make admissions policies clear (ex. this conference is for people in X region), both in public communications and throughout the application process.
- Don’t accept applicants after the deadline has passed. If you do want to accept last-minute applicants, have a consistent and fair criteria for accepting late applications
- Experiment with adding different questions to the application, such as:
- Check yes if you’re okay giving up your spot for a first time attendee if the conference is at capacity. We may still accept you if we think you could help other attendees.
- Checking yes if you’re applying but are uncertain you will register and attend (excluding last minute emergencies) to better forecast how many accepted applicants will actually attend.
- Check yes to “I can attend with <1 week’s notice” for people (e.g. locals) who are willing / able to attend last minute. (H/T Larks)
- "Why do you think it would be valuable to attend this specific conference" Adding more intentionality to the conference could help make applicants more likely to commit, and help organisers decide between applicants.
- Removing the multiple conference check box so you can only apply to one conference at a time to improve intentionality.
- Consider making all tickets (barring needs-based applicants) paid so that people feel a greater sense of commitment towards attending. We will write more about this in a future post.
- Create a “Virtual Only” option for people who:
Reminders & Comms to Accepted Applicants
- Send more (at least 3) reminders to accepted applicants to register, with reminders about how many people are waitlisted to incentivise people to release their ticket
- Reminder to register: Hey X, please register for this event! If you don’t register by August 18th, we’ll give your spot to someone on the waitlist. Registering helps us ensure that we get estimates to vendors on time, and makes sure that the application process is fair for everyone. Read more here (link to a post explaining the downsides)
- Release accepted but not registered applicants' tickets after a certain date and clearly communicate that date to applicants.
- Get confirmation of attendance (2 weeks before the event): Hi X, we’re so excited to see you for the event! We think you could add a lot of value and help newer attendees navigate the EA space. If you can’t attend (for whatever reason), please let us know by September 2nd. We have over 100 people on the waitlist.
- Make the application deadline earlier or have multiple rounds of applications
Some general thoughts
Decision-making processes around EA conferences can be a bit of a black box, especially for newer community members. Although information is available on the EA Global website, it seems to us that many people don’t read this. It can be unclear for those who haven’t read the FAQ section or individual conference retrospectives of the website in detail who decides rejection / admissions criteria, the organising team, where they occur, the difference between EAGs and EAGx’s, conference costs and more.
We encourage the CEA Events team to improve the user experience to make this information easier to find by signposting more frequently and presenting the information throughout the application process. We've written the suggestions in this post based on this reasoning, but think there are likely other ways that this information can be communicated.