97 karmaJoined Dec 2020


Caltech EA organiser; part-time work for Roam Research; from Czech Republic


I want to add one anecdote to my Czech Scout example: most  regional or troop leaders are actually not that good, I'd say the average is somewhere between mediocre to bad. This is definitely true for my troop/regiment. (Sorry...) Yet, we manage — because we get, for example, a signup system for free, a common meeting space for free, a summer camp site for free, educational materials with activities for free, courses on leadership or management  for free, etc. Once in a while, this system identifies great individuals, who then ascend to run bigger events (instructor courses, large conferences, ...)

It's the infrastructure that makes a bunch of mostly suboptimal individuals achieve close to optimal outcomes.

So far I feel like most comments here are about "how to find people to fill out the infrastructure". I'd curious to hear if people think the regional model is the right infrastructure. 

If yes, then we should think about ways we can implement it, and solve the problem of getting the right people at the right positions. In the post, I suggested uni groups in similar locations start having regular calls to see if one of their organizers (perhaps close to graduating) might not be a good fit. Are there other ways?

Hey, thank you so much for writing such a well thought out response! I can't seem to be able to write a similarly good, so I'll just respond to a few points that stood out to me.

Re hiring: I think there's a difference between hiring for "people to set up the infrastructure" and hiring for "people to fill out the infrastructure" (I wrote about this in another comment). I agree that the first one is very important to do well, I think that the second one can be done on a more natural selection basis. 

Another thing that your comment got me thinking about is: I wish we reverted back to the more volunteer basis of community building. It makes me sad to see people in EA always cling to "throw a bunch of money at this" or "hire someone to do it for you", instead of thinking of systematic ways to make the situation better (sorry this sounds uncharitable, can't think of a better wording). But this is kind of a hot take I have to think about more...

> If there were more people who fit that bill (great fit + interest), they would already have applied to the EA Infrastructure Fund to do relevant work, and there wouldn't still be so much low-hanging fruit in this space.

This seems like the wrong intuition. There might as well be lots of people who "fit that bill", but because it's hard to discern what the low-hanging fruit is, and there's no infrastructure or system for them to effectively pick the fruit, they don't take action, and maybe that's why we got so few people in CB careers...

> I think in a few years, today's community building work will have paid off in (among other things) creating a bunch more people who are strong fits for doing excellent work as regional coordinators. But if people rush now to have mediocre fits fill these roles, I worry they might crowd out future excellent work, which would be losing lots of value.

I feel like you might be overestimating how excellent can community building work be (but I'm not sure!). E.g. if I think about my LA region, I can't think of ways how the roughly 4 to 6 colleges and their uni groups can do excellent community building work. Of course, they can get together and organize bigger stuff, which can be excellent, but on the level of one uni group, it only gets as good. The reason I wrote this post is because I feel like we're very far off from the point where every uni has a uni group as good as it could have.

I reference this in the post. A conversation with Jan along the lines of his post about EA not being talent/vetting-constrained but infrastructure-constrained has been very influential on me.

We're already 80/20-ing in the LA area! So far we have 4 colleges, and our first call is next week. :)

There's a claim that EA is not talent-constrained nor vetting-constrained, but infrastructure constrained, which I think I agree with. 

There's a difference between "people who set up the infrastructure" and "people who fill in the infrastructure". I agree that it's extremely important the first group has the best people possible, I don't think it's so important for the second group. 

With this post, I'm trying to be the "right person to set it up", by describing one possible infrastructure. 

I should've put more thought into this section. I now realize I was mainly basing my claim on my experience with Czech EA, where almost no one has experience with university groups, and the fact that there are basically no national groups in the US/UK regions (only city groups). 

National groups can definitely play the role of regional groups in many places extremely well, I just don't think it's a requirement to have one to coordinate as uni groups on the regional level. 

This is a great idea and I think the current form of EAVP can support this!