JP Addison

4997 karmaJoined Working (6-15 years)Cambridge, MA, USA


Head of the CEA Online Team, which runs this Forum.

A bit about me, to help you get to know me: Prior to CEA, I was a data engineer at an aerospace startup. I got into EA through reading the entire archive of Slate Star Codex in 2015. I found EA naturally compelling, and donated to AMF, then GFI, before settling on my current cause prioritization of meta-EA, with AI x-risk as my object-level preference. I try to have a wholehearted approach to morality, rather than thinking of it as an obligation or opportunity. You see my LessWrong profile here.

I love this Forum a bunch. I've been working on it for 5 years as of this writing, and founded the EA Forum 2.0. (Remember 1.0?) I have an intellectual belief in it as an impactful project, but also a deep love for it as an open platform where anyone can come participate in the project of effective altruism. We're open 24/7, anywhere there is an internet connection.

In my personal life, I hang out in the Boston EA and Gaymer communities, enjoy houseplants, table tennis, and playing coop games with my partner, who has more karma than me.


Topic contributions

I'm excited that we exceeded our goals enough to have the issue :)

I don't know about you but I just learned about one of the biggest updates to OPs grantmaking in a year on the Forum.

That said, the data does show some agreement with your and commenters vibe of lowering quantity.

I agree that the Forum could be a good place for a lot of these discussions. Some of them aren't happening at all to my knowledge.[1] Some of those should be, and should be discussed on the Forum. Others are happening in private and that's rational, although you may be able to guess that my biased view is that a lot more should be public, and if they were, should be posted on the Forum.

Broadly: I'm quite bullish on the EA community as a vehicle for working on the world's most pressing problems, and of open online discussion as a piece of our collective progress. And I don't know of a better open place on the internet for EAs to gather.

  1. ^

    Part of that might be because as EA gets older the temperature (in the annealing sense) rationally lowers.

I can't recommend the podcast audio enough. 🥲

Oh, random thought: I think there are sometimes effects where the late holiday seasons often sees a dip like you observe. Maybe there's a seasonal adjustment you could do?

(If you did, you would be going beyond what we do internally though, so, like, not a criticism.)

Great stuff. I'm glad you looked into the data, and posted it publicly. Congrats on getting the draft over the line 🙂. I'm glad our public API was able to help, sorry about the lack of documentation. (Oh, you know about our open source repo though?) I want to check on one point that it behaved correctly: did the site redirect you to the bot site?

Working questions

A mental technique I’ve been starting to use recently: “working questions.” When tackling a fuzzy concept, I’ve heard of people using “working definitions” and “working hypotheses.” Those terms help you move forward on understanding a problem without locking yourself into a frame, allowing you to focus on other parts of your investigation.

Often, it seems to me, I know I want to investigate a problem without being quite clear on what exactly I want to investigate. And the exact question I want to answer is quite important! And instead of needing to be precise about the question from the beginning, I’ve found it helpful to think about a “working question” that I’ll then refine into a more precise question as I move forward.

An example: “something about the EA Forum’s brand/reputation” -> “What do potential writers think about the costs and benefits of posting on the Forum?” -> “Do writers think they will reach a substantial fraction of the people they want to reach, if they post on the EA Forum?”

You can do this on the search page. (I agree it would be better for that option to appear on the user page filtering — it's a natural thing to want to look for.)

JP Addison
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