Less Wrong is a community blog devoted to refining the art of human rationality. Please visit our About page for more information.

Comment author: juliawise 27 June 2017 07:32:05PM 2 points [-]

Posting on behalf of my coworker Sam Deere (who didn't have enough karma to post):

"Thanks for the feedback. It's good to know that this is something people are thinking about — we think a lot about how to make EA's online presence best serve the needs of the community too.

For context, I'm head of tech at CEA, which runs EffectiveAltruism.org. (I have less to do with the content and structure of the site these days, but had a hand in putting it up, and am involved in a lot of decision making about which projects to priorities.)

There seem to be a few concerns, one about functionality, one about discoverability, and one about content. That is, EA needs better discussion spaces, the ones it has are too hard to find, and the easiest-to-find content doesn't represent the breadth of EA really well.

In general we agree that EA needs good discussion spaces, and that the current ones could be improved (e.g. by separating concerns of content discovery and content creation etc). This is something that's in CEA's longer-term tech projects roadmap, but we don't have the capacity to prioritise this right now. This is doubly true when there are fairly good discussion spaces available, in particular the EA Forum. However, we're working on building out more features, on top of the EffectiveAltruism.org webapp (which at the moment is functionally just EA Funds).

Individual projects will have their own coordination needs so at this point it hasn't made sense to try to build a be-all/end-all platform that encompasses all of them. You've suggested a number of tools that such a platform could draw inspiration from — in many cases people do just use these tools to coordinate on projects. The EA Forum serves a useful role to announce project ideas and seek collaborators, and this isn't the only place in the community where projects/collaboration happens — EA Grants and the .impact Hackpads were already mentioned. Another example is Effective Altruism Global, which allows people to discuss these projects and ideas in person, which is much higher bandwidth.

(It's also important to get the balance right between shiny new things that work better and continuity — there's always a new platform, a new tool that we could use that will be an improvement on existing processes. But if it doesn't complement existing tools and processes people use, then it risks either not gaining adoption, or splitting the user base. Developer time and energy is a scarce resource, and like everything, needs to be prioritised. Many projects of this scope fall into disuse.)

Regarding discoverability, as others have suggested, it's not clear that the solution is to make things more discoverable. Online communities are very hard to get right — there's a constant tension between preserving the culture and norms that make the culture great, while keeping it open and accessible to newer members who want to get involved. Newer members have less context for certain discussions (which makes people feel they can't be as open for fear of alienating newcomers), newer members may ask lots of basic questions etc (see the Eternal September effect). The solution is never perfect, but it's important to have ways for people to get involved with the community incrementally, so that they can acquire that context as they go — this necessitates having some more introductory content on places like EffectiveAltruism.org, and the selection effects of the effort required to learn a bit more about the community are likely a feature, not a bug.

In general we observe that people start reading introductory content, then those that are hooked do a deep dive and discover the rest of the community in the process. However, it's a useful data point to know that you felt that as someone who was already potentially on board, that the introductory stuff was off-putting, and we'll keep that in mind as we're considering what other content needs to be on EffectiveAltruism.org.

Regarding content breadth, CEA is currently working on a project to make the content covered on EffectiveAltruism.org more comprehensive and representative of the broader spectrum of ideas that get discussed within the community (partly building on the existing Effective Altruism Concepts project, and also drawing inspiration from things like the LW sequences — more details will be announced in time).

As with everything, we're massively constrained by staff and volunteer time. At the moment we're hiring for a number of roles that should speed up the development of some of these features (hint hint...). As someone noted, it would perhaps have been worthwhile to post this on the EA Forum to see if there are more ideas in this vein, or if others in the community are working on something like this."

Comment author: DanArmak 20 May 2017 03:10:56PM 0 points [-]

I don't understand that viewpoint for a different reason. Suppose you believe the world will be destroyed soon. Why is that a reason not to have children? Is it worse for the children to live short but presumably good lives than not to live at all?

Comment author: juliawise 22 May 2017 07:31:52PM 1 point [-]

I think it was sensible of them to at least evaluate the question, particularly if they thought their children might live in a nuclear wasteland rather than dying. Given that I heard this from their daughter, they did indeed decide to have children (at the advice of their priest, who reasoned as you do that a short life was better than none.)

Comment author: username2 22 April 2017 07:18:16PM 2 points [-]

It's a bit ironic to say that on a website with a large contingent of people that are purposefully child-free until the control problem is solved.

Comment author: juliawise 24 April 2017 04:53:39PM 0 points [-]

I think LW is rare in that regard, though. I don't think most people think their children are in danger of any grand disaster except maybe climate change.

Comment author: lmn 21 April 2017 06:55:39PM 1 point [-]

Unlike the author, I've never found it "very counterintuitive to think about a future that might last a long time". Am I unusual in this repect or is he?

Comment author: juliawise 22 April 2017 01:27:27AM 3 points [-]

Yeah, I remember around 2007 a friend saying her parents weren't sure whether it was right for them to have children circa 1983, because they thought nuclear war was very likely to destroy the world soon. I thought that was so weird and had never heard of anyone having that viewpoint before, and definitely considered myself living in a time when we no longer had to worry about apocalypse.

Comment author: Alicorn 17 March 2017 05:22:11AM 2 points [-]

I mean that if someone moves out, the landlord is likely to choose a nonrationalist to rent the place, and that streets seldom have many houses available all at once for a coordinated move.

Comment author: juliawise 17 March 2017 11:27:04AM *  2 points [-]

It might depend on the market, but I live up the street from a three-apartment building that was occupied by a co-op for a long time. The co-op residents enforced stuff like not messing up the house, and because lots of people wanted to live in the co-op the landlord never had to worry about vacancies.

Assuming the landlord likes the initial group of tenants, having a group of tenants who will pre-vet new tenants and will find those tenants themselves should be very appealing.

This would require patience and risk-tolerance on the part of the initial group, if they're renting apartments or buying houses in an area where they hope more will become available but don't know when (and don't know that their friends will still want to join them when space is available.)

Comment author: RomeoStevens 17 March 2017 05:53:34AM *  13 points [-]

I've looked into housing prices for multi family complexes and they scale sublinearly with number of bedrooms. The biggest obstacle is that people aren't really willing to invest significant fractions of their income in them currently (because you don't want to have to gather 8 investors for an 8 unit, chaos/life happens). Ideally something like 3 people/couples who think they are relatively stable would take on responsibility for an 8 unit with a significant fraction of their income. This is a risk, but one of the top regrets of old people is becoming socially isolated. I think investing a significant fraction of ones income in what will eventually turn partially into semi-passive income (once the mortgage is paid) and partially into their community it is okay to invest a larger than usual fraction of income in. This will still likely take an individual slightly more wealthy than your average techie to eat a larger chunk of the down payment than others and thus own more of the equity in the income stream.

I suspect this is fairly impossible in the bay area which has the lowest conscientiousness people in the US AFAIK.

Edit what I mean by pointing out low conscientiousness is that many people are incredibly short sighted and will defect when short term opportunities look better ie they will not tough out a few years of sub-optimal financial arrangement ie people don't actually grasp the concept of investing in a community. Related to why our kind can't cooperate.

Comment author: juliawise 17 March 2017 11:14:01AM *  17 points [-]

Yeah, when I looked into cohousing this is what I concluded too. My husband and I ended up buying a house with 6 bedrooms and occupying two of them (then adding two more family members and building two more bedrooms.) None of our housemates would have bought in because they're not sure how long-term they want to be here, but they're happy to be renters and we're happy to own the building.

To us it's important that the arrangement be flexible; rather than a single big house we bought a house that had been divided into two apartments, so if we ever want to stop having housemates or we can't find housemates who want to live with us, we can pick the smaller or the larger apartment and rent the other one out. There's also some possibility of our kids wanting to rent from us in 20 years, which we think will work better if they can have their own apartment. I wouldn't have wanted to sink our savings into something that would really only work in one configuration.

Comment author: wubbles 17 March 2017 02:12:02AM 1 point [-]

I am interested! Note that zoning might make this hard, but maybe we could buy adjacent bungalows and reconfigure them. Wasn't the bay supposed to be commune friendly?

Comment author: juliawise 17 March 2017 02:22:25AM 3 points [-]

N Street Cohousing in Davis CA is a classic example of this. http://nstreetcohousing.org/

In response to comment by khafra on Dead Child Currency
Comment author: AlexanderRM 02 September 2015 11:01:33PM 0 points [-]

Worth noting that the dead baby value is very different from the actual amount which most Westerners regard the lives of white, middle-class people from their own country as being worth. In fact, pretty much the whole point of the statistic is that it's SHOCKINGLY low. I suppose we could hope that Dead Baby currency would result in a reduction to that discrepancy... although I think in the case of the actual example given, the Malthusians* have a point where it would dramatically increase access to life-prolonging things without increasing access to birth control much, resulting in more population and thus more people to save.

*To clarify: I actually agree with the Malthusian ecology- it's just a basic fact of ecology, I'm amazed that anyone seriously disagrees with it- but not to the objection to charitable donations on that basis; anyone who actually thinks that would go "you should instead give money to provide birth control".

Comment author: juliawise 28 October 2015 08:12:27PM *  0 points [-]

If the demographic transition continues, I'm not too worried about Malthusian scenarios. It seems that people who are less worried about their children being wiped out by disease have fewer children.

Another option is interventions that improve lives without saving them, such as deworming.

Comment author: Larks 05 September 2015 09:16:42PM 0 points [-]

I'm looking to buy a sofa without flame retardants. The Center for Enviromental Health suggests that all IKEA products are fine, but at least in 2012 it seems that they instead substituted another chemical flame retardant, TRIS. Does anyone know if IKEA furniture is now chemical flame retardant free, or if there are any other good options for below $1,000 ?

Comment author: juliawise 14 September 2015 02:41:13AM *  0 points [-]

The law just changed for 2015, so although many companies were switching to less-toxic ones in the past they are now free to not use any flame retardants at all, and some are doing so. All IKEA furniture manufactured after Jan 1, 2015 should be fine. The only exception would be if you somehow bought something that was made before then, but I imagine their turnover is fast enough their 2014 stock is all sold.

Comment author: [deleted] 21 July 2015 08:54:22AM 1 point [-]

The hygiene hypothesis states that lack of exposure to germs and parasites increases risk of auto-immune disease. Our pediatrician recommended letting Lily playing in the dirt for this reason.

It is fairly common-sense where I live - docs say "kids need to eat a kg of dirt a year". The worst thing I did was picking up pigeon feathers from the pavement and licking it. That was actually too much for my immune system, got a streptococcus infection.

We too have a 1.5 year old daughter and it is weird how most things simply don't relate: living in a new build in-situ concrete apartment house, new built = strictly regulated, things like lead or pesticides didn't even come into question. IKEA has always been an obvious choice instead of buying something expensive.

About the child seat in the car, funny story: I was wanting to get rid of my car as it was entirely unnecessary with two tramway lines in front of our flat, but I was in the old "if you have a kid, you must have a car, for emergencies" mood. Well, we had them, as we had this yellow skin / bilirubin issue after birth and went back to the hospital several times, but every time it was far easier to just roll the pram on the comfortably pram and wheelchair accessible tramway and get off 8 stops later than to put the baby seat in the car (we could not leave it there as the sun would make it hot) and then put a sleeping baby in it who will probably wake up and be angry etc. So we got rid of the car soon after. It feels weird, to have a family without a car but I am starting to think it may be the future in such densely settled European metropoles (we live in Vienna). I am worried about my driving skills deteriorating though. Gone are the times when I lived in Birmingham, drove to a client in Edinburgh and wasn't even too tired.

We are not health food types, classic meat and potatoes types more like, so my wife was getting omega-3 from a timed vitamin and supplement complex meant for pregnant women. Timed = different packages for different stages of pregnancy. I have heard some debates about omega-3 pills doing less than actually eating fish, but never really believed them, it is literally fish oil extracts after all. However she likes smoked salmon (IKEA gravadlax) so she ate it occasionally.

Overally so far our results seem genetics based. My daughter is like me in the sense of big, strong, heavy, and lazy, i.e. not wanting to stand and walk at 17 months. This is not strength based, when she gets fussy she kicks like a horse, it is probably laziness based like in my case or poor balance (could also be inherited from me).

She does not speak either and is really fussy, screaming a lot, which is worrisome and stressful, this is a bit unlikely to be genetics (both of us were early talkers and this is usually a sign of intelligence so I am starting to have some fears in the IQ department).

Comment author: juliawise 23 July 2015 12:16:50AM *  2 points [-]

She does not speak either and is really fussy, screaming a lot

Where I live, a child with in that situation would probably be referred for early childhood intervention (a free service where health visitors come to your home and work with you and your child). I wonder if that's available where you live?

For kids that are slow in speaking (or really any babies), one thing that's common here is to use baby sign language to allow them to communicate before they're speaking. We've found it's really helpful for our daughter to be able to communicate things like "more" and "all done" with hand signals. Still working on "hungry" vs. "thirsty", since currently all that is encompassed by "more." I think it reduces fussiness because she can express her needs better and we can meet them better.

View more: Next