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Comment author: FiftyTwo 20 April 2014 12:08:28AM 4 points [-]

Comments from a non programmer who keeps meaning to learn:

  • I like that your first step is 5-10 hours, feels much more realistic than those guides that say you can become a master in ten seconds and makes me trust you.

  • I like that the second step includes explanation of things like github, I keep being linked to it but have no idea how to extract anything useful from the website.

  • I have now worked out that "rails" is short for "ruby on rails" and is a "web application framework" not a programming language.

  • I barely understand the rest, but I like the periodic reminders to reevaluate your priorities. Makes for a nice change from the programming evangelists.

I'll try and work my way through your recommendations and let you know how it goes.

Comment author: peter_hurford 20 April 2014 06:15:59AM 0 points [-]

I'll try and work my way through your recommendations and let you know how it goes.

Thanks for the compliments. I look forward to it!

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I barely understand the rest

Hopefully it will make sense once you get there. Let me know if it doesn't!

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I have now worked out that "rails" is short for "ruby on rails" and is a "web application framework" not a programming language.

Well, Ruby is the programming language and Rails is the framework.

Comment author: pragmatist 19 April 2014 07:21:20AM 2 points [-]

It might be worth mentioning Bento Box, which is a pretty great resource for wannabe programmers. It links to freely available tutorials for a number of languages/apps/frameworks, and also provides suggestions about learning order. Bento is pretty comprehensive, so I imagine it can be overwhelming for a beginner, but its still a good supplement (or possibly a next step) to a more focused guide like yours.

Comment author: peter_hurford 19 April 2014 03:49:45PM 0 points [-]

Added as a next step toward the end. Thanks!

Comment author: John_Maxwell_IV 18 April 2014 05:58:45PM *  2 points [-]

This guide looks decent to me. I've heard that programming bootcamps like AppAcademy, etc. are already doing a lot to increase the number of entry-level Rails developers in the market. I haven't really heard of any non-web-development focused bootcamps, though. So it might not be a bad idea to focus on building skills in mobile development (supposedly iOS is really hot right now), data science, computer security, etc. instead of Rails and JavaScript. For someone taking this route, I would recommend Learn Python the Hard Way to gain a foundation in programming (Ruby tends to be used for web development only; Python is used for all sorts of stuff) and then choose a specialty and focus on it.

Edit: this guide seems to confirm my intuition that most bootcamps are web-focused. Additionally, I would argue that the web application programming model is a fairly inelegant one and might be a relatively bad place to start learning programming conceptually. Here is a salary guide for various computer programming specialties; you can also do searches like this. By the way, I've heard that White Hat Security is a good place to get an entry-level application security job, even if you don't have any programming experience.

Comment author: peter_hurford 19 April 2014 03:05:43AM 0 points [-]

I feel like I can only focus on so much and keep it coherent and useful. The intro is very heavy on there being no one right path, so hopefully that defrays some of this criticism. And most of the textbooks do teach concepts some of the time in addition to direct coding.

However, if you think there is an appropriate place in the guide to insert information on some language or concept, and have a good resource or method handy for learning it, I'd be happy to seriously consider it.

[link] Guide on How to Learn Programming

4 peter_hurford 18 April 2014 05:08PM

I've recently seen a lot of interest in people who are looking to learn programming.  So I put together a quick guide with lots of help from other people: http://everydayutilitarian.com/essays/learn-code

Let me know (via comments here or email - peter@peterhurford.com) if you try this guide, so I can get feedback on how it goes for you.

Also, feel free to also reach out to me with comments on how to improve the guide – I’m still relatively new to programming myself and have not yet implemented all these steps personally.  I'd cross-post it here, but I want to keep the document up-to-date and it would be much easier to do that in just one place.

Comment author: peter_hurford 18 April 2014 05:58:12AM 4 points [-]

See also Jeff Kaufman on "Breaking Down Cryonics Probabilities".

Comment author: mbitton24 02 April 2014 02:15:45PM 0 points [-]

I'm saying it helps with retention but barely at all with recruitment - and that it may even get in the way of recruitment of casual EAs. I don't think Skillshare favours will make people want to self-identify as EA. Only a minority of people even require the sorts of favours being offered.

Comment author: peter_hurford 03 April 2014 02:05:09AM 0 points [-]

To clarify, Skillshare was not created with new member recruitment in mind.

Comment author: mbitton24 02 April 2014 02:26:52PM 0 points [-]

So you expect movement building / outreach to be a lot less successful than community building ("inreach", if you will)?

Yes, especially if the same strategies are expected to accomplish both. They're two very different tasks.

Some of this comes down to what counts as an "EA". What kind of conversion do we need to do, and how much? I also think I'll be pretty unsuccessful at getting new core EAs, but what can I get? How hard is it? These are things I'd like to know, and things I believe would be valuable to know.

I think you can convince people to give more of their money away, you can convince people to take the effectiveness of the charity into account, you can convince people to care more about animals or to stop eating meat, and possibly that there are technological risks that are greater than climate change and nuclear war. I don't think you'll convince the same person of all of these things. Rather they'll be individuals that are on board with specific parts and that may or may not identify with EA.

Comment author: peter_hurford 02 April 2014 08:14:57PM 0 points [-]

So you expect movement building / outreach to be a lot less successful than community building ("inreach", if you will)?

Yes, especially if the same strategies are expected to accomplish both. They're two very different tasks.

I wouldn't say the same tasks will work equally well for both. But I do think either would have spillover effects for the other. Right now, it seems we're focused on community building, though.

~

I think you can convince people to give more of their money away, you can convince people to take the effectiveness of the charity into account, you can convince people to care more about animals or to stop eating meat, and possibly that there are technological risks that are greater than climate change and nuclear war. I don't think you'll convince the same person of all of these things. Rather they'll be individuals that are on board with specific parts and that may or may not identify with EA.

I'd be interested in how much overlap there are between these groups. It never was my intention to try and convince people of the entire meme set at once, but I wouldn't rule it out as implausible. I think better understanding these channels (how people come to these beliefs) is most important.

Comment author: mbitton24 01 April 2014 10:03:42PM 1 point [-]

"A stronger community for the effective altruist movement should better encourage existing EAs to contribute more and better attract new people to consider becoming EA. By building the EA Community, we hope to indirectly improve recruitment and retention in the effective altruist movement, which in turn indirectly results in more total altruistic effort, in turn resulting in more reduced suffering and increased happiness."

I'm going to predict that .impact struggles to meet this objective.

I think you're taking a naive view of how movement building works.

I think you need to see the distinction between retaining and recruiting members as analogous to the tension between a core and casual fan base. In order to recruit new EAs, your pitch will almost definitely have to downplay certain areas that many core EAs spend lots of time thinking about. That way, you'll bring in a lot of new people that, for example, buy the argument that you should donate to the charity that provides the most bang for your buck and yet still, for example, have zero interest in AI or animals. If you refuse to alienate core EA member values in order to get more casual EAs (e.g. people that donate to GiveWell's top charities and give a bit more than average) then, well, that's admirable, I guess, but you're movement building won't go anywhere. There's a reason why for-profit organizations do this - it actually works.

The amount of people that share most EA values is going to remain low for a very long time. Increasing that number wouldn't involve "recruitment" as much as it would involve full-on conversion. As long as your goal is to increase that number, you're going to see very low recruitment rates. Most people aren't on the market shopping for new worldviews - but individual new beliefs or values, maybe. And if you won't agree with a worldview, you aren't going to join the community just because it's active.

If you want more "total altruistic effort," go convince people to show more altruistic effort. Trying to movement build a group as complex and alienating as EA by strengthening its internal ties will dissuade most outsiders from wanting to join you. Pre-existing communities can be scary things to self-identify with.

You know how some parents make their kids try cigarettes at a young age so that they'll hate it and then not want to smoke when they're older? Well, a website like Brian Tomasik's is like that for most potential EAs. Way too much, too soon.

Comment author: peter_hurford 02 April 2014 03:12:08AM 1 point [-]

In order to recruit new EAs, your pitch will almost definitely have to downplay certain areas that many core EAs spend lots of time thinking about.

I think "core" EAs understand and are comfortable with that, so they won't feel alienated.

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As long as your goal is to increase that number [of core EAs], you're going to see very low recruitment rates.

Some of this comes down to what counts as an "EA". What kind of conversion do we need to do, and how much? I also think I'll be pretty unsuccessful at getting new core EAs, but what can I get? How hard is it? These are things I'd like to know, and things I believe would be valuable to know.

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If you want more "total altruistic effort," go convince people to show more altruistic effort.

So you expect movement building / outreach to be a lot less successful than community building ("inreach", if you will)?

Comment author: Lumifer 02 April 2014 01:00:34AM -1 points [-]

Is there a tl;dr...?

Comment author: peter_hurford 02 April 2014 02:43:17AM 0 points [-]

Read the big bold thing labeled "Summary", only one paragraph down from the top.

Comment author: SPLH 01 April 2014 10:48:49AM 0 points [-]

Thank you for putting so much time into spelling out your work and thought process !

Question: Did you try to assess whether converting existing software/platforms or joining/taking over existing online communities would be better (along the various metrics you care about) ? If so, what were your conclusions ?

Comment author: peter_hurford 01 April 2014 09:08:49PM 0 points [-]

Question: Did you try to assess whether converting existing software/platforms or joining/taking over existing online communities would be better (along the various metrics you care about)?

That's something we've never thought about. Taking over existing online communities sounds hard, though. This comment seems relevant.

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