post by peter_hurford · 2014-03-28T21:27:50.299Z · score: 17 (20 votes) · LW · GW · Legacy · 6 comments

Contents is a place for effective altruists to share their skills, items, and couches with one another.

by Patrick Brinich-Langlois and Ozzie Gooen


Communities once kept our ancestors from being torn apart by mountain lions and tyrannosaurus rexes. Dinosaur violence has declined greatly since the Cretaceous, but the world has become more complex and interconnected. Communities remain essential.

Effective altruists have a lot to offer one another. But we're geographically dispersed, so it's hard to know whom to ask for help. is built to fix this. is a place for effective altruists to share their skills, items, and couches with one another.


Offer skills or things that you're willing to share. Request items that other people have offered. Here are a few things people have offered on the site:


As of this writing, we already have 59 offers from 55 people. With your help, we can make it 60 offers from 56 people!

Why use, instead of getting the things you need the normal way? Certain things, like career advice or study buddies, can be hard to get. Even if you can find someone who has what you're looking for, you might enjoy the opportunity to relationships with other altruists. Plus, by participating in, you show that the community of do-gooders is welcoming and supportive, qualities that may draw in new people.

You can be notified of new offers and requests by Twitter or RSS. As with all .impact software, the source code is available on GitHub. We use a publicly accessible Trello board to track bugs and features.


We'd love to hear what you think about the site. Is it awesome, or a horrifically inefficient use of our resources? What could be improved? Send us an e-mail or leave a comment.


Comments sorted by top scores.

comment by ChristianKl · 2014-03-29T23:56:36.830Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

How many programming hours did you rougly spend to develop

comment by peter_hurford · 2014-03-30T19:43:52.859Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

280 (250 from Patrick, 30 from Ozzie).

comment by [deleted] · 2014-03-29T04:08:53.335Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

It seems like these types of skills are just as useful coming from a non-effective altruist as an effective altruist. And there are already communities that offer up this type of service ( Thus, you would get more utility building of those communities, than of siphoning of people to an empty community.

Why not spend your time promoting these communities to effective altruists?

comment by ChristianKl · 2014-03-29T12:20:56.125Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Given the choice to help a random stranger or someone who I know to be a member of the effective altruist community I rather choose the person who's a member of the effective altruist community.

Resulting friendships with people with whom you share a community are more likely to be valuable than connections to outsiders.

I for example noticed that one person is at the moment on Skillshare, with whom I'm facebook friends because of Quantified Self involvement and one of my non-QS friends spoke with him about QS. Rougly a month ago I answered a question for him on the Anki forum, which I would have also answered if I would have been a complete stranger.

For community building purposes it's useful to have effective altruists do things for each other.

comment by Pat · 2014-03-29T04:51:59.015Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

One reason is that I didn't know they existed—I'd never heard of time banking before. Perhaps participation in existing time-banking communities would allow people to draw on a larger pool of people, and there would be a smaller chance that these communities would disappear. And unless you're traveling to one of a few large cities, you're more likely to find gratis accommodations on Couchsurfing.

On the other hand, I can think of a few advantages specific to having a sharing site targeted at effective altruists. First, it seems that time banks (at least the ones listed on the site you linked to) are local organizations. So you'd have to live in a community with a vibrant time bank to take advantage of it.

Second, it seems that most of the time banks listed in the directory are moribund. For example, the Berkeley group's most recent exchange (if I'm interpreting this correctly) occurred over eight weeks ago. Many of the local chapters have a member count in the single digits or have never recorded an exchange. Some exchanges, however, are quite active (e.g., those in Los Angeles and Oakland), and they might be worth checking out if you live nearby.

Third, time banking is supposed to be reciprocal. That might mean that people who don't have much to offer (because they're young, busy, etc.) might have difficulty participating in them. Effective altruists don't have to worry as much about shirking, as long as what they're doing advances the goals of effective altruism. The lack of a need for reciprocity might help facilitate exchanges, though it's possible for people who aren't effective altruists to take advantage of those who are.

comment by Ishaan · 2014-03-30T04:16:14.474Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Small communities with shared values have an edge over large and diverse ones for some tasks.