UPDATED: Givewell board gives Karnofsky a new title
If the past is any guide, the reaction will be layered. Perhaps most visible, especially within the charitable community: affirmations of the board's action, with sporadic objections that the apparent demotion was too severe, a la the first comment in the post linked above.
A number of those who objected to Karnofsky's behavior will offset accusations of irrational hostility through gracious conciliatory gestures.
A number of people will lose interest now that there's no official action left to influence.
Then we see responses such as this:
Ah, the familiar smell of CYA PR hackery! The GiveWell board "believes that the acts of misrepresentation that were committed are indefensible and are in direct conflict with the goals of the organization and we condemn them in the strongest possible terms", but they don't fire Karnofsky.
So much for trust and transparency.
Even among those who don't put it so starkly--or are silent--the damage has been done.
My own personal reaction?
As I've said from the outset, my primary concern was not with Karnofsky's sockpuppetry but with the unfortunate tendency to characterize the folks who found the problem as the problem. Had the red herring of anonymity never raised; had constructive commenters not been lumped in with the inevitable trolls; had the Board publicly thanked Miko or MetaFilter for bringing this issue to light--that would have been exceptional.
As for what the Board did in regard to Karnofsky, again, they had a chance to take action that was truly revolutionary. While I'm glad the Board at least did something, the result was on the whole unremarkable. GiveWell started out proclaiming disruptive change; now it is just another organization that has chosen to weather bad publicity by affirming the status quo, albeit with one of its leaders brandishing a different managerial title. That may keep Givewell going, but that doesn't make it interesting.
However, this isn't to say the experience left me wholly nonplussed. I won't go into all the positives--it's about 4:30 a.m. here in NYC and while the Chrysler Building is a marvel late at night I want to try to get a little shut-eye--but I'd be remiss if I failed to note the evolving interactions among the MeFi community, Phil Cubeta, Maureen Doyle and folks at other philanthropy sites that took an interest in thinking through what all this meant. Sure, there were rough patches, cross words and unfortunate misunderstandings, but that comes with being human, which last I checked was a condition that afflicts us all. What really stood out in such moments as when the MeFi crew flocked to GiftHub, 2173 & GiveandTake or Phil & Maureen joined MeFi is the power of empathy to create meaningful connections where none may have seemed likely before.
And seeing that in action just might have made this whole mess worthwhile.
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