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Hook comments on Priors and Surprise - Less Wrong

10 Post author: MichaelVassar 03 March 2010 08:27AM

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Comment author: Hook 03 March 2010 04:23:44PM 6 points [-]

As a suggestion, maybe typos that have no substantial impact on readability should be communicated to the author through a direct message rather than a public comment.

Comment author: Clippy 04 March 2010 04:00:18PM 10 points [-]

I can check spelling.

Comment author: JGWeissman 03 March 2010 06:23:54PM 5 points [-]

I disagree. Public comments have the advantage that other readers who noticed the typo will be aware that it has already been reported, so they don't have to bother. And that the public record of the typo report and the author's response saying it is fixed encourages people to report such errors, leading to more readable articles for future readers.

Comment author: MonBonify 03 March 2010 11:37:38PM 6 points [-]

I find it distracting when people report typos in the public comments--more distracting than the typos themselves in the actual post. There should be a better interface that: 1) allows users to easily report typos without writing a comment or a direct message 2) drives awareness that the community should help edit posts 3) alerts users that a typo has been reported in a unintrusive way.

Perhaps they can make each line of a post a live link that you can click to view a pop-up box in which you can write an edit. A little red dot in the margin by a line in which a user has reported an error would be enough to let people know it's been taken care of. A little note in the margin that explains the system will help spread the word.

In lieu of a new system--we have to figure out if it's more important to influence the readability of articles or more important to insure the flow of comments is not disrupted. I would argue that the comment flow is way more important, considering how the caliber of the users in this community protect the readability of the articles from any serious jeopardy. The flow of comments, on the other hand, is what makes this forum uniquely nurturing to rational thought. This detailed matrix of connecting ideas is as reflective of the cognitive process as it is supportive of it.

Comment author: FAWS 04 March 2010 12:19:15AM *  4 points [-]

That sounds like it would require considerable programming effort without all that much gain. Do you volunteer to do it yourself?

Comment author: MonBonify 04 March 2010 03:48:42PM 3 points [-]

Yes, I volunteer myself. I would need feedback on the best solution--as the one I previously outlined was just one way it could be done. Right now, below each post are the following options: Vote up, Vote down, Comments (#), Save, and Report. They could easily add "Mark a typo" or "Report a typo" that could pop out a new window in which you can alert the author of a typo that needs fixing.

In terms of effort vs. gain--you pose an interesting question. I would argue that it is worth the effort. This is a website about rational thought, so it seems fitting that it should have a smooth user interface that they're constantly trying to optimize. I also think any effort into finding a better way or creating a better system is always well spent because it creates an environment that nurtures innovative thinking and progress. So even though programming a new function would only have an incremental benefit to users, I think little things like this have a positive impact on the way people think. Web programming is such a flexible medium, allowing improvements like this--and just like people on this site put extra time and effort into the pursuit of truth and rationality, I think we should also put extra effort into optimizing our systems of interaction, making them as efficient as possible. Efficiency is the sister of rationality.

Comment author: Hook 04 March 2010 04:36:37PM 2 points [-]

You should consider other solutions, since the first one you think of is unlikely to be the best/cheapest to implement. The "Edit" functionality already exists. Users above a certain karma level could be allowed to edit posts, as in the case of StackOverflow. The major cost is that there would need to be a way to revert changes to prevent vandalism. Morendil pointed out that DM are a bit harder to send than comments. If desired, that could be fixed cheaply. There are surely other solutions.

Comment author: MonBonify 04 March 2010 05:48:23PM 3 points [-]

The new functionality wouldn't allow users to edit the post, but rather alert the author that there is a typo that might need fixing--does that help clarify my previous comment? I agree that allowing users to edit posts without the approval of the author could do more harm than good.

Imagine that there is another link below each post that opens the text of the post in a new window in which you are able to highlight typos (this could be programmed in a variety of ways--I would want to do more research on it to determine the best one). Once submitted, highlighted typos will automatically be Direct Messaged to the author in a automated format (see example below) and a little red dot will appear in the margin next to a line for which a typo alert was submitted--helping make sure authors are not flooded with alerts about the same typo. If a dot in the margin is too hard to program, here is an alternative: When a user clicks on the link to create a typo-alert, the highlighted text from previous typo-alerts submitted by other users is displayed in the pop-up window.

i.e.

Dear [Name]

User [Name] has found the following typos in your post. [copy of sentence with highlighted text from typo-pop-out box inserted here]. You can correct any typos in your post by using the Edit function.

Thanks, The Typo-Alert Generator

This may not be the best system, but through collaboration I think we can figure something out. Until there is some kind of efficient system in place that leverages the fact that web programming can be easily changed to suit a site's specific needs, I think we should just ignore typos and allow the highest level users to edit any glaring mistakes for clarity as they see fit.

Comment author: Hook 04 March 2010 07:11:17PM 1 point [-]

That sounds like a decent solution. I have no idea how hard the little red dot would be to program, but I think it would be distracting for the people who don't care about the typos. The highlighted text from previous typo-alerts makes sure that only the people who care get the information.

Comment author: Larks 04 March 2010 03:02:46PM *  -1 points [-]

Report a typo, and then reply to your own report. As a footnote to the typo-report, you would ask people to downvote the report so it became hidden, and upvote the daughter-post as a karma-balance.

e.g.

Larks:

You spelt ### wrong.

NB: could everyone please downvote this post so it becomes hidden, and upvote the post below as a karma-balance. If you would like to express disaproval of this post, simply omit to upvote the balance.

Larks:

Karma Balance

Comment author: prase 04 March 2010 04:25:08PM *  5 points [-]

Wouldn't it be easier if the reporter simply removed his typo comment after the typo is corrected?

Comment author: Morendil 04 March 2010 03:26:48PM 5 points [-]

Yikes. KISS violation alert.

Comment author: Vladimir_Nesov 04 March 2010 06:22:13PM *  1 point [-]

The best solution would be for the posts to be in a wiki, with two versions (a working version, and a public version approved by the author or authorized users) to keep vandalism from the front page, but with editing allowed to all users. This way, both typos and formatting issues could be resolved without bothering the author or anyone else (remember the encoding bugs in OB-imported posts, that nobody bothers to fix even after they are reported, not for a long time anyway!). Not a viable short-term solution, obviously, but technology will probably get there in a few years.

Comment author: Morendil 03 March 2010 06:11:35PM 1 point [-]

Good idea, but PMing is that tiny bit more difficult than commenting; beware trivial inconveniences.

Comment author: MrHen 03 March 2010 04:25:30PM 1 point [-]

Good point. I will do this in the future.

Comment author: RichardKennaway 04 March 2010 04:01:38PM -1 points [-]

I would prefer that such typos simply be ignored.