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Ideas on growth of the community

3 Post author: Lu93 12 August 2015 06:45PM

TLDR: I had idea to apply some tools I learned on coursera to our community in order to grow it better. I wanted to start some organized thinking about goals our community has, and offer some materials for people who are eager to work on it, but are maybe lost or need ideas.

 

Yesterday I did a course on coursera.org. It's called "Grow to Greatness: Smart Growth for Private Businesses, Part I". (I play lectures often at x2.5 so I can do 5 weeks course in one day)

Though this course seems obvious, it'd say pretty worth 3 hours, so look it up. (It's hard to say how much is hindsight and how much is actually too easy and basic) I got some ideas sorted, and I saw the tools. I'm not an expert now, obviously, but at least i can see when things are done in unprofessional manner, and it can help you understand what follows.

When growing anything (company, community, ...) you have different options. You should not opt for everything, because you will be spread thin. You should grow with measure, so that people can follow, and so that you can do it right. This is the essence of the course. Rest is focused on ways of growing.

This was informative part of this article. Rest is some thoughts that just came to my mind that I would like to share. Hopefully I inspire some of you, and start some organized thinking about this community.

 

This community is some kind of organization, and it has a goal. To be precise, it probably has two goals, as I see it:

  1. to make existing members more rational
  2. to get more members.

Note that second focus is to grow.

I will just plainly write down some claims this course made:

 

In order to grow:

  1. your people need to grow (as persons, to get more skills, to learn).
  2. you need to create more processes regarding customers, in order to preserve good service
  3. you often need better organization (to regulate processes inside the company)
  4. you need to focus
  5. you need a plan
  6. if you need to stop the fire, stop the fire which has the greatest impact, and make a process out of it, so that people can do it on their own afterwards

1. I guess no-one is against this. After all, we are all here to grow.

2. My guess is that our customers could be defined as new members. So, first steps someone makes here are responsibility of this organization. After, when they get into rationality more, when they start working on themselves, they become employees. That's at least how it works in my head. Book on sequences is a good step here since it helps to have it all organized in one pdf.

3. this is actually where it all started. We are just a bunch of people with common drive to be more rational. There are meetups, but that's it. I guess some people see EY as some kind of leader, but even if he were one, that's not an organization. My first idea is to create some kind of separation of topics, reddit-like. (With or without moderators, we can change that at any point if one option does not work.)

For example, I'm fed with AI topics. When i see AI, I literally stop reading. I don't even think it's rational to force that idea so much. I understand the core of this community is in that business, but:

  1. One of the first lessons in finance is "don't put all the eggs in one basket". If there is something more important than AI we are fucked if no-one sees it. I guess "non-rational" people will see it (since they were not active on this forum, therefore not focused on AI) but then people of this forum lose attribute "rational" since "non-rationals" outperformed them simply by doing random stuff.
  2. It may stop people from visiting the forum. They may disagree, they may feel "it's not right", but be unable to formulate it in "dont put all the eggs in one basket" (my example, kind of). The remaining choice is to stop visiting the site.

So, I would STRONGLY encourage new topics, and I would like to see some kind of classification. If I want to find out about AI, I want to know where to look, and if I don't want to read about it, I want to know how to avoid it. If I want to read about self-improvement, I want to know where to find it. Who knows, after some rough classification people start to do finer ones, and discuss how to increase memory without being spammed with procrastination. I think this could help the first goal (to make existing members more rational) since it would give them some overview.

I also think this would reduce cult-ism, since it would add diversity, and loose the "meta".

4. Understatement. Anyone who worked, or read anything about work knows how important plan is. It is OBLIGATORY. Essential. (See course https://www.coursera.org/learn/work-smarter-not-harder/outline )

5. I think this is not very important to us. There are lots of people here. Many enthusiasts. However, this should be some kind of guideline to make a good plan, and to tell us how much resources to devote to each problem.

 

In conclusion, I understand these things are big. But growth means change. (There is some EY quote on this, I think:not every change is improvement, but every improvement is a change, correct me if I'm wrong.) Humans did not evolve this far by being better, but by socializing and cooperating. So I think we should move from herd to organization.

 

 

Comments (85)

Comment author: Viliam 13 August 2015 09:10:27AM *  10 points [-]

1) A crazy idea -- how about creating a "welcoming committee"; a group of people who would offer to spend some of their time welcoming the new LW members personally (on Skype). They would be volunteers who see the community aspect of LW as important, but also would have to be accepted by the LW vote as representatives of the community (instead of e.g. people who have incompatible ideas, and try to abuse LW for spreading their personal goals).

Now every new user would have an opportunity (and be encouraged) to request e.g. two 10-minutes talks with two members of the "welcoming committee". The new user would provide a short introduction about themselves (hobbies, what do they expect from LW), and the committee would contact them and have a talk. There would be an (unenforceable) expectation that in return, the new user will write an article on LW, and generally, start being active in the community, if they are compatible with the community.

2) A part of the impression of LW decay could be an artifact of how article publishing works here. The popularity of an author grows gradually, but when a well-known author leaves, it is visible. If we imagine the article quality graph, it could be a curve with a lot of small growth (which we don't notice) and an occasional sharp drop (noticed by many).

For example, someone new would come, post an article in Discussion with 5 karma, a month later another with 15 karma, yet a month later an article with 30 karma would get to Main, then five more articles in Main... and then the person would decide to start their own blog. What would be our impression of this whole process? Probably that LW is getting worse than before, because yet another important author has left. (We wouldn't contrast the end situation with what was before the author came to LW.)

3) Related to recent article by Robin Hanson and the discussion below it: people often don't read sources for information per se, but for information useful socially. For example, if you could read two articles in a newspaper, equally useful, but one published today and another published a year ago, you would prefer to read the article written today, because then you can go out and have a debate with people about it.

Analogically, LessWrong became "old news". The great old articles (from Sequences, but also by Yvain, lukeprog, etc.) are old. Reading them now for the first time is lower-status than having them read when they were published. MIRI and CFAR themselves are "old news"; they exist, just like they have existed years before. There is no new exciting topic for the new readers. It is like joining an already huge pyramid scheme at the bottom.

This could potentially be helped by creating sub-communities on LW. The new members were not here when LW started, but they can still participate at starting some subgroup, and get status there. (Similarly how people who start a local LW meetup can get high status for that.)

Comment author: Elo 17 August 2015 10:19:17PM 0 points [-]

I like the idea of a welcome committee and am willing to spearhead it.

Comment author: Lumifer 13 August 2015 03:24:03PM 6 points [-]

One more rarely mentioned thing.

There is an expression (mostly in business): "take ownership of a problem". If you take ownership of an issue, it is now yours -- you're responsible for it, it's up to you to find ways to deal with it, fix it, keep working whatever needs to be working, etc. You cannot say "not my problem, somebody else will fix it" any more.

No one "owns" LW.

Comment author: casebash 14 August 2015 12:14:57AM 0 points [-]

Actually, that's mentioned everytime this comes up. Which is great, except when the problem is so large that the only person who could take responsibility for it is some kind of superman/woman.

Comment author: Lumifer 14 August 2015 12:50:45AM 5 points [-]

That "one" need not be a single person. It could be a group, an organization.

One of the problems is that people who control the LW website are running it in pure maintenance mode. LW was put out to pasture -- there have been no changes to functionality in ages.

Comment author: ChristianKl 14 August 2015 10:39:59AM 1 point [-]

Maybe it would be good if the control of LW would be handed over to someone who cares more about running it.

I never meet EY in person, so I don't know to what extend he might be willing to hand LW over. It's likely a conversation to be had private in person with him.

Comment author: Lumifer 14 August 2015 02:34:53PM 0 points [-]

LW isn't controlled by Eliezer, it's controlled by MIRI.

Comment author: ChristianKl 14 August 2015 03:06:00PM *  0 points [-]

LW isn't controlled by Eliezer, it's controlled by MIRI.

From my perspective it's hard to tell how their internal agreement is. Have you spoken to Eliezer or MIRI personally about who's controlling LW?

Comment author: Lumifer 14 August 2015 03:11:51PM 0 points [-]

No, but I know who owns the domain name and I rather doubt EY personally pays for hosting.

Comment author: ChristianKl 14 August 2015 03:29:08PM 1 point [-]

I rather doubt EY personally pays for hosting.

I think the hosting is still done by Trike Apps.

I could be wrong but I would estimate that changing control of LW is basically about convincing EY.

Comment author: Vaniver 14 August 2015 04:25:29PM *  7 points [-]

I could be wrong but I would estimate that changing control of LW is basically about convincing EY.

The last time I discussed this with Trike Apps, their position was that LW is owned by MIRI, and thus Nate Soares is the final authority. I nevertheless expect that convincing EY is a key component of any competent plan.

I predict there will be a in-person conversation about this in roughly a week.

Comment author: Vaniver 01 September 2015 12:57:04AM *  2 points [-]

Since it's now been two weeks, I'm late for an update: many in-person conversations happened. There are a few follow-up ones to have online (at least one of which will have to wait until Burning Man is over), and then I'll post about it here on LW.

Comment author: Viliam 14 August 2015 09:02:31AM *  0 points [-]

That "one" need not be a single person. It could be a group, an organization.

And one person needs to take responsibility for the meta-task of creating and leading the group.

Comment author: Lumifer 14 August 2015 02:31:39PM 0 points [-]

And one person needs to take responsibility for the meta-task of creating and leading the group.

Actually, the usual start for such things is not a single person, but a conversation. Sometimes you need one leader, sometimes a few "founders" work well, and occasionally even a committee (gasp!) suffices.

Comment author: [deleted] 14 August 2015 10:15:53PM 0 points [-]

Tyranny generally works faster than a democracy... Or oligarchy I guess in this case.

Comment author: Lumifer 14 August 2015 11:35:00PM 1 point [-]

I don't think "faster" is the overwhelming criterion in this case.

Comment author: Lu93 14 August 2015 12:45:33PM -2 points [-]

Agree. However, I did not post this to take ownership of a problem, but to facilitate someone who will.

Comment author: RomeoStevens 13 August 2015 12:17:43AM *  3 points [-]

One problem as I see it is that Self-help as a community driven thing never really took off here. I think a big reason why is the perceived high bar to post quality. Self-help involves engaging with lots of idle weird ideas that don't work out before you hit on something useful. I'll also note that most of the online communities that really seem to be "communities" have an off-topic area that attracts a lot of posts where people feel free to be more casual. When brought up in the context of LW people point to the IRC chatroom, but that is a very different type of interaction.

Comment author: SolveIt 13 August 2015 06:53:18AM 2 points [-]

I would be in favour of an offtopic tab separate from Main and Discussion

Comment author: Lu93 13 August 2015 12:27:55PM 0 points [-]

And then why not do the whole job, and create tab for meetups, to avoid spam in main, tab for AI, tab for decision making, tab for overcoming biases, tab for... Well, we came to my solution. =)

Comment author: [deleted] 13 August 2015 11:01:55AM 0 points [-]

Doesn't the weekly open thread serve some of this purpose?

Comment author: passive_fist 13 August 2015 02:54:17AM *  5 points [-]

The biggest problem as I see it is loss of members and lack of talented new ones. I'm willing to bet if you plotted the histogram of user activity, you'd see virtually all of the posts and comments coming from a very small number of members. The 'Top Contributors' section in the side panel probably contains most of them, and has been relatively stable in composition over the past two years. If the first step in instrumental rationality is to identify reality in an objective way, then we have to realize this site has become an echo chamber for a small few, with their own vocabulary and system of thought which is incompatible with the outside world. The barriers to entry (reading the sequences, reading the 'seminal' comment threads, etc.) are too high for most people. HPMOR offers a pathway for new members to start reading the rationality materials, but it doesn't equip them to meaningfully contribute.

Another thing is that there is only so much 'low-hanging fruit' lying around. In terms of general rationality, we've covered most everything. There are only so many threads you can have about biases and logical inconsistencies. The topic has become quite stale.

I like AI because at least it offers the possibility for new material to arise every once in a while, leading to useful discussions. Other people might like other topics. I have a huge list of topics whose implications are quite relevant to the art of rationality and so would be quite compatible with the goals of this site:

  • Thermodynamics
  • Neuroscience
  • Neural Networks
  • Social organization & Forms of government
  • Human sexual dynamics

The problem is, the types of people likely to be knowledgeable about these things probably have no idea this site exists. And if they do it is unreasonable to expect them to learn the required information to be 'on the same page' as this site's core users. And this is very bad, because it means that this site's users will attempt to foray into these topics themselves without any help from actual experts.

I don't know what the solution is. Maybe it's already too late to do anything.

Comment author: [deleted] 13 August 2015 08:34:58AM 2 points [-]

We should somehow survey the users to see if their alone-in-a-crowd attitude prevents them from actively posting, and then encourage them to post, because compartmentalization is not a good habit. And I think people who agree that you should help the epileptic however many people are also present, but not that you should speak out 'what is obvious' if there are other users with a history of commenting, compartmentalize.

(OTOH, maybe it's me rationalizing asking much and answering little.)

Comment author: ScottL 13 August 2015 05:45:10AM *  2 points [-]

In regards to the article, the idea of subsections or seperations of topics has already been raised in this post. I personally think it would make more sense to be able to create personal sections based on query results. So, it would just be a saved search query. It would be a section that you can name that would be shown only to you and would run a search when you enter it. The search would just be a normal search that you can run now.

Some ideas I have had on improving the site are:

  • An announcements sub-section. One reason for why less people might be coming to the site is that the Main is clogged up with Meetup announcements.
  • Optional comment when liking or disliking. The like/dislike status is useful with helping to sort posts in terms of quality, but it doesn't really help improve existing posts. If your post, gets disliked, then most of the time you don't know why it was disliked. If your post was disliked with a comment, then you could spend effort to fix the post, reply to the comment and then the disliker would hopefully reneg the dislike. This would lead to you wanting to improve posts once they have been created. The comment would only be sent to article creator.
  • Section with post karma that does not affect your personal karma. This would help with new members who start posting lower quality posts and then give up because their user has poor karma. I think your ability to post in discussion or main should be based on the post and comment karma. This means that posts in the section without personal karma would, if liked enough, allow you to post in main.

In regards to the above comment, this is what I think of your points:

  • The barriers to entry (reading the sequences, reading the 'seminal' comment threads, etc.) are too high for most people - I agree. This is why I have started writing a rationality primer. I will post an article with more details on this maybe next week.
  • There is only so much 'low-hanging fruit' lying around. In terms of general rationality - while this is true, I think that there is still alot of area that could be covered in terms of applied general rationality. By this I mean practical advice. This also doesn't require expert domain knowledge. You just need to go out and actually try something. I think that less wrong can improve in this area.
  • I like AI because at least it offers the possibility for new material to arise every once in a while - I think that there is alot of content that is tangentially related to rationality that could be extremely helpful. Once again, I think a more practical focus would get people thinking in more divergent directions. Personally, I plan to write some sequences around the idea of strategy it would touch on Mental models, Complexity theory, Systems dynamics, Boydian thinking and maybe some other stuff .
Comment author: passive_fist 13 August 2015 10:48:52AM 0 points [-]

Optional comment when liking or disliking

I'd go even further and make the comment mandatory. Or remove likes/dislikes altogether and use ratings like "irrational" or "off-topic" or "I personally disagree" instead, along with the ability to add some more explanation.

Comment author: Lumifer 13 August 2015 03:02:24PM *  4 points [-]

use ratings like "irrational" or "off-topic" or "I personally disagree"

+5 insightful, +5 funny :-/

It's not a new idea and it has been tried. Slashdot spent years experimenting with different karma models -- that is valuable empirical data.

Comment author: Tem42 13 August 2015 02:40:49PM 3 points [-]

Irrational; off-topic; trite; redundant; attitude; poorly written/expressed; I personally disagree.

Rational; interesting/clever; positive vibe man!; I don't really care, but feel that you have been unfairly downvoted.

Problem: I suspect that most people who down vote because "I personally disagree" might actually click "irrational".

Comment author: ChristianKl 15 August 2015 01:01:34PM 0 points [-]

I think on LW a lot of people can distinguish "I personally disagree" from "you don't provide a proper argument".

Comment author: Tem42 15 August 2015 01:37:49PM 0 points [-]

My thought was that most people who do make the distinction between "I personally disagree" and "you don't provide a proper argument" are also the people who are unlikely to vote down simply because they disagree. I could be wrong.

Comment author: ChristianKl 15 August 2015 01:47:56PM 1 point [-]

I think it depend on the context. There are cases on LW when voting down because you disagree makes sense and others where it doesn't.

Comment author: btrettel 13 August 2015 06:55:25PM -1 points [-]

Problem: I suspect that most people who down vote because "I personally disagree" might actually click "irrational".

This is likely, and requiring a comment or some additional feedback might be a good idea for calling something irrational.

Comment author: Viliam 13 August 2015 06:55:27PM 2 points [-]

You can imagine that I clicked "I personally disagree" on your comment.

The problem is, unless I also explain why, I will seem like a jerk. But if I explain, it will cost me time, so naturally after writing a few careful explanations I will simply stop downvoting.

Comment author: btrettel 13 August 2015 12:53:00PM -1 points [-]

The suggestion for different types of rating is a particularly good idea. Why you were downvoted isn't always obvious, and this makes it hard to get feedback from a downvote. I think too many people downvote based upon their agreement with a commenter's position rather than how well it is justified, which isn't how I think the system should work. I've upvoted a number of comments I disagree with but thought were argued well.

Comment author: btrettel 02 September 2015 07:55:34PM 0 points [-]

I find it amusing that the comment above this one was downvoted without explanation.

Comment author: Sarunas 14 August 2015 09:10:30PM *  2 points [-]

I think it is important to answer why people go to LessWrong and whether it is perceived to be primarily a place where you go to improve one's rationality that happens to be an internet forum, or an internet forum where you can read interesting things, such as rationality (I think that experiencing an intellectual journey is somewhere in between, but probably closer to the latter). Because there are a lot of large forums where you can read a lot of interesting things - for example, r/askscience and r/askhistorians have hundreds of thousands subscribers and a lot of contributors who produce huge quantities of interesting content.

A place where people go to improve their rationality can take many forms. It doesn't even have to be a blog, a forum, or a wiki. If I allowed myself to be a bit starry-eyed, I would say, that it would be really interesting, if, for example, LessWrong had its own integrated Good Judgement Project. Or if LW had its own karma (or cryptocurrency) denominated prediction markets. Of course, ideas like these would require a lot of effort to implement.

Comment author: Lumifer 14 August 2015 11:30:13PM 2 points [-]

there are a lot of large forums where you can read a lot of interesting things

The signal-to-noise ratio there tends to be poor.

Comment author: ChristianKl 13 August 2015 11:04:55AM 2 points [-]

Before wanting to grow "the community" it makes sense to ask what "the community" happens to be. You can count Scott's blog into the community or you can decide that the community is only what's branded as LW.

This community is some kind of organization, and it has a goal. To be precise, it probably has two goals, as I see it: to make existing members more rational to get more members.

I wouldn't consider that to be the main goals.

For me one of the most important goals is developing the "art of rationality". A lot of discussion on LW is not about simply applying existing techniques of how to be rational but to develop new concepts. A while ago someone complained that he read a LW post about how to estimate whether a woman will say yes when asked out for a date as probability.

If you think the goal is effective action, there are a lot of reasons why that's not a good way to approach the subject of asking out a woman. If you on the other hand care about how probability estimates are made in emotionally charged real life situations the inquiry is a lot more interesting.

When it comes to gathering new members quality is more important than quantity. At our Berlin LW meetup we could trivially increase the attendance by putting it on meetup.com. We don't and as a result have a meetup with the kind of people who find the event without having to check meetup.

I would STRONGLY encourage new topics

So, what's stopping you from posting new topics yourself?

Comment author: Lu93 13 August 2015 11:52:45AM 1 point [-]

When it comes to gathering new members quality is more important than quantity.

Exactly the reason why I posted. Nobody wants to make a big community by destroying the quality. That's the main topic of this course I recommended.

For me one of the most important goals is developing the "art of rationality". Would it be easier if there were 10 times more people like you, who want to do the same? Would it be easier if existing people were more rational? Your goal has nothing(or very little) to do with my goals, which is self- and world-improvement. So I would call your and my goals as subgoals with regard to community. If any of our goals would be main goal to the community, the other guy would not have interest to contribute. This is the reason i ask for separation of topics.

So, what's stopping you from posting new topics yourself? I just did, my friend. This topic is on growth of the community. What you want to say is "it's not the topic I'm interested in", and that's the reason I want separation of topics. So that I can speak about growth of the community without bothering you.

Comment author: ChristianKl 13 August 2015 03:50:15PM *  1 point [-]

So, what's stopping you from posting new topics yourself? I just did, my friend. This topic is on growth of the community.

I don't think that having more meta-threads on how the community can improved provides the kind of content that brings LW forward.

So that I can speak about growth of the community without bothering you.

I don't think that having an extra section for meta conversation about LW could be improved would be a move in the right direction. Especially for people with low karma.

Comment author: Lu93 14 August 2015 12:39:56PM -2 points [-]

I don't think that having more meta-threads on how the community can improved provides the kind of content that brings LW forward. I don't think that having an extra section for meta conversation about LW could be improved would be a move in the right direction.

Funny you say that. Because you want LW to go forward, no? I got that from your wording. However, you want to avoid talking about that, and you want to proceed doing what you feel you need to do, which is making posts on whatever you want to post about. You don't want to do it deliberately, and you want to let it happen on its own. I think that if you thought for 5 minutes on this topic (improvement of LW), you would not have this opinion.

Especially for people with low karma. Is this ad hominem? Better evaluate my arguments than my karma. And even if you want to evaluate me, having karma as only argument is pretty miserable.

I will continue with position you want LW to improve. Do you claim that staying the same will improve LW or its members? Do we agree LW has to change, as well as its members in order to improve? Do we agree change has to be deliberately chosen to be an improvement? Do you claim you can do it with your gut feeling? Do you claim that course I offered as a resource is false in any way? If so, please refer me to the counterargument. Do you claim organization of the site would not be good for its members? Do you claim segregation of topics would not organize this site? Do you claim this solution is not feasible?

I tried to be rigorous towards arguments you offered, and not harsh to you. I love you, and i hope this conversation will do good to both of us.

Comment author: Jiro 14 August 2015 02:36:42PM 4 points [-]

I love you

Please stop this. Unusual familiarity in the context of disagreeing with someone, is condescending and an insult. And no, it doesn't fool everyone, either.

Comment author: ChristianKl 14 August 2015 01:25:01PM 2 points [-]

Because you want LW to go forward, no?

It's interesting that you ask that question will ignoring my request to define what you mean with LW.

I think that if you thought for 5 minutes on this topic (improvement of LW), you would not have this opinion.

If you would search posts that I have written on the topic, would would see that I spent many hours thinking about this topic.

Basically the only way for you to hold this misconception is by being ignorant of prior discussions on the subject on LW. The fact that you haven't read them suggests to me that you have thought relatively little compared to the amount of thought I put into the subject.

Do you claim segregation of topics would not organize this site?

I think having too much segregation of topic is one of the reasons why the QS forum doesn't work (where I'm a moderator but lost this argument).

I say that as someone who did moderate a big personal development forum for 4 years and who has been asked for advice by other people starting personal development forums.

How much experience do you have in shaping online communities?

Do we agree change has to be deliberately chosen to be an improvement?

No, I don't believe in intelligent design.

On LW everybody is free to start a new threads without having a debate about starting it. Karma votes then either show that the community likes the new thread or that it doesn't like it. It sometimes worthwhile to express arguments for why you vote the way you do, but no group design progress is needed at the start.

Do-ocracy is a decent organisational concept.

Comment author: ChristianKl 14 August 2015 01:37:12PM 0 points [-]

Especially for people with low karma. Is this ad hominem? Better evaluate my arguments than my karma.

Karma shows to what extend people contribute to this community. People who don't contribute to this community don't have the same standing to tell other people on LW to do things to change LW than people who contribute.

Goals of a community aren't supposed to be set by outsiders.

It says on the top of the page that this community exists for refining the art of rationality. You don't care for that goal. You also don't care for the AI discussions with are a main reason for which LW was founded.

If you want to have something different than what this community is about then why don't you start something different?

Comment author: ChristianKl 13 August 2015 03:56:00PM 0 points [-]

Would it be easier if there were 10 times more people like you, who want to do the same?

Everyone who's like me already knows that LW exists.

Comment author: Lu93 14 August 2015 12:06:18PM -1 points [-]

Do you want to bet?

Comment author: ChristianKl 14 August 2015 12:56:40PM 1 point [-]

It's hard to define the terms of that bet. What am I pointing towards:

I did hear of LW in multiple different contexts online.

I heard it recommended at a CCC event.

I know two people who attended local LW meetups who I meet at QS events.

The week before the first LW Community camp a 99% match turned up on OkCupid. It was a woman who was in Berlin for the LW Community camp. If I wouldn't have known about LW that's also an event that would have made me check out LW.

Not having heard of LW would mean that I would have quite different ways to consume information and hang out with people.

Comment author: [deleted] 13 August 2015 08:01:13AM *  2 points [-]

I'd also like to see targeted interaction and outreach to the academic research community.

GiveWell has a good model of validating and checking intuitions against prominent people in development, but seems to opt for public intellectuals over less famous experts in the field who's thinking those public intellectuals may defer to. In the EA community, I feel this has lead to such confidence in deworming, when deworming is actually one of if not the most controversial topics in academic impact evaluation (nicknamed worm wars. And DALY's are the pariah outside of specific subcommunities of impact analysis looking to the future, not immediate use.

There may be many similar misunderstandings in the rationality community which are taken for granted. But unlike the EA community, the rationalist community seems to be less transparent. MIRI technical research agenda is still secret, amongst other things..

By contrasts, I can go on GiveWell, which in some ways isn't part of the EA community so much as the inspiration for it, and see how they think they think and motivating influences cleanly laid out, without even going into their methodology. Be warmed, ordinary readers, I'm playing the critic here. MIRI is much more technically complicated that GiveWell, I'm just trying to give criticism to be constructive. Path dependence and novelty of MIRI's agenda, amongst other things, are obvious barriers to doing things the EA way in the rationalist community.

Btw, I think you've misspelled 'community'. Some members of the community seem really neurotic about that sort of thing and it would be shame if you were downvoted or missed upvotes for something as trivial as that.

Comment author: Lu93 13 August 2015 12:16:15PM 0 points [-]

Thanks for the warning. I forgot to check the title. Grammar-Nazis always lurk for that fresh non-native-speaker flesh.

Comment author: Viliam 13 August 2015 07:09:06PM 6 points [-]

Grammar is the mind-killer. Once you know which spelling is correct, you must attack all words that appear incorrect; otherwise it's like stabbing your teachers in the back -- providing aid and comfort to the uneducated.

People go funny in the head when talking about grammar. The evolutionary reasons for this are so obvious as to be worth belaboring: In the ancestral environment, spelling was a matter of life and death. And sex, and wealth, and allies, and reputation... Writing "execute not, release!" as "execute, not release!" could let you kill your hated rival!

If you want to make a point about science, or rationality, then my advice is to not choose a contemporary language, if you can possibly avoid it. If your point is inherently verbal, then use French language from the Louis XVI's era. Language is an important domain to which we should individually apply our rationality—but it's a terrible tool to learn rationality, or discuss rationality, unless all the discussants are already rational.

/s

Comment author: Jiro 13 August 2015 08:57:19PM 1 point [-]

If you use French language from the Louis XVI era, nobody will understand you. It isn't clear that avoiding politics will lead to a similar lack of understanding.

Comment author: Username 12 August 2015 07:00:21PM -1 points [-]

I am a lazy and selfish person. I want to get more rational myself, but I don't want to put any effort into helping others become more rational.

Comment author: Lu93 13 August 2015 12:34:42PM 1 point [-]

That's cool. Do you want to have everything sorted in this forum, so that you can choose which topic you want to read? If yes, contribute to that idea, it will help you.

I hope you get rational, cure death alone, and spare me the effort.I'm lazy and selfish as well, and I'm better at that than you./s

Comment author: casebash 13 August 2015 09:51:12AM 1 point [-]

I made a post recently that Less Wrong Lacks Direction that seems very similar to point 3. Less Wrong has moderation, but it doesn't have leadership. There is almost no concerted group action. Everyone has their own ideas of what Less Wrong needs to do next, and they are all different.

I think Why our kind can't co-operate is an excellent article. Whenever you post an idea, you might get a few upvotes, but you'll also get a lot of comments saying that something else is a better idea instead.

The reason why Less Wrong is getting less readers is because Less Wrong has much less content. Either 1) we need someone crazy like Scott Alexander who will solo producing huge amounts of content 2) we need some way to encourage the posting of new content. The ability to create separate sections of Less Wrong would be a great way to increase the amount of content posted. The programming wouldn't even be that hard, the issue is that the moderators still haven't commented on whether they'd turn it on if someone went out and did it.

Comment author: btrettel 13 August 2015 06:52:37PM 2 points [-]

Whenever you post an idea, you might get a few upvotes, but you'll also get a lot of comments saying that something else is a better idea instead.

To be honest, that's basically why I post in open threads. I want other people to tell me something else is better, or that I'm missing something, etc. I don't recall ever being offended by that, but I have been disappointed by how few replies I've received.

Comment author: Lu93 14 August 2015 12:04:15PM 1 point [-]

I was not talking about "this elevation is higher than yours". I mean, if you got better idea that solves my problem more efficiently, thank you very much. I was talking about the ideas which are at the same level. You need hot chocolate, which is hot and sweet, but all you have is coffee and lemonade. You can drink coffee, it's warm but bitter, and you can drink lemonade, which is sweet, but cold. Someone says, take lemonade, someone says take coffee. In the end, it doesn't matter which one you take. Both solve the problem partially, but community will take none, because it's not perfect. Translated to the case I wanted to cover: let's say we have part of the community which wants to improve the world we live in. Some think building better government will help, some think doing research, improving technology etc will help, some think we should start at the bottom and help the ones in the greatest need. They will fight each other, although they could give each team it's task and do it that way. This is my intention on the long stick. To make teams. Each member could help solving problems he feels he could solve, without spam from other teams, etc.

In the end, I just wanted to help solving our inability to organize.

Comment author: btrettel 14 August 2015 01:30:41PM 0 points [-]

Someone says, take lemonade, someone says take coffee. In the end, it doesn't matter which one you take. Both solve the problem partially, but community will take none, because it's not perfect.

I was confused by casebash's reply, but your explanation of the same suggestion makes sense.

Pointing out when we are engaging in analysis paralysis and thus becoming less effective would be a good habit, I think. I'm not good at it, but I'll see what I can do.

Comment author: casebash 14 August 2015 12:09:27AM 0 points [-]

Constructive feedback is great - except when you're trying to actually get something done. Often it is better to go with a less than perfect plan, as opposed to doing nothing at all

Comment author: Lu93 13 August 2015 12:05:26PM 1 point [-]

I agree with you completely. Just want to point out that LW lacks directions. It's complete bullshit that we should all focus on one thing. And having all directions interfere is just making it harder to do anything sensible.

Comment author: ChristianKl 13 August 2015 10:39:00AM 1 point [-]

The ability to create separate sections of Less Wrong would be a great way to increase the amount of content posted.

Why do you believe that separate sections will increase the amount of content that's posted?

Comment author: Lu93 13 August 2015 11:59:35AM 1 point [-]

He just gave you a reason.

Whenever you post an idea, you might get a few upvotes, but you'll also get a lot of comments saying that something else is a better idea instead.

If you organize content, you would get rid of that sort of things. Imagine going on reddit, to math subreddit, and commenting on some theorem "yeah, but it's better to develop new political system than solving these equations". It's just bizarre, and for a reason: not everyone on this world should be solving the same problem.

Comment author: casebash 13 August 2015 01:54:35PM 1 point [-]

I actually appreciated ChristianKl's question, I didn't answer it as well as I could have

Comment author: casebash 13 August 2015 01:55:50PM 0 points [-]

Because different sections could have different rules or norms on what kind of content is acceptable. Sections wouldn't necessarily increase the amount of content by themselves, but they would if they were well selected. Take for example an off-topic question section. Some conversation already occur - via special threads - but if there was a separate section, many more would happen.

Comment author: ChristianKl 13 August 2015 03:26:45PM 0 points [-]

What kind of offtopic discussion do you think would be good to happen that don't already happen in the open thread of stupid question threads?

Comment author: casebash 14 August 2015 12:10:42AM *  0 points [-]

The stupid questions threads only happen once every few weeks.

But I'd love to see separate areas for politics or social skills.

Comment author: ChristianKl 14 August 2015 10:06:00AM 0 points [-]

As far as a separate area for politics goes, we had a while a separate recurring thread for it. Now we have Omnilibrium. What's wrong with those solutions and why do you rather want a new section?

As far as social skills how about opening up a new recurring thread for it or specific threads on subaspects? Threads already seem quite successful in establishing different rules and norms.

Comment author: casebash 14 August 2015 11:17:35PM 0 points [-]

I'm not a fan of Omnilibrium's UI, but I guess that's the lesser issue. The bigger issue is how often do people actually post there? How active is the community? I suspect it's not going to be very large because it's a separate site that people have to visit.

Comment author: ChristianKl 15 August 2015 01:05:25AM 1 point [-]

I suspect it's not going to be very large because it's a separate site that people have to visit.

If that's the key problem we might add the Omnilibrium threads to "Recent on Rationality Blogs"

Comment author: MathiasZaman 13 August 2015 09:59:10AM 1 point [-]

Whenever you post an idea, you might get a few upvotes, but you'll also get a lot of comments saying that something else is a better idea instead.

Not just that, but you also get a lot of comments nitpicking a minor detail that hardly affects the main points. For me, at least, that sort of response discourages to post anything that isn't perfect (which nothing ever is).

we need someone crazy like Scott Alexander who will solo producing huge amounts of content 2

You don't necessarily need one person. The Sequences started due to a conversation between Yudkwosky and Hanson.

Comment author: [deleted] 13 August 2015 08:00:06AM *  0 points [-]

I'd also like to see targeted interaction and outreach to the academic research community.

GiveWell has a good model of validating and checking intuitions against prominent people in development, but seems to opt for public intellectuals over less famous experts in the field who's thinking those public intellectuals may defer to. In the EA community, I feel this has lead to such confidence in deworming, when deworming is actually one of if not the most controversial topics in academic impact evaluation (nicknamed worm wars. And DALY's are the pariah outside of specific subcommunities of impact analysis looking to the future, not immediate use.

There may be many similar misunderstandings in the rationality community which are taken for granted. But unlike the EA community, the rationalist community seems to be less transparent. MIRI technical research agenda is still secret, amongst other things..

By contrasts, I can go on GiveWell, which in some ways isn't part of the EA community so much as the inspiration for it, and see cleanly laid out, without even going into their methodology. Be warmed, ordinary readers, I'm playing the critic here. MIRI is much more technically complicated that GiveWell, I'm just trying to give criticism to be constructive. Path dependence and novelty of MIRI's agenda, amongst other things, are obvious barriers to doing things the EA way in the rationalist community.

Btw, I think you've misspelled 'community'. Some members of the community seem really neurotic about that sort of thing and it would be shame if you were downvoted or missed upvotes for something as trivial as that.