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qsz comments on Open thread, Nov. 16 - Nov. 22, 2015 - Less Wrong

7 Post author: MrMind 16 November 2015 08:03AM

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Comment author: [deleted] 17 November 2015 02:50:31AM 12 points [-]

I think we should get rid of "main" and "promoted" .

Right now there's four tiers: open thread, discussion, main, and main promoted.

at least once a week I see a comment that says "this should be in main," "this shouldn't be in main", "this should be in the open thread," or "this shouldn't be in the open thread, it should be it's own post".

I think the two tier system of open thread/discussion would suffice, and the upvote downvote mechanism could take care of the rest.

Comment author: ScottL 17 November 2015 11:15:58PM *  2 points [-]

I think we should get rid of "main" and "promoted" .

Do you think that “main” is a bad idea or that we should get rid of “main” because it hasn’t had much content for a while?

I personally like the concept of “main” because from a site mechanics point of view with its (10x) karma it indicates that less wrong promotes and prioritizes longer, multi-post and referenced material, which is the type of material I am more interested in.

Comment author: [deleted] 18 November 2015 12:38:19PM 2 points [-]

I like the concept of "main" for exactly the same reasons. However, it seems like most people who would post longer, more-referenced material are no longer contributing here. Indeed, even detailed discussion posts are now rare; most content now seems to be in open threads.

This dwindling content can be seen most clearly in the "Top Contributors, 30 Days" display. At the time I write this there are only seven posters with > 100 karma in the past 30 days, and it only takes 58 to appear on the list of 15. Perhaps the question should not be whether the content of LW should be reorganised, but whether LW is fulfilling its desired purpose any longer.

As nearly all the core people who worked the hardest to use this site to promote rationality are no longer contributing here, I wonder if this goal is still being achieved by LW itself. Is it still worth reading? Still worth commenting here?

Comment author: signal 18 November 2015 04:40:18PM 1 point [-]

LW does seem dying and mainly useful for its old content. Any suggestions for a LW 2.0?

Comment author: Vaniver 19 November 2015 04:16:44PM 7 points [-]

I've been thinking about this for a few months. I'm pointing this out to commit to writing a main-level article by December 1st, hopefully earlier.

Comment author: Viliam 19 November 2015 08:09:17PM *  2 points [-]

You have my upvote, which on December 1st will become a downvote unless you will have posted. (Just kidding.)

Comment author: Vaniver 01 December 2015 02:41:07AM 0 points [-]

Article written, edited, slept on, and edited again. I could post it now but will wait until the 2nd for timing reasons.

Comment author: [deleted] 03 December 2015 02:06:11PM 0 points [-]

Upvoted today for following through (and raising this discussion in a constructive and thoughtful manner).

Comment author: hg00 19 November 2015 07:24:54AM *  8 points [-]

Yvain, #2 in all-time LW karma, has his own blog which is pretty great. The community has basically moved there and actually grown substantially... Yvain's posts regularly get over 1000 comments. (There's also Eliezer Yudkowsky's facebook feed and the tumblr community.) Turns out online communities are hard, and without a dedicated community leader to tweak site mechanics and provide direction, you are best off just taking a single top contributor and telling them to write whatever they want. Most subreddits fail through Eternal September; Less Wrong is the only community I know of that managed to fail from the opposite effect of setting an excessively high bar for itself. Good online communities are an unsolved and nontrivial problem (but probably worth solving since the internet is where discussions are happening nowadays--a good solution could be great for our collective sanity waterline).

I haven't visited Hacker News for a while, but it seemed like the leadership there was determined to create a quality community by whatever means possible, including solving Eternal September without oversolving it. I'll bet there is a lot to learn from them.

Comment author: Viliam 19 November 2015 02:10:18PM *  5 points [-]

Writing high-quality content is one problem, selecting high-quality content is another. This is the advantage of one-person blogs, where if the author consistently writes high-quality content, both problems are solved at the same time.

The role of author is difficult and requires some level of talent, but it can also be emotionally rewarding. The author gets fans, maybe even money: from context advertising, asking for donations, selling their own product or services.

The role of censor (the person who filters what other people wrote) is emotionally punishing. Whatever you do, some people will hate you. If you remove an article, the author of the article, plus everyone who liked the article, will hate you. If you don't remove an article, everyone who disliked the article will hate you. There are not exact rules; some cases are obvious, but some cases are borderline and require your personal choice; and however you choose, people who would choose otherwise will hate you. People will want mutually conflicting things: some of them prefer higher quality, some of them prefer more content, and both of them will suspect that if you would do your job right, the website would have content both excellent and numerous. It is very difficult for the censor to learn from feedback, because the feedback will be negative either way, thus it does not work as an evidence for doing the job correctly or not.

The author writes when he or she wishes. The censor works 24/7. Etc.

Give me a perfect (x-rational, unbiased, and tireless) censor, and we can have a great rationalist website. Here is how -- In version 1.0, the censor would create a subreddit. Then he would look at a few rationalist blogs (and facebook pages, and tumblr pages, etc.), and whatever passes his filter, he would post it in the subreddit. Also, anyone would be allowed to post/link things on subreddit, and the censor would delete them if they are not good enough. Also, the censor would delete comments, and possibly ban users, if they are not enough.

This is all that is necessary to create a great rationalist debate forum. But it is very difficult. Not to do it once -- but to keep doing it every day, for months and years, despite getting only negative feedback.

Comment author: tut 19 November 2015 07:24:01PM 0 points [-]

... Here is how ...

Is this similar to r/rationalistdiaspora?

Comment author: Viliam 19 November 2015 08:08:10PM 3 points [-]

Oh, I haven't seen r/rationalistdiaspora for a long time.

Looking there: The front page contains 25 posts, each of them is 2 days old, most of them don't have any upvotes, none of them has comments.

Nope. When people don't vote or comment, slow down. Only choose the best stuff, or perhaps if you believe there is so much great content, create an article containing more links.

Also, I guess you have to somehow create the initial community, to get the ball rolling. I don't know exactly how, but some startups solve this problem by having an invitation-only phase, where you can join only if an existing user invites you, which means that you have demonstrated your interest (artificial scarcity) and also that you know at least one person who is already there, thus you will keep coming to meet them, and they will keep coming to meet you.

Okay, I admit there is more than just having a good censor.

Comment author: hg00 19 November 2015 11:09:46PM *  -1 points [-]

There might be clever ways to distribute the job of censor, e.g. have an initial cadre of trusted users and ban any newcomer that gets voted down too much by your trusted users. Someone gets added to the trusted users if the existing trusted users vote them up sufficiently. Or something like that. But I expect you would need someone to experiment with the site full time for a while (years?) before the mechanics could be sufficiently well worked out.