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John_Maxwell_IV comments on LW 2.0 Strategic Overview - Less Wrong

47 Post author: Habryka 15 September 2017 03:00AM

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Comment author: John_Maxwell_IV 15 September 2017 09:00:11AM *  12 points [-]

Sounds great!

Is there anything important I missed

This analysis found that LW's most important issue is lack of content. I think there are two models that are most important here.

There's the incentives model: making it so good writers have a positive hedonic expectation for creating content. There's a sense in which an intellectual community online is much more fragile than an intellectual community in academia: academic communities can offer funding, PhDs, etc. whereas internet discussion is largely motivated by pleasure that's intrinsic to the activity. As a concrete example, the way Facebook lets you see the name of each person who liked your post is good, because then you can take pleasure in each specific person who liked it, instead of just knowing that X strangers somewhere on the internet liked it. Contrast with academia, which plods on despite frequently being hellish.

And then there's the chicken-and-egg model. Writers go where the readers are and readers go where the writers are. Interestingly, sometimes just 1 great writer can solve this problem and bootstrap a community: both Eliezer and Yvain managed to create communities around their writing single-handedly.

The models are intertwined, because having readers is a powerful incentive for writers.

My sense is that LW currently performs poorly according to both models, and although there's a lot of great stuff here, it's not clear to me that any of the proposed actions are going to attack either of these issues head on.

Comment author: Habryka 16 September 2017 11:07:09PM 5 points [-]

Thanks! :)

I agree with the content issue, and ultimately having good content on the page is one of primary goals that guided all the modeling in the post. Good content is downstream from having a functioning platform and an active community that attracts interesting people and has some pointers on how to solve interesting problems.

I like your two models. Let me think about both of them...

The hedonic incentive model is one that I tend to use quite often, especially when it comes to the design of the page, but I didn't go into too much in this post because talking about it would inevitably involve a much larger amount of details. I've mentioned "making sure things are fun" a few times, but going into the details on how I am planning to achieve this would require me talking about the design of buttons, and animations and notification systems, each of which I could write a whole separate 8000 word post filled with my own thoughts. That said, it is also a ton of fun for me, and if anyone ever wants to discuss the details of any design decision on the page, I am super happy to do that.

I do feel that there is still a higher level of abstraction in the hedonic incentives model that in game design would be referred to as "the core game loop" or "the core reward loop". What is the basic sequence of actions that a user executes when he comes to your page that reliably results in positive hedonic reward? (on Facebook there are a few of those, but the most dominant one is "Go to frontpage, see you have new notifications, click notifications, see that X people have liked your content") And I don't think I currently have a super clear answer to this. I do feel like I have an answer on a System 1 level, but it isn't something I have spent enough time thinking about, and haven't clarified super much, and this comment made me realize that this is a thing I want to pay more attention to.

We hope to bootstrap the chicken-and-egg model by allowing people to practically just move their existing blogs to the LessWrong platform, either via RSS imports or by directly using their user-profile as a blog. My current sense is that in the larger rationality diaspora we have a really large amount of content, and so far almost everyone I've talked to seemed very open to having their content mirrored on LessWrong, which makes me optimistic about solving that aspect.

Comment author: Viliam 19 September 2017 10:32:22PM 0 points [-]

The lack of content is related to the other issues. For example, it can quite reduce my willingness to write a post for LW when I remember that Eugine can single-handledly dominate the whole discussion with his sockpuppets, if he decides so. And I imagine that if Yvain posted his political articles here, he wouldn't like the resulting debate.