Less Wrong is a community blog devoted to refining the art of human rationality. Please visit our About page for more information.

ingres comments on LW 2.0 Strategic Overview - Less Wrong

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

You are viewing a comment permalink. View the original post to see all comments and the full post content.

Comments (294)

You are viewing a single comment's thread. Show more comments above.

Comment author: ingres 15 September 2017 09:33:51PM *  1 point [-]

Better search is paramount in my opinion. Part of how academic institutions maintain a shared discussion is through a norm of checking for previous work in a space before embarking on new adventures. Combined with strong indexing this norm means that things which could be like so many forgotten Facebook discussions get many chances to be seen and read by members of the academic community.

http://www.overcomingbias.com/2007/07/blogging-doubts.html

Comment author: Habryka 16 September 2017 11:10:16PM 1 point [-]

Yeah, we do now have much better word-based search, but also still feel that we want a way to archive content on the site into more hierarchical or tag-based structures. I am very open to suggestions of existing websites that do this well, or maybe even physical library systems that work here.

I've been reading some information architecture textbooks (http://shop.oreilly.com/product/0636920034674.do) on this, but still haven't found a great solution or design pattern that doesn't feel incredibly cumbersome and adds a whole other dimension to the page that users need to navigate.

Comment author: SaidAchmiz 17 September 2017 12:19:42AM 3 points [-]

… [we] still feel that we want a way to archive content on the site into more hierarchical or tag-based structures. I am very open to suggestions of existing websites that do this well…

This is a slightly odd comment, if only because "hierarchical or tag-based structures" describes almost all extant websites that aggregate / archive / collect content in any way! You would, I think, be somewhat hard-pressed to find a site that does not use either a hierarchical or a tag-based structure (or, indeed, both!).

But here are some concrete examples of sites that both do this well, and where it plays a critical role:

  • Wikipedia. MediaWiki Categories incorporate both tag-based and hierarchical elements (subcategories).
  • Other Wikis. TVTropes, which uses a modified version of the PmWiki engine, is organized primarily by placing all pages into one or more indexes, along many (often orthogonal) categories. The standard version of PmWiki offers several forms of hierarchical (groups, SiteMapper) and tag-based (Categories, pagelists in general) structures and navigation schemes.
  • Blogs, such as Wordpress. Tags are a useful way to find all posts on a subject.
  • Tumblr. I have much beef with Tumblr, but tags are a sensible feature.
  • Pinboard. Tags, including the ability to list intersections of tag-based bookmark sets, is key to Pinboard's functionality.
  • Forums, such as ENWorld. The organization is hierarchical (forum groups contain forums contain subforums contain threads contain posts) and tag-based (threads are prefixed with a topic tag). You can search by hierarchical location or by tag(s) or by text or by any combination of those.
Comment author: Habryka 17 September 2017 02:51:10AM 1 point [-]

Thanks for the recommendations!

"This is a slightly odd comment, if only because "hierarchical or tag-based structures" describes almost all extant websites that aggregate / archive / collect content in any way!"

Well, the emphasis here was on the "more". I.e. there are more feed based architectures, and there are more taxonomy/tagging based architectures. There is a spectrum, and reddit very much leans towards the feed direction, which is what LessWrong has historically been. And wiki's very much lean towards the taxonomy spectrum. I feel we want to be somewhere in between, but I don't know where yet.

Comment author: SaidAchmiz 17 September 2017 04:08:01AM *  3 points [-]

Certainly there is variation, but I actually don't think that viewing that variation as a unidimensional spectrum is correct. Consider:

I have a blog. It functions just like a regular (wordpress) blog—it's sequential, it even has the usual RSS feed, etc. But it runs on pmwiki. So every page is a wikipage (and thus pages are organized into groups; they have tags and are viewable by group, by tag, by custom pagelist, etc.)

So what is that? Feed-based, or tag-based, or hierarchical, or... what? I think these things are much more orthogonal than you give them credit for. Tag-based structure can overlay hierarchical structure without affecting it; custom pagelist/index structure, ditto; and you can serve anything you like as a feed by simply applying an ordering (by timestamp is the obvious and common one, but there are many other possibilities), and you can have multiple feeds, custom feeds, dynamic feeds, etc.; you can subset (filter) in various ways…

(Graph-theoretic interpretations of this are probably obvious, but if anyone wants me to comment on that aspect of it, I will)

P.S.: I think reddit is a terrible model, quite honestly. The evolution of reddit, into what it is today, makes it fairly obvious (to me, anyway) that it's not to be emulated.

Edit: To be clear, the scenario above isn't hypothetical—that is how my actual blog works.

Edit2: Consider also https://readthesequences.com. (It, too, runs on pmwiki.) There's a linear structure (it's a book; the linear navigation UI takes you through the content in order), but it would obviously be trivial to apply tags to pages, and the book/sequence structure is hierarchical already.

Comment author: morganism 18 September 2017 11:19:53PM 1 point [-]

How bout a circular hierarchy, with different color highlights for posts, comments, articles, wiki, tags,and links.

http://yed.yworks.com/support/manual/layout_circular.html

you could have upvotes contribute to weighting , and just show a tag cloud like connection diagram.

Comment author: 9eB1 17 September 2017 03:13:06AM 0 points [-]

That is very interesting. An exception might be "Google search pages." Not only is there no hierarchical structure, there is also no explicit tag structure and the main user engagement model is search-only. Internet Archive is similar but with their own stored content.

With respect to TV Tropes, I'd note that while it is nominally organized according to those indexes, the typical usage pattern is as a sort of pure garden path in my experience.

Comment author: SaidAchmiz 17 September 2017 04:11:51AM 1 point [-]

With respect to TV Tropes, I'd note that while it is nominally organized according to those indexes, the typical usage pattern is as a sort of pure garden path in my experience.

I have encountered a truly shocking degree of variation in how people use TVTropes, to the extent that I've witnessed several people talking to each other about this were each in utter disbelief (to the point of anger) that the other person's usage pattern is a real thing.

Generalizations about TVTropes usage patterns are extremely fraught.

Comment author: 9eB1 17 September 2017 02:47:31PM 0 points [-]

Sure.

Since then I've thought of a couple more sites that are neither hierarchical nor tag-based. Facebook and eHow style sites.

There is another pattern that is neither hierarchical, tag-based nor search-based, which is the "invitation-only" pattern of a site like pastebin. You can only find content by referral.

Comment author: SaidAchmiz 17 September 2017 05:56:55PM 1 point [-]

It is therefore not a coincidence that Facebook is utterly terrible as a content repository. (I am unfamiliar with eHow.)