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

LW 2.0 Open Beta Live

22 Post author: Vaniver 21 September 2017 01:15AM

The LW 2.0 Open Beta is now live; this means you can create an account, start reading and posting, and tell us what you think.

Four points:

1) In case you're just tuning in, I took up the mantle of revitalizing LW through improving its codebase some time ago, and only made small amounts of progress until Oliver Habryka joined the project and put full-time engineering effort into it. He deserves the credit for the new design, and you can read about his strategic approach here.

2) If you want to use your current LW account on LW2.0, we didn't import the old passwords, and so you'll have to use the reset password functionality. If your LW account isn't tied to a current email, send a PM to habryka on lesswrong and he'll update the user account details on lesserwrong. He's also working on improving the site and sleeping and things like that, so don't expect an immediate response.

3) During the open beta there will be a green message in the bottom right hand corner of the screen. This is called Intercom, and is how you can tell us about issues with the site and ask other questions.

4) The open beta will end with a vote of users with over a thousand karma on whether we should switch the lesswrong.com URL to point to the new code and database. If this succeeds, all the activity from the open beta and the live site will be merged together. If the vote fails, we expect to archive LW until another team comes along to revive it. We currently don't have a date set, but this will be announced a week in advance.

Comments (36)

Comment author: tut 21 September 2017 04:24:08PM 6 points [-]

:-(

I do not have the patience to read anything on that site. Or alternatively, my computer is too old and my screen too low res. But I am not sufficiently committed to LW to buy new hardware just to maybe be able to see it. Is there any possibility that the old site might remain up, maybe as some kind of accessibility thing for people who can't use the new one?

Comment author: rhollerith_dot_com 25 September 2017 01:23:22AM *  11 points [-]

I can corroborate that the scrolling is painful on sufficiently old hardware (and two of the not-home not-work places I most like to hang out in these days have hardware that is sufficiently old).

Scrolling for example is painful near the bottom (in the comments) of the recent article on the Cambrian explosion on a Core 2 Duo running Windows Vista, in Chrome. In particular, it takes whole seconds for the text to appear. (Till then the view port is blank / white.)

But even when I'm using reasonably fast hardware, my reaction to any signs that the text on a web page is not being produced "the old fashioned way" (and the new site certainly has such signs) is to ask myself if I really need to continue using the site.

Even a site's use of a font I don't recognize I provokes that reaction in me.

Why? Well, it is a sign that I will run into further irritants. Some actions will work slightly differently from the way I am used to with the result that I have to stop concentrating on the reason I came onto the web site to figure out scrolling or searching in the page or making sure the right pane on the screen has "keyboard focus" or how to change the size of the text. Or I will have to figure out how to undo the effects of some action I took accidentally.

If you're reading this and cannot relate, then maybe that is because I have cataracts, so a large text size is more important to me than it is to you. Or maybe it is because I have a 57-year-old brain and some chronic health issues so that it is harder for me to retain what is in my working memory when things jump around on a page in ways that my brain cannot predict.

Or maybe it is because I prefer the kinesthetic sensory modality which makes me care more about subtleties in the computer's response to various "attempted manipulations" (e.g., attempting to scroll or to use the pointing device to select an extent of text) of the web page.

The new LW site is not doing anything that many many other web sites are not also doing, so this is a comment about modern web sites more than it is a comment about the new version of LW.

I realize that this comment is rough on the creators of the next version of LW since it is negative feedback, but not actionable negative feedback (since they've already implemented a particular design). I considered refraining from publishing it, but went ahead because writing this comment, then observing how many points it ends up with is by far the easiest way for me to find out how many LWers share my frustrations (and knowing that is even more useful to me than knowing how many in the general population of internet users share my frustrations). I won't make a habit of complaining about it.

Comment author: tanagrabeast 26 September 2017 05:52:57AM *  3 points [-]

Even a site's use of a font I don't recognize I provokes that reaction in me.

Speaking of font difficulty, the new font doesn't render well on my desktop (Windows 10, Chrome, default font/size, 1680x1050). It comes out looking poorly aliased, or maybe just not fully black. I compare to another serif-heavy site like nytimes and the latter just seems so much darker and crisper, even at similar sizes.

On my older MacBook Air the LW font is not as ugly, though it still seems less than fully black.

Comment author: Dustin 21 September 2017 04:39:01PM 0 points [-]

What, specifically, is the problem you're having that requires patience? It's not using any notably weird/esoteric/advanced technology...

Comment author: tut 21 September 2017 05:37:31PM *  7 points [-]

I don't know. What it looks like on my end is that scrolling takes time. It is as though my browser has to do some shit to figure out what the text is, instead of just displaying it like on a normal page.

So I read a line, hit down arrow, nothing happens, I start reading the next line etc. After a while the page starts jumping around like it's doing all the down arrows at irregular intervals. Ok, that's annoying, so I stop hitting down arrow and instead read the 1-2 paragraphs that are on the top of the screen, then hit page down. Nothing happens, hit page down again etc. So I scroll back up to where I was, hitting page up once at a time and waiting for the page to scroll like it's twenty years ago and I just downloaded a large picture. Then I read the part of the text that I can see, hit page down again, sit and wait until it reacts, notice that I don't understand what I'm reading, notice that that's because I skipped a paragraph because it was behind the hoverboard, hit page up to find where I was and then try to scroll down part of a screen using the scrollbar. Nothing happens. I wait a while. The text starts to jump around again, because getting no feedback I scrolled a long way. Then I gave up.

I don't remember what the article was about, I didn't actually get to the meat of it. On most sites I would have given up and forgotten it ever existed after the first time that page down didn't work instantly.

Comment author: Elo 21 September 2017 05:51:13PM 0 points [-]

What os, browser and add-ons are you using?

Comment author: tut 21 September 2017 06:28:28PM *  1 point [-]

Firefox 55.0.2 32 bit, on Linux Mint KDE. No relevant add ons (adblock thing, EFF badger thing, greasemonkey but not with any scripts that should load for this page, pop up blocker thing).

Comment author: IlyaShpitser 25 November 2017 07:44:29PM 1 point [-]
Comment author: Raemon 21 September 2017 07:23:25PM *  1 point [-]

We'll be doing a lot of work to optimize the site experience. (Right now, I don't have the sort of issues you describe, but it does take an unacceptably long time to load the comments on a page, for example). I expect some of that to help with these sorts of issues.

It wouldn't be practical to have the old and new sites running in parallel (they don't communicate with each other easily, they'd basically be two separate sites and part of the whole point is that this current site has too many underlying issues to make it practical to maintain), but if it's still having issues running on older hardware we may figure out some kind of "accessibility mode" that renders less complicated stuff, possibly with fewer features)

(I expect the people currently working on it to not get to that sort of thing for awhile because there's a long list of things that need doing fairly urgently, but it's worth noting that it's open sourced, so anyone who has time to fix an issue that's bugging them is welcome to do so)

Comment author: elharo 23 November 2017 02:56:37AM *  0 points [-]

Sorry, but it is. Simple test: open a page and view source. Do you see HTML or do you see a big chunk of obfuscated JavaScript?

Browsers today are wicked fast at rendering HTML. They are ungodly slow on anything that replaces HTML with JavaScript. A text-heavy site such as LessWrong is very well served by pure HTML with a small scattering of JavaScript here and there. LessWrong 1.0 isn't perfect markup (too many divs and spans, too little semantic markup) but it is much better designed for speed than 2.0.

Comment author: Zvi 21 September 2017 11:55:45AM 7 points [-]

Congrats on going live. I hope to have time this weekend to experiment with the site and attempt porting over at least some of my Blog's more LW-aligned content. Hopefully I can coordinate that with people who have been more involved. I have high hopes!

I do worry about 4. Since there's no reasonable expectation for another attempt if this one fails, at least not soon, it will be very difficult to vote no given that means the site will be fully archived. I worry in turn that this is a Copenhagen problem: I would have been not concerned if users had not been given a vote, whereas now that we DO have a vote, I'm worried it feels a little rigged.

Comment author: Rain 22 September 2017 02:27:13PM 3 points [-]

Any RSS feeds?

Comment author: Vaniver 22 September 2017 06:36:40PM 1 point [-]

https://www.lesserwrong.com/feed.xml is the primary one; more customization is coming soon.

Comment author: Elo 22 September 2017 08:58:12PM 1 point [-]

Is there a comment rss?

Comment author: Elo 21 September 2017 06:22:25PM 3 points [-]

As a heads up - my email was in spam.

Comment author: John_Maxwell_IV 28 September 2017 03:22:53AM 2 points [-]

If this happens, be sure to mark "not spam" so your email provider (Gmail/Yahoo/etc.) will count that as a point of positive reputation for the lesserwrong.com domain.

(For the team behind lesserwrong, it might be wise to send emails from lesswrong.com for the time being, since lesswrong.com presumably already has a good domain reputation. Feel free to talk to me if you have more questions, I used to work in email marketing.)

Comment author: Dustin 21 September 2017 02:26:17PM *  4 points [-]

I'm a little confused about how to use my current LW account over there.

If I click "forgot my password" I never get an email, even though I have an email address tied to my LW account.

ETA: nothing in my span folder when I search for "lesser"

Comment author: blob 22 September 2017 06:26:24AM *  0 points [-]

I have the same problem with a gmail account. I've tried several times, checked spam, searched. I assume google didn't accept the email.

EDIT: One of them arrived now.

Comment author: kgalias 21 September 2017 04:21:10PM 0 points [-]

For me it just returns "invalid email", though I can see my email in http://lesswrong.com/prefs/update/.

Comment author: wallowinmaya 01 October 2017 11:24:17AM 2 points [-]

The open beta will end with a vote of users with over a thousand karma on whether we should switch the lesswrong.com URL to point to the new code and database

How will you alert these users? (I'm asking because I have over 1000 karma but I don't know where I should vote.)

Comment author: Vaniver 05 October 2017 05:55:43PM 2 points [-]

Our current plan is to send an email with a vote link to everyone over the threshold; we're going to decide when to have the vote later in the open beta period.

Comment author: lionhearted 27 September 2017 10:27:44PM 3 points [-]

HUGE kudos and tons of love and respect for everyone behind this. Looks great so far, I'll dig in closer and report anything I find.

Comment author: korin43 21 September 2017 01:32:26PM *  1 point [-]

For anyone else who finds intercom the most annoying feature in existence, you can add an Adblock / UBlock rule to block: ###intercom-container

Although it will still screw with the page title.

Comment author: korin43 21 September 2017 01:37:43PM 3 points [-]

Agghhh I can't leave this tab open because it does this:

https://media.giphy.com/media/VXND9U858tCH6/giphy.gif

Comment author: Habryka 19 October 2017 04:22:00AM 2 points [-]

You can now also deactivate Intercom on your profile. I really wish Intercom wouldn't do the horrible thing with the tab-title.

Comment author: korin43 31 October 2017 10:03:35PM 0 points [-]

Woo!

Also if anyone else gets a "schema validation error" when changing this setting, remove the "Website" from your profile: https://github.com/Discordius/Lesswrong2/issues/225

Comment author: Habryka 31 October 2017 11:56:41PM 0 points [-]

Yeah, that's a bug. I am planning to remove the whole website field soon anyways.

Comment author: kgalias 24 September 2017 07:25:44PM 1 point [-]

When was the last data migration from LW 1.0? I'm getting an "Invalid email" message, even though I have a linked email here.

Comment author: Vaniver 27 September 2017 09:55:25PM *  2 points [-]

Late May, if I recall correctly. We'll be able to merge accounts if you made it more recently or there was some trouble with the import.

Comment author: Tripitaka 02 October 2017 10:14:54PM 1 point [-]

Reading experience is rather abyssimal. Having just text-on-borderless-white is bad, the font could use some work, any structures for the eye to catch on etc.

Comment author: Jiro 22 September 2017 08:29:39PM 1 point [-]

I am unable to use this open beta because of the problem I describe here.

Comment author: Ixiel 09 November 2017 10:22:51AM *  0 points [-]

It seems to not be sending me the reset e-mail. I requested twice last night, separated by five minutes. I'll PM Hab, just in case the system forgot my e-mail address, but still a problem if so that there is no message to that effect.

ETA: Multiple messages sent with no reply. Shall I assume this project is no longer going forward?

Comment author: username2 22 September 2017 08:36:08PM 0 points [-]

Is there a pdf version available for The Codex as it appears on lesserwrong ? I see it's different from the Library of Alexandria.

Comment author: Benito 23 September 2017 05:36:37AM 1 point [-]

Not yet - one great person already turned it into a kindle (mobie) book though.

Comment author: gjm 22 September 2017 12:06:40PM *  0 points [-]

Do you want comments on the Lesser Wrong experience only via Intercom, or here as well?

[EDITED to add:] I see there's a "first impressions" thread over on Lesser Wrong, so I've ended up using that in preference to either of the other options.

Comment author: Benito 23 September 2017 05:38:14AM 0 points [-]

Intercom is most useful for bugs, because we can quickly back-and-forth with you about the specifics of your operating system/browser and other stuff. If it's a feature request / some general feedback either works; maybe slightly err on posting in the 'impressions' thread for common knowledge.