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Leaving beta: Voting on moving to LessWrong.com

6 Post author: Vaniver 11 March 2018 11:40PM

It took longer than we hoped, but LessWrong 2.0 is finally ready to come out of beta. As discussed in the original announcement, we’re going to have a vote on whether or not to migrate the new site to the lesswrong.com URL. The vote will be open to people who had 1,000 or more LW karma at the time we announced the vote back in September, and they’ll receive a link by email or private message on the current LessWrong.com. If you had above 1000 karma in September and did not receive an email or PM, send an email to habryka@lesserwrong.com and we will send you the form link.

We take rationalist virtues seriously, and I think it’s important that the community actually be able to look at the new implementation and vision and be able to say “no thanks.” If over half of the votes are to not migrate, the migration will not happen and we’ll figure out how we want to move forward with the website we’ve built.

Unfortunately, the alternative option for what will happen with the lesswrong.com URL is not great. Before I got involved, the original dominant plan was to replace it with a static HTML site, which would require minimal maintenance while preserving the value of old Sequences articles. So in the absence of another team putting forward heroic efforts and coordinating with Trike, MIRI, etc. that would be the world we would be moving towards.

Why not just keep things as they are? At the time, it was the consensus among old regulars that LW felt like an abandoned ghost town. A major concern about keeping it alive for the people still using it was that newcomers would read Sequences articles linked from elsewhere, check out the recent discussion and find it disappointing, and then bounce off of LW. This reduced its value for bringing people into the community.

More recently, various security concerns have made it a worse option to just keep old websites running – Trike has run into some issues where updating the server and antiquated codebase to handle security patches proved difficult, and they would prefer to no longer be responsible for maintaining the old website.

In case you’re just tuning in now, some basic details: I’ve been posting on LW for a long time, and about two years ago thought I was the person who cared most about making sure LW stayed alive, so decided to put effort into making sure that happened. But while I have some skills as a writer and a programmer, I’m not a webdev and not great at project management, and so things have been rather slow. My current role is mostly in being something like the ‘senior rationalist’ on the team, and supporting the team with my models of what should happen and why. The actual work is being done by a combination of Oliver Habryka, Raymond Arnold, and Ben Pace, and their contributions are why we finally have a site that’s ready to come out of beta.

You can read more about our vision for the new LessWrong here.

Comments (35)

Comment author: Dagon 12 March 2018 08:17:04PM 3 points [-]

I still prefer the old site, for ease of finding comments in reply to mine, and for seeing all recent posts (I bookmark /discussion/new), and for not being javascript hell.

and the old site is dead, regardless of my usage preference. There's no point in keeping it.

Comment author: SaidAchmiz 16 March 2018 10:56:21PM 1 point [-]

Try GreaterWrong, an alternative UI for LessWrong 2.0. It might suit your preferences better.

Comment author: Habryka 14 March 2018 08:21:04PM 0 points [-]

Hmm, you can see all recent posts on /daily on the new LW.

Comment author: Dagon 15 March 2018 05:49:28PM 0 points [-]

True, after a brief confusing delay where you just see 5 days of "no posts found" while it loads. Is there an equivalent of the red mailbox that tells me someone replied to my comment?

Comment author: casebash 18 March 2018 02:06:31PM 0 points [-]

Have you seen the notifications up the top right? Does that do what you want?

Comment author: Manfred 13 March 2018 02:45:54AM *  0 points [-]


Comment author: Mitchell_Porter 12 March 2018 10:42:56PM 2 points [-]

I only have an account on LW 1.0, not LW 2.0. Will my current account still exist after the migration?

Comment author: Benito 13 March 2018 09:03:15PM 0 points [-]

Yes, as will all of your posts, comments, votes, karma, etc.

Comment author: jjvt 13 March 2018 10:49:21PM 1 point [-]

It looks like this is my last chance to comment before being locked out:

The new site doesn't work for me. I can't even test if my account was succesfully copied, the login button doesn't work (nothing happends when I click it). I can read articles, but expanding/collapsing comments, changing sort order or hiding/showing the menu don't work.

In the browser console I can see the error "23:32:44.521 SyntaxError: missing = in const declaration" in 168fe459c5f7f951455b85e6019b9d94a5142c29e.js:9:1210986 (I guess there are more errors, but the execution stops there).

I have an firefox 48.0.2 (and other even older browsers) on GNU/Linux and I can't easily install any newer version on my computer.

I didn't originally have my recovery email set for some time when the new site was launched, so I'm not sure if I'll be able to get a new password for the new site if and when I get a properly working computer. I might lose my account for good.

It looks like javascript is the source of this problem (and actually many other proplems others have reported in the new site). I would highly recommend testing that all essential functionality (at least: listing and reading all articles, listing and reading all comments of an article, loging in / creating accounts, writing text-only comments and articles) works with javascript completely disabled, or even better in a completely text based browser.

Comment author: Habryka 14 March 2018 08:10:30PM 0 points [-]

The site should now work properly on Firefox 48. Are there any other browsers you use on which it still breaks?

Comment author: jjvt 14 March 2018 09:46:28PM *  0 points [-]

Now the login button opens the login popup correctly, but I still failed to reset my password.

I tried to click the "Forgot password" -> popup asks me for email -> I enter it and click "RESET YOUR PASSWORD" -> error message "User not found" appears -> I enter username instead and click "RESET YOUR PASSWORD" -> error message "Invalid email" appears. (It doesn't seem to make any difference whether I enter my username or email or nothing in the first login popup.)

In my older firefox (10.0.4 ESR) the site loads extremely slowly and consumes several gigabytes of memory (some of it is freed after loading is complete) and these errors appear in the error console:

[edited to correct formating]

Comment author: bogus 15 March 2018 03:55:23AM *  0 points [-]

...error message "User not found" appears...

This is expected behavior if the recovery email address was not set in the user data LW2 imported from LW1 back in September, or whatever - LW2 simply doesn't know about that email address at the moment! The LW2 devs have promised a "final import" of LW1 data, which should fix this sort of issue (again, assuming that you have set your email here; if you haven't done this yet, you should do it right now, and follow the instructions in the automated email LW1 sends you to verify that you control that address!); though of course it would be nice to have proper confirmation of this. Again, just my 2¢.

(The version of Firefox you mention is positively ancient, BTW - are you sure that you can't update software on that GNU/Linux computer? It should be possible to do so without impacting system requirements much.)

Comment author: jjvt 15 March 2018 06:31:15PM 0 points [-]

This is expected behavior if the recovery email address was not set in the user data LW2 imported from LW1 back in September, or whatever - LW2 simply doesn't know about that email address at the moment! The LW2 devs have promised a "final import" of LW1 data, which should fix this sort of issue

I have set my recovery email four months ago (2017/11/14).

So it seems that I have to wait until I've been locked out of lw1.0 and only then I can try if I can log into lw2.0. If anything goes wrong (as it usually does with computer systems), I'll be locked out of both and so I'll be unable to communicate to the developers what went wrong. I shouldn't have to say that this is highly undesirable - users should be able to test the new system before the old system is shut down.

BTW - are you sure that you can't update software on that GNU/Linux computer?

Updating firefox seems to require (after several layers of depencies) updating udev - which requires updating kernel or it will might make the system unbootable. There are also circular depencies, changes needed to masked packages and manual configuration changes. At this point I'd need to back up my system, get a boot disk and prepare for significant donwtime. Additionaly updating firefox breaks many of the extensions that I'm using.

Comment author: bogus 15 March 2018 11:08:08PM *  1 point [-]

So it seems that I have to wait until I've been locked out of lw1.0 and only then I can try if I can log into lw2.0 ...

Good catch. It would make sense to keep some version of LW1.0 running for a while even after the "final import" is done, purely for the sake of supporting existing users in migrating to LW2. However, I understand that the reddit-derived LW1 code is practically unmaintained by now, so Trike (the folks who host LW1) aren't willing to keep it going for much longer. This means that the site devs' hands are somewhat tied at this point and the status quo is not really tenable.

Updating firefox seems to require (after several layers of depencies) updating udev - which requires updating kernel or it will might make the system unbootable.

Kernel updates are relatively foolproof, unless you did something fancy like compiling a patched version with support for some sort of custom hardware. And you can probably install a newer version alongside the old, without updating udev, so you can get a choice at boot and have a way to ensure that the new version works before you make your system reliant on it. Even if you can't in fact do this (because the newer kernels turn out to be incompatible with some feature of the existing system, like old udev), all you really need is a "live" boot disk to make sure that your hardware plays nice with the new kernel - everything else should be recoverable.

BTW, it's only the very latest versions of Firefox that break all old-style addons. IIRC, 52esr still supports them and is relatively current.

Comment author: casebash 18 March 2018 02:08:02PM 0 points [-]

I don't think there is anything stopping you from trying to create a test LW2 account to see if you will be locked out

Comment author: Habryka 14 March 2018 02:58:08AM 0 points [-]

Yeah, we are working on browser compatibility. I actually just figured out what was causing your specific bug, so that one should be fixed within at least the next two or three days.

Some navigation aspects are definitely hard to make work with javascript completely disabled (example: The hamburger menu), but we should be able to make it so that the site fails gracefully when some javascript stuff doesn't work.

Comment author: Elo 13 March 2018 11:03:22PM 0 points [-]


Comment author: jjvt 13 March 2018 11:32:31PM 0 points [-]

How do I reset/recover my password in greaterwrong? Or does my old lesswrong password work there?

Comment author: Elo 13 March 2018 11:36:05PM 0 points [-]

Greaterwrong uses the account data on lesserwrong which got its data from lw1.0

Comment author: jjvt 13 March 2018 11:51:37PM 0 points [-]

If I remember correctly, the passwords were not trasferred from lw1.0 to lesserwrong - users were supposed to reset their password.

So it seems like I'm still going to be locked out.

Comment author: bogus 14 March 2018 06:33:08AM *  1 point [-]

You should set your recovery email here on LW1 (if you haven't done so already), so that it has a chance of being part of the previously-announced "final import" of LW1 data; assuming that this occurs successfully, you'll then be able to "reset your password" on LW2 (or, more conveniently for you, on GreaterWrong) using that email address and log in there. Just my 2¢ here, since I'm not a LW2 developer.
(It would sure be nice if we had more participation from the devs here, since after all we're thinking about a major migration and there are still unresolved issues with the new site, as e.g. my toplevel comment in this thread shows! I'm not at all opposed to the migration per se - especially since we now have GreaterWrong! - but I would like to see some commitment from them that meaningful efforts will be made to address these issues)

Added: I just checked and apparently "reset password" is not available on GreaterWrong, only on LesserWrong - and it seems to rely on JavaScript. LW2 devs, could you provide a simple JS-free page for the "password reset" functionality, so that GW can link to it and users on e.g. old computers or cheap mobile devices or with accessibility needs (which are often exacerbated by JS-heavy, 'modern' web designs) can use this function of the site? Alternately, could you enable its use from GreaterWrong itself?

Comment author: saturn 18 March 2018 01:41:33AM 0 points [-]

I've now added password reset capability to GreaterWrong.

Comment author: bogus 18 March 2018 07:18:30PM *  0 points [-]

Thanks! Do you plan to add support for the new-to-LW2 "log in with LW1 credentials" flow? It seems to need some special-cased client-side support, according to this post - I suppose you can check out the related commits on LW2 code for the details of how to make it work! (Logging in and participating on LW2 itself is still unbearably slow for lower-powered devices-- and I'm not willing to go through the whole prospect of having to change (or worse, "reset") my credentials there in order to make them usable on GreaterWrong-- at least, not unless I hear back from multiple users who have done this with no issues!)

Comment author: Habryka 14 March 2018 08:20:23PM 0 points [-]

Sorry for not being around more! We launched the Community/Meetup interface just before we announced the vote, so I've been busy polishing that up and making sure everything for that works.

Now that that system works more stably, I will be more responsive in answering questions about the vote and the transition, etc. And in general I check LW2 more often than here, so if you have questions asking over there will probably get you a faster response.

Re password reset: Yep, everything you said is correct, and it does seem reasonable to have a page with both developer contact info and password reset functionality that is accessible without fancy JS. But I don't know how much I can promise yet for that, since it might just end up being a big pain to make the Meteor password reset work without any JS whatsoever. But we should test it so that it at least works in IE 9+.

Comment author: bogus 12 March 2018 10:55:58AM *  1 point [-]

There is an annoying bug/limitation on the new site, in that users who have posted more than 1000 comments (including yours truly, but this is affecting other prolific commenters to a far greater extent of course) cannot access their full commenting history, albeit they can here on lesswrong.com. (Tested on greaterwrong.com, but I assume that the same limit would apply on lesserwrong.) The comments do exist on the site, attached to discussions (albeit a similar issue may exist, affecting discussions with more than 1000 comments or so). This is annoying because I do want my commenting history to be easily accessible in full, and the same is likely true of many other users.

Comment author: Habryka 14 March 2018 08:15:04PM 0 points [-]

Oh, huh. I didn't realize this as a bug. Thanks for pointing it out!

We have plans to allow people better filtering options for comments and posts in general, somewhat similar to what greaterwrong has to show posts sorted by month and year. So that would fix this problem. I am hesitant to allow the serve to return more than 1000 comments on a single graphQL request though, simply because of server-load reasons. So a proper pagination approach would help with this, which would come with the better filtering and sorting I am imagining.

In general, I think it's very important to make the old content on the site discoverable and findable, and I definitely want to make sure we fix the kinds of bugs you brought up here.

Comment author: bogus 15 March 2018 04:14:59AM 0 points [-]

Are you saying that Greater Wrong is currently requesting the whole 1000 comments history when you go to a user page and browse the user history? If so, I think you should get in contact with the Greater Wrong dev(s) and work on a solution that can work with the current pagination on that site. In practice, making sure that full comment history works on Greater Wrong is probably the easiest and quickest way to avert the perception of a regression from what LW1 makes available. Having a "proper" user history with monthly listings, etc. is a nice-to-have of course, but it does not strike me as critical.

Comment author: saturn 16 March 2018 11:58:00PM *  0 points [-]

I do this because there's no way to request posts and comments sorted together chronologically with GraphQL. However, if you click the posts or comments tab, the pagination will work correctly for any number of pages.

Comment author: bogus 17 March 2018 03:53:35AM *  0 points [-]

Indeed, it's working properly with the show=posts and show=comments URL parameters, and no content seems to be lost. Great news, but that was definitely non-obvious - thanks! (I'd naïvely assumed that if the individual chronological listings were available, that the combined listing would be built by searching for offset_posts and offset_comments such that offset_posts + offset_comments = offset, and the timestamps for the post at offset_posts and comment at offset_comments are as close as possible. Shouldn't require more than log(N) reqs in the worst case - far less than that typically. But perhaps there's some snag that makes this approach unworkable!)

Perhaps a notice should be added to the "combined" user pages to the effect that the 'Posts' and 'Comments' options may be preferable for some uses.

ETA: There seems to be some remaining edge cases around comments on deleted posts, or something like that. In LW1, you get a permlink to the comment from the user page, and can then browse the individual thread. Greater Wrong does not have a notion of viewing a single thread or anything similar, so it tries to get data about the post as a whole, fails, and clicking on the link to the post returns an error page. I have not investigated what LW2 does. This is a very minor issue overall of course. I mention it mostly because I'm wondering how it impacts preservation of e.g. the original discussions about the LW basilisk, which were on a now-deleted page.
(Yes, some comments - including e.g. Eliezer's initial reaction - were totally deleted, but many others were not! And yes, to be quite explicit about it, there are many popular misconceptions about the basilisk, and having these comments preserved is perhaps the one really effective way of addressing them. There was a very clear perception - from people who had actually read the original post! - of how silly it was for Roko to even come up with such an unlikely and contrived scenario, and then bring it up as something that might happen. Roko subsequently wiped his whole presence off the site - posts, comments and all; that he was such a major contributor in the early days is part of why this issue of accessing "comments to something that was deleted" comes up more often than people might expect otherwise!)

Comment author: Dagon 12 March 2018 08:17:50PM 0 points [-]

Is that bug a blocker in some way? Are you saying you're using the old site and want to keep it around until this bug is fixed?

Comment author: bogus 12 March 2018 08:34:17PM 0 points [-]

I'm not sure that I understand your question. It is obviously an annoyance, and something that high-karma LW1 users may specifically want to be aware of, since they're far more likely to be affected by it. There are users on the site with far more impressive commenting histories and/or karma scores than mine, and I think the assessment of whether this bug is a 'blocking' issue should be left to these users.

Comment author: Dagon 12 March 2018 09:40:16PM 0 points [-]

Ah, I see. No longer important, but the reason for my question was that I was confused about how your comment related to the topic of the post (retiring LW1.0, calling LW2.0 "lesswrong", with no "beta" tag).

Comment author: turchin 13 March 2018 12:40:56PM 0 points [-]

I have links to old LW posts in some articles and other places. What will happen with all these links?

Comment author: Benito 13 March 2018 09:03:52PM 2 points [-]