One of my favorite aspects of Less Wrong is that every time I go to a new city (Oxford, Boston, Philadelphia and New York soon!), I know there’s a group of people who will be happy to discuss rationality and welcome me into their community.
It would be really cool if more Less Wrongers could have these experiences by traveling cheaply from city to city, meeting up with other smart, interesting people to have fantastic conversations, go to meetups/conferences/summits in new cities, and make friends in real life!
Unfortunately, while traveling to different meetups (and conferences/summits) is intellectually and emotionally rewarding, hotels can be prohibitively expensive. In order to make traveling more affordable, the Less Wrong community could implement a system where community members can stay at each others houses (in guest rooms, on sofas, or on floors) for free/extremely affordable rates.
Benefits of this system:
1) The traveler gets a free/affordable place to stay.
2) The host gets guaranteed company and (hopefully) some great conversation.
3) Less Wrong community bonds will be strengthened through real life interactions between members.
4) The value of meetups, which largely derives from the chance to meet other LWers, will increase as the pool of people attending grows.
5) People can be friends in real life!
6) Implementing this system is super easy. We just add a google maps page to Less Wrong.
1) LW could create a google map where people interested in hosting put down a place marker in their general location (no need to list their actual address) and tag it with their username.
2) In their LW profiles, hosts could write a short description of what kind of accommodations they'll be providing (room/sofa/floor), what kind of guest they want to host (eg., male vs. female, people who are willing to talk a lot, etc.), how they want to be compensated by their traveler (e.g., conversation, a meal, a chore, a small monetary gift, etc.) and usernames of at least two other Less Wrong members who would be willing to serve as "references" to the host's non-creepiness.
3) Likewise, travelers should have a section in their LW profile that list at least two other Less Wrong members who are willing to serve as references as well as how they're willing to compensate their hosts.
4) A potential traveler would look at the map, find a suitable location, and then send a potential host a message asking if they can come over.
5) The host could then look at the traveler's posts to see how long they've been a member and read their posts (a fantastic measure of how interesting or obnoxious the potential traveler may be).
How to encourage people to host:
While the benefits are obvious for the travelers, benefits for hosts are slightly less tangible. Here are some ways to incentivize hosting.
1) Traveling etiquette states that the traveler offers their host a gift. (E.g., buys or cooks the host a meal, does a house chore, goes to a museum with their host, etc.).
2) Much like how LW keeps track of number of posts, up votes and down votes, there will also be a scoreboard for how many travelers people have hosted. Hopefully, this will make being a popular host a badge of pride.