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Konkvistador's excellent List of Blogs by LWers led me to some of my favorite blogs, but is pretty well hidden and gradually becoming obsolete. In order to create an easily-update-able replacement, I have created the wiki page List of Blogs and added most of the blogs from Konkvistador's list. If you have a blog, or you read blogs, please help in the following ways:
-- Add your blog if it's not on there, and if it has updated in the past few months (no dead blogs this time, exceptions for very complete archives of excellent material like Common Sense Atheism in the last section)
-- Add any other blogs you like that are written by LWers or frequently engage with LW ideas
-- Remove your blog if you don't want it on there (I added some prominent critics of LW ideas who might not want to be linked to us)
-- Move your blog to a different category if you don't like the one it's in right now
-- Add a description of your blog, or change the one that already exists
-- Change the name you're listed by (I defaulted to people's LW handles)
-- Bold the name of your blog if it updates near-daily, has a large readership/commentership, and/or gets linked to on LW a lot
-- Improve formatting
Somebody more familiar with the Less Wrong twittersphere might want to do something similar to Grognor's Less Wrong on Twitter
Long-time readers may have noticed that spam on the wiki has been a very persistent problem for the past 2 years or so; I've been dealing with it so far by hand, but I recently reached a breaking point and asked Trike to resolve it or find a new wiki administrator. (Speaking of which, is anyone interested?)
So Trike has enabled a MediaWiki extension called the edit filter: a small functional programming language which lets you define predicates applied to edits which trigger one of a set of actions, like banning a user, deleting an edit/page, or stopping an edit from going through. I have so far defined one rule: page creation is forbidden for users younger than 24 hours. This so far seems to have worked well; spam pages have fallen from 5-10/day to ~5 over the past 2 weeks. This is much more manageable, and I am hopeful that this new anti-spam measure will be effective longer than the previous additions did (but if it doesn't, I'll look into adding more rules dealing with images and external links, and perhaps also ban users whose names end in a numeric digit as almost all the spam accounts do).
If you've run into this edit filter before by making a page and seeing the submission rejected with an error message, fret not: merely wait 24 hours. (If your account is more than a day old and you're still getting errors, please contact me or Trike.)
Recently, I have noticed that the "Recent Wiki Edits" box (equivalently, this page) in the sidebar seems to be almost exclusively filled with the edits from spam bots and either Gwern or Vladimir Nesov cleaning up after them (thanks!). This seems like it should be fixed, if only to save those two the time they spend on maintenance.
The wiki registration form does have a reCAPTCHA in an attempt to block spam-bots, but this is apparently not effective enough (maybe because reCAPTCHA has been cracked, or the spammers are using humans in some way).
I have some possible solutions, but I shall wait a bit before suggesting them.
(I vaguely remember there being a discussion like this previously, but I can't find it again, if it exists.)
(Sorry if the discussion if not the best place to post that, but didn't find any better place).
It seems the signup to the http://wiki.lesswrong.com/wiki/ is broken :
Account creation from this IP address (10.254.182.117) has been blocked by Gwern.
10.254 ? Seems that the blocking was made to an internal IP (load-balancer ? proxy-cache ?) so blocking everyone... can anyone fix it ?
For the last few weeks, I have been engaged in a slow motion edit war on the Wikipedia Eliezer Yudkowsky article, about including discussion of HP:MoR. The specific text being removed, to my eyes, well-sourced and germane to the article. But it may be that only 2 reviews of it is not enough and the other editor will respite if I can add in another RS or two.
Of course, I don't know of any besides the ones I have. That's where you all come in. What can I add to bolster the case for inclusion?
(If this seems trivial to you, I will note that the WP article gets around 2000 readers a month, and will continue to do so indefinitely; the WP article is also ranked #3-4 in Google for "Eliezer Yudkowsky". My impression is also that people reading WP articles tend to be 'high-quality' visitors, who spend time reading it and whose opinions are molded by it. At least, I've noticed this with Evangelion articles - points and quotes I've spent time referencing and highlighting tend to show up in reviews and other mainstream coverage...)
While I was busy procrastinating, I produced http://38020.vs.webtropia.com/sciencewiki/index.php/Helium_balloon (the Wiki-Extension for the plot, not the data, that was lying around anyway). This could (if enough people are using it) become quite a useful collection of evidence of various simple sciency questions, and also ultimately motivate some more people to actually do experiments themselves.
Before going further with this (in particular wrt. telling people about it) however, I have a few questions:
- Is anybody aware of a similar effort to collect data from hobby scientists in formalized, yet wiki enabled form? I googled, but found nothing, in that case I'd rather not start a new project.
- I would like to calculate a metric evaluating which models are "better", i.e. explain the data best, yet are not overfitted. Can anybody recommend a paper or book about this problem? In particular, I need a metric which can handle errors in all variables (not just the dependent ones), and would rather not like to assume a normal distribution globally.
General feedback is obviously also welcome. If anybody has data which needs something different from a scatterplot, just throw it in, I'll see that a decent plot gets implemented.
My understanding of the purpose of the lesswrong wiki has been that it is a collection of well established concepts and local jargon that we can use as a reference and an easy way to communicate across inferential distance. The material on the wiki (I assumed) was to be summarised from prominent and uncontroversial blog posts that are already referenced to from time to time. Yet on several occasions I have seen pages edited with new content straight from the author's creativity.
A stark example was brought to my attention recently by User: bogus.
Please read the Less Wrong wiki page on Mind-killer, which summarizes the arguments for not doing politics at LessWrong better than any 'sequence' or blog post could.
What? I certainly hope not. If it the content isn't straight from a post then get it off the wiki and make it a post! And if the meaning of a concept differs in emphasis from that used in a sequence then so much the worse for your wiki comment.
Looking at the aforementioned mind-killer page the kind of thing I do not expect to see on the wiki is this:
many of these political virtues were identified by Bernard Crick in his work In Defense of Politics.
Huh? Bernard Crick? Since when was Bernard Crick part of an uncontroversial well established concept of 'mind killing' on lesswrong? The only reference to that author is in one comment by bogus in a post that is itself obscure. I've got nothing against Bernard Crick but I think the way to go about sharing the good news about his work is by making a post on him not injecting references into the wiki. Because then the new content has a chance to be vetted, commented on and voted on by the users.
Less obvious but to my mind more important is the distorted emphasis the article places on the subject, such as in the opening "politics is a mind killer" paragraph:
Political disputes are not limited to standard disagreements about factual matters, nor to disputes of personality or perspective or even faction: they involve matters that people physically fight over in the real world—or at least, matters that are to be enforced by the government's monopoly of violence.
That is kind of true. At least it isn't quite misleading enough that I would outright downvote it if it were a comment in a thread. But it certainly distracts from the core of the issue. On the other hand the related Politics is the Mind-Killer page nails it with a paragraph from an actual blog post:
People go funny in the head when talking about politics. The evolutionary reasons for this are so obvious as to be worth belaboring: In the ancestral environment, politics was a matter of life and death. And sex, and wealth, and allies, and reputation... When, today, you get into an argument about whether "we" ought to raise the minimum wage, you're executing adaptations for an ancestral environment where being on the wrong side of the argument could get you killed... Politics is an extension of war by other means. Arguments are soldiers. Once you know which side you're on, you must support all arguments of that side, and attack all arguments that appear to favor the enemy side; otherwise it's like stabbing your soldiers in the back - providing aid and comfort to the enemy.
What the mind killer page does have in its favour is links. Apart from links to the PITMK posts and the color politics page it links to the related Paul Graham post which is also commonly referred to here. So basically if I was a wiki editor I would probably just nuke the content and leave the links and do the same thing whenever I found wiki pages that are original content. This is perhaps one good reason why I don't spend my time editing the wiki. ;)
Following up on an impromptu list XiXiDu made of famous recent scientists & thinkers who also held quite odd beliefs, I've created a wiki article with that list & a few other people.
This Discussion is posted for feedback on a few points:
- Is this a good idea in the first place? I feel vaguely uneasy, like it could be taken as a 'hit list' or a list of inviolable norms.
- What's a better name? 'Irrationalists' is a bad name but the only half-way self-explanatory one I could think of at the moment.
- Who's missing? There are currently only 8 people on the list right now.
- Is it reasonable to limit the list temporally only to people who lived in the 20th century & later, and so had access to all the data and philosophy done then that we take for granted?
- I added in a few 'See Alsos' that I could think of; are there more germane wiki articles? Especially LW articles? (I know Aumann in particular has been discussed occasionally by Eliezer - worth linking directly?)
I have transformed
I think "site features" is to general of a topic for the content contained in the article.
In the new wiki article I focus on the topic of all the ways content can be moderated and give the information I have gathered about the process. I took the liberty to simply state that Eliezer_Yudkowsky is the one who promotes articles to the PROMOTED section. Besides that most is taken from other areas of the site.
I'm sure there are factual and formating errors please correct/contribute as needed.
So, as people have probably noticed, there's fairly regular vandalism on the LW wiki which has been taking a while to address and which regular users have been trying to cope with by moving and blanking pages. This is a little silly - it doesn't resolve the problem and just generates more noise in the RSS feed for Recent Changes (to which I've long subscribed).
We need more administrators.
I suggest myself. I'm a longtime LWer with high karma, so I can't be too crazy. More to the point, I currently handle vandalism as an administrator on the Haskell wiki and have done so ~July 2010; I was formerly an administrator on the English Wikipedia (where I have been a contributor since ~2005); nor have I abused access that has been given to me elsewhere (eg. my shell account on http://community.haskell.org, the commit bit on the PredictionBook.com repo, etc.). In general, I think of myself as a wiki-savvy and trustworthy guy.
Administrators are created by bureaucrats; there are currently 3. Rather than simply message Yudkowsky or Matt of Trike, I thought I'd make my request public along the line of Wikipedia's Requests for Adminship.
If people object, please leave comments; if there are any other users who would like to be admins (David Gerard comes to mind as someone I know from Wikipedia and would trust as a LW wiki admin), likewise.
"Cached Thought" wiki entry has been copied below for you connivance.
A cached thought is an answer that was arrived at by recalling the old conclusion, rather than performing the reasoning from scratch. Cached thoughts can result in the maintenance of a position when evidence should force an update. Cached thoughts can also result in a lack of creative approaches to problem-solving if one repeats the same cached thoughts rather than constructing a new approach.
What is generally called common sense is more or less a collection of cached thoughts.
The above entry focuses only on the negative sides of cached thought. Probably because it can be a large barrier to rationality. In order overcome this barrier, and/or help others overcome it, it is necessary to understand why "cached thoughts" have been historically valuable to our ancestors and in what fashions it is valuable today.
'''Cached thought''' also allow for complex problems to be handled with a relatively small number of simple components. These problem components when put together only approximate the actual problem, because they are slightly flawed '''cached thoughts.''' Valid conclusions can be reached more quickly with these slightly flawed cached thoughts then without. The aforementioned conclusions should be recheck without using '''cached thoughts''' if a high probability of correctness is necessary or if the '''cached thoughts''' are more then slightly flawed.
Is this an appropriate expansion of the wiki entry? The words are drawn from my observation of the world. How else should the above wiki entry be expanded?