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Comment author: Alexandros 27 November 2016 10:40:52AM *  64 points [-]

Hi Anna,

Please consider a few gremlins that are weighing down LW currently:

  1. Eliezer's ghost -- He set the culture of the place, his posts are central material, has punctuated its existence with his explosions (and refusal to apologise), and then, upped and left the community, without actually acknowledging that his experiment (well kept gardens etc) has failed. As far as I know he is still the "owner" of this website, retains ultimate veto on a bunch of stuff, etc. If that has changed, there is no clarity on who the owner is (I see three logos on the top banner, is it them?), who the moderators are, who is working on it in general. I know tricycle are helping with development, but a part-time team is only marginally better than no-team, and at least no-team is an invitation for a team to step up.

  2. the no politics rule (related to #1) -- We claim to have some of the sharpest thinkers in the world, but for some reason shun discussing politics. Too difficult, we're told. A mindkiller! This cost us Yvain/Scott who cited it as one of his reasons for starting slatestarcodex, which now dwarfs LW. Oddly enough I recently saw it linked from the front page of, which means that not only has discussing politics not harmed SSC, it may actually be drawing in people who care about genuine insights in this extremely complex space that is of very high interest.

  3. the "original content"/central hub approach (related to #1) -- This should have been an aggregator since day 1. Instead it was built as a "community blog". In other words, people had to host their stuff here or not have it discussed here at all. This cost us Robin Hanson on day 1, which should have been a pretty big warning sign.

  4. The codebase, this website carries tons of complexity related to the reddit codebase. Weird rules about responding to downvoted comments have been implemented in there, nobody can make heads or tails with it. Use something modern, and make it easy to contribute to. (telescope seems decent these days).

  5. Brand rust. Lesswrong is now kinda like myspace or yahoo. It used to be cool, but once a brand takes a turn for the worse, it's really hard to turn around. People have painful associations with it (basilisk!) It needs burning of ships, clear focus on the future, and as much support as possible from as many interested parties, but only to the extent that they don't dillute the focus.

In the spirit of the above, I consider Alexei's hints that Arbital is "working on something" to be a really bad idea, though I recognise the good intention. Efforts like this need critical mass and clarity, and diffusing yet another wave of people wanting to do something about LW with vague promises of something nice in the future (that still suffers from problem #1 AFAICT) is exactly what I would do if I wanted to maintain the status quo for a few more years.

Any serious attempt at revitalising should focus on defining ownership and plan clearly. A post by EY himself recognising that his vision for lw 1.0 failed and passing the batton to a generally-accepted BDFL would be nice, but i'm not holding my breath. Further, I am fairly certain that LW as a community blog is bound to fail. Strong writers enjoy their independence. LW as an aggregator-first (with perhaps ability to host content if people wish to, like hn) is fine. HN may have degraded over time, but much less so than LW, and we should be able to improve on their pattern.

I think if you want to unify the community, what needs to be done is the creation of a hn-style aggregator, with a clear, accepted, willing, opinionated, involved BDFL, input from the prominent writers in the community (scott, robin, eliezer, nick bostrom, others), and for the current to be archived in favour of that new aggregator. But even if it's something else, it will not succeed without the three basic ingredients: clear ownership, dedicated leadership, and as broad support as possible to a simple, well-articulated vision. Lesswrong tried to be too many things with too little in the way of backing.

Comment author: Transfuturist 27 March 2016 12:39:57AM 44 points [-]

I have taken the survey. I did not treat the metaphysical probabilities as though I had a measure over them, because I don't.

Comment author: Vaniver 26 March 2016 01:38:08AM 45 points [-]

I have taken the survey.

Comment author: Huluk 26 March 2016 01:06:44AM 44 points [-]

I have taken the survey.

Comment author: Viliam 29 March 2016 08:28:57PM *  36 points [-]

Yeah, it's nice when your opponents volunteer to remove from you the burden of proof whether they are irrational.

But seriously, I don't even know where to start. Perhaps here: Articles written on most popular websites are clickbait. It means that their primary purpose is to make you read the article after seeing the headline, and then share it either because you love it or because you hate it. And that's what you did. Mission accomplished.

Another article on the same website explains why animal rights movements are oppresive. (I am not going to link it, but here are the arguments for the curious readers: because it's wrong to care about animals while there are more important causes on this planet such as people being oppressed; because vegans and vegetarians don't acknowledge that vegan or vegetarian food can be expensive; because describing animals as male and female marginalizes trans people; and because protecting animals is colonialistic against native people who hunt animals as part of their tradition.) Obviously, the whole article is an exercise in making the reader scream and share the article to show other readers how crazy it is. This is exactly what the authors and editors get paid for; this is how you shovel the sweet AdSense money on them. So the only winning move is not to play this game.


I may be too extreme in this aspect, but when I talk with most people, I simply assume that almost everything they say is a metaphor for something (usually for their feelings), and almost nothing is to be taken literally. This is a normal way of communication among people who couldn't program a Friendly AI if their very lives depended on it.

When someone says "rationality is bad", the correct translation is probably something like "I hate my father because he criticized me a lot and didn't play with me; and my father believes he is smart, and he makes smartness his applause light; and this is why I hate everything that sounds like smartness". You cannot argue against that. (If you try anyway, the person will not remember any specific thing you said, they will only remember that you are just as horrible person as their father.) This is how people talk. This is how people think. And they understand each other, so when another person who also hates their father hears it, they will get the message, and say something like "yeah, exactly like you said, rationality is stupid". And then they know they can trust each other on the emotional level.

Here is a short dictionary containing the idioms from the article:

  • = "I hate my father"
  • we should abolish prisons, police = "I hate my father"
  • cisheteropatriarchy = "I hate my father; but I also blame my mother for staying with him"
  • those who are committed to social justice = "my friends, who also hate their fathers"
  • we have to stop placing limits on ourselves = "we should steal some money and get high"
  • Being Rational Has No Inherent Value = "I don't even respect my father"
  • my very existence is irrational = "my father disapproves of my lifestyle"
  • The only logical time for abolition and decolonization is now = "I wish I had the courage to tell my parents right now how much I am angry at them"

You are overanalyzing it, searching for a logical structure when there is none. If you treat the article as a free-form poem, you will get much closer to the essence. You don't share the author's emotions, that's why the text rubs you the wrong way.

And by the way, other political groups do similar things, just in a different flavor (and perhaps intensity).

Comment author: Houshalter 26 March 2016 03:48:53AM 43 points [-]

I took the survey 2 days ago. It was fun. I think I was well calibrated for those calibration questions, but sadly there was no "results" section.

Comment author: Gunnar_Zarncke 26 March 2016 11:58:16PM 42 points [-]

I have taken the survey. I like the new format.

Comment author: Crab 26 March 2016 10:34:52PM 42 points [-]

I have taken the survey.

Comment author: Anders_H 26 March 2016 10:10:21PM 42 points [-]

I took the survey

Comment author: Sarunas 26 March 2016 03:42:26PM 42 points [-]

I have taken the survey.

Comment author: Jonni 26 March 2016 12:22:48PM 42 points [-]

Survey: taken.

Comment author: Evan_Gaensbauer 26 March 2016 08:50:49AM 42 points [-]

I have taken the survey.

Comment author: NancyLebovitz 26 March 2016 08:37:40AM 42 points [-]

I've taken the survey.

Comment author: Gyrodiot 26 March 2016 07:16:28AM 42 points [-]

I have taken the survey. Yesterday.

Comment author: [deleted] 26 March 2016 05:07:21AM 42 points [-]

I have taken the survey

Comment author: DataPacRat 26 March 2016 02:52:53AM 42 points [-]

Yet another survey be-takener here.

Comment author: gjm 26 March 2016 01:44:03AM 42 points [-]

I have taken the survey.

Comment author: ArgleBlargle 26 March 2016 01:42:56AM 42 points [-]

I have taken the survey.

Comment author: ete 26 March 2016 05:07:55PM 41 points [-]

I have taken the survey.

Comment author: Vivificient 27 March 2016 01:55:51AM *  40 points [-]

It is done. (The survey. By me.)

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