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Comment author: Raemon 09 October 2017 04:19:10AM 0 points [-]

Oh, t'was not at all obvious that was a link.

In response to comment by Raemon on Feedback on LW 2.0
Comment author: SaidAchmiz 09 October 2017 04:27:25AM 0 points [-]

Unfortunately, Markdown's capacity to control what text actually looks like is tremendously underwhelming. (Is there a way to make text big, and also underlined? If so, I can't see it. :( )

Comment author: ChristianKl 08 October 2017 11:12:28PM 1 point [-]

This looks like a great improvement. I would like it to become the default UI.

Comment author: SaidAchmiz 08 October 2017 11:46:18PM 1 point [-]

Thank you! That's kind of you to say, and I appreciate the feedback (in general, by the way; whether it be positive or negative).

I agree that it would be an improvement to make this the default UI, though an even better approach (and one that would account both for site visitors who prefer my modifications, and those who prefer the aesthetics of the current site), would be to offer site visitors a choice of theme.

There are several unobtrusive and fairly low-effort (both for the site's designers and for users) ways of doing this. One of my goals in creating these themes was to demonstrate that (contra certain worries I've seen expressed previously) it is very possible to create alternate themes, with different fonts and colors and even some differences in layout, that nonetheless break nothing and in no way ruin the site's usability. I hope this encourages the LW 2.0 team to seriously consider the possibility of adding UI customizability to the site!

Comment author: Raemon 08 October 2017 09:53:32PM 0 points [-]

Is the stylish style actually available somewhere?

In response to comment by Raemon on Feedback on LW 2.0
Comment author: SaidAchmiz 08 October 2017 10:15:57PM 0 points [-]

Yes, click the big words that say "Stylish themes for LessWrong 2.0" :)

Comment author: SaidAchmiz 08 October 2017 04:08:25AM 12 points [-]

Thank you for writing and posting this. It's not easy at all to admit that you screwed up, but very useful for others in the community (what use it is to yourself, of course, only you can say!).

RE: assistance with the survey in the future: I am quite willing to provide hosting (via my excellent and reliable hosting provider, NearlyFreeSpeech.net). And (as you no doubt already know), I'll gladly continue to offer design/theming/etc. assistance.

RE: what to do about this year's survey, going forward: my admittedly limited investigation of LimeSurvey gave me the impression that it is unwieldy and convoluted to deploy, so the "fix and try again with a different host" option seems fraught with risk of more screw-ups. I know little about Google Forms, but suspect that migration with preservation of experimental integrity is impossible. I say: call it a day.

In response to Feedback on LW 2.0
Comment author: SaidAchmiz 08 October 2017 03:02:20AM *  2 points [-]

Hi all,

I made a userscript (for use with TamperMonkey or a similar userscript manager) that makes content on LessWrong 2.0 take up the whole browser window, rather than being confined to a fixed-width column.

Script to make the text on LW 2.0 take up the whole browser window

(Aside: a fixed-width, short-line-length text column is best for slow, in-depth reading, but it is sub-optimal for skimming or scanning for specific or new content, such as one might do when re-visiting an already-read post to skim for new comments, or when looking for specific bits of text or quote in a long post. So this userscript isn't meant to suggest that the current layout is wrong, but to offer an alternative option for folks who prefer it.)

Edit: I think the ideal case would be one where there was some sort of a widget (in the vein of the one at the top of this page) that toggled between full-width and fixed-width view.

Comment author: Habryka 07 October 2017 12:35:20PM *  0 points [-]

Ah, i agree that that is usually a good heuristic. In our case it's a bit different though.

We are currently using the Material-UI frontend framework, which is great on a really large set of dimensions, but does all of it's styling in the form of inline CSS (the latest version is moving away from that, but that is currently only in prerelease).

In our case, the vast majority of the !important statements are there to override one specific lowest level material-UI inline style, and are not there to override any other styles in our own CSS files. This makes the impact of those statements significantly less bad than they would usually be. Still not happy about having to use the important tags that way, and it does definitely have some cost, but overall the cost is much lower than one would naively expect.

In response to comment by Habryka on Feedback on LW 2.0
Comment author: SaidAchmiz 07 October 2017 06:20:40PM 0 points [-]

In our case, the vast majority of the !important statements are there to override one specific lowest level material-UI inline style

Why not remove/disable that one specific style?

Comment author: Habryka 06 October 2017 09:21:19AM 0 points [-]

We actually just cleaned up our CSS a bit, but agree that we probably want to make that part cleaner in the long run. Though I haven't found making changes particularly difficult.

In response to comment by Habryka on Feedback on LW 2.0
Comment author: SaidAchmiz 07 October 2017 02:01:47AM 2 points [-]

That's good to hear, and I wish you success in your efforts to that end! Here is a very simple heuristic, which is very helpful in evaluating how clean your CSS is:

How many times does !important appear in your codebase?

The ideal number is very, very small. (There is a reasonable argument for using it on buttons, and similar utility classes with complex and very specific and universally immutable styling; doing a once-over of a typical LW 2.0 page, I see no cases that fit this profile.) "Zero" is a typical number of instances of !important in a well-maintained CSS codebase.

Currently, that number, for the CSS that goes into an ordinary LW 2.0 post, is 623.

(This is not the be-all and end-all of CSS code quality metrics! But it is, as I said, a very good heuristic.)

Comment author: Habryka 02 October 2017 08:15:12PM 4 points [-]

Strongly agree with 1. I have a plan for a separate thing at the top of the frontpage for logged-in users that takes up much less space and is actually useful for multiple visits. Here is a screenshot of my current UI mockup for the frontpage:


The emphasis continue to be on historical instead of recent content, with the frontpage emphasizing reading for logged-in users. If you don't have anything in your reading-queue the top part disappears completely and you just have the recent discussion (though by default the HPMOR, The Sequences and The Codex are in your reading queue)

In response to comment by Habryka on Feedback on LW 2.0
Comment author: SaidAchmiz 04 October 2017 09:16:47PM 0 points [-]

I, too, would advise against doing this.

In response to Feedback on LW 2.0
Comment author: username2 03 October 2017 11:35:47AM 0 points [-]

My vision is not great and I simply cannot see the difference between quoted text and normal text in comments.

Comment author: SaidAchmiz 03 October 2017 05:25:24PM 1 point [-]

Try installing one of these themes—they make the blockquotes easier to distinguish!

In response to Feedback on LW 2.0
Comment author: lahwran 03 October 2017 01:51:03AM 1 point [-]

Something I'm noticing: almost all the feedback in this thread is easy stuff. UI changes and etc are all pretty easy. The problem that I expect is that the dev team won't get to the easy stuff because the hard problem of making the page load fast will take their attention.

In response to comment by lahwran on Feedback on LW 2.0
Comment author: SaidAchmiz 03 October 2017 02:03:08AM *  1 point [-]

I don’t disagree in general—certainly UI changes are easier than infrastructure changes—though there is a caveat, illustrated by the old story about the repairman who took a large repair fee to fix a complicated piece of machinery, and then gave the thing a good thwack, whereupon it worked again; to the client’s protestations that such an easy “fix” was hardly worth the hefty bill—after all, all the guy did was hit the machine once!—the technician replied “yeah, but you gotta know where to hit it…”.

So with UX: many of the changes are easy to make, it’s knowing which ones to make and how, that’s the trick of it.

As for what to prioritize—this is something to consider: https://www.nngroup.com/articles/aesthetic-usability-effect/ (though not to try and apply unreflectively!)

Finally, implementation details (including infrastructural ones) can make it harder or easier to make changes to the UI and layout and so on. (For example, the CSS component of the LW 2.0 codebase is a <comment redacted to maintain prosociality>, which makes it actually not very easy to make many of the sorts of changes which should be easy to make.)

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