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Comment author: AlexSchell 14 September 2014 02:16:34PM *  7 points [-]

Regardless of whether we should have more or fewer posts, the problem you noticed is more precisely traced back to the lack of infrastructure aimed at collating the best output and resources produced or aggregated here. I got a lot of benefit from the "best textbooks" thread, the post(s) introducing Beeminder back in the day, the post by cousin_it on mutual screen-monitoring, and perhaps from a few other interventions (standing desks, nicotine) I picked up in the local memespace. I doubt I could find many of these as a newcomer, except by lurking around for long enough. Not proposing a solution so far, but this seems to be a common problem with big blogs that have lots of excellent content but even more chaff.

ETA: N-acetylcysteine is actually FDA-approved but only as an expectorant and as an antidote for APAP overdose.

Comment author: Viliam_Bur 14 September 2014 03:13:46PM 2 points [-]

How to make people more interested in maintaining the wiki? (Preferably without having edit wars like Wikipedia.) Because wiki could be the infrastructure for the published information.

Comment author: RPMcMurphy 14 September 2014 09:20:27AM *  1 point [-]

There should be a "Government Hacks" section or "Hacking Society" section. You do realize, it's possible to "hack the government," thanks to I & R, organized jury rights activism, and many other ways involving civil disobedience, construction of coercion-hindering products, AKA counter-economics.

There are 24 States that have some form of I & R (public ballot measure process, such as Initiative, Referenda, or Constitutional Amendment). Of the 24, 14 are direct, and unable to be sabotaged after the fact. Unlike politicians (in those 14 States), ballot measures do not change their minds, once they have accessed the ballot or gotten elected. Of those 14, some are unusable, "fake" I & R processes, that are impossible or prohibitively expensive to use.

If we had a true free market, you'd be surprised what we could accomplish, in almost no time.

Comment author: Viliam_Bur 14 September 2014 03:01:02PM *  2 points [-]

Many LW users are not from USA, but USA is probably the only country with enough LW users for a meaningful political action. So I guess we can assume that we are going to influence American politics (because we don't have enough people in any other country), but in ways that most LW users would agree with, regardless of their country (because otherwise we couldn't achieve cooperation on this website). This is not wrong, per se, just counter-intuitive, so I am saying it explicitly. (Majority of LW users would almost certainly include majority of American LW users.)

It could be interesting to find out whether there are political suggestions that, say, 95% of LW users would agree with. If people think directly about the usual party lines, that's the wrong place for consensus. But there could be something which is not so important for either American party, and where a rational consensus could be found. (Robin Hanson calls it "pulling policy ropes sideways".) If we can identify those issues, then perhaps we could try to fight for one of them, just as an experiment to see what we can achieve.

Comment author: Viliam_Bur 14 September 2014 09:37:58AM *  7 points [-]

Identify the important wiki pages. Then link them from the main page.

We have two kinds of content on this site: forum and wiki. They are different in principle: Forum debates are coming and going; we would like the best ones to be revisited later, but most of them are really not that important. Wiki pages are "timeless"; they are created to be useful equally now and in the future.

Our navigational tools already provide the right kind of visibility for the debates: we have the "Main" and "Discussion" pages, list of "recent posts" and "recent comments". But this mechanism is not fit for the wiki. The "recent wiki edits" is good for noticing spam, but otherwise the recent-ness is not an important feature of the timeless wiki article. Wiki articles should be made visible by their timeless importance.

This may be a typical mind fallacy here, but I almost never read the wiki. I am mostly not even aware of what useful things may be there. They don't get to my attention the way that discussion articles do. So I would like to have a better exposure of them at the main page (because I will probably not look elsewhere, unless something already caught my attention).

More specifically, I don't want just three or five very general links, but of course I also don't want to have every wiki page linked. Just enough to have the best idea of what can be found there; even if it means "expanding" a few nodes. For example, a link to "learning resources" is nice, but seeing a link to "programming resources" specifically would be much better. The best would be probably something like: "Learning resources (programming, poetry, music, etc.)"

I explicitly disagree with the following comment in wiki!Homepage:

This page does not have the following jobs: easy navigation for old timers (old timers will use bookmarks, or a good browser that'll remember which page they regularly visit)

You only use bookmarks for something you already know it exists. And a good navigation map would be helpful to both old and new users. Having to make another click to see the map reduces the number of people who will look there. And rendering the page with a few dozen hyperlinks shouldn't take more time than a page with five hyperlinks. And if you want to keep something super-visible, just put in on the top, visibly separated from the rest.

Comment author: adamzerner 14 September 2014 02:34:09AM 2 points [-]

A community wiki for each article that could serve as a summary/tldr.

Comment author: Viliam_Bur 14 September 2014 09:12:24AM *  5 points [-]

Each article? That's an overkill. There are dozens of articles every week.

I would rather have the wiki only for... uhm... important articles. Yeah, hard to define what that means. It certainly doesn't mean "Main". It's more like: an article which generated good insights in the comments. (Those insights should be included in the summary.) In real life it could mean: an article for which someone (preferably other than its author) bothered to provide a summary.

And perhaps we don't need a page per article, but rather per topic. If there were three articles on the same topic, it would be nice to have those summaries together.

So, I guess I would approach this from the other side: The wiki pages should be topic-oriented, but they should include the summaries of the important relevant articles (and the most insightful comments thereof). So if you see a good article, first search whether a relevant topic already exists, and add the summary there; and if it doesn't, create the new wiki page, but for the topic, not for the article, so other people can add other articles there later. And of course PM the article author to add the wiki link to their article.

EDIT: To make collaboration on this process easier, we could once in a while have a Discussion thread of "nominate the articles you want to see summarized in the wiki".

Comment author: Viliam_Bur 14 September 2014 09:00:20AM *  6 points [-]

Maybe the abuse could be limited, if the exploitable commons is connected with something you have to pay for. For example, imagine that you provide free water. Then there is a risk that some asshole will just let the water flow freely, just because they can, or because they are excited by the idea of abusing the system, or just because their water faucet broke and they don't bother fixing it. Such an asshole could create potentially unlimited damage.

On the other hand, imagine a system where you pay for water, but you get the cold water converted to hot water for free. Even if there is a similar asshole in this system, who on principle uses hot water even when they really need cold water, their damage is limited, because although they don't pay for the heat, they still have to pay for the water, so their budget for water limits the damage. -- At the end, even if you know you have one such asshole and you cannot stop them, using this system could still be cheaper for everyone. So, estimate the ratio of sociopaths in your society, and see if the project still economically makes sense.

Comment author: NancyLebovitz 12 September 2014 02:10:46PM 2 points [-]

It seems reasonable to me that people are afraid of being forced into whatever modes of communication they think they're bad at-- it's not a specific flaw of people who prefer verbal/written communication.

I wonder if the people who expect their partners to "just know" are confusing successful non-verbal communication with telepathy.

Comment author: Viliam_Bur 13 September 2014 07:54:55PM *  1 point [-]

I wonder if the people who expect their partners to "just know" are confusing successful non-verbal communication with telepathy.

I would guess typical mind fallacy, or illusion of transparency. Either they believe their signals are obvious, or they believe that any (sane) person would make the same guess in that specific situation. Or a combination thereof, i.e. that any (sane) person would only see two or three possible choices in that specific situation, and the signals are sufficient to differentiate among them.

Another interesting question would be whether these people are able to see the situation from both sides. Like, they can be angry at their partner for not reading their mind successfully, but do they believe they read the partner's mind successfully? Maybe they don't even realize that there is the other side, too. Or maybe they blame the partner for communication failures in both directions. ("They should know what I think about." "They shouldn't think such crazy things.") On the other hand, maybe the partner really is predictable. Or the partner communicates their thoughts explicitly, so one way the communication is clear, and the person simply does not realize that the clearness of communication is caused by the explicitness. (Or maybe they don't believe in symetry. Maybe they believe that being explicit is e.g. gender-specific, so it's okay that the partner is explicit, and it's okay that they aren't. Or perhaps that you should be explicit about some things, but not about other things.)

Comment author: ChristianKl 12 September 2014 06:27:22PM *  5 points [-]

I wasn't aware of the Android app.

On the other hand the existence doesn't mean that a new attempt at the same problem is worthless. I think it's very valuable to have multiple people try to solve the problem.

To me it seems like a much more interesting project than having another go at writing an app to parse an online forum. There are few people thinking in depth about designing apps to teach people to be calibrated.

The fact that you have a smartphone also allows additional questions:

You can ask calibration questions such as:

  • Did John or Joe send you more emails in the last year?

  • Is the air pressure more or less than X?

  • Is the temperature of the smart phone battery more or less than X?

  • Does this arrow point more North or more South?"

  • Is the distance between your work location and where you are at the moment more or less than X?

  • Is the distance between your home location and where you are at the moment more or less than X?

  • Is the distance between where John lives and where you are at the moment more or less than X?

  • What was the average speed at which you where traveling in the last minute (if you sit in public transportation)

  • Is the average pitch of the background noise over the last minute more or less than X?

  • Is the longest email that you received in the past week more or less than X characters long?

  • What's the chance that you will get a call today?"

  • Is the average of beeminder value X that you tracked over the last week (month) more or less than X?

All those questions are more interesting then whether postmaster general X served before or after postmaster general Y or the boiling temperatures of various metals. Building an app around the issue might be more complicated than simply providing an new interface for LessWrong, but the payoff for getting Credence training right is also so much higher.

Even if you simply focus on building a beeminder history credence game that might not be too complicated but really useful. Too me it feels like a waste to have valuable development resources wasted on building a Lesswrong app when there are much more valuable projects.

Comment author: Viliam_Bur 13 September 2014 07:38:46PM *  2 points [-]

A personal prediction book?

Simple version: You provide your own predictions, and state your credence. Later you say whether you were right or wrong. The app displays statistics of your calibration.

This is simple in essence, but there will be many design decisions, and many little details that can make the UI better. For example, I guess you should choose the credence from, say, 50%, 60%, 70%, 80%, 90%, 95%, and 99%, instead of typing your own value, because this way it will be easier to make statistics. Also, choosing one option is easier than typing two digits, although most of the work will be typing the questions. It should be possible to edit the text later (noticing a typo too late would drive me crazy). The app should also remember the date each question was entered, so it can give you statistics like: how well calibrated you are in the last 30 days (compared with the previous 30 days).

Maybe the data should be stored online, so you can edit them both from the mobile and from the PC. Although, I would prefer if the application works offline, too. These are two contradictory demands, so you have to find a solution. Perhaps each user should choose in settings whether their data should be kept in the mobile or on the web? And perhaps allow to change this setting later, and the data will be copied? Or maybe even keeping only the recent data in the mobile, and the full archive online? There are many decisions here.

A nice function would be to save some work typing repeated questions. For example, if I want to make a bet every morning "will I exercise today?", there should be an option to repeat one of the recent questions with current date. (By the way, if you always display the date along the question, you can write things like "today" or "this month" without having to always write the specific date.)

A more advanced version (don't do this as the first version; remember the planning fallacy!) would allow some kind of "multiplayer". You could add friends, and offer to share some bets with your friends. Anyone can create a question and offer it to other people; they can accept (by writing their credence) or reject it. Then there would be a summary comparing the members of the group.

Again, here are many design choices and UI improvements. How specifically will you add friends? Will you also have groups of friends, so you share some questions only with some groups? Who can answer the multiplayer question: the person who wrote it, anyone, or the person who wrote it chooses one of the former options?

Integrate the whole thing with Facebook, especially the multiplayer version? That could make the app wildly popular! (But I heard that the Facebook API is less than friendly.)

Comment author: shminux 13 September 2014 06:39:46PM 4 points [-]

One proactive action a mod could take is to figure out the forum ethics, make it explicit and summarize it in a post, so that people could refer to it and refer others to it. This way if there is an argument, the participants could check their actions against the explicit written norms. In my experience a forum ethics is some combination of consequentialism, deontology and virtue ethics. Some examples from other forums:

  • strive to make only positive contribution and leave the comment thread in at least as good a shape as you found it (vaguely consequentialist)
  • no spoilers (a common ground rule in fiction discussions)
  • no trolling (sort of virtue-based)

Admittedly, this forum has been working reasonably well without explicit guidelines, and a discussion of forum ethics might be a net negative, so maybe one should leave well enough alone.

Comment author: Viliam_Bur 13 September 2014 07:11:50PM 5 points [-]

I consider my role to be a cop, not a lawgiver. Describing forum ethics is not a part of my job. We already have tools to enforce the things you said: if someone writes stupid comments, spoilers, or trolling comments, anyone can downvote them. My superpowers will be needed if someone starts abusing these tools, e.g. by mass downvoting, because that's what other users cannot investigate.

What I said is orthogonal to whether having explicit debate about forum ethics is good or bad. I can imagine it going either way. I think most people would agree with the examples you gave here. Anyone should feel equally free to initate this kind of debate, and my opinion should have no special weight there. Opinions of people from MIRI or CFAR should have extra weight, I think, but I am not in that set.

Comment author: Viliam_Bur 13 September 2014 02:20:56PM *  63 points [-]

Thanks for the trust! I hope my services will not be necessary, but I'm here if they are. Feel free to send me a message, but please have a patience if I don't respond quickly, because it's all new to me.

Comment author: CWG 12 September 2014 05:06:48AM 1 point [-]

Trans-human thought experiment:

  • Scenario 1: A human brain is converted to a virtual brain through a destructive process (as described in many science-fiction stories). In what sense is this virtual intelligence the same "person" as the original, organic person?
  • Scenario 2: A human brain is converted to a virtual brain through a non-destructive process. The original, organic person lives on as before. In what sense is this virtual intelligence the same "person" as the original, organic person – is this the same as the answer in scenario 1?

Why this seems to matter: If a virtual version of me is not really me in the sense of being a continuation of my experience, then what does it matter to me if that virtual brain exists, as opposed to some other virtual brain? Is there actually any advantage to working out how to convert people en masse to virtual intelligences?

(I am aware that the questions of identity and "being a continuation of my experience" are vague but I anticipate that replies here will help me get clearer. )

Comment author: Viliam_Bur 12 September 2014 08:27:31AM *  1 point [-]

I am not sure about this, but seems to me that in both cases it is the same person. Only in scenario 2 we have two copies that start to diverge at that point; so they are both continuations of the old one, but are not the same as each other.

This does not have a good equivalent in our intuition, because we usually don't "branch" this way. But you can imagine a magic spell that creates two identical humans from you. Both are you, but from the moment of copying, they start evolving differently, so after some time it is just like two twins, having a shared memory from before that moment.

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