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Comment author: gjm 24 January 2017 11:47:56AM 4 points [-]

Aren't you? I mean, you're not making concrete proposals yourself, of course; I don't think I have ever seen you make a concrete constructive proposal about anything, as opposed to objecting to other people's. But looking at the things you object to and the things you don't, it seems to me that you're taking a position on how LW's discussions should be just as much as eagain is; you're just expressing it by objecting to things that diverge from it, rather than by stating it explicitly.

Comment author: eagain 04 February 2017 04:06:47PM 0 points [-]

I don't think I have ever seen you make a concrete constructive proposal about anything, as opposed to objecting to other people's.

Hmm. That sounds like a nice rule: anyone who spends all their posting efforts on objecting to other people's ideas without putting forth anything constructive of their own shall be banned, or at least downvoted into oblivion.

Comment author: Lumifer 24 January 2017 03:13:49AM 0 points [-]

Eagain knows which ideas are "deeply bad" and he's quite certain they need to be excluded from the conversation.

Comment author: eagain 02 February 2017 05:14:30AM 0 points [-]

I didn't say excluded from the conversation. I said exposed to the bright, glaring sunlight of factual rigor.

Comment author: TheAncientGeek 23 January 2017 10:22:27PM 0 points [-]

Can you tell which problems can never be solved?

Comment author: eagain 02 February 2017 05:13:16AM 0 points [-]

Only an ill-posed problem can never be solved, in principle.

Comment author: TheAncientGeek 28 November 2016 06:16:14PM 2 points [-]

How many problems has the second sort solved?

Have you considered that there may be a lot of endless hashing out, not because some people have a preference for it, but because the problems are genuinely difficult?

Comment author: eagain 23 January 2017 08:25:07PM 0 points [-]

Have you considered that there may be a lot of endless hashing out, not because some people have a preference for it, but because the problems are genuinely difficult?

I've considered that view and found it wanting, personally. Not every problem can be solved right now with an empirical test or a formal model. However, most that can be solved right now, can be solved in such a way, and most that can't be solved in such a way right now, can't be solved at all right now. Adding more "hashing out of big questions" doesn't seem to actually help; it just results in someone eventually going meta and questioning whether philosophy is even meant to make progress towards truth and understand anyway.

Comment author: Alexandros 27 November 2016 10:40:52AM *  65 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 realclearpolitics.com, 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 lesswrong.com 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 lesswrong.com 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: eagain 23 January 2017 07:57:47PM 3 points [-]

Hi. I used to have an LW account and post sometimes, and when the site kinda died down I deleted the account. I'm posting back now.

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.

Please do not start discussing politics without enforcing a real-names policy and taking strong measures against groupthink, bullying, and most especially brigading from outside. The basic problem with discussing politics on the internet is that the normal link between a single human being and a single political voice is broken. You end up with a homogeneous "consensus" in the "community" that reflects whoever is willing to spend more effort on spam and disinformation. You wanted something like a particularly high-minded Parliament, you got 4chan.

I have strong opinions about politics and also desire to discuss the topic, which is indeed boiling to a crisis point, in a more rationalist way. However, I also moderate several subreddits, and whenever politics intersects with one of our subs, we have to start banning people every few hours to keep from being brigaded to death.

I advise allowing just enough politics to discuss the political issues tangent to other, more basic rationalist wheelhouses: allow talking about global warming in the context of civilization-scale risks, allow talking about science funding and state appropriation of scientific output in the context of AI risk and AI progress, allow talking about fiscal multipliers to state spending in the context of effective altruism.

Don't go beyond that. There are people who love to put an intellectual veneer over deeply bad ideas, and they raid basically any forum on the internet nowadays that talks politics, doesn't moderate a tight ship, and allows open registration.

And in general, the watchword for a rationality community ought to be that most of the time, contrarians are wrong, and in fact boring as well. Rationality should be distinguished from intellectual contrarianism -- this is a mistake we made last time, and suffered for.