LessWrong 2.0 Feature Roadmap & Feature Suggestions

post by habryka (habryka4) · 2017-06-17T22:18:41.162Z · score: 15 (11 votes) · LW · GW · 116 comments

This post will serve as a place to discuss what features the new LessWrong 2.0 should have, and I will try to keep this post updated with our feature roadmap plans.

Here is roughly the set of features we are planning to develop over the next few weeks:

UPDATED: August 27th, 2017

Basic quality of life improvements:

  1. Improve rendering speed on posts with many comments
  2. (A lot of improvements made, a lot more to come)
  3. Improve usability on mobile
  4. (After the major rework this is somewhat broken again, will fix it soon)
  5. Add Katex support for comments and posts
  6. Allow merging with old LessWrong 1.0 accounts
  7. Fix old LessWrong 1.0 links DONE!
  8. Create unique links for each comment: DONE!
  9. Make comments collapsible
  10. Highlight new comments since last visit: DONE!
  11. Improve automatic spam-detection
  12. Add RSS feed links with adjustable karma thresholds
  13. Create better documentation for the page, with tooltips and onboarding processes
  14. Better search, including comment search and user search: DONE!

Improved Moderation Tools:

  1. New Karma system that weighs your votes based on your Karma
  2. Give moderators ability to suspend comment threads for a limited amount of time
  3. Give trusted post-authors moderation ability on their own posts (deleting comments, temporarily suspending users from posts, etc.)
  4. Add reporting feature to comments
  5. Give moderators and admins access to a database query interface to identify negative vote patterns

New Content Types:

  1. Add sequences as a top-level content-type with UI for navigating sequences in order, metadata on a sequence, and keeping track of which parts you've read DONE!
  2. Add Arbital-style predictions as a content block in posts (maybe also as a top-level content type)
  3. Add 'Wait-But-Why?' style footnotes to the editor
  4. Discussion page that structures discussions more than just a tree format (here is a mockup I designed while working for Arbital, that I am style excited to implement)
  5. ...and we have many more crazy ideas we would like to experiment with

I will also create a comment for each of these under the post, so you can help us prioritize all of these. Also feel free to leave your own feature suggestions and site improvements in the comments.


Comments sorted by top scores.

comment by Paul Crowley (ciphergoth) · 2017-09-15T14:15:44.764Z · score: 17 (7 votes) · LW · GW

Facebook-like reactions.

I would like to be able to publicly say eg "hear hear" on a comment or post, without cluttering up the replies. Where the "like" button is absent eg on Livejournal, I sorely miss it. This is nothing to do with voting and should be wholly orthogonal; voting is anonymous and feeds into the ranking algorithm, where this is more like a comment that says very little and takes up minimal screen real estate, but allows people to get a quick feel for who thinks what about a comment.

Starting with "thumbs up" would be a big step forward, but I'd hope that other reactions would become available later, eg "disagree connotationally" or "haha" or "don't like the tone" or "I want to help with this". Each should be associated with a small graphic, with a hover-over to show the meaning as well as who applied the reaction. Like emoji in eg Discord and unlike Facebook, a single user can apply multiple reactions to the same comment, so I can say both "agree" and "don't like the tone".

I apologise for having buried this feature request in the depths of not one but two comment threads before putting it here :)

comment by Chris_Leong · 2017-09-21T06:43:20.475Z · score: 1 (0 votes) · LW · GW

The main difficulty with these systems is finding the right balance of expressiveness and simplicity. I can definitely see some advantages of having a "dislike tone" option that is separate from down-voting. I don't know if I'd want a whole bunch of options added though, as that might become too complex.

comment by PDV · 2017-09-21T04:51:37.763Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I disagree. I think this is anti-epistemic and tends to devolve easily into bad manners, politics, and harassment.

See, e.g., the Sufficient Velocity forum, where any reaction with a negative sentiment (including things as mild as 'sarcasm' and 'Picard facepalm', and ones that were only accessible in limited quantities to paid subscribers) were quickly discontinued because they were used for flaming and Internet Arguments.

comment by Paul Crowley (ciphergoth) · 2018-06-17T17:36:22.576Z · score: 12 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Spoiler markup. This post [LW · GW] has lots of comments which use ROT13 to disguise their content. There's a Markdown syntax for this.

comment by Paul Crowley (ciphergoth) · 2018-12-19T19:32:11.895Z · score: 12 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I note that this is now done. As I have for so many things here. Great work team!

Spoiler space test

comment by Elo · 2018-06-17T22:37:34.158Z · score: 8 (2 votes) · LW · GW

! Test - it's >!

comment by Paul Crowley (ciphergoth) · 2018-06-17T22:53:24.990Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Of course I should have tested it before commenting! Thanks for doing so.

comment by habryka (habryka4) · 2017-06-17T22:39:28.629Z · score: 12 (10 votes) · LW · GW

Basic Quality of life:
Make comments collapsible

comment by Paul Crowley (ciphergoth) · 2018-06-17T17:30:54.379Z · score: 10 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I note that this is now done.

comment by Chris_Leong · 2017-09-21T06:31:08.869Z · score: 1 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Seconding. It is almost impossible to follow a conversation thread without this feature.

comment by lukeprog · 2017-07-01T06:43:09.823Z · score: 10 (5 votes) · LW · GW

From a user's profile, be able to see their comments in addition to their posts.

Dunno about others, but this is actually one of the LW features I use the most.

(Apologies if this is listed somewhere already and I missed it.)

comment by Paul Crowley (ciphergoth) · 2018-06-17T17:31:01.462Z · score: 10 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I note that this is now done.

comment by habryka (habryka4) · 2017-07-01T18:58:27.257Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Yes! I agree. I also see that as a key feature.

I've been working on this, but apparently forgot to add it to the feature list. This is related to improving search in general by allowing you to not only search through posts but also comments and user-profiles which is high-priority for me.

comment by habryka (habryka4) · 2017-06-17T22:39:18.426Z · score: 8 (8 votes) · LW · GW

Basic Quality of life:
Create unique links for each comment

comment by habryka (habryka4) · 2017-06-30T00:06:03.211Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

This is now done! I am not fully happy with the implementation, but it feels like the best compromise I could find between a few different design goals with comment links.

You can access the link for each comment by clicking on the time the link was posted. When someone visits that link, the comment that you linked gets rendered at the very top of the post page, together with the immediate comment it is replying to (if it is a reply). That comment then has a link at the bottom that when clicked scrolls you down to the position of the comment in the full context of the discussion threads. My hope is that this will both allow comments to stand reasonably well on their own, as well as make it easier to find a comment in the context of the whole discussion.

comment by Malo (malo) · 2017-09-03T03:46:49.980Z · score: 6 (4 votes) · LW · GW


Two thoughts:

  1. What about adding a small link icon next to the time that is the link to the comment. Having the time be the link is pretty hard to discover. Facebook does it this way, and it took me a pretty long time to consistently remember, and rediscovering was really annoying.

  2. I think the idea of displaying the linked comment at the top of the page is cool, but I also find it a little confusing (like I instictively think “where’s the rest of the discussion” for a quick sec). I also almost always click the “Show comment in full contetxt” link. Given this it seems to me that brining the user directly to the comment in context might be best. Maybe the comment could be highlighted in some way so that it was easy to see which comment was linked to.

comment by Said Achmiz (SaidAchmiz) · 2017-09-03T06:24:10.930Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Fully seconded, on both points.

comment by Said Achmiz (SaidAchmiz) · 2017-09-03T06:33:58.271Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Having written the parent comment, it occurred to me to wonder whether it was needed or useful; after all, there's already an upvote button, right? (Which I dutifully clicked, of course.) Did I just write the comment out of habit, having spent considerable time commenting in venues with no voting feature?

But what the upvote counter doesn't tell me is who upvoted something!

As a commenter/upvoter, I'd like to (have the chance to) communicate something more than "someone liked this post/comment enough to click upvote"; I'd like to convey "Not just someone, but I, whom you may know, whose views you may be familiar with, whose credentials on relevant topics you may investigate, agree with / endorse / support / etc. this post/comment".

And as a reader, I'd like to know who it is that agrees with, endorses, supports, etc. the post/comment in question. Maybe their opinion carries great weight with me; maybe they mean nothing to me; maybe their endorsement is, for me, an anti-endorsement.

(Then, of course, there's the old problem that it's not actually all that clear what it means, to upvote or downvote a comment. (All of you who disagree, and think it is clear—how sure are you that it's clear to everyone else, or even that everyone who thinks it's clear has the same understanding? Have we checked?) This, for me, was probably the biggest problem with LW 1.0's karma system, because it was fundamental and conceptual, and transcended any issue with moderation or what have you.)

So, in other words: upvoted, yes. But also verbally endorsed, and the endorsement signed.

comment by Malo (malo) · 2017-09-03T18:21:55.797Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I agree there is something nice about being able to see who upvoted or downvoted a comment or post, but I don't think I'd want this to be the default. I expect I'd feel uncomfortable voting on some stuff if I knew that my vote would be public. Maybe after voting, an option could appear that said something like “Make vote public”. Then you could have something pop up on hover (or with a tap on tablets/phones) that showed something like “Malo and 3 other people upvoted this post”. Though that would probably get unweildy if lots of people made their votes public. I think there's a good idea in there though, just not sure about implementation specifics.

comment by Said Achmiz (SaidAchmiz) · 2017-09-03T18:43:06.062Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Well, I think I might've been unclear. I wasn't actually suggesting that upvotes come with authorship labels. All the reasons you list for why this isn't a great idea, I agree with.

I was saying, rather, that the upvote/downvote system is fundamentally missing something; that it can't substitute for expressing explicit verbal agreement. The immediate corollary that should occur to us is: what is voting even for?

Consider a scenario. I write a post about software usability. A hundred people read it, and have a strong enough opinion on its quality that they are moved to click the voting widget. 99 of those people are ordinary LessWrongers, with no particular expertise in the subject. They upvote me. The 100th person is Jakob Nielsen. He downvotes me.

My post now has a score of 99 points. Is this an accurate representation of its value?

No. One “layman” doesn't equal one Jakob Nielsen, when it comes to evaluating claims or opinions about usability engineering. Even 99 laymen doesn't equal one Jakob Nielsen. If Nielsen thinks that my post is crap, and that basically everything I'm saying is wrong and confused, well, basically, that's that. 99 non-expert LessWrongers doesn't “balance that out”, and the sum of “99 LessWrongers think I'm right” and “Jakob Nielsen thinks I'm wrong” does not come out to “a score of +99! what a great post!”. That's just not how that math works.

Furthermore, suppose Nielsen posts a comment under my post, saying “this is crap and you're a nincompoop”. What, now, is the value of that “99” score, to a reader? You now know what a domain expert thinks. Unless other domain experts weigh in, there's nothing more to discuss. That 99 LessWrongers disagree with Jakob Nielsen about usability is... interesting, perhaps, in some academic sense. But from an epistemic standpoint, Nielsen's hypothetical comment tells you all you need to know about my post. The upvote score is obviated as a source of information about my post's value.

And yet, it's the upvote score that would be used, by various automated parts of the system (and by readers who aren't checking the comments carefully), to decide how good my post is. That seems perverse! Now, I'm not suggesting that "sort by experts' opinions, as expressed in comments" is a viable algorithm, of course. But this scenario, in my mind, calls into serious question what upvotes mean, and what sense there is in using them as a way to judge the value of content.

comment by Paul Crowley (ciphergoth) · 2017-09-15T14:03:15.932Z · score: 4 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I think these are two wholly orthogonal functions: anonymous voting, and public comment badges. For badges, I'd like to see something much more like eg Discord where you can apply as many as you think apply, rather than Facebook where you can only apply at most one of the six options (eg both "agree" and "don't like tone").

EDIT: now a feature request.

comment by Malo (malo) · 2017-09-03T18:15:16.039Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Yeah upvotes can mean a lot of different things like endorse, agree, or high quality comment (even though I disagree). This comment thread on another post discussed some potential extensions to upvoting that might help with this.

comment by Chris_Leong · 2017-09-21T06:30:43.372Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

This is confusing. I clicked through the link to the above comment and then tried to find the link to take me to the full context, but I couldn't see it!

comment by habryka (habryka4) · 2017-06-17T22:47:57.081Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

New Content Types:

Add 'Wait-But-Why?' style footnotes to the editor

comment by paulfchristiano · 2017-06-19T04:46:38.845Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Would be great to have entire discussions starting from a point in the document. (Also a pony.)

comment by Malo (malo) · 2017-09-03T03:32:32.673Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Harvard Law Review also has a pretty classy way of doing footnotes (example post).

comment by Malo (malo) · 2017-09-03T03:31:05.921Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Yeah that would be really great. Medium does this kind of well. Chris Olah's blog also has this feature (example post), but it’s implemented in a pretty hacky way using Disqus.

It would be cool if you could highlight some text in a post, and there was an easy way to create a comment that quoted that part of the text. Maybe you could even show some sort of visual highlight on that text in the post if the dicussion is high quality (measure by come combination of Karma and lenght?).

comment by Marcello · 2017-06-20T20:58:26.189Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

One UI for this I could imagine (for non-mobile wide-screen use) is to have the post and the comments appear in two columns with the post on the left and the comments on the right (Similar to the Mac OS X Finder's column view.) Then when the user clicks on a comment the appropriate bit of the post would get highlighted.

In fact, I could see doing a similar thing for the individual comments themselves to create a view that would show the *ancestry* of a single comment, stretching left back to the post the conversation was originally about. This could save a fair amount of scrolling.

comment by habryka (habryka4) · 2017-06-20T21:01:26.718Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Are you thinking of something similar to what Google docs has? That's how I've been thinking about implementing the general inline-commenting thing.

comment by Marcello · 2017-06-20T21:14:18.103Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Yes. Google docs does contain a lame version of the thing I'm pointing at. The right version is that the screen is split into N columns. Each column displays the children of the selection from the previous column (the selection could either be an entire post/comment or a span within the post/comment that the children are replies to.)

This is both a solution to inline comments and a tree-browser that lets you see just the ancestry of a comment at a glance with out having to manually collapse everything else.

Also: you replied to my comment and I didn't see any notifications. I found your reply by scrolling around. That's probably a bug.

comment by habryka (habryka4) · 2017-06-20T22:18:10.855Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Ah, notifications actually exist, but they are currently disabled by default. You can subscribe to any comments for which you want to get notifications for by clicking the subscribe button.

You can also activate automatically subscribing to your posts and comments on your profile.

comment by habryka (habryka4) · 2017-06-19T20:16:07.320Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I've been thinking about adding a content block in posts that allows for comments starting at that specific point. That is a bit easier than general inline commenting.

Not sure how to do the formatting though. We might make it collapsible, or give it an internal scroll-bar where you can scroll through the comments, similar to what Google plus does with their comments:


comment by abramdemski · 2017-06-29T19:09:47.113Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Hm. That seems really clunky to me, because the author has to decide where comments belong; but it does seem likely to result in more organized discussion.

comment by abramdemski · 2017-06-19T17:56:01.104Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

You mean, something similar to Medium comments?

comment by RyanCarey · 2017-06-23T06:32:13.454Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Medium comments are great and beat GDocs comments in particular.

comment by paulfchristiano · 2017-06-23T16:46:15.196Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Medium removed commenting though, not sure why.

comment by libero · 2019-07-04T12:55:08.498Z · score: 6 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Subscribe/get notification for new comments in a post. I have already enough tabs open on the browser to keep track of all the interesting posts :)

comment by Dr_Manhattan · 2017-09-03T15:54:52.849Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Request 2: tagging people in relevant discussions FB style. IMO this is *uge* but might need some thinking to avoid high status people drowning in the noise (1 straightforward possibility is sorting your inbox by karma)

comment by Chris_Leong · 2017-09-21T06:39:45.930Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I would suggest that the minimum viable product here would involve an option to disable tagging. People who are only tagged occasionally could leave it on, whilst people who get tagged too much could turn it off* (minimum viable product isn't quite the right term - I need a term for the simplest solution that makes sure that no-one is worse off. Pareto efficiency seems related, but not quite the right term either)

comment by lukeprog · 2017-06-23T23:37:09.865Z · score: 6 (8 votes) · LW · GW

Probably not suitable for launch, but given that the epistemic seriousness of the users is the most important "feature" for me and some other people I've spoken to, I wonder if some kind of "user badges" thing might be helpful, especially if it influences the weight that upvotes and downvotes from those users have. E.g. one badge could be "has read >60% of the sequences, as 'verified' by one of the 150 people the LW admins trust to verify such a thing about someone" and "verified superforecaster" and probably some other things I'm not immediately thinking of.

comment by Chris_Leong · 2017-09-21T06:37:28.266Z · score: 1 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I don't think we should emphasise this too much as many people would have read a lot of the sequences, but not had it actually recorded. (Apparently they have some data for different user accounts, but I have read a lot of articles whilst not logged in)

comment by habryka (habryka4) · 2017-06-17T22:39:56.987Z · score: 6 (7 votes) · LW · GW

Basic Quality of life:
Highlight new comments since last visit

comment by habryka (habryka4) · 2017-06-26T21:13:45.362Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

This is now done! Interested in your feedback on the implementation!

(For example, I can imagine people wanting to be able to select manually what the new comment date cutoff is, which is what SlateStarCodex has. Open to implementing that.)

comment by Malo (malo) · 2017-09-03T17:58:32.270Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I don't think this is working for me. I just made a bunch of comments last night, and got a couple replies since then. When I visited the site today I only noticed people had added comments when I saw then in the recent comments section.

How's this supposed to work?

comment by abramdemski · 2017-06-19T19:57:33.586Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Making posts which are replies/responses to other posts.

comment by abramdemski · 2017-06-19T18:28:58.204Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Sharing drafts / group editing, similar to Medium.

comment by habryka (habryka4) · 2017-06-17T22:46:21.077Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Improved Moderation Tools:

New Karma system that weighs your votes based on your Karma

comment by owencb (scatha) · 2017-06-19T11:28:27.912Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I'm in favour of this, but I think it would be even better to give high weights by fiat to some trusted users, in a way that grounds the whole Karma system in something, and makes it harder for low-quality bubbles to self-perpetuate.

comment by habryka (habryka4) · 2017-06-19T20:17:40.440Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

The current plan is to seed the karma system with a set of highly trusted users, and then do something similar to Eigenkarma. Which would both ground the system in something, and allow for dynamic karma allocation.

comment by Marcello · 2017-06-20T20:51:43.451Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Agreed. Also, at some point Eigenkarma is going to need to include a recency bias so that the system can react quickly to a commenter going sour.

comment by Vaniver · 2017-06-20T23:25:52.407Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

It'd be nice to have a better meetup system than current LW's. I think I sketched my plan out earlier, but I might as well stick it here as well:

There are two basic sorts of meetups: one-offs and regular. (Austin's "Welcome Scott Aaronson to Austin" party vs. Austin's 1:30 Saturday meetup) Both have a location, a datetime, and an organizer. The regular meetups, in addition, have a repeat frequency and might have a link to somewhere else (maybe you arrange events on Facebook or Meetup.com). (And if we could somehow automatically import events from Facebook groups, all the better.)

Because of the similarity, those both seem like they could be the same data type to me. It also seems like the best way to display them is a map with a bunch of dots, probably colored by how far in the future they are (with something like "up to four hours ago" counting as now, so that meetups don't disappear right when people are desperately trying to figure out what the address was again), with a UI that manages to map a bunch of dots on top of each other not horrible. (Maybe combine a dot view with a list view, like on Google Maps?)

One of the big motivations here is that the LW meetup map is pretty sad (sometimes the closest meetup was in Europe!) when I think there are actually a bunch of regular meetups. (It also seems like we should encourage any of the EA/rationalist/humanist/SSC/MIRIx/etc. groups to have their meetups on the map, maybe with different shapes for different types and filtering, to make it even easier to connect people. "Ah, there isn't a LW meetup in my area, but there is an EA meetup!")

comment by abramdemski · 2017-06-29T19:37:20.940Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

For recurring events, it would be nice to have some assurance that the event is still happening. Recurring meetups which stop should disappear after a while, but confirmation of continued active meetups should (1) require minimal effort (2) not be easy to forget.

(1) and (2) are somewhat conflicting. Favoring (1) leads me to suggest something like LessWrong prompting the event creator once every six months: "Is this meetup still happening?" Favoring (2) leads me to suggest something which not only confirms that the event is still happening, but is valuable in itself, so that doing it can feel rewarding. For example, writing public event summaries. These could be short, and would give a highly visible sign to assure others that the meetup is still happening (and give them a bit of the flavor of it). It would also cause people to think about what they're going to write, so that they have an open loop in their brain about writing the thing. It can be a rewarding habit. And, these summaries could be useful in themselves.

But, some groups would doubtless fall out of the habit.

comment by Vaniver · 2017-06-29T20:27:08.669Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

For example, writing public event summaries. These could be short, and would give a highly visible sign to assure others that the meetup is still happening (and give them a bit of the flavor of it).

A thing I'd be worried about here is people being ashamed that their meetup is just a social club or something, or in general optimizing for doing things that sound good rather than are what the participants want to do.

comment by Chris_Leong · 2017-09-21T06:47:18.629Z · score: 1 (0 votes) · LW · GW

What would be even cooler, but a lot more work, would be the ability to automatically populate from either Facebook events or Meetup.com events. Perhaps some people use other social networks in particular countries, but this would be the easiest way to ensure that the information provided is up to date.

comment by habryka (habryka4) · 2017-06-21T00:58:26.522Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I actually looked into the technologies for this in quite a bit of detail during my time at CEA. Creating a map for the meetups is quite doable, either with Google Maps or with Mapbox, and doesn't require that much engineering effort.

The biggest obstacle I see here is both that Facebook is the tool of choice for creating events, and that it is really good at this in a way that we won't be able to beat. Some kind of Facebook integration might save us here, or maybe fully focusing on reoccuring events is better.

An alternative would be to focus on "communities" instead of meetups. I.e. you can register a community on LessWrong, together with some metadata, such as Facebook groups, community greeter contacts, meetup locations, etc. Those communities are then mapped, and allow nearby rationalists to find those communities and engage with them. This generally reduces the amount of maintenance effort required by the local communities, and makes the system more flexible to integrate with whatever the local group uses as their event coordination tools.

comment by Vaniver · 2017-06-21T05:28:20.228Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

An alternative would be to focus on "communities" instead of meetups.

This is the basic idea; a consideration to keep in mind is that there's both passive new users ("hey, I just moved to Austin, are there any meetups nearby?") and exciting events ("hey, we're hosting a HPMOR wrap party!"), and you want to handle both cases well.

Now, maybe the thing to do here is have something like findable communities (basically, what's on LW is a geolocation and a link to Facebook/whatever else you use) and then location-based pings (either based on IP or them letting us have their location), which the community owners can create. But I don't really want LW to be prompting users to allow us access to their location all the time.

comment by habryka (habryka4) · 2017-06-24T04:00:58.460Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Well, we have location by IP, which is rough but accurate enough for meetups. Only more detailed location requires permission.

comment by Vaniver · 2017-06-25T21:00:29.219Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Does that work on mobile?

comment by habryka (habryka4) · 2017-06-26T20:08:03.642Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

We should get cell-tower accurate positioning, which is usually good enough to determine the city and neighborhood you're in (i.e. we should be able to distinguish between Oakland and Berkeley, but probably not central Berkeley and North Berkeley).

Rough googling suggests about 95% accuracy on city-level detection.

comment by habryka (habryka4) · 2017-06-17T22:47:34.110Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

New Content Types:

Add sequences as a top-level content-type with UI for navigating sequences in order, metadata on a sequence, and keeping track of which parts you've read

comment by Viliam · 2017-06-21T12:59:15.324Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Can individual articles in the sequence be written by different people? In such case, who manages the sequence itself?

comment by Habryka · 2017-08-27T21:28:35.550Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

This is now done! Interested in your thoughts on the implementation. We haven't yet exposed the sequence editor, but the navigation and style can be seen in the three major collections linked from the frontpage.

comment by Said Achmiz (SaidAchmiz) · 2017-08-28T14:03:50.490Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Very nice!

Some comments on the design, pro and con:


Grey text

Grey text makes it harder to read than plain black. If you want to reduce contrast, consider instead making the background off-white (either #fcfffa or #f9fff5 would be fine — 99% or 98% lightness of the same hue as the theme color green).

Post visual separation

A bit hard to detect when one post ends and another begins, on a skim. Some possible solutions:

  1. Add border to posts (on class "comments-item", add border: 1px solid #cbd6c2, padding: 4px 6px); or,

  2. Add background color to posts (on class "comments-item", add background-color: #edefeb, padding: 4px 6px); or,

  3. Greater v-spacing of posts (on class "comments-item", set margin-bottom: 30px)

Bugs (?)

  • The hamburger menu only closes with another click on the hamburger menu (best practices is for a click anywhere else on the page—outside the menu—to close it)

  • Upvote/downvote buttons and vote count appear twice on each post (above and below)

  • When adding a link in a comment, hitting Return/Enter in the link URL popup does not cause it to close (i.e. does not have the effect of hitting the Submit button) (Mac OS X 10.9, Chrome 60.0.3112.101)


  • Mini-hamburger menu on each post has just one menu item (Subscribe); consider simply having a Subscribe link on the post itself, in small text

  • Hamburger menus considered harmful in general; consider substituting an on-hover drop-down (achieves the same effect, but with fewer clicks)


  • Line spacing ("line-height" CSS property) of body text of posts (not comments) is too large (more than 1.8); consider reducing to 1.5 (with the short line length—which is good!—this should be more than sufficient to ensure readability)

  • Conversely, line spacing of body text of comments is a bit too low (1.25); consider increasing to 1.35

  • The bold weight of the body-text font is barely distinguishable from the regular weight. This is, unfortunately, an uncorrectable feature of the "ET Book" font; no heavier weight is available, as far as I can tell. Consider using one of these free alternatives:

    (or something else; in any case, the kind of font is just right, but this particular font family happens to have this flaw...)

Comment editing UI

  • Consider adding something to visually distinguish the comment currently being written, from surrounding comments; perhaps, a lighter, or darker, background (depending on whether you implement one of my suggestions above for visual separation of posts)?

    • The reason this is helpful is that, when writing a comment, I might scroll around the page—to the OP, or to other comments—to reference other people's words, etc., and then want to continue writing the comment. (Note that the Tab key does not take me to the comment editing field, which would mostly obviate this issue; this, I presume, is just a feature of how this editing UI is implemented...)

Archive browse feature

Or rather, the lack thereof. To be added in the future, I hope?


Almost everything else!


  • The body text font is attractive and readable and the default text size is good for readability (on a 1080p desktop monitor, anyway) (but see Cons)

  • The text column width is good

  • Layout of comment blocks is attractive and uncluttered

  • Overall typography is well-done


  • Uncluttered and aesthetically pleasing visual design

  • (mostly) excellent front page layout (but see below); puts the interesting stuff front and center

  • Layout of post pages also solid; easy to navigate

  • Seems like the layout will transfer quite well to mobile platforms (looking forward to seeing the design of the mobile version of the site!)

UI elements

  • Well done on the redesign of the post sort order widget! This is spot-on

  • Very nice comment composition/editing UI! I haven't been actually impressed with one of these for a long time; is it custom or third-party?

  • The stripes to the left of the comments (indicating comment hierarchy) are quite useful


  • Seems good so far; no major issues!

Extra bonus commentary

Front page layout

Here's how the front page looks on a 1080p screen

Ok, nothing too wrong here...

And here's how the front page would look like on a 4k screen


Consider allowing the front-page content to occupy two columns, on wide viewports. (Perhaps, Recommended Reading and Featured Posts on the left, and Recent Posts and Recent Comments on the right?)

Navigation UI

Currently, when I'm viewing a post or comment page, and I wish to navigate to somewhere else on the site, I have to first go to the front page, then go from there to where I want to go. This is not quite optimal.

As an alternative to removing the hamburger menu (or transforming it into an on-hover drop-down), consider expanding its use; perhaps, for example, put a copy of the Recent Posts/Recent Comments/Feature Posts feeds in there?

In closing

Overall, good work on the redesign! Thumbs up :)

comment by Malo (malo) · 2017-09-03T04:13:58.242Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

This is an epic comment with lots of great ideas and observations.

A few comments/opinions:

  1. I don't think the text should be proper black as in #000000. I find that slightly off black makes for a better reading experience, and I think this is pretty standard practice, though I may be mistaken.

  2. I think it's a feature that upvotes and downvotes appear above and below. I may want to see the count at the top before reading, but then again at the bottom so I can vote once I've read the post.

  3. Agree that hamburgers aren't great, but hover based UIs aren't tablet friendly, so I'm not keen on that solution.

  4. Strongly agree with the comment editor not being visually distinct enough. Multible times when writing this comment I've scrolled up to reference your comment, and then found it a little annoying to find where I was typing my reply.

comment by Said Achmiz (SaidAchmiz) · 2017-09-03T06:20:52.336Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW


Re: #1: It is common practice to make body text off-black. Is it good practice? Well, Matthew Butterick’s book, Butterick’s Practical Typography—considered a definitive work on the subject—uses black text.

You may note that Butterick suggests using off-black text—but consider his reasoning: the issue is contrast! As Butterick notes, screens emit light rather than absorbing it, making high contrast potentially painful to look at. Indeed; but darkening the background reduces the amount of light emitted, while lightening the text increases it. The former is superior as a way of reducing contrast. (Just don’t do both! That's wholly unnecessary.)

Edit: Check out readthesequences.com for an example of “black on off-white”.

Re: #2: Something to be A/B tested, I suppose. (Alternatively and even better: have this be user-configurable, via the account settings page, e.g.: "Display vote widget (•) above post only ( ) below post only ( ) both above and below post". "Sane defaults plus comprehensive configuration options" is the gold standard of UX design for such matters.)

Re: #3: This is exactly the point of responsive design. Hover for desktop clients, hamburger for mobile. There is no reason at all to insist on a single, unified solution; web UIs should at all times be appropriate to the platform they're being viewed on.

comment by Malo (malo) · 2017-09-03T17:55:26.682Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Re: #1: I to am a big fan of Practical Typography :) That's a pretty good point, I actually don't thik we disagree much. I think I may prefer just slightly prefer whiter backgrouds with slightly grey text. But only slightly.

Re: #2: I largely agree with this, though I might lean more on the side of giving the user less configuration options. Like, if you give everyone an option for everything, then the options get real cluttered. But I don't have strong feeling about adding this preference in general.

Re: #3: Totally.

comment by abramdemski · 2017-06-20T00:21:40.852Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Would the sequences have built-in tree structure?

comment by Vaniver · 2017-06-20T23:04:35.407Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I was originally imagining something more like a list ("decision theory explained in six posts!"); having a DAG of post dependencies might also be possible (which would enable stuff like "okay, you want to read this post? We've put all the prereqs in order into your reading queue.") but it's not clear to me how much people would want to use it.

comment by habryka (habryka4) · 2017-06-21T00:42:35.520Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Whatever the data-structure for the sequences is, the goal is to present the user a linear sequence of content (which might be dynamically generated from a dependency DAG).

It's really hard to keep track of your position in a tree, and practically all projects that I know of that tried to present complicated information a tree-view either failed or moved to a linear view eventually (for example Khan Academy)

comment by abramdemski · 2017-06-29T19:22:40.678Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Hm. What I want is a tree which is really just a linear structure functionally speaking (no automatic queuing of prerequisites or anything), but which allows more visual organization of a long sequence into parts for sanity's sake. I'd get >90% of the functionality I want just by being allowed to intersperse headers on a "sequence" page to organize sub-sequences. The sequences themselves currently have one more level of organization than that, with "books" and then "sections" -- so you can think of them as one long sequence with six sub-sequences and twenty-six sub-sub-sequences. That's the kind of hierarchical organization I'm asking for.

comment by paulfchristiano · 2017-06-19T04:51:31.689Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I have the same thoughts as with the other top-level content types. Seems to me like index posts + links would get most of the value.

comment by Vaniver · 2017-06-20T23:08:38.545Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

StackExchange has a bunch of badges and gamification and so on; it seems to me like a similar thing should happen here. (There should be a progress bar that gets fuller as you read the sequences!) In particular, we want reading through the sequences to more rewarding than commenting in open threads (which is currently how I would expect a new user to get karma).

This seems much easier to do if sequences are a top-level content type, and also means that anything we do to get people to read one sort of long-form text we can apply to others trivially.

comment by Habryka · 2017-06-19T06:20:07.306Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I do think that adding the ability to automatically keep track of what posts you've read in a sequence is quite valuable, and encouraging you to continue reading in a sequence as you interact with the page.

One of the big problems I see with many discussion platforms is that they make it very hard for old content to still be actively read by its users, I generally want to improve on that on the new LessWrong. Sequences seem like one way to move in that direction.

comment by owencb (scatha) · 2017-06-19T10:16:17.035Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I think keeping track of which posts you've read would be useful for all posts, not just sequences.

comment by MathieuRoy · 2019-04-06T00:17:00.533Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Allow to edit one's username (context: I now go by Mati_Roy instead of MathieuRoy, but I don't want to create another account and loose my history).

comment by habryka (habryka4) · 2019-04-06T17:55:05.291Z · score: 4 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I am currently hesitant to allow users to do that independently and without restrictions, because people changing usernames all the time can cause a bunch of confusion with authorship, make search worse and also enables impersonation.

Right now, you can ping us on Intercom and we will gladly change your username.

comment by Marcello · 2017-06-20T21:00:56.681Z · score: 3 (7 votes) · LW · GW

If you want to encourage engagement, don't hide the new comment box all the way down at the bottom of the page! Put another one right after the post (or give the post a reply button of the same sort the comments have.)

comment by habryka (habryka4) · 2017-06-20T21:58:25.148Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Hmm, that seems correct, but I am also hesitant to have people post the same comment over and over again because they haven't read the thread.

I will think about the tradeoffs here more, and we will see what I come up with. Maybe there is something in between that works best.

comment by habryka (habryka4) · 2017-06-17T22:47:45.194Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW · GW

New Content Types:

Add Arbital-style predictions as a content block in posts (maybe also as a top-level content type)

comment by paulfchristiano · 2017-06-19T04:48:38.691Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Adding extra top-level content types seems very expensive in terms of cognitive complexity + difficulty of making changes (since you have to think about how a change interacts with everything). Adding content within a post seems less problematic.

comment by Habryka · 2017-06-19T05:25:29.674Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Yeah, that's my guess as well. Though we might be able to do something in between where you could visit a page similar to the "Recent Comments" page where you can see all prediction-polls that have been posted in both comments and posts. And maybe feature some of that on the frontpage somehow.

comment by habryka (habryka4) · 2017-06-17T22:39:42.214Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Basic Quality of life:
Highlight new comments since last visit

comment by habryka (habryka4) · 2017-06-17T22:23:57.454Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Basic Quality of life:
Improve rendering speed on posts with many comments

comment by Chris_Leong · 2017-09-21T13:34:16.456Z · score: 2 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Create shared pages which multiple people can post to/collaborate on, almost like a journal.

comment by Raemon · 2017-09-20T22:17:54.219Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

This is a test comment. Any comment related testing you want to do just-to-see-if-it-works should go underneath this comment.

comment by Regex · 2017-09-21T03:10:35.215Z · score: 1 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Hello, World!

comment by mister_person · 2017-09-23T06:34:04.542Z · score: 0 (1 votes) · LW · GW

comment by habryka (habryka4) · 2017-09-23T07:04:14.284Z · score: 3 (1 votes) · LW · GW

How... did you do that?

comment by habryka (habryka4) · 2017-09-23T07:05:19.404Z · score: 3 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Like, I've been working on the editor for posts, and was planning to expose a new UI that allows you to add images sometime in the next few days, but I have no idea how you did this with comments.

comment by habryka (habryka4) · 2017-09-23T07:46:42.708Z · score: 6 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Actual explanation deleted, after I realized that I might not want people posting instructions on how to add potentially very distracting content on the page.

I applaud your dedication though.

comment by mister_person · 2017-09-23T08:03:09.785Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

You saying that will just make other people try to figure it out...

comment by habryka (habryka4) · 2017-06-17T22:38:36.277Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Basic Quality of life:
Add Katex support for comments and posts

comment by PDV · 2017-09-21T04:56:01.232Z · score: 1 (0 votes) · LW · GW

nit: *KaTeX

comment by Dr_Manhattan · 2017-09-03T15:52:23.666Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Request 1: crisper outlining of comments. LW1 uses nicely visible boxes and colors to separate comments; IMO this is good

comment by Malo (malo) · 2017-09-03T18:33:57.786Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I personally think to grey lines on the side do a pretty good job, but I also think that the boxes on LW 1 are doing something that makes things clearer. I do think that the LW 1 comments boxes do look a little junky though, and I'm very much enjoying the clean look of LW 2.0 overall. Not sure what a good compromise would be. Maybe all top level comments are a little more distinguishable in some way?

comment by habryka (habryka4) · 2017-06-17T22:48:44.902Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

New Content Types:

Discussion page that structures discussions more than just a tree format (here is a mockup I designed while working for Arbital, that I am still excited to implement)

comment by paulfchristiano · 2017-06-18T23:49:09.425Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

I'm personally very enthusiastic about trees, especially with good support for collapsing and navigating, and would advocate trees++ rather than an alternative.

comment by abramdemski · 2017-06-19T18:10:37.791Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

If it's a question of how everything is displayed, I think I agree that trees are better than floaty boxes.

comment by abramdemski · 2017-06-19T18:09:24.846Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I don't understand what's going on fully from the mock-up. I get the idea that there are "questions" and then there are "considerations". It looks like there are other things listed directly below the questions which are not either questions or considerations?

I like the idea of pulling claims out of articles and organizing discussions around those claims. Not exclusively, perhaps -- some discussions aren't going to be best organized in that way. For example, some things are more like noun phrases, pointing out an important-feeling object/cluster without an explicit claim that's easy to articulate.

comment by habryka (habryka4) · 2017-06-19T18:22:23.959Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

The basic idea of the mockup is that you have a discussion that happens on three layers:

  1. Top-level considerations, polls and comments

  2. Discussion of these considerations

  3. Summaries of the current state of the considerations and discussion

The considerations, polls and comments can be noun phrases or feelings, and if they get highly upvoted, a summary is strongly encouraged to include the comments and the comment thread below it.

The summaries will be prominently displayed at the top, to allow new users to get a sense of the current state of the discussion, and participate productively. It also allows users who just want a quick answer to the question of the thread to quickly get what they want.

comment by habryka (habryka4) · 2017-06-17T22:47:08.560Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Improved Moderation Tools:

Give moderators and admins access to a database query interface to identify negative vote patterns

comment by habryka (habryka4) · 2017-06-17T22:46:56.673Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Improved Moderation Tools:

Add reporting feature to comments

comment by habryka (habryka4) · 2017-06-17T22:46:46.277Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Improved Moderation Tools:

Give trusted post-authors moderation ability on their own posts (deleting comments, temporarily suspending users from posts, etc.)

comment by habryka (habryka4) · 2017-06-17T22:46:33.988Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Improved Moderation Tools:

Give moderators ability to suspend comment threads for a limited amount of time

comment by habryka (habryka4) · 2017-06-17T22:45:56.596Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Basic Quality of life:
Create better documentation for the page, add tooltips and create onboarding processes

comment by habryka (habryka4) · 2017-06-17T22:45:32.890Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Basic Quality of life:
Add RSS feed links with adjustable karma thresholds

comment by habryka (habryka4) · 2017-06-17T22:44:27.486Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Basic Quality of life:
Improve automatic spam-detection

comment by habryka (habryka4) · 2017-06-17T22:39:04.177Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Basic Quality of life:
Fix old LessWrong 1.0 links

comment by habryka (habryka4) · 2017-06-17T22:38:53.517Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Basic Quality of life:
Allow merging with old LessWrong 1.0 accounts

comment by Vaniver · 2017-06-20T23:11:00.594Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Including connecting social login to the accounts, I assume?

comment by habryka (habryka4) · 2017-06-21T00:43:19.920Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Yep, that's part of the plan.