We've just released our first draft of Inline Reacts. See this comment [LW(p) · GW(p)] for more information. It's currently only enabled on this post, but if it seems to be working smoothly/intuitively we may roll it out for more posts.
I've now enabled reacts by default on all new posts. I've updated that we need to get data more quickly, and at the current rate of new posts and comments, we probably wouldn't have a sample size to do interesting comparisons anyhow.
I expect the team to focus on Reacts for the next week, then let them sit for a longer period with some tweaks, and then make a call about whether or not to keep them (and with what design).
We're progressing the reacts experiments to now have reacts enabled on 50% of more posts (by default). We hope to get more data this way and figure out if the reacts should be part of the site longterm (and how to make them good).
If you do/don't like having them on your post, you can change this in the edit settings (see below).
LessWrong is experimenting with the addition of reacts to the site, as per the recent experimental Open Thread. We are now progressing to the next stage of the experiment: trying out reacts in actual discussion threads.
The dev/moderator team will be proactively looking for posts to enable to react voting on (with author permission), but also any user can enable it themselves to help us experiment:
When creating or editing a post, expand the "Options" section at the bottom and change the Voting system to Names-attached reactions
The admins will also be on the lookout for good posts to enable reacts on (with author permission).
Iterating on the react palette
We're continuing to think about what reacts should be available. Thanks to everyone who's weighed in so far.
I just spent time today and yesterday adding a range of new reacts and sorting them, with a focus on reacts that express LessWrong-style conversational moves. Hover-overs tooltips have a longer description that you can view on the live thing (reacts are enabled on this post).
We'll be tracking which ones get used, but please comment here with further feedback and requests. In other places, it'd be cool if people said things like "wish I could react with X" for various values of X.
Different palette views
Raemon made it so you can change how you view the palette. See the options at the top there:
The options are:
Mixed List and Grid
Grid of Icons (no text)
Grid with Names
Long-term I expect we'll have just one view, but we've made several available so people can give feedback on which they prefer.
Currently live reacts are getting tweaked and might shift slightly
Reacts are experimental! We're continuing to add new reacts but also edit and delete existing ones. This means that some reacts will be deprecated (and might disappear) and also that some will have their meaning tweaked. E.g. we might change the "Roll to disbelieve" react to just be "Skeptical", and things like that. So during this experimental phase, be warned that people might have clicked a react with a slightly adjacent meaning. We'll try to avoid doing this too much.
Reacts aren't ready for mobile yet
It's a large design challenge to make reacts work on mobile as well as desktop, so we'll do that if the experiment seems worth turning into a permanent site feature. Till then, you'll have the most luck with reacts on desktop.
I have just shipped our first draft of Inline Reacts for comments.
You can mouse over a piece of text on a comment, and a little Add React button will appear off to the right.
If you click on it, you'll see the React palette, and you can then apply the react to that particular string of text. Once you've reacted, the reacted-snippet-of-text will appear with a dotted-underline while you're moused over the comment, and it's corresponding react-icon at the bottom of the comment will also show a dotted outline:
When you hoverover a react, it shows the inline-reacts in the hoverover, and they appear highlightd bright green on the post:
Possibilities for the future
Right now these are only enabled on this open thread. If they seem to be basically working we may give authors the option of using them.
Currently you can +1 individual inline reacts, but not -1 (it was unfortunately a lot gnarlier design-wise to implement anti-reacts for individual inline reacts). If inline reacts turn out to be useful/popular, and anti-reacting gets validated as useful, we'll likely figure out a way to implement that.
I'd like to make the dotted-line-sections highlight their corresponding react button when you hoverover them, but that was also a bit trickier codewise.
Some particular questions I have:
how intuitive do you find this overall?
how do you feel about the current implementation of the "dotted underline". Is it annoying to look at? It only appears while you're mousing over the comment so it's possible to read the comment without the react-underlines, but I wasn't sure how that was going to feel in real life.
I inline-reacted to the first sentence of this comment. The comment takes up too much vertical space for the green highlighting to be visible when I hover over the react icon at the bottom though, so I have no way of seeing exactly what I reacted to while it is highlighted. Maybe hovering over underlined text should show the reaction?
I agree that drive-by unpleasant criticisms without substance ("Obtuse") don't seem productive, but I actually think some of the mild "tonally unpleasant" ones could be very valuable. It's a way for an author to inexpensively let a commenter know that they didn't appreciate the comment.
"Not what I meant" seems particularly valuable for when someone mis-summarizes or inferences wrongly what was written, and "Not worth getting into" seems useful when someone who unproductively deep on a fine-grained detail of something more macro oriented.
One challenge, though, is when you have mixed agreement with someone. I disagree on tonal unpleasantness and the grouping style - "Taboo your words" might be friendly, for instance, to keep sharpening discussion, and isn't necessarily critical. But I agree with a meta/bikeshed and clearing up some of the ambiguous ones.
I clicked both "Disagree" and "Agree" on yours for partial agreement / mixed agreement, but that seems kind of unintuitive.
Most of my comments on tone were meant to suggest better phrasings or, in the case of ‘Not what I meant’, iconography, not to suggest they were not valuable.
The specific issue with ‘Not what I meant’ is that the icon reads as ‘you missed’ and not ‘we missed’. Communication is a two-way street and the default react should be at least neutral and non-accusatory.
The section titles were meant very broadly and eg. you'd probably want to put both ‘Locally Valid’ and ‘Locally Invalid’ in that section next to each other even though the former is also Positive. To do some word association if it helps,
Positive — encouragement, endorsement, good vibes, congratulations
I'd be hesitant to label as "Critical" pointing out that someone has an invalid argument, and having it implicitly contrasted against "Positive" — it implies they're opposites or antithetical in some way, y'know?
Also, respectfully disagree with this -
"The specific issue with ‘Not what I meant’ is that the icon reads as ‘you missed’ and not ‘we missed’. Communication is a two-way street and the default react should be at least neutral and non-accusatory."
Sometimes a commentor, especially someone new, is just badly off the mark. That's not a two-way street problem, it's a Well-Kept Garden problem...
I think signalling to someone that they've missed my intended point is most valuable if they are the kind of person to take it constructively, and if they are, I have no wish to be pointing fingers any more accusatorially than the minimum amount to bring that into focus.
I think a neutral reaction is still a plenty adequate signal in the case you mention and I value that it might do less social harm, whereas a harsher reaction is at least for me less universal as I will be disinclined to use it in prosocial interactions.
I'd be hesitant to label as "Critical" pointing out that someone has an invalid argument, and having it implicitly contrasted against "Positive" — it implies they're opposites or antithetical in some way, y'know?
Yes but the choice of word used to describe the category is not a crux. As I was imagining the interface in my head, the sections were not titled at all, and if they were titled I don't think I'd care about the choice.
I have some concern on enabling an easy-to-use feature that lazily encourages antisocial behavior, which could, if all the users of it were carefully being pro-social in their use of it, have a good use. Like... we want to keep some friction on antisocial behaviors since those can easily downward-spiral. For some things, it's better to just have the person have to write it out, which also inherently makes it easier for them to add more nuance to what they are saying and why.
I agree. See my response [LW(p) · GW(p)] to Razied that I think they might have value, and it's interesting to see how they get used in practice. I think there's a world where people abuse them to be mean, and a world where they're used more judiciously. The ability to downvote reacts should also help here, I hope.
I think a top level grouping like this could make sense:
I was imagining something like that too.
There should be a Bikeshed emoji, for comments like this one
Most of the reactions are either positive of negative, but if a comment has several reactions, I find it difficult to see immediately which are positive and which are negative. I’m not sure if this is a disadvantage, because it is slightly harder to get peoples overall valuation of the comment, or if it actually an advantage because you can’t get the pleasure/pain of learning the overall reaction to your comment without first learning the specific reasons for it.
Another issue, if we (as readers of the reactions) tend to group reaction into positive and negative is that it is possible to make several reaction to a comment. It means that if 3 people have left positive reactions, a single person can outweigh that by leaving 3 different negative reaction. A reader would only realise this by hovering over the reactions. I do think it is useful to be able to have more than one reaction, especially in cases where you have both positive and negative feedback, or where one of them is neutral (e.g. “I will repond later”), so I’m not sure if there is a good solution to this.
I think that the situation of someone spamming all the "bad" reactions on a post they don't like is the upvote system that already exists. If a post has a fair amount of karma and then copy of 10 different negative reacts might not mean much.
The obvious way to quickly and intuitively illustrate whether reactions are positive or negative would seem to be color; another option would be grouping them horizontally or vertically with some kind of separator. The obvious way to quickly and intuitively make it visible which reactions were had by more readers would seem to be showing a copy of the same icon for each person who reacted a certain way, not a number next to the icon.
I make no claim that either of these changes would be improvements overall. Clearly the second would require a way to handle large numbers of reactions to the same comment. The icons could get larger or smaller depending on number of that reaction, but small icons would get hard to recognize. Falling back to numbers isn't great either, since it's exactly in the cases where that fallback would happen that the number of a particular reaction has become overwhelmingly high.
I think it matters that there are a lot of different reactions possible compared to, say, Facebook, and at the same time, unlike many systems with lots of different reactions, they aren't (standard Unicode) emoji, so you don't get to just transfer existing knowledge of what they mean. And they have important semantic (rather than just emotive) content, so it actually matters if one can quickly tell what they mean. And they partially but not totally overlap with karma and agreement karma; it seems a bit inelegant and crowded to have both, but there are benefits that are hard to achieve with only one. It's a difficult problem.
(some commentary on my experience reacting to this – if this had been slack/discord, I'd have wanted to emoji-react with a thumbsup to this, intended to imply "cool, I get what you meant, and have seen this." Thumbs-up in this case doesn't necessarily mean "I agree" or any other specific thing, it's a sort of flexible symbol.
I think it was sort of deliberate that we don't have a thumbs-up react here on LW yet, and I'm not sure how I feel about that. I think on one hand, we already have upvotes, and multiple other reacts that mean specific shades of "I agree", "I support", "I endorse", so maybe a generic thumbsup is more confusing than helpful. But, I did wish I had it here.
I think 'please restate yourself using different terminology, taboo your key words because they have confusing overloaded meanings' is a good concept to have but that we really shouldn't represent it with a 'hush' symbol. That's more like a symbol that means 'be quiet, stop saying what you are saying'. What we mean is more like the 'recycle' symbol, please say the same thing but in a different way so that we can understand each other more clearly.
I'm not sure about the reacts having such specific assigned meanings. It feels a bit like the James Scott perfectly legible straight lines thing (vs self-organizing meaning). Also they'd be more readable with color, even though that seems "less serious" somehow...
Shouldn’t you get notification when there are reactions to your post? At least in the batched notification. The urgency/importance of reactions are somewhere between replies, where you get the notification immediately and karma changed, were the default is that it is batched.
But there is no way to downvote a reaction? E.g. if you add the paperclip reaction, then all I can do is bump it by one and/or later remove my reaction, but there is no way to influence your one? So reactions are strictly additive?
Hmm, some of these reacts seem kind of passive-aggressive to me, the "Not planning to respond" and "I already addressed this" in particular just close off conversational doors in a fairly rude way. How do you respond to someone saying "I already addressed this" to a long paragraph of yours in such a low-effort way? It's like texting "ok" to a long detailed message.
I sometimes literally have to say this in long threads. Sometimes in a thread of conversation, my interlocutor simple has too big an inferential gap for me to help them cross, and the kind but maybe not maximally nice thing to do is stop wasting both of our times. This happens for a variety of reasons, and being able to express something about it is useful.
In everyday conversation we have norms against this because they are status moves to shut down conversations, and taking such a move here does risk a status hit if others think you are making a gambit to give up a line of conversation that is proving you wrong, for example. But ultimately there's nothing in the reacts you can't just say with a comment.
Anyone writing an effortful response to the original post should be presumed to have good faith to some reasonable degree, and any point that you think they ignored was probably either misunderstood, or the relevance of the point is not obvious to the author of the comment. By responding in a harsh way to what might be a non-obvious misunderstanding, you're essentially adopting the conflict side of the "mistake vs conflict theory" side of things.
Any comments which aren't effortful and are easily seen to have an answer in the original post will probably just be downvoted anyway, and the proper response from OP is to just not respond at all.
To be clear, I think that the community here is probably kind enough so that these aren't big problems, but it still kind of irks me to make it slightly easier to be unkind.
My feeling is this is optimistic. There are people who will fire off a lot of words without having read carefully, so the prior isn't that strong that there's good faith, and unfortunately, I don't think the downvote response is always clear enough to make it feel ok to an author to leave unresponded to. Especially if a comment is lengthy, not as many people will read and downvote it.
I agree that getting a low-effort emoji in response to a lot of good faith effort sucks. But I think that scenario is already pretty well handled with normal replies. There are enough cases that aren't handled well by replies, and might be really well handled by reacts, that I'm glad they're making them. But it's still important to track costs like the one you're bringing up.
Not sure how many posts you've made here or elsewhere, but as someone who has done a lot of public writing this seems like a godsend. It will reflect poorly on someone who deploys those a lot in a passive aggressive way, but we've all seen threads that are exhausting to the original poster.
This seems particularly useful for when someone makes a thoughtful but controversial point that spurs a lot of discussion. The ability to acknowledge you read someone's comment without deeply engaging with it is particularly useful in those cases.
I agree that some of these are a bit harsh or cold and can be used in a mean way. At first I was thinking to not include them, but I decided that since this is an experiment, I'd include them and see how they get used in practice.
"Not planning to respond" was requested by Wei Dai among others because he disliked when people just left conversations.
"I already addressed this" is intended for authors who put a lot of effort into a post and then have people and raise objections to think that were already addressed (which is pretty frustrating for the author). That react theoretically gives them a low effort way to to respond to low effort readers. (It sucks if you're required to respond with a lot of effort to people who put in little.)
Hypothetical: Adam writes a couple pages of initial post, Bella writes a page long reply, Adam writes a page long reply to that, Bella writes a page long reply to that, Adam reacts "not going to respond" and moves on.
That seems fine to me? Like, the norm in face to face conversation is (I think) that you're not expected to spend more than a few minutes on most replies.
Might be silly though. At least it's not very worthwhile without a measure of how well it goes. Potentially total amount of text written in discussions could function as such a measure, but it seems kind of crude.
A reaction I'd sometimes find helpful (example [LW(p) · GW(p)]), that doesn't seem quite covered by any of the existing, is "unclear why you're saying this". Like, I think I know what you're saying and perhaps I agree with it, but are you saying it because you expect me to disagree, or to elaborate on something I said, or just riffing, or...?
But I don't know what label or icon I'd use for this, and "off topic or tangential" isn't a terrible fit, at least some of the time.
Idiosyncratic request... I use a custom dark mode plugin, and using this plugin the react symbols become black-on-dark-grey which is very difficult to see. If they counted as 'text' then my plugin would convert them to white text, like it does normal text. If they were non-transparent images, then they'd have a white background and black text... (less preferable, but better than black-on-dark-grey). Could the symbols be made to 'count' as text somehow? Would that also be better for accessibility (screen readers)?
Well, the main reason for not just using the LW dark mode for me has been that I like to have the same color of text and background unified across all my websites. But switching to dark mode in addition to my dark mode plugin did change the contrast ratio of the react symbols, so fixed my problem! So thanks for the suggestion.
I don't see something for "rests on a faulty premise". There are "obtuse", "locally invalid", and "disagree", but none of these feel right. Possibly line-level reacts will fix this, since you can highlight the faulty premise.
Likely too complex and unwieldy to be implemented in practice or make sense as a react system, but I thought I would mention it just in case:
Some of the reacts, such as "I already addressed this", could possibly benefit from some sort of "pointing" functionality, selecting the part(s) of the discussion where one addressed it. Similarly, "Please elaborate" could possibly benefit from selecting the part(s) that one wants elaborated.
I'm strongly against letting anyone insert anything into the middle of someone else's post/comment. Nothing should grab the microphone away from the author until they've finished speaking.
When Medium added the feature that let readers highlight an author's text, I found it incredibly disruptive and never read anything on Medium ever again. If LW implemented inline reader commentary in a way that was similarly distracting, that would probably be sufficient to drive me away from here, too.
I'm not sure about the laugh react, since it can be easily abused in cases of strong disagreement.
More generally: low-quality replies can be downvoted, but as I understand, low-quality reactions are given equal weight and visibility. Limiting the available vectors of toxicity may be more generally desirable than increasing the available vectors of light-heartedness.