↑ comment by Viliam ·
2018-01-13T20:53:06.210Z · LW(p) · GW(p)
Remembering my first days on LW, a part of the reason I joined were the great articles, and another part was the feeling that "something great starts here, and I can participate and perhaps even contribute". Generalizing from one example, I think we should provide the same thing to new people.
Speaking of articles, I think we should promote the book version of Rationality A-Z. I guess I am just repeating what I already said hundred times here, but in general books are higher status than sequences of blog articles, and people are more likely to read a book from the beginning to the end, than they are to read a sequence of articles without getting distracted by comments, following a hyperlink outside, or just switching to another browser tab. Books are also easy to download to a reader. (I am arguing from the perspective of trivial inconveniences here. When I start reading a book on a reader, no matter how often I am interrupted, if it is good I usually finish it; but long series of articles I usually just bookmark and forget.)
Speaking of the "what are we doing here?" I think there are multiple answers. Some people actively participate on developing decision theory or rationality lessons. But most of us, I suppose, are here merely for self-improvement and the feeling of community. Could we somehow make this more explicit? Like, should we try providing some kind of "rationality coaching", and give it a prominent position on the website? We used to have the bragging threads etc. Or perhaps, some personal stories about how rationality changed your life; to provide a near-mode example of what this all is supposed to be about, because it sometimes feels too abstract; also to remind people that this is more than just a nice place to procrastinate at.
On the other hand, as long as good articles appear regularly, and as long as we succeed to keep our standards, things seem okay. (It's just, the whole thing "why sometimes we have many good articles, and sometimes barely anything" remains a mystery to me. Contrary to my predictions, LW2 actually made a great change; now I again feel great reading the website. I still have no idea which changes were critical to the success, and which were just a coincidence. So, while I feel happy about the current situation, I wish I would understand better what exactly is causing it... just in case some troubles would appear again in the future.)
Growing the community is highly desirable, but we need to grow the right kind of community, not just blindly increase the head count at the cost of quality. Not sure how to achieve that best. Perhaps writing good articles is enough; sooner or later they will get shared on other parts of internet. (That will inevitably also attract the wrong kind of people, and then we need to have our downvotes and moderating tools ready.)
EDIT: Some actionable points: (1) If you believe that LW would benefit from having a specific kind of article, and you think there is a chance you can do write it, go ahead and do it. Similarly, if you believe some kind of regular thread would improve stuff, go ahead and do the experiment. Maybe just not everyone at the same time. (2) If you believe some great content at LW deserves more visibility, maybe you could make a selection of your favorite articles, with some summaries and your thoughts. Later, when you will want to introduce your friends to LW, you can send them a link to that selection.