Introducing… The Less Wrong Forum!

post by Normal_Anomaly · 2011-07-01T01:46:10.213Z · score: 2 (21 votes) · LW · GW · Legacy · 56 comments

A while ago, some posters mentioned that it would be good if LW had a forum. Earlier this week I was planning a role-playing game with some other users and decided that a forum would be a good place for us and other groups to play online. And the Less Wrong Forum was born.

Currently, the forum has three boards: Gaming, Less Wrong/SIAI Related Topics, and General/Meta. The Gaming board is for RPGs, Diplomacy, Zendo, or any other games rationalists might enjoy playing together. The LW/SIAI board is for discussing any of the topics we normally discuss on Less Wrong. The General/Meta board is for random topics and discussions of the LW site or the forum itself.

EDIT: Looks like a supermajority of commenters don't want the LW board to exist because it would be redundant with the discussion section. I'll leave it up for a bit longer, and take it down if nobody says they support it.

I encourage everyone to check out the forum and help make it a fun and useful part of the online rationalist community. Please make suggestions in the comments (or on the forum itself!) about how it can be improved.

EDIT: Due to problems with trolls, registration now requires an invite. If you want an account, say so in the comments and I or the other admin (Armok_GoB) will get you one.

56 comments

Comments sorted by top scores.

comment by Dr_Manhattan · 2011-07-01T02:24:07.877Z · score: 26 (30 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Please try to keep "Less Wrong/SIAI Related Topics" on LessWrong, where they belong.

comment by Dorikka · 2011-07-01T02:49:56.249Z · score: 10 (10 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

This was the first thing I thought of when I read the respective sentence. I don't want to have to check LW and the forum for this kind of topic.

comment by Armok_GoB · 2011-07-01T13:26:35.501Z · score: 0 (4 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Redacted because I were stupid and wrong!

Original text:

I were the one who suggested the board. I originally called it "rationality/decision theory/existential risk/FAI/etc." but remarked it was to long. I agree lesswrong is not the best name for it. SIAI/FAI is explicitly NOT what Lesswrong is about and is often referred to as "the organization that must not be named" and things like that by more senior members.

comment by XiXiDu · 2011-07-02T14:41:55.471Z · score: 10 (12 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

SIAI/FAI is explicitly NOT what Lesswrong is about and is often referred to as "the organization that must not be named" and things like that by more senior members.

Why I think this is not the case:

  • Eliezer Yudkowsky wrote: "I mean, it seems to me that where I think an LW post is important and interesting in proportion to how much it helps construct a Friendly AI, how much it gets people to participate in the human project..."
  • The Sequences have been written with the goal in mind of convincing people of the importance of taking risks from AI serious and therefore donate to the SIAI: "...after a few years of beating my head against the wall trying to get other people involved, I realized that I really did have to go back to the beginning, start over, and explain all the basics that people needed to know before they could follow the advanced arguments. Saving the world via AI research simply can’t compete against the Society for Treating Rare Diseases in Cute Kittens unless your audience knows about things like scope insensitivity..." (Reference: An interview with Eliezer Yudkowsky).
  • LessWrong is used to ask for donations.
  • You can find a logo with a link to the SIAI in the header and a logo and a link to LessWrong on the SIAI's frontpage.
  • LessWrong is mentioned as an achievement of the SIAI (Quote: "Less Wrong is important to the Singularity Institute's work towards a beneficial Singularity").
  • A quote from the official SIAI homepage: "Less Wrong is [...] a key venue for SIAI recruitment".

LessWrong is the mouthpiece of the SIAI and its main advertisement platform. I don't think one can reasonably disagree about that.

comment by Armok_GoB · 2011-07-03T11:48:31.321Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Thanks for helping me change my mind.

comment by Nick_Tarleton · 2011-07-18T16:49:16.601Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Thanks for changing your mind. You should edit your original comment to not confuse people skimming.

comment by Armok_GoB · 2011-07-18T16:55:35.359Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Done.

comment by wedrifid · 2011-07-15T17:00:42.912Z · score: 7 (9 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

and [SIAI/FAI] often referred to as "the organization that must not be named" and things like that by more senior members.

For the benefit of any drive by future readers who are wishing to pick up the cultural norms here: The above is simply false.

comment by Dr_Manhattan · 2011-07-01T17:26:11.543Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

SIAI/FAI is explicitly NOT what Lesswrong is about and is often referred to as "the organization that must not be named" and things like that by more senior members.

I am not sure about this - do you have sources? Especially so since SIAI logo is on every page (top right corner)

comment by endoself · 2011-07-01T23:03:20.953Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

This was done to keep the sequences on the topic of rationality rather than AI theory/singularitarianism. It isn't really used anymore.

comment by Armok_GoB · 2011-07-02T11:11:31.611Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Ah. And my intuitions about LessWrong norms are primarily shaped by the sequences. That explains a bit.

comment by Armok_GoB · 2011-07-01T18:00:08.868Z · score: 1 (5 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

http://wiki.lesswrong.com/wiki/Topic_that_must_not_be_named

comment by rhollerith_dot_com · 2011-07-02T08:34:55.860Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

You have probably neglected to notice the part of that wiki page where it says, "until the end of April 2009." I have not noticed any significant opposition to discussion of AGI and the singularity after April 2009.

comment by Armok_GoB · 2011-07-02T11:04:17.099Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I thought that was how long it was FORBIDDEN, but that even if it was relaxed after that the point of the ban was to establish a more soft but permanent norm of not talking about it unnecessarily.

comment by wedrifid · 2011-07-15T16:55:49.930Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

No, the ban was always intended to be a moratorium for the first few months. There is no social taboo about talking about AGI here now. It is just like any other scientific topic. Not directly the topic of the site but with a couple of connections which will crop up whenever it is natural.

comment by Dr_Manhattan · 2011-07-01T18:19:51.616Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Interesting, but it seems that this intention has been overruled by forum participants. While there are no posts addressing AGI mechanizms directly, there are many about FAI, Singularity and decision theory.

comment by Armok_GoB · 2011-07-01T20:12:47.637Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Are there any by official SIAI people? I know such posts exist but my impression was they were slightly frowned upon and supposed to be kept at a minimum.

comment by Dr_Manhattan · 2011-07-01T23:32:35.159Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

SIAI is not official "owners" of the site; it's community-managed. The closest thing to official is a site admin. Nesov has certainly posted on AI related topics.

comment by katydee · 2011-07-15T16:17:30.741Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I think SIAI are, in fact, at least partial owners of the site-- if not, why is their logo on the header?

comment by wedrifid · 2011-07-15T18:02:54.850Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I think SIAI are, in fact, at least partial owners of the site-- if not, why is their logo on the header?

I think you're right, with emphasis on the "at least".

comment by Dr_Manhattan · 2011-07-15T17:51:59.238Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

What I mean it that they do not chose to set the policy for the site directly. This task is delegated to the admins, most of whom are not SIAI employees.

comment by Armok_GoB · 2011-07-02T11:08:55.823Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Ok, I was not aware of Nesov having posted SIAI stuff. Yea, that certainly undermines my position a bit.

comment by CaveJohnson · 2011-07-01T06:59:15.975Z · score: 12 (12 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

While its application to gaming might be reasonable (a LW gaming forum for groups formed on the main LW site seems a very good idea), I feel discomforted by this development. Internet forums have their own dynamics and if this becomes a real unofficial shadow site this might create problems. Due the different structure of moderation it messes with LW's status as a well kept garden.

You simply can't replicate the effects of the dynamics of karma voting and the special demographic that visit LW without the ... dynamics of karma voting and the demographic that visits LW.

The discussion section already fulfils nearly all the positive functions of a forum with barley any downsides.

comment by Desrtopa · 2011-07-02T15:41:47.423Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I can't see the forum becoming an unofficial shadow for Less Wrong because it's so clearly redundant for that purpose. The Discussion section is more informal than the main page, but I don't think that site members would that be receptive to using it for, say, non rationality-related media recommendations.

Less Wrong is a community blog; it's geared towards instruction and communication of ideas. Forums are primarily social outlets.

comment by Armok_GoB · 2011-07-03T11:49:26.440Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Yea. This.

comment by Normal_Anomaly · 2011-07-01T10:09:32.507Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

There is karma voting on the forum (called "exalt" and "smite", annoyingly). I agree that the discussion section does a lot; it's mostly intended for gaming with the other boards as places for threads that go way off topic.

comment by Dorikka · 2011-07-01T20:18:49.870Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I may be wrong, but I think that 'exalt' and 'smite' only tracks points for users, not individual posts.

comment by Icelus · 2011-07-03T03:21:20.309Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Seconding the dedication of the forum to gaming. As mentioned elsewhere in this thread, a flood of gaming-only posts is something worth avoiding.

But I wonder if the /r/LessWrong on reddit would do. Subreddits seem nicer to me compared to the kind of shoddy proboards forum.

comment by Armok_GoB · 2011-07-01T13:40:44.236Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Current implementation? yea. The system is under construction thou and by the time it actually grows into somehting that can have an effect of anything hopefully good systems will be in place.

Doing things in a better order could have stopped this from being a race against time thou.

comment by lucidfox · 2011-07-01T10:00:31.442Z · score: 9 (9 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I'm not sure what the forum achieves that the Discussion section doesn't.

I'm also not sure why Less Wrong is lumped with SIAI here. The site may be supported by the SIAI, but in general, Less Wrong != SIAI, and the site attracts people skeptical or outright opposed to its ideas, as long as they are interested in non-singularity/AI related subjects. (Like me, for instance.)

comment by Desrtopa · 2011-07-02T15:35:42.501Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I figured it would be an appropriate place for both gaming and discussing non rationality related topics with the LW crowd.

comment by Armok_GoB · 2011-07-01T13:33:20.880Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

The forums are not doing anything right now. What it'll do once it actually develops into somehting at all remains to be seen, but presumably it'll be either somehting different or not at all because if you post a discussion section type of thing you'll want as many people as possible seeing it and thus post it in the discussion section for traffic.

comment by jsalvatier · 2011-07-01T02:25:37.087Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I guess 'forum' was how I think of discussion section. It's good to experiment, though.

comment by Armok_GoB · 2011-07-01T13:28:21.413Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Would you want us spamming the discussion section with one line roleplaying posts?

comment by jsalvatier · 2011-07-01T15:16:35.928Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

No. Good point. LW could use a more social outlet.

comment by [deleted] · 2011-07-02T06:42:07.250Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I agree with that, a forum's the best place for them.

It would also be a good place to publish the behind the scenes messages of any future Diplomacy games once they are over.

comment by Armok_GoB · 2011-07-02T11:07:12.891Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Althou I assume you mean "yes I agree with you" it really sounds like "yes I want you to spam the feeds with irelevant stuff", you might want to fix that.

And Diplomacy is supposed to have an element of secrecy so PMs are really better for that. But the ON the scenes non-secret stuff would probably fit better on the forum than here thou.

comment by [deleted] · 2011-07-02T14:42:21.500Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

And Diplomacy is supposed to have an element of secrecy so PMs are really better for that. But the ON the scenes non-secret stuff would probably fit better on the forum than here thou.

I meant after the game is done.

comment by Armok_GoB · 2011-07-03T11:51:06.730Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Ah. Yea.

comment by AlexMennen · 2011-07-01T06:27:56.627Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

It appears that the forum attracts trolls much more than this site does (or it attracted one troll very quickly, at any rate). We get plenty of criticism of the LW consensus on the main site, but it is generally fairly intelligent and respectful. Of course, I am not trying to accuse the forum of an insurmountable flaw. It is possible that we will be able to chase away trolls and get good use out of the forum.

comment by Armok_GoB · 2011-07-01T13:34:24.381Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

What posts are you referring to? some that got deleted before I had chance to see them?

comment by AdeleneDawner · 2011-07-02T22:51:59.918Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

FYI, this exists.

comment by Armok_GoB · 2011-07-03T11:53:22.458Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I can't see anything there that overlaps with what the forums are for, but I didn't look very close. Seems a lot that overlaps with what the discussion section here is for thou.

comment by InquilineKea · 2011-07-02T03:07:24.427Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

There are some good things that a forum could achieve. For one thing, it's much easier to look through old posts (this is especially important on a discussion board like this, where there are many good posts that essentially get lost)

However, a forum with a Proboards URL is going to deter a significant number of people.

comment by Normal_Anomaly · 2011-07-02T15:36:06.275Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

However, a forum with a Proboards URL is going to deter a significant number of people.

I was not aware of this. I made a proboards forum because it was free and I have used one before, so I know a little about how they work. It's probably too late to switch to a different host service without confusing everyone deeply. Can you still explain why it would deter people, so I know why not to do it again?

comment by InquilineKea · 2011-07-02T20:20:14.124Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Hm, well, Proboards is pretty much the "lowest common denominator" of free bulletin-boards (in other words, it has bad signalling value). Most of the time when people see a Proboards message board, they'll think that the board is most likely a low-quality board. Because most Proboards forums are low-quality (even though theoretically, there could be high-quality ones - although the high-quality ones almost always end up switching to an independently hosted server or vBulletin. Not that it's necessarily a good thing - I'm surprised why there seem to be no good discussion boards centered around Proboards)

comment by [deleted] · 2012-11-04T20:11:23.630Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Given the lack of activity on the proboards forum, I don't think a switch to vBulletin would confuse all that many people. And it would probably look better.

comment by falenas108 · 2011-07-01T01:49:33.085Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Comment retracted

comment by Normal_Anomaly · 2011-07-01T01:51:07.578Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Sorry! Fixed now.

comment by Raemon · 2011-07-02T16:55:37.741Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Well, on one hand I admit the LW forum is redundant with the discussion section. On the other hand, I vastly prefer Forum structure to the nested threading that he Discussion section has. (I get why the threading is supposed to be useful, but I prefer to have new posts always at the very top of the page)

So I like the forum... insofar as I'd like to replace discussion completely, but I don't expect anyone else to be on board with that.

comment by Armok_GoB · 2011-07-01T13:51:55.764Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

The "some posters" might actually have been me. I've mentioned various similar solutions in different places for a fair amount of time but never seen anyone else do so as far as I can remember.

And I think either I or everyone else are misinterpreting that the "Less Wrong/SIAI Related Topics" boards are for. And since none of those interpreting it differently from me seems to want the play they interpret it to be just rename it to somehting that doesn't lend itself to that interpretation. I suggested the board structure and didn't mention LW in there for a reason.

comment by Zetetic · 2011-07-01T02:59:25.854Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I think this has a lot of potential.

This could be a sort of 'penalty free' (though well moderated, of course) zone to fill with ideas or questions you wouldn't want to make even a discussion level post about. It could be good for requesting information or explanations, maybe. In fact, a penalty free zone detached from the LW main site might actually end up being a good way to get people interested in LW by giving them something to do while dealing with the steep learning curve that the sequences and community norms present. A sort of lower level forum that can attract the people who might otherwise go to a freethought or athiesm or science -centric forum, where they won't feel too intimidated to ask basic questions or have basic discussions.

comment by Armok_GoB · 2011-07-01T13:44:05.287Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

First part? that's basically the idea yea.

The introducing part would only work for 5 min, then all the newbies and trolls and well meaning but crazy people would ruin it. Just like what happened to the IRC room.

comment by Zetetic · 2011-07-01T20:27:21.447Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Right; I actually retracted that once it was pointed out that the forum had already attracted a troll and I started thinking about it. I probably should have just edited it down to nothing... I sort of miss the delete button.

comment by Icelus · 2011-07-03T03:13:09.168Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I don't mean to stray offtopic too far, but the IRC room is actually pretty good. There have been two or three trolls but they haven't stuck around for more than a few days.

They might have left due to moderation, but if so I wasn't around to see it. If it was then I'd say that's a point in favor of non-LW.com things doing alright with vigilant moderation.

comment by Armok_GoB · 2011-07-03T11:45:48.939Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

It might have changed since I were there but the prior probability off somehting in that reference class improving is VERY low. There are an at least several weeks long period where it was a cesspool winch cased me to quit.