Idea: Monthly Community Thread

post by Chris_Leong · 2017-12-24T12:43:01.328Z · LW · GW · 8 comments

The FrontPage Posting Guidelines currently discourage community focused discussion and suggest including the community tag once a tagging system has been implemented. This system hasn't been implemented yet, but I believe it is still important to be able to have some level of community discussion in the meantime.

One suggestion I have is the idea of a monthly community thread. This would avoid this discussion from being overwhelming, but it would also allow necessary discussion to take place. I would be happy to create these. Would anyone object to me doing this?


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comment by Raemon · 2017-12-27T20:17:40.278Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I think the usual mix of people will say "sure, seems fine" and "no feels wrong".

That said, today I am working on implementing tagging. I have a feeling it'll end up being about a week to get fully implemented (and some other priority might randomly jump up) but it's currently on the docket for near future.

(if I fail to respond here with "yes this is definitely happening" in a couple days, maybe just go for it and see what happens).

Replies from: Chris_Leong
comment by Chris_Leong · 2017-12-29T06:17:37.355Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Excited that you are working on tagging. I expect this to substantially increase the utility of this site.

Replies from: Raemon
comment by Raemon · 2017-12-30T04:55:01.248Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Quick update:

I built a tagging system, while habryka was revamping the front-page to make it easier to filter it for those tags. Part of the intent here was that Meta, Front Page, Featured and Community would be tags.

In the process of doing so, we came to a few conclusions:

  • Tagging systems require a fair amount of effort to be valuable. On LW 1.0, for example, there is tagging, but not a good way to use it for filtering, so most of the tagged articles are essentially wasted effort.
  • Most of the reason we were excited about the tagging system was to make it easier to do community-posts. Most of the reason we were excited about that was because we didn't want the front page to end up filled up with meta-rationality/community stuff that was only useful if you were heavily involved with the social scene, and we worried that there'd be a strong incentive gradient towards that. We wanted the front-page to be content that was obviously valuable to someone who wasn't socially connected to the LW scene.
  • It wasn't actually very clear what was the border between "community" and "non-community" post - there were certain obvious exemplars (like "discussion of social norms in the rationalist social scene"), but a lot of gray-area posts.
  • There might be other tags that are useful, but most of them seemed to require a higher volume of site content/traffic than we currently have. (When on average we don't get more than 3 posts a day, it's not super useful to filter by AI, Decision Theory, Community, etc, since in the time you took to filter them you could just look at the 3 new posts and see if any of them are relevant to your interests).

This is all to say, we're currently not planning to push the Tagging feature branch until we a) have higher volume, and b) figure out what the exact use-case people want it for, and polished it up a bit accordingly.

Instead, we're redesigning the front page to let users toggle between a few settings, depending on your interest level.

  1. Curated (only content that we're confident is high quality and relevant. Changing the name from "Featured" because "Featured/Frontpage" looked too similar at a glance)
  2. Frontpage (shows all posts that meet our Front Page moderation guidelines. )
  3. Community (all posts, including personal blog posts)
  4. Meta (just meta posts)
  5. Daily (link to the Daily page.)

So for the time being, the community fitler is basically saying "I'm interested in staying up to date on whatever the rationality community is talking about, and judging for myself what's interesting."

This seemed to solve the main problem people were actually experiencing, which is that the avenue we are currently providing for community posts (the personal blogs) weren't easy to find unless you went hunting for them.

This is a bit different from what we'd been promising, and if turns out there's still a strong demand for tags, we can polish up that branch and push that as well.

We're not pushing it now because every UI element is a bit of complexity that can quickly add up and we want to be careful about adding things. If there is demand for it, I want a clearer sense of the intended use-case people are looking for.

(Regardless of whether we finish up and deploy the Tagging feature, we'd still want to redesign the front-page to make it much easier to see the personal blog posts. If it turns out there's a high demand for a "community" tag in addition to a "easily see all new posts" view, we might change the name of the "community" view to something else. But it felt like that name roughly communicated what we wanted that view to feel like)

Replies from: gsastry, Chris_Leong
comment by gsastry · 2018-01-24T23:19:39.076Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I'm still confused on where to post stuff that I would think of posting in the old LW's Open Threads. For example, "What are the best pieces of writing/advice on dealing with 'shoulds'?" would be one thing that I'd want to post in an Open Thread. I have other various little questions/requests like this.

comment by Chris_Leong · 2018-01-01T23:37:41.414Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

This seems like a reasonable solution to the community discussion issue, although I suppose we'll have to just observe to see if ends up being successful successful.

I think that the more valuable use case is not so much filtering existing posts, as allowing groups of people to form their own spaces on Less Wrong. Tags would be a nice feature at some point, but the real killer use case is allowing projects to have their own discussion spaces on LW. At the moment, everyone heads over to fb or slack becaues you can't create your own group here.

comment by gsastry · 2017-12-29T23:31:32.096Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Are there plans for recurring Open Threads like the old LW? Or is there a substitute now where it's recommended to post comments that used to go in the Open Threads?

Replies from: Raemon
comment by Raemon · 2017-12-30T04:57:51.242Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

(see my recent reply to Chris)

In the next couple days, when it becomes much easier for people to permanently opt into "all personal blogposts in their feed", most use-cases like Open Threads will probably be best handled as personal blogs.

This can either be by simply posting the sort of comment you'd place on an Open Thread as a blogpost on its own (there's no reason not to), or, if you like the format of an Open Thread, you can host an Open Thread on your personal blog.

(Note that we haven't yet really examined the "short form content" idea, which was a separate concept that we've talked about in the past but which we probably won't get to in the immediate future)

comment by Raemon · 2017-12-30T21:03:47.424Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Huh - it just sank in that either Open Thread-like posts, or Personal-Feed-like posts, could function as "Facebook-like shortform content."

tldr: you could create a post for yourself on your personal blog, called "X's Personal Feed", where you just post comments whenever you want to write something 'shortform', and it'd just appear on the front page, in a fashion relatively similar to FB. This is a decent minimum-viable-product for experimenting with shortform on LW2.0.


We'd talked about building a short-form section, that make people feel more comfortable posting "conversational content". When I sit down to write "A Post", it sometimes feels overwhelming, like I have to get everything perfect. I also tend to make it longer than it needs to be. Whereas when I write a facebook post, I feel more free to loosely jot down an idea, trusting that people won't judge me as much if it's not as well written.

This makes it easier to get ideas out there. The problem is just that we (the developers) have a lot of stuff on our plate and probably wouldn't get to an official short-form solution for quite a while.

I previously hadn't been super into "Open Thread" style discussions - I felt like the only people who'd see it would be, well, people who are reading Open Threads, I guess. Which seemed like a small subsection of users, and didn't feel worth posting it.

However, because of the way we currently display comments on the front page, we totally have a built-in-tool for experimenting with shortform content - we have a feed of the latest stuff people are saying.

I personally still feel a weird aversion to Open Threads, and feel more inclined to do a "Raemon's Personal Feed" post where I post half-baked ideas that show up in comment form. But I think either could work, and mechanically they're exactly the same thing anyhow.