Against Open Threads

post by ChristianKl · 2014-05-30T18:09:09.163Z · score: 8 (33 votes) · LW · GW · Legacy · 89 comments

There are various people who feel that Lesswrong degraded in the last year. In the same timeframe more and more discussions moved into the open thread model and open threads became weekly instead of monthly.

I suggest to counteract that trend by opening all discussions per default on Discussion instead of opening them in weekly open threads. Having the topics in discussion makes it easy to browse the list of topics and choose the headline that are of interest, even if the thread got opened two weeks ago.

89 comments

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comment by blacktrance · 2014-05-30T18:24:22.085Z · score: 38 (38 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I think LW's degradation is primarily in Main (interesting Main posts are rare these days), and has nothing to do with Open Threads. If anything, Open Threads help LW because they make community participation easier with a lower barrier to entry for posting.

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2014-05-30T22:01:21.021Z · score: 27 (27 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

The open threads aren't great lately, but they're almost the last remaining sign of life at LW. Instead of shutting down the open threads, I recommend doing discussion posts which point out the best parts of the open threads, and also doing some brain-storming about how to find good topics for posts.

comment by palladias · 2014-06-01T15:38:09.339Z · score: 8 (8 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Thanks for taking the initiative to make the new "Post Ideas thread, Nancy "Anti-Bystander Effect" Lebovitz

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2014-06-01T17:20:42.315Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Thank you.

This looks like a case where the typical mind fallacy paid off. Part of why I made the brainstorming post is that I assumed people were like me-- blanking out when trying to come up with ideas. This gave me a theory which meant that a small amount of action might help, unlike the idea that LW had lost its best posters (but then why aren't we getting new major posters?) or that social groups (especially if they're dependent on new ideas) have a natural life cycle ending in death. Also, I consistently have karma over 90%, so I knew that fear of getting downvoted couldn't be the whole problem.

comment by EGarrett · 2014-06-24T11:51:43.044Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

The fundamental flaw that I see with LessWrong's main site is that its karma/moderating system has the effect of silencing and banning people for being disagreed with or misunderstood. This is a major problem. You cannot mix "I don't agree with you" or "I don't understand you" with "you will be punished and silenced."

People who spam, flame, or otherwise destroy conversation are the ones who need to be silenced, ignored or banned, and a lot of sites like Facebook have separate buttons to perform exactly that function. People in the other category, who are misunderstood or disagreed with, but who discuss constructively and rationally, are the ones who MOST need to be able to speak. I think the punishment and silencing, and the threat of it, contributes largely to any lack of new posters or threads that you might see. I know I personally refrain from posting theories or models I have that are counter-intuitive and would actually start good discussions specifically for this reason...and I put them on the LessWrong Facebook page or bring them up at Meetups instead, where I've had some great conversations and made some good friends because of it.

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2014-06-24T12:40:40.642Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

There's at least one more category that I want to see at least discouraged-- the person whose posts are boring and numerous.

I wouldn't mind seeing a few more karma categories.

Would you be willing to post some of your ideas here that have gone over well on FB and/or meetups?

comment by EGarrett · 2014-06-24T15:19:40.519Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I think once I organize my thoughts on some of the topics enough, I will give it a go with a post or two.

comment by Gondolinian · 2014-12-03T16:03:07.225Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I wouldn't mind seeing a few more karma categories.

Perhaps we could have two separate sets of thumbs up/thumbs down buttons, one for object-level merit, i.e. how much you agree with what the post is saying, and another for meta-level merit, i.e. how much you think the post is contributing to the discussion and being respectful?

comment by Douglas_Reay · 2014-07-18T10:20:11.611Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I wouldn't mind seeing a few more karma categories.

I'd like to see more forums than just "Main" versus "Discussion". When making a post, the poster should be able to pick which forum or forums they think it is suitable to appear in, and when giving a post a 'thumb up', or 'thumb down', in addition to being apply to apply it to the content of the post itself, it should also be possible to apply it to the appropriateness of the post to a particular forum.

So, for example, if someone posted a detailed account of a discussion that happened at a particular meetup, this would allow you to indicate that the content itself is good, but that it is more suitable for the "Meetups" forum (or tag?), than for main.

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2014-07-18T13:37:19.257Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

A detailed discussion of what happened at a meetup might well belong in discussion or even main if what's important is the discussion rather than the meetupness.

comment by satt · 2014-06-05T00:51:41.256Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

This looks like a case where the typical mind fallacy paid off.

Score another point for typical mind fallacy as typical mind heuristic!

comment by Vaniver · 2014-05-30T21:00:57.991Z · score: 25 (25 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I am generally opposed to methods that propose to save LW by reducing activity instead of by increasing activity. My reasons for not writing more posts for LW have mostly to do with my current life situation and lack of unallocated time, which may or may not change in the near future. It may be worth discussing ways to make writing posts for Main (or discussion or wherever we'd like to target) easier or more fun.

comment by David_Gerard · 2014-06-01T13:04:51.294Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I am generally opposed to methods that propose to save LW by reducing activity instead of by increasing activity.

+1. This is one of those terrible ideas that people keep proposing for online communities in general, and it pretty much never works out well. It resembles an appeal to fundamentalism, nostalgia for when a site was young. The primary fallacy is that when it was young, it didn't actually know what it was doing, and that's why it was interesting.

Edit: Now a blog post.

comment by TylerJay · 2014-05-30T23:21:54.788Z · score: 5 (7 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I could be wrong, but I don't think Christian was suggesting reducing activity. It sounded like he was just proposing that people post all content that currently goes in Open Threads in Discussion instead.

comment by Vaniver · 2014-05-30T23:28:28.253Z · score: 11 (11 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

It sounded like he was just proposing that people post all content that currently goes in Open Threads in Discussion instead.

I think the barrier to posting a post in Discussion is higher than posting a comment in the Open Threads, and thus less of them will happen. I also think doing Open Threads on a monthly timescale, instead of a weekly one, will lead to less comments in the open thread.

I think a guide on "This is how you post to Discussion! :D" will be more effective at getting people to use Discussion the way ChristianKI wants than reducing the frequency of the Open Thread posts. (That's an example of what I think a method that increases activity looks like.)

comment by Suryc11 · 2014-05-31T02:49:17.058Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I think the barrier to posting a comment in the Open Threads is higher than posting a post in discussion

I think you may have meant this instead: the barrier to posting a post in discussion is higher than posting a comment in the Open Threads.

comment by Vaniver · 2014-05-31T05:57:11.331Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Yeah, I had it flipped. Fixed, thanks!

comment by Douglas_Knight · 2014-05-31T16:05:26.318Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Isn't the barrier a convention? Christian is trying to change the convention.

comment by Vaniver · 2014-05-31T16:50:09.374Z · score: 8 (8 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

There are also UI and systematic barriers. It is much easier to find the comment box than the Create new article button, for example, and there is a karma minimum for articles but there is not for comments.

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2014-06-01T02:29:19.602Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Also, the create article UI doesn't resemble anything I've seen anywhere else, and dealing with the html is a pain.

comment by David_Gerard · 2014-06-01T13:06:37.176Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

And uses a gratuitously different syntax from the comments.

comment by ChristianKl · 2014-05-31T08:14:01.604Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I think the barrier to posting a post in Discussion is higher than posting a comment in the Open Threads, and thus less of them will happen.

Why do you think that's the case?

comment by Vaniver · 2014-05-31T16:47:22.315Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Why do you think that's the case?

  1. Introspection suggests there's a higher emotional barrier to making a post.
  2. Making a post requires more clicks.
  3. Making a post requires more karma.

As an empirical matter, it should be possible to track the number of non-Open Thread posts in discussion over time, number of comments on those posts, as well as the number of comments in OTs over time, focusing especially on the region before and after the switch from monthly to weekly OTs. My prediction is that the number of comments in OTs increased as it went from monthly to weekly, and increased again when the Recent Open Threads link was added. Your prediction is that the number of non-OT posts decreased, which seems plausible to me. I am uncertain whether total comments increased or decreased, but suspect they increased.

comment by ChristianKl · 2014-05-31T17:27:28.868Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Introspection suggests there's a higher emotional barrier to making a post.

I think a lot has to do that we at the moment has a rule that certain topics aren't important enough to be in discussion. That's a rule that we could change.

comment by [deleted] · 2014-05-31T17:36:27.886Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

How do you expect to enforce any rule change?

comment by ChristianKl · 2014-05-31T17:40:20.686Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Basically by discussing what rules are good for LW and then in the case we find a consensus communicate that consensus.

comment by James_Miller · 2014-05-30T18:43:21.881Z · score: 25 (27 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Lesswrong has degraded because high-quality and previously prolific authors including Eliezer, Luke, and Yvain write much less for us. One quick way to improve the quality of LW would be for Yvain to cross-post from his personal blog here (which I would particularly benefit from since his blog doesn't let me comment and I'm almost certain this isn't because Yvain banned me.)

comment by blacktrance · 2014-05-30T18:51:48.037Z · score: 16 (18 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I second the idea of Slate Star Codex being crossposted here. Yvain makes good posts there, and LW is better formatted for discussion (better comment threading, etc).

comment by Scott Alexander (Yvain) · 2014-05-31T10:37:23.467Z · score: 15 (15 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Possibly the ban on James Donald affected everyone named James. Try posting again now.

comment by James_Miller · 2014-05-31T15:38:02.742Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I just tried on your triggers article.

Thanks for taking the time to fix the issue.

comment by shminux · 2014-05-30T19:04:05.193Z · score: 8 (8 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

While true that Scott's posts would make this site much more interesting, he stated his reasons for not posting here much anymore, and until his concerns are addressed simply copying his posts does not seem like a smart and honest solution.

comment by Vaniver · 2014-05-30T20:51:22.620Z · score: 17 (17 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

he stated his reasons for not posting here much anymore

Do you have a link to where he did that? I recall reading it, but it was long enough ago that I don't remember the actual reasons, and I'm not finding it quickly.

[Edit] I think this is probably the right comment:

Less Wrong requires no politics / minimal humor / definitely unambiguously rationality-relevant / careful referencing / airtight reasoning (as opposed to a sketch of something which isn't exactly true but points to the truth.) This makes writing for Less Wrong a chore as opposed to an enjoyable pastime.

comment by shminux · 2014-05-30T21:04:46.735Z · score: 9 (9 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Right, that's the one. I'm no Yvain, but I do have a dozen or so post drafts which I think would be relevant, but they will probably never be completed because of the effort required for "careful referencing / airtight reasoning (as opposed to a sketch of something which isn't exactly true but points to the truth.) " On the other hand, I see sloppy posts in Discussion all the time, and I don't want to post stuff like that, so I am not sure what to do about it.

comment by drethelin · 2014-05-31T05:03:26.355Z · score: 7 (9 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Some of my favorite posts have been speculation from people like Konkvistador or many of the sequence posts. Not everything needs to be a lukeprog post and I'm kind of sad about his domination of the style.

comment by David_Gerard · 2014-06-02T08:28:12.808Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

The neoreactionaries have mostly departed to their own blogosphere feeling unwelcome here, particularly with Yvain's Anti-Reactionary FAQ and EY's explicit repudiation of the concept (based on said FAQ).

comment by [deleted] · 2014-06-01T06:57:34.925Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Only encourage sketch-posts from people who have proven themselves non-sloppy thinkers, using some high karma threshold (perhaps 10k) as the metric?

comment by James_Miller · 2014-05-30T23:39:37.755Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

So he could cross-post in discussion not main.

comment by buybuydandavis · 2014-05-31T01:55:44.554Z · score: 2 (10 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

"Less Wrong" requires? Who is Less? I haven't met him.

The list will be what people decide to make it. Write what you want. People will like it or they won't. You'll care or you won't.

comment by Douglas_Knight · 2014-05-30T21:11:41.162Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

He keeps changing the spam filtering, so maybe you can post again.

comment by D_Malik · 2014-05-30T19:07:23.677Z · score: 19 (21 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I'd guess that the decline is largely due to people posting content on personal blogs, Facebook, etc. Every day I see a lot of interesting, rationality-relevant posts on Facebook from people that are connected to LW. I think those posts would be better if posted (or cross-posted) on open threads here, since that would make them visible to more people and allow for better commenting.

comment by mare-of-night · 2014-06-01T15:35:03.694Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Maybe we could shift to a more link-based model, like what Hacker News has?

comment by Error · 2014-05-30T21:26:22.347Z · score: 12 (12 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

This is something like the third time I've joined a community that seemed to think it was in decline. I have a theory: they were, and it is, and this is something I should expect.

Reasoning: A high-quality community will probably grow over time as new users discover it. As it grows, the quality of its user base will inevitably regress to the mean (i.e. decline). More people will experience the community during and after growth than before growth. Therefore, assuming I am a random community member, I should expect the community to be in decline during my tenure.

One could probably do some amusing math by taking growth rate at time T as a function of quality and population at T-1, and quality at time T as a function of quality at T-1 and population change between T and T-1. There is probably a word for that sort of setup but I don't know it.

comment by buybuydandavis · 2014-05-31T02:07:55.479Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Reasoning: A high-quality community will probably grow over time as new users discover it. As it grows, the quality of its user base will inevitably regress to the mean (i.e. decline).

It's more like the quality of posts will regress when the high quality community has largely shot it's wad, and is satisfied with their answers. When newbies come, they'll get pooh poohed by their elders, and often be intimidated. A newbie discussion starts, but an old timer will chime in with the "solution" and talk will peter out.

The culture of peers figuring it out dies, to be replaced by cranky old smarty pants who squash the kind of flailing about they used to do as "useless noise".

Having "Joined in Year XXXX" classes, each with their own forum, would be a way to segregate freshly minted eager beavers from cranky old codgers who have heard it all a thousand times before. Everybody wins. A class of Johnny Come Latelies might even come up with new ideas to challenge the geezer consensus.

comment by David_Gerard · 2014-06-01T13:02:26.195Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

It's more like the quality of posts will regress when the high quality community has largely shot it's wad, and is satisfied with their answers. When newbies come, they'll get pooh poohed by their elders, and often be intimidated. A newbie discussion starts, but an old timer will chime in with the "solution" and talk will peter out.

(speaking as someone who has read through literally every post in Main since the start of LW a couple of times; I haven't attempted all of Discussion, probably should)

The interesting thing is that LW started with all the answers: it was seeded with almost the entirety of The Sequences. It went along for a few years as (approximately) a Sequences fan site, discussing and extrapolating from them.

That led to some unpleasant weirdness, and after that the site regulars noticeably (well, I noticed it, looking through the history) backed away from extrapolation from the sequences.

Then HPMOR lured in more newbies, who stuck around a bit but there have been no new chapters in a while.

So basically there looks like there's nothing happening because there's nothing happening. I still read the Open Threads, but I thought it was just me finding them the last vestige of liveliness; it's evident from this thread that there are lots of others.

comment by buybuydandavis · 2014-06-02T01:39:47.075Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Really? It started with the sequences? A different kind of site than I assumed. No wonder people have their panties in a bunch over being called a phyg.

I'm not an old timer here. 3 or 4 years now. Sucked in by HPMOR.

I am an old timer to the web, though. I had my first web site back around 93 or 94. Fringe philosophy site. I scanned in obscure essays and books to make them available to others.Sure made a great commercial decision there, didn't I?

Back in my day, it was all mailing lists, listservs, and Usenet. A few people connected on a topic, or splintered from some existing group, and started their own list. It was a discussion, usually of a lot of grad students, hashing out ideas. A list focused on some bozo posting his weekly pontifications would have seemed rather, um, phygish in that era. I guess it's a little more the norm these days.

Anyone want to make me feel young, and tell me about how in their day, it was all bboards? No?

after that the site regulars noticeably ... backed away from extrapolation from the sequences.

Would you elaborate? Noticeably... backed away? Self consciously and purposively backed away? Why?

Then HPMOR lured in more newbies, who stuck around a bit but there have been no new chapters in a while.

And none today too. Ugh!

comment by David_Gerard · 2014-06-02T08:02:19.095Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I'm not an old timer here. 3 or 4 years now. Sucked in by HPMOR.

Me since late 2010, which is why reading the entire history was instructive. (And definitely something to pursue in the manner of working through a DVD box set.)

Would you elaborate? Noticeably... backed away? Self consciously and purposively backed away? Why?

It seems to me, looking through the entire history a couple of times, that after the Basilisk, the quantity of free-ranging extrapolation from the basic Sequence memes went right down. The Basilisk was definitely the high point of site weirdness. I didn't see anyone saying "oh shit" out loud, but I don't think it's a remarkable inference to say that they did so collectively.

comment by XiXiDu · 2014-06-02T08:30:31.875Z · score: 0 (4 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Me since late 2010, which is why reading the entire history was instructive.

Have you attempted reading the SL4 archieves? There are probably some gems in there. From the bit that I've heard and seen, it was at least as weird as LW.

It seems to me, looking through the entire history a couple of times, that after the Basilisk, the quantity of free-ranging extrapolation from the basic Sequence memes went right down. The Basilisk was definitely the high point of site weirdness.

Haha...yeah. It's the reason I started criticizing MIRI/LW. Before I was mainly a lurker, and somewhat of a fan. There are even comments where I advertised LessWrong elsewhere. I even linked to MIRI on my website as far back as 2005. But the basilisk incident opened my eyes for how out of touch with reality and common sense these people really are.

comment by David_Gerard · 2014-06-02T08:41:22.013Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I think of SL4 and Extropians as the dusty VHS box sets still on the shelves :-)

comment by Viliam_Bur · 2014-06-02T07:14:31.418Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Technically, this website started by Eliezer and Robin Hanson posting together on Overcoming Bias; then Eliezer took his articles (after the Sequences were written) to the new website. So in fact it never was one person's blog, although the Sequences part seems so retroactively.

comment by David_Gerard · 2014-06-02T08:22:55.719Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

The history goes back further, i.e. many of the regulars from those days (not so much right now, which surprises me) and the concepts discussed dated back to the SL4 list and before that the Extropians list. (Haven't archive-binged those yet - thinking of them as the dusty VHS box sets still on the shelf.) People followed Eliezer from site to site.

But yes, I concur.

comment by buybuydandavis · 2014-06-02T08:10:50.873Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

That still fits the distinction between the old days and new.

Back in the day, lists were about people getting together and discussing. A two man show splitting into two one man shows is both a break from that model, and the final progression of the drift from discussions to one man shows.

comment by Viliam_Bur · 2014-06-02T11:54:26.929Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Here are some differences between these eras: nowadays there are (a) more places to debate online, (b) more people online, and (c) lower quality of an average person online.

The old model probably wouldn't work now. I mean: Imagine that you create a new discussion forum to discuss, say, rationality. This is as easy as spending 2 minutes on Reddit website. Cool, you have a forum. What now? Because, if you can't answer this, then a few years later you will likely have an empty forum, or a few random crazy or bored people, an occassional spambot, and generally nothing you wanted to have.

Two quick solutions: bring initial people, or bring initial content. Eliezer did the latter. I assume you prefer the former... but then you need to know a dozen high-quality people interested in the same project to start it. Which would be rather easy decades ago at a good university, when you were physically surrounded by smart people with similar hobbies, and they didn't have much other options on internet anyway (at least this was my experience). But these days, there are millions of websites, people have different preferences (e.g. some of them prefer to write their thoughts on social networks, others hate social netwroks; some prefer e-mails, some prefer websites; etc.), so it is difficult to organize them. Not impossible, just... unlikely. For example I consider mailing lists horribly inconvenient, and leave them quickly even if the topic is very interesting; the user interfaces I tried (e-mail client, google groups website) feel painful. I know people who react the same way to web debates. So I guess some people are just too spoiled to have a discussion at the same place.

Are there some mailing lists you would recommend as a better alternative for LW? I'd like to see them (specifically something about spreading rationality). Or are you complaining generally, that the whole internet is getting worse and the old-style debates are no longer possible?

comment by moridinamael · 2014-05-31T02:57:35.242Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Sort of like the Mathic societies of Neal Stephenson's Anathem. Nice.

comment by Douglas_Knight · 2014-05-31T16:07:25.452Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

This is the Doomsday argument.

comment by Luke_A_Somers · 2014-06-01T18:07:25.652Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

... aside from the big difference between 'in decline' and 'about to be utterly destroyed'.

I've been places that have been in decline and then resurged to beyond where they were. Not that I see this occurring here any time soon barring something big happening.

comment by palladias · 2014-05-31T13:50:57.065Z · score: 10 (10 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

About a year ago, there was a Post Request Thread that morphed into a Pitch-Your-Post thread where people mentioned topics they were thinking of posting on, and people upvoted the ones they wanted to see in discussion (and asked some clarifying questions ahead of time).

It's the reason I wrote my post on tips for public speaking (I wouldn't have bothered crossposting and slightly reworking if there hadn't been an indication of interest).

Technically, the Open Thread can serve this purpose, but not everyone checks it that often, and isn't reading in the mindset of "Do I want a post on it." If you'd like to try to draw posts out of the woodwork, go ahead an post a new Post Request Thread.

comment by Viliam_Bur · 2014-06-01T22:14:17.144Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I like this!

Making people write good articles about their favorite topic seems much better than moving Open Thread content to Discussion for the sake of having more content in Discussion... which is how the idea of this article feels to me; sorry if it wasn't meant that way.

I'd like to see a nice article about something interesting, even if it's not about rationality. Just write it without bullshit, and it's already better than half of the internet. Just like it is cool to talk with your fellow rationalists, even if you don't talk about rationality all the time.

Also, I feel that having less content in Discussion is not a problem per se. I mean, it's not our goal to expand the content until it fills everyone's free time. Less time spent on LW could mean more time spent doing something offline. I don't mind not having ten new articles every day, because then I would barely have time to do something else.

Okay, maybe... those of us who read LW for a long time and didn't post anything, should precommit to post at least one article in the following month, about something we care about. That includes me; so I will post something about mathematical education in my country; there are a few things which could be copied elsewhere.

The only way to have good content on LW is to write good content. Eliezer wrote hundreds of articles, I haven't written one yet (I don't count meetup announcements, nor the programming thread, although I could try that one again), so, yeah, it seems obvious whose turn is it now. Anyone who cares about LW content can consider this their own opportunity to "become stronger".

comment by [deleted] · 2014-05-31T02:07:35.804Z · score: 9 (9 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I concur with those who say the open threads are the last vestige of interesting discussion on LW (with the exception of the occasional technical post in Main).

comment by shminux · 2014-05-30T18:48:24.199Z · score: 9 (15 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I doubt that suggesting a solution before even stating the problem is a good way to start your post.

I would start by quantifying this feeling of LW degradation, before attempting to solve a problem that may or may not exist, or may be a symptom of some other issue. Surely there are a few relevant metrics we can come up with. I have several in mind and shared some of them on #lesswrong, but I'd rather hold off until other speak up, to avoid priming.

comment by lmm · 2014-05-31T08:57:07.089Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

The open threads are the last remaining useful part of the site (they're the only thing I come here for now it looks like the rationality quote threads have stopped), and they've become much better since becoming weekly. I think you have the causation backwards.

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2014-05-31T10:28:29.749Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Why do you think rationality quote threads have stopped? They're monthly, which means the next one should be up in a day or so.

comment by bbleeker · 2014-05-31T10:36:37.827Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

They're difficult to find. I have to use the search box each month to find the new one.

comment by roystgnr · 2014-05-31T13:58:58.667Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Nobody votes them up. I think the current thread has four upvotes and two downvotes. I understand the reluctance to shower someone with karma for the maintenance work of posting a recurring thread, but if the thread doesn't get voted up then it never gets to the default Main view ("promoted"), and you need to use the search box or the "new" view to see it.

comment by [deleted] · 2014-06-01T07:46:19.648Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Or the sidebar.

comment by Vladimir_Nesov · 2014-05-31T14:52:13.969Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

A link to the latest rationality quote thread is on the sidebar in Main.

comment by lmm · 2014-05-31T10:50:33.514Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

The April one was posted in Main early in April, but I don't see a May one in Main and we're almost out of May.

comment by Tenoke · 2014-05-31T11:06:52.059Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

If you click on 'LATEST RATIONALITY QUOTE' in the sidebar on Main, it will lead you to the May Thread. Alternatively, you can look for the thread under the quotes tag, or you can do a google search for it.

I am not really sure how you can look for it and miss it.

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2014-05-31T14:53:28.435Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I am pretty sure about how he could look for it and not find it-- he probably didn't know there was a latest quotes thread link.

comment by amacfie · 2014-05-31T14:34:08.416Z · score: 4 (8 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

The clearest way to improve discussions here, which has been called for numerous times, is reorganizing the subreddits and adding a few new ones. So far we haven't even got a separate subreddit for meetups, which should be uncontroversial, although I hear it is under development. Despite the simplicity of this proposed change, apparently the codebase makes it difficult. How much would it cost to expedite the development, if that's a possibility, and could we let people donate money directly toward this feature? If it's too expensive, how about cheap alternative approaches, such as adding a menu with links to a handful of "top-level" tags, at least one of which every new post should be tagged with? .

comment by Error · 2014-05-31T16:37:49.637Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

So far we haven't even got a separate subreddit for meetups, which should be uncontroversial, although I hear it is under development. Despite the simplicity of this proposed change, apparently the codebase makes it difficult.

This is darkly hilarious to me; adding a new posting board should be trivial, with no coding required at all. If I may go old-fart for a moment, it's yet another way that modern tech has still failed to match old tech that's fallen out of use over trivial inconveniences.

comment by Nornagest · 2014-05-31T19:46:34.074Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

LW is a fork of the Reddit codebase, where making new boards is indeed trivial. I haven't looked into it myself, but unless the original developers shot themselves in the foot rather badly with their design, it shouldn't be tricky here either.

I suspect the real problem isn't technical difficulty but inability to book any developer time at all.

comment by Douglas_Knight · 2014-06-01T04:38:47.446Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

So far we haven't even got a separate subreddit for meetups

Yes we do.

which should be uncontroversial

um, no.

apparently the codebase makes it difficult

That's old, from before discussion existed, whose existence shows that the problem has been solved.

comment by amacfie · 2014-06-01T14:13:56.889Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Ah, you're right about meetups. It happened (24 days ago).

comment by drethelin · 2014-05-31T05:07:38.570Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

As several people have pointed out, the problem is high barrier to good posters, like Yvain. For various reasons either practical or emotional or whatever they don't post anymore. However, many of the quality Commenters, as opposed to "posters" hang on. Removing Open Threads won't do anything to get people to write interesting Posts, unless you think there are a lot of open thread comments that should be posts. It will just reduce opportunities for quality commenters to talk to each other.

comment by cousin_it · 2014-05-30T22:36:59.485Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Online communities often deteriorate when they become more popular. Some of it is because of regression to the mean. Another reason is that people in small groups tend to put in more effort for the group because everyone knows everyone else, while people in large groups just look out for themselves and treat interactions as one-shot. If you agree with that view of the problem, then the right solution might be something like subreddits.

comment by A4FB53AC · 2014-05-31T03:43:47.919Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Interesting opinion. I rarely browse open threads, mainly because I find them a mess, and it takes a longer time to find if there's anything which would interest me in there. Discussion posts have their own page with neatly ordered titles, you get an idea at a glance, and can on a first filter sort through around 20 topics in around 2 seconds.

comment by MathiasZaman · 2014-05-31T00:10:37.986Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

There are points in favor of this, but doing away with Open Threads altogether doesn't seem optimal. Open Threads have a lower barrier-to-entry and were the first things I had the courage to post in when first coming to this site. And some things in the open thread just aren't interesting enough for their own thread. A question that can be answered in two posts doesn't need its own thread.

comment by ChristianKl · 2014-05-31T08:11:47.663Z · score: -1 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

And some things in the open thread just aren't interesting enough for their own thread.

Why do things have to pass a lower standard of being interesting for the Open thread than for Discussion. Can't we simply have the same standard in discussion?

comment by MathiasZaman · 2014-05-31T09:24:52.792Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

It's not necessarily a case of having a lower standard. As I said, a question with an immediate answer (and thus no discussion) doesn't make for an interesting discussion thread.

comment by Brillyant · 2014-05-30T18:31:52.312Z · score: 3 (9 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Interesting thought. Though I personally think it would be like rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic at this juncture.

comment by shminux · 2014-05-30T18:57:42.846Z · score: 6 (8 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

like rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic

Do you mean that this forum has jumped the shark and there is no return to the "old" LW with EY, Yvain, Luke and others making insightful posts almost daily? That it has outlived its usefulness to CFAR and MIRI? Or something else?

comment by moridinamael · 2014-05-31T01:35:10.097Z · score: 13 (13 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

An explanation that struck me recently is that "rationality" memes have infected a much broader audience such that now people don't all have to come to the LW watering hole to get their fix of sanity. Tim Ferriss references Kahneman in his podcast. "Heuristics and biases" is no longer a fringe thing that nobody is interested in. It's also somewhat less weird to be Singulatarian, now that you can point to IBM's Watson and self-driving cars and Kurzweil working at Google, whereas five years ago you just sounded crazy.

So, it's not necessarily that LW is getting worse in any absolute sense, it's just that the world is catching up. LW is just less special.

comment by Brillyant · 2014-05-30T19:29:15.302Z · score: 11 (11 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I think it is no longer a site with useful new content.

comment by Luke_A_Somers · 2014-06-01T18:11:48.873Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

By that standard, the solutions we're discussing would be more like repairing the hole in the side of the Titanic and pumping out the water. Perhaps the particular solution given in the OP would be rearranging the deck chairs.

comment by MrMind · 2014-05-31T07:48:23.934Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I like the analogy :)

But not necessarily it means that LW is sinking, it might just be that all the low-hanging fruits have been picked.

comment by Punoxysm · 2014-05-31T00:50:05.656Z · score: 2 (10 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I agree. The strict moderation and frequent downvoting (that restricts visibility) limit the potential for a lot of interesting threads. Given the very low frequency of new threads, allowing more wouldn't be washing away the good content or anything. Reddit, which this site mirrors in form, thrives on turnover of content. Encouraging more threads instead of "post it in the open thread" would help.

comment by [deleted] · 2014-05-31T02:09:00.530Z · score: 1 (5 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Are we reading the same site? LW is not "strictly moderated," relative to e.g. a mainstream subreddit.

comment by Punoxysm · 2014-05-31T19:53:35.647Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

My perfectly earnest comment was just downvoted and it now probably invisible to most people. In the past I have posted threads that get the response "post it in the open thread" or even "post it on /r/hpmor or /r/rational". Not precisely moderation, but exclusion of a lot of topics.

comment by solipsist · 2014-05-30T22:25:56.699Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I'd be in favor of trying this as an experiment.