LessOnline (May 31—June 2, Berkeley, CA)

post by Ben Pace (Benito) · 2024-03-26T02:34:00.000Z · LW · GW · 24 comments

This is a link post for http://Less.Online/


    A Festival of Writers Who are Wrong on the Internet[1]
  Get Tickets Here

A Festival of Writers Who are Wrong on the Internet[1]

LessOnline is a festival celebrating truth-seeking, optimization, and blogging. It's an opportunity to meet people you've only ever known by their LessWrong username or Substack handle.

We're running a rationalist conference!

The ticket cost is $400 minus your LW karma in cents.

Writers attending include Scott AlexanderZvi MowshowitzEliezer YudkowskyPatrick McKenzieScott Sumner, Agnes CallardKatja GraceKevin SimlerAndy MatuschakCremieux RecueilDuncan SabienJoe Carlsmith, Alkjash, John Wentworth [LW · GW], Nate SoaresAellaClara CollierZack M. Davis [LW · GW], NintilAlexander WalesAlicornSarah ConstantinJacob FalkovichOzy Brennan, and more.

Go through to Less.Online to learn about who's attending, venue, location, housing, relation to Manifest, and more.

We'll post more updates about this event over the coming weeks as it all comes together.

If LessOnline is an awesome rationalist event,
I desire to believe that LessOnline is an awesome rationalist event;

If LessOnline is not an awesome rationalist event,
I desire to believe that LessOnline is not an awesome rationalist event;

Let me not become attached to beliefs I may not want.

      —Litany of Rationalist Event Organizing

Get Tickets Here

  1. ^

    But Striving to be Less So


Comments sorted by top scores.

comment by Error · 2024-05-09T23:41:33.050Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I see no general-inquiries address on less.online, so I hope it's okay if I post them here. Longtime rationalsphere lurker, much rarer poster, considering going. I'm based in Atlanta and pricing the trip:

  1. It's not clear from the page what the 'summer camp' part of the schedule is. To me that phrase connotes 'for kids', but I'm not sure, so I'm not sure if it's worth it to me to stay extra days. [EDIT: Never mind, I see this was answered below.]
  2. What's the nearest major airport, and is Lighthaven accessible from there by train and/or uber? (i.e. will I need a rental car)
  3. What's the washroom situation like for the shared dorms vs. private rooms? (I take long showers and worry about blocking others.)
  4. Most of the shared dorms don't list a building, just "shared dorms". Where are they relative to the rest of the facility?
  5. What's local connectivity like? (I can stay longer if I can plausibly respond to work emergencies).

[EDIT: And, I just realized this announcement was over a month ago, I'm not sure how I missed it at the time or why I just noticed it now. Dunno if you or anyone else will see this. I'll wait a day in case someone does, then try a PM or something.]

Replies from: Benito
comment by Ben Pace (Benito) · 2024-05-10T00:03:37.428Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Thanks for the questions, and I hope you make it! Here's are my answers, happy to answer more/follow-ups.

  1. Summer Camp is our name for the chill period between the two festival weekends. We've already sold ~100 tickets just for Summer Camp, so it's gonna be active.
  2. SFO and OAK. You can get the Bart from SFO and then walk the last 20 mins. Google maps says that there's also public transport from Oakland (which to be clear is a fair bit closer than SFO). I haven't gone that route before, I think it might involve buses.
  3. There's a few places people will be sleeping. They both have two showers that are right nearby and then there are lots more communally accessible ones dotted around campus (taking like 30-60 seconds to walk there). We'll stick a map up. 
    1. My guess is in one location it'll be 8 people for the 2 showers, and in the other location it could get to be many more people, and extra folks will need to do a little walking.
  4. About 4 are one block away in our Ellsworth house. The rest are on site (mostly building E).
  5. We had a 250-person event here last year, WiFi was generally fine. A few parts of campus are spotty (typically the outer edges). (We care a lot about WiFi issues and our team is down to help debug them.)
Replies from: Error
comment by Error · 2024-05-10T22:17:25.939Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Thanks. I thought of two more questions after posting:

  1. Any laundry facilities? (i.e. if I stay a week, will I need clothes for a week?)
  2. Any refunds if I book a bed/ticket and can't make it? (I'll understand if not, of course; but I have another, much busier event (Momocon) the weekend before, so there's an elevated chance I'll catch con plague at the least convenient possible time)
  3. [edit]: Possible bug report: I notice one of the shared-dorm rooms has different (higher) pricing than all the others, despite identical descriptions.
Replies from: Benito
comment by Ben Pace (Benito) · 2024-05-10T22:45:55.524Z · LW(p) · GW(p)


  1. Yes. We have two or three (slightly hard to access) laundry machines on-site, and a laundrettes just down the street. I'm not sure what the default situation will end up being, but you'll be able to do laundry.
  2. I'm pretty happy to give people refunds if something surprising happens and they come to the evet. I reserve the right to change my mind at any time if I think someone is abusing my trust somehow.
  3. Thanks! Fixed the bug.
comment by Elizabeth (pktechgirl) · 2024-03-30T19:07:17.742Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

How do other people feel about the list of invited authors? I feel dubious about a single list with both invitees and confirmed attendees (even if they're in different colors), but if most people don't find it confusing or misleading it seems less important.

Suggested voting: use percentage reacts, with 0 being "I absolutely find this confusing or misleading" and 100 being "I find this extremely clear"

Replies from: MondSemmel
comment by MondSemmel · 2024-04-01T21:17:40.744Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Did you see the checkbox "Only show authors confirmed attending"? I didn't understand the color coding without that, but found it very clear once I checked the box.

Replies from: pktechgirl
comment by Elizabeth (pktechgirl) · 2024-04-03T21:32:17.671Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I'm on that list (in green) and first heard about this when I was invited, so I knew what the list meant going in. But as a general person with opinions, I felt that having an "invitee" list, especially one that mixed in confirmed attendees, was misleading and mildly manipulative.  But since almost everyone finds it intuitive, including @Zack_M_Davis [LW · GW], most of my concerns are allayed. 

Replies from: Raemon
comment by Raemon · 2024-04-23T17:41:44.152Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

That's actually not (that much of) a crux for me (who also thinks it's mildly manipulative, but, below the threshold where I feel compelled to push hard for changing it).

comment by metachirality · 2024-03-26T23:01:58.271Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Did y'all contact the people who got free tickets?

Replies from: Benito
comment by Ben Pace (Benito) · 2024-03-26T23:32:43.749Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I've sent like 80 emails out, still tracking them all down! 

(If anyone has contact info for The Last Psychiatrist or Hotel Concierge or Christian Rudder from the OK Cupid blog, I'd appreciate a connection.)

Replies from: MondSemmel, metachirality
comment by MondSemmel · 2024-03-27T09:40:03.430Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

For Christian Rudder, maybe you can contact Penguin Random House, his publisher for the book "Dataclysm"? Either to ask for his contact data, or to directly forward your conference invitation.

comment by metachirality · 2024-05-09T03:37:21.291Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Isn't TLP's email on his website?

Replies from: Benito
comment by Ben Pace (Benito) · 2024-05-09T14:27:18.188Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I did find it and we sent him an email, hope he reads it and joins :)

comment by MondSemmel · 2024-03-26T14:16:01.572Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

For the benefit of others, what's the application deadline?

Replies from: ronny-fernandez
comment by Ronny Fernandez (ronny-fernandez) · 2024-03-26T15:20:00.042Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I believe there isn't really a deadline! You just buy tickets and then you can come. Tickets might sellout is the limiting factor.

comment by NicholasKross · 2024-05-10T01:49:21.712Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I can't make this one, but I'd love to be at future LessOnline events when I'm less time/budget-constrained! :)

comment by Alex_Altair · 2024-03-28T00:56:08.126Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Feedback on the website: it's not clear to me what the difference is between LessOnline and the summer camp right after. Is the summer camp only something you go to if you're also going to Manifest? Is it the same as LessOnline but longer?

Replies from: saul-munn, Benito
comment by Saul Munn (saul-munn) · 2024-03-28T01:12:15.073Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

thanks for the feedback on the website. here's the explanation we gave on the manifest announcement post:

In the week between LessOnline and Manifest, come hang out at Lighthaven with other attendees! Cowork and share meals during the day, attend casual workshops and talks in the evening, and enjoy conversations by the (again, literal) fire late into the night.

Summer Camp will be pretty lightweight: we’ll provide the space and the tools, and you & your fellow attendees will bring the discussions, workshops, tournaments, games, and whatever else you’re excited about organizing.

Here are the types of events you’ll see at Summer Camp:

  • Hackathons (or “Forecastathons”)
  • Organized discussions and workshops
  • Jam sessions and dance parties
  • Games of all kinds: social deception games, poker, MTG, jackbox, etc.
  • Campy activities: sardines, s’mores, singalongs
  • Multi-day intensive workshops, e.g. a CFAR-style workshop or a Quantitative Trading Bootcamp (Note: these may come at some extra cost, TBD by the organizers)

let me know if you have other questions.

Replies from: imoatama
comment by imoatama · 2024-05-13T23:24:56.403Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Do you have a sense for what the week of SummerCamp will be like? I have taken the week off from my (completely remote-friendly) job, do you think there'll be enough going on that this is the right move (vs spending some time working)? Or is it really hard to say until we're there?

For a bit more context, I am flying in from Australia for LessOnline/SummerCamp/Manifest. I'll be staying at Lighthaven for the whole period of the three events. I have enough leave to take the whole period, but I try to use my leave as parsimoniously as possible so if coworking from Lighthaven for some of the week is possible whilst still soaking up the summer camp vibes / feeling present, I'd probably do that. 

Replies from: Benito
comment by Ben Pace (Benito) · 2024-05-13T23:39:12.937Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Seems to me like there'll be a lot of options for how much stuff you want to do. I'm expecting someone to run a really fun and educational trading class for a cohort of people, I expect there'll be a few meetups, there's over 100 people with tickets for Summer Camp to hang out with, and I think there'll be like 20-30 people living on-site. 

I think if you wanted to work like 2 or 3 days that week you could, and if you wanted to keep socializing and doing activities then you could do that too.

comment by Ben Pace (Benito) · 2024-03-28T01:05:27.679Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Both our teams (LessOnline and Manifest) are putting together big events on the consecutive weekends, and my guess is that there'll be a number of folks who want to travel for both. So for everyone around in the interim we're offering housing on-site, food, and will be helping folks run their own sub-events.

I haven't got anything to announce there yet but I have ~3 events in the early stages of being organized, all of which I personally want to attend.

comment by Review Bot · 2024-06-03T22:18:22.468Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

The LessWrong Review [? · GW] runs every year to select the posts that have most stood the test of time. This post is not yet eligible for review, but will be at the end of 2025. The top fifty or so posts are featured prominently on the site throughout the year.

Hopefully, the review is better than karma at judging enduring value. If we have accurate prediction markets on the review results, maybe we can have better incentives on LessWrong today. Will this post make the top fifty?

comment by OrthernLight · 2024-04-28T13:45:51.123Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Go through to Less.Online to learn about who's attending, venue, location, housing, relation to Manifest, and more.


While I may be missing the obvious, I didn't see the location anywhere on the site. ('Lighthaven', yes, but unless I've badly failed a search check, neither the LessOnline nor the Lighthaven website gives an address.)

Google Maps seems to know, but for something like this, confirmation would be nice; I don't quite trust that Google isn't showing a previous location or something else with the same name.

Replies from: habryka4
comment by habryka (habryka4) · 2024-04-28T16:57:22.461Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

We'll send out location details to anyone who buys a ticket (and also feel free to ping us and we'll tell you).

I've had some experience with people trying to disrupt events, and trivial inconveniences of figuring out the address makes a non negligible difference in people doing stuff like that.