Posts

Do you do weekly or daily reviews? What are they like? 2019-08-05T01:23:43.351Z · score: 24 (12 votes)
benwr's unpolished thoughts 2019-07-29T02:18:14.366Z · score: 5 (2 votes)
Why I've started using NoScript 2019-05-15T21:32:20.415Z · score: 16 (8 votes)
Usernames in RSS feeds 2018-02-19T02:22:26.749Z · score: 1 (1 votes)

Comments

Comment by benwr on benwr's unpolished thoughts · 2019-09-08T18:06:46.040Z · score: 5 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Doom circles seem hard to do outside of CFAR workshops: If I just pick the ~7 people who I most want to be in my doom circle, this might be the best doom circle for me, but it won't be the best doom circle for them, since they will mostly not know each other very well.

So you might think that doing doom "circles" one-on-one would be best. But doom circles also have a sort of ceremony / spacing / high-cost-ness to them that cuts the other way: More people means more "weight" or something. And there are probably other considerations determining the optimal size.

So if you wanted to have a not-at-the-end-of-a-workshop doom circle, should you find the largest clique with some minimum relationship strength in your social graph?

Comment by benwr on benwr's unpolished thoughts · 2019-09-07T00:56:55.934Z · score: 5 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Yet another Shortform-as-feature-request:

Notifications and/or RSS feeds from particular posts' comments / answers.

This would be especially useful for Questions and Shortform posts (sometimes tellingly mis-labeled "shortform feeds"), both of which are things where one particular post has a collection of related comments, and which gather content over time.

I currently subscribe to the front page in Feedly, and whenever someone asks a question that I find interesting I mentally cringe because I know that I'll have to remind myself to check back (and I probably will never actually check back).

I guess I could come up with some custom Zapier / IFTTT system for this if I spent a few hours on it, but I suspect this would be generally useful functionality.

Comment by benwr on September Bragging Thread · 2019-09-03T23:38:43.326Z · score: 6 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Update: our application was approved! The Lodge is almost certainly moving!

Comment by benwr on benwr's unpolished thoughts · 2019-08-31T20:07:16.227Z · score: 11 (5 votes) · LW · GW

One friend pointed out that you might be able to avoid some of the pitfalls by releasing something like an open source desktop application that requires you to feed it a database of information. Then you could build databases like this in lots of different ways, including anonymous ones or crowdsourced ones. And in this case it might become a lot harder to claim that the creator of the application is liable for anything. I might actually want to talk to a lawyer about this kind of thing, if the lawyer was willing to put on a sort of "engineering" mindset to help me figure out how you might make this happen without getting sued. So if you know anyone like that, I'd be pretty interested

Comment by benwr on benwr's unpolished thoughts · 2019-08-31T00:20:40.511Z · score: 9 (6 votes) · LW · GW

There should really be a system that does what WebMD tried to do, but actually does it well.

You'd put in your symptoms and background info (e.g. what country you live in, your age), it would ask you clarifying questions ("how bad is the pain from 1 to 10?" "which of these patterns is most like the rash?" "Do you have a family history of heart disease?") and then it would give you a posterior distribution over possible conditions, and a guess about whether you should go to the emergency room or whatever.

Is this just much harder than I'm imagining it would be? It seems like the kind of thing where you could harvest likelihood ratios and put them all into a big database. Is there some regulatory thing where you can't practically offer this service because it's illegal to give medical advice or something?

Comment by benwr on September Bragging Thread · 2019-08-30T23:56:55.953Z · score: 24 (17 votes) · LW · GW

I got 4 out of six people in my group house, plus two others, to apply for a lease in a new and probably-better house! In order to do this I spent probably forty hours in the last month, searching rental listings, reaching out to people, and trying to accommodate people's often-contradictory preferences.

At one point I wrote a program to determine, given a collection of people larger than the number of rooms, and their maximum prices for each room in a house (which are allowed to be conditional on who else is in the house), whether any subset of that group would be able to afford the house. This script was about a hundred lines of python, and after fixing one typo it ran perfectly on the first try. This happens to me pretty often these days when I write python code, and I'm fucking pleased about it. Like, maybe ten years ago I set out to be a master wizard in one particular specialization ("writing programs to solve practical problems") and yeah, I can just really do that kind of magic now. It just feels like "part of me" in a really exhilarating way.

Comment by benwr on jp's Shortform · 2019-08-30T22:32:45.792Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

This distinction is still relevant and useful in some contexts.

Comment by benwr on benwr's unpolished thoughts · 2019-08-05T22:59:51.770Z · score: 12 (6 votes) · LW · GW

As long as I'm using shortform posts to make feature requests, it would be really useful to me to have access to a feed (of shortform posts, normal posts, or both) where I could select which users I see. Right now I come to LessWrong and have a hard time deciding which posts I care about - lots of people here have lots of interests and lots of different standards for content quality, some of which I find actively annoying. Allowing me to build feeds from custom lists of selected users would let me filter by both shared interests and how valuable I typically find those users' posts. I don't think "who is in my custom feed" should be public like it is on Facebook, but Facebook circa 2012 gave me a lot of control over this via friend lists, and I miss the days when that feature was prioritized.

I also like the way lobste.rs solves this problem for some users, although I think the solution above would be better for me personally: every post comes with a selection from a group of site-wide tags, and users can filter their home page based on which tags they want to see.

Comment by benwr on benwr's unpolished thoughts · 2019-07-31T18:55:50.298Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Interesting, good to know. I'm curious if you considered doing something like lobste.rs, where the avatar is next to the username and the same height as the text.

Comment by benwr on benwr's unpolished thoughts · 2019-07-31T18:05:58.226Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I should have posted this comment here and rephrased it, sorry:

I also note that avatars could use tricks to solve various constraints I'm imagining the LessWrong team might want to impose.

For example, if you think avatars might make the comments section too visually interesting you could render them in greyscale, or with muted colors. And if you think they might lead to people playing weird games with their avatars (I don't think this is likely, but I can imagine someone worrying about it), you could let users choose from a small collection of acceptable-to-you, auto-generated images based on a hash of their username.

Comment by benwr on benwr's unpolished thoughts · 2019-07-31T18:02:23.191Z · score: 6 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Edit: I don't retract this comment but I should have rephrased it and posted it as a reply to this comment

I also note that avatars could use tricks to solve various constraints I'm imagining the LessWrong team might want to impose.

For example, if you think avatars might make the comments section too visually interesting you could render them in greyscale, or with muted colors. And if you think they might lead to people playing weird games with their avatars (I don't think this is likely, but I can imagine someone worrying about it), you could let users choose from a small collection of acceptable-to-you, auto-generated images based on a hash of their username.

Comment by benwr on benwr's unpolished thoughts · 2019-07-29T02:20:51.283Z · score: 10 (6 votes) · LW · GW

I really think LessWrong would benefit by giving users avatars. I think this would make the site much more visually appealing, but I also think it would vastly decrease the cognitive load required to read threaded conversations.

Comment by benwr on benwr's unpolished thoughts · 2019-07-29T02:18:14.631Z · score: 13 (5 votes) · LW · GW

A while ago, Duncan Sabien wrote a Facebook post about a thing he called "aliveness", and presented it on a single spectrum with something called "chillness". At the time I felt that aliveness seemed sort of like obviously-the-good-one, and like I was obviously-bad-for-being-more-chill, and I felt sad because I think there were a lot of pressures when I was younger to optimize for chillness.

But recently I've been in a couple of scenarios that have changed my views on this. I now think that aliveness and chillness aren't quite opposite ends of the same axis in person space. It seems instead like they're anticorrelated features of a given person in a given situation, and many people live their lives with a nearly-fixed level of each. But there are also people who can control their levels of aliveness or chillness, as the situation demands.

And it isn't the case that chillness is worse. I think it is much, much easier to coordinate large groups of chill people than not-chill people. I think that these people can also definitely be "alive" in the relevant way.

My intuitive feeling is that this ability to control your chillness and aliveness is strongly related to "leadership qualities". And, at least for me, noticing that these might not be opposite ends of a fixed spectrum makes me feel a lot more hopeful about the possibility to grow in aliveness-capability.

Comment by benwr on How/would you want to consume shortform posts? · 2019-07-26T01:19:30.046Z · score: 8 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I'd like to be able to subscribe to individual Shortform feeds via RSS.

Comment by benwr on Why I've started using NoScript · 2019-05-15T23:56:06.089Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

You're right; I'm sorry that I didn't read your comment sufficiently carefully.

The reasoning there is purely my expectation and isn't based on data or particular experience.

Comment by benwr on Why I've started using NoScript · 2019-05-15T23:38:12.990Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

This is a great response and I'm glad to have read it. However I think you miss one important disadvantage of your approach: These alternatives are mostly blacklists, and so they become less useful as you get further into the less-trafficked corners of the web, which is also where you're most likely to hit, e.g., invisible compromised resources.

I've also been surprised at how little "whitelist fatigue" I've gotten. I would have naively expected to get tired of whitelisting domains, but in practice it's continued to feel freeing rather than obnoxiously attention consuming, and site functionality is almost always easy / obvious to enable properly. It's possible that sometimes I miss intended functionality, but I doubt that this comes close to outweighing the benefits.

Edit: the following paragraph misunderstands Said's comment and doesn't address the point that it was meant to; apologies.

Finally, I don't buy the argument about incentivizing web authors. If trackers work less well, there is obviously less incentive to use them. If the only thing holding back authors from adding trackers willy-nilly is user annoyance at page bloat, then it's clearly not enough, and so telling people to just go on shouldering that annoyance to ensure that the annoyance is minimized seems like privileging second-order effects that I would expect to be small.

Comment by benwr on Overconfident talking down, humble or hostile talking up · 2018-11-30T17:19:55.308Z · score: 8 (4 votes) · LW · GW

This nicely explains why I feel so embarrassed when I learn that someone I'm talking with is more knowledgeable than I thought. I wonder how to avoid subconscious overconfidence- / humility-projecting.

It might work to add a TAP for thinking "if this person were much more/less knowledgeable than me, would I have the same presentation in this conversation?"

Comment by benwr on RSS Feeds are fixed and should be properly functional this time · 2018-03-02T10:00:02.398Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Ah, excellent. I didn't know there was a github.

Comment by benwr on RSS Feeds are fixed and should be properly functional this time · 2018-02-28T21:33:03.694Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

As I mentioned in a post that has now fallen off the end of meta: while RSS feeds work much better now, usernames still don't show up as the author in the feeds.

Comment by benwr on Lesswrong 2016 Survey · 2016-03-26T08:33:27.336Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

Great survey!

However, when you save your progress and are asked to save a password, there's no indication that it will be sent to you in an email or saved at all in recoverable form. I used my least-secure password generation algorithm anyway, but: Do you think you could add a note to the effect that users should not use passwords that they use elsewhere?

Comment by benwr on 'Dumb' AI observes and manipulates controllers · 2015-01-14T02:34:54.189Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

The problem with these particular extensions is that they don't sound plausible for this type of AI. In my opinion it would be easier when talking with designers to switch from this example to a slightly more sci-fi example.

The leap is between the obvious "it's 'manipulating' its editors by recognizing simple patterns in their behavior" to "it's manipulating its editors by correctly interpreting the causes underlying their behavior."

Much easier to extend in the other direction first: "Now imagine that it's not an article-writer, but a science officer aboard the commercial spacecraft Nostromo..."

Comment by benwr on The guardian article on longevity research [link] · 2015-01-12T10:34:38.264Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

On the other hand, the number of people working on a problem, and the speed with which they are individually able to work, can't be ignored. "Given enough eyes, all bugs are shallow" - Linus Torvalds, talking about something pretty similar (if much, much simpler).