What's the best overview of common Micromorts? 2020-09-03T02:39:42.002Z · score: 35 (13 votes)
Parameters of Privacy 2020-07-29T01:18:54.662Z · score: 22 (7 votes)
"Can you keep this confidential? How do you know?" 2020-07-21T00:33:27.974Z · score: 111 (43 votes)
Automatically Turning Off Computer at Night 2020-07-15T20:42:10.021Z · score: 17 (7 votes)
Calibration Practice: Retrodictions on Metaculus 2020-07-14T18:35:36.860Z · score: 31 (14 votes)
Lurking More Before Joining Complex Conversations 2020-07-11T17:11:21.745Z · score: 39 (17 votes)
Site Redesign Feedback Requested 2020-07-03T22:28:17.935Z · score: 46 (14 votes)
What's Your Cognitive Algorithm? 2020-06-18T22:16:39.104Z · score: 69 (20 votes)
Can Covid-19 spread by surface transmission? 2020-06-10T22:09:24.983Z · score: 68 (17 votes)
Quarantine Bubbles Require Directness, and Tolerance of Rudeness 2020-06-07T19:52:51.600Z · score: 40 (11 votes)
Your best future self 2020-06-06T19:10:04.069Z · score: 29 (15 votes)
What are the best tools for recording predictions? 2020-05-24T19:15:24.033Z · score: 14 (4 votes)
Reflective Complaints 2020-05-21T21:11:48.842Z · score: 36 (16 votes)
The Best Virtual Worlds for "Hanging Out" 2020-04-27T21:54:46.400Z · score: 63 (25 votes)
Tag Relevance Systems (Feedback Requested) 2020-04-23T01:29:56.165Z · score: 25 (7 votes)
Holiday Pitch: Reflecting on Covid and Connection 2020-04-22T19:50:20.326Z · score: 63 (22 votes)
What are the best online tools for meetups and meetings? 2020-03-27T22:58:01.287Z · score: 27 (9 votes)
What is the safe in-person distance for COVID-19? 2020-03-26T20:29:52.732Z · score: 34 (12 votes)
What's the upper bound of how long COVID is contagious? 2020-03-21T22:39:30.829Z · score: 27 (5 votes)
Tagging (Click Gear Icon to filter Coronavirus content) 2020-03-21T22:16:26.092Z · score: 39 (12 votes)
How does one run an organization remotely, effectively? 2020-03-20T20:26:01.379Z · score: 18 (6 votes)
If I interact with someone with nCov for an hour, how likely am I to get nCov? 2020-03-01T23:53:19.649Z · score: 41 (12 votes)
Reviewing the Review 2020-02-26T02:51:20.159Z · score: 47 (12 votes)
Slack Budget: 3 surprise problems per week 2020-02-25T21:52:16.314Z · score: 39 (18 votes)
The Relational Stance 2020-02-11T05:16:06.900Z · score: 49 (18 votes)
Long Now, and Culture vs Artifacts 2020-02-03T21:49:25.367Z · score: 27 (9 votes)
Bay Winter Solstice seating-scarcity 2020-02-01T23:09:39.563Z · score: 3 (3 votes)
How would we check if "Mathematicians are generally more Law Abiding?" 2020-01-12T20:23:05.479Z · score: 28 (5 votes)
Please Critique Things for the Review! 2020-01-11T20:59:49.312Z · score: 51 (13 votes)
Being a Robust Agent 2020-01-11T02:06:45.467Z · score: 121 (47 votes)
Clumping Solstice Singalongs in Groups of 2-4 2020-01-05T20:50:51.247Z · score: 15 (2 votes)
Meta-discussion from "Circling as Cousin to Rationality" 2020-01-03T21:38:16.387Z · score: 12 (5 votes)
Voting Phase UI: Aggregating common comments? 2019-12-31T03:48:41.024Z · score: 10 (1 votes)
What are the most exciting developments from non-Europe and/or non-Northern-Hemisphere? 2019-12-29T01:30:05.246Z · score: 14 (3 votes)
Propagating Facts into Aesthetics 2019-12-19T04:09:17.816Z · score: 85 (26 votes)
"You can't possibly succeed without [My Pet Issue]" 2019-12-19T01:12:15.502Z · score: 53 (24 votes)
Karate Kid and Realistic Expectations for Disagreement Resolution 2019-12-04T23:25:59.608Z · score: 82 (28 votes)
What are the requirements for being "citable?" 2019-11-28T21:24:56.682Z · score: 44 (11 votes)
Can you eliminate memetic scarcity, instead of fighting? 2019-11-25T02:07:58.596Z · score: 66 (22 votes)
The LessWrong 2018 Review 2019-11-21T02:50:58.262Z · score: 105 (29 votes)
Picture Frames, Window Frames and Frameworks 2019-11-03T22:09:58.181Z · score: 32 (7 votes)
Healthy Competition 2019-10-20T20:55:48.265Z · score: 57 (21 votes)
Noticing Frame Differences 2019-09-30T01:24:20.435Z · score: 145 (57 votes)
Meetups: Climbing uphill, flowing downhill, and the Uncanny Summit 2019-09-21T22:48:56.004Z · score: 27 (6 votes)
[Site Feature] Link Previews 2019-09-17T23:03:12.818Z · score: 35 (9 votes)
Modes of Petrov Day 2019-09-17T02:47:31.469Z · score: 68 (26 votes)
Are there technical/object-level fields that make sense to recruit to LessWrong? 2019-09-15T21:53:36.272Z · score: 26 (10 votes)
September Bragging Thread 2019-08-30T21:58:45.918Z · score: 52 (15 votes)
OpenPhil on "GiveWell’s Top Charities Are (Increasingly) Hard to Beat" 2019-08-24T23:28:59.705Z · score: 11 (2 votes)
LessLong Launch Party 2019-08-23T22:18:39.484Z · score: 13 (4 votes)


Comment by raemon on Sunday September 20, 12:00PM (PT) — talks by Eric Rogstad, Daniel Kokotajlo and more · 2020-09-20T20:49:40.399Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

(this PR is already live on production)

Comment by raemon on Comparative advantage and when to blow up your island · 2020-09-20T03:48:08.824Z · score: 13 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Curated. I've read several explanations of comparative advantage over the years, and I found this to be among the most clear and accessible ones that I've read. I also liked the juxtaposition with ZOPA. I found Villiam's followup comment additionally helpful for solidifying how a couple different economics principles fit together.

Comment by raemon on Draft report on AI timelines · 2020-09-19T00:54:53.471Z · score: 7 (5 votes) · LW · GW

I'm assuming part of the point is the LW crosspost still buries things in a hard-to-navigate google doc, which prevents it from easily getting cited or going viral, and Ajeya is asking/hoping for trust that they can get the benefit of some additional review from a wider variety of sources.

Comment by raemon on Covid 9/17: It’s Worse · 2020-09-18T00:56:30.489Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I was going off wikipedia California Wildfires (search for "Post-2000")

I've heard mixed things about the "preventing the burn" – my current very very vague correct-me-if-I'm-wrong understanding is that "people actively preventing burns" was a 20th century thing, and nowadays there's some kind of consensus of "okay we need to do more planned burns", but, it's sort of intrinsically tricky how to cause that or incentivize it. (because, it is still totally possible for people doing controlled burns to fuck up and cause major damage, and it's some combination of 'politically unpalatable' and possibly also 'actually a bad idea' to just encourage people to burn things willy nilly)

Comment by raemon on Covid 9/17: It’s Worse · 2020-09-17T23:01:22.899Z · score: 6 (3 votes) · LW · GW

For frame of reference, looks like ~3 million acres burned this year, and in the past decade it's ranged from half a million to 1.5 million or so. 

So, while this is more than usual, and probably we'll regress to the mean a bit anyway, it's not like this year was so much more that we should expect it to dramatically change future years.

Comment by raemon on Book Review: Working With Contracts · 2020-09-17T22:36:31.381Z · score: 14 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Curated. In addition to giving me an overall grounding in "what's up with contracts?", I was particular intrigued by the parallels with software development. 

I'm interested in learning more about whether there have been any startup-y attempts to do some manner of "integrate lessons from software development into contract design".

Comment by raemon on capybaralet's Shortform · 2020-09-17T00:45:06.153Z · score: 4 (2 votes) · LW · GW

(You can manually specify "I'm curious about X [I don't mean to be asking you about it, just mentioning that I'm curious about it, no pressure if you don't want to go into it.]". But, that is indeed a clunkier statement, and probably defeats the point of you being able to casually mention it in the first place.)

I am somewhat curious what you're hoping to get out of being able to say things like "I'm curious about X" if it's not intended as a passive request. I think the answers here of how to communicate across cultures will depend a lot on what specific thing you're trying to communicate and why and how (and then covering that with a variety of patches, which are specific to the topic in question)

Comment by raemon on capybaralet's Shortform · 2020-09-17T00:16:59.719Z · score: 6 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Cultures depend on shared assumptions of trust, and indeed, if they don't share your assumptions, you can't just unilaterally declare a culture. (I think the short answer is "unless you want to onboard someone else into your culture, you probably can't just do the sort of thing you want to do.")

I recommend checking out Reveal Culture, which tackles some of this.

Comment by raemon on Most Prisoner's Dilemmas are Stag Hunts; Most Stag Hunts are Battle of the Sexes · 2020-09-15T20:36:10.327Z · score: 6 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Okay. I think I get what you are saying now, but it wasn't clear on my initial read through.

I did understand on the initial read-through (or, currently think I understand?) that when you say "most games turn out to be Battle of the Sexes in practice", you mean that there is an emergent property of the iterated game that turns it into Battle of the Sexes.

My current summary of what you are intending to say (correct me if I got it wrong ) is:

1. Most prisoners dilemma games are actually iterated.

2. Iterated prisoners dilemma is actually a different game with a different payoff matrix that has a different set of nash equilibria. Choosing which strategy to play in iterated prisoner's dilemma is similar to playing Stag Hunt.

3. Then there is a further step where the process of deciding on how to coordinate (meta-strategy?) that you are choosing in a stag hunt is more similar to battle of the sexes.

I think what I was missing the first time through was #2. I was intepreting you to mean "the thing about stag hunts is that they are iterated, and your PD is probably iterated", where what you actually meant was "your PD is iterated, and iterated PD is actually isomorphic to stag hunt." 

Comment by raemon on How To Fermi Model · 2020-09-15T05:13:09.746Z · score: 6 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Curated. This seems like a good rationalist skill that (I suspect) feeds into other skills. I'm glad to have a clear writeup of it.

Comment by raemon on Most Prisoner's Dilemmas are Stag Hunts; Most Stag Hunts are Battle of the Sexes · 2020-09-15T00:37:01.803Z · score: 10 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Only a third of the way through so far, but confused – you cite "iteration and enforcement mechanisms" as things that make PDs more like Stag Hunts. But, isn't iteration and enforcement a property that either PD or SH can have? My understanding of the difference between  PD and Stag Hunt was about what the actual payoffs are, and that C/C can be a nash equilibrium because you wouldn't get more payoff by defecting (although D/D is also a nash equilibrium)

Comment by raemon on Gems from the Wiki: Acausal Trade · 2020-09-13T20:16:06.242Z · score: 9 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I just went and made this a linkpost. One of the interesting questions we're grappling with is how to make wiki articles more integrated into the rest of the LW experience.

Comment by raemon on romeostevensit's Shortform · 2020-09-13T06:56:52.440Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I feel like we had a tag that was something like "stuff I wish someone would build", but can't remember what we call it. (That said, alas, you can't yet tag shortform posts)

Comment by raemon on Covid 9/10: Vitamin D · 2020-09-11T01:17:07.317Z · score: 6 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Done. (FYI, when you say "re-import" all we do is copy-paste the post from your blog into the LW editor. Happy to keep doing it but there's nothing magic going on)*

*okay we click one additional button on the edit-post page to convert it from HTML to LessWrong Docs.

Comment by raemon on Design thoughts for building a better kind of social space with many webs of trust · 2020-09-11T01:13:14.840Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Wouldn't be tolerated, generally. Arborists would simply not have weed in their curation nets.

If you're intending this as a top down decree I could see it, but if you're making a prediction about how people would use an open-ended system I think you're wrong.

Comment by raemon on romeostevensit's Shortform · 2020-09-10T04:31:59.996Z · score: 9 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I'd settle for "single master key for my online statuses", period, before trying to get fancy with the bedroom door.

Comment by raemon on How To Fermi Model · 2020-09-09T19:38:18.280Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Then, in step 2 (blue), you move down a level of abstraction to generate models applicable to each reference class (with no regard for the original question.) 

Then in step 3 (green), you apply the models generated in step 2 and 3 to the original question. 

I think the colors are backwards here? (But some combination of flux and california being on fire might be fucking with my perception and I am less confident than usual)

Comment by raemon on Stop pressing the Try Harder button · 2020-09-06T17:53:53.388Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

While reading the post, I felt a weird sense that I already had a "don't rely on the Try Harder button" meme in my head that I used, which wasn't what this post was talking about.

I agree with Guy that "stop planning to press the try harder button" more closely captures what this post is saying. "Stop vaguely intending to press the try harder button without even having a plan" seems to most match the initial anecdote. 

Comment by raemon on The Best Virtual Worlds for "Hanging Out" · 2020-09-06T02:34:06.610Z · score: 6 (3 votes) · LW · GW is a very weird trap and I don't understand why it still exists instead of just redirecting to Gather Town. (it's, like, way worse than's free version)

Comment by raemon on The Best Virtual Worlds for "Hanging Out" · 2020-09-06T02:30:16.687Z · score: 10 (3 votes) · LW · GW

UPDATES Sept 5 2020

  • Online Town is now Gather Town. They have continued to ship new features and improve their service in the past few months. (note that while still exists as a separate url for some reason, it's a much worse product. The free Gather Town is better. Use that)
  • There are several apps similar to Gather Town now. My favorite is Topia. It is less stable / performant than Gather Town, but also much prettier and easier to build maps on. Other options include and, and Each have different strengths and weaknesses. I hope to do another article comparing them someday.
  • I've found Minecraft worked fine as a social activity, but surprisingly didn't hold my interest as a world – ironically every time I went to a shared Minecraft world I just... sortof "played Minecraft" rather than actually hanging out the way I'd envisioned. I have done a few specific "Minecraft hikes" which went well as a one-off thing though.
Comment by raemon on Objective Dog Ratings: An Introduction & Explanation · 2020-09-05T00:05:09.395Z · score: 9 (3 votes) · LW · GW

(Worth noting there has been previous LW discussion of Against Dog Ownership over here)

Comment by raemon on What's the best overview of common Micromorts? · 2020-09-04T17:42:29.584Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

This actually looks pretty close to the thing I wanted, thanks!

Comment by raemon on What's the best overview of common Micromorts? · 2020-09-03T19:38:00.776Z · score: 8 (5 votes) · LW · GW

I guess the actual real question is "Is there a good blogpost somewhere that 80/20s the overall question of 'what are some reasonable/least-bad-ways of quantifying risk, and gives a rough rundown of how various common activities compare'?"

It might be that another way of reframing the question is "Could someone write a LW style book review of the Norm Chronicles?" (looks like I should perhaps read it in full, but it'd still be useful to have the key takeaways summarized)

Comment by raemon on Notes on "The Anthropology of Childhood" · 2020-09-03T02:31:03.162Z · score: 4 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Curated. I enjoyed the huge array of facts presented here, which shook me out of some of my preconceptions about childhood. Book reviews that summarize and distill takeaways are always appreciated.

I do think the post would benefit from a bit more high level structure, but it seems solid as-is.

Comment by raemon on A tool to estimate COVID risk from common activities · 2020-09-01T04:52:09.429Z · score: 5 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I think you're reading more into the bar thing than is intended. It's not meant to be a strong statement about all bars, it's just one of a list of examples to give you a sense of what different parameters look like. 

I do think it'd be a bit of an improvement to make the bar dropdown more specific (ie. "Go to a loud, indoor bar"), but that feels more like a slight tweak than a major adjustment to target audience.

Comment by raemon on A tool to estimate COVID risk from common activities · 2020-08-31T22:42:27.366Z · score: 17 (6 votes) · LW · GW


We've been steering away from frontpaging Covid content on LW because it's not timeless, but make occasional exceptions for things that seem particularly important. "Importance" is a bit of a judgment call, but this post and app seems to make a significant improvement in how people can reason about their covid safety. I know a lot of people who were defaulting to pretty strict rules because thinking about each individual case was too cognitively taxing, and having this guide is really helpful for moving into the longterm "how to reason about covid for the next year."

I'd be interested in people continuing to sanity-check the numbers and some of the judgment calls in the math/science, but it looks like it's gotten enough impromptu review for me to feel comfortable at least using it as a supplemental decisionmaking aid.

Comment by raemon on MikkW's Shortform · 2020-08-31T01:19:58.122Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Gotcha. What's the metric that it's cheaper on?

Comment by raemon on MikkW's Shortform · 2020-08-31T01:03:19.125Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Huh, somehow while chatting with you I got the impression that it was the opposite (chlorophyll more effective than solar panels). Might have just misheard.

Comment by raemon on A tool to estimate COVID risk from common activities · 2020-08-30T01:32:16.898Z · score: 22 (8 votes) · LW · GW

I'd also like to include this additional risk calculator by Peter Hurford, both for cross-checking the various risk-levels, and because I found Peter's spreadsheet to be helpful for orienting around "what sort of risk do I want to expose myself to?".

Comment by raemon on A tool to estimate COVID risk from common activities · 2020-08-29T23:15:26.369Z · score: 19 (9 votes) · LW · GW

Thanks. This is great.

A thing I'd be interested in (but I acknowledge it's a bit tricky to navigate), is somehow better leveraging the wisdom of crowds here. I like that the tool as-is is pretty clean and simple, and I like that you provide the raw spreadsheet for people to go tweak the variables to match their own epistemics. 

It'd be nice if I could see how much disagreement there was on the risk analysis of individual components, and ideally see what people's reasoning was. 

There's a lot of trickiness in "if you just let anyone submit disagreeing statements, you're opening yourself up to managing arguments about whether so-and-so is a crackpot or whatever" and that sounds like a huge pain, I'm not sure if there's a way to sidestep that.

But, my ideal version of this lets me see different estimates with associated reasoning, and then make some kind of judgment call on my own of whether to go with's default estimate, or wisdom of crowds, or subset-of-wisdom-of-crowds if I trust some people's judgment more than others.

Comment by raemon on TurnTrout's shortform feed · 2020-08-28T04:49:24.751Z · score: 4 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Boggling a bit at the "can you actually reliably find angry people and/or make people angry on purpose?"

Comment by raemon on Are We Right about How Effective Mockery Is? · 2020-08-27T21:15:53.812Z · score: 9 (6 votes) · LW · GW

As noted recently, I am super into LessWrongers doing more Actual Empiricism. I think this survey had some flaws but on the margin I'd like to see more things like it, and I really liked how it doubled as an exploration of your thought process and letting people practice predictions.

(A genre of LW post I'd like to see is something like a Question asking "how should I design a survey to figure out X?" and then people workshop the idea a bit, and then actually go run it in

Comment by raemon on Open & Welcome Thread - December 2019 · 2020-08-27T05:45:05.873Z · score: 4 (2 votes) · LW · GW


Comment by raemon on ricraz's Shortform · 2020-08-27T05:09:21.433Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I basically agree with your 5-step model (I at least agree it's a more accurate description than Babel and Prune, which I just meant as rough shorthand). I'd add things like "original research/empiricism" or "more rigorous theorizing" to the "Extensive Scholarship" step. 

I see the LW Review as basically the first of (what I agree should essentially be at least) a 5 step process. It's adding a stronger Step 2, and a bit of Step 5 (at least some people chose to rewrite their posts to be clearer and respond to criticism)


Currently, we do get non-zero Extensive Scholarship and Original Empiricism. (Kaj's Multi-Agent Models of Mind seems like it includes real scholarship. Scott Alexander / Eli Tyre and Bucky's exploration into Birth Order Effects seemed like real empiricism). Not nearly as much as I'd like.

But John's comment elsethread seems significant:

If the cost of evaluating a hypothesis is high, and hypotheses are cheap to generate, I would like to generate a great deal before selecting one to evaluate.

This reminded of a couple posts in the 2018 Review, Local Validity as Key to Sanity and Civilization, and Is Clickbait Destroying Our General Intelligence?. Both of those seemed like "sure, interesting hypothesis. Is it real tho?"

During the Review I created a followup "How would we check if Mathematicians are Generally More Law Abiding?" question, trying to move the question from Stage 2 to 3. I didn't get much serious response, probably because, well, it was a much harder question.

But, honestly... I'm not sure it's actually a question that was worth asking. I'd like to know if Eliezer's hypothesis about mathematicians is true, but I'm not sure it ranks near the top of questions I'd want people to put serious effort into answering. 

I do want LessWrong to be able to followup Good Hypotheses with Actual Research, but it's not obvious which questions are worth answering. OpenPhil et al are paying for some types of answers, I think usually by hiring researchers full time. It's not quite clear what the right role for LW to play in the ecosystem.

Comment by raemon on The Best Toy In The Park · 2020-08-26T22:49:58.348Z · score: 7 (4 votes) · LW · GW

You seem (to me) to be making an extremely strong claim that the number of posts like this should be zero (as opposed to like 1-3 per year).

I'm still pretty uncertain about whether this post should be frontpaged, but that just seems like an extremely strong claim to me.

Comment by raemon on The Best Toy In The Park · 2020-08-26T22:15:08.063Z · score: 4 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I'm not saying that's not a key purpose, but I don't think it can or should be the only purpose. 

Note that the current LW frontpage post is on average much longer than the original sequences – those contained many instances of Eliezer spelling out one idea with one example very clearly and concisely. And I think this was good. I think this was both good pedagogically for readers, and good for Eliezer's own writing/work ethic.

I think there is potentially some argument that posts like this should be shortform rather than top-level posts, but I currently lean against it. But if so, I'd want shortform better integrated than it currently is, such that reading shortform is a more natural thing to build LW habits around. 

But I think you get much more intellectual progress if you enable small bite sized posts like this than if you don't. I don't think Jeff was at all likely to build up a theory of what makes toys fun and write an extensive post on them. But I do think other people are more likely now to take this example and have it mulling in the back of their head, and have it feed into more comprehensive ideas.

(One of) the points of frontpage is to give newcomers a sense of what to expect from LessWrong overall, that is representative of where the overall site is trying to go. This includes ideas at different stages of the pipeline. Again, this is not a post I'd want to have here all the time – I frontpage maybe 1 in 20 of Jeff's personal-blog-style posts, and current there aren't many other personal-blog-style posts that get written. All I'm arguing here is the number should probably be non-zero.

On the readership side – if every LessWrong post required booting up deep thinking mode, then people would only come to LessWrong when they felt able to Deep Think, which is actually pretty rare. A key point of LW in my mind is to leverage a lot of untapped intellectual capital via the power of "being fun and feeling low effort." We're not paying people to be here.

Comment by raemon on Do you vote based on what you think total karma should be? · 2020-08-26T21:50:33.700Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I think "blind voting" captures the distinction better – the key difference is whether you're supposed to look at or model the outcome.

Btw another reason I think "take total karma into account" is important is because of how big a slap downvotes feel like. Blind voting both means that "mildly good comments" will get like 80 karma, but also means that mildly bad comments will get like -80 karma, which would make the site feel very punishing.

Comment by raemon on Do you vote based on what you think total karma should be? · 2020-08-26T21:09:31.610Z · score: 6 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I want to note that the I see the "vote towards the ideal karma" as completely compatible with "vote your belief."

I think there are two fairly different questions here:

  • Should your vote include your beliefs about how much you want other people to see a given post, or what you think is best for others?
  • Should you vote based on your ideal total-karma for a post

It so happens I think we might disagree about both of them (and disagree about what the best interpretation of the current rules are about them). But, those are quite different questions, and you can do the second based entirely on your own preferences/beliefs. 

When a post is at 50, I can think that is a bit too high just from my general sense of what I want to see more of on the site. And it's be throwing away information about my own beliefs to not give me the fine-gradation of "I want to see these posts on the site about as often as I would if they got 50 karma, not the amount that I would if they got 200 karma."

Comment by raemon on The Best Toy In The Park · 2020-08-26T21:07:09.363Z · score: 7 (4 votes) · LW · GW

My take is something similar to Dagon's: I think I want nonzero posts like this in the LessWrong feed – the fact that it's short and playful and just gets me thinking about stuff without requiring me to boot up a "deep thinking mode" is in fact a key part of why I like it.

I agree there is also a "what sort of toys produce deep fun" bigger blogpost that goes into more depth that should maybe exist some day. But meanwhile I actively do want to have blogposts with a range of depth, and for some to be more like "here's one concrete example" than "here's a bunch of examples and an overarching theory."

I don't currently have a principled stance of "exactly how often and when should posts like this be on frontpage", like Dagon noted elsethread it's sort of important that that be vague and non-gameable.

Comment by raemon on The Best Toy In The Park · 2020-08-26T20:23:03.548Z · score: 4 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I think the topic of "which toys have deep fun" is fairly tightly coupled in my mind with "how do human values even work? How do we make a future that is good?" 

(Note that I don't think this means this post should automatically be frontpaged, I do still consider it a weird edge case)

I think the other two posts you list are also plausibly frontpage, and I don't currently have a strong opinion on whether it was a mistake to not frontpage them. (There is still some amount of 'stuff falls through the cracks sometimes')

Comment by raemon on Do you vote based on what you think total karma should be? · 2020-08-26T19:36:38.244Z · score: 4 (2 votes) · LW · GW

There's a hypothetical direction we could go where voting-weight is determined based on your vote frequency. The main disadvantage of this is that it becomes a lot harder to predict and conceptualize what voting does.

One hesitation habryka had about penalizing excessive strong downvotes is people would end up trying to conserve them as a resource, like a videogame where you end up hoarding all your potions because you "might need them some day" and never actually use them.

Comment by raemon on The Best Toy In The Park · 2020-08-26T19:34:48.736Z · score: 4 (2 votes) · LW · GW

The vitamin D post looks straightforwardly frontpage. I'm guessing that at the time, it wasn't frontpaged simply because we didn't have good infrastructure yet for making sure we evaluated each post.

Comment by raemon on ricraz's Shortform · 2020-08-26T05:56:26.144Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Yeah, this is roughly how I think about it.

I do think right now LessWrong should lean more in the direction the Richard is suggesting – I think it was essential to establish better Babble procedures but now we're doing well enough on that front that I think setting clearer expectations of how the eventual pruning works is reasonable. 

Comment by raemon on Forecasting Thread: AI Timelines · 2020-08-26T02:28:47.559Z · score: 14 (7 votes) · LW · GW


I think this was a quite interesting experiment in LW Post format. Getting to see everyone's probability-distributions in visual graph format felt very different from looking at a bunch of numbers in a list, or seeing them averaged together. I especially liked some of the weirder shapes of some people's curves.

This is a bit of an offbeat curation, but I think it's good to periodically highlight experimental formats like this.

Comment by raemon on The Best Toy In The Park · 2020-08-25T23:11:17.642Z · score: 12 (9 votes) · LW · GW

(mod note)

I generally am not sure how to think about the Frontpage status of Jefftk posts (and other similar types of posts), which are sort of a frequently-posted-slice-of-life blogposts. Most of them are technically meeting the frontpage norms, but the site'd feel a bit weird if too many of them were frontpaged. I don't have a principled opinion on the matter. I tend to mostly leave them on personal blog because they in fact feel like "personal blogposts."

This one seemed like it was getting at something that I found fairly conceptually interesting, and I sort of Frontpaged it on a whim. It looks like the voting is a bit controversial, which maybe is a sign I should have left it on Personal Blog.

I'm posting this mostly so people have some insight into what it's like what the mods make judgment calls they aren't sure about.

Comment by raemon on Do you vote based on what you think total karma should be? · 2020-08-25T23:07:27.690Z · score: 4 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I have a close-to-deontological belief in the need to obey the rules of a community that's trying to create things together

To be clear, I agree with this, it's just that in this case I think it's actually kinda important that the rules of karma are vague and underspecified (so that it can handle a wide variety of problems in different contexts), and trying to "follow the letter of the law" deontologically probably isn't a good use of your effort.

Comment by raemon on Do you vote based on what you think total karma should be? · 2020-08-25T23:03:24.580Z · score: 4 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I actually think it's fairly bad that Strong Upvotes aren't asshole-filter-proof, and in this case I bite the bullet in the direction of "we should limit the power of strong upvotes somehow so they can't be abused." (I've thought this for awhile, it just hasn't been top priority, and/or the team couldn't come up with an improvement that seemed better to everyone)

That said, I think you did just remind me that there a ton of vulnerabilities in the karma system that absolutely rely on people not abusing them most of the time, and yeah I just actually retract that part of my argument. I do think we should eventually someday have a karma system that's more resilient, and the only reason it's not a higher priority is that in fact people are mostly good people, and the system just actually mostly works, so it's not as high priority as other site changes.

But, I do still stand by "manipulating the position/weighting/visibility of posts is basically what "see more / less of this" is actually supposed to mean, and is basically in the spirit of it.

We encourage people to vote such that upvote means “I want to see more of this” and downvote means “I want to see less of this.”

I basically always interpreted this to mean "I want to see more/less of this, and among the things that factor into what I want to see more/less of are subtle things about site norms that impact other people." 

I realize it's ambiguously worded.

My overall biggest crux here is "Karma is so far away from being a robust system that means concrete things that you just shouldn't worry too much about what exactly it means. You should know that other people are using it differently from you [for any value of 'you']. It's a vague, kludgy approximation that seems to mostly output reasonable things, and that's basically fine for now."

Comment by raemon on Forecasting Thread: AI Timelines · 2020-08-25T21:23:07.769Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Do you think the human brain uses quantum computing? (It's not obvious that human brain structure is any easier to replicate than quantum computing, and I haven't thought about this at all, but it seems like an existence proof of a suitable "hardware", and I'd weakly guess it doesn't use QC)

Comment by raemon on Do you vote based on what you think total karma should be? · 2020-08-25T20:27:14.322Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Also note:

If instead I am trying to judge how much value I think the average LWer would get out of it then I think this gets really hard to assess.

I think this sort of problem is still there if you're not trying to "move posts towards the 'correct' karma." 

"I want to see less/more of this" still depends on "how good do I think this is for LW as a whole?"

Comment by raemon on Do you vote based on what you think total karma should be? · 2020-08-25T20:25:16.809Z · score: 4 (2 votes) · LW · GW

(note: none of this is representing LW team opinion or anything)

I think karma is sufficiently noisy that trying to get some kind of "real" information out of it is already pretty intractable. People definitely vary in how they use it – some people vote liberally, some people vote rarely, some people use it as a "yay/boo" thing for things they disagree with, some people use it in some principled fashion. I'm betting that almost nobody consciously considers whether to upvote every single comment they read.

(Note that we deliberately don't show number of upvotes/downvotes on a post (mostly for a reason unrelated to this, but it means that "how many people downvoted this" is not public information that is supposed to communicate anything))

In my mind, the algorithm I'm implementing is still the "do you want to see more/less of this?", I just also have a vague term for "more/less relative to what?". If I see a bunch of people have upvoted a thing that I want to see more of, enough that I feel like the system has already given it enough reinforcement, I feel less inclined to upvote it myself, because the system already was giving it the amount of "more of this" that I wanted.

This just seems like the usual system with a bit more information, rather than less, to me.

Karma has a few concrete effects on the site: how long posts stay on the home page, whether comments get collapsed, and how comments and sometimes posts get sorted on a page. I think is basically fine to use voting to deliberately manipulate those things, based on your judgment of how relatively important a post/comment is. That essentially is the operationalization of what it means to want "more or less of this", and it seems super reasonable to have that be encouraged rather than treated as an abuse of the system (otherwise, you have a system that relies on people avoiding being strategic, which is an asshole filter)

Downvoting a comment because it's getting sorted to the top of a thread, when you think another comment is relatively more important, seems fine to me.

(This is in addition to "karma has some vague psychological effect on how high status / community-endorsed a post feels", which I think is also fine to vote on as another knob on the "less/more of this" thing)

Some notes on my own usage:

  • I very rarely downvote things because they are "too high." When I do that, it's in particular cases where I honestly think it was important that something was said, but there were some aspects of it that I definitely don't want too much of on the site. The prototypical example is a post that makes some good points, but also some bad points (or uses bad arguments). If it were to get 100+ karma, I'd feel pretty bad about a high profile post making bad arguments. But, it still contributed enough value that I'd also feel bad if it didn't get at least some reinforcement.
  • Usually, I make the decision once based how many people have already voted on a thing, and it's just a matter of "not bothering to upvote." If someone makes a clever joke, and it already has a few upvotes, I usually don't upvote it further. I like having clever jokes on LessWrong, but I think it's somewhat bad if they end up getting more karma than the more substantive comments.
  • I sometimes withdraw upvotes (on, say, a clever joke that ended up getting 70 karma, where when I first voted on it it only had 5). I do this more commonly than downvoting things that are "too high." Obviously I don't do this reliably, but I also wasn't reliably checking each comment and deciding how hard to upvote it and I don't expect most people were either. This doesn't seem like it adds any noise to the system to me beyond what was there already, and meanwhile I think sends a more accurate signal of "Rays preferences about what there should be more/less-of" than not doing that when I happen to notice.