The LessWrong team is currently focusing full-time on the coronavirus (Why?). We’ve made some pretty big asks with open questions like The LessWrong Research Agenda, and we’re super appreciative of everyone who’s participated and generally written really useful lit reviews and data analyses. But there are smaller ways to help as well. In order to shrink the barrier to entry as much as possible, here are three suggestions for Minimum Viable Help:
- Add a link to the LessWrong Coronavirus Link Database.
- Leave a comment with a link relevant to ongoing coronavirus discussion.
- Help proofread someone's post/comment before they post it.
Last updated: 23rd March. I will update this page as more opportunities arise.
1. Add to the LessWrong Coronavirus Link Database
We built a daily-updating database of links about the coronavirus. We've just moved it from Google Sheets to LessWrong.com so better analytics are incoming, but from looking at the google sheet I believe the database is getting traffic within a factor of 5 of LessWrong's total traffic (LW typically has ~60 active users at any given moment of the day).
Habryka, Elizabeth and I have been updating it daily for the past week. It currently has 306 links, organised into sections including "Spread & Prevention", "Work & Donate" and "Dashboards", ranked from 1 to 5 on how important we think that they are.
The goal of this database is to make it easy to find important information. Some examples of questions it can help you answer:
- "What's the best dashboard to follow global case counts?"
- "What's the best link to send to my parents?"
- "How long does COVID-19 last on different material surfaces?"
- "Where can I find that really good thread by Rob Wiblin I read last week?"
You can help out by entering links into the Link Submission Form.
It just has 3 entries: the URL, where you found it, and who you are (so we can thank people later). We processing links every day, so expect to see it added tomorrow. Please add any links you personally find valuable like papers, news articles, tweets and facebook posts. If you're not sure whether a link is valuable err on the side of inclusion and one of us will sort it out.
If you'd like to get daily updates of the links we have, Habryka's account publishes daily lists of the most important links (scoring 3+), and you can subscribe to him by clicking 'Subscribe to posts' at the top of his profile page.
(If you're one of the rare people who think both that this is a valuable public service and that you would like help build the database, you can help us with the data entry work using the more detailed LWC19 Database Data Entry Form, which takes ~5 mins to fill out per link (varying time depending on the link). If you submit 5 links this way, we'll reach out to thank you and give you better access to the database.)
To repeat: you can help out by entering links into the LW Covid Database with the Link Submission Form. If you'd like to make it easier for yourself, I recommend opening the page and adding it to your bookmarks (Cmd-D in Chrome) so that you can open it with one click.
2. Leave a comment with a coronavirus link on some relevant LW discussion
There's lots of coronavirus research being done on LessWrong. Jim Babcock has written many posts, Connor, Julia, Finan and Elizabeth contributed to the Justified Practical Advice Thread, Bucky did some work analysing the growth rate of outbreaks, Vipul wrote about planning for secondary effects of the crisis, and Elizabeth laid out concrete open questions in her LessWrong research agenda. To find all on-site Coronavirus content follow the Coronavirus Tag page.
You can help out LW's research by leaving a comment with a relevant link.
Where to find links?
- Search the Links Database and find the links that are relevant that haven't been discussed.
- Add a link to discussion on another part of the internet that you've already seen in your news feeds.
- Do a little googling yourself for relevant material and share what you find.
Remember: Partial progress is still progress! Share your work!
Connecting work like this is very helpful; it helps us build on others' work, gives more information and reduces the time spent retreading others' steps.
Where to find the coronavirus discussion on LessWrong to help out with? The schelling place is to check out Elizabeth's research agenda and to help out answering the open questions there. At the time of writing, the open questions are:
- What will the economic effects of a 3 week quarantine be? 3 months?
- What is my prognosis (short term or long term) if I am infected with coronavirus?
3. Proofread Someone's Post/Comment/Question
One barrier to publishing is worrying about stupid mistakes in your posts or comments. One way to remove that barrier is to have a second set of eyes look over it.
If you’re looking for those eyes or feel like you could be those eyes, the Open Thread this month is experimenting with a proofreading-and-editing matchmaking thread.
Leave a comment if you'd like to offer to proofread people's posts/comments, and also leave a comment if you have something you'd like to get proofread!
(If you're down for some full-on editing work, then that's also something you can also help out with in that thread.)
Thanks for all of your contributions. Please make sure you and your family are safe before helping others.
One big item I'd add to this list: reading through a paper/post/source in the links db, checking information in it, and writing a comment/post about what checks were performed and whether the source looks accurate. The top reason I consider LW a better source of information on coronavirus than other places is because the information here is more likely to be true (or at least have a well-calibrated indication of plausibility attached); having more LWers review primary work amplifies that advantage.
Yeah, strong upvote, I'll add this next time I update it, possibly in a few days.