The Core Tags

by Ruby1 min read22nd Apr 20205 comments


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Concepts and posts on the LessWrong site are organized according to six “core tags” which roughly segment the major clusters of content on the site. Users may wish to filter for or filter out these clusters.

The core tags:

  • Will have complete coverage over all content, i.e., moderators will have decided for every post which of these tags apply.
  • Are listed by default as filters when opening the tag settings on the Latest Posts. Other tags can be used as filters, but you have to search for them.

The core tags are designed to be mostly exclusive on posts but will overlap in some smallish percentage of cases.

The Tags


AI Alignment

World Modeling

World Optimization



Common Confusions

Rationality vs AI

Both Rationality and AI are about minds – that's why AI is such a natural fit on LessWrong– and this causes many ideas applying to AI to also apply to Rationality. Some posts and tag might legitimately belong to both, but a good heuristic is that Rationality content should be of interest to a reader even if they're not interested in the design or engineering of artificial intelligences.

Rationality vs Practical

Both of these apply to topics that help people do better. The distinction is that we want the Rationality to more exclusively about doing better by thinking better, in fancy words, by improving your cognitive algorithms. Practical, in contrast, is for all the object-level ways to do better, e.g. getting a good night's sleep and taking care of your health.

World Modeling vs The Rest

Almost all discussions on LessWrong concern models of the world, doesn't this tag apply to everything? Potentially, yes, but we wanted a name that applied to topics primarily driven by a broad curiosity about the world. Raw sciences and similar. "How does it work?" being the foremost question. Science might have been an alternative name, but many topics we wanted to include topics aren't implied by that, e.g. history.

In a way, the other core tags could be considered specialized sub-tags of World Modeling, and World Modeling is the catch-all for the rest.

World Optimization vs World Modeling

World Optimization is the tag intended to capture all discussion of topics directly relevant to trying to make the world a better place. That means discussion of altruistic causes, but also models of things which are especially relevant to changing things, e.g. incentive structures in large institutions. Many social models have felt appropriate in World Optimization for that reason.

World Optimization vs Practical

The difference between these two is largely scale. World Optimization concerns how we make the world at large better, while Practical are topics relevant to individuals trying to make their local situation. "Altruism vs Self-Help" isn't quite it but points in the correct direction.

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