LW Team Updates - October 2019

by Ruby 19d1st Oct 201910 comments

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Like last month, this is a once-monthly updates for LessWrong team activities and announcements.

Please also feel free to use the comments section on this post as a Schelling point to give feedback, file bug reports, or ask questions you have about the site. (You can also email us, ask a question, use Intercom, or message us via our FB page.)

Recent Features

Link Previews

We successfully shipped Link Previews in September. Now when you hover of an embedded link you get a pop-up, for internal links to LessWrong posts you get a preview. See the full announcement here.


Improvements to the Community Map

In the course of supporting SSC Meetups Everywhere, we've made a few improvements to the community map on our Community page.

  • In addition to Groups and Events, now users can also add themselves to the map together with some info about what they're looking for or willing to do, e.g. someone can list themselves as willing to arrange local meetups if there are enough people in their area.
  • You can sign up for event and group notifications, as well as notifications for once there are N people within a given radius from you.
  • The UI has been improved.
  • The map is now more performant.

For more information about the LessWrong community section, including the different event types (LW/SSC/EA/MIRIx), see the relevant section of our FAQ.

Upcoming Features

Although we hoped to deliver them in September, the subscriptions overhaul and new editor are still under works. Unless things go terribly wrong, they should be released this month. Convert Comments to Posts is currently blocked behind some tech debt.

We might announce plans for additional near-term features once we've completed our Q4 planning.

General Updates

Petrov Day

On September 26th, 1983, Stanislav Petrov, a Russian lieutenant colonel, decided not to report an [in fact false] alarm of incoming missiles from the US, thereby likely preventing nuclear war. September 26 has since become a Rationalist community holiday celebrating the calamity that did not occur that day and reminding us of the dangers present in a world powerful dual-use technologies.

LessWrong commemorated Petrov Day this year from the unilateralist curse angle and turned the site into a live exercise and experiment. A big red button was placed on the homepage and 125 users were given launch codes with the power to bring down the frontpage for 24 hours.

The LessWrong frontpage on Petrov Day

Though some considered it, hearteningly, no one entered launch codes and LessWrong remained safe.

Read the full debrief here.

Meetups Month

September was the month for SSC Meetups Everywhere. To support this, the LessWrong team placed the community map on the frontpage for most of the month. Over a hundred SSC Everywhere meetups took place over the month and Scott Alexander, MIRI team members, and a few others went on tour to visit them.

Meetups for LessWrong, Slate Star Codex, Effective Altruism, and MIRIx continue to happen throughout the year. Check them out on the community page.

Curated Emails are currently down

Users subscribed to emails for curated posts may have noticed these haven't been coming through. We're aware and have a fix, however the fix is risky to the rest of the site and we've been waiting for a good opportunity to test it, hopefully soon. The RSS feed for posts, including curated posts, is working fine.

Q3 was Metrics Quarter

In Q3, the LessWrong team experimented with targeting a metric. While we have no expectation that any simple metrics could reliably track our long-term goals and values, it seemed instructive to see how much we could move a simple metric if we really tried. For a quarter, we attempted to follow Paul Graham's advice and get 7% weekly growth on a value that mattered.

Stand by for a post describing the experiment and how it went.

Ways to Follow LessWrong

We've been expanding the number of ways people can consume LessWrong content beyond the site. These now include:

The Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn accounts receive regular updates M/W/F of a mix of curated posts, top all-time content, and outstanding new content.

Feedback & Support

The team can be reached for feedback and support via:


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