Brief comment on frontpage/personal distinction

by Ben Pace1 min read1st May 20183 comments

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I recently moved a post back from frontpage to personal blog, a decision which was followed by confusion and had some pushback. Rather than have discussion on the post about the site (i.e. about not-the-post), I've copied my comment here instead.

A short background on this particular guideline (not having meta/community discussion on frontpage) and its purpose:

  • The purpose of the rule is to make sure we have a clear, well-defined space that users can go to and not expect to discover internal discussion or political discussion.
    • To contrast, my facebook wall often has interesting discussion followed by AGH ANGSTY TRIBAL CONFLICT, and if you think of Frontpage as analogous to how academic physics has journals where the best work goes in, it would be bad to also have internal / political discussion in those.
  • And to clarify, this isn't at all a question of quality. Resolving tribal conflict is an important part of rationality. But there are many many many many excellent posts that do not belong in Frontpage.

With that common knowledge, I read the structure of this post as being

  • Observation about the community
  • Laying out model of what's going on
  • Suggesting a different solution for the community

Which is a fine and good post. But I think it addresses a problem that many communities don't have, and so is fairly this-community-specific.

To give further information: a solution that would be totally fine-and-dandy would be to take the model of communities, status and reinforcement and write it as its own post on the Frontpage, then separately write a personal blog post on using to analyse this community. That way it could contribute to the ongoing building of knowledge while not being very context heavy (e.g. someone else could build on the theory alone), and also discuss the important community aspects.

People will naturally tend to read the social stuff a lot. I think this rule pushes against the direction of entropy where this is everything on LessWrong, rather than a thing that happens on LessWrong but not the point of LessWrong.

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I had some additional thoughts on this, in the context of this comment by Davis on Ialdabaoath's latest post.

This is my current take, without having touched base with other mods, but I am fairly confident we'd all agree about this upon reflection:

I think using fictionalized examples in frontpage posts or comments is fine. The issue we're trying to avoid with frontpage is having it be very context heavy social discussion, and/or the place where political conflict is getting resolved. As long as fictional examples don't quickly turn into thinly veiled references to real people I think they'd be useful for illustrative purposes.

Okay. In that case, whenever I notice ANY lapse in this rule's enforcement, I will let you know. If you're going to enforce this *at all*, you do not get even the chance of the appearance of partiality.

Thank you, genuinely. I really would appreciate posts in Meta letting us know when we've made an integrity mistake.

I will let you know that with the mass-import of legacy posts, we did not re-read each one (on the order of 10,000) to determine this, and at some point that problem needs to be solved, to maintain integrity of the categories.

I believe Oliver used an algorithm that put posts above a certain karma threshold in frontpage, and I think it will be required that he/Ray/I fix this if the categories become easier to search (but that at present the key place for enforcing this norm is new discussion). Probably the solution is to put all posts in personal and give mods a norm of moving frontpage-appropriate legacy content back to frontpage as-and-when they read it (which should happen significantly more as the site gets built up).

Actually that just seems good to me right now. If it's not too much time cost I'll ask Oli/Ray to do it now, and otherwise when they get around to improving search-by-category.