There are a few places where rationalists debate on internet outside of Less Wrong. Sometimes those places were created for debates that do not belong to the LW website, such as politics or investing. Sometimes they were created for a specific subgroup of rationalists, for example people who attend the same meetup. Some of them are on Slack, some of them are on Discord, some of them are on Facebook, and probably there are other places.
I propose the following:
- Let's make a list of all the places where LessWrong rationalists debate currently.
- Let's consider whether it would make sense to reduce the number of these places -- either by choosing among the existing ones, or creating a new one.
- Afterwards, let's make the remaining places visible enough on the Less Wrong website, to avoid reinventing the wheel in the future.
This proposal only concerns the online forums of LessWrong rationalists, or a subset thereof (such as local meetups, or rationalists who are interested in some specific topic). It does not concern websites for wider audience, such as rationality-adjacent, or Slate Star Codex / Astral Codex Ten, or meta/post/dark/whatever rationalists, or effective altruists, or whatever. -- The idea is that the unified forum should still be populated by Less Wrong audience (rather than by general public), keeping the consensus on rationality, science, reductionism, and preserving the above-average quality of discourse.
On websites such as Slack or Discord, it is possible to create separate channels / chat rooms, and join a selected subset of them. I assume the unified forum would also have parts that are interesting only for a subset of members, such as specific topics, or maybe specific meetups. -- This would remove the need to create a separate forum for specific topics or meetups, as long as you want to debate these with (a subset of) fellow rationalists.
I would prefer not using Facebook, to keep our rationalist digital identities separated from our real names and jobs. (Also, Facebook is addictive, and its UI sucks.)
The thing I am specifically trying to avoid here, is the unnecessary fragmentation, where people duplicate things simply because they don't know these already exist at a different place. (Specifically, my trigger was getting an invitation to join a new discussion for "rationalists interested in investing", when I already know about two other such places, and it would obviously make more sense to join all these three groups together to achieve greater "wisdom of crowds". Each of these places was created independently, split from an already small group of rationalists that created their own discussion site for some other purpose. I assume there are similarly duplicate spaces to discuss politics, exercise, nutrition, books, etc.)
I can also imagine some possible disadvantages of a unified forum: too much noise from having too many people (or maybe some people who write too much), disagreement on shared norms such as Overton window in political debates or the level of evidence required for lifestyle debates, etc. But I think these can be solved by having the subforums. And the worst case is that we can return to the current situation (it's not like we have to delete the old places). Therefore, I think this is worth trying.