Mar 19, 2016
I have compiled many suggestions about the future of lesswrong into a document here:
It's long and best formatted there.
In case you hate leaving this website here's the summary:
There are 3 main areas that are going to change.
Technical/Direct Site Changes
new home page
new forum style with subdivisions
new sub for “friends of lesswrong” (rationality in the diaspora)
New tagging system
New karma system
Social and cultural changes
Positive culture; a good place to be.
Pillars of good behaviours (the ones we want to encourage)
Demonstrate by example
3 levels of social strategies (new, advanced and longtimers)
Content (emphasis on producing more rationality material)
For up-and-coming people to write more
for the community to improve their contributions to create a stronger collection of rationality.
For known existing writers
To encourage them to keep contributing
Lesswrong has gone through great times of growth and seen a lot of people share a lot of positive and brilliant ideas. It was hailed as a launchpad for MIRI, in that purpose it was a success. At this point it’s not needed as a launchpad any longer. While in the process of becoming a launchpad it became a nice garden to hang out in on the internet. A place of reasonably intelligent people to discuss reasonable ideas and challenge each other to update their beliefs in light of new evidence. In retiring from its “launchpad” purpose, various people have felt the garden has wilted and decayed and weeds have grown over. In light of this; and having enough personal motivation to decide I really like the garden, and I can bring it back! I just need a little help, a little magic, and some little changes. If possible I hope for the garden that we all want it to be. A great place for amazing ideas and life-changing discussions to happen.
Success is going to have to be estimated by changes to the feel of the site. Unfortunately that is hard to do. As we know outrage generates more volume than positive growth. Which is going to work against us when we try and quantify by measurable metrics. Assuming the technical changes are made; there is still going to be progress needed on the task of socially improving things. There are many “seasoned active users” - as well as “seasoned lurkers” who have strong opinions on the state of lesswrong and the discussion. Some would say that we risk dying of niceness, others would say that the weeds that need pulling are the rudeness.
Honestly we risk over-policing and under-policing at the same time. There will be some not-niceness that goes unchecked and discourages the growth of future posters (potentially our future bloggers), and at the same time some other niceness that motivates trolling behaviour as well as failing to weed out potential bad content which would leave us as fluffy as the next forum. there is no easy solution to tempering both sides of this challenge. I welcome all suggestions (it looks like a karma system is our best bet).
In the meantime I believe being on the general niceness, steelman side should be the motivated direction of movement. I hope to enlist some members as essentially coaches in healthy forum growth behaviour. Good steelmanning, positive encouragement, critical feedback as well as encouragement, a welcoming committee and an environment of content improvement and growth.
While at the same time I want everyone to keep up the heavy debate; I also want to see the best versions of ourselves coming out onto the publishing pages (and sometimes that can be the second draft versions).
So how will we know? By trying to reduce the ugh fields to people participating in LW, by seeing more content that enough people care about, by making lesswrong awesome.
The full document is just over 11 pages long. Please go read it, this is a chance to comment on potential changes before they happen.
Meta: This post took a very long time to pull together. I read over 1000 comments and considered the ideas contained there. I don't have an accurate account of how long this took to write; but I would estimate over 65 hours of work has gone into putting it together. It's been literally weeks in the making, I really can't stress how long I have been trying to put this together.
If you want to help, please speak up so we can help you help us. If you want to complain; keep it to yourself.
Thanks to the slack for keeping up with my progress and Vanvier, Mack, Leif, matt and others for reviewing this document.
As usual - My table of contents