Regular Lesswronger's interviews

by Elo1 min read13th Jun 201512 comments


Personal Blog

As was commented by Clarity:

Perhaps someone can do a interview to differentiate his mind and rationality from others. For instance, his motivation for different posts or blog posts- or to what extent he consciously optimises his optimisation processes. Gwern, if you feel this is inappropriate and would rather not be put in the spotlight, make your feelings known and I'll won't hassle you further.

Otherwise, for the sake of developing my rationalist skill set and knowledge, I'd like to know more. Elo, would you be so kind as to consider conducting an indepth case study type interview?



I am more than happy to start a small project in interviewing LW'ers of active participation.

With that in mind:

  1. Who would you like to have interviewed? (can be multiples)
  2. What would you ask them? (can be multiples)
    2a. what would generally be good questions for interviews of lesswrongers?
  3. What format would you prefer (will survey in the comments)?


Would you like to be interviewed?
Do you have a project that you would like to be interviewed about?

Disclosure: I am personally concerned with raising the profile, status and existence of in-person meetups, so I would probably include a few questions about:

  • Where are you from?
  • Which meetups have you visited?
  • What was the most valuable thing you found in a meetup?
Other questions would probably concern :
  • Jung qb lbh qb jvgu lbhe gvzr (gvzr hfr)?
  • Jung qb lbh qb sbe n yvivat (va pnfr gurl ner qvssrerag)?
  • Jung ner lbh jbexvat ba?
  • Jung qb lbh qb sbe sha?
  • Jung zrffntr jbhyq lbh funer jvgu YJ?
  • Jung qb lbh frr bs gur jbeyq va 10 lrnef?


I am keen to try to set up one interview every week or two.  (willing to put in 2 hours of effort each week towards contacting people, planing questions, talking to them, interviewing on record, tidying up the audio, then publishing the interview.  Est 15-45min interview)


12 comments, sorted by Highlighting new comments since Today at 2:56 PM
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It seems like the annual Less Wrong survey is already doing a good job asking simple, easily classified/quantified questions like "where are you from". So the comparative advantage of these interviews might be asking longform questions like "what's the most valuable thing you found in a meetup", "what's the thing you are most surprised does not appear on Less Wrong", etc.

Other half-baked question ideas:

  • Do you have a note-taking system? How does it work? What software do you find really useful in general? (Google Chrome extensions, webapps, phone apps, etc.) (If anyone is curious, I described my note-taking system here. It's a nice low-pressure way to keep track of ideas for Less Wrong posts that I will probably get around to writing at some point.)

  • How has rationality informed the things you do in your career? What rationality lessons have you learned in the course of your career?

  • What rationality techniques do you find most useful? Have you discovered/learned of any that Less Wrong doesn't discuss?

James Miller comes to mind as a person to request an interview of; he's an tenured economics professor.

Thanks, really good suggestions! I like the idea of asking about technologies. and it would be a worthwhile repository - useful technologies that lesswrongers' have found. (as well as your other ideas) I probably would not have thought of that one, even though I would really benefit from it.

At the time of this comment the survey stands at:

video/youtube 4 (15%)

audio/podcast 3 (12%)

written out format 17 (65%)

other in the comments on this post 0 (0%)

just show me the results 2 (8%)

Total 26 (100%)

Judging by the results of the survey and the lack of numerousness of suggestions via other comments (of which the ones that were here were pretty good). This is not enough interest to make it worthwhile to carry out.

Thanks for the comments or interest to those who participated.

Posting this has prompted me to wonder what I would have decided would be worthwhile in numbers of poll replies or comments.

  • 10-15 minimum interested for video/audio


  • 30-50 for interest in written out transcripts of interviews.


  • comments totalling ~20 people participating.


  • more guidelines or suggestions of questions to lead to enough material for 1-2 interviews to start with.


  • clear suggestion of who to interview, and why/what to ask.

I really don't feel like I have reached any of them; but if someone would like to gather any of the win-conditions and hand them to me - I would re-open my interest in the project.

[-][anonymous]6y 0

I don't think there's enough traffic on here to get the kind of response you're looking for, unless it's a promoted main post that stays up for quite a long time.

This is a good point... But it also reflects a perspective of who might want to interact with the product. So from a supply-demand perspective; there not being demand is a very good reason to not supply the product (being the interview).

[-][anonymous]6y 1

It's possible the demand could extend beyond this site :)

I agree; But I would still need some kind of external indication to motivate me to do something...

[-][anonymous]6y 3

This could be great as a regular podcast - to me I would most be interested in modeling the things those LWers think they're great at. EG, with gwern, how does he think about setting up a new experiment or in-depth analysis.

I would most like the interview to be a: [pollid:1007]

I think checkboxes are more appropriate here. That is to say, while I would enjoy it as audio or video, it could also have its script written out for those who would rather not use either of those mediums. I did, however, vote video, as that is, in my experience, a generally more accessible medium (wow I butchered those commas).

yep. I read through the "polling" help, it didn't seem like checkboxes were an option, also I was worried about many people selecting all of the top 3. At least this way it is specific. I will note to add another 1 to audio for you when I tally scores.