I want to figure out how to solve LessWrong's public goods problem. There are lots of projects that lots of people are moderately interested in but not interested enough to do themselves. For example:

  • Further contributions to the Science of Winning at Life sequence: cognitive science of learning, cognitive science of memory, ergonomics, behavioral conditioning, fashion, productivity and no doubt many others
  • Explicit guides to applying LW material to your life, smaller sequences and exercises
  • Introductory material that gets people hooked, MoR is great, but surely there should be other avenues
  • User friendly guides to existing LW material
  • Meetup materials: exercises, slides, games, lectures etc.
  • Book reviews on important topics (this book needs critique summary/review)
  • The cognitive bias Wikipedia entries need serious cleanup 
  • Developing exercises and tests that help understand or improve rationality (this website could use much better questions and interface)
  • Financial analyses, like BrandonReinhart's analysis of SIAI, of The Cryonics Institute and Alcor 

Right now the only way those projects get done there's one person with enough intrinsic interest in the project that they do it mostly regardless of the benefits to others. We need ways to focus dispersed interest into intense interest in people willing and able to do particular projects (different ways that might be accomplished). 

I think figuring out how to do that is probably best done by a small team, but I am not sure who else might be interested.

I need two other people enthusiastic about solving LessWrong's public goods problem to be part of that team. What would be involved? We'd meet to discuss what things are most likely to ameliorate the public goods problem and the best way to execute them, do research on what works elsewhere and experiment with ideas. For example, I've been slowly experimenting with contests in the hopes that money, prestige and competition will be good motivators. I would like to do more contests, but I could really use help coming up with good test contest ideas, coming up with a good contest formats, and judging contests. 

Any volunteers?

Update: We've started a mailing list for this project.

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26 comments, sorted by Click to highlight new comments since: Today at 12:38 AM

I'm willing.



Out of curiosity, I'd like to know why Introductory material that gets people hooked is wanted. Is there some goal to this website that I missed? Also I do wish I could contribute something, but I think I have any skills except for a bit of theoretical mathematics and computation study behind me.

One of the goals of the site is to make people more sane. There many fields which could dramatically benefit from more sanity (for example, science could use a whole lot more Bayes). Getting people interested in the material on the site is one way to make people more sane, so better ways to get people interested in that material is valuable.

I'm interested in helping!


We've started a mailing list for this project.

It sounds like a lot of what you're producing is going to be in the form of stuff for people to read, and I haven't read all of Less Wrong yet (nor do I plan to). Maybe a computer program that recommends stuff for me to read based on past preferences would be valuable?

Here are some forums that might click links to Less Wrong articles if you started threads about them:

Developing exercises and tests that help understand or improve rationality (this website could use much better questions and interface)

Link seems to be a duplicate of previous Wikipedia link.

Thanks! Fixed.

I'm still working on posts for the Science of Winning at Life series and also a 'Summarizing the Sequences' sequence. I would love to put together meetup materials, too, but I doubt I'll be getting to that anytime soon. I've got a bunch of academic stuff to research and write.

and I am very thankful for your efforts, but I think it's important to get more people working on these projects.

No doubt!

Tell me more about your summarizing the sequences sequence (by PM if need be). I was thinking of trying something along those lines myself once my current projects are done, but I don't want to duplicate effort. I'm happy to leave it to you or we could see if we could split the effort (though I can't commit to anything until I learn my schedule for the summer/next year).

I'm interested in helping!

Particularly with "User friendly guides to existing LW material". I've been making these for myself as I work through the sequences as a learning tool.

Also very interested in "Explicit guides to applying LW material to your life, smaller sequences and exercises", though wouldn't have much to contribute yet, since I haven't been very successful with this yet in my life.

Great Idea!

Financial analyses, like BrandonReinhart's analysis of SIAI, of The Cryonics Institute and Alcor.

I would be particularly interested in a financial analysis of the Future of Humanity Institute which is led by Nick Bostrom. I am willing to do it myself, but I probably think I need some help. Is anyone interested in this?

That would be another good project. FYI, you can edit your comments.

FYI, you can edit your comments.

I know, but somehow I clicked 3 times on the comment button because my broswer lagged. Then I tried to delete them, but it didn't worked the way I wanted...

I would be happy to help think about ways to address this. This seems like a good case to apply the technique of "hold off on proposing solutions" and would be a good opportunity to practice.

Awesome! I applied that a bit in my last post (last link).


I upvoted your post because I want someone to solve LW's public goods problem but am not interested enough to do it myself!

Somewhat in this vein, an epub edition of all of Eliezer's posts, or at least this list would be fantastic. The sequences are great, but I know I'd be very interested in going through the posts from the beginning for inspiration. I started by copying and pasting the first 100 or so into a document, but then realized that I didn't really know what I was doing and haven't had the time to learn about electronic publishing methods yet. If anyone does know what they are doing in this area, I enthusiastically offer my help with the project.

It's done by sequence instead of chronologically. I think it's very good that it's been done that way, and I've already read all those epubs, but it's not precisely what I'm talking about.

You may want to talk to Chris Wright the LWer who puts together the MoR epub files.

I'm new, but eager ...is there anything I can do to help?