LW Update 3/14 – Community, Markdown and More

by Raemon1 min read14th Mar 20186 comments


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We've been working on a lot of changes as we gear up for the final vote to migrate to lesswrong.com. Many of these changes are still in progress, but it seemed like a good point to stop and take stock of them.

Community Page

We now have a functioning community page. The core functionality is creating groups and events, which populate a big central map, which you can filter to only show particular information.


Groups are a local organizing body for events. Right now you can select multiple "types" of groups to give people an idea of what to expect and what ideas people will probably be interested in.

  • LessWrong
  • SlatestarCodex
  • Effective Altruism
  • MIRIx

When you create a group, it'll autocreate an "welcome post", which'll be the first thing people see when they click on your group page. The welcome post works like a normal post but is autopopulated with suggested questions to answer, and you'll want to edit it into something more useful.


Events can either be created from a group page (in which they're associated with a that group), or from the main community hub (in which they're a freefloating one-off event).

Right now, anyone can create an event from a group page (regardless of whether they're the official group organizer). Eventually we'll build a fleshed out permission system for groups, right now we wanted to err on the side of making it easy for people to set up meetups.

In addition to location, time, etc, Events have most of the functionality that a post has. You can comment on them, upvote/downvote, etc.


Right now, this is a small stub, but we intend to expand the community page to provide a lot of help getting new meetups started, links to various corners of the rationalsphere (such as discord, slack, irc, explanations of how Rationalist Facebook and Rationalist Tumblr work, etc)


Right now we have a placeholder solution for exposing meetups to the frontpage – it's just a small stub-section. Once more meetups have been created we'll create a "nearest events" section, and eventually probably rework the page slightly so it's better integrated instead of an awkward extra posts section.

Editor Update

We're in the process of making some changes to the editor. We've pushed some updates that:

  • Added a new simple markdown editor (for comments) that you can enable from your account settings. Pasting pure markdown documents into it should work fine. (We don't yet have a markdown editor for posts but probably will soonish)
  • Relatedly, we're removing at least some markdown parsing from the Rich Text editor. (Today we tried removing all markdown, and... immediately found it kind of infuriating to not be able to automatically insert quotes, or headers, as well as bullet lists. Our current plan is to remove parsing of * and _ characters for bold and italics, which would resolve pretty much all bugs that people have complained about so far)
  • We changed the LaTeX hotkey from typing "$" to "ctrl/command 4" (the same key as "$"), so that users who want to type dollar signs like a normal person can do so more easily.
  • On iOS and Android, to avoid weird interactions between the mobile device and our rich text editor, it automatically uses the pure markdown editor. (This should mean android devices can finally comment without weird magick happening to you)

Odds and Ends

  • You can now click on the left side of a comment to scroll up to that comment's parent.


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Update: Today we tried getting rid of all markdown from the Rich Text editor, and:

a) immediately found it pretty infuriating to not be able to quickly insert headers, quotes, and bullet lists, as well as to occasionally do some of the more obscure markdown things.

b) we're pretty confident that removing the parsing of * and _ to determine italics and bold will solve most of the issues (and italics and bold can easily be done via ctrl-b and ctrl-i, so it's not as crucial). There may be some remaining issues for pasting in entire markdown documents, but this is better suited for the new markdown editor anyway.

c) in the future, we'll likely want to include some LessWrong-specific functionality in the editor, and it seemed likely that it'd be easier to do so using the markdown editor as a base than building things from scratch. In general it seemed better to refine issues with the markdown editor which is easier if we're actually using it.

So, we pushed that update earlier today. If you run into particular issues let us know.

Re: Bold Text

The biggest remaining issue people have complained about is that copying and pasting text from the site results in bold text which is super annoying. We have diagnosed the problem, which is that when our editor copies text, it considers font-weight of 500 or more to be "bold". We're attempting to get a PR merged with the editor framework to fix this. Will see how it goes.

Is there some general bugs/suggestions box? I've occasionally noticed things that were not a big enough deal to warrant making a post or something of the sort, but were also probably not intentional.

Example: when I search some words/phrases, such as "markdown", using the top search bar, the results are sometimes formatted strangely, where the title of the post and the keyword highlighting run over the top of the comment icon and number on the right. (I'm not seeing a way to insert a screenshot into a comment, but hopefully I've described it well enough to identify.)

You should see an intercom widget in the bottom right corner, and you can also create issues in our github repo:


Either of those work fine.

How do we create a group? Please post a URL.

In the community page, under Local Groups you have "Create new local group"

I can't help reading that as "Create new Local Group" and thinking, ye gods, what power...