April Fools: Announcing LessWrong 3.0 – Now in VR!

by habryka, Ben Pace2 min read1st Apr 202019 comments

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On this April 1st, we at LessWrong face two problems.

  1. According to Michael Nielsen, software is a way to develop transformative tools for thought. Things like Anki and collaborative editing allow us to think new thoughts. But at LessWrong, we argue that this doesn’t go far enough.
  2. Secondly, everyone is socially isolated, so we need to make LessWrong a far more social environment. We need to make a space that is superior to normal social reality in every measurable way.

The answer? Replace LessWrong with VR.

We’re now proud to announce the new LessWrong Frontpage, built entirely in Mozilla Hubs: 

The new landing page, where you can read the core readings of the site: The Sequences, The Codex, The Methods.
The new community page, and a showcase of the amazing social interactions you can have on this platform.

And, the part you've all been waiting for: The new LessWrong Frontpage, where you can read the best recent posts.

So we’re using Mozilla Hubs. Why? Because you hear all the things about Mozilla Hubs that you do about any startup about to take off. Words like “Unusable”, “Irritating” and “An all-round terrible UI experience”. If people are saying this about your product and still using it, that means it’s got to be good.

To give some hard data on this, in a survey of a recent academic conference held on the Mozilla Hubs platform, the attendees reported the following genuine data (emphasis added):

With support from the co-chairs of the 2019 ACM Symposium on User Interface Software and Technology (UIST) and the Hubs by Mozilla internal product team, we surveyed the motivations and experiences of remote attendees and discovered:

92% of all Social VR attendees would like to repeat the experience of attending a conference remotely using Hubs.

69% of all remote attendees rated the experience as very good or mostly good.

[...]

[Many] respondents reported difficulty hearing audio, poor visibility of the presentations, and lags in the presentation.

Only half of participants claimed they understood how to use the technology.

So, to be clear, of the attendees of this conference, half didn't know how to use the actual software, but almost all of them (92%!) would like to repeat the experience anyways! How much of a burning need does a product need to fill that at least 42% of your users want to continue using your product, whilst claiming not to know how to actually use your product? To us, this signals amazing product-market fit, and I think we should jump on the bandwagon as early as possible. 

What are its other selling points? In Mozilla Hubs you can visit the site in 3 dimensions. You'll also be able to see the other visitors, and engage in all of the social primate behaviours humans normally do at parties like talking, laughing, and continuously saying “is my microphone working?”, “can anyone hear me?” and “how does walking work again?”.

Have you ever wanted to be in a room with more than 25 people? No? Neither have we, so all rooms have a limit of 25 people who are allowed to enter. In addition, as we approach 25 people, the room will slow down on all devices and become significantly more laggy, causing the conversation to naturally slow down to prevent it from spiraling out of control.

If you've been part of LessWrong for any significant amount of time, you know how much effort we've spent thinking about how to avoid the problem of eternal september. Recently, after looking at our analytics for multiple minutes, we found out that a lot of users we don’t want have much slower computers, or are using their phones to browse LessWrong. 

So, by making LessWrong basically unusable on those devices, we are ensuring a continued high-quality discussion experience on the site, by filtering only for rational people who spend exorbitant amounts of money on their computer hardware. We've already had great success with this strategy when we drastically increased the processing power necessary to run LessWrong 2.0 by moving everything to a javascript based web-app architecture, so we consider this a natural next step for us to take.

(As a continuation of Karma 2.0 we are working on a feature in which your avatar size can scale with your karma, such that users with the most karma can signal their superiority even better, and truly tower over their intellectual contemporaries.)

So it has come to this. For April 1st Day 2020, we give you the LessWrong 3.0 Homepage, in open beta only for today.

Experience the future


UPDATE

After fixing some performance issues with LessWrong 3.0, it now should run smoothly on most (many?) devices. To celebrate we are holding a surprise online meetup there tonight at 6:30 pacific time. We might or might not do a dramatic reading of HPMOR.

Link is here: Expert Truthful Congregation v3.1

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