In the next month, the administrators of Less Wrong are going to sit down with a professional designer to tweak the site design. But before they do, now is your chance to make suggestions that will guide their redesign efforts.
How can we improve the Less Wrong user experience? What features aren’t working? What features don’t exist? What would you change about the layout, templates, images, navigation, comment nesting, post/comment editing, side-bars, RSS feeds, color schemes, etc? Do you have specific CSS or HTML changes you'd make to improve load time, SEO, or other valuable metrics?
The rules for this thread are:
BUT DON’T JUMP TO THE COMMENTS JUST YET: Take a few minutes to collect your thoughts and write down your own ideas before reading others’ suggestions. Less contamination = more unique ideas + better feature coverage!
Thanks for your help!
One thing I'd really like to see: make the total number of upvotes and downvotes visible separately instead of just the difference. That way controversial posts and comments will stand apart from uninteresting ones.
Perhaps a collapsible "karma details" section, so that users still have the option to see a single number for each comment?
Might be easier to add "show upvotes/downvotes" & "show total score only" radio buttons to user configurations. That way those of us who want to see upvotes & downvotes in general don't have to click a collapsible link for lots of comments.
Provide a solution for polling in posts and comments. Something more elegant than using multiple comments + a karma sink.
It should be possible to put an entire poll in one comment, with machine-readable distinctions between different replies; and poll responses should not interact with pollster karma. (It might be nice if one got a karma point for answering a poll, to incentivize participation, but that's not so much an elegance matter.)
Address the “meet-up announcement overload” problem on the promoted feed.
Here's another proposal for dealing with meetups: some sort of prominent widget that will show (only upcoming) meetups in chronological order, with links:
I don't trust geolocation.
Also, there's an advantage in a new user seeing all the meetups, since it accurately tells them how active we are.
And what about people who travel a lot and might check out a meetup in another city if they were reminded about it?
Make a prominent "next" button on the sequence pages so you can easily go from one sequence post to the next post. There's currently a button but it is difficult to find and requires two clicks.
Get the green score-bubbles to cover the entire karma score, so that all the digits are visible.
Reason: I found myself less motivated to comment on LW after I got a fifth digit to my score. I think this is because it feels (to some low-level part of my brain) as though my karma now increases ten times as slowly. If this is true for others with five-digit karma scores, we might be pulling motivation from good contributors.
Why do we have tenfold karma for front-page posts, anyway, as opposed to say threefold?
ETA: yes, front-page posts draw in newbies in a way that is probably undercounted with onefold karma, but it's my impression that the collection of LW's comments is a lot better than the collection of LW's top-level posts (at least post-Eliezer), and so maybe we should just be directing potential new users immediately to the (good) comments instead, somehow. It seems to me that by having length as a de facto requirement for top-level posts, we encourage posts that take a long time to make their point and that go off on long chains of independent steps that have mistakes in them that could be corrected if they were presented in smaller chunks.
Please, please keep the color scheme. It is restful.
EDIT: removed other suggestions to put in their own comments.
Make a Welcome section that's clearly visible to first-time lurkers, and more helpful to them than the About page. PLEASE.
I think that the welcome threads are an important boon to new users, but unfortunately they're impossible to find as a lurker- the current fashion is to hope that someone notices that commenter X is new and says "Welcome to Less Wrong- check out the welcome thread!"
Unfortunately, there's a lot on the welcome thread that I think would be really helpful for someone to check out before they get to that point; and worse, much of the time a person's first comment is something that will get downvoted heavily for a reason they'd have known if they'd seen the welcome thread, and instead they end up in a flamewar and depart in a huff. THIS IS BAD.
I might expand on this idea with the general idea of, add a better "old-style website" portion to LW. Currently everything on LW is organized either blog-style or Reddit-style, which is not so great when you have things like important core pages you want everyone to be aware of - e.g. not only the sequences, but single-purpose threads (like the "best textbooks" thread) which, in the current blog-style format, might eventually be forgotten about and redone from scratch. Have a prominent "site map" style page that links to such things - the pages themselves can stay as blog posts, that's not a problem. Perhaps Eliezer and the other editors can have the ability to mark a thread for inclusion on this automatically, so people don't have to hand-code it in whenever there's something that merits inclusion.
To some extent the wiki acts as this, actually, but it's right now it's very hidden, not what a new user will automatically encounter. What if the wiki were the main page?
As an added incentive. I have committed to donating $50 to the hedonism fund (strictly enforced) of whoever's design gets used as the Welcome Page.
In top-level posts, automatically replace "div" tags (which screw up the rest of the HTML) with "p", strip out all the font-specification crap that Microsoft Word and similar apps try to stuff in (the original font is good enough for everyone), and in general auto-simplify the HTML. This will save editors some work.
I want a preference (or a per-page button) to turn off collapsing when there are a lot of comments on a page. I don't care if it takes twice as long - I'd rather wait a minute than click "load more comments" 512 times so I can do a thorough Find for whatever I seek.
I hate when unpopular comments get deleted, and all the replies lose their context. One alternative: a "Retract" button that marks your comment as retracted (maybe changes the text to a lighter color), stops the karma loss, automatically contracts the comment and its replies (like a comment below score threshold does), but doesn't delete the content for those who are curious?
I can think of problems with this proposal, so I'm open to other suggestions as well.
Minimal, fast, lots of white space - like the current design. I worry that a new design would add lots of clutter and hurt the site's speed.
An option for shared authorship on posts, showing the names of both users and splitting the karma gains between them. The karma could be either split equally or in a manner specified by the user posting it. E.g. Morendil could have tagged me as 20% responsible for his post on status, and I'd have gotten 2 karma points for each upvote.
Make it easier to skip around in user comment history - by month, for instance.
Fix this bug.
Yes, please. (Since Eugine declined to spell it out, the bug makes it way too easy to accidentally post a draft when you intend to save it for later- in fact, the only way I know not to have it posted is to click "Hide".)
Have a second karma bubble, that only sums the upvotes and downvotes you've given that person.
Add LaTeX support (I mean inline LaTeX, not this thing).
EDIT: Based on comments below, I think I misused the word "inline". What I meant was simply the ability to type LaTeX directly into comments and posts. How it gets rendered doesn't matter much to me; some legitimate objections have been raised, but I don't feel like hard math gets used enough on the site that this would get out of hand. Restricting its use to posts rather than comments might be a good compromise.
MathJax is one good option for implementing that.
I hope the aim will be to preserve the beautiful simplicity (and color scheme) of the current site. Honestly I don't think it needs a graphic redesign at all.
Threaded PM conversations. And received PMs appearing on a separate page in addition to the generic inbox that contains comment replies.
Have some way of seeing the most recent comments to a post even if they are answers to another comment (i.e. not just sorting top level comments) - something like the recent comments thread but for a single post.
Do something about the "Help" link when writing comments.
A specific suggestion, change the link so it says "comment formatting", but definitely do something to make it clearly where to find the formatting help.
LW seems to reward actually doing things disproportionally little compared to talking about them. My suggestion for this are "bounty" pools for doing various things, and when anyone does them they are rewarded the karma in the pool.
More info here: http://lesswrong.com/lw/56p/do_meetups_really_have_to_go_on_the_front_page/3wfn?context=4#comments
Example: someone points out a problem with the LW Source, but rather than nothing happening unless some hero does it by themselves, there is a consensus reached in the comments and someone ends up proposing a bounty, then many people who might not otherwise have been interested give a bit of karma, and the pool ends up much larger than could be expected to gain from just commenting out after the problem was solved and asking for it. This motivates someone to do the change, then an admin verifies it and the pool is given to the person who fixed the problem.
I have a visceral negative reaction to all the random things people want to use "karma" for. Also I have no idea what The Nebulous Community (TM) wants to use karma for. It seems to be a "numbers go up people get happier" + anti-spam + anti-troll + "posts and comments have numbers why don't we sum them" metric. Do I have that about right?
Add functionality to allow previewing of posts and comments. This would allow people to play with formatting without having to post horrible-looking things and then edit them while others might be reading and responding.
Have the possibility to watch certain topics (posts or comments) to get an orange letter when someone replies. This would be especially useful for top level posts you write (you don't get any notifications of answers, and have to go check), but would also be useful for special threads like the location (if I want to be notified when someone else says he's in France or something).
Upvoting the need for a notification when someone makes a top-level comment to a post you created.
The ability to sort my own comments/posts by recent vote activity. That is, if I suddenly get a 20-karma bump or drop in my overall score, I want to know what caused that.
Use case: If upvotes and downvotes reflect "I want more of this" and "I want less of this" reactions, it is helpful to notice when they happen and know what posts/comment people want more/less of.
Maybe have a markdown option for toplevels - this one throws new posters off regularly.
Provide an ambient visual cue on how old a comment is. First idea is to add a subtle color tint to the background of each comment, that goes by the logarithm of the comment's age from reddish ("hot", written in the last couple of hours) to bluish ("cold", written several months or more ago).
Old threads occasionally get new comments and get readers in via them, and the date strings in the comments require some conscious parsing compared to being able to tell between "quite recent" and "very old" comments in the same thread by glance.
Make it possible to search a single user's posts.
A prediction market in which you bet karma.
It's possible this was already suggested, in which case I apologize, but: the ability to sort my own comments/posts by descending vote total ("popularity"), ascending vote total ("reverse popularity"), and descending (upvotes + |downvotes|) total ("controversial"?).
(EDIT: Split into two suggestions)
Also, please actually pay attention to these requests, and don't add stuff that you don't know the community wants without talking about it first. In my experience, site redesigns can easily lead to large amounts of drama over very minor issues. If we're trying to be rationalist we should keep that in mind and proceed cautiously.
What sort of changes are on the table here, and in particular, does this include nontrivial programming? The person you linked to appears to be a graphic designer, which would seem to imply that this project is limited to or at least focused on stylistic changes, ie changes to the CSS and the HTML templates.
While there are certainly improvements to Less Wrong that would make sense, I don't think any of them are HTML or CSS changes. I don't think changing the visual style of Less Wrong is a good idea, especially if it costs money that could be spent elsewhere.
Public tagging, possibly with a karma restriction for who's allowed to do it.
Ask the designer to find a solution to multidimensional "karma". I think the two most common axes requested are "more like this / less like this" and "agree / disagree".
More details in the markdown help. Currently it only says how to do five things, so even people who find it aren't informed about how to do things likeskip only one line between paragraphs, or whatever.
Comment preview.Seeing the comment as it will appear before you submit would be very helpful.
Add controls at the bottom of subthreads for collapsing the subthread, jumping to the top of it, or both. This makes it easier to navigate to the parent or above-sibling of a given comment without counting nested borders.
Some way to handle extensive footnotes, as luke noted. I'm fine with making them collapsible (and probably collapsed by default).
Simplify the top bar - I never use "Comments" or "Saved", and clicked maybe once on "top comments" and "top" by curiosity. Those kind of special links are good to have but don't need to be at such a prominent place, they could be at the bottom of sidebar (a bit like the "special" buttons in the wikipedia sidebar, random page and the like.
You could even have the "Recent Comments" and "Recent Posts" headers in the sidebar clickable, so you don't need those links in the top bar any more.
So the links at the top could only be "Main Page", "Discussion", "Wiki", "Sequences" and "About", reducing clutter a bit.
Allow users to read their own and others' comment histories more easily. This could be accomplished either by adding links to each page of a user's comments (rather than just the very limited "next" and "previous"), or by getting rid of the unpredictably-valued "after" parameter to allow easier URL hacking.
Example of the latter method:
http://lesswrong.com/user/Dreaded_Anomaly?count=10&after=t1_3uea links correctly to the second page of my comments.
http://lesswrong.com/user/Dreaded_Anomaly?count=10 redirects to the first page of my comments.
the unpredictably-valued "after" parameter
the unpredictably-valued "after" parameter
That's a database performance trick, which means that getting rid of it will increase database load.
What's happening is that, in order to jump a set number forward, databases have to perform the same query each time, but retrieve more and more records. It's like "jump to the start of this user's stuff, and read 10. Now go to the start, read 20, and give me the last 10. Now go to the start, read 30, and give me the last 10...." So performance gets worse and worse as you page through it, because each time the reads are repeating, and getting longer each time.
The "after" trick basically makes it so that every page is "jump to the spot given by the after tag, and read the next 10". Performance doesn't degrade as you get further into the list.
Alicorn's suggestion (of browsing by date) is probably easier to implement, in that the site could probably look up what "after" value to use, based on the date.
Spoiler tags, or maybe black-text-on-black-highlight tags, to replace the current fallback of rot-13.
I find the nesting of comments within threads too subtle. I can't "see" the nesting and have to work at it.
In the context of programming languages the research (quoted in Steve McConnell's books I think) seems to suggest that indenting by 3 characters optimizes the ability to "see" the nesting. Currently it's one character only.
Increasing the nesting characters is not free of course as it leads to very deep indentation. But there are ways of displaying very deep nesting though eg displaying ! for every ten levels.
I wonder if it would be easier to keep track if there were one or two more quiet pastel colors in the cycle.
A decent search system-- I'd very much like to be able to do searches which combine date range and/or poster and/or post/poster being replied to and/or string.
It's now possible to check a preference to make your votes public. Currently all this does is collect your disliked and liked posts into two pages reachable only from your userpage; you cannot tell by looking anywhere on a post who publicly likes/dislikes it, and there is no support of the feature for comments. I would like this feature extended for people who prefer it.
I strongly recommend that people talk about what they like, so that there's some information about what shouldn't be changed.
At this point, there's favorable comment about the general appearance (and I like it very much myself) but there may be other things to hang onto as well.
When getting a link to an individual comment, instead of just showing the comment above, show the whole damn thread (or at least, all the parents). I'm tired of having to click on "Parent" a dozen times to understand the context of a comment.
I'd like the expand/contract [-] button to be at the far left of the post such that they are left-aligned and you don't need to move your mouse far when closing a bunch of them. Someone suggested this for Reddit and they made the change that same day.
I don't expect many people know this, but the font for the logo is called "Minion".
Given the accusations about us being EY's cult, I strongly feel that the irony is too wonderful to give up, and request that this be left unchanged.
An option to display average karma not just total karma. This should probably count main page posts as 10 posts for this purpose.
Also, it would be nice to have a preview option for comments.
I would like my saved articles to be in a collapsed format of just the titles.
I want to be able quickly navigate my saved articles, and see what I may have saved a long time ago, rather than going through multiple pages.
If other people prefer having a few paragraphs to remind them, then a "collapse, expand" button could be added.
Have a "show all comments" option on posts which displays all of the comments hidden by "load more comments."
Drop the little skyline/boat grayscale image (mini-landscape.gif) that appears at the bottom of each top-level post. Original mention. Seems to have no purpose, and doesn't really fit the design theme.
As a new reader, I would very much like to have a method for marking how far through the sequences I am. A dot next to read articles, or possibly a timestamp of last access could work, as could a button at the bottom of the article labeled "Mark as read" that would display the article title differently in the main sequence page. I feel lost when I hop around on different computers as to what articles I've read and where I have seen them before, and simply saving read articles every time is unsuitable for this.
EDIT TO ADD: Based off of what other commenters have said, I feel like a clarification is in order. What I'm looking for is a way to mark the sequence pages I've read, so that when they're linked to in the newer articles I can tell right away if I've read that particular post. Hopefully, this would work for both backward-linking sequences AND new posts that also link to sequence pages. Perhaps a way to store the URL of a read page, link it to my account, and when that URL is displayed again within LW a new graphic could show up to the side of the link to show that it has already been read.
Remove DV links from a person's "past comment" page unless viewed in context.
(After the recent comment thread dfranke sparked, I lost a large number of upvotes from my past comments, which were previously almost uniformly weakly positively ranked. I assume my previous posts had not suddenly reduced in quality, and that someone had simply decided to go through and punish me. Making people view a comment in context - one more mouse click - would make this unconstructive action less convenient and less likely.)
Provide separate discussion areas (subreddits?) for geographic subcommunities.
Google Groups and Meetup.com are currently used for this purpose by some, but this is not the most elegant solution. It sprawls LW content beyond the main site, requires learning how to use different interfaces, and puts us at the mercy of outside companies. The possibility of karma would also encourage more discussion among these groups.
An easily accessible toggle to show/hide all karma.
When you receive a reply to a comment, you get a notification. But when someone posts a comment on a top-level or discussion post you made, you get no notification. It would be nice if you could at least choose whether or not you'd be notified when someone posts a new comment on a top-level post you created, I usually stop checking mine after a week.
Provide the option to "follow" or "unfollow" any topic, so that you get all of the comments posted to it into your inbox. (Yes, there are RSS feeds for individual topics, but adding something to an RSS reader is an inconvenience and clutters the reader.)
Display negative karma when present for posters as well as posts.
I think the search box has trouble with deeply nested comments. That is bad.
Provide optional notification of nested comment replies to the parent comment's author (beyond the initial reply).
Currently, if there is a reply to one of my comments, I receive a notice. However, if there is a reply to the reply, and so on, I don't. These grandchildren replies are often still relevant and of interest to me, however. Having the option of being notified of them would be nice.
(Alternately, this suggestion would solve the problem also, though that solution would require an additional step from the author.)
It would be really convenient to have a superior searching method for comments. I have frequently wanted to refer to a previous comment of mine from months before but have found it difficult to find (as I would need to remember the post it was on, search for that, then search for the comment, or go back page by page through my summary).
Stop improperly presenting controls which immediately perform actions (Vote up, Vote down) as hyperlinks.
Anonymisation of user names in the Anti-Kibitzer instead of hiding them. Not seeing any identificator of the author makes it difficult to follow longer exchanges, and I often switch off the AK because of that. So, instead of seeing something like this
which may be confusing if you don't know who has posted especially the last reply, it may look like
The AK could simply number all participants in a thread starting from 1 each time the page is reloaded.
Provide some sort of view showing the source of your most recent karma losses/gains, something like the notifications on Facebook. It's annoying when somebody votes up/down ten of your 2-year-old posts and you register a karma change, but have no idea of knowing where it came from.
Possibly dangerously addictive, though.
Get rid of the "Report" link under comments and posts. Some possibilities, in decreasing order of preference:
Just remove it completely, and handle spam and other crap by giving the moderators a page where they can easily see the recent comments that got a lot of downvotes (if they don't already have one)
Rename it "Flag" so it doesn't get confused with "Reply" (I bet that happens more often than people reporting spam)
Remove it for any post or comment older than a day, or for any post/comment that has positive karma.
Give users an option in their preferences (on by default) to hide the link.
Have exactly the same markup for top level post than for comments (with possibly an option for editing the raw HTML or something).
Make it easier to read on a small device. This can be accomplished by making the width of the main column defined as a "max-width" in CSS and setting the viewport meta tag in the HTML.
Provide a free-form text box for users to enter "user profile" type data.
People who care a lot about what pronoun gets used to refer to them can say so; people who prefer to be handled via Crocker's Rules can say so; people who have particular interests can say so; etc.
Variant suggestion: Merge LW and wiki.LW account systems so that each user's wiki user page can be their profile page.
A lot of the suggestions here would require changes to the server software, but I have one that might be fixable by only HTML and CSS changes (e.g. by switching to a good old HTML TEXTAREA element).
Less Wrong has a bug that makes it almost impossible for someone in the habit of reading Less Wrong with large type to compose a comment without temporarily decreasing text size. The bug has definitely decreased the rate of my contributions. Specifically, at the larger text sizes, the rightmost part of the box into which the person types "goes under" a... (read more)
Automatic flattening of linear segments of discussion. A comment that is the only reply to its parent should be placed at the same depth as its parent. This will make long mostly-linear discussions easier to read and avoid unnecessary shifting-to-the-right-and-beyond (i.e. hiding and extension to a separate page).
(This probably shouldn't apply to comments whose parent comments have siblings, to more clearly separate sub-discussions.)
A micro-payment system so readers could contribute real money to an author as the ultimate sign of approval.
Make the Article Navigation controls less a buried add-on and more a coherent part of the overall site navigation facilities, since they are so irreplaceable for e.g. the important Sequences.
Ability to hide all comments from a user. I want to be able to put people on ignore and just as importantly I want people to be able to put me on ignore. Arguing on the internet is often pointless and the cost of avoiding said pointlessness is not negligible.
Allow comments and posts to be edited by other users, with restrictions, as in Stack Exchange. Build the expectation that this is used strictly to repair formatting and improve linking. It bugs me when someone posts malformed hyperlinks and they're there forever because the original poster doesn't fix them.
As far as I can tell, the "Show more comments above" link currently shows the parent, and all sibling threads. I would like it to give the option of showing more ancestors, so that after I've gone to a comment I can see the entire discussion leading up to it.
Example: "Show more comments above: 1, 2, 5, All."
Be able to edit posts from looking at your own comment page.
Cycle comment thread background colours through at least three distinguishable colours; unobtrusive colours like pale blue, grey would be preferable.
(In the current system we alternate between two colours, and active sub-threads can have many branches; it's difficult to follow visually. Clicking "parent" links is something of a workaround, but breaks the flow.)
(Edit: cf Nancy's reply below)
Save the history of edited posts and comments, like a wiki; that would make it less of a problem to allow moderators or even high karma posters to edit comments (to fix broken links and formatting etc.), and would also reduce the occasional problem where a reply doesn't make sense any more after a comment is edited.
Tentative: people get credited with a small percentage of the karma from the comments to their posts and comments. It would be a way of getting karma for inspiring good discussion.
Add an option to un-thread the comments, to allow them all to be sorted by karma or timestamp regardless of parentage.
Add a how to use the site section.
It's possible that most of the difficult bits will be fixed, but on the other hand, new problems may be created. Perhaps the how-to should be a wiki.
Whatever the redesign is, I think it would be helpful if clearly marked section were added which consists of basic instructions on how to use the site's functions and what those functions do.
I would have found such a quick reference handy when I first started browsing the site.
Have a way to show a specific comment without showing any replies to it.
I wanted to email someone a link to a comment today, and realized that they would most likely be distracted by the ensuing conversation rather than contemplating the comment itself. This feature would be useful in such situations.
Canonicalize URLs: at the moment, there are several different URLs referring to most pieces of content on Less Wrong. Sometimes it's as simple as one URL having a slash at the end and the other one not; in other cases you have a post that was actually posted in Discussion, but due to (I think) a glitch where Discussion posts as listed on userpages actually link to the post via /lw instead of /r/discussion/lw, and the former works anyway, causing two copies to be indexed in search engines, and the same for every comment posted on them. Preferably, every suc... (read more)
The top banner is way too big. When scrolled to the top, content begins halfway down my netbook screen. Most is spent on what is basically a visual in-joke about map and territory. Look to Reddit for an extremely tight banner/navigation area. Reddit's content starts a finger-width from the top of the browser.
Fix the bug where permalinks to a post - even new ones! - do not work when a post is moved between subreddits.
User profiles? Click someone's username, and get taken to a page with some basic personal information, such as sex, location, homepage, etc. that the user in question can provide.
The site is very good the way it is; between the threaded comment format and the upvote/downvote feature, the technical design of this site makes it much, much better for having conversations than the typical blog commenting system. There isn't much that needs to change - at this point, it's more important to avoid screwing things up than it is to try to improve on what's already there.
Condense and reorganize personal items.
I have difficulty navigating all of my "personal" things such as my comments, drafts, preferences, saved, friends, etc. These are scattered about in a not very intuitive way.
I think that when you click on your own profile, it would be nice if the side-bar changed to include links to the different things I mentioned above. To re-access the 'recent posts' I would have to go back to the main page.
Automatically detect linear threads* and format them in a different way, rather than the current optimized-for-tree-structure way. The difference might be as minor as not indenting, but there are probably a few other things that could be done as well, looking at various forums and bulletin boards for inspiration. Another thing one will likely want to do is to make continuing in a thread-like fashion is easier and branching is harder.
Have comments on the Irrationality Game thread not show up in the top comments.
Use the whole screen. It's very annoying for lesswrong to show up as a narrow strip down the screen.
I prefer it this way. Really wide lines of text are difficult to track properly.
Several times I've tried to find out what pronoun to use for someone with an ambiguous name, by looking through their comment history, and failed to find that information. It would be nice to have a quick way to get to someone's post on the Welcome thread, as a sort of profile, or at least regular account profiles that contain this information.
As it is, using "they" to refer to a specific person, guessing incorrectly, and posting a comment to ask which pronoun to use are all socially discouraged. Using names every time works, but is sometimes awkward.
The field should be a text box, not a radio button or a dropdown list.
Ideally, I'd like it to be labeled 'pronouns' rather than 'gender', but that might be non-preferred for signaling reasons.
I have an anti-suggestion: no skinning or other proliferation of options. Someone asked for the current graphic appearance to remain as an option, but the designers and those officially approving the redesign need to have (justified) confidence in their decisions. If they're wrong, and everyone thinks it's dreadful beyond mere status quo bias, then they can roll it back and think again. If the general response is that it will more or less do, well, it will more or less do. Everything above that is a win.
Blogroll / Side Bar Section for Links to Rationality Related Websites. I love Overcoming Bias, but it seems a bit biased that Overcoming Bias is the only other website linked from here.
Reply to this comment with a comment for each website nomination?
Hmm... maybe with this feature new links could be added by users (presuming a minimum karma criteria), and then each link other users could vote up and down, so that the ordering of the list was organic.
Nomination: Common Sense Atheism.
What I dislike most about the idea is that it gives some sort of official collective endorsement to external websites. One thing I like about LW is that except for the institutions that historically gave rise to it (OB and SIAI), it has no official doctrine and official endorsements. There are issues of broad consensus, but they are never officially presented as such. Thus, even if I have some disagreements with the majority on these issues, I can always voice my arguments without the unpleasant feeling that I'm invading the forum as an outsider trying to pick arguments over matters of consensus. (Which would constitute borderline trolling even if I'm right.)
Now, if there is a list of officially LW-endorsed websites, and I think some of them are bad and I don't want to endorse them by any means, raising such concerns would mean picking fruitless and frustrating arguments with the majority. And frankly, I think it is quite plausible that some websites hit enough "applause lights" that they might find themselves on the LW endorsement list, even though their intellectual standards leave much to be desired.
If individual LW members wish to promote external websites, I'm all for it. They can post links in discussions, and by all means allow them to post links in their profiles more conspicuously and prominently than now, not just to their own websites but also to a list of favorite websites. But please don't insist on an official list of collectively endorsed links.
Currently, the "Show more comments above" link on a comment permalink page stops working after some number of uses. This should be fixed.
It would be nice to filter out post X's comments from the Recent Comments view.
Use Case 1: I'm browsing recent comments, but post X is new since I last read LW. I would rather read all of post X's comments in context, and not have them swamp the recent comments page.
Use Case 2: I'm browsing recent comments, but a particular thread that I'm desperately trying to ignore has been inspiring hundreds of comments that I'm actively uninterested in.
Show read/unread comments in different colors.
To take playtherapist's suggestion and turn it into something that makes sense in context, there should be parent/context links on every version of a comment (currently these don't exist on user pages, just permalink).
Also, for navigational purposes, deleted comments should still have parent and permalink buttons.
The order of comments displayed should be random, at least you should be able to state this in your preferences.
This way, all comments will get equal attention, each comment will get glanced at and voted equally, instead of the comments with most karma being first (and most judged) and those with least karma being last (and scarcely looked at).
Edit: This should, besides, apply to all levels of comments: So all the 'top-level comments' should be random, all the answers to one comment should be random and so on if you chose the comments to be sorted randomly.
Replace the funny markup with plain old HTML. I hate having to look up the link syntax every single time, because it is completely unlike every other site I use (maybe it's just like Reddit, but I have blocked Reddit because it is even more of a time sink than Less Wrong).
Make this an option in user preferences maybe. I personally find Markdown much, much, much more intuitive than HTML.
Auto-expand "article navigation" instead of hiding it by default, so it's not so unobtrusive.
It would be nice if the front page lists posts in order of their promotion, instead of order of their original posting.
Make the main LW site mobile-friendly, or implement a separate site version for mobile devices on http://m.lesswrong.com
Enlarge / stretch the green karma button whenever the number doesn't fit in (mainly on individual user profiles with karma > 1000).
Is there currently a rules page? If not, there should be a rules page and it should be readily accessible for new readers/posters.
Fluid width, please.
In comment threads, the 'show more comments above' link appears even if the topmost comment shown is the first one in the thread. It shouldn't.
I'd like to see the site move away from the blog frontend.
It should start with an overview of rationality, some articles, and maybe the blog for people who want to discuss things further.
Provide the option to view the Discussion section with the topics sorted according to the newest comment. (In other words, each new comment to a topic "bumps" the topic to the top, like on most forums.)
People have already mentioned some way of marking comments as read. If that turns out to be too hard to implement, here's a simpler idea: The ability to set a mark time that corresponds to marking as read everything before a given time. And then - rather than autocollapsing everything from before then, as this is a crude tool - add a recent threads tool, that shows all comments from after that time which are not a reply to another comments from after that time - allowing you to just jump to the highest-level comments you haven't seen and read the thread, rather than digging back through Recent Comments to find them.
On the top-level post editor, hitting "edit HTML" should just switch the text box to "HTML view" mode (retaining your position), not pop up a separate box on top of it.
If trn is more trouble to code than it's worth, it would be nice to at least be able to just have recent comments for particular posts.
Trn or the equivalent. This would enable people to not see posts and comments they've already read unless they chose to, chose which other posters to see or not see, navigate comment trees.....
I suspect that if trn for the web were a Less Wrong project, it would also be useful publicity for the site, but this might be motivated thinking.
Reduce the amount of generic article boilerplate controls (which currently consist of LW heading/site nav/article heading/article byline/"You are viewing a comment permalink."/article footer/comments header/"You are viewing...") which appear on the pages for individual comments; use the freed space for more context, e.g. displaying the parent comment by default.
Not sure if this is too late, but it was brought up at the recent London meet-up and it does seem no-one has suggested it:
Make the sequences actually readable as sequences - there are currently no forward links on the actual pages, which is irritating, and navigating them does appear to be an issue for quite a few people.
The pop-up window you get when you click on a voting button before logging in always seemed ugly and discordant to me.
Ability to display images in comments.
I needed this when Luke asked for feedback on a writing sample.
I'm confused about the difference between "Promoted", "New", and "Top". When I'm not thinking about it, I default to "Promoted", but then I miss good posts.
I would like to see "Promoted", "New", and "Top" condensed into a single tab with a sort function on that page that allows the user to decide how they want to view it.
Same goes for "Comments" and "Top Comments".
The "help" button on the comments should include a link to a more extensive help file; probably both the generic Markdown help file, and a more specific one here (there's a page on the Wiki that does this, right?). (Including the more specific one to remind people that e.g. HTML doesn't work, and how to do that hack to include LaTeX.)
Make text more readable - especially in comments, since you can't use Readability on them.
Have the Article Navigation work in the discussion section. Currently it only works on the main page, and if you try to use it in the discussion section it will take you to main page posts with the same author or tag.
The thing where you're able to resize the comment box isn't working for me right now? In any case, make this more prominent, and maybe (in case it doesn't work for some reason :P ) add a separate "reply" page people can use if they want a really large comment box...
Another simple variation on the "marking things as read" idea: the ability to mark a post or comment as "don't care about this thread" so comments on it / replies to it don't show up in your recent comments.
It would be very nice to see the first line or first few words of a collapsed comment.
Add vote-up/down controls to the comment RSS feeds.
Add a facility to strip out font-related formatting (and otherwise simplify/cleanup HTML) from top-level posts, so that people can edit in their favorite WYSIWYG tools but avoid overriding the site styles.
Remove "Popular" and "Controversial" from the "Sort by" menu that's above the comments - I'd bet 99% of users only use "Top" and sometimes "New" (Plus for some reason, on my phone it's always set to "Popular" by default, no matter how much I change it).
(This may or may not be worth doing in an AJAXly way; it may work fine to just include the entire thread in the markup originally sent by the server, hide it with CSS by default, and have the link render it visible.)
Often I'll see that someone made a comment in response to what someone said as part of a discussion. If there's an easy way to see what specifically they are responding to, without searching through the entire discussion, I haven't found it. I know that one can also click on the name of the person being responded to, but if that person does a lot of posting, it can also be difficult to find that comment. A feature whereby one could click some where and be taken to the comment being responded to, in the context of the discussion would be helpful.
Mom, I keep telling you that you need to read the sequences. Many of my posts won't make much sense if you haven't, even if you do read the rest of the thread.
Alicorn was referring to the Parent link that appears under comments, which refers to the parent comment-child comment relationship. The reason you aren't seeing Parent links is because you're reading a user history page, rather than the comments feed or a comment permalink. If you follow the comment permalink from that page, you'll get a view of that comment and its replies, from which you can click Parent to go one step up the thread.
I would like to just say that in Firefox 4, none of the vote links (for article or for comments) work at all.
Aside from that, I feel that Recent Comments and Recent posts sections are completely useless. (Why would I want to see recent comments. And there is a page for Recent posts.) That whole right sidebar is pretty useless overall, except your own user status.
Add a control to each reply that collapses the whole comment thread. Label it "[--]". That way, when I belatedly realize I have wandered into a dead end, I can move on to something fresh without much scrolling.
A link to the markdown rules should be printed right above the comment box.
I entered ... on my 1st lesswrong comment because I thought it would turn into a link. It did not. I had to search Google for "lesswrong markdown" to find the rules since they were not very discoverable on the site itself.
Get rid of the "post saving" feature, which takes up screen real estate but is probably used by a minority (though some people here say they use it, so I may be underestimating). Or hide the "Saved" link in the top bar unless you have actual saved posts.
(You could also make saving an option that can be activated / deactivated in the options, but I don't think the "Save" link under posts is as much a waste of "screen real estate" as the link beneath the header, which is distractingly close to other useful links)
Much stronger meet-up integration. Mailing lists shouldn't be offsite, they should be part of the site. Something like discussion section, but you put your location in as part of signing up, and gain access to a 'Location' section that operates the way that Discussion operates. Details are unimportant; the main part is that meet-ups need a more integrated system, the tools that meetup threads use (mailing lists, schedule-matching) need to be available on LessWrong, and being part of your geographically local group of LessWrongers needs to be opt-out, not opt-in.
The ability to transfer Karma between users would be nice.
Ability to specify reason for upvote/downvote with a feedback note visible only to the person being upvoted.
I thought of that too, but in the end I upvoted the suggestion because it lowers the barrier to such feedback, and I'm in favor of that.
You could even have a dropdown menu or one-line-pithy-comment-section that appears when you click a "vote" button.
Now that I think of it, comparing explanations for up/downvotes to properly commented code could help increase support for such explanations...
This seems like a really bad idea. If people sacrifice karma in this fashion it will make them more invested in the proposition that the other person's ideas are just bad in general. Since they've given up something (somewhat) tangible in accordance with that standard cognitive biases such as reduction of cognitive dissonance and confirmation bias could have very bad results.
I could see the appeal of a rationalist text-based RPG, but please let's not turn Less Wrong into one.
Currently, there is a way for filtering LW content to view only submissions from people on one's friends list (http://lesswrong.com/r/friends/).
This only displays original posts, though. I would like to see this extended to comments as well.
Add Atom 1.0 feeds. Atom 1.0 is much better specified than RSS, resulting in more consistent interpretations of feeds.
In the RSS feeds, show the parent comment's text along with each comment, so that it is possible to understand replies without necessarily visiting the regular site.
Remove the links to Overcoming Bias.
Make comment permalink pages more visually distinct from article pages. Right now, if a person visits a link to a comment, it looks like it’s just a really short article with a single comment (perhaps with children). Only after closer inspection do I see that the text of the article starts with “You are viewing a comment permalink”, and the article title starts with “[Somebody] comments on”. The linked comment is highlighted in yellow, but this is not enough to signal to me that it is supposed to be the main content – it could simply mean it is a “hot” or ... (read more)
Children seem to be counted inconsistently - sometimes the root is included and sometimes it's not.
Make a section for meetup announcements with a widget visible on the main section, showing pending meetups, as determined by a "Meetup Data" attribute on the announcement.
This would get meetup announcements out of the main post lists, but would keep them visible, so that people will see the titles including locations so they will notice announcements relevant to themselves.
I would like a better interface to see the comments and posts authored by a particular user. In particular, I would like the overview page to display only titles (or perhaps the first few words of comments plus the name of the post to which the reply was made) so that one can more quickly scroll through.
Next to a user's name, display average karma per post instead of total karma (Total karma could be available, but not put in such a prominent place).
That would give everybody an incentive to post fewer, higher-quality comments.
If we think people are taking "karma" too seriously, change the display to be qualitative like Slashdot's ("Excellent", "Good", "Fair", etc.)
I suspect this would be controversial, or at the least require significant discussion.
Implement this (xkcd).
I have a couple of teeny tiny issues with markdown.
At present a numbered list always begins with item 1, even if (for some reason) you want to begin at 2 or 0 or whatever. (Often nice to begin a list with 0 when there's some funny point you want to 'get out of the way' before proceeding to the 'real list'.)
[ETA: Ignore this point] Links don't work if the URL contains parentheses. This can be worked around if you use tinyurl, but it's annoying. A quick (but not perfect) fix would be to allow nested parentheses within a markdown link.
Some way to get HTML entities (i.e. stuff like ∈ and ⊆, not stuff like and ) - or something similar - to work in comments.
I'd like a generic tracking tool for distributed efforts to collate information. I guess it would end up looking like a voting tool in some ways. It would be great if it had a blind mode so that people couldn't see results until some predetermined time.
Edit - please disregard this post
For authors: an automatic footnotes plugin.
Make it possible to see how much karma someone has when they have more than 100 karma.
While I mostly like the color scheme, I think the gray on the sides looks kind of sad. I'd like to see it a bit darker.
Allow threads to be read over NNTP, like Usenet.
[Disclaimer: I would not use this feature, but I have heard others wishing for this and so I offer this comment to remind them to vote for.]
Ability to have favourite users. Ability to give their posts and threads "personal karma". Similarly ability to killfile individuals, like you could in the old newsgroup days. (Or use "personal negative Karma").
Add a hierarchical categorization of tags so that it is not a jumbled mess in the sidebar.
I would like to be able to collapse or expand an entire sub-thread of comments. Rather than try to describe this in words, look at e.g. the "reveal triangles" used in the MacOS Finder for windows in list view to see what I'm imagining.
More subreddits, so that each post and comment is more likely to be seen and voted on by the sorts of people who would like to see it and who know whether it is good or bad than by other sorts of people.
Yes, but not yet. We do not yet have enough people to overwhelm either Main or Discussion with new good content.
If it's possible, I've always thought it might be helpful to have a second karma score that's a function of karma vs. number of viewers of the full post. Or simply a counter for number of viewers.
Edit: This would be points for a post/article, not necessarily for comments or users.
A separate section for singularity related topics.
Move the [-] sign to collapse threads to the front of the comment. Reddit introduced this recently and I get confused whenever I change sites.
I made a sugestion in the discusion section some time ago, but it never got much atention, so I'll link it here. Consi