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37 comments, sorted by Click to highlight new comments since: Today at 9:34 AM

Hi everyone! For those who don’t know me, I’m Geoff Anders. I’ve been the leader of a community adjacent to the rationalist community for many years, a community centered around my research organization Leverage Research. I engaged mostly with the rationalist community in 2011-2014. I visited SingInst in March 2011, taught at the Rationality Boot Camp in June and July 2011, attended the July 2012 CFAR workshop, and then was a guest instructor at CFAR from 2012-2014.

For the past many years, I’ve been primarily focused on research. Leverage has now undergone a large change, and as part of that I’m switching to substantially more public engagement. I’m planning to write up a retrospective on the first eight and a half years of Leverage’s work and put that on my personal blog.

In the meantime, I thought it would be good to start engaging with people more and I thought the rationalist community and LessWrong was a good place to start. As part of my own pursuit of truth, I’ve developed methods, techniques, and attitudes that could be thought of as an approach to “rationality”. These techniques, methods, etc., differ from those I’ve seen promulgated by rationalists, so hopefully there’s room for a good discussion, and maybe we can bridge some inferential distance :).

Also, I’m mindful that I’m coming in from a different intellectual culture, so please let me know if I accidentally violate any community norms, it’s not intentional.


Looking forward to seeing more of your ideas written up, a few of them have been quite valuable to me over the years, and it seems great to make them available to a wider audience.

As part of my own pursuit of truth, I’ve developed methods, techniques, and attitudes that could be thought of as an approach to “rationality”. These techniques, methods, etc., differ from those I’ve seen promulgated by rationalists, so hopefully there’s room for a good discussion, and maybe we can bridge some inferential distance :).

Quite interested about this, hopefully you write more about it.


Feature request: let me mark a post as 'to read', which should have it appear in my recommendations until I read it.

I suggested this earlier and Raemon said "We’ve been thinking about this quite a bit although it’ll still be awhile before we get to it."

I often find myself seeing a cool post, and then thinking that it would take too much time to read it now but that I don't want to forget it. I don't like browser-based solutions for this.

You could put a comment* in your shortform feed called "Reading List", then add a comment* on it with a link to the post you want to read later.

*without an upvote.

This still puts these comments in Recent Comments on GreaterWrong, and the fact that they can't be seen on the LessWrong All Comments page is essentially a bug.

Does the current LW design let one find the All Comments page, or is this feature no longer intended to be used? I couldn't find any mention of it. I'm a bit worried, since this is the main way in which I've always interacted with the site. (Thankfully this is available on GreaterWrong as a primary feature.)

(Incidentally, an issue I have with the current implementation of All Comments is that negatively voted comments disappear and there is no way of getting them to show. IIRC they used to show in a collapsed form, but now they are just absent. A harder-to-settle and less important issue is that reading multiple days' worth of comments is inconvenient, because there are no URLs for enumerating pages of older comments. GreaterWrong has neither of these issues.)

It's not promoted as a first-class feature since most people don't have enough time to read quite so many comments, and need more filtering, but some people requested it and use it, and the code-implementation is simple, so it won't be going away.

The reason negatively-voted comments don't appear is because it once shared code with the All Posts page, which has a checkbox for controlling that, but it doesn't have a checkbox wired up. GitHub issue: https://github.com/LessWrong2/Lesswrong2/issues/2415 . Hiding negative-karma content used to be important because the most-recent content was often spam, and displaying it in between when it was posted and when the mods deleted it made for a bad experience; but we now have enough other anti-spam measures in place that this isn't really a concern.

The way pagination is currently handled is something we inherited from our framework, which is pretty suboptimal. At some point we're going to redo the way pagination is handled, not for allComments in particular but at a lower level which will affect multiple places, allComments included. This is likely to be awhile, though, since it's a somewhat involved piece of development and there are more important things in the queue in front of it.

We definitely should make an overall better pagination system. And given how tucked away it is and that it's probably used mostly by power-users who want to read everything I probably agree it should show negative karma comments.

I agree that /allComments should be linked from _somewhere_ although no, it's not meant to be a primary use case. We switched to the Recent Discussion setup because "show all comments in order" naturally creates cascading effects where a single huge thread becomes even more huge because it's the only thing most readers see in the comments section.

Most users don't read through every single comment. It probably makes sense to me to have a section that works well for dedicated power-user-comment readers, but I expect it'd be a feature that maybe 5-20 people would use total. (If I turned out to be wrong about that I might prioritize it higher)

Most users don't read through every single comment. [...] dedicated power-user-comment readers [...]

This is not my use case. I mostly skim based on the author, post title, and votes. I don't want to miss certain things, but I'm also completely ignoring (not reading) most discussions.

FYI, a feature I expect to build in the not-too-distant future is "subscribe to author", which might address that particular use case more directly. Curious if that feels like it's pointing in a direction that's useful to you.

Not unless the traffic increases severalfold where it would be too much trouble to even skim everything. Skimming the content can turn up interesting things from unfamiliar authors under uninterestingly titled topics, and this can't be recovered by going subscription-only.

I am still planning on supporting the All Comments page, though I don't currently have a good sense from where we should link to it. I feel like we already have a lot of stuff in the side-navigation, and adding an additional link probably wouldn't be worth the cost, though it obviously depends on how many people would use something like the All Comments page.  

Agree that there should be an option to show negatively voted comments.

Previously: August.

Dear Diary,

In the intervening month I have done chapters 8 and 9 of Tao's Analysis I, which feels terribly slow. Two chapters in a month? I could do the whole book in that time if I tried! And I know that I can because I have, like I'm getting a physics degree and it definitely feels like I've done at least one textbook worth of learning per term.

One of the active ingredients seems to be time pressure, which is present but not salient here - if I fail, all that happens is the wrong math is deployed to steer the future of the lightcone, which doesn't hold a candle to me losing a little bit of status. Ah, to be a brain.

Thus: by October I'll have finished Analysis I; think less of me if I haven't.

(And perhaps I'll have done even more!)

UPDATE SEP 26: You can rest easy now; I have completed the book.

I don't mean this to sound confrontational, but what do you expect to do differently to enable yourself to go more quickly? I ask because my personal experience has been that just saying I'm going to go faster with self-learning doesn't work very well.

For example, do you plan to do fewer exercises, devote more time, etc.?

think less of me if I haven't.

No, I don't think I will. :)

Sorry, I don't know your psychology, but I can't imagine that this type of mindset is healthy. You shouldn't rely on social punishment to motivate you like that.

Is the issue that it's pain-based and hence makes my life worse (probably false for me: maths is fun and gives me a sense of pride and accomplishment when I do it, it's just that darn System 1 always saying "better for you if you play Kerbal Space Program"), or that social punishment isn't always available and therefore ought not to be relied on (this is probably an issue for me), or some third thing?

I am not worried about math being painful, or about social punishment being limited. I'm worried that you are setting yourself up to fail and then feel really bad about yourself, which might even cause you to forget about learning math altogether.

Compromise Solutions:

  • after TG has read the book, "think more of them". (There's a "bragging thread" somewhere.)
  • TG makes a post about what they've learned from reading Tao's analysis when they're done. (If it's really long, then such a post might be usefully broken up into smaller posts, possibly released earlier.)

LW admins -- Is there a good reason why half my browser window when viewing the LW home page needs to be taken up with an enormous map? It's pretty horrible (and somehow pushes the same mental buttons as those whole-screen "why not sign up for our mailing list?" popups some sites give you, though obviously it's not actually very similar to those). I guess the idea is to encourage more people to go to meetups or something, but I promise it does not make me the least bit more inclined to do so.

First: note that you can turn this off in your user settings. (Habryka mentioned this in the stickied post about it)

The reason we're pushing meetups this month is because of SlateStarCodex Meetups Everywhere. This is not a permanent change to the site, it's a temporary solution to a fairly difficult problem. The point is not that people who aren't interested in meetups should be forced to engage with them, the problem is that we do want everyone who is interested in meetups to know that there's a major meetup coordination event happening this month.

(I do think we should make the "hide map" button easier to access and will probably add something like that next week)

There's a generally hard problem where LessWrong as a site does a lot of different things, and there's really only one space to put things that everyone will see them. We mostly haven't emphasized meetups over the past couple years because they don't quite make the cut of "top 2 things that we want everyone to see on the frontpage". (And meanwhile this has made it harder for meetup organizers to get traction)

I actually think the compromise solution of "once a year, for few weeks, the site reminds everyone that meetups exist and gets them to sign up for notifications if they want them" might actually be the least-bad option. (Although what I notice just now is that the front-page-map fails to have the most important call-to-action there, of the "sign up for meetup announcements" button)

The frontpage map in general was somewhat rushed to be "in time to be useful to SSC everywhere", so there are probably some more optimizations we can do to it, both to make it easier for people to turn off if they don't care, and to actually sign up for notifications if they want.

Aha, thanks. Sorry for being grumpy about it! (I hadn't known there was a profile setting to turn it off.)

How about asking the user when they click on "Community Events" to allow the browser to get their location? Then if the user says yes, use that location to show the right events on the left side of the front page.

That’s what usually happens, but most people don’t click on community events. So having one month that makes sure everyone knows about it is helpful

You can disable it on your account settings :)

I also just created a PR that adds a close-button right to the top of the map, to make it more convenient to hide it. That should be merged early next week when others have the time to review it. 



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That definitely indicates a bug, thanks.

One thing to doublecheck (I'm not sure this matters that much in your case but worth checking): if you open your Recommendations settings, you should see a checkbox that says "show only unread". Is that checked for you?

Aside: I approve of you messaging here since here was indeed a place you could reach us.

Why so some posts have comments that were posted before the post was? (Example post, example comment.)



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To clarify, were the posts greyed-out as if you had already read them, or were they displayed like normal posts with fully black text?



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Thanks! That helps with the debugging. 

Nod. Definitely a bug on our end. Will get to it as soon as we can but it may be a week or few, depending on how easy it is to diagnose.

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