Less Wrong is based on reddit code, which means we can create subreddits with relative ease.
Right now we have two subreddits, Main and Discussion. These are distinguished not by subject matter, but by whether a post is the type of thing that might be promoted to the front page or not (e.g. a meetup announcement, or a particularly well-composed and useful post).
As a result, almost everything is published to Discussion, and thus it is difficult for busy people to follow only the subjects they care about. More people will be able to engage if we split things into topic-specific subreddits, and make it easy to follow only what they care about.
To make it easier for people to follow only what they care about, we're building the code for a Dashboard thingie.
But we also need to figure out which subreddits to create, and we'd like community feedback about that.
We'll probably start small, with just 1-5 new subreddits.
Below are some initial ideas, to get the conversation started.
- Main: still the place for things that might be promoted.
- Applied Rationality: for articles about what Jonathan Baron would call descriptive and prescriptive rationality, for both epistemic and instrumental rationality (stuff about biases, self-improvement stuff, etc.).
- Normative Rationality: for articles about what Baron would call normative rationality, for both epistemic and instrumental rationality (examining the foundations of probability theory, decision theory, anthropics, and lots of stuff that is called "philosophy").
- The Future: for articles about forecasting, x-risk, and future technologies.
- Misc: Discussion, renamed, for everything that doesn't belong in the other subreddits.
- Epistemic Rationality: for articles about how to figure out the world, spanning the descriptive, prescriptive, and normative.
- Instrumental Rationality: for articles about how to take action to achieve your goals, spanning the descriptive, prescriptive, and normative. (One difficulty with the epistemic/instrumental split is that many (most?) applied rationality techniques seem to be relevant to both epistemic and instrumental rationality.)
- The Future
What happened to holding off proposing solutions?
Main is useless to me as is. As I mentioned a few times before, it should be replaced/supplemented by a "highly rated"/"greatest hits"/"best of LW" section, whether generated automatically based on post's karma or updated manually once a day or so.
Also, instead of/in addition to subreddits, you can create a list of approved tags/keywords a poster is forced to select one or more from, which trigger notifications to these busy people, or to anyone else who subscribes to notifications.
Seconding both proposals.
About tags: I like them more than subreddits because you can have several tags on a post, adding new tags doesn't fragment the audience, and you can add tags to existing content retroactively. For example, tags on MathOverflow work really well.
Especially given how this is orthogonal to splitting things up into subreddits.
Second this. Stuff happens on Discussion now, and in the Open Threads - this may be the phenomenon where the leading edge is the one with the lowest barrier to entry. Main is scary.
Of course, lower barrier to entry also means more garbage. Hence the up and down things.
That's why you don't let users invent tags of their own but enforce a unified premade dictionary.
Also I know at least one website which lets people with sufficiently high karma retag posts of others -- that should be helpful with fixing problems.
With an increasing number of subreddits, have an "all" subreddit for those who want to check for overall new content, without clicking on each subforum in turn.
All - Main - Technical - Repositories - Meetups - Misc
I agree with shminux that keeping Main as a section one can post to is useless. I would have as places where one can post: 1) Theoretical rationality, 2) Applied rationality, 3) The Future, 4) Meetups, 5) Misc.
Then make it that ordinary posts above a certain high karma threshold (e.g. +20 or +30) get automatically Promoted to the front page, in addition to community-important things like a periodic list of meetups and, possibly, other posts at the discretion of the mods. Having Main as a separate section only causes this pointless self-callibration game in which people have to evaluate whether their posts are good enough for it, often failing and requiring posts to be moved from Main to Discussion or vice-versa.
I was about to ask whether it would be difficult to include something like /r/all (i.e. the ability to view posts from all subreddits without having to visit each individually), when I tried just editing the url to http://lesswrong.com/r/all, and sure enough, it works (it shows posts from both Main and Discussion)!
Is this functionality documented anywhere? Also, is it possible to view just the post titles on /r/all, without the full text?
Edit: Yes, it is possible to view just post titles: http://lesswrong.com/r/all/recentposts/
I don't think this makes sense unless Main becomes only articles that have been promoted. Otherwise, it excludes any of the topics listed from being promoted.
And if Main becomes only articles that have been promoted, it would make more sense to have promotion be a filter on each subreddit, rather than its own subreddit.
I remember having read a discussion about this in a recent open thread; there was one particular response which I liked. Give me a moment...
Later: Found! User sixes_and_sevens asked people to think of eight categories in which to divide LessWrong. Emile came up with the following list:
(If you liked the suggestions, you could go upvote his post instead of mine.)
My own minor correction to the list would be to merge Futurism & FAI into one category, and perhaps do the same with Philosophy and Math, Decision Theory, Game Theory etc. (so as to have all the theoretical stuff in the same place -- the Sequences, for example, could go here), but other than that I agree with it.
As for Main, perhaps we could implement reddit's recent & all-time best submissions lists, sorted by karma, percentage of upvotes, or a combination of both. An entire subreddit devoted to posts worthy of promotion seems not only unnecessary as long as we got... (read more)
Technical Discussion (on math, physics, algorithms, and so on) would be a nice addition that isn't quite satisfied by either "Epistemic Rationality" or "Applied Rationality". Would be a great forum for discussions like the recent result in probabilistic set theory.
I'd be interested in an explicitly casual/off-topic subreddit - a place to discuss non-LW-relevant things with LWers. Not sure if "misc" captures this or not.
The rationale for having a separate section for posts that "might" be promoted escapes me, so I have omitted that subreddit in my proposal.
As an irregular consumer of LW, a fine grained sub system would be fantastically useful since, without having to sort through a lot of posts, I could scan the last couple of weeks or months of submissions on topics of interest.
But, rather than determining categories first, it might be useful to do rough counts of number of articles on a given topic, posting frequency, etc. You want to make sure that you have critical mass before you split things apart. Given this, as other people have suggested, retaining an "All" category, especially for the front page, seems very useful.
Open Threads, Media Threads, Rationality Diaries -- these are so obviously different from the remaining posts, and they already have a strong tradition, so I believe there should be one subreddit for them (for all the repeating threads together).
More meta: The subreddits should reflect a difference that already exists. One should be able to move the existing articles into the new subreddits. (Moving them would be useful to show readers what exactly is expected where. I don't expect admins to move thousands of articles, just perhaps the last month to create... (read more)
As terms, I like "Applied Rationality" more than "Instrumental Rationality" and "Epistemic Rationality" more than "Normative Rationality." As collections of topics, I think the collections outlined in Idea 2 ('perceiving reality' vs. 'achieving goals') are better.
Like many others, I think that having "Main" as a separate subreddit is a bad idea. I think there should be an explicit and prominent link to "all," and it would be awesome if you could see promoted posts both by subreddit and across all ... (read more)
Since it is relatively easy to create/delete subreddits, I recommend creating a few, and then making another similar thread to reassess the results.
Also, I think it would be good to have a social subreddit, where the point is to make friends and have more relaxed fun.
There's already a fragmentation issue -- If you're reading "Main" the "Recent Comments" only shows you the recent comments in "Main", if you're reading "Discussion", the "Recent Comments" only shows you the recent comments in "Discussion". I've no idea what the Search function actually retrieves and whether it works across subreddits. Until such is fixed, or until an "All" functionality is visibly added, be careful about splitting the forums further.
I feel your division betw
This is a good idea! I am glad you're making improvements. I like the idea of starting with a small number of subreddits. Hooray for incremental change!
One suggestion I saw that I liked was promoting the Open Thread to a subreddit. Maybe combining it with the Stupid Questions Thread - so that there's one place for beginners to figure out what to post and stumble around while they work through War and Peace^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H the Sequences.
I would really like the final result to contain a subreddit for Effective Altruism and a subreddit for Self-Improvement/Instrumental Rationality/Applied Rationality/whatever we're calling it today.
a Hpmor subreddot seems the most obvious to me.
An actual mathematics/logic/decision theory that's heavily moderated like stack-exchange seems like it would be useful for the people who can hack it and useful to separate from the regular stream of content when trying to attract further mathematicians. Is it possible to limit posts to certain subreddits to only those with vetted privileges?
A "stupid questions" or "questions about the sequences" subreddit could be useful for new people as well as to further discuss old but interesting material.
Spending 60 seconds of thought onto it... :-) I'd suggest
plus more specific subreddits:
I like the this way of dividing concept space, hate the name. People al... (read more)
One step more meta: Should we create subreddits for topics that are discussed there, or rather for the style of those articles? An example of style could be a "Research" subreddit, where you post an article only if the statements it contains are referenced (or if it is self-contained original mathematical research).
An example of a division based on article styles could be:
Official announcements = announcements about MIRI or CFAR activities, progress reports, advertising for effec... (read more)
Because of overlaps and ambiguity, I wouldn't feel confident choosing a subreddit for a lot of posts I could see myself writing. And I think I've gained a pretty good understanding of most of the categories people have proposed. Someone newer to the site would probably be strongly discouraged from posting by having to figure out which of these arcane categories they belong in. I think that's a bug and not a feature; the kind of new person we want to discourage is the kind who's less thoughtful and cautious about categorization dilemmas.
I think shminux's id... (read more)
I like the idea of the various LW meetup groups having dedicated subreddits, instead of organizing elsewhere (usually google groups).
You can't interact with a subreddit through email, so some people would dislike that. But I prefer to interact with subreddits than with google groups, and I assume I'm not alone there.
+1 to 'Technical' (Math, Decision Theory, Physics, etc)
+1 to promotion from all subreddits
+1 to Main as "Best of", or just getting rid of Main.
+1 to MIRI/FAI/Singularity stuff as a separate subreddit from EA stuff
Also, several historical posts have spanned multiple topics - some thought to a solution to this would be useful (this is the only reason that I might support keeping Main.)
The distinction between "Rationality theory" and "Rationality Practice" is what I think most people are getting at with Life improvement/Self-Imp... (read more)
The categories of stuff on LW as I perceive them (in no particular order) are:
-Values and ethics (human, utilitarian, alien, or otherwise)
-Game Theory (subset of instrumental rationality)
-Epistemology (epistemic rationality)
-Effective Altruism (Givewell, 8000hours, meta charity)
-investment in far future
-Fighting Akrasia (procrastination, motivation, willpower)
-optimizing your organism (body, mind, nootropics, supplements,exercise, etc)
-good habits and heuristics (especially organiza... (read more)
I'm way late to the party and I haven't read the comments yet but here's my idea; the goal here is to more trying to target types of readers rather than types of subject matter, which makes more sense pragmatically given the goal is people having to read less:
Main - things everyone need to see.
All - automatically generated taking everything from everywhere and redirecting.
Articles & Sequences - the same kind of stuff you see in Main, except lower barrier of entrance, and no meetups
Entertainment - discussion threads for rationalist fiction, quotes thr... (read more)
Personally, I'd really like a subreddit, or at least a tag, for articles that are directly and straightforwardly applicable to everyday life. Ones that say, "here's a problem that lots of people have, and here's how to solve it".
I like idea 1 much better than idea 2. I can't imagine a person who would read articles on instrumental rationality but not epistemic rationality. However, I think there are people on here who care about the applied rationality but not normative rationality and vice versa. This doesn't really apply to me, since I will be reading everything anyway, but I think that Idea 1 is both more useful for readers and more easy for posters to decide where their post should go.
I would however create a few more distinctions in Misc. I think that Meetup posts should get ... (read more)
I like tags more than subreddits, because you can have several tags on a post, adding new tags doesn't fragment the audience, and you can add tags to existing content retroactively. MathOverflow is a good example of a site where you can follow tags as if they were subreddits. Maybe we just need to make tags more prominent on LW, e.g. have a list of tags as the main navigation, and make them mandatory for new posts?
Also, seconding the suggestion that posts should be promoted to Main from Discussion, not directly posted to Main.
This may sound odd, but could there be a subreddit for competitive video games and rational strategies/playstyles?
1) Main/Eliezer-cluster: Epistemic rationality, FAI, cryonics, futurism, transhumanism, etc.
2) Instrumental & Skills: E.g. Be Specific, The Five-second Level, Fermi Estimates, How to Measure Anything, nootropics, Effective Altruism, how to dress, RATIONALIST TOOTHBRUSHING
3) ITL (In Tangible Life): Meetups, events of interest to the community, job openings, house/apartment openings/organisation
Keep Promoted, and have it draw from every subreddit.
The only thing I recall that might not obviously fit into one of these especially is HPMoR. I'm not bothered by HPMoR frenzies so don't really mind, but I gather that for every subreddit, some would find it frustrating to have HPMoR in that subreddit.
With the exception of these two comments, all suggested splits are nonsensical; the lines used for division are unclear and the sections created serve no real purpose. If your goal is to promote growth, evolve into categories. As it stands, most of these suggestions would just split an already fragmented community.
I do notice a pattern among the suggestions though; people would like to see MIRI-centric stuff filtered out. To whoever is in charge or LessWrong, this is liable to seem like a bad thing, like it will exacerbate an existential concern, like the ... (read more)