I am very disappointed.

Now I'm sure you'd have to see it to believe it, but you see, just today I was rereading my favorite book, HPMOR, for the fourth time, and I clicked to go on to the next chapter, and to my surprise, there was no next chapter! Which is pretty crazy, considering there was a next chapter last time. Instead it just dropped me on LessWrong (on the HPMOR page). As an enjoyer of the old HPMOR.com site I just wanted to express my frustration.

Now I'm not trying to complain about LessWrong here. I actually like LessWrong, and sometimes I read posts on here. There are many forum and social media sites, and it does seem to me that LessWrong is one of the better ones. I mean if I found out that HMPOR.com was being shut down and instead we would be forced to read it as a series of Facebook posts, I would be much more angry. But still, the best way to run a social media site, and the best way to publish an ebook cannot possibly coincide. (Or, on second thought, perhaps they might, since they're both sort of publishers, but I'm specifically annoyed about this specific merger.)

The thing is, I already knew about HMPOR being on LessWrong. But I chose to read on HPMOR.com anyway, because that is what I preferred. One annoying thing about LessWrong for this, is that if I scroll up at all (even just slightly) while reading a long post (or chapter?) the annoying banner at the top of the screen shows up, making it difficult to include the specific text on the screen which you wanted. HMPOR.com didn't have that problem. But there are many frustrations. I feel like in the past, I had the choice, and now that choice has been taken away from me.

I have, at times, been accused of not liking change. (I think it's more a feeling that changes should optional, and people shouldn't be forced into new things they don't want.) But I feel like there are many circumstances where it should be clear change is not a good idea? Like, if you make something that people specifically seek out, instead of other things they could go for, well, among things, from whoever wants it's point of view, it is one of the better ones. Perhaps even one of the best things. And then if it is changed, well, most changes of something so atypical (from any point of view) tend to be reversions to the mean. So if you like something a lot, you shouldn't want it to change, or at least should be worried about potential change.

I think this is also why sequels tend to be worse than originals. If something is a big deal and people demand a sequel, that thing was probably atypically good. So even with the same author and universe, you should expect to get a reversion to the mean. And you do.

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Official note from MIRI ops: We don't know how this happened and are not sure who was previously responsible for the site, but we agree hpmor.com was A Good Thing and intend to put effort forth to get the thing back up ASAP.

Separately, if people figure out details on what happened (who was originally handling it, how to contact them, etc) please send those details my way.

Thank you! For the original hosting and for putting up with our fumbling of the handoff. =)

I got a message from the people who had been hosting it. I'll let them post publicly if they want to share details, but essentially they decided this was no longer a favor they wanted to be doing.

Reasonable! I think that either the LW team or the MIRI team is already currently in contact with them and working to achieve the handoff.

The old site claimed to be "a project of" https://www.elsewhere.org, which at the bottom claims to be https://www.facebook.com/rjl20 and https://twitter.com/rjl20

Perhaps try DMing him?

Thank you very much!

So the current on-LW version has always just been there, or something?

If it ends up being useful, the chapter switcher php can be replaced with a slightly hacky javascript page that performs the same function, as such the entire site can easily be completely static.

FYI I didn't know anything about HPMOR getting taking down.

(I've asked around and other LW team members also seem to not know anything about this. We weren't responsible for hosting hpmor.com, my guess is someone just got tired of hosting/maintaining it. I haven't actually asked @habryka yet if he knows what happened or who was hosting hpmor.com, but he's not as involved with day-to-day stuff these days)

Nope, no involvement from my side.

I also went to hpmor.com yesterday, was disappointed that the old site was gone and now redirects to a relatively under-optimized LessWrong page, and complained to the LW team about this.

The hpmor.com site was just Josh's unofficial mirror, right? Is it possible that he was feeling done providing this free resource?

[EDIT: maybe it was actually a MIRI project?]

It was an unofficial mirror, which was supposed to be shifted to MIRI hosting a few years back but the handoff wasn't complete.

First line was “HPMOR.com is an authorized, ad-free mirror of Eliezer Yudkowsky‘s epic Harry Potter fanfic, Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality (originally under the pen name Less Wrong).”, and in the footer: “This mirror is a project of Communications from Elsewhere.”  The “Privacy and Terms” page made extensive reference to MIRI though: “Machine Intelligence Research Institute, Inc. (“MIRI”) has adopted this Privacy Policy (“Privacy Policy”) to provide you, the user of hpmor.com (the “Website”)”

Update: It should be fixed now. If you see any problems with the new server, let us know (replying to this comment will work). If you're still getting a redirect to archive.org, it should fix itself in a few hours when your ISP's DNS cache expires.

Problem: If I go to a chapter, e.g. https://hpmor.com/chapter/63 , and then I use the dropdown menu from the top to select another chapter, it takes me to e.g. https://hpmor.com/go.php?chapter=36 , which is a "Page not found" page.

Thanks for the report; that should be fixed now.

(A bunch of custom code related to syncing from fanfiction.net got dropped in the progress of migrating from a bespoke server to WP-Engine, and go.php got lost in the shuffle.)


Ugh. Why does everyone need to replace nice static web pages with junk that wants to perform a couple http requests every time the window changes:


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Retracted given that it turns out this wasn't a deliberate migration.

Yes! It's just that the feel of the two websites are so different. And part of it may be my imagination. But it feels like the old HPMOR site is a simple elegant wrapper around the book, while on here it is the book is dumped into a website that wasn't made for it. Like the difference between a person wearing clothes, and someone inside of a giant human shaped suit that mimicked their motions.

That is literally true.  The old HPMOR site was just there to host the book as cleanly as possible.  Lesswrong is a discussion forum with a lot of functionality.  You can host a book on a discussion forum, but it'll never be as smooth.

The normal explanation is "measurement and monetization".  It's very hard to exploit a reader's attention if you simply deliver the text.  I don't want to believe that's the reason for this - more likely simply it's more expedient (cheaper) to have it on LW than it's own site.

Temporary mirror while the MIRI folks do their migration thing:


For what it's worth, I am re-reading HPMOR as a read-aloud to my very-into canon!HP child (with very minor bowdlerizing) and I have found the most easy/comfortable way to read it has been to download one of the EPUB files that people have put together over the years, and then read it using my e-reader app of choice.

That way, I control the way the text looks, it easily saves my place down to a very small subsection of a chapter, and it's future proof; even if all of the LW expanded universe goes away, nothing will happen to the already-downloaded EPUB .

Which is another gripe: hpmor.com prominently linked the epub/moby/pdf versions, while the trashed version makes no reference to their existence anymore.

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Retracted given that it turns out this wasn't a deliberate migration.

I can see why one would want to merge websites - one fewer Wordpress instance to maintain, if nothing else. I would guess hpmor.com passed the peak in terms of pageviews years ago, and it might make less sense to keep it as a standalone website now.

I wish redirects were handled more granularly, though. https://www.hpmor.com/chapter/1 should lead to https://www.lesswrong.com/s/PtgH6ALi5CoJnPmGS/p/vNHf7dx5QZA4SLSZb and https://www.hpmor.com/chapter/2 to https://www.lesswrong.com/s/PtgH6ALi5CoJnPmGS/p/6L523aJDpjm4yWxue rather than to the top page. Cool URIs don't change.

Also, it looks like pages outside of the main content were not transferred. e.g. http://www.hpmor.com/notes/

If maintenance were the rationale (which is perfectly reasonable), they could have just dumped the static HTML and called it a day. It's not like the site changed or had any special interactive or dynamic aspects. (And such an archival scrape would likely have been substantially less effort than this special integration has been, and will be, I predict.)

The hpmor.com site was being run by a volunteer; it looks like something about it broke, and the redirect was a temporary measure so there would be something up. We didn't find out about it until after the redirect was in place. We're now in the process of migrating it to a new server (within MIRI), which will restore the reading experience on hpmor.com to the way it was.

my apartment-mate started reading hpmor today!

she actually couldn’t find it at first because the lw hosting has bad seo, ranked below some ssc post about My Immortal. she had to ask me the name of the fic.

I was surprised to see it here rather than the original site

I also do not like this. HPMOR.com was a much better HPMOR reading experience than HPMOR-on-LW is. There’s hardly any comparison. This change replaces a better experience with a worse one.

Is this a subtle way of discouraging people from reading HPMOR? (Perhaps a good idea, come to think of it…)

FWIW, I also thought HPMOR.com was a better reading experience for HPMOR than current LW is. LW is optimized for a bunch of stuff that HPMOR.com isn't optimized for. I hope we can get the old site back up. 

While I'm feeling a bit miffed that I'm getting a vibe that people at mad at the LessWrong team for a thing that's, like, totally not our fault, I do wanna go on record as "I actively prefer the LessWrong version." 

It scores at least as well for me on core-reading-experience. I don't have any issue reading the text. I like that the https://www.lesswrong.com/hpmor page has some pretty pictures, has a progress bar so you can see all your reading progress at once, and you can easily see the spots you haven't read yet (both in the simple bar at the top and in the table-of-contents-ish thing on the rest of the page), and

(FYI it's not fully true you need to click back to see the list of posts – if you hover over the book title at the top of a post page, you see a dropdown list of the posts in that book. It's true you don't get the entire list of posts but if you're navigating to different books I think seeing the higher-order structure is kinda useful anyway)

There are a couple areas that seem like they could be improved (it does seem reasonable to make it one-click to see the full library page, maybe if you click the book title at the top it should take you to https://www.lesswrong.com/hpmor, to the relevant anchor-title, instead of https://www.lesswrong.com/s/EBuZhwCrYuJGp7ax4. 

And also obviously it's bad to not have authors notes. (Even if/when hpmor.com goes live again it's plausible we should import those too and make a final sequence that's just those)

I am not mad at the LessWrong team. The reason I framed the title as an accusation was because I figured it was likely since I was sent to your website that you were responsible in some way, or at least were aware of what was going on. I now understand I was mistaken.

 As for "improvements" if/when hpmor.com comes back up, I would like to note that I am against them, for the same reasons described in the post. I don't think it's obvious at all that some change to the old site would not be bad, at least from the perspective of people who prefer the old site.

I meant the improvements for lesswrong.com's general functionality, not hpmor.com (not sure if we were on the same page about that). Like, one of lesswrong's main jobs is to be good at longform reading, and if there are ways it can be straightforwardly improved at that we should do so.

We were not on the same page. I thought you were suggesting changes to the new re-hosted version of hpmor.com. Thanks for clarifying.

LW is optimized for a bunch of stuff that HPMOR.com isn’t optimized for.

Yes, exactly. LW.com is certainly better at being LW.com than HPMOR.com would be! Single-purpose tools are often better for that purpose than things designed for other purposes entirely…

I hope we can get the old site back up.

This probably won’t be needed, but just in case it is—I’d be happy to host it.

I've pulled down a static mirror from archive.org and modified a couple pieces which depended on server-side implementation to use a javascript version, most notably the chapter dropdown. In the unlikely case it's useful, ping me.

I disagree that the reading experience is notably worse, let alone much worse. I don't see any mistakes that would make the LW version difficult to read. Things like font size, line length, line height, contrast, etc. all seem to follow best practices.

That said, I am bummed by the switch for nostalgic reasons, but only very slightly. I don't think I'd pay more than $10 to keep the old version.

I don’t see any mistakes that would make the LW version difficult to read.

  • On LW, the body text font is not fully opaque (color: #000, opacity: 0.87 in CSS), which (given how text rendering works in browsers) makes it harder to read than HPMOR.com’s text (color: #222; opacity: 1.0)
  • To navigate to a specific chapter (not just “the next chapter” or “the previous chapter”), on HPMOR.com you had only to select the chapter from a drop-down menu; but on LW, you have to click on the “HPMOR” link at the top, then scroll down
    • This “HPMOR” link often doesn’t even appear (a bug?), leaving you with no apparent way to navigate to the contents
  • HPMOR.com had a widget that let you toggle between a narrow and a full-width body text column, for readers who preferred different layouts; LW has no such thing
  • HPMOR.com had a widget that let you toggle between light and dark mode; on LW, the dark mode toggle is hidden inside a submenu (I bet many people don’t even know it exists!)
  • HPMOR.com had a Fan Art page which was linked from the top navigation bar; no such thing exists on the LW version (is the fan art archived somewhere other than archive.org?)
  • The “More Info” page on HPMOR.com, which had a bunch of interesting links and info, seems also to be missing from the LW version

(These deficiencies are, in my experience, quite typical of such content migrations.)

P.S. I said that the change “replaces a better experience with a worse one”, which is a much more general claim than any particulars of typography. But notice that you assumed that I was talking about only the narrow typographic sort of problem! This, in my experience, is also typical. Understandable—but typical.

IMO those issues are all very minor, even when summed.

  • color: #000, opacity: 0.87 on a #fff background works out to a hex of #212121, which has a contrast ratio of 16.10. This is well above the WCAG's minimum requirement of 7 for body text and is rated as five stars and "super" by https://coolors.co.
  • I'd imagine that there isn't a large user need where they start off on one chapter and need to quickly and easily navigate to a new chapter that isn't the next chapter. When a user has a specific chapter they want to read I think they're probably coming from elsewhere. But even if they weren't, clicking the "HPMOR" link and then scrolling down isn't too difficult.
  • My impression is that other sites that are also used primarily for reading also don't provide this option. Medium is an example and from what I gather is considered to provide users with a great reading experience. To me, this points pretty strongly towards it being at most a minor issue.
  • Same as the above. Plus I bet that users who care a lot about dark mode have browser extensions installed that they can reach for when needed.
  • I could see an argument for the lack of fan art being more than "very minor" but personally I'm very bearish on it.
  • Same as the above.

IMO those issues are all very minor, even when summed.

Is that relevant? Imagine that we were discussing the replacement of a ramp with stairs. This has a very minor effect on my experience -- is that enough to conclude the change was benign?

color: #000, opacity: 0.87 on a #fff background works out to a hex of #212121, which has a contrast ratio of 16.10.

You absolutely did not understand what I wrote, which had not the slightest connection to any contrast ratios. Please reread.

I’d imagine that there isn’t a large user need where they start off on one chapter and need to quickly and easily navigate to a new chapter that isn’t the next chapter.

Why would you imagine this? I have done this regularly when using HPMOR.com.

Medium is an example and from what I gather is considered to provide users with a great reading experience.

Considered by whom? Medium offers one of the worse reading rexperiences on the web.

I bet that users who care a lot about dark mode have browser extensions installed that they can reach for when needed.

This is not even remotely true. Such browser extensions do not (and, given the way that browsers work, cannot) work well (or, increasingly, at all). In my experience, most people who “care a lot about dark mode” in fact just do not use websites that don’t have a dark mode. (Also, dark mode is, at this point, common enough, and the implementation techniques well enough known, that users simply expect it from a well-designed website.)

I could see an argument for the lack of fan art being more than “very minor” but personally I’m very bearish on it.

This boils down to “I, personally, don’t care about this, therefore it doesn’t matter”, which does not work as a rebuttal of a claim that not having the thing in question is a worse user experience than having it.

Some technical notes on the situation:


I think this is also why sequels tend to be worse than originals. If something is a big deal and people demand a sequel, that thing was probably atypically good. So even with the same author and universe, you should expect to get a reversion to the mean.

I've never heard it put this well before, and did not properly understand this concept before reading this. Thank you.

Also, I know this is in really, really bad taste. Like, really bad taste, to bring this up right now of all times, and basically everyone who has commented so far agrees that it's reasonable to be bothered by this. I'm very surprised by this too; if I had positions on any Lesswrong-focused prediction markets, I would be reversing most of them right now after hearing about this.

But I have to say it: HPMOR has a semi-unofficial sequel and also a de-facto sequel which is also atypically good, and in fact even better the way everyone hopes sequels to be. Most people greatly regret rereading HPMOR when they could have been reading the very-well-received instead. I know it's in poor taste to recommend those right now, but historically it's just been such an extremely high-value thing to recommend to HPMOR rereaders; so I have to do it, even if right here is one of the worst possible circumstances that anyone has ever recommended HPMOR 2 in.

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In what sense is "Luna Lovegood and the Chamber of Secrets" only semi-unofficial? Who are these "most people" who regret rereading HPMOR rather than reading one of these? And why is "now of all times" "one of the worst possible circumstances" for recommending alternatives to HPMOR?

Afaik the semi-official sequel to hpmor is Significant Digits, since Eliezer has endorsed that one (forgot where but I remember him saying it).

Eliezer only tepidly endorsed it, and also it's a completely different genre than HPMOR and also has a really stupid ending.

Yeah, the ending was one of the most disappointing things I've ever read, alas. But the first two parts are strong.

Do you remember what site it was on (e.g. twitter) and how strongly he endorsed it?

Significant Digits are great too if what you're after is something that feels like a sequel.

I heard that Yudkowsky endorsed it, do you know where I could find the wording of the endorsement?

His endorsement was based on its length/on the effort put into it, not on its quality. It is extremely emphatically not as good.

Disagree with the “extremely emphatically” emphasis.  Yes, it's not as good, but it more satisfyingly scratched the “what happened in the end” itch, much more than the half-dozen other continuations I've read.

Dragging up some old commentary.

Originally written in response to a request for critique:

SD's biggest problem as an HPMOR sequel (in my opinion) was that it simply wasn't in the same genre. Like, it didn't have complex tangles that the reader was meant to be able to unravel, or rigorously defined rules that the reader was meant to game, along with the characters. It didn't "use" rationality such that the clearest thinkers would come out on top specifically because of their clear thinking, and it didn't provide object lessons that were any more specific than "generally plan ahead, okay?"

Instead, it was just high fantasy with a modernist/transhumanist protagonist. Which is pretty neat, but not in "the spirit" of HPMOR. It wasn't rational fic, in my estimation.

As for its qualities as a work of fiction generally—it did a lot of things right (very cool spells, neat dramatic history, decent intrigue, good skipping around in time). Where it missed, for me:

—Much of the plot felt random or just-because, as opposed to emerging from the "first principles" of the universe. There's an OSC quote I really like that goes something like "fiction isn't about what happened, once—it's about what happens." A lot of the events didn't seem like they were in line with the flow of reality, like they were the sort of things I could nod along with and say "Yeah, it would happen like that!" For instance, the plot with Harry and Draco pretending to have a falling out and then just neatly tidying up the world into one largely unified package ... that's good enough for Brandon Sanderson fiction, but not for a story that purports to be realistic-fantasy.

—Chekov's Gun misfires. The amount of words spilled on (e.g.) the spaceships and the pocket worlds and Neville/Fred/George and the whole American scene just ... didn't really seem to pay off? Like, the spaceships paid off because they allowed Luna (off-screen!) to take the Mirror into space, and the Neville/Fred/George bits paid off because they allowed Neville his (exquisite) badass moment, but both of those climaxes could've been purchased with fewer words, or alternately could have been better fleshed out and felt more important, to match how much time was spent on them earlier on. Similarly, Hig never really mattered except as a random background character ... we could have replaced him with a different guy or a woman or a magical creature or a lump of furniture, and it wouldn't have changed the plot (i.e. his specific personality and motivations didn't really affect anything, and therefore I conclude we spent too much time "getting to know" him).

—The climax was incredibly, incredibly dumb. I'm sorry, I know that's not constructive, but it was such a letdown, Harry's tone was off, Merlin's behavior matched that of an idiot who'd never thought things through when it should've matched that of a cautious immortal who's spent literal centuries thinking about all of the consequences of all of his actions, it felt (to me) like the scene at the end of Avatar where all of the humans leave as if that's a happy ending, as if they're not just going to come back and nuke the place from orbit. It makes no sense for Merlin to both have failed to put two and two together for the past decade, and also to be the kind of rational quick-updater who will just nod and walk away. It's not consistent, and if it was going to be consistent, the conversation should have been 3x longer and more nuanced, allowing Harry to actually, y'know, be persuasive instead of basically just pulling a Doctor-Who-on-Trenzalor and saying "I'm so awesome you don't even KNOW how you're going to lose, but it's definitely a foregone conclusion, so don't even bother to try." An actual rational Merlin (and here I just mean a level-one rational character with consistent motivations, not even a particularly intelligent one) would either have not been there in the first place, or would've just killed Harry anyway, and if the point is to show that Harry leveled up Merlin's awareness and perspective during the conversation, then that needs to be far better underlined and far better justified, given that he's rationalsplaining to someone who's survived for over a thousand years.

—Pacing, but it seems like you guys [beta readers] are already aware of/on top of that.

In general, I posit that the problem was poor back-chaining. Like, either he didn't really know how the story was supposed to end, and kind of wrote himself into corners, or he knew how he wanted it to end all along, but didn't do enough diligent work along the lines of "okay, these are my themes, this is the end state of the board, this is the message I want to get across/impact I want to have on the reader, now let's work backwards and not do anything just because it seems cool."

Had he done so, the climax would've been larger and fuller, extraneous storylines would've been tightened and streamlined to make room for the stuff that really matters to rise above (thereby focusing the readers), and we would've known which aspects of characterization to pay attention to and which events had real consequence and should be concerning. Another OSC example ... he talks about how you shouldn't start a story as a mystery, and then end with the widow falling in love and getting happily remarried without ever solving whodunit. There's a kind of promise you make, to your reader, that the initial questions you pose will be the ones you answer in the climax—that once you've told your readers what your story is about, they'll know when it's over, because they'll feel closure and resolution.

What was SD "about"? It's hard to tell. Was it about convincing Merlin that magic should be allowed to continue, and isn't an existential threat? Was it about overwhelming Merlin through the use of rationality, even though he couldn't be convinced? Was it about the friendships of Harry, Draco, and Hermione, and how those friendships deepened and changed? Was it a Shadow Puppets-esque, Tom Clancyish story of politics and intrigue, telling the tale of the unification of the magical world? Was it about the merger of magical power with scientific principle, and the first steps into a brave new frontier?

I think it tried to be all of those things, and ended up being none of them, where if it had tried to be one or two first and foremost, and let the others play backup harmony, it would've been far, far stronger, as a story. I would've liked to read any of the stories listed in the previous paragraph, pure and unalloyed and done with the skill this author has at his disposal (because he does generally know how to write, even though he's not an expert yet; the Egeustimentis chapter in Harry's head is the scariest thing I've ever read). If it's a character story, it's a character story; if it's political drama, it's political drama; if it's high fantasy, let it be high fantasy. And most particularly, if it's intended to be a showcase of rationality, it can't make the mistakes SD made (the number of enthusiastic fans on reddit notwithstanding).

Originally written in response to a counterpoint on the above critique:

In general, I think we disagree on the percentage level—for instance, you point to the arrival of a hundred phoenixes and don't think of that as cheating for a cool moment, whereas I think it is cheating for a cool moment. There's nothing about that moment in the battle, or even that battle in general, to imply that it's more phoenix-worthy than any other moments throughout history (or even in the story itself) to have a suspension-of-disbelief-breaking HUNDRED phoenixes show up. So I imagine it's just an issue of where each of us draws the line.

Same thing for idiot ball. Merlin firmly held it throughout the entire story, in my opinion. Same thing for explicit rationality, of which I think Harry and Hermione did basically zero, except "generally plan ahead." Same thing for the repeated "oh, the problem will be solved by an ancient magical artifact" sort-of deus-exes.

Re: worldbuilding, there's good and bad side stuff. Speaking as someone who loves the Wheel of Time and has read every book in it at least four times, I love me some ancillary action. But ancillary action has to pay off in itself, if it's just there to enrich the world, or otherwise it's wasted time. Again, I think it's just that we have different tolerance levels? I notice that you more-or-less agreed to the majority of my points, and basically just felt that each was either enjoyable anyway, or less egregious than I was making it out to be.

Probably the only point I have an ... antagonistic? As opposed to friendly debate-y? ... reaction to is your last one, about the strengths and weaknesses of publish-as-you-go. I think you make a fair appraisal of the situation, but I personally don't think that explanation suffices for an excuse. I recently got into a long back-and-forth about how terrible the book Elantris is, and someone was like, hey, give the guy a break, it was his first novel. To which my response was, no one made him publish before he learned how to write passably well.

I think there's a similar deal with serial fiction. I'm writing serial fiction myself—I'll be up until two or three in the morning tonight, working on r!Animorphs. But if one of my chapters sucks because it's branching, verbose, or haphazard, I think I should still be criticized for that. Saying "but but but it's because I'm publishing as I go!" seems, to me, like saying "but but but this is only my tenth painting ever!" Sure, and it deserves credit for trying, and maybe the hundredth one will be better. But that doesn't make it good, and if it's bad, valid criticisms should be "allowed" to be spoken. The immaturity of a given artist or a given draft is no defense—if a creator doesn't want to be criticized for those flaws, they can always just ... wait until their work doesn't have those flaws.


Originally written in response to authorial+fan gushing enthusiasm after Eliezer made a comment about SigDig:

"A worthy successor on grounds of worldbuilding and humanism" isn't quite the same as "a worthy successor, no qualifications needed." I've enjoyed following Significant Digits a lot, and I'm looking forward to the finale, but I also think that the overflowing praise and admiration in this thread isn't fully grounded, and is counter to the author's own (repeatedly) stated desire to improve. I think there's a bit of a halo effect thing going on, where the good qualities of the writing and the general Hufflepuff impressiveness of having spilled this many words are causing people to gloss over real flaws.

Or maybe it's just that the people who identify those traits as flaws aren't speaking up? There could be a self-selection effect along the lines of not-wanting-to-ruin-people's-party or being afraid that offering critique will cause others to get upset, or something. But I'm feeling willing to risk the ire of die-hard fans if it means bringing the conversation back to a place where it's not all about gush. Based on mrphaethon's response to my last criticism, I predict he'd prefer that, too.

Speaking as someone who's read HPMOR about eight times all the way through and rates it at about a B+, I think Significant Digits comes in somewhere between C and C+ [I later revised this down to a C- after the conclusion]. I don't think it would obviously clinch EY's declaration were there five works of similar length, and I doubt mrphaethon wants his trophy to be based on "nobody else put as much time into it."

There are things SD does exceptionally well. The early parts of the Lethe touch arc, for example, were both well-imagined and incredibly chilling—the chapter internal to Harry's consciousness was some of the finest writing I've seen, and it's far from the only bit that's really, really good.

But there are many more things that come to mind as uncanny-valley versions of HPMOR, rather than actually feeling true to the spirit. Harry and Hermione simply don't feel like HPMOR!Harry and HPMOR!Hermione + some years, in the same way that many of the scenes in Ender in Exile felt false-note untrue to canon Ender Wiggin (Draco does seem spot-on, FWIW, but I don't buy his role within the larger context of the world ). The inclusion of a wider/wilder magical feel, more in line with standard high fantasy, doesn't click—I like the magic on its own, but I can't reconcile this universe with the HPMOR universe, because HPMOR rules with this history = world already destroyed a dozen times over. Half of the broadening of the world re: politics, other races, flashbacks/historical examples works, and half of it bores or feels overwrought or irrelevant.

Et cetera, et cetera—I would enumerate more of the things that are good about SD's writing, except that the whole point of this post is to provide a reasonable counterpoint. And there are a couple of elements that I think are outright bad, though I'm going to refrain from posting those here as well because I'm not trying to flame or troll. Again, I've enjoyed this ride, and I'm looking forward to the ending.

But as a sequel, this falls in the reference class of [Matrix Reloaded, Dune Messiah, and Ender's Shadow], rather than [Empire Strikes Back, Dark Knight, or even Speaker for the Dead]. In fact, Ender's Shadow may be the perfect analogue—some amazing parts, a significant number of mediocre parts, a couple of terrible elements, weird pacing, doesn't-quite-feel-like-exactly-the-same-universe, and steals some of its power in a zero-sum way from the original.

I think that, if SD ultimately ends up being considered the "true" or "official" continuation of HPMOR, the overall result will be a lowering of the average quality-per-word of the combined work by a meaningful amount, and the final impression will be one of a "meh" conclusion that [prediction based on reference class forecasting and outside view synthesis of previous chapters] didn't quite stick the landing.

In a certain sense, that feels like the saddest possibility of them all, because if SD were terrible, no one would think to give it the successor endorsement in the first place. But now, because it's good enough, it feels like it's being handed the seal of approval in a sort of "Well, sure, I guess" spirit, and the result will be nobody bothering to spend time writing something better.

Couldn't find the original source, but I found myself quoting his endorsement and it was:

A worthy successor on grounds of worldbuilding and humanism


I vaguely remember it, but I don't remember where.