LW Update 2018-06-11 – Vulcan Refactor, Karma Overhaul, Colored Links, Moderation Log

by Raemon 2 min read12th Jun 201834 comments


I had written about the new Strong Upvotes feature over in this post, but a) I wanted to include it in an official update post, b) we've made a number of small tweaks in the past month that I wanted to summarize.

VulcanJS Refactor

Much of our progress in the past month was under-the-hood. During the Strong Upvotes rework, we needed to make a lot of changes to the VulcanJS core voting functionality. This was making it increasingly hard to keep tabs on which changes we've made to VulcanJS.

So we have now refactored the LW codebase into 3 different repositories. You can view all of them here, and the three subsections below:

This means that people contributing to the LW Open Source will need to clone all three branches into an upper level folder. (Instructions on how to do this have been added to the Lesswrong2 readme file)

Most of the time, developers should only need to make changes to the Lesswrong2 repo, and changes to the VulcanJs repos should only be made as a last resort.

Small/Big Upvotes

This was discussed in the Strong Upvotes post. On desktop computers, you can click-and-hold on the upvote button to do a larger upvote. On mobile, click twice. (After we've had a chance to see how this has played out on both device types, we may tweak the exact implementation. This is a pretty experimental change and we appreciate all feedback about it)

Karma power has been rescaled to make sense in the small/big upvote scheme, with most longterm users have a "small" upvote power of 2, and a big upvote power ranging from 4-12.

After some period of experimentation and verifying that we've gotten the right balance of karma power and inflation, we'll be retroactively applying it to old votes to ensure that old posts don't have weirdly low karma scores. The plan here is to make all old, regular upvotes into Small Upvotes (i.e. karma of 1, 2 or 3, depending on your current karma). You can then turn old upvotes into Strong Upvotes if you think it's important.

Hover-Over for vote count

Rob Bensinger and Wei_Dai had both raised interesting-but-opposite points about the value of being able to see how many votes of each type had been cast. For now, we decided to include information on how many votes, total, a given post or comment has received, but not how many upvotes/downvotes/smallvotes/bigvotes.

My hope is that this will give enough info that you can tell roughly how much engagement a post has gotten, without overly-emphasizing the "aaah people on my team are getting downvoted" feeling that sometimes happens.

You can now hover over the karma-score of a comment to see the number of votes a post or comment has received.

Green Links

The original LW2.0 launch had links being much, much subtler than old LW. This was part of an overall concern about how much the web is constantly demanding your attention, which can disrupt reading flow. We stuck with this despite some initial complaints to give people time to adjust and see how it felt.

After 9 months of trying it out, we decided to go back to colored links. A few points that put it over the edge for us:

  • When scanning a page quickly, it can be hard to see where the links are
  • Having no color on a post at all reduced the amount of visual cue about what site you're on.
  • Most importantly (in my opinion), LessWrong is a site built upon reference to older posts, and a common way for newcomers to get acquainted with our old content is to click around in a TVtropes-esque tabsplosion. Making this easier seemed important.

Moderation Log

I don't think I ever formally announced this, because there were some bugs I still hadn't ironed out (the listed user on a deleted comment is actually the user that deleted it), but since it's been several months I wanted to at least note that the basics of the moderation log Said Achmiz had recommended has been in place, over at https://lesswrong.com/moderation.

I'll try to fix that bug soon but it's a long list of things that need doing.

Bug/Small Fixes and Open Source

  • Link posts in the search bar now properly open their LessWrong post instead of directly linking to their target link (so you can read comments and commentary)
  • Thanks to James Lamine for updating the readme file with some of the newer documentation
  • Congrats to Forrest Wolf for making his first open source contribution, fixing a small bug on the notifications page.
  • Thanks to crybx for fixing a bug with the RSS feed's author tag.