LW Team Updates - December 2019

by Ruby2 min read5th Dec 20197 comments

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Wiki/TaggingLessWrong Review
Frontpage

This is the once-monthly updates post for LessWrong team activities and announcements. 

Summary

In the past month we rolled out floating comment guidelines and launched the inaugural Lesswrong 2018 review. Work has continued on the LessWrong editor and on a prototype for the new tagging system.

December will see more work on the editor, the 2018 review process, and analytics.

Recent Features

The LessWrong 2018 Review

Much of the recent weeks has been devoted to getting the inaugural Lesswrong 2018 Review into full swing:

LessWrong is currently doing a major review of 2018 — looking back at old posts and considering which of them have stood the tests of time. It has three phases:

  • Nomination (ends Dec 1st at 11:59pm PST)
  • Review (ends Dec 31st)
  • Voting on the best posts (ends January 7th)

Authors will have a chance to edit posts in response to feedback, and then the moderation team will compile the best posts into a physical book and LessWrong sequence, with $2000 in prizes given out to the top 3-5 posts and up to $2000 given out to people who write the best reviews.

Read Raemon's full post to hear for the full rationale for the evaluation of historical posts.

NOMINATED POSTS ARE NOW OPEN FOR REVIEW

The nomination phase just ended a few days ago. 34 nominators made 204 nominations on 98 distinct posts written by 49 distinct authors. Of these, 74 posts have received the 2+ nominations required to proceed to the review phase.

How to start reviewing

  1. The frontpage currently has a LessWrong 2018 Review section. It shows a random selection of posts which are up for review and has buttons to the Reviews Dashboard and the list of reviews and nominations you've made so far.
  2. The Reviews Dashboard (located at www.lesswrong.com/reviews) is another way to find posts to review.
The 2018 Review section currently on the homepage.
The Reviews Dashboard.
Note the "Expand Unread Comments" button.

 

3. When you click Review on a review-able post, you will be taken to the post page and a Review Comment Box will appear. 

The Review Comment Box

Reviews are posted as comments and can be edited after they are posted like regular comments.

Reasons to review

All users are encouraged to writes reviews. Reviews help by:

  • Giving authors feedback which they can use to revise, update, and expand their posts before users vote on them and they possibly get included in the physical book that will be published.
  • Giving the community opportunity to discuss the importance and trustworthiness of posts. In particular, now is an opportune time for the community to debate the more contentious ideas and arguments.
  • Thereby, establishing  a record on which posts are truly excellent vs those that need work or are more doubtful.
  • Help people decide which posts they will vote on in the upcoming Voting Phase.
  • Help new readers decide whether or not they wish to read a post.

The review phase will continue until December 31st

Floating Comment Guidelines

For a long time, LessWrong has enabled authors to set and enforce their own custom moderation guidelines on their own posts. This is part or the Archipelago philosophy of moderation which lets people decide what kinds of conversations they want.

To make it easier for commenters stick to desired guidelines across users, and to better understand how sections of the site like Shortform have different norms, we've made it so the moderation guidelines for a post automatically appear beneath the comment checkbox whenever you begin typing.

How the commenting guidelines appear beneath an in-progress comment.

App-Level Analytics Tracking

This isn't really a user-level feature that people can interact with, but we've been working to expand our ability to detect what people are doing within the web-app, e.g. tracking how much different features get used and which don't.

We've been sorely missing this and it's impeded our ability to assess whether some of the features we've been rolling out have been a success or not. 

Hopefully, with this improved feedback we'll make better choices about what to build and be better at detecting pain points for users.

Upcoming Features

LessWrong Docs (new editor)

Work continues on the new editor, codenamed LW Docs for now, with the team internally using it. However, we're not yet rolling it out more widely while we work out remaining reliability issues.

Tagging

We successfully implemented a new tagging prototype and have played around with it. That's roughly as much work we plan to do on this in Q4. To complete this project we need to first flesh out a broader design vision, figure out how tags will relate to wikis, and figure out a clean and intuitive UI design. We might release something here in Q1 2020.

MVP of a tag page. Leftmost number is the tag relevance score. All users can view the current tag pages, however only admins can currently create or vote on tags.

Feedback & Support

The team can be reached for feedback and support via:

 

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7 comments, sorted by Highlighting new comments since Today at 2:02 PM
New Comment

Wow! Thank you so, so much for all of this!

I tend to think of myself as very engaged with LW2.0 (despite not commenting or posting often) but I didn't have a very good idea of how much work you were putting in to add features and fix bugs. I'd love to see more frequent posts like this, so we can all get excited together, and show appreciation for everything you and the team are doing. I'm sure that you have a very clear idea of all the features that are being implemented, and how much effort you've been pouring into it, but that isn't always obvious to the occasional site users who haven't been back for a while. I (and I would bet ~99% of LW) would love to see more updates and requests for support! Honestly, I look at what you've achieved this year, and my only concern is that you're all doing too much for us and you'll burn out. I'm not saying that's definitely true, If that *IS* the case, could you please write a post at some point about how readers/contributors/commenters can help take some of the load?

Side note - in case you're worried that what you're doing isn't having an impact on post volume and quality:

The constant addition of features on LW has directly inspired me to finally start sharing the blog posts I've written, and X-posting them on LW.

Thus far I really like the stuff you included and I hope that you will continue to improve the site. You did an amazing job. I think the only criticism I have is the loading speed. I used a performance testing site to look into this and nearly 9 seconds for the frontpage seem to be very high, especially if you compare it to GreaterWrong. I understand the feature focus and I support it, but I just wanted to say that I would really appreciate the effort of a performance optimization in the future. I am aware of the complexity of such a request, and I am sure that you already have thought about this, but I wanted to give you some feedback anyway. Don't feel obligated to do anything.

Yeah, I agree with this. I've been more annoyed by performance as well lately, and we are pretty close to shipping a variety of performance improvements that I expect will make a significant difference here (and have a few more in the works afterwards, though I think it will be quite a while until we are competitive with greaterwrong performance wise, in large parts due to just fundamentally different architectures).

The team is great. Thank you very much!

Currently, posts can be bookmarked but not comments (or shortform posts). Will tags only be for posts as well?

The team actually considered bookmarks for comments (which would cover shortform as well since shortform posts are implemented technically as comments), but it's a bit more complicated. However, I think it makes a lot of sense to have them for comments since comments are relatively harder to find again.

I'd be curious to hear about whether you've been using bookmarks and if so, in what ways.

For tags, I'm not sure. Definitely to begin with they'd be only for posts. It would probably make sense to have them for shortform too at least.

I used a comment in my shortform without upvotes to do bookmarks*, prior to the bookmark feature being released, and I haven't switched to using the new feature yet.

*posts, questions, comments and pages**

**Some of these are hard to find.