Here is our monthly place to discuss Less Wrong topics that have not appeared in recent posts.
(Carl's open thread for March was only a week ago or thereabouts, but if we're having these monthly then I think it's better for them to appear near -- ideally at -- the start of each month, to make it that little bit easier to find something when you can remember roughly when it was posted. The fact that that open thread has had 69 comments in that time seems like good evidence that "almost anyone can post articles" is sufficient reason for not bothering with open threads.)
[EDIT, 2009-04-04: oops, I meant "is NOT sufficient reason" in that last sentence. D'oh.]
Admins: Draft posts are superficially identical actually-posted ones (while logged in). This is confusing, and alarming to new users (at least, it was to me) since it looks like something you meant to save as a draft has been published to the world by mistake. Can they be made to look clearly different -- e.g., lighter colour or "[DRAFT]" next to them or something? This applies both on the front page (and /new etc.) and in the recent posts list in the sidebar.
Trick to get free respect from rationalist types: passionately argue for some wrong position, then when someone corrects you, say "oh, I've changed my mind, you were right and I was wrong, mea culpa'.
Could we get polls, and an easy way to analyze the poll data? e.g. remove anonymous votes. Remove votes by people below a karma cutoff, etc.
I just stopped myself from commenting on a thread because I was worried for my itty bitty karma score. I'm new, so my karma score is tiny. I'm new enough to know that I might not know all the relevant context, so I stopped myself in case what I was going to say was too obvious.
I wish that newbies could have a protected period from being downvoted to the pits of negative karma if the new person is clearly giving an honest effort. But at the same time, downvoting trolls makes very good sense. I realize it's not practical to separate out new people from... (read more)
I have a question for Eliezer. I went back and reread your sequence on metaethics, and the amount of confusion in the comments struck me, so now I want to make sure that I understood you correctly. After rereading, my interpretation didn't change, but I'm still unsure. So, does this summarize your position accurately:
A simple mind has a bunch of terminal values (or maybe one) summarized in a utility function. Morality for it, or rather not morality, but the thing this mind has which is analogous to morality in humans (depending on how you define "... (read more)
Someone should do a post attempting to define what exactly "rationalism" is. Right now I see lots of discussion on how to build rationalist communities, whether rationalism always "wins," why you should be a rationalist, etc., but very little on what the content of this term is, and very little on how to be a rationalist. A newcomer could be excused for thinking that "rationalist" just means someone who goes around exhorting others to become rationalists. Maybe there's nothing wrong with that, though; perhaps rationalism, at its core, is simply reminding yourself and others to think hard about things at all times.
If it's not silly to comment with this: am I commenting too much? None of the comments on the first page of my profile are scored up, so looking at my high karma I guess I'm making a lot of comments, and they're not all hits. Should I cut back?
I must say I like having an 'open thread' even though we can write posts on whatever. I routinely vote down posts that aren't terribly interesting and downvote comments that are off-topic, so this seems like a good place to put things so that they don't give you a huge karma hit just for existing. All of the comments that have popped up other places that say things like "This isn't really the place to say this, but..." can just live here.
Maybe it would be nice if some people wrote a few "tutorial"-like or basic lesson-kind of posts aimed at people who are new to the whole "rationalist" thing, covering for example basic concepts in probability theory and statistics, decision theory, cognitive bias etc., thereby making LW more accessible to newcomers who want to get on the train but might have never been exposed to these topics before. These posts could be sorted under a special tag that could be linked to in the "About" section.
I don't suppose there's any easy way to change the name of an account once it's created? When I started this account, I pretty much expected to just read and vote, so I cloned my reddit s/n without much thought. In retrospect, I'd much rather have gone with my full name (Michael_Blume)
Admins: Can we have a link to the wiki in the LW sidebar, please?
Anyone care to comment on why they voted down on my post? At least 6 people did, and none of them left a comment.
Not all down votes need a comment why. But it would be useful for me and probably others in a similar situation when trying to figure out why people thought it was bad,
So after all these post about rationalists having problem cooperating, I am left wondering: Cooperate on what? Are there any existing projects to join? As a student I am not able to support by giving any large amounts of money, but I do have time to spare on a worthy cause.
We might want to link each open thread to past open threads. Of course, if everyone uses your openthread tag, this will be done automatically.
From the Profit:
Just read your last 5 comments and they looked useful to me, including most with 1 karma point. I would keep posting whenever you have information to add, and take actual critiques in replies to your comments much more seriously than lack of karma. Hope this helps.. Rob zahra
I have lowered testosterone via drugs then castration.
To what extent is Less Wrong a family site?
I mean, we're all adults, so it's not like you're going to see someone saying "well, use a @#$%ing ignorance prior, $%^&-head" or some such. Still, in the quote I just wrote, was it necessary to censor? When quoting off-site, is it necessary to censor? I'm aware that I'm probably not asking a question which already has an answer -- what guidelines do we want to establish here?
Personally I'm for "at writer's discretion, but expect to be voted down if it was unnecessary or gratuitous, and expect to bleed karma if it was abusive."
Someone's been downvoting the last few pages of comments from ~2 accounts.
Silly self-obsessed stylistic question here:
Would anyone be willing to tell me whether I'm badly overusing italics and em-dashes in my writing?
This comment is safe to ignore and is intended to help me understand the formatting rules.
(Edit) Okay, I found a list from Markdown. This was edited out to make it less of an eye-sore.
Which was the first post on LW? Is there a way to browse all the titles posted since LW began?
How old is Less Wrong? With some people having karma over 1000 I thought maybe a year or two, but trying to find the date I'm beginning to think just a month or two? Really -- I just happened to find you guys at the beginning? Awesome! Why did you make the break from Overcoming Bias?
The dieting discussion seems to have slipped from the intended purpose into a discussion of, well, dieting. I'm wondering if some of that discussion belongs over here, under "open thread" discussion, instead?
Also, am I the only person who has problems dieting because sometimes, for causes yet to be identified, hunger can trigger a migraine? I'll do anything to avoid migraines, including being fat. (Though today I started experimenting with the Shangri-La diet: if it works and doesn't trigger migraines, I would be delighted.)