Open thread, January 29 - ∞

Might as well go with a bang.

37 comments, sorted by
magical algorithm
Highlighting new comments since Today at 2:47 PM
Select new highlight date

Old site love thread.

Just curious how many people like, and possibly even prefer, the old site.

I'd also like to know if anyone else has terrible experience with site redesigns. They always, for some reason, end up terrible. Likelyhood of bias: 60%.

I was very fond of this site. There were excellent essays, and the discussion structure suited me very well. I'm more of a short form writer. Also, the way it was easy to find old material and conveniently add to old threads is a feature that ssc doesn't have.

The big block of unchanging recommendations at the top of LW2 gets on my nerves.

This being said, the resident troll squeezed a lot of the fun out of LW1, and getting to be moderator-- and then discovering I didn't have adequate moderation tools-- gave me something of an ugh field about the place. And now it's over. It was good when it was good.

The new place has its annoyances, but I'm having fun there. The discussion quality is similar to LW1, I received some great comments already. Instead of a main/discussion split, they let you post to the front page or to your "personal blog", so the barrier to posting is lower. The developers are reasonable, e.g. I complained to Oliver about comment links and he fixed them. Though I agree that they are too fond of the front page and it gets on my nerves too, so I just go to /daily instead.

There is an alternative interface to the new site at Greater Wrong. It has a few problems (namely, it's hard to access archived content; all you get is a day to day listing of posts) but compared to Lesser Wrong it's at least usable. LW2 should support it officially in addition to the Lesser Wrong website, and perhaps even add features like logging in and posting content through it.

Hi, I'm the one who created Greater Wrong. I'm intending to announce it more widely once it doesn't have so many conspicuously missing features, but it's something I'm working on in my spare time so progress is somewhat gradual. You can, however, already log in and post comments. You can use your existing LW 2.0 username/password or create a new one. Let me know if you have any problems.

Thank you very much. I read LW primarily for the discussions that are spurred by posts/articles and the comments are effectively impossible for me to read with the standard interface. On a small glance/browse I'm very encouraged about trying Greaterwrong as my regular reading mode.

Excellent job. You got bonus points for writing it in Lisp. I assume you've read SICP?

Thanks very much!

If the only thing that remained of Greater Wrong was the javascript-free access to the Less(er)Wrong homepage (I mostly disabled js in my browser in the aftermath of spectre, plus js somehow makes scrolling (sic!) on LesserWrong agonisingly slow), it would be a huge value-added for me! I also like the accesskey-based shortcuts for home, featured etc.

However, it's also a much nicer and faster interface for reading the comments and even the content!

(Testing with js enabled: no noticeable slowness; the comment navigation system is neat, though I doubt whether I'd actually use it.)

Thanks for adding this, then! Personally, I'm just waiting to create an account/log in there until the 'final' LW-importation goes through. (Users who were late setting the e-mails to their accounts here did not have these imported to LW2 initially, which can lead to all sorts of problems. But a new importation from LW's updated user list can fix this - or maybe it can't, but then there's no loss in just creating a new user!)

It would be nice to have more than just a single page of 'new' content, since as is, it can even be hard to check out all recent posts from the past few days, or whatever. It's great that the archive is available though. (Similarly, it would be great if we could access more of a user's posting and commenting history directly from their user page. On LW and LW2, you can see everything that a user has posted to the site simply by browsing from the userpage, and many LW users do rely on this feature as a de-facto 'index' of what they've contributed here.)

It would be nice to have more than just a single page of 'new' content, since as is, it can even be hard to check out all recent posts from the past few days [...] more of a user's posting and commenting history

Done :)

I was a bit bothered by the noisy look of the front page, so I took a shot at restyling it: screenshot, pastebin. Not insisting that you should use it (I'm using it as a browser stylesheet anyway) but just thought I'd share.

Edit: whoops, this affects other pages in surprising ways. I'll try to fix it tomorrow.

Thanks for this—it's great! I went ahead and tweaked your modification a bit and elaborated on it, and now it's available on GW as a selectable theme (note the theme selector widget at the top-left of the page).

Any further suggestions on improving the theme are welcome! (See here for the grey-theme CSS as it currently stands.)

P.S. If anyone else wants to post or send us additional alternate themes, please do!

Very cool, and thank you for cleaning it up!

I'm not very happy about the typeface used for body text, the longer paragraphs kinda make my eyes bleed. Arial at 1rem would look more scannable to me. But this might be subjective, and in any case I can just fix it for myself.

Yeah, I totally understand your complaint. Take the following as me explaining why it (and many similar things) are done this way, and definitely not dismissing what you're saying:

Fonts are tricky.

It's hard to appreciate how tricky they are, until you try and make a website that's readable for everyone, everywhere.

Rendering bugs, for example. You get a font that looks great on a Mac—it looks terrible on Windows. You find one that looks good on Windows, it glitches out on Linux.

Then there's things that aren't "bugs" but more like "differences"—rendered font weight is different on Mac vs. Windows/Linux.

There's browser differences: Chrome and Firefox (or, more precisely, Webkit/Blink and Gecko) anti-alias letterforms differently (at least on Windows).

There's device differences: what looks good on a hi-DPI screen doesn't look so great on a lower-res screen (and vice-versa!).

Of course these things interact. (Otherwise it would be too easy, right?) Chrome on a Retina Macbook vs. Firefox on the same Macbook vs. Firefox on a Linux box vs. Safari on an iPhone vs. Safari on an iMac vs. Opera on the same iMac vs. Opera on Windows vs. Chrome on Windows vs. etc. etc. etc.—all are ever so slightly different in how they will render the very same text.

Sometimes you can correct for this. Pick a font that works best on most platforms; detect the remaining platforms, serve a different font to those. (GreaterWrong does this for the UI font—Mac and Linux users get one font, Windows users get a slightly different font. I am betting 99% of people won't ever notice or realize this… which is the point, of course; if we didn't take this additional step, then people would notice, because there'd be visible glitches.)

Often, though, you can't. (For example, there's a particular longstanding browser bug in how text renders on mobile devices (specifically having to do with hyphenation) that we can't properly fix, because there's no way to reliably detect whether any given client can or can't do that particular thing correctly. This is why the text column is left-aligned on mobile clients. The alternative would be having most users see well-formatted text, but having a large minority of users see very glitchy, hard-to-read text; this is unacceptable.)

And, as you say, some things are just subjective (at least in part; it's almost never totally subjective).

So while I absolutely try to ensure that everyone gets as close to a perfect reading experience as possible… compromises are inevitable (and I really do mean "inevitable", not "meh, too much work"; no amount of effort short of "literally be Apple or Google, and maybe not even then" would fully solve this problem).


All that having been said, though, could you tell me what sort of device/OS/browser/etc. you're viewing the site on? Every piece of user feedback helps! :)


Edited to add: Whatever corrections you make, even if we don't/can't adopt them into the "official" version of the theme, I encourage you to submit them to userstyles.org—it's likely that some other people will share your preference, and this'll make the browsing experience better for at least some of them.

Maybe something like this? Before, after. I'm not insisting that you use it, but it's closer to what I had in mind...

The title / post-meta styling is an improvement, I agree. As for the body test—what OS / browser / etc. is that?

Edit: I ask because, from what I've seen, Fira Sans is more readable on more platform/browser/device combinations than Concourse, as a body text font. In this case it's closer to the opposite… let me ask you this: how much of the difference between the two versions you screenshotted, for you, is made by the body text size, as distinct from the typeface per se?

Yeah, it's probably about font size.

The screenshots were taken on Ubuntu + Chrome. I came home and checked on my Mac, and it seems like Fira isn't always that bad. Ubuntu just stretches it for some reason and it looks horrible, like in my "Before" screenshot. As for Concourse, I managed to make it look like my "After" screenshot on both platforms by setting -webkit-font-smoothing: antialiased. But that seems brittle. So yeah, fonts are tricky and I withdraw my proposal, at least until I get ten different machines to test it :-)

I've now tested the grey theme on several different Linux machines (running debian, Mint, and KDE), in Chrome and Firefox, and am unable to reproduce that particular bug (I don't have access to an Ubuntu box at the moment, I'm afraid).

I'm given to understand that Linux has certain font rendering settings which may be adjusted—is that something you're able to try doing? (If not, I totally understand.)

FYI, I tweaked the body text size in the grey theme (and made it vary slightly according to display pixel density). Take a look—it might be a bit better for you now.

You've also changed the font, right? Somehow I can't even reproduce the old bad look by changing to Fira :-) Anyway the new look is great, thank you! My only remaining nit is that

looks too heavy, e.g. in this post.

Yeah, the body text is in Source Sans Pro now (seems to be more consistent across platforms[1]).

Good point about the heading weight. In the grey theme the heavy headings don't fit… I'll have to play around with different weights.

[1] "Consistent", I say, and yet I still had to specify that Firefox on Windows (yes, specifically Firefox and specifically on Windows) should get a different weight… fonts, man…

Thank you! Though I like the brutalist theme even more now :-)

Do you have plans to implement a list of posts by user (without comments), a list of drafts, and an inbox? These are the only things I go to LW2.0 for, most of my time is now spent on GW.

Do you have plans to implement a list of posts by user (without comments), a list of drafts, and an inbox? These are the only things I go to LW2.0 for, most of my time is now spent on GW.

Yes, definitely.

I have become very used to the interface here and the various ways it can be manipulated, so I prefer it greatly even if this is just due to inertia. Glad to see more than 6 names on the Last 30 Days list. But it's clear that this is a dead zone and I've become resigned to the idea that this will soon be gone.

I do enjoy what's going on at LW2 even though it's still open beta, a bit broken in a few areas and cluttered by too many specific requests and follow-up about personal preferences for site look and feel. And moderator chat that really feels like it can be kept behind closed doors -- I hope this is just a feature of beta that will be ironed out. And I fully applaud the approach to trolls (so far anyway).

Overall it's fun to see people jockeying for the position of Next Great Poster Who Will Lead Us From Darkness, especially those who aren't trying to copy Previous Heroes. Some falling terribly short but it's interesting to see the variety of voices. It does not seem to be heading to an obvious local minimum, something I worried about in the early days of LW2.0. Maybe a few local minima but that's fine with me.

It seems like a personal message sent to me on the new website got lost.

At the beginning, the speed was too low but now it's a lot better.

Getting notifcation to replies to your post doesn't yet work and I think that's the last thing that has to be done to make the new website a clear improvement above the existing version.

I tend to agree. I don't know is it just a habit or something else, like a conservative profile of myself and many others, but that doesn't really matter.

The new site isn't that much better. Should be substantially better than this one for a smooth transition.

I just spent the last few days rereading old posts and comments, reminiscing about how much fun we had as a fandom. Then we tried to turn into a goal-based community, but it turns out social connections arise from having a common focus of emotion, not from hard work.

When exactly did that happen? I haven't been here when the site was "highly active" (which I assume when EY was making the sequences posts) but do we have any statistics about it? I could build a small scraper and make a graph for dates and stuff, but somebody with access to the database could do it much better.

I don't remember ever seeing statistics on that.

do we have any statistics about it?

For sessions and pageviews from Google Analytics, I wrote a post about it in April 2017. Since you mention scraping, perhaps you mean something like post and comment counts; if so, I'm not aware of any statistics about that.

Wei Dai has a web service to retrieve all posts and comments of particular users that I find useful (not sure if you will find it useful for gathering statistics, but I thought I would mention it just in case).

There is detailed google analytics going back a while.

FWIW lesswrong has rarely felt like a comfortable place for me. Not sure why. Maybe I missed the fandom stage.

I did have a laugh now and again back in the day. Even then I think I came here for the "taking ideas seriously" thing that rationalists can do, than for the community.

Confession thread. I've been in love with LessWrong for about 5 years (my first post was this, found on 4chan. Maybe it isn't exceptional but it always had a place in my heart. In fact, it gave me the courage to get my first job when I was scared of being outside) and I've never admitted it. Now that it's about to go boom I can finally confess that, even though I've been a horrible student. Take that, LW2, you'll never be as awesome.

NEWSFLASH: HPMOR chapter 123 released: Something to protect: Less Wrong.

Browsed the net too much and found this. Time to weaponise dopamine. Anyone got a list of actions/objects/whatever and the amount of dopamine they produce?

Seriously now, why bother looking for the g-spot when you can just stuff two cheeseburgers down there..

Very cool, and thank you for cleaning it up!

I'm not very happy about the typeface used for body text, the longer paragraphs kinda make my eyes bleed. And I can recommended you to read this article about how presentation text on https://papernow.org/ website