The new front page is up.

Previous discussion here.

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It's just... too big. I should have said it in the last thread, but I didn't want to look like a fuddy-duddy: I do not like this, I find it absolutely reprehensible, it makes me a lot disappointed and a little bit sick, and I'm not sure how alone I am in this because no other dissenting voices spoke up at all. But that's a weak sort of thing to say, so I'll make the fair-ish assumption that I'm completely alone in hating this new front page. In that regard I demur my objections in-general and raise a smaller one:

  • the thing is too big

Does it have to take up the entire horizontal space? Would it be too much a sacrifice to halve its x and y dimensions?

Yeah. It doesn't help that 'Less Wrong is a' is invisible on my monitor until I scroll down. And then I'm like... 'what the hell is this brain doing here, oh, I see what they were trying to do.'

Oh, you're not alone. I liked the previous layout much better; I didn't speak up because I haven't been reading Discussion much, but I totally don't see the need for this brain thingie.

"Rationality materials" leading to meetup stuff makes no sense to me.

Sequences need to be more promiment. They're the main value of this site really.

Having to scroll down to see the rest of the information is annoying, and I can just barely see "Welcome...", which seems like it should be the first thing I see. It could be a lot better, and I like the idea of halving the image.

I'm convinced. We'll experiment with a smaller brain soon.

I didn't see the previous discussion, which is why i didn't speak up there, but I agree completely. It is way too big. I suppose I could just bookmark the recent promoted articles page and go there instead.

I'm not sure how alone I am in this because no other dissenting voices spoke up at all.

Can we encourage people to speak up if they are in informed disagreement with consensus, and trust the rationalist community to call them out if they are wrong?

There's no harm in having a minority opinion or getting called out for being incorrect, but we definitely want to hear about arguments that might make us change our minds, or a valuable additional data point of an observer's assessment of the evidence.

As long as we don't hesitate to justify the consensus, it seems like more dissent is good, not bad.

I would recommend moving the "Less Wrong is a" text to the upper left corner, above the curve of the skull. When I view the page on my laptop, it appears below the fold, so phrases like "curated community blog" and "a community discussion board" appear without any context.

In addition to this, the article "a" should appear either in each brain region, or in the "LW is a..." bit. Currently it appears both in the intro bit and some of the brain regions, which confuses the both the grammar nazi and consistency police in me.

We'll experiment with a smaller brian first, which may bring the intro text more into view and resolve this issue. If it doesn't, we'll revisit placement of the intro.

I'm glad that this change happened, but I do have a few nitpicks.

This may only be true for me, but the repeated "community" in "Curated community blog" and "A community discussion board", especially right next to each other in the graphic, is grating to read. Also, as John Maxwell IV mentioned, the edited rationality materials link is only applicable to a small subset of readers, and definitely not relevant for newcomers to the site (which is important so as to raise the sanity waterline). Initially, I actually thought that the edited rationality materials link was going to lead me to the main sequences or an index of the sequences.

Why does the "rationality materials" link go to a page about meetups? This appears to be a bug.

Thanks a lot for doing this!

Could we improve the edited rationality materials link? Maybe it could link to the sequences, or a page with a name like "a field guide to the less wrong archives"? I don't think it's current target is very relevant to anyone but meetup group leaders.

For what it's worth, I think our presentation of the sequences could also be improved a fair amount.

  • Some of the featured posts are not all that great, e.g. this is one I read recently. Could we ruthlessly pare the sequences down until only the most essential, insight-packed posts remain? The more dense they are with information, the more people will take the time to read them.
  • Suggest that it's okay to just read summaries of the sequences, taking the time to read the full post if a concept doesn't seem obvious from the summary. (I see reading about rationality as debugging one's brain, and there isn't much point in reading about bugs one doesn't suffer from much.) The wiki has summaries, and there's also the Reading Yudkowsky series on Common Sense Atheism. I can't be the only one who thinks some of the sequence posts are a little wordy.

I recently proposed having a contest to rewrite the copy on the homepage on the wiki, but no one responded. Maybe this is a good place to ask?

Could we improve the edited rationality materials link? Maybe it could link to the sequences, or a page with a name like "a field guide to the less wrong archives"?

I agree that this is the wrong place for this link to go; instead of the sequences, though, what about the about page? That's a much more gentle introduction than just the sequences index.

Or, alternatively, what about a new wiki page (much like the "field guide" you alluded to) with an a brief overview of LW topics and links to excellent articles by a variety of LW writers? There's so much amazing content on this site that we could be showing off to new readers, and a lot of it isn't in the sequences. Come to think of it, would anyone be interested in collaborating to make such a page? It seems like it'd be a fun community project. Leave a comment or send me a message if you're interested.

We'd like to point that link to a better wiki page, or even a new, special, non-Wiki page. Would anyone like to write it?

I would. I'll make a new wiki page, then link to it in a discussion post so that anyone who is interested can collaborate.

I was thinking that the page should look something like this. How similar is this blueprint to what you had in mind?

Edit: Discussion post link.

This is a poll to vote on whether we should emphasize linear, completionist reading of the sequences, or a "browse around and see what you like" approach that references sequence guides/summaries and emphasizes reading about the bugs your particular brain seems to suffer from.

Note that the next/previous links will stay in place regardless of either proposal, so linear reading will always be a strong option.

Vote this comment up if you're in favor of emphasizing linear reading.

I have argued somewhat that since the sequences are so badly organized, it's nearly impossible to understand them fully if they're not read in chronological order, and in that regard I think it's downright reprehensible to divide them into somewhat arbitrary "sequence" units, when the whole body of work is so interdependent.

It's been years since I've read some of this, but here are some posts that seem like they stand well on their own:

I haven't read the entire sequences; the portion I've actually read might actually be embarrassingly small if I tried to estimate it. It does seem pretty likely that there is stuff in there that has to be read in chronological order. But I think it's a bad idea to emphasize chronological order where it's nonessential.

You could think of me as something of a "concept collector". I really like reading about some new concept or argument that I can apply in lots of scenarios. Reversed stupidity not being intelligence is a good example. I don't always require a lot of reading to add a new concept to my collection; I remember I would frequently read the first four paragraphs or so of a sequence post, but lose interest because it seemed like the author was just emphasizing the same point over again. (Of course, my attention span is not the best either, so maybe there is some dishonesty here...)

Here's another list like mine:

http://wiki.lesswrong.com/wiki/User:Academian#Abridged_entry_to_the_LessWrong_community

Let's get down to brass tacks. What posts best exemplify the idea that you need to read every post that came before them in order for them to make sense?

And has anyone seriously tackled the problem of refactoring them to gauge how difficult it would be?

Even if the Sequences are linearly ordered, you can read them in any order, so linear ordering allows all readers to choose what they want.

On the other hand, if someone has decided to spend a lot of time reading it all, it is frustrating when the recommended reading order is not obvious. For example in the list of Sequences, major sequences are listed before minor sequences, but at the same time it is recommended to read "Map and Territory" (a minor sequence) first. So... why aren't these things just listed in the recommended reading order? The distinction between major and minor is either unnecessary, or could be shown e.g. using some icons near their titles.

Vote this comment up if you're in favor of emphasizing nonlinear reading methods.

The sequences are bigger than two copies of Lord Of The Rings. Expecting all new readers to study a million words of philosophy before proceeding strikes me as unrealistic.

Not necessarily expect them to read all of it, but the sequences are an excellent way to hook new readers. Plus, even reading some of it is probably the most efficient way to raise the sanity waterline.

the sequences are an excellent way to hook new readers

Is there evidence for this? As far as I can tell, the only way to hook new readers that's made "excellent" is HPMOR.

Excellent in that I would suspect a large proportion of people who started reading Less Wrong did so from reading at least part of the sequences.

I do not have evidence for this, and it might be wrong, but I would be surprised if it were.

The sequence articles have so many links to other articles that it's impossible for me to read one without spawning five distantly related ones from different topics or sequences. Even if I wanted to be linear... (has no control when it comes to links)

Which makes reading them awesome. But patchwork-y

This is a poll to classify sequence post wiki pages into two categories: "key posts" and "subsidiary posts". Categorization will be done based on judgment of wiki editors taking these factors into consideration:

  • Post score
  • Frequency with which post is linked to by other, later posts
  • Perceived importance of the ideas in the post
  • Perceived difficulty of understanding other, later posts without the context provided by this post
  • Overall perceived quality

Any chance we can get rid of the new "Comment author:" bits on every comment? I'm finding it really intrusive as it seems to force more saccades when reading - i.e. my eyes have to jink right to read the author, then back to start the text. Previously, this was unnecessary.

I drew this to Matt's attention privately and it's now in the issue tracker; the plan is to put it only on comment permalink pages (it is to serve some comment indexing purpose) and leave it out again on other views.

I drew this to Matt's attention privately and it's now in the issue tracker; the plan is to put it only on comment permalink pages (it is to serve some comment indexing purpose) and leave it out again on other views.

Please forward my thanks and appreciation for the prompt fix!

Since I'd tell him by PM, I'm not clear on why there'd be any advantage to me telling him so over you.

Ah, I took "I drew this to Matt's attention privately" to mean some more personal form of communication (sometimes it seems like all the west coast (or at least SF Bay area) LWers all know each other IRL), andso this seemed like a reasonable place to offer public praise/reinforcement (given that I'm not in the bay area), both to you again for answering my original comment and to Matt for actually taking care of it. Sorry for any confusion; no other implication(s) were intended.

(sometimes it seems like all the west coast (or at least SF Bay area) LWers all know each other IRL), andso this seemed like a reasonable place to offer public praise/reinforcement (given that I'm not in the bay area)

I think Matt lives on the east coast ... of Australia.

I think Matt lives on the east coast ... of Australia.

He's here in Melbourne. Our coast (and bay) is on the "south" side. But our state is the south-easterly one at least.

Seems like "Welcome to Less Wrong" should be above the image. Right now it looks weirdly separate from the rest of the page. It seems really huge, and like what's under it is sort of an afterthought.

But then again this could have something to do with it being new and different. Everybody's opinions here will become much more reliable in about a week or two when there's been time to get used to the new look.

Looks great except "Less Wrong is a..." is below all the things that it is, which is really stupid.

for "rationality materials" only "materials" should be a link.

I like it, but I with my monitor settings I have serious trouble seeing the grey outline or "Less Wrong is a:".

Please use a browser-size tool, such as http://browsersize.googlelabs.com/ — or just experiment with different browser window sizes — to see how much of this page design will actually be visible "above the fold".

"LessWrong is:" is below the fold on my 1024x600 netbook. If you use that bit, it really needs to be top-left.

Perhaps ellipses at the start and ends of the other link descriptions, and a slight rearrangement of "Curated community blog" and A community discussion board" to make it less ambiguous as to which is supposed to be read first.

When I took Edward Tufte's graphics class one of the questions was about website design. He said the gold standard is the Google News website. Almost all signal and almost no noise. This design is not bad at all but it might work better as an "About" page than as the main page. The main page should be precisely what you were looking for when you entered whatever you put into the search engine when it referred you to the LessWrong main page.

I think the execution could be slightly better but I like the idea of it.

Perhaps someone could create a flickr or tumblr tag, to let people share screenshots of what the new page looks like on their browser?