Please Critique Things for the Review!

by Raemon 1 min read11th Jan 202030 comments

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I’ve spent a lot of time defending LW authors’ right to have the conversation they want to have, whether that be early stage brainstorming, developing a high context idea, or just randomly wanting to focus on some particular thing. 

LessWrong is not only a place for finished, flawless works. Good intellectual output requires both Babble and Prune, and in my experience the best thinkers often require idiosyncratic environments in order to produce and refine important insights. LessWrong is a full-stack intellectual pipeline. 

But the 2018 Review is supposed to be late stage in that pipeline. We’re pruning, not babbling here, and criticism is quite welcome. We’re deliberately offering just as much potential prize money ($2000) to reviewers as to the top-rated authors.

Nominated authors had the opportunity to opt out of the review process, and none of them did. Getting nominated is meant to feel something like “getting invited to the grown-ups table”, where your ideas are subjected to serious evaluation, and that scrutiny is seen as a sign of respect.

In my current expectations, the Review is one of the primary ways that LessWrong ensures high epistemic standards. But how well that plan works is proportional to how much effort critics put into it.

The Review and Voting Phases will continue for another until January 19th. During that time, review-comments will appear on the voting page, so anyone considering how to vote on a given post will have the opportunity to see critiques. The reviews will appear abridged initially, so I’d aim for the first couple sentences to communicate your overall takeaway. 

The Review norms aren’t “literally anything goes” – ridicule, name-calling etc still aren’t appropriate. I’d describe the intended norms for reviews as “professional”. But, posts nominated for the Review should treated as something like “the usual frontpage norms, but with a heavier emphasis on serious evaluation.”

I’m still not sure precisely what the rules/guidelines should be about what is acceptable for the final Best of 2018 Book. In some cases, a post might make some important points, but also make some unjustified claims. (I personally think Local Validity as Key to Sanity and Civilization falls in this category). My current best guess is that it’d be fine if such posts end up in the book, but I’d want to make sure to also include reviews that highlighted any questionable statements.

Happy Critiquing!

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