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What if the front page…

I'm certainly not suggesting that the LW front page should be replaced by a landing page. That particular design does have some negative associations for me as well.

My point is that if your goal is to make the visitor stick around for a while and maybe even participate, then you need to have a front page that encourages him/her to do so. The design suggested by the OP, in my opinion, probably does not.

Cult impressions of Less Wrong/Singularity Institute

Edit: Nevermind, my point was poorly thought out and hastily formulated.

What if the front page…

Upvoted for A/B split-testing! Don't guess when you can test.

What if the front page…

There are two things I'd object to about this design. And of course this is meant as constructive criticism and I really appreciate the effort you're putting forth in spite of the fact that I disagree with you.

First, I am squeamish about brains, and I assume some percentage of other people are as well. Even though your suggested picture is quite inoffensive, I wouldn't take the risk of turning away visitors. It's just unnecessary.

Second, there's nothing about the headlines that pulls me in.

Curated community blog

Why would I want to read your blog? I don't even know who you are.

A community discussion board

Too vague. I don't even know what this community is about, what do I want with a board?

A source of edited rationality materials

...okay?

And a promoter of hundreds of meetups around the world.

Meet you? Do I even want you to know I exist?

Contrast this with the article linked on the discussion page not so long ago. It went something like

Six ways your irrationality is causing you to lose money

That is a great headline. It makes people curious, makes them want to find out if they're making any of these mistakes or if it's just other people. My money, that's relevant to me.

The current front page is actually not so bad:

Want to know if your doctor's diagnosis is correct? It helps to understand Bayes' Theorem. Want to make a plan for achieving your goals? It helps to know the ways in which we don't know our own desires. Want to make the world a better place? It helps to know about 'scope insensitivity', and that some charities are more efficient than others.

I would put this segment first though and jazz it up a bit. I would rewrite it a hundred times, pick a few rewrites that I think are the best, then I would cycle through them on the front page and see which ones cause new visitors to stay on the site longest/visit most pages.

On a tangential matter, that is why I hate the label "dark arts" that's being used around here. Sure, if a sleazy used car salesman uses these strategies, that may be immoral. But we have a great "product" and a genuine desire to make ourselves and other people better and the world a better place. We should market ourselves better, because that's the most effective way to reach new people

Real estate on the internet is paradoxically expensive, because attention spans are very short and every word has an opportunity cost. Every sentence needs to keep the reader interested enough to read the next sentence. We don't need to be sleazy, and we don't need to use "dark arts". But we really, really, need to be persuasive.

Oh, by the way, PJ Eby is great at this! When I first saw one of his sites, www.whycantichange.com I thought, "wow, this guy really gets it." It's a great example of ethical persuasion and I'm really glad he bothered to learn it and use it because if he hadn't, I may not have checked out his materials and made some of the very tangible progress I've made in my life.

...seriously, that url (whycantichange) is so brilliant I'm giddy.

Daniel Kahneman on Charlie Rose [video]

I believe this link has been posted before, but it might be worth re-posting for those who missed it.

Kahneman's Nobel Prize lecture in both text and video formats.

Thanks for the interview, I'll be checking it out.

Welcome to Less Wrong! (2012)

I'm very excited to have found this community. In a way, it's like meeting a future, more evolved version of myself. So many things that I've read about here I've considered before, but often in a more shallow and immature way. A big thanks to all of you for that!

To the topic of me, I'm 24, male, and Swedish. After studying some of PJ Eby's work, I identify strongly as a naturally struggling person. I've been trying to figure out why for all my life, I think I read Wayne Dyer at about the same age as Eliezer read Feynman. Since then I've read a lot more, and at this point it seems like I have very credible explanations for why things turned out as they did.

Still, even though I might think I ought to have the tools now to stake out a better future path for myself, I'm plagued by learned helplessness and surrounded by ugh-fields. But as I see it there is only one best way forward - to learn more and then attempt to do things better.

I'm a great admirer of the stoic philosopher Lucius Seneca. Here's a short segment from one of his letters that resonates with me:

It is clear to you, I know, Lucilius, that no one can lead a happy life, or even one that is bearable, without the pursuit of wisdom, and that the perfection of wisdom is what makes the happy life, although even the beginnings of wisdom makes life bearable.

And a few paragraphs down...:

Philosophy is not an occupation of a popular nature, nor is it pursued for the sake of self-advertisement. Its concern is not with words, but with facts. It is not carried on with the object of passing the day in an entertaining sort of way and taking the boredom out of leisure. It moulds and builds the personality, orders one's life, regulates one's conduct, shows one what one should do and what one should leave undone, sits at the helm and keeps one on the correct course as one is tossed about in perilous seas. Without it no one can lead a life free of fear or worry. Every hour of the day countless situations arise that call for advice, and for that advice we have to look to philosophy.

I believe that the topics being explored on this site are a natural extension of what Seneca and his contemporaries termed philosophy. To live more purposefully, to be happy and to contribute more to others, studying these topics isn't optional, it's essential. And that's why I'm so glad this community exists and that I've found it.

Stupid Questions Open Thread

That's exactly it. I used to know that, can't believe I forgot it. Thanks!

Stupid Questions Open Thread

There's an argument that I run into occasionally that I have some difficulty with.

Let's say I tell someone that voting is pointless, because one vote is extremely unlikely to alter the outcome of the election. Then someone might tell me that if everyone thought the way I do, democracy would be impossible.

And they may be right, but since everyone doesn't think the way I do, I don't find it to be a persuasive argument.

Other examples would be littering, abusing community resources, overusing antibiotics, et cetera. They may all be harmful, but if only one additional person does them, the net increased negative effect is likely negligible.

Does this type of argument have a name and where can I learn more about it? Feel free to share your own opinions/reflections on it as well if you think it's relevant!