How to Contribute to the Coronavirus Response on LessWrong

The LessWrong team is cur­rently fo­cus­ing full-time on the coro­n­avirus (Why?). We’ve made some pretty big asks with open ques­tions like The LessWrong Re­search Agenda, and we’re su­per ap­pre­ci­a­tive of ev­ery­one who’s par­ti­ci­pated and gen­er­ally writ­ten re­ally use­ful lit re­views and data analy­ses. But there are smaller ways to help as well. In or­der to shrink the bar­rier to en­try as much as pos­si­ble, here are three sug­ges­tions for Min­i­mum Vi­able Help:

  1. Add a link to the LessWrong Coron­avirus Link Database.

  2. Leave a com­ment with a link rele­vant to on­go­ing coro­n­avirus dis­cus­sion.

  3. Help proofread some­one’s post/​com­ment be­fore they post it.

Last up­dated: 23rd March. I will up­date this page as more op­por­tu­ni­ties arise.

We built a daily-up­dat­ing database of links about the coro­n­avirus. We’ve just moved it from Google Sheets to LessWrong.com so bet­ter an­a­lyt­ics are in­com­ing, but from look­ing at the google sheet I be­lieve the database is get­ting traf­fic within a fac­tor of 5 of LessWrong’s to­tal traf­fic (LW typ­i­cally has ~60 ac­tive users at any given mo­ment of the day).

The cur­rent page on “Pro­gres­sion & Out­come”.

Habryka, Eliz­a­beth and I have been up­dat­ing it daily for the past week. It cur­rently has 306 links, or­ganised into sec­tions in­clud­ing “Spread & Preven­tion”, “Work & Donate” and “Dash­boards”, ranked from 1 to 5 on how im­por­tant we think that they are.

The goal of this database is to make it easy to find im­por­tant in­for­ma­tion. Some ex­am­ples of ques­tions it can help you an­swer:

  • “What’s the best dash­board to fol­low global case counts?”

  • “What’s the best link to send to my par­ents?”

  • “How long does COVID-19 last on differ­ent ma­te­rial sur­faces?”

  • “Where can I find that re­ally good thread by Rob Wiblin I read last week?”

You can help out by en­ter­ing links into the Link Sub­mis­sion Form.

It just has 3 en­tries: the URL, where you found it, and who you are (so we can thank peo­ple later). We pro­cess­ing links ev­ery day, so ex­pect to see it added to­mor­row. Please add any links you per­son­ally find valuable like pa­pers, news ar­ti­cles, tweets and face­book posts. If you’re not sure whether a link is valuable err on the side of in­clu­sion and one of us will sort it out.

If you’d like to get daily up­dates of the links we have, Habryka’s ac­count pub­lishes daily lists of the most im­por­tant links (scor­ing 3+), and you can sub­scribe to him by click­ing ‘Sub­scribe to posts’ at the top of his pro­file page.

(If you’re one of the rare peo­ple who think both that this is a valuable pub­lic ser­vice and that you would like help build the database, you can help us with the data en­try work us­ing the more de­tailed LWC19 Database Data En­try Form, which takes ~5 mins to fill out per link (vary­ing time de­pend­ing on the link). If you sub­mit 5 links this way, we’ll reach out to thank you and give you bet­ter ac­cess to the database.)

To re­peat: you can help out by en­ter­ing links into the LW Covid Database with the Link Sub­mis­sion Form. If you’d like to make it eas­ier for your­self, I recom­mend open­ing the page and adding it to your book­marks (Cmd-D in Chrome) so that you can open it with one click.

There’s lots of coro­n­avirus re­search be­ing done on LessWrong. Jim Bab­cock has writ­ten many posts, Con­nor, Ju­lia, Fi­nan and Eliz­a­beth con­tributed to the Jus­tified Prac­ti­cal Ad­vice Thread, Bucky did some work analysing the growth rate of out­breaks, Vipul wrote about plan­ning for sec­ondary effects of the crisis, and Eliz­a­beth laid out con­crete open ques­tions in her LessWrong re­search agenda. To find all on-site Coron­avirus con­tent fol­low the Coron­avirus Tag page.

You can help out LW’s re­search by leav­ing a com­ment with a rele­vant link.

Where to find links?

  • Search the Links Database and find the links that are rele­vant that haven’t been dis­cussed.

  • Add a link to dis­cus­sion on an­other part of the in­ter­net that you’ve already seen in your news feeds.

  • Do a lit­tle googling your­self for rele­vant ma­te­rial and share what you find.

Re­mem­ber: Par­tial progress is still progress! Share your work!

Con­nect­ing work like this is very helpful; it helps us build on oth­ers’ work, gives more in­for­ma­tion and re­duces the time spent re­tread­ing oth­ers’ steps.

Where to find the coro­n­avirus dis­cus­sion on LessWrong to help out with? The schel­ling place is to check out Eliz­a­beth’s re­search agenda and to help out an­swer­ing the open ques­tions there. At the time of writ­ing, the open ques­tions are:

3. Proofread Some­one’s Post/​Com­ment/​Question

One bar­rier to pub­lish­ing is wor­ry­ing about stupid mis­takes in your posts or com­ments. One way to re­move that bar­rier is to have a sec­ond set of eyes look over it.

If you’re look­ing for those eyes or feel like you could be those eyes, the Open Thread this month is ex­per­i­ment­ing with a proofread­ing-and-edit­ing match­mak­ing thread.

Leave a com­ment if you’d like to offer to proofread peo­ple’s posts/​com­ments, and also leave a com­ment if you have some­thing you’d like to get proofread!

(If you’re down for some full-on edit­ing work, then that’s also some­thing you can also help out with in that thread.)


Thanks for all of your con­tri­bu­tions. Please make sure you and your fam­ily are safe be­fore helping oth­ers.