Is LessWrong dying?
An old joke;
“What bar should we go to?”
“Oh, I like Bar X”
“No-one goes there anymore, it’s too crowded”
I suspect that LessWrong is getting too crowded for many people to come here. We’re well above Dunbar’s number, and most of us can’t get to know the other active users without a large investment of time. Other than Eliezer, and maybe a couple of other very frequent past contributors (Yvain, Luke, Anna) the site seems fractured—there are too many people to keep track of socially, and the local groups are kind of doing their own thing. The early heavy users are largely gone (as noted by inferential, http://lesswrong.com/lw/le5/welcome_to_less_wrong_7th_thread_december_2014/bsyj) and the site has split; MIRI, CFAR, and related work seem to have (usefully) siphoned off much of the energy that used to go into the site. The influx of HPMOR readers continues, and I suspect will spike again after it finishes, but Lesswrong is beginning to seem more useful as an archive for the sequences, and an extended chat group, than a source of new and useful ideas.
I think there is a simple reason: either you’re very in the know, or you can’t participate much. The bar for participating has gotten higher as the community has evolved and become well versed in the basics; now there is less to say that’s accessible without a heavy background, and many of those things are technical, deep, or uninteresting to casual readers. Adding to this, it seems that if you’re very in the know, the utility of the site goes down significantly (or other options open up,) so you eventually leave—to better things, probably. I’m not suggesting that this is an unmitigated bad thing, but I’d like to hear what others think about the idea that LessWrong as a community has largely outgrown this forum—it’s useful as a touchstone for meetups and reference to older material, but not nearly as useful as a living site.
What say you? Am I wrong? Are there things we can or should do as a community to change this, or should we try to continue to transition to more meetups, and to MIRI/CFAR-oriented endeavors?