The Wiki is Dead, Long Live the Wiki! [help wanted]

That’s just a few of them. We im­ported like 5x as many as these.

With the goal of even­tu­ally archiv­ing it fully, we have im­ported 573 pages and 266,000 words of con­tent from the old LessWrong wiki to LessWrong 2.0

The old wiki is a great store of knowl­edge and still gets two thou­sand pageviews each day. In­cor­po­rat­ing it into the new site gets us at least the fol­low­ing benefits:

  • Pages im­ported from the old wiki now ap­pear in search re­sults on LessWrong proper.

  • Pages im­ported from the old wiki benefit from all the fea­tures of new LessWrong such as hover-pre­view, sub­scrip­tions, com­ment­ing, and func­tion­ing as tags on posts.

  • Since LessWrong proper is an ac­tive site, hope­fully, the wiki con­tent con­tinues to get up­dated.

  • Peo­ple who land on the old wiki con­tent will more eas­ily find the rest of the awe­some con­tent/​ac­tivity/​com­mu­nity on LessWrong proper.

  • I like us be­ing the kind of com­mu­nity that when peo­ple have spent hun­dreds (thou­sands?) of hours gen­er­at­ing valuable con­tent, we com­mit to pre­serv­ing it.

The Three Im­port Types

Pages have been im­ported in one of three ways:

  1. 76 are im­ported as new tags that can be ap­plied to posts.

  2. 111 are merged with ex­ist­ing tag pages, which is cur­rently in progress and could use some help (see be­low).

  3. 386 are im­ported as “wiki-only” pages . Th­ese pages can­not be ap­plied to posts and do not cur­rently ap­pear on the Con­cepts page.

The list of im­ported of all 573 wiki pages

To be hon­est, it would be more ac­cu­rate to say that we are part-way through the im­port. We have com­pleted the pro­gram­matic part, and now there re­mains some man­ual work to do, hence the help needed.

First, there is some gen­eral clean-up of links and other el­e­ments that didn’t im­port cor­rectly. Se­cond, and more im­por­tantly, a man­ual text merge is re­quired for the 111 pages are be­ing merged into ex­ist­ing tags. This means tak­ing the text of the ex­ist­ing tag (if it has any) and com­bin­ing it ap­pro­pri­ately with the old wiki page.

Right now, “merged pages” have the old pages’ re­vi­sion his­tory (click His­tory on the tag), but the cur­rent text is un­changed.

You can help us out fix­ing up the wiki im­port and fol­low along on com­pleted/​in­com­plete work in the Wiki Im­port Spread­sheet. More on how to help be­low.

It’s The Wiki Im­port Sheet

Join the Tag­ger Slack!!

A cou­ple of weeks ago we cre­ated a Slack workspace for ded­i­cated tag­gers to be able to dis­cuss tag­ging is­sues and talk di­rectly to the LessWrong team about it. Fol­low­ing ini­tial suc­cess plus good timing with the wiki im­port cam­paign, we’re open­ing that Slack to any­one who wants to help with tag­ging.

Join the Tag­ger Slack here

You can also still leave com­ments on the Tag­ging Open Call /​ Dis­cus­sion Thread.

How to Help with the Wiki Import

Any work helps! You don’t need to perfect a page to have made it bet­ter.

The pro­gram­matic im­port from the origi­nal Me­di­aWiki for­mat worked pretty, well with a few ex­cep­tions, plus the gen­eral fact that au­to­matic con­tent merg­ing is be­yond my pre­sent abil­ities with Python and/​or AI.

Us­ing the Spreadsheet

It’s a bit of a toss-up whether this work­flow can work for peo­ple, but I’ve cre­ated a spread­sheet to track the wiki im­port that needs do­ing. Feel free to ask any ques­tions about via com­ments, the Tag­ger Slack, DM, or any­thing.

Join­ing the Slack is a pretty good idea to get quick an­swers to ques­tions.

  • Cells in­di­cat­ing work that needs do­ing are red.

  • There are columns for sev­eral spe­cific kinds of work, plus one mas­ter “com­plete­ness” column on the left.

  • No tag/​wiki is ever truly done, but at some point it’s done enough to fo­cus on oth­ers.

  • If you’ve com­pleted a task, re­place the cor­re­spond­ing cell with “Done” or some­thing similar (doesn’t mat­ter so long as it’s not blank or “needs do­ing”.

    • If you want to track your work, feel free to write your user­name, ini­tials, or some other iden­ti­fier. We’ll give you due credit.

  • There’s a column for com­ments on the right. Writ­ing <name>: <com­ment>. is a good con­ven­tion. Shift-en­ter lets you con­tinue writ­ing in a cell with­out eras­ing con­tents. Cells are also com­mend­able. (Also there’s the Slack).

Again, feel free to reach out if you want any help with it.

Here is a more de­tailed list of the work to be done:

Merg­ing pages

  • Merged pages show only the origi­nal cur­rent text by de­fault.

  • In most cases, this should be pretty straight­for­ward. New tags pages usu­ally have no text or a few sen­tences that can be eas­ily com­bined with the text of the im­ported page. The text of im­ported pages can be found in two ways:

    • View the page on the old wiki (you can get the link from the spread­sheet).

    • View the His­tory of the tag page. It’s the sec­ond but­ton af­ter “Edit Wiki”. Im­ported pages will have their his­tory prepended to the ex­ist­ing his­tory with ver­sion num­bers like 0.0.x if they’ve been merged.

Op­ti­miz­ing the open­ing paragraph

On LessWrong 2.0 (this site), the open­ing para­graph is what shows on hover-pre­view for tags, mak­ing it very im­por­tant. It’s worth op­ti­miz­ing the open­ing para­graph of im­ported pages.

  • The ap­prox­i­mate ti­tle phrase of the page should be bolded within the open­ing paragraph

  • The open­ing para­graph should con­vey the gen­eral topic of the tag clearly

  • Many of the im­ported pages have great see also/​re­lated pages/​re­sources sec­tions. Those are fan­tas­tic, but it’s ad­di­tion­ally valuable to have a ~short list of re­lated tags right near the top of each page.

  • Some re­lated tags will already be listed on the im­ported page, but there will of­ten be new tags from LW2.0 that can be added.

  • This helps peo­ple quickly learn what top­ics the tag/​wiki sys­tem cov­ers and quickly find what they’re most in­ter­ested in. I pos­si­bly hope to make these “see also/​re­lated tag lists” show on hover-pre­view.

Up­dat­ing Pages

  • Most of the pages on the old wiki have not been up­dated in sev­eral years, and on many top­ics, a lot more in­ter­est­ing stuff has been said (yay in­tel­lec­tual progress!)

  • If you’re knowl­edge­able about a topic, it would be su­per swell if you up­dated con­tent to match the lat­est knowl­edge.

  • A lighter-weight con­tri­bu­tion here is to just leave a note in the page’s text say­ing that it’s an out-of-date im­port.

Tag­ging Rele­vant Posts

  • Im­ported “tag” pages won’t have any posts tagged yet, though most of these have a list of posts already in the text body. Those and other posts are worth adding.

  • For “wiki-only” pages, there also lists of posts, but we’ve still de­cided that’s ad­e­quate and they don’t all need to be tags in ad­di­tion to that. Feel free to add more posts to the lists in the text body if they’re rele­vant.

Copy­ing over the Old Dis­cus­sion Pages

  • Pages on the old LW wiki had as­so­ci­ated dis­cus­sion pages where con­trib­u­tors could dis­cuss mat­ters to pages. 87 of the im­ported pages had any ac­tivity on their Dis­cus­sion pages.

  • It wasn’t fea­si­ble to im­port this pro­gram­mat­i­cally, but there are few enough that it seems worth copy­ing over any Dis­cus­sion page that has any­thing in­ter­est­ing. The spread­sheet has a column in­di­cat­ing im­ported pages with Dis­cus­sion Page con­tent.

  • As of this week, LessWrong tag/​wiki pages also have a Dis­cus­sion sec­tion! (We haven’t ad­ver­tised it yet un­til com­ments on those pages have bet­ter visi­bil­ity.)

  • The task is to copy the Dis­cus­sion page from the old LessWrong wiki, e.g, Talk: Akra­sia into a dis­cus­sion com­ment on the new Akra­sia tag.


  • In the im­port spread­sheet, there are some other columns for spe­cific kinds of fixup, e.g. cases where Me­di­aWiki’s cita­tion syn­tax didn’t work, we don’t yet have a Table of Con­tents fea­tures, etc.

  • There are few enough of these cases that I won’t take up space ex­plain­ing them in this doc­u­ment. See the notes or feel free to ask about them.


I’m ex­cited to have the great con­tent from the old LW wiki now in­cor­po­rated into the new site, in many ways, it’s long over­due.

Thanks to ev­ery­one in ad­vance who helps us com­plete the im­port!