Less Wrong Study Hall—Year 1 Retrospective

Contents

Some time back, a small group of Less Wrongers col­lected in a video cha­t­room to work on…things. We’ve been at it for ex­actly one year as of to­day, and it seems like a good time to see what’s come of it.[1] So here is what we’ve done, what we’re do­ing, and a few thoughts on where we’re go­ing. At the end is a sur­vey taken of the LWSH, partly to be com­pared to Less Wrong proper, but mostly for fun. If you like what you see here, come join us. The pass­word is “lw”.

A Brief His­tory of the Hall

I think the first in­spira­tion was Eliezer look­ing for some­one to sit with him while he worked, to help with pro­duc­tivity and akra­sia. Shan­non Fried­man an­swered the call and it seemed to be effec­tive. She sug­gested a similar cowork­ing scheme to one of her clients, Mqrius, to help him with akratic is­sues sur­round­ing his the­sis. She posted on Less Wrong about it, with the in­tent of con­nect­ing him and pos­si­bly oth­ers who wanted to co-work in a similar fash­ion. Tsak­i­nis, in the com­ments, took the idea a step fur­ther, and cre­ated a Tiny­chat video cha­t­room for group work­ing. It was ti­tled the Less Wrong Study Hall. The the­ory is that it will help us ac­tu­ally do the work, in­stead of, say, read­ing tvtropes when we should be study­ing. It turned out to be a de­cent Schel­ling point, enough to form a reg­u­lar group and oc­ca­sion­ally at­tract new peo­ple. It’s grown slowly but steadily.

Tiny­chat’s soft­ware sucks, and there have been a cou­ple of efforts to re­place it. Mqrius looked into OpenMeet­ings, but it didn’t work out. Yours truly took a crack at pro­gram­ming a LWSH Google Han­gout, but it ran aground on tech­ni­cal difficul­ties. Mean­while the tiny­chat room con­tinued to work, and de­spite no­body ac­tu­ally lik­ing it, it’s done the job well enough.

Tiny­chat is pub­li­cly available, and there have been oc­ca­sional is­sues with the pub­lic along the way. A few peo­ple took up mod­ding, but it was still a nui­sance. Even­tu­ally a pass­word was placed on the room, which mostly shut down the prob­lem. We did have one guy straight out guess the pass­word, which was a…pe­cu­liar ex­pe­rience. He was no­tably not all there, but some­how still scrupu­lously po­lite, and left when asked. I don’t think I’ve ever seen that hap­pen on the In­ter­net be­fore.

A year af­ter the Hall opened, we have about twenty to twenty-five reg­u­lars, with an un­known num­ber of oc­ca­sional users. We’re still well within Dun­bar’s num­ber, so ev­ery­body knows ev­ery­body else and new users in­te­grate quickly. We’ve de­vel­oped a rea­son­ably firm set of so­cial norms to guide our work, in spite of not hav­ing di­rect tech­ni­cal con­trol nor clear lead­ers.

The story thus far has been a pretty good one. I’m look­ing for­ward to Year Two.

Cur­rent MO and So­cial Norms

No one went out of their way to come up with these and no­body is re­ally en­forc­ing them, but it’s how the group cur­rently be­haves.

We adopted the Po­modoro Tech­nique early on to or­ga­nize our work. We run 32-minute po­modoros in­stead of the usual 25 (I have no idea how this cus­tom origi­nated; I’m told it was Dentin’s idea though), in­ter­spersed with eight minute breaks that tend to run over as of­ten as not. Some­times, we’ll run a longer or shorter pomo if some­one re­quests it. When you en­ter the room, ask for the cur­rent time. Usu­ally at least one per­son will no­tice and re­spond with the end­point of the cur­rent pomo, ex­pressed in min­utes-past-the-hour to be ap­pli­ca­ble across time zones.[2]

Don’t talk dur­ing po­mos with­out good cause. Ask­ing for the cur­rent time is good cause; so is say­ing a brief good­bye when you leave. If some­one else is talk­ing enough to be dis­tract­ing, it’s ac­cept­able to ask them to save it for the next break. Other­wise, in­sert nose in grind­stone.

Dur­ing breaks, talk as much as you want. Talk­ing about what you’re work­ing on is ex­plic­itly en­couraged. Brag­ging about some­thing you’ve just com­pleted is also ex­plic­itly en­couraged. In the ab­sence of those two things, though, it’s okay to just be so­cial.[3]

Any­one who no­tices that the break has ended can start the next pomo just by stat­ing its length and end time. Usu­ally one or two self-se­lected peo­ple will keep the rest of the room on track in this re­gard. If the break runs over and you’re the first to no­tice, speak up even if you don’t want to be re­spon­si­ble for the clock; it’s good form to cut the chitchat quickly once some­one has noted that it’s time to get back to work.

Most of us keep our cam­eras on in the room, and I en­courage new users to do the same. Hav­ing some­one watch you work seems to im­prove mo­ti­va­tion and re­duce the temp­ta­tion to slack. Your pres­ence will be more ob­vi­ous, which helps if you hap­pen to be new and are scrol­led off the bot­tom of the user list. It also en­courages oth­ers to in­ter­act with you; so­cial­iza­tion dur­ing breaks is eas­ier and works bet­ter when you can see peo­ple’s ex­pres­sions. As noted in the sur­vey be­low, that sort of so­cial re­in­force­ment is a big plus. In lieu of a cam­era, some users dis­play their work­ing desk­top in­stead, but this is rare and seems to re­quire a third party pro­gram. If you like pri­vacy, keep­ing ev­ery­thing off is okay too; just be aware that you’re avoid­ing a use­ful tool.

Bul­let point ver­sion of the above:

  • Say hello and ask for the cur­rent time when en­ter­ing.

  • Don’t talk dur­ing po­mos.

  • Do talk dur­ing breaks.

  • Talk­ing about work is en­couraged.

  • Brag­ging about work is en­couraged.

  • Don’t turn your mic on.

  • But do turn your cam­era or desk­top view on if you want.

Per­sonal Reflections

It’s been an in­ter­est­ing first year. I’m part of a tribe as it be­gins to co­here, and I like it.

Is it effec­tive? Good ques­tion. I en­joy the en­vi­ron­ment but that doesn’t mean it’s suc­ceed­ing at what it’s sup­posed to do: help akrat­ics Get Stuff Done. I feel like it’s effec­tive, but be­ing sure of that is hard. I’ve cer­tainly writ­ten more in the last year than the pre­vi­ous ten. I do use a cou­ple of other pro­duc­tivity hacks, es­pe­cially Bee­minder, and in fact I fre­quently work on Bee­minded tasks in the Hall. Some­one (jkad­lubo?) men­tioned that they didn’t like Bee­minder be­cause it was all stick and no car­rot. For me, the study hall is the car­rot. I like work­ing alongside other peo­ple.

We have a lot of stu­dents, which is un­sur­pris­ing given that we splin­tered off Less Wrong and Less Wrong also has a lot of stu­dents. This makes me won­der what will hap­pen when our users be­gin to grad­u­ate.

Tiny­chat, as a tech­nol­ogy, sucks. Un­for­tu­nately it’s the best ex­ist­ing soft­ware that does what we want, by virtue of be­ing the only ex­ist­ing soft­ware that does what we want (Google Han­gouts, the most ob­vi­ous al­ter­na­tive, does not work for our pur­poses as men­tioned above), and at least two at­tempts to re­place it have failed. I be­lieve this is be­cause, while Tiny­chat is an­noy­ing, it’s not an­noy­ing enough for any­one to put in the rel­a­tively large effort that seems to be re­quired to re­place it – es­pe­cially since the room is self-se­lected for akratic prob­lems in the first place. The most promis­ing al­ter­na­tive tech I can find is XMPP Muji, a stan­dard for multi-user video chat ser­vices, but the stan­dard’s ap­proval is deferred and I’m not sure why. A cur­sory Google search does not turn up any soft­ware that im­ple­ments it.

One of the prob­lems brought up when the room was first pro­posed was that peo­ple might end up us­ing the Hall to so­cial­ize rather than work. The con­cern was jus­tified, at least par­tially; we rou­tinely run over breaks talk­ing. But we seem to have coun­tered that with a fairly strong norm of stop­ping the break as soon as some­one no­tices. As we’ve all got­ten to know each other bet­ter, the at­mo­sphere dur­ing the breaks has be­come quite so­cial. I would blame our break-over­runs on this, ex­cept I’m pretty sure that has been hap­pen­ing since the start. Nev­er­the­less there has been some con­cern that the more-so­cial at­mo­sphere has been dis­tract­ing peo­ple from ac­tu­ally work­ing. I asked about this in the sur­vey, but the an­swers were heav­ily slanted to­wards “not ter­ribly dis­tract­ing.” (no higher than a 3 on a 1–5 scale, and only three 3’s) This leads me to be­lieve that there are more peo­ple con­cerned that oth­ers might be both­ered than there are oth­ers who are ac­tu­ally both­ered. It is pos­si­ble there is a se­lec­tion effect whereby the peo­ple ir­ri­tated leave and never took the sur­vey; but the change in at­mo­sphere has been rel­a­tively re­cent, and I haven’t no­ticed an ex­o­dus of reg­u­lars. Ad­di­tion­ally, the sin­gle largest draw re­ported is so­cial re­in­force­ment for work­ing. I think the so­cial at­mo­sphere is prob­a­bly a net pos­i­tive, al­though it would be good if we could tech­nolog­i­cally en­force break limits. Sev­eral other peo­ple noted that in the sug­ges­tion box; un­for­tu­nately it is not pos­si­ble with­out re­plac­ing Tiny­chat. Which was also a com­mon item in the sug­ges­tion box.

We’ve lost some users along the way (in­clud­ing the origi­nal cre­ator, I think), but a near-ma­jor­ity of the room has been around since al­most the be­gin­ning. That seems to sug­gest that peo­ple who try it out for more than a few cur­sory ses­sions stick around. We’ll be­gin to see if that’s the case next year, with re­peat sur­vey-tak­ers.

Sur­vey and Results

Yvain’s Less Wrong 2013 Sur­vey re­sults came out as the one year mark was ap­proach­ing, and it seemed to me that it would be fun, if maybe not all that use­ful, to col­lect the same sort of in­for­ma­tion about the Hall. So, I did. The sur­vey was open for about three weeks and pub­li­cized dur­ing Hall breaks by my­self and a few other peo­ple. You can see the ques­tions used here. I fla­grantly pla­gia­rized many of the ques­tions from Yvain’s sur­vey (with per­mis­sion, and thank you), be­cause it seemed like com­par­ing the Hall to Less Wrong proper would be in­ter­est­ing. I took out a few sec­tions that I didn’t feel were rele­vant and added a cou­ple of Study Hall spe­cific sec­tions. There is also some silli­ness at the end.

We had 23 re­sponses. I counted 22 unique users in the room over the pe­riod the sur­vey was open. As­sum­ing there are at least some peo­ple I did not see dur­ing that time (ow­ing to differ­ing sched­ules) I would guess our ac­tual re­cur­ring pop­u­la­tion is around 30, of which per­haps 20 show up reg­u­larly. I have no­ticed an in­flux of new faces in the last week or two; I sort of wish I’d run this a month later.

With such a small pop­u­la­tion it would be fairly easy for com­mu­nity mem­bers to de-anonymize peo­ple. Re­spon­dents were warned of that, but I would still ap­pre­ci­ate it if peo­ple didn’t go out of their way to try and con­nect re­sponses to names.

The re­sults are be­low. My com­ments are in brack­ets.

Demographics

Age

Mean 23.4
St­d­dev 4.2
Min 17
1st quar­tile 20.5
2nd quar­tile 23
3rd quar­tile 26.5
Max 32

[[ Our youngest user is 17 and our old­est is 32, at least among re­spon­dents. I feel old now. ]]

Country

Aus­tralia 2 9%
Canada 1 4%
Fin­land 0 0%
France 0 0%
Ger­many 8 35%
Is­rael 0 0%
New Zealand 0 0%
Poland 2 9%
Rus­sia 0 0%
United King­dom 1 4%
United States 4 17%
Other 5 22%

[[ I don’t know why we’re so hugely con­cen­trated in Ger­many. I think it might be one cluster of peo­ple all refer­ring each other. ]]

Race

Asian (East Asian) 0 0%
Asian (In­dian Sub­con­ti­nent) 0 0%
Mid­dle Eastern 0 0%
Black 0 0%
White (non-His­panic) 21 100%
White (His­panic) 0 0%
Other 0 0%

[[ I’m sure I’ve seen at least one non-white per­son…but still. ]]

Sex, Gen­der, Relationships

I con­sid­ered not in­clud­ing this sec­tion as ir­rele­vant and pos­si­bly touchy, es­pe­cially given how easy it would be to de-anonymize peo­ple. Some­one (I think tkad­lubo) pointed out that Less Wrongers in gen­eral are in­ter­ested in re­la­tion­ship hack­ing. I ended up mak­ing it op­tional, but ev­ery­body an­swered it any­way.

Sex

Male 18 78%
Fe­male 5 22%
Other 0 0%

Gender

Male (cis­gen­der) 18 78%
Fe­male (cis­gen­der) 5 22%
Male (trans­gen­der f->m) 0 0%
Fe­male (trans­gen­der m->f) 0 0%
Other 0 0%

Sex­ual Orientation

Hetero­sex­ual 16 70%
Ho­mo­sex­ual 0 0%
Bi­sex­ual 2 9%
Asex­ual 1 4%
Other 4 17%

Re­la­tion­ship Style

Pre­fer monog­a­mous 5 22%
Pre­fer polyamorous 8 35%
Uncer­tain /​ no prefer­ence 10 43%
Other 0 0%

[[ All but two of our polyamorous folks were from Europe, and one of those two was me. Clearly I need to move to Europe. ]]

Num­ber of Cur­rent Partners

0 13 62%
1 3 14%
2 5 24%

Re­la­tion­ship Goals

…and cur­rently look­ing for more re­la­tion­ship part­ners 13 59%
…and cur­rently not look­ing for more re­la­tion­ship part­ners 6 27%
Other 3 14%

[[ Bonus points to who­ever an­swered “that’s com­pli­cated.” Also, if I’d been think­ing I would have in­cluded an op­tion for “not look­ing, but open to the pos­si­bil­ity.” ]]

Re­la­tion­ship Status

Sin­gle 14 61%
Re­la­tion­ship 6 26%
Mar­ried 3 13%
Other 0 0%

Children

0 20 87%
1 1 4%
2 2 9%

More Children

Yes 6 27%
No 8 36%
Uncer­tain 8 36%

Work and Education

Work Status

Stu­dent 14 61%
Aca­demics (on the teach­ing side) 0 0%
Self-em­ployed 2 9%
In­de­pen­dently wealthy 0 0%
Non-profit work 0 0%
For-profit work 5 22%
Govern­ment work 0 0%
Homemak­ing 1 4%
Unem­ployed 0 0%
Other 1 4%

Profession

Philos­o­phy 0 0%
Fi­nance /​ Eco­nomics 2 9%
Statis­tics 0 0%
Com­put­ers (AI) 0 0%
Com­put­ers (other aca­demic, com­puter sci­ence) 1 4%
Com­put­ers (prac­ti­cal: IT, pro­gram­ming, etc.) 8 35%
Physics 1 4%
Biol­ogy 3 13%
Medicine 1 4%
Math­e­mat­ics 2 9%
Neu­ro­science 2 9%
Other “hard sci­ence” 0 0%
Psy­chol­ogy 0 0%
Other “so­cial sci­ence” 1 4%
Eng­ineer­ing 2 9%
Busi­ness 0 0%
Law 0 0%
Art 0 0%
Other 0 0%

Degree

None 1 5%
High School 10 45%
2 year de­gree 2 9%
Bach­e­lor’s 2 9%
Master’s 6 27%
PH D. 1 5%
MD/​JD/​other pro­fes­sional de­gree 0 0%
Other 0 0%

Less Wrong

I wanted to get an idea of how our splin­ter tribe re­lates to Less Wrong as a whole, so I in­cluded enough of a sub­set of that sec­tion from the main sur­vey to do so.

Less Wrong Use

Doesn’t use LW 1 5%
Lurker (no ac­count) 6 29%
Lurker (ac­count) 1 5%
Poster (com­ments only) 5 24%
Poster (dis­cus­sion) 8 38%
Poster (Main) 0 0%

Time in Com­mu­nity (LW, years)

Mean 1.9
St­d­dev 1.06
Min 0.2
1st quar­tile 1
2nd quar­tile 2
3rd quar­tile 2.75
Max 4

Karma Score

Mean 183.1
St­d­dev 265.5
Min 0
1st quar­tile 0.5
2nd quar­tile 60
3rd quar­tile 251
Max 800

Meetups

Yes, reg­u­larly. 3 15%
Yes, once or a few times. 6 30%
No. 11 55%

Com­mu­nity (LW)

Yes, all the time. 4 20%
Yes, some­times. 8 40%
No. 8 40%

Took the main LW sur­vey?

Yes 12 60%
No 8 40%

Less Wrong Study Hall

The meat lies here.

Time in Com­mu­nity (LWSH)

Less than a month. 3 13%
1 − 3 months 4 17%
4 − 6 months 3 13%
6 − 9 months 4 17%
9 − 12 months 9 39%

Frequency

Every day 8 35%
Sev­eral times a week 9 39%
Once or twice a week 1 4%
Less than once a week 1 4%
It varies 3 13%
I haven’t been here long enough to form a pat­tern 1 4%

Time in the Hall (per visit, in min­utes)

Mean 226.1
St­d­dev 137.1
Min 60
1st quar­tile 120
2nd quar­tile 180
3rd quar­tile 300
Max 540

[[ NINE HOURS??! O_O I salute you. ]]

Usage

Aca­demic stud­ies 18 27%
Per­sonal pro­jects 21 32%
De­liber­ate prac­tice (e.g. learn­ing gui­tar) 4 6%
Work for an em­ployer 5 8%
Chores, pa­per­work, or other ne­ces­si­ties 17 26%
Other 1 2%

[[ I was sur­prised so many peo­ple use it for chores and the like. I do, but I thought I was just about the only one. On the plus side, my home ac­tu­ally gets cleaned up reg­u­larly now… ]]

Usage 2 (most im­por­tant)

Aca­demic stud­ies 12 55%
Per­sonal pro­jects 5 23%
De­liber­ate prac­tice (e.g. learn­ing gui­tar) 0 0%
Work for an em­ployer 3 14%
Chores, pa­per­work, or other ne­ces­si­ties 2 9%
Other 0 0%

[[ Un­sur­pris­ingly, aca­demics is the big thing. ]]

Draw

So­cial re­in­force­ment for work­ing. 22 33%
So­cial pun­ish­ment for not work­ing. 7 10%
Cam­era-in­duced self-con­scious­ness when work­ing. 15 22%
Dis­trac­tion re­duc­tion via group po­modoros. 18 27%
Other 5 7%

Draw 2 (most im­por­tant)

So­cial re­in­force­ment for work­ing. 14 61%
So­cial pun­ish­ment for not work­ing. 0 0%
Cam­era-in­duced self-con­scious­ness when work­ing. 1 4%
Dis­trac­tion re­duc­tion via group po­modoros. 7 30%
Other 1 4%

[[ The car­rot is more ap­pre­ci­ated than the stick. ]]

Camera

Yes, always. 11 48%
Yes, some­times. 10 43%
Rarely 1 4%
Never 1 4%

[[ I should have asked about desk­top shar­ing too. I have a sus­pi­cion that it works even bet­ter than cam­eras, but only one or two peo­ple do it. ]]

Cam­era Off (why?)

This was a freeform re­sponse about why users leave their cam­eras off. Most users do leave their cam­eras on so there wasn’t a lot to go on here. In­cluded themes were pri­vacy (for one­self or oth­ers nearby), tem­po­rary non-work­ing states (as when some­one is eat­ing), tech­ni­cal difficul­ties, or just gen­er­ally not feel­ing so­cia­ble.

Time Zone

UTC+10:00 2 9%
UTC+02:00 1 4.5%
UTC+01:00 13 60%
UTC+00:00 1 4.5%
UTC-05:00 5 23%

[[ Ap­par­ently all our Amer­i­can users are on the east coast? Per­haps the West Coast peo­ple that might be in­ter­ested already have ac­cess to the main real-life Less Wrong com­mu­nity/​CFAR peo­ple, and thus don’t need the Hall. But I thought we had at least one guy in the West. I am con­fused. ]]

Tem­po­ral Habits (Week­days)

Morn­ings (6am-12pm) 6 15%
After­noons (12pm-5pm) 9 22%
Even­ings (5pm-10pm) 18 44%
Late night/​very early morn­ing (10pm-6am) 6 15%
Too vari­able to say 2 5%
I don’t use the room dur­ing the week 0 0%

Tem­po­ral Habits (Week­ends)

Morn­ings (6am-12pm) 4 10%
After­noons (12pm-5pm) 11 26%
Even­ings (5pm-10pm) 13 31%
Late night/​very early morn­ing (10pm-6am) 6 14%
Too vari­able to say 7 17%
I don’t use the room on week­ends 1 2%

[[ I meant to use time zone in­for­ma­tion and lo­gon win­dows to figure out when the room is pop­u­lated and not, but never got around to it. Maybe next year. Or some­one else could do the hon­ors. ]]

Referrals

The ini­tial an­nounce­ment 9 39%
Other com­ments or posts on Less Wrong 7 30%
Referred by a friend or part­ner 6 26%
Referred by a non-LW blog 0 0%
Referred by a search en­g­ine 0 0%
Other 1 4%

In­ter­ac­tion (out­side the Hall)

Yes, reg­u­larly. 9 39%
Yes, some­times. 7 30%
No. 7 30%

In­ter­ac­tion 2 (in per­son only)

Yes, reg­u­larly. 5 22%
Yes, some­times. 5 22%
I’ve met a few peo­ple in per­son once or twice. 2 9%
No. 11 48%

[[ It looks like more peo­ple here get in­volved in-per­son than Less Wrong as a whole, but it looks like it might be be­cause all our Ger­mans know each other in real life. ]]

Romance

Yes. 5 22%
I didn’t meet them through the Hall, but they come there now. 2 9%
No. 16 70%

[[ That Yes% is much higher than Less Wrong proper, even though our gen­der bal­ance isn’t much bet­ter. Shame our sam­ple size is far too small to tell if it mat­ters. I pre­dict not. ]]

Base Akra­sia (1–7 scale, 1 be­ing no akra­sia, 7 be­ing func­tion­ally par­a­lyzed)

1 1 5%
2 0 0%
3 4 18%
4 5 23%
5 6 27%
6 5 23%
7 1 5%

Akratic Im­pact (Akra­sia in the Hall, same scale as pre­vi­ous)

1 1 5%
2 9 41%
3 8 36%
4 3 14%
5 1 5%
6 0 0%
7 0 0%

[[ Self-re­port­ing be­ing what it is, these num­bers aren’t ter­ribly re­li­able. But they’re all we’ve got for the mo­ment and they do show an im­prove­ment. My thanks to who­ever sug­gested that two ab­solute scales were a bet­ter idea than ab­solute + im­prove­ment. ]]

He­donic Im­pact (He­donic im­prove­ment in the Hall, 1–5, 1 be­ing no/​nega­tive im­pact, 5 be­ing large im­pact)

1 0 0%
2 0 0%
3 3 13%
4 7 30%
5 13 57%

[[ If I’d been think­ing I would have mea­sured he­dons in the same man­ner as akradons. Oh well, next year. ]]

Dis­trac­tions (per­centage)

Mean 29%
St­d­dev 15
Min 10%
1st quar­tile 18.5%
2nd quar­tile 30%
3rd quar­tile 35%
Max 70%

[[ I am not sure if these num­bers are low or high. I would have to com­pare them to dis­tractibil­ity out­side the Hall, but that is much harder to no­tice and track un­less you are ex­plic­itly look­ing for it. ]]

Dis­trac­tion Cause

Peo­ple talk­ing or oth­er­wise draw­ing at­ten­tion in the Hall dur­ing the pomo 0 0%
Digi­tal in­ter­rup­tions (email or IM) 4 17%
In-per­son in­ter­rup­tions (fam­ily or friends want­ing at­ten­tion) 7 30%
Spon­ta­neous web brows­ing or other com­puter use. 11 48%
Other 1 4%

[[ I should have done the same check­box/​most-im­por­tant thing here that I did with the Draw and Usage ques­tions. Un­sur­pris­ingly, spon­ta­neous web brows­ing topped the list by a large mar­gin. ]]

Over­work (per­centage)

Mean 34.7
St­d­dev 24.8
Min 0%
1st quar­tile 12.5%
2nd quar­tile 33%
3rd quar­tile 55%
Max 90%

Accomplishments

Yes 15 65%
No 8 35%

[[ Since we’re here for a rea­son, it seemed good to find out whether peo­ple are suc­ceed­ing at their pur­pose. Hence this ques­tion and the next one. ]]

Ac­com­plish­ment Examples

This was a freeform ques­tion and not ev­ery­one an­swered it. Most an­swers again in­volved aca­demic work and study, in­clud­ing one brave soul who stud­ied for and passed fi­nal ex­ams for classes on which he’d skipped most of the lec­tures. I’m not cer­tain if I should ap­plaud that or not. Artis­tic en­deav­ors were the sec­ond most com­mon re­sponse, and showed up in the form of paint­ing, manuscripts, fan­fic­tion, and blog posts. One per­son has been us­ing the Hall to trans­late HPMoR chap­ters, and an­other wrote an open source library. And one of our users landed a new job, for which they’d writ­ten their CV us­ing the Hall. Con­grat­u­la­tions!

Mis­cel­la­neous Feedback

So­cial Atmosphere

1 9 41%
2 10 45%
3 3 14%
4 0 0%
5 0 0%

[[ Some peo­ple have sug­gested that the re­cent uptick in so­cia­bil­ity and silli­ness dur­ing breaks would dis­tract peo­ple. This is an at­tempt to mea­sure it. More in the per­sonal re­flec­tions sec­tion. ]]

Sugges­tion Box

This was a freeform ques­tion, and most re­spon­dents didn’t an­swer. The most com­mon re­sponse by a fair mar­gin was bet­ter en­force­ment of po­modoros, ei­ther tech­nolog­i­cally or so­cially. There were also mul­ti­ple calls to re­place tiny­chat.

De­spite my com­plain­ing, I would be sur­prised if tiny­chat was re­placed any­time soon. Bet­ter so­cial en­force­ment of po­mos should be pos­si­ble, though. Re­mem­ber that any­one can track the clock if they want.

Akrasia

Since we’re here to fight akra­sia, mea­sur­ing it seemed good. I copied al­most the en­tire Akra­sia sec­tion from Yvain’s sur­vey. A cou­ple of peo­ple noted some am­bigu­ous ques­tions. I wanted to keep the data com­pa­rable to LW proper, so rather than mod­ify­ing his ques­tions I added clar­ified ones in be­tween.

Akrasia

Yes 11 50%
No 11 50%

Akra­sia: Current

Yes 2 9%
No 20 91%

Akra­sia: Illness

De­pres­sion 3 14%
Bipo­lar di­s­or­der 2 10%
Schizophre­nia 0 0%
Ob­ses­sive-com­pul­sive di­s­or­der 0 0%
ADHD 0 0%
PTSD 0 0%
Autism or autism spec­trum di­s­or­der 2 10%
Gen­er­al­ized anx­iety di­s­or­der 1 5%
So­cial pho­bia 0 0%
Any per­son­al­ity di­s­or­der 0 0%
None 12 57%
Other 1 5%

Akra­sia: Medicines 1

No 14 67%
Other 7 33%

[[ Some­one pointed out that the ques­tion as origi­nally stated didn’t spec­ify “med­i­ca­tions taken speci­fi­cally to com­bat akra­sia,” so I re­peated the ques­tion with that clar­ifi­ca­tion for both this and the sup­ple­ments ques­tion. ]]

Akra­sia: Medicines 1.5

No 16 80%
Other 4 20%

Akra­sia: Medicines 2

1 2 25%
2 2 25%
3 3 38%
4 0 0%
5 1 13%

Akra­sia: Sup­ple­ments 1

No 11 55%
Other 9 45%

Akra­sia: Sup­ple­ments 1.5

No 14 74%
Other 5 26%

Akra­sia: Sup­ple­ments 2

1 0 0%
2 1 13%
3 4 50%
4 0 0%
5 3 38%

Akra­sia: Ther­apy 1

No 10 63%
Other 6 38%

Akra­sia: Ther­apy 2

1 1 9%
2 3 27%
3 1 9%
4 1 9%
5 5 45%

Akra­sia: Med­i­ta­tion 1

No 9 45%
Other 11 55%

Akra­sia: Med­i­ta­tion 2

1 2 17%
2 4 33%
3 4 33%
4 1 8%
5 1 8%

Akra­sia: Else­what 1

No 9 50%
Other 9 50%

Akra­sia: Else­what 2

1 3 27%
2 3 27%
3 3 27%
4 1 9%
5 1 9%

Akra­sia: Communication

Yes 16 76%
No 5 24%

Silliness

Some things sug­gested by our users when I was putting the sur­vey to­gether. This is just for fun.

Tiny­chat Hatred

1 4 18% (thou­sand burn­ing suns)
2 1 5%
3 7 32%
4 3 14%
5 7 32% (Em­peror Pal­pa­tine)

Tiny­chat Screams (num­ber of)

I don’t know how to cor­rectly calcu­late av­er­ages or re­lated statis­tics when some num­bers are writ­ten in Knuth no­ta­tion, so there’s not much to re­port here. My fa­vorite an­swer was Pi^^^42.

Stuffies

No 5 24%
Yes, but only one 2 10%
Yes, more than one 13 62%
Tons 1 5%

Stuffies on Camera

Yes 10 48%
No 11 52%

[[ For some rea­son lots of us have stuffies. ]]

And that’s the end of it. My thanks to La­chou­ette for feed­back on a draft of this post, and to the Hall it­self for keep­ing me on track while I was writ­ing about it. Those who want to join us, con­sider your­selves in­vited.


  1. I’m post­ing this to Main, but given that our splin­ter tribe is a very small frag­ment of Less Wrong, I’m not sure if it’s ap­pro­pri­ate to Main. If a mod wants to move it, I won’t ob­ject.

  2. Some­day we’ll have users with bizarre half- or quar­ter-hour time­zone offsets and this will all fall down.

  3. While there’s no ex­plicit rules about dis­cus­sion top­ics, it’s prob­a­bly a good idea to ob­serve Less Wrong’s anti-poli­tics norm. The few times I’ve wit­nessed con­flicts be­tween reg­u­lars, it was when poli­tics came up in some way.