Upcoming LW Changes

Thanks to the re­ac­tion to this ar­ti­cle and some con­ver­sa­tions, I’m con­vinced that it’s worth try­ing to ren­o­vate and re­store LW. Eliezer, Nate, and Matt Fal­lshaw are all on board and have em­pow­ered me as an ed­i­tor to see what we can do about re­shap­ing LW to meet what the com­mu­nity cur­rently needs. This in­volves a com­bi­na­tion of tech­ni­cal changes and so­cial changes, which we’ll try to make trans­par­ently and non-in­tru­sively.

Tech­ni­cal Changes

Changes will be tracked as is­sues on the LW is­sue tracker here. Vol­un­teer con­tri­bu­tions very wel­come and will be re­warded with karma, and if you’d like to be paid for spend­ing a solid block of high-pri­or­ity time on this get in touch with me. If you’d like to help, for now I recom­mend set­ting up a dev en­vi­ron­ment (as laid out here and here).

Some tech­ni­cal changes (links to the is­sues in the is­sue tracker):

A tan­gen­tial note on third-party tech­ni­cal con­tri­bu­tions to LW (if that’s a thing you care about): the un­cer­tainty about whether changes will be ac­cepted, un­cer­tainty about and lack of visi­bil­ity into how that de­ci­sion is made or even who makes it, and lack of a known pro­cess for mak­ing pull re­quests or get­ting feed­back on ideas are in­cred­ibly anti-mo­ti­vat­ing.


This is some­thing I care about quite a bit! Ideally, the three peo­ple above would scru­ti­nize ev­ery change and de­ter­mine whether or not it’s worth­while. In prac­tice, they’re all ex­tremely busy, and as I’m only very busy I’ve been dep­u­tized to han­dle whether or not change will be ac­cepted. If you’re un­sure about a change, talk to me.

Trike still main­tains the site, and so it’s still a Trike dev’s call when a change will make its way to pro­duc­tion (or if it’s too buggy to ac­cept). We’ve got a turnaround time guaran­tee from Matt for any time-sen­si­tive changes (which I imag­ine few changes will be).

So­cial Changes

The ra­tio­nal­ist com­mu­nity is a differ­ent beast than it was years ago, and many peo­ple have shifted away from Less Wrong. Bring­ing them back needs to in­volve more than ask­ing nicely, or the same prob­lems will ap­pear again.

Epistemic ra­tio­nal­ity will re­main a core fo­cus of LessWrong, and the sorts of con­fu­sion that you find el­se­where will con­tinue to not fly here. But the forces that push peo­ple from Main to Dis­cus­sion to Open Threads to other sites need to be ex­plic­itly coun­ter­acted.

One as­pect is that just like emo­tion is part of ra­tio­nal­ity, in­for­mal­ity is part of the ra­tio­nal­ist com­mu­nity.

At some point I lost sight of what things were “ra­tio­nal­ity things” and what things were just “things, that I hap­pened to want to talk about with ra­tio­nal­ists, be­cause those are the cool peo­ple”; and in the pres­ence of this con­fu­sion I de­faulted to cat­e­go­riz­ing ev­ery­thing as the lat­ter—be­cause it was easy; I live here now; I can go weeks with­out in­ter­act­ing with any­body who isn’t at least sort of ra­tio­nal­ist-ad­ja­cent. If I want to talk to ra­tio­nal­ists about a thing I can just bring it up the next time I’m at a party, or when my room­mates come down­stairs; I don’t have to write an es­say and sub­ject it to in­creas­ingly noisy judg­ment about whether it is in the cor­rect sec­tion/​web­site/​uni­verse.


Another as­pect is deal­ing with the deep­en­ing and spe­cial­iz­ing in­ter­ests of the com­mu­nity.

A third as­pect is fo­cus­ing on effec­tive com­mu­ni­ca­tion. One of the core de­ter­mi­nants of pro­fes­sional and per­sonal suc­cess is be­ing able to com­mu­ni­cate challeng­ing top­ics and emo­tions effec­tively with other hu­mans. The ap­pli­ca­tions for both in­stru­men­tal and epistemic ra­tio­nal­ity are clear, and ex­plic­itly seek­ing to cul­ti­vate this skill with­out los­ing the com­mit­ment to ra­tio­nal­ity will both make LW a more pleas­ant place to visit and (one hopes) al­low LWers to win more in their lives. But this is a long pro­ject, whose de­tails this para­graph is too short to con­tain. I don’t have a cur­rent an­ti­ci­pated date for when I’ll be ready to talk more about this.

I ex­pect to edit this post over the com­ing days, and as I do, I’ll make com­ments to high­light the changes. Thanks for read­ing!