2022 Unofficial LessWrong General Census

The Less Wrong General Census is unofficially back!

In days of yore, there was an annual census of the site users. That census has come again in an unofficial form! Click here to take the survey! [EDIT: SURVEY CLOSED, DO NOT TAKE!] It can take as little as five minutes if you just want to fill out the basics, and can take longer if you want to fill other the optional sections out. The survey will be open from today until February 27th, at which point it will close.

Once the census is closed, I’ll remove the very private information, then make some summaries of the data and write up what I found in a post that will be linked from here. I’ll also release a csv of all the responses marked “fine to include” as a public dataset.

There once was a tradition associated with the annual census where, if you take the survey, you could comment saying you have done so and people will upvote you and you will get karma. This census is unofficial! I’m unclear as to the official status of the traditional censuses. Anyway, you could try the upvote thing if you wanted?

An Argument For Greater Visibility

Update: As of 2023-01-31 01:00, it looks like this has front page status. Thank you! Argument left for reference.

In the old days, the survey author could promote their post to Main and get more people to see it. Front page is the current equivalent to that, and the 2020 survey stayed as a Personal Blog post likely leading to the lower number of responses. Therefore, I would like to make a case to Administration and the Sunshine Regiment that this is worth frontpaging. Three years ago there was a comment about maybe having a more official survey, but as far as I’m aware that hasn’t materialized. I believe perfect may be the enemy of good, and would rather have a Google Form and a CSV than no census at all.

Community-focused discussion is meant to be kept to a minimum on the front page. I would like to argue that the Annual Census should be a once-a-year case where front paging something that’s community-focused. It benefits from being seen by more people in a direct “there are more responses and so the statistics give us more information” sense. By definition, there is one annual census a year and so there’s a clear line preventing similar surveys from proliferating and flooding the first page. (It’s possible to wind up with two in a given calendar year; since this one is happening in January there might also be one in December looking at 2023. Still, on average they’re not going to come more than once a year.) That means it isn’t crowded.

It doesn’t need to be of fleeting importance; I’ve enjoyed looking at the past surveys from a decade ago, and as time goes on our ability to look at changes will only get better. It’s not especially political, despite political questions being on the survey. If those are the objection, I’m happy to remove the political section.

I think a census of the site’s users would be useful for Less Wrong’s administrators. One of the questions is how long someone has been part of the community. That’s relevant to how the website could be laid out, and not obviously observable from page loads or IP addresses without some more work.

Also, it’s fun. This is the space where we get to check if there’s a noticeable difference in first born children vs younger siblings, or if there’s anything significant to the relative lengths of your fingers. There’s a couple questions on there about aliens. I really do want to find out if there’s a correlation between reading Rationalist Fanfic and having read The Sequences. I’m no Yvain (Yeah, I’m that old) but reading the old census summaries reminded me that there’s some good laughs in there and I’ll do my best to live up to that.

Once again, the census is up and you can take it here! [EDIT: SURVEY CLOSED, DO NOT TAKE!]

Update: As of 2023-02-28, the survey is now closed. Thank you to everyone who took it. You can view the summary and the results here.