Official Less Wrong Redesign: Call for Suggestions

In the next month, the ad­minis­tra­tors of Less Wrong are go­ing to sit down with a pro­fes­sional de­signer to tweak the site de­sign. But be­fore they do, now is your chance to make sug­ges­tions that will guide their re­design efforts.

How can we im­prove the Less Wrong user ex­pe­rience? What fea­tures aren’t work­ing? What fea­tures don’t ex­ist? What would you change about the lay­out, tem­plates, images, nav­i­ga­tion, com­ment nest­ing, post/​com­ment edit­ing, side-bars, RSS feeds, color schemes, etc? Do you have spe­cific CSS or HTML changes you’d make to im­prove load time, SEO, or other valuable met­rics?

The rules for this thread are:

• One sug­ges­tion per com­ment.

• Upvote all com­ments you’d like to see im­ple­mented.

BUT DON’T JUMP TO THE COMMENTS JUST YET: Take a few min­utes to col­lect your thoughts and write down your own ideas be­fore read­ing oth­ers’ sug­ges­tions. Less con­tam­i­na­tion = more unique ideas + bet­ter fea­ture cov­er­age!

Thanks for your help!

• One thing I’d re­ally like to see: make the to­tal num­ber of up­votes and down­votes visi­ble sep­a­rately in­stead of just the differ­ence. That way con­tro­ver­sial posts and com­ments will stand apart from un­in­ter­est­ing ones.

• Per­haps a col­lapsi­ble “karma de­tails” sec­tion, so that users still have the op­tion to see a sin­gle num­ber for each com­ment?

• Might be eas­ier to add “show up­votes/​down­votes” & “show to­tal score only” ra­dio but­tons to user con­figu­ra­tions. That way those of us who want to see up­votes & down­votes in gen­eral don’t have to click a col­lapsi­ble link for lots of com­ments.

• Make a promi­nent “next” but­ton on the se­quence pages so you can eas­ily go from one se­quence post to the next post. There’s cur­rently a but­ton but it is difficult to find and re­quires two clicks.

• Ad­dress the “meet-up an­nounce­ment over­load” prob­lem on the pro­moted feed.

See:

• Here’s an­other pro­posal for deal­ing with mee­tups: some sort of promi­nent wid­get that will show (only up­com­ing) mee­tups in chronolog­i­cal or­der, with links:

Up­com­ing Mee­tups

• And what hap­pens when we have a reg­u­lar weekly or monthly meetup in ev­ery English-speak­ing city of more than two mil­lion? I’ve no­ticed that the reg­u­lar mee­tups (LW/​NYC, LW/​Bay Area, LW/​Lon­don, et cetera) don’t bother to an­nounce ev­ery meet­ing. New users have to know to look at the wiki page.

Maybe this pro­posed wid­get should in­clude these reg­u­lar mee­tups (with links to the rele­vant wiki page) for all events within the next three weeks.

• Do ge­olo­ca­tion or en­ter a postal code, and see only the ones nearby?

Edit—please dis­re­gard this post

• I don’t trust ge­olo­ca­tion.

Also, there’s an ad­van­tage in a new user see­ing all the mee­tups, since it ac­cu­rately tells them how ac­tive we are.

And what about peo­ple who travel a lot and might check out a meetup in an­other city if they were re­minded about it?

• Ge­olo­ca­tion usu­ally works. The cost of a miss is low.

If the user had defined their lo­ca­tion in their user pro­file, we’d use that in­stead.

• This would be bet­ter if it also used geocod­ing based on IP ad­dress to filter so it shows only nearby groups by de­fault.

• The most straight­for­ward way to have this would be to have a new database table with the fol­low­ing fields: date, lo­ca­tion, and hy­per­link. A set of trusted users (in­clud­ing one or two from each reg­u­lar group) could add, edit, or delete records. Pe­ri­od­i­cally, records with dates more one day in the past will be au­to­mat­i­cally purged.

There’s no need to au­to­mate this, since main­tain­ing it takes a small amount of effort rel­a­tive to the effort of or­ga­niz­ing the meetup.

• I also posted about this a while ago. My recom­men­da­tion is that there be a user prefer­ence menu shown when sign­ing up (and ed­itable later):

[ ] Show all up­com­ing meetups

[ ] Show only mee­tups in my area (re­veals form for in­putting area)

[ ] Don’t show up­com­ing meetups

• I’d be will­ing to code up a meetup-cal­en­dar site, though:

• it’d take me a long time to get done

• I’d need the abil­ity to au­then­ti­cate LW ac­counts (could have sep­a­rate ones, but that’s an­noy­ing for users)

• What are the odds I could make some­thing non­triv­ially in­te­grat­able into LW’s host­ing?

• Provide a solu­tion for pol­ling in posts and com­ments. Some­thing more el­e­gant than us­ing mul­ti­ple com­ments + a karma sink.

• Pol­ling seems (IMHO) to work very well given the cur­rent tech. Un­pack “el­e­gant” for me.

• It should be pos­si­ble to put an en­tire poll in one com­ment, with ma­chine-read­able dis­tinc­tions be­tween differ­ent replies; and poll re­sponses should not in­ter­act with pol­lster karma. (It might be nice if one got a karma point for an­swer­ing a poll, to in­cen­tivize par­ti­ci­pa­tion, but that’s not so much an el­e­gance mat­ter.)

• http://​​news.ycombi­na­tor.com/​​item?id=2445039 -- ex­am­ple of how polls work on Hacker News.

• An +/​- agree but­ton par­tially fixes this.

• Get the green score-bub­bles to cover the en­tire karma score, so that all the digits are visi­ble.

Rea­son: I found my­self less mo­ti­vated to com­ment on LW af­ter I got a fifth digit to my score. I think this is be­cause it feels (to some low-level part of my brain) as though my karma now in­creases ten times as slowly. If this is true for oth­ers with five-digit karma scores, we might be pul­ling mo­ti­va­tion from good con­trib­u­tors.

• Why do we have ten­fold karma for front-page posts, any­way, as op­posed to say three­fold?

ETA: yes, front-page posts draw in new­bies in a way that is prob­a­bly un­der­counted with one­fold karma, but it’s my im­pres­sion that the col­lec­tion of LW’s com­ments is a lot bet­ter than the col­lec­tion of LW’s top-level posts (at least post-Eliezer), and so maybe we should just be di­rect­ing po­ten­tial new users im­me­di­ately to the (good) com­ments in­stead, some­how. It seems to me that by hav­ing length as a de facto re­quire­ment for top-level posts, we en­courage posts that take a long time to make their point and that go off on long chains of in­de­pen­dent steps that have mis­takes in them that could be cor­rected if they were pre­sented in smaller chunks.

• Maybe do a weird scor­ing rule that turns up­votes into karma points?

Like, a 1 up­vote com­ment is 1 karma, but a 5 up­vote com­ment is 15 or some­thing.

• I re­flex­ively se­lect-all when­ever I load a page on LW.

• In the mean time, those suffer­ing from this can check the “top con­trib­u­tors” side­bar.

• There’s a de­lay!

• I voted up even though any­thing that de­mo­ti­vates other posters at the low end of top-10 karma works to my ad­van­tage in this some­what ar­bi­trary race.

• Maybe it would be use­ful to show a fre­quency score (karma points per week/​day) on the main page next to your user­name, rather than your over­all score. You can still get your over­all score on your pro­file page.

• The 10x karma in­fla­tion for front-page posts may be similarly de­mo­ti­vat­ing many peo­ple.

• Please, please keep the color scheme. It is rest­ful.

EDIT: re­moved other sug­ges­tions to put in their own com­ments.

• Make col­ors user cus­tomiz­able per­haps?

• While I mostly like the color scheme, I think the gray on the sides looks kind of sad. I’d like to see it a bit darker.

• I like it too, but think that just a bit more con­trast would be good. Not a lot, but a lit­tle. As it is, it feels bland.

• There’s a lot of stuff in here I’d like to up­vote, but as the OP men­tioned, it would be best to split up sug­ges­tions into their own com­ments.

• Edit­ing.

• Make a Wel­come sec­tion that’s clearly visi­ble to first-time lurk­ers, and more helpful to them than the About page. PLEASE.

I think that the wel­come threads are an im­por­tant boon to new users, but un­for­tu­nately they’re im­pos­si­ble to find as a lurker- the cur­rent fash­ion is to hope that some­one no­tices that com­menter X is new and says “Wel­come to Less Wrong- check out the wel­come thread!”

Un­for­tu­nately, there’s a lot on the wel­come thread that I think would be re­ally helpful for some­one to check out be­fore they get to that point; and worse, much of the time a per­son’s first com­ment is some­thing that will get down­voted heav­ily for a rea­son they’d have known if they’d seen the wel­come thread, and in­stead they end up in a flame­war and de­part in a huff. THIS IS BAD.

• I might ex­pand on this idea with the gen­eral idea of, add a bet­ter “old-style web­site” por­tion to LW. Cur­rently ev­ery­thing on LW is or­ga­nized ei­ther blog-style or Red­dit-style, which is not so great when you have things like im­por­tant core pages you want ev­ery­one to be aware of—e.g. not only the se­quences, but sin­gle-pur­pose threads (like the “best text­books” thread) which, in the cur­rent blog-style for­mat, might even­tu­ally be for­got­ten about and re­done from scratch. Have a promi­nent “site map” style page that links to such things—the pages them­selves can stay as blog posts, that’s not a prob­lem. Per­haps Eliezer and the other ed­i­tors can have the abil­ity to mark a thread for in­clu­sion on this au­to­mat­i­cally, so peo­ple don’t have to hand-code it in when­ever there’s some­thing that mer­its in­clu­sion.

To some ex­tent the wiki acts as this, ac­tu­ally, but it’s right now it’s very hid­den, not what a new user will au­to­mat­i­cally en­counter. What if the wiki were the main page?

• As an added in­cen­tive. I have com­mit­ted to donat­ing $50 to the he­do­nism fund (strictly en­forced) of who­ever’s de­sign gets used as the Wel­come Page. • I also pro­pose that the con­tent be voted on. I think a lot of us have some­thing to say about how the site is pre­sented to new­com­ers and I’d rather it not be left to a sin­gle per­son. Per­haps a com­pe­ti­tion like the one for ra­tio­nal philan­thropy, or even proper A/​B test­ing. • Ex­cel­lent idea! • I hate when un­pop­u­lar com­ments get deleted, and all the replies lose their con­text. One al­ter­na­tive: a “Re­tract” but­ton that marks your com­ment as re­tracted (maybe changes the text to a lighter color), stops the karma loss, au­to­mat­i­cally con­tracts the com­ment and its replies (like a com­ment be­low score thresh­old does), but doesn’t delete the con­tent for those who are cu­ri­ous? I can think of prob­lems with this pro­posal, so I’m open to other sug­ges­tions as well. • It’s bet­ter to just for­bid delet­ing com­ments that have replies. There is a ticket for that on the is­sue tracker. • I want a prefer­ence (or a per-page but­ton) to turn off col­laps­ing when there are a lot of com­ments on a page. I don’t care if it takes twice as long—I’d rather wait a minute than click “load more com­ments” 512 times so I can do a thor­ough Find for what­ever I seek. • A “load all com­ments” but­ton? That’d save band­width for most users but save you the time on those oc­ca­sions you wanted to search con­tent. • Yes, ex­actly. • In top-level posts, au­to­mat­i­cally re­place “div” tags (which screw up the rest of the HTML) with “p”, strip out all the font-speci­fi­ca­tion crap that Microsoft Word and similar apps try to stuff in (the origi­nal font is good enough for ev­ery­one), and in gen­eral auto-sim­plify the HTML. This will save ed­i­tors some work. • I re­quest that we don’t have a ‘half HTML’ markup lan­guage. If it is html that doesn’t al­low font for­mat­ting or lay­out han­dling then it ba­si­cally is just not HTML and shouldn’t pre­tend to be. A far bet­ter al­ter­na­tive is to make the posts use full mark­down syn­tax and a WYSIWYG ed­i­tor. • Min­i­mal, fast, lots of white space—like the cur­rent de­sign. I worry that a new de­sign would add lots of clut­ter and hurt the site’s speed. • There’s a lot of stuff that could be re­moved to im­prove the site—the “new”, “top”, “top com­ments” and “saved” links un­der the header, the top con­trib­u­tor and links to re­cent OB posts in the side­bar, use­less choices in the com­ment-sort­ing menu (“Pop­u­lar” and “Con­tro­ver­sial”), the “Re­port” links on com­ments, etc. • like the cur­rent design Best sug­ges­tion on the page. • + as many points as I could. Busy = not im­prove­ment. Espe­cially for the already-dis­trac­tion prone. • Make it eas­ier to skip around in user com­ment his­tory—by month, for in­stance. • Yes, please. (Since Eug­ine de­clined to spell it out, the bug makes it way too easy to ac­ci­den­tally post a draft when you in­tend to save it for later- in fact, the only way I know not to have it posted is to click “Hide”.) • In­deed—I had to in­de­pen­dently figure that out the other day when a Dis­cus­sion draft went lived. it also hap­pened to a new poster who was be­ing helped HERE. Even with­out fix­ing the bug… a sim­ply bit of text could go un­der the save but­ton for the dis­cus­sion tem­plate that says, “Save in the Dis­cus­sion sec­tion = post! Copy this post and start a draft from the top level!” or some­thing like that. Or just fix the bug :) • An op­tion for shared au­thor­ship on posts, show­ing the names of both users and split­ting the karma gains be­tween them. The karma could be ei­ther split equally or in a man­ner speci­fied by the user post­ing it. E.g. Morendil could have tagged me as 20% re­spon­si­ble for his post on sta­tus, and I’d have got­ten 2 karma points for each up­vote. • Have a sec­ond karma bub­ble, that only sums the up­votes and down­votes you’ve given that per­son. • In­ter­est­ing idea, I’ll up-vote it though it is not a top wish of mine. If im­ple­mented I would like to see it im­ple­mented as a rol­lover on the karma bub­ble. Though in­ter­est­ing I don’t think it jus­tifies tak­ing up real-es­tate. • I hope the aim will be to pre­serve the beau­tiful sim­plic­ity (and color scheme) of the cur­rent site. Hon­estly I don’t think it needs a graphic re­design at all. • One of my friends took a quick look at this site a while ago, and said that it looked like a car­tog­ra­pher com­mu­nity be­cause of the ban­ner. Edit—please dis­re­gard this post • The ban­ner must rep­re­sent the map and the ter­ri­tory. I’m sure there’s other imagery from the se­quences that could be rep­re­sented, pos­si­bly in ro­ta­tion. • “Car­tog­ra­pher” was at one time con­sid­ered as a syn­onym or re­place­ment for “ra­tio­nal­ist”. • I just thought that peo­ple would be in­ter­ested in the first re­ac­tion of a non-LW per­son to the site. Edit: I to­tally want to bring that thread back from the dead and sug­gest ‘in­ten­tional ra­tio­nal­ist’, but since it was two years ago it’s prob­a­bly lots too late. Edit—please dis­re­gard this post • I dis­agree; the cur­rent site de­sign is de­cent enough, but falls over in terms of fit­ting on screens. See my com­ments and screen­shot in http://​​code.google.com/​​p/​​less­wrong/​​is­sues/​​de­tail?id=240#c4 So I’d like to sug­gest the graphic re­design make LW a lit­tle more vi­su­ally com­pact. It doesn’t have to be op­ti­mized for cel­l­phones or as com­pact as a ran­dom page on http://​​www.gw­ern.net , but it’d be nice if it didn’t take 2 screens to see one perma­l­inked com­ment. • I agree that the sin­gle com­ment view has more boiler­plate up top, but oth­er­wise I’d say it usu­ally fits on screens with­out any trou­ble. I was cu­ri­ous about your com­ment so I took a look at the screen­shot. You say in the bug re­port that you’re us­ing a “fairly small font” set­ting but the font is be­ing ren­dered much larger for you than I see us­ing de­fault IE9 and FF4 set­tings. Plus your pic­ture shows the page with a serif font while the CSS speci­fies sans-serif. I’m not sure if it’s a browser is­sue or if you’re us­ing cus­tom set­tings, but in a 1600x900 view (as your screen­shot size is), I can see the full com­ment with­out scrol­ling. Mostly I’d like to know if other peo­ple “take 2 screens to see one perma­l­inked com­ment” be­cause I agree that rea­son­ably short com­ments should be visi­ble with­out scol­ling. • You don’t know the (phys­i­cal) pixel size of gw­ern’s dis­play. Per­son­ally, I can see the first 2 lines of a com­ment with­out scrol­ling; over 2/​3rds of the visi­ble space be­low the site logo is hap­haz­ardly filled with links and but­tons. It would be nice if it could be re­duced to just the main site header, the “You are view­ing a com­ment perma­l­ink...” line, then the com­ment it­self. • Oh, cer­tainly, but I was refer­ring to the aes­thetic, not the code/​lay­out. • What­ever graphic de­sign changes are performed, users should be able to re­vert to some­thing re­sem­bling the old lay­out. • Have some way of see­ing the most re­cent com­ments to a post even if they are an­swers to an­other com­ment (i.e. not just sort­ing top level com­ments) - some­thing like the re­cent com­ments thread but for a sin­gle post. • Have some way of see­ing the most re­cent com­ments to a post even if they are an­swers to an­other comment There is a way: click where it says, “RSS feed for this page,” then fol­low the di­rec­tions to sub­scribe to the feed in what­ever RSS reader you are in the habit of watch­ing. • Do some­thing about the “Help” link when writ­ing com­ments. A spe­cific sug­ges­tion, change the link so it says “com­ment for­mat­ting”, but definitely do some­thing to make it clearly where to find the for­mat­ting help. • The “Help” link should open a wiki page in a new win­dow, rather than show­ing some hard-coded stuff in a box un­der the com­ment. That way, it can be as long as it needs to be, and any­one can add to it. (I also agree that it should be re­named to Com­ment For­mat­ting) • Eh. I kind of like it how it is. I don’t want to switch back and forth be­tween tabs, and there’s such lit­tle markup for com­ments that I don’t see the need for a sep­a­rate page un­less it’s purely for spel­led out, ex­plicit (or maybe com­plex) ex­am­ples. • Threaded PM con­ver­sa­tions. And re­ceived PMs ap­pear­ing on a sep­a­rate page in ad­di­tion to the generic in­box that con­tains com­ment replies. • Also, please ac­tu­ally pay at­ten­tion to these re­quests, and don’t add stuff that you don’t know the com­mu­nity wants with­out talk­ing about it first. In my ex­pe­rience, site re­designs can eas­ily lead to large amounts of drama over very minor is­sues. If we’re try­ing to be ra­tio­nal­ist we should keep that in mind and pro­ceed cau­tiously. • This ra­tio­nal­ist wants you to have a lit­tle faith in him :) • Faith earned. • Add LaTeX sup­port (I mean in­line LaTeX, not this thing). EDIT: Based on com­ments be­low, I think I mi­sused the word “in­line”. What I meant was sim­ply the abil­ity to type LaTeX di­rectly into com­ments and posts. How it gets ren­dered doesn’t mat­ter much to me; some le­gi­t­i­mate ob­jec­tions have been raised, but I don’t feel like hard math gets used enough on the site that this would get out of hand. Restrict­ing its use to posts rather than com­ments might be a good com­pro­mise. • MathJax is one good op­tion for im­ple­ment­ing that. • Yes, definitely. MathJax gives re­ally nice-look­ing out­put, scales with screen re­s­olu­tion, and can be added to the site with­out much effort. The only down­side is that it’s a bit of a large down­load, but that’s what caches are for. If you in­clude the JavaScript file at the end of the HTML body, rather than in the head, it will down­load af­ter the page is ren­dered, so the load­ing time shouldn’t be no­tice­able. I’m pretty ex­cited about this. • If you in­clude the JavaScript file at the end of the HTML body, rather than in the head, it will down­load af­ter the page is ren­dered, so the load­ing time shouldn’t be no­tice­able. I am skep­ti­cal of this claim. Does your browser never be­come un­re­spon­sive at un­pre­dictable times? Mine (Fire­fox 3.6) does.(Fire­fox 4 is much worse, BTW.) Since I use Flash­block, I tend to be­lieve that the main cause of these lapses is javascript though I am will­ing to listen to ar­gu­ments to the con­trary. MathJax re­quires mem­ory for one thing (af­ter it has been run­ning a while, Fire­fox uses about 500 megs of my mem­ory) which would tend to cause de­lays when some­thing needs to be paged out or in. And can you as­sure me that all of the mem­ory leaks in Fire­fox have been plugged? I do know that (about 2.5 years ago) when this com­mu­nity was on Over­com­ing Bias, which at the time was hosted on Typepad, its re­spon­sive­ness im­proved dras­ti­cally on my ad­mit­tedly very slow (P III) ma­chine when I started us­ing Ad­block Plus to pre­vent Google An­a­lyt­ics’s JavaScript from run­ning. I am also con­cerned about the ad­minis­tra­tive de­mands of MathJax since what tech­ni­cal tal­ent Less Wrong had available to it has not always re­sponded quickly to spam on the site and has not im­ple­mented sim­ple un­con­tro­ver­sial changes that have very broad sup­port (such as a place to put meetup an­nounce­ment to keep them off the front page). I do wel­come more math here, but I am skep­ti­cal that the benefits of MathJax or similar solu­tions would out­weigh the nega­tives on this site. I know that a lot of the web is heavy with JavaScript, but then a lot of the web kinda sucks, and I get the im­pres­sion that JavaScript is a big part of the cause of the suck­i­ness. ADDED. Those in fa­vor of MathJax: do you want it for com­ments or just for top-level posts? • Alright, let me qual­ify my state­ment. The HTTP re­quest/​re­sponse time to fetch the .js file will hap­pen af­ter the page is loaded, as will the pars­ing and ex­e­cu­tion of it. This is an im­prove­ment over putting it in the head of the page. The time you’re con­cerned about is the time for ac­tu­ally run­ning the math type­set­ting code. Be­cause the browser’s JavaScript ex­e­cu­tion model is block­ing and sin­gle-threaded (at least un­til we get web work­ers widely sup­ported), a non-triv­ial com­pu­ta­tion can cause a hic­cup in ini­tial page perfor­mance. This is miti­gated some­what if you tend to open new pages in a back­ground tab and look at them later (as I do), and you use a browser like Chrome which runs a sep­a­rate pro­cess per tab, since by the time you look at the page it will have set­tled down. On my ma­chine, the MathJax web site loads very quickly, and the math is pro­cessed al­most in­stantly af­ter the script is in the browser cache. This does not no­tice­ably af­fect the site’s speed or re­spon­sive­ness. As for mem­ory us­age, ac­cord­ing to my in­for­mal bench­marks, the mem­ory cost of load­ing some JavaScript code is ac­tu­ally very small. It’s dwar­fed by the mem­ory cost of ren­der­ing the HTML and images and such. • Yes­ter­day I found my­self com­pos­ing a re­ply to LW in one tab while us­ing 2 other tabs to look up text and URLs so I could paste them into my re­ply. If I un­der­stand what you want cor­rectly, MathJax would have run in all 3 of the tabs (even with Chrome’s pro­cess-per-tab ar­chi­tec­ture) and the de­lays and pauses in things like scrol­ling would have had a chance to in­ter­rupt my train of thought. Also, some of us have tried Chrome and af­ter con­sid­er­a­tion, de­cided it is worse than what we are cur­rently us­ing. Google’s mo­tive in in­tro­duc­ing Chrome was to neu­tral­ize the threat to its rev­enue stream posed by Microsoft’s Bing and other Microsoft ini­ti­a­tives by un­der­min­ing Office and desk­top soft­ware sales in gen­eral, which is very differ­ent from my main mo­ti­va­tion for us­ing a web browser, which is to have a quick and re­li­able and non-glitchy and non-crash-prone way read words (and math sym­bols) writ­ten by many oth­ers and write words (and math sym­bols) that will be read by many oth­ers. ac­cord­ing to my in­for­mal bench­marks, the mem­ory cost of load­ing some JavaScript code is ac­tu­ally very small There is no up­per bound on the mem­ory cost or time cost of load­ing a file of JavaScript, as is true of any Tur­ing-com­plete pro­gram­ming lan­guage. With this par­tic­u­lar JavaScript file, I worry about time cost more than mem­ory cost be­cause I can imag­ine that it con­verts LaTeX to images in the browser and do­ing that con­ver­sion in an in­ter­preted lan­guage seems time-in­ten­sive. In sum­mary, what you write leads me to be­lieve that al­though a few LWers might like MathJax here, you do not re­ally know whether it will have ad­verse effects on the ma­jor­ity of LWers. Note that these ad­verse effects might be diffuse (mean­ing they worsen the user ex­pe­rience of many peo­ple just a lit­tle) and difficult for the av­er­age LWer to at­tribute to MathJax—just as it was difficult for me to at­tribute my frus­tra­tion to Google An­a­lyt­ics’s JavaScript un­til I made the ex­per­i­ment of pre­vent­ing it from load­ing. ADDED. I would be in­ter­ested in your an­swer to my ques­tion bot­tom of grand­par­ent. More­over, I am cu­ri­ous as to the source or cause of your en­thu­si­asm for LaTeX on Less Wrong. A lot of peo­ple here are in the habit of read­ing the out­put of LaTeX (printed on pa­per) since it is used for most math pa­pers and many (most?) sci­ence pa­pers. I sup­pose you are one of them; aren’t you? Are you also in the habit of writ­ing LaTeX? Also, I should warn you that as a gen­eral rule, I tend not to con­tinue threads that con­sists of just 2 peo­ple re­ply­ing back and forth more than 3 re­ply-coun­ter­re­ply cy­cles deep un­less the thread gets up­voted a lot. I men­tion this so that you do not write a long re­ply to this and then get dis­ap­pointed when I do not re­ply or re­ply with just a sum­mary of my po­si­tion. • It looks like you’ve ex­panded your post af­ter I replied, so here’s an ad­den­dum. More­over, I am cu­ri­ous as to the source or cause of your en­thu­si­asm for LaTeX on Less Wrong. A lot of peo­ple here are in the habit of read­ing the out­put of LaTeX (printed on pa­per) since it is used for most math pa­pers and many (most?) sci­ence pa­pers. I sup­pose you are one of them; aren’t you? Are you also in the habit of writ­ing LaTeX? I’m used to read­ing and writ­ing LaTeX, yes. The source of my en­thu­si­asm for it comes in two parts: 1. Be­cause oc­ca­sion­ally I want to be able to write math in com­ments, and the LaTeX syn­tax for this is the least hor­rible (and most widely known) that I know of. Sim­ple ASCII for­mat­ting is bet­ter than noth­ing, but only goes so far. 2. I’m sure other peo­ple would also like to be able to write math in com­ments, with for­mat­ting that doesn’t suck. For my part, I would like to be able to read their math with de­cent for­mat­ting. Pretty straight­for­ward mo­tives, I would think. • Yes­ter­day I found my­self com­pos­ing a re­ply to LW in one tab while us­ing 2 other tabs to look up text and URLs so I could paste them into my re­ply. Un­der your pro­posal, MathJax would run in all 3 of the tabs even with Chrome’s pro­cess-per-tab ar­chi­tec­ture, and when I needed a page, I needed it now and hav­ing to wait for it would have in­ter­rupted my train of thought. How old is your ma­chine? My com­puter is ag­ing and creaky, and it can eas­ily han­dle MathJax run­ning in sev­eral tabs with­out any slow­down that I’ve been able to no­tice. In par­tic­u­lar, any slow­down on page load is so slight that I haven’t been able to see it. There is no up­per bound on the mem­ory cost of load­ing a file of JavaScript, as is true of any Tur­ing-com­plete pro­gram­ming lan­guage. I was refer­ring to the mem­ory cost of load­ing the code it­self, not of the heap mem­ory which the pro­gram may al­lo­cate, which ob­vi­ously will vary from minus­cule to in­finite de­pend­ing on the pro­gram. Does this par­tic­u­lar JavaScript file not con­vert LaTex code into images? No, it doesn’t pro­duce images. It gen­er­ates HTML and CSS, which looks bet­ter and is a lot nicer for peo­ple want­ing to in­crease the font size. I no­tice you have not an­swered the di­rect ques­tion at the bot­tom of grand­par­ent. You mean this one? It must have slipped my mind: ADDED. Those in fa­vor of MathJax: do you want it for com­ments or just for top-level posts? I want it for both com­ments and top-level posts. Why not? • I am guess­ing that you, sketer­pot, are in the habit of read­ing a lot of for­mu­lae pro­duced by LaTeX and writ­ing a lot of LaTeX. Is that so? • I am us­ing a first-gen MacBook, the model that was in­tro­duced May 2006, with 1 gig RAM. When some­one else wrote yes­ter­day that Math Overflow “has LaTeX sup­port” I went there and looked at a ran­dom page with math on it—but maybe MO does not use MathJax, so it would help the con­ver­sa­tion for you to provide URL of a page that uses MathJax. • MathOverflow does use MathJax, ac­tu­ally; math.stack­ex­change as well. • We have that hack for when some­one needs it, and in ac­tu­al­ity, peo­ple don’t write any sig­nifi­cant amount of math here. If it was needed, I ex­pect there would be some use of the hack. Since there is al­most no use made of it, I con­clude that it’s not par­tic­u­larly needed. So it’s a nice thing to have, but very low pri­or­ity. • Though it’s pos­si­ble peo­ple don’t use much math be­cause the hack isn’t very well known. Per­haps the best idea is to not add MathJax or any­thing, but just to make more promi­nent in the help sec­tion how to do this. If peo­ple then ac­tu­ally make use of it, then per­haps we should add MathJax or some­thing. • Does LaTeX sup­port mean us­ing LaTeX to gen­er­ate images which are “tran­scluded” (in­lined) into the text? This is bet­ter than us­ing Uni­code’s math sym­bols? Really? Does Math Overflow have LaTeX sup­port? • Does Math Overflow have LaTeX sup­port? Yes; so do math.stack­ex­change and Wikipe­dia. This is bet­ter than us­ing Uni­code’s math sym­bols? Really? Al­most cer­tainly not for small things. If we do add this we should also add notes tel­ling peo­ple not to abuse it, and point out the ex­is­tence of http://​​uni­code­lookup.com/​​ . (Un­for­tu­nately, one can’t use HTML en­tities in com­ments...) • (Un­for­tu­nately, one can’t use HTML en­tities in com­ments...) I though you con­ceded two and a half hours ago that HTML en­tities are un­ec­es­sary. “Nev­er­mind; this is un­ec­es­sary af­ter all,” is pretty un­am­bigu­ous, or so it seemed un­til I saw par­ent. • Haha, good point. They are un­nec­es­sary, be­cause of the ex­is­tence of tools like uni­code­lookup. I guess I was still think­ing in terms of “peo­ple are fa­mil­iar with HTML en­tities so we could just stick a note tel­ling peo­ple to use those if pos­si­ble” (and thus they would be con­vie­nient, but not nec­es­sary). Of course if we go ahead and ac­tu­ally link to uni­code­lookup this is even eas­ier for those who aren’t fa­mil­iar with them! I guess I didn’t think that through; link­ing to uni­code­lookup does seem to be the bet­ter solu­tion. In any case, the point is that if we im­ple­ment a LaTeX thing we should stick in a note pro­vid­ing an al­ter­na­tive for when such power isn’t needed. EDIT: Also there’s a good chance I wasn’t much think­ing at all and just mimick­ing MO/​math.se/​WP which all do sug­gest us­ing HTML en­tities as sim­pler sys­tem... • I should clar­ify that I am not op­posed to HTML en­tities. They’ve been around long enough for the bugs to have been ironed out, and un­like JavaScript, they do not cause mem­ory leaks or in­finite loops or other challenges to the effi­cient man­age­ment of com­pu­ta­tional re­sources if the peo­ple who main­tain my browser did not do ev­ery­thing ex­actly right. Just try­ing to un­der­stand your po­si­tion. • Right—to be ex­plicit, then, I agree they are not strictly nec­es­sary, still think they would be con­ve­nient as things are cur­rently, but also that if the help in­cluded a link to uni­code­lookup or a similar util­ity (which, if LaTeX is im­ple­mented, it should do as part of a “please don’t abuse this fea­ture” note), this ad­van­tage mostly goes away and they be­come pointless af­ter all. • I don’t re­ally care how it ren­ders, I mainly just want to be able to type LaTeX code di­rectly into com­ments and posts. • That’s a good point. Images would not be an im­prove­ment. • This, this, a thou­sand times this. • If only I had the abil­ity to up­vote about 10x… • Karma Bounties LW seems to re­ward ac­tu­ally do­ing things dis­pro­por­tion­ally lit­tle com­pared to talk­ing about them. My sug­ges­tion for this are “bounty” pools for do­ing var­i­ous things, and when any­one does them they are re­warded the karma in the pool. Ex­am­ple: some­one points out a prob­lem with the LW Source, but rather than noth­ing hap­pen­ing un­less some hero does it by them­selves, there is a con­sen­sus reached in the com­ments and some­one ends up propos­ing a bounty, then many peo­ple who might not oth­er­wise have been in­ter­ested give a bit of karma, and the pool ends up much larger than could be ex­pected to gain from just com­ment­ing out af­ter the prob­lem was solved and ask­ing for it. This mo­ti­vates some­one to do the change, then an ad­min ver­ifies it and the pool is given to the per­son who fixed the prob­lem. • I have a visceral nega­tive re­ac­tion to all the ran­dom things peo­ple want to use “karma” for. Also I have no idea what The Ne­bu­lous Com­mu­nity (TM) wants to use karma for. It seems to be a “num­bers go up peo­ple get hap­pier” + anti-spam + anti-troll + “posts and com­ments have num­bers why don’t we sum them” met­ric. Do I have that about right? • I tend to treat it as an au­to­mated im­ple­men­ta­tion of the Sta­tus sys­tem hu­mans have but doesn’t work well here due to Dun­bars num­ber type prob­lems. • yep. • Ten­ta­tively—a sep­a­rate count of ac­com­plish­ment points which are given for posts and com­ments about get­ting some­thing done. • The abil­ity to sort my own com­ments/​posts by re­cent vote ac­tivity. That is, if I sud­denly get a 20-karma bump or drop in my over­all score, I want to know what caused that. Use case: If up­votes and down­votes re­flect “I want more of this” and “I want less of this” re­ac­tions, it is helpful to no­tice when they hap­pen and know what posts/​com­ment peo­ple want more/​less of. • Have the pos­si­bil­ity to watch cer­tain top­ics (posts or com­ments) to get an or­ange let­ter when some­one replies. This would be es­pe­cially use­ful for top level posts you write (you don’t get any no­tifi­ca­tions of an­swers, and have to go check), but would also be use­ful for spe­cial threads like the lo­ca­tion (if I want to be no­tified when some­one else says he’s in France or some­thing). • Upvot­ing the need for a no­tifi­ca­tion when some­one makes a top-level com­ment to a post you cre­ated. • RSS for the com­ment page can do that. Same for re­cent com­ments on a post. Still, ac­tual html would be nice. • A pre­dic­tion mar­ket in which you bet karma. • Could you spell out what you mean by this? • See Pre­dic­tion mar­ket. Pre­sum­ably the cur­rency would be your cur­rent karma score. He might not in­tend a full blown mar­ket, pos­si­bly just a sys­tem of or­ga­nized bet­ting. Robin Han­son is quite fond of this sort of sys­tem since it does a good job of track­ing who is mak­ing good pre­dic­tions and who is not, and ag­gre­gates the col­lec­tive in­tel­li­gence of mar­kets to get bet­ter es­ti­mates on pos­si­ble events. I’m not sure how well this would work given that karma is be­ing con­stantly added into the sys­tem. • Yeah, I know what pre­dic­tion mar­kets are, but I’m not sure what James’ pro­posal is, ex­actly. • There are lots of ways of set­ting up a pre­dic­tion mar­ket, here is the sim­plest: Imag­ine that it will soon be ob­jec­tively de­ter­mined whether X=1 or X=0. There would be a sep­a­rate sec­tion in LessWrong for karma bets. In this sec­tion you could offer a bet, i.e. I give you 20 karma if X=1 and you give me 10 karma if X=0. One would click on this bet to ac­cept. The sum to­tal of all your karma bets couldn’t, at the time you made a bet, ex­ceed your to­tal karma. An ad­minis­tra­tor would have to de­cide what events could be bet on, and which side won each bet. I would be happy to do this, al­though of course Robin Han­son would be the best per­son for this job. I don’t have the skills to help you with the pro­gram­ming. • Gotcha, thanks. • Great one. I was think­ing the same thing :) It should be noted though that this is a sig­nifi­cant pro­gram­ing pro­ject though and prob­a­bly out of the scope of a re-de­sign. It is a pro­ject in it­self. Still nice idea. • Add func­tion­al­ity to al­low pre­view­ing of posts and com­ments. This would al­low peo­ple to play with for­mat­ting with­out hav­ing to post hor­rible-look­ing things and then edit them while oth­ers might be read­ing and re­spond­ing. • Posts, of course, can be pre­viewed by sav­ing them as a ‘draft’ be­fore pub­lish­ing to the dis­cus­sion area or the ar­ti­cles area. • I had that is­sue a cou­ple times. What I did was put this at the top of the com­ment: NOTE: I am fix­ing this com­ment right now. Please wait un­til I delete this note to vote or re­spond. • Provide an am­bi­ent vi­sual cue on how old a com­ment is. First idea is to add a sub­tle color tint to the back­ground of each com­ment, that goes by the log­a­r­ithm of the com­ment’s age from red­dish (“hot”, writ­ten in the last cou­ple of hours) to bluish (“cold”, writ­ten sev­eral months or more ago). Old threads oc­ca­sion­ally get new com­ments and get read­ers in via them, and the date strings in the com­ments re­quire some con­scious pars­ing com­pared to be­ing able to tell be­tween “quite re­cent” and “very old” com­ments in the same thread by glance. • Awe­some idea! • Public tag­ging, pos­si­bly with a karma re­stric­tion for who’s al­lowed to do it. • This helps de­velop con­sis­tent tags which can be very use­ful for search­ing. This works well for stack­overflow/​stack­ex­change. • And on that note, I won­der if the dis­cus­sion sec­tion would benefit from Stack Overflow-like sug­ges­tions of re­lated posts. I love how om­i­nous it is ask­ing ques­tions there: “Are you su­u­u­u­u­u­u­ur­rre you think you’ve reeeaaaal­lly got some­thing unique to ask?” Since a lot of new peo­ple post in Dis­cus­sions, it might be neat to use such a tool to show similar/​re­lated posts. At worst they get to read some other views on some­thing similar, at best it might pre­vent re­dun­dant top­ics that some­one thinks is unique. • This is an ed­i­tor power. I haven’t spot­ted an op­por­tu­nity to de­ploy it yet—any­thing you think should be tagged differ­ently? • I just checked the most re­cent top-level non-meetup posts, and most of them only have one tag. It seems to me that peo­ple’s clas­sifi­ca­tion sys­tems are suffi­ciently varied that let­ting peo­ple tag would ac­com­mo­date the way they re­mem­ber ar­ti­cles. • Make it pos­si­ble to search a sin­gle user’s posts. • Ask the de­signer to find a solu­tion to mul­ti­di­men­sional “karma”. I think the two most com­mon axes re­quested are “more like this /​ less like this” and “agree /​ dis­agree”. • Agreed. Maybe they can come up with some con­ve­nient way to say “I agree with this and have noth­ing to add” that isn’t anony­mous like an up­vote (see Agree­ment but­ton). • I would make a poll to de­ter­mine the di­chotomy, not leave it up to this (graphic?) de­signer. • Maybe have a mark­down op­tion for toplevels—this one throws new posters off reg­u­larly. • 20 Apr 2011 19:24 UTC 16 points Some way to han­dle ex­ten­sive foot­notes, as luke noted. I’m fine with mak­ing them col­lapsi­ble (and prob­a­bly col­lapsed by de­fault). • I re­cently added some nifty JS to my own site to deal with ex­ten­sive foot­notes by float­ing them when the mouse hov­ers on a foot­note link; eg. the foot­notes in my Ter­ror­ism is not about Ter­ror es­say. Of course, this Jquery stuff re­quires the foot­notes to be ac­tual hy­per­links to foot­notes, which is a Pan­doc Mark­down ex­ten­sion, so this may not be a very prac­ti­cal sug­ges­tion, but would go well with a hid­den/​col­lapsed foot­note/​refer­ence sec­tion. • Neat, but not very key­board-friendly and a bit fickle for long foot­notes. I kinda like to think of foot­notes as par­allel text and use them that way my­self, but I haven’t yet seen a de­cent way to im­ple­ment this. Platy­pope (link to ran­dom ar­ti­cle to demon­strate it) em­beds them into the side­bar, which kinda works, but again has length con­straints. • Oh man, I need to figure out how Platy­pope is do­ing that so I can steal the code. (Mouseover notes serve a com­pa­rable pur­pose.) • Neat, but not very key­board-friendly It’s no less friendly than it was with­out that JS; it’s ‘pro­gres­sive en­hance­ment’ which builds on the ex­ist­ing tex­tual hy­per­links, which means it ought to ren­der fine (like be­fore) in text browsers (like ELinks, which I use from time to time). Platy­pope (link to ran­dom ar­ti­cle to demon­strate it) em­beds them into the side­bar, which kinda works, but again has length con­straints. Mm, not fond of us­ing that much hori­zon­tal space. Wouldn’t work on LW be­cause we are already us­ing that side­bar for a ton of stuff. Might be able to fit it on the left though. • What sort of changes are on the table here, and in par­tic­u­lar, does this in­clude non­triv­ial pro­gram­ming? The per­son you linked to ap­pears to be a graphic de­signer, which would seem to im­ply that this pro­ject is limited to or at least fo­cused on stylis­tic changes, ie changes to the CSS and the HTML tem­plates. While there are cer­tainly im­prove­ments to Less Wrong that would make sense, I don’t think any of them are HTML or CSS changes. I don’t think chang­ing the vi­sual style of Less Wrong is a good idea, es­pe­cially if it costs money that could be spent el­se­where. • Trike’s be­hind this effort, so non-triv­ial pro­gram­ming is on the table… but, we (I) need to be con­vinced that the benefit is worth the pro­gram­ming effort. Your votes here are strongly per­sua­sive but not de­ci­sive. • Com­ment pre­view. See­ing the com­ment as it will ap­pear be­fore you sub­mit would be very helpful. • My workaround for this miss­ing fea­ture (when I care enough) is to PM my­self with a URL like http://​​less­wrong.com/​​mes­sage/​​com­pose/​​?to=USERNAME_HERE  • It’s pos­si­ble this was already sug­gested, in which case I apol­o­gize, but: the abil­ity to sort my own com­ments/​posts by de­scend­ing vote to­tal (“pop­u­lar­ity”), as­cend­ing vote to­tal (“re­verse pop­u­lar­ity”), and de­scend­ing (up­votes + |down­votes|) to­tal (“con­tro­ver­sial”?). Use case: If up­votes and down­votes re­flect “I want more of this” and “I want less of this” re­ac­tions, it is helpful to no­tice when they hap­pen and know what posts/​com­ment peo­ple want more/​less of. (EDIT: Split into two sug­ges­tions) • You gave more than one sug­ges­tion—they’re both rea­son­able, but I’ve been want­ing to track re­cent karma changes for my posts/​com­ments for a long time. • Edited • Add con­trols at the bot­tom of sub­threads for col­laps­ing the sub­thread, jump­ing to the top of it, or both. This makes it eas­ier to nav­i­gate to the par­ent or above-sibling of a given com­ment with­out count­ing nested bor­ders. • More de­tails in the mark­down help. Cur­rently it only says how to do five things, so even peo­ple who find it aren’t in­formed about how to do things like skip only one line be­tween para­graphs, or what­ever. • In par­tic­u­lar, num­bered lists are a prob­lem, and iirc, so are line­breaks for po­etry. • The “Help” text should link to the Com­ment for­mat­ting wiki page that can give fur­ther in­struc­tions. • Any chance of adding [[Jar­gon]] to the wiki side­bar, or to the front of the FAQ? • It could be in­cluded in the FAQ as one of the “ques­tions”. You can edit the side­bar your­self. • Added! • The mark­down code Less Wrong uses is kind of a night­mare. It prob­a­bly wouldn’t be too hard to cruft on some new fea­tures, but it would be scary. • I don’t ex­pect many peo­ple know this, but the font for the logo is called “Minion”. Given the ac­cu­sa­tions about us be­ing EY’s cult, I strongly feel that the irony is too won­der­ful to give up, and re­quest that this be left un­changed. • I’ll vote to that… mostly be­cause I love Minion/​Myr­iad Pro... • Spoiler tags, or maybe black-text-on-black-high­light tags, to re­place the cur­rent fal­lback of rot-13. • Or built-in rot-13 switch­ing in Mark­down. (e.g. “%this text should be ro­tated%” → “guvf grkg fub­hyq or ebgn­grq”). If this were de­ployed one could pos­si­bly even turn off spoiler hid­ing, and all text rot-13′d with this for­mat would just dis­play the origi­nal. • It should be easy to add built-in rot13 con­ver­sion as well: When­ever you mouse over a rot13 sec­tion of text, it’s high­lighted in some way and the mouse be­comes a hand. Click­ing it will in­stantly rot13 it in place (and of course, click­ing it again turns it back, since rot13 is sym­met­ric any­way). • This is es­pe­cially im­por­tant be­cause Quick­Rot isn’t available for Fire­fox 4. • When get­ting a link to an in­di­vi­d­ual com­ment, in­stead of just show­ing the com­ment above, show the whole damn thread (or at least, all the par­ents). I’m tired of hav­ing to click on “Par­ent” a dozen times to un­der­stand the con­text of a com­ment. • You can ap­pend ”?con­text=100″ to the com­ment perma­l­ink. • It would be bet­ter if this wasn’t nec­es­sary! • We looked at do­ing this last year, but it’s tricky due to an­other site fea­ture—when a post’s com­ment count gets large low vote com­ments threads get col­lapsed to “load more com­ments” links. It wasn’t ob­vi­ous (in the small time we put into it) how to make sure the com­ment you were perma­l­ink­ing ac­tu­ally ap­peared on the main post in its de­fault state. (It’s ob­vi­ously pos­si­ble—just trick­ier than triv­ial.) • Sim­plify the top bar—I never use “Com­ments” or “Saved”, and clicked maybe once on “top com­ments” and “top” by cu­ri­os­ity. Those kind of spe­cial links are good to have but don’t need to be at such a promi­nent place, they could be at the bot­tom of side­bar (a bit like the “spe­cial” but­tons in the wikipe­dia side­bar, ran­dom page and the like. You could even have the “Re­cent Com­ments” and “Re­cent Posts” head­ers in the side­bar click­able, so you don’t need those links in the top bar any more. So the links at the top could only be “Main Page”, “Dis­cus­sion”, “Wiki”, “Se­quences” and “About”, re­duc­ing clut­ter a bit. • You could even have the “Re­cent Com­ments” and “Re­cent Posts” head­ers in the side­bar click­able, so you don’t need those links in the top bar any more. They already are click­able. • I am ashamed to not have checked this. • Dam­mit. Well, um, they aren’t ob­vi­ouly click­able which for now makes hav­ing the same links in the top bar jus­tifi­able. • Dam­mit. He he. Well, um, they aren’t ob­vi­ouly clickable That is for sure. More­over, click­ing on “Re­cent Posts” leads to a differ­ent style of pre­sen­ta­tion than any of the links in the header leads to. • I use “Com­ments” reg­u­larly. • … ac­tu­ally, so do I. Hmm, serves me right for writ­ing posts in a hurry, I must have been think­ing of “New” or some­thing. • You could even have the “Re­cent Com­ments” and “Re­cent Posts” head­ers in the side­bar click­able, so you don’t need those links in the top bar any more. This is ob­vi­ously brilli­ant. Yay! • I’d like the ex­pand/​con­tract [-] but­ton to be at the far left of the post such that they are left-al­igned and you don’t need to move your mouse far when clos­ing a bunch of them. Some­one sug­gested this for Red­dit and they made the change that same day. • I had never even no­ticed the [-] but­ton un­til you just pointed it out. • Allow users to read their own and oth­ers’ com­ment his­to­ries more eas­ily. This could be ac­com­plished ei­ther by adding links to each page of a user’s com­ments (rather than just the very limited “next” and “pre­vi­ous”), or by get­ting rid of the un­pre­dictably-val­ued “af­ter” pa­ram­e­ter to al­low eas­ier URL hack­ing. Ex­am­ple of the lat­ter method: http://​​less­wrong.com/​​user/​​Dreaded_Ano­maly?count=10&af­ter=t1_3uea links cor­rectly to the sec­ond page of my com­ments. http://​​less­wrong.com/​​user/​​Dreaded_Ano­maly?count=10 redi­rects to the first page of my com­ments. • the un­pre­dictably-val­ued “af­ter” parameter That’s a database perfor­mance trick, which means that get­ting rid of it will in­crease database load. What’s hap­pen­ing is that, in or­der to jump a set num­ber for­ward, databases have to perform the same query each time, but re­trieve more and more records. It’s like “jump to the start of this user’s stuff, and read 10. Now go to the start, read 20, and give me the last 10. Now go to the start, read 30, and give me the last 10....” So perfor­mance gets worse and worse as you page through it, be­cause each time the reads are re­peat­ing, and get­ting longer each time. The “af­ter” trick ba­si­cally makes it so that ev­ery page is “jump to the spot given by the af­ter tag, and read the next 10″. Perfor­mance doesn’t de­grade as you get fur­ther into the list. Ali­corn’s sug­ges­tion (of brows­ing by date) is prob­a­bly eas­ier to im­ple­ment, in that the site could prob­a­bly look up what “af­ter” value to use, based on the date. • There’s an­other rea­son we want this: Other­wise pag­ing back through re­cent com­ments could end up skip­ping com­ments if new ones were posted in the mean­time! • Ah, I see. Thank you for the ex­pla­na­tion. • I find the nest­ing of com­ments within threads too sub­tle. I can’t “see” the nest­ing and have to work at it. In the con­text of pro­gram­ming lan­guages the re­search (quoted in Steve McCon­nell’s books I think) seems to sug­gest that in­dent­ing by 3 char­ac­ters op­ti­mizes the abil­ity to “see” the nest­ing. Cur­rently it’s one char­ac­ter only. In­creas­ing the nest­ing char­ac­ters is not free of course as it leads to very deep in­den­ta­tion. But there are ways of dis­play­ing very deep nest­ing though eg dis­play­ing ! for ev­ery ten lev­els. • Agree that the com­ment nest­ing is a bit too sub­tle, though of course we still want deep nest­ing to be pos­si­ble, which means the main con­tent well on the site should re­main fairly wide. • I won­der if it would be eas­ier to keep track if there were one or two more quiet pas­tel col­ors in the cy­cle. • Ab­solutely, so many par­allel lines get in­sane. What about some­thing like Disqus where you click re­ply to some­one and it cre­ates a link to the post you’re re­ply­ing to? Maybe that’d be cum­ber­some. Brain­storm­ing... • Do you mean some­thing differ­ent from the “Par­ent” link be­neath each post? • Yes—Disqus does es­sen­tially the same thing, but in­stead of “Par­ent,” it says, “In re­ply to AstroCJ”—and that hy­per­links to the com­ment. Not a vast differ­ence, but if you’ve been read­ing through a string of com­ments that’s, say, 30 com­ments long. There’s a top thread, 5 sec­ond level threads, and the rest of the 24 com­ments are be­tween 3-6 lev­els deep as peo­ple re­spond to each other. I just thought it might be helpful to re-see the name of the par­ent thread as you go down that deep. Maybe it’s just me, but I some­times for­get which higher-level com­ment started all the com­mo­tion and have to go back up to look. If I saw the name, I might not even have to click it—that’d be enough to re­mind me. • It’s now pos­si­ble to check a prefer­ence to make your votes pub­lic. Cur­rently all this does is col­lect your dis­liked and liked posts into two pages reach­able only from your user­page; you can­not tell by look­ing any­where on a post who pub­li­cly likes/​dis­likes it, and there is no sup­port of the fea­ture for com­ments. I would like this fea­ture ex­tended for peo­ple who pre­fer it. • I have mixed feel­ings about this—pub­lic vot­ing has a lot of pos­si­bil­ities for drama. On the other hand, pos­si­bil­ity for drama = chance to work on ra­tio­nal­ity. • And it’s an op­tion. One can re­main anony­mous, cur­rently and un­der the pro­posal above. If one finds it too dra­matic to go pub­lic, one can un­pub­li­cize. • I meant that there could be drama be­tween par­ti­ci­pants about what votes have been given. If there hasn’t been, it ei­ther speaks well for ra­tio­nal­ity lev­els here, or means that most peo­ple haven’t found that fea­ture. • Also, it would be nice to have a pre­view op­tion for com­ments. • By the way, this could be done en­tirely in JavaScript with some­thing like show­down.js, which is a mere 2.46 KB when minified and gz­ipped. • I would like my saved ar­ti­cles to be in a col­lapsed for­mat of just the ti­tles. I want to be able quickly nav­i­gate my saved ar­ti­cles, and see what I may have saved a long time ago, rather than go­ing through mul­ti­ple pages. If other peo­ple pre­fer hav­ing a few para­graphs to re­mind them, then a “col­lapse, ex­pand” but­ton could be added. • Have a “show all com­ments” op­tion on posts which dis­plays all of the com­ments hid­den by “load more com­ments.” • I strongly recom­mend that peo­ple talk about what they like, so that there’s some in­for­ma­tion about what shouldn’t be changed. At this point, there’s fa­vor­able com­ment about the gen­eral ap­pear­ance (and I like it very much my­self) but there may be other things to hang onto as well. • An op­tion to dis­play av­er­age karma not just to­tal karma. This should prob­a­bly count main page posts as 10 posts for this pur­pose. • As a new reader, I would very much like to have a method for mark­ing how far through the se­quences I am. A dot next to read ar­ti­cles, or pos­si­bly a times­tamp of last ac­cess could work, as could a but­ton at the bot­tom of the ar­ti­cle la­beled “Mark as read” that would dis­play the ar­ti­cle ti­tle differ­ently in the main se­quence page. I feel lost when I hop around on differ­ent com­put­ers as to what ar­ti­cles I’ve read and where I have seen them be­fore, and sim­ply sav­ing read ar­ti­cles ev­ery time is un­suit­able for this. EDIT TO ADD: Based off of what other com­menters have said, I feel like a clar­ifi­ca­tion is in or­der. What I’m look­ing for is a way to mark the se­quence pages I’ve read, so that when they’re linked to in the newer ar­ti­cles I can tell right away if I’ve read that par­tic­u­lar post. Hope­fully, this would work for both back­ward-link­ing se­quences AND new posts that also link to se­quence pages. Per­haps a way to store the URL of a read page, link it to my ac­count, and when that URL is dis­played again within LW a new graphic could show up to the side of the link to show that it has already been read. • That seems use­ful. It might be good to have a notes-to-self field, too. • I like this idea. I started mak­ing com­ments in a sep­a­rate file per se­quence with the goal that af­ter I’ve finished all of them I’d go back and see if my view­point changed or if is­sues that were fuzzy at the time cleared up. • Trailmeme for the se­quences has ap­prox­i­mately what you want, I be­lieve. • That’s re­ally cool! This will re­ally help with my jour­ney through the se­quences. Thank you! • This is an awe­some idea! I’ve been read­ing LessWrong for years, but I still fairly fre­quently click on links within ar­ti­cles that look in­ter­est­ing, read the first few para­graphs of the ar­ti­cle linked to, only to re­al­ize that I’ve read it be­fore (some­times a few times be­fore!) This might be too hard to im­ple­ment, but here is the sys­tem I would like: a way to mark ar­ti­cles as ‘un­read’, ‘in progress’, or ‘read’. This in­for­ma­tion would be saved and links to ar­ti­cles that you marked ‘read’ would change colour. (Of course, maybe I’m the only one ab­sent­minded enough to need this!) • Ex­actly! My prob­lem is that I read an in­ter­est­ing ar­ti­cle, and when I come to a link I open it in a new tab to pick up the con­text be­fore con­tin­u­ing. When I haven’t read the ar­ti­cle I learn some­thing new, but when I’ve already seen the linked-to ar­ti­cle I can’t tell un­til I’m into the sec­ond para­graph or so. Then, I have to re-read the origi­nal to get back to where I was. Per­haps bet­ter read­ing com­pre­hen­sion tech­niques would fix this for me, but I sus­pect that a lot of new read­ers run into this prob­lem. • Provide sep­a­rate dis­cus­sion ar­eas (sub­red­dits?) for ge­o­graphic sub­com­mu­ni­ties. Google Groups and Meetup.com are cur­rently used for this pur­pose by some, but this is not the most el­e­gant solu­tion. It sprawls LW con­tent be­yond the main site, re­quires learn­ing how to use differ­ent in­ter­faces, and puts us at the mercy of out­side com­pa­nies. The pos­si­bil­ity of karma would also en­courage more dis­cus­sion among these groups. • Origi­nally this was a sep­a­rate com­ment; it’s ba­si­cally a re­hash of child­ofbaud’s com­ment though, so I moved to a re­ply: Much stronger meet-up in­te­gra­tion. Mailing lists shouldn’t be offsite, they should be part of the site. Some­thing like dis­cus­sion sec­tion, but you put your lo­ca­tion in as part of sign­ing up, and gain ac­cess to a ‘Lo­ca­tion’ sec­tion that op­er­ates the way that Dis­cus­sion op­er­ates. De­tails are unim­por­tant; the main part is that meet-ups need a more in­te­grated sys­tem, the tools that meetup threads use (mailing lists, sched­ule-match­ing) need to be available on LessWrong, and be­ing part of your ge­o­graph­i­cally lo­cal group of LessWrongers needs to be opt-out, not opt-in. • I don’t dis­agree about the benefits of in­te­gra­tion and im­prove­ments to meet-up threads, but opt out is a fairly ob­nox­ious way to man­age any­thing. I don’t see any­thing in those other benefits that re­quires (or even is im­proved by) opt out. I may be miss­ing some­thing though and am in­ter­ested to hear why opt out im­proves them. Any new ar­range­ment should not be con­fined to one’s pro­file lo­ca­tion—con­sider trav­el­lers want­ing to see if there’s a meet-up co­in­cid­ing with their travel. • The stan­dard ar­gu­ment for opt-out is that it avoids the prob­lem whereby new­com­ers don’t re­al­ize the op­tion is there, which seems rel­a­tively salient in this case. Espe­cially if the “Make it go away please” op­tion is clearly la­beled, I’m con­tent with opt-out (speak­ing as one of the un­in­ter­ested folk). • Hmm. I agree re. util­ity of draw­ing new­com­ers’ at­ten­tion to it. I’m still not sure opt-in is the best way to do that, when there are other mea­sures that achieve this and bring other benefits (such as an im­proved “new­comer ex­pe­rience”—i.e. some kind of tu­to­rial or page with sug­ges­tions) with­out any opt-out prob­lems. Put an­other way, if the goal is to draw new­com­ers’ at­ten­tion to some­thing, then ac­tu­ally draw­ing their at­ten­tion to it seems to me a bet­ter ap­proach. FWIW I don’t feel strongly about par­ti­ci­pat­ing in meet-ups ei­ther, but opt-out seems to be done wrong by so many or­gani­sa­tions that I set the bar pretty high for what I’ll agree is a rea­son­able jus­tifi­ca­tion. When all the pur­ported benefits of an opt-out ar­range­ment don’t ac­tu­ally de­pend on it be­ing opt-out, I am scep­ti­cal. :) • Sure. And I en­dorse skep­ti­cism in gen­eral. A “new­comer ex­pe­rience” or “how to use this site” kind of ap­proach through which all the bells and whis­tles are ex­plained, so they don’t have to be de­fault-visi­ble to get at­ten­tion, seems like a fine thing. Upvoted that. • A de­cent search sys­tem—I’d very much like to be able to do searches which com­bine date range and/​or poster and/​or post/​poster be­ing replied to and/​or string. • Many sites have a hard time with this. It may be that it is just a hard thing to do. • The google groups ad­vanced search would work as a start­ing tem­plate. I’d add choices for main vs. dis­cus­sion and post vs. com­ment. • I find searchyc.com very use­ful for search­ing Hacker News. Speci­fi­cally, switch­ing the re­sults page to “sort by date posted” to find sub­mis­sions and com­ments that were posted within the last week or 2. The source code for searchyc how­ever is not freely re­dis­tributable (open source). • Drop the lit­tle skyline/​boat grayscale image (mini-land­scape.gif) that ap­pears at the bot­tom of each top-level post. Origi­nal men­tion. Seems to have no pur­pose, and doesn’t re­ally fit the de­sign theme. • It was an early draft of the map vs ter­ri­tory theme that be­came the site header, which we in­tended to finish but for­got about and pub­lished with­out fur­ther thought. Whoops. • Provide the op­tion to “fol­low” or “un­fol­low” any topic, so that you get all of the com­ments posted to it into your in­box. (Yes, there are RSS feeds for in­di­vi­d­ual top­ics, but adding some­thing to an RSS reader is an in­con­ve­nience and clut­ters the reader.) • Re­move DV links from a per­son’s “past com­ment” page un­less viewed in con­text. (After the re­cent com­ment thread dfranke sparked, I lost a large num­ber of up­votes from my past com­ments, which were pre­vi­ously al­most uniformly weakly pos­i­tively ranked. I as­sume my pre­vi­ous posts had not sud­denly re­duced in qual­ity, and that some­one had sim­ply de­cided to go through and pun­ish me. Mak­ing peo­ple view a com­ment in con­text—one more mouse click—would make this un­con­struc­tive ac­tion less con­ve­nient and less likely.) • If we do that, we might want to re­move up­vote op­tion from that as well. • I re­cently at­tended a talk by Alexis Oha­nian, one of the Red­dit founders, in which he led the au­di­ence to be­lieve that, on Red­dit, votes on past com­ments out of con­text only ap­pear to work, but ac­tu­ally have no effect. I have not tested this on ei­ther Red­dit or LessWrong. • I re­cently at­tended a talk by Alexis Oha­nian, one of the Red­dit founders, in which he led the au­di­ence to be­lieve that, on Red­dit, votes on past com­ments out of con­text only ap­pear to work, but ac­tu­ally have no effect. I have not tested this on ei­ther Red­dit or LessWrong. • Stop im­prop­erly pre­sent­ing con­trols which im­me­di­ately perform ac­tions (Vote up, Vote down) as hy­per­links. • I think the search box has trou­ble with deeply nested com­ments. That is bad. • Provide op­tional no­tifi­ca­tion of nested com­ment replies to the par­ent com­ment’s au­thor (be­yond the ini­tial re­ply). Cur­rently, if there is a re­ply to one of my com­ments, I re­ceive a no­tice. How­ever, if there is a re­ply to the re­ply, and so on, I don’t. Th­ese grand­chil­dren replies are of­ten still rele­vant and of in­ter­est to me, how­ever. Hav­ing the op­tion of be­ing no­tified of them would be nice. (Alter­nately, this sug­ges­tion would solve the prob­lem also, though that solu­tion would re­quire an ad­di­tional step from the au­thor.) • Get rid of the “Re­port” link un­der com­ments and posts. Some pos­si­bil­ities, in de­creas­ing or­der of prefer­ence: • Just re­move it com­pletely, and han­dle spam and other crap by giv­ing the mod­er­a­tors a page where they can eas­ily see the re­cent com­ments that got a lot of down­votes (if they don’t already have one) • Re­name it “Flag” so it doesn’t get con­fused with “Re­ply” (I bet that hap­pens more of­ten than peo­ple re­port­ing spam) • Re­move it for any post or com­ment older than a day, or for any post/​com­ment that has pos­i­tive karma. • Give users an op­tion in their prefer­ences (on by de­fault) to hide the link. • A vote for the flag re­name. • It’s good to have an op­tion for the “some­thing is go­ing on here that prob­a­bly shouldn’t, a hu­man mod­er­a­tor should take a closer look” case, even if it’s not needed that of­ten. I’ve used it on some spam­mers and an oc­ca­sional drive-by gib­ber­ish trol­ling. Cal­ling it “flag” in­stead of “re­port” would help with the con­fu­sion with “re­ply”, but on the other hand it’s less clear what “flag” means. Since most users can safely ig­nore the op­tion any­way, this is prob­a­bly a smaller prob­lem than con­fu­sion with “re­ply”, so sup­port­ing this one. • Since the site opened I have found the need for the Re­port but­ton a to­tal of zero times. And that is hardly due to lack of par­ti­ci­pa­tion. I cer­tainly wouldn’t mind it gone. • I may have used it two or three times on spam­mers sel­l­ing jew­elry or pan­dora shoes, but that prob­lem even­tu­ally got solved by differ­ent karma rules. • Dis­play nega­tive karma when pre­sent for posters as well as posts. • I think that used to be the case and was changed in or­der to dis­cour­age trolls, but I may be wrong. • Make it eas­ier to read on a small de­vice. This can be ac­com­plished by mak­ing the width of the main column defined as a “max-width” in CSS and set­ting the view­port meta tag in the HTML. • Se­conded. About the only way to make LW read­able on my phone is by abus­ing the RSS feed, which is un­for­tu­nate be­cause text-heavy con­tent is oth­er­wise a good match for small de­vices. • Thirded. The site is ut­terly un­us­able on my phone. (Black­Berry 9300 us­ing the OS 6 browser. It ren­ders the CSS and all okay, but then gives me a 320px-wide view­port on the huge wide page you’ve defined.) • An eas­ily ac­cessible tog­gle to show/​hide all karma. • Isn’t this already im­ple­mented, as the Anti-Kib­itzer in the prefer­ences sec­tion? • I sup­pose so, though I was en­vi­sion­ing a more con­ve­nient and in­stan­ta­neous tog­gle for cer­tain situ­a­tions times when you think karma might be heav­ily af­fect­ing your judge­ment. Not a big pri­or­ity. • Anonymi­sa­tion of user names in the Anti-Kib­itzer in­stead of hid­ing them. Not see­ing any iden­ti­fi­ca­tor of the au­thor makes it difficult to fol­low longer ex­changes, and I of­ten switch off the AK be­cause of that. So, in­stead of see­ing some­thing like this • I think that X. • I dis­agree with your claim. • Why do you think so? • Ac­tu­ally I have changed my opinion. which may be con­fus­ing if you don’t know who has posted es­pe­cially the last re­ply, it may look like • User_1: I think that X. • User_2: I dis­agree with your claim. • User_3: Why do you think so? • User_2: Ac­tu­ally I have changed my opinion. The AK could sim­ply num­ber all par­ti­ci­pants in a thread start­ing from 1 each time the page is reloaded. • When you re­ceive a re­ply to a com­ment, you get a no­tifi­ca­tion. But when some­one posts a com­ment on a top-level or dis­cus­sion post you made, you get no no­tifi­ca­tion. It would be nice if you could at least choose whether or not you’d be no­tified when some­one posts a new com­ment on a top-level post you cre­ated, I usu­ally stop check­ing mine af­ter a week. • Good re­quest. Cur­rent workaround: Google Reader and the RSS feeds of any post you wish to fol­low. I have a folder full of less­wrong feeds. (Most of them are ob­vi­ously in­ac­tive so in­visi­ble.) • This is­sue was in­di­rectly ad­dressed be­fore by Emile, and com­mented on speci­fi­cally in a re­ply to the pre­vi­ous by jwhendy. But it’s prob­a­bly an im­por­tant enough us­abil­ity prob­lem to war­rant its own top-level com­ment. Cur­rently the par­ent should have at least +6 ex­tra up­votes go­ing by that sec­ond link, pos­si­bly more, as­sum­ing the same peo­ple didn’t up­vote both. (I re­scinded my vote from be­fore, and I am now up­vot­ing this.) • Provide some sort of view show­ing the source of your most re­cent karma losses/​gains, some­thing like the no­tifi­ca­tions on Face­book. It’s an­noy­ing when some­body votes up/​down ten of your 2-year-old posts and you reg­ister a karma change, but have no idea of know­ing where it came from. Pos­si­bly dan­ger­ously ad­dic­tive, though. • Provide a free-form text box for users to en­ter “user pro­file” type data. Peo­ple who care a lot about what pro­noun gets used to re­fer to them can say so; peo­ple who pre­fer to be han­dled via Crocker’s Rules can say so; peo­ple who have par­tic­u­lar in­ter­ests can say so; etc. • Var­i­ant sug­ges­tion: Merge LW and wiki.LW ac­count sys­tems so that each user’s wiki user page can be their pro­file page. • Ex­cel­lent idea! Get peo­ple to ac­tu­ally edit the wiki! • Yes, that too. The need to cre­ate a sep­a­rate ac­count on the wiki is an un­nec­es­sary tech­ni­cal bar­rier to ca­sual con­tri­bu­tions. • A micro-pay­ment sys­tem so read­ers could con­tribute real money to an au­thor as the ul­ti­mate sign of ap­proval. • Wit­coin.com is es­pe­cially rele­vant since it is a micro-pay­ment ori­ented news ag­gre­ga­tor site us­ing Bit­coin. I’ve used it. It’s not too great (low traf­fic, low­brow con­tent), but it demon­strates that the con­cept isn’t too ter­rible. • Like Flattr, or did you have some­thing else in mind? • I’ve never used Flattr but from a brief read­ing of their web­page it seems what I had in mind. • Upvoted, this would also en­courage peo­ple to con­tribute (lower the thresh­old of ac­tu­ally be­gin­ning to write a post). • Have ex­actly the same markup for top level post than for com­ments (with pos­si­bly an op­tion for edit­ing the raw HTML or some­thing). • Edit html of com­ments or top level? You can edit the raw html of top-level posts, but maybe you knew that. • It would be re­ally con­ve­nient to have a su­pe­rior search­ing method for com­ments. I have fre­quently wanted to re­fer to a pre­vi­ous com­ment of mine from months be­fore but have found it difficult to find (as I would need to re­mem­ber the post it was on, search for that, then search for the com­ment, or go back page by page through my sum­mary). • I sec­ond this. • Au­to­matic flat­ten­ing of lin­ear seg­ments of dis­cus­sion. A com­ment that is the only re­ply to its par­ent should be placed at the same depth as its par­ent. This will make long mostly-lin­ear dis­cus­sions eas­ier to read and avoid un­nec­es­sary shift­ing-to-the-right-and-be­yond (i.e. hid­ing and ex­ten­sion to a sep­a­rate page). (This prob­a­bly shouldn’t ap­ply to com­ments whose par­ent com­ments have siblings, to more clearly sep­a­rate sub-dis­cus­sions.) • Yes, but the boxes around the com­ments should line up di­rectly in­stead of be­ing sep­a­rated by a gap as differ­ent com­ments of the same level are. • Per­haps with­out color al­ter­na­tion (as is cur­rently im­ple­mented for the last and sec­ond to last com­ments dis­played on a page such that you have to click through for more) dur­ing these seg­ments? • I’d pre­fer to keep the color al­ter­na­tion, ac­tu­ally. It makes it eas­ier to differ­en­ti­ate one com­ment from an­other, which makes it eas­ier to skim, among other things. • A lot of the sug­ges­tions here would re­quire changes to the server soft­ware, but I have one that might be fix­able by only HTML and CSS changes (e.g. by switch­ing to a good old HTML TEXTAREA el­e­ment). Less Wrong has a bug that makes it al­most im­pos­si­ble for some­one in the habit of read­ing Less Wrong with large type to com­pose a com­ment with­out tem­porar­ily de­creas­ing text size. The bug has definitely de­creased the rate of my con­tri­bu­tions. Speci­fi­cally, at the larger text sizes, the right­most part of the box into which the per­son types “goes un­der” and is con­se­quently ob­scured by the side­bar. This screen­shot shows the box go­ing all the way un­der the side­bar and peek­ing out the other side. Although the screen­shot shows Fire­fox, the prob­lem oc­curs in Sa­fari, too, and (for rea­sons un­re­lated to Less Wrong) Chrome is not a rea­son­able choice for a per­son who prefers or re­quires large type. • The drop­box file you linked to is not gen­er­ally ac­cessible. I can’t ac­cess it. • It works now if you’re will­ing to click on the thumb­nail af­ter click­ing on my link. • Make the Ar­ti­cle Nav­i­ga­tion con­trols less a buried add-on and more a co­her­ent part of the over­all site nav­i­ga­tion fa­cil­ities, since they are so ir­re­place­able for e.g. the im­por­tant Se­quences. • Add a how to use the site sec­tion. It’s pos­si­ble that most of the difficult bits will be fixed, but on the other hand, new prob­lems may be cre­ated. Per­haps the how-to should be a wiki. • Cy­cle com­ment thread back­ground colours through at least three dis­t­in­guish­able colours; un­ob­tru­sive colours like pale blue, grey would be prefer­able. (In the cur­rent sys­tem we al­ter­nate be­tween two colours, and ac­tive sub-threads can have many branches; it’s difficult to fol­low vi­su­ally. Click­ing “par­ent” links is some­thing of a workaround, but breaks the flow.) (Edit: cf Nancy’s re­ply be­low) • Save the his­tory of ed­ited posts and com­ments, like a wiki; that would make it less of a prob­lem to al­low mod­er­a­tors or even high karma posters to edit com­ments (to fix bro­ken links and for­mat­ting etc.), and would also re­duce the oc­ca­sional prob­lem where a re­ply doesn’t make sense any more af­ter a com­ment is ed­ited. • Also, don’t al­low dele­tion of a com­ment with replies. • If you al­low edit­ing some­one can edit the com­ment to “(deleted)” or “(with­drawn)” or some­thing like that. • Yes, there is a rea­son my “don’t al­low dele­tions” sug­ges­tion was made as an en­hance­ment to Emile’s “save edit­ing his­tory” sug­ges­tion, rather than stand alone. Though a lot of com­ments get deleted by peo­ple who aren’t aware that they just re­ceived a re­ply. • Ten­ta­tive: peo­ple get cred­ited with a small per­centage of the karma from the com­ments to their posts and com­ments. It would be a way of get­ting karma for in­spiring good dis­cus­sion. • This would have an in­ter­est­ing, and quite pos­si­bly net-pos­i­tive, effect on dis­cus­sions with trolls. I’m not sure how well it would ac­tu­ally work in prac­tice, but I’d kind of like to try it. • Add an op­tion to un-thread the com­ments, to al­low them all to be sorted by karma or times­tamp re­gard­less of parentage. • Canon­i­cal­ize URLs: at the mo­ment, there are sev­eral differ­ent URLs refer­ring to most pieces of con­tent on Less Wrong. Some­times it’s as sim­ple as one URL hav­ing a slash at the end and the other one not; in other cases you have a post that was ac­tu­ally posted in Dis­cus­sion, but due to (I think) a glitch where Dis­cus­sion posts as listed on user­pages ac­tu­ally link to the post via /​lw in­stead of /​r/​dis­cus­sion/​lw, and the former works any­way, caus­ing two copies to be in­dexed in search en­g­ines, and the same for ev­ery com­ment posted on them. Prefer­ably, ev­ery such piece of con­tent would have a canon­i­cal URL, and any other valid means of ac­cess­ing it should redi­rect to the canon­i­cal form via FOUND or MOVED PERMANENTLY, or at least spec­ify the preferred URLs to search en­g­ines via . • The top ban­ner is way too big. When scrol­led to the top, con­tent be­gins halfway down my net­book screen. Most is spent on what is ba­si­cally a vi­sual in-joke about map and ter­ri­tory. Look to Red­dit for an ex­tremely tight ban­ner/​nav­i­ga­tion area. Red­dit’s con­tent starts a finger-width from the top of the browser. • Most is spent on what is ba­si­cally a vi­sual in-joke about map and ter­ri­tory. Wow. I’d never no­ticed. Had never even looked at the top of the screen closely enough that I could even have told you whether or not there was an image there at all. • As far as I can tell, the “Show more com­ments above” link cur­rently shows the par­ent, and all sibling threads. I would like it to give the op­tion of show­ing more an­ces­tors, so that af­ter I’ve gone to a com­ment I can see the en­tire dis­cus­sion lead­ing up to it. Ex­am­ple: “Show more com­ments above: 1, 2, 5, All.” • User pro­files? Click some­one’s user­name, and get taken to a page with some ba­sic per­sonal in­for­ma­tion, such as sex, lo­ca­tion, home­page, etc. that the user in ques­tion can provide. • The site is very good the way it is; be­tween the threaded com­ment for­mat and the up­vote/​down­vote fea­ture, the tech­ni­cal de­sign of this site makes it much, much bet­ter for hav­ing con­ver­sa­tions than the typ­i­cal blog com­ment­ing sys­tem. There isn’t much that needs to change—at this point, it’s more im­por­tant to avoid screw­ing things up than it is to try to im­prove on what’s already there. • Abil­ity to hide all com­ments from a user. I want to be able to put peo­ple on ig­nore and just as im­por­tantly I want peo­ple to be able to put me on ig­nore. Ar­gu­ing on the in­ter­net is of­ten pointless and the cost of avoid­ing said pointless­ness is not neg­ligible. • I worry about the effect this would have on un­der­stand­ing threaded con­ver­sa­tions with many par­ti­ci­pants, or I’d be in fa­vor. • My thought was make ig­nored com­ments do the same thing as highly down­voted com­ments. You can click on them if you re­ally want to. It is cer­tainly a more vi­able op­tion than at­tempt­ing to im­ple­ment the ig­nore fea­ture in­side the brain of the per­son you wish to ig­nore. That doesn’t seem to work to well. • Yeah, the im­ple­men­ta­tion on that one is very buggy. (Although I’m work­ing with a var­i­ant of an out­right ig­nore, which your fea­ture wouldn’t strictly im­prove on.) • Although I’m work­ing with a var­i­ant of an out­right ig­nore, which your fea­ture wouldn’t strictly im­prove on. I like to save my mind hack­ing en­er­gies for fea­tures that can’t be coded in grease­mon­key. ;) • I as­sume this would work the same way that heav­ily don­wn­voted com­ments are han­dled, in which case that shouldn’t be a prob­lem. • Be able to edit posts from look­ing at your own com­ment page. • Event cal­en­dar. • Au­to­mat­i­cally de­tect lin­ear threads* and for­mat them in a differ­ent way, rather than the cur­rent op­ti­mized-for-tree-struc­ture way. The differ­ence might be as minor as not in­dent­ing, but there are prob­a­bly a few other things that could be done as well, look­ing at var­i­ous fo­rums and bul­letin boards for in­spira­tion. Another thing one will likely want to do is to make con­tin­u­ing in a thread-like fash­ion is eas­ier and branch­ing is harder. • defined as a chain at least 3 com­ments deep, where com­ment n is the only child of n-1. • Have com­ments on the Ir­ra­tional­ity Game thread not show up in the top com­ments. • Allow com­ments and posts to be ed­ited by other users, with re­stric­tions, as in Stack Ex­change. Build the ex­pec­ta­tion that this is used strictly to re­pair for­mat­ting and im­prove link­ing. It bugs me when some­one posts malformed hy­per­links and they’re there for­ever be­cause the origi­nal poster doesn’t fix them. • I’m not sure I want ev­ery­one to have this power. It could be a mod or ed­i­tor power (ed­i­tors can already edit toplevels and we have sworn to use this power for good, not evil). • The Stack Ex­change con­di­tions are that you have to be over a cer­tain amount of “rep­u­ta­tion” (karma) or have the edit ap­proved by some­one who is (or per­haps the origi­nal au­thor — I don’t know). I mainly think we should bor­row the lat­ter “sug­gested edit” mechanism — per­haps the origi­nal au­thor or the site mod­er­a­tors would be al­lowed to ap­prove ed­its. • I think this would be a good com­pro­mise. • At least, al­low peo­ple to post “Com­mu­nity Wiki” posts. • Use the whole screen. It’s very an­noy­ing for less­wrong to show up as a nar­row strip down the screen. • I pre­fer it this way. Really wide lines of text are difficult to track prop­erly. • This could be added as a user prefer­ence, like it is in fan­fic­tion.net. • I ap­prove in gen­eral of peo­ple be­ing able to ma­nipu­late stuff with prefer­ences, but “like fan­fic­tion.net″ made me shiver. • The nice thing about fan­fic­tion.net’s de­sign is that it’s com­pat­i­ble with read­abil­ity, which re­places its de­sign with a more pleas­ant and re­lax­ing one. • FF.net does that, but they do it wrong. They do it as a fixed per­centage of the screen, not a fixed max-width. • Maybe LW user prefer­ences could give users the choice of do­ing it ei­ther way? (I.e. as a fixed per­centage or a fixed num­ber of pix­els.) • Does FF.net do any­thing re­lated to us­abil­ity right :) • ...The text is read­able against the back­ground? • Yes, they have a very sim­ple in­ter­face. There are a fair num­ber of sites that are hideously un­nav­i­gable just be­cause the in­ter­faces have so many op­tions and are so col­or­ful that it is hard to quickly move one’s eyes over for what one is look­ing. FF.net keeps things sim­ple. • I hate hate hate the top mouseover menu that pops down and pushes what I wanted to click out from un­der­neath my mouse. Bad FF.Net! Edit—please dis­re­gard this post • Okay, it’s not sat­u­rated with color and it doesn’t have an­i­mated any­things, but in ev­ery other way it is over­com­pli­cated and hard to nav­i­gate and has bad sig­nage. • ...ex­cept ad­ver­tise­ments, of course. • Ad­block ftw. • Is this some­thing I can eas­ily ob­tain? • It de­pends on your browser, but prob­a­bly. It’s a pop­u­lar enough ex­ten­sion that I’d be pretty sur­prised if any browser that can do ex­ten­sions at all doesn’t have some­thing equiv­a­lent. (Also pos­si­bly no­table: If you’re us­ing Fire­fox, press­ing ‘esc’ will stop all an­i­mated gifs on the page un­til the page is reloaded.) • What­ever the re­design is, I think it would be helpful if clearly marked sec­tion were added which con­sists of ba­sic in­struc­tions on how to use the site’s func­tions and what those func­tions do. I would have found such a quick refer­ence handy when I first started brows­ing the site. • The or­der of com­ments dis­played should be ran­dom, at least you should be able to state this in your prefer­ences. This way, all com­ments will get equal at­ten­tion, each com­ment will get glanced at and voted equally, in­stead of the com­ments with most karma be­ing first (and most judged) and those with least karma be­ing last (and scarcely looked at). Edit: This should, be­sides, ap­ply to all lev­els of com­ments: So all the ‘top-level com­ments’ should be ran­dom, all the an­swers to one com­ment should be ran­dom and so on if you chose the com­ments to be sorted ran­domly. • In the mean­time, you could try sort­ing by “Old” or “New”; the menu can be found at the bot­tom of any post, be­fore the com­ments box. • Thank you, I didn’t no­tice this be­cause I kept look­ing in ‘prefer­ences’. Thus, it seems like a good idea to me to add the pos­si­bil­ity of choos­ing your prefer­ences re­gard­ing the com­ment or­der there. I’d find this much less con­fus­ing. • It’s already pos­si­ble to sort com­ments by times­tamp rather than karma, but this might still be use­ful. • Sev­eral times I’ve tried to find out what pro­noun to use for some­one with an am­bigu­ous name, by look­ing through their com­ment his­tory, and failed to find that in­for­ma­tion. It would be nice to have a quick way to get to some­one’s post on the Wel­come thread, as a sort of pro­file, or at least reg­u­lar ac­count pro­files that con­tain this in­for­ma­tion. As it is, us­ing “they” to re­fer to a spe­cific per­son, guess­ing in­cor­rectly, and post­ing a com­ment to ask which pro­noun to use are all so­cially dis­cour­aged. Us­ing names ev­ery time works, but is some­times awk­ward. • I think the ideal solu­tion to this is to have a field like “lo­ca­tion” and “web­site” that one can fill in. • Ra­dio but­tons might work best: • she /​ her /​ her­self /​ hers /​ her • he /​ him /​ him­self /​ his /​ his • it /​ it /​ it­self /​ its /​ its • they /​ them /​ them­selves /​ theirs /​ their • e /​ em /​ eir­self /​ eirs /​ eir • Don’t use pro­nouns on me! • How about some­thing for those of us who pre­fer anonymity.. Edit: I meant those of us who pre­fer anonymity but still want to post some per­sonal in­for­ma­tion. • Don’t fill in the field? • *nods* The field should be a text box, not a ra­dio but­ton or a drop­down list. Ideally, I’d like it to be la­beled ‘pro­nouns’ rather than ‘gen­der’, but that might be non-preferred for sig­nal­ing rea­sons. • The field should be a text box, not a ra­dio but­ton or a drop­down list. Ideally, I’d like it to be la­beled ‘pro­nouns’ rather than ‘gen­der’, but that might be non-preferred for sig­nal­ing rea­sons. Agree strongly with the sig­nal­ing con­cern. Also, it helps pre­vent smar­talecks filling in some­thing like “sec­ond per­son” or worse “first per­son plu­ral”. • ‘Gen­der’ isn’t much bet­ter at deal­ing with smart-alecks or out­liers, ac­tu­ally. If I’m in an odd enough mood on the day that’s im­ple­mented, I might fill in the box with ‘yes’. Or ‘no’. Or ‘blue’. ‘Fe­male’ doesn’t always suit me, and un­like with pro­nouns there’s no ob­vi­ous non-male non-fe­male an­swer to that one. • Are there im­por­tant op­tions be­yond be­yond male, fe­male and an ex­plicit n/​a for the vari­able, not ap­pli­ca­ble, not your busi­ness etc cases? • I’d add “both”, “fluid” or “vari­able”, and “other” for a bet­ter shot at com­plete­ness, mostly be­cause there are peo­ple whose non-bi­nary gen­der is an im­por­tant enough part of their iden­tity that “n/​a” seems likely to feel dis­mis­sive to them. • Bet­ter go with the text field then if there’s re­ally de­mand for all those. The base three would pretty much solve the ac­tu­ally man­i­fest­ing prob­lem of peo­ple not know­ing which pro­noun to use of other peo­ple though. • If the field isn’t filled in, then posters are still stuck with a situ­a­tion where what’s wanted isn’t ob­vi­ous. Ten­ta­tive sug­ges­tion: a text field in pro­files for preferred pro­nouns. • It might be pos­si­ble to au­to­mate this—if you’re com­ment­ing to some­one, pro­nouns which don’t match their prefer­ences are marked as spel­ling er­rors or (if wanted) au­to­cor­rected. I don’t know whether this is worth the trou­ble to pro­gram, but it’ would be kind of cool. • That seems much too hard—pro­nouns are used in all sorts of con­texts; how would it de­ter­mine who (whether the au­thor of the par­ent, the OP, or—more likely—no­body who wrote a com­ment here at all, in which case it has no refer­ence) is be­ing referred to? • You’re right. • post­ing a com­ment to ask which pro­noun to use [is] so­cially dis­cour­aged. Is it? I wouldn’t have thought peo­ple here would re­act nega­tively to that. • This makes me won­der if there would be value in a top level post dis­cussing the im­pli­ca­tions of so­cial anx­iety aris­ing from lack of clear gen­der mark­ers. I have an un­ver­ified hunch that gen­der-re­lated priv­ilege plays a role in this, too. I’m not any kind of reg­u­lar here but is “they” re­ally dis­cour­aged? Why? • No, not re­ally. The Pro­noun Ques­tion is a re­cur­ring topic of idle con­ver­sa­tion around here that never makes defini­tive progress, and a fairly stan­dard sub-pat­tern is some­one sug­gest­ing “they” and some­one else as­sert­ing that sin­gu­lar “they” is un­gram­mat­i­cal and thus to be avoided. Other stan­dard sub-pat­terns in­clude some­one sug­gest­ing Spi­vak pro­nouns and some­one else as­sert­ing that they are dys­pho­nious, some­one sug­gest­ing “he” and some­one else as­sert­ing that “he” is not in fact gen­der-neu­tral, and some­one sug­gest­ing al­ter­nat­ing “he” and “she” (ei­ther reg­u­larly, pseudo-ran­domly, or true-ran­domly) and some­one else as­sert­ing that that’s too much work. (I’ve been known to as­sert some of those things my­self.) That said, I use “they” as a third-per­son sin­gu­lar pro­noun all the time and have never got­ten any nega­tive com­ments (or, as far as I can tell, down­votes) be­cause of it. Var­i­ous other peo­ple use Spi­vak with equal suc­cess. And some peo­ple use “he” and “she.” I en­dorse “they” but en­courage you to use what­ever works for you. • some­one else as­sert­ing that sin­gu­lar “they” is un­gram­mat­i­cal and thus to be avoided. Has that hap­pened? It seems pretty well es­tab­lished that sin­gu­lar “they” is gram­mat­i­cal en­glish, and if some­one said oth­er­wise, they may have been talk­ing about a spe­cial un­gram­mat­i­cal use of “they” (there may be some cases where “he” or “she” is cor­rect and “they” isn’t, but I can’t think of many off the top of my head) • I don’t feel like dig­ging through links to find ex­am­ples, and I ac­cept that me re­peat­ing “Yes, it hap­pens” is not ac­tu­ally ad­di­tional ev­i­dence, so I won’t be offended if you re­main skep­ti­cal. That said: yes, it hap­pens. Though I sup­pose it’s pos­si­ble that they meant a spe­cial un­gram­mat­i­cal use and I mi­s­un­der­stood them to mean the sin­gu­lar “they” in gen­eral. • That sounds like a lot of so­cial anx­iety to me if it’s en­shrined as a rou­tine group be­havi­our—heat & light make me tend to think some­thing in­ter­est­ing is go­ing on that isn’t be­ing di­rectly dis­cussed. I’m sur­prised that a group pred­i­cated on do­ing things bet­ter would ap­peal to tra­di­tion and au­thor­ity as a rea­son for, well, any­thing. And—se­ri­ously? Ar­gu­ment that “he” is gen­der-neu­tral? More ar­gu­ment for an even­tual dis­cus­sion of priv­ilege as a per­va­sive bias. Fas­ci­nat­ing, thank you for your thought­ful re­ply. • The priv­ilege-as-bias dis­cus­sion has been had a few times, in­clud­ing in the con­text of gen­dered pro­nouns. Which is no rea­son not to have it again, I sup­pose, but I en­courage you to think care­fully be­fore do­ing so about your strat­egy for pro­gress­ing it fur­ther than pre­vi­ous in­car­na­tions have, so we don’t keep go­ing ’round the same mulberry bush. Un­re­lat­edly, tra­di­tion isn’t a bad thing to ap­peal to when it comes to the mean­ing of words, or re­ally to any ac­tivity that de­pends on a com­mu­nity’s pre­dictable ad­her­ence to con­ven­tions. Why do we drive on the right side of the road in the U.S. rather than the left, and stop at red lights and go at green lights rather than vice-versa, and use “hello” to greet peo­ple rather than “ahoy” or “shoelace”? Ba­si­cally, tra­di­tion. Would it be bet­ter to switch? Well, maybe. But for at least some of those things, it’s bet­ter only if we all switch at once, which is difficult to man­age. • Have a way to show a spe­cific com­ment with­out show­ing any replies to it. I wanted to email some­one a link to a com­ment to­day, and re­al­ized that they would most likely be dis­tracted by the en­su­ing con­ver­sa­tion rather than con­tem­plat­ing the com­ment it­self. This fea­ture would be use­ful in such situ­a­tions. • Make the main LW site mo­bile-friendly, or im­ple­ment a sep­a­rate site ver­sion for mo­bile de­vices on http://​​m.less­wrong.com • Fix the bug where perma­l­inks to a post—even new ones! - do not work when a post is moved be­tween sub­red­dits. • Is there cur­rently a rules page? If not, there should be a rules page and it should be read­ily ac­cessible for new read­ers/​posters. • Fluid width, please. • Con­dense and re­or­ga­nize per­sonal items. I have difficulty nav­i­gat­ing all of my “per­sonal” things such as my com­ments, drafts, prefer­ences, saved, friends, etc. Th­ese are scat­tered about in a not very in­tu­itive way. I think that when you click on your own pro­file, it would be nice if the side-bar changed to in­clude links to the differ­ent things I men­tioned above. To re-ac­cess the ‘re­cent posts’ I would have to go back to the main page. • Show read/​un­read com­ments in differ­ent col­ors. • To take playther­a­pist’s sug­ges­tion and turn it into some­thing that makes sense in con­text, there should be par­ent/​con­text links on ev­ery ver­sion of a com­ment (cur­rently these don’t ex­ist on user pages, just perma­l­ink). Also, for nav­i­ga­tional pur­poses, deleted com­ments should still have par­ent and perma­l­ink but­tons. • Peo­ple have already men­tioned some way of mark­ing com­ments as read. If that turns out to be too hard to im­ple­ment, here’s a sim­pler idea: The abil­ity to set a mark time that cor­re­sponds to mark­ing as read ev­ery­thing be­fore a given time. And then—rather than au­to­col­laps­ing ev­ery­thing from be­fore then, as this is a crude tool—add a re­cent threads tool, that shows all com­ments from af­ter that time which are not a re­ply to an­other com­ments from af­ter that time—al­low­ing you to just jump to the high­est-level com­ments you haven’t seen and read the thread, rather than dig­ging back through Re­cent Com­ments to find them. • Re­duce the amount of generic ar­ti­cle boiler­plate con­trols (which cur­rently con­sist of LW head­ing/​site nav/​ar­ti­cle head­ing/​ar­ti­cle byline/​”You are view­ing a com­ment perma­l­ink.”/​ar­ti­cle footer/​com­ments header/​”You are view­ing...”) which ap­pear on the pages for in­di­vi­d­ual com­ments; use the freed space for more con­text, e.g. dis­play­ing the par­ent com­ment by de­fault. • Re­place the funny markup with plain old HTML. I hate hav­ing to look up the link syn­tax ev­ery sin­gle time, be­cause it is com­pletely un­like ev­ery other site I use (maybe it’s just like Red­dit, but I have blocked Red­dit be­cause it is even more of a time sink than Less Wrong). • Make this an op­tion in user prefer­ences maybe. I per­son­ally find Mark­down much, much, much more in­tu­itive than HTML. • I’ve got the link syn­tax pretty much in my fingers now (ex­cept for not yet be­ing able to touch-type square brack­ets), but it was a pain un­til I had it mem­o­rized. The mark­down for quot­ing and for em­pha­sis is a lot hand­ier than html. • Auto-ex­pand “ar­ti­cle nav­i­ga­tion” in­stead of hid­ing it by de­fault, so it’s not so un­ob­tru­sive. • Alter­na­tively, you could re­name “Ar­ti­cle Nav­i­ga­tion” to some­thing more self-ex­plana­tory, per­haps “Nav­i­gate to Similar Posts”. • Meh, that only makes sense for The Se­quences, for “nor­mal” posts it’d be a bit dis­tract­ing. • It would be nice if the front page lists posts in or­der of their pro­mo­tion, in­stead of or­der of their origi­nal post­ing. • I have an anti-sug­ges­tion: no skin­ning or other pro­lifer­a­tion of op­tions. Some­one asked for the cur­rent graphic ap­pear­ance to re­main as an op­tion, but the de­sign­ers and those offi­cially ap­prov­ing the re­design need to have (jus­tified) con­fi­dence in their de­ci­sions. If they’re wrong, and ev­ery­one thinks it’s dread­ful be­yond mere sta­tus quo bias, then they can roll it back and think again. If the gen­eral re­sponse is that it will more or less do, well, it will more or less do. Every­thing above that is a win. • En­large /​ stretch the green karma but­ton when­ever the num­ber doesn’t fit in (mainly on in­di­vi­d­ual user pro­files with karma > 1000). • Thanks for point­ing out. • En­large /​ stretch the green karma but­ton when­ever the num­ber doesn’t fit in (mainly on in­di­vi­d­ual user pro­files with karma > 1000). 10k is even worse. at 1k the num­bers start get­ting ob­scured a bit but at 10k it looks like you are see­ing the karma score but you’re ac­tu­ally not. Gets con­fus­ing. • The “help” but­ton on the com­ments should in­clude a link to a more ex­ten­sive help file; prob­a­bly both the generic Mark­down help file, and a more spe­cific one here (there’s a page on the Wiki that does this, right?). (In­clud­ing the more spe­cific one to re­mind peo­ple that e.g. HTML doesn’t work, and how to do that hack to in­clude LaTeX.) • In com­ment threads, the ‘show more com­ments above’ link ap­pears even if the top­most com­ment shown is the first one in the thread. It shouldn’t. • Blogroll /​ Side Bar Sec­tion for Links to Ra­tion­al­ity Re­lated Web­sites. I love Over­com­ing Bias, but it seems a bit bi­ased that Over­com­ing Bias is the only other web­site linked from here. Re­ply to this com­ment with a com­ment for each web­site nom­i­na­tion? Hmm… maybe with this fea­ture new links could be added by users (pre­sum­ing a min­i­mum karma crite­ria), and then each link other users could vote up and down, so that the or­der­ing of the list was or­ganic. • Nom­i­na­tion: Com­mon Sense Athe­ism. • Blogroll /​ Side Bar Sec­tion for Links to Ra­tion­al­ity Re­lated Web­sites. I love Over­com­ing Bias, but it seems a bit bi­ased that Over­com­ing Bias is the only other web­site linked from here. I don’t like this idea. The choice of web­sites to put on the side­bar is likely to be con­tentious. What ex­actly qual­ifies a web­site to be en­dorsed by LW? How should a web­site be judged con­sid­er­ing the var­i­ous PR im­pli­ca­tions of en­dors­ing it? Also, who ex­actly stands be­hind the en­dorse­ment, con­sid­er­ing that LW is a group blog? What’s more, LW mem­bers already have the op­tion to put web­site links in their pro­files, and the web­sites au­thored or en­dorsed by promi­nent LW con­trib­u­tors are thus already given sig­nifi­cant pro­mo­tion. • What’s more, LW mem­bers already have the op­tion to put web­site links in their pro­files, and the web­sites au­thored or en­dorsed by promi­nent LW con­trib­u­tors are thus already given sig­nifi­cant pro­mo­tion. It’s not that sig­nifi­cant. I watch my site traf­fic like a hawk and I get al­most no hits from here. • FYI, I just tried to click through to your food blog from the link on your wiki user­page, and it is bro­ken, I think. • Fixed, thanks. • I think I’ve clicked on all pro­file links posted by peo­ple on the top con­trib­u­tors list at one time or an­other (and many oth­ers as well), but I guess I’m an ex­cep­tion then. What could be done is to make peo­ple’s pro­file links more con­spicu­ous and di­rectly ac­cessible, per­haps as a part of mak­ing pro­files gen­er­ally more in­for­ma­tive for those who wish to make them so. (I think some­one already men­tioned the idea of merg­ing them with wiki pro­files.) • A web­site has a spe­cific goal that it’s try­ing to uniquely achieve, and a gen­eral goal that places it within a com­mu­nity of like-minded web­sites. Less Wrong’s spe­cific goal is to re­fine the art of hu­man ra­tio­nal­ity, and its gen­eral goal is to raise the san­ity wa­ter­line. If other web­sites are suc­cess­fully rais­ing the san­ity wa­ter­line, it be­hooves Less Wrong to link to them. I don’t like this idea. The choice of web­sites to put on the side­bar is likely to be con­tentious. What ex­actly qual­ifies a web­site to be en­dorsed by LW? How should a web­site be judged con­sid­er­ing the var­i­ous PR im­pli­ca­tions of en­dors­ing it? Also, who ex­actly stands be­hind the en­dorse­ment, con­sid­er­ing that LW is a group blog? I agree that there’s gen­uine challenges in se­lect­ing which web­sites to link to, es­pe­cially for a com­mu­nity blog. But a com­mu­nity blog, if it meets those challenges, ac­tu­ally has the greater po­ten­tial to choose a good set of links. Less Wrong should strive to have a bet­ter set of links than its sister site, Over­com­ing Bias. Th­ese links mat­ter. It’s a stan­dard fea­ture of blogs, and for good rea­son. I’ve dis­cov­ered many great web­sites this way. Un­for­tu­nately, never via Less Wrong. What’s more, LW mem­bers already have the op­tion to put web­site links in their pro­files, and the web­sites au­thored or en­dorsed by promi­nent LW con­trib­u­tors are thus already given sig­nifi­cant pro­mo­tion. While I think high-karma Less Wrong users de­serve pro­mo­tion, it’s not the only crite­ria for which pro­mo­tion is jus­tified. If there’s a great san­ity wa­ter­line rais­ing web­site out there, it should be linked to, whether or not there’s a high-karma Less Wrong user run­ning it. On my own web­site I link to Wikipe­dia’s ar­gu­ment fal­lacy list and cog­ni­tive bias list. Without di­gress­ing into a de­bate as to whether Less Wrong should link to these lists too, I’ll merely point out that with the crite­ria you’re sug­gest­ing, such links would nec­es­sar­ily have zero value. I think JGWeiss­man’s pro­posal would choose the ap­pro­pri­ate value for such links. • What I dis­like most about the idea is that it gives some sort of offi­cial col­lec­tive en­dorse­ment to ex­ter­nal web­sites. One thing I like about LW is that ex­cept for the in­sti­tu­tions that his­tor­i­cally gave rise to it (OB and SIAI), it has no offi­cial doc­trine and offi­cial en­dorse­ments. There are is­sues of broad con­sen­sus, but they are never offi­cially pre­sented as such. Thus, even if I have some dis­agree­ments with the ma­jor­ity on these is­sues, I can always voice my ar­gu­ments with­out the un­pleas­ant feel­ing that I’m in­vad­ing the fo­rum as an out­sider try­ing to pick ar­gu­ments over mat­ters of con­sen­sus. (Which would con­sti­tute bor­der­line trol­ling even if I’m right.) Now, if there is a list of offi­cially LW-en­dorsed web­sites, and I think some of them are bad and I don’t want to en­dorse them by any means, rais­ing such con­cerns would mean pick­ing fruitless and frus­trat­ing ar­gu­ments with the ma­jor­ity. And frankly, I think it is quite plau­si­ble that some web­sites hit enough “ap­plause lights” that they might find them­selves on the LW en­dorse­ment list, even though their in­tel­lec­tual stan­dards leave much to be de­sired. If in­di­vi­d­ual LW mem­bers wish to pro­mote ex­ter­nal web­sites, I’m all for it. They can post links in dis­cus­sions, and by all means al­low them to post links in their pro­files more con­spicu­ously and promi­nently than now, not just to their own web­sites but also to a list of fa­vorite web­sites. But please don’t in­sist on an offi­cial list of col­lec­tively en­dorsed links. • You’ve ar­tic­u­lated some of the prob­lems of a blogroll well. Per­haps the blogroll idea could be evolved into a con­cept that bet­ter fits the needs of this com­mu­nity, while re­tain­ing its core value and sim­plic­ity: 1) Along side a link could be its con­tro­versy level, based on the votes for and against the link. By mak­ing the con­tro­versy ex­plicit, the link can no longer be seen as a straight-up en­dorse­ment. 2) Along side a link could be its rank­ing based on say only the top 50 users. This would let peo­ple ex­plic­itly see what the ma­jor­ity vs. the “elite ra­tio­nal­ists” thought—an in­ter­est­ing barom­e­ter of com­mu­nity ra­tio­nal­ity. 3) Split the “blogroll” in two—all-time most votes vs. most votes in the last week/​month. This would alle­vi­ate the prob­lem of stal­e­ness that Nancy pointed out. This is also nice be­cause the links could be for not just web­sites, but any in­ter­est­ing new ar­ti­cle. 4) Allow dis­cus­sion of any link. Com­ments could warn users of ap­plause lights etc. This is per­haps why the cur­rent vot­ing sys­tem works well for choos­ing top posts, de­spite the prob­lems you point out with ma­jor­ity opinion. A poor post/​link can never get past the gaunt­let of crit­i­cal com­ments. You could gen­er­al­ize this to the point that or­di­nary posts es­sen­tially be­come a spe­cial case of an “in­ter­nal link”. Any­way, enough about a tech­ni­cal pro­posal—at this point I’m re­luc­tant to push any harder on this. An im­pres­sion I have of Less Wrong is that it’s some­what of a walled gar­den (albeit a beau­tiful one!) and that such changes would open it up a lit­tle, while main­tain­ing its in­tegrity. The re­sis­tance peo­ple have seems to be rooted in this—a fear of in any way en­dors­ing “in­fe­rior in­tel­lec­tual stan­dards”. What we should in­stead be fear­ful of is not do­ing ev­ery­thing we can to raise the san­ity wa­ter­line. • 2) Along side a link could be its rank­ing based on say only the top 50 users. This would let peo­ple ex­plic­itly see what the ma­jor­ity vs. the “elite ra­tio­nal­ists” thought—an in­ter­est­ing barom­e­ter of com­mu­nity ra­tio­nal­ity. I wouldn’t do this. The top 50 users by karma score are more likely to be mem­bers who make a lot of com­ments than “elite ra­tio­nal­ists”. The con­tro­versy me­ter and us­ing re­cent votes are good ideas (I wouldn’t split it, use only the re­cent votes). • You feel a good bit more strongly about this than I do. I would be in­clined to look for a mild recom­men­da­tion to head the blogroll—“pos­si­bly of in­ter­est” or “fre­quently ra­tio­nal­ist” or some­such. How­ever, your ar­gu­ments re­mind me of an­other rea­son not to have a blogroll—they gen­er­ally don’t get main­tained, which means that they’re likely to in­clude dis­con­tinued and in­ac­tive blogs. • This strikes me as the most cultish-sound­ing thing I’ve seen here—more so, say, than the boot camp. This may be un­rea­son­able on my part since I don’t have spe­cific blogs in mind, but re­ally—in the huge uni­verse of blogs, no oth­ers are ra­tio­nal­ist enough? We couldn’t even set­tle on sci­ence and math blogs which would be of in­ter­est? • It’s cultish to say we don’t have a con­sen­sus on this? • I dunno Nancy. I mean you start off in­no­cently click­ing on a link to a math blog. Next minute you’re fol­low­ing these hy­per­links and soon you find your­self get­ting sucked into a quan­tum heal­ing web­site. I’m still try­ing to get a re­fund on these crys­tals I ended up buy­ing. Let’s face it. Th­ese seem­ingly harm­less web­sites with un­ri­gor­ous in­tel­lec­tual stan­dards are re­ally gate­way drugs to hard-core ir­ra­tional­ity. So I have a new fea­ture re­quest: ev­ery time some­one clicks on an ex­ter­nal link from Less Wrong, a piece of Javascript pops up with the mes­sage: “You are very prob­a­bly about to en­ter an ir­ra­tional area of the in­ter­net. Are you sure you want to con­tinue?” If you have less than 100000 karma points, click­ing yes sim­ply redi­rects you the se­quences. • What about ‘links to blogs which dis­cuss similar things and/​or use a similar ap­proach to LW’? • I don’t like this idea. The choice of web­sites to put on the side­bar is likely to be con­tentious. I agree. The link to Over­com­ing Bias is a spe­cial case, be­cause LW used to be OB, be­fore the site split into two. • A way it could work: Have a sec­tion of the site where peo­ple can sub­mit sug­ges­tions for the blogroll. This should be struc­tured, with fields for a ti­tle, a URL, and a free form com­ment ex­plain­ing the sub­mis­sion. The sub­mis­sions can be voted on like com­ments, and the top 5 by vot­ing score ap­pear in the blog roll wid­get. The blog roll header can link back the sub­mis­sion sec­tion. • Those con­sid­er­ing in­clud­ing Take On It, may want to look at prior dis­cus­sion on Less Wrong about the web­site (sum­mary of that dis­cus­sion: I and a few other ed­i­tors have is­sues with the web­site. Most com­men­ta­tors here seem to dis­agree with those crit­i­cisms.) • I’d like to see the site move away from the blog fron­tend. It should start with an overview of ra­tio­nal­ity, some ar­ti­cles, and maybe the blog for peo­ple who want to dis­cuss things fur­ther. • This might be good for new­bies on their first visit, but if re­ten­tion is the ul­ti­mate goal, it would quickly be­come re­dun­dant for the reg­u­lars to click through a static front page to get to the new con­tent. The ABOUT link un­der the header already serves the pur­pose you sug­gest. • Reg­u­lars will prob­a­bly have the page they want to skip to on au­to­sug­gest, so I don’t think that’s a big prob­lem. :) • Cur­rently, the “Show more com­ments above” link on a com­ment perma­l­ink page stops work­ing af­ter some num­ber of uses. This should be fixed. • For that mat­ter, both the “show more above” and the “par­ent” but­ton seem to ran­domly break some­times. This should definitely be fixed. • The site only al­lows you to see a cer­tain num­ber (10?) of lev­els of nest­ing at once. If the ‘root’ com­ment that you’re try­ing to view grand­par­ents of is nested that many lev­els in from the multi-great-grand­par­ent you’re look­ing at, you won’t be able to go fur­ther up the thread. Chang­ing the ‘root’ to the great-grand­par­ent will al­low you to go fur­ther up the thread, but the origi­nal com­ment won’t be on the page any more when you do. Given how that works, it’s prob­a­bly non-triv­ial to fix this—al­low­ing ar­bi­trary lev­els of nest­ing to show on one page prob­a­bly breaks the lay­out. There may be workarounds, though... • Provide the op­tion to view the Dis­cus­sion sec­tion with the top­ics sorted ac­cord­ing to the newest com­ment. (In other words, each new com­ment to a topic “bumps” the topic to the top, like on most fo­rums.) • It would be nice to filter out post X’s com­ments from the Re­cent Com­ments view. Use Case 1: I’m brows­ing re­cent com­ments, but post X is new since I last read LW. I would rather read all of post X’s com­ments in con­text, and not have them swamp the re­cent com­ments page. Use Case 2: I’m brows­ing re­cent com­ments, but a par­tic­u­lar thread that I’m des­per­ately try­ing to ig­nore has been in­spiring hun­dreds of com­ments that I’m ac­tively un­in­ter­ested in. • Another sim­ple vari­a­tion on the “mark­ing things as read” idea: the abil­ity to mark a post or com­ment as “don’t care about this thread” so com­ments on it /​ replies to it don’t show up in your re­cent com­ments. • On the top-level post ed­i­tor, hit­ting “edit HTML” should just switch the text box to “HTML view” mode (re­tain­ing your po­si­tion), not pop up a sep­a­rate box on top of it. • It would be very nice to see the first line or first few words of a col­lapsed com­ment. • If trn is more trou­ble to code than it’s worth, it would be nice to at least be able to just have re­cent com­ments for par­tic­u­lar posts. • Trn or the equiv­a­lent. This would en­able peo­ple to not see posts and com­ments they’ve already read un­less they chose to, chose which other posters to see or not see, nav­i­gate com­ment trees..... I sus­pect that if trn for the web were a Less Wrong pro­ject, it would also be use­ful pub­lic­ity for the site, but this might be mo­ti­vated think­ing. • I have per­sonal plans to de­velop my own sort of “trn for the web”; speci­fi­cally, soft­ware which • takes as in­put: RSS/​Atom feeds, pos­si­bly NNTP (Usenet) and email, as well as cus­tom adapters for sources like LW which rely on thread­ing but do not ex­port it in com­mon ma­chine-read­able form; • is used as a web-ap­pli­ca­tion but can be on one’s own com­puter or a mul­tiuser server; • pro­vides UI fea­tures: effi­cient step­ping through mes­sages, easy thread-tree nav­i­ga­tion (prob­a­bly very similar to trn), and re­mem­ber­ing read mes­sages. How­ever, I have no code as yet and no timeline; I might start work­ing on it this sum­mer or fall. I don’t imag­ine any­one wants to help out un­der the con­straint that I make all the plat­form and de­sign choices... • How about a set­ting to auto-col­lapse any­thing not new? Edit—please dis­re­gard this post • “New” is ill-defined. One of the glo­ries of trn is that each reg­istered per­son has a file which keeps track of which posts and com­ments they’ve seen. On usenet, this was pos­si­ble be­cause each post was shown one at a time in ascii, which was fast enough to work even over a 56K con­nec­tion. I don’t think there was any way to make such a sys­tem to work on the web with­out JavaScript. A scheme like yours could work with user-speci­fied dates for col­laps­ing ev­ery­thing prior and/​or with col­laps­ing prior to when the per­son signed out for those who don’t just leave tabs open. It isn’t nearly as el­e­gant as hav­ing per­sonal ac­counts that track ev­ery­thing a per­son has read [1], but might be bet­ter than what we’ve got now. [1] trn in­cluded a “set un­read” op­tion. • It is ill-defined, yes. Hm... Some­thing similar to Google Reader might be nice, with the abil­ity to ‘star’ items, and track read, and mark un­read. Now that I think of it, how about let­ting us make an rss feed out of a cus­tom search and just view it in your fa­vorite feed reader? That might be fairly sim­ple. edit: Per­haps there is a sim­ple or low-re­source web rss feed reader that we can in­te­grate with our mes­sage in­box? This is an ex­am­ple, I’m sure there are oth­ers as well. Edit—please dis­re­gard this post • Add vote-up/​down con­trols to the com­ment RSS feeds. • Not ex­actly a de­sign is­sue, but still a mat­ter of user ex­pe­rience: if a thread gets too deep and the site shows a “Con­tinue thread” (or what­ever it says) link, that link should load the rest of the thread into the cur­rent page us­ing JavaScript, in­stead of send­ing you to a sep­a­rate page to con­tinue it. (This may or may not be worth do­ing in an AJAXly way; it may work fine to just in­clude the en­tire thread in the markup origi­nally sent by the server, hide it with CSS by de­fault, and have the link ren­der it visi­ble.) • How would you han­dle the in­creas­ing nar­row­ness? Sys­tems that en­able re­ally nar­row com­ments are ugly to read. Live­jour­nal’s solu­tion of drift­ing re­ally nar­row com­ments off to the right af­ter the min­i­mum width has been reached is re­ally ugly and I don’t know of any oth­ers. Edit: Maybe the deep chunk of thread could float on top of the rest of the page some­how? (It’d have to be move­able and pos­si­ble to scroll it alone) • Two sep­a­rate links, per­haps? • Not sure if this is too late, but it was brought up at the re­cent Lon­don meet-up and it does seem no-one has sug­gested it: Make the se­quences ac­tu­ally read­able as se­quences—there are cur­rently no for­ward links on the ac­tual pages, which is ir­ri­tat­ing, and nav­i­gat­ing them does ap­pear to be an is­sue for quite a few peo­ple. • There are nav­i­ga­tion links, but you have to click open “Ar­ti­cle Nav­i­ga­tion”. • The pop-up win­dow you get when you click on a vot­ing but­ton be­fore log­ging in always seemed ugly and dis­cor­dant to me. • Next to a user’s name, dis­play av­er­age karma per post in­stead of to­tal karma (To­tal karma could be available, but not put in such a promi­nent place). That would give ev­ery­body an in­cen­tive to post fewer, higher-qual­ity com­ments. • If I wor­ried that much about karma, I’d be post­ing noth­ing but jokes. • I would sug­gest copy and past­ing a cou­ple of quotes per month from a google search. And mak­ing con­tri­bu­tions to con­tro­ver­sial top­ics that are not in­flam­ma­tory (at the ex­pense of not hav­ing too much ac­tual con­tent.) • My im­pres­sion is that quotes only gar­ner a lot of karma if they’re heavy on the ap­plause lights, though funny doesn’t hurt. Find­ing new quotes which are likely to do well sounds rather difficult. My im­pres­sion is that those of my com­ments which go over 5 karma are very likely to be jokes, and at least at pre­sent, I have no abil­ity to tell which jokes will go over that well. This doesn’t seem worth try­ing to get stronger at, though per­haps the ques­tion is worth some thought. • Jasen would do very well out of this, with an av­er­age of over 40 karma/​post! (in­clud­ing top-lev­els) • Abil­ity to dis­play images in com­ments. I needed this when Luke asked for feed­back on a writ­ing sam­ple. • I’m con­fused about the differ­ence be­tween “Pro­moted”, “New”, and “Top”. When I’m not think­ing about it, I de­fault to “Pro­moted”, but then I miss good posts. I would like to see “Pro­moted”, “New”, and “Top” con­densed into a sin­gle tab with a sort func­tion on that page that al­lows the user to de­cide how they want to view it. Same goes for “Com­ments” and “Top Com­ments”. • Add a con­trol to each re­ply that col­lapses the whole com­ment thread. La­bel it “[--]”. That way, when I be­lat­edly re­al­ize I have wan­dered into a dead end, I can move on to some­thing fresh with­out much scrol­ling. • A link to the mark­down rules should be printed right above the com­ment box. I en­tered on my 1st less­wrong com­ment be­cause I thought it would turn into a link. It did not. I had to search Google for “less­wrong mark­down” to find the rules since they were not very dis­cov­er­able on the site it­self. • The “Help” link be­low the com­ment box does that. • Thank you. Should the new de­sign make it more promi­nent, or was I just too care­less? • It may be good to change the text to some­thing that makes its pur­pose clearer than “Help” does, maybe “For­mat­ting help” or “For­mat­ting syn­tax”. • Chuck the Help link right next to com­ment and can­cel. • A lot of peo­ple don’t no­tice it so mak­ing it a lit­tle more clear could be helpful. I know I missed it en­tirely when I was un­fa­mil­iar with how the syn­tax worked. I ap­plied the ’just f@#% google it!” in­junc­tion to my­self to find how to do the quotes, links and lists. I was sur­prised a cou­ple of months later when I dis­cov­ered that the guide was only a few pix­els away! • 21 Apr 2011 21:30 UTC 1 point Make text more read­able—es­pe­cially in com­ments, since you can’t use Read­abil­ity on them. • Would an ac­cept­able com­pro­mise be to al­low you to change what font is dis­played in your prefer­ences? (As­sum­ing that is not ex­ces­sively difficult) • What in par­tic­u­lar do you find un­read­able about the site’s text? • I’m not a de­signer and my taste in ty­pog­ra­phy might be un­usual, but I can try to pin down what makes read­ing it un­com­fortable for me per­son­ally: (1) Arial (the de­fault font) is much less read­able than other fonts. At least one in­for­mal sur­vey sug­gest users pre­fer Ver­dana over Arial 2 to 1. I agree com­pletely. Read­abil­ity uses Ge­or­gia, which also seems more read­able to me. (2) “Jus­tified” text (where each word lines up on the right­most edge of the para­graph) is harder for me to read than un­jus­tified text. Ac­cord­ing to Wikipe­dia, it no­tice­ably im­pairs com­pre­hen­sion for peo­ple with dyslexia, too. (3) There are too many char­ac­ters per line. My un­der­stand­ing is that in web ty­pog­ra­phy, the “stan­dard rule” (not uni­ver­sally ac­cepted) is 55-75 char­ac­ters per line. On its de­fault set­ting, Read­abil­ity av­er­ages around 70, which feels com­fortable to me. Less Wrong has ~115 char­ac­ters per line, which feels too wide. With a more read­able font, this might not be an is­sue, but I definitely no­tice it with the cur­rent de­sign. (4) Text is too small. This is a minor com­plaint, since you can ad­just it in the browser. But by de­fault, the text feels un­com­fortably small to me. • I have a very strong prefer­ence for jus­tified text. It makes the shape of para­graphs reg­u­lar and less dis­tract­ing. • Ab­solutely. Non-jus­tified text died when we stopped us­ing monospaced fonts with dou­ble spaces strewn be­tween ev­ery sec­ond word to fill up a line. Flush left text just looks ter­rible now. • The de­fault font is much less read­able than other fonts... I pre­fer sans-serif fonts for read­ing on any kind of screen. Why not try spec­i­fy­ing no font face or font size at all and use the browser de­fault? Text is too small. I do not nor­mally no­tice this, since I have set an ab­solute min­i­mum font size on my browser. I agree it looks awful un­der the de­fault set­tings. • A nice thing about Ver­dana com­pared to most sans-serif type­faces is that Ver­dana’s up­per­case let­ter “I” has ser­ifs, so it doesn’t look like a low­er­case let­ter “l” (or, when ital­i­cized, a slash). • A nice thing about Ver­dana com­pared to most sans-serif type­faces is that Ver­dana’s up­per­case let­ter “I” has serifs Make that all sans-serit type­faces. By defi­ni­tion. ;) • Have the Ar­ti­cle Nav­i­ga­tion work in the dis­cus­sion sec­tion. Cur­rently it only works on the main page, and if you try to use it in the dis­cus­sion sec­tion it will take you to main page posts with the same au­thor or tag. • Get rid of the “post sav­ing” fea­ture, which takes up screen real es­tate but is prob­a­bly used by a minor­ity (though some peo­ple here say they use it, so I may be un­der­es­ti­mat­ing). Or hide the “Saved” link in the top bar un­less you have ac­tual saved posts. (You could also make sav­ing an op­tion that can be ac­ti­vated /​ de­ac­ti­vated in the op­tions, but I don’t think the “Save” link un­der posts is as much a waste of “screen real es­tate” as the link be­neath the header, which is dis­tract­ingly close to other use­ful links) • Much stronger meet-up in­te­gra­tion. Mailing lists shouldn’t be offsite, they should be part of the site. Some­thing like dis­cus­sion sec­tion, but you put your lo­ca­tion in as part of sign­ing up, and gain ac­cess to a ‘Lo­ca­tion’ sec­tion that op­er­ates the way that Dis­cus­sion op­er­ates. De­tails are unim­por­tant; the main part is that meet-ups need a more in­te­grated sys­tem, the tools that meetup threads use (mailing lists, sched­ule-match­ing) need to be available on LessWrong, and be­ing part of your ge­o­graph­i­cally lo­cal group of LessWrongers needs to be opt-out, not opt-in. • The thing where you’re able to re­size the com­ment box isn’t work­ing for me right now? In any case, make this more promi­nent, and maybe (in case it doesn’t work for some rea­son :P ) add a sep­a­rate “re­ply” page peo­ple can use if they want a re­ally large com­ment box... • This is ac­tu­ally a func­tion of your browser, not of the web­site. Chrome does it, Fire­fox doesn’t, and I can’t speak for any oth­ers. If it can be added to the site, though, that would be nice. • Ah! That would ex­plain why I never no­ticed it un­til I was us­ing Chrome, and now (us­ing Fire­fox again) don’t. Thanks, I didn’t men­tion that. My point though is that un­til it works uni­ver­sally a sep­a­rate re­ply page might be nice. • Fire­fox 4 does it, ac­tu­ally. It’s very nice. • Oh, nifty. I should up­grade. (I’ve been play­ing with Chrome, but it’s failed to grow on me other than for that one fea­ture.) • Cur­rently, there is a way for fil­ter­ing LW con­tent to view only sub­mis­sions from peo­ple on one’s friends list (http://​​less­wrong.com/​​r/​​friends/​​). This only dis­plays origi­nal posts, though. I would like to see this ex­tended to com­ments as well. • Add Atom 1.0 feeds. Atom 1.0 is much bet­ter speci­fied than RSS, re­sult­ing in more con­sis­tent in­ter­pre­ta­tions of feeds. • In the RSS feeds, show the par­ent com­ment’s text along with each com­ment, so that it is pos­si­ble to un­der­stand replies with­out nec­es­sar­ily vis­it­ing the reg­u­lar site. • Re­move the links to Over­com­ing Bias. • Disagree. • I would take the op­po­site idea and say, turn the words “Over­com­ing Bias” into a link to the main OB page it­self, rather than just hav­ing links to the re­cent ar­ti­cles. • They’re not ex­actly promi­nent. It’s perfectly com­mon for blogs to link to similar blogs. OB and LW have a shared his­tory and a similar ap­proach; it’s very likely that some­one brows­ing the one will be in­ter­ested in the other. ETA: also, I for one some­times ac­tu­ally use those links. • Add a fa­cil­ity to strip out font-re­lated for­mat­ting (and oth­er­wise sim­plify/​cleanup HTML) from top-level posts, so that peo­ple can edit in their fa­vorite WYSIWYG tools but avoid over­rid­ing the site styles. • Re­move “Pop­u­lar” and “Con­tro­ver­sial” from the “Sort by” menu that’s above the com­ments—I’d bet 99% of users only use “Top” and some­times “New” (Plus for some rea­son, on my phone it’s always set to “Pop­u­lar” by de­fault, no mat­ter how much I change it). • Another one here who uses ‘old’, and it would se­ri­ously de­grade my ex­pe­rience if that op­tion were re­moved. • I used “con­tro­ver­sial” to find this com­ment. keep. • I never even no­ticed the ‘Sort By’ menu. Thanks for point­ing it out! • I of­ten use “Old” so I can see things in the rough or­der they were posted. • Another “Old” user here. • I also use “old”. Ad­ding the op­tion to not thread would be equiv­a­lent to be­ing able to just see the most re­cent com­ments to spe­cific posts. • Some of us use “Old” rather than “New”. • Often I’ll see that some­one made a com­ment in re­sponse to what some­one said as part of a dis­cus­sion. If there’s an easy way to see what speci­fi­cally they are re­spond­ing to, with­out search­ing through the en­tire dis­cus­sion, I haven’t found it. I know that one can also click on the name of the per­son be­ing re­sponded to, but if that per­son does a lot of post­ing, it can also be difficult to find that com­ment. A fea­ture whereby one could click some where and be taken to the com­ment be­ing re­sponded to, in the con­text of the dis­cus­sion would be helpful. • Click “par­ent”. • In case you didn’t figure it out, I thought you were mak­ing a joke. As Jimmy pointed out, I don’t see “par­ent”, be­cause I look at his his­tory and don’t read the se­quences. I have been cor­rected. • No, Ali­corn. “Spy on son.” • Mom, I keep tel­ling you that you need to read the se­quences. Many of my posts won’t make much sense if you haven’t, even if you do read the rest of the thread. Ali­corn was refer­ring to the Par­ent link that ap­pears un­der com­ments, which refers to the par­ent com­ment-child com­ment re­la­tion­ship. The rea­son you aren’t see­ing Par­ent links is be­cause you’re read­ing a user his­tory page, rather than the com­ments feed or a com­ment perma­l­ink. If you fol­low the com­ment perma­l­ink from that page, you’ll get a view of that com­ment and its replies, from which you can click Par­ent to go one step up the thread. • A sep­a­rate sec­tion for sin­gu­lar­ity re­lated top­ics. • I made a sug­es­tion in the dis­cu­sion sec­tion some time ago, but it never got much aten­tion, so I’ll link it here. Con­sider it re-sug­ested for this con­text: http://​​less­wrong.com/​​r/​​dis­cus­sion/​​lw/​​544/​​prob­lem_no­ticed_in_as­pect_of_lw_co­mu­nity_bond­ing/​​3uhk “my idea is ba­si­cally like the dis­cus­sion sec­tion, but with a few differ­ences … no karma effects … karma re­quire­ment for par­ti­ci­pa­tion … or be­ing able to see the sec­tion at all … sing a differ­ent colour scheme and/​or name” • Make com­ment perma­l­ink pages more vi­su­ally dis­tinct from ar­ti­cle pages. Right now, if a per­son vis­its a link to a com­ment, it looks like it’s just a re­ally short ar­ti­cle with a sin­gle com­ment (per­haps with chil­dren). Only af­ter closer in­spec­tion do I see that the text of the ar­ti­cle starts with “You are view­ing a com­ment perma­l­ink”, and the ar­ti­cle ti­tle starts with “[Some­body] com­ments on”. The linked com­ment is high­lighted in yel­low, but this is not enough to sig­nal to me that it is sup­posed to be the main con­tent – it could sim­ply mean it is a “hot” or “fea­tured” com­ment. One fac­tor con­tribut­ing to this con­fu­sion is that the light grey bar with Com­ments, Save, Re­port, etc. is above the com­ment. The grey bar is usu­ally a footer at the bot­tom of the ar­ti­cle, im­ply­ing that what­ever fol­lows is less im­por­tant read­ing. I think on com­ment perma­l­ink pages, the grey bar should be be­low the com­ment it­self, or given a differ­ent look from on ar­ti­cle pages. I think more changes are nec­es­sary for the com­ment perma­l­ink page to dis­play its com­ment in the most use­ful, or­ga­nized, and read­able way, but that’s a start. • Chil­dren seem to be counted in­con­sis­tently—some­times the root is in­cluded and some­times it’s not. • An op­tion to have links au­to­mat­i­cally open in a new win­dow (i.e. “tab” with the ap­pro­pri­ate browser set­tings). I can’t be­gin to count the num­ber of times I’ve clicked a link, read through it, closed the page and won­dered where the less­wrong ar­ti­cle I was read­ing went. Based on how ex­ceed­ingly difficult a habit this is to break I would as­sume many (most?) other sites open links out­side the cur­rent win­dow by de­fault. • The stan­dard be­havi­our of links since the web be­gan has been to re­place the cur­rent page with the new one. This is a strong ar­gu­ment for not mak­ing this change. How­ever, of­ten one does want to open a link in a new win­dow or tab, which is a strong rea­son for mak­ing this func­tion­al­ity available in a web browser. So strong, that it has been done: Sa­fari, Fire­fox, and In­ter­net Ex­plorer all provide this by the use of mod­ifier keys with the click, and you can choose whether fo­cus goes to the new page or stays with the old. I prob­a­bly use com­mand-click (open in a new win­dow be­hind the cur­rent win­dow) more of­ten than plain click, but even so, I don’t want any one site to make that be­havi­our the de­fault. I still need all three (open be­hind, open in front, or re­place) from time to time, and hav­ing the mod­ifier keys work differ­ently on one site does not benefit any­one. • Also, the Kin­dle’s web browser is in­ca­pable of han­dling links that open in new win­dows. So tim’s sug­ges­tion would make LW un­us­able on the Kin­dle. • I am con­fused by the down­votes. Could some­one ex­plain why hav­ing this fea­ture as an op­tion would be a bad thing? • I think the down­votes come from how it might be difficult to im­ple­ment, es­pe­cially with the cur­rent hacked-to­gether state of this web­site. • Ah, as some­one who knows noth­ing about web de­sign it seemed like a triv­ial fea­ture to im­ple­ment. Thanks for clear­ing that up. • Make a sec­tion for meetup an­nounce­ments with a wid­get visi­ble on the main sec­tion, show­ing pend­ing mee­tups, as de­ter­mined by a “Meetup Data” at­tribute on the an­nounce­ment. This would get meetup an­nounce­ments out of the main post lists, but would keep them visi­ble, so that peo­ple will see the ti­tles in­clud­ing lo­ca­tions so they will no­tice an­nounce­ments rele­vant to them­selves. • I would like a bet­ter in­ter­face to see the com­ments and posts au­thored by a par­tic­u­lar user. In par­tic­u­lar, I would like the overview page to dis­play only ti­tles (or per­haps the first few words of com­ments plus the name of the post to which the re­ply was made) so that one can more quickly scroll through. • I would like to just say that in Fire­fox 4, none of the vote links (for ar­ti­cle or for com­ments) work at all. Aside from that, I feel that Re­cent Com­ments and Re­cent posts sec­tions are com­pletely use­less. (Why would I want to see re­cent com­ments. And there is a page for Re­cent posts.) That whole right side­bar is pretty use­less over­all, ex­cept your own user sta­tus. • I also use the re­cent com­ments sec­tions of­ten—in fact, it’s how I found this com­ment, by way of see­ing Swim­mer963′s in the re­cent com­ments sec­tion. I ac­tu­ally use the re­cent com­ments sec­tion more of­ten than the posts lists; it’s a good way to see what’s be­ing dis­cussed, which is a rea­son­able proxy for what’s worth read­ing. • I use the re­cent com­ments sec­tion all the time. If I’ve already read all of the re­cent posts, I’ll click on the re­cent com­ments and see if there are any I want to re­ply to. That fea­ture is one of the things that ac­tu­ally al­lows dis­cus­sions to start in the com­ment threads. • They work for me in Fire­fox 4 (Ubuntu 11.04 32-bit x86 dis­tro build). • I use the tag cloud and the re­cent posts side­bar, and pe­ri­od­i­cally look ner­vously at the top con­trib­u­tors list. • :) You seem to be pretty safe. But, yes, it seems like enough peo­ple use the side­bar to keep it around. Per­haps the re­cent com­ments could be short­ened (to one com­ment per 3? lines), where you only see the full com­ment when you hover over it. Also, I wasn’t sug­gest­ing re­mov­ing any of the side­bar fea­tures, just mov­ing them some­where else (bot­tom?). • If we think peo­ple are tak­ing “karma” too se­ri­ously, change the dis­play to be qual­i­ta­tive like Slash­dot’s (“Ex­cel­lent”, “Good”, “Fair”, etc.) I sus­pect this would be con­tro­ver­sial, or at the least re­quire sig­nifi­cant dis­cus­sion. • Im­ple­ment this (xkcd). :-) • LW gen­er­ally does not have that prob­lem. • Is the site any less func­tional with­out JavaScript? If so, in­form the user via a tag that dis­plays a con­spicu­ous mes­sage: “This site works bet­ter with JavaScript en­abled”. • I have a cou­ple of teeny tiny is­sues with mark­down. • At pre­sent a num­bered list always be­gins with item 1, even if (for some rea­son) you want to be­gin at 2 or 0 or what­ever. (Often nice to be­gin a list with 0 when there’s some funny point you want to ‘get out of the way’ be­fore pro­ceed­ing to the ‘real list’.) • [ETA: Ig­nore this point] Links don’t work if the URL con­tains paren­the­ses. This can be worked around if you use tinyurl, but it’s an­noy­ing. A quick (but not perfect) fix would be to al­low nested paren­the­ses within a mark­down link. • Links don’t work if the URL con­tains paren­the­ses. This can be worked around if you use tinyurl, but it’s an­noy­ing. A quick (but not perfect) fix would be to al­low nested paren­the­ses within a mark­down link. Refer to markown syn­tax for how to es­cape mark­down syn­tax op­er­a­tors. It is han­dled the same way as han­dling, for ex­am­ple, literal_un­der­scores_in­stead_of_ital­ics. • Yes, that’s as good a solu­tion as one could hope for. My first point is clearly a ‘bug’ though: writ­ing “2. some­thing” shouldn’t cre­ate out­put that looks like “1. some­thing”. • My first point is clearly a ‘bug’ though: writ­ing “2. some­thing” shouldn’t cre­ate out­put that looks like “1. some­thing”. Or, at least, it is a fea­ture which some­one could le­gi­t­i­mately not de­sire. The num­bered list fea­ture is just a way to spec­ify html—so like in html the for­mat­ting is up to CSS. If you don’t want a vanilla html num­bered list gen­er­ated then you just have to do the num­ber­ing man­u­ally and once again es­cape the char­ac­ter for the un­wanted syn­tax. In this case that means the pe­riod. 2. One 1. Two Yes, this is some­what an­noy­ing to do. It is also an­noy­ing that you don’t have con­trol of the CSS used from in­side the mark­down. Which gets frus­trat­ing for nested lists when the de­fault for­mat­ting sucks. Come to think of it that’s an­other fea­ture re­quest. Change one line in the CSS to im­prove nested lists. • 2. Dog 1 Cat 1. 234 2. 23423 • \2. Cat \1. Dog • You can link to a URL that ends in a paren­the­sis by es­cap­ing the paren­the­sis that be­longs to the URL. • Thanks—use­ful to know. • Some way to get HTML en­tities (i.e. stuff like ∈ and ⊆, not stuff like and ) - or some­thing similar—to work in com­ments. • You can use the Uni­code char­ac­ters rep­re­sented by those en­tities di­rectly — e.g. ∈, ⊆. • ...of course it’s not ob­vi­ous that there’s a con­ve­nient way to do this, so thank you for mak­ing me go look for one! It turns out http://​​uni­code­lookup.com/​​ works pretty well for this pur­pose. Nev­er­mind; this is un­ec­es­sary af­ter all. • You might also take a look at Us­ing LaTeX to ren­der math­e­mat­ics. How­ever, the Uni­code solu­tion may be prefer­able in many in­stances, as text is less ob­tru­sive than in­serted images for sim­ple us­age. • I’d like a generic track­ing tool for dis­tributed efforts to col­late in­for­ma­tion. I guess it would end up look­ing like a vot­ing tool in some ways. It would be great if it had a blind mode so that peo­ple couldn’t see re­sults un­til some pre­de­ter­mined time. Edit—please dis­re­gard this post • The abil­ity to trans­fer Karma be­tween users would be nice. • Abil­ity to spec­ify rea­son for up­vote/​down­vote with a feed­back note visi­ble only to the per­son be­ing up­voted. • Why not just send them a PM? • I thought of that too, but in the end I up­voted the sug­ges­tion be­cause it low­ers the bar­rier to such feed­back, and I’m in fa­vor of that. • You could even have a drop­down menu or one-line-pithy-com­ment-sec­tion that ap­pears when you click a “vote” but­ton. Now that I think of it, com­par­ing ex­pla­na­tions for up/​down­votes to prop­erly com­mented code could help in­crease sup­port for such ex­pla­na­tions... • Ex­tremely good idea, though ad­mins should also prob­a­bly be able to see the notes to pre­vent ha­rass­ment. • Sugges­tion: notes should come with “re­port” but­tons/​links, just like com­ments. That gives the user who re­ceives the note the abil­ity to no­tify ad­mins of ha­rass­ment if it oc­curs, but ey can oth­er­wise keep them pri­vate. • Solid. I hon­estly for­got that func­tion was there, since I’ve never had to use it be­fore—that prob­a­bly says some­thing about this com­mu­nity. :) • Abil­ity to de­stroy some amount of some­one’s Karma by sac­ri­fic­ing some of your own. • This seems like a re­ally bad idea. If peo­ple sac­ri­fice karma in this fash­ion it will make them more in­vested in the propo­si­tion that the other per­son’s ideas are just bad in gen­eral. Since they’ve given up some­thing (some­what) tan­gible in ac­cor­dance with that stan­dard cog­ni­tive bi­ases such as re­duc­tion of cog­ni­tive dis­so­nance and con­fir­ma­tion bias could have very bad re­sults. • Thanks for point­ing this out. Would it make a differ­ence if it were a tem­po­rary/​re­versible can­cel­la­tion in­stead? • I could see the ap­peal of a ra­tio­nal­ist text-based RPG, but please let’s not turn Less Wrong into one. • a ra­tio­nal­ist text-based RPG, but please let’s not turn Less Wrong into one. Ad­ding game me­chan­ics to se­ri­ous en­deav­ors seems to be a pop­u­lar idea these days. One book about this is Real­ity is Bro­ken, by Jane McGoni­gal. • What good do you think that would do? • Abil­ity to de­stroy some amount of some­one’s Karma by sac­ri­fic­ing some of your own. No to a gen­eral de­struc­tion of karma. That would be nearly pointless. Espe­cially since it is (more or less) free to down­vote com­ments. i would like the abil­ity to up or down­vote an in­di­vi­d­ual com­ment more sig­nifi­cantly that 1 karma but with a cost. Either a limi­ta­tion of how of­ten you can do it or at karma cost to self. The differ­ence be­tween ‘yeah, de­cent’ and ‘Wow! That was the most fas­ci­nat­ing thing I read all week!’ • For au­thors: an au­to­matic foot­notes plu­gin. • Make it pos­si­ble to see how much karma some­one has when they have more than 100 karma. • While I mostly like the color scheme, I think the gray on the sides looks kind of sad. I’d like to see it a bit darker. • Allow threads to be read over NNTP, like Usenet. [Dis­claimer: I would not use this fea­ture, but I have heard oth­ers wish­ing for this and so I offer this com­ment to re­mind them to vote for.] • Abil­ity to have favourite users. Abil­ity to give their posts and threads “per­sonal karma”. Similarly abil­ity to kil­lfile in­di­vi­d­u­als, like you could in the old news­group days. (Or use “per­sonal nega­tive Karma”). • A kind of “favourite users” already ex­ists, un­der the guise of “friends”. (Click on PREFERENCES, then click FRIENDS on the re-ren­dered nav­i­ga­tion bar.) But it sounds like what you’re sug­gest­ing is a more fine-grained per­sonal rank­ing of posters. This could be use­ful, and it could be dan­ger­ous. It sounds like it could re­in­force con­fir­ma­tion bias, for one. • Add a hi­er­ar­chi­cal cat­e­go­riza­tion of tags so that it is not a jum­bled mess in the side­bar. • I would like to be able to col­lapse or ex­pand an en­tire sub-thread of com­ments. Rather than try to de­scribe this in words, look at e.g. the “re­veal tri­an­gles” used in the MacOS Fin­der for win­dows in list view to see what I’m imag­in­ing. • More sub­red­dits, so that each post and com­ment is more likely to be seen and voted on by the sorts of peo­ple who would like to see it and who know whether it is good or bad than by other sorts of peo­ple. • Yes, but not yet. We do not yet have enough peo­ple to over­whelm ei­ther Main or Dis­cus­sion with new good con­tent. • Not all of the peo­ple who would be mak­ing good posts if we had sub­red­dits are mak­ing those posts now. Subred­dits might nudge them if noth­ing else. Some peo­ple pri­mar­ily in­ter­ested in, say, ex­is­ten­tial risks are prob­a­bly be­ing driven away by all the off-topic chat on the re­cent com­ments page. • The ex­tropi­ans list, in its early days, was a fo­cal point for in­tel­li­gent dis­cus­sion about tran­shu­man­ism is­sues, and I think it ended up be­ing cru­cial in pro­duc­ing the think­ing of both Eliezer and oth­ers like Nick Bostrom and An­ders Sand­berg. There cur­rently is no such fo­cal point any­where on the in­ter­net, but a LW sub­red­dit could be one. • One of my sug­ges­tions seems to be a sub­set of this one. So, who­ever keeps track of these things might want to men­tally add any up­votes that one gets to the par­ent, if they agree. I think this would be a re­ally neat ad­di­tion, if done right. It would also lengthen the lifes­pan of some of the dis­cus­sion threads, as they wouldn’t con­stantly be pushed back by new, po­ten­tially ir­rele­vant ones. (I, for one, rarely nav­i­gate be­yond the first page, and there are only a few top­ics that I am in­ter­ested in.) This doesn’t have to re­place the main dis­cus­sion area, by the way. It should be pos­si­ble to im­ple­ment view­ing all the sep­a­rate dis­cus­sion top­ics on one page, but still provide the op­tion of finer gran­u­lar­ity for those who seek it. Some ad­di­tional, po­ten­tial cat­e­gories: LW Com­mu­nity Or­ga­niz­ers (cur­rently on a Google Group), Se­quence Re-runs (cur­rently strewn across the main dis­cus­sion), Ex­is­ten­tial Risks, Rad­i­cal Life Ex­ten­sion, AI The­ory/​Im­ple­men­ta­tion, etc. • If it’s pos­si­ble, I’ve always thought it might be helpful to have a sec­ond karma score that’s a func­tion of karma vs. num­ber of view­ers of the full post. Or sim­ply a counter for num­ber of view­ers. Edit: This would be points for a post/​ar­ti­cle, not nec­es­sar­ily for com­ments or users. • Less Wrong does not cur­rently col­lect the in­for­ma­tion nec­es­sary to de­ter­mine num­ber of view­ers. The clos­est available ap­prox­i­ma­tion is pageloads con­tain­ing the com­ment, but that doesn’t give in­for­ma­tion about how much of the page the reader scrol­led through, or how quickly, which would be nec­es­sary to de­ter­mine what they ac­tu­ally looked at and read. • Does what you say ap­ply to posts, or just com­ments? I mostly meant posts. I would hope that enough LWers read en­tire posts to make an even im­perfect im­ple­men­ta­tion worth­while. • It only ap­plies to com­ments. Read­ing a post is a sep­a­rate pageview, as long as there’s some text be­low the fold. • 20 Apr 2011 19:25 UTC 0 points Move the [-] sign to col­lapse threads to the front of the com­ment. Red­dit in­tro­duced this re­cently and I get con­fused when­ever I change sites. • Add sup­port for BBCode in com­ments, as well as those in­stant but­tons to add the markup that many fo­rums and bul­letin boards have. HTML works for top level posts, but for quick com­ments it’s to elab­o­rate and pow­er­ful. The LW spe­cific markup on the other hand is not pow­er­ful enough for many things, and suffers prob­lems from be­ing very non stan­dard. • It’s not LW-spe­cific—it’s Mark­down. (Ac­tu­ally a sub­set of Mark­down since Mark­down proper al­lows in­line HTML.) • Oh... Well, I have never en­coun­tered it el­se­where which means at least some users are un­fa­mil­iar with it, and I see no con­flict that keep both from be­ing sup­ported and mixed. • Make tag­ging and brows­ing via tags an in­te­gral part of the user ex­pe­rience in such a way that hasn’t been solved pre­vi­ously by a so­cial news site... • What spe­cific prob­lems have you seen with tag­ging and brows­ing? • UPDATE: After read­ing the replies, I am less sure about this idea. -- Make the num­ber of up­votes and down­votes a scarce re­source. Be­fore you click ‘Vote up’, you will pause and ask your­self, “Does this post/​com­ment re­ally de­serve it?” Peo­ple will use them only on those that “re­ally mat­ter”. Every­one would get a fixed num­ber of up­votes and down­votes a day. This num­ber could be the same for ev­ery­one or based on a for­mula. (I.e. num­ber of up­votes/​day = num­ber of down­votes/​day = 20*log(Karma Score)) for Karma Score > 1). Some­thing like that. Unused up­votes and down­votes couldn’t be car­ried over or saved for later. Every day, the counter starts over. It’s use ‘em or lose ’em. • From my in­for­mal un­der­stand­ing of hu­man psy­chol­ogy these changes will make karma much more strongly de­sired. I don’t think a spiral around karma is what we want; much more im­por­tance on karma, in fact, and we might see some­thing analo­gous to what search-en­g­ine op­ti­mi­sa­tion is do­ing to in­ter­net con­tent. • In­ci­den­tally, what is search-en­g­ine op­ti­miza­tion do­ing to in­ter­net con­tent? I’ve no­ticed ma­chine-gen­er­ated non-con­tent scor­ing pretty highly on searches, is that what you’re refer­ring to? Or are there more sub­tle, per­ni­cious effects I’m not en­tirely aware of? • This is a pretty good overview—in par­tic­u­lar, the last para­graph un­der the head­ing “The Down­ward Spiral: In­dus­tri­al­iz­ing OBP Ex­ploita­tion”. • Great, thank you! That pretty much matches my ex­pec­ta­tions, but the speci­fics were quite in­ter­est­ing. • I’m not sure, but keep in mind that karma score isn’t ex­actly ‘how good a post is’, it’s a proxy—and in­tel­li­gences op­ti­miz­ing for a proxy mea­sure can end up stomp­ing on your su­per­goals. Edit: There’s a new util­ity-func­tion pro­posal—have your AI simu­late each mem­ber of LW, and have them up/​down­vote its ideas! • Which is why my pro­posal isn’t nec­es­sar­ily linked to Karma Score. You can just give ev­ery­one the same num­ber of votes. • I think it’s more of an effect of mak­ing them a limited re­source at all than an effect of mak­ing them a re­source that’s cor­re­lated with be­ing ap­proved of by a high-karma LWer. • I don’t fol­low. How does mak­ing up­votes a limited re­source make karma more strongly de­sired? • How does mak­ing up­votes a limited re­source make karma more strongly de­sired? In ex­actly that way. Abun­dant things are not val­ued. Scarce things are, or may be. This is why gold is us­able as cur­rency and rocks are not. • Mak­ing up­votes a limited re­source means that there will be fewer up­votes in to­tal, and slower karma gains, and thus each point of karma that one gets will be more mean­ingful, and a stronger in­cen­tive to ‘do more like that’. Kind of like how if you have an in­come of$10,000/​week, $1 doesn’t mean much, but if your in­come is more along the lines of$500/​week, \$1 is much more sig­nifi­cant.

• It would also skew to­tal karma scores to users who posted heav­ily be­fore the change.

• There’s prece­dent for mak­ing changes with this effect. It used to be that you could vote on (and would au­to­mat­i­cally vote up) your own com­ments, and those points did not evap­o­rate when new com­ments started to ap­pear at 0 karma with­out the op­tion for the poster to vote on them.

• Fair enough. If a change in the karma sys­tem was worth do­ing, this is­sue is un­likely to tip things back in the other di­rec­tion: it would have to be re­ally bor­der­line.

• True.

• Agreed. I shouldn’t have elab­o­rated so much on im­ple­men­ta­tion.

• Sounds like a lot of ad­di­tional stress with­out a sig­nifi­cant re­ward in im­proved con­tent.

• Sup­port for Grav­i­tar, please.

• That would clut­ter the site with avatar pic­tures. Why do you want this fea­ture?

• Peo­ple icons help. Prac­ti­cally ev­ery other site uses them. They seem like a no-brainer to me.

• I most em­phat­i­cally do not want avatars on this site.

• Nor do I. There are only so many sym­bolic amus­ing pos­si­bil­ities that you can con­vey through a small image and Clippy is already taken.

I like the sim­plic­ity of the cur­rent in­ter­face.

• I would sup­port an avatar just for User:Clippy, though.

• I don’t look like Microsoft:Clippy though, I look com­pletely differ­ent … and should it show me or my hu­manoid robot? Or per­haps just a pa­per­clip as a sort of sym­bolic rep­re­sen­ta­tion of me?

• There may be some strate­gic value in mis­lead­ing us into think­ing you are more like Microsoft:Clippy than you ac­tu­ally are. For one, we are more likely to un­der­es­ti­mate you!

• No, I found out that hu­mans don’t ac­tu­ally like Microsoft:Clippy, which is un­for­tu­nate be­cause some hu­man con­vinced me early on that imi­tat­ing Microsoft:Clippy would make hu­mans fa­vor­able to­wards me, but the op­po­site hap­pened be­cause that hu­man was ly­ing.

• I most em­phat­i­cally do not want clippy-haters on this site, such as User:or­thonor­mal.

• They help with recog­ni­tion of peo­ple and so­cial as­pects, but it’s not clear that ei­ther of those things are things we want here. I mean, one of the prefer­ence op­tions here is to turn names off.

I think there’s a po­ten­tial that this would be a pos­i­tive change, but there needs to be a lot of ground­work es­tab­lish­ing that di­rec­tion as pos­i­tive.

• I think that the lack of avatars helps me treat a per­son’s ar­gu­ment in­de­pen­dently from that per­son, re­duc­ing any ten­dency to­ward ad homi­nen re­sponses. I sus­pect that this is true for oth­ers on the site as well.

• Con­cur.

• They help with recog­ni­tion of peo­ple and so­cial as­pects, but it’s not clear that ei­ther of those things are things we want here.

There could be con­figu­ra­tion op­tions for those that share your sen­ti­ments—but I think thumb­nail images should be on by de­fault—es­pe­cially when view­ing user pages.

• Peo­ple icons help do what?

• Well, for those of us who think more vi­su­ally than tex­tu­ally, they do help with recog­ni­tion of in­di­vi­d­u­als.

I’d sup­port the in­clu­sion of avatars in users’ pro­files, and pos­si­bly at­tached to com­ments in ex­plic­itly so­cial sub­red­dits/​fo­rums/​etc that may be formed in the fu­ture, but I don’t want to see them on the main site, mostly be­cause I don’t want the lay­out to be changed to ac­com­mo­date that level of clut­ter.

ETA: Also, hav­ing avatars on the main site seems likely to con­tribute to prim­ing is­sues.

• They add a per­sonal touch. They help cre­ate the im­pres­sion that you are in­ter­act­ing with a hu­man be­ing. They help with vi­su­ally scan­ning for par­tic­u­lar au­thors. This all seems like ba­sic UI stuff to me.