Introduction to the Sequence Reruns
The sequences—hundreds of posts written by Eliezer Yudkowsky from 2006 through 2009 - contain the core material behind Less Wrong, including many ideas that are often treated as background knowledge in new posts. New LW members are encouraged to read the sequences and many LW regulars have expressed interest in rereading them, but even though the posts are sitting in the archives for anyone to read it takes another step to actually read them. The sheer number of words can be overwhelming, and many people find that they never quite get around to delving in. To many people, reading new blog posts is fun but going through the sequences is work. And it can be hard to have lively discussions on years-old posts.
As announced here, we are introducing the Rerunning the Sequences series to the discussion section as an attempt to make the sequences more accessible by making them more like new blog posts. We will be going through the sequence posts in order, one post per day, making posts that contain a link to the sequence post and a summary of it. If you’re interested, follow along (the posts will all have [SEQ RERUN] in the title and will be easy to spot), take part in the discussion, and get involved in other ways described below. If you’re not interested, you can ignore these discussion section posts (they all have [SEQ RERUN] in the title and will be easy to spot).
For our purposes, we’re currently considering the sequences to consist of Eliezer’s 702 posts (listed in order here) beginning with The Martial Art of Rationality, ending with Practical Advice Backed By Deep Theories, and excluding quotes threads. The list of posts has not been finalized yet—there are still some other posts to exclude (like purely administrative posts) and some more posts to add, perhaps including some posts not by Eliezer (like Robin Hanson’s side of the AI Foom Debate). Each day, there will be a post in the discussion section which links to one of these posts and follows the standard template included below. We’ll go through the posts in chronological order, one per day, beginning today (April 19, 2011) with The Martial Art of Rationality. These posts will be clearly identified by the [SEQ RERUN] tag in the title, easy to find under the sequence_reruns tag, and easy to follow with a feed reader by subscribing to the rss feed for the sequence_reruns tag. Hopefully, this will capture the feel of reading a blog, with a new post to read each day.
Each post also serves as a focal point for discussion. Discussion should take place in the comments to the new post in the discussion section, not the original post, since this is a fresh discussion which is taking place a few years after the original post was made. This will also keep everything in the discussion section, so that the main page doesn’t get flooded with comments on old posts.
This is a community-driven effort, and in order for it to work people will need to get involved. Someone needs to make the sequence reruns post each day, and that role is open to anyone who will do it (just like with the open threads and quotes threads). If you’re ever wondering where a day’s sequence reruns post is, go ahead and make the post. There is a standard template to follow in order to make posting as simple as possible—it shouldn’t take more than five minutes (especially after you’ve done it once). Instructions (along with the template to copy and paste) are included at the end of this post. If you have something that you’d like to say about the sequence post, you should put it in the comments to your post rather than in the post itself.
Each sequence reruns post includes a summary of the post that it links to, which is taken from the LW wiki. But many of the posts don’t have a summary written yet, and some of the others don’t have a good summary yet. So another way to be involved is by writing summaries for the posts that need them and adding them to the LW wiki before we get to those posts. After a sequence reruns post has been made, if it is missing a summary or its summary isn’t very good then you could write a new summary for it then and leave it in the comments so that the post can be edited. But it’s better to get the summaries written ahead of time.
Finally, there are other issues that can arise with the sequence reruns and ways to make it better. For instance: deciding precisely which posts to include (e.g., should we include all the posts in the AI Foom Debate?). Things will run more smoothly if folks are involved in coming up with improvements, spotting issues ahead of time, and helping to make the decisions. Discussion about these kinds of issues, and other kinds of meta discussion about the Rerunning the Sequences series, should mostly take place in the comments to this post or in other meta posts, rather than in the comments to individual posts in the series. Discussion in the individual posts should be based on the linked sequence post, rather than on these kinds of meta issues.
To make a post in the Rerunning the Sequences series, you will need to copy and paste a standard template (included below) and add links and information from the original sequence post, the previous Sequence Reruns post, and the LW wiki page which has summaries. There are 8 things to change in the template, which I’ve labeled 111111, 222222, …, 888888.
1. Find the previous Sequence Reruns post and find the sequence post that is due for that day (which will generally be the next post listed here)
2. Go to the LW wiki to find a summary of the sequence post (summaries arranged by year: 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009); if there are multiple summaries available choose the one that looks best
3. Copy and paste the template below into a text document and make the 8 edits to the template:
111111 the title of the sequence post (e.g., Why truth? And… )
222222 the url of the sequence post (e.g., http://lesswrong.com/lw/go/why_truth_and/ )
333333 the title of the sequence post, again (e.g., Why truth? And… )
444444 the date when the sequence post was originally published (e.g., November 26, 2006 )
555555 the lw wiki page where you found the summary (e.g., http://wiki.lesswrong.com/wiki/Less_Wrong/2007_Articles/Summaries )
666666 the summary of the sequence post which you took from the lw wiki (e.g., You have an instrumental motive to care about the truth of your beliefs about anything you care about. )
777777 the url of the previous Sequence Reruns post (e.g., )
888888 the title of the previous sequence post (e.g., The Martial Art of Rationality )
4. Click to create a new article
5. Make the title: [SEQ RERUN] 111111
6. Make the tags: sequence_reruns
7. On the “submit article” page, click where it says “HTML” (edit HTML source) and paste the edited version of the template that you’ve created. Click “update.”
8. Check and make sure your post looks okay. Does it have the appropriate title and tag? Have all of the strings of numbers been replaced? Was there any special formatting (like italics) in the summary which you need to add to the post?
9. Make the post. If there is a “Post to” option set it to “Less Wrong Discussion” (if there is not, you’re already in the discussion section and will automatically post there) and click “Submit.”
Title: [SEQ RERUN] 111111
Today’s post, <a href=”222222“>333333</a> was originally published on 444444. A summary (taken from the <a href=”555555”>LW wiki</a>):</p>
<p><br />Discuss the post here (rather than in the comments to the original post).<br /><br /><em>This post is part of the Rerunning the Sequences series, where we’ll be going through Eliezer Yudkowsky’s old posts in order so that people who are interested can (re-)read and discuss them. The previous post was <a href=”777777″>888888</a>, and you can use the <a href=”/r/discussion/tag/sequence_reruns/”>sequence_reruns tag</a> or <a href=”/r/discussion/tag/sequence_reruns/.rss”>rss feed</a> to follow the rest of the series.<br /><br />Sequence reruns are a community-driven effort. You can participate by re-reading the sequence post, discussing it here, posting the next day’s sequence reruns post, or summarizing forthcoming articles on the wiki. Go <a href=”http://lesswrong.com/r/discussion/lw/5as/introduction_to_the_sequence_reruns/“>here</a> for more details, or to have meta discussions about the Rerunning the Sequences series.</em>