LW Team Updates—December 2019

This is the once-monthly up­dates post for LessWrong team ac­tivi­ties and an­nounce­ments.


In the past month we rol­led out float­ing com­ment guidelines and launched the inau­gu­ral Less­wrong 2018 re­view. Work has con­tinued on the LessWrong ed­i­tor and on a pro­to­type for the new tag­ging sys­tem.

De­cem­ber will see more work on the ed­i­tor, the 2018 re­view pro­cess, and an­a­lyt­ics.

Re­cent Features

The LessWrong 2018 Review

Much of the re­cent weeks has been de­voted to get­ting the inau­gu­ral Less­wrong 2018 Re­view into full swing:

LessWrong is cur­rently do­ing a ma­jor re­view of 2018 — look­ing back at old posts and con­sid­er­ing which of them have stood the tests of time. It has three phases:

  • Nom­i­na­tion (ends Dec 1st at 11:59pm PST)

  • Re­view (ends Dec 31st)

  • Vot­ing on the best posts (ends Jan­uary 7th)

Authors will have a chance to edit posts in re­sponse to feed­back, and then the mod­er­a­tion team will com­pile the best posts into a phys­i­cal book and LessWrong se­quence, with $2000 in prizes given out to the top 3-5 posts and up to $2000 given out to peo­ple who write the best re­views.

Read Rae­mon’s full post to hear for the full ra­tio­nale for the eval­u­a­tion of his­tor­i­cal posts.


The nom­i­na­tion phase just ended a few days ago. 34 nom­i­na­tors made 204 nom­i­na­tions on 98 dis­tinct posts writ­ten by 49 dis­tinct au­thors. Of these, 74 posts have re­ceived the 2+ nom­i­na­tions re­quired to pro­ceed to the re­view phase.

How to start reviewing

  1. The front­page cur­rently has a LessWrong 2018 Re­view sec­tion. It shows a ran­dom se­lec­tion of posts which are up for re­view and has but­tons to the Re­views Dash­board and the list of re­views and nom­i­na­tions you’ve made so far.

  2. The Re­views Dash­board (lo­cated at www.less­wrong.com/​re­views) is an­other way to find posts to re­view.

The 2018 Re­view sec­tion cur­rently on the home­page.
The Re­views Dash­board.
Note the “Ex­pand Un­read Com­ments” but­ton.

3. When you click Re­view on a re­view-able post, you will be taken to the post page and a Re­view Com­ment Box will ap­pear.

The Re­view Com­ment Box

Re­views are posted as com­ments and can be ed­ited af­ter they are posted like reg­u­lar com­ments.

Rea­sons to review

All users are en­couraged to writes re­views. Re­views help by:

  • Giv­ing au­thors feed­back which they can use to re­vise, up­date, and ex­pand their posts be­fore users vote on them and they pos­si­bly get in­cluded in the phys­i­cal book that will be pub­lished.

  • Giv­ing the com­mu­nity op­por­tu­nity to dis­cuss the im­por­tance and trust­wor­thi­ness of posts. In par­tic­u­lar, now is an op­por­tune time for the com­mu­nity to de­bate the more con­tentious ideas and ar­gu­ments.

  • Thereby, es­tab­lish­ing a record on which posts are truly ex­cel­lent vs those that need work or are more doubt­ful.

  • Help peo­ple de­cide which posts they will vote on in the up­com­ing Vot­ing Phase.

  • Help new read­ers de­cide whether or not they wish to read a post.

The re­view phase will con­tinue un­til De­cem­ber 31st

Float­ing Com­ment Guidelines

For a long time, LessWrong has en­abled au­thors to set and en­force their own cus­tom mod­er­a­tion guidelines on their own posts. This is part or the Archipelago philos­o­phy of mod­er­a­tion which lets peo­ple de­cide what kinds of con­ver­sa­tions they want.

To make it eas­ier for com­menters stick to de­sired guidelines across users, and to bet­ter un­der­stand how sec­tions of the site like Short­form have differ­ent norms, we’ve made it so the mod­er­a­tion guidelines for a post au­to­mat­i­cally ap­pear be­neath the com­ment check­box when­ever you be­gin typ­ing.

How the com­ment­ing guidelines ap­pear be­neath an in-progress com­ment.

App-Level An­a­lyt­ics Tracking

This isn’t re­ally a user-level fea­ture that peo­ple can in­ter­act with, but we’ve been work­ing to ex­pand our abil­ity to de­tect what peo­ple are do­ing within the web-app, e.g. track­ing how much differ­ent fea­tures get used and which don’t.

We’ve been sorely miss­ing this and it’s im­peded our abil­ity to as­sess whether some of the fea­tures we’ve been rol­ling out have been a suc­cess or not.

Hope­fully, with this im­proved feed­back we’ll make bet­ter choices about what to build and be bet­ter at de­tect­ing pain points for users.

Up­com­ing Features

LessWrong Docs (new ed­i­tor)

Work con­tinues on the new ed­i­tor, co­de­named LW Docs for now, with the team in­ter­nally us­ing it. How­ever, we’re not yet rol­ling it out more widely while we work out re­main­ing re­li­a­bil­ity is­sues.


We suc­cess­fully im­ple­mented a new tag­ging pro­to­type and have played around with it. That’s roughly as much work we plan to do on this in Q4. To com­plete this pro­ject we need to first flesh out a broader de­sign vi­sion, figure out how tags will re­late to wikis, and figure out a clean and in­tu­itive UI de­sign. We might re­lease some­thing here in Q1 2020.

MVP of a tag page. Left­most num­ber is the tag rele­vance score. All users can view the cur­rent tag pages, how­ever only ad­mins can cur­rently cre­ate or vote on tags.

Feed­back & Support

The team can be reached for feed­back and sup­port via: