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:

No nominations.
No reviews.