2015 Repository Reruns—Boring Advice Repository

This is the first post of the 2015 repos­i­tory re­run, which ap­pears to be a good idea. The mo­ti­va­tion for this re­run is that while the 12 repos­i­to­ries (go look them up, they’re awe­some!) ex­ist and peo­ple might look them up, few new com­ments are posted there. In effect, there might be use­ful stuff that should go in those repos­i­to­ries, but is never posted due to low ex­pected value and no feed­back. With the re­run, at­ten­tion is shifted to one topic per month. This might al­low us to have a lively dis­cus­sion on the topic at hand and gather new con­tent for the repos­i­tory.

The first repos­i­tory to be re­run is the Bor­ing Ad­vice Re­pos­i­tory, be­cause of… on a whim.

En­ter origi­nal mo­ti­va­tion (by Qiaochu_Yuan):

This is an ex­ten­sion of a com­ment I made that I can’t find and also a re­quest for ex­am­ples. It seems plau­si­ble that, when giv­ing ad­vice, many peo­ple op­ti­mize for deep­ness or punch­i­ness of the ad­vice rather than for ac­tual prac­ti­cal value. There may be good rea­sons to do this—e.g. ad­vice that sounds deep or punchy might be more likely to be listened to—but as a corol­lary, there could be valuable ad­vice that peo­ple gen­er­ally don’t give be­cause it doesn’t sound deep or punchy. Let’s call this bor­ing ad­vice.

An ex­am­ple that’s been dis­cussed on LW sev­eral times is “make check­lists.” Check­lists are great. We should to­tally make check­lists. But “make check­lists” is not a deep or punchy thing to say. Other ex­am­ples in­clude “google things” and “ex­er­cise.”

The Bor­ing Ad­vice Re­pos­i­tory is filled with lots of di­verse ad­vice, I’ve sum­ma­rized some of it in a com­ment be­low.

So what should go here? To go with Qiaochu_Yuan again (adding em­pha­sis):

[...] Post other ex­am­ples of bor­ing ad­vice. If you can, provide ev­i­dence and/​or a plau­si­ble ar­gu­ment that your bor­ing ad­vice ac­tu­ally is use­ful, but [...] err on the side of bor­ing but not nec­es­sar­ily use­ful [...].

Upvotes on ad­vice posted in this thread should be based on your es­ti­mate of the use­ful­ness of the ad­vice; [...] do not vote up ad­vice just be­cause it sounds deep or punchy.

I don’t know if you should post new ad­vice here or in the origi­nal repos­i­tory. Per­haps search the old repos­i­tory with ctrl+f (when on win­dows) and if you don’t get re­sults, post it here.