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.