Karma-Change Notifications

Start­ing this week­end, LessWrong will be dis­play­ing karma no­tifi­ca­tions in the top-right cor­ner, tel­ling you about when you’ve been up­voted or down­voted. You can click the star icon to see which of your posts and com­ments have been voted on, and how much their score has changed.

This works a lit­tle differ­ently from how most web sites do it. I’ve no­ticed a ten­dency, in my­self and oth­ers, to some­times ob­ses­sively re­fresh pages hop­ing to have got­ten Likes. The rest of the LessWrong team has no­ticed this too. That’s why on LessWrong, by de­fault, this won’t work; karma-change no­tifi­ca­tions are grouped into daily batches, so af­ter you’ve checked it, you won’t be no­tified of any ad­di­tional votes un­til the next day.

While I hope that this pre­vents peo­ple from us­ing LessWrong in ways that they don’t en­dorse, daily batch­ing might not be a strong enough safe­guard for ev­ery­one. If you find your­self tempted to check LessWrong more of­ten than you think is ideal, you can change the karma-no­tifier batches to weekly, or dis­able them en­tirely. On the other hand, if check­ing and post­ing on LessWrong is some­thing you’d rather do more of (be­cause you’d oth­er­wise do some­thing less valuable), you can set it to real-time.

As a non­profit with no ad­ver­tis­ing, LessWrong is un­der a differ­ent set of in­cen­tives than most web­sites. We worry a lot about the trade-off be­tween en­gage­ment and ad­dic­tive­ness. I want peo­ple to use the site in ways they re­flec­tively en­dorse, even if that means us­ing it less. I think LessWrong should leave that un­der user con­trol, as much as fea­si­ble.

(As a re­minder: Vot­ing on LessWrong is a way of say­ing “I want to see more/​less things like this”. Upvotes are a way to tell peo­ple that their post or com­ment was worth their time to write, and worth your time to read. It does not nec­es­sar­ily in­di­cate agree­ment; some­times a good write-up of an ul­ti­mately in­cor­rect idea is what a con­ver­sa­tion needs. Con­versely, down­votes do not nec­es­sar­ily in­di­cate dis­agree­ment; some­times a cor­rect points is writ­ten in a way that’s con­fus­ing, in­flam­ma­tory or oth­er­wise de­tracts from the con­ver­sa­tion.)

As always, bug re­ports are wel­come here, via the In­ter­com wid­get, or on the GitHub is­sue tracker.