EA Forum feature suggestion thread

by Aaron Gertler, JP Addison1 min read16th Jun 2020345 comments


Effective Altruism ForumCommunity

Hello, Forum!

This is Aaron and JP of the EA Forum team. 

We spend a lot of time working on the Forum, and we’d like to hear your ideas for making it better. These can be new features or other kinds of requests.

Even if you don’t have suggestions of your own, consider upvoting ideas you like from the comments. That will have nonzero influence on the features we prioritize (though we also take many other factors into account).

If you’d rather make a suggestion privately, get in touch with us through this page.

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The ability to add links in bios would be great!

If we could make it so I can edit my bio like I would edit a post it would be even better.

EDIT: ohh the bio uses markdown, noted.

Bunch of visual accessibility stuff. In particular:

*Night mode.

*The ability to make textblocks narrower for smaller saccades and thus easier reading. (I'm not sure this is more comfortable for everybody, so a variable-width widget like Royal Road or Fanfiction dot net have at the top of their display pages might be optimal? This might require experimentation.)

*Ability to change text size.

*Better visual distinction between widgets like the Tags, Post, Pingback, and Comments. Panel borders? Width variation?

On another note, I'm using uMatrix, and it's blockin... (read more)

The EA forum is one of the key public hubs for EA discourse (alongside, in my opinion, facebook, twitter, reddit and a couple of blogs). I respect the forum team's work in trying to build better infrastructure for its users.

The EA forum is active in attempting to improve experience for its users. This makes it easier for me to contribute with things like questions, short forms, sequences etc, etc. 

I wouldn't say this post provides deep truth, but it seeks to build infrastructure which matches the way EAs are. To me, that's an analogy to articles which... (read more)

5Pablo10dHaving an option to "resolve" a comment thread (analogous to "closing" a GitHub issue) would be very useful, especially for Wiki comments.

TL;DR: I'd like to have a single board where to see a summary of the analytics for all my posts.

I've been really enjoying the analytics feature!
I used it for example to notice that my post on persistence had become very popular, which led me to write a more accessible summary.

One thing I've noticed is that it is very time consuming to track the analytics of each post. That requires me to go to each post, click on analytics and have them load.

I think Medium has a much nicer interface. They have a main user board for stats, from which I can see overall engag... (read more)

3Jonathan Mustin11dGood suggestion! I expect this would be a well-liked feature. Added to our project list. Thanks!

Some basic functionality I would benefit a lot from:

  • Add functionality for footnotes in the WYSIWYG editor
  • Make both editors interoperable
  • Have a way to toggle between the markdown and the WYSIWYG editor on the fly

Footnotes are a thing that I would use more often if it was easy to do so.

I love editing using the WYSIWYG editor, which does not support them. So when I want to add footnotes I would need to: 1) copy paste my article into a google doc, 2) run a plugin to turn the text to markdown, 3) change my editor settings to Markdown, 4) create a new artic... (read more)

3Jonathan Mustin11dThanks for the feedback Jsevillamol! And good timing 🙂 [https://emojipedia.org/slightly-smiling-face/] Hope WYSIWYG footnotes are meeting your needs. Full interoperability is a pretty tall order, and I expect it won't be a near-term add, but I've added it to our list in any case. Cheers!
3Jsevillamol11dThanks to you! In hindsight, the footnotes was the thing I really wanted so I am a very happy user indeed! Would be good to be able to switch between editors to do things like eg editing complicated LaTeX (right now its complicated to edit it in the WYIWYG editor). But maybe the more reasonable ask is to make the WYSIWYG equation editor span multiple lines for large equations.
1Jonathan Mustin11dReally glad to hear footnotes have met your needs! Added to the list! Are you writing long enough equations that the text goes offscreen?
2Jsevillamol11dYes, that is right. I don't have any recent examples in the EA Forum, but here is an article [https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/R28ppqby8zftndDAM/a-bayesian-aggregation-paradox] I wrote in LessWrong where the equations where very annoying to edit. I expect I occassionally would use larger equations, better formated (with underbraces and such) if it was easier to edit in the WYSIWYG editor.
3Jonathan Mustin10dActually it looks like a version of this is currently possible! There's a handle in the lower-right corner of the equation editor that let's you resize it. Once you've done that, it remains at the set width and wraps the contents to fit. The way the equation editor follows the cursor can be a bit janky, but it does seem to work.

Some suggestions regarding sequences:

  • Have sequences show up in search results
  • A way to see which sequences a post belongs to, especially if a post belongs to multiple sequences (e.g. display the sequences at the bottom of the post body under tags)
  • A search function on the library page
3Sarah Cheng1moGreat suggestions! I added them to our list for triage.

Button to automatically translate posts that aren't in the reader's preferred language.

  • This could help readers understand posts that aren't in a language they understand. Even though the majority of EA Forum content is in English, we have an increasing number of community of event posts that aren't, like this post in Italian and this one in Swedish.
  • This could also benefit readers whose native language isn't English.
3Sarah Cheng2moThanks for the suggestion! Could you expand on this idea a bit? Are you imagining that each post has a button that lets you translate the post body into any language you select? I think most events have a specific language they will cater to, so if you can't read the Italian event description you probably won't get much from attending the event. That said, I have been considering adding "languages spoken" to the user profile, and displaying what languages are spoken by the event attendees on the event page (based on people RSVPing). This could be helpful if you are looking for nearby in-person events but you don't speak the local language (ex. you are traveling or recently moved). But I assume users will generally ignore any events posted in a language they don't understand.
2evelynciara2moSort of. I'm imagining that each post that is not in the user's preferred language would have a button that lets the user translate the post body into that language. This would work like the equivalent feature on Airbnb (example [https://imgur.com/xA3MIKA]). Speaking for myself, I'm curious about what events other EA communities around the world are organizing, so I think this feature would be nice. Right now, I'm able to right click on the page to have my browser translate it into my preferred language, which might be enough for most users who are interested in viewing forum posts in other languages. But having a translate widget on the page might still be more beneficial, if only because it'd be easier to use.
3Sarah Cheng2moThanks for the screenshot - that's helpful! I'll add this suggestion to our list for triage, though I think the browser's translation is good enough for most cases.

Some potential improvements to the search function:

  • Advanced search: filter results by tag, author, etc. as well as keywords.
  • Fuzzy text matching: return posts or comments with synonyms or related words, not just the exact keywords entered. This could be implemented using a word embedding, either a generic one or an embedding fine-tuned on the EA Forum text. For example, if I search for "global development", I might also get results for "poverty" and "global health". This would help because I often remember that there was a post or comment about a certain topic but can't remember the exact words that it used.
2evelynciara24dAnother search results suggestion: Show bookmarked posts more prominently in search results by either: * Adding a section titled "Bookmarks"; or * Increase the rank of posts that the user has bookmarked in that user's search results and show a bookmark icon next to them
3Sarah Cheng2moAppreciate the suggestions! I've added them to our list for triage.

I'd like to be able to add pinned posts or comments to my profile. Several people have asked me about my EA origin story so I've tried to refer them to this comment, but I always have a hard time finding the link.

3Sarah Cheng2moThanks for the suggestion! I've added this to our list for triage.

It's quite easy to gain a lot of karma by writing questions. I think that's fair, but I thought I'd flag it cos I've been doing very well on karma for that reason.

Did we try having this post sort by magic? 

Also can we have magic as an option to sort all comments and answers? 

Also maybe call it "hot" or "vogue (new or highly rated)". 

1Sarah Cheng2moThanks Nathan! I see this is already in our backlog. :)

A text box to add your preferred pronouns to your profile in Settings (e.g. she/her or they/them). Here's an example of how to do it.

2Nathan Young2moWhat would you like this to be beyond writing one's pronouns at the top of the bio box? I guess I don't have a good picture of the change you want.
4evelynciara2moI should have clarified: a separate text box
2willbradshaw2moI also don't have a great sense of what this request is requesting in practice.
4Ben_West2moThanks for the suggestion! I've added this to our list for triage.

I think the user bio editor in Settings should be a bigger text area with rich text formatting (like the ones for posts). This would make them more WYSIWYG since user bios are displayed in a similar style to posts.

4Nathan Young2moYessssss. I was halfway through writing this request when I realised you already had.
4Ben_West2moThanks for the suggestion! I've added this to our list for triage.
2evelynciara2moThank you! Always appreciate an acknowledgment 😃

Having recently wrote a post that got a lot of silent downvotes, I've been thinking more about the general role of silent downvotes and how we could mitigate their downsides. (See some earlier discussion here.)

Silent downvotes are important for content ranking/visibility and providing a rough high-level signal of what the Forum community values/disvalues, but they have some pretty important disadvantages, especially when they represent a preponderance of a post's karma:

  • They can be badly demoralising to authors, without providing the kind of actionable feedback they could use to do better. (I've seen plenty of plaintive comments asking people to explain their downvotes, often with no responses.)
  • They create an atmosphere of tension and adversariality that I think tends to degrade the quality of discourse (as well as being generally stressful for many people).

There's already a feature that allows authors to hide comment karma on selected posts. I'm not sure entirely how it works, but I think it means that if the author chooses, nobody can see karma scores on that post?

That might be what some authors want, and is maybe preferable to seeing lots of silent downvotes, but at least for me ... (read more)

2Ben_West2moYou might be interested in providing feedback on this mockup [https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/xN2sHnLupWe4Tn5we/improving-on-the-karma-system?commentId=FvJy3neGnDHLy6HRE] from LW (which the EA Forum might implement, if they develop it)
6willbradshaw1moI forgot to respond to this! Thank you for the link. That mockup is in some ways very close to my suggestion, which is exciting, but in some ways importantly different. * Less confidently, I feel iffy about having votes along these additional axes be public. I can see arguments for it (I think I'd feel better about being publicly downvoted for unclarity than for mystery reasons) but I'd also worry that it could make the intimidation effects worse for some (perhaps many) authors. That feels like an empirical question, though, and I wouldn't be super surprised to be wrong. * More confidently, I would absolutely hate it if the Forum started letting people post emoji reactions on posts. I really don't want the Forum to be more like Slack or Facebook in that way, and I think it would singlehandedly reduce my interest in posting on the Forum by >40%. This especially applies in cases where users can post custom reactions, but even if the reactions are pre-set I think it's pretty bad.
2Ben_West1moThanks! That's helpful
2Ben_West2moThanks for the suggestion! I think you are right that this would be a fairly big project, but I've added it to our backlog for triage.

Consider protections to prevent "pattern downvoting," that is, a single forum user downvoting every one of another user's comments and articles, particularly in articles and comments that have received few views.

Usually it's not the case that every comment made by a single person contains zero value and is detrimental to online discourse. However, some people seem to have a tendency to want to do so. Rather than allowing one person to suppress the views of another's right after publication, it would be better for other users to vote to ensure the content i... (read more)

Aaron, can we write forum PR FAQs too?

nice format

Would dilute the legitimacy of current ones

"Unofficial PR FAQ"

But if you're okay with this could you explicitly say so. If you don't I think me writing one will feel like I'm freeriding on the current legitimacy of the concept.

4Aaron Gertler5moOthers are welcome to write these — I think it's a good structure and works out better than the average suggestion post. All of these would be fine: * Just saying "PR FAQ" and making it clear in the intro that you don't work for CEA * Saying something like "Unofficial PR FAQ" * Just using a title like "Proposal: Do X" and using the PR FAQ format

A problem for me is that I don't often use the evergreen questions (like this one)

I've written feature suggestions elsewhere, but I sense people don't find them compelling, so I thought I'd just flag the problem as I see it:
- new answers get added to the bottom and are hard to find
- the question itself will never be seen for the first time again and receive the flood of interest it first did
- old questions are sometimes poorly phrased or framed

Do you think this is a problem, if so, how should we solve it?

4Aaron Gertler5moI try to link to the evergreen questions in places people might find them (principally the "Useful Links" post, though I'll often send the links to people directly if they have a relevant idea). There are only so many places to put something on the Forum that people are likely to actually find. Some options for upgrading e.g. the "what should someone write?" post: 1. Turn it into a tag, so that anyone can apply that tag to a request/question and "turn it into a writing idea" 2. Repost it to the front page every so often, with comments sorted by new or magic These both use existing mechanisms of the Forum that don't require new programming, adding a new component to a crowded frontpage, or making people radically change their behavior. Of course, (1) and (2) can be combined — reposting the original posts could help people remember to use the tags for other posts as needed.
2Nathan Young5moThese are my proposed solutions from what I guess is least objectionable to most - mark certain questions as "evergreen" that resurface once per year.They are sorted by newness and score rather than just score - Edit the titles of these questions for maximum clarity each time - Perhaps this is true for all posts which are in the top 3% of posts - Evergreen questions start with effectively 0 karma and rise as normal. Likewise their comments reset in karma. After a month, their karma recofigures (voting on a comment in both its original and reset form only awards the user karma once) - High karma users can edit the titles and grammar of evergreen questions of users with lower karma. I know you all hate this, but stack overflow does it and it's fine
4Aaron Gertler5mo(Late-night quick reaction, tried not to spend much time on it) This sounds like quite a bit of new code for relatively little benefit, compared to just having a "Frequently Asked Questions" post with links to various question threads. Those links can have nice clean titles that don't match the original post titles, and subheadings should make the post fairly navigable. The post can then be recommended to new users (or more experienced users, in the sense of "do a good deed by seeing if you have something to add to one of these questions"). If your goal is to solicit new answers for certain questions every so often, you can always ask a mod to do this (we'll discuss it) or post the questions yourself, referring back to old threads so people can see past answers and a chain of continuity is created.
2Nathan Young5moI don't disagree. However I think nothing compares to the initial flood of comments a post gets. I reckon for dinner it could be worth a lot to have a way of putting an idea at the forefront of people's minds regularly. I guess the question is if it's worth enough. What you suggest is worth doing too.

Can this thread be tagged with the words "features" and "requests". I often struggle to find it because I can't remember what exact formulation of words are in the title.

4Aaron Gertler5moI've changed the body text to include those words. But I'd also recommend just bookmarking the thread under a title like "Forum features and requests", so that you can just find it from your main searchbar. (I have a bookmarks folder called "Quick Access" for links I file in this way.)

A different default sorting on this page

I have used this page about once a month for several years and only today decided to sort by new. It showed loads of great new comments. 

I suggest a sorting which balances scores and newness (like reddit's "Hot")

4Aaron Gertler5moDone. (This turned out to be existing functionality, albeit obscure. I'm going to apply it to a few other "evergreen" posts of mine.)
2Nathan Young5moThis is just sorting by new right? that's still an improvement, but I think that will make me post on this thread less. If you want I'll study and write the formula I'd use.
2Aaron Gertler5moWe already have an algorithm like that ("magic"), which is used for sorting frontpage posts. Based on your experience with the frontpage, does that sound useful, or would you want something else? (At the moment, the top comments might stay at the top for a few extra days, but I expect you'd want them up for weeks or months instead — the algorithm could be changed in the case where it applies to comments.)
2Nathan Young5moFeels like "magic" would be better than sorting by new. I guess I reckon 20 karma a month ago should be worth more than 60 karma 6 months ago. How does that sound?
2Nathan Young5moYeah now I come here and all my posts are at the top and that feels bad.
2Aaron Gertler5moThere's nothing wrong with using the suggestion thread — that's why it's here! But if we do implement magic sort for comments at some point, I'll use that instead.
2Nathan Young5moI think if people come to this thread and see 8 of one persons suggestions as the first 8 they will probably grow to resent that person. Also, I was using grammarly on this page and it was reaaally slowing down typing speed. FYI.
2Nathan Young5moNow we need a way to hide this post since it's been answered.

Spaced repetition cards

Ability to add spaced repetition cards to forum posts so that once you've read it, you can add the cards to a deck, which can either be exported or reviewed in the forum.

edit  Ideally anyone could create these for any post, rather than it having to be the author

6Habryka5moWe have that! The functionality is a bit hidden, but you can see how to do it here: https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/yK8mKmMQ73TuzgCv6/you-can-now-embed-flashcard-quizzes-in-your-lesswrong-posts [https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/yK8mKmMQ73TuzgCv6/you-can-now-embed-flashcard-quizzes-in-your-lesswrong-posts]
2Nathan Young5moI think to be used much it would have to be open to anyone to create the flashcards. As you imply, authors aren't currently using them.
4Habryka5moAh, yeah. I agree that that would be a natural next level of integration. I do think the current setup does cover that use case acceptably, and the biggest problem is more that the feature is completely undiscoverable. Like, you can create flashcards for any post, and then just leave them as a comment, which seems like the natural place to find them anyways.
2Nathan Young5moYeah that sounds great. I'll see if I can figure it out.

Tags for tags: We should turn the "Related entries" sections of wiki pages into native tags so we can build a crowdsourced graph of links between the wiki pages. Links can be uni- or bidirectional and specify different types of relationships such as "A is related to B" or "A is a parent of B".

Hi, sorry to be a complainer - I've just seen a new "continue reading" feature and I don't like it. If I stopped reading a sequence or article it means I'm aware of its existence and have chosen not to read it. This feature keeps reminding me of my least favourite articles (right now it's convinced I should read Aaron's placeholder post for a new sequence). I couldn't spot any way to remove it. Okay, that's all, thanks very much for your attention.

2Aaron Gertler5moIt sounds like the "placeholder post" you're seeing is a draft that should be invisible to you, which indicates a different bug. Is the title you're seeing "Sequence Placeholder Draft", or something else?
2Khorton5moYes that's right - it has [Draft] [Unlisted] before that title
6Aaron Gertler5moOy vey, thanks for the notice. Definitely a bug, and one LessWrong is now looking into.
2Habryka5moThere should be a button that appears when you hover over the post on the frontpage that allows you to remove it from your continue reading queue.
2Khorton5moI can't hover, I only use the Forum on mobile. Thanks for the suggestion though - good to know it's possible!

The all-posts view gives excessive prominence to shortform posts: while for both ordinary posts and Wiki entries only titles are displayed, for shortform posts one gets to see the entire content. I suggest truncating such posts so as to show only the first line.

2JP Addison5moI can't reproduce this, can you tell me what browser you were using, what settings you have for the allposts page, and whether you can still see the issue?
2Pablo5moYes. Chrome version 92.0.4515.107 (Official Build) (x86_64). However, (1) the issue persists if I change the view settings (selecting "magic", unticking "show low karma" etc makes no difference) and (2) the issue disappears if I open the page in incognito, or in another browser. From this I conclude it is likely caused by one of the many Chrome extensions I have installed. I will keep an eye on this and will let you know if I manage to identify the cause.
2JP Addison5moWhat happens if you log in in incognito? Do you have any of these settings set?
2Pablo5moAh, I had the first of those options ticked, and the issue disappeared after I unticked it. So this is the cause. Is this behavior deliberate? I think the option should not affect how shortform posts are displayed in the "all posts" view.
2JP Addison5moSeems right. I doubt it was deliberate.
2JP Addison6moThat’s a bug, thanks for reporting.

We should add the ability to convert posts to questions (or back to regular posts, but that's tricky because answers would have to be converted to regular comments).

Also, the editor should automatically suggest converting your post to a linkpost or question post if the title or body text matches certain patterns. For example, if you write "Crossposted from X" or "This is a linkpost" at the top, it can infer that your post is most likely a linkpost. I see a lot of posts from inexperienced users that are classified as regular posts even though they're intended to be linkposts or questions, so I think this would be helpful to them.

Co-authors on posts should also share the karma of the post. I don't know how they should, whether it's equal split, or some percentage of the whole (e.g. if there's 100 karma each person gets 75 or something).

(I noticed this on 1 account for a post the person had co-written ~6 months ago)

When editing a document, it would be nice to be able to link to headings/subheadings from the main editor when writing summaries or internally linking to other sections of a post, e.g. how it's done in Google Docs (see screenshot)

It would be useful to have and easy way to tag / untag job and request listings when they become open or closed (so basically binary tags?)

Would also be good to have an icon next to those posts how there is for the AMAs.

6MichaelStJules6moYou can strong downvote on a "open listing" tag to try to get it removed from a post, and then just add a "closed listing" tag. I think once the tag score drops to 0, it gets removed.
4Aaron Gertler6moYes, a tag is removed when its score drops to zero. As long as multiple people haven't all used the job listings tag, it can be removed by the author's downvote. And in a pinch, any admin's strong vote will suffice to drop something below zero even if it has 2-3 votes.

Ability to submit questions to a monthy poll. Then everyone who has signed up gets the poll.

Option to donate to author.

Some blog articles are really good and I would pay a bit to authors I liked.

4evelynciara2mocf. the GitHub sponsor feature [https://github.com/sponsors]

Ability to mark items in this thread as “complete”

This thread is the best place to suggest feature requests and it's pretty hard to use because you can't tell which items have been done and which haven't.

I suspect that many people don't post on the forum because they're worried about their post being poorly received and damaging their reputation in the EA community.

I believe this because I feel this way myself, because I've heard other people around me worrying a lot about posting to the forum, because Will MacAskill spoke on the 80,000 hours podcast of being anxious about their reputation being damaged after posting on the forum, and because of the existence of Aaron Gertler's talk "Why you (yes, you) should post on the EA Forum".

Perhaps, by default, new posts could be anonymous until a certain karma threshold (say 30 karma) is met. After that post meets the karma threshold, the true author of the post could become visible.

That way, authors could post knowing that their reputation wouldn't be damaged if their post wasn't well received, but that they would get the credit if the post was well received.

I'd expect this to increase the number of posts (both good and bad) from hesitant new users, and I think that the increase in the number of mediocre new posts would be a cost worth paying. It's good for people to contribute and feel valued for their contribution, especially if it encou... (read more)

2Linch7moDo people not find it viable to post under a pseudonym? Is your worry about coming across as dishonest?
8Habryka7moI do think pseudonymity is the right way to solve this. It's plausible that we might want to make name-changes easier, so if you create a pseudonymous account, you can later take ownership over it more properly, if it turns out to not have embarassed you.
4Aaron Gertler6moMeanwhile, name changes aren't yet easy, but I'm happy to change a username if you ask! I can also transfer a pseudonymous post to your "real name" account if you have one and want to take ownership.

A way to get an RSS feed which is filtered int he same way as the main feed. 

2JP Addison7moSounds legit.

I would consider something to reduce the karma users can get from commenting on controversial posts. Right now it seems easy to get very high scores by making not really that great comments in such places.

As an example, I think this comment I made is decent. It makes a true and relevant point that no-one else had mentioned . But it's not great; the topic of that thread is not that important, and the all the comments in it, let alone mine alone, do not resolve the issue. Most importantly, that comment is definitely not over 50% as good as this article I wrote. I would say the article is at least a thousand times more important, and took at least a thousand times longer to write.

I'm not sure how exactly you would do this though, as all the most obvious methods have significant drawbacks.

2willbradshaw2moJust saw this and wanted to add my strong agreement that (a) this is a problem, and (b) I don't know how to fix it. My lizard brain has definitely learned that commenting on high-controversy posts gets me lots of karma, and I don't like it.
4MichaelStJules9moMaybe turn off strong voting in comments or even comment karma from counting to users' total karma in such posts? How do we decide which posts to consider controversial, though? Just the mods do it (they kept object-level election posts in the personal blog)?
4Larks9moAn approach some forum use is the ratio of up and downvotes: -38+40 is not the same as +2 ! This allows you to have a smooth measure of the degree of controversy rather than a binary classification.
2MichaelStJules9moA topic could be controversial in society but the votes could still go mostly one way on the EA Forum itself, though. For example, I wouldn't be surprised if Democrat-favouring election posts were not scored as very controversial on the EA Forum, given the political leanings of EA. Do we also want to consider posts on controversial topics more broadly?
4RyanCarey9moOne underlying reason your comment got a lot of upvotes was because the post was viewed many times. Controversy leads to pageviews. Arguably "net upvotes" is an OK metric for post quality (where popularity is important) whereas "net upvotes"/"pageviews" might make more sense for comments. Side-issue: isn't Karma from posts weighted at 10x compared to Karma in comments? Or at least, I think it once was. And that would help a bit in this particular instance.
6Habryka9moWe no longer weigh frontpage posts 10x, though we might want to reinstitute some kind of weighing again. I think the 10x was historically too much, and made it so that by far the primary determinant of who had how much karma was how many frontpage posts you had, which felt like it undervalued comments, but it's pretty plausible (and even likely to me) that the current system is now too skewed in the other direction. My current relationship towards karma is something like: The point of karma for comments is to provide local information in a thread about a mixture of importance, quality and readership, and it's pretty hard to disentangle those without making the system much more complex. Overall the karma of a post is a pretty good guess on how many people will want to read it, so it makes sense to use it for some recommendation systems, but the karma of comments feel a lot more noisy to me. As a long-term reward I think we shouldn't really rely on karma at all and instead use systems like the LessWrong review [https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/QFBEjjAvT6KbaA3dY/the-lesswrong-2019-review] to establish in a much more considered way which posts were actually good. We've also deemphasized how much karma someone has on the site quite a bit because I don't want to create the impression that it's at all a robust measure of the quality of someone's contributions. So, for example, we no longer have karma leaderboards.

I'd like it if I could paste a link into the editor (for either comments or posts), then click or hover over it to see an option to automatically covert the text to the name of the page, similar to how that happens in Google Docs.

This would be most valuable to me in comments, since I usually copy posts from Google Docs anyway.

I use a lot of links in comments, and think it's valuable to do so (to connect conversations to other relevant work), but sometimes I feel a bit inclined to not bother or not write the actual title (just leaving the URL) since it's a ... (read more)

Vaidehi_agarwalla and I thought it might be a good idea to have sequences within sequences. For example: Vaidehi created sequences for the ea-survey results per year, because sometimes you want to only look at the survey results for that one year. Other times you want to look at all the survey results. If we add a new survey sequence every year it will clutter up the sequence page, but if you put them in one larger sequence it will take up less space and it will allow people to either read everything in one go, or select the "sub-sequence" they want to read and stop there.

When adding new posts to a sequence everytime I add a post, my search disappears and I have to type it in again to add the next one. Would be useful to just have the search not disappear. 

Copying Bob Jacob's suggestion here so that people can vote: 

Right now most sequences are still displaying my name, even though I didn’t write them. The mods have thankfully already changed the name for the “moral anti-realism” sequence, but ideally the other sequences should be properly credited too. Maybe the whole sequence should just be handed over to the authors themselves, since they might not like the descriptions and images I have created (I did message them). That way they can also just add new posts to the sequence without having to contact

... (read more)
2Aaron Gertler10moI think it makes sense for the default "sequence author" to be the person who actually put the posts together; many sequences have a bunch of different authors represented, and users can see who wrote each post in a sequence as soon as they click on it. However, in cases where one user sequences a bunch of another user's posts, without other posts mixed in, it seems reasonable for the second user to "own" the sequence. For all sequences of that type currently on the sequence page, someone from our team will edit the author manually (looks like the functionality may not be available on my side, so I'll talk to the devs). I think manual edits of this type will probably suffice for now, as I don't think anyone else is going to create two dozen sequences anytime soon. Being able to assign someone else as the "owner" of a sequence could be useful eventually, though!
2vaidehi_agarwalla10moThat makes sense!
  1. The option to tag individual shortform posts (not just a user's whole shortform page, which may feature a large number of shortform posts on a variety of very different topics)
  2. Previews for shortform posts showing up when the shortform posts are linked to elsewhere on the Forum, in the same way previews for regular posts show up [ETA: as Habryka notes below, this is already the case]

(I find the shortform feature really valuable, and I think these two things would make it even more valuable.)

4Habryka1y2.) Should already be the case. Linking to comments causes previews to show when hovering the link. (example [https://forum.effectivealtruism.org/posts/NhSBgYq55BFs7t2cA/ea-forum-feature-suggestion-thread?commentId=fYEGgeQrXjcGdts5j] )
4MichaelA1yOh, whoops! Yeah, I must've seen previews of comments hundreds of times, yet forgot they existed while writing the above comment. (I had these feature ideas while getting to sleep, and it seems I did not take a moment to re-evaluate them when I woke up...)

It could be cool if the EA Forum allowed for boxes of text that start off collapsed but can be expanded, in the way that e.g. Gwern's site does (here's a random example). This could be used for long sections that the author wants to signal (a) are sort-of digressions and/or (b) may be worth skipping for some people. 

There are a few things authors can already do that serve a similar purpose:

  • Have a section that explicitly says at the top "I think this section will be of interest to far fewer people than the rest of this post, so feel free to skip it."
  • Move a section to the end and call it an appendix
  • Just link to a google doc that sort of serves as the expandable box/appendix
  • Move the section into a footnote

But the first two of those options seem to less clearly signal "We really think fewer people should read this than should read the rest of this post", compared to having a collapsed but expandable box of text. 

And the third option might sometimes signal that too strongly, and also doesn't allow things to show up when you use the Forum's search function.

And the fourth option doesn't seem to work well for fairly long sections of text; more than a few paragraphs in a single fo... (read more)

6Habryka1yYeah, I generally want to have a bunch more interactive elements in posts. This was historically blocked by a bunch of improvements we were making to our editor, but that is now done, and I hope that soon we can make a bunch of improvements in this space.

It would be fantastic if we could set up RSS feeds for individual tags!

2Aaron Gertler1yThere are multiple ways to accomplish something like this. You can subscribe to a tag, which will notify you whenever a post gets that tag: Or set a tag as "required". This will show you only posts with that tag, creating an instant "feed":

I worry a bit that all the suggestions are about details, whereas the macro trend is that public discourse is moving toward Twitter, and blog content linked from Twitter. One thing that could help attract new audience would be to revive the EA Forum Twitter account, automatically, or manually.

When you say "macro trend", do you mean within EA or across the internet as a whole?

Also, when you say "moving", do you mean away from Facebook? The Forum has been growing steadily since we launched the new version in late 2018, by all the metrics we measure.

(Neither of these questions takes away from the idea of having a Forum Twitter account, but I wanted to figure out where the ideas were coming from.)

8RyanCarey1yAcross the internet as a whole. I agree that a lot of discourse happens on Facebook, some of it within groups. But in terms of serious, public conversation, I think a lot of it was initially on newsgroups/mailing lists, then blogs, and now blogs (linked from Twitter) and podcasts.

There should be a feature that points out broken links when you write posts/comments!

3Habryka1yYeah, I like it. Does seem like a good thing to have.

Feature Request: Allow users to make their comments display as collapsed-past-a-certain-point by default.

Why? Sometimes I want to post a long comment, but feel that it's not one that everyone needs to see/read. I'd happily post the comment if I could write a summary of what it's about at the top and have the rest hidden/collapsed-by-default, but without this ability I'm often reluctant to post the comment. This is especially true when there are many comments on a post (or when I expect there will be), since I don't want the experience of other users who a... (read more)

3Aaron Gertler1yThis is an interesting idea! I'll keep it in mind as something to potentially implement later (I haven't discussed this with folks on the tech side yet). I will say that I think you may be underestimating the value of your long comments relative to the inconvenience of scrolling past them. Every comment comes with a "collapse" button that people can use, and I'd hope that anyone annoyed by scrolling will learn to use it, though I can't be sure of how often this happens.

As far as I can tell, it isn't possible to have line breaks in footnotes (though I may just be doing something wrong). This also precludes bulleted/numbered lists, block quotes, etc. Any chance that could be changed? 

3Aaron Gertler1ySee the "long footnote with multiple blocks" syntax here [https://forum.effectivealtruism.org/posts/fQ4HGx4AR2QXHR5RL/ea-forum-footnotes-are-live-and-other-updates#Footnotes_are_live] . You need to indent successive lines within a footnote to add line breaks by adding four spaces in front of each line. See here [https://forum.effectivealtruism.org/posts/E7AJ3CurdZ9RJFbkQ/u-s-executive-branch-appointments-why-you-may-want-to-pursue#_ftnref13] for an example of someone doing this in a post.

Could we get notifications if someone comments on a thread we started, but not as a direct reply to us? Currently, if I make a comment, I get a notification if Alice replies, but not if Bob replies to Alice. And I suspect Bob's replies would often relate to what I said and be interesting to me.

I've just noticed I can subscribe to comment replies on a thread, but I'm not yet sure if that captures replies to replies, and really I'd like this to be default for every comment thread I start (rather than me having to manually opt in every time).

(Apologies if someone else already mentioned this; I haven't read the other suggestions on this page.)

2Aaron Gertler1yIf you select "auto-subscribe to replies to my comments", you'll be subscribed to each comment that replies to one of your comments. You can combine this with a notification for "replies to comments I subscribe to". This should capture your "replies to replies", though I haven't validated this through testing. In the time since you left this comment, have you seen evidence that this method works, or that it doesn't?
2MichaelA1yUpdate: I think that this doesn't work, at least for me and in cases where I didn't start the comment thread. (Unless I'm doing something wrong.) My specific observations: * I replied to a comment here [https://forum.effectivealtruism.org/posts/R7rLHPhdwPajQtyGv/80-000-hours-one-on-one-team-plans-plus-projects-we-d-like?commentId=ijGscBFgbmz3t8CaD#pp6aSfJDgu6MzZtyf] . I was notified when Michelle Hutchinson replied. But I wasn't notified of the various replies to her replies. * When I click on the three dots to the right of my comment, one of the options is "Unsubscribe to comment replies". So I think that means that the current state is that I am subscribed to comment replies to that comment of mine. * In my user settings, "Auto-subscribe to replies to my comments" is ticked. * In my user settings, "Replies to comments I'm subscribed to" shows the current settings as "Notify me on-site" and "Immediately". (Is there something else I should do? Also let me know if screenshots would be useful.)
4Aaron Gertler1yI've checked with LW's tech staff, and it looks like what you've seen is the behavior they'd expect -- it's apparently difficult to track longer comment chains in this way with the current tech setup. I'm sorry to have given you an incorrect theory.
4Aaron Gertler1yThat's a reasonable test, and I wouldn't have expected that result. I'll follow up with our tech folks and let you know what I find out.
2MichaelA1yI think I forgot about this. (Though I'd still value getting notifications for replies to replies; I just forgot to think about it or check if solutions worked.) I'll pay attention over the coming days :)

I like listening to articles on "Voice aloud reader." I think that the easiest way to use this is to open a PDF file. So some method of converting forum posts into PDF's might be useful, even if it stripped out images, graphs etc.

(Pretty low priority, feel free to ignore if not common. It's also possible I just haven't played around with Voice Aloud Reader and similar software enough)

I would love to have more features for the Markdown editor, since I prefer it over the WYSIWYG editor. For example, I'd like to be able to upload images while editing in Markdown (like GitHub does). Also, a syntax cheatsheet would be wonderful.

Ideally, I'd like to be able to switch between the Markdown and WYSIWYG editors while editing a document, or have a rendered preview tab in the Markdown editor.

Two consecutive hyphens should autocorrect to an em dash!

That way, a parenthetical clause in the middle of your sentence - like this one - isn't offset by "space hyphen space" on either side--or, even worse, by "hyphen hyphen". Instead, autocorrect two hyphens to a nice, clean em dash—like that.

I think this is a common feature for text editors - Microsoft Word definitely uses it.

8willbradshaw1yInteresting. I'm used to two hyphens for an en dash and three for an em dash.

Post and comment previews in search results!

Command + K should add a hyperlink!

2Habryka2yThis is also the case in the new editor! Sorry for not having this for so long!
1aogara2yCool, thanks.

I sometimes think of an idea for a forum post that I want someone other than me to write about, perhaps because I don't have the expertise or time to write it.

An idea could be to have a dedicated area to suggest posts for someone else to write. These suggestions could be upvoted or downvoted so that we can see what the community would most like to see written about.

It would be good to have a way to stop say twenty people then writing the same post at the same time. Perhaps people could put their name next to the suggestions that they are interested in... (read more)

2Aaron Gertler1yWe have a thread for this [https://forum.effectivealtruism.org/posts/9AEEqDR8zcQv2XmsB/what-posts-do-you-want-someone-to-write] ! It's not on the homepage anymore, but people who track new comments will still see what you post there, it will come up in search results, etc. It's possible that I should resurface this thread once in a while to collect new suggestions.

On mobile, you could shrink the menu bars on the top and bottom of your screen (where the top has the Forum logo, and bottom has “all posts” and other navigation bars). Smaller navbars -> More screen space for reading -> easier to read and comment.

2JP Addison2yWhat page are you on when you want this? Do you spend a lot of time reading Recent Discussion on the homepage? On posts the header goes away when you scroll down and the bottom bar never appears at all.
1aogara2yWhen reading the text of a post. You’re right, it’s totally good when scrolling downwards— I’m having trouble when writing comments, scrolling up and down between the text and my comment and getting blocked by the bars.

''Next" and "Previous" arrows/buttons at the bottom of a post, to move to the next/previous post - useful when you haven't read the forum for a while and want to catch up. This would obviously have to assume a certain ordering (e.g. chronological vs karma) and selection (e.g. all or excluding Community/Questions), which could perhaps be adjusted in Settings.

Double the karma weight of votes made before the new karma system was implemented. All votes used to be worth one point. For example, let's take an old post like this. It currently has 43 karma and 43 votes (probably all of them are upvotes). For comparison, my newest post has 53 karma and 16 upvotes. If you think about it, that old post is clearly more endorsed by the community. There were fewer readers when it was posted and a very high percentage of them chose to upvote it and probably many would have strongly upvoted if that was an option. Nowadays, even a regular upvote by high-karma users is worth two points. Posts like that old post do not appear in forum favourites and other places like that but they should. If you doubled the karma of such old posts, the karma for that old one would be 86 instead of 43 - a much better representation of how much the community endorses that post. Ah, maybe you should even triple the karma weight. Posts like this would then actually make forum favourites and I think they should.

3Larks2yChanging the raw totals sounds confusing, but you could implement some form of regularisation in ranking contexts - for example karma relative to total karma across all posts for that month. It is a little strange that if I go to an old post I upvoted, un-upvote, and then re-upvote, its karma increases I think.
4saulius2yIt's not just about ranking. It's also about how much karma individual users have and (most importantly) about how worthy-of-reading a post looks when you open it based on its karma. I think that the situation where all votes made before the new system are worth one karma point is no less confusing than a system where they are worth two karma points.
2Linch2yTriple sounds approximately right to me in terms of relative weighting.

Categories / sub-fora / better overview of tags

I think it would be very helpful if the forum was made easier to navigate by creating categories/sub-fora, making tags more intuitively accessible, or some other method. E.g., how do I find the most-upvoted forum posts and comments about EA investing?

6willbradshaw2yI think sub-fora is a somewhat contentious issue, the counter-argument being that it's good to have the Forum be a clearing-house of EA ideas without too much splintering. I agree the tag interface could be more discoverable. If you go to https://forum.effectivealtruism.org/tags/all [https://forum.effectivealtruism.org/tags/all] you can see a list of all tags and how many posts each one has, but there doesn't seem to be much functionality beyond a featureless alphabetical list (e.g. it would be cool to allow them to be sorted by number of posts, and for the tags page to be discoverable from the homepage). Once you get to a specific tag, though, it seems to already have the functionality you're looking for, including different sort orders: https://forum.effectivealtruism.org/tag/investing [https://forum.effectivealtruism.org/tag/investing]
2Jonas Vollmer2yThanks, I wasn't aware of this!

I would like to promote Wei Dai's suggestion that it would be nice if it was possible to share drafts privately and then potentially make them public at a later point. (I think there's some chance that this is already possible, but the UX doesn't seem intuitive, otherwise I would have noticed already.)

Before implementing, it seems worth talking to users to find out whether this would actually make them more likely to share their internal work publicly at some point. It could also be good to find out whether there are any other ways that coul... (read more)

3JP Addison2ySome of this will appear with the new editor, which has collaborative editing features built in. I admire your confidence. There's a sense in which if an experienced user doesn't know about a feature, it isn't well designed. OTOH, I assign some probability you've forgotten what the new post dialogue looks like.
4Jonas Vollmer2yVery cool! I think for me personally, this would work better if there were two buttons at the end – one called "publish", one called "share as draft with users" or something like that. That puts it more in the reference class of "this is a form of publishing my work" rather than "here's some additional feature that I don't understand how it works". Also: I notice that my wording was a bit unfriendly – apologies, I would like to retract that. :) EDIT: It seems that drafts don't support comments. I think this is one of the main features I was hoping for.
4JP Addison2yRe: your edit - yep, that will come with the new editor, though maybe not in the first iteration.

Have a nice format for linkpost in shortform.

With the goal of having the forum fully replace the EA subreddit at some point.

It has taken me a long time to find the EA online events calendar (thanks @EdoArad) could this be displayed more prominently


2Aaron Gertler2yThis post [https://forum.effectivealtruism.org/posts/KcMnHuXg9Yhwp37kW/connecting-with-online-ea-events] (which links to the calendar and other resources) has been pinned on the Community page for weeks. I could also pin it on the main page, but I have a much higher bar for that, because it means everyone will see it every time they come to the Forum (and it doesn't really fit the Frontpage category).

Can we have a nice "Community Events" section like in LW? Can it integrate automatically with the International EA Events Calendar?

I posted some things in this comment, and then realized the feature I wanted already existed and I just hadn't noticed it - which brings to mind another issue: how come one can retract, overwrite, but not delete a comment?

9willbradshaw2yI think in the case of regular comments there's a desire not to let people edit the record too much; if you say something you no longer endorse the intended action is that you retract it (which applies strikethrough but leaves the comment standing). Of course, there are some issues with this setup: * One can edit one's comments freely, so it's easy enough to remove unwanted content anyway (as we see here, and in the occasional comment consisting entirely of a struckthrough "."). * If the original comment is yours and no-one has responded to it, there's no conversation to protect, so I'm not sure blocking deletion makes much sense. * Since shortform is implemented as one big comment thread, it's impossible to delete shortform posts except by asking a mod to do it (I've run into this one myself). So one has less power over one's own shortform feed than one's major posts, which seems backwards to me given the intended purpose of shortform.
9Khorton2yYeah, I really dislike that I can't delete comments.
6Habryka2yWe actually just [https://github.com/LessWrong2/Lesswrong2/pull/3261] deployed the ability for users to delete their own comments if they have no children (i.e. no replies) for lesswrong. So I expect that will also be up on the EA Forum within the next few weeks.

Could we have better help for those whose content has been (heavily) downvoted?

I often see people plaintively saying something like: "My comment has been heavily downvoted, but I have no idea why!" Can the forum be more helpful for this scenario?

Not sure what the best solution is, but here's an idea:

  • if someone's comment/post has been downvoted enough for it to have net negative status, the UI allows the user to ask for feedback (e.g. it's an option when you click on the three dots on the top right hand side)
  • if they ask for feedback
... (read more)
7willbradshaw2yI also don't know what the best solution is, or if the best solution is a codebase change (as opposed to just a norm that you should avoid silently downvoting things if you can, unless feedback you agree with is already there). But I agree this is a problem: downvoting silently achieves the function of allowing the forum to sort and filter content, but fails the function of allowing users to learn and get better.

I think this could be more useful for people who are slightly downvoted, or whose posts just don't get much attention. I remember a few recent highly-downvoted posts and comments (below -10 or so), and all of them seem to have well-written feedback; sometimes more thought was put into the feedback than the original post (not necessarily a bad thing, but going even further could be a massive waste of energy).

People who provide feedback also have to want to engage. On Stack Exchange, closing a question requires a reason, but mods and high-rep users are known to close poorly-written questions for vague reasons without providing much feedback. An even worse failure mode I see is if users are disincentivized from downvoting because they don't want to be added to the feedback list.

Making it possible for people to add a bio in their profile (that supports external links) so people can get a better idea of someone's background and interests when reading posts and comments.

[This comment is no longer endorsed by its author]Reply
3Brendon_Wong3moI didn't know this was possible because the bio doesn't display when you are logged in and viewing your profile page, so perhaps displaying the bio itself with a button to edit it would be more obvious to users.

If I am on the main page, it might be nice if center-clicking on the 'Show Previous Comment' button opened that comment tree in a new tab. At the moment you can center-click the date to open a comment in a new tab, and then separately need to click 'Show Previous Comment'.

Is there an equivalent post on lesswrong for this discussion?

Has anyone considered a hackernews-style section? I know there is already support for posting links, but:

  • They act as posts, while their function is not at all like that in Hackernews. E.g.,
    • I don’t want my subscriptions to people show me their submitted links. At not as post notifications.
  • Hackernews thrives by banning editorialization. You can only submit a link with its original title (or a sufficiently neutral title in case the original title sucks. They have guidelines on their site, iirc.). The poster has no privilege over other users.
  • There is a
... (read more)

I am curious, why isn’t the greaterwrong frontend getting adopted as the primary UI? It’s much faster, much more touch-friendly, customizable, and generally rocks. Its only downpoint is that it lacks features compared to LW, which should be solved in, say, 6 months? That would be a major QoL improvement. The LW UI frequently hangs on my iPad, it’s so bloated.

Is it hard to make here and Lesswrong more compatible? I am thinking of a cross-posting feature that has comments of both forums. Linking the accounts (for subscriptions, for example. Karma maybe.) also seems nice.

2MaxRa5moYeah, just a feature which displays the comments from LessWrong crossposts would save me some clicking.

I think the EA Forum should allow authors to pick one of the images they attached into their post as the "preview image" when the post is shared on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter.

I don't think this feature currently exists, and I think it would help drive traffic to the EA Forum whenever posts are shared. I'm assuming that the authors would link an image that is more enticing than the standard EA forum logo, which would result in slightly higher click-through rates. Medium.com and most other CMS's allow you to pick a preview image. I think Medium.com's UI for picking a "featured image" is a good example of how to design this feature.

3Habryka2yI am reasonably confident that we use the first image that is used in a post as the preview image, so you can already mostly do this.
4BrianTan2yHm I tried linking a recent EA Forum post with an image [https://forum.effectivealtruism.org/posts/6x2MjPXhpPpnatJFQ/some-promising-career-ideas-beyond-80-000-hours-priority#Use_your_skills_to_meet_a_need_in_the_effective_altruism_community] (image is at the bottom) just now on Facebook, and the EA forum photo is still the one showing up. I tried running it via the Facebook sharing debugger [https://developers.facebook.com/tools/debug/?q=https%3A%2F%2Fforum.effectivealtruism.org%2Fposts%2F6x2MjPXhpPpnatJFQ%2Fsome-promising-career-ideas-beyond-80-000-hours-priority] and pressing "Scrape Again", but it still shows the same photo.
5Habryka2yHuh, you're right. I will look into it.

Probably this should go on LessWrong rather than here, but: it would be great if the Markdown editor could handle basic image formatting, rather than stripping out all the HTML so all my images revert to maximum-width.

1. Could analytics be displayed on the forum? I think it'd be interesting to people to see how many people read different posts. This is also related to the question re: the forum prize - I reckon many authors would be more motivated by seeing that their posts are widely read than by a cash prize.

2. I often see very long posts that jump right into the introduction without summary. Could one introduce a field that is mandatory if a posts is more than 300 words long that forces the author to provide a 200 characters (or so) summary? Or something like this:


could even be added by the mods.

4Aaron Gertler2yOn (2), we've considered adding a summary field in the editor, but I don't think we'd make it mandatory unless we did so for a much larger character count. Whether or not we eventually implement that, I encourage anyone reading this to include summaries in their long posts! Thanks for providing the Elsevier link -- I could imagine us linking to that as an example of how one might compose a summary.

Perhaps include a short form subsection under the Forum Favorites section? It seems to me that most short form posts have very low visibility.

If the forum admins have traffic statistics, they should be able to get a better sense of the visibility issue than I can. In particular, I suspect the short form section receives a fraction of the traffic of the frontpage, but this should be verified empirically.

Can tags be linked to (this page) for easy access? How about grouping the tags into a hierarchy for ease of use and discovery, rather than just organizing them alphabetically?

2Aaron Gertler2yBy the first suggestion, do you mean having each individual tag's page include a link to the list of all tags?
3Brendon_Wong2yI was initially thinking of including a link to the tags page in the sidebar on the home page, but that is another good idea as well. Including tags in the metadata subheader under article titles on the home page would also increase the prominence/usage of this feature.
2Aaron Gertler1yWe now have a sidebar link to this page [https://forum.effectivealtruism.org/tags/all].

When performing a search, the search results page uses "LW Search - EA Forum" as the contents of the title tag. I doubt this is an intentional reference to this forum being a fork of the lesswrong forum, so I assume the "LW" part should be removed.

By the way, I looked for 60 seconds to find where to post this small bug report, but the only options I saw was the unlisted contact us page, which seems to send a message to content people rather than the people that work on the codebase of the forum. This page is the only place where I could... (read more)

1JP Addison2yOn the object level, the search title bug is fixed on staging and should be deployed soon. On the meta level, the contact us page is on the sidebar as well. You were correct that it reaches Aaron not me, but if it’s a technical problem it will quickly get forwarded to me. Aaron just clarified the page to say that emailing Aaron is a good way to get to me.
5EricHerboso2y...and literally thirty seconds later, I appear to have found the bug report submission form is intended to be the Intercom on the side of every single page. I feel a little bit ashamed about this, but it just didn't occur to me that I should give bug reports there.
2Ben Pace2yHah! You're forgiven. I've seen this sort of thing a lot from users.

Option to reply to personal messages directly from email. Say, some form of a widget in the email notifications with a text box.

An option to automatically move a shortform post to a top level post

4Habryka2yYeah, I agree with this. I actually think we have an admin-only version of a button that does this, but we ran into some bugs and haven't gotten around to fixing them. I do expect we will do this at some point in the next few months.
1aogara2ySo like, when I'm logged into my account, I'll see every shortform post as top level?
9EdoArad2yNo, sorry, though that might be a good idea. I meant an option to easily move a shortform post you have written to a top level post, because I've seen many cases where people write amazing shortform posts which might get a lot more visibility if they were forwarded to top level, perhaps after getting some feedback and comments from people who are more engaged with the forum to even look at the shortform. That should transfer all comments and Karma with it, and simply have the option of adding a title. I guess this should apply to all comments, not just in the shortform.
1aogara2yI like this idea a lot. It probably lowers the effort bar for a top-level post, which I think is good.
2willbradshaw2yI agree this is a good idea. Not sure about regular comments, but it would be great if shortform posts had a "Promote to full post" button.

When sending a message to a user, it should open an old instance of the conversation instead of a new conversation

Groups tags which users can belong to or identify with. These can be displayed publicly in the user's bio, which would allow for automatic search of people with related interest or affiliations. 

2EdoArad2yPerhaps such groups can have a default chat conversation with all members
1Nathan Young2yI dont' know whether you want this to be a chat platform, but maybe having them function as email groups?
2EdoArad2yThere is an existing conversation feature in the forum, so I was thinking it's enough. It also allows for notifications by mail
4EdoArad2yPerhaps using #hashtag for something like this, so that it will be easy to create non-official tags.

Pingbacks should include comments

Option to @mention usernames.

Should have something like an autocomplete and an opt-out-able notification/mail whenever one is mentioned. 

WebMonetization - this takes about 30 minutes to add to a website, ask me how. Then anyone who has Coil would give money to this site - (maybe then just give it to charity).

1finm10dGood shout— iirc adding Coil is easy enough to be worth doing (it's just a <meta> tag). But I doubt it'll raise much money!
2Pablo10dAlso seconded. In the meantime, you can get pseudo dark mode with the dark reader [https://darkreader.org/] extension.
1finm10dSeconded! I would maybe use the site 20% more if it had a good dark mode.
2MaxDalton2yI don't know if you've seen ea.greaterwrong.com [https://ea.greaterwrong.com/] - that has a dark mode (in the left hand menu).

It would very dramatically improve my experience of the Forum if there were the option to hide posts. This would mean that the first page of the Forum would always be posts that were relevant to me. As it stands, whenever I visit the Forum most of the posts which I can see are not relevant to me (perhaps because I've already read them and don't want to read them again or check in on the ongoing discussion), whereas posts which are relevant to me and which I would want to visit again are invisible if they are more than a few days old.

4Stefan_Schubert4moYes, agreed. You can hide tags, like the creative writing contest, from the frontpage, but if you scroll down those posts and their comments are visible (at least they do to me; maybe there is some way to hide them). It would be good if they could be entirely hidden. And yes, it would be good to be able to hide individual posts (along with their comments) as well.
5Jsevillamol4moSimilarly, I would like for comments I have minimised to stay minimised between visits (unless there is a new reply in thread)
4Peter Wildeford4moI’d like this too.

On-site image hosting for posts/comments? This is mostly a minor QoL benefit, and maybe there would be challenges with storage. Another benefit would be that images would not vanish if their original source does.

2Aaron Gertler1yI'm stopping by to mention that this is now live: https://forum.effectivealtruism.org/posts/CMy2ueJ9WhZFNyBGs/ea-forum-update-new-editor-and-more [https://forum.effectivealtruism.org/posts/CMy2ueJ9WhZFNyBGs/ea-forum-update-new-editor-and-more]
6Ben Pace2yThe new editor has this! :)

Import from HTML/gdoc/word/whatever: One feature I miss from the old forum was the ability to submit HTML directly. This allowed one to write the post in google docs or similar (with tables, footnotes, sub/superscript, special characters, etc.), export it as HTML, paste into the old editor, and it was (with some tweaks) good to go.

This is how I posted my epistemic modesty piece (which has a table which survived the migration, although the footnote links no longer work). In contrast, when cross-posting it to LW2, I needed the kind help of a moderator - and even they needed to make some adjustments (e.g. 'writing out' the table).

Given such a feature was available before, hopefully it can be done again. It would be particularly valuable for the EA forum as:

  • A fair proportion of posts here are longer documents which benefit from the features available in things like word or gdocs. (But typically less mathematics than LW, so the nifty LATEX editor finds less value here than there).
  • The current editor has much less functionality than word/gdocs, and catching up 'most of the way' seems very labour intensive and could take a while.
  • Most users are more familiar with gdocs
... (read more)

Alas, I don’t think this is possible in the way you are suggesting it here. We can allow submission of a narrow subset of HTML, but indeed one of the single most common complaints that we got on the old forum was many posts having totally inconsistent formatting because people were submitting all kinds of weird HTML+CSS with differing font-sizes for each post, broken formatting on smaller devices, inconsistent text colors, garish formatting, floating images that broke text layout, etc.

Indeed just a week ago I got a bug report about the formatting of your old “Why the tails come apart” post being broken on smaller devices because of the custom HTML you submitted at the time. Indeed a very large fraction of old LW and EA Forum posts have broken formatting because of the overly permissible editor that old LessWrong and the old EA Forum both had (and I’ve probably spent at least 10 hours over the last years fixing posts with that kind of broken formatting).

If you want to import something from Google Docs, then exporting it to markdown and using the markdown editor is really as well as we can do, and we can ensure that always works reliably. I don’t t... (read more)

Footnote support in the 'standard' editor: For folks who aren't fluent in markdown (like me), the current process is switching the editor back and forth to 'markdown mode' to add these footnotes, which I find pretty cumbersome.[1]

[1] So much so I lazily default to doing it with plain text.

2Habryka2yYeah, this is the current top priority with the new editor rework, and the inability to make this happen was one of the big reasons for why we decided to switch editors. I expect this will happen sometime in the next month or two.

Sans-serif font in body text! The comments section is absolutely beautiful to read, but I find the body text of posts very difficult. Most blogs and online news sources seem to use sans-serif, probably for readability.

Alternatively, give users the option to pick their own font. Also, maybe make text black instead of a lighter grey?

6Aaron Gertler1yWhen you say "make text black instead of a lighter grey," are you referring to all of the Forum's light-grey text (e.g. voting buttons, section subtitles), or something more specific? I tried to check on the "sans-serif is easier to read" claim but didn't find conclusive evidence; checking Google Scholar, the first study of computer readability [https://d1wqtxts1xzle7.cloudfront.net/48796293/Readability_Subjective_Preference_and_Me20160913-23237-1flwrcn.pdf?1473763994=&response-content-disposition=inline%3B+filename%3DReadability_Subjective_Preference_and_Me.pdf&Expires=1596440786&Signature=cF6plN7EEdbNPeNbxfUlnt1fyYuGI~HMXGfxFz~Go~i-f7-bhQv1DGtBwncUgYcroe4SGw6557Im2FtPxac7mkvt7IJ5YeaKsaxipMlua1rg8QLruxvEcf4fidXuKB4pL~sge3b-NpBgYyzPwKzy2LWpX3HmPnyzQVt5c6htLR-UH0K6lEtTi3oiyh6GdUEg906R7kTeMy9pWzPLEQJXbs5sbNRhHs1V9B7vmZ2qNNrb0gG38gzRe0CnSCjywfqv-lSJBV2st~k3A-dIDPKFRA9VcWCjqI8VZ6f~j~ZgTQ5Kr1d666hW6wKjMR7LkNgZX3rmDTML39LJabEmhRSG6Q__&Key-Pair-Id=APKAJLOHF5GGSLRBV4ZA] I saw found that serif fonts were easier to read. (This is just one study, of course, and knowing that the Forum's specific body type is tough for some people really helps us.)
1aogara1yI meant the body text of posts could be darker - I wouldn't change the buttons or other light-grey text. Interesting that the study found serif fonts more readable. I'm not aware of conclusive evidence in either direction, I'd just heard folk wisdom that sans-serif is more readable on a computer screen. My general opinion is that the comments section on this forum is extremely easy to read and clean to look at, some of my favorite formatting anywhere, but personally I find the body text of posts much more difficult to read than most sites. I wonder what most people think, I wouldn't expect everyone to have the same experience.

The expectation that *ALL* EA resources should be in this forum. Ideally people would post books (with the tag "book") and then new users could see which resources the community thinks are worth reading first.

1aogara2yThat's an interesting idea for Forum v3: a wiki for all EA materials. Newcomers could go to the Forum and find Peter Singer, Doing Good Better, and links to 80,000 Hours research + new posts every day. Related: "Should EA Buy Distribution Rights for Foundational Books? [http://Should EA Buy Distribution Rights for Foundational Books?]" by Cullen O'Keefe
1Nathan Young2yI think EA wikis have been tried in the past. For what it's worth I think rather than storing information you want to store connections and allow for easy error checking. I suggest this is the non-obvious value of wikipedia. In that regard I think a roam board would be better than a wiki.

Soon after publishing, hide scores on comments so people aren't biased by them. Randomise the order of comments early on.

1Inda2yI think greaterwrong has an option to hide karma.
2Nathan Young2yExample here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Information_cascade [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Information_cascade]
1Nathan Young2yThanks to whoever burned this early :P I suggest this is evidence towards my point.

Community threads on each of impact, tractability and neglectedness of different cause areas. Would be interesting to see if their ordering agrees with 80k.

[This comment is no longer endorsed by its author]Reply

Numbers in articles which get multiplied at the end. The ability for the community to forecast these numbers and it change the overall result.

Ability to add postive or negative citations to points in an article.

The ability to request a citation on a specific point.

A portal for booking a call with an EA.

How often are poeple connected throught the EA hub? How often did poeple connect at EAGx virtual. If connections are valuable, this is a way they could happen more.

I've put some different use cases in the comments.

4aogara2yRoots-based approach to the same outcome: Leave an open invitation and a Calendly link in your EAForum bio.
2Nathan Young2ySure but you could reduce the friction on that. And ideally make it more trackable.
1Nathan Young2yThere could be a "new to EA, book a call" button and EAs could sign up to a call. This would be very welcoming.
1Nathan Young2yA way this could work is that EAs could log in wiht their calendly and then a visitor would choose a time and it would randomise among EAs who were free. The main thing is that you want the friction to be low enough that it gets used. EA seems to think networking is valuable enough to arrange conferences. This would expand that.

Link to profiles on the EA hub. How often do EAs use this website or the Hub to find people to work with? I guess someone tracks this?

2Aaron Gertler1yPeople can already add this information to their Forum bios if they want to, and I encourage [https://forum.effectivealtruism.org/posts/2j8ERGPu68L5Bd95y/you-should-write-a-forum-bio] anyone who hasn't done this to do so! I think linking a Forum bio to an EA Hub profile might backfire, in that a Hub profile might be more onerous to fill out than a quick bio (but maybe getting more Hub profiles would be worth the tradeoff?).
1Nathan Young1yIt seems there is iteration possible here. Are there more users on here or the EA Hub, if the former it might be worth using EA forum logins for the EA hub.
1Nathan Young2yPerhaps these are not visible itially but you can toggle that.

Comment guidelines which suggest single points per comment to allow more effective upvoting.

Ability to split comments into multiple seperate comments. This could be limited to poeple who are higher karma.

2saulius2yDo you mean to do this to comments written by other people? Because you can already do this for your own comments by editing them and making more comments. But even that is problematic if anyone already voted on the comment.

Be able to edit the text of articles which leaves hidden suggestions. Others can turn this feature on and upvote them. Highly upvoted suggests appear as comments.

Perhaps this feature would only be available for people above a certain karma.

Make comments on specific sections of text which appear to the right of the text. And can be up and downvoted.

1Inda2yThis will be a distracting overhead though. Also, there can be many comments on a single paragraph.
2Nathan Young2yI don't think so. As I commented, parhaps these start invisible (or with little markers you can mouse over). I find it works on google docs. what do you think?
2Inda2yI don’t know :) I guess the idea itself is definitely sound, but implementing it correctly might be a challenge.
1Nathan Young2yI think we should upvote features we'd like and let the tech team decide what is possible to implement. It might be hard, it might not.
1aogara2yWhat if, when you highlight text within a post, a small toolbar pops up where you can click to quote the text in your comment box?
2Nathan Young2yPerhaps these are not visible itially but you can toggle that.

Icons on pages to show that other, anonymous people are reading them. I think this would increase engagement. This can be cheaply tested.

Examples, googledocs.

3EdoArad2yMust say that these usually causes me a slight anxiety for some reason. Something about other people knowing what I read and when I entered which document makes me feel uncomfortable.
1Nathan Young2yI think it should be anonynous rather than showing which user you are.
1EdoArad2yI meant even in that case!

As assumption that there are some "evergreen" questions like this one, which periodically the community should spend time thinking on.

Please comment with other such questions

1Nathan Young6moI nearly posted this just now and then realised I already did a year ago.
1Nathan Young2y"What should our community guidelines be?"
1Nathan Young2y"Please order these cause areas by importance" -> how does the community's thoughts compare to 80k's?
1Nathan Young2yWhat are your most useful tools https://forum.effectivealtruism.org/posts/zY9grSFwxmskxGQY4/what-are-good-sofware-tools-what-about-general-productivity [https://forum.effectivealtruism.org/posts/zY9grSFwxmskxGQY4/what-are-good-sofware-tools-what-about-general-productivity]

This thread should be linked in the intercom button under "feature requests".

If you click "submit a feature request" it should send you here.

Thanks so much to the team for their work. I really like the layout of this forum. It's clean and pleasant to use.

6JP Addison2yThank you! Most of design credit goes to the LessWrong team, whose depth of focus on design I admire.

I'm not sure if such a feature would be worth the work it would involve, but: a very simple "editor" to very easily create probability distributions (or maybe more generally graphs that don't require mathematical formulas but just very rough manual sketching) and embed them into posts or comments could be useful. I'm not sure how often people would really use that though. Generally however, it would probably be a good thing to make probability estimates as explicit as possible, and being able to easily "draw" distribution... (read more)

2JP Addison2yYou might be interested in: https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/EQJfdqSaMcJyR5k73/habryka-s-shortform-feed?commentId=dQT4kmtd594nQFf85 [https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/EQJfdqSaMcJyR5k73/habryka-s-shortform-feed?commentId=dQT4kmtd594nQFf85]

I'd love to have a weekly/monthly open post, where everyone could ask questions and post small ideas. I imagine something similar to LessWrongs "Open & Welcome Thread". This could make some people more comfortable with starting to contribute to the forum.

5Aaron Gertler2yI used to do these, but I think I phased them out when Shortform posts came along, as those appeared to serve a similar role (sharing things that you don't think merit a full post). As it turns out, while Shortform has been useful, I think it has a different feel than open threads, so bringing them back seems like a good idea. I or another moderator may start posting them soon.
1Nathan Young2yAaron used to do these, I wonder why he stopped https://forum.effectivealtruism.org/posts/rB3kQng99cXDim7XH/open-thread-45 [https://forum.effectivealtruism.org/posts/rB3kQng99cXDim7XH/open-thread-45]
2EdoArad2yPerhaps this can be done without an option of voting on comments, which might make this easier for people to participate in.

While I think LaTeX is useful, it is not very intuitive or user friendly and posting long curated articles is quite tedious. It would be nice to have a feature like Elementor.

I think there would be a lot of value in a detailed how-to document for content creators explaining each step needed to go from a GDoc or WordDoc to a forum post. This would optimally include a directory for keywords like footnotes, typographical emphasis, Title/Header/Normal text functions, etc.

4willbradshaw2yThe reference to LaTeX here isn't very clear to me. Does Elementor provide an alternative equation-rendering system? Or did you mean something else?

Level 3 headings should be supported. Unless it's changed recently, it currently jumps from Level 2 to Level 4, which makes it hard to logically format complex documents.

4JP Addison2yIt has. We no longer apply the same styling to h2 and h3. While you still can’t create h3s using the editor, you can paste in from google docs and they will appear correctly. Sorry for not mentioning this anywhere, it’s such an invisible change — I don’t know what I was thinking. (Unfortunately, I will need to remake this change once the new editor ships. LessWrong does not want its posts to have more than 3 levels of headings [h1, h2 and bold text]. I don’t think that’s the right choice for the EA Forum, but sometimes their updates won’t be checked for compatibility with minor features of the Forum).
2JP Addison1yThe new editor has shipped (still just to beta users) but I have just reintroduced h3s.
1Derek1yH3s are still being converted to regular Paragraph format when I paste them in from GDocs. What am I doing wrong?
3Aaron Gertler1yH3 headers should be available again soon; the feature broke after a recent migration.
3MichaelA1yI had the same problem when posting a few days ago. Though I think level 3 headings work for me if I use the markdown editor (e.g., a paragraph that only has "### How often have people been wrong about such things in the past?" will show up as a level 3 heading). And when I just put a sentence fragment in a line by itself and in bold, it at least showed up in the sidebar as if it was a level three heading. (Well, one of them didn't initially work, but then I fixed it somehow - I think the fix was simple, but can't remember.)
6willbradshaw2yStrongly agree with this, have been very frustrated in the past with how the Forum (via LessWrong) coerces my header usage. It looks bad in the sidebar too.

I think that karma can be gamified more. 

In StackExchange they have an option of offering bounties for questions which can be collected by answerers. If we'd have something similar here, that could serve as a good signal that someone cares about a question and has yet to get a satisfying answer. 

I'd be curious about what kinds of trades people can do if there would be a process for (probably better publicly) exchanging karma. I can imagine bets being made, offers to help editing, seeking information, a bounty on finding mistakes or whatever. 

4aogara2yStackExchange might have some great principles to implement here, though I don't know much about it
1EdoArad2yI do worry about people's incentives being unfavorably changed though, but it seems to me that getting more karma is sort of aligned with doing more good. Perhaps if all trades would be on a public ledger it would mitigate the possible harms as it would be easier to see who tries to game it.

Having the option of suggesting edits easily, as in google docs. 

I think that it being easy for readers to add links, explanations and corrections might improve the quality of posts and enable better participation between commenters and the OP. Specifically, I think that we should link more, especially to other posts on the forum, and it would be helpful if that could be aided by commenters.

Technically, that could work by saving a history of versions (which would perhaps be a good idea anyway), perhaps by remembering the diffs in a git-like fashion. T

... (read more)

That’s actually a lot of what the LessWrong team is currently working on! I don’t know yet whether we want to allow suggesting edits on all posts, but we are planning to allow wiki-like posts that allow people to submit changes.

4Nathan Young2yFor what it's worth I think you want this to have the minimal friction but that maybe suggestions are hidden as standard.
2Nathan Young2yI've been working on something similar to this recently (I've added all my thoughts as sperate suggestions here). I am not sure you need live editing, but upovable suggestions, comments in text and requests for citations/citations seem valuable. Would love to talk about this some time. My calendly is here https://calendly.com/nathanpmyoung/video-call [https://calendly.com/nathanpmyoung/video-call]

Can I opt out of Forum favourites? I'm sorry but I hate it

3JP Addison2yI agree it isn’t great. This was slated for a redesign, but then I deprioritized it. I should probably revisit what the right thing to do is. I’ve been meaning to randomize it, as Habryka mentioned. (I want it to not be randomized when you're logged out, which is why it’s like this. It’s supposed to be a way for newcomers to see the best of the Forum, so they don’t get lost in the weekly churn.) Maybe just randomizing it for logged-in users would be enough, but an option to hide it seems good, if more work.

I also don't like this feature, although we should be aware that this feature is most helpful for new users, and new users are probably under-represented in this thread.

Variant of Korthon's comment:

I never look at the "forum favorites" section. It seems like it's looked the same forever and it takes up a lot of screen real estate without any use for me!

I just updated this section and it now shows randomized posts.

6Habryka2ySame is true for me (as the person who built the feature). On LessWrong the recommendations are randomized but for some reason on the EA Forum the admins/devs decided to always have them be strictly ordered by the latest highest karma posts you haven’t read, so they never change, and inevitably end up in a configuration where you’re not interested in any of the posts.
7willbradshaw2yI agree, I think the Forum has enough very-high-karma content now that randomising it here as well would be a good idea.

Can I get email updates about a specific tag?

4Aaron Gertler1yThis feature is now live! Any tag page will give you the option to subscribe to that tag.
7Habryka2yYep, that feature is live on LessWrong, so I expect it will go live within a few weeks on the forum.

It's still a crime that we don't support tables and it's a second crime that no one else has mentioned this yet.

4Aaron Gertler1yI'm stopping by to mention that this is now live: https://forum.effectivealtruism.org/posts/CMy2ueJ9WhZFNyBGs/ea-forum-update-new-editor-and-more [https://forum.effectivealtruism.org/posts/CMy2ueJ9WhZFNyBGs/ea-forum-update-new-editor-and-more]

They are supported in the new editor which LessWrong has currently shipped if you op into beta features (and I expect will go live for everyone by default in the next two weeks or so).

2Peter Wildeford2yAwesome!

I'd like to have the option to make polls within a post. I recently wrote a short question post to see if an idea seems promising and I got a couple of upvotes and no comments. Having the option to get quick and cheap feedback from the community would've been useful.

The bucket this falls in for me is ... Widgets! I really want to make widgets. For example, making it so authors could add a button to donate. This is planned, but not concretely.

8Aaron Gertler2yIn case you haven't seen it, I created the Facebook group Effective Altruism Polls [https://www.facebook.com/groups/477649789306528/] for this use case. Response rates are generally pretty high!

Very specific and small comment, but I'd like to see the "Reply" button for comments be bigger and more noticeable. I would prefer it to be an actual button (with padding and an outline), and with a message icon beside it. It's happened to me twice where I couldn't figure out how to reply to a comment until ~30 seconds of searching for the reply button.

I'd like users to be able to attach/link a profile picture to their EA Forum profile, and that these pictures would be viewable next to their usernames in posts or comments. I think this would make the forum a bit more human and friendly!

4JP Addison2yI also like this idea. In addition to the effect you describe, I think it could help your eyes track the conversation more easily. It would also add more color to the site. Here are some reasons why I currently think it’s a little too much work. First, it’s more work than it seems, because the current layout of these comments feels very unsuited for slapping in all but the tiniest of avatars. So we’d need to substantially update the comments UI as well as build the profile upload. Also it makes the experience of engaging in the comments nicer, but my current guess is most of the value comes from people writing good posts and more people reading them [https://forum.effectivealtruism.org/posts/csQCDjE2Rjj99zHgW/how-we-think-about-the-forum] . I don’t see the strong causal pathway between pictures and more of that happening. — Having written that, if it caused authors to find the comment section friendlier, I could imagine them having a smaller barrier to posting. OTOH, I could imagine authors being more intimidated by the “oh crap these are real people” feeling. I’d be curious to hear thoughts from authors.
8Inda2yI think this has bad effects also. It’ll make the site appeal more to “normal” people, and look less serious. It also doesn’t give us any useful information, but take up real estate and use up attention. It might make groupthink more prevalent, too; I personally have found my thinking is most honest when I am thinking alone and don’t plan to share them socially.

Hey JP, thanks for your thoughts! When you're saying it's a little too much work, how many weeks are we talking about? I can understand how the profile upload part might take a bit long (1-2 weeks?).

For adding in the profile pictures beside author's usernames, I would think there isn't any big UI updating that has to be done there. It's only in the comments section that things might be a bit trickier. I've made mockups for my own suggestion here, including mockups for showing these on the frontpage, post header, and two different options for how to show pictures on comments. Even just showing pictures on the frontpage and beside the author's names in a forum post page would be great, if those are easier to do than adding on the comments.

But yeah it's good that you flag that the value of the forum comes from people writing posts and more people reading them. I'm also curious about what authors think on if they would prefer to have their face in posts, as well as if they prefer to see commenters' faces!

+50 points for making UI mockups, makes it much more likely to get the feature.

1Nathan Young2yRelated to this what does our user research say that new users think about the forum? Do they think it is minimalist or stark? I guess we could learn this, particularly if we want EA to be more representative of the global population.
7BrianTan2yYeah I think the EA Forum team could do usability testing on users if they haven't done it yet. Maybe they could do it on people interested in EA but have never visited the forum yet. I remember the first few times I visited the forum was quite daunting - long posts, usually no pictures on posts, no faces, and no onboarding. I'm thinking that for users not logged in (which presumably means they're new to the forum?), they could be pointed to this article (maybe with some edits to make it a better first-read for new users): https://forum.effectivealtruism.org/about, [https://forum.effectivealtruism.org/about,] and then they're encouraged to sign up in the end. A link to a short 2-5 minute video on the homepage about what the forum is and how to use the forum could work too. I think some gamification for guided onboarding could work too, i.e. upvote your first article, upvote your first comment, message an author, write your first comment, write your first post, acquire x much karma (and get a badge) Now that we have tags, tags could be part of onboarding and a more central part of the experience too. Similar to how Medium.com encourages you to follow or subscribe to certain topics. But yeah I wouldn't want to speak ahead too much on feature suggestions without knowing what the user research and usability testing results are first! As a UI/UX designer myself, I'd much rather see user research and usability testing be done first. My experience in using the forum might not be representative.

I do actually quite like the UX mockups for the photo idea, which I think would have the positive effects already described (friendlier impression, easier to track comments). Here are two reasons I'm less keen:

  • People discriminate a lot based on how people look. My impression of someone on Facebook is coloured pretty strongly by their choice of profile picture, for example. I'd predict that attaching images to posts and comments would cause people to give relatively more weight to people who (a) look like them along various dimensions, and (b) have access to good, professional photographs of themselves.
  • There are a lot of users of the Forum who post anonymously or under a pseudonym. If the Forum had ubiquitous images, these users would have to either (a) use no image, (b) use a cartoon/non-human image (as is/was common in Slate Star Codex comment threads, for example), or (c) use a fake photo à la thispersondoesnotexist.com. Apart from the third option, which is ethically somewhat dubious, I think this would be significantly harmful to other users' impression of these users, especially if they are in dispute with named users with real photos, in a way I don't think we want.


... (read more)
2BrianTan5moHi Will, I realize I never responded to some of these. Let me respond to them now: 1. "People discriminate a lot based on how people look..." - I think there's a lot of truth to people's impressions of someone being shaped by what they look like. However: 1. I don't think people are going to have significantly more negative impressions of Forum users just because of how they look. If anything, assuming a lot of people upload friendly photos of themselves, they'll have more positive impressions by seeing people who seem warm and friendly, instead of the cold and intimidating feel that the forum has to it. And if someone doesn't want to show a warm or friendly photo, then they can always put a different photo that conveys what they want to convey about themselves. 2. As you've said, I think people forming impressions of others on the Forum based on how they look is already happening even without profile photos. It's quite easy to search on Facebook, LinkedIn, or Google the name of a forum user (for those without pseudonyms), and know what their background is based off of their pictures. I would guess quite a few people on the Forum do this to have a better sense of who they're reading or talking to. I do this regularly myself so I can get a better sense of who I'm talking to. I think it's an important part of communication to understand one's audience, and pictures allow you to better understand who you are interacting with. 2. "There are a lot of users of the Forum who post anonymously or under a pseudonym." I think these users can just either opt to have a blank image, or use a random image. I would think 30-50% of current active Forum users are willing to upload profile photos, and having at least 30% of people upload photos may be good enough to make the forum a bit more friendly.
2willbradshaw2moMy turn for a slow response. I think you're more concerned with the effect of having images on a user's feelings about the Forum generally, while I'm more concerned with its effect on user's (differential) feelings about other individual users. I think there's a bit of a disconnect there that makes your responses not feel like they quite hit what I was getting at. I think you're probably right about the warm fuzzy angle with respect to users' impression of the Forum generally, but I'm not convinced this outweighs the inequitable effects on individual users. Concretely, I think in a discussion between an attractive person with a good-quality, well-posed & -lit photo and a weird-looking person with a bad photo (or no photo), the former will be at a very significant advantage with regard to swaying the audience. This discriminates against several groups of people: ethnic or other minorities, poorer people, people with worse intuitions about self-presentation, etc. The current setup of the Forum discriminates on the basis of writing ability, which has various downsides, but I predict the effect of photos to be much stronger and even less well-correlated with actually being right. A bit more grumpy than I actually endorse, but a feeling I'm having here: The world is full of places where people are evaluated based on how they look. It's no bad thing to have some places where they are evaluated based on what they write.
5Aaron Gertler2moPreface: I hate photos of myself and have been annoyed when past employers have required they be used in email profiles, so I get where you're coming from. I may be unusual, but this doesn't match my experience with any discussion platform that includes profile pictures (Facebook, Twitter, Slack...). Profile pictures on these platforms are small enough that you'd actually have to expend effort (clicking through to someone's profile or at least hovering over the photo) to judge someone's appearance. (Though race and gender can usually be seen even at small scale, which I guess is something.) I also think this dynamic, such that it exists at all, breaks down quickly when people use anything other than photos of their own faces. I assume all anonymous users would avoid photos, and that at least some other named users would do the same (including me). What ends up happening when an argument involves: * One person with a generic nice-looking photo, * One person with an artsy photo, face obscured by shadow, * A howler monkey, and * Hobbes the tiger? I grabbed these examples from four profiles that popped up quickly when I opened Twitter. And I think this kind of scenario will be much more common than "two people having a conversation where most onlookers would agree that person A looks nicer than person B, based on what you can see at a glance from their profile pictures". You'll get some instances of the latter, but I think that the effect will be quite small compared to the overall impact of having a warmer Forum with easier-to-track conversations.
6willbradshaw2moMy own experience of these platforms is that someone's profile picture or lack thereof has a big effect on my impression of that person. (With Twitter > Facebook > Slack in terms of both size of image and size of effect, but I remember specific examples from all three platforms.) This applies also to cartoons or other non-photo images. My clearest memories of this are from old Slate Star Codex comment threads, when almost no-one used photos but I was still very aware of my feelings about users being strongly affected by their images – and changing significantly when those images changed. As another example, my system 1 is often noticeably better-disposed toward people who use profile pictures which are nice drawings of themselves than it would be if they used the original photo. It's possible I'm unusually impressionable here, but I currently doubt it.
4BrianTan2moHey Will, no worries and thanks for the response! Yeah I think I updated my views a bit from some of these discussions I had with others on the Forum about whether it should have profile photos. I'm now probably just 50% in favor of the EA Forum having profile photos, whereas I was probably 80% in favor before. I think a good compromise is maybe there are ways to make the Forum seem friendlier and more welcoming to newcomers without having to use profile photos. That's the problem I wanted to solve anyway. I see how profile photos can degrade the experience for more engaged Forum users, so maybe there are other solutions, but I won't try to talk about them here.
2willbradshaw2moDefinitely interested in seeing this explored more!

i would find it helpful to establish a norm to begin posts with a short (!) 'tl;dr'-section which summarizes the main results/arguments of the article, since sometimes it is hard to tell what a post is about only from the title/the preview one gets by hovering over the link.

5willbradshaw2yI think it's already quite common for commenters on posts without these to request them; is there something in the UI you'd like to change to encourage this?
1tilboy2yif im not mistaken, when you hover over the link to a post you just see the beginning of the post, right? this sometimes is not very useful. maybe you could give post creators another text field ("thumbnail"/"preview"/"tl;dr") where they can explicitly fill in what should be shown when hovering over the link. this field should probably be character limited then. this text should be displayed at the top of the post, too. (and if posters dont fill it out it could just fall back to showing the beginning of the post).
2JP Addison2yWhat you describe is almost exactly identical to an admin feature that we have from LessWrong. Which isn't much help to you yet, but might get released more widely.
3Nathan Young2yThis needn't be written by the author - it could be added by higher karma readers, for instance.
6tilboy2yor written by anyone but approved by the author?
1Nathan Young2yYeah that works too.

I'd like the Forum to support superscript and subscript.

2Aaron Gertler1yWhile these are supported in the new editor, users can't access the functionality yet. However, subscript is currently possible in Markdown: Adding subscript to my post You need to start the subscript with a tilde, then put a backslash after every word but the last word (the closing tilde goes after the last word). For example, see lines 2 and 14 of this file [https://github.com/markdown-it/markdown-it-sub/blob/master/test/fixtures/sub.txt] .
4Habryka2yThis is also supported in the new editor.

I'd like to see the experimental sequences feature rolled out to all users.

2Aaron Gertler1yI'm stopping by to mention that this is now live: https://forum.effectivealtruism.org/posts/CMy2ueJ9WhZFNyBGs/ea-forum-update-new-editor-and-more [https://forum.effectivealtruism.org/posts/CMy2ueJ9WhZFNyBGs/ea-forum-update-new-editor-and-more]
5JP Addison2ySoon™️
3richard_ngo2y+1 on this, and on curated posts. (As also discussed here [https://forum.effectivealtruism.org/posts/ccc4fXMnQ63zkqGKo/why-doesn-t-the-ea-forum-have-curated-posts-or-sequences] ).
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