This is a work in progress. Like everything else
- Some people do all their writing in one go, others like to iterate. The Forum should support both styles
- An MVP would just be to allow people to create wiki pages but without them being post categories (currently every wiki page is also a forum category, by default)
- They should get karma and appear on the front page, like normal posts, but anyone can edit them
- Exampes of posts where people seem to want the ability for public editing
- We should want a forum where errors are corrected
- We should want a forum with the most up-to-date discussion on a variety of topics
- I would like to allow people to suggest edits to my posts. We have the technology to support this
- People don't have to do this, but if they wanted to, it is more important that the text of a post is up to date than that it says exactly what it did initially
- What about a "drafts" section of the forum where all drafts are public, but the posts don't have karma yet. Perhaps that just matches the style in which I write things
Current posts centre the author’s voice and make it hard and time consuming to correct errors. Often an article will have significant errors found in the comments, but some people don’t see them.
Wiki functionality currently exists but it is framed about giving intro to topic tags rather than co-written articles around new subjects.
Model estimating size of problem
Minimal Viable Product:
- Change the create new wiki page from "create new topic" to "create new wiki page"
Full solution. A new type of post - a community post:
- Anyone can edit them
- They still have comments (for things people want to add or discuss which are meta to the page itself)
- An author writes the post initially, but anyone who edits with an account gets their name added (or there is no author listed if the former is hard)
- They can get karma (which either goes nowhere or gets split among authors)
- In the long run they will use the google docs editor that Lightcone are building
How they are different from forum wiki pages:
- Anyone can create any community post (wiki pages are only allowed on a small selection of topics
- They get karma and can appear on the front page (wiki pages don't have karma for whole page, only edits)
I have run a couple of discussions recently anxiety about money, EA and global dev. These would have been easier had there been a way to fold people’s comments back into the original post and improve it. Likewise, it seems inappropriate to have written these as "topic tags" since it's a new discussion. I am confident that community posts will facilitate better discussions. They provide this in three ways.
Functionality. I want to let anyone edit these discussions. I trust EAs and so I want to test out whether we can have much better discussion if anyone can edit the main content. If you spot an error or new argument, don’t leave it languishing in the comments - add it to the post.
Norms. Sometimes taking people ideas from the comments and adding them to a piece looks like intellectual theft. But that’s only because my name is at the top. With a community post it would be normal is normal for many people to collaborate.
Concision. Wikipedia articles are great for quickly summarising issues. People can cut text they think is unnecessary. The same is not true of EA forum posts. And that’s okay, but it would be good to have a form where if the community thinks it can be shorter, it is.
“This post has rapidly become a well-referenced discussion and is helping bring community consensus” Nathalie Olds
“I noticed an argument was missing so I added it” Maxine Franks
“I thought the phrasing was confusing to EAs outside the UK so I replaced it with more consensus language” RHaton62
“There was an argument which was emotional, rather than a moral point, so I made this clearer” Stephen Smulpaj
“I still regularly post standard posts but on an issue where I want to give information rather than narrative, I use a community post” Sudip Agarwal
There is already an EA forum wiki. Why is this change necessary?
The wiki doesn’t really get used for developing discussions. I think that’s because pages on it can’t get karma and so don’t appear on the front page - there is no way to create “buzz” around a page.
If anyone could create a wiki page on any topic and they could gain karma and comments then the issue would be solved.
People might deface articles
The EA community is very conscientious. I am don’t think this will happen.
What kinds of community posts will people write?
Articles on breaking discussions. Technical articles attempting to encapsulate an issue. Summaries of a number of different articles.
Why can't the author just make changes?
As I say above some of this is a norms issue. It feels weird to make significant changes to an article. It feels weird to add arguments from the comments without flagging them.
But also, it's hard. It's hard to write community discussions, even though they get a lot of karma. This would be a feature that I think might allow me to create and manage those discussion better because I could allow the community to help me correct my errors (It's largely worrying about looking stupid that makes me write fewer articles than I otherwise would).
I see an error in this piece, can I edit it?
Relevant Beta Feature for LessWrong posts: Google-Docs-like editing
This doesn't work on public posts.
To be clear, this is a regular post that be edited by anyone. So it's quite unlike the EA Forum Wiki.
I could see that it would be better to have another name for what you're suggesting than "wiki posts", since there is a risk of conflation between that and the EA Forum wiki articles.
What would you suggest? Collaborative posts?
Yeah, that's a plausible candidate. Or something else in that ballpark. Though I guess you want to distinguish them from posts that are co-authored in the standard way.
Haha, you're implementing your own system. :)
That's an interesting suggestion. I guess one objection could be that there is a risk of conflation with the community tag. Otoh, I guess that almost any term you could reasonably use is used for something else as well, so I'm unsure how much weight to put on that. It seems like less of an issue than it is regarding the term "Wiki".
Alternatively, wiki pages could have karma and be creatable by anyone. That would solve the problem too.
"Open posts" perhaps?
If you want to make suggestions to this post, reply and I'll make you a coathor and you can add them yourself.
Thanks for posting this Nathan. It brings to mind community wiki answers on stack overflow, which I do think are useful.
My current best guess is that we would not prioritize this soon, though I have added it to our triage queue.
Though my point is that very little tech needs to be built.
The most minimal of MVPs is to change norms on the wiki.
To achieve this you could create a "community user" and share the pass on top of the post. People would login with it, make changes and explain them in the comments. Not sure if sharing the pass would be against the Forum's rules.
That would be a massive effort for people to do and I'm almost certain few would. Cool idea though.