Explore the hidden treasures of the forums

With this tool you can zoom in on your favorite topics from EA Forum, LessWrong, and Alignment Forum. Or you can just wander around and see what you find.

You start by seeing the whole forum split into two main topics. Choose the one that you like more, and that topic will be split again into two subtopics. Choose a subtopic, and again, you will see it split into two subsubtopics (and so on).

It's like climbing a tree, where you start at the trunk and then choose which branches to go into as you go higher.

Choose a forum to climb:

 

Some tips:

  • it's easier to choose a branch by looking at tags rather than posts
  • on mobile, horizontal view is more practical

Features

Each topic has a unique and unchanging URL. So if you find a place you like, just bookmark it! The posts inside will be updated, but the theme stays the same.

The bar at the right of each post is the reading time indicator. Full bar means 30 min, half bar means 15 min, and so on.

At the top right, you can choose how to rank the posts:

  • hot - new and upvoted - the default forum ranking
  • top - most upvotes
  • alive - has recent comments
  • meritocratic - votes from high karma users are exaggerated
  • regular - default scoring
  • democratic - posts are scored as if everyone has the same voting power

My hopes

The amount of content is overwhelming. My problem is not that there's nothing good to read, but that there is so much to plow through to find what's best for me.

Also, it's sad to see great posts receive so little attention, the moment after they are pushed off the frontpage. But they are still valuable, and for each forgotten post, there is someone who should read it. So I want to make the right topics find their way to the right people.

Let's make the forums evergreen!

Tag similarity

For each tag, you can also see what tags are most related to it:
Explore EA Forum tags
Explore LessWrong tags
Explore Alignment Forum tags
 

Tip: you can go directly to some tag, by finding it's URL on the forum, and modifying this site's URL.
For example, to go to "Consciousness research", you find
https://forum.effectivealtruism.org/topics/consciousness-research
and go to
https://filyp.github.io/tree-of-tags/ea/consciousness-research

 

EA Forum:

 

LessWrong:

 

Alignment Forum:

 

 

How does it work?

Here I explain all the details. 

 

Cross-posted to LessWrong

42

New Comment
8 comments, sorted by Click to highlight new comments since: Today at 11:03 PM

The frontpage time window is really pernicious. I feel this pull towards what's been recently posted because other people feel the same pull, which means that if I share something recent, they're more likely to also think it's interesting--because it's recent.

Would be cool to create a (likely monetary) incentive for promoting old posts that were undervalued. I guess this is sort of what an impact market where you could mint posts would do. 

Identify a valuable old post with very little upvotes or engagement -> buy the impact shares -> publicize -> resell. 

The informal credit system is a massive obstacle for a lot of posters, since they don't know what's been posted before and they only feel safe posting something entirely new. But that kind of thinking is motivated by concern for credit, not impact. They don't want to step on past authors' toes by seeming like they're stealing credit for their ideas.

Better system: We could try to do away with the notion that if something already exists on the forum, you shouldn't be raising the same points in a newer post. This is especially encouraged if you've independently thought of it (it's like an inference verification). But once the post is up, anyone can mark a section of the post and tag it[1] as having been discussing in such and such post in the past. That way, we can trace back credit to its earliest instance on the forum, and it also connects discussions for people interested in going deep.

Credit is an important motivator to find and share ideas, but it also incentivises people to silence when they're worried about stepping on people's toes. We can probably do better if we try to intentionally redesign aspects of this.

  1. ^

    This could appear as a note to the side, similar to how the shared editor now works. Imagined example:[2]

  2. ^

    Although I wouldn't want the yellow marker, since that's distracting while reading it. And you could require all such in-line comments to be approved by the author before they're visible.

    This could usefwly double up as a way to privately notify the author of something, e.g. a misspelling. Somesuch or something:

 We could try to do away with the notion that if something already exists on the forum, you shouldn't be raising the same points in a newer post

Big fan of your line of thinking here, although I'm not sure how easy changing the culture of something like this is. The tagging would definitely help though. 

Anecdotally I have made a few comments and/or posts of which the core ideas have been basically reposted verbatim and received much more engagement (quite possibly just due to better writing from the other authors). I would have really appreciated being able to link my posts to theirs so people could see I was thinking about this stuff (self-involved, I know). 

On the other side of things, there were posts I held off on writing because I assumed the things I was bringing up were trivial and I would have come off as thinking I invented something new that everyone else knew was discussed a few months or years earlier. If there was more of a culture as you are describing I think I would have made these posts much earlier and gained a lot of relevant knowledge more quickly. Moreover in some cases, it seemed like the ideas that I thought were too simple to have been missed actually had been missed, which I only realized when other people posted the same things and received a lot of positive engagement.

I'd also want to have an option to switch the marks' visibility (and on default they should be off, to not distract from reading). With that, I wouldn't even require author approval, it would be more like commenting, but line-specific.

So the reader particularly interested in some section could dive into the comments particularly about that section.

Also, as a further feature, you could color code different comment types, like:

  • yellow: fix suggestion
  • red: critique
  • blue: link to previous discussion / relevant resources
  • green: just a comment

FYI: I posted that suggestion on the EA forum feature suggestion thread, and also linked your comment

Yeah, I'd love to see some novel curation mechanisms too. I'm a bit scared to introduce money to the mix though. Someone might be tempted to exploit the system, by using bots to fake engagement. Which would be a loss because you could no longer trust vote count as an indicator of value.

Other way to incentivize curation, would be to tip people for great curated lists of posts. (Although I suspect many people would do it even without the money incentive, if the forum made it easy to do.) For example an option to just publish the list of all your strongly upvoted posts, would enable quite effortless curation.

I guess that the main problem isn't that some posts are objectively undervalued, but rather that it's hard to find those old posts that are right specifically for you. Posts that are:

  • in a topic that interests you
  • novel for you
  • not so advanced, that you can't follow them

There is also an ML approach, where you could find some embedding for each post on the forum, and then train your personal classifier to predict which posts you would like.

Or even more simply, a collaborative filtering approach - "people who like what you like, also like this".

I guess that the main problem isn't that some posts are objectively undervalued, but rather that it's hard to find those old posts that are right specifically for you.

Yep this is an important point and the algorithmic approaches probably make more sense in light of this. Reflecting on your response and Emrik's, I agree that either credit is a sufficient motivator if we have the correct cultural norms or a good recommendation system would do the trick. Also agree that botting could be a problem. 

Short-term Incentives and downside risk aside, I do worry about uneven funding of positive impact in this community. Sometimes, as in the case of forums, it may be that there are bigger motivators in the short term outside of money. However, I'm generally wary of creating a system where there are super imbalanced monetary returns to impact. It doesn't feel right to me that you could get hired at an ea ORG and do f tier at your job and get paid whatever the going rate is, while someone else produces an influential forum post and receives no money for it (and even if you are bad at your job, having that job will probably help you secure your next ea job more than actually creating positive impact).  I can't say I'm sure that evening-out funding streams would actually have long-term positive outcomes, though I do think there is a legitimate argument to be made. I'm not really proposing we change anything, just throwing out a vague concern I have.

Nice, interesting tool! It already got me to some posts I missed. I also liked the democratic option.

Maybe consider adding inflation-adjusted top sorting, if that's feasible - I don't know what the forum team uses to calculate that.