Tl;dr: 

The Forum allows logged-in users to curate their Frontpage to see more or less of certain topics. Many people don’t use this feature, and we’re trying to make it more well known. This post encourages users to curate their Frontpages and explains how to do this. 

Relatedly, by default, posts about “Community” are down-weighted by the algorithm that sorts the Frontpage by karma and recency.[1] We haven't been tagging posts with the “Community” topic very carefully, but we’ll be doing that more regularly again. Additionally, we were not keeping up with karma inflation[2] and are switching from down-weighting by a fixed amount of karma to down-weighting by a percentage. This will likely mean that high-karma “Community” posts stay at the top of the Frontpage for less time. A more detailed explanation is below.

If you’d like to see “Community” posts as much as you have been, you should make sure that your weighting is to your preference. 

0. What are topics, and how are posts tagged?

Topics help organize posts around subject areas and themes that are relevant to the EA community. Topics are integrated with the EA Forum Wiki

When a post comes out, users (that’s you!), authors, and moderators can (and are encouraged to!) tag the post with the relevant topics. Tagging adds the post to the relevant topic pages. (If you tag a post with the “cultured meat” tag, you’ll see it listed on the cultured meat topic page.) Tagging also allows users who want to see more or less of certain topics to see the content they’re looking for. 

You can see an explanation of what topics (previously known as “tags”) are in the post that announced them, you can see all the existing topics here, and you can see tagging guidelines here.

1. How customization of your Frontpage works

The Frontpage is sorted by a combination of recency (when a post was published) and karma score.[3] (If you’d like to see posts sorted by something else, you can do so on the All Posts page.) If something was posted recently, it’ll be high up. If something has a high karma score, it will stay high up for longer. 

You can customize the Frontpage for yourself to treat posts about a certain topic as if they have higher karma — meaning they will stay visible for a longer time. You can also penalize some topics, and see fewer posts about them. 

If you want your preferences to stick, you have to be logged in. 

Note that if you choose to personalize your Frontpage, you can still see an un-personalized view by logging out, going to the page in an incognito window, or looking at the All Posts page.

2. How to follow topics you’re interested in (and unfollow other topics)

On the Frontpage of the Forum, you’ll see a section header like this:

If you click on the “+”, you can search for and find topics. Let’s say I want to see posts about animal welfare more frequently. Then I might search for “Farmed animal welfare.” 

Click on the relevant topic that pops up (that you’d like to follow or filter out). This will add a little tab with the name of the topic near the “Frontpage Posts” text, and by default, this will “subscribe” to the topic, giving posts with that tag the equivalent of a +25 karma boost so you’ll see more of them on the Frontpage. 

If you hover over the tab, you’ll see options to “reduce” (an equivalent of -50% karma), “hide” (posts with that tag won’t appear on the Frontpage at all), or give a customized weighting by clicking ‘Other’ and writing a number in or using the up and down arrows. Note that if you set a custom down-weighting for a topic, the number will be applied as a fixed karma reduction: setting -40 means that you’ll see posts with the associated tag as if they had 40 fewer karma points. 

Note that you can also opt in to getting notifications when posts are tagged with a topic you would like to follow. To do this, you should go on the topic’s page. If you’re not subscribed to the topic, hit subscribe. Then click the little bell symbol and click on it. To stop getting notifications, click the bell again. We recommend only doing this for niche topics, to avoid spamming yourself.  

3. The “Community” tag and topic

“Meta” posts about the community, movement infrastructure, or applying EA as a lifestyle should be tagged with “Community.” This includes posts about EA conferences, analyses of jargon use on the Forum, certain organizational updates, and discussions of different community-building approaches. (We might share a longer post about what we think counts as “Community” later.)

As you can imagine, “Community” posts are less relevant for people who are just starting to explore EA topics or are newer to the movement. We also think that it’s good to stay grounded in object-level work. So we’re down-weighting the “Community” tag by default — and encouraging users to set their preferences. If you’ve ever customized your weighting preferences for the “Community” tag, nothing will change for you. If you haven’t but are an existing user with an account, “Community” posts will be down-weighted by -25% instead of -25 karma. If you’re viewing the Forum logged out or made your account after June 9, 2022,[4] (EDIT: or you've never changed your filter settings) the down-weighting will be -50% by default. 

Note that the Community/Frontpage distinction is not about quality. We do not think that Community posts are generally worse or better. (I have personally written a number of “Community” posts — my job involves thinking about “Community” topics.)

You can change the weighting for yourself if you would like to see Community posts as much as you would like to see non-Community posts. Hover over the “Community” tag, and then either click “Remove” or choose whatever karma weighting you like as described above.

4.

This change isn’t final. We expect that there will be some bugs, and we’re considering some potential improvements. Feedback is welcome! Please feel free to contact us directly, comment on this post, or suggest features here

Some other Forum resources: 

  1. 🖋️  Write on the EA Forum
  2. 🦋  Guide to norms on the Forum
  3. 🛠️  Forum User Manual

Please let us know if you have any questions or concerns. Thanks to all the people who are writing and tagging posts, the people behind the software, the people who helped draft this update, and the people who are developing the associated Wiki.

  1. ^

    This is largely to make the Forum more user-friendly for newer users. We also believe that posts about the community get artificially large amounts of karma because they are accessible to everyone, and that builds up feedback loops that keep these posts at the top of the Frontpage.

  2. ^

    See top posts adjusted by karma inflation. Also, see an explanation of what karma inflation is.

  3. ^

    Karma is the net total of the upvotes and downvotes on a post. You can see a more detailed explanation here

  4. ^

     The date is when we’re rolling out this change. This separation is an attempt to avoid big changes in the experience of existing users. 

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2 comments, sorted by Click to highlight new comments since: Today at 10:21 AM

Brilliant work!

Two random thoughts. 

THOUGHT ONE: I think this introductory sequence could be cleaned up by combining some of these posts. This post was a great elaboration on this topic for me and is well written, but I think also could have been better included  in a larger single post amalgamating some of the information in this sequence (i.e. this might be better placed within the Forum User Manual). I think this sequence could be easily edited into a 3 post series that would be a bit conceptually clearer and less redundant. This could look like:

Introduction ("Table of Contents" "New? Start here!" "Guide to norms on the forum" and "You Should Write a Forum Bio" as these seemed aimed at the same audience and would seem ideally engaged with at similar times)

User Manual ("Forum User Manual" "Follow and Filter Topics" "Linkposting is an act of community service" "Forum Digest" and "EA Forum Suggestion Thread" as these are all concerned with orienting users to the technical experience and options of the forum)

Guide to Writing ("You Should Write on the EA Forum" "You Don't Have to Respond to Every Comment" and "A Forum Post Can Be Short" as these are all concerned with helping someone ready to write and engage in that way complete this task)

I think the User Manual one may be broad enough that you could split it into two separate posts, but it seems connected enough to combine it into one for me. But I think this could be useful in the sense of helping people already familiar clarify what to skip over (I wasted a good 5 minutes going through stuff from the Introduction section that I should have just skipped entirely). I also think this is largely borne out of my inclination to organize things and have fewer documents with organized headers than multiple documents, so if you have different intuitions (i.e. making a separate post may be beneficial to re raise awareness on a topic as seems to have been a goal with the "Forum Digest" post) you may not wish to do this.

THOUGHT TWO: I assume a descent amount of thought has gone into the downranking of community stuff, so I'm inclined to think I may just be missing further information here, but this move doesn't really make sense to me, let me explain why. When I went through the introductory program, I certainly read some posts from the forum, but when I did, I rarely stuck around to explore, instead just reading and closing out as I would any linked article. By the time I came to interact with the Front Page, I was already fairly involved with EA, and think I honestly might have been more attracted to engaging with it more had I seen more posts of the EA Community Building sort of variety. This could just be me, and it could be that a lot of people do come to the frontpage before familiarity, but I just wanted to voice that I seemed to have the opposite experience of this assumption.

Thanks for the posts though! I thought this one was particularly clear and technically helpful, and am now heading on to chew through the rest of the series.