No incentive feedback loop for building up to the expected quality of content

not easy to connect with people. no 'community building' systems

too tolerant of idiots

aintnobodygottime for walls of text. OTOH, I read every word of HPMOR, and then Worm, and those are the only pieces of fiction I've read (outside of school, I guess, but those don't count and aren't/have not been retained) since Harry Potter itself.

Too uncool.

Insufficiently Autistic

Meta Contrarianism

Would have been keen to go to a meetup here in Wellington, NZ, but I suspect there just wasn't enough critical mass. I hear they had some okay meetups down in Christchurch, which is cool.

I've heard there used to be a lot of talk about PUA techniques about LessWrong. I was interested in that too when I was an autistic teenager who didn't know any better. PUA techniques are intriguing if you're too autistic to understand the difference between social skills and manipulation. Now that I've overcome my autism, I find the insights of the "Authentic Man Program" company to be much more useful, more effective, and less bullshitty.

Overfocus on AI, some thought experiment BS.

I think the problem with LessWrong specifically that I found is this tendency to start a discussion somewhere reasonable and then hare off in some random direction and then 1 month later you blink and all conversations are deeply entrenched in this meta-text that you're missing. Sometimes you were so fortunate that it was as simple as checking on what Eliezer spoke about/responded to recently, but other times it just was something that percolated around and a discussion that permeated various threads. You didn't notice if you had been in it the entire time, but otherwise the context loss could be egregious.

Not enough content

I don't know about "literally a cult" but there was a tendency for ingroupishness I found unappealing

I get concerned when people look for medical advice on Less Wrong

Stacked. No new ideas.

Not sufficiently worried about having a good image? Maybe, not sure. Or at least, it doesn't have a good image and that's bad.

Too much Contrarianism (focus on nitpicking instead of getting things done)

Not focused enough on object level accomplishments

Very immature and lacking in integrity when it comes to disagreement and criticism

No natural process for graduating from 'good regular commenter' to 'novice poster'

Not enough social tech for introverts, ironically

None of the above.

Strongly politically biased and unaware of it

Overly intolerant of trolls/cranks

Too fragmented. Although SSC is starting to become the new Shelling point.

Too male gazey. Presumed audience is male, who may talk ABOUT women, but aren't women. Eg "How to get a (female) date"

Too much groupthink (but not a cult)

Too much distrust of instrumental dogma or adherence to agreed-upon shared values.

Different, and often apparently arbitrary, social norms

Too centered around yudkowsky

users do not get jokes very well

Insufficient encouragement (praise, reward) of participation and contribution.

Unattractive website design, over reliance on huge amounts of text.

Not a cult, but looks way too much like one, and too dismissive of arguments countering badly-established beliefs.

not enough interesting content, love virtualy every slatestarcodex post but completely uninterested in 90% of what was posted on lesswrong

Pretending its particular arbitrary fascinations bore a relationship to 'rationality' other than accidental

Too focused on big name posters - tyranny of the vocal minority

Too intolerant of newcomers and beginners. Go read the sequences is a terrible response to a newcomer.

Too tolerant of societal gender biases masquerading as a rational processing of evolutionary truth.

too many recurring arguments that never seem to get anywhere e.g. basilisk, cryonics, many worlds, are we too liberal, are we too conservative, etc.

Too likely to say "read the sequences" or something similar

harassment of LW critics

Required a level of intellectual rigour that took away time from more productive pursuits. In other words, I needed a break after using it for reasons of mental fatigue similar to that I'd experience after studying or working.

Take this with several grains of salt because I'm just a lurker who hasn't been on in months, but I think that one of the problems with LW may have just been that it was too large with no way to partition off smaller communities. Most websites that are capable of supporting a large community have something like subreddits/subforums or a following mechanism, and if I remember right LW didn't. Debate between people with disparate views is valuable and all, but so often it devolves into rehashing the same things over and over again if people have no way of splitting off into communities with some kind of ideological common ground.

No real practical value, mostly entertainment

Too narrow. Everything has to be expressed in the right terminology, putting it in "rationalist" terms, and only certain subjects are "allowed" (ie not banned and not frowned upon) while also not having been pretty much covered by the Sequences. So the forum gets very repetitive very quickly.

There's very much a point to having the Sequences as a common body of reference material and letting the community have its own jargon. However, directing people to learn that material in an inviting way is complicated. If the community is going to keep new people (or even some existing people who haven't read the entire Sequences) in quantity without losing the ability to have high-quality discussion, learning the techniques and jargon needs to be presented as a hill that can be climbed slowly (affording a progressively better view of the world) rather than a wall prohibiting participation until it's been scaled all at once. I think this is part of why the diaspora pulled so many people away; on diaspora sites having read the Sequences or otherwise knowing the jargon is helpful but not percieved as necessary.

Live far away from me >:(

not enough people and high quality people in the community and posting on the website

Much talk about rationality, but few LWers actually use it when confronted by claims they don't already believe plausible. For an interesting experiment, make a troll account that does nothing but randomly link the Twelve Virtues at people and count the karma.

HAving trouble finding any meetups near me.

Karma as a replacement for actual moderation

Allowing a group of hateful fanatics to block-downvote the posts of anyone who was deemed to hold a "wrong" political view.

I don't fully endorse this comment, but the use of math to form philosophy can both easily succumb to the problem of induction and be exclusive to those of us who have not yet studied higher math. There is not, as far as I am aware, a good explanation of basic contents that would allow an observer to understand such discussions; I may be wrong, but if so, please see "Can't Find Things Quickly Enough to Maintain Interest."

The Sequences, with their sometimes idiosyncratic writing style and inclusion of unproven premises taken as fact, are not actually that good of an introduction to Rationality, yet were universally recommended to new people for that purpose.

Defensiveness getting in the way of rationality and success and scaring people off

Too many posts by people who didn't seem entirely sane/coherent.

Haven't tried the forum, but if it's the comments, you need more.

Difficult to join in when you feel that every post you make should be both insightful and completely void of errors. The slightest factual error was jumped on instantly.

Too focused around Eliezer Yudkowsky

Chronic community-wide Imposter Syndrome, me included.

Insufficiently Autistic. We need FIFTY Stalins!

Not actually lot ra

Not kind enough; different/conflicting standards of civility tend to bottom out into incivility

I won't say "literally a cult" because it isn't, but LessWrong gives off a vibe of enthusiastically believing in things for its own sake and there is a lot of discussion of minute topics without qualification (for instance, "how to rationally exercise?" when no one involved has any knowledge of exercise science). I think people really forget that "rational" just means free from cognitive error and try to make "rationalism" a way of life. Like wtf, what part of "keep your identity small" don't you get?

Not enough opportunities for informal interaction and community-building outside of real-life meetups

I originally left because I found the sex biodeterminist parts of the sequences to be sexist. I also wish the community wasn't as focused around the charismatic writings of a single person or a few people. I also wish there were more irc options for talking to LWD people in a more informal setting.

Can seem intimidating or discouraging to people who believe (rightly or wrongly) that they are not as "smart" (a word which hear tends to mean high-IQ, really really high need for cognition, high STEM aptitude and inclination) enough to be a part of the conversation, even if they are genuinely interested in rationality, cognitive bias, existential risk, effective altruism, or similar topics and would be a good addition to the community. This was partially unintentional, but there were some distinct "High IQ people are the Important People" attitudes going around.

No opinion

The culture in the LW comments was weirdly the combative (not sure how to describe it, but any discussion I got into felt like some kind of fight)

no real goals to drive anyone, so the posts suck

Encourages unhealthy behavior in its members.

Too formal/intimidating, and there didn't seem to be a designated way for new people to participate. Maybe that was intentional, but it sure explains why I mostly didn't participate.

crackpottish dietary theories with poor support

Too obsessed/glorifying of fringe parts of itself (like poly)

not enough social skills

It's too culturally "I'm a cis-male programmer in SF"

Bickering about whether it's OK to tolerate X, for all the different values of X.

Too reliant on a few posters

Too focused on epistemic rationality in a vacuum. (Neglect of instrumental rationality.)

Seems fine. No community is perfect.

Too hostile.

Too self-reinforcing

too hard to understand without spending way too much time reading sequences/etc just to understand what's going on

Insufficient value on conciseness

Confusing to newcomers

Figuratively a cult. (Not literally, but they flirted with it too much)

Too reverent towards EY

Too anti-humanities.

Not tolerant enough of not-yet-rationalists

There was a bizarre emphasis on dating advice for a while

Badly unclear distinction between endorsed content and open-submission posts. Some of the one-off posts were quite interesting, some were garbage, and voting wasn't really adequate to distinguish them.

Emotionally harsh, but not rigorous ("failing to cite sources" does not really cut it)

Tendency toward naive rationalism (a la Taleb)

It also did, at times, give me the vibe of a cult, to be honest. But I think the "Literally a cult" option is much too strong to describe anything pertaining to my general impression of the community.

Lack of new high quality content

Attracted people who put no effort into actually being less wrong but, thinking themselves inherently rational, happily spewed their preexisting opinions, making the community (which didn't start at all like that) unpleasant. (Roughly "too tolerant of cranks", but for political views that wouldn't normally be called cranky.)

Too much New Atheism.

Standards too low in general

Constantly engaged in warfare over which external groups would be outgroup.

Too tolerant of pathetic Dunning-Kruger victims who believe in stupid things like utilitarianism.

Too many straw vulcans and people who want to think of themselves as more rational than they are. Practice what you preach or GTFO.

There could stand to be more people. Sometimes it feels like there are only a few regular content submitters. The actual LessWrong website should have more constant content on it. If I were to suggest a solution, I would say that you should reach out to the current bloggers that have scattered to the wind, or at least request more posts publicly.

Too many straight men, ideology clearly influenced by this negatively

I would say "too tolerant of NRx" but I don't think this is actually a problem, since there was a consequent stigmatization of the LWsphere. This actually seems an optimal state of affairs since it lets LW be a place for discussing strange ideas and following them to their logical conclusions, but with a social firewall so basilisks don't get out.

smug attitude

"Too Tolerant of X" isn't the best way to phrase my complaint, but there was definitely too much contrarianism and meta-contrarianism. (This naturally leads to too much "Neoreaction" and too many cranks/trolls, but those are the symptoms not the disease.)

I liked Less Wrong at its peak, though I wish the scope of concerns and interests was broader. I guess that qualifies at 'too autistic?'

Not too autistic but like, too not fun to read

too US-centric

Many dissimilar types of reader and authors other than EY and SA struggled to appeal to more than one group of at once

I don't think I have participated enough in the community to know this. I mostly just lurk.

too much veneration of intelligence/IQ

Too much Eliezer

Intellectual arrogance, e.g. dismissive attitude towards a lot of serious academic work, without a thorough understanding of it.

People were arguing about things that didn't matter and nit picking at details. They seemed more interested in competition than constructive collaboration.

Most people most of the time don't have anything useful to add about rationality itself, so a lot of navel-gazing

I am unaware of any issues

Too tolerant of the Thought Police

not autistic enough

No meet up in Amherst MA

Periods of terrible sexism, PIUs, not enough women or older people

I think LessWrong was pretty much exactly what it should have been - a salon for talking about strange ideas, with the only major taboos (with some exception) being tired topics like e.g. traditional political debate. I think a place like this should exist, and as long as there are reputational firewalls that keep it low-status and from having too much of a direct effect on the outside culture, things like neoreactionaries and pickup artists are just the cost of doing business (and of course they sometimes have interesting things to say.) Scott's comment section seems like a good example of what happens when we're allowed to discuss traditional politics.

Too colored by the demographic it attracted (programmers)

Too critical of it's members.



Mostly people seem to be dicks to each other on it. It's why I never delurked.

"Literally a cult" is way too strong of a statement. "Too much of an echo chamber" might be closer to the truth.

Lack of new material. This isn't a community issue, nor is it a "high standards" issue, so much as a topical issue - we're out of "good bits" to post, which means later stuff is going to be more specific and less relevant. This isn't necessarily bad.

Too much hero worshipping/necessity for heroes - everything hinged on <10 individuals

Somewhat creepy worshipping of Eliezer by (a small) part of the community, but maybe I just misinterpreted in-jokes. Regardless, this has made it harder for me to share lw content with people outside of the community.

I'm glad you're self-aware about the cult thing

Comments section too focused on nitpicking and abstract debates, not focused enough on becoming more awesome and helping others do the same.

Not easy to follow threads

Too hard to filter content (tolerating is fine as long as you can filter for the best content), bad at forming consensus

It became a hive of pedantry and one-upsmanship. A culture which values finding flaws in others' works makes utility monsters of us all.

See 59.

NOT a cult but with many social issues that exist in that general area (barrier-to-entry and attitude-towards-outsiders things primarily)

Too insular.

Not enough interaction in general. It was mostly high ranking people posting, _not_ discussing.

Some of these answers you made sound too extreme and I was reluctant to choose them. I'd say your weakness is a difficult distinguishing between a conventional opinion held by someone because they "don't get it" versus someone who understands the lw position/s on this issue, agrees with lw position/s on many issues, but after earnest consideration came to the conclusion that "the mainstream" happens to be right on this particular one

Bad for social life when I wasn't in Bay Area (similar to "Literally a Cult")

Although I think these are the "biggest" community problems, I don't consider them particularly large. They're the least small of our small problems.

Too Intolerant of Politics

Too many taboo topics eg race, feminism. Too much social signaling.

too much reverence of Eliezer Yudkowsky (I mean this in a social way, not saying anything about the correctness of his ideas)

People on Less Wrong argue about a lot of stuff. Sometimes I think a "LessWronger" is actually someone who criticizes LessWrong all the time. LessWrong is fine! It doesn't really have problems other than the tendency to attach problems to itself.

Good ideas that aren't in sequences get forgotten

Strong and unusual stylistic preferences discouraged (many) academics/researchers from participating

Not exactly sure when the peak was; in 2010-2011 I read the sequences but didn't find much else of interest and so I stop going to the website

Too derisive / condescending of "wrong people," e.g. religious; doesn't seem to acknowledge that it usually isn't their fault

Too many young nerds having their first social experiences; nice for those young nerds but bad as a community

Too unfriendly

Can't find a general RSS feed for new posts

Specific issues for my geography - not enough LW'ers in meatspace. Probably wasn't an issue in the bay area or London. While I state the 'high standards' as an issue, it was just a trade-off which worked in some cases but not others.

This is the first time I have heard about the org. so cant really comment.

a bit culty--not a cult exactly, but culty

With the proviso that I was not around for the LW peak - I nevertheless never participated in an active way on the forums when I did discover it and this is probably because there is no obvious way to Start doing this. Most posts are a bunch of familiar people discussing issues they are more familiar with than you. You wonder how to make a new contribution that has value. Basically high knowledge barriers to entry in the top levels (which are the most visible)

too tolerant of unoriginal/irrelevant content, probably due to reddit's terrible voting/filtering system

Too colored by the demographic that joined, i.e. programmers

Bad public relations. An idea being true is not sufficient reason to bring it up.

Not enough feminists and other Blue Tribe people.

Not enough good writers. Lots of comments, few ideas. Not enough ideas for an entire website, at least -- certainly enough for a Reddit forum. Also, not quite fun enough -- needed more thought experiments, constructive criticism of strategies, etc.

not enough new content / inability to quickly browse interesting stuff (ergonomy)

Too much fussing over what is or isn't on-topic and what section things should be in

Not enough members in the part of the world I currently live in.

overly contrarian. the culture is very narcissistic. discussions aren't generally discussions, more people going down precisely the line of discussion they want, then other people respond with derails, nitpicking, and attempts are sounding smart through obfuscation. prompt-->listen-->response-->counter response is rare.

people on the forum seemed pretty mean and hostile or overly critical. I didn't ever feel comfortable posting. Everyone seemed to busy trying to sound smart and impress everyone to have an interesting discussion

Not friendly enough online (As simplistic as it sounds)

Perhaps upvotes by better members should have counted for more.

Selects for the sort of person who spends all day on the internet (less true in person, of course)

Not attracting enough people actually getting stuff done.

Lack of relevancy


I've had no interaction with the community.

It seemed to work fine for the people and purposes it existed for, I just never felt like I was part of the core target group/fit in that well. Unwelcoming, possibly, or elitist.

Groupthink is a thing.

Don't know when it was best.

LessWrong looks like one person's blog to me and not a forum sonit may be just me but having found it in 2015 it's hard to lurke around and become part of community

Too tolerant of people espousing dysfunctional ideologies that they would never dare implement in real life.

Standards for content submission might not have been high enough. Like a math student who has just been exposed to the notion of rigor for the first time, I recall seeing LWers get into the "motions" of LW-style rationality and go overboard with the "gadgetry" of rationality without stating much of substance. This also possibly gets into the "literally a cult" thing: LWers who haven't reached a stage of "maturity" with the tools may be more likely to wield them with untempered zeal.

Too self-referential.

Broad but shallow knowledge base. Common weakness of autodidacts. Relatedly, propensity to overrate own knowledge & abilities (Dunning-Kruger).

Not enough new interesting stuff being written. Regression towards the mean is not unexpected.

A bit cliquey

focus on content instead of community

The community consists almost entirely of white young men. I don't know if tolerance of neoreactionaries is a problem, per se. The problem is that neoreactionaries, creeps and pick-up artists are overrepresented in this community, and this is not the sort of people I'd like to associate with, IRL or online.

The LessWrong community was overwhelmingly comprised of young white men. Neoreactionaries and pick-up artists were either overrepresented in this community, or at least this was my impression. I wouldn't want to associate with this sort of people either IRL or online.

Too centered on white male experience

This seems contradictory, so I thought I should explain: I think the vast majority of people were holding themselves to too high a standard, and the vast majority of posts were by people holding themselves to too low a standard.

The meta-contrarian plague

Too little real world action.

Idiots making dumb comments

The internet is probably structurally skewed against the sorts of people who can create a *useful* community, for reasons which I hope are obvious.

Simultaneously too tolerant of /the correct kind of cranks/ and intolerant of /the incorrect kind/; there are definitely in group effects at play here.

Too tolerant of rhetoricians.