A few notes about the site mechanics
Less Wrong comments are threaded for easy following of multiple conversations. To respond to any comment, click the "Reply" link at the bottom of that comment's box. Within the comment box, links and formatting are achieved via Markdown syntax
(you can click the "Help" link below the text box to bring up a primer).
You may have noticed that all the posts and comments on this site have buttons to vote them up or down, and all the users have "karma" scores which come from the sum of all their comments and posts. This immediate easy feedback mechanism helps keep arguments from turning into flamewars and helps make the best posts more visible; it's part of what makes discussions on Less Wrong look different from those anywhere else on the Internet.
However, it can feel really irritating to get downvoted, especially if one doesn't know why. It happens to all of us sometimes, and it's perfectly acceptable to ask for an explanation. (Sometimes it's the unwritten LW etiquette; we have different norms than other forums.) Take note when you're downvoted a lot on one topic, as it often means that several members of the community think you're missing an important point or making a mistake in reasoning, not just that they disagree with you! If you've any questions about karma or voting, please feel free to ask here.
Replies to your comments across the site, plus private messages from other users, will show up in your inbox
. You can reach it via the little mail icon beneath your karma score on the upper right of most pages. When you have a new reply or message, it glows red. You can also click on any user's name to view all of their comments and posts.
It's definitely worth your time commenting on old posts; veteran users look through the recent comments thread
quite often, and a conversation begun anywhere will pick up contributors that way. There's also a succession of open comment threads
for discussion of anything remotely related to rationality.
There's actually more than meets the eye here: look near the top of the page for the "WIKI", "DISCUSSION" and "SEQUENCES" links.
This is our attempt to make searching by topic feasible, as well as to store information like common abbreviations
and idioms. It's a good place to look if someone's speaking Greek to you.
LW DISCUSSION: This is a forum just like the top-level one, with two key differences: in the top-level forum, posts require the author to have 20 karma in order to publish, and any upvotes or downvotes on the post are multiplied by 10. Thus there's a lot more informal dialogue in the Discussion section, including some of the more fun conversations here.
SEQUENCES: A huge corpus of material mostly written by Eliezer Yudkowsky in his days of blogging at Overcoming Bias, before Less Wrong was started. Much of the discussion here will casually depend on or refer to ideas brought up in those posts, so reading them can really help with present discussions. Besides which, they're pretty engrossing in my opinion.
If you've come to Less Wrong to discuss a particular topic, this thread would be a great place to start the conversation. By commenting here, and checking the responses, you'll probably get a good read on what, if anything, has already been said here on that topic, what's widely understood and what you might still need to take some time explaining.
If you then want to write a post on that topic, awesome! I highly recommend you post it first to the aforementioned Discussion page; don't worry, you can then promote it from there to the main page. It's much better to get some feedback before every vote counts for 10 karma.
If you'd like to connect with other LWers in real life, we have periodic meetups in various parts of the world. So far there have been meetups in the following places:
There's also a Facebook group
. If you've your own blog or other online presence, please feel free to link it.
A note for theists: you will find LW overtly atheist. We are happy to have you participating, but please be aware that other commenters are likely to treat religion as an open-and-shut case. This isn't groupthink; we really, truly have given full consideration to theistic claims and found them to be false. If you'd like to know how we came to this conclusion you may find these related posts a good starting point.
A list of some posts that are pretty awesome
I recommend the major sequences to everybody, but I realize how daunting they look at first. So for purposes of immediate gratification, the following posts are particularly interesting/illuminating/provocative and don't require any previous reading:
More suggestions are welcome! Or just check out the top-rated posts from the history of Less Wrong. Most posts at 50 or more are well worth your time.
Welcome to Less Wrong, and we look forward to hearing from you throughout the site.