Keeping KurzweilAI On Topic

14 May

Many of us on the KurzweilAI futurist forum have been struggling with the problem of keeping the forum on topic. However, I recently realized that the solution has been in front of us all along: flood the forum with topical material.

I have discovered that if I make a minimal daily effort, I can easily find five new articles online that are clearly related to emerging technology. The key is to keep files of source hyperlinks:

Pretend Tech Sources

When you find a web site, or a section of a web site, that features tech articles, add it to your file. Every day, go through the list and look for new articles.

Try to add one new source to your list every day. Do not hesitate to use other futurist sites as sources. If it is on the Internet, it is fair game. A good way to find new sources is to check Google News and similar search tools for tech articles:

Google Sci Tech

Tech articles appear in tech sources. Save the source.

When you find an interesting new tech article, post it to the forum. This does not merely add to the topical material, it nudges the material in your own preferred direction.

If everyone on the forum that prefers topical articles did this every day, there would be so much topical material that the off-topic material would be pushed out. Add to this the effect of people responding to topical material while ignoring off-topic material, and the off-topic material disappears.

Make sure you are adding material you are actually interested in. Don’t turn topical material into its own special brand of spam. However, keep in mind that a topic that is only moderately interesting to you may be the Holy Grail for someone else. You do not have to read an entire article to determine if it is valuable. You do not have to agree with it.

A good way to approach this is to take a look at the forum. If you do not see anything that excites you, start going through your list of hyperlinks.

Check the date of articles to make sure they are current. Do not worry too much about posting an article that someone else has posted. Also, if you see an article posted that you have already posted that is not receiving any attention, and if your post has already received discussion, leave a polite post with a hyperlink to your thread that says: See discussion here: [hyperlink]. Avoid behavior that discourages other members from posting articles. It is not a bad thing if an article is posted twice and people are discussing it in two different places. People tend to gravitate to posters they like and trust. Hence, people who dislike each other will automatically be kept separate. This is good for the forum.

Naturally, this will make it more difficult to find threads that you are discussing, since they will be pushed down the list so fast. If this becomes troublesome, save links to these threads in a file of articles you are discussing. In effect, you will be creating your own “top of the forum”. When I am creating large lists like this, I use subfolders dated with the date that I save material. For example, a subfolder might be named 140512 (year, month, day – following this format keeps them in chronological order). These subfolders can eventually be collected into folders dated by the year:

Dated Folders

Articles that people are discussing will still get pushed to the top of the forum, so people will still see what is being discussed, but they will slide down much faster. To find articles that are being discussed, just keep your eyes open for topics with large post counts.

As this plan takes effect, off-topic threads will gradually disappear and it will no longer be necessary for forum members to work so hard to obscure them. This policy will make KurzweilAI the preeminent source for everything future related, and draw in new members who are mostly interested in new tech. In no time at all, the old problem will go away.

If you agree with this plan, vote for it by posting on-topic threads. Also, avoid posting inside of threads you view as off-topic. Every topical thread you post and every off-topic thread you ignore will be a vote for this plan.

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2 Responses to “Keeping KurzweilAI On Topic”

  1. Mitch May 16, 2014 at 2:08 am #

    You know my personal views that science is ineffably intertwined with all other aspects of human life. Weapons, politics, sex, law, education, religion, you name it. Having said that, Other news sources can be found to create topics, such as Business Insider, Uk telegraph, Uk Independent, Uk Daily Mail, stardrive.org, universe today, centauri dreams, daily galaxy, reality carnival, IO9, searches on google news, and doing searches on arxiv, Ieet, even Prisco’s Turing Church.

  2. spikosauropod May 16, 2014 at 2:20 am #

    It takes me quite a while just to get through the sources I have found. You should post the articles from those other sources.

    I understand how you feel about all this. However, the site is so much better now than it was 4 years ago. It is not a bad thing if there is some political discussion. It just should not dominate the forum.

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