From: Gwern Branwen (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Date: Sun Mar 13 2011 - 11:00:46 MDT
The recent emails reminded me of the existence of SL4; I think it may
be time to discuss shutting down the list. I'm not the only one
thinking this, it seems:
> BTW, as far as I know the interesting parts of this list have mostly moved to lesswrong.
> I'm not sure if this list even exists anymore, but just in case it does...
In 2010, there were a grand total of 144 emails on SL4, or less than 1
email every 2 days. Looking through http://sl4.org/archive/ , most of
those emails seem to be joins, link posting, or announcements. The SL4
home page claims that 'The SL4 list currently has around 200 members.
Usual volume is five to ten messages per day, with occasional
intervals of pleasant silence, and flurries of high activity.' but I
suspect both sentences are drastic over-estimations now.
The last really interesting thing I can remember reading on SL4 is
Clark's review of a biography of Everett
(http://sl4.org/archive/1008/21012.html); conversations over the last
3 years - since Overcoming Bias started up, in fact - have tended to
be on a very low level. Perhaps I am simply growing up intellectually
(I joined SL4 in ~2004 as 'maru') but I think it is simply that people
are no longer using SL4 and have begun using LessWrong instead.
LessWrong is very active. SL4 gets 144 emails a year - LessWrong gets
more like 144 comments a *day* (http://lesswrong.com/comments and
http://lesswrong.com/r/discussion/comments). SL4 gets an email every
few days - LessWrong gets an article every day
(http://lesswrong.com/recentposts). Eliezer's fanfiction
has 11,729 reviews, and has motivated many people to start reading
LessWrong and even come to meetups (I met 2 or 3 people who had been
lured in when I visited a SF Bay meetup). There are a lot of visitors
to LessWrong and they stay for a very long time reading material
http://www.alexa.com/siteinfo/lesswrong.com#), while SL4 traffic is so
low that it cannot be measured
(Similar stats are true of Overcoming Bias, which is now just Robin Hanson.)
It's interesting to note that the SL4 homepage links to 5 or 6 other
mailing lists - and almost every link is dead. There might be an
argument that email as a medium has unique advantages, but as time
passes, this is less true; and for those advantages to be worthwhile,
the medium needs to actually be used. Demonstrably, email is no longer
a major medium for transhumanist discussion.
Forums can die with dignity, at a specific date, with the last one out
turning off the lights; or they can die bit by bit, messily, like
someone dying of Alzheimer's or senile dementia - dead long before
they died. The worth of a forum is not measured by how long it can
drag out its existence (a decade is not bad), but by what is done or
written because of it. Many classic LW/OB posts were inspired by
comments or emails here; that's a fine legacy. There's no shame in
shutting down the list. Let's provide a tarball of emails for archival
purposes (the Internet Archive has up to February 2009:
and turn off the listserv.
-- gwern http://www.gwern.net
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