Wei Dai

Something I find unfortunate is the apparent lack of enthusiasm for Wei Dai and his online content in the effective altruism community. His posts and comments on LessWrong seem to me to be clear, important, and relevant to effective altruism. And yet I rarely see his content referenced in the community (especially when compared to people like Nick Bostrom, Carl Shulman, and Eliezer Yudkowsky).

I wonder what the reasons are for this. Some ideas I can think of are:

Overall I’m still pretty confused about this.

“Yes, you’re a freak and nobody but you and a few other freaks can ever get any useful thinking done” (Eliezer to Wei; source)

February 2019 update: My impression is that since I wrote this page (in January 2018), Wei has been making a lot more comments on LessWrong (after September 2017, he hardly made any comments until the end of February 2018, when he began making comments again). During 2018, LessWrong 2.0 also left beta. My feeling is that Wei’s comments have been getting a lot of upvotes and that people are paying attention to him. I’m therefore tempted to conclude that the reason was “He doesn’t seem to do a lot of self-promotion” (namely, self-promotion in the form of leaving public comments). If this really is the case, it’s depressing to me that this sort of continual reminder is necessary in order for people to figure out who is “smart”.