How to deal with someone in a LessWrong meeting being creepy

One of the les­sons high­lighted in the thread “Less Wrong NYC: Case Study of a Suc­cess­ful Ra­tion­al­ist Chap­ter” is Gen­der ra­tio mat­ters.

There have re­cently been a num­ber of ar­ti­cles ad­dress­ing one so­cial skills is­sue that might be af­fect­ing this, from the per­spec­tive of a geeky/​sci­encefic­tion com­mu­nity with similar at­tributes to LessWrong, and I want to link to these, not just so the peo­ple po­ten­tially caus­ing prob­lems get to read them, but also so ev­ery­one else knows the re­source is there and has a name for the prob­lem, which may fa­cil­i­tate wider dis­cus­sion and make it eas­ier for oth­ers to know when to point to­wards the re­sources those who would benefit by them.

How­ever be­fore I do, in the light of RedRobot’s com­ment in the “Of Gen­der and Ra­tion­al­ity” thread, I’d like to echo a sen­ti­ment from one of the ar­ti­cles, that peo­ple ex­hibit­ing this be­havi­our may be of any gen­der and may vic­timise upon any gen­der. And so, while it may be cor­re­lated with a par­tic­u­lar gen­der, it is the be­havi­our that should be fo­cused upon, and turn­ing this thread into bash­ing of one gen­der (or defen­sive­ness against per­ceived bash­ing) would be un­helpful.

Ok, dis­claimers out of the way, here are the links:

Some of those raise deeper is­sues about rape cul­ture and au­di­ence as en­abler, but the TLDR sum­mary is:

  1. Creepy be­havi­our is be­havi­our that tends to make oth­ers feel un­safe or un­com­fortable.

  2. If a sig­nifi­cant frac­tion of a group find your be­havi­our creepy, the re­spon­si­bil­ity to change the be­havi­our is yours.

  3. There are spe­cific ob­jec­tive be­havi­ours listed in the ar­ti­cles (for ex­am­ple, to do with touch­ing, sex­ual jokes and fol­low­ing peo­ple) that even some­one ‘bad’ at so­cial skills can learn to avoid do­ing.

  4. If some­one is in­formed that their be­havi­our is creep­ing peo­ple out, and yet they don’t take steps to avoid do­ing these be­havi­ours, that is a se­ri­ous prob­lem for the group as a whole, and it needs to be treated se­ri­ously and be seen to be treated se­ri­ously, es­pe­cially by the ‘au­di­ence’ who are not be­ing vic­timised di­rectly.


De­spite the way some of the links are framed as be­ing ad­dressed to creep­ers, this post is aimed at least as much at the com­mu­nity as a whole, in­tended to trig­ger a dis­cus­sion on how the com­mu­nity should best go about han­dling such a prob­lem once iden­ti­fied, with the TLDR be­ing “set of re­straints to place on some­one who is burn­ing the com­mons”, rather that a com­plete de­scrip­tion that guaran­tees that any­one who doesn’t meet it isn’t creepy. (Thank you to jstein­hardt for clearly ver­bal­is­ing the mis­in­ter­pre­ta­tion—for dis­cus­sion see his re­ply to this post)