Robin Hanson is an associate professor of economics at George Mason University.
Robin Hanson was one of the two primary authors on Overcoming Bias. After LessWrong portal was launched, he converted Overcoming Bias into being his personal blog.
Robin Hanson’s bio on his personal site, on Overcoming Bias
A list of all of Hanson’s posts to Overcoming Bias with dependency graphs
I’m not sure how to interpret the downvoting of a recent edit I made. I simply clarified a sentence and replaced a dead link with the version archived by the Wayback Machine. Downvoting substantive posts without providing an explanation is often justified given the difficulty associated with pinpointing the nature of a complex disagreement, or because the signal the downvote is meant to convey is relatively clear from the context. But with a simple, atomic edit that seems unambiguously (very mildly) positive, at least from a commonsense perspective, such unexplained downvotes are apt to leave an editor puzzled and unable to draw any valuable lessons, except perhaps that they should simply abstain from contributing in the future.
The change feels to me like it made the page slightly worse. You added verbosity that’s relevant to Overcoming Bias, but not to Robin Hanson, which dilutes the article (or just that sentence). This is way below the cutoff for what I would revert, so the downvote is a weaker signal than that. The voting volume on wiki edits is unfortunately too low, so any vote is likely to stay as it is, without reflecting a wider attitude of the readership. One use case where such downvoting becomes productive is if an edit gets significantly downvoted (which should sort it to the top, not hide it, I’m not sure how it’s currently implemented), and that prompts someone to revert or re-edit.
I was using the heuristic of only being careful with downvoting new users, which you are not, but it’s a good point that wiki editing should be considered on its own, and there’s currently almost no wiki editing going on, so one should err on the side of encouraging more activity. You also don’t have many recent comments, maybe such things should also generally be taken into account, though it requires opening the user page to check. Some sort of “low recent activity, be welcoming” indicator in the mouseover popup on the usernames for those with less than N posts/comments in the last M months might help.
Thanks for the explanation.
Speaking personally, I would much prefer that contributions judged to make an article net worse be reverted than downvoted, both because this gives the contributor much clearer feedback and because it improves the quality of the article, relative to the opinion of the user deciding whether to downvote or revert. If other users disagree with that assessment, the karma system can perhaps then be used to resolve the disagreement, or to at least contribute to a resolution by conveying a signal whose meaning is now much easier to discern.
Concerning the specific edit: on reflection, I agree with you that the information I included would have been more appropriate in the Overcoming Bias article, and I am inclined to agree with you that it is best omitted from Hanson’s article. Accordingly, I have restored the previous version of the entry, though with the external link fixed.