I just realized I totally failed to put this comment in spot I meant to, which presumably made this seem quite weird / out-of-place / bad-form.
I think this was actually a duplicate version of this comment here, and I must have forgotten I had already posted a version of it. The section I meant to be responding to here your statement that “discussing your emotional state is off-topic”.
(Responding briefly to Vlad elsethread: this seemed like a cultural claim to me – it’s making a claim about what is on and off topic for lesswrong and for particular types of discussion.)
I agree there are important problems and failure modes you run into if you let people take offense and use that offense to limit what discussion can happen. But I think if you taboo all statements of emotional state you also limit discussion in important ways.
(much of the subtext of this conversation has to do with a year-ago-comment of yours about people’s inner-works not being relevant, the only thing being relevant being the API with which they communicate. I think a large chunk of rationality has to do with understanding and improving your inner workings, and a LessWrong that doesn’t have a good way of incorporating that into the conversation seems at least partially doomed to me)
I think there’s a weird thing where it’s best to *both* ramble more but *also* prune more? (something like, I think it’d be better if more people wrote off the cuff shortform thoughts, and also if more people dedicated some time to thinking through their positions more carefully.
I was in the process of writing up a post that distinguished between a few things:
Calls to Clarity (i.e. “hey everyone, I think it’d be good if we all understood X principle” [without necessarily agreeing with X]). This is totally fine and good for LW frontpage.
Calls to Action (“hey everyone I’m starting a project and I think you should support it” or “hey everyone I think it’d be great it we adopted this norm.” The intended goal is that this is fine for personal blogs, and I see the problem as something like “make sure that people actually believe they are welcome to write about this on their personal blog)
Calls to Conflict (“so and so is a bad person and should be punished.”). This seems most likely to set people on the defensive, to have a particular hard time thinking rationally. My current best guess is “this is *usually* okay for your personal blog, sometimes not even there, and sometimes we might want to employ stronger moderation tools (such as not allowing conflict-heavy threads to show up on the frontpage).
My model of Benquo (in particular after a recent comment thread) is somewhat skeptical that it’s good idea to treat conflict and action asymmetrically. Certainly, this punishes a certain kind of thinking more than others.
My current best guess is that conflict is in fact worse for rationality than action. I also am generally pro archipelago as a strategy, where I want people to be incentivized to go off and build hard things, in an environment where mutually-exclusive hard things don’t have to be in conflict (and seems more possible to grow the pie than to have to fight over it).
The notion of “calls to conflict maybe even more strongly disincentivized” is meant to enable something like basic civilization with rule of law, where you can trust that you can build a private enterprise without getting robbed or chased off your property.
Curious what you think of all that.
Question to get things started:
LessWrong current disincentivizes project announcements, social-momentum-building and resolving interpersonal controversies. Is that bad?
Social-momentum-esque discussions are left on the personal blog. The intent here is more to be a “soft” disincentive, although people seem to think of it as a harder ban that we meant.
The main reason for this is “it’s really hard to get people to just talk about ideas without bringing social momentum into it, and it’s easier to establish a site culture that focused on that if we’re not also trying to figure out how to have good-epistemology-around-group-coordination at the same time.”
I do think it’s probably important to eventually provide a platform that more strongly incentivizes new projects. I currently am not sure whether it will ever be the right format for handling social controversies (I could be persuaded either way).
I do want to thank for Davis for making this discourse-norm bid explicitly. I think there’s a failure mode where people don’t notice that they are trying to enforce mutually exclusive norms, and getting frustrated when people seem to be defecting.
(this is neither an endorsement or disendorsement of the norm in question)
(Reminder that I am not endorsing anything Said has been arguing against in this thread either)
I’m not claiming any particular culture *is* consensus on LW, just that the one Said is describing is not consensus.
I agree it’s important to be more specific than I currently have. I don’t plan on rehashing things I have already said (broadly: that collection of cultural norms you advocate for are still among the biggest reasons that many high karma and/or professional users feel less motivated to comment on LessWrong, that the overall culture you’re advocating for is a big part of what killed LessWrong the first time around. This is not a claim about any particular point raised on this thread, but a general point about my expectations about the guiding principles you’re point at)
Things seem worth saying since I haven’t said them yet, which I plan to at some point:
Some specifics on how I think bout the issues raised in the old Yvain post (I definitely agree you should not reward utility monstering, but disagree with some of your framing of it)
In general, my best guesses on how to achieve the goal of “ensure that LessWrong is a place that generates valuable intellectual progress that people can rely on and build on”, which includes many subgoals, many of them at odds.
Said comments fairly reliably and prolifically on this topic and it feels important to note that no, this isn’t the default culture people should be expecting to be consensus on LW
I just want to chime in quickly to say that I disagree with Said here pretty heavily, but also don’t know that I agree with any other single person in the conversation, and articulating what I actually believe would require more time than I have right now.
On a similar note: Wei_Dai’s Tips and Tricks for Answering Hard Questions
Note: you can generally talk about political stuff on your personal blog section. Part of the point of the frontpage/personal-blog distinction is so that there can be a bit of soft-pressure there without actually preventing people from talking about things.
There are certain areas that we might need to make individual judgement calls about (see Vaniver’s comment elsethread). And in general when discussing hot-button political issues I’d suggest you reflect on your goals and life choices (since I think it’s an easy domain to think you’re discussing something important when you’re mostly not). But that’s different from a ban.
Specifically, they are not the sort of thing you should be practicing on if you haven’t yet accomplished much (to the point that “go out and DO something” is the most useful advice to be following)
It’s been said before for sure, but worth saying periodically.
Something I’d add, which particularly seems like the failure mode I see in EA-spheres (less in rationalist spheres but they blur together)
Try to do something other than solve coordination problems.
Or, try to do something that provides immediate value to whoever uses it, regardless of whether other people are also using it.
A failure mode I see (and have often fallen to) is looking around and thinking “hmm, I don’t know how to do something technical, and/or I don’t have the specialist skills necessary to do something specialist. But, I can clearly see problems that stem from people being uncoordinated. I think I roughly know how people work, and I think I can understand this problem, so I will work on that.”
It actually requires just as much complex specialist knowledge to solve coordination problems as it does to do [whatever other thing you were considering].
Every time someone attempts to rally people around a new solution, and fails, they make it harder for the next person who tries to rally people around a new solution. This makes the coordination system overall worse.
This is a fairly different framing than Benquo’s (and Eliezer’s) advice, although I think it amounts to something similar.
Nod. I could see that. Agree with the “depends on whether we can find a reasonable place to put the link without adding noise” clause.
Concretely: I’d be interested in Wei Dai or others turning the answers here into “Related Questions”, which can then be actually answered.
(Noting that, for now, related questions are default be hidden from the frontpage, although admins can manually toggle them to be displayed, and they would appear in the Open Questions page and the Recent Discussion section).
I realize that elsethread you mentioned:
I think this isn’t well-enough-understood to have a set of standardized terms yet. The implied request is to try to model these things in the world yourself, and start trying to talk about them, so that *eventually* the discourse self-corrects into a crisp model that doesn’t imply absurdities like the “worlds” framework, and we can start naming things definitively. I don’t expect this to happen in public.
Which makes sense. But since it’s been brought up repeatedly as part of ongoing conversations, it seems worth making some kind of intermediate progress on helping people to grok the concept.
Note: awhile ago I added this to our “potential things to curate” list.
I don’t really feel good about curating it as-is because a) it’s not super optimized to be a clear introduction to the topic, b) I don’t think the terminology as it currently is is that good, c) I think it could be a bit more clear about what it’s epistemic status is. (Or rather, the epistemic status here is clearly ’random un-distilled conversation”, but if it were distilled, it’d then become necessary to be more clear about what people are supposed to take away from it)
The ideas here have been brought up in other related discussions, enough such that I think there’d be value in putting the work into clarifying things better. I think it’s valuable for “Curated” to be the place people read to keep up with “new building blocks” for current discussion, but another important characteristic is clarity.
None of this is meant to be an obligation, just a note that “if Ben (or perhaps Jessica) were to put the time into optimizing this to be a good introduction to the medium-term discourse, I’d be interested in curating that.” (I checked with Habryka before posting this, did not run this particular comment by him but he indicated a similar viewpoint)
Some further thoughts: I think there are some areas where it makes sense for the LessWrong site to make proactive efforts. (I particularly raised concerns about the upcoming Recommendations section feeling a bit time-sinky)
But I also think, for features like the one described in the OP, it usually makes sense to solve that at a higher level up than “site-specific.” i.e. if LessWrong lets you limit your time, but Facebook doesn’t, you just end up using Facebook instead of LessWrong. If you want to limit time on LW it makes more sense to use tools like Freedom or SelfControl.
The place where it makes sense to me for the LW team to work on features like this would be “areas that require higher granularity”, where you don’t necessarily want to block all of LessWrong (because Freedom does a better job), but you do want to block or add trivial inconveniences to parts of LW that are particularly distracting (which Freedom can’t do)
Worth noting: “werewolf” as a jargon term strikes me as something that is inevitably going to get collapsed into “generic bad actor” over time, if it gets used a lot. I’m assuming that you’re thinking of it sort of as in the “preformal” stage, where it doesn’t make sense to over-optimize the terminology. But if you’re going to keep using it I think it’d make sense to come up with a term that’s somewhat more robust against getting interpreted that way.
(random default suggestion: “obfuscator”. Other options I came up with required multiple words to get the point across and ended up too convoluted. There might be a fun shorthand for a type of animal or mythological figure that is a) a predator or parasite, b) relies on making things cloudy. So far I could just come up with “squid” due to ink jets, but it didn’t really have the right connotations)