Rational Discussion of Controversial Topics

post by cleonid · 2015-07-01T11:15:48.689Z · score: 9 (10 votes) · LW · GW · Legacy · 10 comments

Two months ago we began testing an experimental website for Rational Discussion of Politics.  Our main goal was to create a platform that would allow high quality discussion of controversial topics without resorting to any forms of censorship. The website is now ready and new members are welcome to join the discussions.

Many thanks to all the LessWrong members who have been taking part in this project.

 

P.S.  A note to new users.  A key feature of the new website is the automated recommendation system which evaluates all comments and articles based on their potential interest for each user. The recommendation system has passed the initial calibration, but its ongoing performance is sensitive to the number of user ratings per comment/article. So rating posts that you read is highly encouraged.

10 comments

Comments sorted by top scores.

comment by Kent_Brockman · 2015-07-03T22:19:32.714Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I really like this idea. The biggest bottleneck to getting it off the ground is probably lack of traffic.

People have previously argued that politics discussion will attract the wrong sort of people to Less Wrong, which seems likely to me. One way to achieve the best of both worlds: allow posting of links to Omnilibrium from Less Wrong open threads, with the caveat that all politics discussion is kept on Omnilibrium. This signal-boosts Omnilibrium content without attracting the wrong people to Less Wrong. For example, I could link to these recent Omnilibrium posts of mine from an open thread: Is faster economic growth good for improving long-run outcomes for humanity?, Reconciling Transhumanism and Neoreaction.

To keep things fair, the only caveat is that if you link to Omnilibrium from Less Wrong you should try to editorialize the link as little as possible. Try to frame it as a neutral pointer to off-site discussion rather than beating your personal hobby horse. This way others will be less tempted to respond on LW. And of course remind everyone that all political discussion should take place on Omnilibrium.

Should we experiment with the norm of allowing this?

comment by gjm · 2015-07-03T23:09:36.442Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I'm not seeing quite what experimenting there actually is to do. Linking to Omnilibrium from LW open threads is not currently forbidden, nor can I see any particular reason why it would be discouraged, providing the thing linked to was actually interesting enough to be worth posting in an open thread. For that matter, even overt political discussion on LW isn't that heavily discouraged in practice.

What are you proposing would happen differently depending on the outcome of this vote, and how will the outcome of the vote lead to it actually happening?

(E.g., the answer to the first question might be: If "yes" votes predominate, people won't get downvoted for posting links to Omnilibrium discussions in the open threads. -- But I'm not sure they would anyway, poll or no poll, and in any case if someone's inclined to downvote such links are they really going to not do so because of this poll?)

comment by Kent_Brockman · 2015-07-04T05:19:52.835Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

OK, poll deleted. I wasn't quite sure if a poll was appropriate anyway... your comment tipped me over the edge.

comment by Emile · 2015-07-01T18:11:18.053Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

A bug breaks it for me now:

I'm on iPad, any topic I click on redirects me to http://www.omnilibrium.com/topic_mobile.php, which doesn't exist. So I can't even read anything but the titles.

...edit: aaand it's been fixed, thanks Cleonid, that was quick :)

comment by [deleted] · 2015-07-01T11:31:41.827Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I think currently it is a bit too object-level for my preferences, I am far more interested in discussing more meta level political philosophy e.g. Rawls vs. Nozick vs. others. I think as long as people believe in fundamentally different political values and philosophies they cannot really make a lot of progress towards a consensus on the object level.

Would it be a good idea to separate the debate forum into object and meta or politics and political philosophy? I would certianly support that.

I would probably add a historical debate section as well. This is really an excellent testing ground of political philosophy. You really a learn about yourself and others by discussing whom you would support and how reluctantly or enthusiastically during the Spanish Civil War for example and who of the famous people got it right or wrong.

comment by Dahlen · 2015-07-01T17:35:05.910Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Your preferences are quite welcome as well; I personally enjoy your posts and would like to encounter them on Omnilibrium. I remembered the website having had a Philosophy category, but since then apparently the categories got re-organised.

It's often difficult to draw the line between object-level and meta-level, so I don't think such a re-categorisation would be meaningful or achieve much, but if we could play around with existing categories to include political philosophy in a more general sense, over time it will probably fill up with the sort of meta-level articles and discussions that you find interesting.

In the end, users make an online community what it is, so if you'd like to see it moving in a certain direction, cast your vote through participation.

comment by cleonid · 2015-07-01T13:09:43.984Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

as people believe in fundamentally different political values and philosophies they cannot really make a lot of progress towards a consensus on the object level

At least in theory, it may be possible for people to find common objectives even when their values are fundamentally different. For instance, some conservatives support raising the minimum wage on the ground that it reduces the number of low-skill jobs and deters illegal immigration.

I would probably add a historical debate section as well.

History is already included as one of the main sections (though it currently includes only one article and one debate topic). You just need to click on “History” below the banner to get to it. Once there are enough posts on the topic of political philosophy, it can be also added as a separate section.

You are welcome to open a new debate about the Spanish Civil War (personally, I also find the topic interesting).

comment by VoiceOfRa · 2015-07-02T05:11:03.293Z · score: -1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

At least in theory, it may be possible for people to find common objectives even when their values are fundamentally different. For instance, some conservatives support raising the minimum wage on the ground that it reduces the number of low-skill jobs and deters illegal immigration.

If you really want a topic where people with very different values and world views agree, look at the attitude towards Greece defaulting. There you can find people arguing that a Greek default would be good because it will lead to X which is good according to my values, and others arguing that a Greek default would be good because it will lead to not X which is good according to my values.

comment by ChristianKl · 2015-07-05T21:43:19.713Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Feel free to open a discussion on any topic that you care about if you don't find the existing topics interesting.

comment by Slider · 2015-07-02T14:55:51.764Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Why would progress look like reaching a consensus on an issue? For example having an accurate picture why people hold the views that they actually do vs just assuming they disagree with you in ways that you would disagree on the issue is the kind of progress that can do a lot of good without changing anybodys "vote" on an issue in itself.