NSFW Content on LW

post by ozymandias · 2017-10-08T14:31:01.909Z · score: 23 (13 votes) · LW · GW · 32 comments

There's some discussion of this on my post [LW · GW] but I think it properly belongs on a meta post to which the mods can refer.

Points for consideration:

  • Do we want content about sex on LW at all? Yes, but only on people's own blogs? Yes, but only with a content warning? Yes, but only with some sort of NSFW tag? Yes, and with no limits?

  • It is probably a good idea to have at least a little idea what "about sex" means. Do STD etymology fact posts count? Or posts about rational romantic relationships?

  • Cursing: is it off-limits entirely? Certain words only? (Which ones?) No excessive cursing?

  • What norms apply to titles?

  • Even if the content is content-warned or on people's own blogs, the recent comments show up in the recent comments feed, which could make some people feel uncomfortable browsing LW in public.

32 comments

Comments sorted by top scores.

comment by Evan_Gaensbauer · 2017-10-08T17:57:24.681Z · score: 29 (12 votes) · LW · GW

It's difficult to ordain beforehand what sort of sexual content is fit for LW, because it's just as much how you write it as it is about what you write about. Rationalist culture emerged from rationalists on LW1.0 discussing experimenting with alternative lifestyle choices, and the ones which worked for some rationalists tend to spread. To be fair, polyamory and other sex-related behaviour are more viral among rationalists in this regard: when a bunch of single people who have difficulty relating to most others around them suddenly find they can relate to each other very well; are willing to make the otherwise taboo tradeoffs that sex-positivity introduces into one's life; and tend to have be (relatively) deprived of sexual/romantic expression that's anywhere close to what they get out of relationships with other rationalists or rationalist-adjacent people, they're going to be more open about this sort of this. That's not going away.

Since the rationalist diaspora is going to be talking about sex somewhere anywhere, I'd prefer conversations intending to match the map to the territory on sex-related topics take place on LW, if the likely counterfactual would be them taking place somewhere else and having a toxic impact. Just because everything seems hunky-dory on LW doesn't necessarily mean they're aren't other schisms in the community borne over epistemic disagreements over charged issues. What's more, if we can bring epistemic discussion of sex onto LW, while keeping separate the interpersonal and political aspects of it in our lives, it's not so muddled we can't be confident there are non-zero conversations among rationalists where intellectual progress is being made and recorded.

LessWrong aspires to be like academia in quality, but not necessarily like academia in culture or content. Much discussion of sexuality in academia probably either sucks or is too dry and abstract to be useful for much, to say nothing of how the research quality may have declined with the replication crisis, and how LW should aspire to do better than that.

So some conversations about sex can take place here. I don't think anything is inherently wrong with it. I don't think there's anything inherently right about it either. I'd like conversations about sex on LW to have rationality be the focus, and sex the object of discussion rationality is being applied to. The examples provided in 'The Typical Sex Life Fallacy' were relevant to illustrating the point, but personal anecdotes about your favourite kind of tea don't add much. Also, not that I think Ozy would do this, but they're close enough that others might see what was written and mistake that for using intimately detailed examples from their own personal lives on LW, including the nature of their private relationships with other community members. I think this is a mistake. I think at least switching out some of the details and replacing the names of real people with Alice and Bob and Charlie and Dana so nobody's privacy is even remotely close to being compromised without their consent is a good idea.

Content warnings seem appropriate, and when and for what they're used should be up to the user posting, unless someone in the comments indicates a preference for content warnings on a particular topic going forward after that, or even just signals they found coverage of some content offputting.

Cursing, except in cases where it's hard to find any suitable alternative for describing the thing (e.g., "genderfuck"), seems like an unnecessary aesthetic flourish. I guess "fucking" is less icky than "humping", but "sleeping together" seems to fit just fine. If we're writing about sex on LW, I don't see why we shouldn't try to write it as SFW as we can, except for when changing up the tone might be key to the theme of a well-intentioned post.

I think if we write about sex, we need to remember this is *still LessWrong*. If we're writing about sex, is for nerds, by nerds. If the information value of a post about sex is high enough, it's fine if it's written in a boring rather than titillating fashion, and it might have better results that way.

comment by ozymandias · 2017-10-08T18:54:27.370Z · score: 21 (10 votes) · LW · GW

Evan, you know I adore you, but you will tear my random tea digressions from my cold dead hands.

Strongly agreed on the importance of privacy. All individual human beings in my posts have had incidental and unimportant details changed, and they are often composites of multiple people.

comment by Raemon · 2017-10-09T03:01:47.743Z · score: 24 (8 votes) · LW · GW

By now there's more comments than I can easily read, but leaving this here for "tallying up preferences" purposes. Most important point is A:

A) I expect sex to have very strong and weird impacts on epistemology (for similar reasons to why politics does). I think it's actually pretty bad that we haven't talked about that in more detail. Epistemology is weakest and weirdest when sex and power are on the line.

I think Ozy's recent post, among the recent 2.0 posts, contained the most novel and important considerations for epistemology (probably tied with some of Connor Moreton's material). [Specifically, the "things people do in private are most vulnerable to typical mind fallacy and secret diversity]

B) That said, we may not want it on the front page for the same reason we don't want politics there. It ends up being an attractor for things that lead us down an incentive gradient we don't like.

C) I share Ozy's concern that it's in fact pretty bad that teenagers don't get to learn much about sex until it's too late.

D) I do think the "informal crassness" of the post is a marked departure from the LW Overton window. I think it's debatable whether that's bad, but it sounds like Ozy was fine with toning that down, and I don't think anything particularly important would be lost.

I think academic discussion of some sex-related-topics (i.e. STIs) on the front page could be done totally reasonably.

comment by Vanessa Kosoy (vanessa-kosoy) · 2017-10-08T18:39:24.632Z · score: 15 (7 votes) · LW · GW

I don't see anything wrong with sex-related content, especially if it's marked by appropriate content warnings. By the way, I think we should also have a system of tags and various options to filter by tags.

I'm not sure where in the linked post is "cursing". Is "pussy" a curse?

Going one meta-level higher, I want to observe that much of the potential value of LW is precisely the aggregation of all discussions in the rationalsphere into a single place. If we end up with a set of norms that will cause bloggers to avoid cross-posting, or to cross-post censored versions, much of this aggregation value is lost. A plausible result of this is that people will keep reading the blogs and ignoring LW.

comment by habryka (habryka4) · 2017-10-08T18:52:55.442Z · score: 12 (3 votes) · LW · GW

(Currently on my phone, so not writing a larger response)

It is correct that we want LW to aggregate a lot of the discussion in the rational sphere, but this is not the goal of the front page. The front page has much more specific epistemic goals and is trying to create a separate space for conversation about the art of rationality and existential risk in particular, and not all content from the broader rationalsphere is fit for the front page. I think this discussion is mostly about whether the content should be on the front page, not whether it should be on LW at all.

comment by Vanessa Kosoy (vanessa-kosoy) · 2017-10-08T19:08:36.480Z · score: 12 (3 votes) · LW · GW

This might be more reasonable, although probably more thought is needed to define what exactly are appropriate topics for the front page. For example, I think existential risk is a very important topic but I don't see how it's a special case of the "art of rationality"? Also, given that sex plays a major role in human psychology and society, it doesn't seem implausible that rationality and sex have some sizable intersection.

comment by Vaniver · 2017-10-09T04:43:41.229Z · score: 12 (4 votes) · LW · GW

One of my goals for the site is to have magic tags; I think that having a 'nsfw' tag which both prevents posts and comments on those posts from showing up when a user doesn't have the 'show nsfw' user flag checked mostly solves this problem. (And, going a step further, we can likely have the user set sessions / MAC addresses / whatever the kids use these days so that their work computer automatically has it unchecked and their home computer automatically has it checked.)

Until we have that power, I think we should strive to keep LW safe for work.

comment by Willa (Eh_Yo_Lexa) · 2017-10-09T01:18:56.333Z · score: 7 (4 votes) · LW · GW
  • Do we want content about sex on LW at all?

    • Content about sex on LW seems fine, so long as the discussion of sex is used to make some rationality related point, or is necessary to include because of the subject—say, discussing sexual norms and their impact on society/individuals from a sociological perspective, psychological perspective, other academic perspectives, etc.—or some combination thereof. I think your post handled the discussion of sex well, because you used sex to emphasise the thesis of your post: “The rule follows: for things that are private and rarely discussed, there may be a good deal of unacknowledged diversity.” The opening example—how people shower—was good as an opener, but the discussion of sex helped make clear how important it is for people to consider how generally your thesis can be applied when they are conducting research/thinking about how the world works—especially regarding the “bubbles” issue highlighted in Scott’s Different Worlds post that you also mentioned.

    • There should be content warnings, because some people browse LW in public places, at work, are squeamish about various subjects, etc.

    • I think tags could be a good idea, though I don’t know how that would necessarily help if a NSFW post makes it on to the front page. Maybe a Tumblr-esque “Safe Mode” filter could be added to the site and people could opt-in to seeing NSFW content on the front page—including comments on NSFW content—through their profile settings, but if they didn’t opt-in, they wouldn’t see NSFW on the front page. Would that kind of filter also need to apply to people’s personal profiles? Or should people have two things to opt-in to: Front page NSFW “Safe Mode” filter plus a separate Personal page NSFW “Safe Mode” filter? I think that might be a decent option.

  • It is probably a good idea to have at least a little idea what "about sex" means. Do STD etymology fact posts count? Or posts about rational romantic relationships?

    • I think it would be difficult to have a narrow definition of what “discussing sex” means on LW without tremendously censoring what kind of posts might appear on LW. Perhaps posts with NSFW content should have to be approved by moderators…but how does the poster know to mark their post as NSFW? It would be useful to have a somewhat broad definition/rule on what “discussing sex” means for LW.

  • Cursing: is it off-limits entirely? Certain words only? (Which ones?) No excessive cursing?

    • I like cursing, I think when used well it can help emphasise points, convey emotions (especially the strength of those emotions), and generally make things more fun. However, I hate cursing when it’s not used well…nor do I really have much of a definition for when it’s used well…this is one of those “I know it when I see it” kind of things for me. Perhaps people should generally be cautious about cursing, unless it seems particularly relevant to the subject matter at hand or is needed to emphasise an important point, or convey an emotion more clearly, etc.

  • What norms apply to titles?

    • Titles should probably not be flashy or attention-grabbing, but should instead convey as much information about the subject matter—including its NSFW-ness, or lack of NSFW-ness, perhaps through tags—while not being terribly long.

  • Even if the content is content-warned or on people's own blogs, the recent comments show up in the recent comments feed, which could make some people feel uncomfortable browsing LW in public.

    • Perhaps the site should hide all comments on NSFW tagged posts from the recent comments feed unless someone is logged in and has explicitly marked affirmative: “allow NSFW tagged posts on the recent comments feed” in their profile settings? That way, by default no NSFW related comments should show up in the recent comments feed, and people who are okay with those comments can simply opt-in to seeing them—thus making the site more “presentable” in public and still allowing users the freedom to see those sorts of comments.

comment by ChristianKl · 2017-10-09T00:26:25.765Z · score: 6 (3 votes) · LW · GW

The naive social rules are that you don't talk about sex, politics or religion on the dinner table. The three topics can easily trigger strong emotions and take over attention.

When wanting to illustrate an abstract rationality principles it's therefore good to stay away from them and use less emotionally laden examples for the reasons Eliezer laid out in his "Politics is the Mindkiller"-post.

When it comes to explicitly forbidding either sex or politics, I don't think that's a good move. It's useful to have a place where rational discussions over both can be had. I find it okay to keep both away from the front page and leave them to the individual blogs. I don't think we need to use banning to do this as karma voting works for setting community norms.

I would be okay with a post who summaries STD facts on the front page or a post that's about politics that goes beyond personal opinion and is well researched and I think karma voting is a good vehicle to decide on edge cases.

It would be nice to have a way to tag posts and afterwards have a way for people to filter out sex and/or politics posts they don't like to see.

At the LessWrong Europe community weekend one session had a group discussion about sex and the session was well-received.

comment by DragonGod · 2017-10-08T15:47:42.262Z · score: 4 (11 votes) · LW · GW

I was very uncomfortable while reading your post. I don't think we should explicitly discuss sexuality on the front page of Lesswrong.

I link teenagers to LW. I am trying to get as many young people as I can into rationality. I do not feel comfortable linking them to a place in which explicit sexual discussion appears on the front page. Getting young people involved in rationality is very important for growing the community, and I think explicit sexual discussion hinders that.

I think such messages should be confined to your personal blog (possibly your Lesswrong blog (I don't know the norms regarding this yet), and/or rationalist tumblr.

Lesswrong is an intellectual community, the closest analogue I can point to is Math/CS stack exchanges. If someone was trying to analyse sexual relationships using graph theory, in a Stack Exchange question and/or answer, they would remove explicit sexual references. I think adding explicit sexual references greatly limits the range of people who can read your posts, and limits the range of people who can use Lesswrong. I think we need more teenagers involved in Lesswrong, and it should be a place where the kind of teenager interested in Lesswrong (mainly nerdy/geeky, high-IQ kids) would be comfortable in.

I think Lesswrong is like an academic forum. I would never discuss sexuality explicitly (or even in passing references) in an academic forum, and I think this should apply to Lesswrong as well.

I think explicit sexuality is inherently anti-intellectual. I am not sure why exactly, but I suspect there are reasons why most intellectual forums explicitly (or implicitly) prohibit explicit sexual discussion. I suspect explicit sexual discussion may be a deterrent to academics who may be interested in rationality, and who we may want to attract to the community.

I view the diaspora as having its functions, as Scott says:

The Rationalist Diaspora isn't a coincidence caused by contingent factors, it's caused by the social reality that the rationalist community has a lot of different projects and people who need different levels of prestige and normalcy along different dimensions. If people who need high levels of prestige/normalcy along some dimension publicly affiliate with people who need low levels of it, it doesn't work.

So everyone talks about their sexual fetishes on Rationalist Tumblr, designs AI at MIRI, spreads social gossip on Discord, and promotes charitable projects at the effective-altruism hub. I can talk about gender differences all I want on SSC without worrying about whether I'm bringing down someone talking about animal suffering somewhere else, and if a third person wants to talk about their sociological experiment consisting of communal chanting and group sex, they don't have to bring down either of us.

In my opinion:

  • The Discord is for socialising and chatting, hanging out and leisure. It is the third place:

  • Tumblr is for fun and socialising, sexual discussion goes here.

  • Tumblr, Discord and rationalist blogs form the "home".

It is my opinion that Lesswrong is the work place. It is the intellectual hub of the diaspora. Lesswrong should be formal, and have the highest epistemic standards. Content on the LW front page should be explicitly rationalist, intellectual (and while not quite as rigorous as academia) should still be modelled after academia. Content that is inherently Not Safe For Work should not appear in the workplace. I view Lesswrong as very much a workplace, and think we should treat it as such.

comment by ozymandias · 2017-10-08T16:07:29.915Z · score: 42 (19 votes) · LW · GW

I have a strong ideological opposition to the idea that teenagers shouldn't read about sex. The median age of virginity loss is 17; it is a good idea for teenagers to have information about sex *before* they lose their virginities. I would be totally comfortable with arbitrary teenagers reading my post.

I also disagree with the idea that sex cannot be discussed in an intellectual way. Multiple intellectual fields-- including psychology, philosophy, biology, sociology, anthropology, history, classics, literature and epidemiology-- regularly touch on issues of sexuality. I myself have translated pornographic passages from Latin in class. Admittedly, academic discussions generally involve fewer curse words than my post (unless one is discussing the f*g discourse in sociology or debating the precise translation of the word "kinaidos" in Greek) and certainly fewer Amanda Palmer references, but I do think in general LW has a more casual style than most academic fields. (Nor is that something I would wish to change.)

As regards high epistemic standards: I think Sarah Constantin's post on STI statistics (linked in the OP) has better epistemic standards than pretty much anything I've seen published on LW 2.0 so far.

ETA: To clarify, while I disagree with DragonGod's arguments, I do *not* mean to endorse the claim that sex-related posts should be on LW if they make people uncomfortable, and I would fully support banning them if most people didn't like them.

comment by lahwran · 2017-10-08T16:23:21.686Z · score: 12 (8 votes) · LW · GW

I have a strong ideological opposition to the idea that teenagers shouldn't read about sex. The median age of virginity loss is 17; it is a good idea for teenagers to have information about sex *before* they lose their virginities. I would be totally comfortable with arbitrary teenagers reading my post.

I agree with this, but when a teenager, would have been very uncomfortable reading your post. As it is, I'm comfortable reading it, but was feeling aversion to it being on less wrong. I think this is due to the use of sexual humor and using harsh words flippantly, both of which I see your reason for doing and agree that for folks it is helpful for, it is in fact valuable. But I think teenagers that have not been exposed to sexuality, as I more or less had not, will be averse to interacting with such a harsh version of it for fear of Being Crass(tm).

I value having your contributions here, and if you decide that this is important enough to you that you'd rather cancel your autoposting to lesswrong than give up on normalizing vulgarity, I think I would want your content to still get to be on lesswrong, and would prefer keeping it reposted at the cost of including language that many folks will be averse to reading.

However, I think that phrasing things the way you do creates a powerful filter bubble effect that makes the people it would most help want to not read it. If it's something you're willing to do, I'd prefer to avoid that.

I don't know how to map this to what I'd enforce on the whole site.

comment by ozymandias · 2017-10-08T16:32:33.899Z · score: 16 (8 votes) · LW · GW

I don't autopost; I manually crosspost. I intend to continue doing this in the future because I suspect I will keep writing posts that *would* be appropriate for LW if I changed X, Y, or Z, and manually crossposting makes it easier to change X, Y, and Z. For instance, I added a content warning in my latest post; in the future I will remove sex jokes and impolite words for genitals, since there seems to be a broad consensus against those things; I have at least one post I'm drafting where the Thing of Things version will contain politics where the LW version will contain "political implications left as an exercise for the reader."

comment by philh · 2017-10-08T18:45:21.953Z · score: 13 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Can I request that when you do change things, you link to the Thing of Things version with a brief summary of the differences? I think I'd usually prefer to read that version, but I'd usually see the version here sooner.

This isn't like a big deal, so feel free to ignore.

comment by ozymandias · 2017-10-08T18:56:30.293Z · score: 11 (4 votes) · LW · GW

When I actually announce on Thing of Things that I've been crossposting (I want to wait to the end of the open beta), I will ask about people's link preferences. Writing up a summary of changes sounds like a lot of work and pretty boring to most readers.

comment by philh · 2017-10-08T20:36:44.256Z · score: 10 (4 votes) · LW · GW

That seems a good strategy, yes.

To clarify, all I'd be requesting is like "also on my blog, with more swears and politics". (Even "with minor changes" would signal to me that I should read it there; but "more swears and politics" would tell me that even if I hadn't seen this thread.)

comment by DragonGod · 2017-10-08T16:38:24.828Z · score: 0 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Teenagers are not my true rejection. They are not the crux of my stance.
I don't think that post was appropriate for Lesswrong, and what I think Lesswrong should be.

I view Lesswrong as the work place—what do you view Lesswrong as?

comment by Viliam · 2017-10-08T23:42:52.498Z · score: 15 (7 votes) · LW · GW

what do you view Lesswrong as?

Speaking for myself: a nerdy community. Where "community" means that all things relevant to life are allowed, and "nerdy" means that articles about science will be statistically more frequent than e.g. articles about cooking (while for a non-nerdy community it would probably be the other way round).

I already have a workplace, and I spend a large part of my days there; I don't need a second one.

comment by tcheasdfjkl · 2017-10-31T03:12:58.942Z · score: 24 (7 votes) · LW · GW

I'm getting to this discussion quite late and I don't have that much useful stuff to add, but want to register that I had a very strong reaction to this:

"I think explicit sexuality is inherently anti-intellectual."

This sentiment scares me, because I think healthy sexual cultures desperately need rationality, curiosity, intellectual inquiry, etc. There's the "people should learn about how to have safe sex before they actually have sex" thing, but there's also things like figuring out one's own preferences in the face of judgmental social norms, and figuring out how to behave ethically around sex without opting out of doing anything at all, and being okay with weirdness, etc.

I think it's really important to mix sex and rationality. This need not necessarily be done on the front page, but it absolutely needs to be done somewhere. (And it is already being done in places like Ozy's blog, of course.)

comment by Rob Bensinger (RobbBB) · 2017-10-08T16:34:20.056Z · score: 21 (10 votes) · LW · GW

I think explicit sexuality is inherently anti-intellectual. I am not sure why exactly, but I suspect there are reasons why most intellectual forums explicitly (or implicitly) prohibit explicit sexual discussion.

I suggest we drill down on this question — some LessWrongers have the intuition that explicit sexual discussion just "doesn't fit" in intellectual discussion — and get curious about why that is, exploring various hypotheses. Then after we feel like we have a better grasp on the underlying reasons/causes here, we can get into the question of how those should relate to posting norms and policies on LessWrong.

As a start, I think there are a few different sides to this phenomenon that we should disentangle:

1. [Blah] produces really strong emotional reactions in some readers, which makes it harder to think about the issues involved in a lucid, critical way.

2. [Blah] feels vaguely unprofessional/informal/casual, and we want the LW frontpage to look more dry and scholarly in tone so that it attracts new top contributors who have to initially rely on tone and signals of intellectual quality in their initial attempts to gauge LW's actual intellectual quality.

3. [Blah] is against the prevailing sexual mores in some countries/regions we want using LW, and we should conform to those mores on the frontpage in order to either attract more users from those countries/regions, or just in order to avoid stirring up unproductive highly politicized debates.

4. [Blah] is illegal, against workplace norms, etc. in various countries/regions, and we want people to feel they can visit LW's frontpage without their boss getting mad at them or (in more regressive parts of the world) without getting into legal trouble.

5. [Blah] is information that's directly net-harmful to teenagers (or to some other group), and we shouldn't host material that harms teenagers because we want teenagers to use LW.

comment by Rob Bensinger (RobbBB) · 2017-10-08T16:40:14.757Z · score: 18 (7 votes) · LW · GW

On the face of it, I think 1 and 5 are the kinds of considerations that are relatively good reasons to be wary of hosting particular content on LW; but I don't think 1 and 5 apply to explicit sexual content in full generality.

On the other hand, 2 and 3 strike me as clearly applicable to explicit sexual content, but I think 2 and 3 are inherently much weaker reasons to exclude things from LW, and we should be very wary of establishing norms based on these criteria.

Even if 2 and 3 are worth it in some isolated cases, I would be worried about slippery-slope considerations. LW's identity is in some ways defined by its willingness to take issues and topics seriously that normally get neglected or excluded from mainstream scholarly discussion, and we should be wary of trading that away in significant ways for mainstream acceptability, even though failing to signal intellectual quality is a real cost and does genuinely cause some people to glance at LW and then not stick around. We can't get away with literally no "we're good at epistemics" signaling; but we can find more benign ways to do it than banning topics wholesale.

4 is the one item on the list I was able to come up with that strikes me as both obviously relevant and obviously important. I think 1 and 4 are good reasons to recommend tags for things like "nsfw" once tagging is implemented. I don't think 4 is a sufficient reason to outright ban discussions of sexuality from LW, though, if they otherwise meet LW's discussion standards.

comment by Rob Bensinger (RobbBB) · 2017-10-08T16:48:25.783Z · score: 11 (3 votes) · LW · GW

One intuition that might be harder to capture with this decomposition of the problem is something like "when a frontpage post is in the bottom decile of frontpage posts with respect to how-likely-its-topic-is-to-encourage-careful-lucid-analysis, it should try to be in the top decile of frontpage posts with respect to how-likely-its-substance-and-style-is-to-encourage-careful-lucid-analysis".

This is the kind of rule/guideline that's almost impossible to enforce and might be harmful to regularly discuss, but it might get at some people's intuition that there's an "emotion budget" for frontpage posts, and if you make a frontpage post that's unusually emotional-reaction-provoking on one dimension (e.g., it's criticizing a particular group of people), it's useful to try to make it unusually non-emotional-reaction-provoking on other dimensions (e.g., by being extra careful to avoid calls to action, forceful language, vivid/emotive examples, and informality/colloquialisms).

comment by ozymandias · 2017-10-08T17:20:19.801Z · score: 18 (8 votes) · LW · GW

Hm. I intuitively view level of informality as more-or-less irrelevant to how much a post promotes careful lucid analysis. When I query my intuitions more closely, it suggests that formal writing may not promote careful analysis because it is dry and boring and people get tired of reading it, or because it is hard to understand; conversely, formal writing may be a strong signal that high epistemic standards are expected. Informal writing may be flippant about things others take seriously, causing them to react less usefully; on the other hand, informal writing may signal equality and make people feel more comfortable disagreeing.

comment by lahwran · 2017-10-08T17:21:57.063Z · score: 14 (4 votes) · LW · GW

actually, yeah, when you point it out like that - going back and looking at EY's posts, they're very informal language. kind of talking down at people, too, which signals a particular tribe, but very informal.

comment by Rob Bensinger (RobbBB) · 2017-10-08T17:24:44.478Z · score: 13 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Yeah, I agree with this. Rationality and the English Language talks some about ways that unnecessarily formal writing can inhibit clear thinking.

comment by ozymandias · 2017-10-08T17:32:06.739Z · score: 12 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Of course, sex jokes mostly serve the purpose of making the post more entertaining, and so "generally informal but no sex jokes because they make people uncomfortable" is a pretty reasonable norm which doesn't in any way inhibit clear thinking. Forbidding curse words can make certain concepts harder to convey, but I think probably the right norm there is "when in doubt leave them out".

comment by DragonGod · 2017-10-08T16:44:28.278Z · score: 0 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I think there's a place for explicit sexual discussion, and think that place is tumblr and personal blogs.

However, I am quite new (joined this year), and may have misconceptions about Lesswrong. I don't think I have anything more to add. I think you guys should come to a consensus regarding explicit sexual discussion.

One thing though, I view Lesswrong as the workplace—how do you perceive Lesswrong,

comment by lahwran · 2017-10-08T16:53:11.978Z · score: 14 (6 votes) · LW · GW

I view lesswrong as something like fight club for epistemics.

comment by lahwran · 2017-10-08T16:43:01.570Z · score: 16 (6 votes) · LW · GW

I think 1 is true, but not a hinderance LW should care about. That's already true of large parts of LW-style content.

I think 2 is actively false. We should be showing off our good epistemics as the signal that we have good epistemics, because people who are excited about good epistemics will go "omg you're doing it right!" even - or possibly especially - if it still happens when applied to taboo topics.

I think 3 is partially true, and therefore a concern. It's the one that leads me to request the changes I did of Ozy.

I don't know what to think about 4. I suspect I don't care about it, and in looking for an english serialization of my beliefs about why, I generated the sentences "we already do things that are illegal in regressive countries", and "it would be fine if we weren't allowed in regressive countries". I'm not sure if either of those are actually true or what I endorse, but I think they represent at least part of why I don't care.

I think 5 is usually false. It's possible for good advice to be bad to share; there are certain things about understanding how social interaction work that, when a nerd first learns of them, tends to make that person dramatically worse at getting good social interaction for a while (though I think it improves their social interaction on net after they've had time to learn how to use it).

comment by ozymandias · 2017-10-08T17:42:49.918Z · score: 14 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I think it's worth adding:

6. [Blah] is content some users or prospective users really don't want to look at, and even scrolling past it makes the front page an unpleasant place for them to visit.

That's sort of 3 and 4, but if it's a common preference it doesn't need to be justified with prevailing sexual mores, illegality, or workplace norms IMO.

comment by DragonGod · 2017-10-09T09:56:26.725Z · score: 0 (1 votes) · LW · GW

This is true (at least for me).

comment by Viliam · 2017-10-09T00:03:14.366Z · score: 9 (3 votes) · LW · GW

My impression is that (in general population) sexual debates often contain status moves, exaggerations and lies, and sometimes are aimed at other people present which may be very uncomfortable for them. That stuff we don't need here. We should not discuss here whether we consider specific people sexually attractive or not. We should also not brag about our sexual (in)experience. Neither of that would invite a rational debate.

On the other end of the scale, debates such as "are aspies more likely to be trans", especially when supported by scientific evidence, feel completely legit to me. No specific people, possible rational approach.

Somewhere in the middle of the scale are things like promoting polyamory or debating specific sexual techniques. I can imagine having a norm of either allowing or not allowing this, and both norms would make sense. My personal decision would probably depend a lot on how the specific topic was described. It seems like a good idea to avoid "juicy" titles, and start the article with a content warning, so that people reading LW at work can avoid clicking on the article.

EDIT: Yet another possible problem is when some sexual issue is related to some political issue, so people will use opinions on sexuality as weapons in a culture war. For example, statements "gender G is on average (not) attracted to trait T" are often politically sensitive.