Unjustified ideas comment thread

post by MrRobot · 2017-11-24T20:15:20.065Z · score: 14 (11 votes) · LW · GW · 24 comments

Lately I've made some posts that were not very popular, to say the least. Yet, they were helpful for me. Because I was able to get some ideas that were stuck in my head out on "paper", get some feedback on them, and the mostly successfully forget them.

What made those ideas different, and I think part of the reason for downvotes, was as ChristianKl put it: "LessWrong is largely about rational debate. This means that when you make a suggestion, you should provide arguments."

Well, sometimes I don't have the time nor the patience to write a 10 page essay with footnotes. Sometimes I just want to throw something out there and see if it sticks in any way with anyone. I bet you do too!

So, I propose a new kind of comment thread. Here, you are welcome to comment with any idea that's been floating around your head. You don't need to justify it. It doesn't have to be "rational." It doesn't even need to make sense to you personally. (If you have trouble querying your mind for ideas of this sort, let me know.)

I accept the very low signal to noise ratio this will create. But sometimes noise is exactly what you need to shake your brain up a bit.

If this works well, I'll create a thread like this every week. I'm also going to ask that if you don't like this idea, please downvote the post, but not the comments. Be gentle with the commenters and don't downvote them unless it's an actively harmful idea.

24 comments

Comments sorted by top scores.

comment by ChristianKl · 2017-11-24T21:11:42.678Z · score: 29 (8 votes) · LW · GW

The Open Thread is by tradition a venue where there are lower standards for posting. It's okay to start an additional thread under a "unjustified ideas"-header but I see no argument for why such a thread should be weekly.

We generally had a monthly rhythm for the Stupid Question thread, and the only reason to have something more regular would be if multiple people post enough to the thread that it warrants a faster rhythm.

That said in your case I don't think "sometimes I don't have the time" is a good excuse. If you would sometimes engage in a deep argument, it would be viable but I haven't seen a single post from you do try to deeply argue a case.

Evernote works well for getting ideas stuck in your head on paper. I don't publish every random idea that I record in Evernote online and I see no reason why this community would encourage such behavior.

comment by habryka (habryka4) · 2017-11-24T21:37:04.995Z · score: 22 (7 votes) · LW · GW

I think in general creativity and generativity are undervalued and undersupplied, and I am very hesitant to support any norms that seem to disencentivize generativity. I am in favor of people writing up more half-baked ideas.

comment by ChristianKl · 2017-11-25T12:00:15.608Z · score: 10 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I agree that "writing up" ideas is useful. To me that phrase implies laying out a case for a given idea. I don't consider threads like https://www.lesserwrong.com/posts/PqzoEQhxJZ5WgFcvR/a-proposed-measure-of-sanity-for-nations or https://www.lesserwrong.com/posts/c5ubuEN32hFCTaCs7/fire-drill-proposal a writeup of the kind we want to encourage irrespectable of the quality of the idea.

comment by MrRobot · 2017-11-24T21:27:22.807Z · score: 3 (4 votes) · LW · GW
If you would sometimes engage in a deep argument, it would be viable but I haven't seen a single post from you do try to deeply argue a case.

It might help to know that this is an account I created to be anonymous. When I have a "normal" post to write, I write it under my actual name.

Evernote works well for getting ideas stuck in your head on paper. I don't publish every random idea that I record in Evernote online and I see no reason why this community would encourage such behavior.

Something about getting social feedback feels a lot more powerful (to me) and helps me move past it quicker than just writing it down.

As for this community dis/encouraging this kind of behavior, I'll leave that up to the admins (and voters).

comment by Davide_Zagami · 2017-11-24T21:34:16.360Z · score: 9 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Something about getting social feedback feels a lot more powerful (to me) and helps me move past it quicker than just writing it down.

I second this.

comment by habryka (habryka4) · 2017-11-24T21:14:00.504Z · score: 23 (9 votes) · LW · GW

I think something like this could be valuable, but that once a week is too often. Once a month seems more reasonable.

comment by Chris_Leong · 2017-11-25T05:36:33.889Z · score: 15 (4 votes) · LW · GW

At some point, it would be nice if we had site support for weekly/monthly threads and if people could submit comments in advance that would go live when the next thread was created.

comment by Davide_Zagami · 2017-11-24T21:50:39.332Z · score: 5 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I'm not sure how to put this. One reason that comes to mind for having it weekly is that it seems to me that threads get "old" very quickly now. For example it seems to me that out of all questions asked in the Stupid Questions thread that are unanswered, a good percentage of those are unanswered because people don't see them, not because people don't know the answers to them. (speaking of which, I haven't seen that thread get reposted in some months, or am I missing something?)

May I suggest a period of 15 days?

comment by MrRobot · 2017-11-24T22:52:18.072Z · score: 5 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Yeah, I think the notification system for comment threads could use some work.

comment by habryka (habryka4) · 2017-11-25T07:52:17.751Z · score: 5 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Yeah, the notification system is currently quite disfunctional. I should get around to fixing it soon.

comment by MrRobot · 2017-11-24T21:22:48.799Z · score: 4 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Okay, will do it each month (if it gets some traction).

comment by jacobjacob · 2017-11-28T00:00:00.331Z · score: 15 (4 votes) · LW · GW

LW2.0 is trying to solve intellectual progress online. As Oli pointed out above, creativity and original thinking is a bottleneck. However, I believe there are much better ways of supporting this than having threads of the kind "let's just get together and be creative and throw out all our half-baked ideas".

Via metaphor. If we want more black swan startups, we must increase the variance in startups that get funded. If you had 1 million to try to achieve this, I think you'd be better off providing actual seed funding to just 2-3 projects that are actually creative, thereby changing norms and creating incentives for creativity; as opposed to funding regular meetings for random people to jot down and discuss whatever unfinished ideas are on their mind.

Hence, to support creativity on LW2.0, I think the right thing would be to strongly encourage and support people who spend effort developing contrarian arguments or exploring underexplored areas, and do so in a somewhat rigorous/serious manner, rather than just lower the signal-to-noise ratio and effort threshold of some posts and comments.

This view derives from models I find hard-to-verbalize given the time I have available to write this. Happy to double-crux though.

comment by MrRobot · 2017-11-27T23:07:52.224Z · score: 7 (4 votes) · LW · GW

In the long run, ETH >> BTC. I'll even provide a few intuitions for why I think this:

  • Feature-wise ETH is strictly better.
  • Single founder >> committee. Especially since Vitalik is really smart.
comment by DragonGod · 2017-11-25T16:56:30.335Z · score: 6 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I was very happy to see this post. It filled me with joy to see someone updating on community feedback. I thought a newcomer was improving.

Then I saw this comment, and my exhilaration was deflated.

comment by Chris_Leong · 2017-11-26T10:29:47.919Z · score: 4 (1 votes) · LW · GW

This is an interesting idea, but sadly no-one seems to have engaged in any non-meta discussion here.

comment by JenniferRM · 2017-11-24T22:30:46.836Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I think the correct place to look for new content on LerW (like the place to actually bookmark?) might be the daily post list so as to see the posts that the magical scoring system thinks are not worth showing on the main page. However, I only saw this post to make this comment after discovering that link, so there is a decent chance that a lot of test users have not discovered the link yet, and won't be helped by this comment unless the magical sorting algorithm changes its mind somehow.

comment by Raemon · 2017-11-24T22:34:25.196Z · score: 6 (2 votes) · LW · GW

FYI, the algorithm here is pretty simple - people have the option to submit posts to the front page, and if they do not, they'll only appear on their personal blogs and the All Posts page.

comment by Davide_Zagami · 2017-11-24T21:05:42.780Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I really like the idea, but what are the limits? Can one just spit out random, speculative opinions? Can one come and just unironically state "I think Trump being president is evidence that the aliens are among us" as long as they sincerely suspect the correlation?

comment by MrRobot · 2017-11-24T21:22:19.251Z · score: -2 (3 votes) · LW · GW
Can one just spit out random, speculative opinions?

Sure.

Can one come and just unironically state "I think Trump being president is evidence that the aliens are among us" as long as they sincerely suspect the correlation?

Yup. That's the idea.

comment by Raemon · 2017-11-24T22:32:59.270Z · score: 15 (4 votes) · LW · GW

FWIW, while I like the idea of this thread and think it's good to not proactively discourage ideas, I will say if it turned out that this was the majority of the sorts of ideas that were coming out I'd probably regard the experiment as a failure, or at least lose interest.

comment by DragonGod · 2017-11-25T16:53:40.953Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Well, if Lesswrongers participated in this thread in good faith, I don't expect such a result.

If I see such a result, I'll update more towards Lesswrongers are trolls than Lesswrongers hold such beliefs.

comment by Raemon · 2017-11-25T17:54:37.595Z · score: 8 (2 votes) · LW · GW

The third option is ’the existence of such a thread attracts a new sort of person to Less Wrong’

comment by DragonGod · 2017-11-26T19:25:17.720Z · score: 3 (1 votes) · LW · GW

In so much as that is the outcome, I think such a thread is a terrible idea.

comment by MrRobot · 2017-11-28T14:31:03.853Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I bet Eliezer's readership could be doubled if someone rewrote his posts in a more positive tone. His style of "haha, look at how dumb everyone is" just doesn't sit well with a good number of people (and I've talked to a few of them), even if that's not quite what he is saying.