Optimal rudeness

post by PhilGoetz · 2013-04-13T03:48:56.513Z · score: -7 (37 votes) · LW · GW · Legacy · 51 comments

On LessWrong, we often get cross, and then rude, with each other. Sometimes, someone then observes this rudeness is counterproductive.

Is it?

As a general rule, emotional responses are winning strategies (at least for your genes).  That's why you have those emotions.

Granted, insulting someone during your rebuttal of their argument makes it less likely that they will see your point. But it appears to be an effective tactic when carrying on an argument in public.

It's my impression that on LessWrong, a comment or a post written with a certain amount of disdain is more-likely to get voted up than a completely objective comment. A good way to obtain upvotes, if that is your goal, is to make other readers wish to identify with you and disassociate themselves from whomever you're arguing against.  A great many up-voted comments, including some of my own, suggest, subtly or not subtly, with or without evidence, that the person being responded to is ignorant or stupid.

The correct amount of derision appears be slight, and to depend on status. Someone with more status should be more rude. Retaliations against rudeness may really be retaliations for an attempt to claim high status.

What's the optimal response if someone says something especially rude to you?  Is a polite or a rude response to a rude comment more likely to be upvoted/downvoted?  Not ideally, but in reality.  I think, in general, when dealing with humans, responding to skillful rudeness, and especially humorous rudeness, with politeness, is a losing strategy.

My expectation is that rudeness is a better strategy for poor and unpopular arguments than for good or popular ones, because rudeness adds noise.  The lower a comment's expected karma, the ruder it should be.

You jerk.

51 comments

Comments sorted by top scores.

comment by knb · 2013-04-13T05:50:40.579Z · score: 13 (13 votes) · LW · GW

At least on LW, I think the more controversial a submission is, the less the poster can afford to be rude. It seems to me that rudeness is generally a Karma loser here. I've even seen Eliezer downvoted hard for rudeness.

Rudeness can still be a useful strategy for shutting down low-status people, however.

Karma winning strategies include adding footnotes or lots of links (even if they are low-quality or tangential). If you go to the trouble of adding an unnecessary graph or two, that helps as well.

comment by [deleted] · 2013-04-13T04:05:58.835Z · score: 10 (14 votes) · LW · GW

Sorry, you've exceeded your meta-post quota for this month. Please try again later.

comment by PhilGoetz · 2013-04-13T05:09:30.168Z · score: 3 (19 votes) · LW · GW

Total so far: 3 rude comments, 7 up-votes. 2 polite replies, 2 down-votes. Humorous rude comment scored especially high.

comment by notsonewuser · 2013-04-13T23:05:43.731Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I had to upvote this. Did paper-machine sincerely think he was raising the sanity waterline with that comment?

comment by drethelin · 2013-04-13T07:10:18.758Z · score: 8 (10 votes) · LW · GW

Optimal rudeness is the amount that is enjoyable to your supporters (people who dislike who you're responding to or what they said) without swamping the message. Too many insults leave you little chance of convincing someone that they are wrong (if that's your goal) or becomes obviously an attack more than a rebuttal and at least in Lesswrong will get you less status/respect. "too few" insults is when you accord too much respect to people who are badly wrong or to statements that are badly wrong. There are things it's better not to waste time on and it's actually better for the forums to insult them, because it discourages them being taken seriously or being mentioned repeatedly.

comment by buybuydandavis · 2013-04-13T07:26:49.253Z · score: 6 (8 votes) · LW · GW

I think emotional tone of almost any sort gets downvoted. Except for a lofty disdain. That's often approved of. Perhaps it's not the disdain that's approved of, but the idea, and the disdain is just indulged in when the writer is confident of a mass of approval.

Me, I think emotional tone conveys information, and I find the arid emotional atmosphere unsatisfying. Worse, I find the lofty disdain usually unwarranted and thereby rather grating.

As a counter to my own claims I did get upvoted a good deal on a post with a restrained but definite peculiar emotional tone - a bit of an odd mood. I expected the post to be downvoted, so I clearly have some work on my calibration.

comment by Dan_Moore · 2013-04-13T14:08:30.720Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I agree that lofty disdain tends to be rewarded with karma points on this board. Also, rudeness when you are in the minority is a karma loser. I prefer to think of karma points on this board as measuring a person's covariance with the group opinion. So, if you find the group opinion optimal, you should try to maximize karma points.

I'm planning on stating a personal policy of posting that I intend to follow on a different board. Basically, I will refrain from using pejoratives, or 'one-off' pejoratives. However, stating facts are always in-bounds, no matter how unflattering they are to some. An example of a 'one-off' pejorative is to call someone's argument 'nonsense'; the implication being that the person is nonsensical. It's in the vein of Crocker's Rules, but slightly different.

Why I plan to do this:

  1. I think that people engaged in internet discussions should be given the benefit of the doubt that they sincerely believe what they are saying (without evidence to the contrary). So, it's overly harsh to go off on someone on the internet because their opinion differs from yours. If you wouldn't behave that way IRL, you shouldn't on the internet either. Also, if people know you will be sticking to the facts, they will be less inclined to engage in distracting flames.

  2. This is purely a tactical decision, as I have presented an alternative hypothesis to a dogma that is cherished on that board, and plan to expand on that. Thus, I am in the minority. So, I won't follow this policy because I believe I am nicer or better than others, but rather out of intelligent self-interest. So, I will be turning the other cheek, but I hope to use that to my advantage later.

comment by TheOtherDave · 2013-04-13T18:58:13.526Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I prefer to think of karma points on this board as measuring a person's covariance with the group opinion.

I would agree with you if you said "group norms" rather than "group opinion". While there are some opinions on LW that function as group norms, the bulk of the norms here are instead procedural.

comment by AspiringRationalist · 2013-04-13T19:12:10.480Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

It's a nearly universal pattern with groups of humans that the more you follow the group's norms, the more highly the group thinks of you.

comment by Kawoomba · 2013-04-13T18:09:54.078Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I prefer to think of karma points on this board as measuring a person's covariance with the group opinion.

Is that why the top voted post in Main is one by an outspoken critic? If the above were true, if this forum didn't also reward group-contrarian ideas as long as they were well presented, how could LW purport to be about rationality? It's quite the devastating statement that karma is based mostly on "agrees/disagrees with me"/tribal lines.

comment by PhilGoetz · 2013-04-13T20:01:17.805Z · score: 0 (6 votes) · LW · GW

If the above were true, if this forum didn't also reward group-contrarian ideas as long as they were well presented, how could LW purport to be about rationality?

Is that intended to be an argument? Notice that it is not.

I think the top-voted post you're referring to (link does not work) is by the GiveWell evaluator. Besides writing a good post, he was an outsider with high status paying attention to LW, and Eliezer and everyone supporting SIAI desperately wanted to impress him and make him feel like he was being taken seriously. Not an admittable datapoint.

comment by buybuydandavis · 2013-04-13T22:55:15.073Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

stating facts are always in-bounds

You're ugly. Well, maybe, I don't really know. But are personal "facts" such as that in bounds?

comment by Dan_Moore · 2013-04-14T01:43:09.632Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

You're ugly.

I would call that an opinion. A pejorative one.

Also not likely to be relevant to any serious discussion I would ever have on the internet.

comment by lyghtcrye · 2013-04-13T04:13:07.544Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW · GW

I haven't compiled any data relating rudeness to karma, and thus only have my imperfect recollection of prior comments to draw on, but I can certainly see your point here. I doubt, however, that an unpopular opinion or argument would benefit from rudeness if the post is initially well formed. I would expect rudeness to amplify polarization, thereby benefiting popular arguments and high status posters, and politeness to mitigate it. Would you be willing to provide me with some examples for or against this expectation from your observations?

comment by PhilGoetz · 2013-04-13T05:13:34.480Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

It's better if you look for your own examples, as my providing examples would just provide more fuel for gwern (above), who until this post I had no idea disliked me.

comment by bogus · 2013-04-13T09:29:03.786Z · score: 0 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I think of rudeness in LW discussions as a signal. Broadly speaking, LW commenters are rude when they think they are dealing with a stupid argument, and/or an argument that fails to follow the established rules of rationality. The implication is that they can't be bothered writing a more detached response, and (since rudeness is more likely to drive users off the site) that they would not want to see similar comments in the future.

It strikes me as a useful signal; sometimes more useful than karma points, which can be affected by factional or 'political' considerations. This might be one reason why Crocker's Rules tend to be relatively popular here at LessWrong.

Nonetheless, it might be worthwhile to try and challenge the social norm where users with more status can afford to be more rude. In my view, it would be interesting if some users with high rationality skills were willing to be expressly low status users, or "resident trolls". Their role would include debating with especially irrational, politically-motivated or trollish newcomers. Rudeness on their part would be expressly encouraged; due to their low status, it would hopefully not be seen as threatening the social standing of other LW users.

Ideally, users with the technical ability to delete comments here (most obviously Eliezer) would also take on the low-status, "resident troll" role. This would ensure that such technical measures are only used a last resort, if any attempts at discouraging unproductive commenters by social means failed.

comment by TimS · 2013-04-13T18:41:54.593Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Hmm. I'm not sure we want more monkeymind posts, which seems to be a desired goal of your proposed policy.

comment by bogus · 2013-04-13T20:34:01.640Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Do you mean this? Honestly, I think such users are a crystal-clear example of the rare instance when technical restrictions are justified. While I don't think karma scores should be the sole criteria of this, the fact that this user has been allowed to reach a score of -513 is quite striking.

comment by TimS · 2013-04-15T00:29:35.051Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I think I don't understand your proposal.

You want high rationality people to be rude to irrational or trollish newcomers? Given that the function of the newcomer-behavior is probably attention, I'm not sure we should positively reinforce the behavior if we don't want it.

And I don't see how we can cause high-rationality people to be low status, or why we would want to? (It isn't like newcomers have much idea who is high status or low status).

comment by gwern · 2013-04-13T04:21:01.716Z · score: -3 (45 votes) · LW · GW

"In which PhilGoetz goes meta in insulting everyone who didn't appreciate his genius in the last post while justifying his own rudeness and failure to explain well, explain how all this merely proves his genius, tries to be meta-contrarian on Bayesian statistics to boot, and fails to notice the irony of him burning bridges & self-sabotaging on LW much as he did at his previous places of employment (if his personal anecdotes are at all accurate after allowing for the usual self-serving nature of personal polemical anecdotes)."

/eats some popcorn

I look forward to the next step in the downward spiral. Sockpuppets to agree with him or to push his views, Dmytry-style? A campaign of going after individuals? Setting up a blog where one forgets ever learning about 'reversed stupidity' and does exactly that with what one regards as the stupidities of LW, XiXiDu-style? Spewing absurd bile about how everyone else is a psychopath, Kulisz-style? Possibly a conversion to Catholicism like Wright? Possibly a rare redemption after pondering one's communication styles and past?

I don't know, but now that Bitcoin's price has settled down, this is almost as fascinating to watch.

comment by buybuydandavis · 2013-04-13T07:44:56.674Z · score: 6 (14 votes) · LW · GW

Anyone who recognizes my name will know I can be pretty surly. I'm even much worse in other places, and enjoy little back and worth pissy wars. So I'm not a delicate daisy when it comes to rhetoric.

But this is the most mean spirited comment I've seen in a long time. This is just unpleasant.

EDIT: Interesting that it is currently 45% positive, which I'm guessing is 11 negative to 9 positive. 9 positive, huh? Okey dokey.

comment by gwern · 2013-04-13T16:47:04.407Z · score: 0 (10 votes) · LW · GW

But this is the most mean spirited comment I've seen in a long time. This is just unpleasant.

Why is it unpleasant? If you've been online for a long time, you've seen a lot of random verbal assault, dishonesty, and products of probably mental illness (eg. LoseThos); you can go on 4chan and see any of this at any time. What makes my comment particularly unpleasant and turns your stomach?

comment by buybuydandavis · 2013-04-13T22:38:19.551Z · score: 8 (10 votes) · LW · GW

I'd say you were making an on topic and in bounds comment until "boot". Harsh, debatable, but in bounds by my standards of smacking people around for what they say and how they behave.

You went on to dredge up problems in past employment that you perceive Phil had. Maybe he had a divorce you'd like to dredge up too? Do his kids hate him? Any sexual dysfunction you'd like to mention? Employment history is a high stakes, high status impact area of life. That's making sure you hit an organ when you give him the shiv.

But you weren't done there. Let's liken Phil to every hated, low status behavior and low status loser that has ever appeared on the list. Phil is the hated, low status Them, that We all despise. And what should we do about the hated, low status Them? We should get our popcorn, and sneer and jeer at Them, looking down on Them from the balcony seats of the theatre. Them aren't really people to address; they're objects to observe in amusement, contempt, and disdain. What fun!

Why so ugly? It's a generalized personal attack, aimed at vital organs, dehumanizing and depersonalizing, seeking to rally hatred and loathing from the group. In HPMoR terms, it showed rhetorical intent to kill. Not to win, not to make a point, but to harm, and rally others to the stoning.

Beyond you personally, this is the second time I've seen completely out of bounds comments on the list. In the first case, they were being roundly applauded, and then defended when I pushed back. Eventually, the original commenter came around. In this case, there at least seems to be some initial pushback, and I don't see the same kind of enthusiastic defense. Progress, of a sort, but I'm still getting a big Ick about the karma support you've received.

comment by gwern · 2013-04-13T23:53:07.610Z · score: -1 (15 votes) · LW · GW

You went on to dredge up problems in past employment that you perceive Phil had.

I didn't dredge them up. Phil brought them up on LW to prove some points. My point is that what he's voluntarily told us about his life, combined with multiple posts he's done here, his emails to SL4, another post that Carl brought up I didn't even remember, and his memorable comments and posts over the last year, all paint a very specific picture which has nothing to do with LW's rationality and critical thinking skills, and everything to do with him.

Maybe he had a divorce you'd like to dredge up too? Do his kids hate him? Any sexual dysfunction you'd like to mention?

I don't believe he's discussed any of those.

But you weren't done there. Let's liken Phil to every hated, low status behavior and low status loser that has ever appeared on the list. Phil is the hated, low status Them, that We all despise.

Have you ever spent much time on Wikipedia, enough time to see intelligent productive contributors 'burn out'? Or with engineers or programmers? The escalating pattern of problems, the fixation on specific issues, going from disaster to disaster, the shrillness and increasing anger, the brusqueness, the marking of enemies - all of these are instantly familiar to anyone who has seen them before. I saw them with multiple Wikipedia contributors, including myself (ever wonder how I lost my adminship there?), and I've seen them on LW too (XiXiDu). The downward spiral can't go on forever. So it won't.

The question is, how does it end? Does it end cleanly with them coming to their senses and mending their ways, or taking a break to regain perspective, or will it end ugly with them finally going beyond the pale and a possibly permanent punishment handed down? Since I do not run LW and otherwise have no influence with Goetz, I cannot lance the boil or make the fever break.

And what should we do about the hated, low status Them? We should get our popcorn, and sneer and jeer at Them, looking down on Them from the balcony seats of the theatre. Them aren't really people to address; they're objects to observe in amusement, contempt, and disdain. What fun!

Unfortunately, we're all objects to one another. This would be useful, but we cannot break out of our own perspective. ("O wad some Pow'r / the giftie gie us / To see oursels as ithers see us! / It wad frae mony a blunder free us, / An' foolish notion...")

Why so ugly? It's a generalized personal attack, aimed at vital organs, dehumanizing and depersonalizing, seeking to rally hatred and loathing from the group. In HPMoR terms, it showed rhetorical intent to kill. Not to win, not to make a point, but to harm, and rally others to the stoning.

So it's both generalized and personal? It's depersonalizing and personal? It's an ad hominem which is dehumanizing?

comment by buybuydandavis · 2013-04-14T00:37:34.599Z · score: 3 (9 votes) · LW · GW

I don't think your replies are an honest engagement to anything I said, just games with language to score points. I didn't post to score points, I posted to honestly answer what I took to be an honest question. I thought you deserved an answer, given my criticism. I wasn't interested in scoring points then, and I'm not interested in scoring points now.

comment by PhilGoetz · 2013-04-13T20:10:46.528Z · score: 2 (16 votes) · LW · GW

Your comment is not unpleasant because I can find worse ones on 4chan?

You just made that argument. I know it seems incredible, but really, you did. Look up above, there it is.

comment by gwern · 2013-04-13T21:19:16.177Z · score: -3 (11 votes) · LW · GW

Your comment is not unpleasant because I can find worse ones on 4chan? You just made that argument. I know it seems incredible, but really, you did. Look up above, there it is.

Incredulity is not an argument. Feel free to try to understand my point sometime instead of feeling superior. It'd be good practice for your next medical statistics article.

comment by PhilGoetz · 2013-04-14T15:47:52.960Z · score: 0 (8 votes) · LW · GW

To clarify: You literally asked why it is unpleasant. Are you also implying that you don't understand why it is unpleasant? That's the default assumption when someone asks "Why X?" Because that is literally in-credible, I do not believe you don't understand why it's unpleasant.

comment by gwern · 2013-04-14T17:52:06.744Z · score: -1 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Are you also implying that you don't understand why it is unpleasant? That's the default assumption when someone asks "Why X?"

I have my own beliefs on why it might be perceived as 'unpleasant'; the question was Socratic.

comment by PhilGoetz · 2013-04-16T03:39:13.349Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Why don't you just say what it is you're trying to say?

comment by jimrandomh · 2013-04-13T06:11:13.936Z · score: 6 (12 votes) · LW · GW

While the original post could be interpreted as inviting rudeness, this seems a lot overboard.

Also, Bitcoin's price hasn't settled down yet.

comment by gwern · 2013-04-13T16:54:47.404Z · score: 3 (7 votes) · LW · GW

While the original post could be interpreted as inviting rudeness, this seems a lot overboard.

Goetz went overboard a long time ago when he complained about his reception in other pages and argued tooth and nail for his medical page. At some point you get irritated enough to finally point out the patterns you see.

Also, Bitcoin's price hasn't settled down yet.

Pfft, it's within like $20 of when I last checked it yesterday. Compared to the recent volatility, that's positive boring.

comment by PhilGoetz · 2013-04-13T04:38:04.692Z · score: 2 (8 votes) · LW · GW

My previous post is one of several things that got me thinking along these lines. But you are the one going meta here, taking an objective and serious question, and turning it into a personal attack and, perhaps, some LessWrong factional power play. Why did you do that?

If it was in order to give me an opportunity to respond politely to a rude comment, I thank you.

comment by gwern · 2013-04-13T04:43:54.168Z · score: 2 (8 votes) · LW · GW

But you are the one going meta here, taking an objective and serious question,

Yes, so objective and serious that almost every line can be read as complaining about the reception of your medical post (complaining you did in comments outside that post too, I will note, so there is ample precedent for such passive-aggressive behavior).

and turning it into a personal attack

Do personal attacks cease to be personal when you attack a group of people for their individual treatment of you?

and, perhaps, some LessWrong factional power play.

What factions would those be?

comment by PhilGoetz · 2013-04-13T05:05:13.907Z · score: 1 (9 votes) · LW · GW

Do personal attacks cease to be personal when you attack a group of people for their individual treatment of you?

I'm asking a question that I want to know the answer to. Anyone looking over the previous post you're referring to can see that people were polite to me, and I was sometimes rude and derisive. Rudeness or politeness does not single out either side of the argument.

I was inspired to ask this question because, while responding to rude comments, I kept wondering whether I should be rude or polite in response, and didn't know.

What factions would those be?

I wouldn't know. I merely observe that is the usual cause for something like your behavior here. I can imagine no other motivation for your attack on me, even if you believe what you say. Even if you are correct in believing I have some emotional motivation, what are the benefits to anybody of pointing it out, creating more interpersonal conflict, and discouraging people from thinking about or answering the question?

comment by CarlShulman · 2013-04-13T19:37:34.412Z · score: 15 (17 votes) · LW · GW

Even if you are correct in believing I have some emotional motivation, what are the benefits to anybody of pointing it out,

I downvoted gwern's comment for rudeness and invective, but I was tempted to upvote it for pointing out to you that this post and its predecessor pattern-match to escalating conflict over a personal slight and lashing out, along the lines of other posts. Talk about becoming enemies with gwern furthers the appearance, regardless of the reality. Presumably similar considerations affected some other upvoters and downvoters.

Why care about that perception? Well, you have repeatedly expressed your frustration with unexplained lack of upvotes or the presence of downvotes on pieces you think are strong. If you are perceived as unreceptive to critique, and likely to lash out, then readers have less incentive to reply to your questions, especially when they expect you won't like the answers. This hurts you, because you lose out on feedback that could help you improve your writing and its reception. It hurts LessWrong via the opportunity costs of any improvements you might have made in response to feedback, and unpleasant drama.

I hesitated to post this comment, lest I exacerbate this local exchange or get mired in it, but I do think you could create a much more amicable relationship with respondents and get better feedback if you went out of your way to avoid the perception of retaliation. Concretely, Kaj Sotala and Yvain's responses to criticism might be good models.

comment by gwern · 2013-04-13T05:18:44.366Z · score: 5 (9 votes) · LW · GW

I'm asking a question that I want to know the answer to.

No, you don't. You want to justify your previous behavior and ensuing results, and justify what you yourself have told us is a lifetime of clashing with supervisors and coworkers over various things and making enemies of them.

I merely observe that is the usual cause for something like your behavior here. I can imagine no other motivation for your attack on me, even if you believe what you say. Even if you are correct in believing I have some emotional motivation, what are the benefits to anybody of pointing it out, creating more interpersonal conflict, and discouraging people from thinking about or answering the question?

Disgust at watching such wasteful behavior? A bit of pity, knowing that one's problems can be far more obvious to an observer than oneself, and this is just as true about me? Irritation at the status-move implied in going meta with the presumption you were right in every respect?

So far: 2 extremely rude comments, 2 up-votes. 1 polite reply to rude comments, 0 up-votes.

Don't worry, I'll toss in some votes and affect that number.

Of course, you knew that posting a summary would inspire someone to vote just because of that summary, as predictably as waving a red flag in front of the proverbial bull. You should consider what made you add in that entirely gratuitous point, in light of my original comment.

comment by Kawoomba · 2013-04-13T06:40:24.041Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

You want to justify your previous behavior (...)

... while conveniently ignoring the plethora of evidence to the contrary of his theses. I've yet to see e.g. a comment that TheOtherDave can't politely steelman, to general approval and upvotes - contrary to PhilGoetz's wild generalisations that appear to be from one example. The most important example - himself. Seeking the failure in some purported general trend before seeking it in one's own agency is the easy way out - becoming the victim of some Great and General Injustice (tm).

When you're watching out for a wrong-way driver, yet see most everyone apparently driving the wrong way, maybe it's time for, um, introspection?


So, now that the fig leaf of relevant content is provided, here are my ramblings for this post.

knowing that one's problems can be far more obvious to an observer than oneself, and this is just as true about me?

Come one, come all! I can judge you anonymously in ROT13, for a small fee going to a charity of my choice. (Don't judge me!)

Dmytry-style? (...) XiXiDu-style? (...) Kulisz-style? (...) Wright[-style]?

What about the famed froth-at-the-mouth-yet-polite Kawoomba-style?

comment by gwern · 2013-04-13T17:07:45.166Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Come one, come all! I can judge you anonymously in ROT13, for a small fee going to a charity of my choice. (Don't judge me!)

I'm afraid you'll need to do better than that. I can get advice for free elsewhere (it's a commodity these days), what's your value-added here?

What about the famed froth-at-the-mouth-yet-polite Kawoomba-style?

Kawoomba? I'm afraid I've never heard of him. Perhaps it was a more elegant style for a more civilized age.

comment by PhilGoetz · 2013-04-13T06:55:27.172Z · score: -1 (11 votes) · LW · GW

I was tempted to write a rude reply, to use as another datapoint. But this is getting too serious to treat as an experiment.

Before today I had no strong opinion about you, as a person. Yet you appear determined to make me hate you, going out of your way to hurt me and to create a new personal enemy for yourself, for... what? Disgust, pity, irritation... none of these are reasons.

You put a lot of effort into LessWrong, into experimentation, reading, posting, all to try to tweak your ability to act rationally just a little better, to become just a little more optimal. But what's the point of working so hard to be just a little more rational, when you indulge in such destructive behavior on a whim, or out of cruelty?

Can we not do this?

ADDED: I wish the people downvoting would explain themselves. I'm trying to understand why you're doing this, and I can't come up with a model. What are you thinking?

comment by drethelin · 2013-04-13T07:04:14.057Z · score: 10 (22 votes) · LW · GW

Insulting people is fun. You basically hung your ass out to get spanked. Gwern is being rude but his making fun of you is a lot less "destructive" behavior than your overreaction to it. Treating responses to your comments that are rude as "creating an enemy" is ridiculous, especially in the context of the internet and ESPECIALLY ESPECIALLY in the context of making a post about optimal rudeness.

comment by PhilGoetz · 2013-04-13T14:26:32.372Z · score: 0 (6 votes) · LW · GW

There's some large gap between my mindset, and the mindset of the people voting on this thread. I see you're trying to bridge that gap. But I find your comment, and the response to it, alien, as if you're speaking some bizarre language where the words are inverted. I understand what you're saying, but can't imagine how one could say it and believe it. Insulting people is fun? My attempt to patch things up between me and gwern is destructive? Saying that cruel comments on LessWrong can create enemies is ridiculous? Saying a comment is too rude is ridiculous in a post about optimal rudeness? All these claims are exactly opposite the truth as I see it.

Most of all, the implication that rationality should not govern our most important behavior. You shouldn't hurt people unless you have a reason to do so. That's a very low bar for rational (and ethical) behavior, yet somewhere around half LessWrong readers disagree with it?

comment by drethelin · 2013-04-14T02:08:56.201Z · score: 3 (9 votes) · LW · GW

Insulting people is fun?

that fact that you don't understand this is similarly mindboggling to me.

My attempt to patch things up between me and gwern is destructive?

I read what you said as the opposite of an attempt to patch things up. To me, it seemed like you were deliberately trying to escalate a rude comment into a personal enmity, by reading far too much hatred into it.

You shouldn't hurt people unless you have a reason to do so.

This is the kind of broad statement that sounds like someone's a priori self-concieved deontology. It doesn't have any practical relation to how human interaction generally plays out or is viewed. On the scale of "hurting" someone, Gwern's insults are somewhere between a punch in the arm and a kick to the nuts. punches to the arm and slaps on the back are WIDELY tolerated and encouraged by our social norms, and so are insults and and verbal put-downs. Unless your point is that we are regularly insanely more cruel than we should be to friends and acquaintances, your reaction to gwern's moderate escalation is an OVERreaction.

This comment seems to me to strongly indicate you have a big problem understanding humans and should try to deal with it before you attempt to analyze your interactions or anyone's in a social setting.

comment by Kindly · 2013-04-15T00:19:09.733Z · score: 7 (9 votes) · LW · GW

What's a kick in the nuts between friends? We were just horsing around.

But the potential for the illusion of transparency is ridiculous, and such an action smoothly transitions into hazing and/or bullying. Which are also widely tolerated by our social norms, unfortunately, as long as the person being bullied is low-status.

It seems obvious to me that if you slap someone on the back (literally or metaphorically) and they complain, then you should immediately drop all considerations of "insulting people is fun" and stop doing whatever it is you're doing. Even (especially?) if you think they're being a baby.

comment by gwern · 2013-04-13T17:02:49.504Z · score: 6 (12 votes) · LW · GW

Before today I had no strong opinion about you, as a person. Yet you appear determined to make me hate you, going out of your way to hurt me and to create a new personal enemy for yourself, for... what?

Why did my comment provoke any meaningful reaction from you other than a laugh? For example, "that gwern, thinking he can psychoanalyze me across the Internet! No, my friend, I have problems of course - don't we all? - but I'm afraid you're waaaay off-base there! Jolly good try, though."

("Somebody remarked: 'I can tell by my own reaction to it that this book is harmful.' But let him only wait and perhaps one day he will admit to himself that this same book has done him a great service by bringing out the hidden sickness of his heart and making it visible.")

Disgust, pity, irritation... none of these are reasons.

Perhaps not for you, although I rather doubt it. Personally, I do many things out of irritation.

You put a lot of effort into LessWrong, into experimentation, reading, posting, all to try to tweak your ability to act rationally just a little better, to become just a little more optimal. But what's the point of working so hard to be just a little more rational, when you indulge in such destructive behavior on a whim, or out of cruelty?

What is the point of earning any credibility and rationality if one never says or believes anything that would be accepted and believed without the need of any credibility or rationality?

Can we not do this?

Sure. I'll stop saying mean and apparently too incisive things if you'll stop cluttering LW with your passive-aggressive BS and re-fighting your past battles and trying to retroactively justify posts that were not received as you wanted.

comment by duckduckMOO · 2013-04-18T09:00:17.966Z · score: -1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

"What is the point of earning any credibility and rationality if one never says or believes anything that would be accepted and believed without the need of any credibility or rationality?"

So what you're saying is I shouldn't trust anything you say?

comment by gwern · 2013-04-18T16:23:33.163Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I think what I was saying was pretty much the exact opposite.

comment by TheOtherDave · 2013-04-13T05:13:44.518Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Do you think your running explicit summary of rude/polite comments and their score has any particular effect on the thing you're observing?

comment by PhilGoetz · 2013-04-13T05:19:15.515Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Good point. I'm sure it has some effect, but I don't know in what direction. I'll edit out the one that I can, and tally later.

comment by TheOtherDave · 2013-04-13T15:28:10.812Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

while responding to rude comments, I kept wondering whether I should be rude or polite in response, and didn't know

Are you explicitly equating "X comments get more upvotes" with "I should be X" here, or is this part of a broader exercise in data gathering?

comment by PhilGoetz · 2013-04-13T20:26:17.910Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I'm asking what gets more upvotes because we can measure that. Figuring out how that relates to "should" is difficult, and left to the reader as an exercise.