Voiceofra is banned

post by NancyLebovitz · 2015-12-23T18:29:35.467Z · score: 24 (34 votes) · LW · GW · Legacy · 222 comments

I've gotten sufficient evidence from support that voiceofra has been doing retributive downvoting. I've banned them without prior notice because I'm not giving them more chances to downvote.

I'm thinking of something like not letting anyone give more than 5 downvotes/week for content which is more than a month old. The numbers and the time period are tentative-- this isn't my ideal rule. This is probably technically possible. However, my impression is that highly specific rules like that are an invitation to gaming the rules.

I would rather just make spiteful down-voting impossible (or maybe make it expensive) rather than trying to find out who's doing it. Admittedly, putting up barriers to downvoting for past comments doesn't solve the problem of people who down-vote everything, but at least people who downvote current material are easier to notice.

Any thoughts about technical solutions to excessive down-voting of past material?

222 comments

Comments sorted by top scores.

comment by IlyaShpitser · 2015-12-23T19:52:19.422Z · score: 17 (25 votes) · LW · GW

Nancy, I support Scott's (Yvain's) approach. Just say you are a dictator and ban at a whim (or perhaps ban "virtue-ethically" rather than "deontologically" -- "we don't want your type around here.") Publishing rules just invites people to bend them.

comment by Lumifer · 2015-12-23T21:18:09.408Z · score: 9 (21 votes) · LW · GW

Just say you are a dictator and ban at a whim

There is a slight problem in that LW is not Nancy's personal blog to be shaped by her whims.

comment by RomeoStevens · 2015-12-23T22:40:04.334Z · score: 21 (23 votes) · LW · GW

Voting for a new CEO is dramatically more effective than the board trying to micromanage the current CEO with rules. Find a reasonable person and let them be flexibly reasonable.

comment by Lumifer · 2015-12-28T16:09:43.933Z · score: -1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Voting for a new CEO

LW is not a corporation and I don't think it needs a Great Leader, especially of the CEO type.

comment by username2 · 2015-12-24T06:06:30.366Z · score: -1 (9 votes) · LW · GW

That only works if there is a mechanism for getting rid of CEOs who abuse their power. See comment above. Also note, that the victims of said abuse are generally not in a position to defend themselves.

comment by Benito · 2015-12-25T04:29:42.506Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

In Eliezer's post about gardens dying through pacifism, he says that in online gardens, you should either trust he moderators, or garden. A place where moderators get really worried about who to moderate is a place where trolls get in.

comment by Vaniver · 2015-12-24T15:43:45.496Z · score: 6 (8 votes) · LW · GW

There is a mechanism. It will be fruitless in this case, as Nancy is not abusing her power.

comment by pianoforte611 · 2015-12-24T02:54:12.114Z · score: 6 (10 votes) · LW · GW

I believe that Nancy is conservative enough with management that this is not a real danger.

comment by username2 · 2015-12-24T06:05:12.008Z · score: -9 (21 votes) · LW · GW

She's already abused her power at least once to ban someone for expressing opinions she doesn't like.

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2015-12-24T10:28:01.143Z · score: 19 (23 votes) · LW · GW

I was asked if I wanted to be moderator. There is no policy requiring me to only ban for formal reasons. The idea that people shouldn't be banned for content is somewhat popular and I tried following it, but it has since occurred to me that the places I've seen with no banning for content end up being a flavor of right-wing hostile that I don't like. We'll see how that plays out here.

I was patient with advancedatheist for a while, but he really doesn't like women, and shows it. Before I banned him, I decided that it was worth my ceasing to be moderator.

I hope I can notice it if any poster is that contemptuous of any demographic-- and if I fail to notice it, I have no doubt that I will be seeing complaints to draw it to my attention. While I'm here, I will not tolerate a pattern of such behavior, though I'm planning to be better about warnings.

I've seen concerns about LW turning into an echo chamber, but there's a tremendous amount to disagree about even if complaining about demographic groups is taken off the table. Also, an echo chamber in the sense of everyone agreeing with each other isn't the only way things can go wrong. You can also get very low information density because people are attacking each other repetitively..

comment by entirelyuseless · 2015-12-24T13:43:08.906Z · score: 7 (6 votes) · LW · GW

I was one of those who said they didn't approve of banning for content. I don't know how others would take that, but I was referring to conceptual content; I think regularly showing hostility or contempt could definitely merit banning, but that is not an issue of conceptual content. Even if someone makes comparative statements about demographic groups, e.g. "Irish drink more alcohol on average than Romanians" (not that I know if that's true or not), that does not necessarily show any contempt for anyone. That is more a question of attitude, although perhaps you could infer that someone has such an attitude if he makes obviously false statements of that kind on a frequent basis.

comment by Kaj_Sotala · 2015-12-24T12:08:44.162Z · score: 13 (13 votes) · LW · GW

Given that her comment announcing her decision has 31 upvotes, people seem to disagree with you on this being an abuse of power.

comment by gjm · 2015-12-24T17:56:21.995Z · score: 8 (8 votes) · LW · GW

31 upvotes

More precisely: Net score of +31, 84% positive. So p/(p+n)=0.84 or 0.16p=0.84n and p-n=31, so (1-0.16/0.84)p=31, so +38-7.

comment by jsteinhardt · 2015-12-24T06:16:47.920Z · score: 11 (13 votes) · LW · GW

I'm dubious that that constitutes abusing her power; AdvancedAtheist was highly and consistently downvoted for a long period of time before being banned.

comment by username2 · 2015-12-24T06:18:53.500Z · score: -7 (17 votes) · LW · GW

That wasn't the reason she gave for banning him.

comment by Kaj_Sotala · 2015-12-24T12:06:16.112Z · score: 15 (13 votes) · LW · GW

If we're doing the virtue ethical banning, then as long as we agree that the people in question deserved a ban, the specific reasons given for the ban aren't very important. The moderator may be reacting to a pattern that's clearly ban-worthy, but nonetheless hard to verbalize exactly, and thus misreport their real reason. Verbal reporting is hard.

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2015-12-24T22:50:28.895Z · score: 9 (9 votes) · LW · GW

It's reasonable for people to know why someone is banned because they want to know what might get them banned.

comment by SilentCal · 2015-12-28T16:23:06.564Z · score: 0 (-1 votes) · LW · GW

The moderator may be reacting to a pattern that's clearly ban-worthy, but nonetheless hard to verbalize exactly, and thus misreport their real reason. Verbal reporting is hard.

This. If I read the ban announcement legalistically, I disagree with it. But if I read the offending post, together with multiple users' assurances that AA's posts were basically all like that--I don't want that in my garden.

comment by Jiro · 2015-12-28T16:39:21.277Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I think there's been enough time and enough posts that Nancy could have figured out that she misreported her reason and said so, if that was in fact the case.

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2015-12-30T15:08:09.726Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

I haven't answered your objections to my style of moderation, but it isn't because I haven't been thinking about them. Unfortunately, I don't think I can manage the sort of clear boundaries I think you prefer.

The good news is that I'm extremely unlikely to want to ban you. You have a civil approach, and part of what gets people banned is lowering the tone or if you prefer, being a pain in the ass.

The hard thing is that there doesn't seem to be a good way to discuss the emotional effects of statements-- the only way to evaluate emotional effects is by what people say those emotional effects are, and in addition to whether you trust what people say about their emotions, language is ambiguous that there are frequently alternate interpretations, especially when the underlying question is how much of a welcome people feel in a venue. It might be more efficient to say that claims about emotional effect are entangled with implied claims about who's in charge and who matters.

The bad news is that I'm not at all sure I can formalize this, though my net gain in karma in this discussion suggests that I have an accurate sense of what LW is, even if it's possible that LW could be improved with a more open attitude about abhorrent viewpoints. (I don't think it would be an improvement, I'm just saying I acknowledge it's theoretically possible.)

Just getting a clearer idea of what is abhorrent and what isn't might help, but I really do think part of the problem is tone. There are policies which are vile no matter how abstractly and politely they're expressed (for example, slavery on a grand scale), but the amount of hatred added to policy adds an emotional sting.

comment by username2 · 2015-12-31T03:32:00.262Z · score: -17 (13 votes) · LW · GW

So basically what you're saying is that your emotional unqualified to be a moderator.

BTW, you're doing a remarkably good job of demonstrating advancedatheist's claim that women can't be trusted with positions of power.

comment by username2 · 2015-12-24T22:21:37.626Z · score: 0 (6 votes) · LW · GW

If we're doing the virtue ethical banning, then as long as we agree that the people in question deserved a ban, the specific reasons given for the ban aren't very important.

Yes, they are. They set the percedent for which other users get banned.

comment by Jiro · 2015-12-25T19:31:06.152Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

That's a big problem. By the verbal standard that Nancy used for banning advancedatheist, I and lots of people here are in danger of being banned. I just argued on SSC that it could be preferable for a country to limit how many refugees it takes in when they are fleeing the Holocaust, thus leaving the remaining ones to die horribly (if the country has taken in as many refugees as it can accommodate, this becomes a case of torture versus dust specks).

Of course, that would extend to banning people for supporting standard torture versus dust specks too.

It's an important part of rational discussion that we be able to say things that pattern-match to promoting horrible ideas.

comment by username2 · 2015-12-26T10:50:18.714Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

There should be a difference between people who post the same controversial opinions over and over again like a broken record and people who write about a wide variety of topics and sometimes post controversial things, e.g. people like you. The latter should be allowed much more and they should not be banned even for the most extreme opinions, because they have a controversial idea because that's where their reasoning led them to, and not because they simply want to promote their popular pet idea here.

comment by IlyaShpitser · 2015-12-26T01:41:30.650Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I think you misunderstand virtue-ethical banning. It's not about what you say, it's about who you are. "Precedents" are a deontological idea.

comment by username2 · 2015-12-28T01:56:18.078Z · score: -1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Yes, and in particular it matters which aspect of who you are is the one that got you banned?

comment by jsteinhardt · 2015-12-24T06:20:20.024Z · score: 7 (15 votes) · LW · GW

I'm 85% sure that you're VoiceOfRa.

comment by Good_Burning_Plastic · 2015-12-25T16:22:43.047Z · score: 6 (8 votes) · LW · GW

So what?

(EDIT: In case you don't know, username2 is an anonymous account that anyone can use, created after some jerk changed the password to the Username account formerly used for that purpose.)

comment by jsteinhardt · 2015-12-25T22:11:05.511Z · score: 4 (6 votes) · LW · GW

I'm well aware. It is therefore even more problematic if this account is abused --- note that there have been multiple confirmations that username2 has been used to downvote the same people that VoiceOfRa was downvoting before; in addition, VoiceOfRa has used the username2 account to start arguments with NancyLebovitz in a way that makes it look like a 3rd party is disagreeing with the decision, rather than VoiceOfRa himself. At the very least, it is better if everyone is aware of this situation, and ideally we would come up with a way to prevent such abuse.

comment by username2 · 2015-12-26T00:16:23.928Z · score: -9 (15 votes) · LW · GW

Seriously, does your definition of "abuse" cash out as "someone's saying someone I disagree with", because that's certainly the one that best fits your usage?

comment by Good_Burning_Plastic · 2015-12-26T12:41:47.620Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Where the hell are you getting that from jsteinhardt's comment? He's not saying anything about the content of those comments, only on the fact that they might mislead an outside observer in thinking that more distinct people are taking part in a discussion than actually are.

comment by pianoforte611 · 2015-12-24T21:26:26.042Z · score: 3 (7 votes) · LW · GW

The sudden very positive karma is extremely suspicious.

comment by jsteinhardt · 2015-12-24T22:09:40.905Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I was 85% sure at the time that username2's comment was posted. I'm now 98% sure for a variety of reasons.

I'm only 75% sure that the upvotes on "username2"/VoiceOfRa's comments above are from sockpuppets.

comment by polymathwannabe · 2015-12-24T16:32:53.523Z · score: 3 (11 votes) · LW · GW

In the comment that got him banned, Advancedatheist said:

we need to restore a healthy patriarchy where women can't get sexual experience until marriage

just after he implied that lack of sexually available women was a viable explanation for two cases of mass murder.

I don't think it's "abuse of power" to obstruct the dissemination of such abhorrent views, especially at a website that has world-improvement as one of its central goals.

comment by Vaniver · 2015-12-24T17:00:37.998Z · score: 16 (18 votes) · LW · GW

I don't think it's "abuse of power" to obstruct the dissemination of such abhorrent views, especially at a website that has world-improvement as one of its central goals.

The truth of a view is more important than whether or not it's abhorrent. I agree with entirelyuseless in that I endorse banning advancedatheist because he had a long string of low-quality posting but do not endorse banning him because of the content of that comment by itself.

comment by polymathwannabe · 2015-12-24T17:14:57.712Z · score: 4 (6 votes) · LW · GW

The truth of a view is more important than whether or not it's abhorrent.

Amen. But the LW Terms of Use state:

You are explicitly prohibited from: [...] Posting or transmitting content through the Website that is harassing, threatens or encourages bodily harm, constitutes hate speech, or advocates for the destruction of property;

This case went beyond LW's usual attitude toward debate; this was explicit advocacy of violence, which should always be treated as Serious Business.

comment by Mirzhan_Irkegulov · 2015-12-24T20:28:52.783Z · score: 5 (9 votes) · LW · GW

As much as I am a feminist and find Advancedatheist's views insane and super-creepy, “we need to restore a healthy patriarchy where women can't get sexual experience until marriage” is not an advocacy of violence. Maybe he wants to restore patriarchy via peaceful means.

comment by Good_Burning_Plastic · 2015-12-25T16:13:34.753Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

It's hard (at least for me -- YMMV) to read "can't get" (emphasis added; as opposed to e.g. "don't get") in a way that doesn't imply the threat of violence (broadly construed) against women who do try to get sexual experience before marriage. Then again, by such standards proposals to e.g. ban a particular drug would also count as advocacy of violence, so probably EY had something less broad in mind.

comment by username2 · 2015-12-25T19:00:21.566Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Then again, by such standards proposals to e.g. ban a particular drug would also count as advocacy of violence,

Or discussion of any laws whatsoever.

comment by polymathwannabe · 2015-12-24T21:26:00.152Z · score: 1 (5 votes) · LW · GW

I meant the part where he implied that lack of sex justified mass murder.

comment by Mirzhan_Irkegulov · 2015-12-24T22:12:19.149Z · score: 6 (8 votes) · LW · GW

I've read his Reddit comment. It doesn't seem like he's justifying (as in saying it's OK) mass murder, just claiming mass murder will continue if patriarchy is not restored. I get how you feel about AA, but you're stretching.

comment by Good_Burning_Plastic · 2015-12-25T16:37:58.895Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Did you mean for the "advocacy of violence" link to go to https://wiki.lesswrong.com/wiki/Deletion_policy#Hypothetical_violence_against_identifiable_targets instead?

comment by polymathwannabe · 2015-12-27T05:00:01.401Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

It seemed that one applied to the Wiki only, so I didn't use it.

comment by username2 · 2015-12-24T22:28:24.138Z · score: 0 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I believe the intent of EY's ban on violence was violence against identifiable individuals. Discussion and advocacy of violence against collective groups (the canonical example being supporting specific wars) is OK.

comment by username2 · 2015-12-24T22:24:55.492Z · score: -2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I agree with entirelyuseless in that I endorse banning advancedatheist because he had a long string of low-quality posting

Do you have any idea how many LW users that would apply to? Come to think of it, looking through polymathwannabe's recent history the highest quality content appears to be the open threads he initiates.

comment by Vladimir_Nesov · 2015-12-24T23:18:37.330Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

Do you have any idea how many LW users that would apply to?

This illustrates the effect size of the action. It's one of a few things that seem to me to have the potential of changing the current situation, although it's likely useless on its own, and it's not obvious whether the change would be for the better. A few years ago I maintained a list of users whose comments I was subscribed to (via rss), and two other lists, marked "toxic" and "clueless". Getting rid of those users might make lesswrong a better place, if it won't scare away the rest.

comment by Vaniver · 2015-12-25T01:03:50.009Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

A few years ago I maintained a list of users whose comments I was subscribed to (via rss), and two other lists, marked "toxic" and "clueless".

I'm much more tolerant of clueless than toxic, but even then there is a limit.

comment by username2 · 2015-12-24T23:24:45.487Z · score: -2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

(it's not obvious whether the change would be for the better)

It would certainly be for the worse if the banning was selectively enforced based on whether the mod in question liked the opinion being expressed.

comment by Vladimir_Nesov · 2015-12-24T23:29:54.589Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I don't see a certainty in this. Policies have downsides. It's not clear how significant a bit of systematic injustice and bias would be compared to the other effects.

comment by Jiro · 2015-12-25T19:38:58.437Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Is it an abhorrent view to turn away people fleeing the Holocaust? To eat babies? To kill a person for their organs? To divert a trolley to kill a person in order to save someone else? To state that some populations have higher IQ than others? To suggest that divorce is harmful to children?

comment by jsteinhardt · 2015-12-24T02:14:55.722Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

As Romeo noted, Nancy was appointed roughly by popular acclaim (more like, a small number of highly dedicated and respected users appointing her, and no one objecting). I think it's reasonable in general to give mods a lot of discretionary power, and trust other veteran users to step in if things take a turn for the worse.

comment by Douglas_Knight · 2015-12-28T04:21:31.009Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

That makes sense for visible behavior, like trolling, but this ban is about the invisible behavior of mass downvoting. I don't think anyone is worried about Nancy's judgment of such actions, but she is worried about the difficulty of discovering it. Algorithms might be useful for enforcing rules on voting or discovering patterns therein.

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2015-12-28T06:21:00.935Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Exactly.

comment by IlyaShpitser · 2015-12-29T20:13:57.520Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I don't think it's going to be very difficult to discover Eugene's new account once he makes it. The real difficulty is making it not worth his while to keep coming back.


I don't count myself as either a rationalist or a community member here, so this is an opinion of a somewhat sympathetic outsider (take it for what it is). But I think you guys should find a way to throw the nrx out, and let them start their own community. I think they are going to do more harm than good in the long run. Yvain started to clean house already on his blog, because he noticed the same.

comment by username2 · 2015-12-30T21:25:50.301Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

If we have a "no politics" rule it should apply to nrx. Nrx people can participate if they are able to do so apolitically.

comment by Good_Burning_Plastic · 2016-01-04T09:24:53.726Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Nrx people can participate if they are able to do so apolitically.

...nor do anything else as dickish as downvoting the hell out of somebody's every single comment because they disagree with one of them or use the anonymous account to vote.

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2015-12-31T10:29:52.327Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

We don't have a no politics rule, though we may have a no politics custom.

It's difficult to talk rationally about politics, but that doesn't mean it's impossible.

comment by satt · 2016-01-03T22:58:05.242Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I don't think it's going to be very difficult to discover Eugene's new account once he makes it. The real difficulty is making it not worth his while to keep coming back.

Seconded.

I don't count myself as either a rationalist or a community member here,

FWIW, I think of anyone who posts here regularly as a Wronger! (I know, I know, you disagree with other people here about how to do causal inference and about the insightfulness/worthiness of academics — but disagreeing with the rest of the gang on some specific topic is pretty common, I reckon, and not nearly enough to get you kicked out of the treehouse.)

I think you guys should find a way to throw the nrx out, and let them start their own community. I think they are going to do more harm than good in the long run.

This I disagree with. The only neoreactionaries I remember being obnoxious enough here to raise a real stink are Eugine_Nier and Jim, and Jim hasn't posted here since 2012. That's too thin a basis for kicking out a particular political group, especially since Eugine_Nier being here has had some benefit. (I have occasionally seen them shake people out of misconceptions.) It's just that Eugine_Nier's abuse of the voting system outweighed/outweighs that benefit. (That wasn't Eugine_Nier's only downside, but it was the big one.)

comment by IlyaShpitser · 2016-01-07T01:50:26.881Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

you disagree with other people here about how to do causal inference

I don't think I have substantive disagreements with folks here who know about the topic. I try to do outreach with others, not the same as disagreement :).

comment by username2 · 2015-12-30T02:14:31.534Z · score: -2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

But I think you guys should find a way to throw the nrx out, and let them start their own community.

Why? Because you'd rather have an echo-chamber than a rationalist community? Because you secretly suspect the NRx's are correct and are worried their arguments will persuade more people to agree with them?

comment by RichardKennaway · 2015-12-31T08:47:49.068Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

The universal counterargument of crackpots.

comment by polymathwannabe · 2015-12-30T15:23:09.840Z · score: 5 (3 votes) · LW · GW

First, stop putting words in people's mouths. Second, as rationalists, we'd convert to NRx in an instant if we had any sufficiently strong reason to believe NRx is correct.

comment by Vaniver · 2015-12-30T18:49:15.987Z · score: 5 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Second, as rationalists, we'd convert to NRx in an instant if we had any sufficiently strong reason to believe NRx is correct.

This isn't obvious to me, or at least would benefit from a separation between NRx critiques and NRx proposals / attitudes. One can think that the NRx view of liberal democracy is much more correct than the liberal democracy view of liberal democracy without thinking that the NRx prescriptions are correct.

comment by IlyaShpitser · 2015-12-30T02:30:04.256Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Because nrx attracts the type of people like you or "Jim."

comment by username2 · 2015-12-30T03:25:19.127Z · score: -3 (5 votes) · LW · GW

You mean people willing to say things likely to be true even if it isn't socially acceptable to admit they are. Yes, I can see why people who are uncomfortable with reality would have a problem with that.

comment by Good_Burning_Plastic · 2016-01-04T09:21:58.268Z · score: 10 (10 votes) · LW · GW

You mean people willing to say things likely to be true even if it isn't socially acceptable to admit they are.

People holding similar positions to yours but expressing them in much less dickish ways have included, off the top of my head, Konkvistador (whose total karma is 88% positive), nydwracu (91% positive), Vladimir M (93% positive). Nyan Sandwich and Moss Piglet appear to have deleted their accounts, but I don't recall them being downvoted much either -- nor can I recall many people lamenting the presence of any of said commenters.

For comparison, advancedatheist is 59% positive and sam0345 (most likely James Donald) is 53% positive; also eridu, who expressed radical feminist opinions in a way almost as obnoxious as Jim expresses his, has since deleted his account, but IIRC his % positive was also in the mid 50s.

So no, the social acceptability of a statement does not just depend on its factual content.

comment by username2 · 2016-01-05T22:45:04.341Z · score: -2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

This may sound like an intricate Song of Ice and Fire fan theory, but has anybody checked whether eugine_nier and Jim Donald are the same person? For example, can we compare the IP of sam0345 and Eugine's accounts? Alternatively, Yvain probably has access to the IP address for both posters.

(I am not the same username2 as above. This is my first post using the anonymous username2 account)

comment by gjm · 2016-01-06T00:34:45.635Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Very unlikely, I think. Eugine is, or claims to be, from somewhere ex-Soviet, and writes like a non-native. Jim seems straightforwardly American. I don't see any obvious reason for either of those to be fake.

comment by Good_Burning_Plastic · 2016-01-06T00:27:42.098Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

It seems very unlikely (< 10%) to me, given they have regularly commented on the same Armed and Dangerous threads for years, with no obvious reason for one person to use two aliases at the same time (also, Eugine has commented on Jim's blog e.g.).

comment by Risto_Saarelma · 2015-12-31T06:40:50.940Z · score: 4 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Or because you and Jim are being tedious assholes nobody likes to hang out with, while going on about the same predictable set of not socially acceptable stuff for years and years without having anything new and interesting to say after a while.

comment by username2 · 2015-12-31T22:53:13.477Z · score: -5 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Or because you and Jim are being tedious assholes nobody likes to hang out with

Given the most obvious way to taboo "tedious assholes" I don't see how this is different than what I wrote.

while going on about the same predictable set of not socially acceptable stuff for years

That's because no one has yet offered a good argument for why we are wrong. They've just done the equivalent of sticking fingers in their ears and going "na-na-na I can't hear you". Sort of like what Ilya and yourself are doing right now.

without having anything new and interesting to say after a while.

Yes, we do, maybe you'd notice if you didn't shut down your brain whenever you encountered a non-PC idea.

comment by IlyaShpitser · 2016-01-03T17:22:12.414Z · score: 7 (5 votes) · LW · GW

This entire discussion is about you, not about your ideas.

comment by username2 · 2016-01-05T00:53:07.697Z · score: -5 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Wrong, try again.

comment by Risto_Saarelma · 2016-01-01T09:43:19.279Z · score: 5 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Yes, we do, maybe you'd notice if you didn't shut down your brain whenever you encountered a non-PC idea.

I don't think there's been much elaboration on the ideas that were already floating around here five-ish years ago in the last few years. We've just had the few regulars jumping in with the same message, failing to start much interesting conversation, and growing increasingly cranky.

Making being a reactionary your life's work isn't very rewarding. It's a feature of the present system that proponents who get boring and repetitive get thrown in the wood chipper and more clever and interesting ones take their place, but any single person will get stuck in their old material after a while.

comment by gjm · 2015-12-30T15:34:57.915Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Consider the possibility that Ilya doesn't mean what you say he means.

comment by username2 · 2015-12-31T03:28:57.156Z · score: -3 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I don't know what Ilya means, that's way I'm asking and giving by best guess.

comment by gjm · 2015-12-31T12:49:45.286Z · score: 5 (7 votes) · LW · GW

This:

You mean people willing to say things likely to be true even if it isn't socially acceptable to admit they are. Yes, I can see why people who are uncomfortable with reality would have a problem with that.

isn't what asking looks like.

comment by username2 · 2015-12-31T22:54:27.516Z · score: -5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

I notice we've already gone two rounds of comments without you providing any alternate explanation.

comment by gjm · 2015-12-31T23:03:04.068Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Whyever should it be my job to provide alternate explanations?

comment by username2 · 2016-01-05T00:56:22.647Z · score: -2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Because you're the one who asserted that there are explanations for Ilya's behaviour besides the ones listed here.

comment by gjm · 2016-01-05T08:55:06.577Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

False.

comment by username2 · 2015-12-25T14:24:03.792Z · score: 10 (10 votes) · LW · GW

Someone has upvoted and downvoted a lot of comments in this thread using this account. I have manually reverted them. Please don't vote using this account.

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2015-12-25T14:42:57.964Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Thank you.

I could ban that account. Thoughts about whether that would be a good idea?

comment by username2 · 2015-12-25T14:58:36.268Z · score: 12 (12 votes) · LW · GW

Please, don't ban anonymous account, there are at least couple people who regularly use it. It is rare that anyone would use it for voting, it was the first time I have logged in and noticed so much upvoting and downvoting in a single thread. Sometimes I find a couple of votes in a thread, and I often revert them, but that's it. Maybe there were previous incidents in the past, but I haven't noticed them. Of course, things like that relies on goodwill. If someone started abusing it, there would be no choice except to ban it.

By the way, thank you Nancy. You do a job that is often unpleasant, but necessary.

comment by gjm · 2015-12-25T16:40:57.036Z · score: 10 (10 votes) · LW · GW

Definitely don't unless strong evidence emerges of an actual serious problem. Having an effectively anon account is valuable.

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2015-12-25T17:50:22.414Z · score: 11 (11 votes) · LW · GW

OK. It won't be banned.

I don't know whether it would be possible to make it into a non-voting account, but if so, would that be a good idea?

comment by ChristianKl · 2015-12-25T18:44:13.180Z · score: 15 (15 votes) · LW · GW

It would certainly be a good idea. The account has no business of casting votes.

comment by username2 · 2016-05-31T13:57:53.131Z · score: -1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Counterexample: someone uses this account to ask a question and upvotes people who give helpful replies.

comment by [deleted] · 2015-12-27T13:54:54.634Z · score: 4 (6 votes) · LW · GW

I'm concerned you're underestimating VoiceofRa.

Consider the worse case scenario: That he is the same handle behind the several antisocial accounts he has been associated with.

He's streaks of valid contributions indicate a degree of sophistication and high function.

The harm he causes, in spite of several attempted interventions in the past that have been unsuccessful, earmarks his malignance.

Most importantly, his persistence in contributing here indicates that he has found a sense of community here.

This issue will not easily be resolved by banning every account he makes, or catching every work around. It will be resolved by helping him resolve the underlying issue: the alleged incompatibility of his style of forum usage with that of the broader community.

Has anyone suggested alternative communities he may prefer, for instance?

Forgotten the sequences so quickly?

"When you surround the enemy Always allow them an escape route. They must see that there is An alternative to death." —Sun Tzu, The Art of War, Cloud Hands edition

"Don't raise the pressure, lower the wall." —Lois McMaster Bujold, Komarr

Worst case scenario, this is only the beginning. Do not make enemies annoying gnat's for they can be a million times more annoying than dragons.

comment by polymathwannabe · 2015-12-28T12:25:58.358Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

his persistence in contributing here indicates that he has found a sense of community here

Likelier explanation: this is a trolling space too fun for him to abandon.

comment by IlyaShpitser · 2016-01-02T19:04:55.061Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Troll is one of those words tailor made for tabooing.

comment by Lumifer · 2015-12-28T16:31:06.521Z · score: 4 (3 votes) · LW · GW

He isn't really into trolling. He just reiterates his views and heavily downvotes his opponents.

comment by Good_Burning_Plastic · 2015-12-26T12:22:05.277Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

it would be possible to make it into a non-voting account

And, while we're at it, to make it impossible to change its password as someone did to the Username account.

comment by Viliam · 2015-12-26T17:45:04.936Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Alternatively, make a script for (a) undoing all votes, and (b) resetting the password, and run it every midnight.

comment by Good_Burning_Plastic · 2015-12-26T22:48:27.691Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

(b) can't be done if someone has changed the password before the script ran... unless the script has access to the e-mail the account was created with so it can do the "password forgotten" thing, now that I think about it... Does anybody know the e-mail of the Username account?

comment by ChristianKl · 2015-12-26T23:22:40.636Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

A script can talk directly to the database. It doesn't need passwords to access an account.

comment by Evan_Gaensbauer · 2015-12-27T12:44:18.193Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

+1 to the anon who used the "username2" account to post the parent comment. IIRC, there was an original "username" account, the use of which of collectively discontinued several months ago because its value to the community was co-opted by abusive anonymous users logging into it. I would hate to see that happen a second time, to "username2". If it were to happen a second time, that would disincentivize necessary, honest, and respectful use of the anonymous account. If that became the norm, even if there were a "username3", the perception might become there isn't a general anonymous account on LessWrong for users. If people stopped trusting the resource completely, that would be sad. Also, it might send the signal to disrespectful anonymous users they can make or use as many anonymous accounts as they want, and the moderators would do little or nothing to stop them. This last point strikes me as unlikely, though, especially if LW mods have the power to block specific IP addresses.

comment by username2 · 2015-12-27T13:58:37.540Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

the use of which of collectively discontinued several months ago because its value to the community was co-opted by abusive anonymous users logging into it.

Actually, someone just changed the password. Kind of incredible it lasted the 2-3 years it did without that happening previously.

comment by skeptical_lurker · 2015-12-23T20:32:58.155Z · score: 10 (10 votes) · LW · GW

Any guesses on what his next handle will be? I'm thinking CthuluWillEatYourBabies.

comment by Vaniver · 2015-12-23T20:22:25.780Z · score: 10 (10 votes) · LW · GW

Any thoughts about technical solutions to excessive down-voting of past material?

Stack Overflow attempts to discover and reverse serial voting with a script that runs daily. It seems likely we can do a similar thing.

comment by buybuydandavis · 2015-12-24T01:10:56.486Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

Stack Overflow attempts to discover and reverse serial voting with a script that runs daily. It seems likely we can do a similar thing.

Very much this.

Undo the problem.

I think I would just zero all the votes on any account caught doing this. If you're going to game the system, you can't play, and your prior votes get consigned to the bit bucket.

comment by Lumifer · 2015-12-23T20:39:56.886Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

The Stack Overflow script basically looks like a rate limiter. If we don't want to bother with reversing votes, we can just put the rate limiter upfront, similar to how many login programs would start to throw in delays and time limits for repeated bad-login attempts. Something along the lines of "You are allowed 8 votes within one minute, 32 votes within one hour, 64 votes within 24 hours, and 128 votes within a week". These numbers are arbitrary, of course, and the real limits should come out of the statistical analysis of actual voting patterns.

comment by Vaniver · 2015-12-23T21:04:22.468Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

SO also has direct rate limiting (40 votes a day). I do think that it makes sense to have a separate rate limit for user-user links; maybe I can vote 100 times a day and have it be normal, but voting even 10 times a day on a particular user might means something funny is going on.

comment by Lumifer · 2015-12-23T21:09:39.814Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Yes, it would be reasonable to have separate per-user/user link limits. Though the limits could be a function of the number of comments that user made recently -- if someone gets into a manic mode and posts dozens of trash comments in a few hours...

comment by Vaniver · 2015-12-23T21:27:44.898Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Right now, users with sufficiently high karma have access to the vote buttons on the userpages of users with sufficiently low upvote percentage, as far as I can tell to enable this sort of downvoting. It seems likely that exemptions could be baked it to these rate limits just as easily.

comment by Gleb_Tsipursky · 2015-12-27T21:59:52.891Z · score: 8 (8 votes) · LW · GW

Nancy, thank you for the hard work you do and the tough calls you have to make. The admin's job is a lonely one, and not sufficiently appreciated. As someone who has done and is currently doing lots of admin stuff, I know that from personal experience. So thank you!

comment by Vladimir_Nesov · 2015-12-24T23:06:22.120Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

I've banned them without prior notice because I'm not giving them more chances to downvote.

I think a "We've observed X. It appears to be bad behavior. Do you have an alternative explanation?" discussion should be started in any case. Otherwise there will be no justice for false positives.

Is the "because I'm not giving them more chances to downvote" a real argument? It won't be if it's technically possible to prohibit downvoting (maybe by temporarily taking away their Karma, so that the Karma-based voting limits would kick in), or if it's possible to eventually retract their (recent) votes, so that current votes won't matter as much.

comment by ChristianKl · 2015-12-25T11:30:04.952Z · score: 4 (6 votes) · LW · GW

I think a "We've observed X. It appears to be bad behavior. Do you have an alternative explanation?" discussion should be started in any case.

I don't think you get effective forum moderation by having public discussions about every moderation action.

Are you aware of a functioning online community which does things like that?

comment by Vladimir_Nesov · 2015-12-25T18:18:39.567Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

No, not public of course. The currently 122 comments to the present post illustrate how it's very distracting to announce moderation actions in a way that invites public discussion.

comment by username2 · 2015-12-25T18:55:52.140Z · score: -5 (7 votes) · LW · GW

Would you apply the same logic to actions by an actual government? That is, argue that the news coverage of trials shows they are distracting and it would be better to just have suspects vanished by the secret police in the dead of night?

Or since this is a forum, how about having problematic posters quietly karmassassinated, oh wait.

comment by Kaj_Sotala · 2015-12-26T10:26:37.477Z · score: 12 (10 votes) · LW · GW

If someone is banned from a forum, they can still do plenty of other things in their life, like go to another forum. Or even start their own competing forum dedicated to the same topic, if they feel that the original forum has a bad moderation policy and that its users are likely to move to a better-moderated one (and sometimes this actually happens).

People vanished by the secret police rarely have a comparable option.

comment by username2 · 2015-12-28T02:00:24.528Z · score: 1 (0 votes) · LW · GW

True, I was talking at extreme example to demonstrate the type of totalitarian logic underlying Vladimir's argument. Namely, finding open discussion of important issues to be "distracting".

comment by username2 · 2015-12-24T19:04:44.928Z · score: 5 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I think that impact of an upvote or a downvote should be inversely proportional to how often that person votes.

comment by Elo · 2015-12-31T05:02:51.238Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

new accounts would get better weighting votes. would need a fix for the case of new users.

comment by username2 · 2016-01-06T12:23:48.296Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

It should also be proportional to a voter's karma. An upvote from established users like gwern or NancyLebovitz should carry more weight than an upvote from a lurker.

comment by Elo · 2016-01-06T19:45:23.875Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

sounds like the road to an echo chamber.

comment by username2 · 2016-01-06T20:05:23.086Z · score: 0 (-1 votes) · LW · GW

Depends. If the initial set of high karma users isn't homogeneous or if they aren't willing to upvote comments just because they agree with them then not necessarily.

comment by Elo · 2016-01-07T00:54:45.372Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

those sound like difficult maxims to impart.

comment by Lumifer · 2016-01-06T20:05:56.071Z · score: -1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I think that impact of an upvote or a downvote should be inversely proportional to how often that person votes.

That would be simple to implement in the form of giving each user, say, 10 votes per day, non-accumulating.

comment by PhilGoetz · 2015-12-28T23:08:02.068Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Same technical solution I always offer: An upvote or downvote should add or subtract the number of bits of information conveyed by that vote, conditioned on the identity of the voter and the target.

In the simplest version, this would mean that if person X upvotes or downvotes everything written by person Y, those votes count for nothing. If X upvotes half of every comment by person Y, and never downvotes anything by Y, those votes count for nothing (if we assume X missed the comments he didn't vote on), or up to 1 bit (if we assume X saw all the other comments).

Better would be to use a model that blended X's voting pattern overall with X's voting on Y's posts and comments.

comment by RichardKennaway · 2016-01-06T12:38:50.816Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I'm not sure what the exact mathematical proposal here is, but I shall guess the following rule: If X has voted positively on Y p times out of n votes so far, if X's next vote is an upvote it will confer a karma score of -log((p+1)/(n+2)), and if it is a downvote, log((n-p+1)/(n+2)). X voting positively on each of Y's n posts will give a total karma of log(n+1), negatively on everything gives -log(n+1). Logs are base 2. Votes never count for nothing, because X's votes on Y so far are only a sample from which we cannot conclude that X will vote with certainty either way.

This actually rates newbies' votes above everyone else's in importance: X's first vote on Y is always worth the maximum possible, +/- 1.

The general principle of the proposal is that to the extent that you can predict an opinion, you are less incrementally informed by finding out what it is, which as a matter of information theory is true. How far might one take this? For example, it suggests ignoring anyone's political views once one has identified them. SJWs and NRXs alike would be the first to be tuned out. If they want to be paid attention to they would have to find ways of saying new things, although (since they Have Views that determine all their views on individual things) this is likely to converge on finding new ways to say old things, i.e. writing clickbait. On the reader's side, one should primarily read people one knows nothing about, at least until one has "solved" them and can predict all their further output well enough to get diminishing returns. Personal relationships likewise: they can't last if they're based on novelty. Once you have solved a potential partner, then you can decide whether you want to continue to spend time with them for what they are, rather than what they may be. This is the purpose of the rituals of dating and courtship.

I'm not expressing an opinion for or against this, just following the idea.

ETA: Some mathematical simulation shows that if half of X's votes on Y are positive, the total karma resulting from those votes by the above rule depends sensitively on the order in which they are made. For example, 20 positive votes out of forty can easily give a total karma of anywhere from about -11 to +11. If all upvotes precede all downvotes, the total is -33.6; if the reverse, +33.6. Also, after a long string of positive votes, a single negative vote cancels out most of the karma, and vice versa. The rule I proposed seems too sensitive to properties of the vote sequence that one might not wish it to be.

comment by PhilGoetz · 2016-02-26T07:32:08.790Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I didn't think of that, but do you think karma shouldn't depend on the order in which votes are made? Shouldn't a person who gets 20 downvotes followed by 20 upvotes have higher karma at the end than a person who had 20 upvotes followed by 20 downvotes? The first indicates improvement; the second indicates getting less interesting over time.

I am confused by how you're doing the computation, though. If half of X's votes on Y are positive and half are negative, I would expect to compute X's total contribution to Y as zero. I wouldn't keep a running sum of X's contribution to Y's karma on each thing Y has said. We can also go back and recompute the contribution to previous comments as X makes more comments. But I'd probably rather have an adaptive algorithm so that the score on individual comments reflects the situation at the moment the rating was made.

Even if we did it that way, though, this sensitivity is not a real problem. Nearly every adaptive algorithm or learning algorithm has that kind of sensitivity. It never matters in practice when there's enough data. Text compression algorithms don't have drastically different compression ratios if you swap text input blocks around.

comment by username2 · 2015-12-29T00:03:42.929Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

This doesn't work for new posters.

comment by ChristianKl · 2016-01-06T10:27:37.655Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

There no good reason for the votes of new posters to count much. If they don't there are less sockpuppet problems.

comment by PhilGoetz · 2016-02-26T07:46:08.527Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Why do you think that? When you have no prior, either assume P(up) = P(down), or (better) use the priors gotten by averaging all votes by all users. That's standard practice.

comment by RichardKennaway · 2016-01-06T10:32:19.503Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

So if someone pops up that everyone thinks posts utter dreck and votes accordingly, those votes would count for nothing?

comment by PhilGoetz · 2016-02-26T07:40:42.446Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

What are the odds that every person on LessWrong will see and vote on every comment made by this one person? This is not a real scenario. If you're worried about it, though, "a model that blended X's voting pattern overall with X's voting on Y's posts and comments" will solve that problem.

comment by gjm · 2016-01-06T13:48:13.841Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

(Note: my earlier comment was nonsense, based on a misreading of what Richard wrote.)

That does seem to be what Phil says, but in the the scheme I have in my head after reading Phil's proposal, things go a little differently. For the avoidance of doubt, I am claiming neither that Phil would want this nor that it's the right thing to do.

  • Suppose A votes on something B wrote. They have some history: A has voted +1, 0, -1 on u,v,w of B's things in the past. Here u+v+w is the total number of things B's ever written.
    • I think we probably want to ignore the ones A hasn't voted on. So we care only about u and w.
  • What should our prediction be? One simple answer: we assign probabilities proportional to u+1,w+1 to votes +1,-1 on A's next vote. (This is basically Laplace's rule of succession, or equivalently it's what we get if we suppose A's votes are independently random with unknown fixed probabilities and start with a flat prior on those probabilities.)
    • We might actually want to start with a different prior on the probabilities, which would mean offsetting u and w by different amounts.
  • Now along comes A's vote, which is (let's call it) a, which is either +1 or -1. The score it produces is - a log(Pr(A votes a | history)); that is, - log (u+1)/(u+w+2) if A votes +1, and + log (w+1)/(u+w+2) if A votes -1. This is added to the score for whatever it is B wrote, and to B's overall total score.

With this scheme, an upvote always has positive effect and a downvote always has negative effect, but as you make the same vote over and over again it is less and less effective. For instance, suppose A upvotes everything B posts. Then A's first upvote counts for -log(1/2); the next for -log(2/3); the next for -log(3/4); etc. The total effect of n upvotes (and nothing else) is to contribute log n to B's score.

There are some things about this that feel a little unsatisfactory. I will mention three. First: although "vote counts for plus or minus number of bits of information conveyed" sounds pretty good, on reflection it feels not-quite-right. The situation is a bit like that of estimating the heads-probability of a biased coin, in which case what you do on each new result is almost to adjust by +- the information you just got but not quite, and the aggregated result is somewhat different. Second: the overall result of a sequence of votes, with this scheme, can depend quite a bit on the order in which they occur, and that doesn't feel like what we want. Third: the overall result's dependence on individual votes can actually be "backwards". If you vote +,-,-,+ you get -log(1/2)+log(1/3)+log(1/2)-log(2/5) = log(5/6), which is negative; but if you vote -,-,-,+ you get +log(1/2)+log(2/3)+log(3/4)-log(1/5) = log(5/4), which is positive!

That seems highly undesirable. Maybe what Phil has in mind avoids these problems without incurring worse ones. The most obvious way to avoid them that I see, though, involves moving a little way away from the "effect of vote is bits" paradigm, as follows.

Implicit in those probability calculations is the model I mentioned above: A's votes on B are independent Bernoulli with fixed but unknown probability p that each one is up rather than down, and we begin with a flat prior over p. Suppose we stick with that model, and ask what we know about p after some of A's votes. Then the answer (famously) is that our posterior for p after seeing u upvotes and w downvotes is distributed as Beta(u+1,w+1), whose mean is (u+1)/(u+w+2). So, e.g., our expectation for A's next vote is (u-w)/(u+w+2). So, e.g., we could take A's total contribution to B's score to be exactly this; and do the obvious thing with scores for individual comments and posts: weight each vote by 1/(#votes+2), where #votes in the denominator is the number of times the voter in question has voted on things by the poster in question.

This suggests a broader family of schemes, where each vote is weighted by f(#votes) where f is some other decreasing function. If you feel, as I think I do, that the overall effect of many votes by A on B shouldn't actually be bounded by a small multiple of the effect of one vote, you might want f to decrease more slowly. Perhaps take f = square root, or something like that.

All of these revised schemes have the property that it's always better to have more upvotes and fewer downvotes, it's just that A's influence on B's score gets less as A's votes on B get more numerous. And votes from different people just add. So if someone posts what everyone regards as dreck, all the downvotes they get will in fact hurt them.

(Possible downside: the advantage of using sockpuppets becomes much greater, and therefore presumably also the temptation to use them.)

comment by gjm · 2016-01-06T11:08:47.106Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

That seems pretty reasonable to me.

[EDITED to add: except that what I was saying "seems pretty reasonable" was not in fact what Richard wrote; I misread. See comments below.]

comment by RichardKennaway · 2016-01-06T11:51:21.939Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Why should a posting by someone who everyone else agrees has never had anything useful to say be judged less bad than the same posting by someone who does on occasion post upworthy things?

comment by gjm · 2016-01-06T12:00:02.932Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Oh, I beg your pardon -- I misread what you wrote as "... that thinks everyone posts ..." rather than "... that everyone thinks posts ...", and answered accordingly.

Having now (I hope) read the words you actually wrote, my intuition agrees with yours, but I suspect that it may only be artificial extreme cases that produce such counterintuitive outcomes. I will think about it some more.

comment by Lumifer · 2015-12-23T18:50:11.380Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I would rather just make spiteful down-voting impossible

That would require presumably automatic distinguishing between "spiteful" and "non-spiteful" :-/

A very simple solution is to follow Reddit and block any kind of voting on old (="archived") content.

my impression is that highly specific rules like that are an invitation to gaming the rules.

LOL. Would you like to apply this generally, e.g. as in "The principle of Rule of Law is a bad idea because it's an invitation to gaming the laws. Much better to have a tyrant...err... benevolent philosopher-king decide matters because it's harder to game him".

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2015-12-23T19:03:19.331Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW · GW

"Spiteful" was vague. "Mass down-voting" (I assume it to be spiteful) would be better.

How fast does reddit archive content? Given my druthers, I'd permit upvoting on old content-- we don't seem to have a big problem with it being abused.

comment by philh · 2015-12-23T21:06:10.938Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Reddit archives threads after six months. At that point, you can't comment or vote, but you can edit and delete your own comments.

comment by Lumifer · 2015-12-23T19:10:03.186Z · score: 1 (5 votes) · LW · GW

"Mass down-voting"

That's still not a technical definition.

I'd permit upvoting on old content

I don't like introducing asymmetries into voting. That "so what is your affirmative answer?" slope is quite slippery.

comment by trifith · 2015-12-23T18:58:21.706Z · score: 1 (0 votes) · LW · GW

LOL. Would you like to apply this generally, e.g. as in "The principle of Rule of Law is a bad idea because it's an invitation to gaming the laws. Much better to have a tyrant...err... benevolent philosopher-king decide matters because it's harder to game him".

I favor more of a polycentric legal system. Call on someone agreeable to all parties to solve disputes when they happen on a mostly case-by-case basis with some generally agreed guidelines.

comment by Lumifer · 2015-12-23T19:01:33.457Z · score: 1 (0 votes) · LW · GW

The mono- or polycentricity of the legal system doesn't have much to do with the Rule of Law, aka how hard the rules are. If the rules are soft and are bent on a regular basis, it doesn't matter how many people are doing the bending.

comment by ChristianKl · 2015-12-23T19:57:34.921Z · score: 3 (9 votes) · LW · GW

Making voting public would go a long way.

comment by Lumifer · 2015-12-23T20:11:29.635Z · score: 18 (22 votes) · LW · GW

Making voting public would go a long way

...towards LOTS of drama, enemy lists, political intrigue, etc.

comment by Vaniver · 2015-12-23T20:40:30.216Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Stack Overflow makes cast vote counts public, so one could get an idea of who is doing the voting. Figuring out who is voting on what would only be possible if you're watching everyone always (and even then it won't work if user displays only update periodically).

I do think that there's value in someone looking at the vote graph, be it humans or automated processes.

comment by Lumifer · 2015-12-23T21:01:15.168Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

That value depends on how much value there is in karma to start with. Preoccupation with karma is a bad sign.

comment by Vaniver · 2015-12-23T21:05:05.485Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

The map is not the territory, but that doesn't mean there's no value in cartography!

comment by Lumifer · 2015-12-23T21:11:49.207Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Cartography is valuable, but if an explorer spends all his time reading and redrawing maps without venturing outside, something is wrong :-/

comment by Dardan- · 2015-12-23T19:19:04.458Z · score: 3 (11 votes) · LW · GW

The user most likely to engage in retributive downvoting are those who engage in hostile debate and subsequently have low karma ratio's themselves (VoiceofRa has 68% favourability). Perhaps you could disable downvoting functionality for those with a karma ratio lower than 80%? Considering that poor quality of contributions is another big factor for low karma ratios this measure would have the added benefit that our most competent users have more power.

comment by TimS · 2015-12-24T01:52:10.499Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

Unless your goal is exclude folks like me (which could be your goal - I could be considered a marginal user), 80% is too high.

comment by Lumifer · 2015-12-23T19:22:31.396Z · score: 5 (7 votes) · LW · GW

The user most likely to engage in retributive downvoting are those who engage in hostile debate and subsequently have low karma ratio's themselves

You are coming to this conclusion on the basis of a single data point, right?

Perhaps you could disable downvoting functionality for those with a karma ratio lower than 75% or 80%?

"Please provide proof of your complete integration with the hive-mind before being allowed near the downvote button" X-D

Do you want LW to become an echo chamber?

comment by RichardKennaway · 2015-12-23T20:16:24.292Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Perhaps you could disable downvoting functionality for those with a karma ratio lower than 75% or 80%?

"Please provide proof of your complete integration with the hive-mind before being allowed near the downvote button" X-D

Lumifer, your karma ratio is 80%.

comment by Jiro · 2015-12-24T02:53:42.229Z · score: 6 (8 votes) · LW · GW

I'm only at 70% because of massive downvoting from Eugene Nier, who may very well also be VoiceOfRa. I'd be at over 80% just without Nier's downvotes, even not also excluding VoiceOfRa's downvotes.

The solution to downvoting is not to make it easier to hurt people like me with downvotes.

comment by IlyaShpitser · 2015-12-24T19:02:17.956Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Think about how much effort everyone spends talking about karma, and trying to fix karma, and protect karma from abuse. Is all that effort worth it for the low signal karma provides? Who cares about amassing internet points, let quality speak for itself.

comment by Good_Burning_Plastic · 2015-12-25T16:34:16.867Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Suppose some comment thread has a thousand comments. Without a karma system (as e.g. on Slate Star Codex), I can either waste several hours reading them all, or quickly scroll the page looking for something catching my eye and hope I don't miss something interesting. With a karma system, I can entrust the readership with the task of telling me which comments are the most worth reading, and read them first.

comment by IlyaShpitser · 2015-12-25T17:03:38.022Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Entrusting the readership to tell you what's good is what you want the karma system to do, but it's not what the karma system is actually doing. Aside from sockpuppets, tribal voting, etc., it's just not possible to generate good recommendation systems from karma systems (otherwise everyone would be doing it). Even more sophisticated "recursive" systems like pagerank don't really work due to collusion, link farms (sockpuppets, basically), and related issues. Google moved away to a more complex system and has a full time police force to try to make the more complex thing work due to the constant threat of sabotage.

I think in practice you have to go by name or direct judgement of content. Karma gives you an illusion of a rank, but it's a pretty terrible rank.


Slatestar's comment system has lots of other problems aside from lacking karma, that make it difficult to follow what's happening.

comment by Good_Burning_Plastic · 2015-12-25T18:24:43.876Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

it's a pretty terrible rank.

Yes, but it's not as terrible as ranking comments chronologically.

comment by IlyaShpitser · 2015-12-30T19:45:57.013Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

That's a false dilemma. You don't have to rank comments either chronologically or karmically. You can just look at what the comments say (or go by name, if people made a name for themselves). In other words, have a you-specific karma in your own brain.

I mean what did we expect, it's not so easy to have a ranking of quality.


At least chronological order is objective, karma's reliability is inversely proportional to how busy the idiots are.

comment by Good_Burning_Plastic · 2015-12-30T21:18:21.318Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

You can just look at what the comments say

I don't always have that much time on my hands.

comment by IlyaShpitser · 2015-12-30T22:32:12.350Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Well, you know what they say, for every problem there is a solution that is simple, obvious, and wrong.

comment by username2 · 2015-12-24T19:10:05.424Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Maybe karma should be hidden. Hacker News doesn't show it.

comment by IlyaShpitser · 2015-12-24T19:12:39.125Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

What is the point of having it at all?

comment by [deleted] · 2015-12-25T03:12:04.696Z · score: 0 (-1 votes) · LW · GW

I mean, there's sound psychological reasons that having karma would increase participation and quality. That's why reddit overtook classic newsboards

comment by IlyaShpitser · 2015-12-25T17:17:26.544Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

That sounds like a causal claim to me! Are you sure reddit took over newsboard due to karma? Or is it accident + rich-get-richer (power law) effects? Something else? How do you know how much karma helps?

comment by [deleted] · 2015-12-25T18:30:32.889Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

It is! No, but I would be willing to bet that it had an effect (Digg also over took newsboards, and it had karma in common with reddit). No, I think karma had something to do with it. No, I think karma had something to do with it. I don't.

comment by JoshuaZ · 2015-12-29T21:46:09.897Z · score: 0 (-1 votes) · LW · GW

Slashdot had Karma years before Reddit and was not nearly as successful. Granted it didn't try to do general forum discussions but just news articles, but this suggests that karma is not the whole story.

comment by [deleted] · 2015-12-30T07:47:07.710Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

slashdot was very succesful... at least enough that I know it's name.

comment by Lumifer · 2015-12-23T20:23:50.992Z · score: -4 (10 votes) · LW · GW

Yes, but that's just because I'm so awesome :-P

Or maybe the hive-mind has an annoying smartassy subsystem :-)

comment by SanguineEmpiricist · 2015-12-25T09:13:04.370Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

There's already too much of a pull towards the consensus opinions here, would punish us Nrxer's quite a bit.

comment by trifith · 2015-12-23T18:36:17.189Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Downvotes on posts/comments older than X time affect the downvoters karma the same way as they do the downvoted.

Downvotes made after X time from the original posting affect karma at a rate of y%

Downvotes from users with karma below X don't affect the downvoted's karma score

All of these are made on the assumption that malicious downvoters are engaged in a E-Peen measuring contest using Karma as the measuring tool.

comment by kilobug · 2015-12-24T08:49:08.428Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

+1 for something like "no more than 5 downvotes/week for content which is more than a month old", but be careful that new comment on an old article is not old content.

comment by buybuydandavis · 2015-12-24T01:19:40.476Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I'm thinking of something like not letting anyone give more than 5 downvotes/week for content which is more than a month old.

No likey.

People should not be discouraged from actively reading older posts and voting on them. Quite the opposite.

I've gotten sufficient evidence from support that voiceofra has been doing retributive downvoting.

Roughly how many downvotes are we talking here? Seeing a proposed limit of 5 in a week makes me wonder. 5 seems quite low to get exercised about.

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2015-12-24T01:32:34.622Z · score: 9 (11 votes) · LW · GW

People should not be discouraged from actively reading older posts and voting on them. Quite the opposite.

My feeling is that people should be able to reply to older posts. And I think upvoting helps bring attention to good comments and posts. I'm inclined to think that there's enough downvoting in some modest number of months to give an adequate signal.

Voiceofra did over 800 downvotes to just three posters. I'm sick of dealing with this stuff. I want it to not happen. 5 downvotes per week on old posts doesn't seem like a really onerous restrictions, but I don't downvote a tremendous amount, so I might be typical-minding things.

5 downvotes per week is well below trouble, I think. 15 starts looking like karma-vampirism to me if someone is doing a vendetta.

Some people get dispirited if their karma is dropping, especially if there's no apparent reason for it.

comment by buybuydandavis · 2015-12-26T07:47:22.339Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I agree that 800 is too much, and appropriate for banning.

Since you can "unvote" any particular karma vote you've made, wouldn't it be easy enough to implement limits on downvotes of a particular person in day, week, month, year?

You reach your max, and the next time you try, you are prevented, and you get a message saying "It is a bannable offense to karma bomb other users". That could be a rollover and a triggered message sent to your account.

(Note that the limits could be parameterized in increasingly complicated ways (scaled to karma of "victim", perhaps). The point is not "the perfect set of limits", but to find something better than the current limits. The problem can be ameliorated, not annihilated in all hypothetical cases. Life is full of tradeoffs. )

Problem limited and offenders who try to game the system are warned (I think the second is important too).

That should take care of all but the most committed douchebags without any required intervention from you.

As one of the Powers That Be Who Does Something Useful Around Here, I'd hope that your needs in your chosen useful duties would have pull with the feature development queue.

(EDIT: Maybe easier to run a nightly scan notifying people when they have gone over their limits. )

comment by [deleted] · 2015-12-25T03:13:46.743Z · score: 1 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I think this is a reasonable rule.

comment by knb · 2015-12-24T01:02:14.075Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Does he have any known or suspected sockpuppets?

comment by username2 · 2015-12-24T19:06:03.414Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

If some people are able to see who downvoted a specific person the most, maybe they can also see who upvoted someone the most?

comment by OrphanWilde · 2015-12-28T14:39:41.894Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Messaging you privately, as my own solution works best if people are unaware of the specifics. (Posting this here to remind others with potential suggestions to consider whether the same issue applies to their ideas.)

comment by username2 · 2015-12-29T00:02:45.199Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Ah, security through obscurity.

comment by OrphanWilde · 2015-12-29T13:53:48.789Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

All security is through obscurity. Obscurity of a bitting pattern, of a private key, of a password, of an algorithmic optimization strategy.

That phrase, and the sneer encoded in it, does have some wisdom, but it's more complex than "If you're relying on obscurity you're doing it wrong", being a criticism of a much more specific fault than relying on obscurity, which is, after all, the only thing that has ever worked. That criticism is this: Suppressing knowledge of security faults provides only a false sense of security in a system whose faults thus are held unknown to everybody except those with the strongest specific interest in possessing knowledge of those faults. Which is to say, if your strategy to a security fault is to hide it, rather than fix it, you're setting yourself up for failure later.

But that is all moot, because my suggestion had more in common with bypassing a lock than in protecting one. Secrecy is desired because of something most like other people's poor security, and the desire they not improve it.

comment by [deleted] · 2015-12-27T13:23:14.568Z · score: 1 (5 votes) · LW · GW

If I didn't already trust Nancy, and was unaware of the VoiceOfRa's post/comment history and discussion on his forum behaviour over a long period of time, this post would frighten me.

comment by RichardKennaway · 2015-12-27T13:31:38.291Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Or to put that another way, if you had less knowledge of the situation you would draw incorrect conclusions. What of it?

comment by [deleted] · 2015-12-27T13:35:42.271Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Most non-regular users of LessWrong would draw that incorrect conclusion. For instance, prospective users, journalists and critics.

comment by ChristianKl · 2015-12-27T16:22:52.101Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

this post would frighten me.

What kind of fear do you think it would produce in you?

comment by Petter · 2015-12-24T10:27:50.120Z · score: -1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I think it is better if banning decisions are not made public, even (especially) to the banned user.

The banned user should not notice anything, but their posts, messages, and votes do not appear to anyone else.

comment by polymathwannabe · 2015-12-24T13:20:36.699Z · score: 0 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Wouldn't it impose a huge load on the servers to maintain multiple versions of the website for each banned user?

comment by Vaniver · 2015-12-24T14:09:06.140Z · score: 7 (5 votes) · LW · GW

No. This is called 'shadowbanning' and is a standard practice.

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2015-12-24T14:22:26.799Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Where is it standard practice? I'm surprised that people don't notice and come back under new names.

comment by Vaniver · 2015-12-24T14:33:36.389Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Here's a description of it on Reddit. Apparently they also now do account suspensions. Shadowbanning is also used on Hacker News and Craigslist, according to wikipedia.

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2015-12-24T14:49:48.400Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

The folks at reddit weren't happy with shadow-banning humans (as distinct from spammers), and eventually started suspending accounts.

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2015-12-24T13:51:15.871Z · score: 5 (3 votes) · LW · GW

That would depend on how many banned users there were. Also, I don't think there would need to be whole versions of the site for each banned user-- there would just be dif versions computed on the fly.

I'm quite uncomfortable with the suggestion for another reason. It wouldn't work-- an active user would probably notice something was wrong in less than a day. If they were banned for excessive hostility, they'd presumably come back under another name.

My first thought was that it might be bad for the group to have people disappear for no apparent reason, but then it occurred to me that people stop posting for all sorts of reasons.

comment by Petter · 2015-12-27T23:46:17.581Z · score: -1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I actually think it would work pretty well. The banned user sees all of their contributions and any IP used by the banned user also sees their contributions. All other users and IPs do not see it.

comment by LessWrong (LessWrong1) · 2015-12-24T06:55:20.600Z · score: -3 (7 votes) · LW · GW

I've gotten sufficient evidence from support that voiceofra has been doing retributive downvoting.

Requesting a transparency report.

Regarding (if $time-$postdate then karmadisabled), I can't see a reason as to why something like that shouldn't be implemented in less than a week. Any reason why it shouldn't? I never quite got the krama drama.

comment by Diadem · 2015-12-24T12:14:46.498Z · score: 14 (14 votes) · LW · GW

Wait? is 'LessWrong' not an admin account? I always assumed it was, but this thread implies otherwise.

I think it's an extremely bad idea to allow an ordinary user to name themselves after the site. You're basically inpersonating an admin!

comment by ChristianKl · 2015-12-25T11:32:26.631Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

You are right. I also think it would be a good idea to rename the account.

comment by jsteinhardt · 2015-12-24T07:43:01.802Z · score: 9 (9 votes) · LW · GW

Requesting a transparency report.

I think it's bad form to make costly (in terms of time) requests to moderators unless you're willing to be part of the solution. In this case, it would be good at minimum to outline exactly what you mean by a "transparency report" --- concretely, what sort of information would you like to see, and why would it be helpful? It would be even better if you were willing to volunteer to help in creating the report to the extent that the help can be utilized.

comment by LessWrong (LessWrong1) · 2015-12-24T08:08:52.801Z · score: -10 (16 votes) · LW · GW

I think it's bad form to make costly (in terms of time) requests to moderators unless you're willing to be part of the solution.

No, that's the moderator's responsibility to explain why they have taken their course of action. I don't care about time.

it would be good at minimum to outline exactly what you mean by a "transparency report"

I quoted the exact part I wanted an explanation on.

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2015-12-24T10:12:14.199Z · score: 12 (12 votes) · LW · GW

You don't care about how much time your requests cost me? Nice to know.

comment by ChristianKl · 2015-12-24T09:27:59.366Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

No, that's the moderator's responsibility to explain why they have taken their course of action.

Not in a case like this. There no reason in an online forum like this to give people who violate the rules full information about how they were caught.

If you read the discussions leading up to picking a moderator I don't think you find an agreement on a responsiblity of a moderator to explain everything they do. Nancy has a responsibility to moderate when problems arise but she doesn't have a responsibility to explain everything.

In the past putting to much effort into criticizing moderator actions resulted in this community being undermoderated and we shouldn't repeat that mistake.

comment by moridinamael · 2015-12-24T19:11:03.233Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

He point of having moderators is to empower them to make these decisions without having to consult the community.

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2015-12-24T09:03:27.185Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

It took that long for tech support to get back to me.

comment by LessWrong (LessWrong1) · 2015-12-25T06:27:28.162Z · score: -2 (6 votes) · LW · GW

I can't reply to your other comment (karma)

You don't care about how much time your requests cost me? Nice to know.

Here's what your wrote, first line of this post:

I've gotten sufficient evidence from support that voiceofra has been doing retributive downvoting. I've banned them without prior notice because I'm not giving them more chances to downvote.

If you have sufficient evidence, why can't you publish it?

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2015-12-25T07:15:21.297Z · score: 7 (9 votes) · LW · GW

I said over 800 downvotes to three people. This is what support emailed to me. I could copy and paste some support emails with more detail, but I don't know whether you'd trust me, and I don't know whether I'm being invited into an extended discussion which will be utterly pointless.

There's some elements of won't rather than can't. I'm not fond of complying with rude demands.

comment by username2 · 2015-12-25T07:30:26.692Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I said over 800 downvotes to three people.

Just out of curiosity, how unusual is this? That works out to 267 per person, which if those three people happen to be people who post a lot of downvote worthy content, and this has been going on for a while doesn't necessarily seem that large.

Who are those three people anyway?

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2015-12-25T08:08:02.193Z · score: 9 (9 votes) · LW · GW

It's at least unusual in the sense that the top downvoter to a particular member has generally posted about three times as many downvotes as the second most prolific downvoter-- and the second most prolific downvoter is also a problematic downvoter. The top five downvoters for a member show something like a power law in terms of numbers of downvotes.

I'm not answering your second question. I've got a bad feeling about doing so, and I suspect the result would tend towards drama and possibly be a violation of privacy.

comment by username2 · 2015-12-26T00:12:56.505Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

It's at least unusual in the sense that the top downvoter to a particular member has generally posted about three times as many downvotes as the second most prolific downvoter-- and the second most prolific downvoter is also a problematic downvoter.

How about the top downvoter for a different member?

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2015-12-26T07:28:01.154Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

It takes me weeks to get answers from support. I assume they're busy, so I'm not going to ask them extra questions, even though that's an interesting one.

It's possible that the stats show a different pattern if they're from people who aren't complaining.

comment by RichardKennaway · 2015-12-26T10:10:22.495Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

It sounds like the moderators don't have direct read access to the logs. Maybe it would simplify things if they (or at least one of them) did.

comment by Brillyant · 2015-12-23T22:10:19.356Z · score: -3 (9 votes) · LW · GW

I think zero time should be devoted to solutions for excessive downvoting of old material. Rather, the mods and other de facto leaders ought to devote their time to finding ways to reinvigorate LW with new interesting content.

comment by ChristianKl · 2015-12-23T22:37:48.605Z · score: 14 (14 votes) · LW · GW

If you have people being demotivated because of downvoting that reduces the chances that those people will write new interesting content.

comment by Brillyant · 2015-12-23T22:53:08.613Z · score: -4 (8 votes) · LW · GW

Yes, but this post is rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic.

comment by IlyaShpitser · 2015-12-23T23:24:00.724Z · score: 7 (9 votes) · LW · GW

So write awesome things here.

comment by Brillyant · 2015-12-24T14:22:55.437Z · score: 6 (8 votes) · LW · GW

I stop by when I have time or interest. I don't have the intelligence or writing skills to contribute much high level content. I consume LW when it's good and try to comment my honest thoughts when they seem relevant.

comment by IlyaShpitser · 2015-12-24T17:48:55.687Z · score: -3 (15 votes) · LW · GW

But you do have time to drop by and criticize content people do produce, right?

comment by Mirzhan_Irkegulov · 2015-12-24T20:21:37.641Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Criticism originating from unqualified people should be encouraged. People don't like criticism from people, who don't do what they propose others to do, for social, not rational, reasons. “You think this band's music is rubbish, well write your own music then” is a fallacy. If I go to a restaurant and get terrible food, there's no reason I should become a cook before being allowed to rebuke it.

comment by IlyaShpitser · 2015-12-24T20:49:56.540Z · score: 5 (6 votes) · LW · GW

I don't think your band analogy holds. The person is a member of the community that stands or falls by what its members do. In this case, it's a choice between cursing the darkness or turning on the light.

The type of criticism from Brillyant is low effort and fairly useless. Lots of people write one liners bemoaning the decline of LW. What is the point of doing that?

comment by Mirzhan_Irkegulov · 2015-12-24T22:15:25.502Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

They didn't just bemoan the decline, they stated the precise condition (in their opinion) of LW prosperity. I personally believe that LW needs a hero, and it's necessary and sufficient condition. Someone, who'd basically repeat Yudkowsky's feat. But am I Yudkowsky, or even Luke Muehlhauser, level smart to fulfill that role? Hell no. But there's nothing bad in sharing my opinion, because maybe it would make other people rethink their actions and expectations.

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2015-12-24T22:52:14.473Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

It's not obvious to me that LW needs a hero. A cohort of excellent posters would be enough.

comment by IlyaShpitser · 2015-12-24T22:18:56.342Z · score: 1 (0 votes) · LW · GW

LW needs a hero

I agree with you on this, and I think this is an enormous problem. Somehow this need is written into the rationalist DNA, and I think to grow, the rationalist community needs to move past this.

It doesn't matter what Yudkowsky does, it matters what (generic) "you" do. In fact, our good friend Yudkowsky said so himself, more or less, if you don't want to take my word for it.


edit: I think it is also very important to let go of "intelligence" as a single number on your character sheet. That's a really toxic way to think.

comment by Brillyant · 2015-12-25T00:36:31.568Z · score: 0 (4 votes) · LW · GW

If low effort, only because it's obvious to anyone who is paying attention. If useless, only because it's been repeated so many times by so many people.

My initial reaction when I stop back and see a thread discussing banning procedures regarding voting on old content is, "Really? But that's not important. LW doesn't have anything interesting to read anymore and the good people on here (Nancy) are talking about banning people for voting down old stuff... Hm. That's dumb. I should say something to let them know that's dumb."

I suppose the point is that someone would become aware of the lack of content and try to fix it. And that they would recognize this is the biggest priority, and that it dwarfs banning protocol discussions. I don't know how to fix it. And LW isn't "mine" in any meaningful sense. I try to fix things that are mine, and if I was an LW power user, and felt such ownership, I would help beyond commenting on what I see.

Maybe the answer is to not fix LW? Maybe it's dead? Who knows.

Anyway, Merry Christmas. :)

comment by IlyaShpitser · 2015-12-25T17:20:42.942Z · score: 1 (0 votes) · LW · GW

If low effort, only because it's obvious to anyone who is paying attention. If useless, only because it's been repeated so many times by so many people.

It's low effort because it took you 10 seconds to think it and write it.

And LW isn't "mine" in any meaningful sense. I try to fix things that are mine

Seems to me there is little reason for you to offer advice at all, then.

comment by Brillyant · 2015-12-25T18:43:57.558Z · score: -1 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Perhaps you ought to start a thread proposing bans on obvious feedback from users below X karma?

comment by IlyaShpitser · 2015-12-25T19:49:15.544Z · score: 0 (-1 votes) · LW · GW

I don't care about karma (or bans).

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2015-12-24T10:06:16.942Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

I would like see a resurgence of interesting content myself, but that isn't the same thing as giving up on maintenance.

Anyone here can work on interesting content. Do you have any ideas for encouraging it?

comment by Brillyant · 2015-12-24T14:17:55.114Z · score: -2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Not really.

Maintenance is fine. But the lack of content is priority one with a bullet IMO. If the power user base wants to divvy up resources rationally, I think this sort of ban is very low on the list.

comment by username2 · 2015-12-24T19:07:52.743Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

It's not like banning a single user takes a lot of resources.

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2015-12-25T03:17:29.813Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

In one sense, banning someone takes almost no resources-- all I have to do is enter their name into two web pages. However, thinking about whether to ban someone takes rather more time. Likewise if I chose discuss a banning.