An account of what I believe to be inconsistent behavior on the part of our editor

post by PeterS · 2009-12-17T01:33:15.694Z · score: 4 (34 votes) · LW · GW · Legacy · 68 comments

There was recently a submission here posing criticism a well-known contributor, Eliezer Yudkowsky. Admittedly, whatever question the poster intended to ask was embedded within a post which was evidently designed to be a test of our rationality. Eliezer didn't seem to care too much, stating that the issue was

it being a top-level post instead of Open Thread comment. Probably would've been a lot more forgiving if it'd been an Open Thread comment. . .

The question would, under other circumstances, be just - but I don't care to justify myself here. Elsewhere, perhaps. . .

This belongs as a comment on the SIAI blog, not a post on Less Wrong.

I asked Eliezer why mormon2's post belonged on the SIAI blog and not here. He responded thus:

Because Less Wrong is about human rationality, not the Singularity Institute, and not me.

This response is unsatisfactory. Either certain posts belong on the SIAI blog and not here, or they don't and can be posted here. It can't be both ways

Note that I do not approve of mormon2's submission, as of the recent statement he made in an edit. I do, however, approve of the idea of such a submission. Somebody should be able to make a top-level post directing questions and criticism towards another author, under certain circumstances. I can't fully pin down just what the precise circumstances should be - it's not up for me to decide in any case.

But consider a high-profile contributor, who already has many posts about himself (several self-submitted) and his work, who has at times responded to off-site comments with top-level posts on Less Wrong, and who has recently given his blessing to a post entitled Less Wrong Q&A With Eliezer Yudkowsky - when such a person suggests that a submission concerning himself and his work belongs as a comment in the monthly Open Thread, or as a comment on an off-site blog, I find it very outlandish.

Eliezer is not an ordinary contributor. In the beginning, it was apparently envisioned that there would be a limit to the number of non-Yudkowsky/Hanson posts submitted per day. Obviously that policy has not been enacted. In any case, by my count there have been 682 submissions to Less Wrong as of December 14th. Eliezer has contributed 108 of those (the median number of posts per author being 2.5)1. He is not a "specific person" being asked to justify "specific decisions", as he would hypothetically suggest if his intent were to be manipulative. It's actually quite difficult for me to characterize Eliezer's role here. Mostly he's a great author and commenter. Sometimes he comments as the site editor. At other times, he seems to submit as though this were his personal blog, Yahoo! Answers, or the comment thread on an entirely different site. He seems to have developed into a sort of community icon at Less Wrong.

So it occurs to me (after having expended my google-fu and searched the LW-Wiki), that there are no posted rules for appropriate top-level topics on Less Wrong. If there are, please correct me. At Overcoming Bias we submitted articles to the editors and they decided whether to publish them (I assume there were few or no restrictions for the editors' own work). The only restriction I know of on Less Wrong is that you need a Karma Score of at least 20 or 40 to submit posts. This is clearly insufficient, since if you have 8000 Karma you can submit anything. How many moderators do we have? I have yet to find a list.

I feel that we must address these issues, either presently or ultimately. I know of no other decent community with Less Wrong's stated goal. And yet I am very much vexed by these inconsistencies I perceive between the stated purpose and the site's actual operation.

1I put the date marking the beginning of LessWrong.com as an open community at March 5th, 2009. This was the date of the first post by someone other than Eliezer / Robin after Eliezer's announcement that a beta version of the site had been launched.

68 comments

Comments sorted by top scores.

comment by Eliezer Yudkowsky (Eliezer_Yudkowsky) · 2009-12-17T02:23:08.489Z · score: 28 (34 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I don't think this should have been a top-level post either. It clutters up the newsreader and has an extremely wrong tone relative to what I think should be a usual post on this blog.

Suggested future policy: Anyone who wants to start this sort of meta discussion, create a new post "December 2009 Meta Thread" and post your remarks as a comment.

Vote up if you agree. (Do not vote down if you disagree! See below.)

comment by Eliezer Yudkowsky (Eliezer_Yudkowsky) · 2009-12-17T02:23:19.286Z · score: 13 (15 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Vote up if you disagree with the above policy. (Do not vote down if you agree!)

comment by PeterS · 2009-12-17T02:27:56.034Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

As of right now this comment is at -1 points. That doesn't bode well for the effectiveness of this kind of poll.

comment by [deleted] · 2009-12-17T20:36:11.603Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Note that there is a downvotable Eliezer post below this one.

comment by komponisto · 2009-12-17T02:28:15.951Z · score: -2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

(Do not vote down if you agree!)

Sorry. Just a little joke. :-)

comment by komponisto · 2009-12-17T02:59:59.063Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Anyone who wants to start this sort of meta discussion, create a new post "December 2009 Meta Thread

Actually, now that I think about it, is the problem really that the discussion is too meta? Or is it something else?

EDIT: In fact, rereading the post, I don't even think the tone is all that inappropriate after all. Perhaps I was put off by the title ("uh-oh, here comes another one of these 'look at what a hypocrite Eliezer is' postings...")

comment by aausch · 2009-12-18T02:40:44.366Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Meta-discussion:

A discussion which is interesting because it isn't.

comment by wedrifid · 2009-12-17T02:43:35.923Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I know that when you have 8000 of it karma is utterly irrelevant. But in the interests of consistency it would be worth following the practice of having another comment which can be voted down for balance. People don't always actually downvote the karma sink but they like having the option to. Without a mechanism to distinguish approval for the principle of having a survey from the supplying of survey data itself the information provided will not even have a chance to approximate being accurate. The people here are the kind who frequent the spin off site of "OvercomingBias".

comment by Eliezer Yudkowsky (Eliezer_Yudkowsky) · 2009-12-17T02:47:49.490Z · score: -23 (27 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Okay. Downvote this comment if you voted on either item.

comment by EStokes · 2009-12-17T20:58:18.742Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Your total down votes (0) must be less than four times your karma (0)

Hahaha.

comment by wedrifid · 2009-12-17T03:12:30.911Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Thankyou. I forgot to add, by the way, that at the time of my request the "don't downvote if you disagree" comment was actually at -1, which I found somewhat of an ironic illustration.

comment by PeterS · 2009-12-17T02:24:01.292Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

That would be acceptable.

comment by Jack · 2009-12-17T09:09:10.531Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I voted up- But to clarify my vote: I don't have problem with important meta posts being top-level... I thought some of the gender discussions we had a while back were top-level worthy, for example. A good meta post helps build a community. However, posts about your various flaws and inconsistencies (And I'm sure there are many! :-) I couldn't possibly care less about and I suspect the vast majority of readers feels the same way. Admittedly, implementing a rule like "Criticisms of Eliezer should stay in these threads" might look like you are just trying to quiet dissent so your cult doesn't fall apart. Don't back down. Don't do anything to cause a bunch of people to leave but don't sacrifice good moderation for politics. Those of us who don't give a damn about you one way or the other will appreciate the effort.

(Btw, comments about how Eliezer is the best thing since sliced bread also belong in a monthly meta thread)

comment by CarlShulman · 2009-12-17T03:50:34.405Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I don't think the tone is bad for this content, although I would not want to have numerous meta-posts and flame wars at the top-level, or promoted.

comment by byrnema · 2009-12-17T03:24:02.802Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

[deleted]

comment by PeterS · 2009-12-17T03:29:51.222Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I'm not new here. I migrated from Overcoming Bias when Less Wrong first launched.

comment by byrnema · 2009-12-17T03:52:11.438Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Ok, and it wasn't a charitable comment anyway so I'm deleting it.

comment by bogus · 2009-12-17T16:49:40.048Z · score: -2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Is there a way to (optionally) escalate Open Thread comments to proper posts once they get enough upvotes, moving all replies over? I voted on the other comment because I dislike the proposed policy, but if that were an option I might support it.

Vote down this comment if you DISAGREE that this would be a useful feature. Do not vote up if you agree!

comment by bogus · 2009-12-17T17:17:57.381Z · score: -3 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Vote down this comment if you AGREE that the above would be a useful feature. Do not vote up if you disagree!

comment by cousin_it · 2009-12-17T11:09:25.173Z · score: 9 (15 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

As a longtime contributor, I have absolutely no problem with considering Eliezer to be king of this place. Not saying that everyone here should accept this "king" concept without qualms, but once accepted, it does cut away a lot of the mind-killing political bullshit. Yay monarchy as long as it's benevolent!

comment by Johnicholas · 2009-12-17T12:32:45.601Z · score: 7 (9 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

The internet has a different track record with "tyranny" or "dictatorship" than the real world. I'm concerned that internet people will generalize from this experience, and form opinions like "It sometimes works" of unchecked tyranny or dictatorships even in national governments.

The internet makes makes it very easy to switch to a different site or project. This possibility forms the "checks and balances" that are historically necessary for national governments to be moderately benevolent.

Yay checks and balances!

comment by rhollerith_dot_com · 2009-12-17T16:21:09.647Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

The internet makes makes it very easy to switch to a different site or project. This possibility forms the "checks and balances" that are historically necessary for national governments to be moderately benevolent.

Yay checks and balances!

The conventional term for what you are describing is low exit costs.

And yes, exit costs are much lower for a participant in a group blog than they are for a citizen of a country, which greatly reduces the need for formal checks and balances.

Exit costs for example were atypically low for citizens of the early U.S. when there was still a Western frontier. Once the frontier closed (and once agriculture, fur trapping and mining no longer provided a good living relative to other occupations for a large fraction of the U.S. population) the formerly very libertarian U.S. became steadily more socialistic.

The governance of Wikipedia, for example, would probably be improved in my humble opinion if they did away with the elections to the board of directors and made it as easy as possible for individuals and groups to re-use Wikipedia's content in competing encyclopedias.

What Wikipedia does now (or rather did several years ago the last time I checked) is to make publically available a snapshot of Wikipedia made every few months. If re-use were made as easy as posible, there would be an API that competitors could subscribe to to get real-time notification every time an entry in Wikipedia changes. Although Wikipedia probably still has a recent changes page, the way it is now, if a competitor tried to scrape it, Wikipedia's administration would probably block their IP address, which of course increases exit costs. And alternative way for Wikipedia's administration to lower exit costs would be a mechanism by which prospective editors who disagree with Wikipedia's policies and editorial decisions can publish on Wikipedia's servers their own version of (some) Wikipedia entries and by which users could indicate a preference for getting the alternative version instead of the Wikipedia version when an alternative version is available.

comment by bogus · 2009-12-17T17:35:10.168Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

An[] alternative way for Wikipedia's administration to lower exit costs would be a mechanism by which prospective editors who disagree with Wikipedia's policies and editorial decisions can publish on Wikipedia's servers their own version of (some) Wikipedia entries and by which users could indicate a preference for getting the alternative version instead of the Wikipedia version when an alternative version is available.

A mechanism for doing this exists already, although it is not endorsed by Wikipedia's administrators. See wikinfo.org, which encourages importing existing Wikipedia articles and rewriting them to suit various "sympathetic points of view" (SPOV).

Citizendium does the same, but focuses on stricter expert oversight and editorial review rather than a different neutrality policy.

The recent FSF transition from the GNU FDL to CC-by-sa for large public wikis had the side effect of considerably enlarging the corpus of Wikipedia-compatible content, which also indirectly lowers exit costs from wikipedia.org.

ETA replying to PhilGoetz: This comment might have been modded down because it doesn't directly address the issue of publishing alternate content "on Wikipedia's servers". As an Internet landlord, the Wikimedia Foundation would not look favorably to such proposals. However, since large public wikis tend to share the same Wikipedia-derived naming conventions, this does not affect switching costs in practice. In fact, it is good for resilience if content versions are hosted by multiple competing groups.

comment by PhilGoetz · 2009-12-20T22:32:22.344Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I think it's inappropriate for someone to have voted this comment down without explaining why, as it appears to be simply a statement of facts.

comment by Cyan · 2009-12-17T16:52:50.635Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

If re-use were made as easy as posible, there would be an API that competitors could subscribe to to get real-time notification every time an entry in Wikipedia changes.

Like the watchlist?

comment by CarlShulman · 2009-12-17T14:06:57.980Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

E-steading..

comment by wedrifid · 2009-12-17T12:30:44.714Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

As a longtime contributor, I have absolutely no problem with considering Eliezer to be king of this place.

I prefer 'Tyrant'.

comment by SilasBarta · 2009-12-17T17:49:46.386Z · score: 4 (6 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I prefer "the Chuck Norris of thinking".

comment by Eliezer Yudkowsky (Eliezer_Yudkowsky) · 2009-12-17T17:57:07.335Z · score: 6 (10 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

"Grand Poobah" and "Supreme Mugwump" work, but I've always gone by "Fearless Leader".

comment by komponisto · 2009-12-17T19:41:28.843Z · score: 9 (9 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

How about "Defender of the Non-Faith"?

comment by Blueberry · 2009-12-18T06:57:19.755Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

We're all just guests in his cornfield.

comment by arbimote · 2010-01-15T09:04:50.781Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Or to take an open source term, "Benevolent Dictator for Life".

comment by RichardKennaway · 2009-12-18T10:08:24.779Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

You are not the token disliked person here. You are merely disliked.

comment by wedrifid · 2009-12-17T02:26:05.755Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Eliezer's explanations of why he considered momon2's post inappropriate did strike me as a little off. My reasoning was along the lines of what you have presented here.

It is worth adding the below to your quotations:

PPS: Probing my intuitions further, I suspect that if the above post had been questioning e.g. komponisto's rationality in the same tone and manner, I would have had around the same reaction of offtopicness for around the same reason.

Obviously we don't have examples of criticism of Kompo's rationality but it would surprise me if the above was not accurate. If it was shown not to be the case then that would be an inconsistency. An inconsistency over which I would share your outrage, and then some.

comment by PeterS · 2009-12-17T02:32:40.026Z · score: 5 (7 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

The point is that Eliezer is not komponisto. The precedent has already been set, in part by Eliezer himself, for top-level posts about Eliezer Yudkowsky. Whether it's him showing off his rationality at Thanksgiving dinner, or a humorous post extolling him as a Bayesian god, or a more serious or critical post seems to me to be haggling over the price.

comment by wedrifid · 2009-12-17T02:48:30.004Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I acknowledge that point, agreeing that Eliezer's explanations were a little off.

comment by spriteless · 2009-12-18T09:54:49.960Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Man, refusing to answer a challenge to authority erks so many people. I bet Robin could write a glib essay on it.

comment by Bongo · 2009-12-19T05:31:26.294Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

refusing to answer a challenge to authority erks so many people

As it should. Right?

comment by wedrifid · 2009-12-19T07:06:17.150Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

As it should. Right?

No. Even an unsuccessful challenge of authority tends to raise one's status, assuming punitive measures are not taken. The "lol. youse is a cult and im superior cos im being contrary and condescending" is not desirable even though it is sometimes a tempting stance to take when among groups of rather independently minded nerds (no offence intended).

I like challenges to authority to be taken seriously when they matter and when they are done right. But I prefer some discretion to be shown.

Mind you I do think it is something people should watch closely. Erring on the side of 'irkability' is to be preferred! I'll also add that the more status someone is granted and the more power they choose to exercise the more I like to see them held accountable.

comment by aausch · 2009-12-19T16:18:22.585Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I'll also add that the more status someone is granted and the more power they choose to exercise the more I like to see them held accountable.

This comment led me to draw a series of back of the envelope calculations and graphs, trying to find the optimum place for maximum productivity. There must be several generic scenarios, where it makes sense to work towards shedding status in order to remain productive.

comment by smoofra · 2009-12-17T03:31:18.003Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I think the main problem with mormon2's submission was not where it was posted, but that it was pointless and uninformed.

comment by PeterS · 2009-12-17T08:05:30.482Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Eliezer's main problem with it was where it was posted (or that's all he let on to anyway).

comment by CitationNeeded · 2009-12-17T08:17:07.314Z · score: 4 (6 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Also, I would imagine it got less benefit of the doubt since it was from someone with a history of trolling posts, from creationism to his numerous personal insults to Eliezer. He has also been repeatedly caught lying, e.g. by Nick Tarleton in the linked thread.

comment by Jonathan_Graehl · 2009-12-17T01:57:16.725Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

What's the harm?

comment by PeterS · 2009-12-17T02:18:52.383Z · score: 3 (7 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Eliezer's political dismissal of my concerns, when I raised them, and his concoction of what I believe to be a really lame excuse (about the inappropriateness of a top-level post about himself) lit the fuse on this post - it's a phenomenon which I've observed for a while. If our editor will neither acknowledge the place in which he has situated himself, nor take seriously the concerns of LW readers, then I don't want to be here.

Is it extremely harmful? Probably not. But it warrants address.

comment by wedrifid · 2009-12-17T03:47:20.666Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I love being in a place where concerns about tyrannical inconsistencies are are calibrated to this level. It is not often I find myself to less sensitive to bullshit.

comment by PeterS · 2009-12-17T03:59:46.488Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I had to write a web-crawler for LW to get those cited numbers :).

edit: If anyone's interested in the data, let me know.

comment by komponisto · 2009-12-17T01:47:22.655Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

You meant "on the part of", not "on behalf of". (I'm going to take a wild guess that this post was not submitted on Eliezer's behalf.)

comment by PeterS · 2009-12-17T01:49:19.889Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

You know, I thought about that one for a moment or two, knowing that it was wrong. Thanks for the correction.

comment by wedrifid · 2009-12-18T02:08:30.984Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Dictionary definition of exemplar my use was slightly ironic but accurate. Since I seem to be the token disliked person here.

Don't give yourself illusions of trollish grandeur. Clippy is a far more suitable exemplar. In fact, now I'm imagining an 'in character' Clippy in a state of existential angst, wondering whether it should be authoring a book on the wonders of stationary. I actually wish I'd thought of creating a 'Clippy' account first.

comment by Vladimir_Nesov · 2009-12-17T17:46:09.014Z · score: 0 (4 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

You are considering the issue out of context. It is trivial to argue that feature X of decision S is undesirable, as there are always positive and negative "sides" to any situation. A useful thing would be e.g. to suggest that a decision P would be superior overall to S. On a related note, being inconsistent is better than becoming consistently wrong (here, X=inconsistency).

Taken in isolation, the feature of imposing idiosyncratic topics on a community forum is undesirable. Taken in context, the particular posts added value because of other properties. Taken in isolation, the feature of an answer to mormon2's question being of interest to some readers is good, but quality of presentation kills this benefit in the picture as a whole. Besides, the outline of the answer is pretty obvious, and was explained at length, so the cosmic significance of asking this question is also dubious.

Whether the strategy of focusing rationalist ideas is a reasonable means to SIAI's ends, is a separate question that wasn't considered in this discussion (but could be!).

comment by PeterS · 2009-12-18T20:36:07.099Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I have implicitly suggested solutions in my post. Perhaps you want to reread it.

I'm not comfortable with there being no stated guidelines for post submissions, nor that the lack of such guidelines allow Eliezer to invent the rules on-the-go only when it serves him to do so.

I'm also not comfortable with their not being an available list of moderators/editors, as I fear that Eliezer may be the only one.

On a related note, being inconsistent is better than becoming consistently wrong (here, X=inconsistency).

But it is worse than being consistently right. Perhaps I'm failing to see your point here.

Taken in isolation, the feature of an answer to mormon2's question being of interest to some readers is good, but quality of presentation kills this benefit in the picture as a whole. Besides, the outline of the answer is pretty obvious, and was explained at length, so the cosmic significance of asking this question is also dubious.

I don't care about mormon2's post, nor the questions raised in it. I think the answers which were provided are probably not accurate, but don't really care. I've stated elsewhere my motivation for submitting this post, and its relation to mormon2's post is only nominal (in that the comments Eliezer made to me occurred in its comment thread, but could have occurred elsewhere).

comment by PhilGoetz · 2009-12-20T22:23:51.075Z · score: -1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Eliezer doesn't edit the posts here. He does choose which ones show up on the home page (ones with green karma scores). I often don't like posts he promotes, and like posts he doesn't promote. But it is his site. You can do as I do, and always immediately go to "NEW".

comment by zero_call · 2009-12-18T01:16:57.316Z · score: -1 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I don't buy your claim that the topic is out of context, when the context has been clearly and explicitly stated. Moreover, this is exactly the kind of hopelessly obfuscated response that engendered this topic in the first place. It's all fine and dandy to be a technical rationalist and to use technical arguments, but there are many cases (like this topic addresses) that deserve more plain speaking.

comment by Vladimir_Nesov · 2009-12-18T10:09:08.257Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I don't buy your claim that the topic is out of context, when the context has been clearly and explicitly stated.

You can't "state" the context in the sense I used the word: it's about how things are, not how one spins an argument.

comment by zero_call · 2009-12-18T15:19:07.553Z · score: -1 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

So you are saying that you can't state how things are then? Interesting. I guess I will just quit making any assessments of the world around me.

comment by Liron · 2009-12-17T03:55:11.809Z · score: 0 (8 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Dude, what's the biggie?

comment by Bongo · 2009-12-19T11:31:13.265Z · score: -1 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)
  • Good posts are articulate, civil and correct.

  • mormon2's post was not articulate, not civil and maybe correct. A pretty bad post.

  • One one hand, (a) we want to reward good posts and punish bad posts by status changes. One the other hand, (b) we want to address maybe correct ideas.

  • Addressing a post's idea raises the poster's status. Other means can lower it.

  • When deciding whether to address the idea of a post like mormon2's, a and b conflict.

--

Should we priviledge a over b or vice versa?

It depends on (p) the probability of an uncivil and inarticulate post being correct. If p is very low, the risk of misplacing status outweighs the possible benefit of truth. If p is very high, vice versa.

What is your p? At what value of p is the boundary between the two policies?

comment by wedrifid · 2009-12-19T13:17:00.789Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I like your analysis before the "--".

It depends on (p) the probability of an uncivil and inarticulate post being correct. If p is very low, the risk of misplacing status outweighs the possible benefit of truth. If p is very high, vice versa.

What is your p? At what value of p is the boundary between the two policies?

(Allow me to treat "p(correct)" as "a general measure of (probable) goodness of content" so as to not be distracted.)

Both the appreciation of a post and the inclination to award status can (, usually are and probably ought to) be dependent on other factors than correctness. This may either be because having pleasant conversation (civility and articulateness) is a terminal value or because civility and articulateness are instrumental in achieving a goal beyond the scope of the immediate calculation. Either way, p = 1 can be easily dominated by other concerns. p is insufficient for the representation you are aiming for. Consider adding a direct weighting.

It depends on (p) the probability of an uncivil and inarticulate post being correct.

Again on this part, I am not sure whether you mean:

  • The prior probability of any particular post that is uncivil and inarticulate being correct is 0.83.
  • This is a post. It has 0.83 chance of being correct. It is also uncivil and inarticulate.

Should we priviledge a over b or vice versa?

I personally tend to weigh them approximately equally. At least, I can't guess which of the two I privilege more. (Again, I am using 'correct' extremely liberally.)

comment by Bongo · 2009-12-19T14:50:41.357Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I like your analysis before the "--".

Ok. I thought about my post on a walk earlier and realized that it is flimsy after the '--'. a vs. b is the important part.

civility and articulateness are instrumental in achieving a goal beyond the scope of the immediate calculation

A community where posts are forced to meet a certain treshold of civility and articulateness, and if they don't, ignored even when correct and the poster punished. But above the treshold only correctness matters... Maybe such a community does produce more truth than a free-for-all.

... p = 1 can be easily dominated by other concerns

But all this means potential bias: making "other concerns"-excuses to ignore arguments you don't like.

p is insufficient for the representation you are aiming for. Consider adding a direct weighting.

Culminating in the expected utility formula of posting? Interesting, but not worth the effort for me.

This is a post ... It is ... inarticulate.

It does confuse me in parts.

comment by mormon2 · 2009-12-17T07:48:55.587Z · score: -6 (18 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

"it being a top-level post instead of Open Thread comment. Probably would've been a lot more forgiving if it'd been an Open Thread comment. . ."

Since I am already disliked lets just say it, the reason EY would prefer my post in the comments section of an open thread is two-fold: 1.) it can easily be deleted if he doesn't like it 2.) Since I happen to be the exemplar here and most of you guys don't like me (or don't like being unwitting subjects of social experiments). You would quickly vote my post down to the point where the only way to find it would be to search my profile for it meaning that the post would go nowhere.

comment by Eliezer Yudkowsky (Eliezer_Yudkowsky) · 2009-12-17T17:59:07.514Z · score: 2 (10 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I can delete this post as easily as I can delete a comment; the same effort is involved either way. If you request it, I would be quite happy to provide experimental evidence to this effect.

comment by Dustin · 2009-12-17T21:30:59.839Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

1.) it can easily be deleted if he doesn't like it

Disregarding the fact that deleting a top level post is as easy as deleting a comment...how do you know this is his reason?

comment by mormon2 · 2009-12-18T01:43:29.131Z · score: -2 (10 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

"Disregarding the fact that deleting a top level post is as easy as deleting a comment...how do you know this is his reason?"

Because he has done it in the past.

comment by Dustin · 2009-12-19T17:36:15.723Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

If that was true, that still is not the same as his stated reason.

You don't have enough information to state such a thing in such a conclusive manner.

comment by wedrifid · 2009-12-17T08:16:55.409Z · score: 0 (4 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Voted down for misuse of the word 'exemplar'.

You would quickly vote my post down to the point where the only way to find it would be to search my profile for it meaning that the post would go nowhere.

Close, it would show up as '1 comment below threshold', an exemplar of success for the karma system.