Consider giving an explanation for your deletion this time around. "Harry Yudkowsky and the Methods of Postrationality: Chapter One: Em Dashes Colons and Ellipses, Littérateurs Go Wild"

post by Will_Newsome · 2014-07-08T02:53:50.355Z · score: 4 (76 votes) · LW · GW · Legacy · 217 comments

Contents

  The original post has been unbanned and can be found here, so I've edited this post to just be about the banning.
None
217 comments

My stupid fanfic chapter was banned without explanation so I reposted it; somehow it was at +7 when it was deleted and I think silently deleting upvoted posts is a disservice to LessWrong. I requested that a justification be given in the comments if it were to be deleted again, so LessWrong readers could consider whether or not that justification is aligned with what they want from LessWrong. Also I would like to make clear that this fanfic is primarily a medium for explaining some ideas that people on LessWrong often ask me about; that it is also a lighthearted critique of Yudkowskyanism is secondary, and if need be I will change the premise so that the medium doesn't drown out the message. But really, I wouldn't think a lighthearted parody of a lighthearted parody would cause such offense.

 

The original post has been unbanned and can be found here, so I've edited this post to just be about the banning.

217 comments

Comments sorted by top scores.

comment by roystgnr · 2014-07-08T17:05:43.764Z · score: 19 (18 votes) · LW · GW

I'm slightly torn here.

My first impulse was to point out that, just because there happened to be seven people on this site with the poor sense to upvote this unintentional self-parody, that doesn't justify an eighth person having the poor sense to unilaterally delete it.

Then I remembered kuro5hin's decline and death. A self-moderated forum can transition from "temporary lull in activity" to "permanent death spiral" if a critical mass of trolls pounce on the lull, and it's not a pretty thing to witness. The "critical mass" doesn't have to be very large, either, since self-moderated forums generally weight their users' opinions proportionately to amount-of-available-free-time, which most trolls have in surplus. I suspect it wouldn't have taken too many swings of the banhammer to save that site.

There's got to be a better solution, though. I'd hope there's even a simple better solution. Maybe a "trash" category alongside "main" and "discussion"? Then moderators can move posts between categories, while users can upvote/downvote within each. That would still allow moderators to keep the new users' queue cleaned up in a way that can't be "gamed", but makes moderator mistakes much less significant. "They're deleting me!" is a half-decent rallying cry; "They're calling me names!" not so much.

comment by Pentashagon · 2014-07-09T02:31:13.978Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Then I remembered kuro5hin's decline and death.

kuro5hin is still a vibrant, thriving community.

comment by jimrandomh · 2014-07-12T21:06:41.104Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

(This looks like sarcasm. Those links are to a troll post, and a link about how kuro5hin was to be briefly down for maintenance a few weeks ago. It's still down.)

comment by satt · 2014-07-08T23:43:19.260Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Then I remembered kuro5hin's decline and death. A self-moderated forum can transition from "temporary lull in activity" to "permanent death spiral" if a critical mass of trolls pounce on the lull, and it's not a pretty thing to witness. The "critical mass" doesn't have to be very large, either, since self-moderated forums generally weight their users' opinions proportionately to amount-of-available-free-time, which most trolls have in surplus.

Kuro5hin's $5 paywall for new accounts arguably deserves a lot of the blame for that. (My fading memory of K5 is that the boundary between trolls & non-trolls was pretty permeable there, and it wasn't a huge problem until the paywall came down.)

[Edit, August 31: belatedly realized "the paywall came down" is ambiguous. I mean the paywall being imposed, like a curtain coming down.]

comment by somervta · 2014-07-11T02:28:49.018Z · score: 18 (22 votes) · LW · GW

So, after reading the comments, I figure I should speak up because selection effects

I appreciated the deleting of the original post. I thought it was silly, and pointless and not what should be on LW. I didn't realize it was being upvoted (or I would have downvoted it), and I still don't know why it was.

I endorse the unintrusive (i.e, silent and unannounces) deleting of things like this (particularly given that the author was explicitly not taking the posting seriously - written while drunk, etc), and I suspect others do as well.

There's a thing that happens wherein any disagreement with moderation ends up being much more noticable than agreement. I wouldn't be surprised if there were many who, like me, agreed with decisions like this and weren't speaking up. If so, I urge you to briefly comment (even just "I agree/d with the decision to delete").

comment by [deleted] · 2014-07-11T05:03:30.223Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW · GW

I wouldn't be surprised if there were many who, like me, agreed with decisions like this and weren't speaking up. If so, I urge you to briefly comment (even just "I agree/d with the decision to delete").

Or upvote the parent, as I did.

comment by jsteinhardt · 2014-07-11T07:23:38.033Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Maybe a poll would be better?

comment by Will_Newsome · 2014-07-11T07:14:55.951Z · score: -8 (15 votes) · LW · GW

I wouldn't be surprised if there were many who, like me, agreed with decisions like this and weren't speaking up. If so, I urge you to briefly comment

This is the most pointless exercise I have ever seen suggested.

comment by [deleted] · 2014-07-08T12:01:45.750Z · score: 11 (21 votes) · LW · GW

I for one would rather Will found another forum for his obscurantist nonsense. It was cute two or three years ago, but now it's just cringe-worthy.

You need to work on your hyperbole. Calling moderators "great gods" just doesn't go far enough into absurdity for a decent rant. I feel like you're on the event horizon of a black hole, lacking the last bit of acceleration you need to pass through and reach the singularity (of the black hole, not of some other kind).

Honestly, if you're looking to become a martyr of censorship, you're going to need to write something worth censoring.

P.S.: "This site IS a cult. And I don't say this for the usual reasons." This is an outright lie. Getting verklempt over the censorship of Roko is an internet subculture past-time.

comment by Will_Newsome · 2014-07-08T12:14:18.567Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

obscurantist nonsense

I can see why people wouldn't like the stuff I write, but I wish they were less mean about it...

comment by fubarobfusco · 2014-07-10T00:25:21.710Z · score: 10 (10 votes) · LW · GW

Captain, sensors are detecting a rapidly escalating Streisand Effect off the port bow!

comment by Vladimir_Nesov · 2014-07-08T20:53:16.715Z · score: 9 (22 votes) · LW · GW

Yeah, the original post was banned. I've unbanned it. There seems to be no good (i.e. standard/accepted) reason for banning the post, so whoever did it should comment/private-message before escalating further. (Will got on a list of ban-able users a few years back for not responding to heavy downvoting of many of his comments, but for the last two years there were no problems with the comments, so they should no longer be easily banned. I've looked through the comment history, and there appears to be no other recently banned content, except that one post.)

(Will: Maybe remove the copy of the text from this post, so that it's only in the original, while this post is focused on discussing the mysterious banning of the original post?)

comment by Eliezer Yudkowsky (Eliezer_Yudkowsky) · 2014-07-08T23:34:06.968Z · score: 17 (36 votes) · LW · GW

Your decision seems very obviously wrong to me. I don't want to overrule you directly without further conversation, but I don't understand at all why you unbanned the post. There's a forum for ridiculously terribly written fanfiction, and it's fanfiction.net which is famous for taking everything. The post is of quality less than zero. Why should it be here?

comment by cata · 2014-07-09T06:48:37.084Z · score: 34 (41 votes) · LW · GW

Because you underestimate how off-putting it is to people when things are deleted with no clear accountability or visibility. It's way worse than having an off-topic lousy post sitting on the page for a few days. It is like a hundred times worse.

You have to provide transparency (e.g. a "see deleted" section or a list of moderator actions) or rationale (e.g. Metafilter's deletion reasons and MetaTalk) or people get paranoid that there is weird, self-interested censorship and that the moderators aren't acting in the interests of the community. This is an Ancient Internet Feeling.

comment by mwengler · 2014-07-09T14:51:38.653Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

This is an Ancient Internet Feeling.

It predates the internet by hundreds of years, FWIW

comment by somervta · 2014-07-11T02:35:08.656Z · score: 0 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I don't think it's a good idea to write things expressing opinions like this as if you're presenting the majority view, even when you think it is. I for one completely disagree with the first paragraph, and would only like transparency wrt deletions if it was unobtrusive.

comment by Will_Newsome · 2014-07-11T10:23:51.118Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I don't think it's a good idea to write things expressing opinions like this as if you're presenting the majority view, even when you think it is.

If it's not actually the majority view then people will downvote it or at least upvote it less. I don't think you understand how karma systems work.

comment by Vladimir_Nesov · 2014-07-09T00:19:44.105Z · score: 34 (36 votes) · LW · GW

I agree that it's better for that post to not be on LW, but banning such things is not standard procedure, and people don't like it when moderators do surprising things. In particular, the post didn't have more serious pathologies sometimes present in other posts (that are usually still not banned), such as hosting a bad prolific discussion or getting downvoted to minus 20.

(If I were to ban posts on the grounds that I consider them bad for LW, I would ban maybe a quarter of Discussion posts. I don't have authority to do that, and don't expect good consequences unless the procedure is accepted by the community on some level. This doesn't seem likely or even desirable in the sense that there are better alternative procedures such as weighted votes, which would have less blind spots.)

comment by Will_Newsome · 2014-07-09T00:31:23.428Z · score: 19 (31 votes) · LW · GW

For what it's worth I would love if LessWrong stuck to only decision theory, microeconomics, cognitive science, &c; I'd lurk and do what I could to maintain the relatively high standards of quality that LessWrong used to have. But look at how User:badger's excellent sequence on mechanism design went basically ignored compared to all the stupid shit that gets upvoted. I posted what I did because LessWrong has mostly been a signaling and self-help cesspit for years now and I thought my post would quietly attract a few readers who enjoyed it while those who didn't would just downvote and move on. Pissing in a swimming pool is immoral, but I'm pissing in an ocean here.

comment by hydkyll · 2014-07-09T13:15:00.426Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

For what it's worth I would love if LessWrong stuck to only decision theory, microeconomics, cognitive science, ...

So, now that you know the reason why your post was removed, do you agree with the decision? It seems that you're generally in favor of removing "stupid shit that gets upvoted". (And your post wouldn't even have been needed to be removed if you had hosted it at fanfiction.net and posted the link in an open thread.)

comment by Will_Newsome · 2014-07-09T13:21:30.896Z · score: 6 (27 votes) · LW · GW

This isn't the should-world. LessWrong is irrevocably a cesspit. The stupid shit will continue to flow. So no, I do not agree with the decision, unless someone like Vladimir_Nesov gets to ban all the stupid shit, which will never happen. Arbitrarily banning my stupid shit in particular just means Eliezer making a fool of himself. There is no sympathetic magic to it that will change the equilibrium.

comment by drethelin · 2014-07-10T21:34:03.921Z · score: 8 (10 votes) · LW · GW

I would be interested in a month-long experiment to see how the quality of Discussion changes with you banning whatever you felt like.

comment by buybuydandavis · 2014-07-11T03:26:33.206Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Widespread and capricious banning of posts earns a million Phyg points.

comment by drethelin · 2014-07-11T03:36:24.259Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

shrug. At this point MIRI is already doing workshops with relatively well-known mathematicians so I don't think anyone who is a candidate to seriously help is going to be turned off by the cultish forum moderation. And it would only be for a month anyway, unless it resulted in a drastic improvement in quality of posts

comment by Will_Newsome · 2014-07-11T10:18:33.476Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I suspect Nesov in particular would put forth and uphold relatively fair-minded, non-ideological, and straightforward rules for deletion, and so Phyg points would be held to an acceptable level. But Nesov is somewhat singular in that regard. If Eliezer or other similarly ideological moderators tried to ride Nesov's coattails then Phyg points would naturally shoot through the roof.

I vote Nesov for LessWrong Dictator.

comment by Bruno_Coelho · 2014-07-11T16:39:10.681Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Seems a good test to reactivate LW dynamics.

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2014-07-11T15:29:44.625Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I'd be interested to see what would happen if that quarter of banned posts went into a Trash section. Would it be boring stuff barely distinguishable from Markoff chains? Probably so, by my standards. Would it end up generating some weird and lively stuff? Probably also true, but I'd be letting other people curate the Trash section.

Or possibly, considering how bad it might get, LW-Trash could be on reddit.

comment by Eliezer Yudkowsky (Eliezer_Yudkowsky) · 2014-07-10T05:15:23.267Z · score: 0 (16 votes) · LW · GW

If I were to ban posts on the grounds that I consider them bad for LW, I would ban maybe a quarter of Discussion posts.

I'm not sure it would be a bad idea if you started banning posts on this level of super-obvious crap. I'm also not sure it would hurt to have you ban a quarter of Discussion, but I'm a lot more optimistic that nothing bad goes wrong if you consistently ban everything this horrible.

I agree that it's better for that post to not be on LW, but banning such things is not standard procedure, and people don't like it when moderators do surprizing things.

It is not clear to me that this should be an important consideration in restraining moderation. If some people, including some good posters, who don't like "surprising moderation" leave and what's left gets more surprisingly moderated because moderators are less worried about consistency, then it's not clear to me that this is net worse. There's a startup cost to more vigorous and less consistent moderation, I think it's already mostly been paid, and then once that cost is paid, maybe things decline more slowly. Maybe they don't. It does not feel to me like leaving absolute obvious crap on Discussion because I'm worried about someone reacting poorly to a surprising moderation, is really much of a net improvement to the expected future.

comment by drethelin · 2014-07-10T21:38:05.422Z · score: 9 (9 votes) · LW · GW

I think your personal sense of offense is over-writing your judgement of how actually horrible will's post is. It was poorly written but contained a lot of good fragments of criticism, to the point where I couldn't decide how to vote on it. Your reiteration of how much of an obvious pile of crap it was isn't helping you out here either.

comment by hairyfigment · 2014-07-11T06:38:46.650Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Name one.

comment by drethelin · 2014-07-11T06:42:40.796Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

"Harry James Potter-Yudkowsky was half Potter, half Yudkowsky. Harry just didn’t fit in. It wasn't that he lacked humanity. It was just that no one else knew (P)Many_Worlds, (P)singularity, or (P)their_special_insight_into_the_true_beautiful_Bayesian_fractally_recursive_nature_of_reality. "

is a nigh perfect send-up, combining over-harsh but accurate criticism of HJPEV with a meta-story dig at the author's motivations.

comment by Vladimir_Nesov · 2014-07-10T22:37:32.659Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I'm also not sure it would hurt to have you ban a quarter of Discussion, but I'm a lot more optimistic that nothing bad goes wrong if you consistently ban everything this horrible.

This was a concrete estimate made by looking at the most recent 35 posts, with quality threshold that happens to be close to how I perceive Will's post. (It doesn't appear to me exceptionally horrible, and I expect there are other posts that appear exceptionally horrible to me, but not to you. So if I only deleted the posts that seem to me exceptionally horrible, Will's post in particular wouldn't be deleted.)

I agree that it's better for that post to not be on LW, but banning such things is not standard procedure, and people don't like it when moderators do surprising things.

It is not clear to me that this should be an important consideration in restraining moderation.

To clarify, the "surprising things" I consider dangerous are decisions that ignore policy, not decisions that follow a policy that's unusual. With a policy of unrestrained moderation, individual acts of moderation won't be as surprising in the sense I intended, for example they won't provoke big discussions focused on them, especially if those too are against the rules.

As a constructive suggestion, I think that as an alternative to permitting deletion of posts, it would be better to give an x10 downvote hammer (in addition to the normal one; and perhaps only for posts) to all users with Karma 10000, or something along those lines (maybe in some form that doesn't have as much impact on poster's Karma, to minimize trauma). This at least would require multiple people to agree that something is horrible for it to be effectively removed.

comment by Eliezer Yudkowsky (Eliezer_Yudkowsky) · 2014-07-11T20:50:29.499Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Or an x10 downvote hammer granted by admins to community members they know personally and reasonably well, regardless of karma---an automatic karma threshold rewards volume of commenting, rather than average sanity of comments.

Unfortunately, this suggestion, like so many other good ideas, requires programming resources.

comment by Vladimir_Nesov · 2014-07-13T20:10:22.608Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Unfortunately, this suggestion, like so many other good ideas, requires programming resources.

It doesn't in a strict sense, establishing a protocol for this decisions to be enacted in comments is sufficient. Given a wiki page that describes the protocol and lists people authorized to vote, any of them can create a top-level comment with words "Vote to hide", link to the wiki page, and possibly an argument. Others can reply to the comment to second/third the suggestion. A rule such as ((Post Karma - (number of votes to hide) * 10) < -20, and Post Karma is less than 10) then decides whether a moderator bans the post. The whole voting thing can even be made invisible to non-moderators, if all comments in it are hidden right after being posted.

comment by Eliezer Yudkowsky (Eliezer_Yudkowsky) · 2014-07-14T18:53:34.764Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I don't think anyone would use a system that cumbersome in real life.

comment by Will_Newsome · 2014-07-11T10:15:04.959Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I think that as an alternative to permitting deletion of posts, it would be better to give an x10 downvote hammer (in addition to the normal one; and perhaps only for posts) to all users with Karma 10000

I currently have 8,448 karma. I could reach 10,000 in a few weeks if I so desired. I don't imagine many here would want me to have a downvote hammer. Still, this general category of solutions is good.

comment by atorm · 2014-07-13T12:27:47.851Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Part of me wants to just glimpse that world for a little while.

comment by Gurkenglas · 2014-07-12T20:48:01.527Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Alternatively, let people choose to make their votes public, then provide a way for people to provide an algorithm based on that data to filter/mark posts.

comment by gwern · 2014-07-13T02:21:48.788Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Alternatively, let people choose to make their votes public

Already supported; for example: http://lesswrong.com/user/gwern/liked/ and http://lesswrong.com/user/gwern/disliked/ (there's even RSS feeds for those pages! like http://lesswrong.com/user/gwern/liked/.rss Nothing stops one from grabbing RSS feeds and doing any processing they please on them.) That, over the past 5 or so years LW has had this feature, no one has noticed or made use of it...

Note that I think the relevant preference controls whether that page is public, so you can't check whether you enabled it just by looking at your own; you need to look in a logged-out browser.

comment by Will_Newsome · 2014-07-10T08:37:18.257Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

You are so fascinating. I can't tell if you simply fail to understand simple ideas out of some insanely strong self-deceptive defensiveness, or if you're just consciously choosing to be a pathetic piece of shit. Given your reasoning the solution is simple. Ban me, idiot.

comment by [deleted] · 2014-07-09T20:31:19.359Z · score: 23 (23 votes) · LW · GW

The concern has frequently been voiced on LW that rationality needs obvious wins in order to demonstrate its utility. If LW can't even get moderation right...

One of the many reasons I left academic philosophy was that I saw how academic philosophy was run. No one liked it, and it seemed that very few people liked how colleges in general were run, but still I saw nothing being done about it. If people who basically get paid to think can't even sort out the internal affairs of their own field, there's no reason to assume they're particularly good at thinking. If some of the most prominent practitioners of rationality can't even come up with a sane moderation policy for a rationality site, either their brand of rationality is flawed or they aren't applying it correctly.

You're asking the wrong question. It's not "why should it be here?"; it's "should it be deleted?". It's not necessarily the case that every post you think ought not to be here should be deleted. You may not always be right -- and the positive karma of the original post suggests that you weren't generally agreed with in this case -- but even if you are, unannounced, unexplained arbitrary rule is decidedly suboptimal. The indirect consequences of moderating actions must be considered.

Vladimir_Nesov is right: people don't like it when moderators do surprising things. I've seen this happen before: on a forum I'm on, the admin demodded one of the moderators for questioning some of his actions, and then banned four of the regulars because he decided he didn't like them. A lot of people left after that.

Arbitrary, muddled personal rule without concerns of the indirect consequences of actions seems to be the default mode of human organization. That doesn't mean it's at all justified. Rationalists should be able to do better than Hastings Banda.

This is the second time this week that an administrative action has been taken that was obviously not thought through. Either LW's brand of rationality is flawed or -- more likely -- LW's moderators aren't applying it well enough.

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2014-07-10T02:32:03.256Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

What does getting moderation right look like? Are there sites you recommend as well-moderated?

comment by [deleted] · 2014-07-10T07:54:58.335Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

There are sites where the moderation isn't bad enough for me to notice it, sure. SSC and Xenosystems come to mind.

The only non-blog sites I pay attention to anymore are this and a few forums, and the only forum that's big enough to need moderation is the one where the admin is incompetent.

The most common strategy I've seen besides the Hastings Banda one is the one where moderator action is only taken to enforce near-unanimous user opinion -- though often this isn't an explicit policy, but instead an artifact of most of the old regulars being moderators. If the mods are active enough with this strategy, this brings protection against the eternal September, but with the potential cost of exclusivity. Another failure mode I've seen is conflict between moderators, but I've only seen this happen once, and it was in a case where someone who really shouldn't have been a moderator was made one: he rarely posted, but had developed a relevant site and was friends with the admin, so he was made another admin -- whereas the moderators were everyone who had over 50 posts a few months after the forum had started, and the moderator position was initially created only to deal with spambots.

comment by drethelin · 2014-07-10T21:28:31.190Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

to be fair, bounded rationality is very reasonable, since rationality takes mental effort bothering to apply it to contexts that don't really matter to you is probably not worth it. I doubt Eliezer gives much of a shit about how Lesswrong.com is going these days, and his ban was almost certainly because that post annoyed him (as it did me).

comment by [deleted] · 2014-07-10T22:41:01.720Z · score: 16 (16 votes) · LW · GW

Moderation is microgovernment. If a politician doesn't care about governing anymore, he should resign; if the emperor doesn't care about governing anymore, he should appoint regents. Neither should run around passing laws if they don't take the problem of governing seriously.

comment by atorm · 2014-07-13T12:22:31.929Z · score: 12 (12 votes) · LW · GW

I miss when he cared. People give Yudkowsky a lot of flak these days, which may or may not be warranted, but when he was on form, he really produced a lot of engagingly written material. I worry that there is a feedback loop between people giving him a hard time because he hasn't produced anything to excite us recently and him not wanting to write because he only ever gets a hard time.

comment by Vulture · 2014-07-25T01:41:24.241Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I think he's also just busy. Between a rabid fanbase clamoring for new HPMoR chapters and his actual MIRI work, I imagine that dicking around on LW has pretty diminished marginal returns for him (especially now that the core Sequences stuff is all written).

comment by ChristianKl · 2014-07-09T11:24:39.465Z · score: 18 (18 votes) · LW · GW

Given the way the situation with Kaj banning Eugine Nier played out with you staying completely silent and not saying anything do you think that's the right time to delete stuff silently in the background? To the extend that calls for moderator attention on the issue of mass downvoting get ignored for month it feels very iffy to do use power to delete criticism.

comment by Ixiel · 2014-07-09T12:09:47.275Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Maybe not everybody agrees that a ban was reasonable, but a unified front is the higher value, so rather than speak against a heavy handed response silence is just good etiquette.

comment by ChristianKl · 2014-07-09T20:57:53.418Z · score: 9 (9 votes) · LW · GW

The silence started even before the ban was made. Kaj asked for community input and at that point Eliezer could have simply said: "Kaj, I trust you to do what's right on the issue." That would have made Kaj's job easier. Especially given what Kaj wrote on facebook over his own emotional state, that would have been a nice thing to do.

I don't think silence means that there's a unified front. To the extend that a unified front is high value, Eliezer could have said: "Hey, I like it that Kaj has taken action on this issue."

Not counting months of silence while people whined about mass downvoting in open threads.

comment by Eliezer Yudkowsky (Eliezer_Yudkowsky) · 2014-07-10T05:10:35.529Z · score: 2 (20 votes) · LW · GW

I like it that Kaj took action on this issue. The trouble was that there was nothing obvious for me to do that didn't require programmer actions; I didn't know how to reverse Nier's downvotes or prevent him from downvoting further. I have not been putting heavy attention into moderating LW and I don't personally know how to use the more complicated moderation tools.

I do however know how to click "Ban" when Will Newsome tests the limits of LW's tolerance for crap, and it's upvoted to 7 points and I don't trust that Newsome isn't using sockpuppets to upvote.

comment by mwengler · 2014-07-10T20:36:37.355Z · score: 1 (5 votes) · LW · GW

I didn't know how to reverse Nier's downvotes or prevent him from downvoting further.

Is it not possible for an administrator to log on as a particular user?

Because if it is, the mechanism to stop further downvoting, stop further posting, and reverse unwanted downvotes is to

1) have administrator log on as Nier 2) administrator then changes password of account to something Nier doesn't know 3) administrator then goes to list of comments of mass-downvote victims and undownvotes all the comments

comment by Eliezer Yudkowsky (Eliezer_Yudkowsky) · 2014-07-11T20:52:11.513Z · score: 4 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Is it not possible for an administrator to log on as a particular user?

I didn't think it was possible to suggest something that I would think was "too much power for admins", but congratulations, that strikes me as too much power for admins.

comment by mwengler · 2014-07-11T21:34:06.323Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I didn't think it was possible to suggest something that I would think was "too much power for admins", but congratulations, that strikes me as too much power for admins.

Well it wasn't a suggestion, it was a question.

I have had accounts on many systems (and still do) where if I forget my password, sysadmins reset my password. Since sysadmins can reset my password, they could if they wanted to then log on as me, set my password to something I didn't know and then own my account.

Whether or not this is too much power for them is besides the point that this is how it works on systems that I use. In the naivete of my limited experience, I asked if it worked that way here. The closest to an answer to my question I have gotten was on another thread where I thought the answer I got was "yes its possible."

All the other responses I've gotten to my question were to be voted down or congratulated for suggesting something negative as if asking a question was somehow a suggestion.

comment by Gurkenglas · 2014-07-12T20:58:24.458Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Afaik, the usual state of affairs is that admins can set a new password, but they can't view the current password, so they couldn't change it back and you would know that your password was changed.

comment by mwengler · 2014-07-13T00:37:58.009Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

so they couldn't change it back and you would know that your password was changed.

Which of course in the case that you are trying to shut down account access for someone and to reverse downvotes for that someone without deleting their account, is absolutely perfect.

comment by Will_Newsome · 2014-07-11T10:25:52.363Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Is it not possible for an administrator to log on as a particular user?

That would be insane.

comment by mwengler · 2014-07-11T10:47:07.729Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Is it not possible for an administrator to reset a user's password? Would that be insane? If not, what happens when somebody forgets their password, is the account just dead in the water?

Because if it is possible for an administrator to reset a password, then it is possible for an administrator to log on to a particular account.

comment by Will_Newsome · 2014-07-11T10:53:37.446Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Because if it is possible for an administrator to reset a password, then it is possible for an administrator to log on to a particular account.

Yes, it's technically possible, but actually doing it would be a rather severe breach of privacy...

comment by mwengler · 2014-07-11T10:59:46.536Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

SO we can state that we do not have the technology to stop a banned user from downvoting posts, and we don't have the technology to reverse banned downvotes.

But we do actually have the technology, it is just considered a "severe breach of privacy" to employ it?

And so we have to pretend that accomplishing the identical result by some hacky code into the database to get the same effect on the database is any more or less a breach of privacy, even though it is (potentially) bit-wise identical to just using the simple technology of logging on as the user who's account needsd adjusting, and changing the banned user's password so he can't use the account he is banned from?

Is this some wierd signalling thing, where the appearance that something is really something else is more important than the actuality of it?

comment by Jiro · 2014-07-11T14:46:37.477Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

It's a Schelling point. If you can log on as a user you can do a lot of nasty things and we would rather that admins not do those other things.

comment by mwengler · 2014-07-11T14:58:23.204Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Does it seem irrational to anyone else here to say

"We don't know how to prevent this person from using his account to post new downvotes and we don't know how to reverse the downvotes already posted"

when the actual situation is

"We could stop this account from posting new downvotes with 5 minutes of admin-effort and we could reverse the effects of the mass-downvoting with about an hour of admin-effort without having to write a line of new code, but we won't."

comment by Will_Newsome · 2014-07-11T11:19:39.233Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Is this some wierd signalling thing, where the appearance that something is really something else is more important than the actuality of it?

I think so, yeah. I don't know whether it's reasonable or not but that's what it is. I might be wrong.

comment by Will_Newsome · 2014-07-11T13:07:18.687Z · score: -1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

This is somewhat tangential, but neatly links the two recent dramas: I was actually one of the first people subjected to campaigns of mass downvoting, having had hundreds of my comments downvoted in bunches on multiple occasions. Although there are exceptions, from what I've seen the well-intentioned extremists who unscrupulously abuse the karma system have generally done so in defense of your well-kept garden.

comment by Ixiel · 2014-07-10T01:17:47.882Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Good point. That makes more sense.

comment by ShardPhoenix · 2014-07-09T06:07:40.921Z · score: 15 (15 votes) · LW · GW

I think someone in a position of power ought to be particularly wary of appearing to censor things which are (apparently) critical of themselves. If something is truly terrible it will get heavily downvoted.

comment by mwengler · 2014-07-09T14:53:38.042Z · score: 13 (13 votes) · LW · GW

Your decision seems very obviously wrong to me.

I believe there are well-known human biases involving humans trying to evaluate things which mention them by name.

Could you be subject to that kind of thing?

comment by Will_Newsome · 2014-07-08T23:56:33.185Z · score: 11 (33 votes) · LW · GW

The post is of quality less than zero.

You aren't the judge of that, Herr Yudkowsky. LessWrong is the judge of that.

comment by RichardKennaway · 2014-07-09T10:52:34.684Z · score: 9 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Why should it be here?

It shouldn't. But what should be here when this happens is an indication that it has been deleted and why.

comment by ChristianKl · 2014-07-09T08:56:01.478Z · score: 9 (9 votes) · LW · GW

Why should it be here?

That's not the question to ask when deleting posts. The question to ask when deleting posts is whether there's a reason to delete and hopefully whether that reason is based in rules that can be understood.

The karma system exists for punishing low quality content.

comment by MathiasZaman · 2014-07-10T08:51:12.519Z · score: -1 (5 votes) · LW · GW

To be fair, the karma system failed in this case.

(Not to say I agree with the deletion of the post, but it sat safely at positive karma when it got taken down.)

comment by Gav · 2014-07-09T00:10:33.357Z · score: 14 (11 votes) · LW · GW

"There seems to be no good reason for banning the post" Drunken (by author admission) fanfic isn't what people come to LW to read. Multi-layered sarcastic incomprehensible stories that have no discernable point other than mockery aren't helpful.

Sure, there are plenty of sequences that use dialogs, but they are used 1) to make a comprehensible point, and 2) have to show their working and explain the conclusion and why it's applicable.

Fanfiction.net is the place for stuff like the original post.

/For ref, I'm not a mod, just a pleb.

comment by Viliam_Bur · 2014-07-09T20:44:09.061Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Drunken (by author admission) fanfic isn't what people come to LW to read.

Yet they upvote it.

EDIT: Well, maybe.

comment by Will_Newsome · 2014-07-10T10:24:08.973Z · score: 8 (8 votes) · LW · GW

It's impossible to tell now, because presumably people are now voting on the drama, not on the content.

comment by Will_Newsome · 2014-07-09T00:14:58.283Z · score: -1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Drunken (by author admission) fanfic isn't what people come to LW to read.

The post was was upvoted, so clearly some people do in fact come here to read things like it. Please stop speaking as if your subjective tastes are objective truths, it's distasteful.

comment by Douglas_Knight · 2014-07-10T00:22:10.639Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

Allow me to suggest a different word choice: "deleting" posts and "banning" users. I guess the software talks about banning posts and comments, but it often confuses people who are not moderators.

comment by hairyfigment · 2014-07-09T05:14:45.396Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Thought process: 'Seems like a mistake to ban the post, though I can see how Eliezer might genuinely think the author was using sockpuppets to game the karma system. Wait, this is in Main? What the fuck is wrong with seven people? Or is Will Newsome actually nuts enough to use sockpuppets and lie about it?'

comment by Vladimir_Nesov · 2014-07-09T10:22:58.176Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Not in Main, sorry for the confusion. I've now fixed the links. (There is a bug in LW software where links to Discussion posts written in the form of links to Main post will show a Discussion post as if it's in Main, instead of redirecting to Discussion, so it depends on the link which subforum a post appears to be from.)

Edit: Submitted bug reports for this problem to the issue tracker: issue 433 and issue 434.

comment by Will_Newsome · 2014-07-08T22:39:26.456Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Sure, I'll do that. Thanks.

comment by Eliezer Yudkowsky (Eliezer_Yudkowsky) · 2014-07-08T23:32:24.663Z · score: 8 (38 votes) · LW · GW

I don't know who unbanned this post, but I would be interested in hearing why before I reban the original.

Reason for banning original: It is super obvious that filling up Discussion with such posts would not be good for LW, I have no idea who the hell upvoted that and wonder if they were fake accounts. Will Newsome is a poster with known mental problems and the possibility that he's making fake accounts is one I've considered before. The post contributes nothing to LW and seems like a no-brainer to ban before it happens again.

Who unbanned the original? Why?

comment by Dr_Manhattan · 2014-07-10T21:25:36.809Z · score: 22 (24 votes) · LW · GW

Sorry to hijack this Eli, but I don't get why it's not obvious that you should recuse yourself from moderation when there is strong appearance of personal rather than community consideration. Flag it to one of the other mods to consider.

It makes you look bad, whether or not the decision was well founded, and makes people question the fairness of the moderation process. Please don't do this.

comment by wedrifid · 2014-07-09T09:34:01.272Z · score: 12 (16 votes) · LW · GW

(Upvoted because transparency is valuable and to be encouraged.)

Will Newsome is a poster with known mental problems and the possibility that he's making fake accounts is one I've considered before.

He almost certainly has or had fake accounts at various times. I think I've even suggested banning him for that violation. That said, Will's claim that he has not upvoted his own posts via sockpuppets is entirely believable. Take action against Will if necessary for whatever other reason (like a track record of active, insane trolling) but if action is taken against him based on the assumption that a positive reception of his contribution must be fake that would be troubling.

and seems like a no-brainer to ban before it happens again.

Making decisions 'no-brainers' is easy if one is willing to disassociate oneself from the consequences.

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2014-07-09T09:50:17.064Z · score: 9 (9 votes) · LW · GW

It would make sense to me if action were taken against a plague of drunken fan fiction, or possibly after the first half dozen, but the first such rates a warning and discussion, not deletion.

For some reason, I'm amused that the karma for this and the original post have converged (54% and 53%).. Maybe LW really does have a group mind.

comment by Will_Newsome · 2014-07-09T11:56:13.398Z · score: 6 (16 votes) · LW · GW

He almost certainly has or had fake accounts at various times.

I did. I barely used them, and haven't in a long time. I don't see why that is banworthy or even against community norms; my other accounts all have positive karma and good upvote/downvote ratios, and with one minor exception I used them for the obvious non-antisocial reasons. IIRC you accused me of being TillNoonsome et al, which is false; the real person behind those accounts offered to reveal their identity to clear my name, but I declined, 'cuz at that point there wasn't really any need for it. Also you might have noticed that I haven't engaged in any "insane trolling" for years now. There is no justifiable reason to ban me; the only reason Eliezer would do so is, of course, that he's a punk-ass bitch.

comment by wedrifid · 2014-07-09T12:49:27.936Z · score: 9 (11 votes) · LW · GW

I don't see why that is banworthy or even against community norms; my other accounts all have positive karma and good upvote/downvote ratios, and I used them for the obvious non-antisocial reasons.

The same reason there is a law against vigilante justice. In many individual cases it's probably ethically justified but I certainly support a general rule against it. Because I don't trust the judgement of all those other f@#$s so take the cooperative mutual suppression of the behavior as the best option.

The appropriate response to willfully ignoring a rule that I approve of for practical reasons is (all else being equal) to encourage the enforcement of said rule. (At the time and without prejudice. Not now or with personal enmity.)

IIRC you accused me of being TillNoonsome et al, which is false; the real person behind those accounts offered to reveal their identity to clear my name, but I declined, 'cuz at that point there wasn't really any need for it.

I don't recall the details but I'll believe you if you say I guessed the specifics incorrectly.

Also you might have noticed that I haven't engaged in any "insane trolling" for years now.

True, and at your worst you were never remotely as bad either in trollishness or in rule violation as many that are welcomed. There certainly should be a 'statute of limitations' on punishment for mostly-harmless multiple account use years ago. Especially given that a blind eye is turned on actually abusive cases.

There is no justifiable reason to ban me; the only reason Eliezer would do so is, of course, that he's a punk-ass bitch.

That's... entirely fair. I'd perhaps add 'socially oblivious and incompetent at practical rationality' in there too. It would not be smart, for the reasons Vladimir attempted to explain.

comment by Will_Newsome · 2014-07-10T05:42:22.637Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

The same reason there is a law against vigilante justice. In many individual cases it's probably ethically justified but I certainly support a general rule against it. Because I don't trust the judgement of all those other f@#$s so take the cooperative mutual suppression of the behavior as the best option.

This is a strong point and perhaps I was undervaluing it. But I wonder why 'not having sockpuppets' stands out as a rule that's so important to uphold and start talking about banning in the name of. It doesn't seem to have actually caused many problems on LessWrong, and in fact I suspect that not overly discouraging sockpuppets has had a net positive effect, as it has allowed some people to make interesting posts they otherwise wouldn't have. Of course it has also allowed for some boring people to be boring, so it's not an obvious question, but its not being obvious also means that talking about banning people for it is in my opinion pretty weird. But maybe you've seen sockpuppets become a severe problem on other fora or something? LessWrong is the only forum I have a decent understanding of, but I do think that after many years of painstaking engagement my understanding is rather decent.

comment by wedrifid · 2014-07-11T10:05:56.879Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

but its not being obvious also means that talking about banning people for it is in my opinion pretty weird.

Problem enough.

comment by ChristianKl · 2014-07-09T22:07:16.503Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

The same reason there is a law against vigilante justice. In many individual cases it's probably ethically justified but I certainly support a general rule against it.

I don't think we do have a well documented rule forbidding it to have multiple accounts.

I don't have any additional accounts, but in case I would wanted to post something on LW which I wouldn't wanted to have associated with my real life identity I wouldn't think it as rule breaking if I would open an account for that conversation.

comment by Nornagest · 2014-07-11T16:52:33.235Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I don't think we do have a well documented rule forbidding it to have multiple accounts.

I don't think we have well-documented rules, period. About the only explicit policy statements I can think of are the one forbidding advocation of violence and now the one interpreting block downvoting as harassment, and those were both posted as normal articles (and thus quickly buried). The FAQ talks about etiquette, but presents very few unequivocal guidelines.

There's a couple other actually-enforced norms I can think of, like "don't talk about the Thought-Experiment-That-Must-Not-Be-Named", but those are even less explicit.

comment by Tenoke · 2014-07-09T11:12:16.587Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

That said, Will's claim that he has not upvoted his own posts via sockpuppets is entirely believable.

Fwiw, I am more inclined to believe that he just linked the post to a couple of his friends and/or followers.

comment by Will_Newsome · 2014-07-09T12:39:23.995Z · score: 8 (8 votes) · LW · GW

I did, actually. They didn't like it.

comment by V_V · 2014-07-09T22:17:50.019Z · score: 7 (9 votes) · LW · GW

I have no idea who the hell upvoted that and wonder if they were fake accounts.

If you have doubts you can ask Trike Apps to check the database. Sockpuppets should be easy to spot.

The post contributes nothing to LW and seems like a no-brainer to ban before it happens again.

Ever heard of the Streisand effect? Of course you have, since that other incident, so you may want to consider updating.

comment by Eliezer Yudkowsky (Eliezer_Yudkowsky) · 2014-07-10T05:16:07.844Z · score: -2 (22 votes) · LW · GW

Anyone who reads Newsome because he was Streisanded deserves everything they get.

comment by Will_Newsome · 2014-07-10T09:14:29.709Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Fine, I must finally concede that my dreams are crushed. You're not an incredibly deceptive genius. You're just genuinely ridiculously prone to the most basic of human biases: defending yourself at any cost, including the cost of myopically self-imposed self-defeat. You needed better opponents, but you were too much of a pussy to even look for them.

comment by Will_Newsome · 2014-07-08T23:54:15.751Z · score: 7 (13 votes) · LW · GW

I've never upvoted my own posts with sockpuppets. In fact I barely vote at all. Of course I can't be sure someone else didn't use their own sockpuppets to upvote my post multiple times.

comment by Jayson_Virissimo · 2014-07-09T02:07:51.005Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Would it have been ban-worthy had it been in an Open Thread?

comment by ChristianKl · 2014-07-09T11:38:43.893Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

It is super obvious that filling up Discussion with such posts would not be good for LW, I have no idea who the hell upvoted that and wonder if they were fake accounts.

If concern about fake accounts voting is an issue, fake accounts are generally low karma, write a SQL query that gives you the information to know whether most of the votes came from low karma accounts.

comment by Gurkenglas · 2014-07-12T21:20:20.885Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

It is possible that some vote in faith that their votes stay secret. Revealing information about past votes should therefore be considered carefully. At the very least, state publically that the set of all future votes may be queried by the admins; the admins might also want to make public any queries/algorithms they want to run a while before they do, to see if the public rages.

comment by philh · 2014-07-09T07:59:45.646Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I don't know who unbanned this post

Do you mean the original, or did this post also get banned and unbanned?

comment by CronoDAS · 2014-07-08T03:26:45.464Z · score: 6 (10 votes) · LW · GW

I don't get it.

(Is this an attempt at parodying and/or mocking HPMOR?)

comment by Will_Newsome · 2014-07-08T03:31:03.108Z · score: 5 (13 votes) · LW · GW

It's the first chapter of an attempt to explicate the skills and virtues of postrationality. It also serves as parody but I'm not poking fun just for the sake of poking. I'm trying to halfway-communicate real ideas via adianoeta. Also I'm trying to learn how to write fiction, 'cuz I suck, as is apparent.

comment by TheAncientGeek · 2014-07-08T11:22:10.324Z · score: 18 (22 votes) · LW · GW

Maybe you could communicate better by being less tricksy , not more.

comment by Will_Newsome · 2014-07-11T15:31:20.319Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Sigh. As you wish.

comment by Will_Newsome · 2014-07-08T12:50:57.456Z · score: -1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Perhaps it depends on the meaning of "communicate better". I don't want to communicate to ignorant or intellectually lazy people, i.e. most people. They're worthless and I don't want them parroting me. I abhor ideologues. But I'm sure I could improve at reaching people who aren't worthless, while still remaining sufficiently inaccessible to hoi polloi. I just haven't gotten precise advice on how to do that yet. It seems to require a lot of cleverness and very careful crafting. Maybe I have to resign myself to only writing precisely crafted sentences here and there, and give up on anything longer than a paragraph, for now at least. Sigh.

comment by MrMind · 2014-07-08T13:01:06.693Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

In this method, are worthy people suppose to work to get some sense in what you say? Or they are supposed to get it instantly? Because in the first case, I'm not clear what are the incentives.

comment by Kawoomba · 2014-07-08T13:49:34.372Z · score: -1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Solving riddles isn't its own incentive?

comment by MrMind · 2014-07-08T14:03:51.356Z · score: 5 (7 votes) · LW · GW

When you know for a fact that they are riddles, yes, for some. But to me until now Will failed to clearly show that.
Those who mistake noise for riddles are quite accurately termed schizophrenic.

comment by [deleted] · 2014-07-08T06:20:59.402Z · score: 8 (8 votes) · LW · GW

What's postrationality, what are it's skills, and what is the difference between those skills and the skills of rationality?

comment by Will_Newsome · 2014-07-08T06:32:40.799Z · score: 0 (18 votes) · LW · GW

I was gonna go into that in Chapter Two: Analyzing the Fuck out of an Owl. But I guess I won't, since my stupid fanfic idea seems to be attracting more drama and pettiness than could possibly be justified by the content. Alas, it seems postrationality is just too meta for this base basement world.

comment by [deleted] · 2014-07-08T07:26:36.991Z · score: 14 (14 votes) · LW · GW

Not creating drama seems to be antithetical to creating popular literature :).

comment by Will_Newsome · 2014-07-08T07:35:27.370Z · score: 6 (8 votes) · LW · GW

Lol. Wow. It may seem absurd but that was the first LessWrong comment I've read in like a year that caused me to actually have a new idea. Thank you.

comment by mwengler · 2014-07-08T10:50:17.204Z · score: 11 (13 votes) · LW · GW

I was gonna go into that in Chapter Two: Analyzing the Fuck out of an Owl. But I guess I won't, since my stupid fanfic idea seems to be attracting more drama and pettiness than could possibly be justified by the content.

I'd prefer you not give up so easily.

The drama was created by whoever arbitrarily eliminated the original post. You don't get to censor something secretly, and then allow a repost but then claim the drama around the censorship is really just drama created by the original post and then use that drama to justify the censorship.

At least not if you are still paying lip service to rationality.

comment by DanielLC · 2014-07-08T08:00:06.536Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

You can just tell us without involving fanfiction.

comment by Will_Newsome · 2014-07-08T08:05:15.035Z · score: 9 (21 votes) · LW · GW

Explaining things without targeted obfuscation? ...Do you know who I am?

comment by CronoDAS · 2014-07-08T09:01:42.565Z · score: 19 (29 votes) · LW · GW

Do you know who I am?

I can't help myself...

It was the final examination for an introductory English course at the local university. Like many such freshman courses, it was designed to weed out new students, having over 700 students in the class!

The examination was two hours long, and exam booklets were provided.

The professor was very strict and told the class that any exam that was not on his desk in exactly two hours would not be accepted and the student would fail. Half an hour into the exam, a student came rushing in and asked the professor for an exam booklet.

"You're not going to have time to finish this," the professor stated sarcastically as he handed the student a booklet.

"Yes I will," replied the student. She then took a seat and began writing. After two hours, the professor called for the exams, and the students filed up and handed them in, all except the late student, who continued writing.

Half an hour later, the last student came up to the professor who was sitting at his desk preparing for his next class. She attempted to put his exam on the stack of exam booklets already there.

"No you don't, I'm not going to accept that. It's late."

The student looked incredulous and angry.

"Do you know WHO I am?"

"No, as a matter of fact I don't," replied the professor with an air of sarcasm in his voice.

"DO YOU KNOW WHO I AM?" the student asked again.

"No, and I don't care." replied the professor with an air of superiority.

"Good," replied the student, who quickly lifted the stack of completed exams, stuffed her exam in the middle, and walked out of the room.

comment by Jiro · 2014-07-08T15:15:50.835Z · score: -12 (16 votes) · LW · GW

This is the Nth time, for some high value of N, that I've seen this joke presented in a context which implies that it is funny because the protagonist was clever. The protagonist was not clever. "Do you know what I am" in contexts other than grading exams means "do you know what significance I have", not "do you associate my name with my person". You can, of course, laugh at the joke because of the stupidity of the protagonist, or because of incongruity between definitions or whatever, but I sense that this is not how the joke is typically presented.

comment by CronoDAS · 2014-07-09T00:58:22.490Z · score: 5 (7 votes) · LW · GW

The funny part is how the threat turned out to have an entirely different meaning.

comment by TheAncientGeek · 2014-07-08T11:23:12.941Z · score: 13 (17 votes) · LW · GW

Someone who seems to have something interesting to say, but is unable to say it.

comment by [deleted] · 2014-07-08T19:20:04.113Z · score: 6 (10 votes) · LW · GW

Smoke dat moose! Git dem maggots! Smoke dat moose! Analyze dat owl!

[a note for them what don't get it, as our democracy demands: I am referencing someone else who wrote allegedly impenetrable and seemingly drug-fueled masses of insight in order to incentivize the creation of more things that might fit that model, and hoping to create a meta-norm that's more conducive to stylistic experimentation, for reasons which will probably not be obvious to anyone here so go try to understand continental philosophy or something. Except you don't even need to do that since the relevant ideas are already contained to some nonzero extent in the rationalist corpus! PS most of y'all lose a not-Quirrell not-point for not seeing that certain relevant issues have been discussed here before.]

comment by Tenoke · 2014-07-08T09:34:03.759Z · score: 2 (6 votes) · LW · GW

But I guess I won't, since my stupid fanfic idea seems to be attracting more drama and pettiness than could possibly be justified by the content

Uhm, there isn't that much drama. Are you telling me you actually expected even less drama when you decided to post a short drunken-rambling-turned-fanfiction as a criticism of rationality/EY/HPMOR (if that is what it is, I am not sure), and then re-post it at the same place upon deletion?

I can only assume that you are pretending to be badly calibrated here.

comment by mwengler · 2014-07-08T10:52:48.703Z · score: 1 (9 votes) · LW · GW

I can only assume that you are pretending to be badly calibrated here.

The drama of being summarily deleted should not be underestimated. Censorship, orthodoxy, these are major themes of prerationality that I honestly thought had been decided against rather definitively in modern rationality. But lesswrong has reopened the question many times, including when it summarily deleted the original of this post.

comment by Tenoke · 2014-07-08T09:28:30.727Z · score: 4 (14 votes) · LW · GW

It's the first chapter of an attempt to explicate the skills and virtues of postrationality

I admit, I never got a clear idea of what postrationality is about except that it is somewhat less rigorous and more into mysticism (?), but are you suggesting that your movement is about writing lame parodies with a few clever jokes in them in order to criticize what you dislike (or maybe what you like - it isn't very clear)?

I swear, this movement becomes weirder and weirder with every mention.

comment by Will_Newsome · 2014-07-08T09:52:16.223Z · score: 10 (18 votes) · LW · GW

are you suggesting that your movement is about writing lame parodies with a few clever jokes in them in order to criticize what you dislike

Yes, Tenoke. That is a completely fair and accurate summary of my "movement".

comment by Luke_A_Somers · 2014-07-08T13:16:22.594Z · score: 7 (11 votes) · LW · GW

Since that's all you've given us to work with, I can only see this as taunting us with yet another hint that something is behind the curtain.

This isn't Let's Make a Deal. Just open the freaking curtain.

comment by [deleted] · 2014-07-08T19:33:47.922Z · score: 7 (9 votes) · LW · GW

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comment by Luke_A_Somers · 2014-07-08T19:43:04.414Z · score: 5 (7 votes) · LW · GW

Not applicable to the current situation. For one thing, EY emphasized that this was not for now when we need maximum efficiency to survive (so that puts off applying it for the foreseeable portion of the future), and for another, it was as marketing to the people who wouldn't be interested otherwise.

And on top of that, I don't even agree with it.

comment by [deleted] · 2014-07-08T20:25:25.258Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Sure it's relevant: it's a demonstration that just opening the curtain is not always the optimal solution. There's one reason why not; why couldn't there be others?

I don't know what the reasons are here for not opening the curtain, since I'm not the one who's deciding whether to. But I've had reasons not to before -- and some of the possibilities suggest that I shouldn't be trying to convince anyone to accept the style, so I won't say more than this here.

comment by Will_Newsome · 2014-07-08T13:25:37.043Z · score: -1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Okay fine. It turns out the one true God is actually just an ordinary fish, and all postrationality consists of properly devoting oneself to the fish. There, I spoiled the climax. I hope you're happy.

comment by mwengler · 2014-07-08T10:48:38.964Z · score: 1 (5 votes) · LW · GW

I swear, this movement becomes weirder and weirder with every mention.

But when the next sentence is "I think we should burn it," that is when it becomes relevant to a site devoted to the discovery and correction of human biases.

comment by fubarobfusco · 2014-07-13T21:49:40.843Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Next up: Harry attends a Wesleyan seminary and studies apologetics, in Harry Potter and the Rationalizations of Methodism.

comment by shminux · 2014-07-08T16:33:17.068Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Soo... Do we know who deleted the original post and why?

comment by Eliezer Yudkowsky (Eliezer_Yudkowsky) · 2014-07-08T23:34:15.640Z · score: 9 (13 votes) · LW · GW

Yo.

comment by CronoDAS · 2014-07-09T02:01:40.833Z · score: -10 (12 votes) · LW · GW

j0

Yao!

Yo

comment by drethelin · 2014-07-08T18:22:40.078Z · score: 3 (15 votes) · LW · GW

probably eugine nier

comment by shminux · 2014-07-08T18:41:06.819Z · score: 5 (19 votes) · LW · GW

Euginiezer Nierkowsky.

comment by Kawoomba · 2014-07-08T18:28:56.088Z · score: -3 (13 votes) · LW · GW

"E" for Emmanuel Goldstein!

comment by ChrisHallquist · 2014-07-08T16:01:43.098Z · score: 5 (7 votes) · LW · GW

I like the idea of this fanfic, it seems like it could have been executed much better.

EDIT: Try re-writing later? As the saying goes, "Write drunk; edit sober."

comment by Will_Newsome · 2014-07-09T00:53:45.021Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Try re-writing later? As the saying goes, "Write drunk; edit sober."

That's what I did, actually. Maybe I should write sober too. But that Kentucky bourbon was just so inspiring.

comment by mwengler · 2014-07-09T15:06:11.798Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

People who hate it cite your claim that you wrote it drunk as an issue.

People who liked it 1) don't care how it came into being 2) are impressed that alcohol has a different impact on you than on them 3) believe your claims to be drunk are exaggerated.

I personally believe all three.

comment by Will_Newsome · 2014-07-10T07:59:55.403Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Fun fact: for obvious reasons downing four shots actually improves my skill at blitz chess by a significant margin.

comment by MrMind · 2014-07-08T12:57:58.146Z · score: 5 (7 votes) · LW · GW

I'll admit that to an outsider who is not interested in HPMOR, the piece above looks even less intelligible than the famous Sokal paper.
Can someone who is acquainted with the fanfic tell me if this has some sense to them? Or is Newsome trying to create some literature so involved that looks like noise to everybody but him?

comment by XiXiDu · 2014-07-08T13:05:53.039Z · score: 4 (6 votes) · LW · GW

I'll admit that to an outsider who is not interested in HPMOR, the piece above looks even less intelligible than the famous Sokal paper.

The comment by Kawoomba on the original post (backup here) provided an interesting interpretation of what Will Newsome tried to communicate.

comment by Alejandro1 · 2014-07-08T15:31:21.605Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

The mention of the Sokal paper reminds me that Derrida (who is frequently associated with the po-mo authors parodied by Sokal, although IIRC he was not targeted directly) was basically a troll, making fun of conventional academic philosophy in a similar way than Will makes fun of conventional LW thought. I wonder if Will has read Derrida…?

comment by [deleted] · 2014-07-08T18:40:29.629Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Yes, actually, Derrida was initially targeted by Sokal. His response in Le Monde is worth reading:

As to my modest “case,” since you make a point of mentioning that I was “much less badly treated” than some others, this is even more ridiculous, not to say weird. In the United States, at the beginning of the imposture, after Sokal had sent his hoax article to Social Text, I was initially one of the favorite targets, particularly in the newspapers (there’s a lot I could say about this). Because they had to do their utmost, at any cost, on the spot, to discredit what is considered the exorbitant and cumbersome “credit” of a foreign professor. And the entire operation was based on the few words of an off-the-cuff response in a conference that took place more than thirty years ago (in 1966!), and in which I was picking up the terms of a question that had been asked by Jean Hyppolite. Nothing else, absolutely nothing! And what is more, my response was not easy to attack.

(If I may be uncharitable for a moment, this bears more than a little resemblance to some but not all contemporary criticism of MIRI/LW using quotes from <= 2009.)

As you can read later, the Sokal group dialed back their criticism of Derrida, to the point of pretending they had never said anything in the first place.

(I know this situation quite well, as you might imagine. The remark was later published in a certain book with an interesting title.)

comment by solipsist · 2014-07-08T03:41:48.599Z · score: 4 (16 votes) · LW · GW

I really like HPMOR. I joined LessWrong just to discuss HPMOR.

I thought the post lent LessWrong the appearance of a self-absorbed, naval-gazing, hero-worshiping clique. Appearances are important. LessWrong is vulnerable to this image. I was glad to see the post go.

I'll emphasize that the post did not negatively affect my opinion of you. The post would have been fine in the right context. But the impression that this community squees over drunkenly written fanfics of a fanfic because they mention the right memes is bad, and bad in a way I think many people here have a bind spot for.

comment by CellBioGuy · 2014-07-08T17:54:09.877Z · score: 7 (9 votes) · LW · GW

I thought the post lent LessWrong the appearance of a self-absorbed, naval-gazing, hero-worshiping click.

You'd need to get rid of a lot more than that post to get rid of that appearance.

comment by mwengler · 2014-07-08T10:36:56.205Z · score: 6 (10 votes) · LW · GW

I thought the post lent LessWrong the appearance of a self-absorbed, naval-gazing, hero-worshiping click. Appearances are important. LessWrong is vulnerable to this image. I was glad to see the post go.

Out of curiosity, how do you think arbitrary destruction of posts and their comment threads affects the image of lesswrong? And do you think there are any realities that need to be considered as even more important than image?

comment by ThisSpaceAvailable · 2014-07-08T20:52:54.976Z · score: 1 (5 votes) · LW · GW

It's spelled "clique".

comment by Luke_A_Somers · 2014-07-09T15:31:31.688Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I would prefer that things like this be handled by PM.

comment by mwengler · 2014-07-08T10:34:57.914Z · score: 1 (11 votes) · LW · GW

I thought the post lent LessWrong the appearance of a self-absorbed, naval-gazing, hero-worshiping clique. Appearances are important. LessWrong is vulnerable to this image. I was glad to see the post go.

I thought the post lent LessWrong the appearance of a site where a lively and open discussion could take place, where the "authorities" did not jealously guard their images and respectability. I was always impressed by rationalists such as Feynman who was known to his colleagues, students and faculty alike, as "Dick" because the respect one had for Feynman came from what he had to say, not who he was. Here is a picture of the wall at one of the Caltech student houses. This is an example of how non-cultists worship their heroes.

comment by khafra · 2014-07-09T11:02:08.998Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Here is a picture of the wall at one of the Caltech student houses. This is an example of how non-cultists worship their heroes.

Countersignaling like that only works when enough of the people you care to signal to are in on the joke.

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2014-07-08T20:37:59.284Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Did you intentionally add a misspelling to the quote?

comment by mwengler · 2014-07-08T22:45:41.669Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

What misspelling???

I'm sorry, I'm kidding! In fact, I had put the quote in by cut and paste, I would imagine solipsist must have come back later and fixed his click to a clique. I just edited my post to fix my click to a clique as well, to see whether editing a post updates the time stamp on it. It does not.

comment by gwern · 2014-07-09T01:08:46.771Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Editing a post is marked by an asterisk after the original-time.

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2014-07-09T01:55:31.835Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

My apologies. That's an entirely plausible explanation which didn't occur to me.

comment by solipsist · 2014-07-09T19:09:41.255Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Rule of thumb: if a paragraph contains more than twenty consecutive correctly spelt words, I did not write it.

comment by Will_Newsome · 2014-07-08T03:58:42.777Z · score: -1 (5 votes) · LW · GW

I really like HPMOR too. I joined the Singularity Institute just to discuss ideas like those found in HPMOR. That's why I don't want people like you making comments like the above. Because that sort of self-absorbed naval-gazing defensiveness is more toxic than any lighthearted parody I can spew. You must thoroughly research this.

comment by solipsist · 2014-07-08T04:45:56.825Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

That's why I don't want people like you making comments like the above.

Could you elaborate? Is it you don't want making like the above? Or you don't want making like the above?

comment by Will_Newsome · 2014-07-08T04:53:10.898Z · score: 34 (40 votes) · LW · GW

Sorry for being unclear. I meant that any subculture that is allergic to parody of itself is just inviting less fair and less jocular criticism. Eliezer has already greatly damaged LessWrong's reputation by making it seem cultish. Making comments about how people are sensitive to appearances of cultishness and thus it's good for parody of that alleged cultishness to be banned, is just sowing the wind. I think that there are many interesting and independent intellectuals on LessWrong and I don't want them to be tarred as discreditable cultists. And that's why I would like it to be known that LessWrong is capable of self-parody and isn't going to pathetically grasp at credibility it never had in the first place.

comment by Viliam_Bur · 2014-07-08T08:29:00.194Z · score: 30 (32 votes) · LW · GW

If someone wants to describe LW as cultish, they can take any parody of itself and present it as further evidence for their claims.

I think something like this has already happened with the Chuck-Norris-like list of Yudkowsky facts; the "Bayesian conspirator" illustration of the beisutsukai stories; and the redacted lecture screenshot that displayed "Eliezer Yudkowsky" on the right end of the intelligence scale. -- Instead of "they are cool people who can make fun" they can be spinned into "this is what those people seriously believe / this is how much they are obsessed with themselves... they must be truly insane". See RationalWiki:

That Eliezer Yudkowsky Facts page is the most disturbing thing I have read in my life. I don't need a shower, I need the outer layer of my skin peeled off. (...) It is fanboyism at a disturbing level. (...) he is hosting this shit on his website that disturbs me

On the other hand, if someone wants to describe LW as cultish, they could also use lack of parodies, or whatever else as an evidence. Once you are charged with being a witch, there is not much you could successfully say in your defense.

So at the end, perhaps we should ignore all such considerations (which, by the way, is what most non-cults do) and simply upvote or downvote things only by their own merit. Also, any attempts for this kind of PR automatically destroys themselves if it is easy to provide a link to the discussion about the PR. (And LW being LW, such discussion will almost certainly happen.)

comment by Will_Newsome · 2014-07-08T10:08:22.106Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I like how your critique is strong but no one is upvoting your comment because it can't be used to support any of their petty policy narratives. I'll upvote it, anyway. ETA: Welp, people are upvoting it now, sweet. Retracting this comment.

comment by steven0461 · 2014-07-08T10:43:52.194Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I'd still be happy to remove the EY facts post, although I've been hesitant to do so because it would affect many other people's comments and hiding things might itself be construed as sinister. (I guess your point is that it doesn't matter, but I thought I'd mention it.)

comment by Nornagest · 2014-07-08T17:03:28.681Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Removing it at this point would be counterproductive. The problem is not that this is a community that can generate halfway-tongue-in-cheek hero worship from time to time: I've seen that in literally every community I've been part of, from both sides, and it's relatively harmless. The problem is that it's perceived as taking that hero-worship too seriously, and deleting the post over PR concerns would only reinforce that impression.

comment by Viliam_Bur · 2014-07-08T13:43:17.971Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I liked that post. Okay, maybe not all the "facts" are equally funny, but that's how creativity works.

Also:

If there's an aspect of the whole thing that annoys me, it's that it's hard to get that innocence back, once you even start thinking about whether you're independent of someone. (...) the cached thought had been planted in my mind from reading other people arguing over whether or not (...) was a "cult"

comment by buybuydandavis · 2014-07-08T05:15:21.582Z · score: 8 (14 votes) · LW · GW

We are not a phyg! We are not a phyg! We are not a phyg!

comment by solipsist · 2014-07-08T06:05:01.756Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Oh, OK. Then I did not clearly communicate.

I'm not worried about a clutish appearance -- I'm worried about a self-absorbed appearance. People who-have-heard-of-but-are-not-really-into LessWrong, in my conversations with them, have dismissed the site as an echo-chamber of inside references. That's what I'm worried about, and a self-parody story about Eliezer-Yudkowsky's fictional creation interacting with him does not help mitigate that impression. I'm not saying it could never be done, but it has to be really good to outweigh the costs.

comment by [deleted] · 2014-07-08T07:35:39.651Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

People who-have-heard-of-but-are-not-really-into LessWrong, in my conversations with them, have dismissed the site as an echo-chamber of inside references.

In my experience, this is one of the most common patterns of dismissal out there. It's also one of the easiest to dismiss: every intellectual movement will contain communications among insiders, and those communications will use terms that outsiders won't be familiar with.

"Wow, you mean people write for their audience? What a surprise!"

Or: "Every field has inside references." And then list examples from whichever mathematical or scientific field you're most familiar with.

Now, whether or not this is a desirable pattern to fall into is another issue entirely.

comment by MathiasZaman · 2014-07-08T10:42:40.606Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

People who-have-heard-of-but-are-not-really-into LessWrong, in my conversations with them, have dismissed the site as an echo-chamber of inside references.

From my anecdotal evidence, it seems that this impression goes away after "real life" interactions with Less Wrongers. There seems to be a (perceived?) discrepancy between the lesswrong.com community and the aspiring rationalist community attached to the site.

comment by mwengler · 2014-07-08T10:42:46.005Z · score: 0 (10 votes) · LW · GW

I'm not worried about a clutish appearance -- I'm worried about a self-absorbed appearance.

What could possibly appear more self-absorbed than censoring without comment, recourse, or discussion, for the purpose of promoting a certain image?

Or do you possibly take seriously the idea that you can censor your way to an excellent reputation among those who love the truth?

comment by solipsist · 2014-07-08T13:26:06.029Z · score: 0 (4 votes) · LW · GW

What could possibly appear more self-absorbed than censoring without comment, recourse, or discussion, for the purpose of promoting a certain image?

I'm not convinced this is a serious question. If you spent 2 minutes writing down ways to appear self-absorbed, do you honestly think you would not come up with a better plan? If your answer is "no", then we need to move way back to find common ground.

The mission of the LessWrong discussion board is not to collect pictures of funny cats. Deleting pictures of funny cats does not stifle dissent. Deleting pictures of funny cats does not obstruct the search for the Truth. Deleting pictures of funny cats does not make you look self-absorbed, even if you do so explicitly to cultivate a better image.

comment by mwengler · 2014-07-08T17:13:33.281Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

I guess it comes down to a question: was the original post deleted without comment because it was just another "funny cat" posting, or was it deleted without comment because it parodied a funny cat who is taken gigantically seriously around here.

I do know that at the time it was deleted it had fairly positive karma. I do know that on its face it did not appear to be a funny cat post, that is, it referred to a lot of the same things that acceptable posts refer to as opposed to being completely unrelated to the kinds of things the site is intended to discuss.

I honestly don't have any idea who or how or why it was deleted. At least for me, that is part of the problem.

comment by Will_Newsome · 2014-07-08T06:14:24.613Z · score: -1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

You said "hero-worshipping", but okay, I retracted the comment. Also, very clever how you made it seem like you accidentally mis-typed "cultish".

comment by MathiasZaman · 2014-07-08T10:39:06.526Z · score: 4 (6 votes) · LW · GW

I'm not a respected member of the community, but I personally see no problems with parody and criticism. I've read criticism on Less Wrong and HPMOR and I've had no problems with those (although I did have disagreements, of course).

It's just that this particular piece of parody isn't particularly good. It feels like someone critiquing "The Dark Knight Rises" for being about a guy dressed up as a bat. Sure, the movie is about that, but it's not really the core problem with that movie.

comment by Will_Newsome · 2014-07-08T10:45:09.949Z · score: 16 (16 votes) · LW · GW

I know it's not good parody. I know I'm a bad writer. That's why people should downvote it. It's only the deleting it despite its being upvoted part that I object to.

comment by Tenoke · 2014-07-08T12:14:21.354Z · score: 4 (18 votes) · LW · GW

It is bad enough to border spam quality, especially if you just skim it. The person who took it down probably looked at it, saw that it is mostly nonsense with negative connotations (and written by someone who was inebriated at the time) and took it down. Do you seriously think that if you had instead written a normal criticizing post, which isn't vague as hell, that post would've been deleted, too?

comment by ChristianKl · 2014-07-08T13:11:42.561Z · score: 9 (9 votes) · LW · GW

Nobody should consider a post that sits at +7 as spam. The voting shows that enough people valued the post to keep it.

comment by Tenoke · 2014-07-08T15:05:33.721Z · score: -1 (5 votes) · LW · GW

'It is bad enough to border spam quality' does not mean 'It is spam'. I am only talking about the quality of the content.

comment by mwengler · 2014-07-08T13:07:40.392Z · score: 2 (6 votes) · LW · GW

It is bad enough to border spam quality, especially if you just skim it.

1) "bad enough... especially if you just skim it." So moderation is IMPROVED if the articles deleted are just skimmed. A more careful or thoughtful reading might raise questions and we certainly don't want that on a site like this. Or do we?

2) The post had +7 karma. Where were the downvotes for this horrible post? And why do so many posts with massive downvote levels survive on the site, while this one with positive votes is deleted? Are you that dismissive of the other readers of this site that you support someone just skimming an article and deleting regardless of karma?

Do you seriously think that if you had instead written a normal criticizing post, which isn't vague as hell, that post would've been deleted, too?

Probably not. Just downvoted. SO the lesson is you may criticize our ox but only if you are polite and do not gore it? What kind of human bias is that intended to avoid?

comment by Tenoke · 2014-07-08T15:03:10.495Z · score: -1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

So moderation is IMPROVED if the articles deleted are just skimmed.

Where do I say this? I can see situations where this will be the case (if the workload is massive), but I am not claiming anything like that.

A more careful or thoughtful reading might raise questions and we certainly don't want that on a site like this. Or do we?

eye rolling

2) The post had +7 karma. Where were the downvotes for this horrible post?

7 Karma is not a lot, so it probably hasn't been a factor in the deletion. In fact, I suspect that the post wouldn't have been deleted if it had a lot of karma (not that I necessarily agree with that).

And why do so many posts with massive downvote levels survive on the site, while this one with positive votes is deleted?

Because posts aren't deleted based on Karma.

Probably not. Just downvoted.

As dowvoted as this criticism of EA with 59 karma on Main, or as downvoted as this thorough criticism of MIRI(http://lesswrong.com/lw/cbs/thoughts_on_the_singularity_institute_si/), which is the most upvoted post on the site ever (249 Karma on Main)?

SO the lesson is you may criticize our ox but only if you are polite and do not gore it? What kind of human bias is that intended to avoid?

Nope, the problem here isn't politeness and I never claimed that.

comment by Will_Newsome · 2014-07-08T12:20:25.576Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

/shrugs. I know I'm biased and all but I didn't think it was that terrible. I spent like two hours editing it before posting. People sure are being mean about it though, so idk. I guess maybe I'll give up on trying to improve my fiction writing skill for now... Maybe it's a 'you have it or you don't' thing.

comment by Tenoke · 2014-07-08T15:11:55.014Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

If it makes you feel any better, Eliezer's April 1st fiction post wasn't accepted well, and was deleted in the end as well.

At any rate, you had some clever things in there, but it was mostly too vague and random to convey your point much further than telling us that you have some sort of a criticism.

Maybe it's a 'you have it or you don't' thing.

I do not believe this to be the case, based on having seen some people's improvements over time, but I have not researched this.

comment by Desrtopa · 2014-07-08T12:58:28.116Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Well, there are definitely a lot of people who're bad enough that I'd write off the idea of trying to give them advice as hopeless. But I'd suggest that posting bits of fiction directly to Less Wrong's discussion board isn't a very good place to look for that sort of advice in the first place.

comment by philh · 2014-07-08T17:06:01.736Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

It's only the deleting it despite its being upvoted part that I object to.

I'm actually more comfortable with it being deleted despite the upvotes, than if it had been downvoted and deleted. Deleting bad content that's getting downvoted anyway feels like censorship. Deleting bad content that gets upvoted might just be gardening. Hacker News doesn't shy away from doing this, for example.

comment by Nornagest · 2014-07-08T17:08:54.286Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

What distinction do you draw between "censorship" and "gardening"?

comment by philh · 2014-07-09T07:41:51.996Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Removing it for sinister reasons, versus removing it for the mundane reason of "this content is bad and we don't want bad content to be prominent".

comment by Nornagest · 2014-07-09T21:16:33.381Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Huh. I'd think that content that was bad in the community's eyes (i.e. heavily downvoted) would be more likely to be bad by whatever set of presumptively objective standards the mods should be working from. Or is that automatically sinister?

comment by philh · 2014-07-10T12:32:33.491Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I mean that downvoted content is already not-prominent. You don't need to remove it; the signal has already been sent that we don't want this kind of thing here.

If there's stuff that we don't want, but that gets upvoted, then the signal still needs to be sent, and one way (not the only way) to send it is to remove the stuff in question.

Two points where we may differ, but I probably don't care enough to argue them:

  • It seems obvious to me that, at least in theory, stuff can get upvoted that we don't want here, for reasonable values of "we don't want". Do you disagree with this? (And in practice, I think this particular post is an instance of such stuff.)

  • I don't necessarily think mods should be working from objective standards.

comment by Nornagest · 2014-07-10T16:56:51.584Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I've said this elsewhere, but I rather suspect that downvoting stuff doesn't decrease its visibility much. I haven't actually applied a regression to the data (though now that I think of it, that'd be an interesting problem), but eyeballing vote totals on my replies heavily downvoted vs. comparably upvoted posts at the same level of the comment tree, I don't see much difference. That implies that about as many readers are expanding the tree as would follow it normally.

It seems obvious to me that, at least in theory, stuff can get upvoted that we don't want here, for reasonable values of "we don't want". Do you disagree with this? (And in practice, I think this particular post is an instance of such stuff.)

Not in principle, but the main class of stuff that would get upvoted but which the community wouldn't reflectively want around is stuff that exploits some kind of short-term bias. Flattery, tribal politics, that sort of thing. I don't see a good case for putting this post into that category.

A flat up/down voting system is insensitive to degrees of dislike, too, and if the response to a post is highly uneven -- lots of lukewarm positive responses and a few very extreme negative ones, say -- then dropping it might be good for the forum despite positive karma. There might be a stronger case for saying this is such a post (though they should generally be rare), but on the other hand this line of reasoning leads to some nasty strategic effects downstream; I think we ought to be extremely cautious about using it as justification for removal.

comment by Lumifer · 2014-07-10T17:00:09.733Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I rather suspect that downvoting stuff doesn't decrease its visibility much.

Huh? Once the post drops below -4 net, it becomes really hard to see it and costly (5 karma) to reply to it. There is a clear threshold effect.

comment by Nornagest · 2014-07-10T17:05:47.694Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I'm aware of that. And indeed we don't get the massive dogpiles on bad ideas that we used to, or I'd expect downvoting to increase their visibility. But the argument from vote totals still seems to apply.

Probably applies better to downvoted comments than to top-level posts, though. It's much easier to expand a collapsed comment thread than to notice the presence of a post that's been voted off the sidebars, and while curiosity might be a motive for the former I don't think it's sufficient for the latter.

comment by Lumifer · 2014-07-10T17:16:05.636Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

But the argument from vote totals still seems to apply

I am not sure -- you have an unobservable characteristic of a post, let's call it propensity to elicit replies. It is likely to be correlated with how controversial the post is. A controversial post is likely to get both many replies and many downvotes (as well as many upvotes). On the other hand a milquetoast post will get neither replies nor downvotes.

comment by mwengler · 2014-07-08T12:59:22.586Z · score: 2 (6 votes) · LW · GW

It's just that this particular piece of parody isn't particularly good.

Yes. Although we will allow comments that don't gore any of our oxes but aren't particularly good to stand, perhaps with negative karma to label them, the one thing we insist upon when our faith is challenged is that at least the parody must be good, or else it should just be eliminated.

In this way we insure we are not a cult. Amen.

comment by MathiasZaman · 2014-07-08T16:13:18.067Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I do not agree with the deletion of the post. I believe that the karma system should be sufficient moderation for most content. The fact that the post ended up having positive karma is baffling to me, but a poor-quality post at positive karma does not indicate that anything should be deleted. I don't know what the people deleting the post were thinking.

comment by FeepingCreature · 2014-07-08T06:02:42.530Z · score: 4 (6 votes) · LW · GW

How about subcultures that are allergic to bad content?

I just really don't see the value of keeping this post up other than as some sort of "look at how not censorshippy we are" signalling statement that was explicitly argued against on here. ("You have the downvote." Well I'm gonna use it.)

comment by Will_Newsome · 2014-07-08T06:12:50.094Z · score: 10 (10 votes) · LW · GW

How about subcultures that are allergic to bad content?

Those who are allergic to bad content would never wind up here. I would imagine they killed themselves long ago. Life is an endless procession of bad content.

comment by mwengler · 2014-07-08T10:46:13.992Z · score: 4 (6 votes) · LW · GW

How about subcultures that are allergic to bad content?

And who judges the badness of content? How many posts have been left to stand with their large negative karma as their badge of disapproval? And yet this post was obliterated from the website while carrying largish positive karma.

Is there possibly any value to a subculture being allergic to arbitrary censorship for reasons which can only be speculated upon, while pretending to be a moderately fair forum for those interested in avoiding human biases? What could be more promotional of human biases than giving some human the right to remove posts he doesn't like without needing to explain himself publicly?

comment by Will_Newsome · 2014-07-08T06:18:53.725Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Might you explain why it's bad? I agree that it's bad, but I wonder if you think it's bad for the same reasons I do. I'm trying to improve as a writer.

comment by Tenoke · 2014-07-08T09:40:07.065Z · score: 1 (5 votes) · LW · GW

.I meant that any subculture that is allergic to parody of itself is just inviting less fair and less jocular criticism

FWIW, LessWrong is definitely capable of calm self-parody, especially when the authors of the parody are not explicitly trying to stir up drama, so there isn't much need for fanfic-based perofrmance art. One example of that is Shit Rationalists say

comment by Will_Newsome · 2014-07-08T09:44:16.685Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

It shouldn't even be possible to stir up drama this way. Anyone who can be trolled that easily will certainly be sent to the outer darkness, where they'll get to gnash their teeth as much as they want. I wasn't even trying to troll. Imagine if I had!

comment by mwengler · 2014-07-08T10:39:41.906Z · score: -4 (10 votes) · LW · GW

Blessed are the blessed self-parodies, for they shall survive the heavy hand of a vengeful and humorless demi-god with his own website.

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2014-07-11T15:25:16.217Z · score: 3 (7 votes) · LW · GW

Eliezer's comment is at -2 (40% positive) and Will's is at 2 (75% positive)-- evidence that LW is not a cult.

comment by Will_Newsome · 2014-07-11T15:43:33.086Z · score: 4 (8 votes) · LW · GW

Out of my last hundred or so comments only one currently sits at a karma score below zero (it's at -1 and I retracted it). Considering how many of my comments are (sometimes harshly) critical of LessWrong I think it is quite clear that LW is capable of accepting and reinforcing reasonable criticism.

Actually, I had to give up 5 karma to comment on this thread because Eliezer's comment has incurred the so-called troll toll. Hell, I'll upvote Eliezer just so your comment isn't needlessly hidden.

comment by [deleted] · 2014-07-08T13:31:17.778Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW · GW

"LW needed better critics."

comment by Will_Newsome · 2014-07-08T13:40:52.482Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

For what it's worth my fanfic was gonna draw a lot of inspiration from Worm and Pact. Wildbow at least explicitly puts forth metaphysics to partially explain the narrative causality. Maybe Eliezer will get around to it too when the mechanics of Prophecy are explained. His Finale of the Ultimate Meta Mega Crossover is great in that regard.

comment by Gvaerg · 2014-07-09T10:05:00.886Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Wildbow at least explicitly puts forth metaphysics to partially explain the narrative causality.

And that was the final piece of the puzzle in getting me to read Worm. Off I go!

comment by Will_Newsome · 2014-07-08T10:25:02.887Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW · GW

a discussion post with (at least) 7 upvotes and (at least) 5 comments

It had 17 comments upon deletion. I was actually pretty disappointed because I enjoyed the comments on it and now I can't see them.

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2014-07-08T14:35:47.658Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

screenshot of comments

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2014-07-08T14:30:29.535Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

The 17 comments were visible a day or so ago-- after it had been moved to main. They're gone/blocked now.

comment by RichardKennaway · 2014-07-08T13:31:48.899Z · score: 2 (6 votes) · LW · GW

What is more cultish than secret "rules" against heresy?

Just about anything.

comment by Furcas · 2014-07-08T03:04:44.891Z · score: 1 (9 votes) · LW · GW

That was pretty good. Upvoted.

comment by pewpewlasergun · 2014-07-08T04:12:42.375Z · score: 0 (4 votes) · LW · GW

the divers models of Harry Potter-Yudkowsky gathered dust

Divers has gradually been replaced by diverse, in fact this is the first time I've seen it in a text written after 1900. Unless you are going for an 'archaic' feel in your work, I'd suggest limiting your use of homonyms like this.

comment by Will_Newsome · 2014-07-08T04:14:06.189Z · score: 10 (10 votes) · LW · GW

It has a different meaning. It implies "sundry", with connotations of "diverse". (Also, that's not quite what "homonym" means.) I'm okay with some archaism if I get some precision thereby. If that gets lost on the audience then that audience isn't the one I'm most trying to speak to. But I appreciate the critique!

comment by Will_Newsome · 2014-07-08T03:36:23.408Z · score: -1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Hey, I realize my writing sucks. If you want to delete this post for that reason then do so and say so, even though this was at +7 when it was deleted the first time.

Eliezer, you can censor what I put on LessWrong, but you can't censor what I say to journalists who want a juicy target, and I've been in your social circles for many years now. Consider that carefully. If you deleted my post then lay off the cult leader habits a bit, and if you didn't, then call off your pathetic guard dogs. Thanks! <3