↑ comment by More_Right ·
2014-04-24T05:31:01.021Z · LW(p) · GW(p)
No web discussion forum I know of has filtering capabilities even in the ball park of Usenet, which was available in the 80s. Pitiful.
I strongly share your opinion on this. LW is actually one of the better fora I've come across in terms of filtering, and it still is fairly primitive. (Due to the steady improvement of this forum based on some of the suggestions that I've seen here, I don't want to be too harsh.)
It might be a good idea to increase comment-ranking values for people who turn on anti-kibbitzing. (I'm sure other people have suggested this, so I claim no points for originality.) ...What a great feature!
(Of course, then that option of "stronger karma for enabled anti-kibbitzers" would give an advantage the malevolent people who want to "game the system" who could turn it on and off, or turn it on on another device, see the information necessary to "send out their political soldiers" and use that to win arguments at a higher-ranking karma. Of course, one might want to reward malevolent players, because they are frequent users of the site, who thus increase the overall activity level, even if they do so dishonestly. They then become "invested players," for when the site is optimized further. Also, robust sites should be able to filter even malevolent players, emphasizing constructive information flow. So, even though I'm a "classical liberal" or "small-L libertarian," this site could theoretically be made stronger if there were a lot of paid government goons on it, purposefully trying to prevent benevolent or "friendly" AGI that might interfere with their plans for continuing domination.)
A good way to defeat this would be to "mine" for "anti-kibbitzing" karma. Another good idea would be to allow users to "turn off karma." Another option would be to allow those with lots of karma to turn off their own karma, and show a ratio of "possible karma" next to "visible karma," as an ongoing vote for what system makes the most sense, from those in a position of power to benefit from the system. This still wouldn't tell you if it was a good system, but everyone exercizing the option would indicate that the karma-based system was was a bad one.
Also, I think that in a perfect world, Karma in its entirety should be eliminated here. "One man's signal is another man's noise," indeed! If a genius level basement innovator shows up tomorrow and begins commenting here, I'd like him to stick around. (Possibly because I might be one myself, and have noticed that some of the people who most closely agree with certain arguments of mine are here briefly as "very low karma" partipants, agree with one or two points I make, and then leave. Also, if I try to encourage them but others vote them down, I'm encouraged to eliminate dissent, in the interest of eliminating "noise." Why not just allow users to automatically minimize anyone who comments on a heavily-downranked already minimized comment? Problem solved.)
LessWrong is at risk of becoming another "unlikeliest cult," to the same extent that Ayn Rand Institute became an "unlikely cult." (ARI did, to some extent, become a cult, and that made it less successful at its intended goal, which was similar to the stated goal of LessWrong. It became too important what Ayn Rand personally thought about an idea, and too unimportant what hierarchical importance there inherently was to the individual ideas themselves. Issues became "settled" once she had an opinion on them. Much the way that "mind-killing" is now used to "shut down" political debate, or debate over the importance of political engagement, and thus cybernetics, itself.)
There are certain subjects that "most humans in general" have an incredibly difficult time discussing, and unthinking agreement with respected members of the community is precisely what makes it "safe" to disregard novel "true" or "valuable" solutions or problem-solving ideas, ...rare as they may admittedly be.
Worse still, any human network is more likely to benefit from solutions outside of its own area of expertise. After all, the experts congregate in the same place, and familiarize themselves with the same incremental pathways toward the solution of their problems. In any complex modern discipline this requires immense knowledge and discipline. But what if there is a more direct but unanticipated solution that can arise from outside of that community? This is frequently the case, as indicated in Kurzweil's quote of Weiner's "Cybernetics" in "How to Create a Mind."
It may be that the rise of a simple algorithm designed by a nanotech pioneer rapidly builds a better brain than AGI innovators can build, and that this brain "slashes the gordian knot," by out-thinking humans and building better and better brains that ultimately are highly-logical, highly-rational, and highly-benevolent AGI. This constitutes some of the failure of biologists and computer scientists to understand the depth of each others' points in a recent Singularity Summit meeting.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kQ2snfsnroM -Dennis Bray on the Complexity of Biological Systems (Author of "Wetware" describing computational processes within cells).
Also, if someone can be a "troll" and bother other people with his comments, he's doing you a small favor, because he's showing that there are weaknesses in your commenting system that actually rise to the level of interfering with your mission. If we were all being paid minimum wage to be here, that might represent significant losses. (And shouldn't we put a price on how valuable this time is to us?) The provision of garbled blather as a steady background of "chatter" can be analyzed by itself, and I believe it exists on a fluid scale from "totally useless" to "possibly useful" to "interesting." Also, it indicates a partial value: the willingness to engage. Why would someone be willing to engage a website about learning an interesting subject, but not actually learn it? They might be unintelligent, which then gives you useful information about what people are willing to learn, and what kinds of minds are drawn to the page without the intelligence necessary to comprehend it, but with the willingness to try to interact with it to gain some sort of value. (Often these are annoying religious types who wish to convert you to their religion, who are unfamiliar with the reasons for unbelief. However, occasionally there's someone who has logic and reason on their side, even though they are "unschooled." I'm with Dawkins on this one: A good or bad meme can ride an unrelated "carrier meme" or "vehicle.")
Site "chatter" might normally not be too interesting, and I admit it's sub-optimal next to people who take the site seriously, but it's also a little bit useful, and a little bit interesting, if you're trying to build a network that applies rationality.
For example, there are, no doubt, people who have visited this website who are marketing majors, or who were simply curious about the current state of AGI due to a question about when will a "Terminator" or "skynet"-like scenario be possible, (if not likely). Some of them might have been willing participants in the more mindless busywork of the site, if there had been an avenue for them to pursue in that direction. There are very few such avenues on this "no nonsense" (but also no benevolent mutations) version of the site.
There also doesn't appear to be much of an avenue for people who hold significant differences of opinion that contradict or question the consensus. Such ideas will be downvoted, and likely out of destructive conformity. As such, I agree that it's best to allow users to eliminate or "minimize" their own conceptions of "what constitutes noise" and "what constitutes bias."