Posts

Reversal Tests in Argument and Debate 2019-09-13T09:18:48.365Z · score: 33 (10 votes)
Davis_Kingsley's Shortform 2019-08-17T00:26:39.693Z · score: 6 (1 votes)
Beliefs Are For True Things 2019-08-15T23:23:33.175Z · score: 8 (9 votes)
The Importance of Those Who Aren't Here 2019-07-31T23:33:59.877Z · score: 41 (27 votes)
Schism Begets Schism 2019-07-10T03:09:41.562Z · score: 28 (19 votes)
Diversify Your Friendship Portfolio 2019-07-09T23:06:41.146Z · score: 73 (35 votes)
The Competence Myth 2019-06-30T18:55:49.014Z · score: 49 (23 votes)
Discourse Norms: Moderators Must Not Bully 2019-06-14T23:22:15.741Z · score: 12 (14 votes)
Asymmetric Weapons Aren't Always on Your Side 2019-06-08T08:47:49.675Z · score: 37 (22 votes)
Discourse Norms: Justify or Retract Accusations 2019-05-22T01:49:12.271Z · score: 9 (13 votes)
Go Do Something 2019-05-21T15:42:48.096Z · score: 34 (23 votes)
Where are the Benefits from Conversation? 2019-05-10T17:49:27.563Z · score: 20 (11 votes)
If You Want to Win, Stop Conceding 2018-11-22T18:10:31.439Z · score: 49 (25 votes)
Schools Proliferating Without Practicioners 2018-10-26T05:25:03.959Z · score: 36 (14 votes)
Isolating Content can Create Affordances 2018-08-23T08:28:52.961Z · score: 60 (25 votes)
Duncan Sabien on Moderating LessWrong 2018-05-24T10:12:26.996Z · score: 38 (18 votes)
Terrorism, Tylenol, and dangerous information 2018-05-12T10:20:28.294Z · score: 180 (56 votes)
Duncan Sabien: "In Defense of Punch Bug" 2018-05-03T08:26:30.641Z · score: 78 (31 votes)
"Backchaining" in Strategy 2018-02-09T12:01:54.523Z · score: 45 (16 votes)
Adequacy as Levels of Play 2018-01-22T20:57:41.557Z · score: 59 (21 votes)
Levels of Play 2017-12-06T21:55:42.429Z · score: 13 (6 votes)

Comments

Comment by davis_kingsley on Heads I Win, Tails?—Never Heard of Her; Or, Selective Reporting and the Tragedy of the Green Rationalists · 2019-09-24T09:38:44.689Z · score: 14 (9 votes) · LW · GW

This post is excellent. It is probably the best post I have read on LessWrong in a long time. Thank you for writing it!

Comment by davis_kingsley on Timer Toxicities · 2019-09-22T14:27:30.978Z · score: 8 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Interestingly, even some respected games do stuff that violates this. For instance, Starcraft has queues but with several constraints that make them far worse than they could be:

  • Some types of things you might want to build cannot be queued (you cannot, for instance, queue your Barracks to build an addon, only unit production; if you're researching upgrades at your Engineering Bay, you cannot queue level 2 weapons while already researching level 1 weapons).
  • Adding something to the queue costs the entire cost that it would normally take to build that thing and does so up front rather than charging you the price once the queued item actually starts building. In other words, if I want to queue up three 50-mineral Marines, that will cost me 150 minerals up front even though only one will actually be building at first.

These constraints mean that using the queue penalizes you, as queuing a unit means that you are essentially wasting resources; if you want to build three Marines, it's much better to reselect your Barracks and build a new Marine after each completes than it is to add three Marines to the queue, as queuing them "wastes" 100 minerals on Marines not actually being built, which you could instead use on other things while waiting for the first Marine to build.

I consider this extremely annoying and essentially anti-competitive; Starcraft notoriously has a high barrier to entry in terms of pure APM (actions per minute), since the user interface issues mean that you have to take very many actions in order to play efficiently. I would be very interested to see what the game would look like in a version where the interface was designed to be as efficient as possible instead of adding extra constraints onto the player.

Comment by davis_kingsley on Who's an unusual thinker that you recommend following? · 2019-09-17T12:22:04.370Z · score: 12 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Dominic Cummings, a strategist who worked on Brexit. He is surprisingly rationalist-aligned and has very interesting thoughts at his blog.

Comment by davis_kingsley on Reversal Tests in Argument and Debate · 2019-09-14T10:05:53.416Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I used this term because I think the fundamental move being pointed towards is fairly similar (although actually I think the Bostrom/Ord application of this method is incorrect, which maybe means I should have come up with a different name!).

Comment by davis_kingsley on Raph Koster on Virtual Worlds vs Games (notes) · 2019-08-25T01:42:00.359Z · score: 5 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Thanks for the link! I ended up reading a large number of his articles. His thoughts on UO and Galaxies were predictably the most interesting to me -- I definitely share his sense that the old "wild west" Ultima and the like was better and more alive than the more soulless modern games (though I didn't actually play Ultima and maybe I'd change my tune after being ganked repeatedly by PKs... :P).

I also find it interesting how successful Galaxies was despite the fact that the combat system apparently never worked as intended and was basically dysfunctional! It kinda makes me wonder, what if Galaxies had had the dev resources and budget of WoW? Would that be the new face of MMOs? (Sometimes I've had similar thoughts re: Netrunner and MtG...)

For me the most "wild west" exciting alive game right now is EVE Online, but the actual gameplay is something I'm profoundly uninterested in so I basically live vicariously through stories of interesting happenings.


Comment by Davis_Kingsley on [deleted post] 2019-08-24T08:52:14.510Z
Overall, it seems to me that there are people trying to do the kind of translational work Davis is asking for, but the community is not, as a whole, applying the sort of discernment that would demand such work.

Agreed, yeah. This is maybe the main thing I'm getting at -- I'm trying to shock people into realizing "hey, everything isn't fine, things are going wrong" and applying more discernment to what's going on in the community.

Comment by Davis_Kingsley on [deleted post] 2019-08-24T08:50:24.458Z

There's an important part missing in my current draft that has to do with the fact that much of the "esoteric" content is in fact not being openly pushed, but rather smuggled into the community via other methods; I think it's very difficult to translate/synthesize/ground concepts if you aren't being told about them until they've already taken over relevant parts of the community.

This is also why much of the post has a "sound the alarm" feeling. I think that if the community's institutions were operating more properly, it would be much more resilient to things being "smuggled in", which in turn would mean that people trying to spread these ideas would have to make a stronger/more reasoned case for them in order to get traction here.

As for the "list" format -- this post is somewhat based on a talk I gave at the CFAR alumni reunion last year which was much better-received than I'd anticipated. Several people told me they had similar concerns but wasn't sure if it was just them or what, and if we're trying to "get the shields back online" just warning people that this is going on may be sufficient to prompt at least somewhat more careful thinking.

Comment by davis_kingsley on Is LW making progress? · 2019-08-24T06:18:05.390Z · score: 11 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Bayes occupies a place of privilege in the Sequences and for some time had a place of privilege in the CFAR curriculum as well, but it didn't much work and so we stopped. I'm not saying it's bad in principle, I'm saying it empirically didn't work as a class for intro workshops despite our trying many different approaches.

You might dispute whether that's a positive change, but it's certainly a way in which I see "the state of the art" as having shifted over time.

Comment by davis_kingsley on Is LW making progress? · 2019-08-24T05:00:53.992Z · score: 15 (13 votes) · LW · GW

As someone who worked for CFAR full-time from early 2014 to mid-late 2016 and still teaches at CFAR workshops fairly regularly as a contractor, I can tell you that there has definitely been progress from the "Sequences era" style of rationality to what we are currently teaching. Earlier versions of the CFAR curriculum were closer to the Sequences and were also in my view worse (for instance, CFAR no longer teaches Bayes's Theorem).

Not all of this has been fully visible to the public, though at least some of it is -- for instance, here is Duncan's post explaining Double Crux, one of CFAR's "post-Sequences" innovations. I don't think there are posts for every new technique but I do quite think there's progress being made, some of which is reflected on LW.

Comment by davis_kingsley on Davis_Kingsley's Shortform · 2019-08-23T10:23:25.866Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Interestingly that's actually quite disputed -- you linked to a reprint of the card that displays as being rated 5/5, but the original printing of the card is actually rated 3.455 out of 5.

(That said, it's certainly better than Book Burning!)

Comment by davis_kingsley on Davis_Kingsley's Shortform · 2019-08-22T22:05:27.852Z · score: 9 (4 votes) · LW · GW
Go after polyamory all you want -- if there is data about problems that are statistically likely to show up, I'd like to know about that, so that I can try minimizing the odds that we will experience them -- and we do experience some of the standard poly jealousy problems -- but if you are going to shoot a sacred cow, bring a high powered rifle, not a squirt gun.

I'll fully admit that I don't have formal statistical data, but I think the point is worth making anyway as a potential warning. My intent is mostly to warn newcomers about patterns I've seen rather than to shame people already in the community; I certainly do not claim that every poly relationship is abusive or the like.

(Part of the reason I posted this in shortform rather than as a top-level post is because I was hoping to just send a quick warning rather than posting something more formal and detailed!)

Comment by davis_kingsley on Davis_Kingsley's Shortform · 2019-08-22T22:01:07.468Z · score: 10 (4 votes) · LW · GW
Link?

The original site that the post was on has been taken down, but here's a pastebin of the relevant text (posted with the consent of the original author, one paragraph removed to preserve the author's privacy). I should add that my own view of poly is considerably more negative than that of this author, but even the linked post is significantly more negative than the Bay Area rationalist community norms tend to be.

Also, I slightly worry that what you're seeing is skewed because the kind of people who are willing to try polyamory are unusually open about their personal lives. That is, I think there's a lot of drama going on with monogamy, too, and it just happens that people who choose to be monogamous also have a culture that better keeps drama secret until it is too big to keep secret anymore, so it simply looks more common in polyamory because it is less hidden.

I think that there is certainly a lot of drama with monogamy as well, and I agree that some aspects of this can be under the surface. That being said, I think there are some aspects of poly that tend to exacerbate/lead to drama while there are some aspects of monogamy that tend to mitigate/avoid it.

I'll give a basic example. Let's say that there is a couple in a committed relationship, and one member of the couple starts getting closer to a third party. They become more and more emotionally close until eventually this bond seems stronger than the original relationship and the original couple splits up.

Now, this could easily happen either in monogamy or in polyamory -- you could say that it's the story of an "emotional affair" that turns into a real affair and splits up a monogamous couple; you could also say that it's the story of a secondary relationship in a polyamorous situation that turns into a primary relationship and splits up an old primary relationship. In point of fact I have seen cases that seem to fit this description in both monogamous and polyamorous situations.

The key difference, though, is that monogamous norms tend to work against such things, while polyamorous norms tend to encourage and even directly support such things (until perhaps things go too far and it may be too late). The person who starts to form a close bond with someone already in an established monogamous relationship may be chided or discouraged by the community; the person who starts to form a close bond with someone already in an established polyamorous primary relationship is less likely to be chided and may even be supported.

In some cases I believe I have seen this lead to major strife or even divorce in a way that I suspect people would have disendorsed and tried to avoid if they were better equipped to predict; unfortunately, they were dealing with polyamory norms that made them extra vulnerable to this sort of thing.

Comment by davis_kingsley on Davis_Kingsley's Shortform · 2019-08-21T00:08:52.936Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

An interesting example of a related thing is "charm" effects, where you pick between multiple things you can do with a card, all of them are sort of bad for the price, but the flexibility makes it worth it overall. Sometimes people focus a lot on "raw efficiency", but when it's between you picking the best of several inefficient options or your opponent picking the worst of several highly efficient options, the former tends to be much better.

Comment by davis_kingsley on Davis_Kingsley's Shortform · 2019-08-21T00:04:52.815Z · score: 9 (5 votes) · LW · GW

My experience has been somewhat different. I think that if you look at the actual results of what's going on re: poly in the rationalist community it's fairly evident that things are going wrong -- there are large amounts of drama and problems, well beyond that in other communities that I currently participate in (even other communities in the Bay Area etc.).

The most obvious example is that one of the people who was most involved in bringing polyamory to the early rationalist community ended up getting divorced after a lot of poly drama, left the community, and wrote a post about how poly is actually contrary to long-term romantic goals. Unfortunately, since the author had left the community, most people didn't read the post.

However, most people are not actually looking back at the evidence IMO -- it's just become an installed and unexamined norm.

Comment by davis_kingsley on Davis_Kingsley's Shortform · 2019-08-20T23:24:51.048Z · score: 8 (7 votes) · LW · GW

There are a pair of things in the rationalist community which I like to call "The Two Bad Polys" -- polyphasic sleep and polyamory. Both seem appealing to many people and have been experimented with pretty widely in the community despite being quite harmful; I strongly advise against trying either. In practice they seem to lead to lots of problems for most people who try them.

(Attribution note: I'm not sure whether I was the first to come up with this term to describe the pair -- I think the two were first referred to as a dangerous pair by someone else but I might have come up with this particular name for them.)

Comment by davis_kingsley on Davis_Kingsley's Shortform · 2019-08-20T01:18:14.084Z · score: 10 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Strategy mini-post:

One thing that tends to be weak in strategy games is "opponent's choice" effects, where an ability has multiple possible effects and an opponent chooses which is resolved. Usually, each effect is stronger than what you would normally get for a card with that price, but in practice these cards are often quite weak.

For instance, the Magic: the Gathering card "Book Burning" looks quite strong in theory, as it either does 6 damage or mills 6 cards (both strong effects that might well be worth more than the card's cost, since this was a set where having cards in your graveyard was quite relevant). However, in fact it is quite weak, because in practice you will always get the effect that is less relevant; if the opponent has life to spare they'll take damage, and if the mill is no longer relevant they'll let you mill instead.

This pattern holds true across multiple games. In Legend of the Five Rings, Levy is similarly weak despite the fact that a card that did only one of its effects would likely be overpowered, as one effect or the other is likely to be much less relevant at any point in the game and the opponent can always choose the less relevant effect.

Comment by davis_kingsley on Davis_Kingsley's Shortform · 2019-08-17T00:26:39.835Z · score: 14 (7 votes) · LW · GW

One concept people talk about in game design is "pendulum swing", where something that is too powerful or too weak is overcorrected in balance patches and becomes the opposite -- something too powerful becomes too weak, while something too weak becomes too powerful.

A similar concept can be present in other sectors as well -- often, noticing one problem can lead to an overcorrection that brings you the opposite problem. For instance, an early stage organization might notice that they aren't systematic enough in their processes, overcorrect, and become too rigid and doctrinaire.


(Duncan Sabien uses this concept of pendulum swing a lot, and while I was aware of it prior to his use he's done a lot to bring it to attention as a relevant rationality concept.)

Comment by davis_kingsley on Beliefs Are For True Things · 2019-08-16T00:23:11.110Z · score: 7 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Yeah, that's why I said it addressed this point "among others" -- my summary of the poem's message would be something like "There are timeless principles of morality and common sense that are fundamentally true; when what's fundamentally true becomes unfashionable and people believe what's popular or sounds good instead, disaster ultimately ensues."

My post refers primarily to the second part of that message (beliefs are for true things, reject this at your peril) rather than the first part.

Comment by davis_kingsley on The Importance of Those Who Aren't Here · 2019-08-05T08:31:29.295Z · score: 4 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Re: reversals -- there are definitely situations where it is better to in fact just focus on a local group - Paul Graham, having seen many startups fail because they built something that nobody actually wanted, advises building something that you yourself want if you're planning to make a startup company.

Re: case 4 -- agreed that it is not totally helpless, but at times friends can make worse advisors than disinterested observers do.

Comment by davis_kingsley on Diversify Your Friendship Portfolio · 2019-07-12T21:45:17.364Z · score: 16 (8 votes) · LW · GW

The title is mostly like that because it's funny. I strongly believe that people should cultivate closer friendships than is the default in modern society -- but I also believe one shouldn't put "all their eggs in one basket" in terms of who all you cultivate those friendships with.

Comment by davis_kingsley on Schism Begets Schism · 2019-07-11T12:12:14.332Z · score: 5 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I think of the change from Judaism to Christianity as too significant to be viewed as merely a schism. Similarly, it would seem strange to classify Islam or Mormonism as "Christian schisms" in the same way that one would classify, say, the Old Catholic Church as a schism from the main Catholic Church -- it's certainly true that Islam and Mormonism both take Christianity and then add a new prophet and his book on top of it, but that seems too significant to qualify as just a schism. To me, schisms are often notable for the relatively small nature of the differences that they are splitting over, and by the time you're adding new holy books and substantially reinterpreting the past teachings you've gone beyond that phase.

(To give a nonreligious example, I would say "we're going to make a new forum with exactly the same purview, target audience, and board structure as the old forum but with different moderators" is a schism, while "we're going to make a new forum that addresses substantially different topics while still including some of the old stuff" is not.)

Comment by davis_kingsley on Schism Begets Schism · 2019-07-10T21:50:52.537Z · score: 4 (2 votes) · LW · GW
Sometimes things are bad or (or much worse than they could be) in some group or community. When that's the case, one can 1) try and change the community from the inside, or 2) get a group of his/her friends together to do [thing] the way they think they should do it, or 3) give up and accept the current situation.
When you're willing to put in the work to make 2 happen, it sometimes results in a new healthier group. If (some) onlookers can distinguish between better and worse on the relevant axis, it will attract new members.
It seems to me that taking option 2, instead of option 1, is cooperative. You leave the other group doing it their way, in peace, and also create something good in the world in addition.

I agree that option 2 can be cooperative, but I want to point out that taking option 1 is also cooperative. If the other group or community is, as you say, much worse than it could be, helping to improve it from the inside makes things better for the people already involved, while going and starting your own group might leave them in the lurch. In general I think you should probably at least initially try to reform things, though if it doesn't work well there's a point where you might have to say "sorry, the time has come, we're making our own group now".

Granted, I think the situation may be importantly different in online communities, specifically because the activation energy for setting up a new online group is comparatively small. In that case, it is too easy to found a new group, and accordingly they splinter to regularly for any single group to be good.

Yeah, I think online the cost of just creating another site is importantly too low. On Discord it takes like 10 seconds to make a new server, these days you can set up a basic web forum very quickly without even having to pay for hosting, and so on. In real life it's harder to create new organizations, events, etc. in a way that can actually help avoid splitting communities.

Comment by davis_kingsley on Schism Begets Schism · 2019-07-10T20:52:13.475Z · score: 9 (4 votes) · LW · GW

There's a significant difference between "open disagreement" and "open disagreement, refusal to cooperate with the mechanisms for settling this, denunciation of the legitimacy of authority, and calling for others to leave the group". LessWrong can deal with open disagreement, but if the front page constantly had people denouncing the moderators and calling others to go and join their new community that would be something else.

Comment by davis_kingsley on Schism Begets Schism · 2019-07-10T20:22:06.815Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I'm very "MtG white", yes. (Well, white-blue, but yeah.) :P

Comment by davis_kingsley on Schism Begets Schism · 2019-07-10T20:21:22.174Z · score: 6 (4 votes) · LW · GW
1. This post seems to take for granted that schisms are bad without actually arguing why. Even if it is the case that schisms beget more schisms, that in itself (or that + pointing at Protestantism) is not actually an explanation of why that's actually bad; it just claims so. It does imply that the badness is in the coordination costs that are increased by a diaspora over a centralised location, but if a diaspora happened in the first place that is strong evidence that whatever central place it spawned from was not only incapable of making this level of coordination happen but also its members judged it was incapable of hanging into a place that can do coordination.

I'm not sure that it's the case that people correctly judged that it was incapable of changing. Reforming an existing space is often harder than just taking your ball and going home, but the benefits are shared across the entire group.

2. Two of your main examples are religion and politics, where one can't really belong to multiple subgroups. For things like the LW diaspora or Discord servers or w/e, schisms aren't schismatic – one can belong to multiple social groups and Discord servers and what-have-you (which can even be desirable, as you yourself have argued in your post about diversifying your friendship portfolio).

Belonging to multiple social groups and Discord servers and the like is nice, but belonging to a bunch of different groups that are all sort of doing fundamentally the same thing (and claim that others are trying to do the same thing but doing it worse) isn't as good. When people found servers that are like "this is the same as <SERVER X> but with better moderation>" that tends to split the community (and indeed things like this have happened multiple times with Discord, online forums, etc.).


Comment by davis_kingsley on Schism Begets Schism · 2019-07-10T20:17:47.237Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I do think that sometimes people stay in things that they should split off from. However, I've noticed that locally there seems to be a lot of praise for the "archipelago" and the like, and also that the community seems to have been seriously damaged by splintering too much and losing its unity and sense of shared progress. I think these things are connected and that at least around here, people should be more wary about splitting off than they are by default.

Comment by davis_kingsley on Schism Begets Schism · 2019-07-10T20:06:48.495Z · score: 5 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Fair points. That said, I don't think the split between CFAR and MIRI is a destructive schism, they're still in very close alignment with one another and part of the same broader project. Same for FHI, FLI, BERI, etc. -- but if someone had founded a "new MIRI" saying that MIRI was failing and their paradigms were fundamentally destructive and everyone should withdraw their support of MIRI and back the new organization, that would be schismatic in the way I warn about.

Comment by davis_kingsley on Schism Begets Schism · 2019-07-10T05:24:18.852Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

It may be superior for the individual, but it is often worse for the group's ability to coordinate and get stuff done. Similarly, when the diaspora first started, many people had the choice of whether to continue posting on LW or whether to create their own blog, gaining personal status/influence but damaging the unity of the group. The latter broadly won out, to the detriment of the project as a whole.

Now obviously making your own blog wasn't just defecting - there were serious issues with LessWrong's culture and standards that made posting there feel like a chore. But ideally we would have fixed that such that the locally incentivized behavior was that which was better for the project as a whole rather than that which helped the individual at the cost of the group. Sadly, we missed the opportunity, at least when the issue first came up.

Comment by davis_kingsley on LW authors: How many clusters of norms do you (personally) want? · 2019-07-08T22:13:38.936Z · score: 1 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Hmm, perhaps another way to put it would be that I would like there to be one "standard of discourse" across the site, and multiple types of conversations that can be had within that standard.

Comment by davis_kingsley on LW authors: How many clusters of norms do you (personally) want? · 2019-07-08T09:12:32.893Z · score: 5 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I ideally want ~one set of norms, even if it doesn't agree with my preferences on all points. The cost of illegibility and decentralization is not in my view worth the benefit of being able to fiddle with everything.

I do think it's possible for one set of norms to basically include all the stuff you mentioned as different knobs, though.

Comment by davis_kingsley on The Competence Myth · 2019-07-01T20:15:16.299Z · score: 9 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Yeah, that post hasn't much matched up with my experience. It feels like a relic of an older era, before the curtain went up on just how crazy things really can be at the top.

Comment by davis_kingsley on Discourse Norms: Moderators Must Not Bully · 2019-06-17T19:09:58.336Z · score: 7 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Agreed that there hasn't been bullying but has been nitpicking. I think the comments here have gone seriously off-track from the main intent of my post and I intend to write another post that deals with the "is it OK to ban Nazis" issue more directly; I'm unsure whether I'll write a new version of this post.

This situation has made me less likely to want to write on LW in the future, but it's not to the point where I'm quitting or whatever.

Comment by davis_kingsley on Discourse Norms: Moderators Must Not Bully · 2019-06-17T05:48:33.050Z · score: 6 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Yes, that's my view. My model of what went wrong with LW 1.0 culturally was something like:

1. Nitpicky standards get into the culture

2. Many of the strongest contributors dislike interacting with the nitpicky standards and move elsewhere

3. Many of the remaining contributors don't have as good content to contribute

4. LW is perceived as mediocre and no longer "the place to go", reinforcing migration away from the site

Comment by davis_kingsley on Discourse Norms: Moderators Must Not Bully · 2019-06-16T18:34:54.903Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

I mean people who literally, actually support the Nazi party.

Comment by davis_kingsley on Discourse Norms: Moderators Must Not Bully · 2019-06-16T13:47:34.241Z · score: 3 (4 votes) · LW · GW

When I say Nazis I am, in fact, referring to actual Nazis. I'm not validating "denunciation", I'm saying you have no obligation to provide a space for certain forms of objectionable content, and indeed you shouldn't. I do not consider such restrictions to compromise the rule of law - part of the rule of law involves establishing clear boundaries for what content is and isn't out of bounds, and Nazi stuff is on the wrong side of those bounds.

Comment by davis_kingsley on Discourse Norms: Moderators Must Not Bully · 2019-06-16T13:37:44.449Z · score: 5 (4 votes) · LW · GW

As Scott writes:

The moral of the story is: if you’re against witch-hunts, and you promise to found your own little utopian community where witch-hunts will never happen, your new society will end up consisting of approximately three principled civil libertarians and seven zillion witches. It will be a terrible place to live even if witch-hunts are genuinely wrong.

You have to ban some things to implement basic standards. For instance, here are the list of banned topics from a space I used to moderate (well, still do but it's mostly quiet now):

-Racism, virulent political ideologies, etc. - even if they're clothed in "scientific" guises. "HBD" and the like are explicitly not welcome.
-Harsh, insulting language. Telling someone you think they're wrong is fine, cursing them out isn't.
-Pornography or any other sexually explicit or highly suggestive content.
-Any form of "doxxing", offsite harassment, etc. except in cases of preventing serious crimes - and if we ever get to that point things will have gone deeply wrong here!

These sorts of restrictions have not in my view led to bullying - instead, in many respects they've led to there being a safer space, where people don't have to worry about certain types of bad content that can be prevalent online.

Comment by davis_kingsley on Discourse Norms: Moderators Must Not Bully · 2019-06-15T13:29:58.204Z · score: 25 (7 votes) · LW · GW

I'm not sure I like the word "dilute"/"diluted" here, but in any case Eliezer and I are responding to rather different circumstances. Eliezer was writing after having experienced the SL4 mailing list being overrun by low-quality discussions and withering away; I'm writing after having experienced LW1.0 being overrun by overly high standards and withering away.

SL4 quite plausibly died thanks to pacifism; LW1.0, on the other hand, quite plausibly died to enforcement of the wrong standards. In other words, one might say SL4 was *too* welcoming, even to low-quality content; by contrast, I would say LW1.0 wasn't welcoming *enough*, and I believe my opinion on this matter is shared by many of its top contributors, who found it too annoying to deal with all the nitpicking and critical comments!

(Now, one might argue that the nitpicking and overly critical comments themselves represent LW1.0 dying by pacifism - but in my view it's still notable that SL4 and whatever other groups Eliezer is alluding to in his post seem to have died thanks to letting too much bad content in, while LW1.0 seems to me to have died thanks to screening too much good content out!)

Comment by davis_kingsley on Discourse Norms: Moderators Must Not Bully · 2019-06-15T04:35:28.878Z · score: 5 (6 votes) · LW · GW
It turns out that cranks and hucksters are indistinguishable from confused and vulnerable newbies. And protectors of conversational norms are indistinguishable from bullies. I think others have pointed out that your footnote hides the entire problem, because you don't actually have a nazi detector.

I think that's just false. If a moderator can't tell the difference between a Nazi and someone who's just locally unpopular, they have no business being a moderator. It's not actually hard to tell - I've moderated active communities before and never really had much trouble with it!

Comment by davis_kingsley on Discourse Norms: Moderators Must Not Bully · 2019-06-15T03:40:21.176Z · score: 21 (10 votes) · LW · GW

Eliezer and I grew up at different times and have seen different communities. He saw communities ruined by foolish chat drowning out the intelligent discussion; I see communities ruined by people misusing vote systems to downvote people who don't agree with them and upvote people who hold their beliefs regardless of the quality of those people's arguments, moderators abusing their power to help their friends instead of doing what helps overall discussion, and so on.

I don't know whether that's different "eras of the Internet", just different experiences, or what. But my experience has not much been one where communities refuse to defend themselves against bad norms, trolls, and the like - instead, it's been one where voting systems are often used to enforce groupthink and stifle legitimate criticisms, moderators protect their friends' interests rather than upholding norms, and so on.

This very site I think has been damaged by similar issues. For a long time, LW 1.0 was well known to have silly, nitpicky comments and voting patterns that drove away its best people - not because the community wasn't protecting its norms, but because the norms that were locally protected were bad and unpleasant to deal with! If the majority were promoting such behavior, action should have been taken to censure the majority - though in point of fact the extent to which this was a majority issue is unclear, because LW 1.0 voting was infamously subverted by someone who used multiple accounts to heavily influence voting towards his own preferred ideas.

Similarly, on LW 2.0 we lost our best poster (Duncan_Sabien) because moderation did not stand up for the deep, important values and Duncan wasn't willing to put up with it.

It is really very, very important that moderation not take the side of the bullies. That doesn't mean giving in to trolls, that doesn't mean letting people waste everyone's time - but it does mean that if there's someone making good, well-reasoned arguments who is getting hassled with bad comments because those arguments support locally unpopular conclusions, it is the job of the moderators to protect the person making good arguments, not to protect the local social order.

Comment by davis_kingsley on Discourse Norms: Moderators Must Not Bully · 2019-06-15T03:07:08.513Z · score: 7 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Since people seem to have issues with footnote 1, I've added a second footnote clarifying it a bit. I should stress that this remains an aside and not the main thrust of the post.

Comment by davis_kingsley on Discourse Norms: Moderators Must Not Bully · 2019-06-15T03:02:11.138Z · score: 6 (5 votes) · LW · GW

How so? The main point of the post is quite unrelated to this footnote.

Comment by davis_kingsley on Discourse Norms: Moderators Must Not Bully · 2019-06-15T02:15:57.711Z · score: 10 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Nope. My post is primarily about something else - this is just a footnote that serves to point out that it's totally fine to have a civic/public space that nevertheless holds that the most extreme content and ideologies are over the line.

Comment by davis_kingsley on Asymmetric Weapons Aren't Always on Your Side · 2019-06-08T07:13:50.177Z · score: 4 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Fascists punched well above their weight in that conflict and lost only after massive industrial advantages from the US and manpower advantages from the Soviet Union were brought to bear against them. While they were ultimately defeated, one should not take that to mean that they were ineffective.

Comment by davis_kingsley on Fractional Reserve Charity · 2019-06-07T12:09:49.546Z · score: 10 (6 votes) · LW · GW

This seems like it would be good content for the EA Forum.

Comment by davis_kingsley on Discourse Norms: Justify or Retract Accusations · 2019-05-24T06:20:10.038Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

That hasn't much been my experience of EA, but I think applying this standard to claims that one is obligated to contribute to something seems fine too.

Comment by davis_kingsley on Discourse Norms: Justify or Retract Accusations · 2019-05-24T01:54:00.381Z · score: 4 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Can you say more about why positive claims would imply demands on others' resources or attention?

Comment by davis_kingsley on Discourse Norms: Justify or Retract Accusations · 2019-05-24T01:53:17.394Z · score: 1 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I think that being unreasonably negative is generally a lot worse than being unreasonably positive, at least in terms of its effect on other participants -- while both might be epistemically unsound, the consequences of a space being too negative are much more stifling to a community than the consequences of a space being too positive.

That said, I do think it would be good form to justify or retract unreasonably positive statements as well if challenged!

Comment by davis_kingsley on Go Do Something · 2019-05-23T07:54:37.679Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I don't think that all your feedback needs to come from predominantly social sources; that said, I do think that maintaining at least *some* degree of alignment with social reality is pretty important - one failure mode that I've seen is people who go out there, develop very strange views, don't reconcile them with others, and basically end up in schism from the community, unable to bridge the inferential distance that their time away has created.

I'm not saying that their views are always wrong, and I am certainly not saying that social consensus is always right - I have very substantial disagreements with many views that are locally popular here! But what I do know is that, if you move too far out of contact with social reality, even if you find great insights they may become insights that you are unable to articulate or bring to others.

Yes, feedback from social reality shouldn't be your only tool -- but it's still important!

Comment by davis_kingsley on Go Do Something · 2019-05-22T14:43:11.559Z · score: 10 (5 votes) · LW · GW

What form of deliberate practice did you apply? This is an area that I'm really interested in, both personally and professionally.

Comment by davis_kingsley on Discourse Norms: Justify or Retract Accusations · 2019-05-22T08:19:59.766Z · score: 4 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I think LW 1.0 absolutely had a big problem with low-quality criticism, and LW 2.0 doesn't feel "fully realized" yet so it's hard to say. But I think low-quality criticism and an IMO bad response to it basically drove the best active user in the early days of LW 2.0 off the site (Duncan_Sabien), so it absolutely strikes me as still a relevant concern.