Comment by error on Agency and Sphexishness: A Second Glance · 2019-04-17T14:24:10.032Z · score: 6 (3 votes) · LW · GW

To change something, you must first describe it. To describe something, you must first see it. Hold still in one place for as long as it takes to see something

-- Diane Duane

Comment by error on Agency and Sphexishness: A Second Glance · 2019-04-17T14:18:44.824Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Also, meta decisions take time to bring fruit at the object level, so when you make plans, you should spend the following days executing the plans instead of adjusting them; otherwise you decide without feedback.

Execution is Actual Work, though! Noooooooooooooooo!

(I'm adding that to my fortune file. I could use the reminder from time to time.)

Comment by error on Agency and Sphexishness: A Second Glance · 2019-04-16T17:21:05.977Z · score: 5 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I wonder what distinguishes sphexishness from a simple habit. They're both unreflective, automatic, default behaviors, and "bad habits" are just habits that fail to achieve goals. But they feel different to me. The best I can come up with is something like: habits are in theory changeable, whereas an actual sphex wasp will never change its behavior based on experience. Habits are acting sphexish.

But we need habits. I'm reminded of this:

Civilization advances by extending the number of important operations which we can perform without thinking about them. Operations of thought are like cavalry charges in a battle -- they are strictly limited in number, they require fresh horses, and must only be made at decisive moments.

-- Alfred North Whitehead

So I think I agree with you about noticing and agency. Agency isn't the opposite of sphexishness. But it does seem to require choosing when to act so, and that requires noticing when you're doing it.

(somewhere in my unposted-blog-notes folder is something about noticing that horrible mental loop where I click random links all over the web, no matter how much I'm not-enjoying-myself, because I can't seem to context-switch. I titled it "Noticing Boredom.")

Comment by error on Literature Review: Distributed Teams · 2019-04-16T16:55:16.143Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Suggestion: Attach or link these, rather than putting them inline in a comment. I like that they're available, but I had to scroll down many screens to find the actual comments.

Comment by error on Double-Dipping in Dunning--Kruger · 2018-11-28T05:12:57.481Z · score: 23 (16 votes) · LW · GW

I observe that the idea of incorrectly believing I'm bad at something doesn't disturb me much, while the idea of incorrectly believing I'm good at something is mortifying.

I smell some kind of social signaling here.

Comment by error on Human-Aligned AI Summer School: A Summary · 2018-08-10T01:05:45.549Z · score: 4 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Written as "Human-Aligned Summer School", I first read it as an educational experiment aimed at not making kids suffer. For some reason I find the misinterpretation hilarious.

Comment by error on Mapping the Social Mind (Buttons) · 2018-04-28T22:41:05.317Z · score: 4 (1 votes) · LW · GW

This seems related to something I've been thinking about recently: That the concept of "belief" would benefit from an analysis along the lines of How an Algorithm Feels from the Inside. What we describe as our "beliefs" are sometimes a map of the world (in the beliefs-paying-rent sense), and sometimes a signal to our social group that we share their map of the world, and sometimes a declaration of values, and probably sometimes other (often contradictory) things as well. But we act as if there's a single mental concept underlying them. The ambiguities are hard to shake out, I think because the signal version is only useful if it pretends to be the map version.

(I feel sour about human nature whenever I start thinking about this, because it leaves me feeling like almost all communication is either speaking in bad faith, or displaying a complete lack of intellectual integrity, or both)

Comment by error on I'm going to help you quit Facebook with some science · 2018-04-12T15:39:47.286Z · score: 17 (5 votes) · LW · GW

I don't use Facebook, but I should try something similar with my RSS feeds.

I find it interesting that facebook responds to commenting by showing you more of the same. IIRC, posts that aggravate people are also the most likely to inspire them to comment. That suggests Facebook is effectively rigged to piss you off.

Does that match people's experience? It matches my priors, but they're weak priors, since I won't touch the service with a ten foot pole.

Comment by error on Announcing Rational Newsletter · 2018-04-02T15:21:30.452Z · score: 7 (3 votes) · LW · GW

An RSS feed would be nice. Aside from that, I like it. Curation of content is a lengthy and undervalued service.

Comment by error on Should we remove markdown parsing from the comment editor? · 2018-03-12T21:33:38.290Z · score: 12 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Voting to deactivate MD parsing inside the WYSIWYG editor, provided a MD-only editor still exists. A tool should do one thing well.

I'll copy my comment from the other thread in here, though, since it's relevant: Don't hide the alternate editor in the user profile. Make it selectable when commenting, and remember the selection. Quite aside from making it immediately obvious that there's more than one way to post, it means you can measure users' preferences by seeing what they use to post with, with much less selection bias (owing to much less inconvenience for the non-default option).

Comment by error on Leaving beta: Voting on moving to · 2018-03-12T21:24:57.498Z · score: 33 (10 votes) · LW · GW

I was disappointed by the new site, but still voted to migrate. The conversation is here, and content is king. Despite my bitching, your team deserves a great deal of credit just for breathing life back into the community.

That being said:

Performance was a big complaint, and kept me off lesserwrong until greaterwrong showed up, but you already know about that and for all I know it may have been fixed. My complaints are less with lesserwrong itself than with modern web design in general, and are mainly variants on "use of javascript as a first resort instead of a last resort," "interfaces that want you to notice them," and "overly complex underlying mechanics." In short, lesserwrong may well be a fantastically engineered site, designed under a paradigm I am predisposed to despise. Discount my opinions accordingly.

(if I may nerdrage for a moment, the top navbar that folds down as soon as I scroll up, covering the text I scrolled up to see, is a common web misfeature that should die and its inventor should be forced to play a variant of the transparent newcomb's problem where both boxes contain tigers.)

Note that the fact that greaterwrong can even exist (that is, that there's an API with enough power and stability to make an alternate interface) is a huge win, and you and whoever else made the decision to allow third party clients deserve +gazillion karma for it. ...but I still have to complain that said API is not documented.

Checking lesserwrong itself for the first time since GW became available, it looks as if it has improved. The comment box in particular is less odious, and the site as a whole no longer seems to grind my browser to a halt. These are good improvements. I'm sure there are other things not obvious at first glance.

If you do want to chat with a quasi-naysayer, I'm on the LW Slack as Error, on Freenode #lesswrong as ehs, and on xmpp as I'm best reached in the afternoons, eastern time.

Comment by error on Leaving beta: Voting on moving to · 2018-03-12T20:21:13.799Z · score: 11 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Okay, cool. As long as it's on your radar.

Comment by error on Leaving beta: Voting on moving to · 2018-03-12T16:49:27.632Z · score: 5 (2 votes) · LW · GW

This is a concern for me too. A suggestion I made in feedback: Don't break inbound links. Keep the old site, static, under or something, and redirect classic-format url paths to the archive.

There is a lot of valuable material on the classic site. It might not be useful for current discussion, but let's not lose it, or let it get buried on

(come to think of it, if maintaining an archive is itself unworkable, a redirect to might be an acceptable next-best alternative)

Comment by error on Leaving beta: Voting on moving to · 2018-03-12T16:31:46.988Z · score: 13 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I would. WYSIWYG is a terrible editing paradigm, but some people like it, so I won't argue against providing it. Trying to mix WYSIWYG with markup-based editing, though, is far worse.

I further suggest that the plain option not be hidden out of the way. Make it selectable when commenting, and remember the selection. I wasn't even aware it existed until just now.

(edit: To be fair, I'm probably going to keep using greaterwrong regardless. Discount my opinion to whatever extent applies)

Comment by error on An alternative way to browse LessWrong 2.0 · 2018-02-19T18:42:11.441Z · score: 3 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I don't think that edit was present when I composed, but thanks.

Comment by error on An alternative way to browse LessWrong 2.0 · 2018-02-19T17:51:12.367Z · score: 8 (2 votes) · LW · GW

For users that aren't satisfied with those and don't mind speaking CSS, Stylish and similar browser extensions are an option. I picked up css customization mainly to add max-width to body text that does not have it, but it's good for pretty much any case where you think a site designer's choices were unwise.

Comment by error on An Apology is a Surrender · 2018-02-19T17:40:07.870Z · score: 7 (2 votes) · LW · GW

many more people want you to surrender to them than it is good for you to surrender to, and the world is full of people who will demand your apology (and make it seem socially mandatory) for things you do not or should not regret.

This was my first thought, too. I'm all in favor of the argument against weasel apologies, but sometimes the reason you're giving a weasel apology is that, by your own lights, you didn't do anything wrong.

Weasel apologies are never appropriate, but sometimes a sincere one also isn't appropriate. Sometimes the appropriate response is "No, I did the right thing here. Sorry, but no social surrender will be forthcoming." You'll have to accept the probable social consequences, of course, but that's part of the price of integrity.

Comment by error on An alternative way to browse LessWrong 2.0 · 2018-02-19T17:19:05.913Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Why not just make the LW2 site better, rather than make another site and have two sites that do the same thing?

A choice of clients is good for users. If an interface sucks, but multiple clients are available, you can switch to one with an interface that does not suck. If no clients have interfaces that do not suck, in principle you have the option of writing your own, which seems to be what happened here.

The best people at administering a service are not necessarily the best at programming a UI, and vice-versa. Allowing alternate clients lets you make use of comparative advantage.

Competition between clients is good for users for the same reasons it is good for customers in the market. New features are created for advantage; good ones are copied and spread. Niche preferences (especially those of power users) stand a chance of getting accounted for.

In short, multiple robust clients makes all clients better. If I may mount my hobby horse for a moment, the lack of client (and service) choice is part of why "modern" web clients still have not caught up to 90s-era newsreaders. This can only be a good thing for LW.

Why do more people need to know this particular email-password combination?

This one is a complaint I think I agree with, although the issue only affects web clients. From the LW2 thread it sounds like the author is working on it.

Comment by error on An alternative way to browse LessWrong 2.0 · 2018-02-19T17:02:32.218Z · score: 20 (5 votes) · LW · GW

I've been using this for a while (actually using the rss feed from it), but I don't know where I got the link and I had no idea it was a secret project. May you receive a 50% karma bonus/turn.

How is this engineered under the hood? Something like nginx->greaterwrongapp->LW2 API-> LW2 database? You note elsewhere in the thread that GW uses the same underlying database as LW2. I find it unlikely that the LW2 DB is exposed to the open net (at least it shouldn't be O_O), so something else is going on.

That you could do this at all suggests there's an API stable enough for third parties to use....which suggests a native client might be possible...which is of interest to me, but the last time I asked if there was a documented API I didn't get an answer.

(I see your link to GraphQL, but am unsure how it fits into the picture)

Comment by error on A LessWrong Crypto Autopsy · 2018-01-30T22:52:29.534Z · score: 3 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Individual incentives to back something collectively terrible seems like textbook Moloch to me.

(which doesn't imply that you're wrong, of course)

Comment by error on A LessWrong Crypto Autopsy · 2018-01-29T00:10:43.308Z · score: 15 (6 votes) · LW · GW

I notice I am confused. 60 times more than all other computers combined would imply that >98% of human compute capacity is tied up in the bitcoin network. That seems...unlikely.

Comment by error on A LessWrong Crypto Autopsy · 2018-01-28T21:47:16.521Z · score: 8 (3 votes) · LW · GW

For my part, it was one part trivial inconveniences, one part that it read like woo. I was aware it existed through other avenues (I wasn't a Less Wronger then), and aware of what it was trying to do, and I had the technical acumen to get in on it if I had so chosen. Given that, I'm a little bitter that I didn't do so. I could retire today if I had. I could get into it today, of course, but now that everybody knows it's a magic money making machine I suspect a bubble is well underway. I don't want to be in when it breaks.

I'm a little worried about Bitcoin's externalities. The mining process consumes more and more energy, and professional miners are driving up hardware costs. Which might be fine if most transactions were, well, transactions, i.e. if we're getting human value out of the work. But I get the impression that the vast majority of the network's effort goes towards playing musical chairs with money, and that seems bad.

Bitcoin doesn't feel woo-ish, anymore, but it's starting to feel paperclippy instead.

Comment by error on Beta - First Impressions · 2017-10-17T15:11:11.866Z · score: 2 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Re: dynamism and lag, one thing that really makes me suspicious is the cycling of the tab title. Something is looping in the background after the page is done loading. I'm no web developer (I do python cantrips, mostly) but I might poke around myself. What do you use for profiling?

By topbar I think I mean the app bar. The one across the top. I would prefer if, on widescreens, it were placed along the side (where the foldout menu appears, perhaps) in order to maximize available vertical space. That's an aesthetic preference, though. I do really like that it doesn't chase my scrolling down the page, or pop up whenever I scroll back, like some sites I could name. Thank you for that.

Is there a documented API for the site, by the way? Is it in principle possible to develop a native client?

Comment by error on Beta - First Impressions · 2017-10-17T05:46:14.564Z · score: 9 (3 votes) · LW · GW

My own four cents:

Visually this is a noticeable improvement. Cleaner design. Larger body text with reasonable max-width. Less UI "noise". I haven't messed around much with the interface; there are probably other positives. Only significant visual regression is the lack of alternating colors on comments.

(a few people have noted that the new visual scheme isn't all that site-distinctive; I'm not sure if I like it that way or not)

I see posts from names I haven't seen on LW proper in a while, which is a good sign. Content is king.

That said, some preferences the new site violates:

  1. Lag. I get it mostly when scrolling or doing text input, rather than loading. I am not sure how much of that is the site's fault or my machine. I am tempted to blame it on the site, because...

  2. Overly dynamic interface. I don't know what your performance bottlenecks are (I assume you're profiling and know better than me), but I see elements that could easily be static sidebars turned into foldouts, or the popup formatting overlay, or whatever it is that's making the titles on my tabs change, and...well, it smells like lagbait. Code that doesn't run can't cause performance problems, and none of that stuff is necessary. (also I don't like it stylistically, but I admit my tastes are technologically ascetic.)

  3. Speaking of the formatting overlay: I see no way to compose in plain text with markup...any form of markup. I favor markdown, but the specific format is irrelevant, any of the modern LMLs will do. I want to not be fighting the editor (right now I'm fighting the list detection and undo), if I am thinking about the editor I am not thinking about my post, and I want the option of composing nontrivial posts in my editor of choice. If I can't copy-paste marked-up text into the posting interface, it will be either enraging (if I use it) or useless (if I don't).

  4. There should be no topbar or bottombar, at least not on widescreen displays. I appreciate that the topbar here isn't nearly as obstructive as many other sites. I can actually see the body text without scrolling first! But horizontal space is practically free and vertical space is priceless. UI chrome should eat the former, not the latter.

Sometimes you have to clear rubble before you can build, and I know that's what this project is all about, so I'm not complaining too hard about regressions. The only dealbreaker for me right now is the editor. If I can't compose in plain text without interference, I probably won't be posting at all.

Comment by error on Open thread, August 28 - September 3, 2017 · 2017-08-28T20:12:17.183Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Thanks, that's the one.

Comment by error on Open thread, August 28 - September 3, 2017 · 2017-08-28T17:38:09.244Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I'm looking for an anecdote about sunk costs. Two executives were discussing some bad business situation, one of them asks "look, suppose the board were to fire us and bring new execs in. What would those guys do?" "Get us out of the X business" "Then what's to stop us from leaving the room, coming back in, and doing exactly that?"

...but all my google-fu can't turn up the original source. Does it sound familiar to anyone here?

Comment by error on In support of yak shaving part 2 · 2017-07-17T15:46:44.246Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Honestly, mostly phone calls. It sounds silly, but I have a paralytic fear of calling strangers, and that leads me to procrastinate far more than is normal even for me. Making someone else do things like (for today's example) call around to find someone who will take a couch I'm trying to donate ensures that it doesn't stay in the middle of the spare room for 6-12 months while I dither.

Comment by error on Against lone wolf self-improvement · 2017-07-07T16:20:04.128Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

A qualifier: If you're going to do this, make sure it's a class where the other people in the class actually want to be there. Otherwise the social reinforcement will be misdirected. This is an obvious failure mode of grade school and a less-obvious failure mode for the sort of extracurriculars where the students are there mostly by parental insistence.

(also, make sure you actually want to be there too. Otherwise you'll be the one screwing it up.)

Comment by error on Why I think worse than death outcomes are not a good reason for most people to avoid cryonics · 2017-06-11T18:05:42.101Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Not all tail risk is created equal. Assume your remaining natural lifespan is L years, and revival tech will be invented R years after that. Refusing to kill yourself is effectively betting that no inescapable worse-than-death future will occur in the next L years; refusing cryonics is effectively betting the same, but for the next L + R years.

Assuming revival tech is invented only after you die, the probability of ending up in some variation of hell is strictly greater with cryonics than without it -- even if both chances are very small -- simply because hell has more time to get started.

It's debatable how large the difference is between the probabilities, of course. But some risk thresholds legitimately fall between the two.

(upvoting even though I disagree with your conclusion -- I think it's an interesting line of thought)

Comment by error on A new, better way to read the Sequences · 2017-06-04T18:50:49.693Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Typo in the evolutionary psychology chapter: "We compress this gargantuan historicalstatistical macrofact by saying “evolution did it.”

"Historicalstatistical" should have a hyphen in it. Original

Comment by error on Open thread, May 15 - May 21, 2017 · 2017-05-19T05:58:45.959Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

That's the one, thanks!

Comment by error on Open thread, May 15 - May 21, 2017 · 2017-05-19T00:45:27.928Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I'm searching for a quote. It goes something like this:

"In nearly every contest there comes a point where one competitor has decided that they are going to lose. Sometimes it's near the end; sometimes it's right at the start. After that point, everything they do will be aimed at bringing that result to pass."

And then continues in that vein for a bit. I don't have the wording close enough to correct for Google to get me what I'm looking for, though. And I could swear I've seen it quoted here before. Does someone else remember the source?

Comment by error on Open thread, May 8 - May 14, 2017 · 2017-05-08T20:37:23.666Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Do you have a reliable way to distinguish good teams from bad ones, before you sign the paperwork and put in your notice?

I've stayed in jobs I wanted to leave a couple of times now, because my team was a reasonably good team and I was afraid that elsewhere I would end up with Dilbert's boss.

Comment by error on In support of yak shaving part 2 · 2017-04-26T23:34:59.700Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

It seems to me that the form of yak shaving you describe is a maintenance problem. The things in your life that are broken, are broken because they require maintenance that hasn't been performed. Until it suddenly becomes an urgent necessity.

You can fix that by doing all the required yak shaving...maybe. But the most dedicated yak shaving routine will fail if your yak herd has expanded until its maintenance cost exceeds all available time.

Instead, own fewer yaks. Figure out what in your environment requires maintenance. Then automate it, outsource it, or get rid of it. Join a makerspace instead of having your own workbench. Electronicise and (preferably) automate all your bills. Get rid of anything that 1. doesn't see regular use, and 2. is prone to requiring shaving. Hire a housekeeper. Rent an apartment where management is responsible for things that break instead of you -- if you can afford it, rent one that does valet trash and laundry. Get amazon prime and get used to waiting two days for anything you have to buy. Then never go shopping for non-perishables in person again. If you live somewhere that you can get groceries delivered, do that too.

Edit: Use services like Fancyhands for fourth quadrant stuff that you nonetheless still want done.

A great time to do this sort of life-cleaning is when you move -- it's easier to overcome the "but what if I need it?" mental roadblock if you can reply "but if I junk it, it's that much less I have to pack and unpack." Make laziness work for you.

(not coincidentally, I am doing literally this right now)

Comment by error on Open thread, Mar. 27 - Apr. 02, 2017 · 2017-03-27T20:32:42.122Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Here's a thought: Weight votes according to how often the voter votes the same way you do.

It would neuter the effectiveness of serial downvoting, while simultaneously encouraging more participation. Your votes would benefit yourself as well as others, by training the system.

Comment by error on Open thread, Mar. 27 - Apr. 02, 2017 · 2017-03-27T15:06:05.249Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Being reasonable: strong robots and dead walking people

I don't get the reference, but my first thought: super robots vs. zombies sounds like an awesome anime.

Comment by error on Open Thread, March. 6 - March 12, 2017 · 2017-03-14T20:10:58.530Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I'd be inclined to suspect closeting too. The better your ability to support yourself, the less you need to worry about repercussions.

Tangential and possibly relevant: I've noticed bisexual women appear to be ridiculously common in high-intelligence nerd communities. I don't know whether I should associate that with the intelligence or the geek/nerd/dork personality cluster, nor do I know which way the causation goes.

Comment by error on Noble excuses · 2017-03-14T19:12:34.743Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I like that name for the phenomenon.

I'm not sure exactly when, but I seem to have developed a five second habit of noticing a noble excuse and thwarting it. That is, my brain will float up some noble rationalization for action X, and I'll notice it sounds noble, and that seems to be enough for me to stop and say "wait a sec, this probably isn't the real reason behind my actions."

Sometimes I can do this before I've even offered up an excuse, skip past "I'm late because traffic" and move directly to "yeah, I'm late because I'm insane and don't develop a sense of urgency about anything until it's already too late."

I don't know exactly how the habit formed, but I think it's something to do with my social anxiety. My mental model of others says that my excuses are totally transparent, that everybody around me knows perfectly well I'm feeding them bullshit; and that they view it the same way as, say, a teacher views a kid who claims that the dog ate their homework. The image is humiliating, and the only defense is to be totally up front about underlying reasons.

In theory this should lead me to lie to myself about my motivations to make the noble excuse appear true, but that doesn't seem to happen all the time. The same alief applies; I feel like others will see through the excuse even if I don't -- again, like a kid insisting that what the bullies say on the playground doesn't matter because "I don't care what they think." So I had better get my motivations correct and honest, or else suffer the contempt of anyone who hears my transparently self-serving excuses.

The second step appears to fail more often than the first; I've sometimes caught myself in webs of "reasoning" arguing that I have one motivation when the outside view suggests I have another.

The habit is moderately effective and I endorse it, but I'm not sure it's reproducible for anyone without my specific neuroses.

Comment by error on A question about the rules · 2017-02-05T05:53:08.570Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

That wasn't a great way to put it and probably shouldn't have been written in haste...but just for the record, I would favor such a policy, at least for the next few months. I don't want either file of the hate parade getting a foothold here.

Comment by error on A question about the rules · 2017-02-05T05:49:46.220Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Generally speaking, discussing political philosophy is fine. Also generally speaking, discussing hot topics of the day, especially in a partisan fashion, is not fine.

This bears repeating. I'd add another distinction: If you're talking about policy, you're probably OK; if you're talking about people, you're probably not.

(also, on a purely selfish note, the contemporary political shitstorm has taken over every other venue I communicate in and I really would rather not see it here)

Comment by error on Open thread, Dec. 26, 2016 - Jan. 1, 2017 · 2016-12-29T06:41:47.945Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

The dynamic I match it to is "being mean for its own sake, to a specific individual, over an extended period of time, in an environment where they can't get away from their tormentor(s)." The social equivalent of a cat playing with a mouse it's caught.

N=1 for this interpretation, and it may not be quite necessary or sufficient even by my own lights.

Edit: A more succinct definition might be: "Bullying: persistent, targeted cruelty."

Comment by error on A quick note on weirdness points and Solstices [And also random other Solstice discussion] · 2016-12-21T19:26:30.787Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I asked this in the open thread, but maybe it's more likely to be noticed here: Are the solstice events recorded and/or streamed? I've wanted to go but I'm too far away.

Comment by error on A quick note on weirdness points and Solstices [And also random other Solstice discussion] · 2016-12-21T19:25:00.902Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

In-jokes (and in-not-jokes) can signal both inclusion and exclusion; there's a difference between "you won't get this, you're not part of our group," and "you don't get this? Let us show it to you." Relevant XKCD.

In my own experience, people don't mind in-jokes as long as they feel like you're letting them in on the joke.

Comment by error on Open thread, Dec. 19 - Dec. 25, 2016 · 2016-12-21T19:06:43.105Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Are there recordings or streams of the LW secular solstice celebrations? I've wanted to go, but there are none in my area.

Comment by error on Open thread, Dec. 19 - Dec. 25, 2016 · 2016-12-19T17:49:53.586Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

How do you deal with noticing you've been mindkilled?

I recently did something I regret, and on reflection I note that the impetus was probably anti-Purple sentiment.

(ironically, I managed to simultaneously demonstrate some epic hypocrisy; I was inveighing against mindkilling anti-Orange sentiment at the time)

This bothers me. I've done what I can to repair the error, but it still bothers me. I assume it's not an uncommon experience, though. Thoughts?

Comment by error on Feature Wish List for LessWrong · 2016-12-17T22:27:51.865Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

I've written a bit about this, but I never finished the sequence and don't really endorse any of it as practical. Some of the comment threads may have useful suggestions in them, though.

Discussion quality is a function of the discussants more than the software.

I think we are better off using something as close to off-the-shelf as possible, modified only via intended configuration hooks. Software development isn't LW's comparative advantage. If we are determined to do it anyway, we should do it in such a way that it's useful to more than just us, so as to potentially get contributions from elsewhere.

What's the replacement plan? Are we building something from the ground up, re-forking Reddit, or something else? I've nosed around contributing a few times and keep getting put off by the current crawling horror. If we're re-building from something clean, I might reconsider.

Comment by error on Downvotes temporarily disabled · 2016-12-02T15:27:17.340Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I'd second this, but it might not be as easy as it sounds like. It seems the site is a technical black hole and the mods are effectively operating in a straitjacket; the intersection of the set of people who have a stake in the site, and the set of people who actually have direct DB access, is the empty set. Also, outsiders who see its internal structure for the first time have reactions like this, which really isn't a good sign.

I've nosed around contributing to the effort a time or two, but always end up backing off when I realize just how aggravating trying to work on it would be. This makes me feel bad.

...that being said, if your suggestion is actually easy, this is a no-brainer. Won't solve puppets that have been around for a while, but it limits how long the mods have to play whack a mole.

[edit: depending on how the disabling is coded, it might be easier to disable downvoting against known targets]

Comment by Error on [deleted post] 2016-12-02T06:36:53.873Z

80%. Kind of depressing. I remember when he was controversial but sane.

Downvoting appears to be temporarily disabled; I didn't notice the change, but I'm guessing it was turned off to prevent his other abuses and this is him burning the commons in retaliation.

Possible, if extreme solution: Decentralize modding. Give whoever's on the last 30 days top karma and has been around long enough to be identifiable the right to nuke posts on their own judgement. Precedent: that's more or less how Eliezer inaugurated the first set of mods, though the reference escapes me at the moment.

Comment by error on A Return to Discussion · 2016-11-27T17:37:34.213Z · score: 8 (8 votes) · LW · GW

I think there's two forces involved here.

It’s almost as though the issue were accountability.

And I think this is one of them. Under a Hanson hat, Talk isn't about Information. That is, for most things most people say on the net, this:

Author: “Hi! I just said a thing!”

is their only genuine content, no matter what words they happen to pick to express it. The fear is that others will hold them accountable for what they said rather than what they meant. They're playing the "I just said a thing!" game, but on a personal blog they might get accosted by people playing the "let's have discussions" game, and that would be awkward because one of the conceits of the former is that it pretends to be the latter.

In short, blogs signal the wrong things to non-nerds, they're the wrong kind of conversation. Our signal is their noise.

For one rather public and hilarious example, witness Scott Alexander’s flight from LessWrong

But I think something different is going on here, and with other diasporists. Scott et al are clearly playing the discussion game, really well. I think the second force driving people from forums to blogs and from blogs to social media is convenience.

Not having direct control of your posting environment is a trivial inconvenience. Having to run your own posting environment is also a trivial inconvenience, once the novelty of owning it wears off. Tumblr and twitter are extremely convenient. Especially twitter; you don't have to feel bad about emitting opinions without thought if the format makes depth of thought impossible! Both even make it possible to Say A Thing without saying any thing!

Never bet against convenience. Discussion moves from formats that ask more of the discussants to those that ask less. This rule is good when applied to the process of posting, and bad when applied to the content of posting, but in practice applies equally to both.

Comment by error on On the importance of Less Wrong, or another single conversational locus · 2016-11-27T16:20:37.231Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

Strong writers enjoy their independence.

This is, I think, the largest social obstacle to reconstitution. Crossposting blog posts from the diaspora is a decent workaround, though -- if more than a few can be convinced to do it.

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