Comment by protostar on Welcome to Less Wrong! (9th thread, May 2016) · 2016-05-17T14:45:05.635Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Yeah, hi :-) . Well, technically I didn't say that anyone WAS suggesting it. I like your interpretation much better of course! And there could be people who respond well to the "we'd love to know -" formulation. Apparently I don't! I tried to give you a vague idea of why I felt that way at least.

Since I've got to offer something, try this paragraph:

It seems a little weird to expect a newcomer to adapt to lesswrong by having a special thread, where nothing really unique to lesswrong is mentioned. That other guy before me in the thread seems to have instinctively talked about only lesswrong-related things in his experience. But, perhaps you can only expect that to happen with people who ALREADY know something about lesswrong - proper lurkers rather than true newcomers? So, maybe there should be something like a newbie-thread-for-one-of-the-core-sequences, where the older members would try to adjust the newcomer as to how the words should be read - because we all know that there are people who read one of Eliezer's posts and immediately proceed to misinterpret something badly without realising? And... that sounds very close to the "questions which are new and interesting to you but could be old and boring for the older members"...

You've just been treated to: me working out the kinks I felt in the welcome page. I guess it was already doing what I wanted, and I'm not adding anything really new. Weird.

You know, I actually do have a question. I've never felt like I really understand what a utility function is supposed to be doing. Wait, that's not right. More like, I've never felt like I understand how much of the utility function formalism is inevitable, versus how much is a hypothetical model. There are days when I feel it's being defined implicitly in a way that means you can always talk about things using it, and there are days when I'm worried that it might not be the right definition to use. Does that make sense? Can anyone help me with this (badly-phrased) question?

Comment by protostar on Open Thread May 16 - May 22, 2016 · 2016-05-17T13:04:02.699Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

This sounds like the type of attitude I hope to encounter every time I navigate to a lesswrong page. Yes it's a basic version, but you felt you should post it, so maybe it's not obviously instantiated.

You say also "I've always tried to follow the advice that... if possible." Is it really that you're trying to do this, or is it just what you seem to do? Maybe you just do it, and when you think about it you can also come up with some reasons why it might be a good thing.

Comment by protostar on Welcome to Less Wrong! (9th thread, May 2016) · 2016-05-17T12:46:09.353Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

I've been lurking for a very long time, more than six years I think. Lots of sentences come to mind when I think, "Why haven't I posted anything before?" Here are a few:

  1. "LessWrong forum is just like any other forum" Well my sample size is low, but... I don't care what you tell yourselves; what I observe is people constantly talking past each other. And if, in reading an article or comment, a possible comment comes to mind; hot-on-its-heels is the thought that there isn't really any point in posting it, because the replies would all be of a type drawn from some annoying archetypes, like (A) I agree! But I have nothing to add. (B) You're wrong. Let me Proceed to Misrepresent in some way. (The Misrepresentation is "guaranteed" to be unclear because it insists on starting on its own terms and not mine). And if I yet start a good-natured chain of comments, suddenly I find myself talking about the other person's stuff and not the ideas that motivated my original comment. Which I probably wouldn't have commented on for its own sake. And as soon as a comment has one reply, people stop thinking about it as an entity in its own right. Don't you dare dismiss these thoughts so quickly!

  2. "It's been done. Well, mostly." Eliezer wrote so many general, good, posts - where do I even find a topic sufficiently different that I'm not, for the most part, retreading the ground? Posts by other people are just completely different: instead of the post having a constructive logic of its own, references are given. The type of evidence given by the references is of a totally different sort. Instead of being about rationality, such posts seem to be about "random topic 101"? Ok this isn't very clear.

  3. So few comments are intelligible. What are these people even arguing about? It's not clear! How can one comment on this in good faith? Note that the posts you observe are, therefore, more likely to come from people who are not stopped from posting by having unclear or absurd interpretations of parent comments.

Lesswrong seems like it should be a good place. The sequences are a fantastic foundation, but there's so little else! I'm subjectively pretty sure that E.Y. thinks Lesswrong is failing. Of course one may hope "for the frail shrub to start growing".

In the hope that some people read (and continue to read) this charitably, let me continue. Consider the following in the welcome thread itself.

" We'd love to know who you are, what you're doing, what you value, how you came to identify as an aspiring rationalist or how you found us. "

Err, what? Why on Earth should I immediately give you my life story? Or even, Do these questions make sense? "What I value?" On a rationalist forum you are expecting the English language to contain short sentences that encode a good meaning of "value"? Yeah, yeah, whatever. Taking a breath, --- ---. . . Why do you even want to know?

How about just, "you can post who you are, what you're doing ... found us here, if you want."

I should not have to post such things to get basic community acceptance. And you have no right to be so interested in someone who has, as yet, not contributed to lesswrong at all! Surely THAT is the measure of worth within the Lesswrong site. Questions about things not related to Lesswrong should be "expensive" to ask - at least requiring a personal comment.

Oh, I think I initially found lesswrong via Bostrom via looking at the self-sampling hypothesis? It's kind of hazy.