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MichaelVassar comments on For progress to be by accumulation and not by random walk, read great books - Less Wrong

35 Post author: MichaelVassar 02 March 2010 08:11AM

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Comment author: MichaelVassar 03 March 2010 06:28:42AM 8 points [-]

No, up and down votes are symmetrical. Both should usually be done without explanation.

Comment author: wedrifid 03 March 2010 06:37:27AM 3 points [-]

Agree, and add that I often prefer not to downvote in cases where I have expressed disagreement, simply because it reduces resentment.

Comment author: orthonormal 03 March 2010 06:41:27AM *  10 points [-]

I disagree; an explanation of a downvote is a lot more helpful to the author than an explanation of an upvote (in addition to the fact that it often mitigates status-based anger), and thus the symmetry is broken. h-H is perhaps exaggerating this principle, but it's perfectly legitimate to say "that comment looked OK to me, what are you seeing?"

Comment author: h-H 04 March 2010 12:08:50AM 0 points [-]

seconded, and well put.

Comment author: komponisto 03 March 2010 01:44:59PM 0 points [-]

Strong second.

Comment author: Tyrrell_McAllister 03 March 2010 02:04:33PM 4 points [-]

No, up and down votes are symmetrical.

Up and down votes should not be symmetrical. The space of upvote-worthy comments is much smaller than the space of downvote-worthy comments, so a down-vote, by itself, conveys less information.

Comment author: RichardKennaway 03 March 2010 05:38:30PM *  2 points [-]

In the space of comments actually posted, the reverse is the case. What class of potential comments did you have in mind?

Comment author: Tyrrell_McAllister 03 March 2010 06:33:24PM *  2 points [-]

In the space of comments actually posted, the reverse is the case. What class of potential comments did you have in mind?

I had in mind the space of comments that would be posted if commenters received no feedback on what kinds of comments were appropriate.

ETA: My point was that there are a lot more ways for a comment to go wrong than to go right. The region of good comments is a small target in commentspace. Given only that a comment was downvoted, it could be anywhere in a vast wasteland of bad possible comments. That's the case even if you condition on the comment's having appeared on LW.

Of course, sometimes one knows exactly why a comment was downvoted. But, if you're the author, and you hadn't expected the downvote, it's probably not so clear why you received one. In general, you can see that the comment must have been in a relatively small region within bad-comment-land. But that's small relative to all of bad-comment-land, so even your "small" region is probably still big compared to all of good-comment-land.

Comment author: khafra 03 March 2010 08:06:24PM 0 points [-]

With a somewhat valuable but straightforward comment, an upvote with no further discussion is optimal, because both the author and the readers understand why it's good.

With a worthless but ingenuously written comment, the readers gain nothing from further discussion, but commentary helps the author to more easily discover his error. Do what your decision theory requires regarding the good of the many vs. the good of the few.