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JenniferRM comments on One possible issue with radically increased lifespan - Less Wrong

10 Post author: Spectral_Dragon 30 May 2012 10:24PM

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Comment author: JenniferRM 31 May 2012 02:37:45AM 16 points [-]

Upvoted after seeing the comment. I thought about downvoting when I came to the thread and thought of doing so for a minute or three. The problem I had was the title's tone of summarizing once and for all what "the consequences of transhumanism are" and then doing the job really really poorly. I have a vague (but declining?) "my tribe"-feeling towards transhumanism and don't like seeing it bashed, or associated with straw-man-like arguments.

I think a title that avoided this inclination could have been something like "Is immortalist demography bleak?" or maybe "I fear very long lives lead to resources crunches and high gini coefficients" or you know... something specific and tentative rather than abstract and final. Basically, good microcontent.

One thing I've just had to get used to is that LWers are bad at voting. Comments I'm proud of are frequently ignored, and comments that I think are cheap tricks frequently get upvoted. Whatever people see first, right after an article will generally get upvoted much more than normal. Its not because quality comes first when sorting by that, because if you look at ancient posts where the sort order of comments is forced to be chronological, the very first comment will frequently have many upvotes even when it is inane.

I've been wondering how to "fix it" but I have nothing concrete. I fear that it is just that "typical internet users" are habituated to clicking on accessible "like" buttons because that's how they interact with facebook, and internet communities inevitably decay absent heroically good site design/management, and so on.

Comment author: [deleted] 31 May 2012 02:51:07AM *  10 points [-]

Comments I'm proud of are frequently ignored, and comments that I think are cheap tricks frequently get upvoted.

This. Very much this. Not a lot of my stuff gets upvoted. Yesterday I think, I had an existential crisis about it "oh my god, do I suck?". Yes that's stupid, but I often find it deeply disturbing that I am not a demigod.

LW is better than reddit, but yeah.

Another observation is that the downvoters seem to come out first. Posts (articles in discussion, specifically) that end up highly voted usually start out hovering around zero or going negative before rising. This post for example.

EDIT: Actually, I'd really like to see some graphs and stats on this from the LW database. Another thing to get more useful data is to allow people to cast a vote for which of their own comments they are most proud of, and see if this vote correlates with community vote.

Comment author: Spectral_Dragon 31 May 2012 12:04:51PM 3 points [-]

Thank you! That was what I was looking for in a title, I just couldn't seem to find the right words. I'll be editing the title in a minute. I also got pretty intimidated - within 10 minutes I'd lost about a fifth of my total karma and no one would tell me why. That seems to me another weakness - we are too quick to vote and seemingly not good enough at debating some topics and explaining WHY something deserves to be voted up/down.

Comment author: RobertLumley 31 May 2012 01:44:57PM 1 point [-]

I was very unhappy to see this downvoted as much as it was, although I thought it may have been because of something in the sequences I hadn't gotten to yet. But I especially try to avoid downvoting new people who are obviously making an effort, as you were. So I'm glad this corrected itself.

Comment author: steven0461 31 May 2012 05:53:38AM 5 points [-]

I've been wondering how to "fix it" but I have nothing concrete.

Letting go of the assumption that every user account's votes should have the same weight would probably go a long way. I'm not saying such a measure is called for right now; I'm just bringing it up to get people used to the idea if things get worse.

Comment author: RobertLumley 31 May 2012 01:42:16PM 5 points [-]

Letting go of the assumption that karma means much above -3 would also go a long way. Karma is just here really to keep trolls away. If there are vast differences in Karma scores posted from around the same time, then maybe that means something. I know personally that the comments and posts I am most proud of are, generally speaking, my least upvoted ones.

To consider an example, this and this were posted around the same time, both to discussion. The former initially received vastly more karma than the second. But the former, while amusing, has virtually no content. The second is a well reasoned, well supported post. Did the former's superior karma mean that it was a better article? Obviously not. That's why the second was promoted and, once it was, eventually overtook the former.

Another obvious example is the sequences. Probably everyone here would agree that at least 75 of the best 100 posts on LW are from the sequences. But, for the most part, they sit at around 10-20 karma. Those that are outside that are the extraordinarily popular ones, which are linked to a lot, and sit at probably around 40 karma. This is not an accurate reflection of their quality versus other articles that I see around 10-40 karma.

I really try (but don't always succeed) to vote karma based on "Is this comment/post at a higher or lower karma score than I think it should have?". If everyone used this, then Karma scores might have some meaning relative to each other. But I don't think many people use this strategy, and the result is that karma scores are skewed towards more read and funnier posts. Which generally tend to be shorter and less substantial.

Comment author: Vladimir_Nesov 31 May 2012 02:18:41PM *  3 points [-]

Letting go of the assumption that karma means much above -3 would also go a long way. Karma is just here really to keep trolls away.

When a comment I make is not upvoted to at least +3, I give a moment's consideration to the question of what I did wrong (and delete some of the comments that fail this test).

Comment author: Will_Newsome 01 June 2012 11:58:41PM *  1 point [-]

Some of your comments should be useful to the elite but not the masses. Such comments are only sometimes voted to +3. E.g., IIRC you regularly make decision theory comments that don't go to +3, so it seems you don't follow this rule even when talking about important things.

(It's only semi-related, but who cares about the votes of the masses anyway? You're here to talk to PCs and potential PCs, which is less than 1% of the LessWrong population. You're beyond the point of rationality where you have to worry about not caring about NPCs becoming a categorical rule followed by everyone. On that note, you should care about the opinion of the churchgoer more, and the LessWronger less. Peace out comrade.)

Comment author: D2AEFEA1 31 May 2012 02:46:32PM 1 point [-]

Would it be difficult (and useful) to change the voting system inherited from reddit and implement one where casting a vote would rate something on a scale from minus ten to ten, and then average all votes together?

Comment author: Emile 31 May 2012 08:37:33PM 2 points [-]

The biggest problem wouldn't be technical, it would be the lower usability and the increased focus put on karma.

Also, averaging would be bad, showing the median vote would reduce the appeal of always putting +10/-10.

Comment author: RobertLumley 31 May 2012 02:52:07PM 0 points [-]

Difficult? Probably not. Useful is debatable. I'm not sure that the Karma system is important enough to consider in much detail. I just don't see much low hanging fruit there.

Comment author: [deleted] 18 August 2012 11:20:20PM 0 points [-]

I really try (but don't always succeed) to vote karma based on "Is this comment/post at a higher or lower karma score than I think it should have?".

So do I.

Comment author: TheOtherDave 31 May 2012 01:54:31PM 0 points [-]

Letting go of the assumption that karma means much above -3 would also go a long way. Karma is just here really to keep trolls away

I wonder how hard it would be to build a LW addon (like the antikibbitzer) that replaced numeric readouts with a tier label (e.g. "A" >=10, "F" for <=-3, etc.), and how using that would affect my experience of LW.

Comment author: RobertLumley 31 May 2012 01:56:48PM 0 points [-]

I think that would be pretty awkward, since posts would start in the "C" range. I think most people here would consider getting a "C" bad. But tiers make for an interesting concept, if you move away from grades.

Comment author: Emile 31 May 2012 08:40:41PM 0 points [-]

Use the fact that the date is also displayed to give a "?" instead for posts less than a day old, or have thresholds that move a bit for the first couple days.

Comment author: TheOtherDave 31 May 2012 06:17:36PM 0 points [-]

Sure; the specific tier thresholds are secondary and might even be user-definable parameters, so people don't need to know what tier they're in on my screen, if knowing that would make them feel bad.

Comment author: D2AEFEA1 31 May 2012 02:56:00PM 0 points [-]

I would second that. On the other hand, how would you decide what weight to give to someone's vote? Newcomers vs older members? Low vs high karma? I'm not sure a function of both these variables would be sufficient to determine meaningful voting weights (that is, I'm not sure such a simple mechanism would be able to intelligently steer more karma towards good quality posts even if they were hidden, obscure or too subtle).

Comment author: evand 31 May 2012 02:33:17PM 0 points [-]

What if the site just defaulted to a random sort order, so different people are presented with different comments first? That would still tend to bias in favor of older comments getting high presentation rank more. I'm not sure that's such a bad thing, though.