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Less Wrong Polls in Comments

79 Post author: jimrandomh 19 September 2012 04:19PM

You can now write Less Wrong comments that contain polls! John Simon picked up and finished some code I had written back in 2010 but never finished, and our admins Wesley Moore and Matt Fallshaw have deployed it. You can use it right now, so let's give it some testing here in this thread.

The polls work through the existing Markdown comment formatting, similar to the syntax used for links. Full documentation is in the wiki; the short version is that you can write comments like this:

What is your favorite color? [poll]{Red}{Green}{Blue}{Other}

How long has it been your favorite color, in years? [poll:number]

Red is a nice color [poll:Agree....Disagree]

Will your favorite color change? [poll:probability]

To see the results of the poll, you have to vote (you can leave questions blank if you want). The results include a link to the raw poll data, including the usernames of people who submitted votes with the "Vote anonymously" box unchecked. After you submit the comment, if you go back and edit your comment all those poll tags will have turned into Error: Poll belongs to a different comment. You can edit the rest of the comment without resetting the poll, but you can't change the options.

It works right now, but it's also new and could be buggy. Let's give it some testing; what have you always wanted to know about Less Wrongers?

Comments (301)

Comment author: Unnamed 20 September 2012 06:44:50AM 24 points [-]

Which poll answer will receive the largest number of responses?

Submitting...

Comment author: thomblake 20 September 2012 03:06:10PM 5 points [-]

I love this poll

Comment author: Unnamed 20 October 2012 10:01:57PM 1 point [-]

After one month and 120 responses, I'm considering this poll closed. The results are:

1) The third one: 21%
2) The fifth one: 15%
3) The second one: 14%
4) The first one: 32%
5) The fourth one: 18%

A chi-squared test says that these results are non-uniform, with a p-value of 0.02.

The correct answer, #5 "the fourth one", was chosen by 18% of respondents. The most common answer was #4, "the first one".

This poll idea was taken from a gamefaqs poll which was linked on LW last year. The results of that poll (which had a much larger sample size) were:

1) The third one: 17%
2) The first one: 24%
3) The last one: 21%
4) The second one: 26%
5) The fourth one: 11%

My hypothesis about that poll was:

The first option is most salient, by virtue of being first. Level 0 players will tend to choose option 1. Level 1 players will realize that this is what level 0 players will do, so they will tend to choose option 2 ("the first one"). Level 2 players will realize that this is what level 1 players will do, so they will tend to choose option 4 ("the second one"). Level 3 players will realize that this is what level 2 players will do, so they will tend to choose option 5 ("the fourth one"). Apparently there are lots of level 1 & 2 players, but very few level 3 players.

That hypothesis predicts that the most common responses on the LW poll would be the level 1 response, #4 "the first one", and the level 2 response, #5 "the fourth one". The data provide partial confirmation of this hypothesis; in terms of levels the most common responses to the LW poll were:

32% Level 1 (#4 "the first one")
21% Level 0 (#1 "the third one")
18% Level 2 (#5 "the fourth one")
15% Level 3 (#2 "the fifth one")
14% Level 4 (#3 "the second one")

And for the gamefaqs poll:
26% Level 2 (#4 "the second one")
24% Level 1 (#2 "the first one")
21% Level 4 (#3 "the last one")
17% Level 0 (#1 "the third one")
11% Level 3 (#5 "the fourth one")

Comment author: GuySrinivasan 19 September 2012 05:08:03PM 15 points [-]

Minimize the expected square of the distance between your answer and 80% of the mean of the answers chosen:

Submitting...

Comment author: Luke_A_Somers 20 September 2012 12:53:03PM 13 points [-]

I see a 'Total 123' but the table and chart only show 2 votes. The raw data also have 123 entries.

Comment author: Endovior 22 September 2012 04:02:39PM 5 points [-]

Yeah, it looks like there's something seriously broken about this poll code. I'm seeing 159 total votes, and only 13 visible votes.

Comment author: Sarokrae 20 September 2012 08:58:02PM 2 points [-]

Total 139, chart shows 0 votes...

Comment author: jeremysalwen 20 September 2012 02:56:07PM 4 points [-]

Hey everyone, I just voted, and so I can see the correct answer. The average is 19.2, so you should choose 17%!

Comment author: Epiphany 20 September 2012 06:23:48AM *  10 points [-]

Oooh great idea. Bugs / Suggestions:

  1. The answers are transformed into this tiny little poll code with a poll id, so I assume it's being saved to a database. However, the questions are not being saved with them. I can edit my question after the poll has been answered. This may result in some pranks later where you ask some obvious question like "does the earth revolve around the sun" or whatever and everyone answers "yes" and then you can change your question to "are you a Scientologist?" and you will see everyone's votes saying "yes" to that. Much more malicious changes are possible, of course. Also, if the questions aren't stored in the database with the answers, you won't have as many options later for doing cool things with your database full of polls.

  2. The code: [Poll] does not work because it's upper case, but this is not an obvious reason for poll failure, so one may end up wasting lots of time trying to figure it out or make annoying requests for support. Making this case insensitive is probably a good idea.

  3. The poll seems designed for very short answers. My elitism poll results look bad for that reason.

Comment author: Kindly 20 September 2012 10:00:12PM 3 points [-]

The poll seems designed for very short answers.

Feature, not bug.

Comment author: philh 19 September 2012 05:23:37PM 10 points [-]

The raw poll data is sent with "Content-Disposition: attachment", which causes firefox to download it instead of letting me view it in the browser. Is this deliberate?

Comment author: kilobug 19 September 2012 06:59:24PM 23 points [-]

Great features ! Thanks and congrats to those who made it happen.

One suggestion : you can't see the result until you voted, I guess it's not to bias/anchor the answer, but then it would be nice to add an option "I don't plan to vote, let me see the results", so someone who doesn't want to vote for any reason can still access the outcome. Or else, there is a risk of people not wanting to vote but wanting to see the outcome will vote "at random" and skew the result.

Comment author: CCC 20 September 2012 06:32:00AM 10 points [-]

In the meantime, the effect can be simulated by proper selection of options. Example:

Which is your favourite superhero?

Submitting...

Comment author: RobinZ 20 September 2012 06:20:00PM 7 points [-]

Excluding the ponies (which I didn't vote on, because I am one of sixteen people remaining on the Internet who doesn't pony yet), this is the earliest radio poll where the sum of the numbers in the column matches the "Total" number at the bottom.

Comment author: Kaj_Sotala 21 September 2012 08:02:48AM 9 points [-]

because I am one of sixteen people remaining on the Internet who doesn't pony yet

I am glad that you used the word "yet": accepting the possibility of getting better is an essential part of overcoming a problem.

Comment author: [deleted] 20 September 2012 06:21:50PM 5 points [-]

I am one of sixteen people remaining on the Internet who doesn't pony yet

It's a relief to know I'm not the only one...

Comment author: Solvent 20 September 2012 11:13:46AM 2 points [-]

I love what this poll reveals about LW readers. Many sympathise with Batman, because of his tech/intellectual angle. The same with Iron Man, but he's a bit less cool. Then two have heard of superman, and most LWers are male. And most of us don't care.

Comment author: adamisom 28 September 2012 06:05:10PM 2 points [-]

Results: 4+16+2+16+1+27(last option) = 144? WTF?

Comment author: Kindly 20 September 2012 11:35:33AM 1 point [-]

Spiderman! Why isn't Spiderman on there? I bet he'd be way more popular than that Flash guy whoever he is.

Comment author: Epiphany 22 September 2012 02:25:15AM 1 point [-]

What would be really funny is if, when you select "I don't care, but I'd like to see the results" you see that everyone else filled it out the same way.

Comment author: Kindly 20 September 2012 12:37:39PM 1 point [-]

Who is your favorite superhero?

Submitting...

Comment author: [deleted] 20 September 2012 08:46:43PM *  2 points [-]

EDIT: uh oh, you can't fix typos in polls. I don't know if that is a good thing or a barrier to lulz

Submitting...

Comment author: Kindly 20 September 2012 09:15:52PM 1 point [-]

I'm not conflating options, because I'm not really comparing Spiderman to not-Spiderman, I'm comparing Spiderman to the poll results in CCC's comment. The effect is the same as editing the previous poll to add Spiderman.

Also apparently it's "Spider-Man".

Comment author: Unnamed 20 September 2012 07:05:43AM 2 points [-]

This is a problem. Ideally there would be a separate button next to the "vote" button (a forum that I read has that feature, with the button labeled "View Results (Null Vote)"). Second-best would be to allow people to submit a blank vote (which is not as good, since it's not obvious to people that they have that option), but it currently does not work that way (even though the OP seems to say that it does).

Comment author: CCC 20 September 2012 12:05:17PM 7 points [-]

Which of the following is true?

Submitting...

Comment author: Unnamed 20 September 2012 06:49:20AM 6 points [-]

Pick your answer to this poll at random:

Submitting...

Comment author: Bugmaster 20 September 2012 08:00:26PM 5 points [-]

I used random.org to generate my answer.

But, when I submitted it, I got the following:

First Answer 0 (0%)
Second Answer 0 (0%)
Third Answer 0 (0%)
Fourth Answer 1 (2%)
Fifth Answer 0 (0%)
Total 58 (100%)

The raw data contained all the 58 rows, however. Seems like there might be a bug in the result-rendering code.

Comment author: royf 20 September 2012 05:03:05PM *  5 points [-]

To anyone thinking this is not random, with 42 votes in:

  • The p-value is 0.895 (this is the probability of seeing at least this much non-randomness, assuming a uniform distribution)

  • The entropy is 2.302bits instead of log(5) = 2.322bits, for 0.02bits KL-distance (this is the number of bits you lose for encoding one of these votes as if it was random)

If you think you see a pattern here, you should either see a doctor or a statistician.

Comment author: DanArmak 20 September 2012 06:19:33PM 3 points [-]

I wish I could see a doctor-statistician. Or at least a doctor who understood statistics.

Comment author: shminux 20 September 2012 06:34:14PM 6 points [-]

Yvain might some day have his own practice.

Comment author: kerspoon 25 September 2012 12:29:23PM 0 points [-]
Comment author: gwern 26 September 2012 08:00:42PM *  1 point [-]

Well, it's worth noting people seem to be trainable to choose randomly: http://dl.dropbox.com/u/85192141/1986-neuringer.pdf

Apropos of the PRNG discussion in http://blog.yunwilliamyu.net/2011/08/14/mindhack-mental-math-pseudo-random-number-generators/ for which I wrote some flashcards: http://pastebin.com/CKif0fEf

Comment author: [deleted] 20 September 2012 07:29:59PM 1 point [-]

Looks like we're better at randomness than the rest of the population. If I asked random people for a random number from 1 to 10, I wouldn't be surprised to see substantially less than 3.322 bits of entropy per number (e.g., many more than 10% of the people choosing 7).

Comment author: scav 20 September 2012 07:54:02AM 3 points [-]

Ha. I fail at random. In my defence, the universe is probably deterministic anyway.

Comment author: BlazeOrangeDeer 25 September 2012 12:58:22AM 0 points [-]

it's probably not, but you're still excused ;)

Comment author: [deleted] 20 September 2012 10:47:36AM 2 points [-]

Is (the seconds' figure in my watch) mod 5 random enough?

Comment author: Luke_A_Somers 20 September 2012 01:43:12PM 1 point [-]

I used the least significant digit on my time-remaining-to-full-charge. And ended up propping up the most populated entry.

Comment author: BlazeOrangeDeer 25 September 2012 12:59:59AM *  1 point [-]

I needed 3 random bits (and threw out any overflow), which I got by checking whether arbitrary words or phrases I thought of had an even or odd number of letters. That's the most random completely mental (heh) way I know of, I wonder if there are others.

Comment author: Luke_A_Somers 25 September 2012 10:22:27AM 2 points [-]

... you could have done it more-reliably evenly by taking the mod 5 of the phrase/word length.

Comment author: [deleted] 25 September 2012 10:26:36PM 0 points [-]

Considering that the average word length in English is about five letters, I suspect that'd be quite far from being uniformly distributed.

Comment author: Luke_A_Somers 26 September 2012 01:39:01PM 1 point [-]

Average is irrelevant. What's relevant is the standard deviation.

Since standard deviation goes as the square root of the number of items being added, phrase length for any reasonably-sized phrase, so long as it wasn't a line of poetry, should be pretty evenly distributed.

Comment author: [deleted] 25 September 2012 10:23:00PM 0 points [-]

It's not obvious to me that it's unbiased. My gut feeling suspects that if I randomly chose a word it'd be more likely to have an odd than an even number of letters.

Comment author: Unnamed 20 October 2012 10:13:43PM 1 point [-]

After one month and 118 responses, I'm considering this poll closed. The results are:

1) 17%
2) 21%
3) 20%
4) 24%
5) 18%

A chi-squared test says that these results do not differ significantly from uniform random responding, with a p-value of 0.78.

The main reason why I ran this poll was because I thought it might have implications for the trickier poll above. It is interesting the option #4 was the most common response in this poll, that poll, and the gamefaqs poll which that poll was based on. #4 may seem especially random, and some respondents in the other polls may have just been trying to answer at random. But this poll ended up not providing much information about that; to test it we'd need a larger sample size, and preferably a poll where respondents did not use external sources of randomness.

Comment author: mfb 30 September 2012 05:32:46PM 1 point [-]

I think this would be even more interesting as "pick at random, without an external source of randomness". Sure you can get random numbers from random.org, your computer or the seconds on your watch (a nice idee), but those just blur the effect of mind-generated random numbers.

Comment author: gwern 26 September 2012 04:25:32PM 1 point [-]

For convenience: http://www.random.org/ or in Bash, echo $(($RANDOM % 5 + 1))

Comment author: RobinZ 26 September 2012 02:09:05PM 1 point [-]

Question: what's a reasonable prior over the probability distribution of poll answers? Because I downloaded the raw data, and it says:

  1. 15
  2. 22
  3. 21
  4. 24
  5. 18

...and I'm not sure what would constitute reasonable priors for the uniform distribution hypothesis versus the "aversion toward First Answer" hypothesis versus the "aversion toward First Answer and Fifth Answer" hypothesis.

Comment author: othercriteria 30 September 2012 03:34:09PM 3 points [-]

Your question is confused. The uniform distribution hypothesis only requires that the (assumed infinite) population picks the answers independently with equal probability. Under this hypothesis, the observed poll answers (for a fixed number of respondents) will follow a multinomial distribution with parameters (0.2, 0.2, 0.2, 0.2, 0.2). A typical realization will not have an equal number of respondents giving each answer, although asymptotically the empirical frequencies will converge to equality.

Anyways, as a Bayesian, the better question is what should my posterior belief about the response probabilities be after running the poll and updating off the answers? The canonical way to do this would be to put a Dirichlet prior over the response probabilities. By the miracle of conjugacy, your posterior distribution will itself by a (generally different) Dirichlet distribution.

By taking the expectation of indicator variables like I{"probability of First Answer under 0.2"} under the posterior, you can figure out what degree of belief you must give to statements like "respondents have an aversion toward First Answer".

Comment author: RobinZ 30 September 2012 03:40:20PM 3 points [-]

That makes sense - I had imagined doing something similar, but I had never heard of Dirichlet priors.

Comment author: othercriteria 30 September 2012 04:00:20PM 2 points [-]

Happy this helped. The Dirichlet-multinomial model gets relatively little attention because it adds nothing really new to the beta-binomial model for polls with just two responses. It's easy to find lots of introductory, chatty introductions to the beta-binomial like this one or this one if you want to learn more...

Comment author: Kindly 26 September 2012 04:32:30PM 3 points [-]

My own feelings on the matter are that if you don't know what prior to have, compute worst-case bounds.

In this case, the model that maximizes the probability of seeing this data is that each answer is 15% likely to be 1, 22% likely to be 2, 21% likely to be 3, 24% likely to be 4, and 18% likely to be 5. We can compute the probability of seeing this data under this model, and also under the "all answers are equally likely" model, and conclude that our worst-case model makes us only 3.61 times as likely to see this data.

In particular, any other hypothesis you might have can only receive this little evidence, relative to the uniform distribution hypothesis; and I believe in close-to-uniformity enough that I'm not going to be swayed by what is fewer than 2 bits of evidence.

Comment author: RobinZ 27 September 2012 02:16:11AM 1 point [-]

Thanks! I didn't think of that particular brainhack - I'll be sure to use it in the future.

Comment author: RobinZ 20 September 2012 06:40:48PM 1 point [-]

I rolled 1d6, intending to reroll any 6s.

Comment author: Epiphany 23 September 2012 01:20:47AM *  5 points [-]

Bug report: The right navigation bar on this page has scooted down as if it's being pushed out of alignment by something too wide in the comments section. The comments seem to have the same width as they normally do and I but perhaps the polls are interfering with the layout in some way?

FFX 15.0.1 W7

Comment author: jimrandomh 19 September 2012 04:06:55PM *  5 points [-]

This is the sample poll from the article (just a straight copy-paste). These aren't exciting questions, so you should ask some that are!

What is your favorite color?

How long has it been your favorite color, in years?

Red is a nice color

Agree Disagree

Will your favorite color change?

Submitting...

Comment author: Benja 19 September 2012 04:23:14PM *  21 points [-]

Current results: Red: 0%; Green, 33%; Blue: 67%; Other: 0%.

I'm gladdened to see that even though we don't discuss politics on LW, the green scum are in the minority here!

Comment author: [deleted] 19 September 2012 05:34:51PM 2 points [-]

Now neither green nor blue are the absolute majority, with 34% voting “Other”. Those pesky sideways rope pullers!

Comment author: ShardPhoenix 20 September 2012 09:45:53AM 3 points [-]

I got an error the first time because I put a percent instead of a fractional probability. Upon correcting this, I now see the following erroneous result: http://imgur.com/IASqy

Comment author: [deleted] 19 September 2012 05:28:38PM *  2 points [-]

What kind of question is, “Red is a nice color”? Some shades of red are nice and some aren't. Duh. (Also, who the hell has had a favourite colour for six dozen million times the age of the Universe?)

Comment author: RichardKennaway 20 September 2012 11:50:55AM 4 points [-]

Would it be useful to have a "choose all that apply" question type?

Comment author: ArisKatsaris 20 September 2012 12:24:14PM *  9 points [-]

BUG: The display of the data for the multiple-choice polls seems to reset at some point, though I can still see the complete raw data when clicking at them... e.g. right now, though 68 people have voted for the "best pony", at the display I only see the choice of the 68th person (Applejack) having a single vote, and all the other choices are falsely at zero.

Similar things with other polls.

Comment author: jimrandomh 20 September 2012 04:52:36PM 6 points [-]

Confirmed. The issue is in an interaction between the polling code and Reddit's custom ORM which causes vote-totals to be cached, but not persisted to the database correctly. I have a fix, which I'm testing now. All polls created before the fix is applied will be affected; it'll be possible to restore them, but it'd take some work which isn't a priority for me.

Comment author: wmoore 21 September 2012 01:04:52AM 2 points [-]

I've just deployed a fix that will apply to all new poll votes. Thanks jimrandomh for passing on the bug report and initial patch.

Comment author: Vaniver 20 September 2012 02:04:34PM *  5 points [-]

Here's a screenshot of that with my poll:

I still have access to the raw poll data.

Comment author: MichaelHoward 19 September 2012 10:31:08PM 24 points [-]

Do you ever have feelings of irrational nostalgia for hopelessly obsolete technology?

Comment author: MichaelHoward 19 September 2012 10:33:34PM 43 points [-]

Vote up for YES.

Comment author: [deleted] 20 September 2012 10:06:16AM 1 point [-]

I used a Nokia 3330 until last year.

Comment author: Jayson_Virissimo 22 September 2012 09:59:00AM 0 points [-]

That belongs in a museum!

-Indiana Jones

Comment author: Nisan 22 September 2012 01:06:03PM 0 points [-]

It is a radio to God.

— René Belloq

Comment author: MichaelHoward 19 September 2012 10:33:24PM 7 points [-]

Vote up for NO.

Comment author: Alicorn 19 September 2012 07:53:19PM 11 points [-]

I would like a user preference that makes it possible to vote non-anonymously by default. But it's low priority - this is really awesome as is!

Comment author: thomblake 19 September 2012 07:59:27PM 2 points [-]

seconded

Comment author: [deleted] 22 September 2012 03:09:53PM 0 points [-]

(Or even it remembering whether you chose to vote non-anonymously in the last poll you took.)

Comment author: RichardKennaway 22 September 2012 10:58:18PM 3 points [-]

There is something wrong with the page formatting on this post (but on no others I've tried). The sidebar at the right has been shunted to the very foot of the page. The top of the sidebar overlaps the footer bar and the rst of it hangs down below the page content. I've tried this in two different browsers (Safari and Firefox on a Mac). Could the new poll formatting have interacted badly with the CSS? This doesn't happen if I load an individual comment on this page, for any of the comments I've tried.

Comment author: Vaniver 19 September 2012 05:17:33PM *  3 points [-]

Awesome! But since we're stress-testing it, let's try doing things wrong.

First thing that I noticed is that it doesn't let you post if there's a poll error. That's great! ... except it doesn't respect four spaces to put something in code format, so I can't easily tell you what I tried and what failed. Putting tests in their own comments to make it more obvious when something passes.

[edit]Oops, this also floods recent comments.

Comment author: Vaniver 19 September 2012 05:19:26PM *  8 points [-]

Trying to do a poll with only one option fails gracefully. Example: What kind of book did you read last? [poll]{a book}

Modifying the number of periods modifies the number of options available:

True False

|poll:True............False|

One period is well-defined: Nope. |poll:True.False| throws an "invalid poll type" error.

What about leaving off one of the names? |poll:True...| throws an "invalid poll type" error as well.

Submitting...

Comment author: Vaniver 19 September 2012 05:24:27PM *  5 points [-]

Polls are stored by their id, which makes it so they can't be edited after the fact. (Probably wise.) But what happens when you refer to an old poll by its id?

This is |pollid:10|, which refers to the poll from this comment.

Error: Poll belongs to a different comment

What about a future poll?

Error: Poll not found!

Comment author: faul_sname 20 September 2012 07:09:25AM 1 point [-]

What if you then create the poll?

Comment author: Vaniver 19 September 2012 05:20:51PM *  4 points [-]

Trying to put two kinds of polls together:

How many bugs will I find?

The code for that was |poll:number|{all of them}{none of them}, with the pipes replaced by square brackets. It looks like the interior poll type takes precedence, which is probably what should happen, but it might be better to complain instead.

Submitting...

Comment author: ewang 22 September 2012 05:33:20AM 0 points [-]

Mean 1.69172935902e+16

What use is the mean if anyone can just do something like this?

Comment author: [deleted] 22 September 2012 08:22:39PM 5 points [-]

Yeah, scrap the mean, and show the 1st and 3rd quartile in addition to the median.

Comment author: ewang 22 September 2012 05:34:42AM 0 points [-]

Point already raised and discussed, see below.

Comment author: Vaniver 19 September 2012 05:18:12PM *  3 points [-]

Testing the spaces to make sure I'm doing it right:

Yep, [I](http://lesswrong.com/lw/ekw/less_wrong_polls_in_comments/7gqv) am.

Now let's try a well-formatted poll:

Is this commented? 
Submitting...

Comment author: CCC 20 September 2012 06:47:55AM 4 points [-]

Total:25, but adding up the votes for each option gives 24.

Comment author: Vaniver 20 September 2012 01:57:19PM *  3 points [-]

Fascinating, I got two and two (total 33), and after refreshing I see the poll text but it won't let me vote, because I already voted.

Also, I think it's sort of amusing that this is the only thing I found that looks like a serious bug to me, but it has the least upvotes of my tests.

Comment author: MichaelHoward 19 September 2012 08:25:05PM 6 points [-]

Most voters so far have probably voted False to this question:

Submitting...

Comment author: Antisuji 20 September 2012 12:33:30AM 6 points [-]

This doesn't look right: http://screencast.com/t/qpRGihBG

The raw data says there are 13 votes for "0" and 20 votes for "1".

Comment author: Kindly 20 September 2012 02:44:40AM *  4 points [-]

Looking at the raw data, it seems that at some point the True and False counts got reset, but then kept increasing as normal. The same thing happened in this poll and this one but not others.

Comment author: Kaj_Sotala 21 September 2012 08:25:08AM 5 points [-]

If you choose an answer to this question at random (using a uniform distribution), what is the probability that you will be correct?

Submitting...

Comment author: roryokane 23 September 2012 03:16:18AM 2 points [-]
Comment author: Morendil 19 September 2012 04:15:26PM 5 points [-]

Neat. Thanks!

This deserves karma. For fun, enter how much you think this post will get.

Submitting...

Comment author: RobertLumley 19 September 2012 04:28:04PM 12 points [-]

After my vote:

" Mean 43.5 Median 75.0 Total votes 2"

Well this is mathematically impossible... My guess is the median isn't properly calculated for even numbers of votes.

Comment author: jimrandomh 19 September 2012 04:56:16PM 10 points [-]

Thanks for spotting this! I looked into it, and it seems to be double-counting the most recent result when computing the median. It's an order-of-initialization issue; it thinks it's getting all the results except the new one, adding it, then taking the median, but it's actually getting a list of all the results. The fix is straightforward; I'll email the admins to apply it.

Comment author: wmoore 19 September 2012 11:48:23PM 3 points [-]

Your fix for the incorrect median calculation has been deployed.

Comment author: NancyLebovitz 20 September 2012 12:30:56PM 2 points [-]

I got a mean of -9.91765890411e+16, so something is still wrong.

Comment author: Kindly 20 September 2012 01:25:18PM 11 points [-]

No, that's unfortunate but correct (several people entered things like entered -3e+18 as their estimate).

Comment author: DaFranker 19 September 2012 04:34:50PM 8 points [-]

...trolltastic.

"Mean 1.25e+18 Median 45.0 Total votes 8"

Comment author: siodine 19 September 2012 04:56:27PM 7 points [-]

Specifying a lower and upper bound on the input should be required.

Comment author: ema 21 September 2012 02:35:30PM 1 point [-]

That doesn't really prevent trolling, so i'm not sure that it would be helpful.

Comment author: siodine 21 September 2012 04:42:59PM 3 points [-]

It won't prevent trolling but it will minimize its effects. As it stands, you can input numbers like 1e+19 which will seriously throw off the mean. If trolls can only give the highest or lowest reasonable bound then they're not going to have much of an effect individually and that makes going through the effort to troll less worthwhile.

Comment author: Kawoomba 21 September 2012 05:33:03PM *  1 point [-]

Well this is mathematically impossible...

Not necessarily:

Votes: 12 and 75

Mean: 43.5

Median (upper median): 75

While the standard e.g. wolfram alpha definition (which isn't normative) of the median would be 43.5 as well, it is an accepted practice (in plenty of CS grad classes, at least) to have the median guaranteed to be an element of the sample, normally the upper median is then chosen simply as "median". Hence the wiki definition having the qualifier "usual".

In fact, I was surprised that the median is strictly speaking not guaranteed to be an element of the set, using the majority mathematical definition.

So, not so much an error as a lazy CS convention ...

Comment author: GuySrinivasan 19 September 2012 05:19:17PM 10 points [-]

It correctly interpreted ۲ as 2. :)

Comment author: SilasBarta 20 September 2012 12:24:44AM 2 points [-]

The largest integer is:

Submitting...

Comment author: ata 20 September 2012 06:06:48AM 15 points [-]

The largest number is about 45,000,000,000, although mathematicians suspect that there may be even larger numbers. (45,000,000,001?)

Comment author: Benja 22 September 2012 07:34:44PM 3 points [-]

Set theorists sometimes remark that there are only very few natural numbers. I think this can be made more quantitative: Based on observations of their blackboard drawings and accompanying explanations, my current best estimate is that there are about five to ten. However, so far, my confidence in this estimate is only moderate; I still think the number could ultimately turn out to be as high as twenty.

Comment author: Luke_A_Somers 20 September 2012 01:49:05PM *  7 points [-]

According to my I Ching calculator, beyond 4 is a suffusion of yellow.

This appears not to be a valid response. Curious.

Comment author: Randaly 20 September 2012 08:09:25AM 7 points [-]

Median 17.0

....

Comment author: Nic_Smith 22 September 2012 04:06:28AM 1 point [-]

I was hoping the mode would be 2147483647 (my answer) to at least provide some humor, but 0 has it beat handily.

Comment author: MaoShan 20 September 2012 03:24:03AM 4 points [-]

According to the poll, my understanding of what qualifies as an integer is very, very wrong. 1e+19=the universal integer limit. NO EXCEPTIONS!

Comment author: arundelo 20 September 2012 01:04:40AM 4 points [-]
Comment author: AngryParsley 23 September 2012 08:33:04AM *  1 point [-]

The results so far (only showing answers with > 1 responder):

11 "0.0"
8 "-1.0"
7 "2147483647.0"
5 "3.0"
4 "42.0"
4 "1e+19"
3 "9.0"
3 "8.0"
3 "1.0"
2 "666.0"
2 "32767.0"
2 "24.0"
2 "2.0"
2 "1e+17"

To regenerate this, run grep -v "#" poll.csv | awk -F , '{ print $3 }' | sort | uniq -c | sort -nr.

I'm not surprised by the number of votes for 2^31-1. It was the first number to pop into my head when I saw the poll.

Comment author: CCC 20 September 2012 06:49:39AM 1 point [-]

It does not seem to accept 'inf' or 'infinite'.

Comment author: J_Taylor 20 September 2012 03:10:08AM 1 point [-]

NaN

Comment author: Mitchell_Porter 20 September 2012 01:42:25AM 1 point [-]

Doesn't accept "⌊∞⌋".

Comment author: paper-machine 20 September 2012 01:51:42AM 3 points [-]

As well it shouldn't?

Comment author: [deleted] 20 September 2012 11:04:17AM *  1 point [-]

Should it (or at least, should it accept inf and/or NaN)?

Submitting...

Comment author: Kindly 20 September 2012 12:40:29PM 1 point [-]

Well, use of those would make the mean meaningless.

It wouldn't be a problem if the polls had upper and lower bounds, because then you could exclude them (but you could also make the upper bound infinite if you wanted to). I don't think there's a need for them, though.

Comment author: [deleted] 20 September 2012 01:12:58PM 3 points [-]

You don't need to use infinities to make the mean meaningless: giving answers such as 1e100 will suffice. On the other hand, NANs are traditionally just disregarded when computing means (i.e., the mean of 1, 2, 3 and NAN is taken to be 2) -- essentially they would amount to a blank vote.

Comment author: Emile 19 September 2012 07:47:49PM 2 points [-]

How awesome is this new feature?

Not Awesome Totally Awesome

Submitting...

Comment author: Emile 20 September 2012 01:04:24PM 3 points [-]

So according to the raw data, 100 people voted, but what I see displayed is 3 votes for answer 4 of 5, one for 5 of 5, and no total.

Comment author: Kindly 20 September 2012 02:16:15PM 5 points [-]

The "no total" part is independent of the bug -- it seems that scale polls just don't report totals or percentages. (They probably should.)

Comment author: MichaelHoward 19 September 2012 09:16:47PM 2 points [-]

Red is a nice

Submitting...

Comment author: GuySrinivasan 19 September 2012 05:09:26PM 2 points [-]

Minimize the expected square of the distance between your answer and 80% of the mean of the answers chosen:

Submitting...

Comment author: David_Gerard 19 September 2012 08:04:06PM 2 points [-]

This is great and I upvoted it, but being meta I think it should be in Discussion.

Comment author: MBlume 19 September 2012 05:56:35PM 0 points [-]

Best pony?

Submitting...

Comment author: OpenThreadGuy 20 September 2012 03:04:27AM 5 points [-]

Psh, of course rationalists think Twilight Sparkle is the best pony.

Comment author: Luke_A_Somers 20 September 2012 01:36:23PM *  3 points [-]

She's intellectual, but she reacts irrationally to the Pinkie Sense.

Also, poor Rarity.

Comment author: MaoShan 20 September 2012 03:28:12AM -2 points [-]

It's a trick question, Twilight Sparkle is a unicorn.

Comment author: MugaSofer 20 September 2012 12:46:00PM 2 points [-]

Unicorns are a subset of ponies in the MLP 'verse.

Comment author: MaoShan 21 September 2012 02:02:48AM 1 point [-]

How silly of me; next time I'll get my facts straight.

Comment author: MugaSofer 21 September 2012 12:04:38PM 3 points [-]

You'd better. My Little Pony continuity is SERIOUS BUSINESS.

Comment author: Alicorn 19 September 2012 07:54:11PM 2 points [-]

I think it's "Pinkie".

Comment author: MBlume 19 September 2012 08:00:03PM 1 point [-]

Well, no one's voting for her anyway.

Comment author: Fyrius 23 September 2012 05:00:35PM 1 point [-]

I beg to differ.

Comment author: roryokane 23 September 2012 04:05:49AM *  0 points [-]

Indeed it is. A Google search for “Pinky Pie” autocorrects to “Pinkie Pie”, while the inverse is not true. The first result in either case is a wiki article on “Pinkie Pie”.

Comment author: Epiphany 20 September 2012 05:10:28PM 1 point [-]

My poll is now broken. The specific answers don't show up anymore in the results, only the totals at the bottom of each question show. Elitism Poll

Comment author: shminux 20 September 2012 08:15:27PM 4 points [-]

The FAI hidden deep in the poll code logic refuses to run stupid and trollish polls.

Comment author: Epiphany 20 September 2012 09:37:56PM 1 point [-]

LMAO

I disagree with the sentiment but I can still laugh at good humor.

Comment author: MichaelHoward 19 September 2012 09:09:45PM 1 point [-]

What is your favorite color?

Submitting...

Comment author: NancyLebovitz 20 September 2012 12:34:52PM 2 points [-]

What about fuligin?

Comment author: MaoShan 20 September 2012 03:25:19AM 2 points [-]

Won't you also ask about my favourite colour?

Comment author: MaoShan 20 September 2012 03:37:24AM *  -2 points [-]

I don't know if it's specifically addressed anywhere in the Terms of Use, but free use of polls can have some very hurtful results; it might be helpful to somewhere post a guide to what type of polls are appropriate and tolerated.

Comment author: Alicorn 20 September 2012 03:43:02AM 9 points [-]

Can you be more specific about what you mean?

Comment author: Epiphany 20 September 2012 06:47:03AM *  8 points [-]

This is an especially good point because you're currently able to change the question after the results are in, allowing you to prank the poll takers by making their answers seem to support anything you feel like.

Comment author: DaFranker 20 September 2012 08:23:59PM *  2 points [-]

Cue in choice blindness dark arts for Fun and Updates!

(also for evil experiments and control groups, if someone figures those out)

Comment author: wedrifid 20 September 2012 05:35:13AM 7 points [-]

I don't know if it's specifically addressed anywhere in the Terms of Use, but free use of polls can have some very hurtful results; it might be helpful to somewhere post a guide to what type of polls are appropriate and tolerated.

What? About the same as the what you could write in comments already but prettier.

Comment author: radical_negative_one 20 September 2012 06:05:23AM *  2 points [-]

radical_negative_one is a terrible person

Submitting...

Comment author: AspiringRationalist 20 September 2012 05:46:09PM 4 points [-]

The overall total equals the sum of the individual answer totals, in contrast to previous polls.

Comment author: wedrifid 20 September 2012 09:49:08AM 4 points [-]

What? About the same as the what you could write in comments already but prettier.

Comment author: Epiphany 20 September 2012 06:43:49AM *  0 points [-]

Here's one: What if someone takes a poll asking if they should kill themselves? People could write "yes" in the comments, but they can select "yes" in a poll anonymously.

This may lead to more brutal answers to questions. The questions will be limited to whatever the poll creator types in, but that doesn't mean everyone will use common sense while creating their polls.

You may argue "they can already use comments as a polling system using karma" but I would then argue "okay, MaoShan still has a point, and it applies to karma, too."

Also

Comment author: scav 20 September 2012 08:09:37AM 12 points [-]
  1. Most of the commenters here refrain from being antisocial dicks. There's no reason to believe anonymous polling will change that.

  2. Anyone actually making life-or-death decisions on the basis of an internet forum poll has a non-trivial chance of being selected out of the gene pool for related reasons.

  3. Sometimes you want or can accept brutal answers.

  4. Individual responsibility. You can't legislate for or even concern-troll people into having common sense, even assuming common sense is a well-defined and useful property.

Comment author: Epiphany 20 September 2012 05:14:44PM *  1 point [-]

Another thought: Just because a person asking people on the internet whether they should kill themselves isn't likely to survive in any case, this does not mean that LessWrong wouldn't be sued if said person posted a poll and it resulted in their death. For whatever reason, the US legal system has been known to grant large sums of money to people who are harmed by things that many consider inadvisable or "no-brainers".

Comment author: scav 20 September 2012 08:17:39PM 2 points [-]

And there we depart from the discussion of rationality into the realm of the law. :)

I am pleased to be able to give an immediate unequivocal answer on whether this is likely to be a problem: I have no idea.

Comment author: [deleted] 20 September 2012 11:06:18AM *  12 points [-]

Upvote this comment and downvote the karma sink if you think I should not kill myself. :-)

(Edited to add smiley per Poe's law, especially in case someone sees this comment without seeing the parent first.)

Comment author: wedrifid 20 September 2012 09:56:09AM *  2 points [-]

Here's one: What if someone takes a poll asking if they should kill themselves?

I suspect people would react against people asking that regardless of whether they include radio buttons. If I recall there has even been drama surrounding making observations about a former member suiciding. I'd be somewhat surprised if someone asking this question directly did not prompt that comment to be banned.

The questions will be limited to whatever the poll creator types in, but that doesn't mean everyone will use common sense while creating their polls.

No, I haven't observed common sense to universally constrain posting behavior in general. However explicit polls don't strike me as sufficiently different or more powerful than regular comments, (inherently anonymous) votes and private messages that a move from informal expectations that people don't behave like @#%$s need be changed to a formal "Terms of Use".

Comment author: [deleted] 20 September 2012 11:05:49AM *  0 points [-]

Upvote this comment and downvote the karma sink if you think I should kill myself. :-)

(Edited to add smiley per Poe's law, especially in case someone sees this comment without seeing the parent first.)

Comment author: RichardKennaway 21 September 2012 08:08:15AM 2 points [-]

"Don't be an asshole" covers it. If you need a guide to tell you that, a guide will not help you.

Comment author: Eugine_Nier 22 September 2012 04:39:57AM 1 point [-]

Could you taboo "asshole"?

Comment author: wedrifid 22 September 2012 06:39:27AM 4 points [-]

Could you taboo "asshole"?

It's fairly taboo already.

Comment author: RichardKennaway 22 September 2012 05:11:27PM 0 points [-]

Could you taboo "asshole"?

Explain how not to be an asshole? Possibly, but I don't think anyone here actually needs an explanation, beyond pointing out that anything you shouldn't say for that reason in an ordinary comment, you shouldn't say in a poll either. The slightly different sort of thing that a poll is doesn't change the standard.

Comment author: NancyLebovitz 06 October 2012 06:08:01PM 1 point [-]

Would it be possible to have a preview for polls?

Comment author: Vaniver 27 September 2012 02:50:02PM 1 point [-]

Bug: If you write a comment responding to a comment with a poll, then vote in the poll before posting the comment, your comment is eaten.

Comment author: badger 26 September 2012 04:56:21PM *  1 point [-]

Bug report:

I voted in this poll, and after reloading the page, I don't see the results. Sensibly, it won't let me vote again, but now I'm stuck with the survey form. I did see the results immediately after voting.

Edit: I can view the results now. Not sure what changed.

Comment author: Lapsed_Lurker 20 September 2012 09:50:07PM 1 point [-]

Submitting...

Comment author: NancyLebovitz 20 September 2012 12:39:42PM 1 point [-]

Are grey and gray different colors?

Submitting...

Comment author: RichardKennaway 20 September 2012 11:49:00AM 1 point [-]

How many Quality Adjusted Life Years do you estimate you have left?

Include whatever uploads, uplifts, descendant entities, etc. you deem to still be "you"; time spent in a deanimation vault counts as 0 QALYs.

Submitting...

Comment author: TheOtherDave 20 September 2012 02:11:06PM *  4 points [-]

Should I do a weighted sum over descendant entities I deem fractionally me, or just over entities I deem "me"?

Comment author: RichardKennaway 20 September 2012 02:51:00PM *  1 point [-]

However you choose to calculate it, that's your estimate of remaining QALY's.

For descendant entities you deem fully "you", but with fractional chances of existing, see my reply to Luke.

Comment author: TheOtherDave 20 September 2012 03:03:41PM 1 point [-]

(nods) Saw that, makes sense. Just so you know, at least one "more" answer reflects, not a confident prediction that the answerer will live more than a millenium, nor a two-order-of-magnitude increase in quality of life, but a willingness to identify fractionally with billions of living people.

Comment author: Luke_A_Somers 20 September 2012 01:46:34PM *  3 points [-]

How to aggregate across the distribution of possibilities? Average? Median? Most likely range?

I'm 33, so it wouldn't take too much life extension to get me to 133, but a fair amount... I'd rate the probabilities as roughly 40%, 30%, 10%, 20%. So, each of the three answers is different.

Comment author: RichardKennaway 20 September 2012 02:52:47PM *  2 points [-]

The most likely range. I'd rather this wasn't skewed by people putting down "more" just because they anticipate a tiny probability of a vast lifetime, but failing that expect to be dead as usual before very long.

Comment author: thomblake 20 September 2012 03:00:10PM 1 point [-]

I don't see how to correct for that.

Comment author: RichardKennaway 21 September 2012 02:17:02PM 1 point [-]

The bug concerning reporting of results is still present: currently the counts for the four categories are displayed as 9, 0, 0, 0, with a total of 39. According to the downloaded data, the counts are 28, 4, 1, 6 = 39.

Comment author: Incorrect 19 September 2012 04:33:47PM *  1 point [-]

Bug:

<div class=

" title="" />

Submitting...

Comment author: gwern 02 November 2012 08:18:13PM 0 points [-]

Is there any way to embed polls into the body of an Article/Discussion post? Or does it have to be in comments?

Comment author: jimrandomh 02 November 2012 08:27:09PM 0 points [-]

Currently it has to be in comments. Since comments and articles have entirely different markup and formatting systems (comments use Markdown, articles use constrained HTML), supporting them in both places at once is nontrivial.

Comment author: gwern 02 November 2012 08:34:56PM 0 points [-]

But the Markdown is converted to HTML in the end... As a workaround: Could I make a poll as a comment, copy the HTML of a non-voted-upon version of the comment, and insert it into the raw HTML of an article? And then delete the original comment?

Comment author: jimrandomh 02 November 2012 10:54:17PM 0 points [-]

There's a bit more to it than HTML, though - the submission and results display use some Javascript. You might be able to hack an alternative without Javascript, but hitting "submit" would take you to a broken page, rather than replacing the poll with the results in-place.

Comment author: gwern 02 November 2012 11:11:53PM 0 points [-]

Oh. Too bad then.

Comment author: jimrandomh 23 September 2012 12:23:33AM 0 points [-]

One common and annoying failure mode in writing polls is omitting options. This can be mitigated by including an extra "Other" option. We could make this automatic and mandatory, adding that option to all polls automatically. The upside is that people couldn't forget or decline to include the Other option when it's appropriate; the downside is that they can't adjust its wording or leave it out when the options are truly exhaustive.

Should multiple-choice polls have an Other option added automatically?

Submitting...

Comment author: TheOtherDave 23 September 2012 05:02:43AM 9 points [-]

If someone wrote the code to make the inclusion of an "Other" option a default, opt-out behavior of LW polls, I would not object if that code were added.

Comment author: NancyLebovitz 23 September 2012 05:37:03AM 2 points [-]

I would even be in favor of it.

Comment author: Fyrius 23 September 2012 05:10:06PM 1 point [-]

Seconded.