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gwern comments on Open Thread, November 1-15, 2012 - Less Wrong Discussion

4 Post author: OpenThreadGuy 02 November 2012 02:11AM

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Comment author: fubarobfusco 10 November 2012 04:27:53PM 13 points [-]

How exactly should someone bring to other LWers' attention that there's a hostile environment — where some folks can expect that they will be insulted about their bodies, and that such insults will be used as metaphors for random distaste or disliking — happening on IRC under the "Less Wrong" name, without quoting it? Be specific is considered a virtue hereabouts, and vagueness or imprecision a failing.

Comment author: gwern 10 November 2012 05:39:49PM *  13 points [-]

#lesswrong is not official, is not populated exclusively by LWers, is not frequently discussed here, and if you look on the wiki, you'll see Eliezer specifically recommends against spending time in #lesswrong, so I think it's questionable that it ought to involve LessWrong at all.

Who should it involve? Well, startling was quoting Freenode rules, so Freenode is the obvious party to involve....

Or he could've been clearer and not blindsided me. I had no idea startling was personally offended because none of his comments were anything out of the ordinary for that vein of mock offensive humor - I have made many mock 'homophobic' jokes to papermachine and papermachine sometimes responds back as mock offended, but I do not really think papermachine is offended & despises me as reactionary homophobic scum. (Those jokes are buried in the other 115,000 IRC lines I have written.)

Nor do I expect Alicorn to drop by #lesswrong and mention that papermachine has written a long comment about on LW that I should probably take a look at, which papermachine has not mentioned at all despite being active in IRC at the same time as me that night.

Comment author: paper-machine 26 November 2012 08:02:37PM 6 points [-]

I really didn't realize this whole thing was a thing -- goes to show how little I've been paying to LW lately. Sorry to dig this up two weeks after the fact, but in the interest of being perfectly clear to any and all parties concerned or concerning themselves:

I have made many mock 'homophobic' jokes to papermachine and papermachine sometimes responds back as mock offended, but I do not really think papermachine is offended & despises me as reactionary homophobic scum.

This is also my understanding of those situations. Gwern (or anyone else on #lesswrong, for that matter) has never offended me in this context -- though of course I cannot speak for all homosexuals everywhere, past or future, or in alternate universes.

Comment author: fubarobfusco 10 November 2012 06:00:55PM 9 points [-]

Or he could've been clearer and not blindsided me. I had no idea startling was personally offended because none of his comments were anything out of the ordinary for that vein of mock offensive humor

I suppose one difficulty with that kind of environment is that if someone actually tries to call someone else out for being insulting, it's easy to miss the call-out or mistake it for a joke. In other conversational environments, if someone said "'deceptive' is a pretty terrible word to use for trans people" and "gwern, what a disgusting thing to say," it might have sunk in that they were serious and you wouldn't have later felt blindsided?

Comment author: gwern 10 November 2012 06:11:04PM 9 points [-]

In other conversational environments, if someone said "'deceptive' is a pretty terrible word to use for trans people" and "gwern, what a disgusting thing to say," it might have sunk in that they were serious and you wouldn't have later felt blindsided?

Oh sure. For example: if someone says 'what a horrible thing to say' while simultaneously smiling, you would have to have Aspergers or something to not be certain that they were playing along; while if they furrowed their brow and frowned, it might be a good idea to immediately backtrack or alternately make the joke sufficiently outrageous that they'd realize that you couldn't possibly believe that and were joking.

(Definitely one of the disadvantages of IRC, although in general I find it a very congenial environment.)

Comment author: fubarobfusco 10 November 2012 06:29:19PM *  18 points [-]

Sure. On the other hand, someone who's used to being on the receiving end of hateful comments, and who's used to not being taken seriously when they object to them, might pattern-match the same conversation onto that expectation.

It's not uncommon for people to express derision or contempt honestly, then to back off by claiming to have been joking when someone calls them on it and they realize their contempt is not shared. Someone who's used to being the target of that sort of thing may abandon attempts to "be clearer" sooner than you'd prefer, because what's the point?


Simon: No, I didn't mean —
Kaylee: Yeah you did. You meant everything you just said.
Simon: Well, no. Uh, actually I was being ironic, so in in in the strictest sense —
Kaylee: You were being mean, is what. And if that's what you think of this life, then you can't think much of them that choose it, can you.

Comment author: [deleted] 11 November 2012 03:19:08PM 2 points [-]

Definitely one of the disadvantages of IRC

Huh, that's what emoticons are for.

Comment author: pragmatist 10 November 2012 05:55:23PM *  8 points [-]

I had no idea startling was personally offended because none of his comments were anything out of the ordinary for that vein of mock offensive humor

Seriously? You think it's plausible to interpret

gwern, "deceptive" is a pretty terrible word to use for trans people.

and

gwern, what a disgusting thing to say.

as humorous mock offended responses? How much clearer do you want him to be?

Comment author: gwern 10 November 2012 06:07:16PM 15 points [-]

Typically when you want to break out of a language game, you use standard indicators like 'no, seriously' or going to personal messages (as I believe someone has already suggested that startling should've done) or anything like that. Like when you are roughhousing with your brother or sister and they say 'that hurts' and you continue since, well, you're roughhousing, and then they say 'no, seriously, that hurts!' 'Oh, whups!'

There are all sorts of things like that in ordinary social games; although taking things out of context and as literally as possible is a very LW thing to do, so I am not surprised that I am not getting a sympathetic hearing here (although it is enforcing on me an appreciation of Freenode's Guidelines and Ivan's new channel rule that logging or quoting is banworthy).