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wedrifid comments on LW Women: LW Online - Less Wrong Discussion

29 [deleted] 15 February 2013 01:43AM

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Comment author: Viliam_Bur 18 February 2013 10:38:59AM *  13 points [-]

women who are on LW still tend to be more put off by the hostility.

Unless we have some availability bias here. Such as, people who dislike something, speak more in discussions about disliking it. And if those people are women, they are more likely to attribute their dislike to male behavior, than if they are men.

In other words, a reversed form of this. A man: "Wow, I dislike how people behave on LW." A woman: "Wow, I dislike how men behave on LW."

My personal guess is that the truth is somewhere in between. Some things that men do here, are unpleasant for women. But also, sometimes women attribute to "male behavior" something that actually is not a specifically male behavior... but because majority of LW users are male, it is very easy to assign every frustration from LW to them. For example, discussing PUA stuff and "getting women" may be really repulsive for many women. But a lack of smiling faces, disagreeing with someone's self-description, or feeling threatened by very smart people, that can be (at least partially) just a gender-independent consequence of having a website focused on rationality.

Comment author: wedrifid 18 February 2013 10:52:52AM 2 points [-]

women who are on LW still tend to be more put off by the hostility.

Unless we have some availability bias here.

Robin Hanson has also speculated about differing payoffs for complaining.

Comment author: Viliam_Bur 18 February 2013 01:08:21PM *  2 points [-]

The different payoffs for complaining explain the presence of complaining. They don't explain the absence of... anti-complaining. As in: "girls, I seriously don't know what is your problem; I am a woman, and LW is the most friendly website ever". Did you ever see anything like this on LW? Me neither. (EDIT: OK, here is a rather positive comment.)

Imagine how much status on LW a women could gain by defending men. Seems like no one takes it.

Comment author: Eugine_Nier 19 February 2013 01:45:50AM *  3 points [-]

Well, Nancy Lebovitz made a point of saying "I'm a woman and I don't have a problem with the tone".

Comment author: NancyLebovitz 20 February 2013 09:57:58PM 3 points [-]

Thanks. I was thinking about bringing that up, but on the other hand, what I said wasn't as hostile as wedifrid's suggestion of "girls, I seriously don't know what is your problem; I am a woman, and LW is the most friendly website ever", even though, as it turned out, I really didn't understand the problems a lot of people have with LW's tone.

Comment author: buybuydandavis 21 February 2013 03:02:45PM 1 point [-]

Right. You didn't dismiss their discomfort, you just said that you didn't share it yourself.

Comment author: buybuydandavis 21 February 2013 03:00:46PM 2 points [-]

The mystery is resolved if you accept the men's rights activists claim.

No one gains status by dismissing the needs of women. Not men. Not women.

Comment author: Viliam_Bur 21 February 2013 03:59:44PM *  3 points [-]

Broad claims should be reexamined for specific unusual situations (LW is an unusual social situation). Also to avoid mindkilling, it would be better just to cite the claim without saying who claims it.

Even when outright dismissing is socially impossible, there can still remain some more subtle form of feedback. As a very extreme example, even in a totalitarian regime where no one can safely contradict the leader and everyone must clap their hands when the leader says something, people who disagree clap their hands slightly differently from people who agree.

I wrote this comment before erratio wrote hers. (And I somehow missed or forgot NancyLebovitz's comment.) Now, with the new data... I stand corrected. I guess in this situation, the positive comments by erratio and NancyLebovitz are as far as a woman can go without a status loss. Whether someone did or didn't go that far, that is an evidence we can use; and now that I see the evidence, I retracted the original comment.

So, considering this evidence, now I think that the situation is mostly OK, and that the whole "LW Women" series probably suffers from availability bias and priming. The complaining women were more likely to participate, they were primed to complain ("told to not hold back for politeness"), and they were primed to focus on gender issues (by the fact that they were selected for being women).

Just to make sure, by "mostly OK" I mean that I respect the wish to talk about sex/gender issues less. I don't think we can avoid them completely, because sometimes they are strongly relevant to the topic, but we should always think twice before introducing them in a thread. Some degree of reducing emotions is necessary for a rationality debate (regardless of gender), but perhaps we are too extreme in this, and could be a bit warmer, simply because just like rationality is not a reversed stupidity, neither is it reversed emotionality. But of course we should not push people for whom that would be unpleasant. Anyone who prefers a different environment is free to lead by example, instead of blaming others for having different preferences.

Comment author: MugaSofer 19 February 2013 01:00:08PM 1 point [-]

They don't explain the absence of... anti-complaining. As in: "girls, I seriously don't know what is your problem; I am a woman, and LW is the most friendly website ever". Did you ever see anything like this on LW?

Um, yes. The very first comment I saw here was exactly that. There are even more comments saying "girls, I see your problem; I am a male, but I too have experienced X" which fits the gender imbalance here.

Comment author: wedrifid 18 February 2013 01:38:27PM -2 points [-]

The different payoffs for complaining explain the presence of complaining. They don't explain the absence of... anti-complaining. As in: "girls, I seriously don't know what is your problem; I am a woman, and LW is the most friendly website ever".

That doesn't strike me as something that needs explaining. Lesswrong isn't the most friendly website (and nor should it be!)

Comment author: buybuydandavis 21 February 2013 02:58:27PM *  1 point [-]

Hanson momentarily hovered around the explanation a men's rights activists would give.

Women express their needs because people care about women's needs and act to satisfy them. Men don't because no one cares what a man needs. If he needs something, it's his problem. This is particularly true with complaints of hurt or injury.

Comment author: OnTheOtherHandle 27 July 2013 01:14:20AM 0 points [-]

I'd be curious if women actually did complain more than men do, or if that's a myth, or if women are more likely to express displeasure in ways that are labeled "complaining" (as opposed to "arguing" or "debating")? I know that the plausible-sounding and widely believed claim that women talk more than men do but the effect seems to be either very small or nonexistent.

It'd be interesting to see a study on this using a similar soundbite capturing device to find out if women did actually complain more. Even though there'd be issues with defining "complaining," it could be useful. I'd predict that Hanson is coming up with an explanation for an effect that doesn't really exist.