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Comment author: Viliam 03 April 2017 09:45:04AM *  26 points [-]

Everyone, could we please stop using the word "sociopath" to mean things other than... you know... sociopathy?

I also like the linked article and I believe it does a great job at describing social dynamic at subcultures. I shared that article many times. But while it is funny to use exaggerations for shocking value, making the exaggerated word a new normal is... I guess in obvious conflict with the goal of rationality and clear communication. Sometimes I don't even know how many people are actually aware that "trying to make profit from things you don't deeply care about" and "being diagnosed as a sociopath" are actually two different things.

To explain why I care about this, imagine a group that decides that it is cool to refer to "kissing someone for social reasons, not because you actually desire to", as "rape". Because, you know, there are some similarities; both are a kind of an intimate contact, etc. Okay, if you write an article describing the analogies, that's great, and you have a good point. It just becomes idiotic when the whole community decides to use "rape" in this sense, and then they keep talking like this: "Yesterday we visited Grandma. When we entered the house, she raped us, and then we raped her back. I really don't like it when old people keep raping me like this, but I don't want to create conflicts in the family. But maybe I am just making a mountain out of a molehill, and being raped is actually not a big deal." Followed by dozen replies using the same vocabulary.

First, this is completely unnecessarily burning your weirdness points. Weird jargon makes communication with outsiders more difficult, and makes it more difficult for outsiders to join the group, even if they would otherwise agree with the group's values. After this point, absurdity heuristics works against anything you say. Sometimes there is a good reason for using jargon (it can compress difficult concepts), but I believe in this case the benefits are not proportional to the costs.

More importantly, imagine that if talking like this would become the group norm, how difficult it would be to have a serious discussion about actual rape. Like, anytime someone would mention being actually raped by a grandparent as a child, there would be a guaranteed reaction from someone "yeah, yeah, happens to me when we visit Grandma every weekend, not a big deal". Or someone would express concern about possible rape at community weekend, and people would respond by making stickers "kisses okay" and "don't like kissing", believing they are addressing the issue properly.

I believe it would be really bad if rationalist community would lose the ability to talk about actual sociopathy rationally. Because one day this topic may become an important one, and we may be too busy calling everyone who sells Bayes T-shirts without having read the Sequences a "sociopath". But even if you disagree with me on the importance of this, I hope you can agree that using words like this is stupid. How about just calling it "exploiting"? As in: "some people are only exploiting the rationalist community to get money for their causes, or to get free work from us, without providing anything to our causes in return -- we seriously need to put stop to this". Could words like this get the message across, too?

Also, if you want to publicly address these people "hey guys, we suspect you are just using us for free resources; how about demonstrating some commitment to our causes first?", it will probably help to keep the discussion friendly, if you don't call them "sociopaths". Similarly, imagine LessWrong having an article saying (a) "vegans as a group benefit from the rationalist community, but don't contribute anything to the art of Bayes in return", or (b) "vegans are sociopaths". Regardless of whether you personally happen to be a vegan or not, this is obviously harmful.

tl;dr -- we are in the rationality business here, not in the clickbait business; talk accordingly

(EDIT: Just to be explicit about this, ignoring the terminology issue, I completely agree with the parent comment.)

Comment author: sdr 02 April 2017 01:49:31AM *  17 points [-]

Fellow Hufflepuff / startupper / business getting-stuff-done-er / CFAR / Bay-arean here. Can we talk about the elephant in the room?

  • Geeks, MOPs, and sociopaths in subculture evolution <- describes the idea of the role of parasites in subculture evolution; specifically, that once group-surplus achieves a threshold, it is immediately soaked up by parasites funneling it to agendas of their own
  • There are, by my count, at least 3 such parasites in the Bay community; and specifically they position themselves as the broken stair step right at onboarding, making the community feel "impenetrable and unwelcoming". The way how this happens operationally, is when I admit to some level of operational surplus (language skills, software development, business building), from these specific persons I get immediately asks of "Would you like to do free translation for me?" / "Would you like to build $website-idea$ for me?" / "Would you like to donate to $my-cause$?". I also notice that they don't do it this overtly to long-term members.
  • Note, the problem here isn't the ask. We do asks in entrepreneur-topia all the time. The problem is the lack of dealcraft: the asks are asymmetrically favouring the asker, and only offer vague lipservice-waving-towards-nice-things as return.
  • Presence of these parasites, and lack of dealcraft by these people reached equilibrium at having 'a strong culture of “make sure your own needs are met”, that specifically pushes back against broader societal norms that pressure people to conform.' , because people who have been valuepumped hard enough can not sustain themselves in the Bay.

You are attempting to increase the group-surplus of the community. This is very cool. My pre-mortem says, that any such surplus created by the sweat of your brow will be soaked up by this parasitic behavior, and hence fail to achieve long-term changes in admitted competence of the community.

There might be several ways to work around this problem. I want to be upfront about the evaluation criterias for it:

  • not talking, or taking action about this problem will not make it go away;
  • parasites' aim is value-pumping: that is, closing deals in which they get the maximum amount of value with the least amount of work on their own;
  • parasites participate in the culture like everyone else; for this reason, any plan you might come up with must be reflection-complete: that is, it needs to work, even if everyone in the community knows that such plan is in motion.

A few candidate solutions which sticks out:

  • Level up dealcraft: cultivate, and enforce a culture of mutually beneficial asks.
  • Level up quantitiy of dealcraft: elicit members -all members- of their goals / objectives / needs, and focus on coincidence of wants. There's a pretty cool model of this in the book Wishcraft: "Barn-raising"
  • Systematically post-mortem newbs, elicit list of parasites ("was there someone who made you uncomfortable, and describe the exact specificities of the situation"), and systematically intervene in the onboarding process.

Edit note: originally, this post used the word "sociopath", incorrectly -thanks for Viliam's comment below for pointing it out- fixed.

Comment author: grumphrey 02 April 2017 11:25:50PM 12 points [-]

I can trace an arc, over the past ten years, of my attitude towards communities:

  • "Yay communities! Let's all share event invites and do everything together and everything will be great!"
  • "Hm, I'm organizing events for people but I'm not really enjoying them, and it doesn't really make me feel fulfilled"
  • "Inviting people to events doesn't seem to cause them to reciprocate by sending me invites back"
  • "I think the people in my community actually are having a lot of events, they're just not inviting me to most of them"
  • "I seem to have more fun interacting with people who aren't in my community. What's up with that?"
  • "Communities are okay but friends are better."

I never found a solution for how to get people to invite me to things. I think the problem is that I personally am really picky about the sorts of events I enjoy (ie, I don't like drinking or sports), so if I want to have an event that I will enjoy I have to make it myself.

But I did find a solution for how to have good events: make sure that all the people that I invite to my event are people who specifically want to do that event. Don't invite people because "they're part of the community" or "I want to make sure they're not lonely"; the risk is that they might show up because it's their only social outlet, and then they might not participate in the way that I wanted.

Nowadays I think of communities as places to meet people who could be my friends.

In response to comment by tut on LW 2.0 Open Beta Live
Comment author: rhollerith_dot_com 25 September 2017 01:23:22AM *  11 points [-]

I can corroborate that the scrolling is painful on sufficiently old hardware (and two of the not-home not-work places I most like to hang out in these days have hardware that is sufficiently old).

Scrolling for example is painful near the bottom (in the comments) of the recent article on the Cambrian explosion on a Core 2 Duo running Windows Vista, in Chrome. In particular, it takes whole seconds for the text to appear. (Till then the view port is blank / white.)

But even when I'm using reasonably fast hardware, my reaction to any signs that the text on a web page is not being produced "the old fashioned way" (and the new site certainly has such signs) is to ask myself if I really need to continue using the site.

Even a site's use of a font I don't recognize I provokes that reaction in me.

Why? Well, it is a sign that I will run into further irritants. Some actions will work slightly differently from the way I am used to with the result that I have to stop concentrating on the reason I came onto the web site to figure out scrolling or searching in the page or making sure the right pane on the screen has "keyboard focus" or how to change the size of the text. Or I will have to figure out how to undo the effects of some action I took accidentally.

If you're reading this and cannot relate, then maybe that is because I have cataracts, so a large text size is more important to me than it is to you. Or maybe it is because I have a 57-year-old brain and some chronic health issues so that it is harder for me to retain what is in my working memory when things jump around on a page in ways that my brain cannot predict.

Or maybe it is because I prefer the kinesthetic sensory modality which makes me care more about subtleties in the computer's response to various "attempted manipulations" (e.g., attempting to scroll or to use the pointing device to select an extent of text) of the web page.

The new LW site is not doing anything that many many other web sites are not also doing, so this is a comment about modern web sites more than it is a comment about the new version of LW.

I realize that this comment is rough on the creators of the next version of LW since it is negative feedback, but not actionable negative feedback (since they've already implemented a particular design). I considered refraining from publishing it, but went ahead because writing this comment, then observing how many points it ends up with is by far the easiest way for me to find out how many LWers share my frustrations (and knowing that is even more useful to me than knowing how many in the general population of internet users share my frustrations). I won't make a habit of complaining about it.

Comment author: Raemon 01 April 2017 06:53:47PM 10 points [-]

I'll be making sure there are notes from the Berkeley unconference. If you're interested in doing something vaguely-similar in your own neck of the woods, I recommend commenting here to see if others are interested (and/or reaching out through whatever your usual community-channels are).

My past experience is it hasn't been been worth it to arrange skyping in for this sort of event, but I think it'd be worth collaborating on ideas beforehand and sharing notes afterwards between people in different geographic locations.

Comment author: iceman 08 December 2017 06:03:26AM 8 points [-]

I donated about $20,000, most of that in ETH. (Employer matching programs add another $12,000 on top of that.)

Comment author: JenniferRM 07 April 2017 05:49:35PM *  8 points [-]

Personally, I think cohorts happen automatically, and LW is "yet another cohort" and if we want to be part of a movement with inter-generational significance then maybe we should pause to consider why we think we should be "the first generation" in a movement that lasts forever...

In this vein, I appreciate previous places and groups like:

If I was going to name the entire thing, I think I might call it "Outsider Science" (taking a cue from "Outsider Art" and contrasting it with "Vannevarian Science").

So if you wanted to be so Hufflepuff that you sacrificed the whole group on the altar of being social (rather than just sacrificing yourself for the group) I'd argue that it would be a natural progression to work on reconnecting, resuscitating, archiving, and generally paying attention to these older places and communities, and putting yourself in service to their long term goals.

The hard thing here is that the diagnostic criteria looking backwards seems to be having a certain mindset towards physical reality and being a kind of a cultural orphan at the same time. The standoffishness and founding a tiny little institutes is part of what this movement seems to do by default?

Thus, projecting forward, you would predict that new instances of "the outsider science movement" would form on their own, start their own thing, and reject the notion of intellectual parentage, as much as we (the hypothetical intellectual parents) try to bring them into the loose confederation of previous attempts at self organized scientific research aiming at eternal intellectual challenges.

A lot of the future people you'd be trying to bring into the fold might very well prefer to struggle on alone.

Arguably, Vanevarian Science (with government credentialed universities doing government funded research) is already doing what you would evolve into anyway, and has succeeded so far and so thoroughly that its "highest mid level hierarchs" have become members of the deep government of the world? So maybe the right thing to do is just let all the various orphans struggle on by themselves, and just go try to get a job at NSF while retaining fond feelings for the strugglers?

So my guess is that Bacon's Effecting Of All Things Possible has run for a long while now, and maybe "the orphans" who might have belonged to the high church version (but somehow never connected with the central culture) were never really noticed until the internet came along and then could start to find each other and form little clumps and clusters.

So maybe the most Hufflepuff thing possible would be to somehow be encourage a larger internet culture that finds and welcomes these autonomous orphan clusters, while also extending an olive branch to the high church "Heirs of Bacon" who exist in the deep government, and see if there is some way to establish a state of communion between the main tree and all the little saplings :-)

Comment author: chaosmage 03 April 2017 02:18:01PM 8 points [-]

One of the skills to talk about would be the skill of actively proselytizing and getting people into rationality. I don't mean onboarding people who are already interested, I mean actually going up to people who you wish were rationalists and trying to make them.

Successful communities do this, although the specifics vary widely. EA does it, which I think is why EA is growing while LW isn't. We've been largely coasting on Eliezer's wave.

Thus is difficult because LW rationality arose in the tech culture of California, I.e. an unusually individualistic culture within an unusually individualistic part of the most individualistic country ever. Only in California could one be called a "cult" for seeking a consensus philosophy. Any active proselytizing would definitely encounter the "cult" charge again.

But proselytizing works. It keeps a movement young - we're already noticably older on average than we were ten years ago and we're starting to look like a cohort of tech nerds who were in their impressionable college age when Eliezer wrote the sequences. And it keeps a movement dynamic - if new people are coming in all the time, you don't have to suffer the ossification that it takes to retain people as they get older. LW rationality has no less need of this than other movements.

And there are definitely people who are much better at it than others, so a systematic study of what works is eminently doable. I think this fits squarely into Project Hufflepuff.

Comment author: tut 21 September 2017 05:37:31PM *  7 points [-]

I don't know. What it looks like on my end is that scrolling takes time. It is as though my browser has to do some shit to figure out what the text is, instead of just displaying it like on a normal page.

So I read a line, hit down arrow, nothing happens, I start reading the next line etc. After a while the page starts jumping around like it's doing all the down arrows at irregular intervals. Ok, that's annoying, so I stop hitting down arrow and instead read the 1-2 paragraphs that are on the top of the screen, then hit page down. Nothing happens, hit page down again etc. So I scroll back up to where I was, hitting page up once at a time and waiting for the page to scroll like it's twenty years ago and I just downloaded a large picture. Then I read the part of the text that I can see, hit page down again, sit and wait until it reacts, notice that I don't understand what I'm reading, notice that that's because I skipped a paragraph because it was behind the hoverboard, hit page up to find where I was and then try to scroll down part of a screen using the scrollbar. Nothing happens. I wait a while. The text starts to jump around again, because getting no feedback I scrolled a long way. Then I gave up.

I don't remember what the article was about, I didn't actually get to the meat of it. On most sites I would have given up and forgotten it ever existed after the first time that page down didn't work instantly.

Comment author: Zvi 21 September 2017 11:55:45AM 7 points [-]

Congrats on going live. I hope to have time this weekend to experiment with the site and attempt porting over at least some of my Blog's more LW-aligned content. Hopefully I can coordinate that with people who have been more involved. I have high hopes!

I do worry about 4. Since there's no reasonable expectation for another attempt if this one fails, at least not soon, it will be very difficult to vote no given that means the site will be fully archived. I worry in turn that this is a Copenhagen problem: I would have been not concerned if users had not been given a vote, whereas now that we DO have a vote, I'm worried it feels a little rigged.

Comment author: Raemon 03 April 2017 02:55:45PM *  7 points [-]

I actually think it's important for a given project to have a fairly narrow focus in order to make progress, and I see Project Hufflepuff as related to outreach, but not directly about outreach. (I also don't think proselytizing is the right word - we don't have Good News to share - we have a bunch of ideas and models we're in the process of figuring out.)

Right now, the community has something of a backlog of people who want to get more involved, but aren't sure how, and people who are hanging out on the periphery and have value to contribute, but various things about the culture make them not want to. As well as people in the community who aren't succeeding/thriving at the things they want to.

Project Hufflepuff is about making internal community infrastructure better. This will hopefully remove bottlenecks that make outreach harder, but isn't the same thing.

Comment author: MaryCh 02 April 2017 07:10:25PM *  7 points [-]

(I understand it is fraught - will try not to make it more so. The word 'sociopath' itself is OK by me, I might have not used it before in any context, so I probably 'get' fewer connotations than you do.)

I come from a circle of environmentalists, most of whom used to study in the same college. We gathered around a zoologist who had been passionate about it since childhood (now he 'wears a suit for nature' - coordinates surveys of rare biota, etc.); he was at first our formal leader and he taught us the legislature. A rare kind of man, who doesn't give up and who wants to be friends with his helpers - to know them as people. I would say he's a pure geek, and a very charismatic one at that. He invited us to share his hobby, but very few of us could match his sheer input. He used us - mostly to compose & mail letters, which sometimes took hours (and enough money to be a drag on a student's pocket), but also for various odd jobs, and we went happily, because it served a purpose and doing it with him was a privilege.

...Our informal leader was another guy, who picked up the slack in botany, poaching prevention, protesting development of sites of local historical significance, learning from our elders in specific things (= organizing expeditions, workshops and such like), and keeping us working as a team - I look back on it, and can't believe he did all of that while working two jobs and specializing in an unrelated discipline that required lots of fine-tuned practical knowledge. Ah yes, he also drew (not as a professional, but enough to illustrate some things.) We called him a tyrant (to his face), because he 1) believed in evolution over democracy - either you worked under him, or with him (if you showed ability), or he wasn't interested in 'your approach' and let you sink or swim on your own, 2) held us directly responsible when we failed to do as he ordered (although the orders themselves could be discussed and ultimately discarded, and they were framed as requests unless time didn't permit it, once they were agreed upon - they had to be carried out), 3) honestly, was a bit of a git at times. (He became my 'second first love', then my supervisor and dear friend, and I admit I am being harsher than I absolutely need to be, but still, a git:) He did not hesitate to call on our means and brains, but never took anything for his own enrichment. I would call him both a geek and a sociopath in the above-mentioned sense.

Most of the rest could be called fanatics, with a constant trickle of mops who didn't stay for long. (Girls seemed more loyal, in that I can't recall a case where a girl would just change her mind and go away (and I recall two serious cases when boys did it), and in that they showed more initiative, either agreeing to join the tyrant or branching off into other directions like educating schoolchildren.)

And the tyrant's way of looking at things was that the world was a big... dump, to pick a polite word, and when you saw an opportunity to make it better, you didn't question the far-mode/near-mode aspect, you grabbed it and rode it until it dropped under you and breathed its last. If I applied his logic to LW (and believe me, sometimes it is so tempting), I would have said: "Here's an on-line community which calls itself smart, consisting of weird people who think that nature is cruel to animals and weigh chicken-eating ethics vs. cow-eating - but I bet they have never signed a petition against using animals in circuses or dolphin parks, or donated a single schilling to a rehabilitation centre for bears used to train certain dog breeds, or looked up how agricultural waste can be re-used in further manufacture; and by the way, I bet, further, that they would not see this as relevant; of people who keep tirelessly recycling the same meta- and not very meta- questions year after year; of people, most of whom never shout out that there's something out there that needs help now - anything, doesn't have to be my passion, just anything... do they think so little of me, that I will not stand by them?.. Guess somebody has to optimize the situation a bit."

So I really, truly, honestly keep telling myself LW is not a place to recruit people to do my satanic bidding, but - truth will out...

Comment author: sdr 02 April 2017 03:51:02AM *  7 points [-]

(I'm not sure which part of this is "armchair-theorizing-sociology piece", so let me share impressions:

  • The 3 specific examples are all observations: 2 on a CFAR event, 1 on a bay-lesswrong event
  • The "people putting other's needs ahead of their own" comes from 2 persons who both bounced from the Bay for this reason
  • The "attempting value-pumping" / lack-of-dealcraft is ubiquitous everywhere where people are Getting Stuff Done; the only novel thing in the Bay is high turnaround / people onboarding allows this to be done systematically
  • The "let's make stuff suck less" -> "let's all of you do my stuff" headfake is a non-profit-special; 2 attempts so far on me
  • The part where instead of attempting to "forbid parasiting", I turn it around and ask "how can we make these parasites profitable?" is a special of mine, and has so far been very profitable, in a number of contexts.

If you see none of these, I am happy for you. )

Comment author: tut 21 September 2017 04:24:08PM 6 points [-]


I do not have the patience to read anything on that site. Or alternatively, my computer is too old and my screen too low res. But I am not sufficiently committed to LW to buy new hardware just to maybe be able to see it. Is there any possibility that the old site might remain up, maybe as some kind of accessibility thing for people who can't use the new one?

Comment author: Zvi 05 April 2017 01:10:32PM 6 points [-]

I think that almost everyone vastly underestimates the importance of friends, and especially the importance of a few close friends. In terms of not being lonely, of having good times and good events, or even of having a good time at the events that the community organizes, a few close friends are the key. I started enjoying group events far more when I realized that there is no need to try and 'make the rounds' of the 20-100 people there - find the handful that interest you tonight, and spend the night with them.

Raemon's response is key too, though. Communities are still super important because they provide anchors around which things can be organized, friends can coordinate and new friends can be found. What you do not want is for smaller groups to be only friendships and withdraw from their communities, or for some outside community to steal the best community members, because then the original community stops drawing in new people (or stop drawing in good new people) and slowly dies.

A great question, and one I hope is asked at the conference, is "how do we encourage more formation of close friendships?"

Comment author: Viliam 03 April 2017 02:41:23PM *  6 points [-]

Seems to me that talking about "social awkwardness" conflates things that should be addressed differently.

For example, there are people who are too shy to speak, and hate to compete for attention, so at a LW meetup they would just sit in the corner and quietly listen. These people don't harm anyone else, only perhaps themselves. You may try to think about gentle ways to encourage them, for example by having a part of meetup where people split into smaller groups and have an informal debate e.g. while eating some food.

Then there are people who, for example, regularly try to monopolize someone else's time, and ignore subtle and gradually-less-subtle hints that the person is not interested. This is potentially harmful, although the intensity of the harm may greatly vary depending on the personality of the target. A more assertive target will leave the interaction after a minute or two, and feel mildly annoyed. A less assertive target may find themselves unable to escape, will spend the whole LW meetup in an unwanted interaction, and never come back.

While on individual level, a good strategy against unwanted interactions is becoming stronger (mentally, socially, physically); on group level, we should protect the weaker members and visitors against unwanted interactions.

Sometimes people use animal metaphors of e.g. "sheep" and "wolves", the good but defenseless people, versus strong predators. This typically includes a "shepherd dog" role, i.e. someone strong (and potentially dangerous) who uses their powers exclusively for protecting others. I would like to add two new species to this zoo.

A "hyena" is a relatively weak predator; unlike the wolf who attacks more or less indiscriminately (and consequently gets attacked by the shepherd dogs), hyena carefully avoids conflicts with anyone stronger, and tries to isolate a sheep from the herd, and attack it in privacy. And a "rabid sheep" is technically a sheep, and is correctly recognized as such by the shepherd dogs, except that it keeps biting everyone around. The difference is that while the shepherd dogs may have a difficulty to recognize the hyena, if they finally spot it, they know how to deal with it. But when they see (or even get bitten by) the rabid sheep, they are quite confused about what to do, since they are supposed to protect all the sheep, and more importantly, to attack any non-sheep who attacks the sheep (which would include any shepherd dog who would decide to intervene, which is why they don't).

To unpack the metaphor, a "hyena" would be a person with undesired behavior who carefully avoids the assertive or high-status members, and targets the weak and unconnected ones.The organizers may fail to notice the problem, or underestimate its importance, because they were not exposed to the worst forms of the behavior. A "rabid sheep" would be a member of a protected (formally or informally) group who makes the situation unpleasant for other members, but people outside the group are afraid that any action against that person would be interpreted as an action against the whole group; and sometimes the unpleasant person makes it quite explicit that this is, indeed, how they would publicly interpret any opposition. The remaining members of the same group are the only ones socially allowed to object, which is an unfair burden.

Seems like different kinds require more nuanced approach, i.e. greater social skills and better coordination in the group. To solve the problem of wolves, it is enough for the shepherd dogs to create a coalition... but this ignores the hyenas. To solve the problem of hyenas, a naive approach is to give a blanket power boost to the sheep... which creates the problem of rabid sheep. To solve all three problems together, and to do it in a way that can scale... well, I don't have a simple answer.

Comment author: Raemon 02 April 2017 03:53:40PM 6 points [-]

Yeah - What I meant to argue is more like "valuable people who could be contributing a lot a leaving or getting turned away from the community, for reasons I think are bad or shortsighted."

Comment author: Raemon 02 April 2017 03:51:28PM 6 points [-]

I think it is really important to note that "sociopath" in the article does not necessarily mean literal-sociopath (and while I think it was useful-ish as a rhetorical trick to make the article stand out more, I don't think it's a good idea to discuss the problem in real, practical detail while continuing to use the sociopath label)

Sociopath here means "someone who's trying to extract resources from the community, who doesn't actually care about the community's core value/creations." (Or, "cares more about extracting resources than they do about the original value, enough so that they start subverting that value.")

Comment author: mindspillage 02 April 2017 06:00:51AM *  6 points [-]

Some of this reminds me of a talk by Sumana Harihareswara, a friend of mine in the free software community, where she tries to exmaine which strange and offputting things are necessary and which are needlessly driving people away: Inessential Weirdnesses in Free Software

I think there are in fact a lot of parallels between issues in free software and the rationalist community--similarly devaluing Hufflepuff skills even when they're necessary to get the full value out of everyone's contributions, similarly having concerns about not watering down the core philosophical commitments while still being open to newcomers and people who are not yet committed to the entire culture.

(FWIW, I am a weakly-connected member of the Bay Area rationalist community--it's not what I think of as my primary community so I'm not particularly present.)

Comment author: Raemon 02 April 2017 02:16:06AM 6 points [-]

I think it is both the case that:

1) a really valuable thing the community provides is a place to talk about ideas at a deep level. This is pretty rare, and it's valuable both to the sort of people who explicitly crave that, and (I believe), valuable to the world for generating ideas that are really important, and I do this this is something that is at risk of being destroyed if we lowered barriers to entry and scaled up without thinking too hard about it.

but, 2) it's also the case that

2a) there are a lot of smart people who I know would contribute valuable things to the community, but feel offput by things that are not necessary to have the kind of valuable conversations this community is good at

2b) a thriving community really needs things beyond being-good-at-thinking. Especially a community whose thinking has always been tied to "actually doing." An environment where only being clever is rewarded, will neither be able to provide for people's emotional needs sufficiently, nor actually achieve any of its broader goals.

I have thoughts on how to resolve this, but I'm trying to stick to the "talk about the problem" part, rather than the "propose solutions" part. For now, I'll note that I do not expect a single monolithic shift in the community, but I hope for better coordination between different sub-communities.

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