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Comment author: ozymandias 15 September 2017 06:55:16PM *  5 points [-]

I'm not sure if I agree with banning it entirely. There are culture-war-y discussions that seem relevant to LW 2.0: for instance, people might want to talk about sexism in the rationality community, free speech norms, particular flawed studies that touch on some culture-war issue, dating advice, whether EAs should endorse politically controversial causes, nuclear war as existential risk, etc.

OTOH a policy that people should post this sort of content on their own private blogs seems sensible. There are definite merits in favor of banning culture war things. In addition to what you mention, it's hard to create a consensus about what a "good" culture war discussion is. To pick a fairly neutral example, my blog Thing of Things bans neoreactionaries on sight while Slate Star Codex bans the word in the hopes of limiting the amount they take over discussion; the average neoreactionary, of course, would strongly object to this discriminatory policy.

Comment author: Bakkot 15 September 2017 09:21:37PM 3 points [-]

I think - I hope - we could discuss most of those without getting into the more culture war-y parts, if there were sufficiently strong norms against culture war discussions in general.

Maybe just opt-in rather than opt-out would be sufficient, though. That is, you could explicitly choose to allow CW discussions on your post, but they'd be prohibited by default.

Comment author: ozymandias 15 September 2017 03:55:59PM *  13 points [-]

Thank you for making this website! It looks really good and like someplace I might want to crosspost to.

If I may make two suggestions:

(1) It doesn't seem clear whether Less Wrong 2.0 will also have a "no politics" norm, but if it doesn't I would really appreciate a "no culture war" tag which alerts the moderators to nuke discussion of race, gender, free speech on college campuses, the latest outrageous thing [insert politician here] did, etc. I think that culture war stuff is salacious enough that people love discussing it in spite of its obvious unimportance, and it would be good to have a way to dissuade that. Personally, I've tended to avoid online rationalist spaces where I can't block people who annoy me, because culture war stuff keeps coming up and when interacting with certain people I get defensive and upset and not in a good frame for discussion at all.

(2) Some inconspicuous way of putting in assorted metadata (content warnings, epistemic statuses, that sort of thing) so that interested people can look at them but they are not taking up the first 500 words of the post.

Comment author: Bakkot 15 September 2017 05:22:13PM 14 points [-]

I would strongly support just banning culture war stuff from LW 2.0. Those conversations can be fun, but they require disproportionately large amounts of work to keep the light / heat ratio decent (or indeed > 0), and they tend to dominate any larger conversation they enter. Besides, there's enough places for discussion of those topics already.

(For context: I moderate /r/SlateStarCodex, which gets several thousand posts in its weekly culture war thread every single week. Those discussions are a lot less bad than culture war discussions on the greater internet, I think, and we do a pretty good job keeping discussion to that thread only, but maintaining both of these requires a lot of active moderation, and the thread absolutely affects the tone of the rest of the subreddit even so.)

Comment author: Anders_H 23 December 2016 05:36:32PM 2 points [-]

Because I didn't perceive a significant disruption to the event, I was mentally bucketing you with people I know who severely dislike children and would secretly (or not so secretly) prefer that they not attend events like this at all; or that they should do so only if able to remain silent (which in practice means not at all.) I suspect Anders_H had the same reaction I did.

Just to be clear, I did not attend Solstice this year, and I was mentally reacting to a similar complaint that was made after last year's Solstice event. At last year's event, I did not perceive the child to be at all noteworthy as a disturbance. From reading this thread, it seems that the situation may well have been different this year, and that my reaction might have been different if I had been there. I probably should not have commented without being more familiar with what happened at this year's event.

I also note that my thinking around this may very well be biased, as I used to live in a group house with this child.

Comment author: Bakkot 28 December 2016 05:54:59AM 0 points [-]

Without commenting on the merits and costs of children at Solstice or how they ought to be addressed:

Having attended the East Bay solstice both this year and last, it was my impression that there was significantly more noise made by children during parts when the audience was otherwise quiet this year than there was last year. My recollection is hazy, but I'd guess it was maybe three to five times as much noise? In terms of number of distinct noisy moments and also volume.

This year I was towards the back of the room; last year I was closer to the front.

Comment author: Bakkot 10 November 2015 01:39:05AM 0 points [-]

Note that the Bay Area Facebook event is private for technical reasons; here's the LW thread as an alternative.

Comment author: mgg 06 September 2014 08:56:21PM 1 point [-]

It is if we define a utility function with a strict failure mode for TotalSuffering > 0. Non-existent people don't really count, do they?

Comment author: Bakkot 14 September 2014 05:01:05PM 2 points [-]

It is if we define a utility function with a strict failure mode for TotalSuffering > 0.

Yeah, but... we don't.

(Below I'm going to address that case specifically. However, more generally, defining utility functions which assign zero utility to a broad class of possible worlds is a problem, because then you're indifferent between all of them. Does running around stabbing children seem like a morally neutral act to you, in light of the fact that doing it or not doing it will not have an effect on total utility (because total suffering will remain positive)? If no, that's not the utility function you want to talk about.)

Anyway, as far as I can tell, you've either discovered or reinvented negative utilitarianism. Pretty much no one around here accepts negative utilitarianism, mostly on the grounds of it disagreeing very strongly with moral intuition. (For example, most people would not regard it as a moral act to instantly obliterate Earth and everyone on it.) For me, at least, my objection is that I prefer to live with some suffering than not to live at all - and this would be true even if I was perfectly selfish and didn't care what effects my death would have on anyone else. So before we can talk usefully about this, I have to ask: leaving aside concerns about the effects of your death on others, would you prefer to die than to live with any amount of suffering?

Comment author: Risto_Saarelma 14 August 2014 06:17:48AM *  1 point [-]

The widget shows items under "comment score below threshold" threads, but clicking on those comments in the widget panel doesn't do anything. Ideal behavior would be to open the "comment score below threshold" JavaScript link when clicking the item, possibly also to use a different rendering color for these items in the widget to go along with the bad thread filtering spirit and give the user an opportunity to skip them without reading.

This whole project is making me think that websites like LW with moderately complex use patterns could just be database APIs on the server side and have the client side HTML rendering and all made entirely in JavaScript so that people could do drastic usability changes by just changing the default frontend source. Of course that would also make hostile botting much easier.

Comment author: Bakkot 14 August 2014 07:16:24AM *  1 point [-]

Good catch. Don't think I'm going to change the behavior, as there's complex cases where there's no obvious behavior: suppose you have a highly upvoted comment, whose parent and grandparent are both below the threshold. Do you color it in the widget differently from its parents? Do you expand both its parent and grandparent when it's clicked on, in order that it be on the page and thus scrollable to? Do you mark its parent somehow so the reader knows that comment wouldn't normally have been displayed?

So I think I'm OK with clicking on a comment which is hidden doing nothing. It's maybe worth greying out such comments in the list, so as not to confuse people when nothing happens, but I feel like this mostly just ends up highlighting them, so I'm not going to put that in the main script. If you want that feature, though, I pushed it to an alternative branch on the github repo, and you can find it here. Comments will remain greyed even if you've un-hidden their parents, but will become scrollable to.

Comment author: Risto_Saarelma 13 August 2014 07:15:42AM 1 point [-]

I always see the widget showing 0 new comments when entering pages, even when there are new comments LW is highlighting with the pink border.

Comment author: Bakkot 13 August 2014 05:56:06PM 1 point [-]

Huh. Try the most recent version (as of just now).

Comment author: Risto_Saarelma 13 August 2014 05:41:03AM *  1 point [-]

Should this remember the previous timestamp when you revisit a page and new comments have been posted? It seems to always start out showing 0 new comments for me before I manually adjust the time. (The SSC one does show me comments after the previous visit when I revisit a page.)

Comment author: Bakkot 13 August 2014 06:01:33AM 1 point [-]

The way it currently works - at least, the way I designed it, and the way it seems to work for me - is that it doesn't remember anything between visits, but rather determines which comments are new since your last visit by looking at the highlight provided by LW's server. If there were comments made since your last visit, they should be highlighted with or without the script; no custom highlighting will be performed until you manually change the timestamp.

If you aren't seeing new comments highlighted, it's (almost certainly) because LW isn't highlighting them - maybe you're logged out, or loaded the page elsewhere, or have never visited the page? [In this way the LW script differs from the SSC script, because the LW server regards "never visited" as "nothing new" whereas my SSC script regards "never visited" as "everything new".]

The reason I did it this way is that LW, unlike SSC, is itself keeping a record of which comments are new since your last visit, which works even if you loaded the page on another computer (but the same account). I didn't want to mess with the built-in mechanism, only allow you to change it per-visit if necessary.

Comment author: Risto_Saarelma 11 August 2014 03:38:46AM *  1 point [-]

The use case is that I go to the top page of a huge thread, the only new messages are under a "Continue this thread" link, and I want the widget to tell me that there are new messages and help me find them. I don't want to have to open every "Continue" link to see if there are new messages under one of them.

Comment author: Bakkot 11 August 2014 04:48:01AM 0 points [-]

Ah. That's much more work, since there's no way of knowing if there's new comments in such a situation without fetching all of those pages. I might make that happen at some point, but not tonight.

Comment author: Risto_Saarelma 10 August 2014 08:23:10AM 1 point [-]

This doesn't seem to handle stuff deep enough in the reply chain to be behind "continue this thread" links. On the massive threads where you most need the thing, a lot of the discussion is going to end up beyond those.

Comment author: Bakkot 10 August 2014 03:29:52PM *  0 points [-]

It seems to work for me. "Continue this thread" brings you to a new page, so you'll have to set the time again, is all. Comments under a "Load more" won't be properly highlighted until you click in and out of the time textbox after loading them.

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