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Comment author: Qiaochu_Yuan 20 December 2016 07:42:01AM 19 points [-]

The bucket diagrams don't feel to me like the right diagrams to draw. I would be drawing causal diagrams (of aliefs); in the first example, something like "spelled oshun wrong -> I can't write -> I can't be a writer." Once I notice that I feel like these arrows are there I can then ask myself whether they're really there and how I could falsify that hypothesis, etc.

Comment author: SatvikBeri 21 December 2016 01:03:28AM *  3 points [-]

In my head, it feels mostly like a tree, e.g:

"I must have spelled oshun right"

–Otherwise I can't write well

– –If I can't write well, I can't be a writer

–Only stupid people misspell common words

– –If I'm stupid, people won't like me

etc. For me, to unravel an irrational alief, I generally have to solve every node below it–e.g., by making sure that I get the benefit from some other alief.

Comment author: alyssavance 03 December 2016 02:02:03AM *  27 points [-]

This is just a guess, but I think CFAR and the CFAR-sphere would be more effective if they focused more on hypothesis generation (or "imagination", although that term is very broad). Eg., a year or so ago, a friend of mine in the Thiel-sphere proposed starting a new country by hauling nuclear power plants to Antarctica, and then just putting heaters on the ground to melt all the ice. As it happens, I think this is a stupid idea (hot air rises, so the newly heated air would just blow away, pulling in more cold air from the surroundings). But it is an idea, and the same person came up with (and implemented) a profitable business plan six months or so later. I can imagine HPJEV coming up with that idea, or Elon Musk, or von Neumann, or Google X; I don't think most people in the CFAR-sphere would, it's just not the kind of thing I think they've focused on practicing.

Comment author: SatvikBeri 03 December 2016 05:35:07AM 13 points [-]

Definitely agree with the importance of hypothesis generation and the general lack of it–at least for me, I would classify this as my main business-related weakness, relative to successful people I know.

Comment author: entirelyuseless 28 November 2016 04:08:50PM 3 points [-]

My problem with the "shared vocabulary" is that as you note yourself here, it implies that something has already been thought through, and it assumes that you have understood the thing properly. So for example if you reject an argument because "that's an example of a motte and bailey fallacy", then this only works if it is in fact correct to reject arguments for that reason.

And I don't think it is correct. One reason why people use a motte and bailey is that they are looking for some common ground with their interlocutor. Take one of Scott's examples, with this motte and bailey:

  1. God is just the order and love in the universe
  2. God is an extremely powerful supernatural being who punishes my enemies

When the person asserts #1, it is not because they do not believe #2. It is because they are looking for some partial expression of their belief that the other person might accept. In their understanding, the two statements do not contradict one another, even though obviously the second claims a good deal more than the first.

Now Scott says that #1 is "useless," namely that even if he could theoretically accept the word "God" as applying to this, there is no reason for him to do this, because there is nowhere to go from there. And this might be true. But the fact that #2 is false does not prove that it is true. Most likely, if you work hard, you can find some #3, stronger than #1, but weaker than #2, which will also be defensible.

And it would be right to tell them to do the work that is needed. But it would be wrong to simply say, "Oh, that's a motte and bailey" and walk away.

This is not merely a criticism of this bit of shared vocabulary, so that it would just be a question of getting the right shared vocabulary. A similar criticism will apply to virtually any possible piece of shared vocabulary -- you are always assuming things just by using the vocabulary, and you might be wrong in those assumptions.

Comment author: SatvikBeri 28 November 2016 04:28:05PM 1 point [-]

Making shared vocabulary common and explicit usually makes it faster to iterate. For example, the EA community converged on the idea of replaceability as an important heuristic for career decisions for a while, and then realized that they'd been putting too much emphasis there and explicitly toned it down. But the general concept had been floating around in discussion space already, giving it a name just made it easier to explicitly think about.

Comment author: John_Maxwell_IV 28 November 2016 04:46:19AM *  5 points [-]

Well, there's a vanilla version of HN that comes with the Arc distribution. It doesn't look like any of the files in the Arc distribution have been modified since Aug 4, 2009. I just got it running on my machine (only took a minute) and submitted a link. Unsure what features are missing. Relevant HN discussion.

If someone knows Paul Graham, we might be able to get a more recent version of the code, minus spam prevention features & such? BTW, I believe Y Combinator is hiring hackers. (Consider applying!)

Arc isn't really used for anything besides Hacker News. But it's designed to enable "exploratory programming". That seems ideal if you wanted to do a lot of hands-on experimentation with features to facilitate quality online discussion. (My other comment explains why there might be low-hanging fruit here.)

Comment author: SatvikBeri 28 November 2016 05:52:49AM 3 points [-]

Hacker News was rewritten in something other than Arc ~2-3 years ago IIRC, and it was only after that that they managed to add a lot of the interesting moderation features.

There are probably better technologies to build an HN clone in today–Clojure seems strictly better than Arc, for instance–the parts of HN that are interesting to copy are the various discussion and moderation features, and my sense of what they are mostly comes from having observed the site and seeing comments here and there over the years.

Comment author: John_Maxwell_IV 28 November 2016 05:28:55AM 5 points [-]

Do we know anyone who actually has experience doing product management? (Or has the sort of resume that the best companies like to see when they hire for product management roles. Which is not necessarily what you might expect.)

Comment author: SatvikBeri 28 November 2016 05:39:46AM *  6 points [-]

I do. I was a product manager for about a year, then founder for a while, and am now manager for a data science team, where part of my responsibilities are basically product management for the things related to the team.

That said, I don't think I was great at it, and suspect most of the lessons I learned are easily transferred.

Edit: I actually suspect that I've learned more from working with really good product managers than I have from doing any part of the job myself. It really seems to be a job where experience is relatively unimportant, but a certain set of general cognitive patterns is extremely important.

Comment author: John_Maxwell_IV 28 November 2016 03:23:15AM *  5 points [-]

The people who felt like they had the authority to design changes didn't feel like they had the authority to spend money, but the people who felt like they had the authority to spend money didn't feel like they had the authority to design changes, and both of them had more important things to be working on.

This sort of leadership vacuum seems to be a common problem in the LW community. Feels to me like people can err more on the side of assuming they have the authority to do things.

Comment author: SatvikBeri 28 November 2016 03:50:08AM 5 points [-]

Yeah, a good default is the UNODIR pattern ("I will do X at Y time unless otherwise directed")

Comment author: John_Maxwell_IV 28 November 2016 03:30:38AM 5 points [-]

disincentivizing flamewars by making responses to downvoted comments cost karma

I think Hacker News has a better solution to that problem (if you reply to someone who replied to you, your reply gets delayed--the deeper the thread, the longer the delay).

Comment author: SatvikBeri 28 November 2016 03:45:39AM 2 points [-]

I wonder if the correct answer is essentially to fork Hacker News, rather than Reddit (Hacker News isn't open source, but I'm thinking about a site that takes Hacker News's decisions as the default, unless there seems to be a good reason for something different.)

Comment author: AnnaSalamon 27 November 2016 10:29:20PM *  35 points [-]

Re: 1, I vote for Vaniver as LW's BDFL, with authority to decree community norms (re: politics or anything else), decide on changes for the site; conduct fundraisers on behalf of the site; etc. (He already has the technical admin powers, and has been playing some of this role in a low key way; but I suspect he's been deferring a lot to other parties who spend little time on LW, and that an authorized sole dictatorship might be better.)

Anyone want to join me in this, or else make a counterproposal?

Comment author: SatvikBeri 27 November 2016 10:42:41PM 11 points [-]

Agree with both the sole dictatorship and Vaniver as the BDFL, assuming he's up for it. His posts here also show a strong understanding of the problems affecting less wrong on multiple fronts.

Comment author: gworley 27 November 2016 09:31:49PM 5 points [-]

As someone who is actively doing something in this direction at Map and Territory, a couple thoughts.

A single source is weak in several ways. In particular although it may sound nice and convenient from the inside, no major movement that affects a significant portion of the population has a single source. It may have its seed in a single source, but it is spread and diffuse and made up of thousands of voices saying different things. There's no one play to go for social justice or neoreaction or anything else, but there are lots of voices saying lots of things in lots of places. Some voices are louder and more respected than others, true, but success at spreading ideas means loss of centralization of the conversation.

A single source also restricts you to the choices of that source. Don't like the editorial choices and you don't have anywhere else to go. The only way to include everyone is to be like reddit and federate editorial power.

If I'm totally honest I think most desire to revitalize LW is about a nostalgia for what LW once was. I freely admit I even played on this nostalgia in the announcement of Map and Territory.


I also suspect there is a certain amount of desire for personal glory. Wouldn't it be high status to be the person who was the new center of the rationalists community? So as much as people may not like to admit it, I suspect these kinds of calls for a new, unified thing play at least a little bit on people's status seeking desires. I have nothing against this if it creates the outcomes you want, but it's worth considering if it's also prohibiting coordination.

What seems to matter is spreading ideas that we/you believe will make the world better (though to be clear I don't personally care about that: I just like when my own thinking is influential on others). To this end having more content on LW is helpful, but only in so far as more content is helpful in general. Visibility for that content is probably even more important than the self-judged quality of the content itself.

I agree with Anna's sentiment, but I'd encourage you not to spin your wheels trying to recreate the LessWrong that once existed. Create new things you want to exist to spread the ideas you want to see others take up.

Comment author: SatvikBeri 27 November 2016 09:53:35PM 9 points [-]

100% centralization is obviously not correct, but 100% decentralization seems to have major flaws as well–for example, it makes discovery, onboarding, and progress in discussion a lot harder.

On the last point: I think the LW community has discovered ways to have better conversations, such as tabooing words. Being able to talk to someone who has the same set of prerequisites allows for much faster, much more interesting conversation, at least on certain topics. The lack of any centralization means that we're not building up a set of prerequisites, so we're stuck at conversation level 2 when we need to achieve level 10.

Comment author: sarahconstantin 27 November 2016 06:34:29PM 9 points [-]

Happy to join Sunshine Regiment if you can set it up.

Comment author: SatvikBeri 27 November 2016 07:06:55PM 10 points [-]

Also happy to join. And I'm happy to commit to a significant amount of moderation (e.g. 10/hours a week for the next 3 months) if you think it's useful.

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