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Comment author: k_ebel 26 April 2017 01:20:40AM *  1 point [-]

"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."

I want to talk about this just a bit. If I've missed a comment that also addresses the same point, I apologize.

So, yes, asks are super common in the culture you're in. But in other cultures - specifically those that are more guess oriented - it's actually really difficult to grow negotiation skills. I'd caution strongly against taking a lack of ability in these areas as some sort of strong indication of a person being a "parasite" or having some other baked-in personality type issue. Which isn't to say that it's not a problem, just that I don't know that this piece of evidence is especially strong given how rare it is to find good examples of tell (or even ask) culture in large portions of the country/internet.

If you're concerned with the lack of dealcraft that comes from newbies, then knowing good resources to point them towards - or offering to be a source of practice in short, low-cost scenarios - may be a more effective way of dealing with this. This will also give you an opportunity to observe how folks respond to those opportunities, which may give you stronger evidence to use to actually identify the parasites/moochers/insert-preferred-term-here that do filter in (because I agree that this is also a thing that happens).

Comment author: sdr 26 April 2017 04:46:31AM *  2 points [-]

Thank you for posting this. I agree, that growing negotiation skills is hard under best of circumstances; and I agree that certain types of newbies might self-identify with the post above.

There is a qualitative difference between people who are negotiating (but lack the proper skill), and the parasites described above:

  • Beginner negotiators state their request, and ask explicitly (or expect impliedly) for price / counter

  • More advanced negotiators start with needs/wants discovery, to figure out where a mutually beneficial deal can be made; and they adjust as discussion proceeds

  • These parasites, in comparison, attempt to raise their request against explicitly stated, nebulous things (or nothing at all): "Would you like to do free translation for me?" - "Cause X is very important, and therefore you, specifically, should do something about it" - "Would you like to build my full website for me in exchange of 1% shares?"

For the record:

  • I have attempted education in some cases (1-on-1, no social standings on the line on either parties, being discreet, etc), to no effect, and only resentment from the other party.

  • I observe that this parasitic strategy works some of the time, which incentivize existing parasitic behavior to grow until saturation. These are the reasons why I brought this up here in the first place.

  • Kindly note, that while there were a lot more evidencing going into this than described above, I am hesitant to disclose more specificities about any of these cases, because the Bay is small (-> personal identification), and discussion isn't reflective-complete (parasites read this, too; the more I disclose here, the more they can shift their strategies)

Comment author: Viliam 04 April 2017 10:29:25AM *  3 points [-]

Thank you!

Uhm, I guess "exploiters" or "free riders"? (Or "parasites" if one wants to offend. Or "moochers" when talking to Randians.)

Sorry, not a native English speaker, I may be missing something more fitting.

Comment author: sdr 04 April 2017 04:55:10PM *  0 points [-]

Updated. Re: | if you want to publicly address these people <- if people are addressed offline in public, I suspect you can dress it up with the appropiate social grace. But, we're talking about behavior here (and entrepreneurs have exploits they're already proud of, like hackers have hacks, and free riders aren't actively malicious), and I feel that dressing it up with the same grace would actually backfire by not changing (or even harming) the reward structure of the behavior.

Comment author: Viliam 03 April 2017 09:45:04AM *  24 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 04 April 2017 03:57:57AM 2 points [-]

Agreed. Recommend a non-verbed descriptive noun, and I'll update the post above.

Comment author: Raemon 02 April 2017 02:36:25AM 2 points [-]

(That said, I'm also trying to be more careful about how I think about armchair-theorizing-sociology pieces, so I'm not sure if I'm fully endorsing your particular take on things yet)

Comment author: sdr 02 April 2017 03:51:02AM *  6 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: sdr 02 April 2017 01:49:31AM *  16 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: sdr 14 March 2017 04:34:10PM *  0 points [-]

FAI value alignment research, and cryonics are mutually inconsistent stances. Cryo resurrection will almost definitely happen by scanning & whole-brain-emulation. An EM/upload with a subjective timeline sped up to 1000x will be indistinguishable from an UFAI. Incremental value alignment results of today will be applied to your EM tomorrow.

For example, how would you feel with all your brilliant intellect, with all your inner motivational spark being looped into a rat race against 10000 copies of yours, performing work for & grounded to a baseline, where if you don't win against your own selves, all your current thoughts, and feeling, and emotions are to be permanently destroyed?

Comment author: Bound_up 04 March 2017 02:35:01AM 2 points [-]

I love idea number 1, especially. Lots of 100-word insights to scan through.

Comment author: sdr 04 March 2017 10:04:29AM *  1 point [-]

Very yes. Specifically, a bi-weekly, or monthly thread (similar to the open threads currently) of eg "Pitch your idea", with the hard-constrain for the topmost comments being 100 words at most at any given time, with optional links leading down the rabbit hole.

Edit: bonus point, but not hard requirement describing your idea in language of "up goer five" to avoid that thing where people compress by using technical words, as opposed to compressing comprehensibly. Like, what we want to achieve here is to serve as a common onboarding point for new people to get introduced to those ideas; as opposed to communicating the Theory of Everything in greek symbols.

Comment author: Osho 03 March 2017 12:34:55AM 1 point [-]

Can I subscribe via email?

Comment author: sdr 03 March 2017 09:11:16AM 2 points [-]
Comment author: gjm 24 January 2017 02:02:40PM 2 points [-]

I started to read this comment, went to upvote it, read the last paragraph, and didn't upvote.

Comment author: sdr 24 January 2017 02:09:52PM 1 point [-]

Can you point at the part which you find objectionable?

Comment author: sdr 24 January 2017 01:57:55PM *  3 points [-]

note: topic text was originally different, and included a recently-elected president's name; which would've ranked on google for related-keywords. Below is unedited comment, asking for that name not to be included

Since "Downvoting temporarily disabled", I would like to express a very, very strong disapproval of this topic being discussed on lesswrong. Rationale:

1, Politics is the mindkiller

2, It attracts the sort of people who would like to discuss these sorts of things, at the expense of those (including myself), who do not; specifically, by ranking for relevant keywords on Google (with lesswrong's reputation)

3, There exists almost the entirety of the rest of the Internet to discuss these issues, including rationality-related groups, forums, and mailing lists

4, For a specific case study, we just had a CFAR-alumni discussion group blown up by a topic similar to this, which got 100s++ replies, with no measurable convergence; which strongly implies that no, actually, we do not have a collective-intelligence / social tooling to tackle these issues yet.

For this reason, I -along with all upvoters of this comment- would like to ask for an Admin intervention, specifically by either deleting this post, or modifying it to "Metrics to evaluate a president"; that is, talking about general evaluation criterias, instead of ranking for T-related keywords.

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