A varying degree of belief in utilitarianism (ranging from a confused arithmetic altruism to hardcore Benthamism) seems to be often taken for granted, and rarely challenged.

This simply isn't true. See, for example, the reception of this post.

Altruism is a common consequence of utilitarian ideas, but it's not altruism per se (which is discussed in the linked post and comments) that irks me; rather, it's the idea that you can measure, add, subtract, and multiply desirable and indesirable events as if they were hard, fungible currency.

Just to pick the most recent post where this issue comes up, here is a thread that starts with a provocative scenario and challenges people to take a look at what exactly their ethical systems are founded on, but - with only a couple of exceptions, which include the... (read more)

What bothers you about Less Wrong?

by Will_Newsome 1 min read19th May 2011162 comments


Or, what do you want to see more or less of from Less Wrong?

I'm thinking about community norms, content and topics discussed, karma voting patterns, et cetera. There are already posts and comment sections filled with long lists of proposed technical software changes/additions, let's not make this post another one. 

My impression is that people sometimes make discussion posts about things that bother them, and sometimes a bunch of people will agree and sometimes a bunch of people will disagree, but most people don't care that much (or they have a life or something) and thus don't want to dedicate a post just to complaining. This post is meant to make it socially and cognitively easy to offer critique.

I humbly request that you list downsides of existing policies even when you think the upsides outweigh them, for all the obvious reasons. I also humbly request that you list a critique/gripe even if you don't want to bother explaining why you have that critique/gripe, and even in cases where you think your gripe is, ahem, "irrational". In general, I think it'd be really cool if we erred on the side of listing things which might be problems even if there's no obvious solution or no real cause for complaint except for personal distaste for the color green (for example).

I arrogantly request that we try to avoid impulsive downvoting and non-niceness for the duration of this post (and others like it). If someone wants to complain that Less Wrong is a little cultish without explaining why then downvoting them to oblivion, while admittedly kind of funny, is probably a bad idea. :)