Minor quibble: I think terms "rational" and "irrational" (and "rationalist", "rationality", etc.) tend to be overused, sometimes as vague "good/bad" qualifiers (I've been guilty of that). As a rule of thumb, I'd recommend against using those terms unless

  • You're using them in a narrow technical meaning, i.e. a rational utility-maximizing agent in economics, or

  • You're discussing "non-traditional mental skills" like changing one's mind, compensating for cognitive biases or dissolving confusion (i.e. not just being smart, open-minded and an atheist), or

  • You have above 10000 karma.

Hear, hear! I get a niggling aversive reaction whenever I see those terms used when not absolutely necessary and one of irritation when I see them used as 'good/bad' qualifies. Even more so when the alleged 'rational' action is a subjective claim that I don't even necessarily agree with!

And if those of us with 10k karma don't constrain our usage to the first two cases (and in the case of rationalist/rationality with reluctance even then) then shame on us/them!

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. :)