More "Personal" Introductions

by [anonymous] 1 min read1st Dec 2011128 comments


One of the things I loved about studying liberal arts is that you actually got to know your professors. They would discuss their personal experiences in a topic ("Here's what I did during the feminist movement.."), you might get slide shows from their vacation in the country of study, or even invited to their house for a group dinner. 

Going into engineering was rather jarring for me in that regard. The vast majority of professors would come to class, lecture on the topic, and that would be it. They might share what their specific field of study was, but they rarely shared any personal details. It actually made it harder for me to learn, because it was like "Who is this person who is talking to me?"

(I think a large part of this for me personally was because I am motivated by a desire to please, and so if I liked my professors, then I wouldn't want to inconvenience them by handing things in late, or bore them by giving them another sub-par paper to read. But that's another discussion...)

I've noticed that Less Wrong is similar in some ways. We may know about each other's views on particular topics, and general fields of study, but we know very little about each other as people, unless a personal topic happens to be related to a particular rationalist study. Even the intro thread set up here focuses mainly on non-personal information.

For example, a Generic Intro post right now would be something like: "I'm X years old. From place Y. The fields I study/want to study are Z. Here's what college/HS was/is like for me. I have akrasia." Pretty boring, right? INSTEAD, the things I would be interested in knowing about my fellow LWers include: "On my time off I enjoy underwater basketweaving and climbing Mt Kilamanjaro. I have 6 young daughters and a dog named Grrr. I love pesto. etc"

From a rational perspective, an argument could be made that it's easier to have constructive arguments that remain civil when you humanize the people you are speaking with. 



I was wondering how other LWers feel on the subject. Do you like that our discussions are un-hampered by personal data? Do you like the idea of providing personal intros? Do you not want to provide personalish information for safety reasons, or because you don't think it's anyone business?

If you think you might need help writing a personal intro, I wrote [a general guide]( on the topic in the comments below. 

Note: I predict there will be two types of response to this post. People discussing how they feel about this (Meta-Comments), and people giving personal introductions (Intros). To make navigating the responses easier, I am trying an experiment where I set up a meta-comment thread and a personal introduction thread. 



Edited to make it more clear to focus on personality, hobbies, likes/dislikes, and NOT on what you study, or school.
ETA- Added link to "How to Write Personal Intro" comment