An account of what I believe to be inconsistent behavior on the part of our editor

by PeterS2 min read17th Dec 200968 comments


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There was recently a submission here posing criticism a well-known contributor, Eliezer Yudkowsky. Admittedly, whatever question the poster intended to ask was embedded within a post which was evidently designed to be a test of our rationality. Eliezer didn't seem to care too much, stating that the issue was

it being a top-level post instead of Open Thread comment. Probably would've been a lot more forgiving if it'd been an Open Thread comment. . .

The question would, under other circumstances, be just - but I don't care to justify myself here. Elsewhere, perhaps. . .

This belongs as a comment on the SIAI blog, not a post on Less Wrong.

I asked Eliezer why mormon2's post belonged on the SIAI blog and not here. He responded thus:

Because Less Wrong is about human rationality, not the Singularity Institute, and not me.

This response is unsatisfactory. Either certain posts belong on the SIAI blog and not here, or they don't and can be posted here. It can't be both ways

Note that I do not approve of mormon2's submission, as of the recent statement he made in an edit. I do, however, approve of the idea of such a submission. Somebody should be able to make a top-level post directing questions and criticism towards another author, under certain circumstances. I can't fully pin down just what the precise circumstances should be - it's not up for me to decide in any case.

But consider a high-profile contributor, who already has many posts about himself (several self-submitted) and his work, who has at times responded to off-site comments with top-level posts on Less Wrong, and who has recently given his blessing to a post entitled Less Wrong Q&A With Eliezer Yudkowsky - when such a person suggests that a submission concerning himself and his work belongs as a comment in the monthly Open Thread, or as a comment on an off-site blog, I find it very outlandish.

Eliezer is not an ordinary contributor. In the beginning, it was apparently envisioned that there would be a limit to the number of non-Yudkowsky/Hanson posts submitted per day. Obviously that policy has not been enacted. In any case, by my count there have been 682 submissions to Less Wrong as of December 14th. Eliezer has contributed 108 of those (the median number of posts per author being 2.5)1. He is not a "specific person" being asked to justify "specific decisions", as he would hypothetically suggest if his intent were to be manipulative. It's actually quite difficult for me to characterize Eliezer's role here. Mostly he's a great author and commenter. Sometimes he comments as the site editor. At other times, he seems to submit as though this were his personal blog, Yahoo! Answers, or the comment thread on an entirely different site. He seems to have developed into a sort of community icon at Less Wrong.

So it occurs to me (after having expended my google-fu and searched the LW-Wiki), that there are no posted rules for appropriate top-level topics on Less Wrong. If there are, please correct me. At Overcoming Bias we submitted articles to the editors and they decided whether to publish them (I assume there were few or no restrictions for the editors' own work). The only restriction I know of on Less Wrong is that you need a Karma Score of at least 20 or 40 to submit posts. This is clearly insufficient, since if you have 8000 Karma you can submit anything. How many moderators do we have? I have yet to find a list.

I feel that we must address these issues, either presently or ultimately. I know of no other decent community with Less Wrong's stated goal. And yet I am very much vexed by these inconsistencies I perceive between the stated purpose and the site's actual operation.

1I put the date marking the beginning of as an open community at March 5th, 2009. This was the date of the first post by someone other than Eliezer / Robin after Eliezer's announcement that a beta version of the site had been launched.

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