1 min read6th Mar 202211 comments
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LessWrong Cult

When typing 'lesswrong' into google, the first suggestion is 'lesswrong cult'.

Is that something we should attempt to change? I believe that you can ask Google to remove those predictions.

If it was that easy, I suppose every cult would be doing it already. :D

By the way, Google suggestions are somewhat personalized. My suggestions, in order of appearance, are: lesswrong irc, lesswrong sequences, lesswrong cult, lesswrong reddit, lesswrong 100 tips, lesswrong basilisk, lesswrong textbooks, lesswrong book recommendations, lesswrong 2.0, lesswrong ai -- so it is also there, but not at the first place.

And it would be quite ironic if the reason why "lesswrong cult" stays so high is that no LessWrong reader can resist the temptation to click it... which probably the algorithm evaluates as: this is the correct one. I had to stop myself from clicking it now. Which makes me think, maybe I should once in a while google for "lesswrong harry potter" or "lesswrong effective altruism", to train google to suggest these.

If it was that easy, I suppose every cult would be doing it already. :D

If I Google "Church of Scientology" I don't get "church of scientology cult" as one of the results. 

I don't think it's a design design to have negative judgement of groups in the search suggestions even in cases like real cults. In the case of LessWrong, it's that the search suggestion itself produces curiosity and gets people to click on it.

Well I definitely think we're less of a cult than Scientology.

Also: "design design"? (Typo?)

Whew - I was afraid for a minute there that there was a special kind of super-design I didn't know about.

I believe that Google suggestions are personalized based on your search history, because "lesswrong cult" isn't at the top of my suggestions anymore, either. 

To double check what I remembered, I opened up an incognito tab and typed in "lesswrong": "lesswrong cult" was the first suggestion again.

Yeah, that would be pretty ironic :)

I'm trying to imagine this from the perspective of someone told about rationality by a friend, or perhaps someone who read Pinker's book or the NYT article on SlateStarCodex.  I've seen enough people mention that the rationalist community can have "cult" vibes already, so for "lesswrong cult" to be the first suggestion when a newcomer searches for the site seems...suboptimal.

Google does allow you to "Report inappropriate predictions" (it's at the right bottom of the page). I do think it makes sense to report that result with "Hateful against groups". 

Is this something that e.g. one of the LessWrong admins/mods ought to do?

No, it's something any Google user can do. The Google algorithm likely cares about how much people do it.

Heh, I wonder what actual cults do in such situation.