Some of us enjoy being sidekicks

Some of us would like to meet sidekicks in potential, see how the interaction goes, and have sidekicks. 

Last time I tried posting about sidekick matchmaking here, it turned out to be very valuable for me, but not for many people (I think only two pairs of sidekick were created as a result). Now, once again I'd like to find someone who enjoys that role to help me out with many projects. 

I'm looking for suggestions on how to get people together to do that. For the time being, if someone needs a sidekick or wants to be one, post about it in the comment section. I'd love to see a permanent solution for this information spreading problem. 

My experience with Sidekicks

I'm not sure what Anna and Nick thought of their sidekicks, but my experience was undeniably positive. Having a sidekick was motivating, saved me great time, and, most importantly, felt like I got a surge of muscle strength specifically in the types of tasks I'm particularly inept at. 

By contrast, my experience with people hired to help was mixed (virtual assistants) or negative (personal assistant). 

Use the comment section to either offer or request sidekicks, explaining a little more about you and what you'd like this partnership to mean

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43 comments, sorted by Click to highlight new comments since: Today at 2:27 PM

I think only two pairs of sidekick were created as a result.

I think this is a very significant achievement and shouldn't be downplayed esp. if these pairs worked together for a longer time. Do you know of how these pairs worked out? Could you ask them for a success story?


Was just about to post the same comment before I saw this. Creating three productive lasting relationships based on a forum post on a sparsely populated forum is way more than I would have expected.

BTW, I think the reason the post worked out well for you vs. others was because you treated your post as a Resume, and you had a solid one. Most people either haven't done enough to warrant a sidekick, or else feel weird self-promoting and therefore don't list their accomplishments in the most flattering way.


I request a partner, be it a sidekick or a forekick, for:

  • discussion of a holistic approach to biology education in high school, to tie it to as many topics in other subjects as possible,
  • maybe correction of my English writing and/or translations (I can help with Russian and Ukrainian, if there's interest).

(To describe myself: tired. Botanist. Fond of poetry and walking. At times, abrupt (especially when I get used to people). Unfazed by crazy turns of dialogue unless there's math involved (then, fazed.) Don't really believe in 'winning', don't even know what it would mean most of the time, except for, perhaps, winning some measure of resolve in the face of daily chaos.)

I do wonder how much of 'rationalist' stuff is contingent on American culture.

Here's my theory: American culture has a presupposition that every problem has a solution - that you can win. Any American rationalist will be able to tell you that their use of "winning" can, strictly speaking, just mean "not failing too hard", but... there's a reason why it's still called "winning". On a gut level, people from a culture that doesn't have this presupposition might find the whole thing much less relatable.

Once I heard a debate about fantasy literature, how culture impacts the world building.

In Western fantasy -- think Tolkien's Middle Earth -- you have the good kingdom on one end of the map (their backs are protected by the ocean, they only have to fight on one front), the evil kingdom is on the other side of the map, the heroes fight and despite all the complications they ultimately win.

In Eastern European fantasy -- think Sapkowski's Witcher -- you have the more-or-less good kingdom in the middle, surrounded by evil kingdoms (often much larger) on all sides; victory is impossible, the heroes fight to survive yet another day, and they consider themselves lucky when they do.

I would add that in Russian fantasy -- think Lukyanenko's Night Watch -- the balance between good and evil is considered a fact of life and no one even tries to change it anymore, both live in the same kingdom; the good guys only wake up when the balance seems to shift too much on the side of evil.

So yeah, culture has an unconscious impact on optimism / pesimism.

I'd be careful drawing conclusions on this basis, as it's really easy to cherry-pick examples to support any kind of narrative you like. The West has written its share of dystopias and there are a lot of happy endings in Russian fairy tales.

It would be interesting to do a proper comparison -- e.g. between a compendium of Russian fairy tales and something like the Brother Grimm's collection of German fairy tales. The German fairy tales might well turn out to be darker.

I'm not sure about grand strategy, but I've definitely noticed that attitudes toward government, even that of the nominal good guys, are way more cynical in Eastern European (including Russian) fantasy. The arms of government it touches on often also strike me as more modern, involving things like special forces and organized espionage in otherwise medieval settings, but that might just be because I'm more used to the anachronisms in Western fantasy.


Suppose we live in a Nicht Watch kind of a fantasy - I actually ask you to consider it seriously, just leave Lukyanenko's specifics out as irrelevant - what would you ask a sidekick for?

In the Night Watch world, you either want to be a muggle (and hope you will not get accidentally killed by a vampire), or a very high-level good or evil mage, or work for the Inquisition. Low-level mages are just cannon fodder for the mage wars. The problem is, how do you become a high-level mage without being a low-level mage first?

In real life, I guess it means you either want to be a street-smart muggle without any political opinions or ambitions, or you want to work for KGB or its local equivalent.

In the first case, the best sidekick would be another street-smart muggle without political opinions or ambitions; and you would try to exploit the existing options to survive as conveniently as possible. In the second case, you want someone who also works for KGB, but is absolutely loyal to you.

The problem is, how do you become a high-level mage without being a low-level mage first?

You get born as one, of course.


Does this mean that a sidekick wouldn't be distinguishable from a servant?

Does this mean that a sidekick wouldn't be distinguishable from a servant?

Is a sidekick distinguishable from a servant?


(Is reminded about that dialogue between Mazarin and Rochefort :) in the sense that when a hero dies, there is a competent successor, yes. Also, a sidekick is not paid, except in moral fuzzies. And the servant, at the end of the day, is not obliged to be kind to the hero.

Suppose we live in a Nicht Watch kind of a fantasy

As who? As a wizard or as a muggle?

P.S. "Nicht Watch" -- translated as "No Watch" -- is a nice typo. We probably do live in such a world :-)


A mugglest muggle.

I'll take a wizard as a sidekick, then, please :-)


I am sorry, this is not what I asked.

What are you asking, then?


To solve what problem would you invite another human to your side?

I am not sure what are you getting at. If I am a muggle, I have the usual mundane muggle problems and would need help with exactly the same things as in the real world.

If, on the other hand, I'm planning to meddle in the affairs of wizards, I am not sure a (muggle) sidekick can help me with the fact that I'm crispy and good with ketchup.


Well, you see, I think the problem with Sidekick Threads is just that - people think sidekicks are a means to solve mundane muggle problems, their problems, like servants. Sidekicks are not that. They are people you trust, who agree with you that something needs doing. For example, my sister commissioned me to study roots of some plants the rhizosphere of which she wants to sieve for mites. That makes me her sidekick, because I see value in it, even if I would see more value in commissioning her to sieve mites out of my own samples.

People don't get sidekicks until a bit after they feel a visceral need to change something (which is why I think I'll quit LW soon - I don't see people who do want to change something here. (And you call us pessimists!))

Also, if the presence of actual vampires doesn't really shift your priorities much from your mundane muggle problems, then it is Lukyanenko's world, and not Tolkien's, which I consider the closer to reality and more useful parable.

Part of the problem is that there's a huge gap between the "here" and "there" of some problems. I feel a visceral need to end the suffering in North Korea. Unfortunately I don't see any effective way of achieving that, or even getting close to achieving that, other than "spreading the message."


(It is not my business to tell you what to do, so please don't read it as such.) Then you would spread the message as best you could; surely the more people you turn to this, the better?

I don't see people who do want to change something here.

That depends on your definition of "here". I think having the LW Slack is a change.

OK, so you see sidekicks not as servants but as comrades, brothers/sisters-in-arms who are fighting by your side for the same goal but content to accept your authority. Sure.

So, by asking about sidekicks are you really asking "What do you have a visceral need to fight for"?


Kinda, but notice that inviting people along means you are responsible for them in a way; I used this question because some genuine (and/or altruistical) visceral needs, fail this test

Yes, I see.

An interesting question.

American culture has a presupposition that every problem has a solution - that you can win.

Yep... although there's an implicit "Other cultures don't think that identifying a problem implies a requirement to try to correct it" there, which I'm not sure I believe?

If by implicit you mean implied by me, that wasn't intended. But I think other cultures do, to varying degrees, people more towards thinking that a problem is either unsolvable or that trying to solve it isn't worth the bother. I always feel like "Sometimes, when you're screwed enough, you're screwed" counts as a radical realisation in contemporary America.


Correcting the problem is required, but its expected efficiency is way lower than solving it. Or, sometimes, even just tolerating it.

For example, we've just had regional elections, and in the village where I live, there was exactly one candidate to choose from. Problem? Yes. Anybody really against it? No.

It's not too uncommon for candidates to run unopposed in local, sometimes even state, elections in the US. It's not the norm, exactly, but every so often you get an office where only one person has the time, interest, and availability to mount a serious campaign.

See e.g. Georgia's election to Congress in 2014 -- seven out of 14 Congressmen ran (and won) unopposed. Or Massachusetts -- six out of nine unopposed.

There are also hereditary fiefdoms -- e.g. Newark, NJ.

At that level, it looks like it mostly happens with incumbents, especially in districts so politically polarized that the other party can't mount a realistic challenge. In these cases, the real challenge to the incumbent, if there is one, would happen at the primary level and the Wikipedia page wouldn't pick it up.

I don't know how common primary-level challenges are. I wouldn't expect them to be universal, but I did see at least one entry on that page (Ralph Hall, for Texas' fourth district) where the candidate defeated an incumbent in the primary and then went on to win the general election unopposed.

It was similar in the US state where I used to live.

I think becoming a sidekick would be an interesting experience.

I don't really have (this is not false humility- I think my most advanced skill is cooking, and I've never cooked for a living) any strong suits, and am mostly concerned with mundane instrumental rationality at the moment.

I'm a liberal arts dropout who joined the military a few years ago. My immediate goal is learning basic math and programming.

I suspect an outside interest (i.e, a 'hero') might help lend some focus.

I'm looking for a sidekick if someone feels that such would be an appropriate role for them. This is me for those who don't know me:

And this is my flowchart/life;autobiography in the last few years:

Nice to meet you! :)

Polymathwannabe asked: What would be your sidekick's mission?

R: It feels to me like that would depend A LOT on the person, the personality, our physical distance, availability and interaction type. I feel that any response I gave would only filter valuable people away, which obviously I don't want to do. That said, I had good experiences with people a little older than me, with general interest in EA and far future, and who have more than a single undergrad as academic background, mostly because I interact with academia all the time and many activities and ways of being are academia specific.

I read your documents. Please PM me to organise a conversation.


Sidekicks should also keep in mind that their Literally-Significant Others have so far made do without them, and [might be biased to keep the status quo/believe their Sidekicks would join The Cause itself, not the Heroes themselves, and so from the very beginning should have their own image of making things better/are uncertain as to how formal they should be towards the Sidekicks, since being late sending in a document because your dog has been vomiting all afternoon is less Heroic than because there are Hidden Depths to the issue, and lets face it, Sidekicks gotta want something Heroic from them/...]

...really have no inkling what to do with these extraterrestrials who want, of all things, to help.

feel free to join the Slack, for finding a sidekick. There are a whole bunch of us who like discussing ideas and suggesting strategies for progress.


From what I gathered in the linked thread, sidekick seems to be an umbrella term for an apprentice, mentee or assistant. Is there any reason to use the word sidekick other than to add another quirky word to the ingroup vocabulary?

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I very much like this idea. It's a clear win-win opportunity.

Alas I think that I'm neither a potential sidekick nor heroish enough to deserve one. So I wounder: But what about other pairings?

Going by tropes

Any further ideas?


Two sidekicks please!

Please note I'm very demanding, aloof, selfish and idiosyncratic. On the other hand, I'm ambitious, intermittently and I unexpectedly generous when things are going well, and protective.

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