(This is a crossposted FB post, so it might read a bit weird)

My goal this year (in particular, my main focus once I arrive in the Bay, but also my focus in NY and online in the meanwhile), is to join and champion the growing cause of people trying to fix some systemic problems in EA and Rationalsphere relating to "lack of Hufflepuff virtue".

I want Hufflepuff Virtue to feel exciting and important, because it is, and I want it to be something that flows naturally into our pursuit of both epistemic integrity, intellectual creativity, and concrete action.

Some concrete examples:

- on the 5 second reflex level, notice when people need help or when things need doing, and do those things.

- have an integrated understanding that being kind to people is *part* of helping them (and you!) to learn more, and have better ideas.

(There are a bunch of ways to be kind to people that do NOT do this, i.e. politely agreeing to disagree. That's not what I'm talking about. We need to hold each other to higher standards but not talk down to people in a fashion that gets in the way of understanding. There are tradeoffs and I'm not sure of the best approach but there's a lot of room for improvement)

- be excited and willing to be the person doing the grunt work to make something happen

- foster a sense that the community encourages people to try new events, actively take personal responsibility to notice and fix community-wide problems that aren't necessarily sexy.

- when starting new projects, try to have mentorship and teamwork built into their ethos from the get-go, rather than hastily tacked on later

I want these sorts of things to come easily to mind when the future people of 2019 think about the rationality community, and have them feel like central examples of the community rather than things that we talk about wanting-more-of.


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Nice! I think your use of "Hufflepuff virtue" really points at a great group of related memes that seem really helpful for group cohesion and sustainability.

I'll try to add some more examples/bounce off yours and you can let me know if they're in the same spirit?

  • Genuinely being excited when someone else gets a great opportunity because we're on the same side. Referring opportunities to people we know who're well fit for them.

  • Matching people with similar goals together and other 3rd party coordination tasks that are helpful for others. Valuing 3rd party actors who help link things together.

  • Being positive and vocalizing support, even if it's just a basic "this is cool!" on posts / things (so we don't just assume silence = ambivalence).

  • Making it more of a norm to contribute some fraction of time towards public-good projects (EX: the wiki, beginner how-to's, etc.)

  • Valuing coordination / teamwork in and of itself as a terminal value. (This could be misguided in the limit, but I think it approximates the sort of behavior we want to see more of.)


For that last point, I think the LW community is nitpicky that we need to be more specific, but I can imagine a lengthier post that made the case for something similar to what you describe re "teamwork as a terminal value"


Great! I'd love to talk more about this at some point (maybe collaborating on the "teamwork is a terminal value" post?) [wow, that's meta].

Collaborate? Count me in! (PM me a link to a google doc once you have one going)


Sounds great! Raemon suggested to use this thread as a public jumping off point for brainstorming, and I'm cool w/ that.

So feel free to drop ideas / things below, if you already have some interesting ways to craft this essay!

(But once a doc is made, I'll definitely PM you too)

quick thoughts: there is too much information in the world to verify it all yourself. at some point you need to outsource the science-doing to other people a bit otherwise you will never get anything done. Society does this all the time, in manufacturing, in being part of something greater than yourself, working together towards a shared goal.

I strongly favor this project and would love to read more on the subject. I'm hopeful that its online presence happens here where I'm likely to read it, and that it doesn't vanish onto Tumblr or Facebook or something similarly inaccessible.

My plan is to post on both FB and Less Wrong, and Leah Libresco has volunteered to copy everything tidily into a central wordpress blog (that should come with a handy RSS feed)

(Fake edit: I just went and created projecthufflepuff.wordpress.com, and added Leah as an admin. It currently is empty)

Anyone who makes a FB post relating to this should use the #ProjectHufflepuff hashtag and set the privacy to "public", so you can easily find them all here: https://www.facebook.com/search/top/?q=%23projecthufflepuff

I'll crosspost everything major on LW, and aim to do at least a few flagship posts that I'd try to get promoted into main.

Reminds me of this Mark Manson Post kindly made prominent by Kaj with the key point

To not give a fuck about adversity, you must give a fuck about something more important than adversity...


Also plausibly Hufflepuff relevant:

What are everyone's thoughts on starting a "Projects in Progress" thread? If you're working on something that you think others in the community might know people relevant to or want to help out, you can post it there.

I know .impact has a huge collection of global projects, but I'm thinking more specifically rationality-related and small scale things that you maybe just need a quick boost, e.g. an initial proofread, for.

EX: I'm currently working on compiling research on habit formation. If anyone can name-drop some researchers or link some papers, that'd be great.

Start a monthly thread!

Cool. :)

I think this has happened on occasion, but not in any regular fashion, and I think it'd be a good idea to start such a thread every once-in-a-while

I once read something that stuck with me (it was a passing comment on people offering their ideas for a civ-style strategy game to the author): "don't tell me what you are going to do, tell me what you have done". I wonder if this is itself a hufflepuff virtue?

"don't tell me what you are going to do, tell me what you have done".

In case this was also meant on the object level, I will observe that the Secular Solstice exists because of Raemon, and I also expect the NYC LW group has quite a bit of gratitude for things that he's done.

I'm not active enough on LW to be able to accuse anyone here of being idle, either in given particulars or in general. I intended more of an expression of curiosity about where the stated objectives make contact with past experience than to make a lazily hidden indictment :)

Not trusting the words but relying on externally-verifiable evidence hardly seems Hufflepuffish...

I would probably call it "common sense", but out of the four Houses it should be a Slytherin virtue.

There's also an element of instrumental rationality quite beautifully captured there, shifting the focus from ideation to concrete action by setting a certain waterline for what should be regarded as worth attention.

Similar to the Latin Acta, non Verba.

It's a principle of practicality - which category strikes me as largely overlapping HP's home territory.

Similar to the Latin Acta, non Verba.

You misspelled Avada Kedavra. /s

I don't think that setting a threshold "for what should be regarded as worth attention" is an expression of the principle of practicality.

It is, of course, in a trivial way, but it's the same way in which putting on your shoes before going outside is an expression of the same principle.

Plus acta non verba implies a certain distrust for words. Distrust is not a Hufflepuff thing at all.

It is, of course, in a trivial way

Practicality is usually in some sense "trivial", not so? Is there any sense in which the word implies complexity or subtlety?

To me, practicality doesn't imply triviality.

I'd say that "practical' has two main meanings. One is "achievable given certain constraints and limits", the antonym is "impractical". Two is "focusing on the direct outputs", the antonym is a bit hard to come by but the opposite meaning is, basically, "done for status/signaling purposes".

Neither of the two meanings implies simplicity or bluntness.

Some more information about Hufflepuff:

Hufflepuff is the most inclusive among the four houses; valuing hard work, dedication, patience, loyalty, and fair play rather than a particular aptitude in its members.

Wait. Why does the author think those qualities aren't aptitudes? Conscientiousness and agreeableness are both somewhat heritable.

It could be a case where heritable should not be confused with not environmental.

Actually, I didn't mean to imply "not environmental" (though I believe for many aptitudes and personality traits, environment gets disproportionally more attention than genetics). I only meant that these things (hard work, dedication, patience, loyalty, and fair play) are aptitudes, as much as heroism or ambition or intellect.

Isn't "aptitude" simply another word for the genetic, non-environmental component of a talent?

Is there a link to the facebook post anywhere? In the meantime, I'll just leave this here:

)|(Just look at Zahir, he did exactly one instance of what I do all the time.

It might be great to have summaries of discussion. For example, there were at least 3 posts on social touch and how welcome it is and what the touched person perceives it to be, by three different people, and one of them is on another blog. If we had a summarising post (yes, a long one:), it would allow for more coherence.

I support this and I would love to but I cant. Try writing to the authors?

(I will; just thought this could be done with other "constellations" of posts. Also, my verbal skillz are worse than average here, so, uh, hint.)

definitely. the posts need to be written first, before being able to be tied together. I feel like that's what EY did. wrote lots of posts before tying them together. I bet the authors would appreciate better connectivity between their posts if you can point them out

The slack folk want to redo the front page blurb, do you want to collaborate?


The comment on teamwork made me wonder if there has been any good analyses of project management (e.g. people seem stuck on agile for not great reasons etc).


Hm, I'm unsure about agile specifically, but it does seem like there's been some empirical analyses of project management skills in recent years.

Example: Overview of "back-planning" effectiveness in planning, a technique that originated in project management

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