You can now write Less Wrong comments that contain polls! John Simon picked up and finished some code I had written back in 2010 but never finished, and our admins Wesley Moore and Matt Fallshaw have deployed it. You can use it right now, so let's give it some testing here in this thread.

The polls work through the existing Markdown comment formatting, similar to the syntax used for links. Full documentation is in the wiki; the short version is that you can write comments like this:

What is your favorite color? [poll]{Red}{Green}{Blue}{Other}

How long has it been your favorite color, in years? [poll:number]

Red is a nice color [poll:Agree....Disagree]

Will your favorite color change? [poll:probability]

To see the results of the poll, you have to vote (you can leave questions blank if you want). The results include a link to the raw poll data, including the usernames of people who submitted votes with the "Vote anonymously" box unchecked. After you submit the comment, if you go back and edit your comment all those poll tags will have turned into [pollid:123]. You can edit the rest of the comment without resetting the poll, but you can't change the options.

It works right now, but it's also new and could be buggy. Let's give it some testing; what have you always wanted to know about Less Wrongers?

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Do you ever have feelings of irrational nostalgia for hopelessly obsolete technology?

Vote up for YES.

I used a Nokia 3330 until last year.
-Indiana Jones
— René Belloq
Vote up for NO.
Karma balance.
Vote up for NO.
Vote up for YES.

Which poll answer will receive the largest number of responses? [pollid:38]

I love this poll
After one month and 120 responses, I'm considering this poll closed. The results are: 1) The third one: 21% 2) The fifth one: 15% 3) The second one: 14% 4) The first one: 32% 5) The fourth one: 18% A chi-squared test says that these results are non-uniform, with a p-value of 0.02. The correct answer, #5 "the fourth one", was chosen by 18% of respondents. The most common answer was #4, "the first one". This poll idea was taken from a gamefaqs poll which was linked on LW last year. The results of that poll (which had a much larger sample size) were: 1) The third one: 17% 2) The first one: 24% 3) The last one: 21% 4) The second one: 26% 5) The fourth one: 11% My hypothesis about that poll was: That hypothesis predicts that the most common responses on the LW poll would be the level 1 response, #4 "the first one", and the level 2 response, #5 "the fourth one". The data provide partial confirmation of this hypothesis; in terms of levels the most common responses to the LW poll were: 32% Level 1 (#4 "the first one") 21% Level 0 (#1 "the third one") 18% Level 2 (#5 "the fourth one") 15% Level 3 (#2 "the fifth one") 14% Level 4 (#3 "the second one") And for the gamefaqs poll: 26% Level 2 (#4 "the second one") 24% Level 1 (#2 "the first one") 21% Level 4 (#3 "the last one") 17% Level 0 (#1 "the third one") 11% Level 3 (#5 "the fourth one")
Some people don't pick very good schelling points.

Great features ! Thanks and congrats to those who made it happen.

One suggestion : you can't see the result until you voted, I guess it's not to bias/anchor the answer, but then it would be nice to add an option "I don't plan to vote, let me see the results", so someone who doesn't want to vote for any reason can still access the outcome. Or else, there is a risk of people not wanting to vote but wanting to see the outcome will vote "at random" and skew the result.

In the meantime, the effect can be simulated by proper selection of options. Example:

Which is your favourite superhero? [pollid:37]

Excluding the ponies (which I didn't vote on, because I am one of sixteen people remaining on the Internet who doesn't pony yet), this is the earliest radio poll where the sum of the numbers in the column matches the "Total" number at the bottom.

because I am one of sixteen people remaining on the Internet who doesn't pony yet

I am glad that you used the word "yet": accepting the possibility of getting better is an essential part of overcoming a problem.

It's a relief to know I'm not the only one...
I love what this poll reveals about LW readers. Many sympathise with Batman, because of his tech/intellectual angle. The same with Iron Man, but he's a bit less cool. Then two have heard of superman, and most LWers are male. And most of us don't care.
Results: 4+16+2+16+1+27(last option) = 144? WTF?
The issue of the bug in question has been discussed already, in this very thread -- but even if it hadn't, I don't think the discovery of a bug should stun you this much.
Somebody sounds grouchy :/ In fact, it would be completely unsurprising if I had read the other comments. Oops.
What would be really funny is if, when you select "I don't care, but I'd like to see the results" you see that everyone else filled it out the same way.
Who is your favorite superhero? [pollid:46]
[pollid:48] EDIT: uh oh, you can't fix typos in polls. I don't know if that is a good thing or a barrier to lulz
I'm not conflating options, because I'm not really comparing Spiderman to not-Spiderman, I'm comparing Spiderman to the poll results in CCC's comment. The effect is the same as editing the previous poll to add Spiderman. Also apparently it's "Spider-Man".
You can clone polls. I wonder what the other polls are. [pollid:48] No wait, you can't. Someone thought this thru.
Spiderman! Why isn't Spiderman on there? I bet he'd be way more popular than that Flash guy whoever he is.
...Spiderman! I knew I was forgetting someone! And the poll options cannot be edited after the fact (though the question can be).
Funny that Iron Man was the only Marvel hero on the list. If I had to pick one Marvel hero... he wouldn't have been the one.
He did have a movie out recently. I think that's why his name drifted into my head at the time of the poll.
On the other hand even complete anonymity could be sufficient for those who consider Spiderman a kind of pathetic whiny child.
This is a problem. Ideally there would be a separate button next to the "vote" button (a forum that I read has that feature, with the button labeled "View Results (Null Vote)"). Second-best would be to allow people to submit a blank vote (which is not as good, since it's not obvious to people that they have that option), but it currently does not work that way (even though the OP seems to say that it does).

Minimize the expected square of the distance between your answer and 80% of the mean of the answers chosen: [pollid:8]

I see a 'Total 123' but the table and chart only show 2 votes. The raw data also have 123 entries.

Yeah, it looks like there's something seriously broken about this poll code. I'm seeing 159 total votes, and only 13 visible votes.
Total 139, chart shows 0 votes...
Hey everyone, I just voted, and so I can see the correct answer. The average is 19.2, so you should choose 17%!
Of course that's what you'd say...
Or maybe that's what I want you to think I'd say...
The noise in my simulations quickly drown out any actual logic and the markov chain reaches its stable distribution.
So what did you guess then?
I guessed "the only winning move is not to play" (I didn't guess. rationalization: I didn't want to do the thinking, and can't see the results anyway)
A function to automatically compute the averages should be implemented.
awk is made for this, but it took me a few minutes to whip this up in java. I figured if numeric polls are used in the future, this can be used as a code-base. The indentation isn't coming through, but any IDE will fix that for you. This doesn't work on arbitrary numeric entry polls, but for those, you can gather the statistics as you go along, putting it in the GATHER loop EDITED to fix serious bug. usage: paste this into, compile it. then run java PollStat < poll.csv.txt So far, the winners are endoself and army1987. I wasn't far off. ~~~~~ import*; import java.util.*; public class PollStat { public static void main(String[] args) { try { BufferedReader br = new BufferedReader(new InputStreamReader(; String line = br.readLine(); int[] counts = new int[12]; // PUT NUMBER OF POLL OPTIONS HERE int end, begin; int linen = 0; while (line != null && line.charAt(0) == '#') { line = br.readLine(); linen++; } while (line != null) { // GATHER LOOP linen++; end = line.lastIndexOf("\",\""); begin = line.lastIndexOf("\",\"", end-1); try { line = line.substring(begin+3, end); } catch (Exception e) { System.out.println("At line number "+linen+":"); e.printStackTrace(); System.exit(1); } Integer c = Integer.parseInt(line); counts[c]++; // For arbitrary numeric responses, don't use counts. // just continuously gather your statistics. Alternately, make a list of Doubles or something. line = br.readLine(); } br.close(); int total = 0; int resp = 0; int[] numbers = new int[]{100, 64, 41, 26, 17, 11, 7, 4, 3, 2, 1, 0}; // PUT POLL OPTIONS HERE for (int i = 0; i < c.length; i++) { System.out.println(numbers[i]+": "+counts[i]); total += numbers[i] * counts[i]; resp += counts[i]; } System.out
Not really -- if you check out the wiki page this type of poll is meant for discrete options, not for numbers or probabilities. For probabilities the "poll:probability" type should be used, which does automatically compute averages and medians.
Ahrgh, if only everyone was running TDT…
Dunno... If you treat it as a zero-sum game (i.e. you don't only want your answer to be close to 80% of the average answer, but you also want other people's answers to be far from it) it's not obvious to me that you should vote 0.
I was granting for the purpose of responding that loup-vailant's clear assumption that normal game theory principles apply---each agent is interested only in the payoffs to itself to the exclusion of all else and the payoffs are such that it gets 0 for being wrong and >0 for being right. It so happens that my own actual response (100%) doesn't conform to those assumptions. In fact my original reply to: ... was "No", and my original reply to loup-vaillant pontificated about the complete lack of payoff to any of the radio buttons. However I abandoned that point because the point about it not mattering whether the other guy is using CDT or TDT actually matters (somewhat). In this game (ie. with an actual assumed payoff for correct and no negative payoff for other's success) the Nash equilibrium (and the outcome that a group of all CDT agents would pick) also happens to be pareto optimal. In fact, it outright gives the maximum possible payoff to every individual. Even inferior decision theories can pull that off.
Yes, but whichever decision theory you're using, you need to be ready for the few people voted for 100. Someone's going to do something to ruin it for everyone. And it wasn't just a few who ruined it - vs rirelbar jub'q ibgrq yrff guna sbegl bar ibgrq mreb, gur nirentr jbhyq or nyzbfg rknpgyl rvtug.
Forgive me for being new to the site, but I've see this kind of writing in several places. How is it translated back to readable English?
It's rot13, a shift cipher typically used around here to obscure spoilers and spoiler-like information. Cut and paste it into, install the d3coder extension for Chrome or something similar for another browser, or (if you like tedium) decipher it yourself.
That would be why this subthread was based on a lament.

I would like a user preference that makes it possible to vote non-anonymously by default. But it's low priority - this is really awesome as is!

(Or even it remembering whether you chose to vote non-anonymously in the last poll you took.)

Oooh great idea. Bugs / Suggestions:

  1. The answers are transformed into this tiny little poll code with a poll id, so I assume it's being saved to a database. However, the questions are not being saved with them. I can edit my question after the poll has been answered. This may result in some pranks later where you ask some obvious question like "does the earth revolve around the sun" or whatever and everyone answers "yes" and then you can change your question to "are you a Scientologist?" and you will see everyone's votes saying "yes" to that. Much more malicious changes are possible, of course. Also, if the questions aren't stored in the database with the answers, you won't have as many options later for doing cool things with your database full of polls.

  2. The code: [Poll] does not work because it's upper case, but this is not an obvious reason for poll failure, so one may end up wasting lots of time trying to figure it out or make annoying requests for support. Making this case insensitive is probably a good idea.

  3. The poll seems designed for very short answers. My elitism poll results look bad for that reason.

Feature, not bug.

BUG: The display of the data for the multiple-choice polls seems to reset at some point, though I can still see the complete raw data when clicking at them... e.g. right now, though 68 people have voted for the "best pony", at the display I only see the choice of the 68th person (Applejack) having a single vote, and all the other choices are falsely at zero.

Similar things with other polls.

Confirmed. The issue is in an interaction between the polling code and Reddit's custom ORM which causes vote-totals to be cached, but not persisted to the database correctly. I have a fix, which I'm testing now. All polls created before the fix is applied will be affected; it'll be possible to restore them, but it'd take some work which isn't a priority for me.
I've just deployed a fix that will apply to all new poll votes. Thanks jimrandomh for passing on the bug report and initial patch.
Here's a screenshot of that with my poll: I still have access to the raw poll data.

The raw poll data is sent with "Content-Disposition: attachment", which causes firefox to download it instead of letting me view it in the browser. Is this deliberate?

Pick your answer to this poll at random: [pollid:39]

I used to generate my answer. But, when I submitted it, I got the following: First Answer 0 (0%) Second Answer 0 (0%) Third Answer 0 (0%) Fourth Answer 1 (2%) Fifth Answer 0 (0%) Total 58 (100%) The raw data contained all the 58 rows, however. Seems like there might be a bug in the result-rendering code.
To anyone thinking this is not random, with 42 votes in: * The p-value is 0.895 (this is the probability of seeing at least this much non-randomness, assuming a uniform distribution) * The entropy is 2.302bits instead of log(5) = 2.322bits, for 0.02bits KL-distance (this is the number of bits you lose for encoding one of these votes as if it was random) If you think you see a pattern here, you should either see a doctor or a statistician.
I wish I could see a doctor-statistician. Or at least a doctor who understood statistics.

Yvain might some day have his own practice.

Here is one:
Looks like we're better at randomness than the rest of the population. If I asked random people for a random number from 1 to 10, I wouldn't be surprised to see substantially less than 3.322 bits of entropy per number (e.g., many more than 10% of the people choosing 7).
Well, it's worth noting people seem to be trainable to choose randomly: Apropos of the PRNG discussion in for which I wrote some flashcards:
Ha. I fail at random. In my defence, the universe is probably deterministic anyway.
it's probably not, but you're still excused ;)
After one month and 118 responses, I'm considering this poll closed. The results are: 1) 17% 2) 21% 3) 20% 4) 24% 5) 18% A chi-squared test says that these results do not differ significantly from uniform random responding, with a p-value of 0.78. The main reason why I ran this poll was because I thought it might have implications for the trickier poll above. It is interesting the option #4 was the most common response in this poll, that poll, and the gamefaqs poll which that poll was based on. #4 may seem especially random, and some respondents in the other polls may have just been trying to answer at random. But this poll ended up not providing much information about that; to test it we'd need a larger sample size, and preferably a poll where respondents did not use external sources of randomness.
For convenience: or in Bash, echo $(($RANDOM % 5 + 1))
Question: what's a reasonable prior over the probability distribution of poll answers? Because I downloaded the raw data, and it says: 1. 15 2. 22 3. 21 4. 24 5. 18 ...and I'm not sure what would constitute reasonable priors for the uniform distribution hypothesis versus the "aversion toward First Answer" hypothesis versus the "aversion toward First Answer and Fifth Answer" hypothesis.
My own feelings on the matter are that if you don't know what prior to have, compute worst-case bounds. In this case, the model that maximizes the probability of seeing this data is that each answer is 15% likely to be 1, 22% likely to be 2, 21% likely to be 3, 24% likely to be 4, and 18% likely to be 5. We can compute the probability of seeing this data under this model, and also under the "all answers are equally likely" model, and conclude that our worst-case model makes us only 3.61 times as likely to see this data. In particular, any other hypothesis you might have can only receive this little evidence, relative to the uniform distribution hypothesis; and I believe in close-to-uniformity enough that I'm not going to be swayed by what is fewer than 2 bits of evidence.
Thanks! I didn't think of that particular brainhack - I'll be sure to use it in the future.
Your question is confused. The uniform distribution hypothesis only requires that the (assumed infinite) population picks the answers independently with equal probability. Under this hypothesis, the observed poll answers (for a fixed number of respondents) will follow a multinomial distribution with parameters (0.2, 0.2, 0.2, 0.2, 0.2). A typical realization will not have an equal number of respondents giving each answer, although asymptotically the empirical frequencies will converge to equality. Anyways, as a Bayesian, the better question is what should my posterior belief about the response probabilities be after running the poll and updating off the answers? The canonical way to do this would be to put a Dirichlet prior over the response probabilities. By the miracle of conjugacy, your posterior distribution will itself by a (generally different) Dirichlet distribution. By taking the expectation of indicator variables like I{"probability of First Answer under 0.2"} under the posterior, you can figure out what degree of belief you must give to statements like "respondents have an aversion toward First Answer".
That makes sense - I had imagined doing something similar, but I had never heard of Dirichlet priors.
Happy this helped. The Dirichlet-multinomial model gets relatively little attention because it adds nothing really new to the beta-binomial model for polls with just two responses. It's easy to find lots of introductory, chatty introductions to the beta-binomial like this one or this one if you want to learn more...
Is (the seconds' figure in my watch) mod 5 random enough?
I used the least significant digit on my time-remaining-to-full-charge. And ended up propping up the most populated entry.
I needed 3 random bits (and threw out any overflow), which I got by checking whether arbitrary words or phrases I thought of had an even or odd number of letters. That's the most random completely mental (heh) way I know of, I wonder if there are others.
... you could have done it more-reliably evenly by taking the mod 5 of the phrase/word length.
Considering that the average word length in English is about five letters, I suspect that'd be quite far from being uniformly distributed.
Average is irrelevant. What's relevant is the standard deviation. Since standard deviation goes as the square root of the number of items being added, phrase length for any reasonably-sized phrase, so long as it wasn't a line of poetry, should be pretty evenly distributed.
It's not obvious to me that it's unbiased. My gut feeling suspects that if I randomly chose a word it'd be more likely to have an odd than an even number of letters.
I think this would be even more interesting as "pick at random, without an external source of randomness". Sure you can get random numbers from, your computer or the seconds on your watch (a nice idee), but those just blur the effect of mind-generated random numbers.
I rolled 1d6, intending to reroll any 6s.

Neat. Thanks!

This deserves karma. For fun, enter how much you think this post will get. [pollid:6]

It correctly interpreted ۲ as 2. :)

After my vote:

" Mean 43.5 Median 75.0 Total votes 2"

Well this is mathematically impossible... My guess is the median isn't properly calculated for even numbers of votes.

Thanks for spotting this! I looked into it, and it seems to be double-counting the most recent result when computing the median. It's an order-of-initialization issue; it thinks it's getting all the results except the new one, adding it, then taking the median, but it's actually getting a list of all the results. The fix is straightforward; I'll email the admins to apply it.

Your fix for the incorrect median calculation has been deployed.
I got a mean of -9.91765890411e+16, so something is still wrong.

No, that's unfortunate but correct (several people entered things like entered -3e+18 as their estimate).


"Mean 1.25e+18 Median 45.0 Total votes 8"

Specifying a lower and upper bound on the input should be required.

That doesn't really prevent trolling, so i'm not sure that it would be helpful.
It won't prevent trolling but it will minimize its effects. As it stands, you can input numbers like 1e+19 which will seriously throw off the mean. If trolls can only give the highest or lowest reasonable bound then they're not going to have much of an effect individually and that makes going through the effort to troll less worthwhile.
Not necessarily: Votes: 12 and 75 Mean: 43.5 Median (upper median): 75 While the standard e.g. wolfram alpha definition (which isn't normative) of the median would be 43.5 as well, it is an accepted practice (in plenty of CS grad classes, at least) to have the median guaranteed to be an element of the sample, normally the upper median is then chosen simply as "median". Hence the wiki definition having the qualifier "usual". In fact, I was surprised that the median is strictly speaking not guaranteed to be an element of the set, using the majority mathematical definition. So, not so much an error as a lazy CS convention ...

This is the sample poll from the article (just a straight copy-paste). These aren't exciting questions, so you should ask some that are!

What is your favorite color? [pollid:2]

How long has it been your favorite color, in years? [pollid:3]

Red is a nice color [pollid:4]

Will your favorite color change? [pollid:5]

Current results: Red: 0%; Green, 33%; Blue: 67%; Other: 0%.

I'm gladdened to see that even though we don't discuss politics on LW, the green scum are in the minority here!

Now neither green nor blue are the absolute majority, with 34% voting “Other”. Those pesky sideways rope pullers!
But the sky is green. Just go outside and see!
What kind of question is, “Red is a nice color”? Some shades of red are nice and some aren't. Duh. (Also, who the hell has had a favourite colour for six dozen million times the age of the Universe?)
I got an error the first time because I put a percent instead of a fractional probability. Upon correcting this, I now see the following erroneous result:

If you choose an answer to this question at random (using a uniform distribution), what is the probability that you will be correct? [pollid:51]

The solution on Mathematics Stack Exchange

Which of the following is true? [pollid:45]

Most voters so far have probably voted False to this question: [pollid:16]

This doesn't look right:

The raw data says there are 13 votes for "0" and 20 votes for "1".

Looking at the raw data, it seems that at some point the True and False counts got reset, but then kept increasing as normal. The same thing happened in this poll and this one but not others.
As of my vote, I count 28 winners.

Bug report: The right navigation bar on this page has scooted down as if it's being pushed out of alignment by something too wide in the comments section. The comments seem to have the same width as they normally do and I but perhaps the polls are interfering with the layout in some way?

FFX 15.0.1 W7

Would it be useful to have a "choose all that apply" question type?

While simulating this with the current poll structure is possible, it quickly becomes cumbersome with an increased number of options; the number of options in the poll would be two to the power of the number of choices. Example: Which of the following superheroes' powers would you prefer to duplicate, if you could do so safely? A: Spiderman B: Mr. Fantastic C: Aquaman [pollid:44]

There is something wrong with the page formatting on this post (but on no others I've tried). The sidebar at the right has been shunted to the very foot of the page. The top of the sidebar overlaps the footer bar and the rst of it hangs down below the page content. I've tried this in two different browsers (Safari and Firefox on a Mac). Could the new poll formatting have interacted badly with the CSS? This doesn't happen if I load an individual comment on this page, for any of the comments I've tried.

The largest integer is: [pollid:20]

The largest number is about 45,000,000,000, although mathematicians suspect that there may be even larger numbers. (45,000,000,001?)

Set theorists sometimes remark that there are only very few natural numbers. I think this can be made more quantitative: Based on observations of their blackboard drawings and accompanying explanations, my current best estimate is that there are about five to ten. However, so far, my confidence in this estimate is only moderate; I still think the number could ultimately turn out to be as high as twenty.

According to my I Ching calculator, beyond 4 is a suffusion of yellow.

This appears not to be a valid response. Curious.

Median 17.0


I was hoping the mode would be 2147483647 (my answer) to at least provide some humor, but 0 has it beat handily.
I'll just leave Mr. Show's "highest number" sketch here.
According to the poll, my understanding of what qualifies as an integer is very, very wrong. 1e+19=the universal integer limit. NO EXCEPTIONS!
It does not seem to accept 'inf' or 'infinite'.
Which is too bad, as all incorrect options should have the same rights (for moral reasons).
Doesn't accept "⌊∞⌋".
As well it shouldn't?
Should it (or at least, should it accept inf and/or NaN)? [pollid:41]
Well, use of those would make the mean meaningless. It wouldn't be a problem if the polls had upper and lower bounds, because then you could exclude them (but you could also make the upper bound infinite if you wanted to). I don't think there's a need for them, though.
You don't need to use infinities to make the mean meaningless: giving answers such as 1e100 will suffice. On the other hand, NANs are traditionally just disregarded when computing means (i.e., the mean of 1, 2, 3 and NAN is taken to be 2) -- essentially they would amount to a blank vote.
MP did not want it to accept either of those things; the notation used suggests "the largest integer less than or equal to infinity", which doesn't exist.
The results so far (only showing answers with > 1 responder): 11 "0.0" 8 "-1.0" 7 "2147483647.0" 5 "3.0" 4 "42.0" 4 "1e+19" 3 "9.0" 3 "8.0" 3 "1.0" 2 "666.0" 2 "32767.0" 2 "24.0" 2 "2.0" 2 "1e+17" To regenerate this, run grep -v "#" poll.csv | awk -F , '{ print $3 }' | sort | uniq -c | sort -nr. I'm not surprised by the number of votes for 2^31-1. It was the first number to pop into my head when I saw the poll.

How awesome is this new feature?


So according to the raw data, 100 people voted, but what I see displayed is 3 votes for answer 4 of 5, one for 5 of 5, and no total.
The "no total" part is independent of the bug -- it seems that scale polls just don't report totals or percentages. (They probably should.)

Minimize the expected square of the distance between your answer and 80% of the mean of the answers chosen: [pollid:9]

Red is a nice [pollid:18]

This is great and I upvoted it, but being meta I think it should be in Discussion.

Awesome! But since we're stress-testing it, let's try doing things wrong.

First thing that I noticed is that it doesn't let you post if there's a poll error. That's great! ... except it doesn't respect four spaces to put something in code format, so I can't easily tell you what I tried and what failed. Putting tests in their own comments to make it more obvious when something passes.

[edit]Oops, this also floods recent comments.

Trying to do a poll with only one option fails gracefully. Example: What kind of book did you read last? [poll]{a book}

Modifying the number of periods modifies the number of options available: [pollid:12]


One period is well-defined: Nope. |poll:True.False| throws an "invalid poll type" error.

What about leaving off one of the names? |poll:True...| throws an "invalid poll type" error as well.

Polls are stored by their id, which makes it so they can't be edited after the fact. (Probably wise.) But what happens when you refer to an old poll by its id? This is |pollid:10|, which refers to the poll from this comment. [pollid:10] What about a future poll? [pollid:999999]
What if you then create the poll?
Trying to put two kinds of polls together: How many bugs will I find? [pollid:11] The code for that was |poll:number|{all of them}{none of them}, with the pipes replaced by square brackets. It looks like the interior poll type takes precedence, which is probably what should happen, but it might be better to complain instead.
What use is the mean if anyone can just do something like this?
Yeah, scrap the mean, and show the 1st and 3rd quartile in addition to the median.
Point already raised and discussed, see below.
Testing the spaces to make sure I'm doing it right: Yep, [I]( am. Now let's try a well-formatted poll: Is this commented? [pollid:10]
Total:25, but adding up the votes for each option gives 24.
Fascinating, I got two and two (total 33), and after refreshing I see the poll text but it won't let me vote, because I already voted. Also, I think it's sort of amusing that this is the only thing I found that looks like a serious bug to me, but it has the least upvotes of my tests.
Less explanation of what exactly you were testing, so the fluency bias kicked in.

Bug report:

I voted in this poll, and after reloading the page, I don't see the results. Sensibly, it won't let me vote again, but now I'm stuck with the survey form. I did see the results immediately after voting.

Edit: I can view the results now. Not sure what changed.

Are grey and gray different colors? [pollid:47]

Gray is darker than grey.
It's a shame that Randall Munroe collated the two spellings together in the results of his survey. (And he even kept “periwinkle” and “perrywinkle” separate.)
I think of 'grey' as bluish and 'gray' as neutral.
My synaesthesia thinks "grey" is more bluish and "gray" more reddish, but I said "no" to the poll before considering this. Now pondering how much my first answer was wrong...
Huh, mine too.
Would it be a good thing for people to be able to change their poll answers?
It would be good because we like changing our minds here, but in my opinion not enough of a good thing to be worth the effort.
Odd - I think of "grey" as brownish and "gray" as neutral.
In a previous discussion, there was someone who thought of "grey" as yellowish, but the majority went for bluish.

How many Quality Adjusted Life Years do you estimate you have left? [pollid:43] Include whatever uploads, uplifts, descendant entities, etc. you deem to still be "you"; time spent in a deanimation vault counts as 0 QALYs.

Should I do a weighted sum over descendant entities I deem fractionally me, or just over entities I deem "me"?
However you choose to calculate it, that's your estimate of remaining QALY's. For descendant entities you deem fully "you", but with fractional chances of existing, see my reply to Luke.
(nods) Saw that, makes sense. Just so you know, at least one "more" answer reflects, not a confident prediction that the answerer will live more than a millenium, nor a two-order-of-magnitude increase in quality of life, but a willingness to identify fractionally with billions of living people.
How to aggregate across the distribution of possibilities? Average? Median? Most likely range? I'm 33, so it wouldn't take too much life extension to get me to 133, but a fair amount... I'd rate the probabilities as roughly 40%, 30%, 10%, 20%. So, each of the three answers is different.
The most likely range. I'd rather this wasn't skewed by people putting down "more" just because they anticipate a tiny probability of a vast lifetime, but failing that expect to be dead as usual before very long.
I don't see how to correct for that.
The bug concerning reporting of results is still present: currently the counts for the four categories are displayed as 9, 0, 0, 0, with a total of 39. According to the downloaded data, the counts are 28, 4, 1, 6 = 39.

What is your favorite color? [poll]{Red}{Green}{Blue}{Other}

Would it be possible to have a preview for polls?

My poll is now broken. The specific answers don't show up anymore in the results, only the totals at the bottom of each question show. Elitism Poll

The FAI hidden deep in the poll code logic refuses to run stupid and trollish polls.
LMAO I disagree with the sentiment but I can still laugh at good humor.

Offtopic: testing strikethrough: -one-, two, three, four, five, --six--. Apparently still doesn't work.

Anyway, polls are totally awesome, thanks for implementing!

Thank you for creating an off-topic test reply to reply to. [pollid:748]

What is your favorite color? [pollid:17]

What about fuligin?
Won't you also ask about my favourite colour?

Best pony? [pollid:13]

Psh, of course rationalists think Twilight Sparkle is the best pony.
She's intellectual, but she reacts irrationally to the Pinkie Sense. Also, poor Rarity.
It's a trick question, Twilight Sparkle is a unicorn.
Unicorns are a subset of ponies in the MLP 'verse.
How silly of me; next time I'll get my facts straight.
You'd better. My Little Pony continuity is SERIOUS BUSINESS.
( \ * / )
I think it's "Pinkie".
Well, no one's voting for her anyway.
I beg to differ.
Indeed it is. A Google search for “Pinky Pie” autocorrects to “Pinkie Pie”, while the inverse is not true. The first result in either case is a wiki article on “Pinkie Pie”.
Best background pony [pollid:23]
Rainbow Dash is the official spokespony of #lesswrong. She's been in the /topic for several months, now.
You jocks have been too cocky - I'm staging a Twilight Sparkle coup!

I just took Fluttershy into second ... I mean, if that's alright with you.

Geeks and goths, man.


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Poll test:

Red is a nice color [pollid:684]

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Is there any way to embed polls into the body of an Article/Discussion post? Or does it have to be in comments?

Currently it has to be in comments. Since comments and articles have entirely different markup and formatting systems (comments use Markdown, articles use constrained HTML), supporting them in both places at once is nontrivial.
But the Markdown is converted to HTML in the end... As a workaround: Could I make a poll as a comment, copy the HTML of a non-voted-upon version of the comment, and insert it into the raw HTML of an article? And then delete the original comment?
There's a bit more to it than HTML, though - the submission and results display use some Javascript. You might be able to hack an alternative without Javascript, but hitting "submit" would take you to a broken page, rather than replacing the poll with the results in-place.
Oh. Too bad then.

Bug: If you write a comment responding to a comment with a poll, then vote in the poll before posting the comment, your comment is eaten.


Does this poll work? [pollid:97]

Did you enjoy this poll? [pollid:98]

What was the answer to your previous question? [pollid:99]

One common and annoying failure mode in writing polls is omitting options. This can be mitigated by including an extra "Other" option. We could make this automatic and mandatory, adding that option to all polls automatically. The upside is that people couldn't forget or decline to include the Other option when it's appropriate; the downside is that they can't adjust its wording or leave it out when the options are truly exhaustive.

Should multiple-choice polls have an Other option added automatically? [pollid:68]

If someone wrote the code to make the inclusion of an "Other" option a default, opt-out behavior of LW polls, I would not object if that code were added.

I would even be in favor of it.

Perhaps we do need some explicit guidelines about the conduct of polls after all, beyond "don't be an asshole". Something about employing neutral point of view, not using a poll for purposes other than conducting a bona fide poll, and making a serious attempt to design it to obtain unbiased data. I had expected this to be obvious, but it seems not.



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[What do you do when you notice eridu commenting on feminism?] {Ignore the comment}{read and possibly upvote or downvote}{downvote without reading}{downvote the comment and everyone who replied}

By the way, there is only one right answer to this.

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If you choose an answer to this question at random (using a uniform distribution), what is the probability that you will be correct? [Poll]{25%}{50%}{0%}{25%}

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Do you expect to die one day? [pollid:42]

Am I wasting way too much time answering polls in this comment thread? [pollid:40]


Checking for unescaped stuff: [pollid:24]

stuff is successfully escaped

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I can vote in a poll even after it's retracted...

Yes [pollid:22 ]

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Can you still vote on retracted polls? Testing... Answer: Yes.

Most voters so far have probably voted False to this question: [pollid:15]

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I don't know if it's specifically addressed anywhere in the Terms of Use, but free use of polls can have some very hurtful results; it might be helpful to somewhere post a guide to what type of polls are appropriate and tolerated.

Can you be more specific about what you mean?

See my example poll in answer to wedifrid. Hopefully nobody thinks I was being serious about the poll.

This is an especially good point because you're currently able to change the question after the results are in, allowing you to prank the poll takers by making their answers seem to support anything you feel like.

Cue in choice blindness dark arts for Fun and Updates! (also for evil experiments and control groups, if someone figures those out)

I don't know if it's specifically addressed anywhere in the Terms of Use, but free use of polls can have some very hurtful results; it might be helpful to somewhere post a guide to what type of polls are appropriate and tolerated.

What? About the same as the what you could write in comments already but prettier.

radical_negative_one is a terrible person [pollid:31]
The overall total equals the sum of the individual answer totals, in contrast to previous polls.
Here's one: What if someone takes a poll asking if they should kill themselves? People could write "yes" in the comments, but they can select "yes" in a poll anonymously. This may lead to more brutal answers to questions. The questions will be limited to whatever the poll creator types in, but that doesn't mean everyone will use common sense while creating their polls. You may argue "they can already use comments as a polling system using karma" but I would then argue "okay, MaoShan still has a point, and it applies to karma, too." Also

Upvote this comment and downvote the karma sink if you think I should not kill myself. :-)

(Edited to add smiley per Poe's law, especially in case someone sees this comment without seeing the parent first.)

  1. Most of the commenters here refrain from being antisocial dicks. There's no reason to believe anonymous polling will change that.

  2. Anyone actually making life-or-death decisions on the basis of an internet forum poll has a non-trivial chance of being selected out of the gene pool for related reasons.

  3. Sometimes you want or can accept brutal answers.

  4. Individual responsibility. You can't legislate for or even concern-troll people into having common sense, even assuming common sense is a well-defined and useful property.

Another thought: Just because a person asking people on the internet whether they should kill themselves isn't likely to survive in any case, this does not mean that LessWrong wouldn't be sued if said person posted a poll and it resulted in their death. For whatever reason, the US legal system has been known to grant large sums of money to people who are harmed by things that many consider inadvisable or "no-brainers".
And there we depart from the discussion of rationality into the realm of the law. :) I am pleased to be able to give an immediate unequivocal answer on whether this is likely to be a problem: I have no idea.
lolol I like these points as well. (:
Section 203 of the Communications Decency Act would probably immunize LW from liability.
Ok good points. I like these.
I suspect people would react against people asking that regardless of whether they include radio buttons. If I recall there has even been drama surrounding making observations about a former member suiciding. I'd be somewhat surprised if someone asking this question directly did not prompt that comment to be banned. No, I haven't observed common sense to universally constrain posting behavior in general. However explicit polls don't strike me as sufficiently different or more powerful than regular comments, (inherently anonymous) votes and private messages that a move from informal expectations that people don't behave like @#%$s need be changed to a formal "Terms of Use".
Upvote this comment and downvote the karma sink if you think I should kill myself. :-) (Edited to add smiley per Poe's law, especially in case someone sees this comment without seeing the parent first.)
Then a moderator takes the poll down.
"Don't be an asshole" covers it. If you need a guide to tell you that, a guide will not help you.
Could you taboo "asshole"?
It's fairly taboo already.
shminux has helpfully provided an example of the sort of fake poll that should have no place here.
While I agree with the last part of your sentence, it is still a real poll.
And, even more helpfully, provided an example of it already being handled successfully by existing measures. He was downvoted extensively and subjected to extensive social pressure via comments.
Explain how not to be an asshole? Possibly, but I don't think anyone here actually needs an explanation, beyond pointing out that anything you shouldn't say for that reason in an ordinary comment, you shouldn't say in a poll either. The slightly different sort of thing that a poll is doesn't change the standard.
And I was hoping to extract your moral theory from you.
I don't see this as anything to do with moral theory. It's pretty much general currency what constitutes being an asshole. I've seen it set out in umpteen comment policies on blogs, which often explicitly summarise it as "don't be an asshole", or even "don't be an asshole -- but you knew that already".
I don't understand what you mean here. Is your concept of moral theory only something for thought experiments involving Omega but to abstract to apply to day-to-day life?
No. I mean it in the same sense that we do not need to have a discussion of moral theory in order to agree on what actions we are talking about, when we talk about theft. We don't even need to have a discussion of moral theory to agree that we'd rather people didn't behave that way.
That flies in the face of many of the helpful articles I've read here on LessWrong. I would offer to write the "Rationalist's Guide to Not Being an Asshole", but obviously, I'm not qualified. ...because I'm not a good enough Rationalist. ;)