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.

1A1987dM12y
I used a Nokia 3330 until last year.
0Jayson_Virissimo12y
-Indiana Jones
0Nisan12y
— René Belloq
9MichaelHoward12y
Vote up for NO.
0[anonymous]12y
Karma balance.
0[anonymous]12y
Vote up for NO.
0[anonymous]12y
Vote up for YES.
-64MichaelHoward12y

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

7thomblake12y
I love this poll
2Unnamed11y
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")
2[anonymous]12y
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.

6A1987dM12y
It's a relief to know I'm not the only one...
3Solvent12y
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.
2adamisom12y
Results: 4+16+2+16+1+27(last option) = 144? WTF?
0ArisKatsaris12y
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.
0adamisom12y
Somebody sounds grouchy :/ In fact, it would be completely unsurprising if I had read the other comments. Oops.
2Epiphany12y
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.
2Kindly12y
Who is your favorite superhero? [pollid:46]
1[anonymous]12y
[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
1Kindly12y
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".
0[anonymous]12y
You can clone polls. I wonder what the other polls are. [pollid:48] No wait, you can't. Someone thought this thru.
0Kindly12y
Spiderman! Why isn't Spiderman on there? I bet he'd be way more popular than that Flash guy whoever he is.
0CCC12y
...Spiderman! I knew I was forgetting someone! And the poll options cannot be edited after the fact (though the question can be).
1Luke_A_Somers12y
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.
0CCC12y
He did have a movie out recently. I think that's why his name drifted into my head at the time of the poll.
-2wedrifid12y
On the other hand even complete anonymity could be sufficient for those who consider Spiderman a kind of pathetic whiny child.
1Unnamed12y
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.

6Endovior12y
Yeah, it looks like there's something seriously broken about this poll code. I'm seeing 159 total votes, and only 13 visible votes.
2Sarokrae12y
Total 139, chart shows 0 votes...
6jeremysalwen12y
Hey everyone, I just voted, and so I can see the correct answer. The average is 19.2, so you should choose 17%!
0[anonymous]12y
Of course that's what you'd say...
1jeremysalwen12y
Or maybe that's what I want you to think I'd say...
0[anonymous]12y
The noise in my simulations quickly drown out any actual logic and the markov chain reaches its stable distribution.
0jeremysalwen12y
So what did you guess then?
6[anonymous]12y
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)
0A1987dM12y
A function to automatically compute the averages should be implemented.
3Luke_A_Somers12y
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 PollStat.java, compile it. then run java PollStat < poll.csv.txt So far, the winners are endoself and army1987. I wasn't far off. ~~~~~ import java.io.*; import java.util.*; public class PollStat { public static void main(String[] args) { try { BufferedReader br = new BufferedReader(new InputStreamReader(System.in)); 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
1ArisKatsaris12y
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.
0loup-vaillant12y
Ahrgh, if only everyone was running TDT…
2wedrifid12y
Or UDT. Or CDT. Or EDT.
0A1987dM12y
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.
3wedrifid12y
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.
2Luke_A_Somers12y
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.
2William_Quixote12y
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?
7Nornagest12y
It's rot13, a shift cipher typically used around here to obscure spoilers and spoiler-like information. Cut and paste it into rot13.com, install the d3coder extension for Chrome or something similar for another browser, or (if you like tedium) decipher it yourself.
0William_Quixote12y
thanks!
2wedrifid12y
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!

3thomblake12y
seconded
0A1987dM12y
(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.

6Kindly12y
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.

9jimrandomh12y
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.
3wmoore12y
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.
6Vaniver12y
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]

7Bugmaster12y
I used random.org 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.
7royf12y
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.
4DanArmak12y
I wish I could see a doctor-statistician. Or at least a doctor who understood statistics.

Yvain might some day have his own practice.

0kerspoon12y
Here is one: http://www.ted.com/talks/ben_goldacre_battling_bad_science.html
1A1987dM12y
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).
0gwern12y
Well, it's worth noting people seem to be trainable to choose randomly: http://dl.dropbox.com/u/85192141/1986-neuringer.pdf Apropos of the PRNG discussion in http://blog.yunwilliamyu.net/2011/08/14/mindhack-mental-math-pseudo-random-number-generators/ for which I wrote some flashcards: http://pastebin.com/CKif0fEf
3scav12y
Ha. I fail at random. In my defence, the universe is probably deterministic anyway.
0BlazeOrangeDeer12y
it's probably not, but you're still excused ;)
2Unnamed11y
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.
2gwern12y
For convenience: http://www.random.org/ or in Bash, echo $(($RANDOM % 5 + 1))
2RobinZ12y
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.
6Kindly12y
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.
2RobinZ12y
Thanks! I didn't think of that particular brainhack - I'll be sure to use it in the future.
5othercriteria12y
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".
4RobinZ12y
That makes sense - I had imagined doing something similar, but I had never heard of Dirichlet priors.
3othercriteria12y
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...
2A1987dM12y
Is (the seconds' figure in my watch) mod 5 random enough?
1Luke_A_Somers12y
I used the least significant digit on my time-remaining-to-full-charge. And ended up propping up the most populated entry.
1BlazeOrangeDeer12y
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.
3Luke_A_Somers12y
... you could have done it more-reliably evenly by taking the mod 5 of the phrase/word length.
0A1987dM12y
Considering that the average word length in English is about five letters, I suspect that'd be quite far from being uniformly distributed.
0Luke_A_Somers12y
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.
0A1987dM12y
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.
1mfb12y
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 random.org, your computer or the seconds on your watch (a nice idee), but those just blur the effect of mind-generated random numbers.
1RobinZ12y
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.

4wmoore12y
Your fix for the incorrect median calculation has been deployed.
2NancyLebovitz12y
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).

...trolltastic.

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

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

1ema12y
That doesn't really prevent trolling, so i'm not sure that it would be helpful.
2siodine12y
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.
2Kawoomba12y
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!

2A1987dM12y
Now neither green nor blue are the absolute majority, with 34% voting “Other”. Those pesky sideways rope pullers!
0MaoShan12y
But the sky is green. Just go outside and see!
4A1987dM12y
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?)
3ShardPhoenix12y
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: http://imgur.com/IASqy

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]

2roryokane12y
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: http://screencast.com/t/qpRGihBG

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

6Kindly12y
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.
0RobinZ12y
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?

0CCC12y
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?)

4Benya12y
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

....

2Nic_Smith12y
I was hoping the mode would be 2147483647 (my answer) to at least provide some humor, but 0 has it beat handily.
7arundelo12y
I'll just leave Mr. Show's "highest number" sketch here.
5MaoShan12y
According to the poll, my understanding of what qualifies as an integer is very, very wrong. 1e+19=the universal integer limit. NO EXCEPTIONS!
2CCC12y
It does not seem to accept 'inf' or 'infinite'.
0eurg12y
Which is too bad, as all incorrect options should have the same rights (for moral reasons).
1J_Taylor12y
NaN
1Mitchell_Porter12y
Doesn't accept "⌊∞⌋".
6[anonymous]12y
As well it shouldn't?
1A1987dM12y
Should it (or at least, should it accept inf and/or NaN)? [pollid:41]
1Kindly12y
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.
4A1987dM12y
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.
0[anonymous]12y
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.
0AngryParsley12y
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?

[pollid:14]

4Emile12y
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.
6Kindly12y
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]

|poll:True............False|

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.

7Vaniver12y
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]
2faul_sname12y
What if you then create the poll?
7Vaniver12y
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.
0ewang12y
What use is the mean if anyone can just do something like this?
5A1987dM12y
Yeah, scrap the mean, and show the 1st and 3rd quartile in addition to the median.
0ewang12y
Point already raised and discussed, see below.
4Vaniver12y
Testing the spaces to make sure I'm doing it right: Yep, [I](http://lesswrong.com/lw/ekw/less_wrong_polls_in_comments/7gqv) am. Now let's try a well-formatted poll: Is this commented? [pollid:10]
6CCC12y
Total:25, but adding up the votes for each option gives 24.
3Vaniver12y
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.
0khafra12y
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]

2Sabiola12y
Gray is darker than grey.
0A1987dM12y
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.)
5NancyLebovitz12y
I think of 'grey' as bluish and 'gray' as neutral.
4Sarokrae12y
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...
1[anonymous]12y
Huh, mine too.
0NancyLebovitz12y
Would it be a good thing for people to be able to change their poll answers?
1Sarokrae12y
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.
1RobinZ12y
Odd - I think of "grey" as brownish and "gray" as neutral.
3NancyLebovitz12y
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.

6TheOtherDave12y
Should I do a weighted sum over descendant entities I deem fractionally me, or just over entities I deem "me"?
2Richard_Kennaway12y
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.
2TheOtherDave12y
(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.
6Luke_A_Somers12y
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.
4Richard_Kennaway12y
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.
2thomblake12y
I don't see how to correct for that.
1Richard_Kennaway12y
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

8shminux12y
The FAI hidden deep in the poll code logic refuses to run stupid and trollish polls.
1Epiphany12y
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!

0Douglas_Reay10y
Thank you for creating an off-topic test reply to reply to. [pollid:748]

What is your favorite color? [pollid:17]

5NancyLebovitz12y
What about fuligin?
4MaoShan12y
Won't you also ask about my favourite colour?

Best pony? [pollid:13]

5OpenThreadGuy12y
Psh, of course rationalists think Twilight Sparkle is the best pony.
3Luke_A_Somers12y
She's intellectual, but she reacts irrationally to the Pinkie Sense. Also, poor Rarity.
-3MaoShan12y
It's a trick question, Twilight Sparkle is a unicorn.
2MugaSofer12y
Unicorns are a subset of ponies in the MLP 'verse.
1MaoShan12y
How silly of me; next time I'll get my facts straight.
4MugaSofer12y
You'd better. My Little Pony continuity is SERIOUS BUSINESS.
-3MaoShan12y
( \ * / )
2Alicorn12y
I think it's "Pinkie".
2MBlume12y
Well, no one's voting for her anyway.
2Fyrius12y
I beg to differ.
0roryokane12y
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”.
1pleeppleep12y
Best background pony [pollid:23]
0[anonymous]12y
Rainbow Dash is the official spokespony of #lesswrong. She's been in the /topic for several months, now.
6gwern12y
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.

1gwern12y
ಠ_ಠ
0David_Gerard12y
Geeks and goths, man.
[-][anonymous]9y00

[pollid:846]

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[-][anonymous]10y00

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?

0jimrandomh11y
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.
0gwern11y
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?
0jimrandomh11y
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.
0gwern11y
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.

[-][anonymous]12y00

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.

1NancyLebovitz12y
I would even be in favor of it.
0Fyrius12y
Seconded.

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.

[-][anonymous]12y00

Bug:

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[-][anonymous]12y00

[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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[-][anonymous]12y00

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]

[-][anonymous]12y00

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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[pollid:21]

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8Unnamed12y
Can you still vote on retracted polls? Testing... Answer: Yes.
[-][anonymous]12y00

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?

0MaoShan12y
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.

2DaFranker12y
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.

3radical_negative_one12y
radical_negative_one is a terrible person [pollid:31]
4NoSignalNoNoise12y
The overall total equals the sum of the individual answer totals, in contrast to previous polls.
4wedrifid12y
1Epiphany12y
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.

1Epiphany12y
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".
3scav12y
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.
-4Epiphany12y
lolol I like these points as well. (:
1TimS11y
Section 203 of the Communications Decency Act would probably immunize LW from liability.
0Epiphany12y
Ok good points. I like these.
4wedrifid12y
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".
1A1987dM12y
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.)
0fubarobfusco12y
Then a moderator takes the poll down.
-19A1987dM12y
-8MaoShan12y
3Richard_Kennaway12y
"Don't be an asshole" covers it. If you need a guide to tell you that, a guide will not help you.
0Eugine_Nier12y
Could you taboo "asshole"?
8wedrifid12y
It's fairly taboo already.
0Richard_Kennaway12y
shminux has helpfully provided an example of the sort of fake poll that should have no place here.
6[anonymous]12y
While I agree with the last part of your sentence, it is still a real poll.
3wedrifid12y
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.
0Richard_Kennaway12y
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.
-2Eugine_Nier12y
And I was hoping to extract your moral theory from you.
0Richard_Kennaway12y
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".
-2Eugine_Nier12y
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?
0Richard_Kennaway12y
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.
0MaoShan12y
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. ;)