Social scientists think humans operate under one of two different sets of norms, depending on the circumstances: "market norms" or "social norms". The basic idea is that when exchanging money for goods and services formally, it's considered okay to be much more calculating and self-interested than when exchanging favors with friends informally. You can read this blog post by Dan Ariely for more.

It's often considered rude to introduce market norms in an area where they don't traditionally apply. For example, by charging money for your presence at a barbecue.

This is a thread where it's okay to talk about trading money for goods and services with other Less Wrong users, which might otherwise be considered rude because you'd be inappropriately introducing market norms. Things you're encouraged to do include:

  • Post your resume
  • Advertise a product sold by you or your company
  • Advertise a service provided by you or your company
  • Advertise an open position working for you or your company

The argument for having a thread like this is as follows. Less Wrong users have a variety of goals they wish to accomplish. Some of these goals involve engaging in marketplace transactions. It's plausible that a thread facilitating marketplace transactions between LW users will buy just as much or more collective goal accomplishment per unit attention consumed than a traditional Less Wrong thread.

Anecdotally it seems that introducing market norms takes a certain amount of chutzpah. For example, apparently it takes a certain kind of person to actually be able to name a dollar figure in a sales conversation, and that's why you need a professional salesperson to come along with a sales engineer when selling a technical product. One LWer friend of mine struggled for a while before she was able to get herself to charge money for talk therapy she had been providing to friends for free.

To combat this, please feel inclined to vote up folks who post in this thread. They likely overcame some akrasia in the act of promoting their offer.

To discuss the concept of this thread, as opposed to advertising a transaction you wish to engage in, please reply to this comment.

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This is not an offer but it is related to marketplace norms.

Bryan Caplan argues that romantic relationships are the last refuge of the just price theory. Relationships are expected to "equal" in that both parties the burdens and benefits are split equally. If I do the dishes, my partner is expected to sweep the floor. If I pick which restaurant we go to tonight, my partner gets to pick next week.

I'm wondering if LWers would react if, hypothetically, they were offered the chance to be in an "unequal" relationship. Let's say you are looking for a long-term mate. A particular brilliant and attractive mate, the kind that would normally be "out of your league" offers you the following terms:

  • You do 70% of the housework.
  • You pay for 70% of the household expenses, even though you are both earn the same amount.
  • 70% of the time, they get to decide what happens on date nights. (ex. which movies to watch, what restaurant to eat at)

Would you consider this offer, weighing the value of an attractive mate verses the costs of an unequal relationship? Or would you be offended that this person differed you an unequal relationship, when clearly only equal relationships can be just?

Conversely, suppose a mate who was normally "below your league" offers to reverse the deal: you only do 30% of the house work, ect. Would you be consider a lopsided arrangement with an unattractive mate, or would you reject it out of hand as being exploitative?


I'm wondering if LWers would react if, hypothetically, they were offered the chance to be in an "unequal" relationship.

Far mode rejection near mode acceptance.

I think most relationships are "unequal" but we have a polite fiction and more recently an ideological imperative to pretend they aren't and to pretend we only seek "equal" relationships.


I don't think the norm violation here has to do with how good a deal it is, but with making very explicit offers at all. For instance prenups are unpopular, and asking for prenup with generous terms sends just as bad a signal as asking for one with stingy terms.

Interesting. Are there many other contexts where, given that you're going to ask at all, you should go ahead and ask for something outrageously in your favor?

I think the unequal deal you are describing is the rule in the world rather than the exception. Indeed, the equal relationship is something that was fought for in the U.S. by "woman's libbers" for much of the 2nd half of the last century. I guess they must have succeeded pretty well in that so many people here seem to think it is "the" rule instead of a local in time-and-space cultural meme.

"A woman's place is in the home." "Barefoot and pregnant." In many cultures the women are covered head to toe, cannot leave the home without a male family member escort, are not allowed to own significant classes of property, are essentially precluded from various forms of work. They marry men who do all that stuff for them.

Successful men are usually wealthy and powerful and a bit older. They marry "equally" successful women, but success in the women they marry means they are young, beautiful, and presumably possess other characteristics that are harder to list. I haven't studied it, but I would love to see the rate of men over 40 who have 2nd wives more than 10 years younger than they are, plotted vs. the income of those men. And that's IN the west where "women's lib" has succeeded to the point that it appears that many of you youngsters think equal marriage is the norm.

Me, I married a schoolteacher who quit more or less as soon as we got married. Her earnings power seems to be about 1/4 mine, and with marginal tax rates being what they are, it didn't seem important to get her to work if she didn't want to. Her predilection is to do much more with the house and kids. This is a relationship that many women, even young ones, look for.

I wouldn't expect equal relationships to be the norm.


It seems plausible that people approve of equal relationships, but wanting and liking them is quite a different matter, reality all to often looks quite different.

Also, equal relationships are the nice, symmetric piece of advice to give to people when you don't know anything more of their situation. Hm, what's the name for the fallacy of substituting the mean for the mode again?

That first offer would turn me on. The second would do the reverse. That said, I would try to put considerations other than how interested I am in a potential mate into account when deciding whether or not to date her, although doing so would go against my instincts.

Are you a masochist?

You mean submissive?

Submissive: yes. Masochist: I don't think so.

  1. I am fairly sure I would be incredibly unhappy in an "equal" relationship (I would predict the same for the vast majority of humans).
  2. Being in an "equal" relationship seems like it would be very inefficient because you couldn't realize gains from specialization in certain tasks.
  3. Due to sexual dimorphism (assuming opposite sex partners), doing the same amount of X isn't necessarily any fairer than doing different amounts of X (not to mention some tasks, like pregnancy and childbirth, cannot be "equal" without extreme biological augmentations).

Being in an "equal" relationship seems like it would be very inefficient because you couldn't realize gains from specialization in certain tasks.

How does that follow? Both partners doing about the same amount of things doesn't mean that one of them couldn't specialize in certain kinds of tasks.

Also, whether the division of tasks is subjectively experienced as equal is usually the most relevant criteria, which can make for a division that would be very unequal if looked at in objective terms.

Kaj, I am referring to equality among objective measures like time spent doing X or number of times doing X per time T. Since most people have different skills and preferences most people would not have a subjective impression of fairness while splitting up tasks equally (in the objective sense). Frankly, I would feel very petty if I insisted that my wife spend equal time doing computer maintenance that I do (even though I am more experienced and enjoy it more).

Due to sexual dimorphism (assuming opposite sex partners), doing the same amount of X isn't necessarily any fairer than doing different amounts of X

Would you expect significantly more "equal" relationships among homosexual couples than among heterosexual couples?

I would anticipate there being a measurable difference between homosexual and heterosexual populations.

"Curly Locks, Curly Locks, wilt thou be mine? Thou shall't not wash dishes, nor yet feed the swine" etc.

Though probably the woman in the nursery rhyme wouldn't have had 70% of the decision making power.

I would consider these deals practically unworkable for myself, as the added value from having a "superior quality" mate would be more than outweighed by the lack of mutual respect, lack of self-determination, etc. Similarly for the reverse deal. However, I would have no moral objection to somebody else choosing to enter such a relationship, if that made them happy.

Suppose they were perfectly respectful to you in everyday life, but it just so happened that the baseline of your relationship is this 70/30 split? This is not unusual in my observation. It's a mistake to confuse "equal status" with "respectful": this is especially clear when you attempt to apply that heuristic beyond romantic relationships.

That would be different. I read the original comment to say that the person in question was offering me such terms with the understanding that because I'm lower status than them, I have to accept lop-sided terms. When it comes to relationships, being considered lower status by my mate is an automatic deal-breaker to me.

But it's of course possible to settle on a 70/30 split while both partners consider themselves equal in status. That might very well work. (And of course, there are plenty of happy relationships where the partners do consider themselves to have an unequal status - which is great for them, but I don't see it working for myself.)

Same here. Having a shining fashion accessory on your arm when you go out is nice, but doesn't begin to compete with the rewards I get from an equal relationship based on plain old (stupid?) love. If being with me isn't rewarding enough without extra enticements, I'm not going to get enough of what I want. A status increase won't compensate.

The reverse deal proposal would make me doubt the potential mate's grasp of my psychology, or her sense of self-worth, or both. Either of which is a big turn-off.

I think division of housework and expenses is more of a small technical detail to work out in a relationship. A person who measures utility in a relationship based solely on such things and physical attractiveness reveals a tendency towards being shallow and manipulative. If personality and character weigh heavily in someone's utility function, then I doubt he or she would take this deal.

I'm writing a book on some failures of the traditional scientific process in the domain of software engineering (so-called). It's not finished but I'm told people who read it in its current state found it enjoyable, and by buying it now you'll encourage me to put more work into it (and get FREE! updates).

I bought this, and I endorse it. It could be expanded in some places*, but it's a great start.

*I should have taken notes while reading. I definitely remember thinking "this part seems too brief", but I don't remember where.


I definitely remember thinking "this part seems too brief", but I don't remember where.

Probably Chapter 8, which is just a sketch, and of course Chapter 14, where I'm supposed to wrap it all up. My current dilemma is whether to leave the overall structure alone or basically write another half of the book, where I share my tips for reading papers in software engineering critically: how to parse a research paper's structure, how to read a graph, how to assess an experimental setup, how to use Google Scholar, how do do basic bibliometrics... The idea would be to intersperse these chapters with the ones exposing the flaws in the literature.

I have no way of knowing who's coming from LW, but since the grandparent comment was published three copies were sold netting me a tad under $25 in royalties.


The obvious thing for me to add here is this:

Summary: I'm running an online advertising company specializing in Google AdWords account management. Find us leads; for every lead that signs up as a client, we'll donate 25% of the first month's management fee to the Singularity Institute or a charity of your choice, and give you (or SI, or another charity of your choice) 25% as a commission. For clients of the size we work with, the first month's management fee starts at around $2000 - meaning that a successful referral should earn you and your charity at least $500 each.

This is a thread where it's okay to talk about trading money for goods and services with other Less Wrong users, which might otherwise be considered rude because you'd be inappropriately introducing market norms.

So, is this a good opportunity to ask what is the market price of 1000 LessWrong karma clicks?


I would pay a nonzero amount for the happiness I'd get from 1000 genuine karma clicks. But paying for them makes them worthless.

I'm reminded of an old comment of mine about wine.

What would you make of a deal for, say, only 10% chance of those 1000 genuine karma clicks? Or perhaps a deal for 10% chance of 1000 blind karma clicks versus 90% chance of someone going through 100 comments and voting up or down as they genuinely feel the comments merit? Unless you're dead set against any possible chance of the payment influencing the clicks, it seems to me there ought to be deals you would find worth paying for...


The upvotes - I'm assuming we meant those, not upvotes/downvotes? - are mostly valuable for signalling and status. But I have a strong enough conscience that I probably wouldn't get much value out of fake upvotes, and would in fact be more likely to get negative value from them.

Taking any deal which involved fake upvotes would feel like a status downgrade, in any case. If you eliminate that, too, it might be possible to find a deal that would be worth it. I'm not sure, though.

If you are a good programmer, the company I work for is looking to hire. We pay very well and offer great perks and benefits (catered breakfast/lunch/dinner, infinite snacks, they buy whatever you want to help you work better, completely flexible work hours and vacation days, plus everything else like health insurance, etc).

Also, the people are great (some even read LW), the work is fun, and the upside is huge. This company is working on a huge problem that will have a significant positive impact in the world, and has the resources to tackle it. There are about 60 people now, and it's set to double in size in the next year. We make actual money, and are very well funded.

Please send me a message if you want to know more/want to apply. Rough requirements:

  • Are you a good enough programmer to get a job at Google? (some of our recent hires were hired away from Google)
  • Willing to work full time in Mountain View
  • Java/Scala familiarity are a plus

Thanks! I would love it if I got to work with more fellow lesswrongers because of this :)

PS: if this doesn't apply to you, but you know someone that might be interested, I would appreciate it if you sent them our way.

Full disclosure: I think I get paid something for recruiting new people, but I don't know how much. I'm honestly just trying to attract more awesome people to work with because I really like this job.

Is there a particular reason you don't identify the company?

It was just an error of omission. The company is called Addepar. For a variety of reasons, the website doesn't do the best job of describing what we do, but it is being fixed.

Discussion about the idea of this thread goes here. Feel free to explain why this is a great thread that should be duplicated monthly or a terrible thread that should be deleted immediately.

I speculate that the reason nobody is replying here is that the thread is so obviously useful. I think it should continue to be posted periodically.


I'm looking for someone to help with me on a paid basis with statistical analysis. I have problems like the following:

1. When to inspect?
I have 10k documents per month steaming to office staff for data entry in offices scattered around the world. I have trained staff at HQ doing inspections of the data entry performed by the office staff, detecting errors and updating fields in which they detected errors. I will soon have random re-checking by HQ inspectors of entries already checked by other HQ staff.
The HQ staff currently detect errors on ~15% of documents (between nearly none and ~6% errors on particular fields on documents). I don't yet have a good estimate of how many of those events are false positives and how many errors are not detected at all. Users show learning (we detect fewer errors from users who have entered data on more documents) that continues over their first 2000 or so documents (where I start running out of data). Required: I need to decide when a document can skip secondary inspection. I need to decide when users (HQ or practice users) don't understand something and need training (their error rate seems high for the difficulty of data entry on that field). When I change the user interface I need to decide whether I helped or hurt, and I need future error prediction (after I changed the data entry environment) to recover quickly.

2. What works?
We have a number of businesses that sell stuff, and we often change how that's done and how we promote (promotions, press placements (that I can work to get), changes in price, changes in product, changes in business websites, training for our sales people, etc.). I'd like to learn more than I am from the things we change, so that I can focus our efforts where they work best. There is a huge amount of noise in this data.

Proposals should be sent to, should reference this comment, and should include answers to the following two questions (and please don't post your answers to the questions on this site):

  1. In my first example job above, across 200 users the average error rate in their first 10 documents was 12% (that is, of the set of 2000 documents made from the first 10 document entered by each of 200 users, 12% contained at least one error). Across so few documents from each user (only 10) there is only a small indication that the error rate on the 10th document is lower than the error rate on the first document (learning might be occurring, but isn't large across 10 documents). A new user has entered 9 documents without any errors. What is the probability that they will error on their next document?

  2. What question should I ask in this place to work out who will be good at doing this work? What question will effectively separate those who understand how to answer questions like this with data from those who don't understand the relevant techniques?

I am (my enterprise is) offering you a script to time/space schedule compiler. Just describe your (complex) school with a script and let the program do ALL the calculations. If so happened that you are in such a position, that the (school) scheduling is your business.

I'm sorry, I think you're going to have to get a lot better at overcoming inferential distances in order to sell this product. I'm a programmer and I still have no idea who might be a customer for this and how it would deliver them value.

I recommend googling for blog posts related to how to sell stuff, "make something people want", etc. Write a story about an average person who has a problem and solves it using your product.