I'm not sure that's at odds with what mscottveach is saying. To put it in different words, while the amount of feedback might vary, I don't think the ratio of positive vs. negative feedback varies. It's the very rare situation where the number of messages that say, "This was good, everything went as planned or intended," outnumbers the messages that talk about how something went wrong.
Oh, I quite disagree. I've often found it normal for people to give positive feedback only or for positive feedback to far outweigh negative. In fact, I'm a little surprised to hear you say this because my experience has often been the opposite -- that it can be rare and difficult to get people to give negative feedback or genuine criticism of something!
For instance, when I've helped organize parties or social events I've IIRC heard almost only positive things, which is not to say that my parties and events were astoundingly good but rather that the norms favor positive over negative feedback there.
Similarly, I recently started up an online ladder for players of a game that I like, and the feedback there has been quite positive as well. I don't think I did a superb job in doing that -- I actually released it months after I'd been planning to -- but people tend to give positive feedback on those sorts of projects.
In fact, I've thought before that this positive bias in feedback can often be an obstacle to progression, as flawed projects don't get corrected as easily if people don't point out the flaws -- note also Said's comment about how it can be difficult to get people to point out even egregious errors in software/web design!
Interesting point! I think what tends to be voiced vs. not voiced varies a lot based on both the field and the culture involved. I've been in some environments where it seems like everyone loves to complain even when things are fine, but I've also been in some where people are very reticent to speak up even when there's a problem.
I wonder if there are useful statistics anywhere on how this applies to different areas, as this seems like something that might be helpful to take into account when thinking about how best to process feedback.
I can tell you that I at least found it abhorrent! :P
This post is excellent. It is probably the best post I have read on LessWrong in a long time. Thank you for writing it!
Interestingly, even some respected games do stuff that violates this. For instance, Starcraft has queues but with several constraints that make them far worse than they could be:
These constraints mean that using the queue penalizes you, as queuing a unit means that you are essentially wasting resources; if you want to build three Marines, it's much better to reselect your Barracks and build a new Marine after each completes than it is to add three Marines to the queue, as queuing them "wastes" 100 minerals on Marines not actually being built, which you could instead use on other things while waiting for the first Marine to build.
I consider this extremely annoying and essentially anti-competitive; Starcraft notoriously has a high barrier to entry in terms of pure APM (actions per minute), since the user interface issues mean that you have to take very many actions in order to play efficiently. I would be very interested to see what the game would look like in a version where the interface was designed to be as efficient as possible instead of adding extra constraints onto the player.
Dominic Cummings, a strategist who worked on Brexit. He is surprisingly rationalist-aligned and has very interesting thoughts at his blog.
I used this term because I think the fundamental move being pointed towards is fairly similar (although actually I think the Bostrom/Ord application of this method is incorrect, which maybe means I should have come up with a different name!).
Thanks for the link! I ended up reading a large number of his articles. His thoughts on UO and Galaxies were predictably the most interesting to me -- I definitely share his sense that the old "wild west" Ultima and the like was better and more alive than the more soulless modern games (though I didn't actually play Ultima and maybe I'd change my tune after being ganked repeatedly by PKs... :P).
I also find it interesting how successful Galaxies was despite the fact that the combat system apparently never worked as intended and was basically dysfunctional! It kinda makes me wonder, what if Galaxies had had the dev resources and budget of WoW? Would that be the new face of MMOs? (Sometimes I've had similar thoughts re: Netrunner and MtG...)
For me the most "wild west" exciting alive game right now is EVE Online, but the actual gameplay is something I'm profoundly uninterested in so I basically live vicariously through stories of interesting happenings.