The slopes to common sense

It should be noted here that /r/sleephackers and /r/sleep are supposed to be specialized communities, i.e. the kind that would care about even minor factual errors regarding this topic. And /r/ssc, as well as HN, should boast an audience that's educated enough not to confuse science with a new global religion.

Just based on your description (I have never been there), it is possible that the reason for the behavior in these communities is that the supposed attitude of their members does not match their true motivations. 

Maybe their perceived attraction to new members is not only that they are extremely scientific, sceptical, and open to discard their own ideas. Maybe some people go there because they like the idea that 1. science tells them that 2. they can improve themselves 3. in ways that the outside world usually overlooks. Then someone comes along and says: 1. Well no, that wasn't really science, 2. so you basically cannot improve yourself this way, 3. and in fact the book is not even elite insight but popsci rubbish. 

No matter whether people claim to be rationalist/scientific/self-critical/whatever, there are often in fact quite mixed motivations at play.

The Prototypical Negotiation Game

This is a nice post about an interesting topic. I think it may be helpful to mention that several of these points are discussed extensively in economics, polsci and game theory, though sometimes with a different vocabulary. (But maybe it is somehow intentional to not mention that, in order to keep the post shorter?)

  • "Successfully meeting up is still far more important than the location chosen, but given a successful meetup, you both disagree on preferred location." This resembles the BoS game.
  • In the section "Powerless Underlings: Intentionally Destroying Communication Channels", I like the idea of destroying communication channels after leaving a coordination message and find it an original idea. The store-clerk example could benefit from mentioning that there is a large literature on optimal delegation, for instance to a bureaucratic agent. This includes models of delegation as a commitment device, also modeling how much leeway you should leave to the agent you delegate to. Sometimes it makes sense to delegate to agents with preferences different from your own. In the 1980s that was the reason modeled in the literature on conservative central bankers. There are also papers on delegating the authority to bargain for you, I think I have seen that in the context of climate change papers.

Another point is that I think it would be helpful to define what exactly you call "negotiation game" more explicitly. Intuitively, I would say that the original usage of the term "Schelling point" or "focal point" suggests that it should be possible to write it down as a simultaneous-move game, and I don't think that applies to every kind of negotiation (but I am no expert on how the term is used).

The 10,000-Hour Rule is a myth

In other words, ten thousand hours of practice is necessary and sufficient to become an expert. ...

The best violinists averaged ten thousand hours of practice, compared to their less accomplished counterparts who “only” averaged five thousand.

Well, even if we ignore the average vs. fixed number problem, the second of these sentences implies that this is what people did that succeeded, which is quite different from the claim that doing it would make me succeed?

Avoid Unnecessarily Political Examples

There is something we can frame in two different ways, either "What is it that the mods make exceptions for?" or "What are the real rules?" I assume this comes down to the same question, but the second version is more explicit. 

I think the implicit rule that I perceived was, more or less: "Posts should be about important/useful insights (whatever that means). They should try to explain, be based on and provide evidence when talking about the real world, be written in a level-headed way, avoid sneery comments about outgroups (and be timeless, even though that's sometimes a vague concept). Because the things we want to avoid correlate with politics, we discourage politics in posts." 

Now, steelmanning, one could argue that the new rule is the same is before but augmented by "However, if a post contains expectionally important/useful insights (e.g. emergency information), all other criteria can be overruled. If the mods find the main points of a post convincing, other statements in the post then do not have to be rigorously argued for or be backed up by evidence, rants can take the place of level-headed writing, sneery comments about outgroups are ok (timelessness is not a criterion in an emergency anyway), and politics in general is not a problem anymore, including if that essentially means that LessWrong effectively endorses political demands that are not implied by being a rationality community." (I am not saying Zvi's posts are completely like that; instead I am trying to describe a potential rule that would potentially put them in the set of posts allowed for the frontpage, without saying that they are at the extreme border of that set.)

Is that the reasoning?

If so, I'll note that I think it still damages the culture of the forum, but of course that may be justified. But then only the net effect is the justification. And the posts would therefore have to be really exceptionally important. Another possibility would be that the true rule should better be thought of as some function of the listed criteria? Then the more the other criteria are violated the more exceptional the main contant would have to be. However, that would not fit the "exception" reasoning. In any case, I think that it damages the culture more if it's just left as a vague "We'll make an exception", combined with the implicit claim that Zvi's post are very similar to other COVID posts (like this?).

Moreover, I am a bit suspicious of the claims about the unique value of these posts ("to make sure that people who follow LessWrong have at least basic guidance and advice during the most crucial phases of this whole coronavirus pandemic", as habryka wrote above), which would fit the first dimension of the "exception criteria". But as I am not in the US and do follow a different country's media (including social media), it is of course possible that all other sources of information in the US are basically useless. 

What I also don't see is why this is "a decent middle-ground of not completely breaking our guidelines"; exceptions do break rules, otherwise they would not be exceptions, right?

Avoid Unnecessarily Political Examples

I still don't fully understand what you are saying, so: 1) What does the word "utilitarian" add to this explanation? 2) What would LessWrong run by "consequentialist calculus" look like, in contrast to "run by utilitarian calculus"? 3) Do you equate "habryka thinks" with the utilitarian calculus that is supposed to run LW?

Avoid Unnecessarily Political Examples

I guess I can't suggest a rule here; I seem to misunderstand the rules that are valid on LessWrong. With respect to the more-or-less explicit ones ("unusually high standards of discourse" etc, and "explain not persuade"), my understanding seems to be different from yours. There are also implicit rules which I thought existed as a standard or as an ideal, but they would not fit the preferences revealed by frontpaging or by popularity.

Avoid Unnecessarily Political Examples

After some reflection, I still do not understand the reasoning why the new rule is that Covid-19 content is forbidden except for Zvi's? Why are more level-headed posts banned from the frontpage, making spicing up articles with a certain rhetorics a necessary condition for Covid-19 frontpage posts?

Covid: The Question of Immunity From Infection

"Over and over and over again, I’ve been told we should expect immunity from infection to fade Real Soon Now, or that immunity isn’t that strong. ... the inevitable media misinterpretations ... Naturally, the public-facing articles all seem to quote the 83%, and ignore the 95% and 99%. ... (And again, they also take something presented after five months of follow-up, and report it as ‘immunity lasts five months’ because journalism.)"

While this may be true (who knows), can we maybe make it a norm to back up major empirical claims and generalizations with evidence?

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