kbog comments on Why & How to Make Progress on Diversity & Inclusion in EA - Effective Altruism Forum

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Comment author: kbog  (EA Profile) 27 October 2017 10:27:25AM *  1 point [-]

For example, I'm hugely in favour of collaborative discussions over combative discussions, but I find it very helpful to have discussions that stylistically appear combative while actually being collaborative. For example: frequent, direct criticism of ideas put forward by other people is a hallmark of combative discussion, but can be fine so long as everyone is on an even footing and "you are not your ideas" is common knowledge.

Yeah, we have already gone too far with condemning combaticism on the EA forum in my opinion. Demanding that everyone stop and rephrase their language in careful flowery terms is pretty alienating and marginalizing to people who aren't accustomed to that kind of communication, so you're not going to be able to please everyone.

Comment author: Michael_PJ 27 October 2017 05:41:16PM 2 points [-]

I do think that there should be higher bars for overtly signalling collaborativeness online, because so many other cues are missing.

Comment author: kbog  (EA Profile) 27 October 2017 05:59:02PM *  2 points [-]

I'm confused, you mean people should be expected to explicitly signal that they are being collaborative?

In my view the basic structure of a "combative" debate need not entail any negative connotation of hostility or interpersonal trouble. Point/counterpoint is just a standard, default, acceptable mode of discussion. So ideally, when you see people talking like that, as long as things are reasonably civil then you don't feel a need to worry about it. It's a problem that some people don't see "combative" discussions in this way, but I don't think there is any better solution in the long run. If you try to evolve norms to avoid the uncertainty and negative perceptions then you run along a treadmill - like the story with politically correct terminology. It's okay to have a combative structure as long as you stick within the mainstream window of professional and academic discourse, and I think EA is mostly fine at that.

Comment author: Michael_PJ 27 October 2017 06:45:21PM 6 points [-]

Whether a discussion proceeds as collaborative or combative depends on how the participants interpret what the other parties say. This is all heavily contextual, but as with many things involving conversational implicature, you can often spend some effort to clarify your implicature.

The internet is notoriously bad for conveying the unconscious signals that we usually use to pick up on implicature, and I think this is one of the reasons that internet discussions often turn hostile and combative.

So it's worth putting in more signals of your intent into the text itself, since that's all you have.

Comment author: kbog  (EA Profile) 29 October 2017 10:24:55AM *  0 points [-]

The right approach is to only look at actual points being made, and not try to infer implications in the first place.

When someone reacts to an implication, the appropriate response is to say "but I/they didn't say anything about that," ignore their complaints and move on.