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

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Comment author: thebestwecan 27 October 2017 01:28:20PM *  -2 points [-]

Another concrete suggestion: I think we should stop having downvotes on the EA Forum. I might be not appreciating some of the downsides of this change, but I think they are small compared to the big upside of mitigating the toxic/hostile/dogpiling/groupthink environment we currently seem to have.

When I've brought this up before, people liked the idea, but it never got discussed very thoroughly or implemented.

Edit: Even this comment seems to be downvoted due to disagreement. I don't think this is helpful.

Comment author: Buck 27 October 2017 11:35:22PM 14 points [-]

Just for the record, I think this is a bad idea: I think it's costly for the community when people make bad arguments, and I think that the community is pretty good at recognizing and downvoting bad arguments where they appear, and I don't think it too often downvotes stuff it shouldn't.

Comment author: thebestwecan 28 October 2017 02:11:28PM *  0 points [-]

Yeah, I don't think downvotes are usually the best way of addressing bad arguments in the sense that someone is making a logical error, mistaken about an assumption, missing some evidence, etc. Like in this thread, I think that's leading to dogpiling, groupthink, and hostility in a way that outweighs the benefit of downvoting from flagging bad arguments when thoughtful people don't have time to flag them via a thoughtful comment.

I think downvotes are mostly just good for bad comments in the sense that someone is purposefully lying, relying on personal attacks instead of evidence, or otherwise not abiding by basic norms of civil discourse. In these cases, I don't think the downvoting comes off as nearly as hostile.

If you agree with that, then we must just disagree on whether examples (like my downvoted comment above) are bad arguments or bad comments. I think the community does pretty often downvote stuff it shouldn't.

Comment author: casebash 28 October 2017 11:58:51PM *  0 points [-]

Hmm, part of the problem is that downvotes are overloaded. They can either indicate:

  • This is a good comment OR
  • This is a good policy

I don't think that people think it is a bad comment, they just think it is a bad policy.

Comment author: MichaelPlant 28 October 2017 12:03:40AM 0 points [-]

I think we should stop having downvotes on the EA Forum

I agree with this. Contra Buck, I think people use downvotes to express things they ultimately disagree with, rather that because they genuinely find someone's comments 'unhelpful', i.e. malicious, lazy, something like that. I might also prompt people to say what they didn't like with the other person's vote, rather than just voting anonymously (and snarkily) with karma points.

Comment author: Buck 28 October 2017 12:06:41AM 8 points [-]

I might also prompt people to say what they didn't like with the other person's vote, rather than just voting anonymously (and snarkily) with karma points.

The problem is that this takes a lot of time, and people with good judgement are more likely to have a high opportunity cost of time; you want to make it as cheap as possible for people with good judgement to discourage bad comments; I think that the current downvoting system is working pretty well for that purpose. (One suggestion that's better than yours is to only allow a subset of people (perhaps those with over 500 karma) to downvote; Hacker News for example does this.)

Comment author: Arepo 28 October 2017 09:58:46AM 2 points [-]

Please let's not give people any more incentives to game the karma system than they already have.

Comment author: thebestwecan 28 October 2017 02:34:35PM 0 points [-]

Another (possibly bad, but want to put it out there) solution is to list names of people who downvoted. That of course has downsides, but it would have more accountability, especially when it comes to my suspicion that it's a few people doing a lot of the downvoting against certain people/ideas.

Another is to have downvotes 'cost' karma, e.g. if you have 500 total karma, that allows you to make 50 downvotes.

Comment author: Buck 29 October 2017 12:51:52AM 1 point [-]

This would make it harder for people to downvote on topics like this one where it's really risky to admit disagreeing with people.