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I've got a new feature almost ready to go. I'm pretty stoked about this one because I've been wanting it for quite literally years, but it was never possible on Reddit.

Hey, guess what? We're not on Reddit!

But before I continue, I want to temper expectations. This is a prototype of a first revision of an experimental feature. It is not going to look impressive; it is not going to be impressive. There's a lot of work left to do.

The feature is currently live on our perpetually-running dev site. Log in, click any thread, and go look below the Comment Preview. You'll see a quokka in a suit asking you for help. (His name is Quincy.) Click the cute li'l guy and you'll be asked to rate three comments. Do so, and click Submit. Thank you! Your reward is another picture of Quincy and a sense of satisfaction.

So, uh . . . . what?

Okay, lemme explain.

This is the first part of a feature that I'm calling Volunteering. Once in a while, the site is going to prompt you to help out, and if you volunteer, it'll give you a few minutes of work to do. Right now this is going to be "read some comments and say if they're good or not". Later this might include stuff like "compare two comments and tell me if one of them is better", or "read a comment, then try to come up with a catchy headline for it".

These are intentionally small, and they're entirely optional. You can ignore it altogether if you like.

I'm hoping these can end up being the backbone of a new improved moderation system.

Isn't this just voting, but fancy?

You'd think so! But there are critical differences.

First, you do not choose the things to judge. The system chooses the things it wants you to judge. You are not presented with thousands of comments and asked to vote on the ones you think are important, no, you are given (at the moment) three specific comments and information is requested of you.

This means that I don't need to worry about disproportionate votecount on popular comments. Nor do I need to worry about any kind of vote-brigading, or people deciding to downvote everything that a user has posted. The system gets only the feedback it asks for. This is a pull system; the system pulls information from the userbase in exactly the quantities it wants instead of the userbase shoving possibly-unwanted information at the scoring systems.

Second, you can be only as influential as the system lets you. On the dev site you can volunteer as often as you want for testing purposes, but on the live site, you're going to - for now - be limited to once every 20 hours. I'll probably change this a lot, but nevertheless, if the system decides you've contributed enough, it'll thank you kindly and then cut you off. Do you want to spend all day volunteering in order to influence the community deeply? Too bad! Not allowed.

But this goes deeper than it sounds. Part of having the system prompt you is that not all prompts will be the system attempting to get actionable info from you. Some of the prompts will be the system trying to compare your choices against a reference, and the system will then use this comparison to figure out how much to trust your decisions.

That reference, of course, is the mods.

I've previously referred to this as the Megaphone system or the Amplifier system. One of our devs called it a "force multiplier". I think this gets across the core of what I'm aiming for. The goal here is not majority-rules, it's not fully decentralized moderation. It's finding people who generally agree with the mods and then quietly harnessing them to handle the easy moderation cases.

(We have a lot of easy moderation cases.)

There's another important point here. The mods are only human and we make mistakes. My hope is that we can get enough volunteer help to provide significantly more individual decisions than the mods can, and my hope is that the combined efforts of several people who don't quite agree with the mods in all cases is still going to be more reliable than any single mod. In fact, it wouldn't surprise me if there's people out there who are better at judging posts than our mods are! It's just hard to find you; some of you may not even comment, and you're pretty undiscoverable right now, but you will certainly get a chance to volunteer!

Also, this will hopefully improve turnaround time a lot. I'm tired of filtered comments taking hours to get approved! I'm tired of really bad comments sticking around for half a day! There are many people constantly commenting and voting, and if I can get a few minutes of help from people now and then, we can handle those rapidly instead of having to wait for a mod to be around.

Wow! You get all of this, with absolutely no downsides or concerns!

Well, hold on.

The big concern here is that virtually nobody has ever done this before. The closest model I have is Slashdot's metamoderation system. Besides that, I'm flying blind.

I also have to make sure this isn't exploitable. The worst-case scenario is people being able to use this to let specific bad comments through. I really want to avoid that, and I've got ideas on how to avoid it, but it's going to take work on my part to sort out the details.

And there's probably issues that I'm not even thinking of. Again: flying blind. If you think of issues, bring 'em up; if you see issues, definitely bring 'em up.

Oh man! So, all this stuff is going to be running real soon, right?

Nope.

First I need some data to work off. Full disclosure: all the current system does is collect data, then ignore it.

But it is collecting data, and as soon as I've got some data, I'll be working on the next segment.

This is the first step towards having a platform that's actually better-moderated than the current brand of highly-centralized sites. I don't know if it'll work, but I think it will.

Please go test it out on the dev site, report issues, and when it shows up here (probably in a few days) click the button roughly daily and spend a few minutes on it. Your time will not be wasted.


Blocking

Right now this site's block feature works much the same as Reddit's. But I want to change that, because it sucks.

My current proposal is:

  • If you block someone, you will no longer see their comments, receive PMs from them, or be notified if they reply to your comments.

  • This does not stop them from seeing your comments, nor does it stop them from replying to your comments.

  • If they attempt to reply to your comment, it will include the note "This user has blocked you. You are still welcome to reply, but your replies will be held to a stricter standard of civility."

  • This note is accurate and we will do so.

That's the entire proposed feature. Feedback welcome!


User Flair and Usernames

We're going to start cracking down a bit on hyperpartisan or antagonistic user flair. Basically, if we'd hit you with a warning for putting it in a comment, we'll hit you with a warning for putting it in your flair. If anyone has a really good reason for us to not do this, now's the time to mention it!

Same goes for usernames. On this site, you can actually change your display username, and we're just leaving that in place. So we'll tell you to change your name if we have to. Extra for usernames: don't use a misleading or easily-confused username, okay? If it looks like you're masquerading as an existing well-known user, just stop it.

I'm currently assuming that both of these fall under our existing ruleset and don't need new rules applied. If you disagree strongly, let me know.


The Usual Stuff

Give feedback! Tell me how you're doing? Do you have questions? Do you have comments? This is the place for them!

Are you a coder and want to help out? We have a lot of work to do - come join the dev discord.

7

This weekly roundup thread is intended for all culture war posts. 'Culture war' is vaguely defined, but it basically means controversial issues that fall along set tribal lines. Arguments over culture war issues generate a lot of heat and little light, and few deeply entrenched people ever change their minds. This thread is for voicing opinions and analyzing the state of the discussion while trying to optimize for light over heat.

Optimistically, we think that engaging with people you disagree with is worth your time, and so is being nice! Pessimistically, there are many dynamics that can lead discussions on Culture War topics to become unproductive. There's a human tendency to divide along tribal lines, praising your ingroup and vilifying your outgroup - and if you think you find it easy to criticize your ingroup, then it may be that your outgroup is not who you think it is. Extremists with opposing positions can feed off each other, highlighting each other's worst points to justify their own angry rhetoric, which becomes in turn a new example of bad behavior for the other side to highlight.

We would like to avoid these negative dynamics. Accordingly, we ask that you do not use this thread for waging the Culture War. Examples of waging the Culture War:

  • Shaming.

  • Attempting to 'build consensus' or enforce ideological conformity.

  • Making sweeping generalizations to vilify a group you dislike.

  • Recruiting for a cause.

  • Posting links that could be summarized as 'Boo outgroup!' Basically, if your content is 'Can you believe what Those People did this week?' then you should either refrain from posting, or do some very patient work to contextualize and/or steel-man the relevant viewpoint.

In general, you should argue to understand, not to win. This thread is not territory to be claimed by one group or another; indeed, the aim is to have many different viewpoints represented here. Thus, we also ask that you follow some guidelines:

  • Speak plainly. Avoid sarcasm and mockery. When disagreeing with someone, state your objections explicitly.

  • Be as precise and charitable as you can. Don't paraphrase unflatteringly.

  • Don't imply that someone said something they did not say, even if you think it follows from what they said.

  • Write like everyone is reading and you want them to be included in the discussion.

On an ad hoc basis, the mods will try to compile a list of the best posts/comments from the previous week, posted in Quality Contribution threads and archived at /r/TheThread. You may nominate a comment for this list by clicking on 'report' at the bottom of the post and typing 'Actually a quality contribution' as the report reason.

The Wednesday Wellness threads are meant to encourage users to ask for and provide advice and motivation to improve their lives. It isn't intended as a 'containment thread' and any content which could go here could instead be posted in its own thread. You could post:

  • Requests for advice and / or encouragement. On basically any topic and for any scale of problem.

  • Updates to let us know how you are doing. This provides valuable feedback on past advice / encouragement and will hopefully make people feel a little more motivated to follow through. If you want to be reminded to post your update, see the post titled 'update reminders', below.

  • Advice. This can be in response to a request for advice or just something that you think could be generally useful for many people here.

  • Encouragement. Probably best directed at specific users, but if you feel like just encouraging people in general I don't think anyone is going to object. I don't think I really need to say this, but just to be clear; encouragement should have a generally positive tone and not shame people (if people feel that shame might be an effective tool for motivating people, please discuss this so we can form a group consensus on how to use it rather than just trying it).

In Germany, the current outbreak of mass social media-induced illness is initiated by a ‘virtual’ index case, who is the second most successful YouTube creator in Germany and enjoys enormous popularity among young people. Affected teenagers present with similar or identical functional ‘Tourette-like’ behaviours, which can be clearly differentiated from tics in Tourette syndrome.

Another choice quote

patients often reported to be unable to perform unpleasant tasks because of their symptoms resulting in release from obligations at school and home, while symptoms temporarily completely disappear while conducting favourite activities.

Ok, there was supposed to be text in the top near the link, there isn't, some I'm pasting the summary of the linked post here.

Peter Watts, the Canadian SF writer known for writing endearingly depressing SF books and promoting the idea consciousness is not essential to sentience has been forced to re-evaluate this position of his following a recent experiment by proponents of the Free Energy Model of consciousness.

Now it appears, at least to him, there may be an intrinsic link between subjective experience and problem solving by intelligent systems.

I have been bouncing around a theory for a while about the whole UFO discussion of the last... five years? It's interesting how it has ebbed and flowed in US, even getting a fair amount of discussion (and true believers announcing themselves) on the predecessor forums to this forum. I think the most important and interesting thing is not the phenomenon - how many times are people going to get excited about hazy videos that may or may not show small specks moving in unnatural ways, but the discussion itself - and I think there's a specific reason why the system might foster this discussion.

We certainly know that the US government takes a great interest in social media and has done so since the beginning, as demonstrated by articles like this one. The effective voluntary surveillance abilities offered by Facebook and other security-state-connected social media means that there can now be what amounts to a voluntary distributed vast civilian surveillance operation by the security state.

If media successfully rekindles interest in UFOs, there's going to be photos all over social media, and they might be of some use, as there's timestamps and location data, and you can use rapidly advancing machine learning abilities to, for instance, give credence to pilot sightings by checking if there's relevant civilian sightings, or photographs.

By stoking interest in UFOs, having people photograph or otherwise talk about whatever strange lights in the sky they have seen, they will receive data that they can now categorize and utilize – true open-source intelligence. They can then figure out whether there is a cause for further interest and concern.

Such civilians might not do this just voluntarily. Indeed, many of them are exactly of the suspicious type that would actively refrain from watching the skies if the government directly told them to do so. And it is not just Americans. A successful operation would provoke sightings all around the world, even in enemy countries (as far as those allow the penetration of American social media). And as automatic data analysis capabilities improve, so would the capabilities to use that data.

More in the link.

5

Do you have a dumb question that you're kind of embarrassed to ask in the main thread? Is there something you're just not sure about?

This is your opportunity to ask questions. No question too simple or too silly.

Culture war topics are accepted, and proposals for a better intro post are appreciated.

(Spoilers for No Country For Old Men and A Cabin in the Woods)

Obviously, no one believes that literally all movies that call out or subvert tropes are good, but I feel that people often attribute positive points to movies solely for subverting expectations, even when the execution of those subversions are subpar.

One of the reasons I didn't like No Country For Old Men as much as many other people did was precisely because of this, although I would still consider it a good movie. The first half of the film is fantastic—it masterfully builds tension, has some incredible and intense battle scenes, and I like that, for the most part, the characters all make the smartest decisions they can; I could scarcely improve on any of them without the knowledge of hindsight, which is something uncommon in action movies (many movies often have an otherwise smart character acting unusually stupid to give another character a chance to take advantage).

I understand that the latter half of the movie is supposed to be a subversion of expectations and what would realistically happen to someone even as tough as Llewelyn in his situation—the protagonist dies off-screen to a group of unnamed cartel members without even facing the antagonist—but I believe that it is a lazy and unsatisfying ending to the protagonist we have built a connection to over the course of the movie, especially since his death was not even shown in the screen.

How good would the first few seasons of Game of Thrones have been if Tywin Lannister abruptly died of a disease in the beginning of Season 3, or if Jon Snow were killed by unnamed wildlings after he travels with the Night's Watch beyond the wall, as realistically someone in his position would be? How good would Breaking Bad have been if Walter White were killed by some random unnamed drug dealers in Season 2 of the show, as someone like Walt would realistically be in his position? Had there been a final showdown between Llewelyn and Anton where Llewelyn dies, with the rest of the movie playing out the exact same way it did, it would have had a satisfying conclusion while also being a subversion of the trope that the protagonist must always win; instead, I felt that it was just a cheap subversion for the sake of being a subversion.

Another highly rated movie that calls out common tropes in its genre would be A Cabin in the Woods, although it does so in a different manner to No Country For Old Men. The primary problem I have with this movie is that it is completely generic; I understand that it was intentionally made to be that way, but it is just not very interesting to watch what is essentially the most generic horror movie ever made for two-thirds of the film. I've heard people say it's creative in calling out the tropes in the genre, but I would say its method of criticizing tropes is perhaps the most uncreative way it could criticize the genre. The first two-thirds also have "comedic" scenes in a lab watching the main characters struggle which I felt utterly failed at making me laugh. The last one-third of the film didn't really have much a plot, and in all honestly wasn't very good either; at the end a character was literally just listing common tropes and saying that they must happen, which I thought was an even more uncreative way of calling out tropes. Despite being a pretty terrible movie in my opinion, it is rated 92% by critics on Rotten Tomatoes mostly for "subverting tropes of the horror genre."

11

I remember back in 2015 the Balsamic vinegar from Scott's recommendations went over well.

SSC thread from last year.

Headlamps (Petzl Tikka Headlamp) and Marino wools socks (Smartwool Men's Classic Cushion Socks) have been my go to gifts for over a decade and never had anyone disappointed. Another one of either is always nice to have in my opinion.

The Leatherman Skeletool is a folding knife I've been giving out as gifts lately. It's not the ultimate pocket knife but it fills a niche (ultra-light) that I think a lot of people appreciate and would probably be hesitant to buy for themselves. I've seen a couple people carrying it 6 months after I gave it to them.

I've had a Stanley car jump starter air compressor combo for years and any time I need it I'm just so happy to have it.

If you like trick taking card game Crew is a collaborative spin and has been a lot of fun.

If you're looking for tools I find the YouTube channel Project Farm to have good tool reviews and he has 10 suggestion for the year.

Top 10 Tools 2022? Let’s find out! Gift Ideas!

GearWrench Ratchet: https://amzn.to/3OjrHS5

DeWalt String Trimmer: https://amzn.to/3AuwScm

Ryobi Stapler: https://amzn.to/3AQDyBV

Craftsman Tap & Die Set: https://amzn.to/3Elt6mK

S-K Ratcheting Combination Wrench: https://amzn.to/3Gtz8Eo

Cle-Line: homedepot.sjv.io/jW6ND6

Benchmade Knife: https://amzn.to/3EFOCD1

Snap On Torque Wrench: Available Online at the Snap On Store

Daytona Floor Jack: Available at Harbor Freight

Milwaukee Grinder: Available at Home Depot

2

Be advised: this thread is not for serious in-depth discussion of weighty topics (we have a link for that), this thread is not for anything Culture War related. This thread is for Fun. You got jokes? Share 'em. You got silly questions? Ask 'em.

13

For all those who are new since the site move, or simply missed it the first time around, I wanted to point out a charming piece of Motte history, a process which made me pay attention to this ragtag community and eventually join. The Doge process, while controversial at the time with many nay-sayers, has aged quite well I'd argue. Well enough to have us survive through a full site move, at the least.

I'll just be copying @ZorbaTHut's post from this reddit link. Everything below is his writing. Please enjoy.



We did this crazy thing to pick some new mods. Tl;dr: right now, we're thinking it was extremely successful. Strongly recommended for anyone running their own community.

Please welcome (in the order that they happened to accept invitations) /u/ymeskhout

, /u/Amadanb

, and /u/Gen_McMuster

as new moderators! I think many of you have already seen them step into the weird arena that is this community, with roughly the expected amount of success ("a lot, but some weird gotchas") and I'm hoping they stick around for a while.

Note that we may be recruiting up to three more mods, but they didn't answer the original message, so I'll pester them again in a day or two; don't be surprised if a few more people show up. (My goal here is to end up overstaffed for once.)

The Doge Process

Because I know some people will be very interested in the details . . . (non-doge stuff below this, scroll down if you don't care about the mod process)

Here's the message I sent out to the second-round people (which I think was the best-written and still included the weird meta-picking content).

Greetings, nominee! You have been recruited by /r/TheMotte to elect new moderators to maintain and improve the community!

You may or may not have seen our most recent meta post. The short version is that we are planning to recruit new moderators and trying to find a good way to do it. Our current plan is a series of nomination rounds, where people in each round nominate the people in the next round, ending with a group of potential new moderators.

Existing Mods

Round 1

Round 2 <-- YOU ARE HERE

Round 3

New Mods

And you have been chosen to help!

The eventual goal is to recruit mods who will be good at implementing TheMotte's foundation, which I will reproduce here:

The purpose of this community is to be a working discussion ground for people who may hold dramatically different beliefs. It is to be a place for people to examine the beliefs of others as well as their own beliefs; it is to be a place where strange or abnormal opinions and ideas can be generated and discussed fairly, with consideration and insight instead of kneejerk responses.

Your goal is to nominate people who will be good at nominating the aforementioned new mods.

I can't force you to choose people based on this, but I'd ask you to keep it in mind, regardless of whether you (or your nominees) agree with it. That said, you're welcome to use whatever reasoning you like for your choice.

Send nominations to me as a private message (such as a response to this message). Please nominate between two and four people. If you can't think of that many, feel free to nominate fewer. If you really want to nominate more, you're welcome to give it a shot; include your best justification for why you need to nominate more and I'll handle it in whatever way I consider reasonable.

Loose deadline is in 72 hours from when this message was sent.

Some notes:

You're not required to help with this! If you're uninterested in participating, in either this round, upcoming nomination rounds, and/or the potential mod position itself, let me know and I won't bother you again. If you merely think you're not suitable for it, please give it your best anyway.

Nominees must have posted on /r/TheMotte, not currently be banned from it, and be somewhat active on Reddit. You aren't allowed to nominate yourself. You are allowed to nominate people from previous or even current rounds. Being active in this round does not guarantee inclusion in future rounds; every round is separate. Similarly, if you've done this before, that's OK! You got nominated again. Welcome back.

"Good at choosing mods" and "good at being a mod" are probably different skillsets, correlated but not directly linked.

Note that there are a fixed number of slots available for the next round and it's significantly less than the number of nominations available. Nominations will be evaluated in order of popularity, so if you know someone is nominating your #1 pick, you should also nominate them to push them up the choice order. More votes for someone is a useful signal.

As soon as I've finished sending these, I'll add everyone in this round to a Reddit chat group so you can discuss as you see fit. You're not required to use it and you can leave at any time. If you're a jerk in it, I'll kick you; this does not remove your ability to nominate people, but if you're too much of a jerk, you might end up banned from /r/TheMotte. Please don't do that. If you rejected the invite, but have now changed your mind, let me know and I'll re-invite you.

The results of this aren't binding and I have reserve full right to tweak nominations as I see fit, up to and including cancelling the entire thing, but I wouldn't be doing this if I didn't think it was promising.

So:

Have at it!

For each round, I was targeting 20 people, and asked people to send in 2 to 4 nominees (except for the very first mod-only round; because we have so few mods, I asked people for between 4 and 10 nominees.) My plan was to order nominees strictly by vote count and accepted every vote-count group that didn't put us over the 20-person target, then fill any remaining slots with a random sample of whichever people were left over. In each case, we had about ten people with two votes or more, and about twenty people with exactly one vote, so practically speaking this meant each nomination was roughly an additive-stacking 50% chance to show up in the next round.

Each round we had about four people who didn't respond or participate in any way. Annoyingly, exactly one person bothered to send me a message asking to be withdrawn, the rest just ignored it. C'mon, people. This did lead to one weird quirk, which is that someone didn't respond in the first round but also weren't using Reddit at the time; they got nominated for the second round, and I decided to give them an "extra" space, totaling 21 people in that round, just in case they came back to Reddit.

They did come back to Reddit! They also didn't participate at all. Welp.

I left us room to override the public's decision, and I ran each round past the mods before starting it. There were a few times we were dubious about a choice, but we never actually used the override power; also I'm pretty sure none of the people we were uncertain about actually ended up participating.

Here's anonymized info on how many people got nominated for which set of rounds:

Rounds 1, 2, and 3: 6

Rounds 1 and 2: 4

Rounds 1 and 3: 2

Rounds 2 and 3: 3

Round 1 only: 8

Round 2 only: 9

Round 3 only: 9

I tried to make a Sankey diagram out of this and couldn't come up with something that looked good. YMMV.

I had a bunch of worst-case scenarios in mind, for example:

Nobody bothers to reply

People just troll the chat

A few people collude to stack votes so they can get their favored candidate chosen

It turns into a simple popularity contest, no real information is gained

Absolutely none of these happened. Chat was fantastic and several people asked me if this could be made a long-term thing. Unfortunately, Reddit's chat interface is absolutely terrible for large groups; also, none of us have the bandwidth to manage a Discord server. Luckily there's an existing unofficial-but-affiliated Discord server and if you'd like to talk to similar-minded people in realtime, you should go there, it's a good group of people. (Note: This is affiliated with this subreddit but not managed by us, nor does it share our exact ruleset; read the rules and get a feel for the community before dropping controversial knowledge bombs or you're going to get banned super-fast and the admin will get annoyed at me and I will then get annoyed at you. Also I ran this paragraph past the admin before posting it so he knows you're coming. He awaits.)

With a little bit of prompting, the last round turned into a bunch of people proposing candidates, looking them over, and discussing them; some people were nominated who were in the chat and they wrote up little summaries of why they think they would be a good or a bad choice. It was all pretty great.

The tl;dr is that if you have a community that is anything like this one, I strongly recommend using this system, or one derived from it, for mod recruitment. I think we ended up with a set of people which are better choices than we would have come up with on our own. It took a lot of time on my behalf but I think it's worthwhile.

You are welcome to steal parts of the note I posted above; if you've got any questions, feel free to ask!

The Experimental Bare Link Repository

Hey, you know the Experimental Bare Link Repository? The one that's been experimental for like eight months now?

Yeah, sorry. Kinda dropped the ball on that one. It is no longer the Experimental Bare Link Repository and is now just the Bare Link Repository.

Locking Your Own Posts

We've had a few people make really long multipart posts and grumble that people are responding to the first half and not the second half, which then bumps the second half down in New sorting and is overall just a big pain. We've got a fix! A really hacky fix!

Write your entire post series in Notepad or some other offsite medium. Make sure that they're long; comment limit is 10000 characters, if your comments are less than half that length you should probably not be making it a multipost series.

Post it rapidly in response to yourself like you would normally.

For each post except the last one, go back and edit it to include the trigger phrase automod_multipart_lockme.

This will cause AutoModerator to lock the post.

You can then edit it to remove that phrase and it'll stay locked. This means that you cannot unlock your post on your own, so make sure you do this after you've posted your entire series. Also, don't lock the last one or people can't respond to you. Also, this gets reported to the mods, so don't abuse it or we'll either boot you or just lock you out of the feature; this is specifically for organization of multipart megaposts.

I wish there was a better way to do this, but we'll see how this works.

I'll add it to the thread starter in a few weeks in the hopes that someone tries it out before then (uh, if I haven't, someone remind me.)

That's All, Folks

Standard meta thread stuff: say hi and ask how we're doing! Chat with the new mods! Order beer! Don't get Coronavirus! If you do, talk to a researcher to figure out how it managed to transmit itself across the Internet!

9

This is the Quality Contributions Roundup. It showcases interesting and well-written comments and posts from the period covered. If you want to get an idea of what this community is about or how we want you to participate, look no further (except the rules maybe--those might be important too).

As a reminder, you can nominate Quality Contributions by hitting the report button and selecting the "Actually A Quality Contribution!" option. Additionally, links to all of the roundups can be found in the wiki of /r/theThread which can be found here. For a list of other great community content, see here.


Quality Contributions in Culture Peace

@TheDag:

@FiveHourMarathon:

Contributions for the week of October 24, 2022

@DaseindustriesLtd:

Contributions for the week of October 31, 2022

@KulakRevolt:

@self_made_human:

@gorge:

@Baila:

@urquan:

Contributions for the week of November 7, 2022

@problem_redditor:

@sodiummuffin:

@fren:

@DaseindustriesLtd:

@naraburns:

@urquan:

Contributions for the week of November 14, 2022

@YE_GUILTY:

@Supah_Schmendrick:

@hooser:

@Stefferi:

about a topic that is obscure even in Finland – Sámi issues."

@Walterodim:

@johnfabian:

@FiveHourMarathon:

@gorge:

@FarNearEverywhere:

@aaa:

@FCfromSSC:

@Iconochasm:

Contributions for the week of November 21, 2022

@Lewyn:

@Fruck:

@Supah_Schmendrick:

@gemmaem:

@MathiasTRex:

@you-get-an-upvote:

@thomasThePaineEngine:

@FiveHourMarathon:

@ymeskhout:

Contributions for the week of November 28, 2022

@roystgnr:

@JTarrou:

4

The Wednesday Wellness threads are meant to encourage users to ask for and provide advice and motivation to improve their lives. It isn't intended as a 'containment thread' and any content which could go here could instead be posted in its own thread. You could post:

  • Requests for advice and / or encouragement. On basically any topic and for any scale of problem.

  • Updates to let us know how you are doing. This provides valuable feedback on past advice / encouragement and will hopefully make people feel a little more motivated to follow through. If you want to be reminded to post your update, see the post titled 'update reminders', below.

  • Advice. This can be in response to a request for advice or just something that you think could be generally useful for many people here.

  • Encouragement. Probably best directed at specific users, but if you feel like just encouraging people in general I don't think anyone is going to object. I don't think I really need to say this, but just to be clear; encouragement should have a generally positive tone and not shame people (if people feel that shame might be an effective tool for motivating people, please discuss this so we can form a group consensus on how to use it rather than just trying it).

16

This weekly roundup thread is intended for all culture war posts. 'Culture war' is vaguely defined, but it basically means controversial issues that fall along set tribal lines. Arguments over culture war issues generate a lot of heat and little light, and few deeply entrenched people ever change their minds. This thread is for voicing opinions and analyzing the state of the discussion while trying to optimize for light over heat.

Optimistically, we think that engaging with people you disagree with is worth your time, and so is being nice! Pessimistically, there are many dynamics that can lead discussions on Culture War topics to become unproductive. There's a human tendency to divide along tribal lines, praising your ingroup and vilifying your outgroup - and if you think you find it easy to criticize your ingroup, then it may be that your outgroup is not who you think it is. Extremists with opposing positions can feed off each other, highlighting each other's worst points to justify their own angry rhetoric, which becomes in turn a new example of bad behavior for the other side to highlight.

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5

Do you have a dumb question that you're kind of embarrassed to ask in the main thread? Is there something you're just not sure about?

This is your opportunity to ask questions. No question too simple or too silly.

Culture war topics are accepted, and proposals for a better intro post are appreciated.

7

Be advised; this thread is not for serious in depth discussion of weighty topics (we have a link for that), this thread is not for anything Culture War related. This thread is for Fun. You got jokes? Share 'em. You got silly questions? Ask 'em.

Naturally prompted by the current Twitter situation, I've come to the point where I just have to write down my thoughts.

I have no doubt that Elon Musk is a genius, both of thought and action. He can formulate visions and execute them. He has two truly epic feats under his belt - starting a viable car company from scratch (the first since the 1930s) and bringing about the next generation of space technology and exploration, after a long, long winter. This is definitely not the work of an "emerald mine heir, just investing his money."

He is however not an infallible genius, which is particularly noticeable in areas outside of his core expertise. And that includes social networks. In some sense, it might be the kind of venture least amiable to an engineering, top-down approach. The product is made of a fickle, unpredictable human mass and there are no good instruments or levers to make it do what you want.

The first thing about the whole Twitter situation which really gave me a pause was the fact that Musk had apparently waived due diligence as a part of the $44B takeover bid. This is completely incomprehensible to me. From an M&A perspective, it's like a story of someone who picks up a skank at a seedy dive bar and proceeds to raw-dog her. Incredibly irresponsible. Are you sure you don't want to use a condom? Things might seem easier in the moment, but the potential for future regret is rather alarming! The rebuke I've heard was that Dorsey had already told him all the important stuff anyway, but that's just not how the process works. For one, the due diligence could have given him a way out of the bid (and boy, wouldn't that turn out to be handy...) It's not guaranteed, but rare indeed is the DD that doesn't uncover some sort of irregularity or dubious representation that could have served as ammo in the lawsuit. Secondly, the DD would have mapped out the exact internal structure, external relations, responsibilities and exposures. Even if (or rather precisely because) the plan was to mow through the ranks, this would have been extremely useful to have. If you're going in with an axe, you should at least have a map of the areas you intend to clear-cut. The whaling system deployed by Musk might have been effective at selecting for a combination of competence, drive and vision alignment (and/or desperation) - but that's not the same as critical institutional knowledge. Twitter is vast and something like 80% of the people who knew what went where and why are gone. The sole irreplaceable value of Twitter is in its existing user network - but this is inextricable from the pulsing, living IT snarl containing the accounts and their connections, which is in turn inextricable from the human apparatus building it and maintaining it. With cars or rockets, as long as you have the tech packages, you can always just bring in new competent engineers to continue the work. But there isn't any objective singular blueprint of Twitter. No single person has the whole picture. It's dubious whether it can even be successfully cold-reset. It's just... why go about it that way? Why not put on the condom?

The second incident was the checkmark fiasco: 1. Blow up the old and opaque verification system 2. Concoct an $8/month pay-to-play scheme 3. Discover why the verification system had been there in the first place 4. Clumsily return to a variant of the old opaque verification system. I'm sure the advertisers were thrilled. How am I not looking at an impulsive, poorly though-out spiteful action here? There are people stuck with GIANT PENIS handles to this day...

The thirds aspect is Musk ostensibly sleeping over at Twitter HQ, wildly coding into the night with the bros. The problem is that either his ethos of "You can't put in less than 80 hours a week and expect a thing to work." is wrong or Tesla and SpaceX are getting the shaft here. And the stock price sure seems to indicate the belief in the latter. More than half of the value gone, YOY, as of the time of this writing. And heaven knows what's happening to Neuralink or the Boring Company. Precisely to the degree that Musk is an irreplaceable genius, the Twitter stunt is coming at the expense of projects he himself considers vital for the survival of human consciousness. What are the priorities here?

The further unmentioned elephant in the room is stimulant abuse and, even worse, the attendant lack of sleep. At this point, it would take a lot to persuade me he isn't up to his gills in some Chinese designer hyper-opti-MegaAdderall regimen, which just appears as both the likeliest cause and result of his recent actions and decisions.

The historical parallel I'm most reminded of is Napoleon. Certainly no rando of middling qualities - but also somebody who, past his initial bout of success and innovation, slumped into the belief in his own brand of unerring radical decisions, with well-known consequences.

So I'm out. Not that it should matter to anyone in any practical terms, but my confidence in Elon Musk's process and vision is gone. At this point, it mostly looks like the driver's seat is occupied by erratic hyperconfidence. I'm not expecting Twitter to disappear any time soon, in fact I still consider it somewhat more likely than not that the company will ultimately stabilize. It's not that any single action had caused irreparable damage - but the series of unforced errors, starting with the bid itself, isn't inspiring any future confidence in me. I will not be getting on that rocket to Mars, thank you very much.

5

The Wednesday Wellness threads are meant to encourage users to ask for and provide advice and motivation to improve their lives. It isn't intended as a 'containment thread' and any content which could go here could instead be posted in its own thread. You could post:

  • Requests for advice and / or encouragement. On basically any topic and for any scale of problem.

  • Updates to let us know how you are doing. This provides valuable feedback on past advice / encouragement and will hopefully make people feel a little more motivated to follow through. If you want to be reminded to post your update, see the post titled 'update reminders', below.

  • Advice. This can be in response to a request for advice or just something that you think could be generally useful for many people here.

  • Encouragement. Probably best directed at specific users, but if you feel like just encouraging people in general I don't think anyone is going to object. I don't think I really need to say this, but just to be clear; encouragement should have a generally positive tone and not shame people (if people feel that shame might be an effective tool for motivating people, please discuss this so we can form a group consensus on how to use it rather than just trying it).

11

It is in the nature of authority to fear purity more than any sort of corruption.

This review (more like random musings and thoughts) will contain spoilers.

His ideal was drawn upon pure white paper in fresh black ink. Its text was mysterious, and it excluded not only translation but also every critique and commentary.

Runaway Horses is the second book in Mishima's magnum opus, the Sea of Fertility. In the first book, Mishima explored the role of a lover. The young aristocrat Kiyoaki Matsugae, in the pursuit of a forbidden affair, commits himself to an early death. In Runaway Horses, he is reincarnated as a very different man - as the son of Kiyoaki's stern teacher Iinuma, Isao Iinuma pursues a path of self-denial, first as a kendoist, then as a radical Japanese nationalist. Disgusted by the corruption of Japanese society, he seeks what he describes as a pure death - to strike at the materialist elites and then commit suicide, and by his pure example to invoke wider change in the country. Gathering others, he is eventually betrayed to the authorities by his own family, who profess the same disgust with society, but are compromised by their own positions. The senior Iinuma is shamed by Isao's dedication, while his romantic interest Makiko seeks to control him, Lieutenant Hori seeks to maintain his own career, and Honda, a friend of Kiyoaki, cannot comprehend him. Worse than punishment, he is shamed by them. After the trial, Isao goes through with his plan anyway, but alone. He murders a prominent businessman, then takes his own life in a cave - but not before dropping a hint as to his next reincarnation.

The characters in Sea of Fertility are prisoners in their own time. A scene of great importance in Spring Snow explains the struggle - whether the characters rebel against the spirit of their era makes no difference. In the end, they are coopted by history, and will simply be absorbed into whatever generalization future generations choose to make - which could be anything. Kiyoaki rebels against the decadence of his own time by pursuing the one thing forbidden to him. But in the end, Kiyoaki is remembered as just another decadent aristocrat - another disappointing scion of another declining clan. Isao is forced into the same predicament. He seeks to preserve the glory and harmony of Japan against predatory capitalism, militarism, and westernisation. But historically, his nationalism and devotion to the Emperor was recruited by those same corrupt forces. Yukio Mishima could hardly have been unaware of the contradictions of the era - how state Shintoism was deliberately built by the government, of the conflict between Shinto and Buddhist traditions, of how nationalism came to serve militarism that led to the total defeat of Japan. Parallels to our own time are apparent. America Firsters have no interest in foreign adventurism or empire-building, but their values of strength and honor are frequently manipulated into serving neoconservative policy. Further on the right, we find widespread disgust with modern society, but without outlet. Is it really conceivable that such individuals could really alter the course of events, or will history just remember them as antagonists and foils?

One might ask to what degree Isao's beliefs are really his own. The senior Iinuma, after being manipulated and dismissed by Kiyoaki in Spring Snow, formed the Academy of Patriotism to disseminate his own notion of traditional Japanese values - in many ways, an open reaction to his former employer. Raised in such society, Isao could hardly fail to inherit those values, any more than Kiyoaki could avoid inheriting the same values of his own father, the venal, adulterous Marquis Matsugae. But unlike their fathers, who hold those values lightly, Isao and Kiyoaki took them seriously. Kiyoaki dies to satisfy his own romantic desire - Isao can barely think of anything other than to die nobly. The question is posed - how can we transcend the values of the time in which we live, propagated as they are by hypocrites? Both the Marquis and senior Iinuma, in the eleventh hour, attempt to check their sons, but in doing so only push them further down their paths. The senior Iinuma is eventually revealed to be paid off by the very forces of corruption he preaches against. The discovery disillusions Isao - not with his cause, but with the corruption of the world around him.

Isao's ultimate target is Busuke Kurahara, described vaguely as a influential financier. Though many targets among the elite are mentioned, only Kurahara is described with any prominence, but he cuts a familiar figure - a modernist thinker who sees the world in terms of economics and who eloquently talks of sacrificing the tenth to save the nine, and who weeps crocodile tears for those being sacrificed. To Isao, and to perhaps Mishima too, Kurahara is the epitome of the corruption in Japan - a materialism that affects both sentimentality and ruthlessness according to the needs of the moment. Even in his slovenly figure and adoption of Western customs, Kurahara rejects that immaculate Japanese aesthetic.

The inspiration for Isao comes from a pamphlet he reads about the Shinpuren rebellion, a real event when in the early Meiji period, a group of patriots sought to overthrow the government and to put, uh, patriots back in control. A few hundred maniacs with swords fighting against thousands of troops with guns, they predictably lost, and the survivors commit suicide, in what seems to be implausibly romantic circumstances, evoking the same desire in Isao. But Isao is led astray - the booklet also describes the wives of some of the rebels, with ink no less rose-tinted. The wives are totally supportive of their husbands' death wishes and even want to join in. Enter Makiko, Isao's own love interest, an older, divorced woman who gives every appearance of supporting Isao's values, but at the last moment betrays him, then testifies in his defense at court, humiliating him in front of his fellow conspirators. I'm not sure what to make of her beyond an entertaining artifact of Mishima's misogyny - Eternal Woman popping up to frustrate and emasculate Isao's masculine ideals.

Another interesting character is Sawa. A middle-aged man who leaves his family to come to the Academy of Patriotism, he alone among Isao's comrades is given a thorough treatment in the novel. An avid reader of Kodan Club (I can't find much information about this, but it seems to have been a story magazine, possibly a pre-war antecedent to light novels and manga), he eventually manipulates himself into Isao's conspiracy, but he is always treated differently due to his age. For his own part, Sawa seems to be trying to create a second boyhood for himself. I wonder if Sawa is supposed to be self-depreciation on the part of Mishima, who surrounded himself with youths in his own middle age. But what does this suggest - that the business of self-sacrifice and pursuit of purity is only a game for young men? Clearly, Isao, the athletic and popular teenager, is an idealisation of Mishima himself, who struggled with a sense of physical inferiority and was bullied as a teenager, but Mishima has enough awareness to poke fun at this image too.

The last character I'll discuss is Shigekuni Honda. Kiyoaki's teenage friend in Spring Snow, in Runaway Horses he is a 39 year old judge, who has devoted himself to legalism and rationalism. When he comes to believe that Isao is the reincarnation of Kiyoaki, Honda's carefully constructed worldview is crippled. He abandons his position to defend Isao in court, not realizing that his rationalist attitude is at odds with Isao's death wish. Much as with Kiyoaki, Honda cannot really understand Isao or his motives - clouded by his legalism, he views and interacts with the world at a rationalist distance.

Other notes:

In a scene, later in the book, Isao is imprisoned and hears a communist being tortured. His reaction is envious from shame. The right-sympathetic authorities do not conceive of Isao as being a threat to society, but Marxism is. But more than that, Isao's values are a sterile relic. The future struggle will be among the materialists, capitalist and communist. But there is also the creeping suspicion that the materialists are right, or at least, that they are on the right side of history. As a result, Isao's final act feels less like an act of purity and hope, and more like a nihilistic and impotent reaction. Isao is dismissed by everyone, in the end - by allies and comrade, friends and family.

The prose throughout is beautiful. Mishima creates startling and evocative metaphors throughout - of particular note is a kendo match early in the novel, and later on a night-time scene. But even during abstruse philosophical discussion, the words compel the reader to continue. The only down note is the inclusion of the entire text of League of the Divine Wind, the pamphlet that inspires Isao. Feel free to skip to the suicides.

Runaway Horses, more than anything else, sketches out the manner of Mishima's death. Given that Isao fails to inspire change, can it not be determined that Mishima also knew that his 'coup' was doomed to failure? And though he surely knew that many such attempts had come before, did Mishima know that his attempt to revive Vieille Japan was going to be the last such attempt? Much to think on going into the third and fourth books.

There comes a time in every discussion forum user's life that they espouse an unpopular opinion. Not something unpopular in a way that they have broken any rules. But unpopular in a way that many other users want to chime in with their disagreement.

Ratioed

On twitter it is called getting "ratioed" where the unpopular tweets have a higher than normal number of comments relative to likes and retweets. It is viewed as a negative thing to happen when you are on twitter, because saying unpopular things on twitter is seen as bad.

Here on themotte saying unpopular things is not bad. We are here to have discussions with people who have different points of view. If you say something unpopular but not against the rules then you are serving the purpose of themotte. Not only have you not done something bad, you have done something good. You have provided everyone else here with content. There might be some tribal instincts in the back of your head screaming warnings at you "oh no! you have said something unpopular. quick! defend yourself, moderate your position, attack your most aggressive detractors!" These instincts are wrong. Instead, by saying something unpopular you have become the bell of the ball. The star athlete that all the recruiters want. Etc etc. We all want to talk to you!

Death by a thousand cuts

Being the center of attention and wanted by everyone can be stressful, especially when it feels like a form of infamy. There is a common failure mode that we as the mods have to witness happen again and again. The person that is at the center of attention is getting minor attacks that don't rise to the level of moderation. Multiple people might say the equivalent of "I think you are wrong because you aren't smart", or other forms of implied insults. The person at the center of attention will eventually get worn down by all these small cuts and jabs, and they will lash out at someone making the jabs. The lash out often does rise to the level of moderation.

You are the solution

The mods have talked about this phenomenon and we have realized that there isn't a good way to solve this problem through moderation. But! That doesn't mean there is no good solution at all.

These are the strategies I have used when getting ratioed, they've kept me sane, kept me calm, and helped me enjoy my time far more:

  1. Attitude - You are the popular one. Everyone wants to talk with you. Keep these in mind to avoid the tribal anxiety of 'everyone hates me I have to defend myself!'

  2. Match Effort - There are lots of responses flying at you and these responses have varying levels of effort. If someone has a low effort comment I do not respond with a well researched and cited response, I will often try and avoid responding to low effort comments altogether. Remember, you are the bell of the ball, they need to come to you.

  3. Prioritize the Best - Try and respond to your best disagreers first. The ones that bring up the best points, address all the things you said, or are just very polite about how they say it. You should be rewarding their effort, and hopefully signalling to other potential commentors that this is the type of comment you will respond to. This also helps with the next piece of advice:

  4. Refer back to yourself - Don't get frustrated saying the same thing a bunch of times. If you find yourself having the same argument in two different places, then only have it in the place with the better disagreer, and then point the other people to those posts, or just extensively quote yourself. "I addressed your point while talking with [other user], see my comment here(link)".

  5. Limit the back and forth - I will usually only give one response to most users. I will try and match their effort and address their points. I will try and have an extended discussion only with the best disagreers. So many instances of me moderating people happen ten or fifteen comments deep into a conversation, when almost everyone else has stopped reading. Both sides have already said the same thing multiple times, and they just become frustrated at each other "How can you resist the amazing logic and beauty of my arguments! Only a cretin and scum could fail to be convinced!" My suggestion is to just say your point and get out. You should expect to not have the last word when you are getting ratioed, so just embrace that reality up front.

  6. Leave when you are done - Sometimes even with all these strategies you might reach the end of your patience. You just don't want to talk about it anymore. Try and be introspective and recognize when you have reached this point. Once it happens, thank your best disagreer for the good discussion, say you are done with this topic and leave the discussion. Do not feel obligated to respond to additional comments. Your further participation is only likely to get you in trouble. You will likely get more and more frustrated until you lash out.


I also have advice for when you see someone getting ratioed and you want to join in on the dogpile. But that advice is more of a charitable nature, like it would be helpful to the community as a whole, but probably not as much to you personally. If people are interested I'll add it.

13

This weekly roundup thread is intended for all culture war posts. 'Culture war' is vaguely defined, but it basically means controversial issues that fall along set tribal lines. Arguments over culture war issues generate a lot of heat and little light, and few deeply entrenched people ever change their minds. This thread is for voicing opinions and analyzing the state of the discussion while trying to optimize for light over heat.

Optimistically, we think that engaging with people you disagree with is worth your time, and so is being nice! Pessimistically, there are many dynamics that can lead discussions on Culture War topics to become unproductive. There's a human tendency to divide along tribal lines, praising your ingroup and vilifying your outgroup - and if you think you find it easy to criticize your ingroup, then it may be that your outgroup is not who you think it is. Extremists with opposing positions can feed off each other, highlighting each other's worst points to justify their own angry rhetoric, which becomes in turn a new example of bad behavior for the other side to highlight.

We would like to avoid these negative dynamics. Accordingly, we ask that you do not use this thread for waging the Culture War. Examples of waging the Culture War:

  • Shaming.

  • Attempting to 'build consensus' or enforce ideological conformity.

  • Making sweeping generalizations to vilify a group you dislike.

  • Recruiting for a cause.

  • Posting links that could be summarized as 'Boo outgroup!' Basically, if your content is 'Can you believe what Those People did this week?' then you should either refrain from posting, or do some very patient work to contextualize and/or steel-man the relevant viewpoint.

In general, you should argue to understand, not to win. This thread is not territory to be claimed by one group or another; indeed, the aim is to have many different viewpoints represented here. Thus, we also ask that you follow some guidelines:

  • Speak plainly. Avoid sarcasm and mockery. When disagreeing with someone, state your objections explicitly.

  • Be as precise and charitable as you can. Don't paraphrase unflatteringly.

  • Don't imply that someone said something they did not say, even if you think it follows from what they said.

  • Write like everyone is reading and you want them to be included in the discussion.

On an ad hoc basis, the mods will try to compile a list of the best posts/comments from the previous week, posted in Quality Contribution threads and archived at /r/TheThread. You may nominate a comment for this list by clicking on 'report' at the bottom of the post and typing 'Actually a quality contribution' as the report reason.

2

Do you have a dumb question that you're kind of embarrassed to ask in the main thread? Is there something you're just not sure about?

This is your opportunity to ask questions. No question too simple or too silly.

Culture war topics are accepted, and proposals for a better intro post are appreciated.

4

Be advised; this thread is not for serious in depth discussion of weighty topics (we have a link for that), this thread is not for anything Culture War related. This thread is for Fun. You got jokes? Share 'em. You got silly questions? Ask 'em.

5

The Wednesday Wellness threads are meant to encourage users to ask for and provide advice and motivation to improve their lives. It isn't intended as a 'containment thread' and any content which could go here could instead be posted in its own thread. You could post:

  • Requests for advice and / or encouragement. On basically any topic and for any scale of problem.

  • Updates to let us know how you are doing. This provides valuable feedback on past advice / encouragement and will hopefully make people feel a little more motivated to follow through. If you want to be reminded to post your update, see the post titled 'update reminders', below.

  • Advice. This can be in response to a request for advice or just something that you think could be generally useful for many people here.

  • Encouragement. Probably best directed at specific users, but if you feel like just encouraging people in general I don't think anyone is going to object. I don't think I really need to say this, but just to be clear; encouragement should have a generally positive tone and not shame people (if people feel that shame might be an effective tool for motivating people, please discuss this so we can form a group consensus on how to use it rather than just trying it).