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As the title says. I noticed it while poking at Zorba's profile, and clicked the button thinking it would tell me what it does. All I got was "help message sent". So uh, sorry @ZorbaTHut. But seriously, what does that button do?


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.

Scrolling trough window sort of works with great marking of new comments but is quite absurd.

Also, if new comment is hidden in some "show more comments" branch one will not spot it.


I have never read a book in my life. I might as well be illiterate, and most people around me might as well be too. Most libraries are vacant, and bookstores are gone. But all these people are doing fine - we put anything down on paper, and despite its incoherence it seems fine by standards that have stooped for reasons I do not know. I can turn in something that makes absolutely no sense, and an instructor from a decent school will tell me that he enjoyed it. Or an instructor won’t enjoy it, but since most people don’t write anything comprehensible anymore I’ll still be fine. I can cruise through my education and get a job while barely having read much at all. Everyone frequents some variant of flimsy entertainment - cable news, cartoons, social media - so why bother trying to read anything worthwhile anyways if nobody else is? Does reading actually make you more curious, more intelligent, more human?


So there's a delusional take you see on twitter Etc. All the time. From both sides of almost any issue but especially anything related to Russia, elections, Etc. You see people who respond to normal criticism or an abundance of criticism (usually relatively earned by how bad their takes are) accusing their detractors or those who disagree of being bots or astroturfed Putin or Clinton agents... The implied premise being that only lumps of code or Chinese sweatshop workers employed by bad faith actors could hold views that disagree with the complainer. That only bots or paid shills could oppose Ukraine, or support Clinton over Bernie, or Biden over Trump... Etc.

I used to dismiss these complaints... but now I feel I might owe a general apology.


I've noticed since TheMotte moved to its new Site that the Quality of a lot of Comments are just off. Not that the takes are bad or low quality or have odd opinions But that they're Bizarrely and Unnervingly detached from even the barest context of the discussion itself. Stuff completely out of character for even a bad rulebreaking poster on the motte.

Short comments that don't engage with any arguments presented, or even engage with the context of the discussion... but that Immediately tangent off on some culture war point utterly unrelated to the discussion, and then not engaging wit any replies (often with a single external link)... I've seen weird shit on twitter so I've dug into a few of these accounts... and all of their comments are like this, short snipes that never engage even 1 or 2 comments deep with anyone who replies. but that are slowly wracking up a history on the platform...

And then today I was hit by a smoking gun, this Comment:

“The Ukraine conflict is one of the clearest examples of good vs. evil in the past century"

You said it! Look at how despicable these people are!

Video: Ukraine Soldiers Sing Praises Of WW II Era Nazi:

And now NPR is just casually rehabilitating the Nazis:

Now the links are to real pieces of media, The Jimmy Dore Show and NPR... both respectable enough... and there'd be little to suggest this was a bot trying to manipulate the discussion... except for one thing:

No one had said the quote he was replying too...

Indeed I know where he got the quote. It was from a discussion/long take weeks before in relation to Ukraine, and would not even have fit the discussion in that piece, since it was a meta-discussion about how figures discuss Ukraine relative to other wars. I'd quoted it back then as an example of something we'd think was delusional and completely detached from intellectual rigor if said about Iraq 1991 or WW1...

Indeed another comment making the opposite argument used the same quote and drew other quotes from the same two week old discussion... except arguing the opposite way (pro-Ukraine)... And likewise replied not at all to having it pointed out that nothing they quoted was at all mentioned in the actual thread or discussion that was being had.


This obviously killed the discussion in that thread... when half the thread becomes comments quoting things, points and arugments, that were never said, and the other half must become replies saying in effect WTF!?

Well you can't have a discussion any more. Any organic back and forth between actual mottizens was killed. And obviously none of these either schizos or bots responded to keep discussion going.

Now if this becomes the norm it will kill the space...


But its also really unnerved me with regards to the rest of the internet.

The "Dead Internet Theory" doesn't feel like a theory anymore. The Motte is an obscure space with discussion levels high enough you notice if an actor isn't actually thinking or engaging with what's been said... and 2 out of 15 comments in that thread were Fairly undeniably bots....

On a site that's only been up a few months.

What the hell must it be like on other forums? Newspaper comments? YouTube comments?

Hell 4Chan had to implement Capchas for every comment to avoid the problem.

So it turns out that the triple-parenthesis thing can get you banned from reddit even for benign nonsense. Some context: in some open source AI image models, you can use parentheses to emphasize terms that you want the model to pay more attention to. In this case, the author wrote "(((detailed face)))" and some other terms in their image prompt.


I liked to post in the Friday fun threads what video games I've been playing recently. Sometimes I recommend the games, and sometimes I ask for recommendations.

I've always enjoyed talking about video games. But themotte has made me picky over the years. Its not just talk that I want. It is thinking, understanding, and discussion of video games that interest me. Video games are mostly a mental activity for me, and so diving into a mental discussion about them often enhances my enjoyment.

I didn't post in the Friday fun thread about what I've been playing, so I'll post now. And I'd like to know what others are playing.

The post I would have written:

This week I've been hooked on factorio (again). I've done many playthroughs of this game. A few vanilla playthroughs (some multiplayer and some not). A krastorio 1 mod playthrough. A few different attempts at the bob's, angels, and seablock mods (never could get into them, too much work, and not enough reward). A krastorio II and space exploration playthrough.

This week though I have been playing with just the space exploration mod. There has been some hints in blogposts that factorio might have an expansion, and that the expansion might be related to the space exploration mod. I thought I'd try and wait for that expansion. But my patience has failed me.

Playing space exploration without the krastorio II mod has been surprisingly way more different than I would have expected. The major difference in my mind is that krastorio II makes the starting world gameplay last too long, and gives too many advantages. I never thought this would be a real problem, but I've never managed to truly beat a space exploration game before. And I realized part of the problem is that krastorio II ties you to the homeworld too strongly. While space exploration on its own forces you off planet just for the sake of some quality of life improvements. For example, you have to go to space in order to get the logistics network chests. The tech is not unlockable based on ground items alone. I don't remember if krastorio II mod combination forced me to go to space, but I do remember that the belt inserters made so many logists aspects so much simpler that the need for drone based logistics didn't seem as pressing. There were also special ground based fabricator buildings for Krastorio II that were larger and much faster (matching the space based ones). But with just the space exploration mod I'm realizing there is an intentional difference. Either you can choose land based production to get productivity bonuses. (and usually the first steps in refinement for special resources). Or you can choose space based production for speed bonuses.

Good morning.

We are always talking about how the news cycle has grabbed the attention of the people and is constantly making us focus on things that do not matter or have little relevance to our actual lived lives, forcing us to be forever locked within the overton window while whoever is in power does whatever they want. So far all of us have missed the next step that comes after that realization, which is, what are those important things that the news is not mentioning that is relevant to our lives? Today, we shall look at a few such examples:

  1. The politization of science - remember when there used to be scientific controversies, some of which would get into the public sphere where there would be intense discussions about the same until the issue was finally resolved. Me neither. However, in the past at least within the academy itself, the scientists used to seemingly have more freedom in regards to the subset of topics they could get behind. It was a period of the science determining the truth rather than the social truth determining the results of science. Today, we find ourselves in upside down world, where the moment the science finds anything controversial in its results, or anything that does not match current social norms, it is shut down or completely forgotten. This isn't a new phenomenon, simply one that continues to grow in strength, until science no longer exists separate from politics. Nobody is any longer allowed to question a medical procedure, or doubt a doctor, or ask any questions about data relating to ethnicity. All of it goes under the rug whenever something wrong happens. Cultural blackpills are no longer permitted even within hard science departments.

  2. Memes and Propaganda acceleration - A meme can be pushed onto the public and spread to millions of people within hours. Today the most expensive department of a company is the advertising section. Millions of bots exist on every single social media site, and if you are starting up as a social media personality, it is recommended that you learn to build bots for your channel to spread further. Today people are being directed towards more ideas and narratives to control their beliefs than ever before. In the past centuries the Church or the state controlled the minds of the people and told them what was right or wrong, today it is whatever echo chamber they end up falling into, resulting in people who do not even share common values with the neighbor right next door. Today you have a strong opinion of things that you have not experienced yourself a single time in life nor have any risk of ever experiencing or any reason to care about. What's worse you are being told that is actually a good thing. You are caring about everybody else's problems before your own, isn't that great!

  3. The death of integrity - Everybody is out to win. Everybody is out to be the right person the moment they are interacting with anyone outside. Why shouldn't they be, this is what the system that caters to their every idea has taught them. This is what their echo chambers have taught them. You are right, they are wrong. If they are able to prove you wrong, they are assholes who did it the wrong way, and anyways you have a right to your opinion. The only time people need to interact with anybody else now is when they have an agenda, so now people only ever interact with anybody else when they have an agenda. There is no you they are talking to, you are just another notebook or audiobook for them to store their opinion and hope to have it repeated somewhere else. Nobody cares about standards anymore, there is no right or wrong, only the desired end goal to be reached and then if anything breaks apart along the way then "look at what you made me do!".

  4. Reality disconnect - Should you worry about not having any savings? Well nobody else around me is worried lmao. Should you care about higher education. Why, it doesn't even pay any real money. Should you try to hold a real job. No, the people are too mean and they hold the wrong opinions.

  5. Illegal actions of the state- All states commit atrocities or immoral acts. We always find out a century later with the present always promising that we are totally clean now guys. Any time there is a controversy in the world, the news cycle drowns it in all the noise, telling you what you should be caring about instead, until you no longer have any clue what was seriously wrong in the first place. Most people don't even know where the newest war broke out or when their own state wrongfully broke a contract or hurt people for questionable reasons. These are things that the state will do everything in its power to memory hole.

  6. Existential threats - Climate change will likely kill far more people than what the news lets on. The energy crisis turned out to be far worse than the news ever let on. The population collapse will almost certainly be far worse than the news lets on as the news keeps assuming an increase in fertility in between for no reason whatsoever. The news does not completely hide these things, because the common man is obviously not completely blind, but they will do all they can to hide the exact details, to hide any real insurmountable risk for the people, and when the blow hits, everyone will act surprised as to where it came from. Remember, in the case of climate change at least, there were reports about it since the start of the 20th century if not earlier. We simply have no capacity to get our heads around existential risks, and the news has no interest in reporting on real existential risk as people giving up or realizing they are completely fucked is not good for business.

You see the problem?

You aren't supposed to be determining the course of your life based on what the neighbor or friend a country away thinks. Your education is still going to give you a better job than no education. Holding a job has never been about being surrounded by people who love you. That's why you work 8 hours so you can do what you want with the other waking 8 and actually enjoy yourself with the money you make once you are away from work! People have become completely disconnected from how the societal system works at even the most basic level.

People now have zero conception of how the social contract works or why it was kept the way it was. Thinking the entirety of the social contract was about controlling people by the richest men and women. That was certainly a part of it but not 100%!! There was a whole bit in there about being able to live functional lives!

Conclusion - In a manner of speaking, outside of the overton window we are certainly in one of the decaying society phases where the people have lost complete connection with why we were living the lives we were in the first place and the understanding that the world runs on the basis of material input which is limited in supply. People have zero concept of the social contract and forgot one of the bigger chapters in the social contract was about how to utilize our resources and get the most out of the average individual in exchange for providing them the maximum resources possible without breaking or stagnating the system.

The overton window simply exists to keep whoever has free time on their hands still focused on issues that do not actually matter 9 times out of 10 so that they are never able to beat the system.

Nor will you ever be able to doubt the system. The system is perfect, and when its not perfect its your neighbors fault for choosing the wrong option. The state is the final answer. Always has been. Always will be.

Leave the overton window and realize the only winning condition is what you do at the individual level for 90% of the human population and then to do things for your community or your city once you reach the remaining 10%.

(I was going to wait till Wellness Wednesday to post this as a comment, but the thread's blurb says it's not meant to be a containment and that advice requests can be posted as threads so here we are)

In dating, if you're ghosted, do you a) always move on stoically, b) always give it one more shot, or c) go with a mix of the two depending on circumstances?

After first or second dates, if I text a woman to set up another date and she doesn't reply, I just leave it alone. I sometimes wonder if there is an infinitesimal probability that maybe somehow my text got lost in the pipes, but if she wanted to see me again, she could always text me even if she thought I never contacted her. Sometimes the ghosting can be perplexing, like she'd already messaged me first after the date saying how she had a great time, and then after I respond asking to meet again, I don't hear back. But that's just dating or life in general--many or most people are flaky and undependable. It reminds me of how when I was procuring enterprise software for work that many sales reps don't even reply to requests for a quote. Speaking of sales, I remember reading a negotiation book whereby if you're the one selling, an effective trick to jumpstart wavering/cold leads is to ask them "have you given up on this project". Manipulative, sure, but all is fair in sales, love, and war.

But I occasionally see/hear stories of how some guy was super persistent despite being turned down and would eventually go on to win over the girl. I'm not talking about Hallmark movies from 20 years ago, but wedding announcements in the New York Times from like two weeks ago. But if we do talk about Hallmark, women sure seem to love romance stories featuring love interests who almost always turn down the protagonist the first time around. Reddit loves upvoting stories of how a couple ended up married despite the girl initially swiping left because of some silly reason like she didn't like his hat, but then they somehow met and fell in love. Part of this is probably because Reddit is disproportionately young and single and so wants to believe in second chances, but part of it is we celebrate persistence culturally: in work interviews, a candidate whom the hiring manager is mostly indifferent to but goes above and beyond to change their mind probably gets the job. I've met girls who tell me that guys who don't pursue them more energetically despite not receiving encouraging signals show that they aren't serious, and so disqualify themselves. And a recent ex actually turned me down when I asked her out, but then we hung out as friends a couple of times and she ended up saying yes when I asked a second time.

Now, to be clear, for most of these non-follow-ups I've been subject to, I didn't really think any of them was "the one", or else I likely would have given it another shot. Still, I enjoyed their company and it would have been fun to go out again. And I'd certainly prefer to be the one who decides to "let her go" rather than having her make the decision for me.

So sometimes I look back and wonder if I should have followed up one more time. Maybe go with something simple like "Hey--I really enjoyed meeting you and would love to see you again, but understand if you don't feel the same spark. I wish you the best!". It sounds cheesy and a bit needy, but costs nothing, barring maybe making the girl feel a bit uncomfortable for not taking a super obvious hint. Different women also have different preferences, whereby some will surely respond to "follow ups" more positively than others. And I'm not convinced that ghosting is some kind of self-unselecting filter for women who lack maturity, since there are enough men who take rejections very poorly that it does seem safer to just not reply as a rule of thumb.

So what do you do? Do you have a system for deciding if and when to follow up after not hearing back?

Be advised; this thread is not for serious in depth discussion of weighty topics, 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.


Recently it was widely reported that the – to use its lengthy official name - Monument to the Liberators of Soviet Latvia and Riga from the German Fascist Invaders was destroyed by local authorities in the Latvian capital. This is certainly not without precedent, as numerous Red Army monuments have been removed in the Baltic states and also in Poland, Czechia and other nations formerly in the Warsaw Pact, many of these decisions being clearly driven by events in the Ukraine since 2004. I think we on this forum are mostly aware of the talking points used to justify their removal so I won’t bother to repeat those here. Instead I’d make the simple assumption in this particular case that those Latvians who support this decision are clearly unhappy with the direction their national history took in the past, and ask the question what sort of past they’d have preferred to have. I suppose this is a relevant Culture War question in Eastern Europe.

Let’s suppose, for the sake of argument, that Operation Barbarossa begins as it did, and then history develops differently. From then on, I think Latvia had the following options:

A – Germany wins decisive victory in the East and incorporates Latvia directly into the Reich; it only remains as an administrative area, if that; presumably, local Jews and Russians are either deported/killed or used as slave labor, and German settlers move in

B – same as A, but Latvia is allowed to retain limited autonomy as a vassal state / protectorate

C – the war in the East concludes with a separate negotiated peace in 1941 or 1942, and Latvia remains an independent nation as part of some demilitarized neutral zone between Germany and the USSR

D – same as C, but Latvia remains under German influence and its autonomy remains limited in the practical sense, maybe the Germans even retain military bases in Latvian territory

E – the war concludes with decisive Allied victory, but Stalin recognizes the independence of the Baltic states and withdraws his troops from there; still, Soviet influence remains palpable

F – same as E, but the USSR incorporates Latvia into a new military and economic system of cooperation under Soviet hegemony, and maintains military bases on Latvian soil; also, the Soviets have enough influence, soft power and political mechanisms to ensure that Latvia cannot leave this sphere of influence

G – everything happens as it actually did, but the Baltic states get nominal independence after 1945 instead of getting turned back into Soviet republics. Basically, the Warsaw Pact and COMECON have 3 more members.

I assume hardliner Latvian nationalists would prefer B (even for them, A is too extreme), and more moderate nationalists would prefer C or D. For obvious reasons however, even in the current climate of general anti-Russian/Soviet sentiment, I very much doubt they’d be willing to say this out loud. After all, A, B, C and D all mean that Nazi Germany remains undefeated, and Latvian Jews get genocided and pogromed. For the same reason, I believe these 4 options are unacceptable for the Russian and Jewish minorities in Latvia. After all, even C entails the strong possibility that they get oppressed and ethnically cleansed.

Also, I cannot help but notice that the same very obviously applies to Ukrainian nationalists in general, no matter how much leeway they currently get in Western media.

I’ll make the guess that E is the most ideal option in the eyes of Latvian centrists/normies at first sight; however, it still means that, realistically speaking, Latvia never gets to join either NATO or the EU. It’s the same as Finland’s fate but worse, as the border region between Russia and Finland at least consists of dense forests and numerous lakes, practically impassable ground for Russians if they invade (again). Also, I think it’s clear that the Soviets would agree to something (in their eyes) so unrealistic only if the US agrees to the same in Western Europe. In short, this means that even if NATO is formed, it remains limited in its geographical scope i.e. West Germany never gets incorporated into it, in other words, either the two German states remain neutral or the German state never gets divided and remains neutral.

G is very obviously unacceptable for most Latvians, as the difference from what actually happened is negligible.

F is, I think, also something most of them would only begrudgingly accept. However, the issue with this is that it’s basically merely the local version of NATO, but overseen by Russians. If our position today is that this would be unacceptable and violates our political norms, we’d also have to say that it was not acceptable for the Americans to maintain hegemony over Western European states and station their military units and nuclear weapons on their soil. (I’ll make an expectation for West Germany, as it was a defeated enemy and no peace treaty was signed.) Alternatively, one can make an argument that “but it’s different when the Americans do it, the Russians have always been Mongoloid Ugric-Turkic savages”, but I don’t know how many normies would be willing to say this unironically.

Also, both F and G entail the very real likelihood that the Soviets still get to erect a huge monument in Riga. Even in the case of E it’s relatively likely.

So where does that leave us?


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.



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.


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).


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).

Be advised; this thread is not for serious in depth discussion of weighty topics, 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.


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.

This dropped a few days ago: the head of ASIS (Australia's version of MI6 and the CIA) gave an interview. It's 26 minutes with no speedup option, so while most of it's pretty interesting I'll give some timestamps for things that are relevant to the broader geopolitical situation and thus might be the most interesting for non-Australians (as opposed to "how does ASIS work" and "reflection on specific past incidents"): 5:00-7:00, 9:17-11:17, 21:59-25:29 and to some extent 16:25-18:19.

Thought this might be of interest to you guys; also interested in what others think he meant with the various vague allusions, since I have my own ideas but I could be projecting my prejudices.


  • PredictIt vs Kalshi vs CFTC saga continues

  • Future Fund announces $1M+ prize for arguments which shift their probabilities about AI timelines and dangers

  • Dan Luu looks at the track record of futurists


I'd prefer comments or questions here on account of site being pretty young. Long live The Motte!


Mottizens sometimes use terms with obscure origins that can be confusing to newcomers. This is an attempt to provide a brief explanation of what these terms mean and where they came from to help anyone new to the community.

50 Stalins: A style of commentary which pretends to criticize something while actually praising it, e.g. “critiquing” Stalinist Russia by suggesting that it is not Stalinist enough and it should have even more Stalins. The term was coined by Scott Alexander in Reactionary Philosophy in an Enormous, Planet-sized Nutshell (2013).

Chinese Robber Fallacy: A dishonest argument that uses a generic problem to attack a specific person or group, even when the other groups have the problem just as much, e.g. complaining about the problem of Chinese robbers without providing evidence that Chinese people are more likely to be robbers than other groups. It was first described by blogger Alyssa Vance in 2015.

CultureWarRoundup / CWR: A splinter community of the Motte that lives at the subreddit /r/CultureWarRoundup, founded primarily by users who felt that the Motte's moderation policies were too strict. It has very little moderation.

Effective Altruism / EA : A philosophical and social movement that aims to use evidence and reason to do the most good possible. It has a lot of overlap with the rationalist community and LessWrong and experienced much of its early growth on LessWrong.

Human Biodiversity / HBD: A viewpoint that holds that there are socially relevant differences between groups of people that are genetic in origin. Most controversially, HBD advocates generally maintain that the observed differences between the average intelligence of people of different races originate in genetics.

Ideological Turing Test / ITT: An exercise where you try to pretend to hold an opposing ideology convincingly enough that outside observers can't reliably distinguish you from a true believer. It was first described by economist Bryan Caplan in 2011.

LessWrong: A discussion forum founded by AI theorist Eliezer Yudkowsky in 2009. The forum focuses on cognitive biases, rationality, artificial intelligence, and other topics. It is the primary nexus for the so-called “rationalist community.” LessWrong could be considered an ancestor forum to the Motte, since Scott Alexander blogged there before founding Slate Star Codex and this community originated in the subreddit for Slate Star Codex.

Lizardman's Constant: The share of the population (around 4%) who gives absurd responses in opinion polls (such as saying that lizardmen run the world); perhaps a combination of trolls, people who don't understand the question, people who just want to agree with the pollster, and people who are completely apathetic to the poll. It was coined by Scott Alexander in Lizardman's Constant is 4% (2013).

Motte and Bailey fallacy: A dishonest form of argument where one conflates two positions, one easy to defend but with limited implications (the motte) and another hard to defend but with far-reaching implications (the bailey). The fallacy was named after a kind of castle. It was coined by the philosopher Nicholas Shakel in 2005 and popularized by Scott Alexander via Social Justice and Words, Words, Words (2014) and All in All, Another Brick in the Motte (2014). The motte-and-bailey fallacy is the namesake of the Motte; in this community, we would like people to only hold positions that they can defend.

Neoreaction / NRx: A right-wing political philosophy whose signature viewpoint is that monarchy is a better form of government than democracy. Its most famous advocate is the blogger Curtis Yarvin, aka Mencius Moldbug. The neoreactionary movement first grew on LessWrong, although they were always a very small faction there.

Prior: A term from Bayesian Statistics that essentially means one's belief about something before they take new evidence into account. To say that one's prior is X is essentially to say that one's belief is X. To say that one has "adjusted their priors" is essentially to say that one has changed one's mind to some degree about the topic at hand based on the evidence presented; in theory this is done by applying Bayes' theorem.

Quokka: A kind of Australian macropod. They have no natural predators and are therefore not particularly fearful. Some people, beginning with a 2020 Twitter thread by “Zero HP Lovecraft”, who believe rationalists are too trusting or naive compare rationalists to Quokkas.

Rationalist: An online community of people originally formed around the blog Overcoming Bias, founded in 2006 by economist Robin Hanson and AI theorist Eliezer Yudkowsky; the discussion forum LessWrong, founded in 2009 by Yudkowsky; and the blog Slate Star Codex, founded in 2013 by Scott Alexander. The rationalist community is generally focused on cognitive bias and reason. Because the Motte originated in the subreddit for Slate Star Codex, it could be considered part of a rationalist “diaspora.”

rDrama: A humorous forum about Internet drama. Originally the subreddit /r/drama, the community now lives at The Motte forked the code they use to run their site when we moved from Reddit to this website in 2022 because it was a proven example of a Reddit community successfully moving offsite and had many of the features we wanted.

Red Tribe / Blue Tribe / Gray Tribe: Terms used to describe different cultural groups in America. The terms were coined by Scott Alexander in I Can Tolerate Anything Except the Outgroup (2014). They are sometimes used interchangeably with the concepts of Republicans (Red Tribe) and Democrats (Blue Tribe), but in their original conception, Red Tribe (or Blue Tribe) meant something more precisely stated as “the sorts of people likely to be Republicans (or Democrats), regardless of their actual political views.” For example, a vegan Harvard graduate who lives in Manhattan and loves musical theater is part of the Blue Tribe even if he is actually politically conservative. The Gray Tribe is a sub-tribe of the Blue Tribe characterized by things like working in STEM fields and often having libertarian-ish politics.

Scissor Statement: A highly controversial statement that reliably provokes arguments. Coined by Scott Alexander in Sort By Controversial (2018), a work of fiction in which scissor statements are generated by a machine learning system trained on Reddit comments.

Slate Star Codex / SSC / Astral Codex Ten / Scott Alexander: Scott Alexander is a psychiatrist who lives in the Bay

Area. He blogged from 2013-2020 at Slate Star Codex and since 2021 at Astral Codex Ten. The Motte was created as a subreddit in 2019 as the home for a weekly "culture war roundup" thread that was hosted on the subreddit for SSC until then. The culture war roundup threads were removed from /r/slatestarcodex at Scott Alexander’s request. Scott Alexander’s writings are a major influence on the norms of this community. His blog and the community around it are generally considered part of the rationalist community. Scott Alexander was a popular writer at LessWrong before founding SSC and the community around SSC has a lot of overlap with LessWrong.

SneerClub: A community of people critical of the rationalist community, including the Motte, that lives at the subreddit /r/SneerClub.

Steelman: The strongest possible form of an opposing argument; the opposite of a strawman.

TheSchism: A splinter community of the Motte founded in 2020 that lives at the subreddit /r/TheSchism.

Weakman: A weak argument that someone has actually made (so it’s not a strawman). A poor form of argument is to choose the weakest argument that someone has actually made in favor of a position and argue against that while ignoring stronger arguments for that position.


The move from Reddit to a dedicated forum is a huge opportunity to mix things up. We should take advantage. Never let a crisis go to waste, etc.

One thing I would suggest (if technical limitations allow) would be the addition of a two-tiered voting system, somewhat like what LessWrong has implemented, where users can vote both on the quality of a post, and separately on whether or not they agree with it. I think this could have really positive effects for the kind of community and discussion the Motte was created to promote. The Motte's raison d'etre is to promote discussion and debate with people you disagree with. Separating voting on quality from voting on agreement would promote that goal in a couple different ways. Fundamentally, there is a tension between upvoting a post you think is well-done, and downvoting that same post because you disagree with its content. I think the Motte wants to be a place that encourages outsider or minority views, and separating the "quality" vote from the "agreement" vote would help promote this. From what I have noticed in this community, despite our commitments to encouraging debate and discussion with people you disagree with, posts coming from a more liberal/left-wing/social justice/woke viewpoint tend to get downvoted, even when their quality is equivalent or superior to other posts.

I'll also quote from the reasons given on the above LessWrong post about this feature, because I think the reasons given are good ones.:

I personally feel much more comfortable upvoting good comments that I disagree with or whose truth value I am highly uncertain about, because I don’t feel that my vote will be mistaken as setting the social reality of what is true.

I also feel very comfortable strong-agreeing with things while not up/downvoting on them, so as to indicate which side of an argument seems true to me without my voting being read as “this person gets to keep accruing more and more social status for just repeating a common position at length”.

Similarly to the first bullet, I think that many writers have interesting and valuable ideas but whose truth-value I am quite unsure about or even disagree with. This split allows voters to repeatedly signal that a given writer's comments are of high value, without building a false-consensus that LessWrong has high confidence that the ideas are true. (For example, many people have incompatible but valuable ideas about how AGI development will go, and I want authors to get lots of karma and visibility for excellent contributions without this ambiguity.)

There are many comments I think are bad but am averse to downvoting, because I feel that it is ambiguous whether the person is being downvoted because everyone thinks their take is unfashionable or whether it's because the person is wasting the commons with their behavior (e.g. belittling, starting bravery debates, not doing basic reading comprehension, etc). With this split I feel more comfortable downvoting bad comments without worrying that everyone else who states the position will worry if they'll also be downvoted.

I have seen some comments that previously would have been "downvoted to hell" are now on positive karma, and are instead "disagreed to hell". I won't point them out to avoid focusing on individuals, but this seems like an obvious improvement in communication ability.

Would this be a doable change? And would it be a good one? I am strongly in favor, but open to reasons why I'm wrong.