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Culture War Roundup for the week of September 25, 2023

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Was this a thought experiment in how lack of a BLR leads to padded effortposts? Probably. Each paragraph eschews detail or sources in favor of sweeping pronouncements of importance. It doesn't feel like GPT to me but i dunno, could be wrong. I'd actually love to read a post about random historical relationships new texts could shine new light on, but each sentence should be specific and relevant new information, not this.

edit: post author was 'dmz', seems to have deleted both of their posts.

Deleted by author new

Oh come on. This used to never happen and now it's multiple times per week.

Yeah, at this point seems like it might be trolls weaponizing the future. I'm all for authors deleting their posts, but maybe at least make them keep it up for a couple days or a week if it's a top level comment.

Agreed. Needs to be stopped.

The edited down comment that remains:

Your community is semi-literate. Please ban this account so I'm not tempted to slum with retards.

User dmz has been banned at their own request.

Do you have a copy of their post available?

No, I think the summary someone else posted was pretty good though.

Same response as my comment above (yeah, padded effortpost spam is bad, maybe llm).

Taking the bait and responding to ... what I can gather from the actual content. Your two-pronged approach to spam is 1) detect it and delete it with algorithms and 2) go back to more decentralized platforms. 1 works, but existing platforms already do it and it's an arms race. 2 is dumb because you need centralized teams of competent people making antispam algorithms. Users shouldn't have to make their own bespoke spam filters, or determine the right filters to use in a decentralized way, terrible UX, this doesn't solve any problems that centralized systems don't already solve.

Just some feedback as there are no replies here. There is a distinction between a wall of text and an effortpost, but it can be subtle. OP reads more like the latter, to its credit. But while I was nodding my head according to the first 5 paragraphs or so, I had an intense desire to "get to the point". While I understand the value of dripping out information and keeping the reader hooked and engaged, I found myself skipping ahead to try to find the thesis, or novel point being made.

I have a concrete suggestion: if it takes more than 5 paragraphs to "get to the point", then you're better off summarizing and defending, rather than buttressing and presenting.

To be clear, I guess I am delineating two different rhetoric styles: buttress and present, where by the time the point is presented, it's basically a foregone conclusion; and summarize and defend, whereby the point is not hidden til the last minute but is instead presented early, allowing the reader to grapple with it, and then defended later by the author.

Both styles have their places.

I think what @dmz is saying is that we could and should use algorithmic tool to filter out signal from noise in internet content. Perhaps they are trying to demonstrate the problem. This is definitely a good point. The issue I believe is how to monetize these internet elites. They are currently enjoying a public internet that is mostly subsidized by users that are not tech-literate enough to block ads, avoid subscriptions, etc.

Interestingly this is what Twitter was pre-Musk, for blue checkmarks. Journalists and other members of the LGBTQMAP+ community enjoyed the privilege to only read content produced by their tribe on the entire website. Until Musk made the checkmark something that anybody could simply rent for $8 a month, then they all got to enjoy @Poopypopo1488 thoughtful insights.

However it seems that the original nerds that founded the internet, open-source backbone, with its free-thinking, un-credentialed, irreverent soul... They've completely bowed down to the actual elites.

On one side mingling with the corporate types to provide tech solutions to more efficiently bomb humble goat-herders or spy on their nerd brethren, on the other side bowing to the academia yahoos hard at work to redefine human nature.

Once in a while one of them tries to challenge the powers-that-be, only to be reminded who the real boss is.

In a post 9/11, post-wikileak, post-covid world, do we really want a fraction of the people with a modicum of power to have a convenient way to propagate truth?

Journalists and other members of the LGBTQMAP+ community

If you want to associate your outgroup with pedos ("MAP") you need to actually be making an argument to justify it, not just dropping low-effort boo-light memes. Don't do this.

It seems to me that any multimodal ragebait-detector would need to use powerful LLMs, it would need to be a centralized corporate or government operation. I like ublock origin as much as the next man but this is on a whole other level.

Adblock can detect things that are pumping in changing content, perhaps in accordance with cookies or some other tracking methods. But (I think) there's no adblock in the world that could get past slatestarcodex's jpegs on the side of the page, which are fixed and just there like another part of the content. That's what an anti-ragebait system would need to do, actually interpreting and sifting through the main content of websites.

But (I think) there's no adblock in the world that could get past slatestarcodex's jpegs on the side of the page, which are fixed and just there like another part of the content.

I adblocked them by blocking specific jpg file (they were not dynamic).

And yes, vast majority of adblock rules are curated manually.

Multimodal ragebait-detector would need to be smarter.

Your reply makes me really want to know what OP said.

But (I think) there's no adblock in the world that could get past slatestarcodex's jpegs on the side of the page, which are fixed and just there like another part of the content.

With multimodal LLMs it should be possible to detect advertisements based on their content rather than their location on the page, even in cases where the advertisement is an image.

I'm thinking of a system along the lines of the one described here, but for blocking ads rather than distractions.

Of course, one issue with thesystem I'm envisioning is that, to quote the linked page, "this might be a problem for pages with sensitive content."

It was a pretty long drawl of text that really meandered and had the trappings of an effortpost, but had immense padding and tonelessness.

Forgot what was supposedly being said within moments of reading it, unfortunately. You'll need to take my word for it that what RandomRanger wrote was immensely more interesting to read than what dmz posted.

Today's scheduled drama revolves around the last-minute efforts to pass a continuing resolution funding the government for 45-days, with Congress coming in on a weekend. There's a lot of complex politics going on, between a right-wing faction that seems as interested in drama as day to day governance, Democratic interests in more expansionist efforts, the matters of Ukraine, and some politicians not being present due to COVID or death. With a bill getting through the House on widely-bipartisan efforts (with 90 Republicans and only 1 Democratic Representative voting no), some Republicans are pondering whether this will be seen as an admission of weakness. The current one's a fairly far cry from the much more significant cuts that previously faced both Democratic . That's fairly standard politics, though.

Instead, we have something hilarious:

"'Congressman Bowman did not realize he would trigger a building alarm as he was rushing to make an urgent vote, the congressman regrets any confusion,' just to clarify some things on that."

(Bowman later voted for the bill.)

There's obvious comparisons to Other High-Profile Incidents though they're pretty inapt; as funny as Bowman photoshopped into the Lectern Thief's or Qanon Shaman's faces is, the lack of trespassing does matter. Between this, Santos pretending he's a whole lot more interesting than he was, The Squad playing with edgy racism, and Boebert giving an inexpert handjob during the showing of Beetlejuice, all we need now is a pregnancy and a Congressman buying shitty alcohol with a fake id to complete the whole high school bad decisions spread. To really complete the farce and the metaphor, Bowman's background includes some time spent as work at a school that would suspend or expel people for this. Bowman's claim to have confused an alarm system and a door release is not especially likely, but it's enough of a fig leaf that I'll be surprised if the House GOP's resolution to expel him goes anywhere, let alone the potential charges for falsely pulling a fire alarm in DC. Bowman's district is 84% Democratic, so it'd not mean anything even if he were to voluntarily resign, and it's not like he's Menendez.

Maybe he'll end up with a token fine? I'd be surprised.

Which doesn't matter, but eventually you run into the "that's how escalation works" bit.

Boebert giving an inexpert handjob during the showing of Beetlejuice

Are you trying to spin touching the crotch of a man's pants as a handjob? Or do you have a source that shows something else?

I'd... more consider touching the crotch of a man's pants as a handjob, even if not going very far toward conclusion, but if you'd prefer I can go with 'giving inexpert grope'? 'Getting caught on the way to first base'?

"Thrown out stealing second?" Isn't first base kissin'?

This isn't made explicit in much of the coverage but Bowman pulled the fire alarm in the nearby Cannon House Office Building and not the Capitol Building. The NYT article says that the Office Building was evacuated as a result but doesn't say whether there was any disturbance in the Capitol Building as a result.

Bowman's claim to have confused an alarm system and a door release is not especially likely,

Happened to me when I was going for a job interview in an unfamiliar place and I was just waved through with "push the button to open the door". Two buttons side-by-side and I wasn't sure which, and pushed the wrong one 😕 (If you're interested, it didn't affect my chances, because "oh everybody gets that wrong").

But if he is pushing that door release every day, then yes, this does sound like an excuse.

Ah, to be clear, it's marked fire alarm.

EDIT: there's some confusion possible because this door isn't always solely an emergency exit. But it's still pretty stupid.

Okay, yeah, that's not like my buttons. I was imagining that if you're used to hitting one, and they're side-by-side and pretty similar, it'd be easy to hit the wrong one, but it does look like "accidentally on purpose" now.

How does “obstructs, influences, or impedes any official proceeding, or attempts to do so” not apply? I see no reference to trespassing.

Though it does say they can be fined, imprisoned for up to 20 years, or both. You’re probably right that they’ll fine him $20 and call it a day. Such an equitable justice system we have.

You've conveniently left out the 1 word that could exonerate Bowman. The relevant text is this:

Whoever corruptly [..] obstructs, influences, or impedes any official proceeding, or attempts to do so [..]

So the law does not apply to Bowman if he can make a convincing case it was an innocent mistake (which is of course exactly what he is now claiming). It makes sense that the law is qualified this way, otherwise a janitor accidentally triggering the fire alarm could go to jail for 20 years.

"Corruptly" also requires something more than an intentional or knowing act. Eg, the Fifth Circuit's pattern jury instructions say that the general rule is that "An act is “corruptly” done if it is done intentionally with an unlawful purpose." Re obstruction of judicial administration, it means "the defendant acted knowingly and dishonestly, with the specific intent to subvert or undermine the due administration of justice."

innocent mistake

I've got a bridge in Brooklyn to sell you.

The claim “I didn’t realize a fire alarm would set off an alarm” is pretty weak.

Of course, I have a strong prior that Bowman is an ass so I’m predisposed to disbelieve him. But…who has ever seen a red box clearly labeled fire alarm and thought “I should pull this to open a door” before even trying to open a door? No, the excuse is so lame that I believe at a “beyond a reasonable doubt” Bowman did it to interfere with Congress. At minimum, he should be expelled because even if his defense is correct then he is too stupid to be a congressmen.

The claim “I didn’t realize a fire alarm would set off an alarm” is pretty weak.

That's not what he said. He said: “I was trying to get to a door. I thought the alarm would open the door, and I pulled the fire alarm to open the door by accident.”

That's also questionable (if you pulled the alarm because you thought that would open the door then you didn't do it by accident) but the point is: he doesn't deny intentionally triggering the fire alarm, but he claims his intent was to open the door, not to prevent the vote. And that seems at least possible. On twitter I saw this image of the location with a sign that reads:

EMERGENCY EXIT ONLY
PUSH UNTIL ALARM SOUNDS (3 seconds)
DOOR WILL UNLOCK IN 30 SECONDS

(But note that in the still of Bowman pulling the alarm that sign seems to be missing! Which maybe explains why he pulled the fire alarm lever on the wall instead of pushing the exit bars as the instructions by the door suggest.)

This does make it sound like you can open the door by setting of the fire alarm (which also makes logical sense), though it's pretty clear you're only supposed to do that in case of an emergency. Maybe Bowman thought that the alarm would be local and he could just shut it off after opening the door, or maybe he knew the building would be evacuated but thought nobody would know he was the one that triggered the alarm. Either way, it doesn't show that he pulled the alarm in order to delay the vote happening at the Capitol.

The evidence against an intentional action is this:

  1. The building that was evacuated was the Canon Hill building across the street, not the Capitol building where the vote occurred. If he wanted to prevent a vote wouldn't it make more sense to pull the alarm in the Capitol building itself?
  2. The bill was passed with near-unanimous Democrat support, including from Bowman. Not to mention that Democrats have absolutely no interest in a government shutdown with a Democratic president in charge. Why would a Democratic congressman want to obstruct the voting on a bill he is in favor of?

This only makes sense in the context the lawmaker tried to open the door and it was locked. Is there any evidence to support that?

Note reports circulated yesterday that the Dems wanted to slow it down a bit to be able to read the CR. So there was motive.

No one should expect criminal charges short of Bowman writing a confession in someone else's blood. It's more just funny to watch how many pundits are willing to admit they can't read, for a defense no one cares about, over a matter that's got never going to cost their side a thing.

The complexity of proving motive in honest cases is difficult (though there's been no shortage of cases where that bar gets set pretty low!), but

And there's a much more straight-forward local charge for pulling a fire alarm outside of an emergency, which he also won't be facing.

The building that was evacuated was the Canon Hill building across the street, not the Capitol building where the vote occurred. If he wanted to prevent a vote wouldn't it make more sense to pull the alarm in the Capitol building itself?

I don't think incompetence is particularly effective as a defense, but separately a number of Representatives were working from that building (including Bowman).

Why would a Democratic congressman want to obstruct the voting on a bill he is in favor of?

At the time Bowman pulled the alarm at 12:05PM, (which we know some House Reps 'panicked' over), House Democratic leadership was asking for more time to review the bill. Which doesn't mean that the alarm would have worked for that purpose, or even that Bowman (correctly or incorrectly) suspected it would, but it's not so clear that there's no possible motive.

On twitter I saw this image

You can also see the fire alarm in that image. It's bright red and says "FIRE".

The building that was evacuated was the Canon Hill building across the street, not the Capitol building where the vote occurred. If he wanted to prevent a vote wouldn't it make more sense to pull the alarm in the Capitol building itself?

This is no doubt evidence that could be brought up, however it would also make logical sense to me that the whole Hill would be evacuated/go into lockdown in the event of an unplanned fire alarm in one of the complex's buildings.

The bill was passed with near-unanimous Democrat support, including from Bowman. Not to mention that Democrats have absolutely no interest in a government shutdown with a Democratic president in charge. Why would a Democratic congressman want to obstruct the voting on a bill he is in favor of?

I read somewhere (I don't remember where), that the motive could have been to buy time to actually read the bill. Which, honestly, is a great motive. I'd be in favor of multiple hours-long fire drills so that they would actually read every stupid 2000-page bill they put up for a vote. However I don't expect Bowman to be pulling the fire alarm next time the Democrats try to quickly ram through a bill.

You can also see the fire alarm in that image. It's bright red and says "FIRE".

The discussion isn't about whether or not he set off the fire alarm (he clearly did) but whether he did it with the intent to prevent/delay the vote on the funding bill happening in the nearby Capitol building. That's not so clear.

Maybe Bowman will eventually admit something along the lines of “I set off the fire alarm because I was in a rush to leave the building” which is pretty bad (and probably against some law or other) but it's an order of magnitude better than “I set off the fire alarm because I wanted to stop congress from voting on a bill”, which makes him guilty of a felony that carries up to 20 years in prison as a penalty.

I read somewhere (I don't remember where), that the motive could have been to buy time to actually read the bill. Which, honestly, is a great motive.

For Bowman this doesn't strike me as a great reason to risk 20 years imprisonment, which honestly makes me think it's more likely the “I was in a hurry to leave the building” excuse is genuine.

  1. Was the door locked? Did he try to open it before he literally pulled a fire alarm?

  2. Why not take the tunnels instead of pulling a fire alarm?

The discussion isn't about whether or not he set off the fire alarm (he clearly did) but whether he did it with the intent

The obviousness of it being a fire alarm speaks to intent, I would think. Unless the defense is "I'm a huge idiot who doesn't know what a fire alarm is". If it was some special gold-plated Capitol Hill fire alarm variant I could believe it was unintentional. But it is a totally standard fire alarm you'd see all over the country.

As to the rest of your post, the real issue here is that only the left receives this much charity from the legal system and the mainstream media.

I'm starting to think you're trolling me, but in the interest of assuming good faith, I'll say for the third and final time: the question isn't whether he had the intent to set off the fire alarm but whether he set off the fire alarm with the intent to stop the vote.

The obviousness of it being a fire alarm speaks to intent

It only speaks to an intent to set off the fire alarm, not an intent to disrupt an official proceeding. The question is: why did he set off the fire alarm? Three options:

  1. He mistook the fire alarm for a door release button.
  2. He thought triggering the fire alarm would allow him to open the door, so he could get to the Capitol building in time for the vote.
  3. He thought triggering the fire alarm would cause an evacuation of the Capitol building which would mean the vote would be postponed.

You can say the obviousness of the fire alarm makes option 1 unlikely (and I mostly agree) but it does not prove option 3 over 2.

As to the rest of your post, the real issue here is that only the left receives this much charity from the legal system and the mainstream media.

Yes, that's a problem, but that doesn't prove the intent of Bowman.

Maybe it makes sense for the Republicans to assume the worst because when it came to the January 6th protesters the Democrats assumed the worst, but here on this forum we are not active participants in the culture war, we're only discussing it. I think the Jan 6 protesters were judged much too harshly, but I'm also willing to entertain the notion that Bowman is just a dumbass who was in a rush (option 2), rather than a man intent on undermining American democracy (option 3).

More comments

poor eyesight? nerves? in extreme hurry? This would make it relatively believable to me.

I’ve been in a hurry before. I don’t think I’ve ever mistook a red fire alarm for a button to unlock a door.

it does apply but for him to be punished it would have to be proven that he intentioned to disrupt it. This is why chat logs and audio recordings are so useful, like in jan 6th, which shows premeditation and intent. the problem with seeking maximum punishment or even jail time is it it can come around later; your opponents can also hold you to this new standard, so it means everyone is made worse off in the long-run just to briefly take a moral high ground. This why he will not be punished severely. He may be compelled to resign. His defense that it was an accident, I am not buying it, and neither is the public. Who makes that sort of mistake.

your opponents can also hold you to this new standard

They already are.

He may be compelled to resign.

I would be surprised by this outcome, but it is a reasonable one. I don't actually think he should be in jail for 20 years. Just like I don't think J6 defendants should be in jail for 20 years.

Just saw news of Dianne Feinstein's death. So does this mean an election to fill her vacant seat? How soon? Likely candidates? Replaced by a more progressive (more woke) or a more liberal (not woke) Democrat? Thoughts and opinions on this?

Here is this post, but I asked chatGPT to simply make it longer.

In the future, it may be a good idea to filter all posts through an LLM so that they fulfill length requirements:

The recent passing of Senator Dianne Feinstein has indeed marked a significant moment in the political history of California, as it not only reflects upon the substantial tenure of a seasoned senator but also kickstarts the gears of electoral machinery to fill the now-vacant seat. This unfolding situation beckons a thorough examination amidst a myriad of discussions among political analysts, potential candidates, and the general electorate in California and beyond. Reflecting upon history provides a lens to understand the forthcoming political scenario. Unforeseen Senate vacancies have often led to midterm or special elections, the instances of Martha McSally's election in 2019 following John McCain's death, and Edward J. Markey's election in 2013 post John Kerry's resignation stand as testimonials to such historical precedence.

Delving into the legal framework, California law mandates the Governor to announce a special election within a fortnight of the vacancy, with the election to be held between 112 and 140 days post-announcement. This relatively brief yet crucial timeline sets the stage for an intense period of campaigning for potential successors and a whirlwind of information dissemination for the voters. The succinct period earmarked for campaigning necessitates potential candidates to hit the ground running, mobilizing support and articulating their policy stance to the electorate. This period also challenges the voters to sift through the information, analyze the policy propositions of the candidates, and make an informed decision on election day.

The political ambiance is already abuzz with speculation regarding potential candidates who might vie for the vacant seat. Names like California Secretary of State, Alex Padilla, and Los Angeles Mayor, Eric Garcetti, have been floated around in political circles, albeit it's still early days. The political ideologies and past performances of these potential candidates could significantly shape the narrative of the election, and subsequently, the ideological leaning of the elected successor. The spectrum of political ideology that these candidates represent could potentially sway the policy trajectory that California embarks upon in the forthcoming years.

A predominant part of the discourse centers around whether Feinstein's successor will embody a more progressive or a traditionally liberal stance. Although sometimes used interchangeably, the terms 'progressive' and 'liberal' encapsulate different political ideologies. Progressives often advocate for more radical reforms, pushing the boundaries of traditional policy frameworks to address systemic issues, while liberals tend to favor a more moderate, incremental approach towards policy reform. The dichotomy between progressive and liberal ideologies is not just a semantic one, but reflects a deeper ideological chasm that could significantly impact policy formulation and implementation.

Several political analysts have delved into this discussion, reflecting upon the growing ideological divide within the Democratic party, both at a state and national level. This debate is not confined to California but mirrors a broader national dialogue concerning the trajectory of the Democratic party. The discourse encapsulates various facets of policy debates, from healthcare reform to climate change mitigation strategies, and reflects a broader ideological struggle within the party. Quoting a political analyst from The Washington Post, "The forthcoming election in California is a microcosm of the broader ideological struggle within the Democratic party, reflecting the tension between a growing progressive faction and a more established liberal base."

The impending election is not just about filling a vacant seat; it's potentially a narrative on a shift in California's political ideology. It's about the candidates, their campaigns, the voter turnout, and how these elements coalesce to pen the next chapter of California's political narrative. The narratives that emerge from campaigns, the debates that ensue, and the eventual electoral outcome will collectively narrate the next chapter of California's political saga. Set against the backdrop of a dynamically evolving American political landscape, this election is a testament to the continuous, unfolding story of democracy. The ripple effects of this election could potentially reverberate beyond the borders of California, impacting the national political narrative and the policy discourse within the Democratic party.

In conclusion, the election to fill Senator Dianne Feinstein's vacant seat is not just an electoral event, but a significant political occasion that could potentially mark a shift in California's political ideology and have broader implications on the national political landscape. The discourse surrounding this election, the candidates that emerge, and the eventual electoral outcome will be keenly observed, analyzed, and discussed in the days and months to come, embodying the dynamic nature of the American political system and the continuous evolution of political ideology and policy discourse.

It may also be a good idea to then use a similar LLM to summarize the post. Here is a good summary/higher information density version of the above:

The passing of Senator Dianne Feinstein prompts a special election in California, as per state law, to fill the vacant seat. Historically, such elections like Martha McSally's in 2019 and Edward J. Markey's in 2013 have followed Senate vacancies. Speculated candidates include California Secretary of State, Alex Padilla, and Los Angeles Mayor, Eric Garcetti. A key discussion surrounds whether a progressive or a traditionally liberal Democrat will succeed, reflecting a broader ideological divide within the Democratic party. The election outcome may signify a shift in California's political ideology, potentially impacting national political narratives and the Democratic party's policy trajectory.

And then a very good description. In my opinion this is the best example of what a high conceptual information density top post should look like, and while help facilitate the most useful discussion:

The passing of Senator Dianne Feinstein triggers a special election in California, with speculated candidates like Alex Padilla and Eric Garcetti. The election sparks discussions on whether a progressive or traditionally liberal Democrat will succeed, reflecting a broader ideological divide within the party, potentially impacting national political narratives.

—-

If anybody wants help decompressing their posts or repeating the same ideas a few times to fulfill length requirements, chatGPT is good, mistral was also just released and is supposedly really good too.

  • -14

The thing that some users don’t understand is that the objective is neither to present the most banal, concise factual statements (these can be found everywhere) nor is it to “write” (or otherwise produce) paragraphs of needlessly flowery drivel. It’s to write in an interesting and entertaining way, like Scott, and to do so in a way that makes people want to read whatever else one has written.

This kind of trolling is embarrassing because you don’t seem to understand this. It’s not just about writing long posts, it’s about writing long posts that people want to read. Failing at the latter is as bad as failing at the former.

Thank you! Yes the spree of trolling on this issue in recent weeks has become quite ridiculous.

The argument just seems to be that if a comment or thought is more in depth or complex than a couple of paragraphs, it's pointless or low quality. I cannot even wrap my head around how you get to that position, especially with how complex the modern world is.

Lord, the ancients used to write entire treatises on one virtue, and people complain that we write five paragraphs about systems that effect billions of people and thousands of other complex systems. These objections truly boggle the mind.

This Chinese baby to the bare links repository. There's a desire to promote the audience for feedback, and also to act as a link aggregator and current events forum. Having to compose a verbose missive in order to justify posting is thus expected and necessary.

This is not trolling, or if it is, it's white hat trolling. It is revealing a critical flaw in the metrics the motte uses to gauge quality. Yes our stated preference is to generate interesting and entertaining conversations, but our revealed preferences say actually, it is just about writing long posts.

If firmamenti hadn't said anything about chatgpt or written this in reply to FNE, just posted it as a top level post, would it have been banned do you think? What if they'd just written it, no gpt involved? I am almost certain it would not. Because yes, what we want is interesting, entertaining and informative posts, but telling someone their post is boring and badly written is against the rules unless you put an absurd amount of effort into couching it in a way that has doesn't trigger negative emotions (and so it is usually immediately dismissed by the target).

If you don't like how someone writes, block them or minimise their post we are told, because you can't say "Hey you need to write less because you are bad at it." You say failing at writing long posts well is just as bad as writing a short post, but there is no mechanism for punishing the former, so that's what we get.

It is revealing a critical flaw in the metrics the motte uses to gauge quality. Yes our stated preference is to generate interesting and entertaining conversations, but our revealed preferences say actually, it is just about writing long posts.

There is no flaw in the "metrics" and we do not have a revealed preference for length for the sake of length.

There are lots of long posts here on TheMotte that are bad. I simply downvote them and/or refuse to engage with them. I think the distribution of upvotes on the site is generally pretty fair, with better essayposts getting more upvotes and worse essayposts getting fewer. You don't get a cookie from me just because you wrote a long post.

If firmamenti hadn't said anything about chatgpt or written this in reply to FNE, just posted it as a top level post, would it have been banned do you think?

I certainly would have thought that the post was bad (because it's boring and says nothing interesting) even if he hadn't mentioned ChatGPT. But for multiple reasons, it's neither feasible nor desirable to have an official rule against writing bad posts. We use length and effort as proxies for quality, but at the end of the day, you can't ban someone solely because you don't enjoy reading their posts.

I think that reposting ChatGPT output can and should be a banworthy offense, although I'm uncomfortable with simply banning someone for that without hard evidence or an admission of guilt. Even though I would have strongly suspected that firmamenti's post was ChatGPT regardless.

because you can't say "Hey you need to write less because you are bad at it."

I certainly think that you should be able to say this on TheMotte. I think the mods would probably be ok with it as long as you backed up your criticism with an analysis of multiple concrete examples taken from the person's writing.

Along with what @Jiro said, just look at this thread. As you say, firmamenti's mistake was admitting he used chatgpt - if he hadn't he couldn't have been banned. That's setting up some rather perverse incentives. In another chain of this thread cjet explains:

People seem to come out of the woodwork every time this comes up acting like I'm asking them to write a novel. I'm not. Just start the discussion, put some level of thinking and effort into your post. If it looks like you tried and fell short I'll probably only provide a warning. The original poster did not try at all. And there is a group of users that constantly want to resurrect the bare links thread, so they post what they think is just past the line on acceptable. Sometimes I am going to drop bans for this. Play stupid games, win stupid prizes.

Is that clear? Start the discussion, put some level of thinking and effort into your post. But if that thinking and effort amounts to "just past the line on acceptable" - which is to say if it amounts to acceptable, but is too short, or you have ever asked for the BLR back, then you are playing stupid games and should expect stupid prizes. So literally the only metric used is length.

Along with what @Jiro said, just look at this thread. As you say, firmamenti's mistake was admitting he used chatgpt - if he hadn't he couldn't have been banned

False. He could have been. Would he? I would have suspected he was using ChatGPT. But we do tend to give (according to some people) too much benefit of the doubt, so if we think someone is using ChatGPT but we're not sure, they will probably get away with it, at least for a while.

"Getting away with breaking the rules is easier if you don't openly state you're breaking the rules" is true, but also pretty obvious.

or you have ever asked for the BLR back

False. We do not track and punish people who have ever asked for the BLR back.

So literally the only metric used is length.

False.

As you say, firmamenti's mistake was admitting he used chatgpt - if he hadn't he couldn't have been banned. That's setting up some rather perverse incentives.

What is the perverse incentive?

If firmamenti's post had simply appeared as a top level post with no further context, I would have stopped reading after the first paragraph and not replied to it. Because it's a boring post. I probably also would have reported it for being likely GPT-generated. If I was a mod myself, I'd be skittish about pulling the trigger on the banhammer without concrete proof (even though this case is pretty blatant), but for repeat offenders who weren't making valuable contributions, I'd be more likely to exercise the elastic clause in the rules and just ban.

So again, what's the incentive here? The incentive of being able to lower the quality of the forum and drive people away by making low-quality posts that aren't technically banworthy? You've always been able to do that on any website. That's not unique to TheMotte.

It's no different from saying that you're going to make a lot of obnoxious bad faith arguments, but with a polite tone, and see how long it takes to piss everyone off. Yeah, you could do that. But I would hope that no one wants to.

So literally the only metric used is length.

You can't literally moderate for quality. But we can filter out posts like FarNearEverywhere's OP. So as far as I'm concerned, the rules are working as intended.

It's no different from saying that you're going to make a lot of obnoxious bad faith arguments, but with a polite tone, and see how long it takes to piss everyone off. Yeah, you could do that. But I would hope that no one wants to.

I think you are being very optimistic. Especially when we are talking about nerds, and double especially when we are talking about contrarian nerds who talk about verboten topics, my expectation is that any available vulnerability will be exploited, the only question is when. We have indeed seen the "unfailingly polite but obviously bad faith" method used, and it won't be long before we see this method too - assuming we don't count firmamenti's post here, or various posts by others from the prior month that I can't prove but strongly suspect were gpted.

The thing is, my biggest issue with it is that while there will be trolls, I am more worried about our hammers finding a new class of nail - I don't think the mods will be nearly skittish enough. They are invariably going to make someone feel like absolute shit by calling their earnest early forays into writing 'like a motter' "obviously chatgpt". It's the worst of both worlds - gpters will just deny using it, and some innocent people are going to be confidently smeared as bots.

Also you absolutely can moderate for quality, of course you can, that's how media criticism started. We just haven't figured out how to do it while keeping in line with the other rules like niceness. Yet. I think we could if we tried.

But we can filter out posts like FarNearEverywhere's OP

On, so far as I can tell, the grounds that it was too short. I didn't include links, I was not going "can you believe what they did?" and it was not "boo, outgroup". That leaves me with "Had I padded it out with a few paragraphs of fluff, I could have asked the same questions and gotten a pass". If I'm wrong, correct me.

You're not wrong. I still stand by the mods. Hell if you even added like, four sentences it probably would've been fine. Maybe 5-6 on the safe side. I see that as quite reasonable for a top level comment.

we do not have a revealed preference for length for the sake of length.

...

We use length and effort as proxies for quality

A revealed preference is what shows up in your actions. If your actions are to treat long posts as a proxy for quality, then you do in fact have a revealed preference for length.

If length were the real preference, I could post this as a top level:

aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa

Do you see that happening? No? Well then length is not the preference.

The revealed preference of the moderators is to give additional consideration to long posts. That doesn't mean that a particular long post can't be unacceptable anyway; it's a bias, not a guarantee.

Sure it's a bias, and yeah long posts can be bad. They are far less likely to be bad than short, low effort posts though.

Length is a requirement, not the requirement. A good top-level post has both volume AND is interesting, I'm unsure why that's so strange.

Thanks for the advice, I'll keep it in mind! Next time I want to know "so what is this vanilla versus chocolate ice cream debate, anyway?" I'll make sure to couch it in the history of ice cream, the founding of American ice cream shops, and the global diversity of flavours for ten paragraphs before putting the query 😀

Or you could just put it in the Friday Fun Thread and not be a jerk.

I think, and this is not being a jerk (thanks Ammie), that it would be helpful to have some definition of what should go where. No more bare links (but I didn't include a link). So - suitable question for the Sunday post? Okay, but it does seem to have triggered some culture warring (not my intention) so bounce it back to here?

Friday fun thread - only fun, jokey, non-serious stuff? Gotcha.

Wellness Wednesday - health and related matters? Gotcha.

Now we get to "what is long enough not to be modded as bad faith/low-effort, but not too long to be modded as ChatGPT bait/unserious trolling?" and believe you me, Ammie Lambie, I'd certainly appreciate a model answer on that one.

I was responding straight-faced to your hypothetical "vanilla vs. chocolate" thread, but the real answer to the real question you are actually asking is to say to you the same thing I tell everyone else who claims that all you have to do to make a low effort post acceptable is to add more words: bullshit, and everyone who snidely declares "I'll just run my posts through ChatGPT to sanitize it and add more words" is basically saying they don't intend to post in good faith and don't think people here deserve to be treated like actual human beings they are interacting with. And they will be treated accordingly.

fwiw, I probably wouldn't have banned you for your post about Feinstein, but it was sort of low effort and more of a Bare Link Repository post, and an example of why we haven't brought back the BLR - "Hey, breaking news, what do you all think????" is something you can find on every other forum on the Internet. You want to avoid getting dinged for low effort? Contribute your valuable and insightful thoughts, say something interesting about the breaking news, ask a question beyond the same dumb questions every talking head on every news channel will ask - don't just try to rush to be the first person posting about it.

However, "Ammie Lambie" is obnoxious and I'd mod you if you did that to someone else (and I have in the past), so knock it off.

However, "Ammie Lambie" is obnoxious and I'd mod you if you did that to someone else (and I have in the past), so knock it off.

You call me a jerk, I'll call you by an affectionate diminutive - why are pet names obnoxious?

"Don't be a jerk" (by doing the thing you threatened to do) is not the same as calling you a jerk.

We've said not to use AI to write up posts. This is also very obnoxious. 5 day ban.

This is a perfect example of how to fill a fucking A4 small type and say nothing.

LLMs are great at this, and so are some people, and I hate it because it's all spam. The information content is minimal, it is a pure time sink.

Yeah this is fucking torture, but firmamenti is correct, this would have been tolerated.

Newsome appoints someone who then has to win re-election in 2024. This person will probably be more progressive than Feinstein, but almost certainly not AOC level. He may or may not consider race and gender, but is probably going to pick someone who is a known quantity to California’s political machine.

I don't consider even AOC to be AOC level progressive. When it mattered the most she backed old-dems and didn't use the squad's leverage to get what progressive voices wanted. Her progressiveness is entirely performative, check out some video by Jimmy Dore, he dismantles her shit pretty thoroughly.

National Review was speculating that this was maybe a chance to punt Kamala off of the ticket and get her to agree to the essentially lifetime appointment to that Senate seat. Newsome appoints her, she steps down, Newsome takes her spot as the VP candidate.

Two white guys is very unlikely on the ticket, especially if one's replacing a black woman. Newsom's own advisors would tell him not to take that offer, especially because a 'moderate' business dem (which he is) has to win the black vote in the southern primaries, and the black vote is substantially black women in particular.

I can't see that happening, as pointed out it's a step backwards for her. Had she still been AG or some other position but not VP, sure. It's a plum seat and lifetime appointment. But not now she's First Female and First African/Indian-American VP and maybe hoping to go on for First Female and First Indian-American President.

Newsom as VP? I dunno. I suppose the ticket for 2028, depending on whether Biden wins the second term, could be Harris/Newsom but is that a dream team or a nightmare ticket?

Newsom would be a fool to attach himself to the sinking ship of a 2028 Kamala Dem nominee bid. He'll do better in the primaries than she will.

So what does that leave him with, if he intends to run for the big prize? Pick a different African-American woman as VP to make sure he locks in the black vote? Can you suggest any likely names if Kamala is out of the running?

Stacey Abrams, probably. There are a few no-name state level candidates. A not-white but also not-black woman is possible (but less likely).

Real talk, does he need a black woman? I'll grant you that the current woke mania wants one, but he probably doesn't need to. He could pick, say, Raphael Warnock(the black vote that he needs in lockstep to have a fighting chance in Georgia and North Carolina skews older, more female, and more religious than average).

He could pick a black man, but again, white women and feminists (and single white women are a huge Dem voter bloc) might be upset if there isn’t a woman on the ticket (“big step backwards”). Black women are also pretty particular, it’s unlikely they’d be as fully happy with say an Asian or Hispanic woman as with a black woman.

So what it comes down to is that for the foreseeable future, the default choice for a white male Democratic presidential candidate is going to be a black woman running mate.

I’m going out on a limb and saying there is no way that happens. You really piss off the black female vote as it is a clear demotion for Kamala.

If the democrats could find a way to dump Biden and Kamala, they would. The problem they have is they need to dump both in a way that it doesn’t look like they passing over Kamala.

Yeah, it'll be the same ticket next year unless something crazy happens. Harris will run in 2028 and lose in the primaries, possibly to Newsom or someone else. Then she'll enjoy a lucrative retirement on the speaking circuit.

By "win re-election", do you mean against another Democrat or against a Republican? I was under the impression that absent extremely-weird circumstances California was locked-down Democrat.

California has a "Jungle Primary" system for some positions where the top two primary vote receivers get on the ballot regardless of party. Dianne Feinstein (D) ran against Kevin de León (D) in 2018.

So a D vs D election is likely.

Against another democrat- appointed candidates lose primaries regularly. California electing a statewide Republican would be extremely weird.

The appointment does not supersede the usual election formalities. So there will be a primary and general election. It's just that, as you note, primary opponents will be discouraged and the general will reliably elect the Dem candidate. It's not like a Harlem Globetrotters game; they actually do have to hold a real election.

Keeping in mind that California is so Dem controlled and has a top-two general so the general would be between the top two candidates from the open primary and would both very likely be Dems.

Cali might have different dynamics, but as a general rule of thumb appointed senate seats have more competitive primaries in the party that the appointee belongs to than a typical incumbent seat.

Thanks, this is the kind of information I was looking for.

There are already three prominent Democrats who long ago announced they are running for her seat.

It is funny that everywhere and anywhere white men must lead. Even in the “diversity” party who is in charge a mentally declining white male. And the backup is Newsome or maybe Pritzker whose brother is atleast an army Coronel tranny.

The gop atleast has a Brahmin close.

  • -19

3 day ban.

Antagonistic, low effort, culture warring.

To everyone wondering why I moderate heavily on top level posts, this is an example of why. It creates discussions that are all heat and no light.

In case other users have missed the hint like sliders: I am watching this thread. Either start a useful discussion or don't comment.

Were you and Dianne close?

@remzem Just so you and others know, moderators can see deleted comments.

This is how I usually figure out the story behind top level deleted comments.


Ignoring the meta ... My general opinion is that the retirement age for social security should be enforced on elected politicians as well. Let the next generation fuck up things.

Well thanks for the PSA to posters to edit out posts in addition to deleting them like on reddit.

thanks that is preferable to me.

Yeah was going to say this. Probably one reason reddit doesn't let mods see author-deleted comments is because there's such a simple workaround extra step (edit to blank or something useless), which only distinguishes between people who know to use it or not. Then again, there are other tools like RSS which pick up the initial posts/comments, so it still is a bit like email where once you've hit 'send', it's out there.

Meanwhile the nice thing about this codebase's change is that you still have access to your own deleted posts (in gray) and can easily 'undelete', which must be similar to what the mods see.

Conversation platform of the future: The entire website has version control embedded into it, for every single post and comment.

XenForo has that, if restricted to mods; mods can see all versions of a post.

@remzem Just so you and others know, moderators can see deleted comments.

Are going to start had holding deleted comments against people?

Some users have been asking for top level deleted comments to be forbidden. So that is one case where deleted comments might be held against a user.

Otherwise not officially. But if you post a trolling comment towards a mod it doesn't go away when you delete it. And I'm not going to completely ignore the fact that they were trying to be a dick.

Some users have been asking for top level deleted comments to be forbidden. So that is one case where deleted comments might be held against a user.

There was a very interesting debate about one of the J6 protesters being a fed, half of which is now gone, so I can understand that. The suddenly disappearing top level posts are also annoying, but I meant more this:

Otherwise not officially. But if you post a trolling comment towards a mod it doesn't go away when you delete it. And I'm not going to completely ignore the fact that they were trying to be a dick.

Surely, someone being a dick, and realizing afterwards they were out of line and deleting the comment should not be against the rules?

No, but it should be noted and if repeated it should be addressed.

It's one thing to let your temper get the better of you, but if deleted rude comments are considered out of bounds for moderation the obvious meta is to post an unpleasant reply you want the author to read, then delete it.

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As a moderator I'm typically trying to sort people into three buckets:

  1. Worthless contributor, actively negative, pisses people off, very unlikely to improve.
  2. Net neutral. Upsets some, but others like them around. Can maybe improve.
  3. Quality poster. Follows the rules, adds to discussion, says interesting things, doesn't need to improve.

People in group 1 we generally want to ban. If you are going to self label yourself into that category, then no amount of following the strict letter of the rules will save you. We have a wildcard rule for a reason.

I'm not a lawyer, and certainly not a rules lawyer. If we thought it would be useful we'd probably only have the wildcard rule. In some sense the rules don't matter. They are guidelines for behavior.

Did they violate an explicit guideline? No. Did they violate the only guideline that really matters? Yes. Deleting their comment was an improvement over leaving it up. But they are letting me know what kind of contributor they are. And I don't see any reason to hobble myself in figuring out which bucket users fall into.

My opinion - it depends. People should get lenience for the deleted comments, but this doesn't mean that repeat offenders when the content of the comments violates the rules shouldn't be smacked lightly.

Can you please hand out bans for repeated deletion of comments?

I haven't seen abuse of this recently. Most deleted comments seem like accidental posts. If there is abuse of this somewhere let us know.

Jesus Christ.

I can think of half a dozen reasons it’s not particularly funny. Starting with demographics. Perhaps you ought to take it as evidence that the “diversity” party cares about literally anything else? No, surely not.

Low effort top level post. This is against the rules. I strongly doubt that you don't know this. 1 day ban.

  • -15

This seems excessive. I agree that the post could use more original analysis than she offered, but this is a breaking-news sort of situation that could have important implications, and I think it’s reasonable to want to spark a quick discussion of the major questions sparked by this development.

We are for discussion. Start the discussion if you are a top level post.

We are not for breaking news.

If all you have is questions and no real discussion to add consider:

  1. Maybe the thing is not worth discussing, or doesn't generate any good discussion. If it couldn't generate good discussion for the person bring up, it's less likely to do so for strangers.
  2. Someone else might have a real discussion starting point. By jumping on the topic too quickly you've forced them to rush out their opinion in order to join the discussion while it lasts.
  3. The top level post tends to set an example for the posts that follow. Set a good example.

Normally this kind of thing is only a warning or not brought up at all by the other mods. But what's the point of a rule if it is never enforced? Bad luck of the draw getting me as the reviewer of the post. I am not a fan of infinite warnings.

Fair enough, point #2 strikes me as particularly compelling.

The feeling of working on an effort post on a topic, only to see that it was brought up a half day earlier and the discussion is mostly done is disheartening. It is why I often personally want the rule enforced against others. Point 1 is how i make sure I don't violate the rule or the spirit of the rule. I've had stories I've wanted to share here, but all i can think of is "[link] discuss?"

There is no rule against posts that aren't effort posts. Most effort posts are bad. I'm worried were incentivizing people to write a lot of uninteresting wordy posts just so that they can start a discussion on something interesting. I don't see the harm in asking what other people think about something. What I think we do want is something to stop people from posting just anything. There should be something to explain why something is worthy of discussion. I don't see why it has to be something that requires a lot of effort.

There is no rule against posts that aren't effort posts. Most effort posts are bad. I'm worried were incentivizing people to write a lot of uninteresting wordy posts just so that they can start a discussion on something interesting.

Can you come up with another proxy that keeps intelligent people who do write interesting things coming back to the site, and stops the Motte from turning into the rest of the internet?

The effort is a bar you have to clear to participate here.

We have lots of other rules that have sort of accomplished this goal despite not having requiring all top-level posts to be effortposts.

There is no harm in asking people questions. Which is why we have a small questions Sunday thread. It doesn't have to be used exclusively on Sunday, it can be used all week.

That is explicitly for dumb questions though.

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lol, I mean sorry, but picturing someone despondent because their internet post didn't make it out of the oven fast enough is just embarrassing.

If you have a long effort post to make, why not just make it as a reply to a less narrow top level post like the one above? Shorter posts like this generally have a much broader scope and therefore you can have a lot more replies and jump off into a larger variety of topics. If someone writes a 10 page essay about that time Feinstein almost got killed by left wing terrorists in response to her passing then people that might want to discuss some more topical aspects of the event are forced to post an entirely new top level comment. Which is obnoxious considering this place is already a chore to navigate and horribly disorganized. Especially for anyone trying to find older discussions.

lol, I mean sorry, but picturing someone despondent because their internet post didn't make it out of the oven fast enough is just embarrassing.

Rude as hell. Have you ever actually worked on an effort-post and contributed a seriously valuable top level comment here? It takes a lot of work to do it well.

You come in here, lurk and benefit off of people that put in time and effort to provide you intellectual stimulation and entertainment, then mock them for doing so. Not a good look.

I generally skim the top levels and am just here for the comments. Much like media posts on reddit. We don't all derive the same utility from the same things.

Its fine if you leave. I only see warnings and bans on your notes. If you don't like it, that is more of a complement than a criticism. Not sure why you consider it worth it.

Not sure why you consider it worth it.

The people here are interesting, but everything else about this place makes it so obnoxious to use that I go through phases of being frustrated by the limited means of engagement and the convoluted rules.

It's rather ironic to complain about posts generating more heat than light when you obviously don't apply the same standards to your moderation. Maybe the reason this post when to shit was you jumping in all "bad cop" to try and save the quokka effortposters from their despondency. You think of that maybe?

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That isn’t really a response to the criticism. Pure ad hominem. I even understand your position but shouldn’t you hold yourself to a higher standard

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I was surprised by this.

The low-effort rule, as described in the sidebar, seems to be targeting “three-word shitposts.” This does not feel like a shitpost to me. It has a fact (which I had not yet seen) and two legitimate questions—what happens next, and is it likely to shift the Senate one way or another? More importantly, it steers relatively clear of cheap shots.

It's a stupid rule. Should just be some kind of keep it neutral in top posts type rule. It's more interesting when there is a variety of discussion. Often when you wait for someone to make some long effortpost it will narrow the context down to some aspect of the event that isn't very interesting. Then people are less likely to participate in discussing other aspects of it. I even feel like some users do it on purpose as a way to head off obvious discussion points. If anything it should be the opposite. Discussion starters should be more open and short, responses should be higher effort.

I disagree. If you’re making a top level post, at least some effort should be required. Merely posting “Thing happened, so what happens next” under a link to CNN.com is really good as a top level post. Make a point, any point. Talk about how old Congress is. Talk about the political process of choosing her replacement, and the likely candidates. Talk about the implications for some piece of legislation. But drive-by posting is exactly what’s against the rules here. I’m not even asking for length — just that you put more though into it than just hitting the new post button and spamming.