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Culture War Roundup for the week of November 20, 2023

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Incidentally, I still repeatedly see the bug where trying to post something at a level that would produce a more comments prompt results in the post actually being accepted, but seeming to hang and never refreshing the screen.

Also, we don't seem to have a thread for forum bugs.

Yeah, I could've sworn we fixed it, but it appears to have shown back up again. Unfortunately it seems very difficult to intentionally replicate, while very easy to accidentally stub your toe on, which makes it a pain to fix. If you can figure out reliable repro steps I would love to hear them :V

In general, you're welcome to PM me with reports, or post them in whatever thread seems most reasonable and ping me.

It seems to happen every time for me. The test comments below at level 10 all had the problem. It happens either from the main thread or from using "context" and replying from there.

I am using Firefox under Linux if that helps. Chromium under Linux also does it.

This may now be fixed - someone submitted a review that plausibly fixes the issue. Thank you, contributor!

Test reply L3

Test reply L4

Test reply L5

Test reply L6

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Test reply L9

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I've got another bug report dealing with expanding comments.

If a ninth-level comment is deleted after getting replies (i.e. the one immediately before "expand comments"), then clicking the button freezes it at "requesting".

To reproduce, go to this link, click the "More Comments (3)" button, and notice that it sticks on "requesting". This also happens when you simply scroll down in the main thread.

For a temporary workaround, change the context amount like this, so the comments are displayed without needing a click.

This is now also fixed!

(No credit to me, all credit to the same person who fixed the previous bug, who I appreciate greatly.)

On the back of prior discussions about forced 'voluntary' reporting of sleep apnea diagnoses in the State of Maryland in order to qualify for a drivers license, I'd like to draw attention to something similar happening with autism diagnoses in Queensland, Australia. Last year there was an update to the Assessing Fitness to Drive standards to list autism as a medical condition deemed to have an impact on driving.

“As a result, psychologists say people are now cancelling their autism assessment appointments because they fear the legal and financial consequences of not disclosing their condition — while others argue the new standards are "discriminatory" and unfairly target people with autism on the basis of their diagnosis, not their driving ability. “

...

“While the 2022 Assessing Fitness to Drive (AFTD) standards apply across the country, a Queensland law called Jet's law, introduced in 2008, requires drivers to disclose any medical condition that is likely to affect their ability to drive safely — and in some cases obtain a medical certificate to prove they are fit to drive.”

...

“According to the state's Department of Transport and Main Roads (TMR), autism was added to the list of reportable health conditions in 2012. Drivers who fail to obtain the medical clearance face a maximum A$9,288 fine and possible loss of licence.”


There's a fair bit more in the article that goes on about a few individual cases, but the gist of it seems to be that in the state of Queensland you need to provide medical clearance to drive from your doctor to the TMR (DMV) if you wish to apply/maintain your license once you are dignosed with autism. Most other Australian states seem to have a more reasonable 'you are legally required to report any ongoing condition that effects your ability to drive' standard.

In Queensland it seems like the above stated “Jet's Law” came about when someone with epilepsy had a fit resulting in a car crash that killed a baby and left his brother in a wheelchair for life. So this law was created To Do Something that then through bureaucratic ignorance has expanded to include other conditions such as autism as the Assessing Fitness to Drive standards were used as a list to determine what these conditions were. And then people have possibly decided to stop being diagnosed rather than deal with the hassle/stigma of reporting.

This is just so banal and unjust that someone diagnosed as being on the autism spectrum would then have to report that straight to the government or risk being fined thousands of dollars and stripped of their ability to drive. Luckily there is some pushback with a guy in the above link apparently filing a case with Queensland's Human Rights Commission, but still, it shouldn't have gotten this far.

Edit: fixed formatting

Why don't we get rid of driver's licences entirely and just rely on car insurance? If you pose a risk to others by not having the skill to drive or by having some medical condition, your insurer could require its own tests. It could ask you to get a licence from a third party private organization. Then the free market would figure out the optimal test of driving ability.

I don’t like the idea of a market where the insurer sets the rules and collects the profits, but all the work of enforcement still falls on the state.

what if someone just doesn't get insurance then...

Well that would be a crime and could be deterred in the usual ways ("What if someone just gets drunk and gets behind the wheel of a car tho?") except that enforcement would be a political problem because of so many illegal immigrants who can't get insurance.

Do you think the type of person who won't/can't get a driver's licence will have insurance? And if insurance companies won't cover you unless you pass a test, then you just drive without insurance.

But surely nobody would be so careless! Well, about that...

About 13% of people on the road are uninsured drivers.

Car insurance is required in nearly every state. However, there are around 29 million uninsured drivers in the U.S. That means about one out of every eight drivers doesn't have car insurance.

The percentage of uninsured motorists varies by state. In Mississippi, 29% of drivers don't have insurance. In New Jersey, only 3% of drivers are uninsured.

Some people don't have insurance because they can't afford it. Some because they don't give a damn about anyone but themselves. And seeing as how you may be more likely to be hit by a bad driver, the combination of "no licence/no insurance, what you gonna do about it?" doesn't fill me with confidence.

It seems like the responsible types get lumbered with the fallout from the careless:

Nearly half of U.S. states require drivers to have uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage. With this coverage, the insurance company pays for your car repairs and medical bills if you're hit by a driver who doesn't have insurance.

There are two forms of uninsured motorist coverage:

Uninsured motorist bodily injury (UMBI) Uninsured motorist property damage (UMPD) States typically only require UMBI to cover injuries and medical bills. But some, such as the District of Columbia, also require UMPD coverage to cover car repairs.

To be less serious, it seems we can blame the French for introducing driving licences:

On 14 August 1893, the world’s first driving licences were introduced in Paris.

Driving licences were first envisioned by Louis Lépine who was the top civil servant at the Seine police department in Paris.

I cannot figure out what your point is. Yes, I agree that people driving without insurance is bad. But I don't see how my proposal would have any effect on the number of people driving without insurance.

You're shifting the licensing requirement from the government to the insurers. Now, either insurance companies insure everybody regardless of competence (which means they get landed with responsibility for 'this legally blind drunk driver ploughed into a line of toddlers and you insured him') or they use their own set of tests before insuring drivers.

If they set their own set of tests, it's likely that some people will fail them. So they still end up with no licence. And if people are lying on forms or avoiding going to the doctor because of conditions they think will disqualify them from getting a licence, they'll either lie the same way to the insurance companies, or just not bother with getting insurance. And allegedly 13% of drivers in the USA are already driving uninsured, so driving without a licence isn't that big a step either.

Sure, but at least they'll only have to lie about things that actually affect their driving ability enough for insurance companies to care about them, and the insurance companies will be incentivized to find ways around these problems, such as by making certain medical tests mandatory.

Then if the insurance companies make tests mandatory or no insurance, how is that different from the government making regulations?

I do think there is room in between "ah feck it, if you can turn the key in the ignition you get a licence" and "if you so much as sneeze you're off the road", but I don't think this is a problem that is solvable purely by market forces. The first person injured or killed in an accident by someone 'licensed' by the insurance company, and there will be calls for more stringent standards. More stringent standards = incentive to lie or not report conditions. And that brings us back to where we started, except that now they're lying to the insurance company, not the driving licence department.

it necessarily would increase it if there are more people on the road. but how many people it has an effect on doesn't matter. in your proposed world, if X% of drivers don't have insurance, that's X% of drivers that have never been tested.

look, driver's tests may be incredibly easy to pass, but it is a working high-pass filter. if someone (not on the basis of discrimination like what the Aussies want to do) can't get a driver's license because they've failed a driver's test, what makes you think they're going to get insurance for driving if they can't pass that exam?

and what's even worse now is that you have people who have been previously filtered out of driving altogether are now both on the road and uninsured.

that sounds like a recipe for disaster.

Tons of people drive with no license or with a revoked license. If they're willing to break the law by driving without insurance they'll certainly also break the law to drive with no license.

That's what I had thought as well. It might work in a place with functional public transportation, where most of the potentially uninsured aren't working jobs that require carrying many tools, but in most of the US people still need to drive, whether they're insured or not.

I suspect that insurance companies would ask you to take a driving test, how else are you they supposed to know you have the minimum acceptable levels of competence, before further actuarial concerns?

OK, so why don't we find out? There's a good chance they would come up with a better system of testing and licensing than we have now. Is there any reason the government needs to issue licences?

I am modestly libertarian, so I have no fundamental disagreement with 3rd parties providing licenses or the insurance route, I just happen to think government licensing is adequate and the majority of the debate is over whether refusals to license based on specific diseases like autism or sleep apnea are warranted.

We wouldn't need to have those debates though if we relegated the question to the free market, and I'm wondering if there is any good reason why we don't just do that.

Why you think so?

Effect on public safety depends on how well payouts of insurance companies (via laws and court system) are correlated with damage to public safety.

If payouts for accidents caused by someone driving with sleep apnea without XYZ treatment are much higher, then insurance companies will demand the same as discussed here.

If they can avoid payouts while damaging public safety they will happily do this.

You still need to decide on payouts via legislation/shaping court system. With the same debates happening in a bit different place.

(unless you propose to privatise also legislation and court system and have multiple ones competing at once but that is clearly not "why we don't just do that.")

The level of competence that maximizes insurance company profits is not necessarily going to be the same as the level of competence which best* satisfies the tradeoff between public safety and the individuals' interest in being able to drive.

*There can of course be a variety of best tradeoffs, since "best" depends on how one weighs the competing interests. But insurance companies do not directly take either of those factors into account when deciding whether to insure someone.

But it likely does maximize the tradeoff between public safety and the individuals' interest in being able to drive plus their interests in saving other costs. And it probably maximizes the tradeoff you mentioned better than driver's licences do.

And it probably maximizes the tradeoff you mentioned better than driver's licences do.

I don't see how you can know that, nor is it likely to be true, given that the insurance company doesn't particularly care about either one.

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We wouldn't need to have those debates though if we relegated the question to the free market

Your simple faith in this religion of the free market is touching, I have to say. There's an argument that the instances in the original post are indeed over-regulation for the sake of it, but to put it all on the free market is optimistic in the extreme.

Every insurance company has its own licensing body? Multiple licensing bodies? Or in effect a monopoly? Any common standard, or LicenzRUz gives you one if you can turn the ignition on, nothing more required (and the insurance companies that take this licence then charge you out the nose for coverage) while Rules Rule Inc. ask for your family medical history three generations back?

Law cases even more lucrative for lawyers as the survivors of person killed in crash by "minimum requirements only" licence holder fight it out with the insurers, and judges have to rule on whether the driver was adequately licenced or not? This is where we get things like "Jet's Law" in the first place, and the subsequent over-reach. Adjusting the free market grave by grave may be one way of doing it, but I think most people would prefer a less final method than "Okay, fifty thousand extra deaths due to lax licence rules, pressure on insurers to put pressure on third party bodies to tighten up their requirements".

Whatever way you do it, the government is going to get dragged in by cases such as led to Jet's Law. After all, the 'free market' allowed the epileptic driver to operate a vehicle, and it was the consequences of that which involved the government:

The State Coroner recommended the following actions be taken:

Review of practices concerning the forwarding of discharge summaries from hospitals in Queensland (both public and private) to ensure uniform consistent practice in forwarding a patient's discharge summary to the patient's general practitioner.

Review of legislation to require any doctor becoming aware of a patient suffering any epileptic event which would, in that doctor's opinion adversely impact on the patient's ability to safely drive a motor vehicle, to specifically discuss the issue with the patient at the consultation. The legislation should require the doctor to; (i) advise the patient if the doctor considers it inappropriate to continue to drive, (ii) set a period of time and/or refer the patient to an appropriate specialist for further management and advice concerning suitability to drive. (iii) provide written confirmation of the doctor's advice to the patient.

Review of legislation to consider whether and in what circumstances a driver, and/or a treating doctor should be required to inform the Transport Department of a medical condition (such as epilepsy) or a change in the medical condition of a person impacting on their ability to safely drive. Consideration of whether sanctions should apply against a driver and/or a treating medical officer if they fail to report relevant information.

Review of legislation (after consultation with relevant interest groups) to consider a panel of independent doctors available to accept referrals for assessment of suitability to drive in the context of epilepsy. The panel would be available to review a driver's eligibility to drive and to inform the Department of Transport accordingly.

Initiative by the Department of Transport or other appropriate agency or authority to publicise both to the public and the medical profession the Guidelines for Fitness to Drive. Emphasis should be given to a responsibility to review a person's fitness to drive in circumstances where there is any alteration in the person's medical condition likely to impact on their ability to safely drive a motor vehicle.

Review of current Australian standards of child safety restraint mechanisms taking into consideration world best practice standards, despite Jet having been restrained properly.

Your simple faith in this religion of the free market is touching, I have to say. There's an argument that the instances in the original post are indeed over-regulation for the sake of it, but to put it all on the free market is optimistic in the extreme.

If it were faith, I wouldn't be asking for reasons why it might not work. I don't think you're quite going this far, but there's this really common and very annoying thing that a lot of people do where, if you express any kind of belief that markets ever work, you're accused of being a free market fundamentalist. It's a subject on which people struggle to see nuance and seem to default to gesturing vaguely at market failures which they've heard exist but can never explain why any given case is one.

Every insurance company has its own licensing body? Multiple licensing bodies? Or in effect a monopoly? Any common standard, or LicenzRUz gives you one if you can turn the ignition on, nothing more required (and the insurance companies that take this licence then charge you out the nose for coverage) while Rules Rule Inc. ask for your family medical history three generations back?

Competition and choice would be great, but we can't do worse than the current monopoly.

Law cases even more lucrative for lawyers as the survivors of person killed in crash by "minimum requirements only" licence holder fight it out with the insurers, and judges have to rule on whether the driver was adequately licenced or not?

Why would it matter whether the driver was licensed? The compensation would be based on the harm caused and who was at fault. Why would this be any more difficult than it is already?

This is where we get things like "Jet's Law" in the first place, and the subsequent over-reach.

How so?

Adjusting the free market grave by grave may be one way of doing it, but I think most people would prefer a less final method than "Okay, fifty thousand extra deaths due to lax licence rules, pressure on insurers to put pressure on third party bodies to tighten up their requirements".

I'm not following this at all. What do you mean by "final"? Why would there be an increase in deaths? Why would there be any kind of grave-by-grave adjustment of the free market?

Whatever way you do it, the government is going to get dragged in by cases such as led to Jet's Law. After all, the 'free market' allowed the epileptic driver to operate a vehicle, and it was the consequences of that which involved the government:

Why would the government get dragged in?

Why would the government get dragged in?

Because the government has the legislative power, and when the public want Something Must Be Done, it's the government that gets called on to do it - mostly to pass laws so This Can't Happen Again.

Why would there be an increase in deaths?

Very simple example: If I speed, I cop a fine and a certain number of demerit points off my license. If I lose too many demerit points, I lose my license and risk going to jail if I continue to drive without a license. All of this applies pressure to me to drive at a safe speed.

In an insurance-only system, I face no penalty until I cause a crash and potentially kill someone.

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How is criminal law meant to tie into this? People who value retributive justice aren’t going to be satisfied with someone simply getting sued out their arse.

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We have this in the Netherlands too. When you first get a license you have to fill out a form asking about your health, and if you check 'yes' on any of the questions you have to go for a review process which, given bureaucracy and staff shortages, can easily take more than a year to resolve. It's no wonder that even official examinators will outright tell you to lie on the form. But there are cases of people having their driver's license revoked upon seeking help for a mental illness that has nothing to do with driving, even if they've been driving for 10 years and hundreds of thousands of miles without incident. I've known people to avoid getting even normal healthcare for fear of their license.

This public reaction is predictable and ultimately going to be worse than the relatively small chance of a disorder being the direct cause of an accident.

This is why red-flag laws in the USA are so dangerous. People won’t consider seeing a psychiatrist or psychologist if the potential consequences are “they’ll take away my family’s guns”. So now people who might be considering suicide or have other issues will get worse without treatment, and perhaps avoid getting help for the kids if there’s a risk that that could get on a watchlist.

I'm looking at Irish standards, and they're based on EU guidelines:

The NDLS aims to maximise drivers’ mobility and to encourage patients with OSAS to seek diagnosis and effective treatment. Treated patients no longer pose an increased crash risk. However, it is important to ensure that an appropriate balance is found between mobility and safety

Why does OSAS affect driving?
Although you may not realise it, OSAS interrupts your sleep and may result in daytime sleepiness, which could cause you to fall asleep at the wheel. Signs of sleep apnoea include loud snoring, disturbed sleep, fighting for breath during sleep and falling asleep in the daytime.

Drivers with OSAS are three times more likely to have a road traffic crash than the general population, but this increased risk is avoided with effective treatment.

What are the actual rules about OSAS, and do I need to stop driving?
Drivers with moderate or severe OSAS which causes excessive daytime (awake-time) sleepiness, and who do not follow the rules below (while driving), are driving while unsafe to do so and are breaking the law.

I think the problem is as pointed out: people who have mild versions of the illness or it is well-controlled aren't a risk and that is acknowledged. People who are not treated are the risk, and if they're avoiding healthcare because they're afraid they won't get a driver's licence, then that is the dangerous consequence. They are putting themselves and others at risk because they are not getting treatment, and they are still driving.

It's a balance, and how do we strike that balance? "I need to be able to drive for my work" "Yes, but right now you are a genuine risk to be on the roads".

Stop the person driving? They suffer the effects of that, and it may even be "lose my job". Let them drive untreated? They may lose their life in a crash.

Let them drive temporarily while they get treatment sounds like a moderate compromise, but again - if the person is involved in an accident, there's going to be public outcry and demands for "Something Must Be Done!"

And I don't think the free market alone can solve that one.

Stop the person driving? They suffer the effects of that, and it may even be "lose my job". Let them drive untreated? They may lose their life in a crash.

What are the odds of both scenarios? Stating it as an either or is very misleading... Lose your car you're probably going to lose your job. Leaving it untreated will increase you risk by how much? Very little I'd imagine...

I think a moderate compromise only makes sense when you have good data.

And I don't think the free market alone can solve that one.

I don't understand what this means aside from capitalism == bad. How about it should be difficult to take away the rights of people?

You show me where there is a divine right to drive a motor vehicle, and we can then talk about taking away rights.

Yes, it should be difficult to take away rights. But it should also be difficult to engage in behaviour that endangers others on the public roads.

You show me where there is a divine right to drive a motor vehicle, and we can then talk about taking away rights.

Let's bite this bullet: for many people in the world, especially in the United States, being able to drive from one's house to a different physical location is highly-correlated with being able to eat. In theory, driving is an optional system not critical to the basic functions of civilization. In practice, much of society is arranged around the automobile, which has given rise to entire movements whose slogan is "fuck cars."

So I would indeed argue that, so long as being able to exist in modern society relies on being able to drive, having one's legal ability to drive be abrogated is as drastic as a suspension of other rights guaranteed in the Amendments.

You show me where there is a divine right to drive a motor vehicle

Show me where there is a divine right to anything :marseyshrug:

Again, what are the odds of both (that was my point)

endangers others on the public roads.

What's the actual risk? Where do we draw the line line between safety and freedom? Going all or nothing on either side is silly.

It's trivially true that some people are too severely autistic to be able to drive safely (e.g. my brother) but it's also the case that those people are too autistic to pass a driving test and get a license. Just make that argument to the transport minister and ask him to get the standards changed. Filing a case with the human rights commission is a waste of everyone's time.

Ash, you are among the tiny minority of Australians who work in a situation where some fraction of politicians actually listen to the words you say some fraction of the time. The rest of us have to figure out various wheezes for creating a ruckus that will draw the attention of the Powers. Judicial and quasi-judicial processes like the HRC are one example.

The transport minister has presumably already made that decision, which is how autism got added to the list in the first place.

Nah. It would have been ticked off by the minister, but as @CertainlyWorse says, this policy reeks of public service safetyism. He probably signed off on it with half a dozen other minor things that he doesn't remember either. I'd be shocked if he actually had a considered policy view on the issue.

At the risk of Godwinning where the comparison is genuinely hyperbolic, “if only the Fuher knew”?

I’m not intimately familiar with Aussie politics, but I’m familiar enough to give a list of recent cases where stupid bullshit safetyism ended up with friends in high enough places for politicians to happily stand by them, whether that be the various recent fishing bans (ban shark fishing to prevent shark attacks!), the Adler shotgun, or the obnoxiously early ADS-B mandate.

I mean, it might be worth a shot, but the assumption no one has taken that try simply because it hasn’t changed already is hilariously naive.

The Adler shotgun issue is the only one of those I've been actively involved in, and while it was absolutely stupid, I do think it was a structurally different kind of stupid.

On the object level of course it was ridiculous to ban the Adler. But Aussies genuinely are very pro-gun-control, while at the same time mostly being profoundly ignorant about the particulars of specific guns. So there's a very real political danger to doing the sensible thing in that situation. Popular-but-stupid policies are a problem!

But they are a different kind of problem to stupid policies that don't have a constituency supporting them. With issues where the public doesn't care one way or the other (which is most issues) you really can get policy change by winning over the elites to your side.

Do you expect bureaucratic policymakers to actually listen to that? I seriously don’t, I expect them to declare it misinformation and refuse to admit they made a mistake until forced to by the human rights commission.

until forced to by the human rights commission.

My plan in such case would be to interact with human rights commission until they do such thing (if I would care about this law enough to do something).

Probably start from doing their work for them and write something so they would only sign off on what I wrote (and maybe rephrase it) and forward it to bureaucratic policymakers.

If you send one email and then go away, no, that's not likely to go anywhere. But it's not as if there's any constituency or interest group invested in making life annoying for autists. The only resistance you're going to face is inertia. And yeah that's not nothing, but it's hardly insurmountable either.

My expectation is that the minor amount of attention the issue has already received will be enough to compel a change.

Having the issue blow up in the media would probably be the most effective thing in getting the rules changed around this. Politicians are otherwise slow to act and hide behind statements like 'following the best medical advice' rather than using common sense.

The generally high risk aversion of the public service is one of the root causes behind this. The above problem is just a symptom of banal bureaucracy where the chain of public servants presented with this issue decided to take the safe 'just following orders' route of following standards without any risky personal interpretation up to the point of injustice.

I agree that there are people with autism who shouldn't be driving, but the lack of nuance in the legislation doesn't differentiate between someone mildly on the spectrum with a few social quirks and someone who is completely non-verbal. From the public servant's point of view, its best to classify them the same just to be sure.

I think this forum should disable/remove the downvote button. It's a legacy holdover from Reddit but it really doesn't fit the theme of the motte. Downvoting increases the intensity of heat while doing little for light. Humans are hard-wired to care about the popularity of their ideas, even people very low on the agreeableness spectrum (which I'm sure accounts for the majority of posters here). People who are routinely downvoted are much less likely to post, intensifying the echo chamber effect.

If a post breaks the rules, reporting it is still the best solution.

If a post is just using bad logic, it's much better to refute that logic with a response than to downvote. There's nothing I find quite as aggravating as making (what I think is) a good point, only to be downvoted with no responses. This doesn't happen nearly as often on this forum as it does on Reddit, but it's still a nuisance when it does occur.

  • -20

Voting has always been one of the worst functions of Reddit and should have been discarded with the offsite move. I voted on one comment in my decade plus on Reddit, and it was a technical solution to a video game bug buried under dozens of useless comments with bad advice. As a subjective “I agree/disagree” button, which is what it morphed into on Day 2 of Reddit going live, the philosophy of its inclusion is counter to the Motte’s explicit rule against consensus building.

Let ideas stand on their own, without the peanut gallery’s worthless input. Motte monkeys are often not nearly as informed as they believe themselves to be, either, outside of their favorite subjects of “computer science careers” and “why girls don’t think programmers are alpha males.”

Let ideas stand on their own, without the peanut gallery’s worthless input. Motte monkeys are often not nearly as informed as they believe themselves to be, either, outside of their favorite subjects of “computer science careers” and “why girls don’t think programmers are alpha males.”

Dial down the antagonism, returning-alt-with-a-grudge-against-the-Motte.

I find quite as aggravating as making (what I think is) a good point, only to be downvoted with no responses.

Can you give examples where it happened undeservedly? (Reddit-grade jokes or trolling or blatantly bad posts or -1 buried deep in some 1 vs 1 thread do not count)

Vote counts should at least be hidden for longer. Perhaps a week. The impulse to focus on upvotes is a siren song.

Downvotes are a feedback mechanic and I think a good one.

I understand that it was abused pretty heavily on reddit but karma isn't really a thing here, votes are hidden for a day, popular sorting isn't that useful here, ...

I find quite as aggravating as making (what I think is) a good point, only to be downvoted with no responses.

You mind giving an example or two?

Is it really that aggravating to get a secondary signal for your post quality?

This forum is extremely well-mannered when it comes to downvotes. Everything I've ever seen under 0 deserved it.

It's not a signal for post quality. I make posts which meet quite a few quality standards, but they get downvoted for making left-wing arguments.

I have seen that happen, and many of my posts have been downvoted because they also went against the hive-mind.

Very rarely do they drop below zero, though. More likely, they are "ratio-ed" by simplistic quips that align more with others.

From my point of view, compared to the perpetual abuse of fucking idiot pre-teens on Reddit and inevitable negative karma, this is still a big step up. It's, of course, easier said than done, but if you don't view votes as a symbol of quality, you can just ignore them instead of the site being changed for it.

My posts do go below 0, especially if I make my kind of arguments. I don't know what specific arguments you're making that get you downvoted, but it was a consistent pattern in on Reddit that left-wing arguments took hits only on the basis of their position.

I would argue that downvotes don't help us - they encourage people to signal their approval of an argument instead of actually engaging with it. Better to remove them and force people to respond or move along.

I will chime in and say yes, sufficiently blue opinions are more likely to get downvoted.

But I’m still tentatively in favor of keeping downvotes. My reasoning is that expressing disapproval is going to happen, and it’s better done through (initially hidden) downvotes than through reports. I’m not very confident in this; vote buttons do feel pretty tribal, which is reason enough to be suspicious.

Abuse of the report function can also be modded. Reddit, for example, bans people who abuse the Sucide Prevention Bot. Set a few examples and people will learn.

If a post breaks the rules, reporting it is still the best solution.

Not if the moderators decide to not do their job because they like a troll poster, or want to encourage similar troll posters for "forum diversity." Very few posts that make good arguments are ever downvoted, and it gives the forum population a voice to deal with spammy agenda-posters (or hock-posters) that doesn't rely on the mods.

I think this forum should disable/remove the downvote button.

I think we should remove both. "Bad post got upvotes" complaints are as bad as the "my post got downvotes" ones. The only function of votes, as others mentioned, is a sink for low effort comments, but if the mods are up to it, I'd say just start banning for low effort. Unlike some of the more esoteric rules, this one is pretty easy to understand, and to apply in a relatively objective way.

You want to give the mods more control over the conversation? Who are you and what have you done with Arjin?!

I was always in favor of civility norms. I'm not really that much into demanding high effort, but it might be worth it, if it frees us from the hand wringing about up/down votes.

It sounds like a pyrrhic victory to me. You get rid of the, what, quarterly bitching about upvotes and downvotes, but in doing so you take away one of the public's few methods of influencing the discourse and put it on the mods, who are overworked already.

Problem is that people who shouldn't get influenced by votes (completely fine posters with a minority opinion) are, and people who should (trolls) are not. I sympathize with mods being overworked, which is why I said "if they're up for it".

The complaints are the worst part, because sometimes yes it is a bad post, but other times it's "that's your opinion based on your views which don't agree with the content of the post".

I don't care one way or the other about up votes, down votes, sideways votes. I get bans because a mod said so or somebody went running to teacher to complain. I don't ever recollect knowing or caring was the 'offensive' comment upvoted or downvoted.

If people want to keep them, keep them; if the majority want to get rid of them, democracy rules, baby!

I get bans because a mod said so

As opposed to a random user banning you? If that's happening the code base inherited from rdrama must be more interesting than I thought.

somebody went running to teacher to complain

I wonder how much bearing that has on whether the complaint was valid. Certainly the gangsters or mafiosos declaring "snitches get stitches" aren't saying so because of their wounded pride from being falsely accused. You did call me a goat-fucker lol.

I do wonder what a system entirely run off user reports might look like, plenty of social media platforms, Reddit and Facebook/Insta included, have that to a degree where a sufficient number of user reports gets things auto-removed. They still have humans in the loop somewhere even if they don't act in every case. Not that I expect this to be a good idea, or work very well if at all, l just want to see novel forms of dysfunction at times!

You did call me a goat-fucker lol.

No, that was 'high decoupling consideration of hypotheticals'. I wasn't saying you, self_made_human, was a goat-fucker, I was saying hypothetical general you who may want to defend goat-fucking.

But that's what amused me about it; suddenly all the silly low decouplers who were getting het-up over simple thought experiments unlike cool brainy people who could distinguish between "suppose I want to fuck goats" and "you're saying I want to fuck goats? that's a lie!" - suddenly you were sounding just like one of them 😁

As opposed to a random user banning you?

Eh, some mod decides I said something too much and hands out a ban. I may fight that one out, but generally I just shrug and take my lumps. They have their view of "that was needlessly antagonistic" and I have mine, but they're the Benevolent Dictators of this place so what they say goes and arguing with them isn't worth it. Often I just get overheated, and then the cage comes down.

No, that was 'high decoupling consideration of hypotheticals'. I wasn't saying you, self_made_human, was a goat-fucker, I was saying hypothetical general you who may want to defend goat-fucking.

Uh huh..

https://www.themotte.org/post/760/culture-war-roundup-for-the-week/159366?context=8#context

Your notion of entertaining hypotheticals seems to be "agree with them". 'Oh, you don't like that proposal, you disagree with it? You're a low decoupler who's too stupid to be able to think abstractly'. That seems to be your go-to position.

Listen, you want to fuck goats? That's your thing, but don't try and get around objections with "Why are people so mean to me about goat-fucking, it must be because they're all too stupid to think outside of conventional notions".

You had plenty of opportunities to state that when I told you I had no desire to fuck goats, or either brand of "kid", but such a considered, nuanced intent was lacking.

At any rate, it's water under the bridge, you took your lumps.

I must hold my hands up to this fault, I was poking you since it did amuse me to see the reality of "talk about high decoupler behaviour and finger wag at low decouplers, then become a low decoupler when it was my ox that was gored" (or goat that was fucked, if you like).

So the mod(s) were in the right to smack my wrist there. However, I was not trying to intimate that you personally wanted to fuck kids (caprine) or kids (human).

That's close enough to an apology for me, while we certainly have our disagreements or outright arguments, you're not remotely as intolerable as some I could name here, heh.

Oh, just wait for the next fight I get into! 😁

If I were any good at this prediction market lark, I'd be able to start one on "When will FNE get their next ban?" and I'd clean up, I tell ya!

More comments

Slashdot meta moderation

This is part of what I'm slowly approaching with the volunteer system, although I have had no time to work on it lately :/

It is hidden for a week. It is a good compromise. And downvotes are the best way to signal to the trolls.

Vote counts are definitely not hidden for a week, at least on most posts.

signal to the trolls

If you define troll as "genuine rulebreaker", then reporting is a better option

If you define troll as "person who disagrees with me", then "signalling" should really be done with a proper response.

They're hidden for 24 hours

  1. It is easier to create bullshit than refute it. Therefore refuting bad posts with good logic is a losing proposition.

  2. Unlike responses, downvotes are typically not moderated, so if a post is so bad that the proper response to it would be moderated, a downvote is the best answer.

Unlike responses, downvotes are typically not moderated

Typically? Downvotes are never moderated. (As far as I know, we can't see who upvotes or downvotes a post even if we wanted to. I suppose Zorba could build that capability, but I know of no reason to.)

On reddit you couldn't see it,though AEO could and sometimes did take action based on it. Here, Zorba has control of the codebase so can certainly see it if he wants to.

  1. That's what moderation is for.
  2. I don't understand what your second point is saying.

That's what moderation is for.

The Motte is past the size where mods can be expected to read every single comment. At most they can respond to reports, and even then there's usually a lag time of hours involved. I also personally don't expect the mods to commit themselves to sitting down and personally addressing every bad argument that gets deposited here like a turd on a doorstep.

I don't understand what your second point is saying.

Sometimes a comment is such utter bullshit that accurately/vividly calling it out as the bullshit it is can stray past the threshold where the reply itself violates the rules here. And that's leaving aside the emotive states where you're tempted to leave something more minimally inflammatory than theoretically possible, at which point just downvoting and moving on is better for you and the forum.

Don't ask me how I know the latter.

  1. It's not against the rules to post bullshit, at least provided the bullshit is in long-form prose.

  2. If someone posts bullshit and someone else posts "Bullshit." in response, the second person will get moderated. If they merely downvote, the second person will not be moderated.

We need a rule against long-form bullshit then.

If we're not thinking of the same people, then what does being able to down vote accomplish?

It is easier to create bullshit than refute it.

Unless the content is nearly universally considered bad, downvoting things you disagree just ends up looking like "they hated him because he spoke the truth".

They laughed at Columbus, they laughed at Fulton[1], they laughed at the Wright brothers. But they also laughed at Bozo the Clown.

That is, a downvoted post be such due to it being wrong, or due to it being heterodox with regards to the majority opinion on this site. A non-narcissistic person will be able to consider the possiblity that she is mistaken and that when community with as high an average IQ this one forms an consensus, indicated by mass-votes is correct; while a crank considers disagreement a sign of suppression and persecution.

[1]Apocryphally:

You would make a ship sail against the winds and currents by lighting a bonfire under her decks? I have no time for such nonsense.

The assertion that The Motte can or should be building consensus, let alone good consensus, is laughable on its face. The “high IQ” citizens of yesteryear’s Motte were in universal agreement that sub-100 IQ people were physically incapable of understanding hypotheticals, which is obviously false to anyone who actually interacts with idiots, and not insulated morons subsisting exclusively on a social diet of nerdy coworkers and college friends.

The “high IQ” citizens of yesteryear’s Motte were in universal agreement that sub-100 IQ people were physically incapable of understanding hypotheticals

No, they weren't. Many people pushed back against that claim. The Motte never comes anywhere near "universal" agreement on anything.

The Motte never comes anywhere near "universal" agreement on anything.

You worded this as an unqualified absolute just to troll all of us who disagree with it at that extreme, didn't you?

A non-narcissistic person will be able to consider the possiblity that she is mistaken and that when community with as high an average IQ this one forms an consensus, indicated by mass-votes is correct; while a crank considers disagreement a sign of suppression and persecution.

this comment has a nice "to be fair you have to have a high IQ to understand themotte" type vibe to it, which comes across as pseudointellectual at best.

more seriously though, just because a comment is highly downvoted doesn't necessarily mean it's inherently garbage or that it was a "low IQ" opinion. a lot of very smart opinions or ideas were not deemed to be very popular in the past, and I think it'd be foolish to think that what we think is objectively correct.

just 100 years ago, high IQ people had consensus that smoking was good

They laughed at Columbus, they laughed at Fulton[1], they laughed at the Wright brothers. But they also laughed at Bozo the Clown.

I'd say I covered that with "Unless the content is nearly universally considered bad".

A non-narcissistic person will be able to consider the possiblity that she is mistaken and that when community with as high an average IQ this one forms an consensus, indicated by mass-votes is correct; while a crank considers disagreement a sign of suppression and persecution.

Strong disagree. Even if you're right about the IQ and what it means (I personally lean to us not being as smart as we think we are), high-IQ does not mean unbiased, and so we are not a representative sample of all high-IQ people, which means we are perfectly capable of downvoting comments just because we don't like them, rather than them being wrong.

To expand on that, a +35 comment is easily in the top 10% of most-upvoted comments on any given thread. Most comments are +10 or less. Community consensus with such a small group means very little.

Downvotes don't refute BS to any meaningful degree. Most trivial BS can be refuted by knowing basic fallacies, and prolific BS'ers will get modded for low-quality posts.

Downvotes in practice are just like people writing "You're wrong" without elaboration.

Having a bunch of people answer BS with "you're wrong" without elaboration is better than allowing it to stand unchallenged. Downvotes are more efficient at that than actually posting "you're wrong", and attract less moderator ire.

Having a bunch of people answer BS with "you're wrong" without elaboration is better than allowing it to stand unchallenged.

You're wrong.

I don't have vast swaths of time to devote to responding at length to certain posts, even when I want to, and on the occasions when I do the iron is often no longer hot, as it were. I don't see a problem with downvoting and moving on.

This assumes your agreement or disagreement on its own is important or worth sharing. It isn’t.

Oh? And why isn't it? Presumably we aren't all conversing in a vacuum, nor is the detailed articulate response of every single person necessarily desirable, even for the most riveting posts. I don't agree generally with you about what you term "Motte monkeys," however, so I don't imagine we'll end up in agreement.

Being a Metafilter exile, from my experience a lack of downvotes serves to push would-be downvotes to become upvotes for the nearest antagonistic reply. This has the effect of giving upvotes to whoever can write an opposing comment the quickest, regardless of the logic of the response.

Then get rid of upvotes too.

Transforming downvotes into upvotes on replies is something I've seen, but that seems like a good change to me. I've not seen the downvotes go to low-quality posts, at least not once a few higher quality posts have been made.

You can't remove the impulse and behavior by removing the button, as YouTube and twitter learned the hard way: people just start "ratio"ing each other instead.

This would be a purely cosmetic and ideological change. So I'm against it by default.

Ratioing on Twitter takes a significantly larger amount of effort than a simple downvote and requires lots of participation to distinguish it from random noise. The Motte also has rules against written downvotes so that would make it an even bigger hurdle.

I'm sorry to report that I could not resist downvoting this post, but will make amends with a comment.

Also - I think the downvote is useful, it's interesting sometimes to see the tally of up and down votes. Highlights contentiousness in an interesting way

Don't worry, I downvoted your reply as well.

it's interesting sometimes to see the tally of up and down votes. Highlights contentiousness in an interesting way

Could still be done indirectly by looking at upvotes on original post, and upvotes on the replies.

Since we don't use it to order or hide posts (I think?), I don't think having downvotes hurts too much. What I'd like to see are additional or replacement dimensions. LessWrong added an "Agree/Disagree" vote, which I like, with the original upvotes indicating quality alone. That can make it easier to get the highly upvoted, highly disagreed with posts that are really the ideal.

i don't really see the point, i think it'd likely just be as abused as upvote. it'd just be that "quality post" would be the new upvote and "not quality" would be the new downvote where "agree" is just a weaker form that would be uncommonly used.

i think it would be neat to see some indicator of controversiality though.

As others have stated, I think you must of first had some allegiance to a thing before you can "betray" it. Perhaps it's because I was opposed to them from the start, or perhaps I'm just being uncharitable, but it always seemed pretty clear to me that the most vocal internet atheists were motivated more by a desire to see the religious right in particular and wider "normie culture" in general brought low than by any sincerely held principal.

From where I'm sitting the New Atheists didn't "Betray the West" so much as they were largely anti-Western from the start. Of course, their successors on the dissident right are much better. The problem is that among other things the West was always more of an ideological/cultural project than anything else. The Words "Civis Romanus Sum" were words of power regardless of whether the speaker had been born in Latium or the Levant. This has historically been one of the West's great strengths, one of the reasons (if not THE reason) that Christendom was able to build and maintain a level of civilization that, as @TheDag put it in another thread, make any other belief system look like infants in comparison. Apes together strong.

However, as is often the case, this source of strength is also a source of vulnerability. We live in an age of the stupid, the lazy, and the faithless. Furthermore we live in an age where the frontiers to fuck-off to, or exile ner-do-wells are limited. As such it is both easy to be a free rider, and difficult for the upright to escape from or remove said parasites. The West in general and the anglo-sphere in particular being an ideological project first, is especially vulnerable to Gramscian cultural warfare. You want to fuck over a society? Fuck with its ability to reproduce, both in the abstract via civic education and counter-proselytization and in the particular via gays furries and no-fault divorce. Surround the cooperators with defectors and let game theory do the rest. Or at least so the thinking goes.

But here's the thing, the Lord lays before us blessings and curses and then beckons us to choose. We all choose our company and civilization is a choice.

I think that the New Atheist are "anti-west" in a sense that they have parasitic relationship toward western values that they nominally hate. It is very similar to some other anti-west or anti-Christian ideologies: they heavily rely on subversion of existing values to move forward with their goals. What I mean by that is to take some value that is part of the culture - e.g. "we were all created equal by god" and then just use it to ram through their own redefined version, e.g. that equity is just an upgraded version of whatever you believed before. But these values lack anchoring, as soon as the host you have parasitic relationship with dies, there is no longer any basis whatsoever to move these values forward.

If I don't believe in god or soul or equality as some god-ordained transcendental Truth, then why should I care about this or that disadvantaged group? Indians did develop literal caste system that prevailed for thousands of years, it is not as if equality is the only way we can conduct in this world. Maybe people are created unequal and here are 7 reasons why it is a good thing to keep it that way [hint - they are outgroup].

It is the same whenever somebody tries to poke a little bit into value system Sam Harris has. He uses some big words familiar to people in rationalist spheres such as "promote human flourishing" or "decreasing suffering" in a sense that he wants to move from the "worst possible misery for everyone", a thing very evocative of the image of hell. In the end similarly to rationalists he lacks grounding of his morality. If one takes this supposed "new" morality at face value, one quickly finds himself in realm of maximizing some hypothetical utils of unborn people by bombing datacenters or something, maybe alternatively one sees utils expressed as tons of biomass thus maximizing number of ants in existence or some utter nonsense - at least nonsense as intuitively viewed from somebody still at least partially partaking in western/Christian ethos.

It goes haywire real fast, so I agree that it is insanity to expect anything resembling western values by deconstructing and sawing off not only the branch you are sitting on but basically creating nuke and bombing the whole forest just to see what beautiful things will emerge out of the rubble. It is inherently self-defeating game, Sam Harris will not produce mini Sam Harrises as they will have no desire to study Christianity or religion as Harris did, they will bot be raised by people adhering to same values that formed Harris. And it is not as if it is impossible, but I find it interesting how many people use adding up to normality as some kind of stopgap for obviously intuitively wrong conclusions - like eating babies. Except apparently eating babies was literally seen as normal in some societies, I am not that sure if we are not building one such at this point.

Those are some excellent points.

I feel like, to betray something, you have to have declared loyalty to it and then abandoned it and/or sided with its enemies. The New Atheists criticized Islam but they didn't pledge loyalty to some notion of the West as being a place that must be protected from all Muslim immigration. There is no betrayal when a bunch of classical liberals simultaneously criticize Islam and say that a total ban on Muslim immigration is wrong. Presumably, they believe that the right thing to do is to first let at least some Muslims come over and to then try to convert them to secular liberalism, rather than stopping all of them from coming over. You can argue that this is an unrealistic plan, but to call the whole thing a betrayal seems inaccurate to me.

What does it even mean to betray "the West"? Which West? The West is a hodgepodge of many different societies, many of which fundamentally disagree with and often hate each other. There are certain things that a large majority of people in the West do agree on. For example, that people should not be put in prison without due process. Or that it is good to have a pretty large level of free speech compared to authoritarian countries (though people in the West disagree about how much free speech is good, exactly). But the New Atheists are not going against anything that a large majority of The West supports when they disagree with a Muslim ban. At best you can accuse them of being too stupid to clearly perceive the possible danger of being demographically replaced by people who are fundamentally opposed to the things that the West agrees on. But that would not be betrayal, it would just be a failure of perception.

I feel like, to betray something, you have to have declared loyalty to it and then abandoned it and/or sided with its enemies. The New Atheists criticized Islam but they didn't pledge loyalty to some notion of the West as being a place that must be protected from all Muslim immigration. There is no betrayal when a bunch of classical liberals simultaneously criticize Islam and say that a total ban on Muslim immigration is wrong. Presumably, they believe that the right thing to do is to first let at least some Muslims come over and to then try to convert them to secular liberalism, rather than stopping all of them from coming over. You can argue that this is an unrealistic plan, but to call the whole thing a betrayal seems inaccurate to me.

Sam Harris absolutely has explicitly said that some societies are better than others and the West - i.e. the secular liberal democracies spawned by Western Europeans and their adopted East Asian allies - is the best. This is one of his main arguments against leftists academics: moral relativism and the refusal to accept this. He is 100% on the "swore allegiance to 'the West'"

Sam Harris went around claiming that it was highly plausible that France would have a civil war that'd kill millions over Islam. This was more than a decade ago mind. To a lot of people at the time (including me) it seemed at best to be hysteria or even outright race war fantasizing you see amongst neo-nazis who are eagerly waiting for the day of days. Simply suggesting it was disqualifying.

But he felt it strongly and stuck to it, including citing Eurabia about the upcoming Muslim majority (which, btw, defeats your "he was too stupid to clearly perceive the demographic danger". Putting aside whether Eurabia is accurate, he thought he perceived the danger).

Taken with his general views on Islam - which the article accurately lays out* - it absolutely is a problem I don't think he's ever resolved conclusively. I was all over New Atheist forums: this is a point the left-wing enemies of Harris constantly made: his argument strongly suggests ethnic cleansing or at least anti-Islamic immigration despite his steadfast refusal to connect those dots.

And Sam reliably came out to tell us that all of the right-wing European leaders saying as much may or may not be bad, but the problem is that "grown-up"' European leaders really should just do their anti-Islam work for them and defuse them because if liberals don't do