Re: Promoting High Bandwidth AGI Discussion

From: Chris Capel (
Date: Wed Dec 14 2005 - 12:56:54 MST

On 12/14/05, Richard Loosemore <> wrote:
> A follow-up thought:
> The idea behind my suggestion is that we sloooooow the discussion down a
> bit.
> If we force the pace to be more measured, the posts might rise above the
> kind of "everyone shouting out the first thought that comes into their
> heads" problem.

It's my opinion that the primary problem with the S/N ratio of mailing
lists is that people are able to just contribute something, all the
while ignoring the contributions of those in past discussions. Now,
this is a perfectly understandable behavior. I imagine almost no one
reads the complete SL4 archives before they contribute any posts to
the list. I really think the pace has little to do with this, and
furthermore that keeping up a brisk pace is necessary if one is to
keep people motivated to participate. If the feedback is too slow,
people will lose interest and your site will never reach a critical

The idea you expressed in the other post addresses the S/N ratio
problem effectively, but I'm very wary of any sort of collaborative
moderation techniques in a site open to public participation. And I
think inviting public participation is important. (See Kuro5hin and
Slashdot for examples of collaborative moderation that really sucks.)
Moderation also tends to fail completely when the subjects being
discussed are particularly polemic.

Also, the pace in your system isn't fast enough. People have to commit
too much time returning to check on their contribution. That's one
unnecessary barrier to participation.

I think a better system is one in which contributions are very small
and atomic. I think the system I have in mind can be described as a
modification to the one you proposed. On any given essay, there are
behind the essay a network of "statement" nodes, one for each sentence
or two or three in the essay. Each node is interrelated to any number
of other nodes by any number of relationship types. A proposed change
or addition will then be much easier to evaluate, and controversy much
easier to manage. The two main problems in defining such a system are
deciding what types of nodes and relationships can adequately model
normal dialectic, and designing a user interface for such a network
that isn't completely unmanageable.

Chris Capel

"What is it like to be a bat? What is it like to bat a bee? What is it
like to be a bee being batted? What is it like to be a batted bee?"
-- The Mind's I (Hofstadter, Dennet)

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