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"Writing is Nature's way of showing you how sloppy your thinking is" [0]

Writing is my primary tool. I keep a blog... and journals. I keep a journal for my reading: what I've read, what I thought about it, choice things I'd like to recall. I keep a journal of my mathematical reading, thoughts, and work. Programming too!

Keeping your writing in a blog and sharing it with others puts a bit of pressure on you to keep a public persona but it's worth doing, as the author points out, to keep one honest. It has taken a while for me to learn this as evidenced on my blog but I have taken it more to heart in recent years.

Be careful writing with an authoritative voice if you yourself have not researched the topic deep enough to convincingly defend your findings! It's much easier for your audience to accept your work if they know you're in the process of discovery when they find an error or omission. It makes you more credible as well.

The more you know, the more you realize how little you know.

[0] https://www.azquotes.com/quote/721037






Re: "Writing is Nature's way of showing you how sloppy your thinking is"

This is why I dislike the down voting capability on sites. There's an impulse the person dislikes what they read or from how they interpreted it, and then they are able to quell that feeling with a single action vs. having to put the effort into thinking and articulating into words what they're feeling, why they are feeling it, and allow it to be publicly scrutinized - hopefully with respectful responses. This allows not only scrutiny and discourse to occur, however it also offers an opportunity for OP to potentially learn something - whether that their language wasn't articulated clearly enough and so interpreted how they didn't expect or other.


What forum rules would you like to see experiments with?

The easiest one would simply be removing the down vote mechanism. If with an existing site then can compare with the years' prior stats - assuming they've been recorded; I don't know if HN does. There are a number of things you could monitor - would be interesting to see if any sets of people with the same behaviour change their behaviour more than just down voting, like if they stay on the site more or less, if they comment more or less; perhaps doing word use analysis on these different sub sets before and after the down vote change, what language are people who are prone to down voting using vs. those who only comment or only up vote but don't down vote, etc.

No downvotes == youtube. People as a whole are too fucking immature and stupid to work in this kind of system because there is no negative feedback for extremism (one-sided views without nuance).

People knee-jerk upvote just as much as they knee-jerk downvote and eliminating one half of the knee-jerks has nasty side effects.


That's a good point regarding people knee-jerk upvoting too. I wonder if A/B testing to see whether there's a difference if weighting upvotes higher from people who comment more and probably taking comment length into account - and perhaps factoring in the upvotes of their comments to the weight of their upvotes.

So like Facebook or YouTube comments (downvotes on YouTube don't really do anything) ?

Do you have evidence for this? It doesn't change the publicly displayed number, but I was under the impression that it does change the ordering. That did seem to be the case last time I experimented with this. On a video with only a dozen or so comments I downvoted a comment with no upvotes, and then opened the video page in an incognito tab, and the comment I downvoted was right at the bottom. Could have been a coincidence, but the probability of that seemed low at the time.

I think his point might be that a YouTube downvote really does do something; it creates in the downvoter an emotion that the point has been addressed and can be discarded without further thought.

You’ve got an old and wise account, but for me, hacker news is a place I can’t downvote.

Upvoted you to counter whoever downvoted you. Do you mind explaining why HN is somewhere you can't or won't downvote but other places you will?

My account can’t downvote on HN.

Some people say it gets unlocked after 500 karma, others say they can do it before then which makes me think a mod can activate it for an account.

It was ironic and surprising to see all these high karma accounts discuss a theoretical forum where users can’t downvote without discussing HN’s existing rules.


Not op, but one idea: Ask for an articulate reason for downvoting. Increases the barrier of downvotes, and if people don't feel that it's articulate they could then downvote the downvote (with their reasons why).

Frequently downvoted reasons could be added to a blacklist that requires additional elucidation before being able to submit the downvote.

This has been an interesting thought experiment. I'd expect the results might besimilar to Robot9000: https://blog.xkcd.com/2008/01/14/robot9000-and-xkcd-signal-a...


Additionally, you could rephrase from "downvote" to "rebuttal", which I think makes it more clear that not only is the opinion/post unpopular, but that there is information that contradicts the OP's post. It could make for a more substantive phrasing

Slashdot has (had? Haven't used Slashdot for years) a reason for up/downvotes, coupled with meta-moderation where you would occasionally be asked to moderate someone elses choice of moderation.

Don't remember how well it worked.


Heck yeah! I had a five digit slashdot account and ICQ accounts. Those were the days. :)

If keeping down votes I like the idea of at least a minimum reply character length - those could then be added and act as comments.

The only voting site I use is HN and here, a good number of the people who down vote will also comment.

That HN hides the votes of each post is useful because you only wind-up with a vague guess as to how other posts are received.

I suspect that not offering down votes would not make people more likely to comment. I will vote and then comment to reinforce my vote.


> "Writing is Nature's way of showing you how sloppy your thinking is"

Also:

• "You write to find out what you believe… When I write, things occur to me. It's a way of thinking. But you can perform your thinking instead of just thinking it." — https://web.archive.org/web/20161201164608/http://www.thepar... / https://www.brainpickings.org/2014/06/09/adam-phillips-paul-...

• "To think, you have to write. If you're thinking without writing, you only think you're thinking. […] Everyone thinks they think. If you don't write down your thoughts, you are fooling yourself." — Leslie Lamport (http://channel9.msdn.com/Events/Build/2014/3-642 , 1:30 & 45:34)

• "Turing machines are incredibly more powerful than Finite Automata. Yet the only difference between a FA and a TM is that the TM, unlike the FA, has paper and pencil. Think about it. It tells you something about the power of writing." — Manuel Blum (https://www.cs.cmu.edu/~mblum/research/pdf/research02.txt)


"Writing is Nature's way of showing you how sloppy your thinking is"

Great quote, it's actually by Bob Mugele (see earlier cite http://commonplacebook.com/jokes/funny-lists/one-liners-from... ) his website is http://www.junglebob.net/cv.html I exchanged email with him and he confirmed he coined it in the mid-90's


Good to know!



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