Sometimes people criticise EA ideas on twitter and I am caught between my preferred response and others. So I thought I'd ask.

What does a good response to different types of criticism look like to you? What do you want from those who respond to EA criticism?

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To incorrect criticism: Occasional strong callouts of incorrect or bad faith criticism.

I was grateful to Amanda Askell here for instance: 

"Don't walk dog poo into the house"

A focus on not sharing poorly-written criticism in EA spaces cos it's boring and tiring to read.

To high quality criticism: Full written reponse.

No response at all - just get on with creating our own stuff. 

I see too much criticism right now and it's exhausting.

To twitter criticism: Engaging in the replies

It frustrates me to feel unable to discuss something. 

Directly address the substance of all criticisms of EA.

  • if a criticism contains a faulty premise, identify it and rebut it.
  • if a criticism uses poor reasoning, identify it and reject it.
  • if a criticism contains valid elements, identify and acknowledge them all.

Use the source's language as much as you can, rather than add your own jargon. Using your jargon and writing for other EA's makes you less credible and legitimate. It looks like obfuscation to the source of the criticism and to other outsiders reviewing your response.

Avoid going meta. Going meta to a criticism is not impressive to outsiders. Such meta-comments as:

  • "The number of errors in this criticism is alarming!"
  • "Geez, these bullies just won't stop."
  • "Oh, another boring, wrong criticism."
  • "We should get a PR firm to handle these kinds of reputation attacks!"

and other typical options are useless and counterproductive.

By the way, if you actually want to use a PR firm to handle criticisms, don't keep writing about it but go get one, because constantly discussing it is embarrassing, given your preferred reputation as rational people, as opposed to people who would hire a PR firm. You post those thoughts in a public forum. Your critics think you look weak every time you do that, and their criticisms, justified or not, seem validated to them and to others who judge you by your defensiveness and lack of a "high quality" response.

Otherwise, act on the reputation you aspire to, skip the meta talk, and address the criticism with a clear, rational analysis that the source of the criticism and interested observers can understand and appreciate. Don't expect that they will then agree with your response or give EA more respect, but do expect that anyone who cares about the truth will recognize the integrity behind your response to the criticism. Whether the criticism is "high quality" or not, whether you were bored by it or not.

You can always ignore criticisms as well, for whatever reason. Maybe your busy schedule.

But if you do respond to criticism, it doesn't matter that you don't "speak for EA", but rather, that EA contains community members who can and do practice the rationality they profess. You want that reputation. Go after it with your responses to criticism. You're doing your community a favor that way.

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