There was a post up some time last week I wanted to read called Women and Effective Altruism. Later last week I noticed the page seemed down and now I just get "Sorry, you don't have access to this page." I was wondering why that was. My 60 second glance at the two top comments gave me the impression that the post stimulated healthy discourse among EA women on their experiences in EA.

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The author asked to take it down from the forum based on the comments received, you can see it on her website here.

So just FYI:

I've had members in my community point out concern that the post being taken down is evidence of censorship in EA.

The message "Sorry, you don't have access to this page" should probably read something like "Sorry, this post has been removed by the author." This is not even "only about optics". This is just updating a message so that it says something true rather than false.

Thanks for flagging! Added a feature request in the feature request thread

This seems like generally a bad precedent to set - lots of people put a bunch of time into writing thoughtful comments; those comments are now gone. Even leaving the post up with the body blanked out would be preferable. I’m not sure the author of a post should have the power to erase all the discussion of it unless they have a very good reason.

I think it's a somewhat hard tradeoff to set in terms of visibility and streisand-effect like things. I am currently happy with the equilibrium where you can still find the comments on the greaterwrong mirror:

https://ea.greaterwrong.com/posts/NacFjEJGoFFWRqsc8/women-and-effective-altruism 

6Vaidehi Agarwalla19d
I doubt many people are aware of this option or know what greater wrong is. I wonder if it is a good idea to make that easier to find?
2Habryka19d
Yeah, it seems reasonable (IMO) to add it to the site-FAQ, though I wouldn't want it to be more prominent than that.
1Sharmake19d
It doesn't link to greater wrong, instead it links to the deleted post.
2Habryka19d
It links to the deleted post, without the post itself, but with the comments still visible.
4Lorenzo Buonanno19d
The link text is to greaterwrong, the link address is to the ea forum (where the post is not visible). Clickable link: https://ea.greaterwrong.com/posts/NacFjEJGoFFWRqsc8/women-and-effective-altruism [https://ea.greaterwrong.com/posts/NacFjEJGoFFWRqsc8/women-and-effective-altruism] Edit: it was actually correct in the first comment, but it's not clickable, my bad, you need to use https://ea.greaterwrong.com/posts/NacFjEJGoFFWRqsc8/women-and-effective-altruism
2Habryka19d
Huh, yeah, seems like it's not clickable. That seems bad. I'll add it to the list of bugs.

My understanding is that the author ultimately decided to take it down when someone called them a bigot in the comments (for their points related to polyamory). I think both the comment and reaction to it were a bit much personally, but I can understand not wanting the comments visible if that was the key worry for the author.

To clarify, authors have always been able to make a post private by clicking "Move to Draft" on their posts.
Moderators can do so as well (like has been done in this case) if, for example, the author does not know about that possibility.

8Jeff Kaufman18d
The comments are not completely gone: you can still see them on the profile pages of the authors. For example, if you look at https://forum.effectivealtruism.org/users/jeff_kaufman [https://forum.effectivealtruism.org/users/jeff_kaufman] you'll see a comment "Asking and guessing aren't the only options here: double-opt in methods ..." that was originally on the referenced post and is now detached.

The author has a note at the top of the saying this was “a heavily downvoted post in [the EA] community” when it was posted here. The archive link Dawn provided, however, shows that it received 64 upvotes on net. Is there a reason for this significant discrepancy between her claim and what the archive link shows?

If you mouseover the score, you can see that there were more than 200 total votes. I assume it meant that it had lots of downvotes even if the final score was positive.

That seems like a misleading framing. When I hear heavily downvoted post, I think of something that’s well in the negatives on net. Otherwise, the post could also be described as “heavily upvoted” even though it only got 64 karma on net.

5Will Bradshaw18d
Yeah, I think the most you could say is that it was controversial in the community.

Interesting! I had missed that post. There’s a backup of the discussion on archive.org. If it was removed to sort of close the discussion, it’s probably okay to link it because that copy can’t be commented on? But I’ll remove my comment if someone feels that it’s uncooperative to link the copy.

3BrownHairedEevee19d
Fwiw, a lot of the comments are collapsed and can't be expanded in the archived copy.
6Dawn Drescher18d
They are in the source code of the page, so I read them in the Elements panel of the developer tools sidebar. But I can see that that’s probably not everyone’s preferred method… Edit: Oli Habryka’s Greater Wrong solution below is more convenient.

Was it this post by chance? https://forum.effectivealtruism.org/posts/AbohvyvtF6P7cXBgy/brainstorming-ways-to-make-ea-safer-and-more-inclusive This one seems to be on a very similar topic. But it has a different name so it's probably not the same one but possibly Richard revised the title at some point.

No, "Women and Effective Altruism" by Keerthana preceded "Brainstorming ways to make EA safer and more inclusive" by Richard.

I think it is largely due to the fact that a woman tried to share her personal experience and a lot of people with a very vague understanding of the sorts of pressures females face from men decided to comment in not the very kind way. Calling someone who is talking about her very unpleasant experience a 'bigot' and seeing only comments about polyamory in a situation where women are made feel uncomfortable is plane sad to be diplomatic. 

There were a lot of comments from a lot of women and men about a wide variety of topics brought up in the post. I strongly disagree that there were "only comments about polyamory" from "a lot of people with a very vague understanding of the sorts of pressures females face from men".

-4Davit Jintcharadze18d
Would you mind pointing out where did I say "only comments" as opposed to "a lot of people"? Thank you! The point is that it's not ok to silence and downvote women who share their personal experiences, it does not matter if a man or a woman does the silencing. And yes, making it all about monogamy vs polyamory is a distractor from the larger issue as well.

Would you mind pointing out where did I say "only comments"


Here:

 

The point is that it's not ok to silence and downvote women who share their personal experiences

There's a difference between silencing a woman for sharing her personal experience and disagreeing with object-level suggestions. What gave you the impression that she was being silenced?

For example, one comment said:

"I feel a little conflicted, because on the one hand I want to respect and make space for you reporting your own experience. On the other hand, you are actually making concrete suggestions that I don’t agree with—suggestions that would make my life, as a woman in EA, worse. So I don’t know how to respond."

2[comment deleted]18d

The term 'bigot' is so vague and so loaded that I think it should be used with a lot of caution if used at all.

The comment on question referred to the post as "bigoted", not the author as a "bigot"

6Devin Kalish18d
Every time I’ve seen someone make this same point on the forum about Emile Torres’ use of the “white supremacy” label they get net downvoted. A bit off topic, and I hesitate to bring it up because it’s not clear who specifically is implicated in inconsistency here, but I do notice a bias in the voting on comments like this in the different contexts that I think is worth pointing out. For my own part I guess I think the distinction matters denotationally at least but comes with costs in misleading connotation that usually makes it better to phrase things differently.

A key difference is that there is strong evidence that Émile P. Torres is an intellectually dishonest critic. By contrast, when a typical EA Forum user draws a distinction between e.g. "bigoted" and "bigot", there is no reason to suppose they are exploiting the difference to make toxic insinuations about other people.

(Posted under an anonymous account because I don't want Torres to harass me, as he has done previously when I posted under my real name.)

1Jeff Kaufman17d
FYI, pretty sure Torres uses 'they': https://twitter.com/xriskology [https://twitter.com/xriskology]
2Jeff Kaufman17d
Link?

I looked back at the specific instances I remembered of this, and they weren’t quite how I remembered. There were more instances that I don’t remember specific enough information about to find again, which makes linking to a source for my impression hard, but given how I misremembered the instances I could check up on specifically, I’m more generally suspicious of how well grounded my impression actually was. I still think a tendency of this sort exists to some extent, but I’m tentatively unendorsing my original comment.

That's really impressive, love seeing people update their beliefs in real time

7GoodEAGoneBad19d
I have detailed subject matter knowledge here (responding to "very vague understanding of the sorts of pressures females face") and I thought the comments on poly were inappropriate and, only in so far as bigotted means "a person who is obstinately or unreasonably attached to a belief, opinion, or faction, especially one who is prejudiced against or antagonistic toward a person or people on the basis of their membership of a particular group", bigoted. I did not say that because I did not want to be unkind but I was very unimpressed.