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

3
Ivy Mazzola
1y
Why was that page not fixed immediately? It seems clear to me that fixing that particular page was a very high priority? It seems it was added to a feature queue when the issue could also have have been treated immediately by manually changing that particular link. I also had someone in my community message me about the post 2 weeks ago and censorship concerns. I honestly didn't even know the post was gone til then so it was very hard to explain. I am concerned about how tasks get prioritized that this was left that long tbh. I don't expect a response exactly but like.. Seems important to register a complaint or something. Please with sensitive things like this just triage them by putting a bandaid on too of the particular problem and add it as a full feature later. [Edit: I see it is fixed now (it now implies that the post is usually deleted by author) but I could swear it wasn't fixed 2 weeks ago because I had to ask friends to log in and check the link for me to make sure we all saw the same message, and I don't think I'd have done that if deleting by author had been mentioned]

Just to clarify, I don't work on the forum, I only help out with moderation, so I'm only speculating here.
If you want to contact the people that run the forum, you can use these channels (but keep in mind they're currently probably a bit overloaded)

The forum codebase seems to be public, you can see that the text was changed in November https://github.com/ForumMagnum/ForumMagnum/pull/6143 https://github.com/ForumMagnum/ForumMagnum/pull/6153/files#diff-5dc494c8af9a70df8c13a716cab8cd560735eb4e5638e21d2735f87a39f96ad8: approximately one day after I posted the feature request.

Maybe the person in your community had concerns even with the new text? Or maybe they were not logged in? I think having a detailed report/request for change could help the developers (e.g. including a screenshot of what you saw, and a mention of what you would have preferred to see).

As for:

Why was that page not fixed immediately? It seems clear to me that fixing that particular page was a very high priority?

As a software developer (not working on the forum), I have to admit I sighed a bit while reading this.
These kinds of things are sadly often more tricky than they seem (as you just found out, the solution didn't... (read more)

Hi I'm really sorry. I wrote that late last night very tired and frustrated after thinking about this or gender EA stuff all day. I thought about deleting or retracting my comment a few minutes after I wrote it, but I just left it in what I hoped was decent form. But unfortunately it was so not decent form nor correct. So now I've retracted it.

It seems that when I revisited the link back in November, it was before the page was changed (probably before this post was made), so I didn't see the update in November. And when I and others visited 2 weeks ago I guess we all just missed that second sentence "This is usually due to the user deleting the post" because it isn't as obvious on mobile? I do struggle to see how we could have missed the sentence about it, so perhaps I'm the only one who missed it, and others saw it but still felt the language implied foul play. 

As you suggest, I'll message the people in my community about how it looked to them. And if that does yield good feedback or I think of some better language I'll message mods. 

And yeah, my latter sentences you quote where I speak about it not being treated immediately aren't valid. It does look like the issue was ... (read more)

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Lorenzo Buonanno
1y
<3 I don't think your comment was that bad, it was clearly not norm-violating or anything, and thank you for writing it even if you were very tired and frustrated (I now upvoted it, and I hope you're now feeling better and taking time for self-care). It could result in useful feedback on how to improve the forum, which is valuable. I would personally much prefer people write imperfect feedback than nothing at all for fear of being discouraging or incorrect
2
... Interior Design Choices
1y
(You may have seen this) As mentioned above, all of the comments are here, if it is useful to you: ea.greaterwrong.com/posts/NacFjEJGoFFWRqsc8/women-and-effective-altruism
6
... Interior Design Choices
1y
For a number of reasons, comments should not be made inaccessible by removing posts.  (I don't have time, but there is a lot of say about the root issues here, I actually believe the poster is justified in her core mission.) However, the poster has no right to remove comments of uninvolved people, that she then characterizes later. In addition to the victims of severe crime and misconduct, this situation has been humiliating and damaging to a lot of women and contributors to EA, who are not culpable and are also affected. Having a way to communicate with integrity and verify basic facts (such as the content of their discussions and character, which have been described in Time magazine!) seems like a basic service.

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 

6
Vaidehi Agarwalla
1y
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?
2
Habryka
1y
Yeah, it seems reasonable (IMO) to add it to the site-FAQ, though I wouldn't want it to be more prominent than that.
1
Sharmake
1y
It doesn't link to greater wrong, instead it links to the deleted post.
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Habryka
1y
It links to the deleted post, without the post itself, but with the comments still visible.
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Lorenzo Buonanno
1y
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  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 
2
Habryka
1y
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.

8
Jeff Kaufman
1y
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 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.

Petey
1y26
18
1

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.

6
Will Bradshaw
1y
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.

3
BrownHairedEevee
1y
Fwiw, a lot of the comments are collapsed and can't be expanded in the archived copy.
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Dawn Drescher
1y
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.

I took it down due to the responses from the forum. The original intention of the post was to catalyze action from the within the community, but after it was around for a day or two, I realized this will not happen. The original goal of posting here will not be served. 

In addition, the post being live here brought me a lot of headache. I felt like the responses from the forum were mob-like and fell into three categories 1. normalizing ( this is just a statistic, every community has a few) 2. dismissive (not a big deal) 3. attacking. I also have a full time job so didn't have the time to respond and felt increasingly unsafe given that I wasn't posting as an anon. 

There will be some follow up work on this topic in upcoming days.

I saw all of the comments in the state before commenter removed her post. 

There was a lot of women who responded in depth and consideration to the post. Altogether, this produced a pretty convincing response that did not make post look as favorable as I think the commenter wanted it.

I don't at all like EA rhetoric, which is highly defective, but the women there probably spent 100-woman hours of time writing all of their comments. By removing the post, the commenter silenced their views without answering or developing a response.

2
Keerthana Gopalakrishnan
1y
I felt it was higher EV to spend my time developing AI than developing responses in comment sections.  If EA didn't like my post, that's fine. I said my piece. There are other places on the internet and elsewhere where my discussion was welcome and where I felt heard. :)  It's faster to be on a boat where you're rowing in the direction of the current than against it.
1
Cornelis Dirk Haupt
1y
Why didn't you leave the post up and just ignore the responses then?
3
Keerthana Gopalakrishnan
1y
Because I refuse to be spoken disrespectfully to :) 
2
Cornelis Dirk Haupt
1y
Why didn't you just delete the specific comments that you thought were disrespectful? You have the option of enforcing your own norms on your own posts. Or did you not know that was an option? (It certainly took me a while to discover I could do this!). Though I guess the answer to that would be some variant of: "because it is too cognitively and emotionally time-consuming to decide whether each comment crossed the line or not and I have important AI Alignment work to do." To be clear with my view so my questions don't feel like some sort of interrogation where I'm trying to "gotcha!" or anything like that: it is your post. You have the right to delete it without justifying the decision. In my view you didn't censor the views of the women in the comments, the EA Forum did. The EA Forum could and should be programmed such that deleted posts don't remove the comments as well.
2
Ivy Mazzola
1y
Strongly agree that the EA Forum should be programmed such that deleting a post does not remove comments. People put so much time into writing comments on this forum. Agree with just deleting comments you find unfair rather than hiding the post. At least if one deletes and reposts on their blog the charitable thing would be to link to the wayback machine. If you think the commentors look worse than you, why hide it? Isn't it important to show if there is toxicity? It's possible responding here is a kinda random spot but I'm on mobile so 😅

Let me explain my thought process.

I didn't know I could delete individual comments but even if I could, I wouldn't feel good censoring individual comments. Am I mad she called me bigoted? Of course. Should she be allowed to make her speech about me being bigoted? Yes. As someone who is strongly criticizing EA so publicly, I for one want free and unrestricted speech. From a system perspective, multiple players playing most optimally helps us get at the best solutions. Optimality though doesn't mean playing nasty/below the belt, and I'd definitely opine that calling me bigoted was a nasty move on her part.

About deleting the post: EA is not entitled to my words, my thoughts or my time. I am not getting paid to do this, it is all free and voluntary and comes at the cost of alternative uses of my time.  There were multiple people who expressed similar sentiments as Monica though her characterization was the most extremely worded. If EA as a group speak abusively to me, or otherwise indicate my opinions are unvalued, I'm just gonna take my post and exit the door. I think that's fair to decide to not invest your energy where it is not appreciated. 

Thirdly and most importantly, E... (read more)

Thanks for explaining your thought process. I agree with the first half. But I'll respectfully push back on the rest. Please bear with me as this may be hard to hear. But I also hope it is roundabout nice to hear, and hope it clears the air. 

1. Was your energy not appreciated?
Yes it's fair to leave spaces where you aren't appreciated. But many people in that thread did take the concerns seriously and give you a warm reception. Catherine and Julia both offered to speak to you. As did Rocky. The comments were also full of people saying things like "I don't want to negate your experiences" or "I'm glad this post was written". From what I remember, kind and concerned comments were finding their way to the top, and your post was even netting more upvotes by day too. 

Additionally, I say this as someone who was hesitant about your post myself (I asked for further details on the original post), any hesitance about the piece or even down-votes didn't mean that I or others didn't want to take your concerns seriously, nor that we didn't already have our own concerns about women in EA. We just needed a little help to make sense of the whole post, and possibly didn't agree with the re... (read more)

4
Keerthana Gopalakrishnan
1y
Hey Ivy, There are multiple reasons I didn't take EA's help.  1. California law is more liberal than EA community health code. Community health is a euphemistic and blunt term for "sexual harassment", minimizing its seriousness with a vaguely worded umbrella term. Usually every org has a sexual harassment code, non retaliation policy, etc. Phrases like "second/third chances", "measuring impact of abuser and abused", "unfairly harm reputation" etc doesn't reflect victims will be taken seriously. It is also worded in a way that impact to community as against individual would be prioritized should claims be found true. I was better off going to the cops in CA. 2. The people I had bad experiences with were deeper/more popular/influential in EA than I was and given how everyone's friends/lovers and stuff, I didn't think there would be impartiality. I am easier to be othered than them. 3. Given the multiplicity of the problem, I didn't want to go after individuals because they are too small fish to be worth my time frying. It was the culture that was broken that needed fixing because these people believe they are good individuals while doing things everyone else at EA was also doing. 4. Julia Wise's office has way too much opacity and no accountability frameworks but courts/cops in CA are held accountable. DA's lose elections and governments fall for mishandling criminal justice, what happens to Julia Wise for mishandling? 5. I didn't know Julia Wise so didn't have reason to think she was different than the distribution of EA people commenting on my post. It's a lot to ask that you trust some private individual blindly you haven't met. Julia also only reached out to me yesterday to clarify about Kathy Forth, but not in Nov/Dec/Jan. 6. One of the other people who reached out was an ex primary partner of a person who attempted to sleep with me, so I didn't feel safe talking to her ( see, conflict of interest). I scheduled a meeting with the other and we didn't end u
9
Cornelis Dirk Haupt
1y
  My quick 2 cents on this point (rest of the points are probably above my pay-grade): I think if we were to poll say... the entire world's population the vast majority of people would say they don't feel a post of theirs was "heavily downvoted" unless it was net negative - and only then if it was strongly net negative. You are totally free to have your own subjective feeling of what counts as "heavily downvoted" and it is allowed to deviates from the norm, but you deliberately chose not to clarify how your definition is different from the standard definition most anyone would think about. This isn't exactly dishonesty in my mind, but definitely feels like a tactic a politician who isn't upfront would use. It's a fair accusation to make. Like... uncontroversially so as well. Why wouldn't it be? Let's assume we have some government-funded project to combat sexual harassment. Let's assume a vote was cast on whether the project should remain funded. Let's say the votes were more positive than negative. If some seedy politician got up and said the project was clearly and obviously "heavily downvoted" and nowhere highlighted that actually most people voted in favour of it, you would be fucking pissed and right to accuse him of being dishonest. He didn't technically lie and if said politician then responded with:   Would you say he is right and it is complete and utterly unfair to accuse him of being dishonest? We can go into the details of whether he was technically lying or not all we want, but it is still a fair accusation to say they are being dishonest.
1
Keerthana Gopalakrishnan
1y
Ah, I just found this comment after it was referenced elsewhere. My definition of  "heavily downvoted" = "lot of downvotes". My post had around 75 or so downvotes which may be a third of total votes(speaking from memory). I'm making a credible accusation of harassment at the cost of my reputation, time and mental energy and you're strawman attacking me for two words in the whole excerpt based on a subjective definition of "heavily downvoted" to call me overall dishonest? Dude.  My intention was not to point out that most people in EA voted against it which would be a false characterization. The intention of my statement was to convey that there was heavy backlash against my post, which I believe is accurate. The evidence for the claim  that there was "heavy backlash" is "lots of downvotes / a large fraction of downvotes". I wanted to get the information out that I faced a lot of attack for saying what I did( even right now, I am defending my exact choice of words and defending against being characterized as a liar for a small difference in opinion) because that's useful information to survivors, and because it is an out of domain / unexpected response toward people coming out. Ultimately my words are my words and not your words. Feel free to disagree with my exact framing but be more careful before accusing someone of intentional fabrication/lying and puncturing the overall credibility of people who are already taking much personal and reputational risk to talk about their truths. Dishonesty implies intention. One day, when it's your turn to tell your story, others may dismiss you as well based on small disagreements in adjective use. 
2
Cornelis Dirk Haupt
1y
Yea so we are talking about those two words and not the rest of what you have to say. I prefaced my whole comment as much. If you want to criticize me for not engaging with your other points my response is mostly "I'm not a woman" and I know Ivy is busy writing up a response anyway better than I could. In the meantime, I'm allowed to only focus on a single point where I have 2 cents to share. And those 2 cents remain that I think it is uncontroversial for someone to be accused of being dishonest if they obfuscate the support they have from a community they've criticized of being unsupportive. If you feel that me having this take additionally also invalidates your entire harassment accusation, I can only say it doesn't, that is not my intent, and I could make additional recommendations that I could DM you that don't feel appropriate in public. I make it very clear where I can that the Time article was a good thing for the EA community and happily bonk any would-be downplayers. And in doing so happily defend you speaking out. I don't think it is a good norm to tell others they shouldn't accuse you of something they genuinly think/feel might be going on just because doing so - you feel - will hurt your overall credibility and reputation. I also seriously doubt your personal and reputational risk is really taking a hit from my one point. I don't doubt you feel that it is and I'm sorry you have to feel that, but I don't think that it actually is taking a hit. The thing is, I feel like, when that happens, I'll thank people for pointing out something that seems like a reasonable objection. Maybe I had a blindspot and they were pointing something out, out of concern for that blindspot. I'll tell them their feeling that I did something dishonest is valid. That's their valid experience. Then I'll kindly reassure them for reasons x,y,z I am an honest person they can trust. If I made a mistake and missed some detail, I'd add their information to my story. I think what
1
Keerthana Gopalakrishnan
1y
Also I'm curious how did you know exactly who DM'ed me? Where did you get that information?
7
Ivy Mazzola
1y
Sorry, I don't know who DMed you?Is this a misunderstanding? I wrote one paragraph (beginning with "Sheepishly") where I say that I had wished to DM you, but unfortunately I never did, which I regret. I'll respond to your other comment tomorrow and appreciate you writing it
2
Keerthana Gopalakrishnan
1y
How did you know that Catherine Low, Julia Wise and Rocky offered to speak with me?

Because they all did in the comments of your orginal post. I remember that being the case because I had specifically checked at the time for community health team's response (Julia and Catherine), and also I remember being impressed with EA NYC response (and I thought of that as Rocky although they also have another person for community health and diversity).

Before writing my long comment above, I did quickly check the Greater Wrong mirror post for their comments cuz I'd hate to mention ther names and be wrong. But I'm happy to publicly commend people for trying to communicate, as long as it can be gleaned from publicly visible information.

If they also DMed you, I didn't know that. The offers to speak in comments are all I'm referencing.

2
Keerthana Gopalakrishnan
1y
I see, makes sense. 

It is eery to me that you aren't including a category that is:

"Good faith discourse from other women sharing their valid and different experiences in EA"

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".

-6
Davit Jintcharadze
1y

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"

6
Devin Kalish
1y
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.)

6
Jeff Kaufman
1y
FYI, pretty sure Torres uses 'they': https://twitter.com/xriskology
2
Jeff Kaufman
1y
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

9
GoodEAGoneBad
1y
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.