1070 karmaJoined Jul 2022


I agree there's a bias where the points more popular people make are evaluated more generously, but in this case I think the karma is well deserved. The COI point is important, and Linch highlights its importance with a relevant yet brief personal story. And while the comment was quick for Linch to make, some people in the EA community would hesitate to point out a conflict of interest in public for fear of being seen as a troublemaker, so the counterfactual impact is higher than it might seem. I strongly upvoted the comment. 

Linch, I believe you wrote elsewhere here that you wish people had engaged with you charitably, instead of focusing on possibly flawed word choice. I have tried to do this with you, although I feel you haven't always returned the favor (uncharitable assumptions about my motivations/background, mischaracterizing my comments). You contested there was an element of racism in your comment and I gave you a simple, non-legalese outline of why I think so. In response to this, instead of engaging with my point, you asked me an extremely basic question about how to define racism, a question I had already partially addressed multiple times in how it applies here. 

My gut reaction was that this was a defensive reaction and you weren't interested in engaging, you just wanted to seem not racist and win an online debate. 

Of course, my gut could be wrong. So I asked you where you were coming from. And I'm glad to hear you seem to be genuinely interested in learning whether you made mistakes here. 

Unfortunately, I am not interested in the type of debate you're setting up. I gave you a simple outline earlier of where I was coming from and you are welcome to engage with it. 

Take care. 

I'm surprised by this question. Can you explain what prompted it? I think I've been pretty clear that I don't think your comment was motivated by (1). 

Let's imagine your charitable hypothesis was true and titotal was a non-native speaker who misread some comments due to lack of familiarity with the language. When they pushed back on something you said, you condescendingly asked them if they were a native speaker and ignored everything else they said. This is a tactic with a racist element. 

Hi Linch,

I'm sorry you felt offended by my comment. A few points:

  • I do not think you're a racist or were trying to be racist, or that race was on your mind when making that comment. I thought you were feeling misunderstood by titotal and mistakenly thought this was a good way to push back. I said there are no upsides and plenty of downsides to your comment and suggested that you be more direct with your actual problem with titotal instead. "If you're feeling hopeless about conversing with someone or feeling misunderstood, say that instead." 
  • Your defense about this being the most charitable interpretation you can think of doesn’t engage with any of the points above. A “charitable” explanation that is unlikely to be relevant even if true is just not worth much, nor did you ask your question in a way to make it easy for an actual non-native speaker to admit to a potential vulnerability if that was going on. I read your comment as a passive-aggressive “Can’t you read?” attack which carelessly used language issues as a shield against being called out for being an attack. 
  • I’ve seen a previous similar comment you made and ignored it at the time, especially since (as you say somewhere here) you could have easily been a non-native speaker yourself. But because it had seemingly moved from a one-off comment to a pattern that you thought was justified, I’m glad I pushed back on it. 
  • I did not call you racist and neither did Akhil. We called out issues with your comment. I hope you are mindful of the difference. 
  • I am sympathetic to a general point about native speakers scolding a non-native speaker for not being inclusive enough in their language, but you are making some assumptions in applying it here.

As an unrelated point, I personally hope whether you listen to someone or not isn't founded on whether they display competent moral reasoning, but I'm unsure what you meant by this.

I agree with Akhil. There is no benefit to the comment you wrote and plenty of downside. If you're feeling hopeless about conversing with someone or feeling misunderstood, say that instead. Condescendingly implying someone who disagrees with you isn't good enough at English because they're not a native speaker is a terrible response. 

I did some more research and 20 complaints a year of varying severity is typical, according to what Julia Wise told TIME magazine for their article:

Wise, whose role at CEA involves overseeing community well-being, tells TIME she has fielded roughly 20 complaints per year in her seven years on the job, ranging from uncomfortable comments to more serious allegations of harassment and more. But with no official leadership structure, no roster of who is and isn’t in the movement, and no formal process for dealing with complaints, Wise argues, it’s hard to gauge how common such issues are within EA compared to broader society.

With regards to 2: There is some information CH has made public about how many cases they handle and what actions they take. In a 12 month period around 2021, they handled 19 cases of interpersonal harm. Anonymized summaries of the cases and actions taken are available in the appendix of this post. They ranged from serious:

A person applied to EA Global who had previously been reported for deliberately physically endangering another community member, sending them threatening messages, and more. Written correspondence between the people appears to confirm this. I discussed with both of them separately, and told the person they cannot come to CEA events including EA Global.

to out of scope:

A community member asked for help in publicly documenting various bad things people outside EA have done to them. I explained I don’t have capacity to help with this.

four interviewees who gave me some pretty helpful info would only talk to me on the condition that I not share my info with the CEA Community Health team. They didn't trust (what I'm calling) the "institutionalized whisper network" to respect them, and some expected that it would hurt their ability to get funding to share any info.

Does the Community Health team have any concerns about this? Do they have a plan to regain trust? 

Because otherwise I don't see what the point of a Community Health team that inspires so much mistrust is. Even if the team was 100% competent, they could not do their jobs effectively without people trusting them. 

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