作者:Eliezer Yudkowsky

Well-Kept Gardens Die By Pacifism (被和平主义毁掉的桃花源)

Good online communities die primarily by refusing to defend themselves.


Somewhere in the vastness of the Internet, it is happening even now. It was once a well-kept garden of intelligent discussion, where knowledgeable and interested folk came, attracted by the high quality of speech they saw ongoing. But into this garden comes a fool, and the level of discussion drops a little—or more than a little, if the fool is very prolific in their posting. (It is worse if the fool is just articulate enough that the former inhabitants of the garden feel obliged to respond, and correct misapprehensions—for then the fool dominates conversations.)


So the garden is tainted now, and it is less fun to play in; the old inhabitants, already invested there, will stay, but they are that much less likely to attract new blood. Or if there are new members, their quality also has gone down.


Then another fool joins, and the two fools begin talking to each other, and at that point some of the old members, those with the highest standards and the best opportunities elsewhere, leave...


I am old enough to remember the USENET that is forgotten, though I was very young. Unlike the first Internet that died so long ago in the Eternal September, in these days there is always some way to delete unwanted content. We can thank spam for that—so egregious that no one defends it, so prolific that no one can just ignore it, there must be a banhammer somewhere.


But when the fools begin their invasion, some communities think themselves too good to use their banhammer for—gasp!—censorship.


After all—anyone acculturated by academia knows that censorship is a very grave sin... in their walled gardens where it costs thousands and thousands of dollars to enter, and students fear their professors' grading, and heaven forbid the janitors should speak up in the middle of a colloquium.


It is easy to be naive about the evils of censorship when you already live in a carefully kept garden. Just like it is easy to be naive about the universal virtue of unconditional nonviolent pacifism, when your country already has armed soldiers on the borders, and your city already has police. It costs you nothing to be righteous, so long as the police stay on their jobs.


The thing about online communities, though, is that you can't rely on the police ignoring you and staying on the job; the community actually pays the price of its virtuousness.


In the beginning, while the community is still thriving, censorship seems like a terrible and unnecessary imposition. Things are still going fine. It's just one fool, and if we can't tolerate just one fool, well, we must not be very tolerant. Perhaps the fool will give up and go away, without any need of censorship. And if the whole community has become just that much less fun to be a part of... mere fun doesn't seem like a good justification for (gasp!) censorship, any more than disliking someone's looks seems like a good reason to punch them in the nose.


(But joining a community is a strictly voluntary process, and if prospective new members don't like your looks, they won't join in the first place.)


And after all—who will be the censor? Who can possibly be trusted with such power?


Quite a lot of people, probably, in any well-kept garden. But if the garden is even a little divided within itself —if there are factions—if there are people who hang out in the community despite not much trusting the moderator or whoever could potentially wield the banhammer—


(for such internal politics often seem like a matter of far greater import than mere invading barbarians)


—then trying to defend the community is typically depicted as a coup attempt. Who is this one who dares appoint themselves as judge and executioner? Do they think their ownership of the server means they own the people? Own our community? Do they think that control over the source code makes them a god?


I confess, for a while I didn't even understand why communities had such trouble defending themselves—I thought it was pure naivete. It didn't occur to me that it was an egalitarian instinct to prevent chieftains from getting too much power. "None of us are bigger than one another, all of us are men and can fight; I am going to get my arrows", was the saying in one hunter-gatherer tribe whose name I forget. (Because among humans, unlike chimpanzees, weapons are an equalizer—the tribal chieftain seems to be an invention of agriculture, when people can't just walk away any more.)


Maybe it's because I grew up on the Internet in places where there was always a sysop, and so I take for granted that whoever runs the server has certain responsibilities. Maybe I understand on a gut level that the opposite of censorship is not academia but 4chan (which probably still has mechanisms to prevent spam). Maybe because I grew up in that wide open space where the freedom that mattered was the freedom to choose a well-kept garden that you liked and that liked you, as if you actually could find a country with good laws. Maybe because I take it for granted that if you don't like the archwizard, the thing to do is walk away (this did happen to me once, and I did indeed just walk away).


And maybe because I, myself, have often been the one running the server. But I am consistent, usually being first in line to support moderators—even when they're on the other side from me of the internal politics. I know what happens when an online community starts questioning its moderators. Any political enemy I have on a mailing list who's popular enough to be dangerous is probably not someone who would abuse that particular power of censorship, and when they put on their moderator's hat, I vocally support them—they need urging on, not restraining. People who've grown up in academia simply don't realize how strong are the walls of exclusion that keep the trolls out of their lovely garden of "free speech".




Any community that really needs to question its moderators, that really seriously has abusive moderators, is probably not worth saving. But this is more accused than realized, so far as I can see.


In any case the light didn't go on in my head about egalitarian instincts (instincts to prevent leaders from exercising power) killing online communities until just recently. While reading a comment at Less Wrong, in fact, though I don't recall which one.

总之,我也是到最近才意识到,人类这种平权主义的本能(也即阻止领导者行使权力的本能)是如何毁掉在线社区的。应该是我在Less Wrong上读一个评论的时候意识到的——虽然我不记得是哪个评论了。

But I have seen it happen—over and over, with myself urging the moderators on and supporting them whether they were people I liked or not, and the moderators still not doing enough to prevent the slow decay. Being too humble, doubting themselves an order of magnitude more than I would have doubted them. It was a rationalist hangout, and the third besetting sin of rationalists is underconfidence.


This about the Internet: Anyone can walk in. And anyone can walk out. And so an online community must stay fun to stay alive. Waiting until the last resort of absolute, blatent, undeniable egregiousness—waiting as long as a police officer would wait to open fire—indulging your conscience and the virtues you learned in walled fortresses, waiting until you can be certain you are in the right, and fear no questioning looks—is waiting far too late.


I have seen rationalist communities die because they trusted their moderators too little.


But that was not a karma system, actually.


Here—you must trust yourselves.


A certain quote seems appropriate here: "Don't believe in yourself! Believe that I believe in you!"


Because I really do honestly think that if you want to downvote a comment that seems low-quality... and yet you hesitate, wondering if maybe you're downvoting just because you disagree with the conclusion or dislike the author... feeling nervous that someone watching you might accuse you of groupthink or echo-chamber-ism or (gasp!) censorship... then nine times of ten, I bet, nine times out of ten at least, it is a comment that really is low-quality.


You have the downvote. Use it or USENET.





【注3】:“理性主义者的第三大罪是信心不足”与作者的另一篇文章 The Sin of Underconfidence 有关(感谢 @libgen)。






在2047,其实每个开楼的人都是某种意义上的管理员。所以,提醒自己,如果看到违规的帖子(见/t/7851的讨论),不要手软;如果自己的回复被楼主删了,这也只是规则,Don't take it personally.

My comments:

I agree with a lot of what the author said, except that I don't think he made a good distinction between public, semi-public vs. private domains. A forum is NOT the same as a nation, and rules of managing a forum is NOT the same as those for ruling a nation (for god's sake I pay my taxes!) -- although they can share certain similarities. In today's economy I think forums are more like a product rather than anything else.

In terms of forum management I agree in principle that we need to defend the values of our garden. Therefore as a community it is important to figure out what we value, and what type of garden we want to build. However in practice those values can be vague, and can be interpreted quite differently by the (key) members. How to operationalize these principles are as important as (if not more so than) the principles themselves. This includes but is not limited to: rules (what), procedures of carrying out the rules (how), and who carries out the rules (who).

Now regarding the "fools." There are two types of undesirable members for a community: trolls and fools; and sometimes the lines between the two are vague (people could arguably add that in a politically-oriented anonymous community, there are also state infiltrators). However these differences may not be that important, as we never know what people really THINK or INTEND to do (or it's too expensive to find out), but only what people actually DID. All rules should be based on that, preferably with concrete examples.

On the other hand, one garden's fool might be another garden's treasure, as people have strengths in different areas. I don't think it is ever a good idea to attack a PERSON (or at least this should be done scarcely); instead it is about the incompatibility of that person's BEHAVIOR and the garden's values/rules -- it's a professional matter.

其他人 于 2021年3月10日 编辑
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19 个评论
中野梓 好无聊~

You have the downvote. Use it or USENET.

Well..the thing is, we DON'T.

@中野梓 #101107 :)没错这里是没有downvote。所以我个人的呼吁是,楼主善用删帖控评,管好自己的小花圃。管理者则在站点层面处理多次违规的人(比如想在花园里种韭菜的人)。然后如果有独立的创作者union,可以制约管理者的违规(花农们团结起来)。

此外,这篇文章假设的是大环境的言论自由,即大家可以自由开设言论平台,也可以自由选择言论平台。所以理想状况下,一个平台应该empower its users,比如有其他好的平台的分享,甚至教大家怎么搭建一个类似平台。或许我们需要的不是一个花园里百花百草齐放,而是有很多不同的花园,哪个好就去哪个。:)

一只雞兒 坚持贯彻主体思想一亿年不动摇





Update: all done.

作者 于 2020年10月1日 编辑

@一只雞兒 #101112












中野梓 好无聊~


libgen.eth 天堂应该是图书馆的模样。一个阅读诗歌的人要比不读诗歌的人更难被战胜。创造是一种拯救。创造拯救了创造者本身。

关于【注3】:“理性主义者的第三大罪是信心不足”应与作者另外的文章有关。的补充:另外的文章应该是指 The Sin of Underconfidence

LessWrong 这个网站很有意思啊, https://www.lesswrong.com/about

We are a community dedicated to improving our reasoning and decision-making. We seek to hold true beliefs and to be effective at accomplishing our goals. More generally, we work to develop and practice the art of human rationality.


[1] Rationality is a term which can have different meanings to different people. On LessWrong, we mean something like the following:

  • Rationality is thinking in ways which systematically arrive at truth.
  • Rationality is thinking in ways which cause you to systematically achieve your goals.
  • Rationality is trying to do better on purpose.
  • Rationality is reasoning well even in the face of massive uncertainty.
  • Rationality is making good decisions even when it's hard.
  • Rationality is being self-aware, understanding how your own mind works, and applying this knowledge to thinking better.


  • 理性是指思考的方式能系统性地达到真理。
  • 理性是以能使你系统地实现目标的方式进行思考。
  • 理性是有目的的努力做得更好。
  • 理性是在面对巨大的不确定性时也能很好地进行推理。
  • 理性是即使在困难的时候也能做出好的决定。
  • 理性是自我意识,了解自己的大脑是如何运作的,并运用这些知识更好地思考。

See also: What Do We Mean By "Rationality"?, Why Spock is Not Rational, What are the open problems in Human Rationality?

顺便查了下作者 Eliezer Yudkowsky :https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eliezer_Yudkowsky

Eliezer Shlomo Yudkowsky (born September 11, 1979) is an American artificial intelligence (AI) researcher and writer best known for popularizing the idea of friendly artificial intelligence.He is a co-founder and research fellow at the Machine Intelligence Research Institute (MIRI), a private research nonprofit based in Berkeley, California.His work on the prospect of a runaway intelligence explosion was an influence on Nick Bostrom's Superintelligence: Paths, Dangers, Strategies.An autodidact,Yudkowsky did not attend high school or college.


@中野梓 #101177 谷歌翻译出来还是经常有莫名其妙的地方的,所以还是人力人工智能美少女翻译比较易读。:)

@libgen #101190 感谢图书馆同学(主脑*人工智能美少女/年),已经在正文中补充。

Less wrong的东西是不错,可以挑好的文章翻译介绍,一起合作哈:)



@NodeBE4 #101236 这篇文章在我看来,不是在讲述LessWrong本身的理性主义愿景,而是在讲述社区要捍卫自己的价值(Value)和质量(Quality)的问题。Value可以是浪漫主义,也可以是其他。且价值和质量本身是相关的,要衡量质量,必须有一个标尺,而那个标尺就是价值。到现在,我认为2047社区的价值和愿景是什么,依然不太清晰,很多事情给我的感觉是处于“摸着石头过河”的状态。


这里有两个问题:1. 你心目中“好的中文社区”是怎么样的?2. 你心目中的“东方文化和特殊国情”是什么?

@NodeBE4 #101274





thphd 2047前站长
作者 于 2021年3月9日 编辑

@thphd #129551 我建议要不要在站务或者水区另开贴?


好文章,只是个人觉得中文社区现在并不缺censorship,缺的是pscifism和rationality 作者在文中的观点类似于经济危机后盛行的凯恩斯主义一样,在特定的语境下才有特定的价值,至于对于本论坛有何价值,那就见仁见智了

作者 于 2020年10月2日 编辑
趙少康 中廣集團董事長

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