Problem Machine

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  1. Important If True 45: Wax House, Baby

    Surely if this hoax was successful enough to permanently change the film's online presence it is significant enough to still be mentioned in its wikipedia article. Surely this is the most actually noteworthy thing about the film.
  2. Haven't gotten to the end of the pod yet, but Chris mentioned a burglar who thought he would be invisible to cameras because he was covered in lemon juice. I recently stumbled across this story myself when I was researching the Dunning-Kruger effect -- apparently it features prominently in the study for which the effect is named. What Chris didn't mention is that, as best as I can understand from the brief mention of the case in the Dunning-Kruger effect Wikipedia article, he believed that lemon juice would make him invisible because of some absurd misunderstanding of its actual application as invisible ink. Now, this sentence doesn't have any citation that verifies that, so I may just be passing along my own hoisting, but I'd prefer it to be true anyway.
  3. Slay the Spire: Gettin' Spired

    I know I've directly or indirectly gotten a few people on Slack to pick up Slay The Spire, but I thought it might be a good idea to also post about it here. Slay the Spire is a deck-building Roguelite currently in Early Access. There's a lot of room there for them to add new stuff, but it's already pretty solid and fun to play and I don't see it getting anything besides more awesome as it continues to be developed. Unlike most card games where synergy is a matter of getting a few key cards in your hand, Slay the Spire gives you a small deck, a full new hand every turn, and when you run out you just reshuffle your deck and start over, so odds are you're going to end up having the opportunity to play every single card in your deck several times in each combat, so every choice you get over what to add or not to add can be incredibly important. Unlike most card games, I very rarely feel like the optimal play is obvious, and choosing the wrong order of moves can have severe consequences. Each run takes maybe 90-120 minutes once you get the hang of things. Right now I have one win with the ironclad (warrior class) and one with the Silent (rogue class). Right now those are the only two classes, but they're planning on adding another one which I can only imagine will probably be some sort of shitty wizard.
  4. Is Steam (Valve) Good? If not, what then?

    Just an authority that acts on reports about such communities. It will always be possible to run some sort of secret racist society, but having to make it be a secret rather than something just done out in the open actually I believe has a huge psychological effect and makes it far more difficult for such groups to recruit. There's no solution to the problem per se, more just a set of mitigation strategies.
  5. Idle Thumbs Streams

    Is the Getting Over It stream vod gonna get migrated to IdleVideos sometime? I'd like to see it kept around for posterity. Or at very least turned into a Twitch highlight so it doesn't get deleted after 2 weeks
  6. Is Steam (Valve) Good? If not, what then?

    Yes there are extant mod teams -- which are empowered to ban you if you post a nipple, but not if you post maliciously racist lies which get people killed. The issue is as much with the cultural standards of what deserves the protections of free speech as with the apparatus of moderation: This is the problem that isn't getting solved, or even approached as solvable. Facebook doesn't have a nipple problem. They nipped that one in the bud. So maybe their moderator teams do get results, just stupid results that reflect their stupid priorities. So here's another instance of problems that I'm seeing getting conflated here: One, the problem of harassment; two, the problem of intentionally toxic communities organizing. Merus, you seem to be specifically speaking to the former here, by empowering users to create subcommunities and enforce standards on those communities. I think this is great and desirable, but also doesn't approach the issue of how to keep people from organizing communities for the specific purposes of planning and enacting real-world violence, and this is the one that really requires some sort of centralized authority to act against.
  7. Is Steam (Valve) Good? If not, what then?

    It's a hosting service as well as a software. Wordpress dot com is different from Wordpress the software, but is implemented using it: The only difference with Facebook dot com and the Facebook software is that it's exclusively for their use. They have responsibilities both as a software developer and as a hosting service, and neither negates the other.
  8. Is Steam (Valve) Good? If not, what then?

    I don't think that argument holds water. All a company has to do is take SOME sort of stand, and we can decide whether that stand is compatible with what we want from that service. Right now, all services tend to default to American values, where showing a female nipple is unspeakable, showing a male nipple is fine, and showing nazi propaganda is gotta hear both sides. If there's a clear and understandable system in place, we can take steps to improve it -- we can have oversight, we can have the conversations we're having here about what should be allowed and what shouldn't, we can redress grievances with the system where it goes awry. But right now we have nothing, and that's shitty. Like how is it even possible to argue that this isn't shitty? That even if initial solutions are imperfect and a perfect solution is impossible we should start taking actual concrete steps to fix it as best as we can? How can you say that mods don't scale when no one even tries? The problem I have with most of the arguments presented here is they're just arguing why any implementation would inevitably be flawed. Of course it would be flawed! Everything is flawed. That's not a strong argument against it when what we have now is such complete garbage.
  9. The use of music during that segment was truly incredible. Thank you Nick for coming up with the idea and presumably Chris for doing all of the real work.
  10. Is Steam (Valve) Good? If not, what then?

    Sure, that sounds great. In fact that's very similar to the system I described, except the people aren't being paid. So the issue here is that one system rests on millions of hours of unpaid labor for the benefit of a platform that makes billions of dollars, while the other one introduces systems of perverse incentives to appease corporate interests. You may notice that the root problem is the same in both cases. Regardless, both solutions are much MUCH better than the current one, which is "do nothing". Blocking users doesn't do much to solve the problem if you have thousands of them coming at you. Making your account private is hobbling your own ability to use the service. And, um, yes, they do if you want to engage with the service in any substantial way. Sure. The problem I have with this is that by saying it you seem to be advocating against making systemic change, rather than proposing a set of standards by which to make such changes. That's the part I have a problem with: Right now we have something which sucks. We are looking at proposals for making it better. Making specific systemic critiques is worthwhile, but making a generalized critique that any system is vulnerable to bad actors in an effort to discredit the entire idea of creating a solution to the problem is not. Perhaps I was being unkind in reading what you were saying that way, but in the context where it was brought up it seemed to be a defense of Valve's and other major social site's hands-off approach. Now if you're saying a different hands off approach might be better than a hands-on approach, I might agree -- but that system, too, will be vulnerable to bad actors. And, generally speaking, so far, these hands-off approaches have not worked very well, whereas despite your misgivings intentional moderation teams with strict standards have. Perhaps that's not scalable, but it doesn't seem like any sizeable platform has decided to even try.
  11. Is Steam (Valve) Good? If not, what then?

    Except these systems already exist, they're just used to keep you from seeing a booby or saying a bad word to a verified account. What people want is for these systems to be used to keep people from distributing hateful propaganda and harassing other users. If there's a slippery slope, it's one we're already on and I don't see using these tools for what should be their intended purpose exacerbating that issue -- to the contrary, I think if these are used to enforce standards of behavior that are demonstrably for the societal good rather than weird arbitrary social mores that would take us further away from a state of unilateral authoritarianism on these platforms. The standards are already arbitrary, the authority is already shadowy -- that's what people want less of. The system as it is now is not fair. You're attributing a lot of properties to these systems without making any arguments for those properties. A system for reporting posts based on community standards and several levels of human oversight is extreme? A system with several thousand people overseeing each other to maintain standards of behavior is a singular authority? Is there any structure of moderation and accountability that isn't extreme and authoritarian by the standards you're putting forth here? You're right, though, that if these systems are set up to appeal to capital holders they will produce significant problems, since that's a system that lends itself to corruption. The problem there, though, is not the mere idea of human oversight and accountability. The problem is of capitalistic regulatory capture enforcing a moral majority. We're not the ones who are shirking our responsibility to society. How can you blame people with no power to control the state of a service for that services flaws? How do we 'police ourselves' out of getting harassed, out of being threatened by nazis? What exactly are you suggesting here? What would 'policing ourselves' look like??? Because whatever it is, we're not being given the tools to do it. I might further suggest that your implication that humans cannot be trusted to use any system that in any way allows for abuses is in its own right an authoritarian position, just one that positions mechanization and mob rule as the authority.
  12. Is Steam (Valve) Good? If not, what then?

    The automated systems would still be used in tandem with a reporting system to bring problem posts to the eyes of human moderators, so they'd only have to look at one out of every few hundred. They also probably wouldn't need to be paid a thousand dollars a day, that was taking an extreme position to prove a point. They would monitor each post for hate speech, referring to both overt forms and dogwhistles. There would probably be some errors in here so there would be an appeal process where it afterwards gets kicked over to some other moderator to review the appeal, and probably to a supervisor after a couple of appeals. Penalties would range from being suspended for a few hours to a complete account ban, and be based on both severity and repetition of offense. If a moderator has an unusually high number of successfully appealed actions they would be flagged for review by their supervisor. These problems are hardly unprecedented and hardly unsolvable, companies would just rather not try to solve them because it's easier to pretend these issues are too big to be approached and thereby absolve oneself of any responsibility for solving them. Applied more broadly, this approach would suggest that empowering any entity in any fashion is bad because bad actors within that entity could abuse that power. It's a bad argument no matter what it's advocating because it could be used for pretty much anything. Why should anyone here be entrusted with the power to post opinions if they're just going to use it to post bad ones? Why should citizens be entrusted with the ability to walk around unmonitored if they'll just use it to commit crimes? Why should the government be entrusted with levying taxes if politicians are just going to use them irresponsibly? All of these are valid concerns, but they argue for systems of checks and balances, not against the system itself. In order to argue against the system itself you have to demonstrate that it is systemically biased towards producing undesirable results, not that it could be hypothetically taken over to do so. Systems are always open to corruption. We will never be able to stop being vigilant, but we can create structures that make vigilance easier to manage. I'm not even going to get into this. It sounds like a memo that would get sent around at Google and get someone fired.
  13. Is Steam (Valve) Good? If not, what then?

    There are several questions that are being conflated here. 1) Is Steam good for games as an artistic medium? 2) Is Steam good for games as an industry? 3) Has Steam historically been good for games as an industry or a medium? 4) Does Steam behave ethically towards its customers? 5) Does Steam behave ethically towards its client developers? 6) Is Steam overall a force for good in the world right now? And probably some others. In order: Probably not, mostly, yes, mostly, maybe not, probably not.
  14. Is Steam (Valve) Good? If not, what then?

    I mean any ideology that gives priority to realization of the individual over the wellbeing of the group is pretty much straight-up evil by most working definitions of evil, but sure we don't have to get into it.
  15. Is Steam (Valve) Good? If not, what then?

    Libertarian ideals are evil