Elliot Discusses with Effective Altruism (retitled from: Rational Debate Methodology at Effective Altruism?)

This is at -8 karma after 17 minutes. That’s so tribalist.

I just wrote some comments today without being informed they would use the CC BY license, and I don’t want to license them that way. I guess I should go delete them? But I don’t think the license is revokable, so does that even work? But I never consented to the license so it shouldn’t be in force in the first place…

Then I went to put up a post, which I’d already finished writing, and a thing about the license popped up. I did not agree to it, the popup is gone now, and I can’t get it back by reloading the page or starting a new post again.

I see nothing by the posting or commenting forms that persistently notifies people about the license. Just the one-time popup that disappears forever(?) even if not agreed to.

This is not OK.

Also basically I don’t want to use the forum anymore because I don’t want to use the CC BY license :(

I think I have to give up on my project of talking to EA because they are forcing licensing on everything posted from now on. The license basically gives up ownership of your work. Anyone can do whatever they want with it, including selling or translating it, as long as they give attribution and don’t claim you endorse their use.

I could still post link posts but I can’t write anything substantive at the EA site itself and most people dislike clicking links. And I can’t write substantive comments anymore, except by writing it elsewhere and linking to it as my comment, which people will dislike a lot so IMO it just won’t realistically work (it’s even worse than link posts for articles).

On a related note, does Less Wrong have forced licensing? Based on quick searches I found no useful info.

Less Wrong terms say:

When you submit User-Generated Content to the Website, you grant MIRI a non-exclusive, irrevocable, worldwide, and perpetual license to use your User-Generated Content for the normal and intended purposes of the Website. These purposes may include providing you or third parties with access to and use of the Website, backing up or archiving the Website, and selling or transferring the Website to a third party. In submitting User-Generated Content to the Website, you agree to waive all moral rights in or to your User-Generated Content across the world, whether you have or have not asserted moral rights. You also agree to waive all rights of publicity or privacy in or to your User-Generated Content.

This is partly similar to the terms here, which are Discourse defaults:


Content you submit to the forum belongs to you, and you decide what permission to give others for it. But at a minimum, you license the company to provide content that you submit to the forum to other users of the forum. That special license allows the company to copy, publish, and analyze content you submit to the forum.

But there’s a major difference. Less Wrong makes you “waive all moral rights” (and publicity and privacy rights).

What are moral rights?

The term “moral rights” comes from the French phrase droit moral and generally refers to certain noneconomic rights that are considered personal to an author. Chief among these rights are the right of an author to be credited as the author of their work (the right of attribution) and the right to prevent prejudicial distortions of the work (the right of integrity). While these rights have a long history in international copyright law, the United States did not consider formal adoption of moral rights until it prepared to join the Berne Convention, which it ultimately did in 1989.

LW makes you waive the right to be attributed as the author of your posts, and also waive the right to prevent prejudicial distortions of your posts?


The right of publicity is an intellectual property right that protects against the misappropriation of a person’s name, likeness, or other indicia of personal identity—such as nickname, pseudonym, voice, signature, likeness, or photograph—for commercial benefit.

LW makes you waive that too!? In other words, they are allowed to use your name in their commercial marketing if you ever wrote one post on their forum? And maybe anyone else reading your post can do that too?

EA’s terms of use are not very easy to find but i found them.

they also include a moral rights waiver like LW. ugh this is awful.

they don’t specify which terms are new or old, or have a changelog or something.

they don’t include the old pre-today terms and tell anyone that those terms govern all the older posts. they just say all the posts are CC BY with no mention of a huge exclusion.

also they say (the first link was a higher priority ADDENDUM and this next link is the main more generic terms):

If you have an Account (defined below) with us, we will try to give you reasonable notice of major changes through your Account or the contact information associated with your Account.

they broke their terms. the CC BY change is major. they could have emailed me DMed me. they didn’t.

The guy who I think is in charge of LW currently says the moral rights waiver predates him and he doesn’t know much about it and didn’t want to change the terms much and didn’t talk to a lawyer about it.

he speculates that it could be convenient for LW in a few edge cases, and seems to not care at all about how bad it is for users. i think he trusts himself not to abuse it, but doesn’t trust users, and isn’t considering that LW could have worse management in the future, possibly by being sold. also he’s the same dishonest guy who banned me so he shouldn’t be trusted.

anyway they don’t seem to see the downside of writing terms that are super biased in their favor and give them tons of potential for abuse b/c they just don’t think they’re abusive. no respect for the rule of law…

An EA admin told me:

We’ve tried to give a simple summary of the license in this post, but I might suggest talking to a lawyer if you have further questions about legal terms

he literally wants me to pay a lawyer to try to find out what EA’s rules are, and he doesn’t think it’s EA’s job to tell me.

this is dumb.

also i can’t even find out what the previous terms were with archive.org


i guess that’s good for me? if they don’t keep documentation of what terms govern what posts, then i think the most favorable stuff should be presumed for my posts. if they have no record of any moral right waiver before the update for the CC BY stuff, then they can’t expect it to apply to me. also if they do have a record but only privately, not anything i can access, then i don’t think they could reasonably expect me to be bound by terms i have no way to read.

More EA terms:

7.1 Prohibited Content . In connection with your access to or use of the EVF Sites, You agree not to upload information or other content or materials, including any of Your Content, that:



misrepresent your identity or affiliation with … any other person

to engage in any other conduct that restricts anyone’s use or enjoyment of the EVF Sites

You are prohibited from posting anything false on the forum?

You are prohibited from anything that reduces anyone’s enjoyment or use of the forum?

This is so dumb. They don’t mean it. They don’t enforce it. They just write overly broad rules that aren’t the real rules, which helps hide what the real rules are and helps give them leeway to go after anyone they don’t like (they can do biased, selective enforcement since ~everyone is a rule breaker with rules like this).

They don’t care if the rules are easily abusable as written. They aren’t trying to limit their own power. They are trying to grant themselves whatever powers they may ever need, without caring if they give themselves any extra power. They don’t understand and/or don’t like the rule of law.

EA presents themselves kinda like a small agile outlier startup but this is the same BS you’d find in the ToS from a megacorp.

1 Like

What is the license problem that you foresee, Elliot?

What specifics concern you? I haven’t thought about it carefully, what perspective am I missing?

The license gives anyone the right to e.g. put my posts in a book and sell them without my consent. It lets them do all kinds of stuff with my work. I think my work is valuable and and I want to retain my IP and copyright rights about it. I think the prior, default system was good: fair use and quotations, plus asking for permission for other stuff.

BTW I’ve been plagiarized multiple times, I’ve had multiple people put my ideas in their published commercial books without consent or even notifying me (including some copyright violations), and including with mangling my ideas so badly that I wouldn’t want to be associated with their version so simply giving credit doesn’t fix the problem for me. Talking about someone’s ideas and quoting and paraphrasing them fairly and reasonably takes some skill that many people lack. One person offered to credit me as a co-author of his book when I found out he’d put a ton of my ideas in it. I declined because I would not want authorship of his low quality writing and reasoning, plus I was not involved with authoring the book at all. I don’t want him to plagiarize me, and I also don’t want him to incompetently summarize my ideas then credit me, let alone say I endorse it… CC BY would make all this stuff worse not better.

But mostly I just want to retain my property rights for my ideas, work, research, writing, etc. I think giving most of my ideas and writing away as free to read is more than generous enough.

My plan is to quit using the EA forum, though I’ll write a few things without important philosophy in them, like this one, rather than quitting abruptly. I will continue posting articles at https://criticalfallibilism.com and https://curi.us plus I’m actively using my forum and two YouTube channels. I have ~30,000 words of EA related draft articles which I’ll no longer be able to use as planned. I’ll probably try to quickly post a fair amount of that at curi.us with only light editing.

BTW, when reviewing EA’s terms of use yesterday I found other problems, e.g. a prohibition on posting anything “untrue”.

EDIT: I should also mention that I don’t want anyone translating my writing without consent because translations can easily be inaccurate and misleading, and essentially be like misquoting me. Translations basically come with an implication that I endorse what they say because it’s allegedly just my own words. I’ve had an issue with this in the past too, and if I ever get more popular all this stuff will come up more including with my archives.

I made an EA category at curi.us

I gathered my EA stuff:

I just posted 7 EA-related articles on curi.us with light editing. I have more drafts to go through but I think that’s enough for today.

I didn’t share the 7 new articles on the EA forum and I don’t plan to share future articles there in general.

If anyone believes that any of them should be shared with EA, please do that yourself. EA allows link posts. You can share links to stuff kinda like on Reddit. Note that you’re supposed to post a little information with the link such as what you liked about the post, some summary or some quotes.

It’s important how much my fans share my work, in general, on social media and elsewhere. Sharing helps spread ideas and helps other interested people find my work.

I considered continuing to participate at the EA forum by using quotes and/or links to circumvent the CC BY licensing issue, but overall I don’t think it would work well. People expect you to reply normally in comments, not reply only using links and/or quotes. People also prefer full text articles over link posts, especially when you’re the author and the only reason you’re using a link is to avoid EA’s licensing rule. People are biased against clicking links. Also I didn’t want to write summaries of my articles for link posting purposes and then post the summaries on EA under the CC BY license, so I figured to use link posts well (which means including summary, reason you liked it, quotes, outline, or something along with the link) I’d need to quote from the article but be careful not to actually ever write anything significant on the EA site that isn’t quoted.

I considered posting entire articles or comments as long block quotes, but EA staff refused to clarify if that’s OK with them (or if it would successfully avoid CC BY licensing) and told me to ask a lawyer, which I’m going to interpret as “no don’t do that, but also we don’t want to clearly admit or write down what the rules actually are, and also we’re bad at precise thinking and don’t like considering edge cases even when they’re directly impactful to whether users quit the forum or not”. I asked multiple clarifying questions that they wouldn’t answer and staff telling me to ask a lawyer was especially lame and also some of the other terms of use are bad and also they don’t keep change history for the terms of use so i don’t even know what the terms said at the time i wrote my older posts (and archive.org doesn’t have it either). And also the terms don’t say anything about older posts not having the CC BY license and basically just communicate to readers that all posts on EA are CC BY licensed, with not mention of a cutoff date and what terms apply to older stuff, which is really bad and unreasonable. They also broke their own terms by failing to notify me about the licensing change. They also haven’t explicitly mentioned that the licensing applies to all comments on the forum not just article posts, but I think it does. They still have nothing trying to notify people about that before they comment (they had a broken notification before you post a new article, which they claim to have now fixed, and they did not email or DM me and give advance notice as they should have according to their own terms – but that’s certainly not the only thing in their unreasonable, mega-coporation-like terms that they don’t follow). Also since staff are being so unreasonable about this, I think that means the EA moderation team is really unreasonable and would have interfered with my posts later anyway.

Kinda off topic and I didn’t bother telling them, but the EA site loads very slowly, sometimes taking 5-10 seconds to load my user profile page (it’s also flat out broken sometimes with the page eventually loading with large visual glitches, and the other day refreshing didn’t fix that, i had to like wait half an hour before it worked again). This is really bad and must be costing them some users, pageviews, etc. I’ve heard claims before that a few milliseconds of page loading time makes a big difference. Besides making people wait it also communicates to knowledgeable people that they’re a bit incompetent. They do have enough money to do better; they aren’t just super small/poor (and I personally, individually put work into load times on curi.us and did better than them… and if you don’t have that expertise, fine, no problem, use something open source instead of something custom but bad).

They also have tons of other problems with their software like missing features, e.g. I tried to paste in an image today and found that they just don’t support that, while Discourse does. They also don’t support any good way to quote stuff other than copy/paste, but copy/paste loses italics, links, etc. Discourse supports quoting stuff while retaining formatting.

I think they’d be better off writing some Discourse plugins instead of developing and using their own bad software. I think the biggest obstacle for that is they really like nested reddit-like commenting, whereas I think on the whole that makes forums worse, though a forum could support both styles with a way to flip between both views, and that could be better than picking one.

Noah Scales response to this was:

Huh, very interesting, although it doesn’t seem that the license terms stopped all that from happening to you.

That response seemed kind of underwhelming to me. He didn’t say something like: Oh good points I need to consider this, or something like: I disagree/agree with you. I can’t really tell what his opinion is from just this response, I feel like he might not care to much cuz he mentioned that even with restrictive license terms Elliot has already had bad stuff happen with his content.

Yeah. It was OK. It was partly positive. But he didn’t say much. And also he ambiguously implied that the CC BY license wouldn’t make the problems worse (like since copyright and fair use already isn’t working, it’s not beneficial), which I think is wrong.

I just finished up 7 more articles in one sitting – 5 posted on curi.us and 2 scheduled for CF.

I suspect if I posted articles on the EA forum at this rate, moderators would ask me to stop rather than being really pleased. The identical articles posted at a rate of one per week would be treated differently.

Even if the articles were all pro-EA instead of critical, I still doubt moderators would be OK with one person talking so much. Not all forums are like that, but that is the vibe I got from EA (plus in the past I was actually asked by Less Wrong moderators to post articles less often, and EA and LW are similar forums).

Also, it’s much easier to finish articles when I don’t have to worry a lot about being misunderstood by EA people who lack basic familiarity with my ideas and influences (like Popper), and also who often will read any one of my EA articles at random without having read any of the others (even if I link to others at the start and say to read them first). It’s really hard to build on any other ideas while talking with EA instead of always writing really introductory, stand-alone stuff (which makes talking about complex or advanced stuff hard). You can only build on the ideas which are widespread and well known at EA, so it’s hard to say anything substantive that disagrees with EA.

It’s also much easier to finish articles after I quit the forum so I don’t have to worry about what will give moderators the slightest excuse to take action against me or what will offend or alienate EA people even though it’s true and worth saying.

Also there’s often a huge perspective gap between me and the people I talk to. I have so much to say I write 20 extra article drafts but I have to prioritize what to say first so I have so much more I hope to say later and I write tons of extra words. They have little to say, write no extra words, etc. My situation is so different than theirs that it’s confusing and many people don’t know how to understand or deal with it. It’s really unintuitive to most people for someone to actually have lots of knowledge that they already thought through years ago and which has many internal connections, instead of posting ad hoc ideas that contradict each other.

My claim against Peter Singer, filed in the Santa Barbara court, alleges that he slept with at least thirty women from the animal rights movement in the last few decades, and handed out prestigious paid co-writing assignments, in the period covered by the claim (2002-2020), to women only with whom he had been sexually involved or was trying to be, and that he professionally punished women who did not condone his behavior. With some shame I admit that for almost two decades I stuffed down my discomfort with his conduct in order to receive the professional aid he had unique power to give, and to avoid the punishment he eventually meted out, in 2018 and 2020, when I fully revealed the extent of my own pain and unveiled my concerns.

Peter Singer pursued me with daily phone calls for a month after we met at a conference in 2002, and seduced me into a sexual relationship for which the word “consensual” may or may not be accurate, but is certainly inadequate, when an activist is seduced by a man 25 years her senior, who is the most prestigious and powerful man in the movement to which she has devoted her life.

The “consent” is questioned in my complaint as it was achieved via deceit, with the married man attesting to an “arrangement” with his wife that did not exist, and his choosing not to reveal that I was becoming one of three current lovers other than his wife. The day I learned of the other women, I broke off our sexual relationship. I was lured back into his orbit a few months later, with the offer of a co-writing credit for a Los Angeles Times piece. That kind of professional pressure to achieve close contact also calls “consent” into question.

I have 5,000 emails between myself and Peter Singer that back up everything I claim in the suit

for the last few decades Peter Singer has been treating our movement like his personal harem

The article has various other criticisms of Singer too.

Also, even if hypothetically all the women were totally happy about the sex, I’d still question Singer’s sincere interest in animal rights and intellectual issues if having 30+ affairs is what he spent his time on. For this one affair, he had to do 30 phone calls to get it started and he wrote perhaps 2,000 emails. That’s so much work! On the other hand, he apparently did get her and other women to do work for him, such as writing articles that he could be credited as a co-author of.