I was intrigued by the recent discussion about a group discussion method called automoderation, introduced at Ferocious Truth and commented on by Agenty Duck and Don’t Worry About the Vase. (This post will not make much sense if you haven’t at least read the Ferocious Truth post.) It reminded me of my concerns in the Communication Protocol post. This also made me think of the Russian LessWrong Slack Emoji:
:+1: means “I want to see more messages like this”
:-1: means “I want to see less messages like this”
:plus: means “I agree with a position expressed here”
:minus: means “I disagree”
:same: means “it’s the same for me” and is used for impressions, subjective experiences and preferences, but without approval connotations
:delta: means “I have changed my mind/updated”
As I indicated in Communication Protocol, I think it’s very important to distinguish different types of agreeing. Sometimes, agreement means “I have changed my mind in response to your words”. Sometimes, it means “I already believed that, for the same reason.” Sometimes, “I already believed that, but for a different reason.” Sometimes, you want to signal emotional concordance with the speaker. These different types of agreement have different implications, both epistemically and emotionally:
(You can also have negative versions of two of these — “I have changed my mind, and now disagree” and “I have independent evidence against”. Maybe you could also have a signal for lack of empathy with a point, but I’m not sure you’d want to.)
Automoderation includes the use of “thumbs up” for agreement (along with thumbs-down for disagreement), the “OK” hand signal for “I am interested in this”, and a wiggly-finger gesture for “I feel you”. I think it could be interesting to distinguish “agreement” further. What if thumbs-up meant “agree for a different reason”, while a palm-up gesture means “I have updated, and now agree”? (I think it may be less important to have a symbol for “I already believed that for the same reason” — though I could easily be wrong!) Palm-down could stand for “I have updated against what you’re arguing for”, which could be interesting as well.
(I haven’t even tried basic automoderation, yet, so my suggestions should be taken with a heavy dose of salt.)
ETA: As observed by Zvi, my remarks about what kind of evidence the different kinds of agreement indicate do not always hold. It’s quite possible that “I already believed that, for the same reason” provides significant confirmation; maybe you were not sure if your argument made any sense, but an expert in the field says “Yes, that is the consensus among experts”.