Re: Meta: List Focus (E9)

From: Mark Walker (
Date: Sat Oct 06 2001 - 11:53:20 MDT

----- Original Message -----
From: "Anders Sandberg" <>
To: <>
Sent: Saturday, October 06, 2001 3:21 AM
Subject: META: List Focus

> I did an informal experiment yesterday: I refrained from posting on the
> extropians list (in order not to distort the experiment), and simply
> categorized every post for how relevant to extropianism or transhumanism
> it was.
> My sample was 117 posts.
> That leaves 83 posts, 70.1%. These dealt with mainly with politics,
> terrorism, religion, semantics, technical details and a sizeable
> fraction of banter. While I think there has to be a connection between
> extropianism and politics, the views expressed in these posts were in
> practically all cases just traditional views, exactly similar to what
> you would hear on any other mailing list. No applying of extropian ideas
> to current situations, no deeper analysis of how the situation affects
> the extropian project beyond traditional narratives.
> Is there a problem here? I think so. The social interaction part is
> important, without it extropians would just be an ordinary SIG. But when
> the actual extropian content becomes so small (the core posts were just
> 7.7%) the list becomes just an ordinary forum in any case. That means
> that developing new extropian ideas and concepts is not best done here.
> Sure, there is a fairly positive audience here, but the total brainpower
> is directed at everyday issues rather than extropian issues, and the
> real extropian discussion never gets off the ground. It is a bit like
> the critical mass problem with mailing lists: a too small list,
> regardless of how good it is, will not sustain itself. Here we have a
> small extropians list embedded in a big noisy forum.
Your numbers seem right to me. I know that moderators have been proposed
from time to time and many of us are not enthusiastic about the idea. I
don't know if this idea has been mentioned but what about a convention that
has everyone assign their poss with an Extropian value to it. The more
Extropian an idea the higher its value, thus, 10 might represent an idea or
thread that is clearly Extropian, and 0 something that has no Extropian
value. For example Anders said that of the 117 posts yesterday:

> Of these *9* were unequivocally extropian. They expressed concepts and
> values consistent with the principles.
Let us suppose that these posts might merit say somewhere between 7-10 on an
Extropian scale. Anders added that

> 22 were somewhat related, dealing with cool technology, advances in
> science, economics in a rapidly changing world, social interactions
> between transhumanists and ways of treating motion sickness.

Let us suppose that these are say between 4 and 7 on the Extropian scale.
The remainder of the posts would be between 0 and 4. The convention then
would be that one has to rate the Extropian content of their post. The
subject line would include an estimate of the Extropian content. So, suppose
my subject line was "Donation (E10)"; this would mean that the post had high
Extropian content. Let us imagine that the content of the post is that Bill
Gates has donated 10 billion dollars say to the Extropian foundation. On the
other hand the subject line "Heston (E0)" would mean that the post has no
Extropian content. Let us suppose the discussion is how many guns Charelton
Heston owns. Often what happens is that an original post with high Extropian
content quickly degenerates into low Extropian content. What this would mean
is that if people are being objective, the E-value of a thread may often go
down (but of course it could go up). The advantages of this system are
twofold: First, it might make many of us more self-conscious about the
content and worth of our posts. Second, it might make the list easier to
manage. When I come back from a week away and see 800 Extropian messages in
my in box I hardly know where to start. This system would allow the most
relevant to be read and the rest to be trashed. Obviously we will not all
agree on the exact E-value of every post or thread but this may not be as
critical as it may first appear. If somebody always ranks his posts in the
upper range and comments on every thread then we may doubt his objectivity.
On the other hand, as I get to know the sort of E-value that say Anders, Hal
or Damien assign to a thread, I will soon have an idea of how it relates to
my own estimation. To make this system work it would probably be best to
work out some examples of the E-value of some archived posts: we could write
a page where we would assign an E-value and then explain why we gave it this
assignment. This would provide us with a common reference, and also, as new
people joined the list, we could refer them to our discussion of the
    I have given this post a high E-value because I think it is important
that we think of some way to make the list more manageable. For myself, the
less time I have to wade through some of the off-topic posts the more I can
spend on productive matters like furthering the cause of transhumanism.

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