Re: Crocker's Rules (WAS: Women, fire...)
Tue, 28 Sep 1999 08:45:28 -0700

Eliezer S. Yudkowsky, <>, writes:
> Two people operating under Crocker's Rules should be able to exchange
> visualizations in minimum time and with minimum effort, so there *is* a
> networking effect. We can hope that this mental discipline will
> eventually spread, and drive out the sick culture of "manners" and
> "politeness" based on social dominance, politics, fear of retribution,
> and the desire to avoid trouble.

The problem is that these rules introduce tremendous friction when operating with someone who does not follow them, which is almost the entire world. It means that you are constantly giving offense to people, which leads to wasted time on your part as you try to correct the misunderstanding.

It's also the case that most people will be unable to follow these rules successfully. That is, although they may try not to take offense, there will still be areas where they can be emotionally hurt. In a world where communicators care nothing for the sensibilities of others, such harm will be relatively common. They of course the recipients try not to show it, or they even try to lie to themselves and deny their pain. This can lead to hidden resentments or even emotional problems.

In my opinion, the best policy to follow is the maxim from computer protocol design: be conservative in what you send and be liberal in what you accept. That is, try not to take offense, but try not to give offense either.

Really, this is basic common sense. I think most people will come to adopt something similar to this as they become mature, based on problems that arise in being excessively blunt.

Most societies have conventions of politeness which have evolved over many generations. Given the inherent differences and incompatibilties among people, politeness is the social lubricant that allows people to get along with the minimum of friction. It saves wasted time in trying to correct misunderstandings and deal with disputes and resentments.

Politeness exists for a reason, and I believe that denying it is going to impose costs which could have been avoided.