81 thoughts on “My New OKCupid Profile

  1. Anonymous

    My reply to this ended up being long enough for its own entry. Short version: It’s disconcerting for you to come across so sanctimoniously in shaming OkC for defecting at what you think is a cooperation point, when you haven’t argued for that specific cooperation point. Long version here: http://knaveoalltrades.livejournal.com/2686.html

  2. Anonymous

    An example of a pair of boycotts facing off is on Less Wrong, where some people believe that a certain person is giving a downvote to every comment by certain people, so they are giving a downvote to every comment by that person and every reply to him.

  3. Alexander Stanislaw

    Scott

    I’d really like to hear your take on the Apartheid boycott as another commenter pointed out. It is a pretty serious omission. I’d especially like to know what you think of this issue because the green police at some universities are pressuring their administrations to divest from fossil fuels and they compare divesting from companies like Peabody and Exxon to boycotting South Africa during the apartheid era. (I think this is ridiculous.)

    You’re right that excessive boycotts have bad economic consequences since they result in a less free economy where people only do business with those that share their values. However, when does choosing to use one product over another because of issues related to the company and not the product itself become “boycotting”? If two brands of noodles are reasonably similar and one of them donates to anti-vaxxing organizations, I think I am fully justified in using that as a deciding criteria. I’m assuming you don’t think there is some near-deontic rule that says “Thou shalt evaluate a product or company solely on the merits of their service/quality”.

    1. Douglas Knight

      Have you read all three of Scott’s essays? 1 2 3 (4). It appears to me that he is, generally, in favor of boycotts.

      But in any event, why should he address one particular example? As he says, antisemitic boycotts are just as representative.

  4. zslastman

    I predict you will get several semi serious applications for the third place in that triad.

  5. Moshe Zadka

    I think the whole OKC thing is a red-herring. The real reason he resigned is because once it became public enough, there was actual concern about Mozilla engineers leaving/not coming on. If your organization’s primary selling point to engineers is about the “feel good” of helping the world, having someone at the helm who didn’t just give $100 to Yes-on-8 but is still not willing to come out with a statement supporting same-sex-marriage, would have seriously hampered recruiting effort. At this point in time, it’s the same as having an anti-semite as a CEO: recruiting would absolutely suck, not just because of Jewish engineers, but because people are not ok with that.

  6. Michael Dickens

    > When you’re being out-tolerated by the frickin’ Catholics, you need to reconsider some of your life choices.

    Well spoken.

    As usual, thank you for saying what I wanted to say in much better words.

    1. Douglas Knight

      It’s rhetorically powerful, but it bothers me because it may reinforce the belief that the Church is not tolerant. But maybe the opposite. And maybe it’s better to encourage people to be tolerant than to have accurate beliefs about who is tolerant.

  7. Kevin

    Forgiveness. I did some crazy things back when I was younger, some of them as recently as 2008. I wouldn’t want my entire fitness as a human being judged by one of them dredged up by a reporter.

    This is an inaccurate description of the situation. Eich never stated that he had changed his mind about gay marriage or asked forgiveness for donating to Prop 8. That distinction is a rather important point in this story.

  8. Matthew

    I think some of your arguments here are stronger than others. The donation hypocrisy is pretty hard to argue with. On the other hand, the general indifference to you being a pro-choice atheist among the faithful might well vanish if you were suddenly promoted from medical resident to director of the hospital. Whether one agrees with it as a matter of substance or not, I don’t think “The CEO embodies the company and may be subject to requirements that would be unreasonable for everyone else” is an unworkable shelling point.

  9. Douglas Knight

    People boycotting Firefox were executing a secondary boycott, boycotting not just Eich, but also those who did business with him. OKCupid was executing a tertiary boycott.

    Secondary boycotts bother me a lot, but is it a good distinction?

    1. Kaminiwa

      That seems like a very useful distinction to me!

      If pro-lifers refused to associate with anyone who so much as did business with abortion clinics, it’d probably make the medical field a nightmare. Now Kaiser gets boycotted because one of their doctors works at Planned Parenthood (and if we’re allowing tertiary boycotts, then that doctor doesn’t even have to do abortions, just work there)

      Equally, all of Germany was associated with Hitler during WW2, but it seems REALLY useful to draw a line between “low-ranked grunt who is just following orders” and “person who is actively writing the orders”.

    2. Viliam Búr

      Related LW article: “Tolerate Tolerance

      Cooperation is unstable, in both game theory and evolutionary biology, without some kind of punishment for defection. So it’s one thing to subtract points off someone’s reputation for mistakes they make themselves, directly. But if you also look askance at someone for refusing to castigate a person or idea, then that is punishment of non-punishers, a far more dangerous idiom that can lock an equilibrium in place even if it’s harmful to everyone involved. … I have to remind myself, “Tolerate tolerance! Don’t demand that your allies be equally extreme in their negative judgments of everything you dislike!” … I shall go on trying to tolerate people who are more tolerant than I am, and judge them only for their own un-borrowed mistakes.

      Direct boycott = punishing someone for being bad; for example supporting a law against human rights.

      Secondary boycott = punishing someone for being nice towards the wrong person; for example, not firing an employee for having different political opinions.

      When you find yourself punishing people for being nice, it is time to slow down, breathe deeply, and reconsider your strategy. I mean, assuming that niceness has a place in your utility function.

      1. Nita

        “When you find yourself punishing people for being nice, it is time to slow down, breathe deeply, and reconsider your strategy.”

        That’s a valuable thought. However, “being nice” may be misleading in the context of this discussion. “Doing business with” would be more neutral. (In this particular situation, we might even say “elevating to a quasi-political position of leadership”, but that’s a separate point.)

        For instance, here’s a least convenient example. Suppose that someone sells guns to a “bad” group of people, who then proceed to murder and intimidate innocent civilians. Would it be acceptable to put social pressure on the arms dealer, or are they just “being nice” and thus beyond reproach?

        1. Zathille

          How do you determine, a priori, what a ‘bad group’ is? Could the arms dealer have possibly known what the group would have used the guns for?

          In case the dealer had no reason to believe the gun would be used for such activities, I would not hold him or her responsible for crimes carried out using his goods any more than a car dealer for road-raging.

          Then again, my discomfort and subsequent questioning may simply be motivated by my fear of one’s political beliefs being used as a predictor of criminality, which has the danger of being used as a justification for criminalising dissent. The crime is the act, not the opinions of those who carry it out.

        2. Nita

          How do you determine, a priori, what a ‘bad group’ is?

          Hmm, you’re right – my example needs some clarification. To keep a loose analogy with the anti-gay-rights issue, suppose that the group has done something “bad” in the past. Today, they seem to be pleasant people and say all the right things, but never mention having changed their goals or methods.

        3. Zathille

          The concept of ‘bad thing’ still seems vague. I assume we’re speaking of something strictly illegal, such as assault or any such crime in the example? If so, I do believe transactions involving weapons require a background check for those sorts of things, though I do admit I know little about such processes and may be wrong.

          As for ‘saying the right things’, this is a very worrysome thing to say in a political context. Maybe I’m misreading and this isn’t about ideological conformity, you mean this in the sense of the group failing to reject illegal means to further their goal, the goal itself bearing no significance on the evaluation of whwther they’re a ‘good’ or ‘bad’ group?

        4. Nita

          I intentionally left the “bad” actions unspecified.

          To really test Villiam’s principle of “being nice is always good”, we should think of things universally agreed to be immoral – that’s why I mentioned murder initially. Also, laws work better within countries than across borders (see bribery by large corporations in Africa), so there is still enough room for potentially unethical but not illegal tactics.

          But in the context of the original discussion, we can think of public actions you and your peers consider immoral and harmful – to many people, sponsoring campaigns to deny equal rights to minorities is in this category.

          By “saying the right things” I mean that the words they say give you positive emotions (as long as you don’t think of the “bad things” they’re conspicuously not mentioning).

  10. Typo

    I found a typo. It seems that two words got swapped around:

    > I have some pretty crazy opinions – that like the US should provide a Basic Income Guarantee of a certain fixed amount of money to all its adult citizens, regardless of whether or not they’re employed.

  11. gattsuru

    Not within your target demographic, but good luck. Always good to see original profiles around.

    I’m kinda iffy about listing Javascript as a thing you could never do without. Not only or even mostly because it’s got some serious architectural flaws as a language (most of them do, and the ones that don’t are impossible for normal humans to write in). But because it’s going to give people — admittedly, ones who haven’t read much of your writing — a reason to assume you’re giving Eich more benefit of the doubt because he fits into a set of people you value.

  12. M.C. Escherichia

    Would you be OK with me making a small, possibly unsuccessful effort to increase the audience for this?

    It’s still nominally a dating profile so I don’t want to just post it places without asking…

  13. J. Quinton

    In moral indignation cases like these, I always try to picture the opposite. I certainly don’t like homophobia, but imagine if another dating site like ChristianMingle or something like that had the same scenario go on: That they didn’t like that, say, the CEO of [Browser] was an atheist and said atheist used his/her personal money to donate to secular or atheist causes. And then due to that reaction spurred by ChristianMingle the atheist CEO steps down.

    It would be hypocritical for me to feel outraged at the ChristianMingle scenario but feel OK with the OKCupid scenario.

  14. GigaNigga

    I found interesting the (real) need to establish your bonafides via “I voted for Obama.” Even meta-level arguments are only acceptable if made by the right (left) people.

    1. Scott Alexander Post author

      Have you considered that maybe the reason people don’t find your arguments acceptable is less about leftism and more that you use the name GigaNigga?

      1. Said Achmiz

        I didn’t read GigaNigga as complaining that people don’t find his arguments acceptable, but as suggesting that people wouldn’t find your arguments acceptable if not for “I voted for Obama” or similar. Given that, it seems like your response fails to address his point.

    2. Thomas

      Alternately: the self-identification is necessary to disprove leftist* echo-sphere arguments that “The only people that disagree with issue X are evangelical Christian bigots* because there is no other reason to disagree with issue X”
      *replace as necessary

    3. Anonymous

      The situation is symmetrical, it’s a function of the audience which is being addressed. You wouldn’t step into Mississippi and say “I voted for Obama too” as a legitimizing phrase, right?

      1. Randy M

        I think the point was to point out that the audience in this case can be just as quick to form tribal alliances and evaluate arguments based on the speakers perceived status or affiliation, even though they would be more likely to be portrayed as nuanced, rational, open-minded, etc.

  15. Mark

    After reading that, my first thought was: the OKCupid people who rubber stamped the Firefox boycott must’ve had the power to do so without seeking Sam Yagan’s (the Match.com CEO) approval. But Yagan really did explicitly approve the campaign. That’s crazy. So yeah, Yagan is a hypocrite. But it’s not like anyone else at OKCupid could’ve tried to organize an OKCupid campaign against him.

    Also, much as I’m sympathetic to the point your profile makes, I feel very iffy on the premise of conservative retaliation. Maybe conservatives won’t actually be any more likely to fire gay people? Or maybe the retaliation will happen but be outweighed by the number of CEO’s who are now scared to associate with anti-gay causes? Everyone commenting on this saga is quick to enumerate the far-reaching harms and benefits of the boycott, but no one ever quantifies them, so I remain feeling very confused about the proper course of action.

  16. Anon

    1) That is a new thought for me. With a little more prodding, this article may change my opinion on a topic which I didn’t even realize I had an opinion on before today.

    I agree in the specific case of OKCupid, but I’m wondering where the line is to be drawn though…what about corporations which are directly funding war or terrorism? What about cases where the product inherently involves something bad in its creation, like worker exploitation or meat-animal-harm?

    Is it the “meta”-ness that changes the rules here? Is a person who gives political support to war-starting or gay-marriage-banning or X-thing-you-dislike excused, while a person who directly uses funds in order to do X-thing fair game for boycotting?

    To not draw *any* line seems to be… something that would lead to not winning, in an instrumental rationality sense. I don’t see anything *inherently* immoral about a boycott, but I do see the consequentiallist case you’ve laid out for everyone not boycotting things all the time. But are you making a general principle argument here, or is it just a question of the magnitude and trade-offs involved in decisions concerning whether or not to boycott?

    I guess what I’m saying is that I’d like your views on when boycotts are okay, if ever.

    [Readers can safely ignore below this point, as it’s unrelated to the article]

    2) I’ve been following your writing for a long time, so you occupy the place in my mind sort of reserved for “friends”, in the weird way an author one has read over and over again might be a “friend”. Which makes seeing your face for the first time weird, because I’ve actually never seen it before.

    3) I find it delightfully baffling that your “unacceptable” answers include people who like dirty jokes, think beer tastes good, and have had sex in weird places. I can’t even imagine what your thought process or justification for those preferences are.

    It’s got me wondering what sorts of deal breakers I have that others would find extremely strange.

    1. nydwracu

      I agree in the specific case of OKCupid, but I’m wondering where the line is to be drawn though…what about corporations which are directly funding war or terrorism? What about cases where the product inherently involves something bad in its creation, like worker exploitation or meat-animal-harm?

      It’s not as if there’s been anything effective against them… and in practical terms, it doesn’t seem likely that there will be anytime soon.

      3) I find it delightfully baffling that your “unacceptable” answers include people who like dirty jokes, think beer tastes good, and have had sex in weird places. I can’t even imagine what your thought process or justification for those preferences are.

      Selecting against promiscuity?

      1. ozymandias

        If Scott were trying to select against promiscuity, presumably he would have answered more negatively to the “is a person who has sex with 100 people a bad person?” or “do you think 14 sexual partners is too many?” questions. (Also not having a primary partner who’s fairly promiscuous and a former sex worker.) I suspect Scott is actually trying to select against people who tell dirty jokes, drink beer, and like to have sex in public.

        My favorite OKC answers of Scott’s are his one-person OKC-based fight against littering.

    2. Rob

      I think an important distinction here is between the company and the individual. Mozilla wasn’t funding bigots, Eich was, and I don’t think anyone is claiming that Mozilla is responsible for any wrongdoing other than promoting Eich. In other words this is not an attack on a company for their policy, but an attack on an individual for their politics.

      1. malpollyon

        I don’t understand how anyone can write so much about boycotts without even mentioning South African Apartheid. It’s a serious omission.

    3. ozymandias

      My position is that it is not okay to boycott a company to try to get people fired for something unrelated to their job performance, as a subset of “it is immoral to fire people for something unrelated to their job performance.” Since, presumably, it is moral to work against worker exploitation and animal harm, it is also moral to boycott companies who do those things.

      1. Said Achmiz

        How does disagreement about what’s moral enter into this?

        For example, let’s say I don’t think animal harm is immoral. You boycott my food-service company, because it harms animals.

        Let’s now say that I think harm to embryos is immoral. I boycott your pharmaceutical company, because it harms embryos (something something stem cells).

        It’s not clear to me that this situation is preferable to one where neither of us boycotts anything.

        (Disclaimer: I hold one, and only one, of the positions mentioned in this comment.)

        1. ozymandias

          Disagreement about what’s moral enters into boycotts the same way it enters into anything else: I can attempt to convince you that you should not care about embryos, and thus stop you from boycotting things. I think boycotts are a moral *tactic*, but a moral tactic can be used for immoral ends.

        2. Douglas Knight

          The original Anon said “the product inherently involves something bad in its creation.” Almost everyone agrees that it is OK for vegetarians to boycott meat, even delis and steakhouses. I think you are suggesting that there is a disagreement between you and Ozy on the question of whether it is OK for a vegetarian to boycott a company that produces perfectly acceptable vegetarian food, on the ground that it produces any meat at all.

        3. Said Achmiz

          Ozymandias: Sure, but my point was not about metaethics or anything.

          I’m saying that I don’t think boycotts are a good moral tactic, in the sense that if everyone who thinks it’s a good tactic to use goes ahead and uses that tactic, it’s not clear to me that we, as a society, are better off than if no one boycotts anything.

          To put it another way, consider this. Let’s say society is split on some position. You and I are on the same side, and we’re quite sure that our side is morally in the right (though of course our opponents have a corresponding view). Everyone boycotts anyone who’s on the opposing side.

          If there’s more of us than of them, then our boycotts are stronger, and society moves in the direction of our views. Well and good, presumably.

          If there’s more of them than of us, then their boycotts are stronger, and society moves in the direction of their views. Not so good!

          If there’s more or less an equal number of us and them, then society moves nowhere, but we’ve got all these boycotts going on. What good are they doing? If there’s no effect, wouldn’t you rather have no effect and no boycotts, rather than no effect but lots of boycotts?

        4. Randy M

          Depends on the exchange rate between warm fuzzies and economic efficiency, I suppose.

        5. Said Achmiz

          Douglas Knight: I don’t think I’d describe vegetarians declining to eat meat as a “boycott”. (Although I’m not sure what the clause “even delis and steakhouses” is meant to be modifying, so maybe I’m misunderstanding that sentence.)

          Am I “boycotting” McCormick & Company if I don’t buy their cinnamon (to which I am allergic)? Clearly not (especially since I do purchase some of their other products). I don’t think the word (or concept) “boycott” makes any sense when applied to particular products or goods. You can boycott a company or somesuch.

          As for your characterization of my disagreement… I have to think about whether that’s accurate. I’m still not sure what I think about the boundary and distinction between private action and collective action, for instance.

        6. ozymandias

          Has there ever actually been a situation where two groups counter-boycott? Like, I am not sure that actually *happens*. In general it seems like a lot of boycotts happen when there is a small group that passionately cares about something and a much larger group that doesn’t care at all (the AFA boycotts people who say Happy Holidays but no one boycotts people who say Merry Christmas; ASAN boycotts Goodwill for not paying disabled workers enough, but no one boycotts organizations that pay disabled workers high wages). Even in the case of things like abortion– I mean, I guess pro-life people could be said to be boycotting Planned Parenthood, and pro-choice people could be said to be boycotting crisis pregnancy centers, but actually that seems like a perfectly fair and reasonable situation with very few negative consequences for either side.

        7. Said Achmiz

          I didn’t actually mean that there necessarily need to be opposing boycotts on two sides of the same issue; sorry, that may not have been clear.

    4. Scott Alexander Post author

      Zakharov links to a good article, but a long time ago I also wrote this which might clarify things further.

      I was partly going for “straight-laced” with the preferences, but mostly just for “people like me”.

      1. Anonymous

        Thank you, that greatly clarifies things.

        To restate and simplify, as I understand your position, under the assumption that you are certain of your moral position, a boycott follows essentially prisoner’s dilemma logic?

        That’s so weird! My own preferences tend towards maximizing the total number of facets a person has (can do X> can’t do X; can enjoy X > can’t enjoy X; etc). Given the extent to which your writing resonates with me, I’m surprised our preferences diverge so dramatically.

        Although I typically only put fundamental values, opinions, and intelligence metrics as “mandatory” since I figure it’s easier to screen for more the intangible personality variables in person. I guess my hierarchy goes kindness > skills and abilities > beliefs > personality variables, and of these I only trust OKCupid to divine beliefs.

  17. Randy M

    That’s well done. But, and I realize I am not the target demographic, and also that perhaps it is beyond your control, you should definitely grow the hair back.

    Also, this totally works against the anonymity of the non-live journal blog. I presume circumstances have made that less of a priority?

    1. Sniffnoy

      I don’t think it was really ever intended to be anonymous as such; it’s not like he hasn’t (e.g.) frequently linked to his old LJ posts. Just the idea was, don’t use his real name here so that it doesn’t turn up if people Google that.

      1. Randy M

        I have no idea if this is serious or not. If so, I will request Diana Moon Glampers to come and check all my privileges.

    2. Scott Alexander Post author

      Does it? Blog readers already know I live near Detroit and work in a Catholic hospital. Other than the photo, what more info does it give?

      1. Randy M

        You’ve walked into a whole class of jokes along the lines of “Yes, but other than the plane crash, how was your trip?”

        Since one can’t easiy input an image into google you probably are effectively no less anonymous, it still amuses me to see the juxtaposition of “I’m using a psuedonym” and “by the way, here’s my photograph.”

        But I guess I’m thinking about it backwards. It’s okay for people on the blog to know who you are, but you don’t want to make it trivial for people who know you to find the blog.

        1. Elissa

          1) You actually totally can search Google with an image
          2) There is literally only one Catholic hospital in Michigan with an accredited psych residency

        2. Douglas Knight

          Actually, you can enter images in to google, to see where they are used. Oddly, doing such a search does not directly find Scott’s facebook account with the same picture under his real name. It does find a website that he often links to from here, so revealing the picture isn’t really new information. Said website has the weird combination of (1) using the pseudonym; (2) not linking here; (3) linking to facebook.

          I agree that Scott isn’t trying to hide much information from us, his readers; he is hiding information from his patients who might google his real name. That brings up the above-mentioned website, revealing to them that he has a pseudonym, which seems unnecessary, but it’s a pretty common name, so searching under it brings up other people. Searching it with “blog” brings one straight here.

          Image searches and new searches based on the results of the first search are pretty advanced techniques, so he probably shouldn’t worry about them much.

  18. lambdaphage

    The length of a bar represents how strong that trait is and how confident Staff Robot is in the analysis.

    I’m an error bar and what is this?

  19. Daniel Speyer

    Now I really want to know how this profile performs compared to your old one. Update in a month?

    1. Scott Alexander Post author

      Last profile: existed about one year, approximately three people messaged me in that year, of whom only one was remotely okay.

      Current profile: one day, have gotten several messages from people saying they would date me “if I lived near them” or “if I fancied men”.

      Also, OKCupid tells me that thirty people have said that they “liked” me (that thing with the stars?), but it won’t tell me their names unless I get A-List.

      Which I can totally afford at this point, and it might be worth it. But if I went into this intending to protest OKCupid’s politics, and it ended with me paying them lots of money for a premium membership, I think I would officially be the Worst Protester Ever.

      1. Matthew

        Relying on other people toinitiate contact is an… atypical strategy for a male profile, and would be an odd way to measure success. Perhaps this is different within the poly community?

        1. Scott Alexander Post author

          Well, I didn’t really send any messages because I didn’t see many people in the area who I was that interested in or have too much time.

        2. Army1987

          I (a male) once went on a couple dates with someone (a female) who had contacted me on an online dating website which I had joined just because a friend of mine needed to bring N new users to the site to get a premium account for free, and which I had forgotten even existed.

      2. Scott

        Doesn’t fit the role of a protester, sure, but it’s not like buying their membership deletes all the stuff you’ve written on your profile. I believe A-list actually increases the number of people who view your profile (that might just be promoting that does that, not sure) so maybe it’s what the Shrewd Protestor Who Uses The Enemy’s Tools Against Them does.

        (I have A-list myself and it’s great – being able to find out who gave you 4 or 5 stars is ideal for a male profile since if they rate you highly they’re sort-of promising to reply to your messages at least once)

      3. Nornagest

        I don’t know if it’s still like this, since after years of letting my OKCupid profile molder I finally drove a stake into its heart a few months ago. But from what I remember, the passive side of success on OKCupid is very much driven by novelty: you want to drive eyeballs to your page, and one way to do that is by posting new content (pictures, profile revisions). This leads to a spike in views whenever you create or substantially revise a profile, so posting a new and reasonably complete one might in itself be responsible for what you’re seeing.

  20. adbge

    But I really really love Firefox too. It freed me from having to use Internet Explorer, which was about as big a positive life change as losing my virginity.

    For me, the switch was *more* positive than losing my virginity. (How many days of Firefox usage is one awkward sexual experience worth?)

    1. Scott Alexander Post author

      The three strategies that have had nonzero success for me:

      1. OKCupid + very large amounts of perseverance and luck

      2. Being poly and having lots of poly friends who introduce you to theirs.

      3. Blogging

  21. Jed

    Nice.

    But take out the exclamation points and doubled question marks. Punctuational tricks are like alchemists’ ingredients — essence of bafflement, tincture of incredulity. They are pure, so they detract from an ironic piece like a protest profile, which is powerful precisely because its message is mixed. Irony is a flower nailed to the end of a baseball bat. The bat hits harder when the flower smells sweeter.

    Here, that means deadpan. Go for the voice in The Economist.

  22. Douglas Knight

    “Cowardly” seems like an odd choice, since they very easily could have stayed silent. I’ve never understood what you mean by “bravery debates,” but is there any relation between calling your side brave and calling the other side cowardly?

      1. Douglas Knight

        I suggest something less generic than “terrible,” maybe “ghastly” or “appalling”?

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