On Monday I declared Crocker’s rules on a textbox for a day. The results were pretty interesting. Some observations:
- It was pretty painless. Some people expected that I would have a visceral negative reaction to feedback that fell outside the bounds of social acceptability. I didn’t find this to be the case at all. I speculate that being in text rather than in person was helpful for this (I’ve tried similar experiments in person and similarly not been offended, but they were all with people I knew quite well).
- I got a substantial amount of good advice. A couple examples:
- When I run into people I don’t know very well, sometimes I don’t acknowledge them, out of social tiredness/being worried about the conversation being awkward. In retrospect this is clearly something I should be better about but I hadn’t elevated it to the level of conscious attention. (Thanks, anonymous person!)
- One person called me “vaguely quiet” and another person suggested I’m too much of a nice guy. These definitely don’t agree with my model of myself, and warrant further investigation.
- Some people wrote in to complain that Crocker’s Rules were silly. Someone cared enough to tell me that no one would care enough to tell me anything, which was interesting.
- The majority of comments were completely positive and unconstructive. I mean in the vein of “You’re cool!” This was unexpected, and I’m not quite sure why it happened. Potential explanations:
- The post was interpreted as a veiled request for positive reinforcement instead of its naive reading as a request for honest feedback.
- Most people I know don’t ever think anything negative about me (unlikely).
- People think negative things about me, but never remember anything specific, only a general halo/anti-halo (and the audience was strongly selected for halo).
- People can’t be bothered to think about it at all, but want to write something because it’s fun, so they submit a default response.
- The positive commenters are sycophants (although this doesn’t really make sense, since the form was anonymous, so there’s nothing for them to gain).
- The positive commenters are unconscious sycophants, and their unconscious didn’t realize that the form was anonymous so it could stop being sycophantic.
- I am objectively flawless.
To disambiguate between some of the hypotheses above, I’m going to up the ante. For the next week, if you email me with substantial constructive feedback,1** I will offer you bake you delicious cookies.**2 As many of my classmates can attest, I bake *awesome* cookies. Don’t miss this opportunity!
EDIT: Andrew points out that some people might prefer to trade feedback for feedback, rather than cookies. If you prefer feedback to cookies, I’m happy to give feedback instead.
I have a low bar for “substantial”. Anything more than, like, suggesting I use three shades darker of a blue for the links on this site. (That’s still good feedback that I want to hear! Just not quite cookie-worthy.) ↩︎
I’ll be baking from the excellent Flour cookbook. If you don’t live near me, I will mail them to you. They can go by first-class mail, which is inexpensive and fast enough that they don’t go stale. Yes, I do this with some frequency. ↩︎