How to reach me
All of these accounts are checked at least once per week. I respond to all incoming requests, so if you send me something and do not receive a reply within a week, the most likely reason is there’s been a technical mishap and you should try again on a different channel.
How to get my full attention
My lack of fame means my inbox isn’t overwhelmed with people competing for my attention. This allows me to respond to everyone, but not all of my responses are created equal. If you want to maximise the likelihood that I will actively engage with what you have to say, please take the following advice:
- An ideal first message is between 100 and 1000 words. I’d advise against sending me a 5000 word heartfelt essay because that will require at least a 500 word reply for it to not seem like a rejection. 500 words is trivial when it’s spread over 20 text messages, but the act of putting 500 words in a single email is the kind of thing that will end up getting put on my to do list and forgotten about.
- I’d prefer the first message to be written like an email regardless of the platform, then have a rapid back and forth conversation over text chat. I find that email conversations take far too much effort to sustain and video calls are too prone to getting stuck in low value tangents. I can tolerate both, but the tolerate is the key word.
- Your opening message doesn’t need to be polished, but it should give me a rough idea of who you are and enough information for me to ask you questions about our mutual interests.
- If the content of your first message belongs in 4 long paragraphs, put it in 4 long paragraphs. If it can be expressed in bullet points, don’t stretch it out into paragraphs. I don’t care how well you can write, only how well you can communicate.
- if you are a rationalist/post-rationalist and we haven’t already spoken, don’t try to bond with me over the fact we’ve both been influenced by LessWrong. I’ve spoken to many self identified rationalists over the years and most of those conversations were a complete waste of time, yet gave the illusion of progress. If you want me to assume the same thing will happen with you, send me a message filled with ingroup™ shibboleths.
- You should read through what you’ve written to ensure it makes sense, but please don’t worry about the odd spelling mistake.
- If you have a specific goal when you talk to me, be direct about what you want. I know this is not the British way of doing things, but if I’d be willing to do something after a short conversation, 9 times out of 10 I’d have also been happy to do it beforehand. The two notable exceptions to this rule are “want to be friends?” and “would you like to date me?”, which are perfectly fine things to want, but require a more gradual escalation.
- Don’t try to introduce yourself in a way that panders to my tastes. My resume wouldn’t get me hired at McDonalds, but I still see accomplishments in the buisness/academic world as signals of competence (because they are). Likewise, if someone could describe you as “long-term unemployed”, don’t make it sound like you’re on the cusp of being Silicon Valley’s next thought leader. If you have something worth bragging about, by all means brag about it. If you don’t, just show me something you’ve produced that will convince me that you’re more capable than your resume would suggest.