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"The contrarian dynamic" by dang, from around a month ago.


> The "contrarian dynamic" is that HN threads (and internet comments generally) are largely propelled by people making objections. Cunningham's Law touches on this [1]. The objections come in waves. In the earliest stage of a thread, they tend to be rapid negative reactions to the article. It's not that these are a community consensus, it's that they're the fastest reactions to feel, and the fastest comments to write—especially when the topic is provocative, when most of us are reacting from cache [2].

> Then a second wave of objections is generated by the first wave. Readers come to the thread, see the comment section dominated by those initial 'triggered' responses, and feel some version of surprised-shocked-dismayed at how the commenters all seem to be reacting in that way. This propels them to write defenses of the article, often carefully expressing more moderate or balanced views than the first wave—but they probably wouldn't have been motivated to post anything if there hadn't been the first wave of comments to object to!

> These second-wave comments tend to get more upvotes, perhaps because more people tend to share the more moderate view, but also because those comments tend to be more reflective [2] and therefore better written.

> This explains why the top comment in a thread so often begins (ironically) with "Wow, I can't believe the comments here"—or from the current thread: "All of these comments make me think HN has never interacted with a 5 year old" [3]—followed by a defense of whatever those objections were objecting to. Eventually you get objections to the objections to the objections—which reminds me of the line "My complication had a little complication" from Brazil [4], and also epicycles.

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