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Tell HN: Please don't add noise to the conversation
71 points by vecter on Jan 19, 2016 | hide | past | web | favorite | 32 comments
I've noticed that it's become more acceptable to add noise and meaningless comments to HN threads. I came across this thread yesterday: http://i.imgur.com/ZZt3F0M.png. The parent comment about the wingsuit flyby was somewhat relevant to the original topic. The subsequent replies were silly noise.

Please refrain from writing comments that don't add anything meaningful to the discussion. Hacker News is not a place to post chains of memes. If you want to do that, go to reddit where it's an accepted and important part of the culture. Please do your part to keep the signal to noise ratio here high. Thank you.

I was getting the feeling that Slashdot had finally given up the ghost, or some subreddit that mainly attracts teenagers had posted an HN link for some reason. I mean there have been pun threads on HN posted recently, and reference "humor", and meme chains. It was enough to make me not even look at this site for a week.

I really hope it turns around. I can't take another site I love turning into a cultural "me too" wasteland.

In my honest opinion, I think that it is worse knowing that the guidelines were created specifically to stop HN from degenerating into Reddit and Slashdot.

Doesn't every community need guidelines/rules on the internet? Without them you get wild-west-style communities. I think HN works BECAUSE it's heavily moderated. In the beginning we could rely on a small user-base to self-sustain discussions, but we've reached such a wide audience now I don't think that's possible without mod assistance.

Would be interesting to implement a veteran-only view to only show user's posts and comments that reach a certain karma or age threshold. Neither of which would correlate with conversation quality, however you'd likely see on-the-whole more 'classic HN'-style discussion as you've filtered out the vast majority of new/'casual' users.

I think you misunderstood my comment, I did not mean to state that I thought the guidelines are bad -- I think that they are very good for the community (In fact, imo it's what makes this place better and more informative than Slashdot). What I meant to state was that the increase of the signal-to-noise ratio is a bad thing, that is happening despite the extrememly well written guidelines.

Anecdotally, I would say that this could indicate that either the guidelines are not being enforced (However, from what I can tell they are being enforced), or that the guidelines have a black spot that could be filled (Whether this would cause more harm than good is debatable).

An increase in shadow-banning would be very effective, but there's a lot of push-back against that form of penalty.

Those types of comments are downvoted to hell 99% of the time. I'm actually surprised that thread wasn't.

I'm more pessimistic and I feel that the noise level is increasing. I have seen recently more and more threads like that. I think that now they are downvoted only the 80% or 90% of the time.

Could it be a time-of-the-year type thing? A certain demographic spending more time inside behind a computer? Or maybe a new HN app that makes it more accessible?

Seasonal variation is a possible explanation (see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eternal_September ). But I'm not sure if that the explanation.

There is a nice comment in a thread of a few years ago, that has an ascii-art graph of the quality of the HN comments [1]. The values are made up, but it show that the quality oscillates, and people complain when it's descending. But it will bounce! (I hope.)

So, I'm not desperate, but a small rant of another user makes me not feel that I'm the only one that sees a problem.

[1] I can't find the original comment. Do someone have it in a bookmark?

[2] Lots of karma (or more precisely at least 1) for someone that can make a real graph using some kind of metric to guess the comment quality. (Length is a good proxy. Points need a correction due to the increase in users and karma inflation. Deep learning?) Does the real graph show seasonal variation?

Yes, I was surprised they weren't downvoted into oblivion either.

edit: as bradfa pointed out, this comment is the exactly the kind of noise we want to avoid. shame on me. I'll leave it as an example of what not to do.

Is your comment here an example of what you'd like to see less of?

Yes you're right actually. Thanks for pointing that out.

That's a really great point.

Great point!

Isn't this comment the equivalent of an upvote? Or was that the point?

That's the great thing about threaded commenting, as opposed to the typical sequential forum style- it's easy to mentally block out a bullshit thread.

Parsing for quality signal here can be tough with an article with over a 100 comments. Screen real estate can be hogged by the noisier threads, making it difficult to track a meaningful discussion.

Another reason we meed collapsable threads here. You'll never stop "noise" entirely, but bullshit threads that sparked by OT comments could be easily snipped with collapsable threads.

I've been using the Hacker News Enhancement Suite[1] for a while in Chrome. Among RES-style features like keyboard navigation it also enables collapsable threads. The source[2] is available on GitHub.

[1] https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/hacker-news-enhanc... [2] https://github.com/etcet/HNES

I think dang and the mod team are still doing a 'good enough' job at moderating, removing and warning the 'bullshit'. I see dang telling people off for breaking rules every day.

To implement collapsable threads would hide unpopular, but still valid comments and opinions which I don't believe is a fair, or 'in the spirit' of HN.

More thoughtful/consistent/attentive moderation would solve the problem 9 times out of 10, and have the added benefit of signalling the folks posting memes or making inane comments that those comments are not welcomed here.

There's a chrome extension that automatically makes threads collapsible on HN. https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/hacker-news-collap...

If you use chrome, there is a good extension that adds in collapsable comments: https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/hacker-news-collap...

Please don't post AskHN threads that aren't in the form of a question just to try to impose your personal preferences and discourage your personal pet peeves on the rest of us, because that is a stupid and immature thing to do.

It's more than a personal preference; vecter is representing something about the culture of the site.

It isn't just about community preference, either. HN is a democracy, but a constitutional one. The constitution is https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html.

> stupid and immature

Speaking of which, please review what the constitution says about not calling names in arguments!

I'm sorry, I just downvoted your comment but I meant to upvote.

If it helps, the data says you did neither :)

And please keep to the guidelines[0], the insults 'stupid' and 'immature' are not necessary to convey the idea that you find that behaviour abhorrent.

[0]: https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html

I posted this as a "Tell HN". A moderator must have changed it to "Ask HN".

Someone suggested that it might sound more courteous as "Ask", so we changed it. I doubt that verb choice was at the root of the objection there, but we can change it back.

No I think it's fine as is, thank you though :)

Come on guys, this isn't Reddit. Leave the gag threads at the door.

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