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Why do old statues have such small penises? (howtotalkaboutarthistory.wordpress.com)
393 points by okket on May 10, 2016 | hide | past | web | favorite | 168 comments

Key quote from the Quora link:

> (1) Long, thick penises were considered--at least in the highbrow view-- grotesque, comic, or both and were usually found on fertility gods, half-animal critters such as satyrs, ugly old men, and barbarians. A circumcised penis was particularly gross. (2) The ideal penis was small, thin, and covered with a long, tapered foreskin.

This is in conflict with your idea that they are just 'average', rather than idealized.

No, the average penis size is pretty small... it's the idea of the larger penis that's idealized in modern society

Maybe so, but the two explanations are at odds in any case.

Not really? Considering deviations from the average grotesque/unaesthetic and idealizing averages (see also, Norma sculpture) fits together rather well.

They are distinct explanations, though. I suppose you can idealize what's average, technically.

Is it that incomprehensible that something as subjective as aesthetics is too complicated to be reduced to a single explanation?

> I suppose you can idealize what's average, technically.

Not just technically, it happened in a few well-documented cases, like the Norma craze I mentioned: https://www.thestar.com/news/insight/2016/01/16/when-us-air-...

> The ideal penis was small, thin, and covered with a long, tapered foreskin.

Well, that's convenient. I wonder what women had to say about that ;)

Actually they are meant to be depicted as small for a reason, or at least this is what I was taught by multiple university professors.

The reason a depiction of a smaller penis was preferred is that it was a sign of fertility. Men with smaller penises were seen as genetically more likely to be able to impregnate a woman, and thus was a desired trait at the time.

From the second response on your quora link:

>The ancient Greeks believed that short penises allowed the man's seed to travel a lesser distance before entering the woman's body and impregnating her. A small penis was seen as being more virile. A long penis meant the seed had further to travel, and had less chance of impregnating a woman.

I heard from my professors that a smaller penis represented sophrosyne (latin temperantia) rather than great unconstrained passions, a desirable trait.

This is more in line with what I had read as well. A large penis was seen as "barbaric" or "brutish", while the average cosmopolitan man (who would be able to view such statues) desired to be in control of himself. This is all in line with the teachings of Aristotle; which pretty much defined the ideal man in the western world from about 600 BC until more modern philosophers started writing in the 15th and 16th century.


I don't know I would go as far as to say it was masculine versus feminine -- there was certainly a place in Aristotle's ideal man for athleticism and prowess in battle -- but rather defining the boundaries for genetic competition as being equal parts smart, attractive and strong.

Also, as much as it sounds out of place today, classical (i.e. Greek / Roman) thinkers didn't consider women to be people - they were above slaves and animals, but it was in every way a male-dominated society.

Edit: Also, to continue along the lines of your hypothesis, too much testosterone in individuals may actually be a detriment to the society as a whole. While it may serve you well on the battlefield as nomadic raiders or hunters, that same competition can lead to an increase in internal violence that destabilizes the collective. Also, you wouldn't need as many children in a city as you would on a farm (free child labor!), so increased fertility just means more mouths to feed.

>too much testosterone in individuals may actually be a detriment to the society as a whole.

Are you sure about that? What about the Bonobos? I don't know specifically about their testosterone levels, but they have a lot of sex and basically have constant orgies, and seem to have very good social cohesion (for small apes) without any internal violence at all. A high sex drive doesn't necessarily mean a lot of jealousy and competition between the males.

> too much testosterone in individuals may actually be a detriment to the society as a whole.

That's what my point was. Civilizations rise when less aggressive males are "dominating" the sexual market, but that civilization is also vulnerable to more aggressive males and once exposed to them, it crumbles. We can also see this effect to some extent in western civilization.

The Roman Empire largely fell because they were overexposed militarily. So one could equally argue that their hyper-masculinism was their downfall - not their lack of competitiveness.

If they showed more prudence and were less aggressive at everyone around them they would have been better prepared for the attacks from the Goths and barbarians.

Additionally, they were overextended financially as well which left them in a weak state. Over-extension is the result of highly risky behavior, which is comparable to the cowboy Wall St jockeys of the present era which are definitely a modern masculine image.

Avoiding the extremes seems to be where progress is made. Being neither overly aggressive nor so weak you get walked over by the tougher kids on the block. The boring times in history were great times for economies (see 1990s, post-WW2 America), there were still some military adventurism but mostly short-lived minor disputes (Korea, Desert Storm).

Modern statecraft is largely about economics today, not militarism. For example, I would doubt the US could fall from a lack of military prowess, while still totally dominating the world financial markets. Money goes a much longer way than guns and heart these days.

Just look at how Russia's economy is doing these days - despite being the toughest kid on the block. Even if they succeed at war mongering it could only take them so far before the west could obliterate their citizens quality of life without firing a shot.

They were not overexposed militarily. After conquering and integrating the whole mediterranean basin they only had two rivaling neighbors: Germanic peoples at the north and the parthians-sassanid-persians in the east. In times of integrity they managed just fine. The only reason the germans survived history to hurt the empire was because the Antonine emperors didn't want to genocide them.

Then the empire had a stint of epidemics and bad luck that degradated socitey and the political system, leading to constant civil war.

I thought testosterone decreased penis size?

The intelligence argument I can believe, the fertility argument I can't. What would the reason be that a small penis is more fertile?

The explanation is in the comment you're replying to. Of course it isn't an advantage, but apparently the greeks did believe that.

Without trying to be crass, a smaller penis fits into a wider array of vaginas, compared to too large a penis.

Not necessarily. You don't need to put it all in, while a big one reaches further...

That's fair enough, for those far away women that men with small penis' would not be able to reach

I was actually referring to girth. The vaginal canal is fairly elastic, but I've known women who complained that they were physically unable to have sex with a guy I knew because of girth.

Those women were either lying or exaggerating. Woman have babies through that canal, and a baby's skull is much larger than any man's girth. There is no way these women were "physically unable" to have sex with some man. It might have been uncomfortable for them if they were especially tight, but they could have done it.

This reminds me of men who claim that normal size condoms are "too small". Again, total BS. It's quite easy to blow one up like a balloon without it bursting. A larger one will be more comfortable for someone large, but the regular one will stretch to fit.

It may stretch to fit, but has a higher likelihood of shrinking back down during sex. Furthermore, a less comfortable condom due to it's size will increase pressure on the penis and reduce sensation even further. If you have a big cock, get an appropriate size condom.

>Furthermore, a less comfortable condom due to it's size will increase pressure on the penis and reduce sensation even further.

Yeah, I never said it was ideal, just that it would fit. I did say that it wouldn't be as comfortable. Same as a woman with a guy who's "too large" for her. It'll fit. It may not be comfortable, it might hurt some even, but it will fit.

What's above average in Greek statues is virtually every other aspect of the physique: if they're not intended to be teenagers their body dimensions usually have more in common with WWF wrestlers than the average person.

Especially when you consider that the average ancient Greek man was about six inches shorter than the average Western male today.

They are in fact teenagers by the modern definitions. You were a full responsible adult shortly after puberty. Many of the greats did their best work before 20.

Who did their best work before 20? I looked up a bunch of Greek philosophers, and it doesn't seem to apply to any of them. Socrates was in the military during his early life, and Aristotle did his most famous work late in life.

One possibility is that GP is thinking that "life expectancy was 25, so 20 means you're an old geezer on the deathbed." Alternatively, it may also be a reference to the extreme youth of Alexander the Great, who became king of Macedon at age 20 and proceeded to put down a Greek rebellion and then conquer Thrace, Persia, Egypt, Bactria, cross the Hindu Kush, conquer bits of India (then unknown to the Greeks) and was only stopped from going further when his army said "it's been long enough, can we go home?" He died 3 years later, at age 32. Obviously, he is very much an outlier.

Measures of life expectency are misleading in this regard.

Much of low life expectency comes from very high infant mortality -- deaths to age 5 or 10. Once you've passed that threshold, your odds of survival increase markedly. Perhaps slightly lower than today's first-world standards, but hale-and-hearty at 15 doesn't mean you're going to fall over dead at 25.

You also want to look at life expectency at any given age. And I distantly recall that the number of (I can't remember specifically which) Greeks or Romans surviving to age 80+ compared favourably to modern times.

Yeah, Alexander was a super hero.

I remember reading stories where he charged ahead of the rest of the army, scaled enemy walls, chased down royal bodyguards and so on. He was bloody crazy. A guy with his (lack of) brains should not have made it past 16, let alone get to 32.

A real life example of refuge in audacity?

I miss common sense.

The chances of the average (ancient) Greek sitting in front of a playstation / driving to work was also much lower though so I can imagine them being tangibly more muscular/fitter etc.

So glad I opened HN today

That's a relief.




for a second i thought i was reading a reddit thread

I despise this hackneyed and arrogant reddit chide. HN has excellent moderation, but it's not such a bastion of quality discourse that breaking forum etiquette merits shitting on another community via rhetorical comparison. This site is regularly host to some terribly low-quality discussions that really only differentiate themselves from reddit insomuch as they are lacking in humor. I'm glad that HN tends to moderate out the noise, but this HN trend to invoke reddit as an insult just seems pretentious.

oh. i did not mean it as an insult. i really thought i was reading a reddit thread :(

Firstly, they’re flaccid. If you compare their size to most flaccid male penises, they are actually not significantly smaller than real-life penises tend to be.

So... they're not small. I guess most people haven't seen many average, flaccid ones. If most of your exposure to penises is hardcore pornography and Mapplethorpe that confusion is understandable.

My very good friend has the rare distinction of being a medical scrotum model. This was a paid position (behind white curtains etc) of being an anatomical model for the male scrotum for medical education purposes.

He read, and studied, many text books that described and illustrated the average, flaccid penis in order to mentally handle this job without emotional damage.

He was the first person to bring to my attention the argument over statue penis size vs. perceived real penis size and I'm surprised to see that the debate continues! He had many references to studies done in this field (it's surprisingly popular!)

Despite the continuing debate, my friend has a unique set of skills on his CV.

He read, and studied, many text books that described and illustrated the average, flaccid penis in order to mentally handle this job without emotional damage.

What sort of emotional damage did he think would result from being a medical scrotum model? What did the job entail actually? I would assume he would let students see his penis or have it photographed for anatomy books, or something similar? Or were the students allowed to touch it, or something?

> Or were the students allowed to touch it, or something?

Well, at some point there will be a need for hands-on practice. I don't know if the friend is providing that, but I hope somebody is.

I assume there's a certain amount of verbal discussion, also.

"I'm a scrotum model, mama. A ball jockey. We think differently than the face and body boys... we're a different breed."

How does one get a job offer of this sort? Did his doctor off-handedly mention it after a physical?

LOL. Reminds me of George being a hand model in Seinfeld.

And Kramer inadvertently becoming a scrotum model of his own.

Does one get into the credits for such usage? If so, do some people use stage names for such things? Note: NOT interested in knowing their name.

That guy needs to do an AMA.

I am afraid to google Mapplethorpe, is it safe for work?

I guess it depends where you work. Mapplethorpe is quite controversial, at least 30 years ago, perhaps not today.

When his show came to Cincinnati in 1990, the art director was arrested and the Contemporary Arts Center, the museum that brought his exhibit to town, was criminally charged with obscenity for exhibiting sadomasochistic photographs. The museum director received many letters requesting he step down from his position, which they kept all of these years and put on display last year in the reunion exhibit.

> No museum or director has ever been charged since.


(This article is SFW.)

>"The museum director received many letters requesting he step down from his position, which they kept all of these years and put on display last year in the reunion exhibit."

I'll bet a lot of those letters aren't safe for work!

Only a bit of it.

I do have a Robert Mappelthorpe t-shirt that is safe-for-work, if a imposing (it's a tightly-cropped self-portrait of eyes), but unfortunately most people don't get why it's funny to wear to work :(

I don't get why it's funny to wear to work either, but would love a brief explanation!

Probably because much of his work is definitely NSFW.

Per the American Family Association, Mapplethorpe's art is "nothing more than the sensational presentation of potentially obscene material."

So, sure, "not safe for work"... :-)

The American Family Association is a hate group who also believe that gay people are obscene. I wouldn't trust their opinion on what is acceptable.

when dealing with NSFW, its their kind in the work place one is worried about...

Most certainly NO!

...and HBO

The author mentions that David looks afraid from the front, but doesn't provide a photo, so I went looking: http://i.imgur.com/OVJdNac.jpg

He definitely doesn't look afraid from below. He always looked bored to me, but looking him in the eyes, he definitely looks concerned.

Wow, I can't believe we don't see that angle more often, it adds so much to the statue.

I wonder how many other works of art are poorly displayed.

Interesting you mention the fact about it being poorly displayed. I would say it is, but not because you don't often see this frontal view. As you may or may not know, the sculpture was originally meant to be displayed on the roof of the Duomo. Michaelangelo altered the proportions slightly so that it would appear to be correct when viewed from an extreme low angle.

Is _that_ why his right hand seems extremely elongated? I've always wondered. Viewed from a steep angle, I imagine it would look quite normal.

From a friend who studied "classics" as a degree, the Greeks thought massive schlongs were comical and bestial, as well as stole focus from the musculature and overall balance of the art.

Rome on the other hand considered itself a masculine nation, who's roads were broad and straight, never turning for nature.

Not that the Greeks couldn't have fun, they used statues with erect penises as road signs in Athens, famously knocked off by Alcibiades (in fact he was framed by a rival ) the night before the invasion of Sicily.

The David is a statue of a 14 year old, in addition to the reasons given in the article.

Also in classical times the 'seat of power' for men was not the penis but the testicles.

Today we equate masculinity and virility with a large penis, but to the Greeks and Romans a large penis had no such connotation.

When you think about it, it makes sense from a biochemical perspective. Without the male testes a man can not produce testosterone which is the key hormone that regulates growth, muscle mass, aggressiveness, competitiveness, vitality, etc.

So it is understandable to think that a larger pair of testes would make you 'more' of a man and a smaller set, less.

Not sure when exactly this change occurred in Western culture but it would be the more interesting question to try to answer.

I have an alternative theory: the extremities of the statue are more delicate and the most likely parts to get knocked off over time. The size of the penis is probably proportional to the chance of it being knocked off, so we see fewer surviving examples of more endowed statuary. This theory doesn't necessarily compete with the one in the article; canny sculptors may have gone for smaller dimensions to make their statues more robust as well as aesthetics.

> canny sculptors may have gone for smaller dimensions to make their statues more robust as well as aesthetics.

I think that's one step to far. It's a better (at least 'cleverer'?) argument if you just leave it at "it's survivor bias."

And once they got knocked off - how do you repair the damage? By re-sculpting the stub. And there you are.

semi offtopic because my anectdote is more about the compactness of the genitals than their size:

i used to live in firenze and there is a statue of neptune(o) in the palazzo vecchio

once i was walking past it with a friend and i told her it was one of my favourite statues in the city

and she surprisingly responded, 'of course it is'

i asked why it was so obvious and she said, 'well, look at his balls'

"what about his balls?"

'that's an old man with the balls of a prepubescent boy'

now, you could make an argument about the models used or some social aspect of the times or artist but i loved where she went from there

"interesting, go on"

'it's a clear fetishising of immortality, to think you can be old with such a tight young body is the pure representation of a god, the immortal'

wisdom of experience, strength of youth

(o) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fountain_of_Neptune,_Florence

Not going to translate (this is Italian -and in particular Sicilian) and there are two sculptors arguing with the local priest about the size of the dong.


I speak Italian, and even I am grateful for the subtitles. I'm as far away from Sicilian as possible.

Many of the great classic Italian movies are in (Southern) dialect, so I tend to watch them with subtitles. Need to watch this movie.

I haven't seen this (my) theory mentioned but it's worth thinking about- sculptors of fine art were keen to differentiate themselves from poor cheap carvings that you can still get to this day in cheap markets in rural towns on the european continent. Go through stalls in Spanish seaside towns and you'll immediately find lewd phalic sculptures. They are made to shock the person receiving the gift. Proper artists wanted to go in the other direction, reducing the size of the genitalia so it's not a focus of the work.

Has anyone considered the possibility that the statues were in the pool? [0]

[0]: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ldUZvxjKMGs#t=1m18s

Women breasts are also small in old statues.

Maybe we can infer that sculptors didn't want erogenous zones to become too relevant and overshadow the statue as a whole.

Part of the reason for this is that many of the models for Renaissance artists' sculptures of women were actually men.

They are certainly not small in Indian sculptures.

Many of them also look nothing like breasts.

I suspect large dicks and boobs are a recent evolutionary development, but not that recent. You just cant run down dinner or walk that efficiently with all that junk flopping around. Many joggers probably have experimented once either in a college bare run or in the wilderness and found it tough :-)

Lice genetics suggests clothing is at least 80K years old even though the oldest needles are less than half that age. So people may have been engineering "support" to decrease the disadvantages of size. Nearly all the near naked jungle tribes seem to have support. I am suggesting size increased long before 2000 years ago, but not the entire history of the human race.

Before searching the internet for the answer a couple years ago, my speculation used to be that artists were afraid to make well endowed statues because some wife or concubine of the emperor might make an unflattering comparison, and it was never a good idea in those days to get an emperor pissed off at you.

Food for thoughts: When you fight naked or pantless against men with sharp sticks, you don't want a long penis that is easy to hit.

If I'm fighting you with a sharp stick I will not aim at your penis. Don't worry about that my friend!

Your crotch is the least interesting part to hit.

Talhoffer's fencing manuals are full of groin stabs and I've seen it in a few others.


I don't know the first thing about fencing. But that image doesn't look like a stab to me. It doesn't look like it's aimed at the penis in particular either. (But again I know nothing of the sport.) (Edit: I agree that if I had a sword, the crotch could be considered for an attack, but I'd go for the hip joints mostly.)

What I do know is that if I have a sharp stick, I will not aim it at your penis. The main goal in a fight is to incapacitate. So an attack on the penis even if successful would be rather wasted. Bleeding from the crotch doesn't make you any less dangerous in the short term.

You will die from bleeding from the groin. This also makes it so your opponent cannot reproduce.

The pain alone from a hit to the groin is also enough to make somebody vomit or straight out pass out. I'm not certain if that effect is the same with cutting as it is with punches and kicks...

We're in a fight with sharp sticks and you're concerned with reproduction?! You should review your romantic ideas about violence.

I think the main point is the fact that your opponent bleed out, vomit and pass out.

Yes they might do so after the fight. During the fight you don't really know how they will react to it. In a lot of cases they will not notice the injury and continue to fight you.

Huge blood vessels for the legs run near the surface in the crotch. It's quite deadly.

I agree to that. Crotch is too imprecise, I meant penis.

I was hoping that this was sort of reflecting the norm :S

Since the sculptors in those days were mostly men, a better question might be why the female statues have such small breasts :)

Er, the breasts are about average?

Look, it's stone. It was carved with a hammer and chisel. There is no "undo" and you don't even know if there might be a hidden defect in the stone until it snaps. You can't glue a broken penis back on. If you break it, you keep it, unless you can find a buyer for a stone penis and the corresponding emasculated statue.

Some of these statues probably started off with huge penises. The stone broke, and thus the statues got downsized. It's that or lug a new boulder back to the workshop.

Statue buyers must have had a say as well, and vandalism is not a recent invention. People have been snapping parts off of art since before recorded history. If you were an ancient statue buyer, would you choose a design that will easily suffer damage at the hands of a 12-year-old kid? No way. Short is best. It's probably cheaper too.

I've seen this question answered before and the explanation was that small flaccid penises imply a proportionally large change when they become erect. While an already large but flaccid penis would proportionally not change so much.

Greeks considered the difference between the size of a flaccid vs erect penis a sign of masculinity, and therefore tended to use small penises.

What's more glorious than knowing that the flaccid retracted penis of an amazing athlete will grow 4x when required (which is plausible). A larger non retracted penis wouldn't grow so much proportionally.

Maybe the ones with big ones were vandalised?

but why would they be?

It was actually very common for statues from ancient Mediterranean civilisations to have their genitalia knocked off by later, more conservative peoples. There are many in museums today which have been defaced by order of Pope Pius IX and other 16/17/18th century leaders.

"Are you anti-Catholic?"

"No, I'm anti-vandalism."

Guess this begs the question of how "big is better" in pop-culture.

Anyone know?

They could have been cold. If you have a penis and scrotum, you know what happens to them when you are cold. That picture of the statue of Laocoön battling snakes with his sons in the article, they were probably battling the snakes in some dank, cold cistern right above the gates to Hades.

I'd venture another explanation. When I compare myself to those "normal" statue, I don't feel inferior :-) The fat is that a statue is an idealization; so being the same as the idealized stuff is a warm comforting feeling...

Am I the only one who misread this as "statuses" and thought it was about the Twitter 140 character limit?

There should be scientific studies telling us the average size of penises.

The linked article's title is "Why do all old statues have such small penises?". Why was the word "penises" censored on HN?

Edit: It's now been changed. It used to say "male genitalia" instead of "penises".

Guessing that https://news.ycombinator.com/user?id=okket self-censored due to perceived American "sensibilities". Those of us who aren't from the USA never really understand what causes insult or not. (no joke, and no snark, it's absolutely true that this causes confusion to Australians, and I assume it does to a whole bunch of people from other nationalities!)

EDIT: Title has been changed. Good for whoever changed it!

Sorry, I falsely assumed there was an auto censor for "penises" when the word got shortened the first time I try to post it. So I rewrote it (to "male genitalia"). The title is now in its intended original form.

No problem, I think your original title was fine, and the ensuing over-examination was nothing but a diversion from the point of your post, which is quiet an interesting article.

No double-entendres implied.

Where America has a huge hardcore pornography industry, common nudity on major motion pictures and award winning TV shows, nudists, hippy communes and sex cults in the country, Burning Man and San Francisco, it also has a strong protestant conservative prudishness. It's very confusing to a European.

Europen conservative protestants are hanging around here as well, we just seem to try to avoid annoying everyone else with our choices ;-)

And, BTW, that title should be no problem to most of us IMO.

The American sexual liberation movement started in the 1960's, and centered on the west coast/San Francisco specifically.

Before that America was literally founded (in the north at least) by religious conservatives who were too prudish for Europe. In fact the early US Quaker movement banned sex all together.

You're probably thinking of the Shakers, compared to other non-conformist sects, the Quakers had relatively few hangups about sex.

That being said, I can attest to at least the Shaker melody (well known from Copland's "Appalachian Spring") as a touchstone of American culture. It's pretty good.

Shaker, not Quaker

Also Puritans.

Puritans were actually very pro-sex (within marriage), which was a marked contrast to the pro-celibacy views of Roman Catholicism, and opposite the view of the Shakers.

See, for example, http://www.challies.com/quotes/the-puritans-and-sex which quotes quite a few Puritan writings.

Roman Catholics are pro-celibacy? You mean the priests?

yes, sort of -- I mean that Roman Catholicism includes pro-celibacy views, particularly regarding priests (to go along with pro-marital-sex views; it's not single-sided.)

The point was to show the contrast -- the Puritans were only pro-celibacy for the unmarried, which they viewed as a temporary state; they had a pretty one-sided "everyone should get married and have lots of sex" view. They themselves considered this to be in opposition to RC views. (And, in particular, comments about the Puritans being anti-sex are way off base.)

I thought RCs had the same view?

Also - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fUspLVStPbk :-)

It's very frustrating to someone who lives here. Folks often go to great lengths to maintain a "holier than thou" appearance yet enjoy the same vices they condemn.

It's more fun that way.

Murica's a big country with many diverse regions and cultures

This comment has illustrated the honest confusion and double-taking the topic of sexuality brings up.

The comment turned out to be a false supposition, and both the commenter and the OP were (not unreasonably!) conjuring a HN or American-sensibility censor to explain things they noticed. The censor did not exist.

But it's funny, a large part of the OP is about the dichotomy between the Flesh and the Intellect, a boundary which some Greeks wanted to highlight symbolically and visually.

They had their virility symbols (like Priapus and Dionysius), which were separated from other characters with smaller members but more lofty concerns. (E.g., from the OP: "large penises were associated with very specific characteristics: foolishness, lust and ugliness...").

My point is that it's not reasonable to foist off this drive to separate the Flesh from the Intellect as being an American-specific peculiarity. Clearly the Greeks viewed this distinction as sometimes worth highlighting.

> Those of us who aren't from the USA never really understand what causes insult or not.

Believe it or not, some of us from America don't understand it either. IME, your best bet is to think of the most uptight, prudish, puritanical person you know, and that's what composes the moral censors in good 'ole US of A.

Um, it's not?

Maybe the submitter changed the title after seeing your comment?

Yes, it was changed since I posted my comment. "Penises" used to be "male genitalia".

The submitter changed it. All we did was take off the quotation marks. Though they were interesting quotation marks—almost like clothing for the question.

Who are all you people? What happened to HN?

These are all HN users. If the accounts were new, the usernames would be green. It's just that certain types of content and titles bring out a certain class of responses.

What are you talking about?

You haven't noticed a serious decline in the quality of comments and posts? This site used to be much more startup and programmer focused. Now we have posts about the penis size of statues. :/

edit: What would you know about that? You joined less than a year ago.

>You joined less than a year ago.

Cool it with that. Some of us regularly make fresh accounts, for various reasons, like privacy.

HN doesn't heavily revolve around points (karma/upvotes/whatever) and a who's-who of posters, which is refreshing. Ironically, your statement is pushing toward that type of system, which would bring in more of the very users you're complaining about.

The top comments are fine, so continue to let the little arrows on the left do the judging. This is a story about penis size, even the most serious commenter will be tempted to wise crack.

I don't think you are correct, there is a very broad variety of interesting topics that come across HN daily... I find it interesting the stories around hardware hacking in the 60-80's that come up at times... Others include RF/Radio... There's also a touch of art and politics.

Just because you may not find everything interesting doesn't mean a significant portion of the members of this site won't. I started out doing art work, I shifted to programming by chance because I had a talent for it, and it paid well. I enjoy it, but it's never been my first choice of careers.

Yeah. I get it. But a lot of us are moving to lobste.rs. You can stay here and enjoy your interesting HN posts. I'm done.

Your most recent page of comments includes this thread, a thread about illegal immigration, and one about suicide rate. You've also commented about Earl Grey tea and HBO in the past -- back in the years when HN was supposedly more about technology. You've never submitted a story, tech or otherwise. Yet you've suddenly become a startups-and-code purist?

FWIW I like lobste.rs -- but there aren't "a lot of us" moving; the front page has one article with 60 comments, one with 28, one with 13, and the rest are in the single digits. The highest upvote total is 37. (Which you may view as a good thing, if you want a more focused / restricted site than HN.)

Some people, whom I have a great deal of respect for, have moved to lobste.rs And I do view the more focused / restricted aspect as a good thing. You've highlighted how some of my more recent posts on HN make it clear how far I've strayed from code / startups. So I'm making an effort not to get sucked into the frivolity. Thanks.

care to shoot me an invite?

> "What would you know about that? You joined less than a year ago."

I joined a little more than 200 days before you, and my wife was here a year before me. She was here just at the end of the "mostly startup and programmer focused" era (she got to experience Erlang Day -- FWIW, here's a thread from 8 weeks after you joined that references both Erlang Day and too many stories about non-hacker topics: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=1919897 ).

"This isn't about programming WTF" has been a complaint on HN for a long, long time. To the degree that the HN guidelines explicitly say that topics don't have to be about programming and startups, they just have to be "intellectually gratifying". Cultural perceptions of sexuality and gender as expressed in art are an intellectual topic (though they do tend to attract boring, uninsightful, crude commentary, as seen in the wall of grayed-out comments at the bottom of the page.)

From the guidelines:

> anything that gratifies one's intellectual curiosity

I'm not sure what is so wrong with this post. It's certainly more interesting than half the front page right now in my opinion. (To save you the pointless trouble, my account is 3016 days old.)

Well yeah, if you say your intellectual curiosity is fulfilled with discussions about why male genitalia is so small on statues then I'll just take your word for it. But considering the graveyard of comments on this post, I'll have to just say I could do without it. Enjoy your penis posts.

We always had popular non-tech/startup submissions, eg.:

Six-Legged Giant Finds Secret Hideaway, Hides For 80 Years - 1138 points - 4 years ago - 173 comments

Everest is littered with dead, exposed bodies - 664 points - 5 years ago - 256 comments

How Doctors Die - 653 points - 4 years ago - 178 comments

A Dust Over India - 621 points - 4 years ago - 313 comments

The frequent fliers who flew too much 543 points - 4 years ago - 223 comments

The comments on this post are quite fine, and this article is interesting. In addition, there are plenty (I'd say 95%+) of startup/code posts. You have nothing to complain about.

What's wrong with the fact that my account is only 293 days old?

You wouldn't have noticed the change if you recently joined.

Well, everyone pivots, sooner or later.

Well done, HN. You upvoted it. Now let's see you discuss it.

I found the article interesting but I don't know how much there is to discuss. The article asks the question and answers it. In a neat little package. (Pun intended... I couldn't stop myself.)


Sorry, but why comment when you have read only the title and not the article? You are saying exactly what the article says in detail.

Well... my fault...

That's what the linked article says :-)

it was cold when they were modelling

I think this is important in the penis enlargement era. Now I will sleep better.

> ... his small penis allowed him to remain coolly logical

This suggests an important new brogrammer interview question

we need NSFW tag!

Clearly David was just a grower, rather than a show-er. Also, he is in what any athlete will recognize as "sports mode". Also, it looks bigger in person. Nuff said

Is this a worthy HN topic?

It should be. This is a discussion about art, aesthetics, culture and biology, all topics of intellectual interest.

It's surprising how immature a community which prides itself on intellectualism can be when it comes to genitals, though.

Enough people found it interesting, so yes.

well... HN does kinda have a start-up/tech focus. It'd make sense to moderate in a way that kept people "on topic". If you want general discussion there are better places for that.

Yes, but the guidelines explicitly say "anything that gratifies one's intellectual curiosity". I'm okay with that, I'm here for both things, tech-related or otherwise, as long as it's interesting.


Oh that explains it... I've been drifting to lobste.rs a lot more lately anyway.. too bad I don't have an invite =(

What's better about those places?

With 113 points in an hour, I would say yes.

What this thread needs is a reference to the bitcoin blocksize debate.

Not a lot of insight in this article. Is it on the front page for the giggles?

well obviously ladies didn't define aesthetic norms back in those days...

fiancee had the same question this weekend after visiting Louvre's antic section - the stuff is just too small given proportions of statues. i am a +-regular gym goer, so even if i don't want i see all the stuff in locker rooms/shared showers, and albeit some of it is this small (and smaller), most is bigger.

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