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Ask HN: Is there a mapping of HN usernames to well known people in tech?
46 points by anderspitman on Aug 17, 2016 | hide | past | favorite | 31 comments
I know many high profile developers participate on HN, and I often see people mention projects they've worked on which I've heard of or used before. While it can be nice to read a comment completely oblivious to who the author is, often extra context can add insight. A lot of the time the HN handle is non-obvious and even different from their GitHub username (if they have one). Is there something like a public list that shows some of the more seasoned voices and what their HN username is?



I started making a spreadsheet of interesting folks but then realized it wasn't worth the effort. Some of the more famous folks (e.g. stevewoz, brianchesky) don't post any more after their initial activity years ago. And the ones who do (norvig, BrendanEich, alankay1) have names that are immediately noticeable, and I almost never read the name on a comment before reading the comment anyway.

edit: It's been more interesting tracking first announcements of products/Show HNs done by the creator of now-famous products/services, e.g. the oft-referred to Dropbox thread https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=8863, or Github Pages: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=402648


A good argument stands on its own. Who the maker of it is, is irrelevant.


I wish that were true. Too many conversations on HN essentially drill down to 'my experience contradicts your experience/theory/proof'. It never hurts to know if the person asserting his experience actually has any experience of note.


This seems like it should be true but I don't think it actually is. It's very easy to frame up a plausible argument which is actually false, and inexperienced people do it all the time. The problem is that if the reader of the argument is also inexperienced, he will be unable to recognize the flaws in the argument.

For people like that, post author is an excellent heuristic.


> It's very easy to frame up a plausible argument which is actually false, and inexperienced people do it all the time.

The problem is that experienced people do it too, though (hopefully) less often; so, if you get in the habit of trusting arguments more because of who has made them, then you will never have a chance of catching that mistake.


When you're "unable to recognize the flaws in the argument" you should make that "mistake."

If you're enough of an expert on a topic, I think you decide for yourself regardless.


I very much disagree in cases where the argument is nuanced and I don't have time to do substantial research. In this very common case we resort to heuristics, and "who's making the argument" is one of the most effective heuristics there is.


Yep, this is also the reason The Economist does not publish author names [1].

[1] http://www.economist.com/blogs/economist-explains/2013/09/ec...


> A good argument stands on its own. Who the maker of it is, is irrelevant.

Damn straight!

I'd like things to go even further in the opposite direction. Usernames should be hidden for N days, say until the article is locked for updates. You'd want to make sure the usernames remain consistent throughout an article though (so you know it's the same person you're replying to).

@dang: If you want a simple way of implementing this that doesn't require any extra storage (per user), how about HMAC(JSON.stringify([username, storyId], secret)?


In the absence of killfiles / ignore lists, usernames are important so I know which posts to skip.


Posts or comments or both?


I agree. One of my favorite things about HN (and reddit), is how de-emphasized the user name is. I barely even look at them.


While you're very much correct that seems rather irrelevant to the question posed to the community. At least I do not know the OP's intentions with such data and distinguishing comments may not be a concern of theirs.


Couldn't agree more, I use my own name just because I use it everywhere, but on HN it's not called out and I rarely look at the author unless I think "I bet XXX wrote this, yep they did" or "Who wrote this, I'd like to reach out to them". I think it helps, to a degree, to help prevent/lessen group-think and people taking someone's word as law.


I agree, but one can't forget human nature. We give more weigh to the opinions of those we admire.

The same happens often in research. Papers published by well known universities get more exposure. It's not supposed to happen but it does.


It happened recently that I saw someone insert their email in a comment and upon researching, I determined they are my arch-nemesis. Like not in just a business sense, I have fully committed my life's work to undoing this guy's daily work. And I hate that he's gotten rich doing it.

I'm not going to call him out but it hurts low-income citizens across the country so knock it off, asshole!


A tool like this might be useful, but I'd be concerned with the potential of hero worship and arguments from authority.


Linus Torvalds: "That's a cool show HN and all, but it's actually garbage and complete s---, and the creators of it should be thrown in prison"

Worshippers: "Oh, yeah, now that you mention it, it is garbage! Grab your pitchforks!"



I would like a mapping from my username to a well known person in tech :)


This could be a pretty cool Chrome extension!


I have toyed with the idea of an extension that lets you keep notes / tags / custom color by username with the idea of allowing the memory deficient to figure out the history of comments with that user.

I suppose the USENET kill file would inevitability be the results :(


You mean something like this: http://imgur.com/1cxzLzD

It's a (somewhat recent?) addition to the Hacker News Enhancement Suite chrome extension.


Yeah, that looks like part of what I want. I'll have to take a look, thanks.


If they want, they can use keybase.io for that. All my digital identities are linked up through that, but of course, I'm not a "well known" person in Tech.


I hope not.

If a person wants to comment anonymously, or keep their HN account separate from the rest of their online activities, that's up to them.


Agreed, but I think there are a lot of somewhat well known figures in tech who haves accounts on here and they are trying to be anonymous, but also newer HN members may not know who they are. I don't feel like we need this mapping but I could see how some might find it useful.

We DEFINITELY don't need people's account to be de-anonymized who are trying to remain anonymous


It's probably inevitable that someone will publish a collection of predicted sockpuppet/alias accounts. It wouldn't surprise me if the HN mods had their own private collection; I think it'd be a fun project to show estimated alternate usernames next to a comments' username along with a confidence score. Naive bayes on comment text would probably do alright but there are plenty of other signals. A public list being published might suck if any of them are linked to a real identity and the real identity didn't really want them linked, but at least it's safe from novel associations, like maybe chipgap98 is _why but is also Bob from the Mozilla office down the street (in addition to Jonathan)...


> Agreed, but I think there are a lot of somewhat well known figures in tech who haves accounts on here and they are trying to be anonymous, but also newer HN members may not know who they are.

I think that I don't understand this post. This sentence seems to start by saying that we should respect people's desire to be anonymous, but to conclude by saying that it's a problem when … we don't know who they are?


A lot of famous people openly post about who they are but they have non-obvious nicks, so it is hard to remember.


The best way to keep anonymous is to constantly create new accounts.

I do it every so often, and this account is actually the longest living one I've had.




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