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Don't Read the Comments (samaltman.com)
304 points by dwaxe on Aug 23, 2016 | hide | past | web | favorite | 173 comments

I would say don't ignore the haters, anticipate them. When we showed off our early work on Eve last year, we prepared for every possible comment and criticism we could think of. What we did is write a series of documents such that whenever anyone brought up an argument against us, we replied and pointed to a well-researched post refuting their point of view. It actually worked to talk people down from "This is the dumbest thing ever" to "oh, I can see why you did that. Good luck".

This works (being good at understanding, anticipating and addressing criticism) until you realize it's turtles all the way down and at some point the returns of keeping up with the criticism become diminishing. One has to realize that:

1) People like to criticise for the sake of critising, there's never gonna be a scenario where you don't have haters unless nobody likes or uses your product/company.

2) People are often irrational and emotional, there's only so much you can do with logic and reason when one just wants to vent and shout.

3) People don't understand that you have to make compromises to be able to run your service/product/company and those compromises mean you can't please the entirety 100% of uses cases they come up with. As far as they are concerned your product/company should do everything all the time at no cost.

By all means, don't ignore criticism and the haters, but keep a level head and understand that it won't always take you somewhere to argue about it.

I think the old 80/20 rule applies here.

His pro-activity will answer 80% of the critics, and he can calmly ignore the other 20%, having done due diligence.

The point usually isn't to convince the haters, it's to convince the bystanders who might've been swayed by the haters' arguments.

I cannot agree more.

The discussion with almost anybody on the internet should address the most wider audience as a target.

People learn from discussions tremendously. At the very least, it entertains them.

Why did you pick Eve as a name? I thought you were working on the game Eve Online until I checked out the resumé site in your profile.

[Oi downvoters, legitimate question and cheeky check to see if they did have all the answers! Would it help if I called it "the dumbest thing ever"?]

The key to winning a debate is being able to argue the other side.

You actively researched your points of criticism which was a great plan.

I would say the key is to understand the other side. Sometimes it's not hidden in the actual rhetorics but instead it's an actual perception of something/you which is making them be aggressive.

Understanding the other side is key to arguing it I think

I would argue if you truly understand the other side you are capable of arguing it.

This feels weird....

For every person who says something out loud, there are a dozen who are silently saying the same thing in their head. You have to have a good response to the objections.

This is basically the 1/9/90 rule for internet comments.

I feel like that makes it really easy to wall off constructive criticism. If you're looking for bad comments you will see more of them. Human communication in general is hard, consider:

"Your product sucks!"

... could mean

"Your product is not optimized for my low powered device and I received a subpar, if rare, experience because of it! Please optimize for my device in the future and I will happily become a recurring customer and tell my friends about it!"

EDIT: \n, wording

Well, once you're researched and understand the the other side of the argument, presumably you should be in a good position to determine whether the argument has merit, and additionally whether it makes sense to make a change in response to it (because merit does not imply the change would be right for your product). Sometimes the right response is "Yeah, I understand. It would be great if we had something that addressed your needs, but that's just not something we have the ability to focus on right now given the other priorities we have. If that means you choose something else, that's unfortunate for us, but we wouldn't want to be serving you in a substandard way anyways. Maybe at some point in the future we'll be the right fit."

Sometimes respecting your customer is realizing they shouldn't be your customer, for the benefit of both of you.

"researched and understand the other side of the argument"

This assumes the process of "research" can accurately depict not only ALL of the customer's needs and requirements but also their emotional and physical state, put simply you're suggesting research and "understanding" can accurately place your perception of the world 1:1 with their perception of the world.

I agree with your point though that some customers are "beyond saving". However the idea from $BIG_COMPANY_X that "I know the problem domain so well and the customers don't know whats best for them!" seems endemic in tech (i.e. Google Plus) and leads to inferior products smelling of our own bull shit.

Customer feedback is important. Communication is important. Sometimes we think we are sufficiently communicating when we are not. Sometimes we think we have sufficiently "researched" and we have not.

Well, yes. But if you have an answer tailor made for the specific critique, then presumably you've heard it before, and have looked into it, and hearing it again (barring an upswell in reporting that type of complaint you weren't anticipating) doesn't really change the facts of the matter (as long as it is the same, and you aren't just misidentifying it). If your research didn't include talking to people that experienced the problem (even if just beta testers), then you didn't research it very well. But, truth be told, most of us have probably fallen prey to that sin before.


Most of the time you understand what their criticism is despite the foul language. So just respond to them as if they had made the nicest comment ever.

It's surprising how fast people go from rage to sage in these matters.

To play devil's advocate, how would you value the return on investment on that pre- and post-work? Would it have been more valuable to simply sift the feedback for what felt useful and actionable?

I would imagine having good answers to people's questions is a byproduct of thinking through the approach you're taking with your product / company. And writing it would have value beyond just replying to people's issues, it could be useful institutional knowledge for future employees to help them more deeply understand the product / company. Being explicit with your reasoning also empowers employees to determine where the reasoning may break down as time and context change (vs thinking the leadership has it all figured out).

I can see that value, although as a new venture, I'd still be somewhat skeptical that this would be the very most important thing the team could be doing. Institutional memory doesn't provide a whole lot of value until you have an operational business.

Although, to undercut that point, if you're prepping for pitches, I can see the value, for sure.

But what I'm still not seeing is why bother trying to anticipate beforehand.

You and the original author must also not forget that most startups do suck and will invariably fail, and the critiques are aware of that. I still remember fondly when I got my first life-long free email address from USA.net ...

This might have felt good but it was probably a waste of time. Success is the best answer to critics.

How do you think you get to success?

You can become successful without having to convince critics. See Facebook.

Even when the critic was right?

I spent ages 12-now on internet forums, ranging from video game boards, to anime imageboards, to HN. One "positive" thing about this is that by now I am desensitized from rude and baseless internet comments. I've heard and been told everything! If I had a penny for every time I've been told that I suck and I need to kill myself, maybe I could be a YC partner and invest :-)

But I always forget there's a lot of people that well, went outside a lot in their teens and only talked to their friends on AIM/Facebook/texting, so they take rude comments personally. So yeah, I agree with Sam. Ignore them. Unless they're personally harassing you, stalking you, etc. (or opposite, giving helpful criticism), it's just words that mean nothing.

So, I think you are over-generalizing from a particular piece of anecdotal evidence.

You, yourself, have spent a lot of time online and been exposed to a lot of nasty behavior, and you don't find that a lot of rude comments bother you.

From this, you conclude that those years "desensitized" you.

Other equally valid hypotheses are that you were less sensitive to such comments in the first place; the reason you hung around, and kept on interacting in the kind of places that make such rude comments, while other people may have just spent time with their meatspace friends, is that you were less sensitive than some other people who saw nasty comments, got bothered by them, and stopped hanging out in such forums.

Or another ones is that those comments you say you are desensitized to are just things that you don't care about that much. OK, so some anon was rude to you about a throwaway comment on an imageboard. Big deal. But you might react differently when people in a community you trust or which might be influential, and which you want to value your work, actually say negative things about something that you have put a lot of your life into, but have had doubts about whether it's really the right thing for you to be doing.

The list goes on. There are a lot of possible conclusions that can be drawn from "spent a lot of time on the internet and exposed to online abuse in youth, now finds self not particularly sensitive to online rudeness." Taking from that that some people might take offense at things because they haven't had such experiences is a big leap.

Years ago -- decades, maybe -- on Usenet, there was a school of thought analogous to Postel's Dictum ("Be liberal in what you accept, conservative in what you send"), but for message board posts rather than protocol implementations. The idea behind this doctrine was to condition yourself to ignore the manner in which someone offers criticism, suggestions, or advice, and consider only its content. Insults were never taken personally, because the power to inflict harm through verbal means was considered to be entirely dependent on unsupported mental "features" at the receiving end. Overt trolling was to be ignored, just as if it were any other form of line noise originating in a part of the network you didn't control.

Through this stance, a Usenet participant could make the most of an uncensored, unregulated medium while keeping his/her blood pressure under control.

Someone's name was attached to this philosophy, but I can't remember whose it was. Does anyone else recall? People would add it to their signature lines ("I follow xxxx" or something like that), perhaps to save other posters the trouble of trying to be artificially nice to them, or to warn other posters that their stereotypical Usenet flames were wasted on them.

Perhaps Crocker's rules [0] is the one you're thinking of? Someone shared the link with me recently in a thread on optimism and feedback [1].

> By declaring commitment to Crocker's rules, one authorizes other debaters to optimize their messages for information, even when this entails that emotional feelings will be disregarded. This means that you have accepted full responsibility for the operation of your own mind, so that if you're offended, it's your own fault.

> In contrast to radical honesty, Crocker's rules encourage being tactful with anyone who hasn't specifically accepted them. This follows the general principle of being "liberal in what you accept and conservative in what you send".

[0]: https://wiki.lesswrong.com/wiki/Crocker's_rules

[1]: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=12298898

That's it, thanks! I don't recall it having anything to do with Wikipedia, so it's possible that Crocker was channeling an even older idea.

the thing about this is that you don't know whether or not its actually affected you. those words get into your brain and then they hang out in your subconscious and have a party.

Like the other poster, I've spent my entire adolescence on internet forums. I can't say they negatively affect me either (as anything other than noise). In general all the mean comments I've received have been lazy, contradictory and eventually you see these comments as a indicator that you've "won" as the other commenters are now "salty".

One thing I can say it has affected me is I tend not to get into arguments over subjects I don't care about - online and off. Years of arguing online about inane subjects and logging in the next day to see your opponent's views have gone unchanged makes you realize how much time and energy you waste getting mad at things on the internet - there are far for effective ways to change the world.

Even though I've spent probably entire years of my life reading comments, I am of the camp that most comments aren't even worth the silicon they are stored on. However, there are a lot of diamonds in the ash.

I understand, however, that this experience might be much different on non-anonymous/social platforms like Twitter and Facebook where it may seem like the attacks are personal, but I'm not popular enough to have this experience.

I guess I should've explained—Sam says to develop "thick skin" which I believe includes not "letting" rude messages into your subconscious, if that makes sense. I did that when I was 13 or 14, not in my mid 20s.

Same here. It taught me that it's productive to treat people with civility even when they're being jerks. I put that to use when working as a high school teacher.

I also learned how to call out attempts to shift the goal posts of an argument. How to find the underlying thread of an argument. How to avoid being drawn into putting in more energy in than a person I'm arguing with.

There's a good dude to this: you aren't affected as much by negative comments. But growing up seeing this interaction also normalizes it. Which makes it harder to have difficult conversations with others (maybe not for you, but certainly for people in general).

The main problem I had is that I used to have little empathy for people that got insulted online and got really offended and sad. I'd be like "why? It's just the internet". Now I understand why :-)

Agreed. That said the comments hurt more when they are about something you have worked hard to build. Focusing on the next problem helps move you past dwelling on hateful remarks.

This is a tricky subject.

I think all feedback is helpful. (Engaging with the people who provide the feedback, however, can be more trouble than it's worth. You have to know when to let go.)

We launched stdlib [1] two weeks ago and while we saw a lot of positive reactions, there was a very vocal minority who lashed back against our "marketing speak" and lack of things like SLAs. This quickly devolved into tearing apart the product itself, with someone going as far as to say if the commercial venture is successful, we will ruin the lives of thousands of developers (!!).

The response was actually tremendously valuable --- our marketing material sucks for a developer tool. It doesn't describe what the product does well enough. Heck, it still doesn't because we've been iterating on features more than messaging.

It was easy to instantly jump to the defensive, and I think I did to begin with, but I'm learning that adversarial comments are actually just a really straightforward question disguised as incredulity. "What's your value prop?" Some people might not get it right away, some never will. But my goal, personally, is to reduce the amount of people that ask that question. :)

[1] https://stdlib.com

Yup, read that, no idea what it does. Now not to bash you, but here's some things you guys might want to look at.

For one, there's truth in the saying "Users don't give a sh*t about your vision". They're as self-serving as anyone, and they want to know what good your thing does for them. It's great folly to not tell them once they have reached your site and are ready to listen.

Second, "marketing speak“ is feel-good fluff, designed to obfuscate meaning, just like political speak. You're doing something technical, don't use marketing speak. Talk facts, talk applications, talk guides and tutorials. This leads to two great outcomes. One is that the people you're trying to reach understand exactly what you're saying. Two, you don't have to feel smarmy saying it.

Then, try to see your messaging as another component of your overall project. Imagine you have some kickass servers crunching numbers, but your load balancer is an arduino running on potato batteries. No bueno. Now you don't have to make everything perfect, but your copy should do your project justice.

Also, focusing on features over "messaging“ seems like something I'd do if I didn't know how to do marketing and wanted to avoid the topic altogether. Make sure you're not neglecting critical areas because you're uncomfortable with them. If lack of confidence/knowledge is an issue, I'd recommend picking up a copy of Claude Hopkins "Scientific Advertising". It's only 80 pages, there's pdfs of it floating around on-line, and I think it gets the principles down nicely.

You're 100% right. Thanks for the feedback. It's exactly because we're not as good at marketing, and are focusing on what we're best at. :) (But you can't avoid blind spots forever!) I'll take a look at the book --- thanks for the recommendation!

It's really hard reading your site to know what your product actually does. At a first glance it look like Heroku but....not?

+ still smothered in annoying marketing speak.

I concur.

It looks like a great idea, and we've been waiting for years for someone to do this. 'Serverless servcies' is a big deal.

That said - there's too little information regarding how it works. For server side stuff, we need to know how many transactions it's going to handle, how often - so things like cpu+memory - or some way to measure it ... are going to be important.

Thank you! Yep, we'll get there. Right now you can consider it a "microservices playground" during the early beta, but we'll have more technical specifications out soon.

A thousand times this. Negative criticism is a sign you've touched a topic people care about, but have failed to explain yourself well. It is good! You're much more likely to receive no feedback at all. People ignore things they don't care about.

My $0.02: Read the comments, particularly the negative ones, and try to reply to every single one. 99.999 percent of the time, people will flip the switch from negative to positive when confronted directly. They realize "hey - this is a real person behind this company, and they are taking the time to address my concerns personally." Often, their negative perspective can be reversed with better communication and clarity about your product / goals.

Also, the people criticizing your product may very well be right. There were plenty of times when I did not place enough weight on some criticisms, and they were in fact right. Take criticisms seriously, it is too easy to get tunnel vision and convince yourself you are making all the right choices.

I tend to agree.

About 90% of the critical comments on startups are things that occur to people within literally the first few minutes of thinking about them. If that long.

Those comments are at best valueless, and perhaps even of negative value, both to the startup and to the wider community. Probably even to the commenters themselves.

The people involved in the company, the founders, the employees, the investors, they all have brains of their own and those same problems occurred to them in about the same amount of time. There's no real insight there, no true value added. Nearly all of your initial reactions as an outsider is a known-known, so where's the value?

What is useful, at least to the commenter, and likely the community, and maybe even the company itself is taking the next step- What would make what you think is an issue not a problem? How can it be solved? How can it be avoided altogether?

That's where the actual insight comes in, not in spotting the problems that are obvious to everyone in 60 seconds.

This morning I went through the list of YC Demo Day companies from yesterday and made notes about my initial reactions to each. What I thought was cool, what I thought was likely to be a problem, what I didn't get at all. Probably pretty much the same reactions everyone else had.

And over the next whatever period of time, I'm going to think about why they could work, or what it would take to make them work, or what their "real plan" is. Just as a way to keep my brain active beyond kneejerk responses. For me, that's infinitely more useful than whatever immediate dismissal comes to mind.

If you have a company that just launched and you're scared to read the HN comments about it, I know the feeling. Ping me, and I'll read them for you and pass the nice ones and the useful ones along.

If there's going to be a human being in the loop reading the comments anyway, why not take it one step farther: Community management as a service.

I know of companies that pay salaries to full-time community managers. If you can't justify dedicating a person to it full-time, or don't have the expertise in house, why not contract it out?

An interesting idea for a service, could call it filterhatemail.com

They had that in a Southpark episode; it didn't end well for the filtering kid.

This idea is stupid and you should feel stupid!*

* Not necessarily true, who filters for the filterers?

If you think I would pass dumb comments along, don't ask me to read comments for your company.

I agree that this is the worst startup idea ever.

Is it? Maybe not just as a hatemail filter, but someone who actually collates responses, tries to get the reason for criticism without getting into arguments, and tries to extract actionable ideas from overall internet response could be an interesting offer. Sounds almost like it could be uservoice.com's premium offer.

I agree - doesn't scale, but it's far from a bad idea. I've done it for someone who takes reviews very personally. I abstracted the useful criticism and didn't make mention of the petty stuff.

At least it subscribes to the "Do things that don't scale" mantra. Can you imagine trying to run that sort of operation but for the sake of argument instead of HN comments, YouTube comments.

On that note I'm surprised nobody's using the YouTube API to do some Akismet-like auto-filtering already.

From http://stupidfilter.org/wiki/index.php?n=Main.Status:

[For StupidFilter, w]e've gathered a fairly large (225K+ comments) database of comments, primarily from Youtube, that ever-inspiring font of stupidity. We've implemented a web-based comment ranking system to seed our stupidity corpus and that's proceeding nicely.

Apparently it's now in beta...

This kind of makes me happy, that this exists.

This must be the saddest AI ever, though. Or at least the most pessimistic about humanity, being trained on YouTube comments...


Writers sometimes utilise literary agents (or friends) for a similar filtering role.

Keep the most hateful stuff out, provide useful / insightful criticism and commentary.

And yet, the first thing I did was read the comments here- to determine if the article was worth tapping.

Article is about negative comments about your startup.

The people who have said there is nothing new left to do in the world have been wrong every time. Don't let their lack of imagination hold you back.

I think this is the larger point, hovering in the background of of the article, at least from YC's standpoint: have we stuffed so much capital into Silicon Valley (and that mode of entrepreneurship) that we have exhausted it? Are we now cargo-culting?

I tend to think so, but then I'm that sort of person.

We've probably stuffed too much capital into ad-supported businesses, as Twitter stockholders are painfully aware. Very few of YC's current crop are ad-supported. Silicon Valley is moving back to making things for which customers pay money, and the paying customers have to be kept happy.

Right now, the ad-supported portion of the industry in the US is more than half Google and Facebook, and that fraction is increasing. Everybody else is being squeezed out.

I wonder if the day will come when people with backgrounds in ad-based companies will have trouble getting jobs. They'll be seen as not having a proper "the customer is always right" attitude.

> We've probably stuffed too much capital into ad-supported businesses

As someone that has recently been converted to the ad-blocking side (actually mostly tracker-blocking but that tends to kill ads too), there's no way I would want to invest in a new ad-supported business.

That's what is bothersome about this blog post. The insinuation is that there are only two types of people: brave entrepreneurs and small-minded hater trolls.

I don't know which I'd classify myself as. I've been part of several successful startups, but I'll still make negative comments about harebrained ideas or Silicon Valley's sense of self-importance and general overvaluation

That's fine and your perspective certainly has merit, but as an entrepreneur, is it really worthwhile to spend time reading 100 restatements of vague pessimism? Even if that view might be warranted, it doesn't help your odds (or your mood) to worry about such things when you could be putting your energy into solving concrete problems.

I think that's what Sam is getting at here--not that the comments are necessarily worthless or wrong, just that they aren't generally going to offer much that can actionably help you and could very well get you down.

I think this is natural.

There's no revolution without incremental innovation.

We don't see many innovative products nowadays but it's not like there is absolutely no innovation going on. As long as there's even a small bit of advancement in technology going on, someday it will all come together and change everything once it reaches critical point.

Also keep in mind many things don't look like they're revolutionary when you're a contemporary.

This is the biggest frustration I have with income disparity. Every dollar is a vote about what problems are worth solving and a claim on the skilled effort to solve it. If those dollars are distributed, then more effort gets spent solving the problems that the poor can directly identify.

To paraphrase Bjarne Stroustrup: "There are two kinds of startups: the ones people criticize, and the ones nobody's ever heard of."

I've done side projects and small weekend prototypes and I know it's not the same as running a startup or vesting full time on an idea. But in all honestly it feels 100x worst when you get ignored. I would take all the haters and doubters over no comments, no response, no visitors, absolute silence.

If it's "these start-ups suck" and "everything of value's already been invented" that sounds more like vague criticism of YCombinator -- that it isn't currently producing the very high level of innovation people are hoping for -- than any given start-up.

There could be any number of reasons for that.

Perhaps there's a mismatch beteween public (techy) expectations of YCombinator and its current goals? eg, perhaps the public and press all expect start-ups to be totally original and adventurous but actually what gets investor funding might be a little more conservative following a predictable pattern. Or perhaps as YCombinator has grown and the process has become practiced, the focused impact it can have on individual start-ups is lower -- ie, there may be a little more "going through the process" and a little less "being put through the fire" than in the early days. Or perhaps it's just that as there's more coverage of tech innovation, people are now more likely to have heard of the idea before demo day (there's always other start-ups in similar spaces, but previously the public didn't know that).

But all those possible reasons are speculation.

This is similar to the comment I was looking to make. That many of us look to YC batches for innovative ideas, the things no one had thought of yet. YC is likely simply looking for the angles that will make money, and sometimes it's just doing something normal but in a slightly new way.

So many of the comments are then about lame ideas.

I did a Show HN / feedback post for my startup almost nine years ago and got some very mixed feedback, but I felt that it was all well intentioned and at least somewhat reasonable.

Over time, it seems like the feedback for early stage startups on HN has become progressively more gratuitously negative.

In some cases, armchair critics have valid points, but I've gradually adopted this rule of thumb: Unless I'd give a naysayer's argument a >90% chance of coming to fruition, I probably just need to ignore it and address it when it actually shows up in the business (as feedback from, say, real customers). An armchair critic with a story about why I'm going to crash and burn with, say, 60% probability just isn't worth worrying about, because hard work and elbow grease can chip away at that 60% pretty quickly when the time comes.

> Over time, it seems like the feedback for early stage startups on HN has become progressively more gratuitously negative.

There's a term for discussion in an internet medium trending toward this the longer it's popular. The name is slipping my mind right now.

That's it.

And it's not just start-ups. If you contribute to LibreOffice, a lot of what is being said in threads under release announcement can make you feel depresssed.

I stopped reading them and just contribute anyways. Just because everyone can have an opinion doesn't mean you have to read all of them.

LibreOffice isn't bad now. I've been using it and its predecessors all the way back to the OpenOffice era. It was originally terrible, but now, it's a good alternative to Microsoft Word. I haven't bought a Microsoft Office product since Word 97.

As Altman points out, most of them are going to fail. Later stage investors need to figure out which ones after YC has done its series A thing. YC isn't investing that much per startup. YC does well even if the later financing rounds are way overvalued.

The later stage investors don't.

Will never forget this:

No wireless. Less space than a nomad. Lame.

Obviously he meant well at that time.

But one never knows how a startup or an idea would do unless you try. Comments often can be like peanut gallery. Has little or no value depending on the situation.

Oh no - I'm reading the comments!

With all seriousness, I've gone through this experience. Working hard day and night and then having a bunch of hate reviews on the internet, and really awkward and weird ones on the App Store.

My general rule: if they make a solid argument, take it into consideration (this is the hardest thing to do due to personal biases); if the comment is without substance, I just brush it off and walk away. If it's a continues comment (without substance) then I ask if we're the root cause of this perception, or it's general market perception that leads to them.

I find a lot of commentators needlessly confrontational and agressive online, which is completely unlike human behavior in the real world since there is a huge cost to social aggression.

Initially it was felt anonymity would lets one speak their mind and bring real honesty and value to a discussion but it has only unleashed an unrelenting wave of rudeness and negativity that is tedious and derails every discussion. It's possible to to be honest without anonymity but requires more effort, maturity and eloquence on the individuals part. Perhaps these barriers are needed for meaningful discussion.

A useful discussion can be had when the incentive for showboating is removed, and there is a need for informed criticism to be backed by some level of reason and logic so the discussion is de-personalized.

Voting does the exact opposite, It makes discussion personal, puts the focus back on the individual and incentivizes commentators to pass off personal opinion as widespread consensus, promotes what those vying for acceptance presume to be consensus, voting rings, and other shenanigans.

You can see all of this widespread on HN. Inspite of heavy moderation there is still a level of sniping that is frankly tiresome and far too many offhand and dismissive comments that add little to a discussion beyond trying to make the commentator look smart.

>The people who have said there is nothing new left to do in the world have been wrong every time.

Being as how the vast majority of startups fail, money is on the pessimists, no?

In terms of frequency, yes, but not expected value. I think Sam made this point in his post.

There's a difference between a negative comment and a hateful comment. Engaging hate usually leads nowhere and the source is often too subjective to matter. But understanding constructive criticism or user sentiment is important. If 30% of users are now hateful because you've failed to fix a bug, you have a problem, and your comment system isn't it. There are also practical implications such as NPR not being able to moderate fast enough to put out fires.

But there's also the issue of the audience. When I'm walking down Spring Street in DTLA I usually (regrettably) ignore all the random comments, since I know the audience. But if I were participating in a staff meeting I called for, I'd engage every comment, and probably even prioritize the hateful ones, not that there are any.

I always love landing on Youtube videos with close to zero dislikes. They're usually fairly specific or niche, and so the audience got there by seeking it themselves. And they searched because they wanted to see something from that artist.

I find random acts of hatefulness result mostly from random traffic. And the upside of intentional hate is that at least you matter enough that they chose you as their target.

I think the real message is "Don't let the comments become a burden, use them as fuel"

Two years ago I put a post right here on Show HN: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=8268275

Most of the comments where negative ones, but as cmontella says, that give you the chance of think how to answer the criticism and anticipate, so after two years in the making this was the second post, with the second iteration resulted from the criticism received:

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=12260958 Allmost all the arguments against where answered , and the reception and final product was far better than the original.

So, use the critics and haters as the devil advocate, and use them to your advantage, far worst is not having anyone to care (even in a bad way) for what you are doing.

I like this post. As someone who has little aspiration anymore for starting a company, but has (kinda) in the past, I could've used this.

An interesting idea is to NEVER read the dumb internet comments. Just like professional baseball players are smart to not read reports/rumors, those with these kind of goals are smart not to get wrapped up in the bullshit of internet comments.

> An interesting idea is to NEVER read the dumb internet comments.

Ironically this good advice comes from an internet comment. :)

The op did say ignore the "dumb" internet comments. Of course how you can determine which comments are dumb without reading them is an unsolved problem.

I don't think this generally applies to HN comments.

An interesting idea is to charge for bad internet comments.

Want to be bitchy? Sure, just pay for it.

I'd argue that the thing to do is to read them. Take the emotion behind the comment seriously, but not the details (for positive and negative comments).

I've seen founders get caught up in their own ego about being an authority figure. By doing a startup and not investing in the S&P you are taking a contrarian view, so just own it.

> Unless the world ends soon, the most valuable company the world will ever see has not yet been started.

I hope he's wrong: I wouldn't mind living in a future where low barriers to entry and strong competition meant that we looked back on companies like Apple how we look back on Standard Oil now.

I think reading comments is important just like customer service. Maybe it's a little easier since we can ignore the ones that are offensive or irrelevant, or you can say in another way "developing thick skin". I often find a lot of useful information by reading comments.

I think there are two core drivers that are behind most of the negativity. The first is incompetence, and the second is something close to malice.

For the incompetent commenter:

1) Blind criticism is cheaper than thoughtful feedback. 2) It makes the giver feel superior to the target of their criticism. 3) Cue the dopamine reward. Rinse and repeat.

For the malicious commenter:

1) They have a vested interest in discrediting the target. (Other accelerators -> YC, Other markets -> Silicon Valley, Competitors -> You, etc). 2) Negativity serves these interests. 3) Cue the (perceived) economic reward. Rinse and repeat.

Between all this, you'll find the occasional piece of genuinely thoughtful feedback. It's worth looking for, but you'll need to develop a rather thick skin if you want to wade through the muck and mire to find it.

Definitely don't get in the way of criticism. But do _get_ criticism. There is a big and meaningful distinction. "Don't read the comments" is a clickbait article title: worse than having haters is developing an echo chamber that isn't tolerant of dissent.

As per Neil Gaiman: "Remember: when people tell you something’s wrong or doesn’t work for them, they are almost always right. When they tell you exactly what they think is wrong and how to fix it, they are almost always wrong."

Better than ignoring comments is to learn to filter the chaff from them. Remove the emotion, remove the ego, remove the negativity, and ask yourself... what is the core issue they have with your product, and have they raised a valid point? If so, stop and make a conscious decision about that point. You set the direction and strategy for your product, so you choose which points to address, and which to ignore. But do so deliberately, consciously, without even acknowledging the tone of how it was presented. That will take you in a good direction.

Although it's carefully couched with "some criticism is useful", it's disappointing to see the idea perpetuated that offering disagreement and negative comments makes one a "hater". If I criticize something about your idea, I'm not doing it because I hate you--maybe I just think it's a bad idea. There's enough actual hate out there. Equating general negativity with hate downplays the seriousness of hate and does a disservice to actual victims of hate.

I think what we could use is a sort of spam filter for comments. Where each comment is either classified as positive or negative. Next some researcher can probably tell us the optimal rate between positive and negative comments for your mental health/self esteem. This way you can get a "rebalanced" feed that is fit for human consumption. This also reduces the risk of "going into defensive mode" and ignoring bad comments.

I have learned that I have never met the person, can't see the person then the value I place on their words is very small. And secondarily, I always try to determine if the in-person I am talking to has never met or seen the communicator.

To me, comments are the rare exception just like watching tv news.

So the advice is good. But the successful companies already have a very good "filter" already to not pay attention to unimportant people and words.

This is so true about critics in many contexts.

> A friend of mine likes to say "there are two kinds of people in the world--the people that build the future, and the people who write posts on the internet about why they'll fail".

> Most startups will fail, so you can say everything sucks and be right most of the time.

<edited down after thinking>

It seems to be personal taste whether these companies are of interest.

This industry for a very long time has churned out things that are obviously exciting, and at first glance you think "wow I connect with that".

> This industry for a very long time has churned out things that are obviously exciting, and at first glance you think "wow I connect with that".

That seems like hindsight bias. It's certainly not an accurate description of how people reacted to future successes in the past.

Along the same page, I like this quote.

"If you want to do right, be an optimist. If you want to be right, be a pessimist."

It is much easier to be a pessimist and although they are right more often than not, that doesn't lead anywhere.

1) People love to tell other people how wrong they are, especially to people they don't know.

2) People despise being told they are wrong, especially from people they don't know.

I wonder if Sam will read these comments...

I always read the comments. In fact, I don't even read the articles on HN. I just click on the comments.

I read comments on reddit and the *chans and tumblr. The comments is where the magic happens. It's where all of your best planning and PR spit-shine goes to shit and something unexpected occurs.

The problem is that certain Western cultures have raised a generation of people who think they can micromanage every single aspect of the creative process. Just to bridge the gap, imagine everything you, the reader of this comment, might know about science or programming or some arcane field of complex rules. Now imagine the capacity of your mind to have that knowledge. Now imagine a person with the same capacity, but none of your knowledge. What did they fill it up with?

Rules of brush strokes at certain humidity and temperature ranges for a certain chemical for a certain color of red oil, horse racing statistics from 1942, the amount of chocolate per day required to make their loved one's adopted child happy, the number of times a boss taps their pencil on a desk before they reach a conclusion, the amount of paper you have to buy per month to feed your new hobby in origami, the character development of a favorite D&D campaign out of several simultaneous D&D campaigns... the intensity of your capacity for your knowledge is just as equal as the intensity of their knowledge. They come up with their own rules and classifications and means in a way that makes sense to them and their internal consistency. They'll fill that space up with things you'll never know about.

Do you, creator of a product or maintainer of a company, ---REALLY--- think your willpower, mixed with the vast resources of other people's money, can truly steer the flow of this mass web of humanity intensity into an expression you desire? You're pissing in an ocean of piss and there's no splash-guard. You can micromanage your domain as much as you want because you can quantify those risks to some degree of predictability. You can't quantify or control the cacophony of mass human reaction when they are exposed to your presence. If "internet culture" is mean and stupid and evil and racist and sexist, you might as well yell at the sun for being too hot or water for being too wet. There is no "internet culture." There is only a convenient summary of your experiences to justify why the comments are wrong and you are right.

Maybe the problem isn't the comments. Maybe the problem is the expectation that other people should automatically like us, or at the least, be polite. Maybe the problem is that the medium itself makes the expression of intentions via subconscious behavior impossible, so when someone shitposts, you get hurt by it because, to you, you were very clear in your intentions. Maybe the problem is that you're trying to force the internet as a medium of communication instead of as an archive of data preservation and/or a national infrastructure failsafe in case of strategic nuclear targeting to telecommunications facilities. Do you treat your dishwasher like a piano because you love music?

The ancients knew they couldn't control the rivers, but they did know they could capture parts of it at important areas to maximize their desires.

Read the comments written by those you respect. Those you aspire to be!

Careful there.

If you're good at choosing role models, maybe. OTOH, the worst glurge I find is written by many of the most "popular" critics and reviewers.

I've been reading up on the Gartner Hype Cycle and methodology behind it.[1] One article quoted another tech review company who openly admitted that his job was to be optimistic -- overly and unjustifiably optimistic -- out of necessity. IOW: these companies are not sources for impartial assessment.

I try to find voices which are independent, really don't care a rat's ass one way or the other about your concept in many cases,[2] And their commentary should hit the same criteria as a good monitoring system: it should be specific, relevant, and actionable.



1. Not much.

2. The other terms for this are "impartial" and "disinterested". They're neither a vested fanboi nor a sworn hater.

Thanks for commenting. I have just come across Gartner Hype Cycle, and it's fascinating.

You said there isn't much, but is there anything I can read about that would deepen my understanding?

Sam Altman seems to spend about half his communications effort these days complaining about people being mean on the internet. I hope he's okay.

Sam has a job I would not want - the don't f-up YC job. The stress that has to go with this must be enormous.

Actually it's surprisingly not stressful--one interesting thing I've learned is that, at least for myself, job stress and burnout comes from something not going that well (e.g. my old startup), not from being super busy.

And to the parent comment--I'm fine, thanks for the concern :)

That sounds right. When things weren't going well at the startups I worked at I felt crazy stressed out.

I also felt some stress when busy, but that was less because there was a lot to do and more because I had someone who was expecting it to be done in an unreasonable amount of time.

I have had two periods of great work stress times in my life - the first was when my startup was under enormous financial strain and I was doing everything I could to hustle up the money to keep the team together (2002 to 2003). This was a time of lying awake night after night wondering what to do.

The second time was different. I was working two more than full time jobs (academic and running startup that was taking off). I literally did nothing for a couple of years (2010 - 2012) but work, eat and sleep. At the time I didn't feel stressed (I was comparing how I felt with the early stress times), but I was under a lot of stress. I only realised when I quit my academic job.

Well I am glad to hear you feel well - you do still have a job I would not want :)

Only a small portion of the world actually cares about YC. Besides as is Silicon Valley culture failure in a high profile way gets you to a better place because you have fame within the industry. I expect Marissa Mayer to easily land a plumb job at a VC firm with full partnership. (If she doesn't start one that is).

I am pretty sure Sam cares about YC. Sam would mostly likely land on his feet if YC did go down in flames, but he would not be happy if he felt he was responsible.

He wouldn't be responsible. PG choose him, so the buck would stop with the person who made the decision to entrust the family jewels to someone else. And of course Sam would not be happy to be at the helm but the other thing is that over time the market changes so we wouldn't know for sure if it wouldn't have gone down even if PG were still around. [1]

[1] Noting General Electric, Jeffrey Immelt, Jack Welsh and the collapse of the financial system that led to getting rid of finance as a profit center.

I think he's keeping the troop's morale up? If I was in his shoes, I would do the same. It's seems like there's a part of success that not hard work, or a great idea. "Just finish it, march ahead, and we will see what happens?"

Sometimes luck, throw of the the dice, et., seems to be an important part of the equation.

As to critism, I want it. It's free. It might be true? My only complaint is when it's in a walled off garden, or it's a obvious attempt at destroying someone/something, usually by a competitor?

The poor, and middle class have grown up with critism. They arn't used to it, but it's just there. I sometimes wonder if the next big tech boom will be ruled by this class. Probally--no, because money seems to stay with money. When you don't have access to this money, see it being thrown around, seemingly wasted, it's hard to hold back? But then again, I'm so wrong so many times, I have honestly considered being a contrarian. For instance, a stock/company looks rediculious--buy it.

I don't think he's complaining at all, just stating facts (there always has been and will be haters) and advising founders not to be discouraged by them.

"It sucks to have haters, but every founder who now runs a huge company faced this for a long time. Please don't let it get you down"

Interesting, I read this as encouragement for founders rather than complaining.

The point is that there will always be haters, so being discouraged by them or complaining isn't fruitful.

And it marks Sam Altman as living in the past. In terms of "why are comments mean?" we had that debate more than 10 years ago:


This seems to fit into the pattern where those who lead the transformation of people's social lives also seem to completely misunderstand that transformation. I'm thinking in particular of Mena Trott:


"Trott has an interesting golden rule that she would like to see bloggers adopt. “If you aren’t going to say something directly to someone’s face, than don’t use online as an opportunity to say it,” she says. “It is this sense of bravery that people get when they are anonymous that gives the blogosphere a bad reputation.” "

>And it marks Sam Altman as living in the past. In terms of "why are comments mean?" we had that debate more than 10 years ago

You seem to conflate "I read some internet discussion about a subject 10 years ago on some random blog all 100 people read" (most DHH fans) with "we've collectively settled that issue, and everybody who keeps wondering about it lives in the past".

Which is surprising, because those are 2 entirely different things. Might as well say: "Socrates had already discussed ethics in the 4th century BC. Everybody who has been discussing them afterwards lives in the past".

Last January, I wrote a blog post rhetorically titled "You're Not Allowed to Criticize Startups, You Stupid Hater" in response to the disproportionate hype around Peach ("it's a messaging app that hit #10 in the App Store so it is a success and the haters were wrong!") and how the fact that the startup had credible backers does not give it immunity from criticism. (HN discussion: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=10967859). Nowadays, we can see Peach did not succeed because it was another messaging app.

Likewise, I'm disappointed to see this post from Sam as it advocates ignoring the haters. "Don't let their lack of imagination hold you back" is terrible advice for people who want to find pain points for their product to improve. The assumption that all criticism is bad is, in my opinion, toxic to the startup ecosystem.

I found "Don't let their lack of imagination hold you back" amusing because those "hating" on these new companies for being allegedly boring, pedestrian, derivative ideas are criticising a lack of imagination on the founders' part.

Re "The people who have said there is nothing new left to do in the world have been wrong every time.": I must admit I didn't spend terribly long reading the comments myself but again I don't recall 'everything has been done already' being the theme either, rather the companies are not doing anything new themselves.

> The assumption that all criticism is bad is, in my opinion, toxic to the startup ecosystem.


He literally wrote:

"some criticism is useful, and that you should pay attention to"

This illustrates another point: what is the line between "criticism" and "hate?" Can an entrepreneur accurately differentiate and classify between the two?

Many entrepreneurs just classify anything contrarian as hate because it is easier/faster.

> Many entrepreneurs just classify anything contrarian as hate because it is easier/faster

That's true, and finds its mirror image in the commenters who think there's no such thing as 'hate' and that posts like Sam's are only about not wanting criticism.

Hate = non-constructive criticism

Criticism = constructive criticism

"This service sucks, I hope your company goes bankrupt" vs "This sucks, I tried to upload a pdf to the dooberywhatsit file storage service and it error out because the file had DRM on it and it couldn't read it. It should just store it as a standard file instead of rejecting it as an invalid PDF"

Example made up, I don't even know if pdfs have DRM aspects.

Generally the line is around the "Can I use this information to fix the problem (even if I don't want to)" mark.

Based on my limited reading comprehension abilities and complete misunderstanding of Sam's advice, I'm choosing to ignore your constructive criticism, hater.

> Likewise, I'm disappointed to see this post from Sam as it advocates ignoring the haters. "Don't let their lack of imagination hold you back" is terrible advice for people who want to find pain points for their product to improve. The assumption that all criticism is bad is, in my opinion, toxic to the startup ecosystem.

He didn't say that all criticism is bad. From the article: "some criticism is useful, and that you should pay attention to, but that's not normally what gets people down"

(Also, it seems like you missed the point entirely.)

Losing a critical customer and following up to get feedback as to why it happened seems like something you should listen to that also gets you down. Not mutually exclusive.

Max most of your comments here are well thought out and argued (I don't always agree with you), but unless you are an investor or employee what does it really matter if Peach succeeds or fails? I also thought Peach would go nowhere (not much sign of 10x), but I kept my opinion to myself as I had nothing productive to add.

That removes half the point of this site if we don't talk about where startups are going to go.

People like to talk about things? I don't know how to answer your question better than that.

I think it is fine to talk about startups and even criticise them when you have something constructive to say. In the case of Peach I had literally nothing to add that was constructive so I kept my opinion of it to myself.

Building an accurate assessment of whether it's going to succeed is one of the most productive things that can be said about a startup.

Such assessments are notoriously inaccurate, except in the trivial sense that we all know most startups won't succeed.

The original article elaborates on this more; I just paraphrased it here for convenience.

Peach's success/failure, like that of all startups, is a valuable data point. As I said in the original article: the startup world is in dire need of cautionary tales as valuations inflate to absurd levels.

The reason I wrote an article on Peach in particular was that the hype was an outlier of weirdness and I wanted to take a closer look for my own curiosity.

I've discovered that some people are annoyed at a project merely existing. Criticism is great, but it is best not to listen to people who have nothing to add other than seeing your project as "pointless."

Criticism needs to be constructive which is surprisingly hard to give well. It is a real art to do this well so it actually helps the person receiving the criticism.

Yeah, I'm really tired of this line. It leads to a place where everyone who doesn't agree with your vision is a hater. Well, ok, but what's the word for the person who thinks everyone else is a hater?

Is not about "thick skin" is about entrepreneurs not having the right motives.

From the music book "Effortless Mastery":

  "If you weren’t so concerned about your level of playing, you’d hang in for as long as it took. It would be like a hobby.
  That’s why this book stresses again and again developing a detachment to what you’re doing while you are doing it.
  However, it is so easy to become discouraged.
  All you need is one night when you didn’t play what you wanted to hear, and the ego says,
  ”Screw it! It’s not happening.”
  Again and again, this needs to be said:
  you probably cannot develop this level of patience if you are vain about your playing!"
Excerpt From: Kenny Werner. “Effortless Mastery.” iBooks. https://itun.es/us/LiM3B.l

Or I can change it for you guys:

  "If you weren't so concerned about your personal image and more concern about changing the world,
  you'd hang in for as long as it took"
The problem here my dear Sam is, most modern entrepreneurs have HUGE egos, and that's exactly why, without the bless from Mr. Luck, they all fucking fail.

Basically, whoever was "down" that you used as example, is a person who just hasn't found the passion on his project that he claims to have.

Why do people who claim to be "changing the world" go home cry over somebody, being "mean" to them? Is that how easy they get discouraged? Is like if Batman gave up after 1 time the joker made fun of him... Seeing this here, with a bunch of nerds that think they're better than anybody makes me sad. Cause I'm one of you, and I HATE being associated with egotistical people.

I agree with the substance of your comment, but this...

problem here my dear Sam is, most modern entrepreneurs have HUGE egos

...also smacks of egotism. The patronising tone in addressing Sam, and the condemnation of young/early-stage founders as egotistic, is absolutely egotistic itself.

Early-stage entrepreneurs always need time and life experience to tame their egos. The ones who do so (partly by heeding and internalising the advice that Sam is issuing in this post) are the ones who will succeed long term. The life stories of Jobs, Gates, Zuckerburg all demonstrate this.

Nobody is born with a perfectly balanced ego.

Someone with a truly balanced ego would exhibit great patience and compassion for those who still have the work ahead of them.

As for this:

I HATE being associated with egotistical people

People with balanced egos don't hate.

I'm pretty sure that it's natural to feel hurt and discouraged when people say hurtful and disparaging things. This is part of the human condition, and it's why we have the concept of "hurtful words." Buddhist monks train their whole lives for the kind of emotional control you seem to expect from people, and most of them still don't have it down pat. It's not about being egotistical — it's just the way most humans are wired. We care what other people think.

I agree, having an ego and being egotistical is natural for humans, but this is the same forum where we preach "Not everyone can be an entrepreneur is not for everyone", obviously you have to do something abnormal.

Buddhist, "detachment from emotions" is the thing, not "control of emotions" you cannot control something you're detached from.

Sam recommends hiding from the comments, I recommend to get rid of your ego so you're no longer affected by it.

Again, your mission is supposed to be bigger than yourself.

>"If you weren't so concerned about your personal image and more concern about changing the world, you'd hang in for as long as it took"

People are more reacting out of fear for their personal well-being and prosperity, and the survival of their company, than 'egos'.

You really think a company would cease to exists because of a comment???

(If that happened, I actually wanna see a link of it, would be fun to read that).

Obviously you're being downvoted. How dare you criticize HN? Huh?

They just made a ridiculous "YOU CAN DO IT" post that sounds like a 16 yr old Instagram girl that's telling you to not listen to the "haters"... Yeah that kinda triggered me, because is insulting to intelligent people.

Should I continue?

Your characterization is accurate. It's a feelgood email, probably meant to help people be cheerful for the stressful presentations.

All that said, you would've had a better post by talking about what content you think should've been in the email or by talking about why you found a simple "Folks, don't let the bastards get you down" to be insulting.

What you've posted makes so many (probably false and certainly uncharitable) assumptions, and your comments have been mostly name-calling. This goes against both the spirit and rules of the site. If that's what you mean by "continue", then you shouldn't.

Upvote for you hun hehe


Unsubstantive dismissals make for bad HN comments, so please don't post them. We're hoping for thoughtful discussion here.

We detached this comment from https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=12347919 and marked it off-topic.

Would this have happened if I had written yes? (To the question of whether the post is worth reading).

That would still have been unsubstantive, but unsubstantive dismissals are particularly bad.

sama sent out a reassuring email to the current batch because somebody got their feelings hurt by the mean old internet.

We will now argue incessantly in the comments section here about it.

EDIT: Folks, if you would like to explain why either of those sentences were correct or unsubstantiated by current events, by all means do so. Cowardly downvoting doesn't educate anybody else.

We detached this subthread from https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=12347919 and marked it off-topic.

I imagine it's a matter of people finding that it didn't really contribute meaningfully to the conversation. While not part of the guidelines, the welcome page[1].

The most important principle on HN, though, is to make thoughtful comments. Thoughtful in both senses: civil and substantial.

The test for substance is a lot like it is for links. Does your comment teach us anything? There are two ways to do that: by pointing out some consideration that hadn't previously been mentioned, and by giving more information about the topic, perhaps from personal experience. Whereas comments like "LOL!" or worse still, "That's retarded!" teach us nothing.

We apply it very unevenly, and are harsher on the critical or humorous when it isn't insightful in some way. You gave a quick summary, but possibly not for the purpose of educating, but to be critical. That sets some people's downvote reflex off, I imagine.

Note: I didn't downvote you, and I'm sure I'm not opening your eyes to anything new, as you've been here longer than me. That said, you asked... :)

1: https://news.ycombinator.com/newswelcome.html

The darkly humorous thing about this is that the original submission would've been flagged away in other communities, precisely because it lacks substance.

I don't know if this is because of people wanting to upvote the general propaganda of the startup ecosystem here, or because of a general attempt at reversing the trend of HN being perceived as overly critical--both are reasonable in their own way.

Your observation about the uneven application of the guidelines here by HN members is of course spot on.

> EDIT: Folks, if you would like to explain why either of those sentences were correct or unsubstantiated by current events, by all means do so. Cowardly downvoting doesn't educate anybody else.

Why did you feel the need to edit your comment and call people cowards for not valuing your input? Did you get your feelings hurt by some mean old downvotes? :)

That would ironically be the same feeling that people may have downvoted you for sarcastically dismissing.

Also: Please resist commenting about being downvoted. It never does any good, and it makes boring reading. https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html

does he think so little of those guys that he feels the need to write this cringey advice?

Most people aren't born with the gift of equanimity, and a lot of "those guys" are just starting out, so it seems reasonable to me.

I wonder why some of us get angry when we hear others being encouraged this way.

This kind of advice seems coddling and in opposition to the great advice Jessica Livingston gives in: http://blogs.wsj.com/accelerators/2014/06/03/jessica-livings...

Were any of the founders of the mentioned startups so mentally weak that they gave a shit what anyone else said?

They may have all had haters but they definitely also had lovers.

Someone who is affected by other people hating them and what they do can more accurately be classified as "human" than "mentally weak".

In the article you refer to Jessica Livingston is talking about feedback from users. Those are very rarely the same people as the haters commenting on articles here and elsewhere.

You've spent thousands of hours working on something but a random comment from someone who spent 30 seconds thinking about your thing upsets you?

That's a weakness to be overcome not a trait to be embraced.

HN users were early adopters of most of the mentioned successful startups but I would agree it's a very biased sample of users.

> That's a weakness to be overcome not a trait to be embraced.

Embracing the fact that feeling this way is normal means you can and should brace yourself to overcome this "weakness".

It's interesting that you seem to agree with the essence of this post: Don't let random haters drag you down. Yet your comments come off as oddly negative, seemingly because you don't understand the "pain point" (you obviously would never get hurt by random commenters, but some in the target audience probably would).

Analogously, people hating on startups often don't (want to) understand the pain points addressed by the startups they're hating on either.

This "pain point" is a symptom of living a sheltered and coddled life. Wealthy parents and teachers don't tell their children the truth, leaving them to be blindsided when the real world inevitably shines through.

These people are trying something real for the first time in their lives and they should be taught to overcome the struggle not run from it or blame "haters" for being mean.

This is a straw-man - it seems like the author is just telling founders to classify critics as "haters", and ignore them. He has a parenthetical 'well, not all criticism is bad', but that seems there mostly to save face.

A lot of the criticism of startups coming out of the Valley, including YC (that they solve problems for the same small segment of society (Filld), or flippantly ignore technological or legal limits (Theranos, Zenefits)), is absolutely valid. I have yet to see this other mysterious form of "hating" materialize.

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