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It sucks, from one point of view, from another it makes sense. There is only one form of banning, and that's where the problem lies, this is called 'hell banning' for a reason on other forums.

But I can see the 'upside' in that spammers have had a hard time gaining a foothold on HN, for the most part the system is effective even if it is very cruel towards some specific users.

You're listing 'robak' twice btw. He got banned well over a year ago, I can't see anything in his history that would have caused him to get banned so that by itself is pretty weird. Comments like the one he made around the time he got banned are routinely made by members today and nobody seems to get banned for any of that. You have to go back quite far in the comments history for that user, the comment that is the first one where he's 'dead' is:

"well, at least I know now how average Windows user looks and acts like..."

Which is pretty stupid but that's what the moderation system is for, not a ban (and that comment did not get any downvotes).

Some people here think that it is amusing that these users fail the 'intelligence test' that nobody responds to them their conclusion should be that they've been banned. I don't agree with that, it's a cruel punishment, and the arbitrariness with which it is meted out is another sore point.

HN is strange that way, but it works fairly well in spite of all that.


Hellbanning for spammers is great. They can keep spamming away, to the detriment of nobody!

Perhaps some sincere people are not quite {smart, thoughtful, kind, cautious, interesting, deferential, in agreement with our general mode of thinking and writing} enough to cut it here. I do think that for them, an old-school ban (one that actually notifies you of your banishment in big red letters) would be more charitable.

The funny thing is that when I make a post that gets no replies, I'll open an incognito window just to see if I've been hellbanned.


I don't think that's why robak was banned. My theory is that the ban kicks in after the offending comment. This would explain the cases where it seems like someone was banned for an innocuous comment, but was actually banned for the comment before that.

In robak's case, the ban came after a silly ramble about the economy. Presumably a moderator looked at his post history and saw it was only one of a string of silly rambles, and decided to ban.


(You're listing 'robak' twice btw.: Well observed. Most likely, he's been deadposting for so long that I ran into him more than once without noticing.)


If you explicitly tell someone that they're banned then they will just clear their cookies and make a new account. That's for sure.

But I don't think that justifies the act of presenting a completely false world to them in which they are active members of the community, while in reality no one can see their contributions. It just seems dishonest and contrary to the values that made the community strong in the first place.

I think it's a bad policy and should be reconsidered, even if it means that some disruptive people will be harder to get rid of (we can just keep downvoting them like we always have).


If you explicitly tell someone that they're banned then they will just clear their cookies and make a new account. That's for sure.

Are you suggesting silent bans prevent this? That's a bit silly.


I'm not, actually. I'm suggesting that silent bans were likely implemented to deter (not prevent) people from evading bans by making them unaware that they were banned in the first place.


This sort of thing seems to be a hacker answer to user problems. On the upside, it accomplishes the goal of the forum: To be left the hell alone by people deemed to be troublemakers, and it does it for a minimum of effort and hassle on the part of the moderators. You don't have to listen to these folks whine, harass you, etc. It's ruthless but effective. On the downside, it has other unintended community (and reputation) effects that some folks seem to fail to recognize. If you either don't see those effects or believe that tolerating them is "the lesser evil" compared to what you would have to do for some other solution, well, then silent banning is apparently convenient for the moderators/forum owners.

I'm not suggesting it is wrong or that doing things some other way would be "better". I have difficulty imagining that it's something I would choose to do. What I do has its upside but the downside is that it is labor intensive and emotionally wearing. And my approach has never been tested (at least not by me) as a moderator method for a large, high-traffic forum like this. So I don't know if it is even practical, much less if it would really accomplish the goal(s) behind current moderation policy here. So it is possible that my approach to social conflict doesn't scale well...etc... Which means I'm not terribly interested in judging this as "right" or "wrong" for this forum, much less in some absolute sense. <shrug>


>>I'm not terribly interested in judging this as "right" or "wrong" for this forum, much less in some absolute sense. <shrug>

Until it happens to you.


It has happened to me. Not here, but on an email list. Of course, I don't have absolute confirmation because the moderator chooses to not answer any of my emails. I wrote to say 'er, my emails are bouncing and I appear to no longer be subscribed. I was just wondering if that was a glitch or if I was intentionally removed.' No reply, which I think answers my question. I chose to not bother to try to resubscribe. I can understand why the moderator handled things that way. I don't like it and I now don't have any respect for her, but that doesn't change the fact that it solved her problem in a way that worked for her and I am assuming the group probably functions better without me acting as a thorn in everyone's side. I don't feel I am "at fault" for how things went down but I am reasonably sure the moderator has neither the skills nor the interest to try to resolve the underlying problem. All things considered, it is probably for the best for me to not be put in that situation either.

Ideally, I wish everyone would take the time to understand me...yadda yadda. Realistically, a) the universe doesn't revolve around me (much less my ego or feelings) and b) there just isn't enough time in the day to get to the bottom of every single instance of social friction we run into. Sometimes you just have to do something that reduces harm and carry on, even if you are wired like me and are inherently disinclined to handle things that way. Too bad, so f*ing sad.


I admire your attitude. But what happened to you isn't the same as what is going on here. It is one thing that we can't know what is happening in the minds of moderator/judge/jury. Instead, here we are talking about a program/rule/law. It is written somewhere and purposefully kept secret.


I hate not being able to reply to dead posts. Maybe I should just turn showdead off...


I agree, it seems that the deadpost and comments system is analogous to TV broadcasters not showing people running naked across the field to discourage the repeation such actions. It doesn't work there and it really doesn't work here.

I find it annoying when a response to a dead comment has lots of up votes and is useful but I can't read the comment that it is responding to.


What can you get banned here for? I'm curious.


I've had one banned for saying relatively tame things that made the mod defend himself with, "you don't seem to like the site very much." I then created another on the same machine, and it was silently banned before I even made a first post.

Just an anecdote to answer your question. This was about 2yrs ago, for the record.


i had my blog banned for outing Daniel B's identity in that laptop for techcrunch posts debacle.

it was also a silent ban, so I didn't even realize the site was banned until someone told me that the HN link I gave them didn't exist.


I was ghosted for making a somewhat aggressive post about H264 once. It was a moderator's mistake and super hard to get someone to talk to...


Look at the linked profiles and at the comments they posted. If you go back far enough, the sea of dead comments (turn showdead on) will stop and you will see comments with up- and downvotes as well as responses. That’s when they were banned, so the reason must be somewhere there.

I couldn’t find it, though. Seems arbitrary to me. Looks like commenters with slightly below average quality contributions who wouldn’t be missed by anyone were banned.


I did that with "access_denied", someone I've actually seen comment before, and I couldn't see it.


That's because HN doesn't seem to keep a full history of comments. At some point there is no "next" link even though older comments exist.


No, I meant, I couldn't see what 'access_denied had done wrong at the point they'd been "banned".


If you look at the comment history of a banned user, you can often see the very point at which they were banned (because comments posted before the ban aren't killed). It's usually just a single low-quality comment that triggers a ban.


I don't presume to speak for HN but the impression I get is that you can be banned for seeming disrespectful, either to the HN institution itself or to other users.


I've noticed this quite a lot for reasonable commenters lately; i.e. people that aren't spammers.

fatdog789 was one that I'd noticed that while abrasive, usually had insightful things to say when legal topics came up.


If you get banned odds are you had it coming. People these days are just big'ol whiners. I mean back in the day you got killed for having uncomfortable or controversial opinions, now you just get banned. People need to get their act together and realize that they're not in some kind of free for all zone here. That's just the way it is.


oh. can you not tell if you are banned? am i banned?! hello? hello!!!?


Shout all you want. Nobody can hear you. You're banned!


I hate to be callous, but I don't see a problem. HN is not the US government. We don't tolerate all forms of speech here. Most of us have come here over the past few years because of the high signal::noise ratio and the high level of discourse. If you don't like decisions that the mods make, then by all means, please go some place else.

I much prefer that users who don't not make positive contributions to the community be quietly removed. Enough people complain about the degradation in quality of HN. I'm hopeful that things will improve, however and if it takes loosing a couple of users that harm the community by diluting the comment stream, then I'm okay with that.

I say let the culling continue.


I think you seriously misread my post. I am not asking to tolerate all forms of speech (and I am not American), to contest mod decisions, or to stop culling users.

I am saying that letting people post invisibly makes them waste their time and is a bit cruel. Putting at least a warning somewhere would be common courtesy.


>> I say let the culling continue.

I hope you are next.


Banning is just a natural concept that carries directly over from real life situations and social interactions. If there is some person in in a group of people that is not generally liked, the natural reaction at some time is to beat the crap out of him; This cannot be done yet on the Internet so we must make do with just excluding him. Unfortunate, but this is just how it is.


I never commented a lot but still ran into trouble - with my voting. I was silently banned from voting and I have no idea when. Now I just read - very liberating! So, thanks HN and go to hell.


Have a look at your average comment score: http://news.ycombinator.com/user?id=new_account

It needs to be at least 2 for your votes to count (unless it's now changed). The calculation is something like: over your n most recent comments (for some n), and the top score is discarded.


Nice rule. It's not in the FAQ though. The rule is secret and the enforcement is secret too. That's my problem. BTW I meant my old account.


Robak reads like the popular music blogger and lawyer Bob Lefsetz:

Robak: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=1161237 Lefsetz: http://lefsetz.com/wordpress/

It's an impactful style but too crude and unnuanced for the predominant INT(J/P)'s of HN, with 76% of Hacker News being an NT.

http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=943722

http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=946249

So, not enough intuition and thinking. Too much sensing and feeling. They come across as idiots.


That's fine; so he'll get downvoted. He'll either stop contributing, or he'll realize why he's being downvoted and change his tone. I've seen it happen dozens of times on HN; many people are willing and capable of adapting to a community.


Should be a red flag system: too many flags and you goto pg's tribunal.


Yes, because pg needs to be busier. :)


ok, so i'm curious now. if i think those four letter things are a pile of bullshit, what type am i?


You just said think, but I think you're more feeling.


for what it's worth, i would say i am I * * J, while i think you're saying i'm * * F * . so i guess that wasn't as interesting as i thought it might be.


fwiw, it's meant to be an overall assessment, obviously people will change in their approach to situations and choices, and this is only one paradigm.

It's the feeling/sensing comments from me that bring me the most downvotes, even though I'm basically ESTJ. You basically have to write data in a way that compiles as helpful knowledge for NTs.


Rational.


[deleted]


Do you have showdead turned on in your profile?

His posts show up for me with it on (but greyed out and marked dead)


Nope showdead is off and they aren't greyed out unless downvoted.

//Edit ignore me they're old posts. That was stupid of me. Misread something.


I'd give my opinion on this, but I'm afraid to do so.


Well the ones I checked posted really dumb things.

It's their fault if they can't figure why nobody ever replies to anything they write.


Who cares about banning. I applaud all banning. I think everyone including myself should be banned. Banning makes this a better place. You can't disagree if we can't hear you.




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