There could be a little banner saying "Do you think any of the below are better than what's currently on the front page?" or similar.
I guess I'll find out when I can see the score of more than just the story itself and my own comments...
But it would probably have to be a lot more minimalistic than a new sidebar.
A button to scroll down to the next unread comment thread sounds interesting.
How would that be different from comments which reply to the comment? What someone thinks about a comment, when written down, becomes a comment.
Ah, but perhaps there could be special "annotating replies" which are hidden, and anonymous; they could be used to write things like "I downvoted this because ...".
A feature of these "annotating replies" could be that they are ephemeral; they disappear after, say 24 hours. Say, around the same time when a posting becomes ineligible for downvoting. If you access an old post, you woudln't be able to view that material; it would be gone.
This quality would discourage people from trying to carry
on discussion threads in the annotating replies. Also replies to annotating replies would not be featured: just one flat level.
Well, yes, the thoughts about the comment, becomes a comment — and then the upvote count, shows if many agree with those thoughts. (But not until after one has made up one's own mind, and then clicked the show-upvotes button. Then one can a little bit compare one's own view of the world, with what others think)
Re annotating up/downvotes: I think people in general wouldn't want to spend time explaining themselves, if they knew that what they wrote, would be "invisible" to most other visitors. Perhaps a few "kind hearted" people would explain why they downvoted, via annotations, but I'm thinking they'd be too few for this feature to be well-spent-lines-of-code.
This extension adds orange lines next to new comments since your last visit:
I'm thinking it'd make sense with both highlighting new comments, + a recent comments list.
(If relying only on [highlighting comments posted since the last page load], then sometimes one will miss a few recent comments — because usually one didn't read all comments shown on the page, but the next time the page gets reloaded, [previously shown but not-yet-read comments] will no longer be highlighted.)
Update: and I wish it worked on mobile too.
Even today, if you follow 'dang and 'sctb (whose comments are the informal moderator log of HN), you'll see a significant chunk of their work is just reminding people not to go on and on about being downvoted.
I don't think public comment scores are coming back and I think the quality of discussion is improved without them. There's an interesting phenomenon here about the quality of discussion versus the convenience of consuming comments; it may be that the site is better for participants without the scores, but better for consumers with them.
I have fewer opinions about the first two suggestions. But it's worth keeping in mind that HN has some design limitations that also serve as brakes on runaway discussions. For instance: after a day or two, it's hard to hold on to a back-and-forth debate, because the threads aren't especially easy to find. Notice how HN has no feature to alert you to someone having responded to your comment. Reddit has that, and it's a disaster; it's like the badge on Slack that psychologically coerces you to read chat room messages you don't really care about, except on Reddit there's also an implied demand that you write a new comment to respond. Yech.
I often want to see the newest comments on a thread (I find myself CMD-F searching for "minutes ago"), but I worry that making it trivially easy to do would have similar effects, of encouraging people to monitor threads waiting for comments to jump on. I have to force myself not to do that sometimes on threads where I have a lot of opinions about the subject.
So just some thoughts.
I often rely on comments to determine whether I want to read an article, but the New section has none.
The front page on the other hand, is like fishing. A new post 'catching' there is rather random. Paginating to 2nd 3rd etc is then a mismatch of popular older topics and falling newer ones.
I want to see newish posts with a few comments, but not so popular that it's on the front page, and not so old that I've likely already seen it before.
Put a VERY brief outline of the key parts of being a good contributor to the HN community in the post input box as a reminder. Remind me what good content here is. Have an AVOID line right above the add comment button. Remind me if I should reply more than once with different parts of relevant discussion if there are a few points that should each have their own reply from a parent post/article. etc.
Also a link to HN formatting near the add comment button would be nice.
I use Hacker News Enhancement Suite on Chrome which helps a bit but there isnt an equivalent on mobile.
I wonder how the contents at HN is licensed. Is it Creative Commons or ... what is it. I'm surprised HN let people pull the data via an API but don't clarify under what license the data is available. (At least I cannot find it.)
— You don't happen to know anything about this? I suppose I can email HN and ask. (Here I found the API announcement: http://blog.ycombinator.com/hacker-news-api — nothing about any content license)
This forum is full of programmers, designers and UX engineers. There's nothing wrong with criticizing the site's layout or interface, that's a sign that you actually care about it.
So the de facto workings of the site make me wear downvotes with pride.
Downvoting is overwhelmingly used as a means to express disagreement and enact censorship (by reducing visibility), with no regards to the substance and quality of the actual post. I think this is a poisonous feature, that will eventually turn HN into yet another echo chamber if left unchecked.
Either flag a post for being off-topic, inappropriate or adding nothing of substance to the discussion, or reply with a counter argument to express disagreement to well-written posts that deserve it (AFAIK, with flagging, unlike with downvoting, users are held to some level of accountability and are liable to losing their flagging rights if they flag posts indiscriminately). The ability to silence opinions different to your own with minimal effort and no accountability can only hurt the quality of discussion here, in my opinion.
A more exemplary argument might be to imagine hypothetical responses to your post:
I think you'd want to downvote something like that. Nobody wants to waste their time reading it.
I think the number of times I've missed a valuable comment due to downvoting is probably far less than the number of times I've seen garbage posts. We might disagree on the value and merits of each approach, but I'd prefer a high signal HN, even if it makes it a bit more of an echo chamber (hypothetically).
Substantial, well reasoned posts that you simply disagree with deserve an equally substantial response, not a knee-jerk click on a censor button.
1) Disagree. Just shows disagreement. Doesn't affect comment sort order.
2) Bury. So one can move "Me too" and "Thanks" comments downwards. Ignored if there are any like votes (so people cannot use the Bury vote to censor others).
3) Unwanted. Only available to trusted core members & staff. The Unwanted vote reduces the post author's karma, & moves the post downwards. It is used to shape the contents & nature of the forum: via the Unwanted vote, the staff can create an echo chamber, if they want to. Or an open-ended tolerant forum, if they want to.
(I wrote a bit more about that here, a few days ago: https://www.effectivediscussions.org/-33/the-like-3-down-com... — I've actually implemented these 3 votes (Disagree, Bury, Unwanted) already :- P )
1) What's the purpose of this? If it makes no difference, what is it there for? A honeypot to catch throwaway downvotes?
2) Slightly better, but if a comment is hit with some of these before any likes, it might never be seen by people who would like it, which is just as bad as the current downvote system.
3) The staff can already do this, right?
Just get rid of downvotes. Let good comments be voted up, and truly bad ones (i.e. spam or rule-violating comments) be flagged. If someone disagrees with something, but not enough to rebut it, then so what? Deny them the effortless censor button. Or at least make downvoting reduce the voter's karma, so that downvoting has a cost.
( Another purpose with Disagree is that, well, I'm curious — I want to know how many people like or disagree with something. Imagine that a friend of yours makes a speech and you're listening. Afterwards, when you've formed your opinion about what s/he said, I imagine you'd find it interesting to know how many of those listening, agree or disagree with what s/he said in the speech. )
2) Yes that's a problem. There can be a grace period before Bury votes take effect. E.g. 10 people must have read a comment, before Bury takes effect.
3) You mean they can downvote already? Yes, and they should still be able to do it, so this vote is (still) needed.
> "If someone disagrees with something, but not enough to rebut it, then so what?"
Many disagree votes tell the reader that there's likely a good rebuttal among the replies, so it's important to not just trust the comment because it sounds convincing — it's important to continue reading the replies.
I think you are being overly optimistic. Seeing a warning that "many people disagree with this" will mostly fuel bandwagoning and dogpiling. This is what happens, e.g. on Reddit and Ars Technica, where heavily downvoted comments attract more and more downvotes, even if the comments are entirely reasonable. All it takes is a few initial downvotes and the snowball starts rolling.
> Another purpose with Disagree is that, well, I'm curious — I want to know how many people like or disagree with something. Imagine that a friend of yours makes a speech and you're listening. Afterwards, when you've formed your opinion about what s/he said, I imagine you'd find it interesting to know how many of those listening, agree or disagree with what s/he said in the speech.
Actually, no, that would not be interesting at all, because it's entirely meaningless. On the Internet, you can always find x people to disagree with y. It means nothing without knowing who those people are and why they disagree. More importantly, just because a "dislike" button has been clicked a certain number of times doesn't mean that that many people have read, thought about, and disagree reasonably with the comment. It's just as likely that it's a thoughtless, knee-jerk reaction or that it's a form of retaliation for some other comment.
> Yes that's a problem. There can be a grace period before Bury votes take effect. E.g. 10 people must have read a comment, before Bury takes effect.
That can still be abused. Just don't bury anything. If it breaks a rule, flag and delete it. Otherwise, let it stand on its own merits.
> You mean they can downvote already? Yes, and they should still be able to do it, so this vote is (still) needed.
No, I mean staff can flag and delete posts, etc.
> Many disagree votes tell the reader that there's likely a good rebuttal among the replies
No it doesn't. It tells the reader that a certain number of HTTP POST requests have been made. It means nothing.
If there's a rebuttal that's better than the comment it rebuts, let it be upvoted.
I'm getting the impression that you think that by default, people mindlessly copy the behaviour of others, and don't spend any time thinking themselves. Perhaps contact their friends to downvote a comment. And that they try to game the system & cheat, and fight with each other and want a revenge.
I don't think that happens as often as you seem to think.
— For example, I think downvotes here at HN works fairly okay, and at StackOverflow and related sites. They're not perfect, but better than nothing IMO.
Also remember that all the Disagree vote does, is to show that many disagree. It doesn't hide the comment. So in the cases it gets abused, it won't matter much, in comparison to here at HN or Reddid, where it can be used to censor.
Given that the downvoting system is about as old as HN itself, I'm reminded of the story where someone tried to warn Voltaire about his coffee consumption by saying that coffee was a slow poison, to which Voltaire replied "It must be very slow."
And while I don't particularly care since this is junk account and its not my website, I imagine it could be interesting to someone.
I would suggest disabling voting from profile comment pages, to avoid voting on comments without reading their context, but this is Hacker News, and it would be trivial to script that...
Preventing upvoting of old comments would kind of suck, sometimes you only see really great comments years after they were posted.
But perhaps this is desired result. Either way the issue is no longer interesting to me.