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Show HN: Mest – Place to talk with those you disagree with (mest.io)
334 points by robbizorg on Nov 9, 2016 | hide | past | web | favorite | 223 comments



While I think that tech tools like this have the potential to be great, so far I think technology has made the problem worse. My conclusion from my recent experiences over the last year or so with the election and before (and volunteering/organizing volunteers therefor) is that people don't just need to communicate, we need to interact, and my observation is that this needs to happen (or at the very least works best) face to face. Talking to someone over the phone or maybe with video chat could work but anything that separates you from the person you are communicating with creates barriers for that communication (I am convinced). Communicating with people face to face (whether they agree with you or not) is one of the most basic and satisfying parts of being human and we're finding more and more ways to not do that.


I think modern transportation and communication have contributed to our increasingly divided society... by extending our interactions over larger areas, those tools allow us to naively fall into our own physical "filter bubbles".

Modern transportation contributed towards physical obesity. Technology became so efficient and so cheap that we became isolated from physical reality... we have to work out in order to stay physically fit.

I propose that modern communication has had a similar impact. We've been binging on the conflict-free interactions we enjoy, but we haven't been eating our veggies or working out. This is a mental "obesity epidemic".

We drive between similarly minded social gatherings. We keep contact with similarly minded people by calling them. We're in constant communication with our social groups with little time for disruptive ideas to slip in... each of us is deeply connected to our pocket of the world, but many of us are equally disconnected from the rest of the world.


I blame Starbucks.

Say what you want about holiday themed drinks, but the coffee shop, bar, and church are essentially the only mass, small-town American discussion forums. And I'd say only the first tended to really breed in-depth conversations between unlikeminded neighbors.

Coffee chains could give two shits about inspiring conversation. In fact, it's downright bad for business (at best more seating requirement, at worst danger of disagreement). So it's optimized away.


While I'm not disagreeing, the historical record suggests that there's nothing new about an increasingly divided society. Or vociferous exchanges of view for that matter. We are not, and have never been, a tame species.


True, as a species we all but glorify conflicts... but I think democracy does require some degree of social cohesion. I see a lot of danger if our continent-spanning superpower starts to crumble due to internal divisions, especially considering we don't have a clear path to secession.


I wouldn't bet on the US's longevity. Read Peter Turchin, War and Peace and War (discussed here a week or two ago), particularly noting his part about how multiple imperial peoples can't coexist in a single country...

The Fourth Turning -- on the patterns that generations tend to fall into -- might also be interesting.


Thanks for the recommendation, I previewed Turchin's book and it's fascinating... I ordered a physical copy right away.


I agree with these statements. Debate has become an offensive action many will go to great lengths to avoid.


Alas, "debate" on the Internet is anything but. I am happy to debate, even to see my ideas proven wrong by a person who is informed and debates with good intentions.

Instead, most of it is ill-informed, without willingness to learn, and for the last 12 months or so with a good helping of death threats, at least in my interactions.

And so, yes, we start avoiding disagreement, because the pain inflicted upon us is so intense. For better or worse, the Internet is failing miserably at fostering healthy debate. We have inadvertently created the tools that allow bullies to silence on a global level.

Or maybe it's just a regression to the mean - we've been physically disconnected from the rest of the world for most of history.


I don't avoid "debate" because I fear disagreement or attacks. I avoid "debate" because so often when I enter one, the person engaging with me immediately employs ad hominem attacks or strawmen or appeals to emotions or any number of other unconstructive argumentation techniques. I am tired of engaging people who cannot argue using logic or rationality. I avoid it because it will be tedius and draining and there is no hope against someone not using logic. (Obviously this whole statement is merely an anecdote, and I'm not trying to explain trends.)


I know what you mean. Talking to people about things like, say, government surveillance. I have strong opinions on that. Nothing that this crowd wouldn't agree on mostly, but I'm the only IT guy in my life and generally encounter infuriatingly simple minded positions with this topic. Nothing to hide, nothing wrong with ogling your data.

I tried to explain. Edward Snowden said to ask people to give you their phones unlocked for half an hour. I extend the metaphors, I give concrete examples, but emotional bias trumps anything I bring up. I get angry, nobody wins anything.


People aren't good at rationality and logic. They are too abstract, so they wield abstract (read: stereotyping) tools to combat it. To successfully debate people, focus on actions and consequences that are relevant to their life, and back it up with an understanding of what their life is and evidence that these considered actions lead to undesirable consequences for them and/or others.

Debating in the abstract is something you need passion or training for. Our brains aren't built for it. Logic isn't what you need to wage debate, evidence is.


> Logic isn't what you need to wage debate, evidence is.

Depends on your goal and your audience. When talking to people who aren't particularly interested in the logic of a given argument, evidence won't help you.

>To successfully debate people, focus on actions and consequences that are relevant to their life, and back it up with an understanding of what their life is

However, you nailed it with this!


I think debate is offensive/avoided these days because we have potential access to 'all' the information we could possibly need and therefore feel inadequate in a discussion where we can't look up things on the fly. Back in the good 'ol days you could debate without being interrupted to look up 'facts'


Technology just amplifies human nature. The open-minded minority use technology to broaden their horizons in an unprecedented way.

My guess is that open-mindedness must be cultivated from a young age by exposing kids to a wide-variety of cultures/ideas.


Environment is continuously changing. There are infinite agents in the nature causing that change. Human being is one of them, technology developed by human is another. At the end fittest (not to confuse with physical fitness) survives.


It felt very ironic up-voting you.


“Meanwhile, the poor Babel fish, by effectively removing all barriers to communication between different races and cultures, has caused more and bloodier wars than anything else in the history of creation.”


> My conclusion from my recent experiences over the last year or so with the election and before (and volunteering/organizing volunteers therefor) is that people don't just need to communicate, we need to interact, and my observation is that this needs to happen (or at the very least works best) face to face.

I agree. People are much more civil face to face. It also helps in a disagreement to see body language and facial expressions. If I'm trying to argue a point and see someone getting visibly upset then I may change my tact or soften the moment for a bit. This is so much harder to do over the internet.


I agree. And as someone who works with telemedicine, I can say that even video pales in comparison to in person.

Our body language reading machinery is weak and ignorable when a person is reduced to a small 2 dimensional image, let alone text. And it's the signals that this machinery produces that trigger empathy. Without it, and especially when talking to strangers, it's easy to slip into a mild kind of psychopathy.


Interesting way of putting it!


> so far I think technology has made the problem worse

I think this statement is completely untrue. Compare to how people were divided around the world a hundred years ago.

Technology has gathered people together, but it also makes differences clearer to see.


> Technology has gathered people together, but it also makes differences clearer to see.

Doesn't the last part of your comment contradict your entire comment? Imagine gathering a hundred people together and making the differences between each person clear. Instead of uniting everyone, what will ensue is hatred. Shouldn't the point be to find a common ground and not focus on our differences?


Through technology, groups of people have gathered together virtually. I think this is to the detriment of improved relationships between people physically, geographically closer together. The internet lets would-be community-builders act as if geography doesn't matter. But it does.


Stephen Colbert last night: "Politics used to be something we thought about every 4 years. That's good that we didn't think about it that much, because it left room in our lives for other things and OTHER PEOPLE"

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yXhFGO8R7aU


I really appreciated Colbert's words that night, but I don't know how true his quote was. There was a great article I read a decade ago that I could never find again about, "How People Talk About Politics," and it matched my own experience.

Standing in long lines at the DMV in Virginia in 2000-something, a man says to me, "See what happens when you let the Democrats run things?"

Watching the dot-com bubble burst in 2000, a woman told me, "My grandmother said this would happen. She said the economy always collapses under Republicans."

Working IT at the Coast Guard for ten years, people talked politics all the time. All of that talk about as informed as the quotes above, but I try not to think less of people who are misinformed. Politics is hard. It's complicated, but we are all expected to participate in it and try to stay informed while most of us are unaware of how much or cognitive biases cause us to misunderstand and misremember the things we learn about the whole complex morass that is almost entirely run by lawyers.

For me, this election is now an exercise in compassion. I overheard two coworkers talking yesterday about how they both voted for Trump because they hated Clinton so much. What surprised me was the tone of fear and uncertainty in their voices at having won. They want what's best for America, just like their political opponents do, and they honestly thought their candidate was the better choice--with strong reservations. My life is great at the moment, so I sincerely hope their candidate delivers what they feel is missing in their own lives.


You're basically saying that there is no hope of fixing the problem since what you're suggesting is never going to happen at any scale. If nothing else this tool, even if imperfect, offers some hope.


I'm not saying that all, but I think that part of the solution will be finding ways to get people interacting with each other directly in more ways either through direct outreach (going door to door or talking to people in public) or civic engagement. You don't have to be exposed to everyone, I had some really positive conversations when stuck at jury duty last time. A lot of people just go find a corner to hole up in but I ended up sharing a corner of the courthouse with a group of people that preferred to chat and it was a really nice way to while away the time (we had a 2 hour discussion about gun control that was very civil and diverse in ideology which the internet would lead you to believe was impossible).

I'm not saying any of this to detract from this tool or any of the other interesting tools linked here, I think its great to try to find as many solutions as possible but its just been my observation recently that humans interact best face to face, hopefully we can find a more scalable solution though.


It's not completely impossible to imagine a tool like this using webrtc to have people video chat/discuss issues together. I'm not sure how we incentive users to actually use the tool and remain respectful - but maybe celebrities or cultural shifts would make people feel obligated to talk with those of differing opinion.


The future of virtual reality (i.e. a holodeck) could enhance peer to peer communication by moving from just text based communication to showing body language, tone of voice, facial expressions etc.


Hi everyone,

Recently, given the results of the election and the divisiveness that's been revealed because of it, it seems like the country isn't talking to one another anymore. We're afraid of one another and the polices the other political party will put in place. A lot of this, I think, has to deal with the lack of communication between actual human beings that lie on both sides of the isle. I made this app, Mest, to try and get people who hold different opinions talking to one another. We just have to start doing something to deal with the ever increasing division in the U.S.


Agree in principle, but one thing that threw me off off the bat- it asked if I was for or against trump. My views are more nuanced than that- to the point I wouldn't feel comfortable selecting either. Not sure how to best express that in the app, but I do think it's one of the things people misunderstand about "the other".


This tool is mind-blowingly effective a warding off the sort of concerns that you raise, of a tool not capturing and reflecting users' many complex viewpoints: https://blog.pol.is/pol-is-in-taiwan-da7570d372b5#.1pbjuwoqa

It's mainly geared toward single-issue consultations and discussions, but definitely worth understanding.

I know some folks who facilitate municipal consultations in one of the largest Canadian cities, a job for which helping often divided participants to arrive at meaningful consensus is high-priority. Their comment after the demo was "My mind is honestly reeling right now. Never in my life did I think any part of my job could be automated and democratized, because what I do is synthesize fuzzy participant feelings in a very unscalable way. But this tool just might automate away some of what we do."


https://pol.is looks like an awesome tool that needs more publicity.


I was hoping it was a text entry box too!


Agreed. Interesting idea, but limits the discussion too much.


Maybe 'rate your support of Trump/the outcome of the election on a scale from 1 to 10'?


Thinking about it, I think maybe four groups: For, somewhat for, against, somewhat against. The app could still match up the "for" with the "against", but users wouldn't feel so gross choosing just for or against.


Even that is not enough. It's still a bipolar scale, and humans are politically multipolar.


You're right. People are "multipolar". There is a way to think of a binary choice being useful here. By looking at a single, big question like this that clearly has a lot of nuance underneath, you can provide the opportunity for people to find common ground even when they are at opposite sides of the overly-simplifed binary decision.


If it didn't divide people into two groups then how would it match them up? Just pick the answer that best fits. If you're really in the middle then you presumably wouldn't need to have the conversation.


You could divide into four groups: For, somewhat for, against, somewhat against. It still wouldn't be ideal, but would be more realistic. I don't think I'm "in the middle"- I simply agree with some policies of Trump's, disagree with others, and have serious reservations about him personally. That said, people "in the middle" deserve to be a part of public discourse just as much as those on each side.


A two party system is a large part of this problem. One group validates itself by demonizing the only other player in town. It's toxic and it energizes the most self-serving of us.


The two-party system is a direct consequence of the winner-takes-all, first-past-the-post voting system.

If you want more than 2 polarizing parties to emerge, you have to use an alternative voting system which allows ranking, such as IRV, and thus encourages third parties instead of disincentivizing them (due to spoiler effect).


Thank you for mentioning Instant Runoff Voting. I've been trying to get anyone IRL to have any interest in it at all. Even the third party nerds weren't interested even though it'd benefit them.


IRV is better but not perfect. If third parties actually start to become viable, then they would start to steal first votes away from the moderate parties. Eventually they would steal enough votes to cause them to be eliminated. So you are still better off selecting the two major parties as your first vote, even if you don't really like them. If you have full tactical voting, it ends up exactly the same as plurality voting. And you get only 2 viable parties.

The best system seems to be approval voting. You just are allowed to vote multiple times if you want. And the candidate with the most votes wins like normal. See http://rangevoting.org


We have IRV where we live. The major parties are still major parties, and the minor parties are thriving. The past couple of elected governments have had to make coalitions between major and minor parties to form government.

Your concerns just don't play out.


That sounds more like STV. IRV is only for single winner elections. You can't get coalitions or anything like that from single winner elections. The 2 major parties would still dominate any single winner election under IRV.

The problem with IRV is demonstrated in more detail here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Q7rzqJ0YS8

I think it's still better than FPTP, and it does let third parties at least get some attention. But there are other, better, systems. IRV has been adopted in a few places in the US, and then abandoned shortly after. I think systems like approval voting have a better chance of catching on.


> You can't get coalitions or anything like that from single winner elections.

But you can get more third party candidates winning (in single winner districts), leading to coalitions within parliament, which is probably what the parent means.


> If third parties actually start to become viable, then they would start to steal first votes away from the moderate parties.

Unless I misunderstand IRV, there is no "vote stealing" due to your vote automatically dropping off to your next-preferred candidate.

> Eventually they would steal enough votes to cause them to be eliminated.

I assume by "them" you're referring to a (previous) major party. In that case, I don't see an issue at all. This will simply mean that the voters get better options and the top two parties will be pulled more towards the median at threat of being surpassed by a third party.

> And you get only 2 viable parties.

This either contradicts the first point or is completely meaningless. Of course there will be two top parties by definition for any specific election. However, IRV allows voters who align themselves more with a particular third party to show their support for that party without possibly spoiling their next favorite candidate and resulting in one they oppose winning.

I looked at your link, and I'm unconvinced by this argument that IRV is no better than FPTP:

> A lot of voters will, in an election like Bush v Gore v Nader 2000, exaggerate their good and bad opinions of Bush and Gore by artificially ranking them first and last, even if they truly feel the third-party candidate Nader is best or worst. They will do this in order to give their vote the "maximum possible impact" so it is not "wasted". Once they make this decision, in IRV, Nader automatically has to go in the middle slot, they have no choice about him. If all voters behave this way, then automatically the winner will be either Bush or Gore. Nader can never win an IRV election with this kind of strategic voters.

This seems to assume that voters will not understand how the system works. What reason would voters have to rank Gore over Nader when there is no risk of spoiling anything and having the candidate farthest from them win? It's not like the ranks are worth more or anything. I can't think of any situation where putting Gore over Nader would result in "maximum possible impact" compared to the opposite ranking. This whole argument just seems very silly and misleading.


There is a much better explanation in this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Q7rzqJ0YS8 As the third party becomes more and more popular, eventually they steal enough first votes away from the main party to cost both of them the election.

It's true that IRV limits the cost of vote stealing. But first votes still matter a huge amount in IRV, and you can only give one first vote. So there can always be some vote stealing. This is not a problem when third parties are really small and inconsequential. But if this actually worked to create viable third parties that had significant percent of the vote (the main goal of people that want such systems, otherwise there is no point), it would become a huge issue.

The link I posted shows that approval and range voting do vastly better in computer simulations of elections. Which is nice because approval voting is much simpler. And there is never a scenario where you shouldn't vote for your favorite candidate, under approval voting.

The last issue has been experimentally observed in Australia:

http://rangevoting.org/AusAboveTheLine07.html

People insincerely rank the competing party in last place, even though they don't really think they are the worst party. The major parties encourage this, and explain to their voters how to vote strategically.

More issues here: http://rangevoting.org/IrvExec.html


This is a shorter video from the same source as the other reply that deals specifically with IRV: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JtKAScORevQ

>Unless I misunderstand IRV, there is no "vote stealing" due to your vote automatically dropping off to your next-preferred candidate.

The problem is that they drop to your next preferred candidate who has not been eliminated.

If you're thinking about the problems that occur with plurality voting, it's easy to imagine your second choice will always be a popular "safe" choice, but if third parties get stronger (which is surely the point?) those safe choices can end up being eliminated before your second choice can help them.


Okay. That video explained it well. Thanks.


There is no reason why a 'third' or non mainstream party would not be moderate also. You will get the full gamut.

Of course most countries that have this system end up with regular coalition governments which is sometimes one criticism of the system. But surely a coalition working together as part of a parliament with at least three groups is better than two groups at perennial loggerheads with each other.

This only seems to lead to ever greater tribalism and us and them politics.


...which just passed in Maine (ranked-choice voting).


Cool. The "laboratories of democracy" in action. Hope it turns out well and spreads.


Do they actually want different things though? In the UK it seems like all the politicians want the same - and all the people want the opposite.


What policies do the current Conservative government, Labour, SNP government in Scotland, Plaid Cymru in Wales and the various parties in NI have in common?

Quite a few of those parties want to break away from the UK - which is about is fundamental a disagreement as you can have!


They want to get elected. So, in that regard they want the same thing. What you say to get elected is largely irrelevant, particularly if you can suggest the opposing party is more evil.

The goal isn't to be a good candidate, qualified, or even ethical... its to get elected out of a contest of two people.

Who ever uses the media most wins. It doesn't even have to be favorable news coverage or even make sense. Who ever appears on the screen the most or gets their name mentioned the most wins. Again, its only a contest out of two people and the general population is easily energized by emotions.


What ? Interested to know what side you think "the people" is on.


From outside it more seems like all politicians want one thing, and half of the population wants the opposite.


I actually was having a great reconciling conversation with a guy on here just now. I love the idea. I did get disconnected after a while btw. My messages just didn't post.

I came away feeling more like I understood the other side of the debate so well done!


I actually think we're talking too much. Sometimes even when we have nothing constructive to say.


Listening is an underrated and scarce skill.


First off, fantastic tool and thank you for trying to be a part of the solution.

However, this does little to solve the actual problem. People are just more likely to not be civil behind closed doors. For example , I frequently commute in Los Angeles traffic. If Im attempting to merge or change lanes with my blinker on, people wont budge or will even speed up. My normally docile mother and girlfriend will expletive laced insults that they never would. They are nicer to people who may waste 5 minutes of their time in person than someone in a car who wastes maybe .01 seconds of their time.

When I make direct eye contact with them and force them to acknowledge my basic humanity, no one has ever been a traffic asshole. Conversely, in online gaming apparently the entire 12 yr old population has had coitus with my mother.

I had high hopes that the Internet would drastically reduce ignorance and make telling lies much more difficult. This whole election season would be perfect for an episode of Black Mirror.


Why is it you think dialectic materialism is worth the effort?


Yo great idea. Its timing out though. Plz fix! Use Firebase!


This is stupid. One side is saying "we want to get rid of all the immigrants." My disagreement with that is not a communication problem, it's that that position is a red line. There's no chance of me being convinced that forcibly removing immigrants is a good idea. So why even have the conversation? What good could that possibly do?


Don't you feel at least a little bit curious on why someone could adopt a position that is so obviously wrong to you? Remember, these are people too, not that much unlike you. Some of them might even have the same favorite movies as you.


> So why even have they conversation? What good could that possibly do?

To see how the came to that conclusion. It's not like they hate brown people that speak funny, they have real issues that rightly or wrongly get blamed on immigration.


Some people do have real issues that rightly or wrongly get blamed on immigration, but there's also no shortage of actual racism among those who really, really seem to care about immigration. It's not like you don't see tons of explicit or implicit racism on Reddit or Twitter or Facebook among Trump supporters. Or at Trump rallys, for that matter, like "Jew S A" chants or people proudly wearing t-shirts that they think are hilarious about lynching journalists (like, actual old-fashioned lynching involving ropes and trees and victims).

Hell, the KKK endorsed Trump and he didn't denounce them. So yes, there are at least some people who like Trump for his anti-immigrant views that base their support on racism. Based on what I've seen online and in person, there are quite a few of them. Maybe that's not all of them, and some or most are really just concerned about it as a law and order issue, but Trump made absolutely no effort to distinguish between the two. At no point did he ever make any statement that attempted to disassociate his views on immigration from racism, and he was called upon to do so throughout the campaign (like after the KKK endorsement).

Maybe he himself has more enlightened views on immigration, but he clearly couldn't care less if people were on his side because of pure racism. He stoked those fires over and over and over again. Maybe he's just incredibly misunderstood, but he sure as hell didn't make an effort to clarify anything if he was. That speaks volumes about his morals. If you're going to take a hardline stance on illegal immigration and make it a centerpiece of your campaign, it makes it that much more important to be very clear and explicit that racism is not a factor, if for no other reasons than to avoid getting lumped in with racists and to avoid indulging racist tendencies within your own base. Leaders are supposed to lead, and someone who wants to be president has a vastly greater responsibility to be a leader.

Also, the fact that the strongest support for Trump's anti-immigrant views came from the parts of the country that have the fewest immigrants doesn't help. I've known plenty of people who've lived their whole lives within 100 miles of where they were born, in parts of the country where they may not ever actually see a black person, much less anyone from the Middle East or Mexico. People in these homogenous rural communities form (in terms of numbers at least) the core of anti-immigrant sentiment, and yet they also seem to think that strange brown people sneaking into the country is the #1 issue facing America today. It's very hard to look at those views coming from those demographics and not think that there's at least some racism and xenophobia driving those views.


> Hell, the KKK endorsed Trump and he didn't denounce them.

The KKK's official newspaper endorsed Trump[0], but according to CNN[1], Trump has disavowed the KKK (and David Duke in particular):

> Donald Trump issued a crystal clear disavowal Thursday of former Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard David Duke after stumbling last weekend over a question about the hate group leader on CNN. "David Duke is a bad person, who I disavowed on numerous occasions over the years," Trump said on MSNBC's "Morning Joe."

> "I disavowed him. I disavowed the KKK," Trump added. "Do you want me to do it again for the 12th time? I disavowed him in the past, I disavow him now."

[0] https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-politics/wp/2016/11...

[1] http://www.cnn.com/2016/03/03/politics/donald-trump-disavows...


I take it back! I am very happy to be wrong about this fact. :)


I'm not denying there's actual racism, just that there is enough of it to make an difference to the election. The KKK might vote for trump, but they aren't the reason he's president.

>Also, the fact that the strongest support for Trump's anti-immigrant views came from the parts of the country that have the fewest immigrants doesn't help.

Here's the kicker, why aren't people migrating to these places? They are lovely places that have had high immigration levels in the past. They do know that in other parts of the country those strange brown people are moving in and being more successful than they are in their own country though.


They are lovely places. I wonder if, statistically, it's a function of how long a given family has been in the country. A first generation immigrant (or immigrant family) seems more likely to initially move someplace where they already have friends or family, a home or a job lined up, and/or a preexisting community, and for Mexican immigrants that naturally tends to be in big cities along the southern border. After 10 or 20 or 30 years, new generations grow up in those cities, and some people might move away from their families, to more rural or remote parts of the country.

So, there could be a 30-year delay between a Mexican family's immigration into Texas, and a subset of that family and their descendants moving to Nebraska (random example). When someone is moving to a foreign country with a different language, and mostly populated by other ethnicities, it makes sense that families would usually start out in big border cities, and only gradually make their way to more and more remote, sparsely populated, and less diverse areas.


I was thinking more that they aren't moving there because there aren't jobs in the area to move too, which is why the people there are angry.


While the general goal of this site is a good idea, we'll have a better chance of fostering understanding by approaching the subjects indirectly. Build empathy and rapport first, then you'll have the context to approach the divisive questions productively.

I'd like to see this built on top of Facebook, where a) people are already having conversations unproductively, and b) you have the demographic information to understand who you're pairing without having to bluntly ask them which side of an issue they're taking.


I've had what I thought were pretty constructive and interesting conversations about this topic right here on Hacker News.

Maybe you could talk about smaller and more specific aspects of the issue with people, like

* How has present-day opposition to immigration in the U.S. developed? Was there always strong anti-immigrant sentiment in this country? How were immigrants viewed in different eras? Were parts of those views accurate or inaccurate?

* What are the moral arguments in favor of people's right to migrate? What are the moral arguments in favor of a nation's right to prevent or limit migration? Is it important what existing citizens of a country think? Is it important why they think it?

* Is the present-day international system of nation-states and borders a good idea? How about various notions of citizenship? Are some criteria for citizenship obviously reasonable or unreasonable? Should criteria for citizenship be decided politically by existing citizens or are some kinds of decisions they might reach clearly unfair or morally wrong?

* Should people who live in a country feel proud that others want to move there? Should they feel proud of allowing or encouraging others to do so?

* Why are so many economists so strongly in favor of unrestricted or nearly unrestricted migration? Why have other people found the economists' consensus hard to accept?

* How do immigration restrictions interact with policy mechanisms like a welfare state and minimum wage?

* Is it good, bad, or neither for a government to favor the interests or preferences of existing citizens over others' interests? If it's not bad to do so, are there clear limits to how or to what extent the government may neglect or override foreigners' interests?

* What do we think about cultural differences between people living in different parts of the world? Would we like to acculturate as many people as possible to our own culture and way of life if we had the opportunity? Do we think that acculturation of this sort is inherently good? Do we think existing cultural differences are good, bad, or neither, and do we think at least some cultural differences can be placed on a hierarchy where one culture gets something more right than another?

* Are immigration critics right to worry that a culture could be made worse (and in some way less effective) by the arrival of lots of people with different cultural values? Are immigration supporters right to hope that a culture could be enriched by the arrival of lots of people with different ideas and traditions?

* Is there a meaningful moral difference between trying to deport existing residents who entered a territory without following its official migration rules, and trying to prevent other people from doing so in the future?

* What are the differences between population growth through migration and population growth through reproduction? Doesn't this undermine a simple intuition that migrants take away jobs from existing residents?

* How legitimate is it for members of an ethnic or cultural group to want to have their own nation-state and to make that nation-state somehow reflect the character or interests of that group rather than other groups?

* Is it true (as an article recently posted to HN suggested) that migration almost always makes the economy bigger and creates more total employment, but that the benefits of this growth may be quite unequally distributed or captured? Could migration economically benefit most people while economically harming some people?

* To what extent should a country try to assimilate migrants and to what extent should it be proud of having done so? Are there likely problems if large-scale migration happens without a corresponding assimilation? How successful has assimilation been in the past? Is there something legitimate in the preferences of migrants who don't want to assimilate (or only want to assimilate a little bit)? Is there something legitimate in the preferences of people who strongly want migrants to assimilate?

* Is there some kind of hypocrisy in creating or enforcing significantly stronger immigration restrictions today than those that prevailed in the past?

* Are there reasons for migration that are more or less important than others? How much should discussions about immigration address migrants' motivations? Are there motivations that change the moral status or significance of someone's desire to migrate?

* Many governments have created programs that try to draw distinctions among would-be migrants on the basis of their desirability. Have these programs worked well on their own terms? Who proposed them, and who got to create the criteria for desirability?

* What could governments reasonably know or ask about visitors or would-be immigrants?

* How much migration might occur if practical restrictions on it were removed? What might the long-term consequences be?

* If it's legitimate to physically restrict some kinds of immigration, what kinds of enforcement measures are proportionate and should people be punished somehow for circumventing or attempting to circumvent them?

* What if a country allows people to immigrate easily but makes it difficult or impossible for them to acquire citizenship? (How about temporary "non-immigrant" work visas?)

I bet there are about a dozen more things that could be discussed in this area.

I mention these things because I think it's possible to learn something from talking about them with people who radically disagree with you (and you don't have to give up your moral outlook on the situation, nor your political goals!).


And if this were a normal election we would have time for genteel debate about this subject, but currently, the President-elect is preparing a plan to send armed paramilitary troops into neighborhoods like mine to try to forcibly remove 11 million people. So those are all real cute cocktail party questions and all but all of them are meaningless until I can answer the question of how can I prevent the promised onslaught of violence in communities like mine? How do I keep my friends and neighbors safe? How do we keep families together? It's pretty unseemly to be asking abstract, philosophical questions about immigration generally when, across the street, armed goons with assault rifles are physically separating families from each other and dragging people off to detention centers.


I respect your commitment to protecting people and I hope you succeed.

Earlier in this thread you were saying that there was no point in talking to your opponents. The way you phrased it looked to me like you meant that there was nothing that you could learn from each other and nothing that you could convince each other about. As you can see, I don't think that's right. Now, it seems that you meant to make a narrower point that talking to your opponents won't stop deportations now, which is probably true.

Depending on hard-to-predict factors, there might be conversations you could have that would convince some people not to turn their neighbors and coworkers in for deportation even if they strongly disagree with you about immigration in general.


Come on man, we all know that subtle issues are really just racist dog-whistles.


Which side is saying they want to get rid of all immigrants?


Donald Trump's side. Trump has repeatedly said he wants to remove all 11 million undocumented men, women, and children, by force if necessary. And that means more armed paramilitary shock troops in U.S. cities, more families held in immigrant detention centers, more children being condemned to violence and deprivation in countries they've never known, college students getting torn away from nearly-finished educations and productive careers to be imprisoned or deported, and so on.


You're being disingenuous by equating illegal immigrants with all immigrants - he never said he wanted to get rid of all immigrants. Those illegal immigrants are and were already breaking the law by the way, so his (apparent) intention is merely to enforce it more thoroughly. You knew this. When you engage in dishonest behaviour to prevent any form of concession, then indeed there is no point in conversation.


Personally, I refuse to draw a distinction between illegal immigrants and all immigrants, assuming that when you say "illegal immigrant" you mean someone who only broke the law by coming to the US via unapproved means.

It should not be criminal to just enter the country. There would be no "illegal immigrants" if they were allowed or had the means to enter the country legally in the first place.


That makes zero sense. His wife is an immigrant - surely you must have known this? This fact directly contradicts your post.

And you know how to make sure none of this stuff can happen to you? Simple - don't break immigration laws. It's really that simple. The law is there for a reason.


Really like the idea. Messages wouldn't go through though after a few interactions and couldn't submit a bug.

There is clearly a need for dialogue after such a divisive campaign, it would be even better before people cast ballots though. The media clearly don't help facilitate interaction between different elements of society, but rather act as an echo chambers for a lot of people. Whether it is The Guardian, Washington Post or Fox News and Breitbart. I'm British and was surprised by Brexit, however this didn't catch me by surprise. Such a huge disconnect has formed in both the US and UK. Although there are valid concerns as to how we implement dialogue the potential is huge. If we don't take these attempts seriously we risk becoming so polarised that ugly outcomes will be guaranteed.


Hey everyone, this has been a pretty crazy day for me, and I'm pretty sure it's been crazy for everyone else as all. Sorry for only just responding to everyone on this thread, I've been super busy and have only just gotten a chance to sit down and get to work.

First off, I'd like to thank everyone for the feedback of gotten on the project, both positive and negative. As was revealed by the ton of technical difficulties and ridiculously sized bundle.js file, this was a hashed together project that was more of a proof of concept rather than a final app. Now that I know that there's a lot of interest in at least some sort of app developed along these lines, I'm going to spend a lot of time polishing the site and exactly how one expresses belief "for" or "against" topics or people. I also plan to look into research as posted on how to work against polarization in the country. I pushed a couple changes that should hopefully account for some of the technical problems people were having earlier, but I won't have time until the weekend to dive deep into it.

Secondly, I totally agree with okreallywtf that technology like this has the potential to be great, but so far tech's only made the problem worse. As the interest from HN shows, I think that there's a lot of room for developers to actually go out into more bridge-building type projects that work to get people to interact with those on the "other side." To get moralistic, I think that there's not only room for development here, but that we have the duty to explore these options. We have to prevent division from becoming further entrenched in this country. In this vein, I want to especially point out comments that highlight other sites that try to bring people together and become more informed about government like Placecot and pol.is. Maybe there's still ways that social media and technology can change the ways we interact with people. Perhaps we just have to be more aware of the forces that keep us within our own ideological bubbles.

We have a lot to work to do in this country to try and bring everyone together after this election. Let's see what can be done.


Is there a way I can get in touch with you, just want to bounce some ideas around


Not at the moment, I'm going to set up an email for the site over the weekend


Your bundle.js file is 4.4MB and took 30 seconds to load (given several attempts). I would consider getting that under control, at the very least gzip the file.


How can a site like this require that much clientside javascript?


Frameworks using frameworks using frameworks using frameworks.

Also: lots of front-end developers are into personal fame - and because they are front-end people they are also good at web-based marketing strategies. This works recursively :/

Oh and also: lots of front-end developers are relatively speaking weak in terms of architecture and general programming ability. (There; I said it.)


It probably shouldn't but JS doesn't have much of a standard library so it's easy to make unfair comparisons.

How big do you think a java client to do the same thing would be?


4MB is an incredible amount of Javascript. All of underscore is less than 6kb, jQuery is less than 70kb. Both of those libs fill out the "standard" library needs of most websites.


No excuse for 4mb though based on what the app does. 50k should do.

For example in a side project I tried SammyJs then realised it requires jQuery. So I just hunted for something that can route urls without the needless dependency. I chose Navigo.

Point is it takes some care but not too hard to keep the size reasonable. Also don't use npm for dependencies on a web site. But npm is ok for tooling e.g. webpack


it's 2016


What a horrible place 2016 is.

The JavaScript is uncompressed and has 6 columns of comment characters on every line. There's really no excuse. This site did not even need JavaScript.


> 6 columns of comment characters on every line

The reinvention of COBOL?


Spotted the front-end developer.


Haha! Yeah, but I don't believe this was necessary at all.


2MB is the ante to get at the big boy's table.


what compels someone to downvote this?


It's not clear what point you're making and it doesn't seem to add much to the conversation.


Stating the current year is not an argument.


Good lord you're right. The question on the landing page should be "are you for/against massive over engineering of client side apps?"


Use a CDN? I already have these libs cached...


I'd be interested in a non-binary option.

I am neither for nor against Trump, rather I'm interested in the relative merits or faults inherent in his policy proposals (where possible to investigate) and discourse.


This tool is still very primitive (i'm still working on it) but it does what you're looking for:

http://consensus-148618.appspot.com/

You construct an argument like a proof, with supporting arguments. People can share their opinions on each step of your argument.

It doesn't allow direct back and forth yet; you'd ahve to pass the link around.


Came across this paper this AM regarding the attempts to get non-alike people to mingle:

"In this paper, we hypothesize, first, that previous approaches have not worked because they have been direct -- they have tried to explicitly connect people with those having opposing views on sensitive issues."

https://arxiv.org/abs/1601.00481


Love the concept -- I think it is sorely needed -- but my messages didn't post and I got disconnected after a single exchange.


It doesn't seem to be working for me after I match. I enter some text and nothing updates.


It seems to be working now

Edit: its somewhat working. I think the issue is if the person disconnects it looks like your messages aren't being sent (theory).


Why do I have to be "for" or "against" anything?

Why can't people evaluate the evidence and THEN decide?!?

It feels like these sorts of things make polarization worse.


Because many people don't evaluate evidence. They join and defend tribal positions where one side is completely right. and the other side is completely wrong.

The details of the argument don't matter. It's pure identity politics and herd affiliation.

I've been exploring some of the politics groups on FB, and the level of interaction in many groups is middle school level. There are a lot of juvenile insults, preachy testimonials to a particular view - usually one that loudly insults the other side - and a lack of interest in nuance, evidence, or curiosity.

HN may not be perfect, but you don't get many comments here that simply say "The other side sucks."

I don't know if it's even possible to move past that. A primary problem seems to be that the concept of evidence-based reasoning is completely alien and exotic to many voters. It looks very much as if they're literally not able to use their minds in that way. Instead of trying to understand an issue they repeat the same insults and cliches over and over for a quick emotional hit which satisfies them they've won the argument.

The Internet - and FB - is terrible for this, because it's much easier and quicker to type a one-sentence put down than to craft an argument.

You can try to fix this by banning flames and trolling, but then a lot of the people you're trying to persuade go elsewhere for their hit.

I have no idea what a solution would look like, or where to start looking for one.


Can FB/Twitter be somewhat effective if you've broken down a debate to tiny points, and gradually find common cause or identify real issues?

The alternative is giant blocks of text which are off-putting to many, harder to parse, hard to find time for, etc.


Was it Petrarch who argued against Scholasticism on the grounds that an uneducated plowman natively reasons in syllogisms? How wrong he was...


That would require time and effort, and it would force you to actually think and reason, which is a tiring activity and costly to your body. So in other words, ain't nobody got time for that.


The tool seems to be intended for those who are already polarized and don't have much interaction with those on the other side.


exactly, in so many situations, why do we have to make things black or white? this is exactly what creates "us" vs "them".


I like the idea, but the chat doesn't work. The first message will send, but after that it freezes. I press escape twice to disconnect and nothing happens.


Same for me. Too bad, the idea is cool.


There are two problems I see with this.

I had 3 conversations.

ME: Hi Other side: Hello

That's it. stopped working


Some feedback:

It's really strange how new messages appear at the top of the conversation instead of at the bottom. It's kind of unintuitive.

It would also be nice that with the browser at 100%, the chat window was big enough to reach the "new message" box. There's a big empty gap that's kind of awkward.

Edit-- Also, pressing escape twice either doesn't work for me or there's no feedback to confirm that I disconnected successfully.

I like it a lot, though, awesome job!! :)


I would love to see something like this for broader issues and I see two big benefits.

1) I think it could be really helpful to bloggers. If I wrote a post on a divisive topic, I would love to have it reviewed by respected people who are on the other side (not sure exactly how you would work out the respected part). When we write it's too easy for us to build up a scarecrow argument then knock it down to the delight of those who already agree with us. For example imagine a metric that showed how much people who disagree with the article respect it anyways. If I saw something like that on my Facebook feed I would be more likely to read it.

2) A place for us to get experience on how to debate better. There are a number of principles that a site like this could promote. For example, when you disagree with someone ask a question you actually want the answer to, then talk about it. It sounds easy but it can only become a habit with deliberate practice. I have seen a number of other TED talks that go over these kinds of things.


> There are a number of principles that a site like this could promote.

One list is

http://www.paulgraham.com/disagree.html

I can also recommend

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kQFKtI6gn9Y

although I'm not positive of its educational value. :-)

Edit: This version of the sketch has what I find to be kind of pointless violence at the end.



There's also this thing that Eliezer Yudkowsky observed

https://wiki.lesswrong.com/wiki/Arguments_as_soldiers

It includes the impulse to suggest that things we favor have no negative consequences (or reasons to doubt them), while things we oppose have no positive consequences (or reasons to believe them).

In some forms of high school and college debate, you can lose points if you don't rebut every single argument raised by your opponent (but your rebuttal doesn't necessarily have to be good in the ordinary sense of the word!). In policy debate this can lead to spreading, where people speak absurdly quickly because they want to be counted as having formally responded to everything the other side said, or having introduced points that the other side failed to rebut.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Policy_debate#Style_and_delive...

This is kind of wacky because it gets into a stylized activity far removed from what most listeners would understand as substantively discussing an issue. And it doesn't seem to admit the possibility that both sides might have some points to which there is no convincing rebuttal (which Eliezer suggests is actually a normal state of affairs for talking about real-world issues).


I'm not US citizen but I follow US politics closely and from where I stand you guys (democrats) will not be able to do much about the situation now, you lost and you need to wait for the next election to give it a fight. And let me tell you, people who voted for Trump in 4 years from here will feel betrailed again and will flip to the other side (yours). This situation happened before in other countries and it always have the same outcome. at least 50% of Trump promisses are populist and infaisable, if you add on top of that his lack of experience, diplomacy and his bad temper after 4 years no one will want to vote for him or any other republican. So understanding the other side is not critical here, they will understand by them selves.


It would be nice if it worked for more than 2-3 messages at a time.


Another app I would like to suggest is Placecot. It allows you to post to neighborhoods and places nearby. So post to your local coffee shop or neighborhood and have a discussion. Better yet, meet those people in person. Part of the problem with society is we are all in filtered bubbles and no one meets and talks anymore.

You can find it on the app store here: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/placecot/id1024884410?mt=8

I hope your journey meeting humans is as eye opening as mine has been. P.S. I am the founder. Feedback welcome.


Feedback: Apple only? Not interested in walled gardens.


It will come for Android as well but probably next year. Thanks for the feedback.


It stopped working after I said "Hi" so it didn't work out for me, but I like the idea. I guess maybe it's being hugged to death at the moment.

I fear that once The Internet finds it, going there will stop being a pleasant experience.


It's enough of a challenge to communicate effectively through text-only discussions with people I like. I like this idea, but wish it were full video chat so I could get facial expressions and tone.


No, no you really don't. Didn't Chatroulette teach anyone anything?


This site seems to be broken, I get matched but most messages don't post. In the meantime the best way to have a discussion with Trump supporters is not to vote them to negative infinity on HN :-)


Great idea! We really have to work on not demonizing the 'other side'. I spent some time during the primaries trying to read through subreddits of supporters for the opposite candidate, trying to understand where they were coming from. That didn't work very well.

Learning to disagree constructively is a really important skill that we don't often get a chance to work on.


I start conversations but then it just stops working


I am using IE Edge, it works there


I think the concept of having a single person - President, being head of the country is outdated.

We do not need a President. This ancient concept has to go. We have congress, senate, house of reps, judges, courts. Enough to make decisions and develop policies.

There would be less drama without President in America.


Whipped this up, should be more reliable:

https://tesm.sircmpwn.com

Code here, feel free to use it for mest: https://gogs.sr.ht/SirCmpwn/tesm


Knew your name looked familiar, thanks for your awesome work on Sway!


No problem, I'm glad you like it!


There are disagreements over opinions and there are disagreements over basic facts, and I'm just done with arguing with crazy people who have their own weird realities.


Even in the face of basic facts, people are still not very forthcoming in wanting to engage in a rational discourse.

For instance, people who lost their minds that Bush misled the public on the WMD's in Iraq, were just fine arguing the fact that Obama lied when he said if I like my doctor, I can keep my doctor or when he said my health care costs would go down $2,500/year. I'm sorry, but you can't accuse one party of lying, then defend your guy when he lies.

The problem with where we are now is that people's realities are too closely tied with their political views. So even when they are presented with facts, it's hard for them to accept it as being true or reliable.


I think most people would agree "ObamaCare" is a disaster. Most rational people could look at it and go "Yeah, we should do something differently".

"Republicans" say rip it out, go back to what we had before, don't adopt anything from it.

"Democrats" say to keep it and try to fix it.

Can it be fixed? Who knows. But ripping something out because it isn't perfect after two years is completely insane.

The US has a completely broken healthcare system and handing it back to corporations isn't going to fix it.


> I think most people would agree "ObamaCare" is a disaster.

Except that people like a lot of the individual provisions of Obamacare, like no denying based on pre-existing conditions, kids staying on parents' health insurance until they're 26, etc.

It just doesn't do much to control costs. The current healthcare system has neither a single-payer forcing hospitals to keep costs down, nor much in the way of market incentives to keep costs down (since most people pay for healthcare indirectly via health insurance, and even that is controlled by their employer).


The other thing is that it's the first thing they want to do now that they have both houses of congress and the white house.

Problem is, they don't have anything to replace it with yet.

I don't think the Republicans want to go back to what it was before. I think they want to keep some of the good things about it like being covered for preexisting conditions. I also know Republicans want to allow insurers to sell across state lines which would increase competition and drive down costs. People on both sides of the aisle have been saying this for years.

confirmed:

Modify existing law that inhibits the sale of health insurance across state lines. As long as the plan purchased complies with state requirements, any vendor ought to be able to offer insurance in any state. By allowing full competition in this market, insurance costs will go down and consumer satisfaction will go up.

https://www.donaldjtrump.com/positions/healthcare-reform

There's actually some other good ideas in there too.


This always happens, one party rarely destroys the previous party work, what they often do is claim to completely undo it, but in reality they simply build on top of it. It's a marketing game. This way, you can claim the previous party was completly 100% wrong and did nothing good. And we rebuilt from scratch and deserve all the credit. Then you can say: See, we should have been the elected party all along.


You'll have to define lies. To me one sounds more like a hypothetical, this is the plan and this is what we hope the outcome will be like. While the other is more of a standard lie, like, I know this isn't true, but I'm telling you otherwise.

Maybe if you had more similar examples?

One thing we have to be careful about is wrong associations, equating two things that actually differ subtly. As they say, the devil is in the details.


I can see people losing their minds about a lie that leads to war compared to overselling a change to medical insurance. I would like politicians (or anybody) not to lie about anything, but the consequences of those seem to be in completely different ballparks.


Everyone needs to break out of their own bubble to some extent, though other equally misinformed people may not be the best source.

My advice is to read the most informed, reasonable representatives of different viewpoints you can find, and then see why they disagree. Often people will play fast and loose with the facts in order to convince people they consider less educated, but when directing their words towards those they consider their peers, they will be more honest.

An example from the right is the many economists who should know better refuse to distance themselves from the idea of the "Laffer Curve", the idea that you can raise revenue by lowering taxes. Even though they know the Laffer Curve is bullshit, they don't want to refute it because it is a useful rhetorical tool.

An example from the left is that most moderate liberals agree that black Americans commit much more crime (EDIT: I meant "per capita", personally I think a reasonable reading of this comment as a whole would take that as implied) than white Americans. However, they don't want people to hear this fact except in the context where it's already agreed that the main cause for this is structural factors (i.e. a cycle of poverty, crime and lack of education). So in liberal circles this fact is "obvious" and "uninteresting" since the real question is how these structural factors operate. And yet at the same time, outside liberal circles this fact is considered "racist" and liberals do nothing to clarify that it is in fact true.


Whites were arrested for 276,460 violent crimes in 2015. Blacks were arrested for 169,612.

Source: http://www.bjs.gov/index.cfm?ty=datool&surl=/arrests/index.c...


> Whites were arrested for 276,460 violent crimes in 2015. Blacks were arrested for 169,612.

Do you think there are the same number of blacks and whites in America?


Of course not, but it's not relevant to the claim that was made: "that black Americans commit much more crime than white Americans".


I meant "per capita". I'm wondering if you are really being fair in interpreting my comment the way you did. E.g. a progressive article uses the exact same language[0]:

It is also common to hear the supposedly neutral statement that “black people commit more crimes than white people.” This “fact” is used to justify a belief that black people have a natural criminal propensity, or that a “culture of violence” is to blame for problems faced by black people in America.

...even though there are roughly five times as many white people as black people in this country, blacks and whites are incarcerated in equal numbers. But the fact that black people are incarcerated five times as frequently as white people does not mean black people commit five times as many crimes.

(incidentally this is exactly the kind if article that moderate liberals should be refuting, and in turn the article should acknowledge that moderate liberals also believe blacks really do commit more crime).

[0] http://www.huffingtonpost.com/kim-farbota/black-crime-rates-...


How about other topics to debate?


I love this idea, but the chat system doesn't appear to work after 1-2 messages.


This was also my experience.


Gah! I can't get a conversation to stay connected. So many cool people I would love to keep talking to. Is there an alternative that is not getting HN hugged?


This concept is a troll haven. Politically motivated trolls have become a rampant problem online. I think they are the single biggest obstacle to the progress social media (in the broadest definition, which includes this project here) can effect towards non-partisan goals like empathy and factuality. How will you deal with this issue?


Seems to be no "ambivalent" option on Mest :(


Great idea, trying to use it but it seems broken. Chat cuts off after two lines. Have tried it about 10 times. Please fix?


Neat idea - but messages would not send and hitting escape twice as instructed didn't end the session.


What is the origin of the name Mest? I can't help but think of that emo band from the 00's.


I had a bad reaction because I thought it was related to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MEST_(Scientology)


It means "revenge" in russian.


It means "manure" in Dutch :)


It doesn't work on Firefox


Somehow, I think there's not going to be a lot of trump supporters out there.


Well, there's a lower bound of around 50 million trump supporters in the US based on last night's election results...


Oh, come on, you know what I meant! As if the readership of HN was not massively biased! I'd love for this website to work, but if you're posting on hacker news, I doubt you'll get with a Trump voter from Montana!


Well there are Trump supporters and people who really dislike Hilary. Based on the exit polling it looks like very few people loved who they voted for, and instead voted against someone else.


Yes, but Hacker News is not exactly a random slice of American voters. I would expect to find some, but not many, Trump supporters who are going to find and use a site like this.


I don't think Peter Thiel is trolling Hackernews for ways he can explain why he's supporting Trump.


Where's Thiel when you need him?


I've had a far more elaborate idea incubating for at least 8 years... I have many mockups, some pocs and a bunch of notes if someone is interested.

There's no plans for capital extraction so there's no money...


I'm interested in at least the elevator pitch. What's your basic idea?


I don't know if you'll see this but email me. Use my hn handle @ yahoo and I'll write it up. I'll need to write this document eventually if I want it to be a reality.


If the experience I'm having is any indication (very clunky, conversation works 50% of the time), I think you might want to iron things out a bit more before a Show HN like this.


It crashed in latest Safari pretty much soon as the chat started...


Yeah, I'm sure the racist, xenophobic, sexist deplorables can't wait to chat with those who've been demonizing them for an entire year.


Great idea, love it!


I like this idea, but unfortunately the site is broken. Made a throwaway account - I voted for Trump, want to talk about it?


wow! last night I got inspired to create exactly this concept while watching this interview https://www.ted.com/talks/jonathan_haidt_can_a_divided_ameri...


It requests connections on port 8080 as well.

This may inhibit its use from some people behind a corporatish proxy/firewall.


Isn't that what the internet is for?


Until most communities naturally dissolve into "subreddit"-esque groups where users share similar views to enjoy validation and avoid being downvoted. Explicitly encouraging opposing viewpoints may help alleviate this problem.


Not really. It just encourages people to fight for their team.

You need a place where there are no teams, where it's not A vs. B, but a place where you're tackling smaller problems and talking solutions which can be understood and validated.


Site is a mess while using Tor Browser. Double Esc doesn't work. Messages aren't going through.


Looking for Partner FOR Donald Trump... And looking... and looking... and looking...


...partner found: Whats up man, aer you doing OK?


Couldn't connect to a partner. So far it looks like a topic oriented Omegle.


Ah yes, bringing people together by dividing them into two groups.


Feature request: Need to know when somebody is actively speaking to you.


its pretty cool. but as for me, i already spend 80% of my interactions talking to people i disagree with, i think i have enough of it already =)


Sorry but humanity needs more self-understanding, empathy towards others and non-political activism. Arguing on the Internet does not help or we would be living in utopia since 90s.


there is 4chan for that.


4chan is an echo chamber, especially /pol/. The other echo chamber is 8chan's /leftypol/. What's good about them is that if you're a rightwinger you can go to /leftypol/and if you're a leftie you can go to /pol/.


idea: interesting, execution: fail


The time for talking seems over. The days of toleration, of nodding along and trying to engage with the crazy uncle over thanksgiving dinner seem to have failed. It may be time for more direct action, for properly ostracizing such people. The racists and homophones aren't going to be invited to my family gatherings anymore. And when they ask I will make sure they understand why.

Everyone thinks that such people can be negotiated with. I don't think they can until they understand exactly what they are doing. They don't know that they are racist, they now believe they are the normal people. They need to told exactly how dangerous we believe them to be.


Please don't post inflammatory comments on flamewar topics to Hacker News. We hope to keep a higher standard both in civility and substance here.

We detached this subthread from https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=12911187 and marked it off-topic.


> The days of toleration, of nodding along and trying to engage with the crazy uncle over thanksgiving dinner seem to have failed.

Indeed. But whose failure is it?

> Everyone thinks that such people can be negotiated with. I don't think they can until they understand exactly what they are doing.

You're assuming that everyone who supported Trump is racist. I know several intelligent, non-racist people who voted for Trump - they did it acknowledging that he was a piece of shit, but that he was a piece of shit who didn't hide the fact. He has opinions and he speaks them, instead of hiding them behind changing words.

Further, they see him as a chance to disrupt the current broken state of government - by brute force of personality.

Outside of the fringes of racists and homophonics [sic] , I think this is what won him the election.

> They don't know that they are racist, they now believe they are the normal people.

Painting everyone who did vote for him with the racist/homophobe brush ensures that there's no path for things to get better. People on average are not stupid - they're just frustrated with the state of things, and want to see change.

Change with a wrecking ball is still change.

As the father of a bi-racial child I'm terrified for his future this morning. But this is tempered by knowing that 51%* of the country doesn't hate my son or others based on skin color.* They hate where our country is going, and saw voting for this person as the best way to change that.

[1] [edit] 47% apparently.

[2] Okay, I don't know it, but the data strongly suggests it.


"51% of the country"

Clinton won the popular vote.


I think that was the implication, that Clinton folks are more or less guaranteed not to hate bi-racial children.

(Not that I agree or disagree with that.)


I think that it's important to speak out against intolerance, but also to be careful about retreating into righteousness; the groundswell of support for Trump is (probably, since I don't know any better than any of the countless other people who got this election totally wrong) precisely from people who feel that the direction of their country is leaving them behind. As we have seen, insisting that they are right, and that the worst of their attitudes should be left behind, doesn't silence them; it makes them feel forced into desperate action, willing to elect anyone who will (appear to) listen to and validate them.


But the engagement approach has failed. It is time for something new. Another cycle of engagement and acquiescence may only exacerbate the problem.

I;m not talking about changing views. I'm talking about making them aware of their views. They don't think they are racists. They don't think they are homophobic. Nobody has ever told them, they have never been confronted by someone they actually know and respect. Only once they understand that their views are describable in such terms can we ever then hope to change those views. It's a two-step process.

We all assume that convincing someone that they are racist will cause them to change. That denies the reality that someone can be a proud racist, a proud homophobe. I've got a pile of emails coming in from elderly family members who are very very proud of their anti-muslim and anti-gay views. Many start along the lines of "It may be racist, but that's what we need to fix today's problems." At least they acknowledge the description.


How do you take into account nuances. When President Obama was riding shotgun on the ACA passage he disregarded the opinions of the opposition with phrases like "No one has shown me any other alternatives," and "I won." When the ACA was finally passed, the opposition pointed out the flaws that are now occurring. Where in this entire process, even from the start was there any engagement.

I am actively asking what engagement programs or outreaches have been attempted. The only thing I can point to is the ever changing nature of our nation's acceptance of gays and lesbian marriage. Senator's Clinton and Obama both were against it until after the populace pointed out how much they were for it.

A thought experiment: Minimum wage. It is a horrible program that directly hurts the poor and downtrodden; it was first imposed by actual racists to keep blacks out of work[1], [2]. Now, based on its origination, is it a racist program to keep poor and downtrodden out of work or is it a racist program to eliminate the minimum wage? Who is the arbiter of this decision?

[1] "Colored labor is being sought to demoralize wage rates." American Federation of Labor President William Green

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Davis%E2%80%93Bacon_Act


I'm not convinced by this, partly because labelling people as racist is what we've been doing and failing. And as the other commentor says, your paragraphs are contradictory.

I keep meaning to write a longer thing about this, but we're running into the politics of loyalty and belonging. That's how you get people taking pride in their racism; they've chosen who they have solidarity with, who they consider their ingroup, and if racism is part of that group deliniation they're going to shout it from the rooftops.

(Given the way group identity works through churches in parts of America, the best approach might be to keep asking people who self-describe as Christian what they think of Trump's behaviour towards women..)


I don't understand this:

> I;m not talking about changing views. I'm talking about making them aware of their views. They don't think they are racists. They don't think they are homophobic. … Only once they understand that their views are describable in such terms can we ever then hope to change those views.

followed by this:

> We all assume that convincing someone that they are racist will cause them to change. That denies the reality that someone can be a proud racist, a proud homophobe. I've got a pile of emails coming in from elderly family members who are very very proud of their anti-muslim and anti-gay views.

The latter quote seems to be directly arguing against the point of view espoused in the former.


It's a two-step process. First you must make them understand that they are racist. That's requires confrontation. Once they acknowledge that truth, that reasonable people believe them racist, then you can go about convincing them that racism is a bad thing. The first statement is about people who do not believe themselves racist. The second about those who do and are proud of being so. You confront the former, negotiating only with the later.


And this type of post is how we got there. Thanks for illustrating the problem :)


This. Exactly.


>The racists and homophones

Oh dear lord.


Claire and Clare are no longer welcome!


Brian and Bryan are out, too.


How about Don and Dawn, though?


Depends on the regional accent, I think.


Raceists. People who like to race.


I just want to publicly say that you and your position disgust me.

How long until you find yourself joining in on the fun? https://vid.me/3Fqo


Let me tell you why dialogue doesn't work in this case:

Now discussing Donald Trump Now Talking with nigger lyncher nigger lyncher's Description: i love to lynch niggers

That conversation is over before it can start. I'd rather fight these idiots in the streets for the next 4 years than make any type of attempt at dialogue.


You're dealing with a troll there, not an idiot. A troll.




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