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Cards Against Humanity is digging a hole in the earth (holidayhole.com)
570 points by kwikiel on Nov 26, 2016 | hide | past | web | favorite | 352 comments

Their FAQ is also pretty good.

Q: Why aren’t you giving all this money to charity? A: Why aren’t YOU giving all this money to charity? It’s your money.

Hopefully they will at least let people in need use the hole.

who needs a hole in the ground?

If you trust in free markets, then you really must let the needy themselves decide what they need.

everyone eventually does.

Over here, cremation is customary. The ashes are sent down a river.

"What if you dig so deep you hit hot magma? At least then we’d feel something." Touche.

I wish they would go deeper though, they're kinda just digging a wide hole. Unlikely they'll hit magma.

Digging holes requires a lot of horizontal space. Generally 2:1 width to depth is needed for standard topsoil. Go to deep too fast and you won't be able to get your digger and dump truck back out of the hole.

Minecraft 101: Don't dig straight down.

If they'd use a drill, wouldnt they get deeper faster?

Then they'd be "drilling" a hole, not digging one.

(Educational tangent: the deepest hole in the ground is the Kola Superdeep Borehole - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kola_Superdeep_Borehole )

oh the nostalgia! I remember learning about this as a kid. Sad that it's all abandoned now.

Yeah, but it's not as impressive. With a drill, the only visual part is the machine at the top. With a conventional digger, you can have a youtube stream of the hole getting visibly larger every minute.

One question is missing though: what if they find gold or other precious materials? Will the backers receive part of the returns?

HN, always thinking of the money. Can't we just set aside the technicalities and cash and enjoy a hole for once.

All treasure remains property of the hole.

Upon death or filling, ownership is bequeathed to the plot of land that takes it's place.

I wonder what will happen if someone enters their land, falls into the hole, gets hurt, and sues for damages. US liability law is a funny thing. Is a big-ass hole shown in video on the internet an attractive nuisance?

Wouldn't they be trespassing if it's without permission?

Yes, but 'attractive nuisance' laws are there to stop you escaping liability this way. If you make a super-dangerous thing, which is likely to attract idiots or small children, and then kill them, you can't just say 'it was their own fault, your honour, they shouldn't ought to have been there on my land...', rather you must erect a fence and post warnings. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Attractive_nuisance_doctrine

Oh, yes. But US liability law is a funny thing and its reach is vast. That's why US swimming pools tend to be surrounded with serious fencing with locked gates: to avoid liability for the kids and drunks and $OUT_GROUP members who would otherwise wander in and drown.

You can't insure a property if pool (or entire property) is not fenced.

Sure you can. You just cannot use standard cheap home policies. I have learned that someone somewhere will always write a policy. It may be crazy expensive. But they will write it.

Many places are fine with a retractable cover that you can't fall through. They are like a flat thing on wheels, let you walk on it when closed.

We were stopped by a TSA agent, who took great care to inspect our Cards Against Humanity deck, and ask lots of questions. Where'd you buy them? What is this? She revealed in the course of the conversation that she'd been banned from shopping on Amazon.

I posit that someone who's banned from shopping at AMZN is more dangerous than someone who plays card games with a dark sense of humor. How does that even happen?

> How does that even happen?

Fraud and abuse.

Treating Amazon like a mail-in library for books, tools, and other products is the easiest way.

Returning a huge number of your orders regardless of other forms of abuse.

Contesting valid CC charges.


> I posit that someone who's banned from shopping at AMZN is more dangerous than someone who plays card games with a dark sense of humor.

I wouldn't necessarily say "dangerous". Maybe "untrustworthy" or "lacking in good judgement" or "lacking a strong moral compass".

Instead of trying to judge the person, how about we conceive of behaviors?

They could be someone who cycles in and out of addictive or manic shopping. The word that comes to mind for me there is "tragic".

I have bipolar disorder, and many (if not most) people with bipolar shop to excess during manic phases. One person in my therapy group spends several thousand dollars on clothing, shoes, technology, etc. in a single day roughly twice per year, and then brings it all back the next day when he realizes that he cannot afford it all. He's banned from J. Crew and Brooks Brothers. I've done similar things (although not to that scale). Ultimately, there can be many reasons for strange or even potentially harmful behavior that one cannot easily control.

Out of curiosity, what's going through your mind during the shopping spree? Do you just feel a lot of giddy excitement and anticipation about all the cool new stuff you (think you) are going to get?

Most people with bipolar, like myself, don't shop for shopping's sake; it's because they want to take on a new project or make a major change in their life. I'd buy things like homebrewing supplies, a project car, or athletic equipment. It all either gets returned or starts sitting around a month later, when things get worse.

Sometimes, the projects you failed at eat away at you, daily proof that you are as big of a failure as you think you are, marking your failure as a person. When it's already hard to get out of bed, having to walk past hallmarks of your incompetence makes it even harder.

Rinse and repeat a couple times a year.

That's what mania is for me: a surge of confidence in myself, visible to others as pressured speech and hyperactivity, occasionally leading to irritability. It varies from person to person, though.

Based on stories I've heard/read about manic spending, each person/episode can be different. Having said that, a common thread in many is some delusion of grandeur that could justify the expenses were it not a delusion.

Example I've heard: buying all the tubes of a certain kind of paint in an art supply store in anticipation of doing some huge project. The project realistically would've taken years to complete & their delusion was they were an unnaturally fast artist. Once they snapped out of it, they realized the work they'd done so quickly was shoddy, at best, though they couldn't tell in the grips of mania. They returned most of the unopened paint the next day.

I have mild bipolar myself so I definitely know that exact feeling, though I've never acted on the urge to spend tons of money (yet). That delusion of starting a grand project that would maybe feasible but take an insane amount of work can consume me fairly often.

How do they enforce that ban? Do they check the ID of every shopper who makes a purchase?

Set up the POS machines to refuse to process purchases using certain credit card numbers, or based on the name associated with the card, I'm guessing.

> or based on the name associated with the card

doubtful that that is a strategy or else there would be a ban on common names.

Multi-level process since a "ban" in online world is difficult to achieve:

1. Set a cookie (lowest form since cookies get cleaned/deleted, but useful)

2. Recognize username + email address (tied to cookie so multiple usernames/emails can be used)

3. Address - physical shipping address is difficult to constantly change (for a normal person, scammers that use drop addresses are a different story all together)

4. Credit Card number w/associated billing address. The billing address is also difficult to constantly change and would correspond to shipping address.

There are additional steps a company can take, if necessary.

Facial recognition + security guard


Judgmental characterizations aren't necessarily inconsistent with empathy and compassion. Especially in the context of an LEO.

I probably wouldn't blindly trust someone who cycles in and out of addictive or manic shopping with a large line of credit or with carte blanc access to a lot of other people's valuables. Just because their addiction makes them untrustworthy doesn't mean they're a bad person.

Also, using Amazon as a library isn't necessarily indicative of manic shopping. It could just be that the person is acting in their own self interest and not taking into account the effects of their actions on Amazon's other customers.

Canceling valid CC charges has a lot of explanations -- maybe the person is just a habitual liar in way that's best thought of in a medical context.

But in all of these cases, empathy and judgement can go hand-in-hand.

I completely agree. In the future, I'd rather say I prefer to seek non-judgmental explanations before bringing judgment to the table, as it allows me to identify more potential scenarios.

People being assholes, dicks, or just plain evil is probably the most exceptional of exceptions. It's considerably more likely that there's a much more complicated explanation that deserves understanding and compassion.

Don't assume. I got banned from AliExpress after reading a post on here about the ridiculous free shipping from China, making an account, and buying my friend sexy underwear for $1. Thanks HackerNews.

What did you get banned for? I've been ordering a bunch of $1 things from Ebay the last few months and they all came through without trouble (from China with free shipping).

I bought a lot of below dollar items on AliExpress, no problems whatsoever. Why did you get banned for real?

Also, AliExpress is like second coming of Amazon.

Now I am curious, What's the issue if the list price says that it is >$1?

>Treating Amazon like a mail-in library for books, tools, and other products is the easiest way.

Isn't that part of their business? I order stuff to try it out and if it turns out it sucks, I send it back. Isn't that the point of the online store to trump the disadvantage that I cannot try things out without buying them first?

EDIT: It turns out you have to do quite some abuse there and they even send you warning emails. So it won't just happen out of the blue.

EDIT2: What's with the downvotes? Here I was thinking this community is better than Reddit for certain things, but I guess I was wrong.

Yes, it's part of their business. But if you return 90% of what you order, you are a major cost to them and they have no reason to keep you as a customer.

I see. I guess this is like the people who "abuse" unlimited online storage.

I guess. It's no different than brick and mortar stores, though. If you buy $1000 of junk from Best Buy every day and return it a week later, they'll eventually tell you that they will no longer do business with you.

Up until some amount. Once it becomes clear that you're more trouble than profit, they'll cut you off (and if they are unlucky, your neighbors as well). Amazon seems to bit all over the place with that, if media reports are to be believed.

I guess it has to be quite excessive (e.g. ordering tens of things every day).

Here is an example with ~10% returns, although of course no information what specific pattern (e.g. maybe a lot towards the end, or something like "bought 8 expensive things to compare with the intend of returning 7"). https://www.theguardian.com/money/2016/mar/18/banned-by-amaz...

What's IMHO worse is that they remove Kindle access etc as well (I think here in Germany they've been sucessfully sued for that, so not sure if they still do it)

Yes. I also use Amazon Cloud Drive for my external backups. So if they ban me from the store, they would also ban me from accessing my backups.

10% is a lot though and another one in the article is ~25%. Typically it should be more like <1%. I am not sure it's a great policy but it's their store. It's also only one side of the story as well so who knows what amazon's side is.

"Banned from shopping on Amazon" or some variant is a good candidate for writing on a custom card.

It's almost a good band name. "Banned from Shopping" I'm not pretentious enough for vinyl, but maybe I could get that on a CD?

We should start a thread purely for tech inspired band names. There is a local (quote a good) band here called "Snapchat Regret"...

I vaguely remember someone (on HN? reddit?) who made hundreds of amazon orders, returned 2/3 of them, and acted all indignant when they banned him ("It's not my fault everything is garbage!"). If the TSA lady's story is half as entertaining, I'd love to have heard it.

I have returned/replaced almost 50% of items from Flipkart (Indian competitor of Amazon) because they sent me defective or broken packages. I have had a couple of packages that look like they were opened. I'd never shop there if it weren't for these 'exclusives' they have with companies. :/

Do you happen to remember in what time frame the hundreds of orders happened?

A year, I think? It wasn't the volume that struck me as unusual, it was the return rate.

Wait, someone who Amazon does not trust to send them money, is securing travel in the US? That seems problematic.

Curious, would you think the same about somebody that got their Google account closed? Do you have a reason to trust Amazon anti-fraud algorithms more than Google anti-fraud algorithms?

I'm not sure -- you could make the argument that without dollars exchanged, the value of Google's algorithm is less. The overall irony that I'm attempting to express is that this person is part of a governmental "trust and safety" team but has been found untrustworthy by a pretty intelligent company. Now, I think acting on this information would be highly problematic for other reasons... I just find it interesting.

This reply is almost completely unrelated to the thread topic.

Just wait until the storefront business everyone is so excited about takes off. Now you can't buy groceries anymore.

> I posit that someone who's banned from shopping at AMZN is more dangerous than someone who plays card games with a dark sense of humor. How does that even happen?

So now you've conclused she's dangerous, based solely on her standing with a retailer, without knowing anything about the situation?

Compulsive shopper banned from shopping online by her husband/therapist?

Amazon is known for banning entire addresses, regardless of how many people live there, so being banned from Amazon doesn't say necessarily anything at all about a person.

EDIT: re How does that even happen?, link with some examples that I dug out for a comment further down: https://www.theguardian.com/money/2016/mar/18/banned-by-amaz...

I really wonder why people put so much trust in such decisions by tech companies...

EDIT by reply: here is a (german) article about Amazon blocking an entire building: https://www.heise.de/video/artikel/In-Ihrem-Haus-hat-jemand-...

Hmm, I'm banned from PreCheck for 24 more months. Maybe I could help get her some Amazon items and she could help me with my TSA status?

This is one of the greatest things I have ever seen. Much better than the laser cutting of a Picasso. CAH is the OK Go of postmodern satire and have outdone themselves. Really incredible art.

I imagine many people not getting this is the same feeling I had growing up and being dragged to museums.

I think you are seeing what isn't there. Of course that's the definition of a hole.

"Is there some sort of deeper meaning or purpose to the hole?


Isn't deliberate lack of purpose also a purpose?


I think the Dada art movement would disagree.

Still, their reply is clear.


The FAQ stated there wasn't a purpose to the hole. Not that their lack of purpose wasn't purposeful.

Two different things.

I tried digging into this, and got a stack overflow some 10 "no"s in.

It seems you need to manually implement tail recursion.

Of course, "Death of the Author" analysis allows one to disregard the author's intent in a work of art and find one's own meaning! ;)

Its similar to Marcel Duchamps urinal. Its meaning is up to the viewer.

Throwing money at a hole in the ground.

It is much better when the hole throws money at you, instead.

Did they manage to dig through to Soviet Russia?

> CAH is the OK Go of postmodern satire

I think this analogy needs a little unpacking, because I am lost. What are OK Go the OK Go of?

Amazing music videos for mediocre music.

I like the one they did in microgravity:


Seriously I think thats the best music video I have ever seen. The loop that the girls did in that vid was incredible...

That was amazing - thanks.

Postmodern satire.


It'll never top the KLF burning a million pounds.

It's an advertisement for their card game disguised as postmodern art.

Post postmodern

Postmodern is so passé.

The folks at CaH have a history of pranks around Black Friday. They've invited people to send them money in exchange for absolutely nothing. They've sold boxes of actual bullshit. My personal favorite was when they raised their prices $5 and called it a 'once in a lifetime' opportunity and they still had record sales.

CAH would never admit it, but I feel like at least part of this can be seen as political commentary.

From the top of their page: "The holidays are here, and everything in America is going really well" (emphasis mine).

It's hard for me not to read the last part of that as sarcasm, given many people's reaction to the recent US election.

Perhaps CAH is saying that the US is digging itself a hole by electing Trump and a Republican Senate.

> Cards Against Humanity is digging a tremendous hole in the earth.

"tremendous" is one of the words that Donald Trump is very known for using. So I think you're right.

People say it's the best hole all the time.

It's going to be yuge.

And other people are going to pay for it...

I don't think there's a huge amount of subtlety about why they're doing this. There's a pretty Trump-shaped negation to all their remarks.

Given that when I donated, the subject of the receipt email was "Donald Trump will be a terrible president who makes your family functionally poorer", I think we can call this case closed

My feeling was similar - it looks like Trump wants to build a wall, so they are digging a hole in sympathetic response. Both acts of self interested gesture politics.

> To celebrate Black Friday, Cards Against Humanity is digging a tremendous hole in the earth

Yep I thought this exact thing.

> Where is the hole? America. And in our hearts.

That and the 'feeling something' line really got me.

Looks more anti-consumerist than specific politics tbh.

Considering they came out with a Trump Survival Kit, not too much of a stretch.

Not a survival kit, a bug-out bag. It had South American currency, a mexican citizenship application, and—my favorite—a golden locket with Obama's picture (among other things).


This is crazy awesome! I just wanted to do a cost breakdown:

0.6s/$ is $6,000/hour (thanks @danielvf).

The excavator is around $2000/day[1].

The truck is around $2200/day[2].

Plus at least two operators with $200/day each[3].

And then the cost of Stripe's fees, buying the land, getting a permit (?), etc.

[1]: http://www.rentalyard.com/listings/construction-equipment/fo...

[2]: http://www.rentalyard.com/listings/construction-equipment/fo...

[3]: http://gcsenergy.ca/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/2016-Hourly-R...

The cost per second changes over time. When I first saw the site yesterday afternoon, it was 2.2s / $.

Oh, awesome. Hopefully they drastically reduce it.

I believe it started at 5 s/$

So they have increased their costs by nearly af factor 10?

I don't think it has anything to do with the actual cost of digging. IMHO the primary reason is they don't want to keep digging for weeks. By baking in an artificial cost increase they make sure this will stop after a couple days maximum.

It seems like they settled on a fixed maximum time of hole-digging, and are drastically increasing the cost so as to not exceed it.

Yes, they seem to have set the digging period in advance. Somehow that seems dishonest to me. If they knew they were going to dig for 48 hours come what may, they should have said so.

My best guess is that the operators of the vehicles, and perhaps the vehicles themselves, need to get back to their real jobs come Monday.

Probably the cost isn't amortized over a very long period of time so that some hours are much more expensive than others.

I think they will eventually level up and add more machines

The income is $6,000 an hour. Making this wildly profitable.

I wonder what they are going to do with the money.

Or is it more likely they found someone who was already digging a hole and asked to be able to video it?

But they promised the hole was being dug for no reason!

It would be funny if they did a second part where they turned the hole into a pool and just filled it with money. Sounds like something they'd do.

Surely you jest. That's dangerously close to the money hole[1].

[1] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JnX-D4kkPOQ

They are digging around the clock so the operators need to be x3

The time added per donated donated dollar is decreasing towards a limit. The subreddit seems to think that it is designed to max out at 48 hours total.

Ah I think they might have gotten the weekly fee on the equipment, which is much cheaper (5k p.w. as opposed to 2k p.d. as an example)

The land apparently cost $25k and is in Oregon Illinois. I guess they can sell it on with the famous hole in. http://www.wifr.com/content/news/Cards-Against-Humanity-Holi...

There is also a bulldozer.

Thanks, I didn't see it. So the bulldozer is also around $2,000/day.

They are charging us too much for time!

We need the gates foundation to donate a billion, that should get us 31 years on the clock.

I don't think that's correct

If you see the glass half full, they are not just digging a hole, they are creating a hill next to it.

Lol. Someone should send money in for building the hills.

If they feel inspired to work around the whole conservation of mass thing to avoid 'free work', then I'm not going to complain.

Strongly reminds me of this classic Onion video: http://www.theonion.com/video/in-the-know-should-the-governm...

Congrats to the CaH team for privatizing this public need. That's entrepreneurship at its finest.

I think the interesting thing about this is to think how weird our economy functions, because at the end of this, all we will have is a net gain for the economy and an empty hole.

You've got a type error going on here with money. Money is just how we keep score for "getting the things we want". Is this something that we want? Apparently, digging a pointless hole, streaming it, and asking for donations is terrifically entertaining, so yes. All things considered, the holiday hole is probably the best use of those resources. Like, construction equipment usually isn't used as postmodern art, but postmodern art is something we want, so yeah.

I guess my real point is something like "why aren't you asking this question about theater or television or live music"

That parable is misleading. If his window wasn't broken then the shopowner would've invested it in some improvement to the store or as a safety cushion which would also trickle through to the relevant suppliers. We'd actually all be better off if the window wasn't broken because we should have some other investment that was equally valuable without having to lose the asset of the window.

That's the whole point! Reread the opening sentence -- "the money spent to recover from destruction, is not actually a net benefit to society."


I don't think "Parable of the broken window" captures the essence of our economy, it only mentions the handyman receiving 6 francs, and not him paying his suppliers, them paying their suppliers and so on, his tools, his rent, his taxes, etc.

> I don't think "Parable of the broken window" captures the essence of our economy, it only mentions the handyman receiving 6 francs, and not him paying his suppliers, them paying their suppliers and so on, his tools, his rent, his taxes, etc.

That isn't actually a multiplier. When the handyman is paying other people it means he isn't actually making $6. He receives $6 but then the tax man takes $2, the window costs $1, various other things cost another $2 and the handyman only keeps $1. No matter how you slice it the grand total has to be $6.

But you don't want a multiplier here anyway, because it's $6 of waste. If the $6 somehow turned into $100 then it would be that much worse.

The multiplier effect exists, but in the broken window fallacy all it does is multiply the wasted effort.

The company mining sand is wasting sand and people's time mining the sand for the broken window.

The company that melts the sand into glass is wasting time and energy making the glass for that window.

The company that transports the window to the distributor is wasting storage space, energy(gas), and salary transporting it to the retail location(Home Depot).

The retail company is wasting storage space on the window, and perhaps a couple minutes of a salesperson's time.

The handyman is wasting his time when he installs a window to no benefit.

The insurance company is wasting their time handling the claim, and is implicitly costing everyone else in their client pool time with increased premiums.

And the person whose window was broken has their time wasted working in order to pay for the new window.

Any property that any of these people use is wasted, because if your office processes claims for broken windows the portion of the rent used for office space is wasted. (For example, if you spend enough time on broken windows, you might need extra staff and therefore a larger property.)

In each of these, maybe only a few minutes, seconds, or milliseconds(in the case of the sand needed) is wasted. But the entire ripple effect is ultimately a waste. In some cases, there appears to be no effect because a company may have additional capacity already available. But if you make a complete accounting of all effects, it is all a waste.

When I look at issues in economics, I like to erase the money entirely, since money is often nothing more than an accounting tool to make a graph reduction problem easier. In the case of a broken window, all you've done when you eliminate the money is waste resources, land usage, and many people's time.

Contrast this with a new window for a brand new building: Presumably that building is being used for some productive purpose, so the entire supply chain is implicitly being used for a productive purpose.

The problem is that if you could magically remove all the waste in the economy, but didn't find new work for people to do, then all that happens is you have a lot of people out of work, which is in itself a waste. The way our economy is built, the waste from people being idle is in many ways worse than the waste from people doing things that don't need to be done, which is why politicians are always pro-jobs and never mind whether the work is worth doing.

Leaving aside money, efficiency should never be a problem because there is always plenty of work that urgently needs doing. Freeing up people to work on more important things should always be a win.

That's not the world we live in. To explain why, you need money: nobody will pay for it!

Convincing people to spend money on things that urgently need doing is the heart of the problem. The broken window doesn't have that problem. It's a waste, but it's a very convincing reason to spend money, and the shopkeeper has money, so that's what happens.

Building a new building could be a waste, too. Overinvestment happens and new buildings do stand idle sometimes for lack of tenants.

> but didn't find new work for people to do, then all that happens is you have a lot of people out of work, which is in itself a waste.

Only if you believe people exist to serve the economy, rather than the other way around.

I agree that the economy exists to serve people. The fact that the economy demands people get jobs in order to be served and then doesn't give them jobs should be seen as a damning case where the economy isn't performing the function for which it exists.

If we had something like basic income then maybe you'd have a point. But spending a lot of time looking for a job and not finding one is certainly a waste. Deferring expenses (like going without medical care) is a waste. And crime causes lots of waste. So, back to broken windows again.

a) Is it really a net gain for the economy? Not really, unless this hole has some other future productive use, because you're ignoring what this money would have otherwise gone to pay for in lieu of this hole.

b) Funnily enough, the example of paying people to dig random holes is frequently given in economics arguments to illustrate why the Subjective theory of value makes more sense than the Labor theory of value.

C) Holes are made to be filled. Next year's gag is probably filling the hole back up with something.

I'd say it is a net gain. The money went to pay the company that dug the hole who used the money to pay their contractors working on the project, equipment leases, gasoline, etc. It will also end up being mentioned on the various blog and news outlets all selling ads against the story of the hole. CAH will also sell more product because of the hole & subsequent publicity. It looks like an increase in GDP (aka net gain for the economy) to me.

All the money I don't spend on absurd acts of Dadaism I just spend on liquor, which is bad for me and occasionally for those around me. So the world is probably a little bit better off for the money I spent on digging this hole.

It's meant to be useless. That's the punch line. All the same activity to burry a fiber optic cable would give you better communications in the end. Now could you make a story about laying fiber exciting? Enough for people to donate to? Maybe not.

The sleeper must awaken.

It's technically (I say "technically", ask an economist and they will have to admit it is "very definitely") a net gain because they are selling a service and people are paying for it. The GDP is the total sum of all goods and services sold and this hole will increase that total by a small amount. I think the hole digging is hilarious and very clever. :)

GDP is gross domestic product. The problem is in the term "gross": GDP doesn't measure depreciation.

Arguably here they're pumping $X per day into a project that is also depreciating at $X per day (i.e. no net value is produced, ignoring the entertainment value of the stunt). So the project contributes to GDP but not to net wealth.

The failure to account for depreciation is one of the major problems with GDP as a measure of prosperity.

A) Like iPads replacing last year's perfectly working model that become waste in two years? That's kinda the point.

C) Like e waste for Christmases past?

The whole digging holes theory of aggregate demand is what's called "vulgar Keynesianism"

The only natural enemy of the hole is the pile.

The central bank automatically equalizes over changes in money demand/velocity. That what a demand target (in the Feds case Inflation) is all about. So this action might increase velocity/decrease money demand, but it will not have a larger effect on Aggregate Demand.

Ah, but we will have a surplus of whatever was dug out to make that hole

I prefer a beowulf cluster to a hole.

I think what's interesting about this, is how you can manipulate online users by creating the perception that something is awesome and popular even if it actually isn't, using the magic of online marketing.

The only reason people think CAH is worth it, is because they think other people think it is funny and not stupid. If nobody cared about it, you wouldn't either.

I don't know if this is manipulation, CAH has a history of mocking Black Friday and making "in your face" jokes. I bet most people who send the money did it because they share the sentiment behind the joke, or just to have something fun to say to friends next time.

That hole ain't gonna stay empty for long. It will probably fill with water and provide a habitat for a fairly large variety of plants and animals. Which might or might not be a net gain for the environment as well, depending on what species it attracts.

Middle-class Americans spend more money landscaping their backyard than the cost of this entire project.

Middle class Americans do not in fact routinely spend $80,000 on their lawns.

Routinely, no.

As part of the total cost of home ownership over a lifetime, a lot of people probably do spend tens of thousands of dollars on their lawns. Especially if they have an HOA telling them what their front and back yards should look like at all times. Much less fun than just digging a big hole!

With three cars parked on it they might.

30$/ week or 130/month for 50 years ~80,000$. That's actually not that high, IMO.

I have spent last night laughing at this.

I have spent this morning depressing about it.

I just found the site 5 minutes a go.

I still can't stop laughing.

This is so marvelously stupid, I love it.

  What do I get for contributing money to the hole?
  A deeper hole. What else are you going to buy, an iPod?

What depresses me is the fact that $77k can easily run a startup for over a year in my country.

This is perhaps part of a lesson they're trying to teach.

Every one of us can think of ways this money, or any lump of money, could be put to good use. But instead it's being used to dig a huge hole.

And the same thought can be applied to many things in our economy. Gargantuan wastes of resources that __could__ be used to do good, but are instead squandered on pointless work. And none of us do anything about it, we just sit around and go "herp derp let the market solve everything".

This stunt highlights some of the naked stupidity of our society and how it allocates resources.

Seems similar, since the average startup temporarily employs people and results in nothing (although over a longer period of time).

The opportunity cost of the people digging the hole should be lower, and at the end, at least they'll have a hole. A clear win over the median startup.

Besides, they are literally changing the world.

Awe, hey we end up with more than a empty hole! What about all of the dead code!

Also often wastes fuel, time and other precious resources manufacturing physical swag that will end up in trash cans after the company inevitably dies. Externalities of the hole are at least related to the hole itself.

ahahha! Indeed, good point. Startup economy consists in a lot of hole digging...

And I'm sure someone somewhere is depressed by the fact that some startup's funding could be used to feed thousands of starving children instead.

Or dig a deeper hole.

That would be depressing if that was the only $77k out there, in the grand scheme of finances that amount is ridiculously small.

Existing startups won't get any less money and research won't get any less grants because some folks take donations to dig a hole :)

is that startup going to force 1,000s of creative people to stop what they are doing and think about something broader for a few minutes?

it's genius

Yea, but we get a hole out of this, so I'd say it's a net win.

True, but most startups leave the world worse than they found it. At least this way all that happens is a hole gets dug.

Well those $77k are helping run CAH! They are making a huge profit on this, and they deserve every penny of it :)

I think you're vastly underestimating the cost of the equipment, land, operators etc. The three pieces of heavy equipment would be >$5000/day. Plus 3 shifts of 3 skilled people would be another $1500/day. Plus the cost of the land, I'd guess they have 5-10 acres, and even super cheap land in the US is $1000/acre. Plus stripe fees. So $75k after fees - $10k in land - at least $6500/day and the current numbers will have them going for 3 days so $20k. If they make $30k in profit on this I'll be very surprised.

They did have a Black Friday sale once where everything was marked up. IIRC, they had some pretty impressive sales that day. They also did one where you send them money and get nothing in return (a donation?).

good chance the hole diggers are ex-google or ex-facebook or ex-something with boatloads of money.

The top contributions are baffling. Some people are donating over $1k USD.

Think of it as advertising, most of them have a domain name in there.

It's for advertising. Like meh.com (known for weird humor, like reverse psychological sales pitch).

I think the "it's for advertising" excuse is actually the cherry on the top of this satirical turd pile. It highlights ever so nicely the feeling we all have that money thrown at advertising instead of used for buying actual things or paying people for actual services is somehow equivalent to throwing it into a hole. Yet, it's the advertisers choosing to do this. That's what makes it brilliant. Getting advertisers to literally throw their advertising budget into a hole, and when we ask why these sums are there, we are given the excuse, well, "it's advertising." As if that excuses it, in such a matter-of-fact way that we are supposed to accept it without question, as if it should somehow be obvious that that's not a waste of money. Amazing.

Almost every large consumer facing company has a huge advertising budget.

And they have for a very good reason.

People are easily manipulated, and advertising is subconscious manipulation.

I abhor all ads, and I never get how Americans actually willingly watch TV with the constant garbage thats stuffed into your brain. (it's not nearly as bad in most of Europe)

But then again, our economic model is dependent on driving demand (aka on people continuing to buy stuff, always more stuff), so it all works out.

Just see advertising as the necessary grease in the economic engine that is endless consumption.

I'd say they have very large advertising budgets for a fairly bad reason: advertisers for the most part throw shit at the wall to see what sticks.

There's some science, but the advertising here is a perfect example that many people have no idea how to spend their ad money in a way that meaningfully engages some target audience.

I'd say they have very large advertising budgets for a fairly bad but different reason: they're making useless crap nobody needs, and so is everybody else, so the product will drown in the sea of useless crap and will never make any profit unless a massive amount of money is used to make it stand out from that sea of junk. Of course, everybody else is trying to do the same...

The way I see it, capitalism doesn't work when people behave rationally in self-interest, because if they did, they would buy a fraction of what they do. Advertising exists to persuade people to act irrationally in the interest of a company.

And now you and everyone else that visits the site have seen their business URLs

I never saw any URLs.

And we're not going to buy anything from them, since their products price includes this kind of "cost".

And their competitors' prices might include $2k in a safari trip to kill endangered species[1]. You monster.

[1] http://mashable.com/2011/03/31/godaddy-ceo-elephant/

I think the fact that advertising persists in such widespread forms is pretty good proof of its efficacy.

Study after study shows that even if you think you're immune from advertising you still gain a positive outlook on a brand just from familiarity/repetition alone, nevermind if you agree with the content of the advertisement.

Hmm, as opposed to what? A red bull wing suit event, is that the progress you were looking for?

That's because, to those people, $1k USD is effectively nothing.

Well note that they are using it for cheap advertising

"...some men aren't looking for anything logical, like money. They can't be bought, bullied, reasoned, or negotiated with. Some men just want to watch the world burn."

If ever there was an appropriate event for the quote.

For $90K, you could probably buy an old house and literally burn it down. It would probably take some doing to convince the fire department to let you do it legally, but with enough money it should be possible to take enough safeguards, particularly if the house is remote to begin with.

If you're thinking of donating, http://www.givewell.org/donate

No and No. I want a hole, and a hole I will get.

I was inspired to write the following short story, and couldn't really help myself. I hope it is worth the amount of page space it occupies.


A few weeks into the maiden voyage of the Interplanetary Transport System, a middle-aged woman named Alex Kimber sat quietly in the library behind the kitchen. The term "library" is perhaps a bit gracious. American walk-in closets back on Earth were often larger than this enclosure.

It was a good place for thinking, though. Not surprisingly, the compact spaceship didn't provide much privacy, as each additional pound of weight came with a $200 price tag.

Alex was near the peak of an enviable career. She possessed master's degrees in two different engineering fields as well as in political science, was the founder of two companies valued in the $10M to $100M range, and had held multiple advisory positions with her state's long term development board.

Her fellow voyagers were good company. Only the highest caliber applicants had been accepted for the first 10 missions. These "founding missions" were responsible for building a secure base capable of housing at least 5,000 individuals. All within five years! This would be an immense challenge. They would be testing the prototype blueprint for a self-sustaining Mars base.

These difficulties, however, were not on Alex's mind. She was ruminating on more fundamental matters. As both a scientist and passionate student of modern philosophy, her personal framework for understanding life was strongly colored by materialism and absurdism. On a pragmatic level, however, she found much peace and stability through mindfulness.

She had always felt that greatest institutions of the current age were severely lacking in their integration of such principles. The chance to tend to the young seeds of the first society on Mars played no small role in her willingness to risk so much and join the expedition.

Over the years, as she pondered the deepest dynamics of human relationships on both the micro and macro scales, Alex had scribbled down notes here and there. Yet she often still struggled to summarize her views.

An unexpected connection sparked in the unseen layers of her subconscious mind, and she opened her laptop. She began browsing through her collection of saved articles and other media. She clicked the "post-modern" tag, and a diverse set of articles, blog entries, lectures, and videos filled the screen.

The whimsical title "Cards against Humanity is digging a hole in the Earth" jumped out. She opened the file. Vaguely remembering this offbeat stunt from more than a decade and half ago, she couldn't help but smile.

Some moments passed. Her thoughts turned serious. A few clicks later, and a blinking cursor yearned at her from the blank canvas of the editor. Like a hurricane forming from the gentle flaps of a butterfly's wings, the keys of her laptop softly succumbed to the pressure of her fingertips, and the text "Mars Political Treatise: Volume 1" filled the first line of the page...

This is awesome :) You should keep writing it.

I'm imagining the next year.

Black Friday 2017 - plot twist! For each $10 donated, CAH will put $7 in cash in the hole (using the remaining $3 to secure it against elements). At the end of the fundraiser, they'll fill the hole back in, creating a literal case of hidden underground treasure.

Next time they should take donations for a deep learning system. They will promise to train the machine with data from CaH, Reddit, and 4chan. It will then output the next set of Cards Against Humanity. Their bullshit will be at the level of some tech companies posted here often. Whereas, fans might actually get something back for their money later. :)

I, for one, am incredibly saddened by this. Not against CaH directly, per se, but at the psychology of people's propensity to spend money.

Over the past 3 years, I have created about 4 or 5 web apps, and sunk my own money into them to the tune of tens of thousands of dollars. In most cases, it was a struggle to get people to pay even $3/month for one of them, and I ended up shuttering some of them.

The feeling I get from this is that hundreds and hundred of hours of blood, sweat and tears from me, (which includes 50 years of knowledge, and personal sacrifices that I and my family have had to make) is, at the end of the day, worth less than a hole in the earth.

Excuse me while I go sit in a darkened room and ruminate about this over a glass of wine.

In most cases, it was a struggle to get people to pay even $3/month for one of them, and I ended up shuttering some of them. The feeling I get from this is that hundreds and hundred of hours of blood, sweat and tears from me, (which includes 50 years of knowledge, and personal sacrifices that I and my family have had to make) is, at the end of the day, worth less than a hole in the earth.

I've been there, so please don't take this the wrong way, but yes, your hundreds of hours of blood, sweat, and tears may mean less than a hole in the ground. And why shouldn't it?

Your hard work on its own means basically nothing to anyone. People buy because of the perceived value to them of what they're buying, not because of what the seller did or didn't put into it. If people weren't going to pay $3 / month for your project, it's because you weren't offering them at least $3 / month of perceived value.

There is basically no connection that I can see between how much hard work goes into something and how much the market is willing to pay for it. Some people labor a lifetime on something that no one will ever want, others spend a weekend throwing together a website that will one day IPO for billions [1].

This is why so many successful startup founders and investors advise getting a project out there as quickly as possible and iterating rapidly to either find product / market fit, or to abandon it for something else. Fighting an uphill battle to make people want something that they don't care about, just because you've poured so much into it is a recipe for disaster.

Again, I've been there, so please don't take any of this the wrong way! Just my own rumination in response.

1. Yes, a lot of hard work goes into it along the way, but that's a hell of a lot easier with early success.

I totally agree with you about the value perception, and don't take your post in the wrong way at all.

But seeing people put even $10 into the 'hole' project just highlights that someone, somewhere, thinks that giving their hard earned $10 is better value to them than an app that costs $3. More than 3 times the worth, really.

That kind of thing really sucks, to me. I've spent a few dollars here and there in the past to support people whom I think deserved it for their efforts - be it a small trinket at a craft fair or a CD from a busking musician in the street. To me, spending money on the efforts of their craft (even if it is on things I didn't really need) rather than a cup of coffee, or a hole, says to them "I think that your efforts and creative energy are worth something, and I am willing to give you some of my hard earned cash to prove its worth". Even giving a few dollars to a homeless person is leveraging the money for the betterment of humanity.

The sadness here is the fact that I live in a society that thinks a hole in the ground is worth more that someone's creative output. All the worse for the fact that they are prepared to make a statement about it by quite literally throwing away money to make their point. Is this the every day person's equivalent of lighting up cigars with $100 bills?

The problem is, a hole in the ground is indeed often worth more than someone's creative output, because many people's creative output has negative worth. Silicon valley has fixated on behaviors that are actively harmful to users--corporate surveillance, spam, poor security, etc. In some cases these behaviors are damaging society as a whole.

I put $10 in the hole. If such a thing existed, I'd be willing to put a lot more toward any effort that would plausibly put Facebook out of business without an equally evil alternative arising.

I can't say the same for your apps, since I don't know you or your apps, but the average app I wouldn't install for free, because I know they would collect my data and use it against my interests.

Valid point re: collection of data in apps. Mine don't do that, but of course I understand that a lot of people have that natural suspicion these days. I didn't think of that aspect and am grateful you pointed it out.

I put $10 into the hole project for exactly the same reason I might drop $10 into a talented street musician's tip jar: to express my appreciation of their creative effort. The hole is just a hole, but the project to dig the hole is a hilarious, dark, and well-executed piece of performance art.

A good point. I had actually never even considered this hole project as a performance art piece, and now see that it indeed can be perceived as such. Glad this discussion elicited feedback like this, because it has helped me see things in a new light (and feel better about it myself).

People are weird, don't base your worth on them. It is what it is.

The same people who avoid your app likely think email isn't worth $3/month, do you?

I think one of the base factors people fail to take into account is "will the outcome / result exist if I _don't_ contribute".

Sometimes the current / alternatives are _good enough_ that reasonable options are completely overlooked. I bet Yahoo could have found your last 10 searches, but you probably wouldn't say their search service is worth less than a hole in the ground, right?

If your apps were unique compared to alternatives, this could also be a barrier until some of those elements are more widespread or common. I don't know what you can really do in this case.

I'm probably not the best person to comment from a business perspective, I've never launched a personal project or anything, but your 'failures' sound like you were able to build the apps you had envisioned, which is awesome. You're basically where I'm aiming to be in the next 5 years, for what it's worth.

I keep waiting for the day cynical businesses will cut out the middlemen and make a point using only their own resources. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/K_Foundation_Burn_a_Million_Qu...

That's exactly the point they are making and have been for the last two years. They were able to sell actual 'bull shit' to people last year and jacked up their prices last to last year and yet sales went higher than ever before. The margins from last year were distributed among employees to do as they saw fit and can be seen on their website (a lot of them decided to donate). The last to last years' went all to charity.

They are making a point against the blind consumerism. And that too in style.

Companies have donated more than $1k in some cases and CAH makes it look a mockery of them throwing their money into a literal hole for advertisement.

"From the widest gulley to the deepest trench, holes define who we are and where we are going." - Rainier Wolfcastle

Linking just to save others the search.


Thank you! Somehow I heard that quote in my head, word for word, but had no idea where it was from.

I'd been racking my brain, thinking it sounded too sarcastic for a BBC doco, I didn't even think of The Simpsons.

An interesting question is what volume of earth could they move in the allotted time with this equipment. In the live feed it looks like they are making the hole wide, rather than deep though. It would be fun if they accidentally dug up a massive fossil find or something like that.

Funny, I'm watching two different fundraisers progress. One for election integrity and one for digging a hole.

And only one of those fundraisers was up front about what they were collecting the money for.

Double-vision? They could be the same fundraiser.

I think what amuses me most is that the biggest donors seem to be people looking to advertise.

At the moment it's a vehicle code scanner, LEO/Tachical gear, flavored nicotine (I guess?), and a BBQ thermometer.

That's exactly what they have been trying to critique for the last two years on Black Fridays. Blind consumerism. Advertisers are literally throwing money at a hole in the ground.

They even state at their page "Why don't you donate this to a charity?" and they reply, "It's your money. Why don't YOU donate it to a charity.".

It's almost like we are looking past the mirror they have held up for us in our faces.

Yesterday there was a donor who gave $5000 but i don't see her name on the list now.

If you find this interesting and would like to read about another money pit, HN led me to read about the Oak Island Money Pit many months ago.


A wonderful critique of capitalist ideology... and so on and so on. sniff --Slavoj Zizek

The appeal to vulgarity is a tired cliche of social critique. At this point, no one can make a fresh point about it. Now it's just exploitation of the weak.

At this point, saying that an economic activity is an exploitation of the weak is redundant.

More like a critique of the distorted "keynesianism" governments around the world seem to love.

Isn't it interesting how satirical humor often serves as a kind of rorschach test?

I remember reading something about both conservatives and liberals thinking Colbert's character was making fun of the other.

That's satire, almost by definition (as opposed to other kinds of humor).

Uhm can someone explain to nonUS audience what exactly is this Cards Against Humanity?

A party card game about combining cards with tasteless jokes on them to make larger tasteless jokes.

The company is also known for viral marketing campaigns, like mail-order poo.

They also have a more elaborate social deduction game called Secret Hitler about politics in Weimar Germany. With cartoon lizards.

This game (Secret Hitler) ruined quite of few nights when I was an exchange student: people kept playing it while it was limited to only 10 players IIRC and was an obvious albeit less-fun rip off of the game "Les Loups-garous de Thiercelieux"[1].

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Werewolves_of_Millers_Holl...

That sounds like it is itself a ripoff of the game Mafia [1] which is ubiquitous in the US. Unless it came first, I guess.


If Secret Hitler is a ripoff of anything, it's Avalon, which is similar to Mafia/Werewolf, but is much deeper and lacks the issue of player elimination.

I'd say it draws more from The Resistance/Avalon Resistance than Werewolf, since it focuses on voting and scoring points more than killing players and eliminating them from the game.

A card game about combining cards to funny/offensive combinations: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cards_Against_Humanity

They make some party card games where you win by coming up with the funniest combination of the cards you are dealt.

As a former member of the non-US audience who don't know what exactly is this Cards Against Humanity, I can confirm it's better to remain under the bliss of ignorance.


It's a card game where a group of people piece together sentences with cards with phrases and words. One of the funniest "party games" I've played.

Aside from what everyone else has said, it's also a shameless knock-off of Apples to Apples, which preceded it. It's basically the same game, but more profane.

I'd call it an "intelligent continuation" rather than shameless knock-off. Apples to Apples targets innuendo for a family setting, CAH is a very adult game.

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