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The idea that we can carve out a space that exists outside of politics and ideology is delusional.

Ideology is present everywhere. It's built in to the ways we relate to each other, to our employers, to the public and private institutions and technologies we interact with all the time, and especially the way we work and conceive of work. Ideology is often tacit, baked into our assumptions even in "non-political" areas.

Squelching political discussion won't cause us all to transcend ideology, it'll just make it impossible to discuss or critique a dominant ideology whenever one shows up in someone's unstated assumptions.

This is a bad idea and a little dystopian (the world is upside down, but think happy thoughts, folks! Here's a TED talk!)

Not to mention I didn't really see a huge problem on the site, so in a time when politics and ideology are on everyone's minds for good reason, it seems you've chosen to solve a non-problem with censorship.




Of course it's delusional. The concepts can't be defined to begin with, nor can they be separated in any consistent way. And still we have to moderate this site.

> the world is upside down, but think happy thoughts, folks! Here's a TED talk!

It's sort of a peeve of mine that people project this onto us because I can't say how I really feel about it without breaking our own rules.


> people project this onto us

You might be suggesting an unconscious and in a sense innocent psychological bias.

I also allow that a comment like the GP is in a style intended to twist and inflame. In this context the motivation could be to keep HN on the trajecory of more noise.


Perhaps grounding your moderation policies around concepts you know are undefined and inseparable isn't the best basis for moderating the site.

As for how people see your actions: labeling it as "projecting" might make you feel better, but probably gets in the way of you understanding what they're saying.

In today's environment, you can't simultaneously make the site an welcoming place for people who are anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant, anti-feminist, anti-trans (etc.) - and for people who are Muslim, immigrant, women, trans and nonbinary people (etc) or allies to any of these groups. What people are telling you is that they see YC - and you personally - as siding with the bigots.


It's the best basis for moderating the site because the alternative is impossible.

You're right, though, that I shouldn't use the word 'project' like that.


A classic HN moment: 'dang tells me I'm right, and I'm downvoted to -3 :)

> the alternative is impossible

Interesting phrasing.


(guessing here)

The downvotes are not because of the word "project", or anything in the two first sentences. Its because you called people "as siding with the bigots" because they disagree.

There is also some extrapolation that result in insults. Are anti-religion people bigots? Are Egalitarianism bigots because they don't agree with new feminism? Is the illegal vs legal-immigration discussions bigotry?


Thanks for the feedback. You're probably right that the downvotes aren't related to the first two sentences. Pro-diversity stuff routinely gets downvoted here, especially when it uses the f-word.

Still, if you read more closely, I didn't call people bigoted because they disagree. I called the people who are "anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant, anti-feminist, anti-trans (etc)" bigots. That seems like the right word to me.


It's not impossible to say "this is a technology site, here we discuss technology" which would make it much less arbitrary which things are politics and not. You might not want to do that, but it's certainly not impossible as an alternative. "Technology only week" is probably even an easier sell for an experiment.


HN is not a technology site. It's a site for "anything that gratifies one's intellectual curiosity":

https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html


> HN is not a technology site. It's a site for "anything that gratifies one's intellectual curiosity"

Does political discussion not gratify intellectual curiosity? I'd say that I'm definetly curious to see others political opinions. This is a ban on a discussion topic as arbitrary as banning discussion of IC vs Passives.

Not letting people hear opposing view points is more detrimental then seeing a view point you disagree with.


Does political discussion not gratify intellectual curiosity?

Yes, political discussion can gratify intellectual curiosity. Empirically it hasn't worked out very well on HN.

To me, your comment completely ignores the paragraphs written by dang in the submission, both the content, and the fact that it's temporary. What do you think of the intent? Do you disagree? Have you seen or participated in any of the recent (past two or three months) of political threads on HN? Do you have showdead on so you can see what's being posted and flagged? Do you think it's okay? If you don't agree with the intent or think there is an issue, that would put your comment in one context. If you agree it's an issue and disagree with the political detox week, then that's another. Would you elaborate on your comment?


> Yes, political discussion can gratify intellectual curiosity. Empirically it hasn't worked out very well on HN.

I disagree. It's worked out smashingly well on HN (judgingnit context of 25 or so years of engagement in online fora of various types); the appearance that it has not is due to unrealistic standards, and radical reconfigurations to deal with the supposed failures are likely to lead to more harm to HNs goal of providing a forum for gratifying intellectual curiosity than benefit.


I always appreciate your comments, and the ones I've seen in this thread have been an interesting take on the question. Just one point though: there's no radical reconfiguration here. Undoubtedly it would be if we were going to make it permanent, but when we said "for one week" we really meant for one week. IMO HN's community system has orders of magnitude more hysteresis than would be radically affected by a one-week change, though I guess I could be wrong about that.


Speaking of reconfiguration, why not buff the controversy penalty instead of outright banning political discussion?

Couldn't you also enable an enhanced slow mode on threads that seem political in nature? Maybe something like the "hate tax" system proposed here[1].

I feel as though political topics tend to generate a knee-jerk response in people, especially when they are in an...shall we say, altered state of mind. The more controversial a topic is, the slower the pace of discussion should be IMHO. Exponentially so.

[1] https://zedshaw.com/archive/ragel-state-charts/


> Undoubtedly it would be if we were going to make it permanent, but when we said "for one week" we really meant for one week.

If you had no intent to push this for longer, why even try it in the first place? What if I, and everyone else in this thread, is wrong and this turns out to be a magnificent idea and makes the site a better for everyone.

Now since this is so amazing, why not make it perminent?

The cynical in me is also asking, who gets to judge if this is a success or a failure? The community? The vocal portion of the community? The YC staff? You?

I trust none of those groups with as important of a disition as this nor do I want a precident set on any social media platform I use that a specific topic can be completely banned from discussion.


> why even try it in the first place?

For the reasons I gave: (1) taking a one-week breather from the kind of stories that erupt into flamewars seemed like a good way to remind us all of the values of this site (intellectual curiosity and civil discussion), and (2) we hoped we'd learn some things. As indeed we have.


> the kind of stories that erupt into flamewars

Should we also ban discussion on Javascript frameworks? How about we ban all discussion on the founder of Soylent? Those threads tend to lay on the side of ideological bullying.

> seemed like a good way to remind us all of the values of this site (intellectual curiosity and civil discussion)

No sufficiently intelligent group would avoid the biological imperatives that set in motion the basis for political events or discussion.

> we hoped we'd learn some things. As indeed we have

Comeing from a company as YC this is very scary. I'm glad that it has become evident that this, at least currently, won't fly with a large portion of the community. In the future I see the "innocently" minded as being the playthings of you and your friends at YC.


How do you think this is going to affect you and how you comment on HN?

Searching[0] comments for user:gravypod and stem word fragments like divers, sexi, raci, or discr return 0 hits. Searching for other hot button[1] words like abortion, jew, islam, muslim, gun, SJW, leftist, clinton, hillary, trump, right, women, Israel, iraq, vote etc etc return 0[2] hits.

What political discussions are you having on HN that you won't still be able to have? Can you link to a comment you've made that you think you won't be able to make during this experiment?

[0] It's possible that I'm using the Algolia search wrong, but I can return other comments by gravypod.

[1] I'm not saying these are always bad comments! But if I'm looking for the political comments that dang is talking about these searches should return them.

[2] Some hits, but nothing relevant, for vote and right.


Speaking against bad ideas isn't something I do only for my own benifit and I surely hope others feel this way.

By the way, I use firearm to avoid negative connotation with gun.


> Empirically it hasn't worked out very well on HN

I disagree completely with this. This is I'd say the one place online where people will actually try to provide a rebuttle to your statements. This is the perfect platform for debate on political subjects, adhominems are not taken lightly here and everyone seems able to keep a reasoned mind on what's being said.

>To me, your comment completely ignores the paragraphs written by dang in the submission, both the content, and the fact that it's temporary

dang's comments and posts are, as usual to me, completely indefensable and naive. To think that a site filled with well rounded people should the off limits to discussing politics? That's insane.

And on another note: it being temporary is not the issue. The issue is the idea behind the action. If we had "Temporary Slavery Week", or "Temporary Nazi/KKK Week", "Temporary Japanese Internment Week", or even "Temporary Ignore Reality Week" I would ABSOLUTLY not support these. So why should I, or anyone for that matter, support an idea or experiment devoid of any valid rationalization that would explain it's existance.

The only reasons I see to avoid political discussions are 1) You feel your community is too stupid to carry out this discussion, 2) You are afraid your ideas will be attacked and you won't be able to self-examin them, 3) You're too lazy to moderate your site, so to make it easier you're going to stop a hole class of discussion (that in my opinion is the most important form of discussion in a governed society) just to cut a bit of work off your plate.

All of these are positions I cannot agree with and SURELY I hope no one would expect a little bit of a vacancy of thought on topics of limited application. These are the times when thought is most critical. Wether it comes from banning politics for a week to court rulings who's only base to stand on is it's blatent "for the children" mentality.

> What do you think of the intent?

It's either intense laziness, malice, or ignorance (on a meta note, I intend for the "intense" modifier to apply to all these of these). None of these are good in my book.

> Do you disagree?

It seems like most people think that just because it's temporary it means it's ok. That's insanse. I absolutly do not agree.

> Have you seen or participated in any of the recent (past two or three months) of political threads on HN?

I regularly participate in political discussions about property rights, firearms laws, and in general scientific statistics that will provide political sway. I love these discussions as they often have to most complex and well rooted arguments from all sides of the spectrums.

> Do you have showdead on so you can see what's being posted and flagged?

I consider those who don't have this enabled to be burrying their heads in the sand. I've also got a custom CSS sheet on that removes the downvote-fade.

> Do you think it's okay?

What's ok? Do I think being coddled by admins saying "it's ok, I'll make the bad bad wrong-thinkers go away"? Not at all.

Do I think it's ok that people post their own opinions and others judge them? Of course. That's how discussion works.

> If you don't agree with the intent or think there is an issue, that would put your comment in one context. If you agree it's an issue and disagree with the political detox week, then that's another.

I haven't seen a problem but I do feel that there is likely one although this is all conjecture on my part. Find me a sample size of 30 comments that have been demonstrably downvoted because of opinion then I'll agree with you that it is an issue. Otherwise it is just speculation without data which is useless.

I ofcourse also have an issue with a detox week. That can just be called "Horse Blinders Week".


> I've also got a custom CSS sheet on that removes the downvote-fade.

Could you share it?

(btw, favorited, thanks!)


[flagged]


Except the topic need not be so toxic - Why does Ben Shapiro have such a hard time speaking on campus?


> people who are anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant, anti-feminist, anti-trans (etc.) - and for people who are Muslim, immigrant, women, trans and non-binary people (etc)

Those are beliefs vs identity, a particularly tricky subject. The problem is when, I for example, don't see it that way; I see many of those "identities" to be beliefs also, beliefs about self.

As an example, to a Creationist, arguments about evolution are about identity - there are few boundaries to which subjects people involve their own self-worth/identity. A similar argument arises wrt trans people and the various proposed categories that have arisen - simply saying "this is who we are" is not enough, since exactly that is what is debated.

That said, I suspect you mean "you can't welcome both women, and people who hold anti-woman beliefs". But the labeling of any belief is itself a belief. Some of those idea you call "anti-women" can both be considered not anti-woman and be held by women e.g. not all feminist believe sexual content to be harmful to women, or the idea to be productive.


Thanks for the reply. I agree that identity intersects with beliefs -- and more generally worldview, including epistemology, ontology, etc. And yes, there are certainly some areas where there are debates about whether particular behavior is or isn't anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant, anti-feminist, or anti-trans. As you say, these things are tricky.

Still, the points I was making ''aren't'' tricky.

- For the dimensions that I listed (and implied with the "etc"), in today's environment, HN is kidding themselves by thinking they can welcome "both sides"

- the feedback they're getting is from people (including me) who see YC and 'dang personally as aligning themselves with the antis by blocking political discussion

> That said, I suspect you mean "you can't welcome both women, and people who hold anti-woman beliefs".

No, I meant very specifically that in today's context HN - and by extension YC - can't simultaneously be welcoming to anti-feminists - and welcoming to women and allies.


by 'anti' you mean "anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant, anti-feminist, or anti-trans"? How does the political ban align with this?

> can't simultaneously be welcoming to anti-feminists - and welcoming to women and allies.

ally is a feminist term, but why can't women be anti-feminist? Are you describing this to be the case, or prescribing it?


I'm describing, not prescribing (and I'm specifically talking about HN and YC, not making general claims).

Yes, women can be anti-feminist. As you said, these are tricky issues.

If you haven't yet understood why many people see the political ban as aligning with this, then either you haven't tried very hard or your belief system is preventing you from understanding. There's plenty of information here and in other discussions, so give it another try.


> haven't tried very hard or your belief system is preventing you from understanding

why won't you say explicitly? Is there some nuance that cannot be stated?


It's not nuanced at all, it's quite clear. And I was very explicit about why I don't see it as a good use of my time or energy to try to explain it to you.

If this is something you really want to understand (whether or not you agree), invest the effort (which may also mean finding a way to get beyond any limits your belief system is leading to).

If you do that, you don't need any further explanation from me.

If you don't do that, nothing I say will help you understand.


And can you not see that:

> I don't see it as a good use of my time or energy to try to explain it to you

Is pretty arrogant, you have such high esteem for your perspective you don't think it could be wrong, in fact I'm biased for not understanding it;

You're suggesting, instead, that I must have to go on some mysterious journey-of-self, as if you were a wise zen master furnishing me with enlightenment; rather than supporting your own, somewhat basic, claim that "the ban supports the antis"...


It's interesting to see how you interpret my words. Thanks for the discussion.


> Thanks for the discussion.

Maybe it's my biases, but that seems pretty passive-aggressive.


Earlier:

> Thanks for the reply.

Also passive-aggressive?


Probably not, at that point it wasn't clear that the statement was unlikely to be true.


[flagged]


Things can always get worse.


FWIW I think the moratorium is the right call, and I would analogize it to a temporary ceasefire. Sometimes the right thing to do in a chaotic situation is to shout "Stop!" and gain better objectivity during the reprieve.


Always looking on the bright side.


> people project this into us because I can't say how I really feel about it without breaking our own rules.

Perhaps people aren't projecting so much as seeing your rules as a reflection of your beliefs, which you now say they are not.


If you stood up in the middle of a geology lecture and tried to start an argument about Roe v. Wade, you'd rightfully be thrown out of the room. We're all affected by politics, but that doesn't mean that political discussion is necessary, useful or welcome in every context.

This is Hacker News. It's not the front page of Reddit, it's a niche site with a clear remit. I'm absolutely fine with any general political discussion being permanently flagged as off topic. If people want to discuss something like internet censorship or science funding, I think this may be an appropriate venue. Discussions about the technology of politics like econometrics, polling error or voting machine design may also be relevant. Beyond that, the internet has no shortage of places to discuss politics; many of them have a vastly higher calibre of political discourse than HN.


> many [other places on the internet] have a vastly higher calibre of political discourse than HN.

Can you (or anyone) point us to these? Not being sarcastic, but also somewhat skeptical - I've never encountered another public forum of HN's overall quality.

I think the metaphor about the geology lecture is misleading - HN isn't a lecture hall, it's an exhibition hall, and if the only criteria for something being an exhibit is a capacity to intellectually stimulate, then I don't see why political discussion should be precluded.


> If you stood up in the middle of a geology lecture and tried to start an argument about Roe v. Wade

This is a false premise. I've spent my week at a large scientific conference.

We have continually had panels re: our role and responsibility as scientists in the current political environment. Talks on hard technical issues have often included comments alluding to these roles and responsibilities.

Technologists are so deeply involved in the way that modern society perceives the world outside their immediate community that it's absurd to believe they can be apolitical.

Technologists need to discuss their roles and responsibilities as well.

So no -- you would not be thrown out of a room for bringing up politics in a Geology lecture.

HN isn't a Geology lecture at all. It's more like a quad at an engineering school. We're here because we're curious, we like to build things, we want to help create a better world. We cannot do that while insulating ourselves from the reality of our world's most powerful organizations and their leaders.


> If you stood up in the middle of a geology lecture and tried to start an argument about Roe v. Wade, you'd rightfully be thrown out of the room.

How about a meta-discussion concerning tactics for countering young-Earth creationism claims?




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