This was the story: https://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2017/05/y-combinator-head-who-pushes-basic-income-is-reportedly-running-for-office/
Edit: ok, here you go:
https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=14342198 was flagged as a dupe because it points to https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=14337507, which at 109 points and 41 comments clearly passes the 'significant attention' test for duplicates (https://news.ycombinator.com/newsfaq.html). Did that story belong on HN in the first place? Yes and no. On the one hand it's sensational and super close to home. On the other, it's far from substantive. All that happened is a gossip column published one side of a conversation and then the click-starved trade sites farmed it out in their usual fashion. If there's an 'interesting phenomenon' in HN's sense here, I'd say it's that Willie Brown became an old-school, Herb-Caen-style society columnist after his incredibly long political career. I had no idea.
A couple more points about standard HN practice. First, when a story hasn't happened yet, there's usually little value in discussing it. Most stories that haven't happened, never do happen. We call this category "announcement of an announcement" and have learned over the years that it is the low-hanging fruit of offtopicness. Some recent comments on this: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=14311910 and https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=14314105. For HN purposes, there's no harm in waiting for the actual thing to occur. Patience is a virtue i.e. a strength.
Second, when stories about YC are involved, we moderate HN less, not more. That's literally the first principle of HN moderation: https://hn.algolia.com/?query=by:dang%20moderate%20less%20no.... This case is a funny one though. What does 'moderating less' mean? If we mark a submission about this as a dupe or penalize it as fluff, some say we're moderating HN to suppress an unwanted story. But suppose it spent the day on HN's front page instead—then others would say we were moderating HN to stealth-promote a political career. That's a classic Bateson double bind: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Double_bind.
> Users flagged it. That's nearly always the explanation.
> something foul
I wouldn't be so confident.
The article doesn't have a lot of information, the article was posted before, and there's not a lot to discuss except maybe local Silicon Valley politics. It comes across as a "tame rumor" piece rather than an announcement of something factual.
It doesn't seem like foul play, or that anything is being censored. It just doesn't seem super noteworthy.
I do think politics has some place on HN. Some of my favorite threads last year were after Brexit and the U.S. presidential election results, and I was disappointed to see that two of my recent submissions about the middle east were flagged as soon as they began to gain traction.
"Off-Topic: Most stories about politics, or crime, or sports, unless they're evidence of some interesting new phenomenon. Videos of pratfalls or disasters, or cute animal pictures. If they'd cover it on TV news, it's probably off-topic."
This allows them a lot of leeway to take stuff down.
This site exists to gratify intellectual curiosity (i.e. curiosity about how the world works), not the other, more highly stimulating forms of curiosity.
Why flag though? Is it because parent threads don't have downvotes so people opt to flagging?
Politics and rumors aside, I'm confused by why people flag something that they just don't care to read, instead of going onto the next story. If a post makes the front page, it's probably a good case that it's a subject people want to talk about. By flagging it because you don't care for it, makes no sense to me.
It's because the front page space is so limited. Each story there takes a place that could go to many other interesting things.
I don't know how many flags it takes for it to be taken down but if it makes it to the front page, does the number of upvotes change how many flags it takes?
Of course people use upvotes to signal 'like' all the time. That's inevitable, and one reason why both flags and moderation are necessary as counterweights.
Brilliantly, this also got posted by the twitterbot before it was flagged https://twitter.com/newsycombinator/status/86414915600433561...
Your use of the definite article compels me to point out that that isn't official at all. Plenty of people do third-party things with HN stuff. We mostly don't mind and we also mostly don't know.
The (non-)controversy here boils down to (a) users disagree about what belongs on HN, and (b) not every user sees every thread. Those are structural issues in the sense that they follow inevitably from the structure of the site.
That dates from the Snowden storm of 2013, when the HN front page was dominated by copycat articles that added nothing new, just pointed to other stories which had already been discussed. Many users disliked that and we realized they were right and came up with the 'significant new information' test in response. It works surprisingly well.