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Ask HN: Favorite HN comment(s)
197 points by _6cj7 on May 22, 2017 | hide | past | favorite | 89 comments
There are bunch of informative/interesting comments on HN. Throwing here just few of them:



Which HN comment(s) are among your favorite ones? Which ones have created value for you?

This is actually a feature of HN (but a well-hidden one). My favorite comments here:


Wow, your list of favorite comments is every bit as wonderful as your list of comments. No wonder yours was the first name here on HN I learned to look for to learn from (with dang's being the second)

Ah, I remember this Fedex comment: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=9282104 ++

Oh wow, didn't notice until now know they added this. Looking at my locally saved single comments the feature was added somewhere mid-2016. Though thinking back I rarely visited HN in that period between then and now which may explain why I'd missed it.

wow, I did not know this. Thanks, I am bookmarking this one.

I don't think really meant to be hidden. You can go to anyone's profile, click on favorites->comments

Since our mental wellbeing plays a huge role in how we use our knowledge and skills, one of my favorite HN comments (which is actually a quote from another source):

"Human life the Stoics appear to have considered as a game of great skill; in which, however, there was a mixture of chance [...] In such games the stake is commonly a trifle, and the whole pleasure of the game arises from playing well, from playing fairly, and playing skilfully. If notwithstanding all his skill, however, the good player should, by the influence of chance, happen to lose, the loss ought to be a matter, rather of merriment, than of serious sorrow. He has made no false stroke; he has done nothing which he ought to be ashamed of; he has enjoyed completely the whole pleasure of the game. [...]

Our only anxious concern ought to be, not about the stake, but about the proper method of playing. If we placed our happiness in winning the stake, we placed it in what depended upon causes beyond our power, and out of our direction. We necessarily exposed ourselves to perpetual fear and uneasiness, and frequently to grievous and mortifying disappointments. If we placed it in playing well, in playing fairly, in playing wisely and skilfully; in the propriety of our own conduct in short; we placed it in what, by proper discipline, education, and attention, might be altogether in our own power, and under our own direction. Our happiness was perfectly secure, and beyond the reach of fortune."


"JavaScript Delenda Est", by zeveb: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=11447851

Excerpt: JavaScript is the XML, the Yugo, the Therac-25 of programming languages. The sheer amount of human effort which has been expended working around its fundamental flaws instead of advancing the development of mankind is astounding. The fact that people would take this paragon of wasted opportunity and use it on the server side, where there are so many better alternatives (to a first approximation, every other programming language ever used), is utterly appalling.

Js is clearly very popular. What are these fundamental flaws that js has that this comment mentions? I don't understand why it would be the "paragon of wasted opportunity".

let's see... Lack of a real integer type ?

The fact that {} + [], [] + [], [] + {} are all valid and all give different results ? [1]

The fact that it has some silent error conditions like NaN ?

The fact that, in v8 (which is the most common js engine out there), if you add a comment to a function, it can suddenly start performing poorly ?[0]

I love JS, I really do. Hell, I write nodejs for a living ! I find prototypical inheritance to be an awesome idea. The simplicity, and extensibility of the language is something that I really like from it. But I can see where people hating it are coming from. I wish lua had been used instead of JS.

[0]: https://top.fse.guru/nodejs-a-quick-optimization-advice-7353...

[1]: https://www.destroyallsoftware.com/talks/wat

Most of the issues you listed with the language itself are fixed by using either Flow or TypeScript. As for that V8 issue, it's not ideal, but how about just putting comments of that size outside of the function, or not overcommenting functions small enough to be inlined.

I know a lot of people view using so much tooling as a con of the language, but if you use Babel + Eslint + Flow/Typescript, JavaScript becomes a lot nicer and safer to program in. For small to mid-sized projects, I think JavaScript is pretty great.

> Most of the issues you listed with the language itself are fixed by using either Flow or TypeScript.

Hence the initial comment about putting effort into fixing something fundamentally broken.

Ah true. I guess what I was really getting at was that even though JavaScript has some fundamental missteps, it's not beyond being fixed and definitely not the worst language in existence i.e. that behind the quirks, is a quite nice and powerful language that isn't a waste of effort.

NaN stuff works according to the IEEE 754 spec.

Popularity has next to nothing to do with how good something is.

It sucks that all of this is valid, but it's mostly avoidable. Eslint + Flow/TypeScript will catch most of these quirks for you.

Also lets not pretend that having a bunch of quirks like these is exclusive to JS. I'd say there are equally as many ways to shoot yourself in the foot in many other languages. For example, for C++, which isn't necessarily beloved but people don't want to "eradicate" like OP's comment states about JS, you can have an entire talk[0] on the quirks of type deduction.

I think where JavaScript earns its bad reputation isn't necessarily its quirks, but its quirks in combination with a low barrier to entry, lots of beginners, a large community, being a multi-paradigm language, and the fact that most people writing it were forced to write it because it's the language of the web not because they wanted to. All that in combination results in a lot of bad code...but if you take the time to learn it and use a bunch of tooling (which isn't ideal), it's actually quite nice.

[0]: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wQxj20X-tIU

My opinion towards JavaScript is much like Cato's towards Carthage: it must be rooted out, eliminated and destroyed entirely. I don't know if I'd go quite so far as to say that the fundamental challenge of mass computing is the final destruction of JavaScript — but I want to say it, even though it's false.


I actually really enjoy node.js and the ecosystem + community surrounding JavaScript. There's seriously a lot of passion and work going in to it.

JavaScript itself though? Horrible. I hate it.

I'm a student trying to learn server side programming, I've started with node js. There seems to be a whole lot of modules to help with anything and with ES6 js doesn't seem so bad, and very fast (to write) as well compared to C++ that I've attempted. What are these better languages, what should one learn now for server-side when starting out?

Keep a sticky note next to your desk and, while you're learning, make a mark every time the answer to "Why does it do that?" or "How do I do this?" has a seemingly random or counterintuitive answer.

In a year, that's the tally of how terrible or great a language is.

Bad languages don't just make bad choices, they make bad choices and then make different choices for other, similar questions that should be related.

Python, in particular flask: http://flask.pocoo.org/

It's fine, it really is. Just stick to what you are being productive with and enjoy actually building something useful.

When I was a kid, a neighbor friend of my sister's came over to our house and very arrogantly announced "I live next door to a Nobel Prize winner." We all made polite comments. After she left, my mom turned to us and said "I so wanted to tell her 'my dear, I sleep with one.'

Yes, it was probably the only block in the world with two Nobel Prize winners living on it.

who was your mom referring to, if I may ask?

My dad (the other Nobel Prize winner on the block)

Not only that. But that same thread goes into his idea being the same as Dropbox, both being startup ideas at the time. Seems the latter won that comeback though.

Well, Tarsnap[0] also exists, although granted Dropbox is more popular so I guess won in that sense. I think they have a slightly different target audience anyway.

[0]: https://www.tarsnap.com/

Not only that, but Drew Houston waded in. History 3,596 days later.

You've now reminded me of my most-upvoted HN comment to date: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=11417168

I remember a couple of techies sitting around, watching the thread, and the guy pissed us off to the point where I just couldn't keep my mouth shut.

How did I guess this was going to show up again?

Because everyone wants to get the opportunity for that one "why yes, I..." comeback and it is a joy to see it.

You do the math.

Speaking of math, despite being easily my most famous comment, it's nowhere near being my most upvoted comment.

Which is the most upvoted?

That's a classic. The second reply as well.

There's a whole series of (long) comments by arcfide [0] about APL, and code in general, in the "Smaller Code, Better Code" thread [1] that I thought were great.

In particular this one [2].

"I'm pushing the other direction. If you can see your entire compiler at one go on a standard computer screen, what sort of possibilities does that open up? You can start thinking at the macro level, and simply avoid a whole host of problems because they are obviously wrong at that level. When you aren't afraid to delete you entire compiler and start from scratch? What sort of possibilities does that open up to you?"

[0] https://news.ycombinator.com/user?id=arcfide

[1] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=13565743

[2] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=13571160


anamax 3190 days ago | on: So, you're gonna code the whole thing, do the serv...

If they don't have the money to pay you, you're not an employee, you're a founder and you get the same deal that they get.

If they balk, suggest that they find another code monkey while you find another biz monkey and let the market decide who ends up with the bananas.

Here's an old spreadsheet I have of the Top HN Comments (by point score) for each month until October 2014: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1ZwonVX_KlDYhuhPnAAnV...

Loved cubano's explanation of how Snapchat would be the end of him sharing networks with his young daughter: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=11076284

User Steuard explains why EmDrive doesn't work and responds to an ad-hominem attack



Sorry to point out that Steuard comments are as valid as me stating that because I don't understand how to calculate the integral, there can be no way anyone else can . Just because some people don't know how to do something doesn't mean its not possible.

> because I don't understand how to calculate the integral, there can be no way anyone else can > Just because some people don't know how to do something doesn't mean its not possible.

While this is a wrong place to continue this, I still think that I must answer this.

This analogy is incorrect. Let me rephrase your statement about the integral: "I'm incapable of calculating the integral therefore it cannot be calculated"

It's not a question of human capabilities. The problem with EmDrive is not that we say that humans are incapable of inventing a reactionless drive.

The problem is that all working physics theories embed conservation of momentum, and reactionless drives contradict conservation of momentum. This is equivalent to saying "here's a proof this integral cannot be calculated in all useful mathematical formalisms". Please note that there are no "proofs" in physics, and I'm only using this as an analogy.

Of course you could define a formalism that makes it possible to calculate the integral, which EmDrive proponents don't do.

I would be glad to be proven wrong. If there was a rigorous experiment that invalidates all modern physical theories, I would change my mind really fast, so would the majority of scientists. However, EmDrive proponents produce no rigorous experiments. The analogy would be saying "oh those silly mathematicians saying I couldn't calculate this integral, here's my calculation!" while having many errors in your calculations.

> By the way we saw the same thing in algo trading, were a cabal of finance professors argued for more than 10years that the EMH theory holds and algo trading is a hoax. Just saying..

Again, this analogy is incorrect, because you won't find an adequate physicist that disputes conservation of momentum. And EMH was/is disputed.

I agree that it might be a false assumption emdrive works. But I don't think you should state that the standard model is evidence of that emdrive cannot work. Again I agree with conservation of momentum, but what if your assumption is wrong? What if emdrive don't violate it? My point is, rather focus your energy on building your own version than throwing out statements which also have no proof.

> But I don't think you should state that the standard model is evidence of that emdrive cannot work

I specifically said that reactionless drives contradict conservation of momentum. This is a direct result of all useful physical theories.

> what if your assumption is wrong? What if emdrive don't violate it?

Believe it or not, but I've answered this question before. If EmDrive doesn't violate conservation of momentum, then according to standard model it cannot produce more thrust than a photon drive, which makes EmDrive utterly useless.

> My point is, rather focus your energy on building your own version [...]

My own version: EmDrive inventor is a crackpot, which can be deduced from papers he writes and statements he makes. I'm not obliged to explain every single crackpot claim. The burden of proof is on the side making extraordinary claims.

> [...] than throwing out statements which also have no proof

Please quote specific statements rather than making broad accusation of baseless speech.

I'm tired of dissecting every single one of your sentences.

By the way we saw the same thing in algo trading, were a cabal of finance professors argued for more than 10years that the EMH theory holds and algo trading is a hoax. Just saying..

Steuard deserves a medal for that thread. (Or a beer, coffee or cookie. Whichever he likes.)

This one, about doing 40 million req/s in Lua on a single box, still blows my mind. https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=7180672

This one about furniture and why there's no okay quality furniture: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=13743311

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=4759660 edw519's response to "I am a terrible programmer"


This one from 'How To Die With No Regrets'

Dan Luu has a good list of HN comments: https://danluu.com/hn-comments/

The HN comment - "comeback of all time".


The thing I liked about the thread is also has Drew Houston from Dropbox talking about his then startup idea.


About the "free choice" when you sign some Terms of Service: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=12958035

Why backdoors are bad: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=12751461

burntsushi's performance analysis of string parsing in Rust vs. Go: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=13268051

I learned quite a few things about both Rust and Go!

Related, I am learning to code and in the process I built this simple website that randomly shows the most upvoted HN comments:


HN comment scores are not public, so I am unsure how you find the "most upvoted comments"

Algolia's API show votes for older comments (not sure how old is the line when it stops showing).

Edit: naturally, there is a strong bias for older comments in the list.

Code I use:

		  $(document).ready(function() {
  var lasthours = "";
    $("#refresh").on("click", function() {
      var html = "";
      var url = "https://hn.algolia.com/api/v1/search?tags=comment&numericFilters=points>120&page=";
      var page = Math.floor(Math.random() * (20)) + 1;
      url += page.toString();
      var position = 0;
      position = Math.floor(Math.random() * 20);
    $.getJSON(url, function(json) {
        var hits = json.hits;
        var html = "<p>"+hits[position].comment_text+"</p><p>Story: <a  target='_blank'  href='"+hits[position].story_url+"'>"+hits[position].story_title+"</a><br><a  target='_blank'  href='https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id="+hits[position].story_id+"'>comment by "+hits[position].author+"</a></p>";

The Algolia API cutoff for comment scores is October 2014. (which I know because it was cut off after I made a blog post on the subject: http://minimaxir.com/2014/10/hn-comments-about-comments/)

There have been quite a few good comments since then.

It is worse to make an incredibly biased list than no list at all.

It is just a learning project. Feel free to not access it and downvote my comment advertising it if you think it is dangerous.

My comment was not a criticism, but a warning. It is very important to note where the data is coming from and any associated caveats which may influence the results.

Been using HN regularly for about two years now, and have just figured out two of the features from this topic: /bestcomments and /favorites?id=<USERNAME>.

You might want to check out "Lists" link at the bottom of the page; there's a bunch of things there.

top of every story probably

That is a very bad metric because comment rankings are a function of score and time.

How do you fetch comment scores?

Ask HN: What do you use Machine Learning for? - https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=14358120

This one will always be my favourite: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=7932261

I love that. Sometimes the lack of whimsy on HN wrecks my head.

Nice idea. I actually save the gems I find here. So in no particular order, wisdom from the archives -

enobrev 673 days ago on 'The self-hating web developer':

> I've always been a fan of collecting money for solving problems and letting others worry about whether what I'm doing qualifies as "real" programming. Knowing how to listen to potential clients has gotten me a lot further than worrying whether PHP is a real programming language.

- - -

kingsidharth 2356 days ago on 'Evernote makes $800,000 per Month':

> This is the biggest mistake most of the people make. If it worked that way, every weekend app released here would be making tons of money. (We have better apps here as weekend projects than out there in market).But this is NOT app v/s app game. This is business v/s app. And you can't take down a business with an app. You need to create a business.

- - -

knob 1217 days ago on Your best passive income? (2014):

ozh: > "Do some freelancing during office hours & double the income."

viach: > This would not be passive.

knob: > You have to think bigger man. Outsource the outsourcement... Interact with top-level outsourcer once per week... he interacts with low-level outsourcer daily. Profit.

- - -

mcphage 653 days ago on Japanese mini Segway “WalkCar”:

> "Can you remember the Segway?"

> Yeah.

> "And how we all thought of it as the new way of human transportation?"

> No, I don't remember that bit.

- - -

cableshaft 619 days ago on '‘Give Away Your Legos’ and Other Commandments for Scaling Startups':

pbreit: > I dunno, hopping on board the rocket ship still seems a lot easier than building the rocket ship.

cableshaft: > But building the rocket ship is more fun. Especially if you know it's going to explode midair once it's launched and you don't have to be in it when it does.

- - -

graycat 760 days ago on First Round Capital Open Application for Startups:

> Can a solo founder of an IT startup hope to be successful without equity funding? Should be: All across the US, cross roads to the largest cities, solo founders do well mowing grass, selling pizza or hamburgers, pumping gas, paving driveways, ..., big-truck, little-truck distribution businesses, etc. without equity funding. IT should be an advantage.

- - -

puranjay 838 days ago on 'Why Learning to Code Is So Damn Hard':

> I have the same issue (find the time). I've set aside 10pm-2am every weekday to learn how to code, plus entire Saturdays and Sunday mornings. I can, at most, manage 20-25 hours, usually when I'm already bogged down. I've been toying with the idea of quitting everything and going all-in for 3-6 months. Would that be 100% retarded or just about 70% retarded? I can live with 70%.

- - -

And my favorite:

blake8086 1962 days ago on 'How Trello is different':

spolsky: > We wouldn't provide that kind of support, nor would be it be expected, for a free and easy-to-use product.

blake8086: > I think you deeply underestimate the sense of entitlement people get about products they enter lots of text into.

I really love this comment on finding a job at a startup by patio11: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=11118880

So much so that the comment and surrounding discussion is much more valuable than the actual article it's on! Has helped me and many people I know interview at phenomenal companies.


This one for me, it's so apt for HN.

Edit. I'm laughing, didn't take long for the down vote!

Come on guys, take a joke will ya!

How did you do it? Put some text in first get the id and edit the comment to retroactively add the link to itself?

Yup, that's the easiest way.

This one about base cases in recursion is good too: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=14396104.

Thanks, now I have better understanding of recursion.

You made my stack overflow!

you got me


From user smacktoward:


> For all the intellectual firepower of people in the tech community, there is a curious strain of anti-intellectualism that comes forth in projects like this; an eagerness to discount the expertise of people who have studied a subject for their entire lives, just because they weren't CS majors. It's like trying to send a man to the moon without working with any aerospace engineers. I honestly do not understand it.

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