Once again the top story is an embarrassment to News.YC. And unfortunately it is mostly the recently arrived users who voted it up. Maybe it's inevitable that I'll have to turn on some form of vote weighting.
Sure the (original) article does not deserve to make it to the top of HN, so why is it up there? Is it being up-voted because of the content of the article, or the content of the discussion, or because commenters have posted in a popular article and want their comment seen/possibly up-modded?
The last case is obviously the least desirable, but what about the other two? What should the community be voting on?
I've temporarily replaced the rant with my more complete and restrained thoughts on the subject.
For example, you could add a penalty for negative-rated comments. A trashy article is more likely to cause the sort of argument that gets comments downrated.
Or you could try to classify the comment contents and organization to get a sense of how "argumentative" vs "quality" they are. Bayesian if you want. You could use article contents, too, if you had a scraper.
Either way the ranking algorithm will have to get more complicated as time goes on. Logically you should have more information with more users, so the quality of articles should actually get better. The problem with vote weighting is that by downweighting votes you are discarding this extra information rather than using it more cleverly.
Are the recently arrived users simply voting up articles yet not adding any comments of their own to explain why they've voted up?
How about this?
If a person votes up an article (which costs a point), a contributing comment by the same person can start out at 2 points instead of 1. You're basically paying back the point taken to vote up an article.
This would give more incentive for users to voice their opinion instead of simply voting up (without commenting) as well as now giving others a chance to agree/disagree. If their comments don't really add any value, they'll receive bad karma as normal.
You can also show a flag next to the user id to show whether they voted for this article or not.
What about users who vote up a story so that it is stored in their history? I do it often, i like a story but don't think i have much to add to the conversation, but still want to keep it.
There should also be some way to eliminate the votes of individuals whom you have personally black-listed .
Thus, you could toggle between the public view of the main news page with all votes counted versus the personalized view which takes your preferences into account.
Or you could allow votes from only those you have personally white-listed.
Requiring a small karma minimum before allowing users to vote on posts & comments, or submit new posts could work well. This way new users can only influence the community by engaging with it, which would filter out votes from casual users and trolls, while also giving new users a chance to grasp the community norms though participation.
Other approaches like vote-weighting and down-voting ignore the root of the problem, which is dilution of the community and its norms.
So, maybe comments's karma should be kept as a different record. And there should be comments weighting too, because we wouldn't want new users to game the system with each other and thus game again the weighting system for the story order.
"Quality" could be expressed as "experience" because obviously people adapted in the climate of YC.news who behave the expected way, as you say you expect to happen and thus the problem correct it self. But expecting the situation to correct it self may not be the right way.
Expected way though shouldn't be mean is the correct way, because the community would remain closed instead of being open.
So, because of the problems that arise with a weighting system making it probably not democratic, the most correct way for weighting would be to happen in manual down voting, which should appear only for "experienced users".
Weighting should happen there, so for example if you have 1 experienced user up voting and another one down voting, their vote is eliminated, which positive/negative difference could be used in two ways:
1. added in the current points of the story
2. or a non-linear scale be used that would determine the quality of the story.
what do you think?
Regardless of his feelings on solutions and causes, it's not like an Internet rant is going to change post-industrial work relations in developed countries. Certainly the people at fault will never read it.
The elided part is probably the most interesting. Don't let CagedLionGate turn you into a self-censor, pg.
While I don't disagree with the point of the post I think that many hackers should step back and look at how many great marketing people, CEO's etc. they know. The actual programming part is only a small part of starting a company, but many hackers seem to think it is all they need because hacking something together happens to be the first step to creating a great company.
The key insight is that no great company was made by only one guy. It takes both great hackers, great marketing people, great CEO's and great sales people. Hell, maybe you even need a great janitor...
So start showing some respect for each other instead of haggling over who needs who.
The needs of your startup will vary based on your business model. Smart, motivated people have a way of being useful, regardless of their education.
Marketing is the social component of design, and you need brilliant marketing before you can create that brilliant product.
a lot of products did not identify their use before hand, or their real use was discovered accidentally after they were made.
post it notes - started as a failed adhesive. a coworker found that it worked well using it with paper and a gospel hymn book
snood - (a very popular puzzle bobble variant) the programmer made it because he was bored in grad school
linux - started as a hobby by a bored phd candidate
silly putty - a failed rubber substitute designed for WWII use
the list goes on...
That stupid bridge, that I wrote because I needed it one day, is now in regular use in three different companies (mine plus two parteners). I get support emails for it to add features or fix bugs about once a month.
If you find it useful, chances are that others will find it useful too.
That said, I think that the Y-Combinator crowd should probably pay more attention to resolving non-programming needs. Most programming tasks already have good tools these days, because if a programmer sees a need, she can code it herself straight away, and programming tasks have lots of programmers identifying programming needs.
For example, I put together a stupid little app a few weeks ago that took a pdf document from Paris Town Hall that lists the addresses of all handcapped parking spaces in Paris. The app reads the list, sends the addresses to yahoo maps to get the long/lat, and then puts the results in a .gpx file for loading into gs devices. Yet another dumb app, but I've had more than 200 downloads of that .gpx file in only a couple of weeks. It's popular because there are apparently few programmers trying to solve problems in the handicapped problem space.
* adhesive gives rise to postit
* rubber alternative gives rise to silly putty
* pedagogic device gives rise to game, kernel
for some of the seed products their makers intended for them to have utility, but they didn't - that's why they were initial failures...
Of course, this doesn't work in a lot of situations. People who don't know how to write software need software too. To start a startup though, all you need is an idea that some people might think is ok. If it really is good, marketing and business will come later, after you've developed the product.
And no ROR has nothing to do with this - you could implement their site in Cobol if you wanted to and the average customer wouldn't know the difference.
You bootstrap with great products, not great marketing.
If a product is good and investors are convinced it has a market, they'll invest. Otherwise I'll need to move on to something more compelling. That's no reason not to try. Insisting on an identified market before starting on something would eradicate a whole lot of University research.
Because a great product is not the same thing as a great company. Investors don't invest in a good product, they invest in great people. Look at any VC or angel webpage and you'll see what I mean. Here is a quote from YC: "The people in your group are what matter most to us"
And btw. University research is for finding out how the world works, business is about making money. There is a big difference between the two.
How are they quantifying great people if they are new? School? GPA? Fraternity? What is this VC metric based upon?
How can you not judge a founder based upon the product of their efforts if it is not good?
That's all :-)
The business world is littered with great products with no markets. And, as dot bomb showed us, investors don't have a clue. My advice would be to arm yourself with market knowledge, and not rely on investors.
>Insisting on an identified market before starting on something would eradicate a whole lot of University research.
That's why a whole lot of University research gets grants from taxpayers - nobody is willing to fork over any dough for most of it.
Seriously, are you trolling?
Hackers should try and become better at selling themselves and knowing their worth. This, however, is an art - selling yourself well is a very subtle and hard thing to get right. Underdo it and you won't get results. Overdo it and you'll sound like a pretentious asshole.
The nature of programming work is not so far removed from what a corporate lawyer or financial analyst does. Yet programmers have a much different public image. I think it's fair to say programming attracts certain idiosyncratic personalities that affect the general perception of the work.
On the same theme as the grandparent post, don't undervalue the soft touch. There are people who bring to the table little more than that they're nice and likeable. I've seen such people in analyst roles responsible for retaining or creating substantial business.
For that matter, here's a link to the essay by Philip Greenspun: http://philip.greenspun.com/ancient-history/professionalism-....
From what I gathered from the article, you're misrepresenting him. His qualifications are much more about giving back to the community and actually giving a damn that it is about aesthetics. Perhaps I didn't find the essay you're referencing?
Finally, I don't think you're metaphor using the corporate lawyer or financial analyst is accurate. The corporate lawyer, especially, has far more public exposure than does a programmer, and maintains his image as much or more for the company's sake than his own.
Unfortunately I think this also has to do with the way Western culture views the foundation of programming (math, science, ...). Unlike in say Asia, math and science are looked down upon by main stream culture; since they are considered "nerdy". Maybe that's why we are on our way to producing a lot more lawyers than programmers and engineers (at least for our part of the world)...
If people care about what they are doing and come to work happy and ready they will produce much better work.
Over here in the UK I see a little more flexibility in hiring good people and (finding somewhere to put them|letting them work out what to do).
Like everything it has good and bad points, not the least of which is that you really only need so many people who can do everything.
Computers are, lets face it, logical things. How much programming skill do you _really_ need to build a prototype? The ability to logically think through a problem, the ability to decompose it into small enough chunks, and then to make those chunks work. Sure, it won't be pretty or elegant or scale if you suck at data structures and algorithms, but it doesn't _need_ to be pretty and elegant to get through the prototype stage. Heck some major sites are ugly, inelegant, and scale like a man climbing a wet glass wall.
Fortunately computers are viewed as 'super hard' (genuine quote) by the general population... for now. If that changes, by virtue of people being introduced to start-simple-get-complex coding (eg excel macros, flash) or easier creation tools being developed, geeks who bang out simple web apps could be much less competitive as startup founders.
That's not to say they won't be valued - someone will need to clean up the huge pile of steaming junk thrown out by Dreamweaver 6. And there will still be genuinely hard problems to solve... which is one reason why I'm basing my startup on a problem set that requires efficient graph coloring and traversal :)
Just about every month, some business student will come to me and say they've got some "amazing idea" and just need someone to do the work of implementing it.
Before I even hear their idea, I do a simple mental calculation.
First, I have to see their skills at least exceed mine in the same areas. For instance, I'm a competent but mediocre designer and marketer in addition to being a programmer. They better at least match that and have actually worked on (and finished!) some project that they started themselves.
The person needs to be as competent in their supposed field as I am in mine. The value that people who are good at selling and networking bring is incalculable, I'd kill for a co-founder that could bring that. But they have to be as crazy and devoted to it as I am towards my coding, or else it just can't work.
Maybe that's why I suck at finding people to work with. :(
Yours will work well enough, but I also like to test to see if anyone is actually determined enough to go through all this trouble and carry out their plan anyway. Serious entrepreneurs are very few in this part of the country...
If you have an idea, and can't programm you can:
1. Pay lots of money to hire programmers, or outsource your work, which needs money, i.e. capital.
2. Find good programmers to work for your company, that are willing to do it with little pay, or only equity.
If you have money, you can buy the programmers, but if you have no capital to start off, no matter how brilliant your idea is, it will go nowhere, and remain nothing more than a day dream.
See people value what they know, and for businness types they would like to think that "ideas" are worth more, and that programmers are just little disposable things that they can just hire anywhere.
As we have seen, the most successful companies are being started by hackers, and not businness types.
This blogger...lots of attitude, but doesn't sound like a team player. Attitude will take you only so far.
That's because those were movies.
The question was: how did the situation get this way, with creative and knowledgeable people being told what to do by often clueless managers and MBAs, who have no particular expertise? It seems irrational and it's not obvious why the world would work this way.
Jerry Weinberg, who was one of the first few computer programmers in the world and later became famous as a writer, was asked this once. He said that the first few generations of programmers (up to 1970 or so) were arrogant towards customers, businesspeople, and managers. Programmers were so scarce, and computing itself so unfamiliar and scary, that programmers expected and were given a kind of godlike deference, which they abused. After a while, customers got angry about the fact that they didn't have a say, were treated like idiots, and given stuff that didn't work very well. Eventually, Weinberg said, this led to a backlash whereby managerial control was imposed on programmers. The effects of this backlash persist today.
I don't claim that this is the only answer to the question, but it sounds like a piece of the puzzle, at least in the software business. The thing about the backlash is that it also failed, leading to the irrational situation the original questioner described.
Perhaps the current generation of entrepreneur hackers can be seen in this context, as programmers who have creative control, but also really care about building what customers want.
Who is upmodding such rubbish? Seriously--
1) Apple was a hardware startup. Hardware startups need funding and someone to aggressively sell the product in person to big vendors. Software startups don't usually need that kind of person (unless they're going after the Enterprise cookie).
2) It was in the 70's, and startups were, in general, harder to start than they are now.
It turns out that Apple is a totally perfect example.
"Jobs attended Cupertino Middle School and Homestead High School in Cupertino, California, and frequented after-school lectures at the Hewlett-Packard Company in Palo Alto, California. He was soon hired there and worked with Steve Wozniak as a summer employee. In 1970, Jobs graduated from high school and enrolled in Reed College in Portland, Oregon. Although he dropped out after only one semester, he continued auditing classes at Reed, such as one in calligraphy. "If I had never dropped in on that single course in college, the Mac would have never had multiple typefaces or proportionally spaced fonts," he said.
In the autumn of 1974, Jobs returned to California and began attending meetings of the Homebrew Computer Club with Steve Wozniak. He took a job as a technician at Atari, a manufacturer of popular video games, with the primary intent of saving money for a spiritual retreat to India. During the 1960s, it had been discovered by phone phreakers (and popularized by John Draper) that a half taped-over toy-whistle included in every box of Cap'n Crunch breakfast cereal was able to reproduce the 2600 hertz supervision tone used by the AT&T long distance telephone system. After reading about it and later meeting with John Draper, Jobs and Wozniak went into business briefly in 1974 to build "blue boxes" that allowed illicit free long distance calls."
Clearly, many such businesses exist.
Intuit was cofounded by Tom Proulx, who wrote the first version of Quicken himself. Scott Cook gets most of the credit because of his determination, but without either of them, the company wouldn't exist. It certainly was not an outsourced startup.
Wikipedia I'll grant you. Though the concept of wikis was invented by Ward Cunningham, who certainly was a hacker.
YouTube was started by 3 ex-PayPal employees. Steve Chen and Jawed Karim were certainly hackers, Chad Hurley was more design. They built the initial version themselves.
We can argue about the other two; I feel like I'll lose Intuit but win Amazon, but who knows. Not worth it. I think my point stands.
there are plenty of people who aren't hackers but they certainly understand tech and aren't beef-headed MBA's. mitch kapor and joe kraus never wrote a line of code.
Delegation of responsibility is a concept of pivotal importance for any entrepreneur to grasp if they want to go very big. Isn't Richard Branson dyslexic?
My advice: Never pass up a good opportunity.
the authors comments are emotionally loaded opinions that are quite frankly, a result of immaturity and frustration.
so my original comment stands:
I also think his opinion, while strongly stated, is very valid though.
There a more "good ideas" than people to implement them. Thinking up an idea, writing a business plan, and securing some funding is (IMO and IME) easier that actually putting that good idea into practice and finding all the little edge-cases, never-thought-of-thats, and such along the way.
However, 99% of the time they don't have funding, they've (at best) got "strong interest from investors" or some such.
Beef-headed MBA's went to school with other beef-heads, and might know a few people who know a few people. Scraping up $1M is not terribly difficult when you know a few people. Put another way, one of my favorite quotes is "A fool and his money are soon venture capital".