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on Sept 23, 2010 | hide | past | web | favorite

Whilst I agree with some of the sentiment of your post (we all have public personas), I don't think this calls for a banning at all - not even a light slap on the wrist.

If you have a public persona, then it's certainly fair game for others to criticise it.

Seriously, what do you think this is, kindergarten? This is the real world. If you don't want to receive undesired advice or criticism, don't be a public figure.

No, not kindergarten. This is supposed to be a nice forum. A creepy, misinformed, and ultimately empty article does not belong here. Patio11 has chosen to reveal some personal information in order to help fellow hackers. This is certainly not the way to pay him, nor the way to encourage future helpful behavior from HN users - which is, to my understanding, the ultimate goal of this forum.

Or one could espouse an ideal on real world behavior closer to that of kindergarten, wherein one claims things such as 'be nice to one another', and the world could...be nicer?

While your realism is realistic, its also chilling.

There's no use pretending this is anything other than the public world. Bits of HN comments regularly get quoted on blogs and news sites. I recall someone once upon a time getting blasted both on and off HN for a callous comment made on this site. Pretending that it's not public will only lead to sore disappointments when reality invariably proves that actually, yes, this is a public forum, and anything you say here may be held against you, and your persona here is public and liable to be criticised.

To be honest, if you can't take a bit of criticism (or some slightly freaky fans), the internet seems like an odd place to have a persona.

You are right. But you're also condoning behavior which you're implicitly against(or at least I interpret as you implicitly against) because that's the way things are, and at least some people are effected by others tossing in and claiming things are good, or allowable, or not cool...and in that condition, accepting the world as cruel will let someone else feel ok being cruel.

The internet is mean because the internet is mean. If it were more nice, it would be less mean, and there are interpersonal feedback loops which support that.

Easily the most controversial thing I've ever written, but I'll stand up and be accounted for in my errors. I write once daily, every day, and I write honestly. Here, the mistake I made was not filtering my thought by another person who could feel ill because of it.

I will explain my line of thinking, which does not excuse the large gaffe I made, but perhaps so people can understand my thinking. I've met a book editor, a literary agent, a prominent researcher, and other notable people through my writing on my site.

I am four months into blogging, and getting the feel for what is right and good for decorum when discussing publicly with discussing others is tricky. I shared no information that wasn't public knowledge, I broke no confidence, and I shared what I was thinking, in a way I believed would be constructive.

The community has mixed feelings over that. For the record, I did not expect the piece to be so popular, nor for it to have such a negative reaction. I misjudged.

A prominent, very good member here and I shared a few emails when this was happening. He condemned me strongly, and I listen to that - random people saying hateful things I don't notice, but good arguments from good people I do. In the end, he recommended "One thing you could do is to email Paul Graham to ask him to kill your post, to explain why and then remove the article from your blog. I think the damage to your reputation would be minimized that way."

I will not look to preserve my reputation here - I have presented what I thought, it was my honest and well-intentioned thought, but I did it carelessly. A few hours ago, I emailed patio and told him I would edit, delete, amend, or otherwise follow his instructions if he preferred. I still will; I will respect his wishes.

John - I'm going to respect Patio's wishes, whatever he wishes, and try not to make this into a larger spectacle. We have had some (always civil) disagreements in the past, but I would ask you do the same.

Going forwards, I will learn from this error, and be more cautious and tactful in the discussion of other people. For my part, I hold no ill will for people, even ones who said horrible things, and my door is still always open to people who need a hand. I'll lay low for a while, and be more tactful going forwards. If anyone feels harmed or like this is a less safe space for them, you have my apologies, and I will be more cautious and tactful going forwards.

...it was my honest and well-intentioned thought...

I know that. And I suspect that anyone who follows your writing here realizes that, too.

I'll lay low for a while...

Please don't.

One of the memes constantly reinforced here at hn is pushing the envelope. How many times have we heard, "If you don't ruffle a few feathers, you're not pushing hard enough."

You pushed. You ruffled. You learned. You stood up like a man. And we all survived.

"Laying low" contradicts the expected behavior of so many outliers and achievers here. Respect.

Well said. This type of a reaction to making a mistake should be encouraged and emulated, not only on HN but beyond. I think Sebastian is handling this extremely well, and there is a lot to be learned from that.


Lets be very clear about this, PG is a rank hypocrite. Do as I say, not as I do.

Like many he's perfectly willing to stand beside and bask in the glow of his ideas when they work, but is nowhere to be found when they regularly fail.

He got lucky in the internet mania of the 90's, now he's an expert in everything. These days he has a very good sales pitch to very young kids.

Relax. A month from now this will be forgotten. What am I saying, a month? A few days from now it will be forgotten.

What scrolls off the front page scrolls out of the present into ancient history.

I almost did up until this submission. Flagged, in any case.

While I agree that the post was inappropriate, I don't agree that the post was inappropriate by HN's standards. (And I think flagging based on personal standards rather than HN's standards is not the way to go.)

HN standards are the combined standards of all participants, if we had objective criteria for voting and flagging we wouldn't need those user interface components on all those pages, just a few would suffice.

Everybody gets to apply their personal criteria moulded to whatever they think is best for HN, with the guidelines at the back of your mind.

So, what I think is 'appropriate' for HN may be quite different from what you think is 'appropriate', if the moderator(s) agree what you flagged will be removed if not tough luck, maybe better next time.

There is a great quote that will serve you well when blogging: "Great minds discuss ideas, average minds discuss events, small minds discuss people." (attributed to Eleanor Roosevelt, but disputed).

Lionhearted, it has struck me how often you live up to your name; but on that one isolated occasion, you shamed it.

I was thinking it would be hard for you to make amends. Removing the submission from HN is an excellent start, but it's still on your blog: http://www.sebastianmarshall.com/?p=251 I don't think Patrick should have to do or say a single thing in order for you do the right thing. If he asks you to restore it, then do so.

This isn't about your reputation.

EDIT like edw519, I (FWIW) also want you to stick around. It's OK to make mistakes, provided you fix them. So... fix it, quick! Of course I can't speak for Patrick, but remember what happened with _why.

I fully agree with that, leaving it up only compounds the chances of damage and further indicates that this never really was about helping Patrick since it must be obvious by now that that is not the effect.

It's like those open letters that are almost never intended for the addressee.

Agreed. The fact that its still up there, unedited, gathering link juice, says a lot about the motivations of the author.

I read and enjoyed your original post from a purely analytical standpoint. Patio11 is a rather popular guy here and you rightly stated how brilliant his work has been.

I cringed a little bit while reading the latter part of your post, but I still stuck with "never attribute to malice . . .". I've wondered why giving folks the benefit of the doubt wasn't in the In Comments section of the guidelines (http://ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html).

I'd like to print your response and frame it as an example of how to own up to a mistake. I don't know you, but you sound like a very decent human being and you have my respect for what it's worth.

I read the post. Thought it was pretty good. Don't see what the fuss is about. Compared to similar things I've said about people presenting public personas that were equally, if more, flawed; this was about as "hateful" as a kitten batting a bunny on the nose.

If there is such a thing as 'damning with lots of praise' then then was it.

For what's its worth, I didn't read your criticism as a personal attack. More of an exhortation for bingo card guy to achieve his fullest potential.

The mistake, as in navel gazing, is thinking that any one cares what you think of another person's life choices. Especially the object of your attention.

Bingo card guy seems happy (enough) to me.

Perhaps a better approach would have been to initiate a dialog, gently asking him for his input on some of your big sky ideas, subtly encouraging him to raise his aim. In the process, you'd maybe make a friend, and probably learn why he's made the choices he has. I know nothing about bingo card man, but imagine he's the primary care giver for a child or relative. Given a situation like that, I'd say he's a fucking genius for making some side money for comparatively little effort.

In summation, chill dude. You spouted off. Wasn't personal. The haters will always be hating. So fuck 'em.

Generally speaking, it's more agreeable to read about things the author has done than things they have no control over. It's a reason why I like patio11's writing style (and some others' as well).

How is what lionhearted wrote different from the commentary we place on "superstars" like DHH, Spolsky, and Zed Shaw? It was personal, yeah, but nothing was taken from something that Patrick didn't publish publicly.

I'm not really sure what to think about the article. Running it by Patrick first may have been a better move.

How very strange. The article about Patrick is very positive and merely suggests that he has the potential to make a lot more than he does now, and gives him some tips to that regard. Since Patrick lives his business life in the open of the internet, then it's not unreasonable to publicly post such an article, using only public sources as reference.

There's a couple comments maybe he is afraid of success, maybe he suffers from Catholic guilt (presumably since he has a very Irish name and nearly all Irish are Catholic.) But it's nothing horrible and it's all highly qualified.

I really don't see anything wrong with it, and it's obvious that Patrick could make more money if he wanted to (say working as a quant on Wall Street), but that's his own business whether he wants to or not.

I could make more money doing other things myself as well and people tell me that, but there's a lot of stuff I don't want to do. Money isn't everything, and the article in reference is no big deal.

Would it be possible to discuss this without descending to even greater depths?

Could you clarify your question? Is it directed to my post? I am unaware of anything in my own post that could be considered offensive but if it seems otherwise I would appreciate knowing in what way it seems so.

I don't think you need to pull Patricks religion in to this at all, that was just about the one thing missing in the original post.

No, it wasn't missing. The blog post literally suggested that the reason he isn't rich and powerful might be because he has Catholic guilt. I swear to God it said that.

Yes, you're right, I'm sorry I missed that.

The original post specifically mentioned Catholicism:

> At the risk of upsetting people, I’m going to go out on a limb here – were you raised Catholic?


I missed that on reading the original the first time around, you're right. But Patrick is pretty up-front about his religion.

Oh, the original post did get into some stuff about his possibly being Catholic and suffering from guilt.

When I read that in the article I did cringe and thought it was a stretch and detracted from the article. I am not saying the article is the best possible article or was free from cringe inducing statements. But I also don't see it as something someone should be banned for, not even remotely close. It sounded more like the guy writing it was Catholic himself, overcame Catholic guilt (which is a topic people do discuss), and was speculating through projection that Patrick is Irish and suffers from it. It seemed like a huge long shot though. Myself I think it's more likely Patrick is like me and is perfectly aware he can make more money working for some corporation in some contexts, but chooses to do his own thing instead even though his current income is possibly less than he made working for the man. And that's me projecting as well. Someone who seeks to be able to live on the beach on Thailand might write an article saying that Patrick must be running his business with the goal of moving to Thailand. Someone bent on taking over the world, creating one world government and declaring himself emperor of the galaxy might write an article saying that Patrick is planning to build a fleet of spaceships. OK, that last one is silly, forget that example.

Patrick also has only been a year from quitting his job, so it's not a weird thing to be making less than a hundred million a year or whatever people are unreasonably assuming he should be making. What he is making is pretty darn awesome for a one man shop that's only been around a few years.

Personally I think that whatever he is making in total and his reasons for being satisfied and fulfilled doing so are his own business and I don't give his personal lifestyle choices any thought myself. But even it being his own personal choice, someone writing about that, and in essence projecting their own issues onto this one like the original article did, is not something offensive or mean spirited. The first half of the article was practically a love letter to Patrick and quite flattering. The rest seems to be both giving advice, and the author working out his own personal shock that someone he saw as a mentor leading him to great wealth and fame was earning only a modest income. That doesn't mean though that Patrick's advice is bad, Patrick's articles are great and filled with useful information.

Patrick has made absolutely no secret of his religion so there is no need to speculate.

He regularly refers to 'his priest' in his comments here.

For instance: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=1428539

But I really don't see the need to further the 'psychoanalysis for the absolute beginner' based on the common 'guilt of the Irish', please.

Don't jump to any stereotyped conclusions or anything.

> There's no demand for that sort of thing here.

Don't shoot me for saying it (I wasn't one of them), but 197 upvotes say otherwise. How often does something get 197 upvotes? http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=1720244

Judging by the fact that in spite of receiving 197 upvotes it is currently not on the homepage it received a large number of flags as well.

Indeed, I only found out about it because of this submission. Barbara Streisand effect?

I don't think an outright ban is what's called for, but it might be a good lesson to observe that if you intend to take on a person that has done no harm that it would be nice if you passed it by them before hitting the 'post' button, and that the only result from mudslinging of any kind is that you'll end up with dirty hands.

As for psycho-analysis I hope nobody takes the time to read the rest of that site ;)

I disagree. While it might have been just as good an article if it adopted a polite veneer of fiction, I thought it brought up a lot of very good points that I'd love to see further discussed. If repercussions are required, I'll leave it to 'patio11' to request them.

It's a self-referential article by someone encouraging a style of self-promotion that I find repulsive. I don't like most of the recommendations, and I'm sure Patrick won't either. But I definitely self-identify with some of the criticisms, and feel like I benefited from reading a perspective I disagree with. With luck, Patrick will too.

You can't ban somebody for their opinion

Are you joking?

HN places great importance on preserving the tone of the community. If my opinion is that all the politicians are reptilians working to establish One World Government; and I comment on every post to that effect, and submit a new post every five minutes linking on my One World Government-watch blog; then I should be banned.

That opinion is damaging to the community, and should not be allowed.

That opinion is damaging to the community, and should not be allowed.

It amazes me that in this day and age, we still hear stuff like this.

It's not like he wrote "PATIO11 IS TEH SUXORS! FUK IM!!!". He wrote a long, thought out (perhaps not enough; besides the point) blog post and then decided to share that with the community ~ to which the community felt deserved the effort to respond to, one way or another.

Who are you to suggest that opinion is both unwanted and "damaging" to the community? If anything, suggesting that people only be allowed to certain criteria, methods and train of though is what is damaging and should not be allowed.

You'd be banned for spamming.

thats why we all get to vote and flag

But that is very clearly NOT what happened.

"A celebrity is a person who works hard all of their life to become well known, and then wears dark glasses to avoid being recognized." - Fred A. Allen

HN needs its own drama tv show. This is getting ridiculous.

"Desperate entrepreneurs"

>But, more importantly, patio11 is not who we think he is, and I am not who you think I am.

I received a phone call from someone claiming to be both patio11 & jgrahamc. I must say I found it very puzzling.

The really puzzling part was that... the calls came from inside the house.

But who was phone?!?

Agreed. I don't think and article has made me feel so uncomfortable and wierded out for a while, if at all.

Critically assessing someone in such a personal way is more than rude it is totally obnoxious. It verged from religious idolatry to deep psychoanalysis. And all of it based on stuff Patrick has posted online and nothing more.

Sorry to rant, but I really disliked seeing that post voted up so much today and it is definitely material I'd like to see none of :)

This sums up how I reacted to it as well. The post has a bizarre, obsessive, controlling creepiness to it. And seems not to really contain anything all that interesting. I'm glad I missed it when I looked at HN this morning.

> Let's keep HN sacred.

I had no clue this was a religious community.

There are endless posts about why, how, or what various famous people in the industry are doing. Psychoanalyzing Steve Jobs is basically a requirement in any blog post about Apple these days. So why are people so offended when the target is someone closer to home? People think things about other people, it's our nature. I can't stop myself from making snap judgments about people I see on the street, even when I try to tell myself that I have no basis for those judgments.

Patrick is a famous guy around here and I'm sure everybody who's read his stuff has thoughts about his character, intelligence, lifestyle, etc. Sebastian just expressed those thoughts, and I'd rather be in a community where the free expression of thoughts and ideas is valued higher than not offending people.

I agree with what you said everything except the banning.

"Let a thousand flowers bloom"- Chairman Mao

Remove the post not the user. Clearly, lionhearted is thinking different than most of us here and that should be encourage.

I find banning to be a knee jerk reaction and such rules are only to be made deliberately and without emotions; right now we are too close to the event to make a rational one.

Although I agree with jgc that banning is deserved here, I don't think there's any need for it. The community's condemnatory reaction to lionhearted has so far been appropriate, and I think it will be effective in deterring similar bad behavior in the future. If I'm correct about this, it's a better outcome than a ban. Let banning be reserved for those who either don't care about the approval of their peers, or who are too oblivious to adapt to social cues.

There are plenty of people capable of earning more, but what's holding them back is that they don't realize how comparatively incapable many Wall Streeters, supply chain optimizers, management consultants and the like really are. You only learn that through experience.

The article is a reminder to be confident, addressed to everyone reading. It's a bold celebration of skill over image, pedigree, and in some cases outright charlatanry. It's universally applicable, and that's why it received the upvotes it deserves (and why it's so controversial as well).

It was too personal, but is there any other way to address it? Perhaps by citing several cases of perceived "inconfidence" instead of one. Either way, it's presumptuous as hell - but what moving persuasive argument isn't? In the end, it called attention to a universal issue: many, many, many capable people are selling themselves short.

For that - Bravo, lionhearted.

My god Hacker Monthly is going to explode with all this gossip!!

do we really need to give this more attention? really? REALLY?

>>>and the member who wrote it should be banned.

How ironic, given next week is Banned Books Week. Are there any books you'd like to add to this list too?

"There's no demand for that sort of thing here."

Sir, with all due respect, kindly speak for yourself.

I find your post offensive to good sense, pragmatism, and sensibility.

If, and when a person chooses to share their lives with the entire world, they must then also live we the consequences of that sharing, good or bad.

Patio11 has done exactly this - he has quite literally given a piece of himself to the world and for that he has both been praised and psychoanalyzed. He is by all accounts an adult, and I am sure he is aware of the nature of this beast.

I enjoyed lionhearted's analysis, if only as an intellectual exercise. Is that not why this damn site exists? For the stimulation of intellectual curiosity? If this kind of post is not acceptable here, then by all reasonable measures 95% off all front page articles ever, do/did not belong here.

Where is this melodramatic over-reaction when the myriad of critical PG, Zuckerburg, Gates, Jobs, Hansen, Arrington, and Calcanis posts hit the front page? Why haven't the writers of those blog post been similarly singled out? Your needless "defense" of patio11 is more an affront to him then the post of which you disagree! If you're going to engage in high-school melodrama, at least be consistent about its application.

"Let's keep HN sacred."

HN isn't sacred for goodness-sakes. It is a place for intellectual discussion; the subject of which can be anything or anyone. Remove the 'sanctimonious' from your thinking - please.

this post is much more inappropriate and stifles discussion significantly more than lionhearted's

Posted to wrong thread

I found the article creepy - http://www.sebastianmarshall.com/?p=251

Don't understand this.

The guy's telling the Bingo Card Creator guy he should be making more money. Which is absolutely true because he has the skillset to make millions a year.

How is this bad in any way - it's not.

It's not psychoanalysis. It's just a guy saying - Dude, You should be making a lot more money with your skillset.

Option 1:Let your ego get in the way and stay at under $60K a year.

Option 2: Learn from the advice, even if it isn't sugarcoated, and get to $1 million+ a year.

Why do we have to sugar coat everything. Are we women now? Are our feelings getting hurt?

Some of us are women. But I don't see why that requires we be polite.

Everyone should be polite, but I don't see why we become women when we do.


Something (I don't know from where) that my sons reference sometimes:

"You fight like a girl"

"You mean dirty?"

upvoted for awesomeness.

Where you go off the track is using "should" rather than "could". Where the original went off track was in calling it a "tragedy".

In fact, he said "sick to my stomach", and "Seriously, I want to vomit". Extremely strong judgements going on there.

I read that as pure jealously. As am I jealous of this kid's literal million dollar skillset.

The guy who wrote that knows he could never be as good or make as much as Patio. That's why it's strongly worded.

Alas, tone and tongue-in-cheek are not grasped well when there is shock and awe.

Really I can't see why anyone would take it any other way, what with the intense praise he was giving him.

Judging by the rest of Sebastian's site, I doubt it was jealousy; unless the site is a long and deep parody, the writer appears to consider himself superior to almost everyone but historical heroes.

How are these extremely strong judgements? getting pissed off that some retards make more than some great people you know has a long tradition in civilization. My favorite is the Saul Bellow line, "Only I'm good and tired of watching high-quality people fuck up in practical life, to the gratification of the vulgar." This seems to be the spirit in which this article is written. Clearly the "fuck-up" in this case only refers to the financial aspect of things.

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