a) the voter isn't required to identify their reason for down voting
b) it's not just allowed but encouraged to downvote things that you simply disagree with
Those two things wouldn't mean much if it was just a number. But it isn't. The site actively hides comments as they get down-voted, and people down vote things they simply disagree with.
In case you hadn't realised, that's basically a recipe for an echo chamber. I've lost track of how many times I've written/seen others comments that are either factually true, or at least informative while subjective, down voted into oblivion because they don't follow the standing ideals of a large percentage of those who vote.
> I've lost track of how many times I've written/seen others comments ...
Interesting to see how far two subjective perceptions of the same thing - yours and mine in this case - can be away from each other ...
Paul Graham declared it "OK" 10 years ago (https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=117171) and despite realising that it caused problems 2 years later, the problem's never really been fixed.
> Interesting to see how far two subjective perceptions of the same thing
I think this is directly related to the problem.
Bob posts a comment that is not offensive, but 'goes against the grain' for a large part of HN readers, so his comment is downvoted quickly to the point that it doesn't even appear for most people (either literally because they have `showdead` turned off or figuratively because it's greyed out to be almost unreadable, and at the bottom of sometimes long comment threads).
John reads the comment thread and never sees Bob's comment.
John doesn't see the problem because the problem is things not being seen.
Because I disagree with how HN's downvotes work, I have `showdead` enabled, so I can see the comments/articles that have been downvoted simply because of disagreement.
But that also shows all the articles that are clearly just spam - so I can have the spam removed, or I can see the things the HN hive mind disagrees with, but not both.
it's not just allowed but encouraged to downvote things that you simply disagree with
The founder said he thinks it's OK, so people do it.
Not sure how I got the opposite impression then.
- Persistence of myopic and uninformed views about MBAs in tech and finance. No, MBAs do not get cushy jobs in top-tier firms because they know how to build a pricing model in Excel and look nice in a suit. Tons of MBAs have relevant industry experience, and they're there to work, not stifle innovation by implementing stack ranking or whatever in a frenzied rush to cut costs.
- Comments on stories where a company commits wrongdoing: "I don't know why people are surprised, X has always behaved in this way. If you don't want [bad thing], then do [thing that inconveniences you but does nothing to hold the wrongdoer accountable]"
- Elon Musk worship. I used to think it was just aspirational wealth worship, but now I'm starting to think people see him as a sort of Tony Stark figure, a misunderstood genius trying to save the world against all odds.
1. The sizes of the voting buttons and the expand/collapse links are terrible. They’re so tiny (and the voting buttons placed so close to each other) that even a mouse cursor is not a proper tool to target them. On touchscreens, it’s way worse. The “tap targets” are very tiny for fingers and very difficult to use. Having to zoom in just to use one of those buttons is painful.
2. While looking at some child comment way down on a discussion, there’s no easy and quick way to figure out which comment it’s a reply to. It’s cumbersome and next to impossible. So I don’t even bother reading nested comments after the first or second reply to a comment. There ought to be a way to collapse all other comments above it and just leave the main one that it’s a reply to.
3. Very limited formatting options, with the default way of treating newlines tripping up many people. This results in a long piece of text that’s not easily readable. Just a day or two ago, I saw a YC recruitment ad post that someone had just copy pasted from elsewhere but forgot to use additional newlines to suit the HN formatting requirements.  It was a big wall of unreadable text in many places. This is not the first time that something like this has happened.
You may have already alluded to this as it's not exactly "easy and quick"; though as it's arguably both, I'm commenting in case others haven't discovered it.
1. The sizes of the voting buttons and the expand/collapse links are terrible.
Long text quotes in fixed width format (indented by 2 spaces).
It’s hard to escape the feeling that it’s a community of almost all wealthy/privileged cis men.
And then people wonder why women don’t want to go into tech and make even more assumptions about our not being interested. Nope, it’s just that a whole lot of us quite understandably would rather work in a field where we’re not constantly made to feel unwelcome.
In terms of the community, I would like to see more people recognize fake leading questions that are answered by alt accounts promoting some product. Those don't get flagged fast enough.
I am also not a fan of news site reporters challenging anything that doesn't have several references to back it up. It takes away from discussions and becomes an academic research article. In my experience, links do not equate to facts. They are just more opinions on some other site.
Another alt account suggested I should be banned for calling out the other user.
I guess I would like to be able to add a reason to a flag. Always feel a bit weird just hitting flag and hoping there's someone on the other end that can interpret what I'm flagging
2. Discussions are now becoming rare. So many posts sit on the front page with many upvotes and zero comments.
3. Downvote misuse as mentioned is irksome but not fatal. My problem with them is the UI for them. Upvote if you agree, so downvote symmetrically (and incorrectly) implies disagree. Downvote should really be represented as 'flag' with a type such as factually incorrect, disruptive, adding nothing to the discussion, or other poor conduct (as mentioned in other replies regarding the guidelines).
There's a weird mechanism that punishes posts with comments, because they are deemed "controversial".
Regarding downvoting - just disable it. What makes the echo chamber even worse is that only users with a certain amount of points are able to downvote. So people who have already avoided being downvoted by others get to effectively police who else amasses the required number of points to be able to downvote. It's a vicious cycle where only a group of like minded people will be able to downvote.
How it does work isn't much more complicated than what I just said.
- downvotes without discourse
- no differentiation between a vote for agree/disagree vs bump/vote-down
If you disagree with something which is mere opinion, it is in fact legitimate to downvote it on grounds that it is just someone venting their opinion.
If you disagree with something technically, and you have all the facts straight, it is legitimate to downvote it based on inaccurate content.
So basically, from all angles, disagree-downvoting works fine around here.
As has been demonstrated in the news recently, not all technical issues are purely technical. Bias in Amazon’s AI hiring tool. Election results being impacted by Facebook’s algorithms.
If someone downvotes on grounds that it is someone just venting (a fairly charged term in my opinion) their opinion...
- downvoting without discourse
I see no reason a downvote shouldn’t require accompanying rationale. If provided it would indeed make a agree / bump distinction superfluous. Looks like my points 2 & 3 should have had an “or” involved.
1) This community takes itself far too seriously.
2) The kerning is too damn small, and so are the vote arrows. Why is a forum, whose purpose is to be read, so difficult to read at length?
3) I, an idiot who has contributed nothing of value either to society or to this community, have more karma than Alan Kay, proving that karma doesn't measure anything worthwhile and should be done away with.
Suppose HN had this simple feature: an editable field associated with your account where you could drop in a piece of CSS. When you're logged in, HN spits out that piece of CSS into the web page, just for you.
But they don't even have to go that far to improve readability, just apply some basic typography rules and eliminate the unnecessary grey on grey text. On text submissions, the latter is done purposely to make them difficult to read, which is not only malicious, but counterproductive for a forum.
Look at the way Medium articles are formatted - designed for readability, not designed to discourage it. Hacker News should look like that, IMHO.
I hate how free speech is unduly prioritized over everything else, even when it marginalizes people and whittles away at our separation of powers.
I hate how often social issues are eye-rolled or actively decried. I hate how rarely policies such as WeWork's meat ban or California's mandate to put women on corporate boards are discussed in good faith. I don't always agree with these kinds of drastic actions, but I enjoy talking them over with my social science friends. You simply can't find this kind of discussion here.
I hate how engineers often don't see themselves as rich. I make FANG salary and feel absurdly wealthy. My grad school friends are squeaking by on $30k a year. I hate how "get as rich as humanly possible" seems to be the unstated goal of so many tech founders, and how any discussion of CEO salary caps or wealth redistribution is quickly shut down.
It bothers me that such an intelligent community is often seemingly devoid of deeply-held values. People here aren't nearly angry enough about the political clusterfuck going on in the US. People here want to make nice and are unwilling to burn bridges to stand up for what's right.
And finally, I hate how people have the gall to say that they'd rather shut their ears and avoid politics altogether, even when it's affecting everyone around them in drastic ways.
A furious and motivated Silicon Valley could change so much in the world. Instead, we'd rather just shrug and collect our paychecks.
> And finally, I hate how people have the gall to say that they'd rather shut their ears and avoid politics altogether, even when it's affecting everyone around them in drastic ways.
I mean, it's kind of explicitly the idea of this forum to not involve discussions of politics. I guess you could claim otherwise, but I for one think it's legitimate to have a place where people choose not to talk about politics. Not literally every discussion has to be about politically charged topics.
(Which is not to say they don't get discussed here anyway.)
> It bothers me that such an intelligent community is often seemingly devoid of deeply-held values. People here aren't nearly angry enough about the political clusterfuck going on in the US. People here want to make nice and are unwilling to burn bridges to stand up for what's right.
I'm not in the US. But, there's a lot to be said for calming down - it seems to me that a big part of the problem today is exactly that too many people are too emotional/angry about everything, without necessarily having a reason to be. The reason there's a political clusterfuck, to me at least, seems to be exactly because people are willing to burn bridges, refuse to compromise, refuse to listen to one another, etc.
And btw, as to your "deeply held values" thing - this is a technical/business forum. It makes sense that the forum as a whole doesn't have "values" - it's made up of a very diverse group of people (well, not very diverse actually, but that's another problem). A diverse group of people getting together to talk about e.g. sports, wouldn't necessarily be expected to have more shared values than just people in general have.
> I hate how politically ambivalent and "both sides are the same" people here are, despite it being shown again and again that this is simply not the case.
Look, it's not that I disagree with all of your post or something, I thought it was well written and interesting. But you seem to be operating under the assumption that your view of things is clearly right, and other's views are wrong, which is why it makes you angry that others don't buy in wholesale to your views or values. For example, you write "It bothers me that such an intelligent community is often seemingly devoid of deeply-held values.", but also write "I hate how free speech is unduly prioritized over everything else, even when it marginalizes people and whittles away at our separation of powers.". Some people's deeply held values are that free speech is prioritized over (almost) everything else. You might not agree with that deeply held value, but it is one that supposedly the community here values (I don't know if that's actually true).
But I think the crux of the issue is I just don't get how certain low-quality stuff makes the front-page and a lot of high-quality stuff from new gets missed.
I've actually created an RSS feed that grabs anything in New that has gotten at least 1 upvote. It's a lot of content but at least it is going beyond what is displayed on the front page.
low-quality stuff makes the front-page and a lot of high-quality stuff from new gets missed
People who don't look beyond the front pages (news or newest) are missing a lot.
If HN were to release the votes dataset to trustworthy AI/ML partners, wonders could be extracted from that. I'm sure I'd be way less interested in what the mob wants to hear about, compared to what is upvoted by antirez, pron, chrisseaton, BrendanEich, just to name a few.
PageRank could be run on that to identify articles that are low noise but key to people at the edge; as well as ALS for a personalized selection.
that every response to a comment does not link back to the parent comment
Not ideal, but it helps me.
The comments when all comments seem to be concentrated in a couple of threads rehashing the same issues.
All stories concerning the housing problem in SF. Nobody cares, move on, it's just a city. Yes I know there must be a disproportional amount of SF residents in this forum, but nobody still cares about your housing problems :)
I hate the number of people who want to argue but not listen.
That is, people who speak positively of <for-profit corporation we currently like> are wholesome and motivated only by spreading truth. People who speak positively of <for-profit corporation we don’t currently like> are astroturfers and shills.
Definitely not unique to HN.
For example it’s possible to go back in time, e.g. here is the front page from yesterday:
It might be interesting to provide a view showing top stories since a user's last visit, whether it was 4 hours ago or 4 months ago.
Your account consists of an alias name, and two profile fields "about:" and "email:" that are optional, and can be reverted to blank at any time. HN doesn't even perform e-mail validation.
You can't delete your posts once they are older than a few hours. Not yourself, anyway; if you ask the site operators, maybe something can be arranged.
Ideas: don't post stuff you want later to delete, and if you do, be sure to change your mind within an hour. Use the "delay:" profile field to delay the appearance of your comments, which gives you a chance to edit or delete them before anyone sees them.
If you see a posting or comment that reveals someone's personal info, flag it. If it persists, contact the site.
Not stale because of the content, but of the activity in comments. A few hours go by and they stop.
This place used to be weirder, with more obscure links and discussions filled with academics and hackers. If you search the older archives, there are some really incredible conversations. Now it mostly seems to be nytimes articles commented on by upper-middle class engineers.
Social media exists to 1) push ads, or 2) shape consensus.
The end state of both is $$$.
Not that I always agreed with him, but he was really interesting, and his comments consistently made me think about my own biases and opinions in ways few others ever have.
There could be an option to opt in for single page rendering.
As far as I know, there isn't a great solution for filtering out links on all pages. You could add sites to uBlock Origin, but you still have to click the link before you figure out it's a blacklisted site. I made a FF plugin for myself that hides links to sites I don't care to ever visit. Technically, it applies css to elements matching regular expressions. So far I've only used it to apply "visibility: hidden" to elements containing a small, but growing, list of domains. It's not perfect, it's not even really good, but I've been happy with it for a few years. If you're interested in trying it, I had to publish it to Add-on page to make it usable (I hate that Mozilla doesn't let us conveniently run any add-on from a local code base), it's called "ssure". It recently started working on FF mobile too, but it's a bit of a pain to configure there.
"Hate" is rooted in fear.