Everyone can be a dick, sometimes. Heck, I'm probably a dick the majority of the time, but I decided a while back to be nicer to people on the Internet. That's part of the reason I upvote people who prove me wrong and thank them for it. If my horizons are expanded, or my assumptions challenged here and they stand on their own two feet then great. If not, then even better - I'm less wrong, so to speak.
The thing about this community is that brings together people like Zed Shaw and Seth Godin, two people I regard as polar opposites, each with their own focus. The people on the Seth side of the fence will be perhaps more likely to be turned off by the Zed Shaws of the world, as is vice versa.
Challenging them is fine and should be encouraged. Giving them grief, less so.
Usually when I read a techcrunch article posted here, I feel as though I die a little inside. Still, people like Gabriel, Patrick, Colin and even Thomas stand out to me as guys that I enjoy reading.
When criticising, it might help to consider the following:
* What does my comment add to the discussion?
* Can my comment be interpreted in a way other than how I intended it? (In which case a rewrite may be in order)
* How will other readers perceive what I write? (as an extension of the last one).
You get out what you put in. If you want to criticise, fine. But please do so in a constructive manner.
Any HN'ers got any more ideas for constructive criticism?