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In my personal opinion (as opposed to my professional one) I think stories about the TSA are interesting, but don't belong on HN. The point is being done to death.

So I've started flagging them, simply believing them to be inappropriate. My criterion is that they are of interest, but not specifically to hackers or entrepreneurs. They should be of interest to everyone who travels.

If enough other people are of the same opinion then they'll start dying.




as a newcomer here, I'm not sure how to respond to this. it seems to me that there's a fair amount of interest in stories on the TSA that have been posted here. and a lot of us here travel, so statistically are at risk here. it's a well-written, short, actionable blog post by somebody who's an expert in the field. why is this so much more off-topic than some of the other things that make the front page?

and RiderOfGiraffes isn't content just to let it go by without reading it the way we all do with some of the HN fave topics that don't personally interest me. no, he also is going to downvote it and announce to everybody here what he's doing. he can downvote, and presumably so can his buddies; as a newcomer, i can't. so my karma is probably taking a hit.

suggestions on how i should respond?


I'd suggest that you respond with polite and well reasoned arguments, trying to parallel the specifics of this situation with other issues of interest to this community. The post I'm answering here is a reasonable example of this.

I would suggest that you either adjust to the norms of this site by writing fewer higher quality responses into which you put greater thought. This page is currently dominated by short posts that you seem to have made in rapid succession.

I think you'd get a better response if you followed the punctuation and capitalization standards that the established users if this site employ. You may note that yours are the only nonstandard posts on this page. An all lowercase post would have to be quite extraordinary before I would upvote it.


thanks for the feedback, nkurz. it's true, i do tend to make posts responding to people who take the time to comment and bring up interesting points. it sounds like that's frowned on here.

in terms of capitalization, it's pretty astonishing to me that people on a site with HN's stated values would downvote a post based on something so superficial. what about paul's point about "breaking the rules, just not the ones that matter"?


It's not that commenting is frowned upon, but that there is a dilution that occurs if you try to respond to everything. It will probably go over better if you choose the single most interesting comment to respond to, or if posting at the top, to offer what you feel is your single most insightful comment. Think of things from the point of view of someone reading the page: would it be more enjoyable to read if everyone commented on everything that was of interest to them, or better if they restricted themselves (a bit) to their area of expertise and particular interest?

In case you're wondering if I take my own advice, I think there's a a lot more leeway in responding to direct replies rather than drive-by replies to strangers. Conversation is to be encouraged. :)

For the capitalization, well, it's not that a high school dropout with a purple mohawk can't get venture funding, but that they'd better have a stunningly good idea. The MBA with a suit probably gets more leeway if the plan isn't as stellar. I think a better point might be "Break only the rules that matter". Why bother handicapping yourself if it doesn't?


feedback once again appreciated. i see what you're saying about minimizing the number of comments. like i say, i'm much more use to environments where it's considered impolite not to respond to somebody if they have a decent point. live and learn. which of my replies do you think i should have omitted.

on the capitalization front, i hear you saying that a lot of people on HN are like the worst kind of VCs, the ones who will judge an entrepreneur based on appearance. disappointing.

the "break the rules, just not the ones that matter" quote is from pg in "What we look for". i like your reworking better (although it's got the same challenge about subjectivity -- who decides what matters?) this isn't a rule, though, it's more like a norm. from what you've said, suppressing my personality and adhering to the norm may make me more popular here. is that how most people see HN?


On capitalization:

You're not E.E. Cummings. He deliberately eschewed punctuation as part of his poetry, exploring possibilities. HN comments are not usually poetry in that sense. The point is to communicate ideas efficiently to others.

We capitalize the first letters of sentences because it makes it easier to see where one sentence ends and another begins. The period at the end of the previous sentence contributes to the same purpose. A period is pretty small, though, so a capitalized letter helps it out a lot.

Breaking this rule "just because" is lazy and requires more effort by the reader to read your text. Similar to using "u" and "ur" (on a non-phone device), it says "I can't be bothered to pay attention to detail."

When it comes to writing, I absolutely judge based on appearance. If you can't bother to write correct sentences, how can I know you'll bother to account for spending in detail? Or cover all the cases in error checking code? Of course, the way one writes is just one facet of many, but it contributes to the overall impression.


I'll be interested to see what responses you get to that.

A couple of points.

I don't think TSA stories are any less or more valid than some of the other stories that hit the front page - and probably I flag them too. As I say, my criterion is that I don't think they are of interest specifically to hackers or entrepreneurs. They are, and should be, of wider interest. To me, that means they don't belong here.

And for what it's worth, there are stories that I am interested in that I flag for exactly the same reason. Yes, I'm interested. No, I don't think it belongs on Hacker News.

And you're confusing down-voting with flagging.

And no, I'm not content to just let it go by. If I did, where would I draw the line? LOL catz (or whatever they're called? Hell, why not just ignore them too ...

I think articles that are not appropriate should be flagged. Hence I flag them. I need a way to decide. I have one.

I'm only one person here - my actions will mean pretty much zip if no one agrees with me.

My $0.02.


thanks for the response, RiderOfGiraffes. you're right, i'm confused between downvoting and flagging. are there two different ways to vote no available for people with a high enough karma?

in any case it sounds like the "HN thing to do" here is for me to advocate my position and see what the community says.


Submissions can never be down-voted, they can only be flagged as inappropriate. Comments can be down-voted (or upvoted) with a single click. They can also be flagged, but that means clicking through, then clicking "flag."

The difference is that down-voting costs the commenter karma, but the comment stays visible (albeit more grey as the votes go down.) Items or comments that get enough flags go dead and are removed entirely, unless you have "show dead" in your profile.

It's not entirely clear to me the difference between flagging and voting on comments. Spam should be flagged, no question. Comments that are on topic should not be flagged, but if they are information free (such as a witty one-liner with no insight) are usually voted down.

I only flag comments if they are deeply inappropriate, or spam. My position on flagging submissions is as stated above. Most things in which I personally ahve no interest I pass over, but if I think they are not in some way specific to hackers or start-ups, then I'll consider flagging because I think that makes them off-topic.

Not everyone agrees with me, but that's OK.




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