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Show HN: A Firefox extension to leave comments on any URL (github.com/comntr)
227 points by comntr on June 27, 2019 | hide | past | favorite | 235 comments

These were generally called metaweb tech when they were popular about 15-20 years ago.

The problem was that everyone had to have a particular author's plugin to see the extra content.

Some of them were better than others, allowing cross referencing, citation insertion, and a number of other sophisticated features.

I don't know if they still are around.

Sites like reddit and hn are really inverted versions of this concept, fixing the basic problem that most sites don't have commentary.

What may be an interesting hybrid is to search the commentary aggregators when you land on a site and then show the hn/digg/whatever comments and permit replying if the credentials are known

Yeah, this has been tried over and over. Unless it becomes a standard browser feature (and decentralized, e.g. dht-backed), it's always been a nonstarter for technical reasons alone.

Also, if you start from an anti-censorship anti-moderation position, in this day and age, you are likely to attract the worst of society right off the bat.

The technical problem here is way easier to solve than the social one. You'd want to avoid having hatespeech or some attack being planned on URLs of your blog. This is by definition a tricky problem. Should moderation follow us to the remotest and most deserted corners of the web? Should prying eyes follow humans all the time, even on this abstract ocean of digital content? On technical side I think we'd need some sort of widespread micropayment mechanism baked into major browsers or at least Firefox. Then decentralized commenting solutions will follow.

> You'd want to avoid having hatespeech

I have zero confidence in automated hatespeech blocking ever since I had comments blocked multiple times for fighting racists with reason (which is, honestly, the only way it will be eliminated, just like it worked against homophobia and interracial marriage... I wonder how long it will take before we realize that if you ban it, you martyr it, and you merely send it off to fester on some darkweb somewhere)

I think there should be many data servers with different rules. Some will blindly accept and serve any comments. Some will have mods and a buffer of comments waiting for review. Some will review only those comments that are flagged by their scripts. All these data servers should form a well connected network and exchange with comments. What's the incentive to exchange with comments? If a greedy data server refuses to give comments, others will block it. And users will be able to have multiple data sources, if (when) one big data server tries to use its monopoly power.

> the only way it will be eliminated, just like it worked against homophobia and interracial marriage

Homophobia has been eliminated? Since when?

Well, gay marriage has been legalized at least, so that's a start

Hate is a transitive verb.

> You'd want to avoid having hatespeech or some attack being planned on URLs of your blog.

How could you possibly expect to control people saying things about your blog on a remote webserver?

There is no solution that is not worse than the speech.

This is not a problem that needs solving.

There was an interesting decentralized project that I found out about here on hn that has an interesting solution to that.

It's called Aether, and it only supports text. Each node stores 6 months of all posts. Every person votes for their own moderators of communities so you can basically choose your own moderation filter that you get.

I didn't personally like the idea that it has amnesia after 6 months, but surely eventually clients would support saving your own threads to keep locally.

So you could subscribe to your own trusted adblocking/flagging list.


Then the problem instead becomes what is a valid comment, and a valid commenter (identity). Otherwise the vast majority of comments will be: WaNt A BiGgEr SoMeThInG? Go tO wWw.S0mEgR0$$sItE.cOm

There should be at least basic formatting filter that would block 1 MB comments or clearly non human written comments. This won't stop the spammers, of course. It should be time consuming to create a user id. It should be anonymous, but it should take a few minutes of your time (not your CPU time) to generate a valid user id. once this is done, it'll be easy to spot one spammer's comment, find all others (since comments are signed with ed25519) and dump them all. The spammers then won't be able to delegate the work to scripts.

I do want a bigger something! Sign me up!

> How could you possibly expect to control people saying things about your blog on a remote webserver?

You're right. My point would make sense only in case of an opt-in solution.

(Re: micropayments) Sigh... Flattr seemed so promising back in 2011.

Data is the payment.

How one would actually pay their server bills with data except by selling that to third parties [replace with your favorite agency]?

I'd expect some ML stuff, like training some models, etc. Such comments in raw form hardly have much value. What adtech usually pays for is data pinned to user ids.

The various meta-web providers are already decentralized. Given that the value of CommentSection-aaS is curation there's really not much value in federated accounts outside of the baseline "woudldn't it be nice if everything..."

Censorship resistance doesn't necessarily attract the worst type of people although the phrase is has become a synonym for anti-moderation among certain crowds.

I wrote a chrome extension that went the opposite direction: hit the extension button and you would get a list of hacker news and reddit submissions for that URL. Was super useful for finding some cool comments on a page

I’ve since moved to Firefox and gave up on the extension, but it might be an easy port...

you just described exactly what I've done a year ago [1] I always promised myself to rewrite it for Firefox but was too lazy.

[1] https://github.com/syxanash/commentdat

Same as the [1] extension I wrote last year. Firefox was easier to incorporate than I thought though, the API is almost identical.

[1] https://newsit.benwinding.com/

This is nice. Exactly what I am looking for!

FYI: converting a Chrome to a FF extension is easy to do now.

They are mostly the same, and Firefox has a compatibility library that stubs most of the incompatibilities.

Yep, I didn't have to do much other then doing if(chrome.contextMenus){...} to make this extension run on Firefox and Firefox Android. But I intentionally chose the <iframe> approach to minimise the browser-dependent surface, so the <iframe> draws the UI and the extension only makes a few basic things like updating the icon color.

I'd love to have this extension! Let us know if you ever pick up that extension. I do have one question though. Links on e-mails usually have "?utm_campaign=id_campaign&utm_source=nytimes" for example. Is it possible to avoid duplicates? To this day this is one of the major headaches for mods on Reddit. There's also the mobile links for the same news article.

This was more of a kludge than a serious project, but glad I was not the only one to find this useful, will definitley continue working on it.

>Is it possible to avoid duplicates?

I thought about this as well in the past but never actually found a solution. Maybe someone here knows if there's research or an algorithm to uniquely identify the URL.

Edit: typos

Some pages will link to a canonical URL in the head: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canonical_link_element

Stripping out the query string probably works for 80%(maybe even more) of the sites. Maybe that by default and then an option to search for the whole url as a fallback?

I wrote a similar extension too! Looks like we all had the same idea


You might be able to do with just a bookmarklet into the algolia search for HN.

EDIT: I've just created a proof of concept that works:


So it effectively runs arbitrary javascript in the current page? I mean, if I run it on my online banking page, it'll have access to everything. The extension isn't ideal either - access to the current URL is too much - but at least it can't run arbitrary JS in the page itself.

If you look at the bookmarklet, you'll see that the JS in it only fetches the URL and appends it to an Algolia search query. Nothing is sent to any other server. It's all done in your browser. Hacker News has exactly the same type of bookmarklet on their 'bookmarklet' link at the bottom of every page[1]. Arguably this method is safer than an Extension.


[1] https://news.ycombinator.com/bookmarklet.html

Firefox extensions are nowadays (since Quantum) web-extensions and are almost identical to chrome's so porting should be quite simple.

Is solving this "basic problem" ethical?

The implied assumption here is that it's a "basic problem" that most sites do not have a readily-discoverable public commentary board.

Sites such as Reddit, HN, and Facebook are popular, readily-discoverable public commentary boards about other sites. This much is true. However, it is incorrect to say that the absence of this is a "basic problem" as stated above. Given the past few years* of events and discoveries about the human impacts of these public comment boards, it may be that we incorrectly solved a "problem" that turned out to be a feature keeping humanity from harming itself with its own speech.

* three examples, cited by paraphrase: "speech encouraging harm to others"; "coordinated worldwide attacks upon individuals"; "like counts may do psychological harm"

No, I agree that this problem has to be solved before this idea can hope to get wide adoption. Mr A posts something really evil on Mr B's facebook page. What happens next? Mr B files a complaint to facebook. Since this is a legal matter, the complaint gets escalated to the top. FB realises that this is out of their control and proceeds with a complaint to FBI. Now what if the data server with that comment is hosted outside the US? Right, the browsers will quickly ban this extension. However the owner of the extension can also change the default data server url in the config and the comment will be gone.

However I think that this hypothetical scenario will never happen because the idea will never reach this wide adoption. It'll inevitably be fragmented into a few segments with rules and moderation. Want comments from the theoretical physicist community? Subscribe to sci.data.org in your extension config. Want to know what 4chan folks think? Add unfiltered.comments.com to your config - it'll be an unreadable mess anyway and you'll need to make some non-trivial effort to add that url.

But I think there will be an archive with all the comments for research purposes: physically, it will be a big data server that keeps connections with all other data servers and pulls all the comments it can.

> Right, the browsers will quickly ban this extension.

How is an open source browser going to ban an extension that throngs of people want?

Easily. Open source merely means that the source can be seen by anyone. It doesn't mean that readers of the source have any say in how to run the browser.

It means a user can comment out the parts they don’t like and publish their fork for like minded users to switch to.

The printing press has also been nothing but trouble.

The printing press has nothing inherently to do with worldwide instantaneous coordinated global same-day information sharing. A better analogy here would have been the telegraph, as that would at least serve as evidence on its own a rudimentary connection to whatever pithy point you’re trying to make with this reply. Unfortunately, your chosen example does not connect the dots so readily. Please clarify?

>it may be that we incorrectly solved a "problem" that turned out to be a feature keeping humanity from harming itself with its own speech

OK. Explaining ruins the humor but I'll explain.

The pithy point I was making is that a bunch of words on a comment thread is not likely to harm humanity any more than the printing press did.

Or the writing on a toilet stall wall for that matter, now that I think about it.

The larger point I was alluding to is that the people who would call for the banning of text from a printing press are probably the people we should really be worried about.

Should anyone be permitted to skywrite anything they want on the sky?

Free speech says “yes”, but if you find a way to stably write sentences on the sky, you will quickly discover that the majority of people do not agree that free speech applies to writing in the sky.

There’s a nuance that we as tech haven’t explored properly between “you have the right to speak unhindered by the government” and “you have the right to impose your speech upon an unwilling audience”, which relates to why street speech generally can’t use PAs or bullhorns without triggering a local government response. Similarly, this is why coordinated protests must be super careful to block their rowdier elements.

Setting up a system of global commentary that “grafts”, “appends”, “overlays”, “applies” a collection of third-party uncontrolled speech onto a non-consenting website — so, literally, the addon linked by this post — could very well be considered “coordinating and imposing your speech on an unwilling audience”. This, then, is the ethical and social policy question.

Does this addon hinder free speech by encouraging and enabling unwanted, uncontrolled speech to be inserted into - using DOM overlays or browser sidebars - someone else’s controlled private forum?

For whatever reason, tech in general seems absolutely terrified to consider this question. I suspect that’s partly because it is a nuanced consideration that violates two popular tech precepts:

1) “uncontrolled speech is an inalienable right”

2) “anything that can be done technically must be permitted to be done”

Neither of those principles is true in general society, and so I hope someday tech confronts this dissonance and resolves it - rather than simply pretending that “this addon isn’t illegal” is sufficient to defend ignoring the wider ethical issues of its effects.

It's a separate website that discusses content on another website. You have to explicitly opt-in by going to a separate site to read it.

It's ridiculous to consider that to be "imposing your speech on an unwilling audience".

Your sky writing argument is also ridiculous as the difference between sky writing and a website should be obvious. The internet is not the real world.

You are being illogical and I'm done explaining.

The basic problem is that sites that do have a commentary board control the content; they delete what they don't like.

A long time ago, there was a W3C standard for this called web annotations². It never really caught on, possibly because people and organizations were expected to host their own annotation servers.

NCSA Mosaic had the feature back in 1993. Check out this post from Marc Andreesen on the www-talk list: http://1997.webhistory.org/www.lists/www-talk.1993q2/0416.ht...

A rather obscure browser by the W3C called Annotea also had support for web annotations. I vaguely remember downloading and installing it just to try annotations.


² https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Web_annotation

The Genius Web Annotator [1] was quite popular (and funded by Andreessen), though since the pivot into a media company, I believe it's no longer actively developed.

Hypothesis (Hypothes.is) [2] is active [3] and awesome. They are involved in the Web Annotation standardization efforts.

[1]: https://genius.com/web-annotator

[2]: https://web.hypothes.is/

[3]: https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-019-01427-9

Thanks for the links! I'll do some research before rolling out v2 of my extension.

[2] is very similar to what I want to do. They chose to insert an iframe into the current page and I don't agree with this decision: the extension should have as little access as possible to the page, ideally it only gets a hash of the url.

I was an avid Hypothesis user but since I moved from Chrome to Firefox I stopped using it entirely, waiting for their Firefox extension. It's been years since they promised it.

A FF extension would be ideal. I use FF and have been just pasting the https://via.hypothes.is/ in front of articles or reading on sites with a Hypothesis integration like Outline.com.

There's an active Apache Incubator group on annotation: https://annotator.apache.org/

It's focused on several related specs, like making timestamped copies of pages (like archive.org), selecting ranges in pages, making selections that are resilient to page changes, and maybe more I'm not aware of.

They have a GitHub repo that has some other work as well: https://github.com/apache/incubator-annotator/

This sounds similar to the (in)famous Dissenter comment functionality. What are the differences?

Dissenter is pretty great for commenting on things that have heavy-handed censorship, like political YouTube videos.

They recently created their own browser (a fork of Brave with all of the BAT sh*tcoin stuff removed) when Google and Firefox both censored their extension and it seems like it's lighter and faster than Chrome, at least in my testing.

I requested the Gab Mastodon fork code a week or so ago. Normally worded email. Nothing antagonistic there. I know how to be professional. 4 days ago, CTO of Gab calling me an "SJW" on his Gab feed.

Thanks, I'll consider it a certification. From the grand wizard of Gab Tech himself. /s

There's plenty of other insanely toxic content on Gab. But if you're signed up to it and don't see the issue... there's really no point discussing that with you.

Not surprising that he jumped to that conclusion, considering the response they've gotten from the Mastodon community. Not only are people lobbying apps to hardcode bans to entire domains that aren't even live, they're planning to lobby app stores to pressure apps that refuse to implement those bans.

You got it the wrong way around.

Two apps have voluntarily decided that's the right thing to do. Lots of others have not.

Gab deciding to advertise as "we have apps they are [generic mastodon app]" is an existential threat. Because appstores don't care about details like that.

I mean, reading the below link, including the email he sent later... he arguably has some point in that many Masto folks would arguably define themselves as "SJWs" from my experience... but he definitely used it with an intended negative connotation in his post.

But yeah, he just seems... remarkably (although not shockingly, I suppose) unprofessional in how he communicates (there's zero reason to even bring up politics in a request for source code of an AGPL project), which isn't a good look for someone acting as a CTO.

It's short for "Schicklgruber Jugend Weiblich"

no proof=your comment might as well not exist


(hn mods, if this is too political, it's okay to delete)

I'm already nauseous just browsing this, WTF? Is this where people are headed? Extreme tribalism in the unmoderated portions of the Internet where you're either "a known SJW" or "a Nazi" with no room in between? If so we're fucked.

It's definitely like that on the internet; a lot of people on both sides of the US political spectrum seem to think there are two problems:

1 - Their chosen political party is not pushing far left/right enough

2 - The opposing party is obviously criminally bent on destroying the country.

Actually maybe three problems; the third being that "centrists" (anyone who isn't radicalized one way or the other) haven't come out against the party that's obviously criminally bent on destroying the country.

I guess that might bleed into real-world politics, but it's unfortunate. I think I remember when it was more "their political ideas are stupid and don't work" and less "they're 100% acting in bad faith and literally trying to destroy the nation".

All I can say is prepare for some hard times, followed by the US not having the geopolitical 1st place. Maybe it's too stark a warning but unless we start to see each other as something other than demons hell-bent on destroying all good in the world, I don't see how anything productive is going to happen.

A note of hope though - the AOC/Cruz collaboration sounds nice.

> I guess that might bleed into real-world politics, but it's unfortunate.

> All I can say is prepare for some hard times, followed by the US not having the geopolitical 1st place. Maybe it's too stark a warning but unless we start to see each other as something other than demons hell-bent on destroying all good in the world, I don't see how anything productive is going to happen.

This discourse has certainly bled into the real-world politics, especially in Congress. Throw in the Internet's lawless landscape, a reckless leader, extremism and nationalism, and you have a powder keg ready to explode.

During the Democratic debate last night, many candidates said climate change, China, Russia and even Trump were the greatest geopolitical threat to the United States. What none of them said was the continuing divide between the right and left in this country, which, within at least another two or three decades, could escalate to a full-blown conflict.

Many people scoff at the idea of another civil war: "Not possible" or "Not in this era." I'm worried we're sowing the seeds for a future conflict, and other countries, like China and Russia, eagerly await for the shining beacon of hope, which the United States boasts to be, will tear itself apart from within.



I don't understand how this isn't the most concerning thing to everyone rational more than tribalist right now. And if I wanted to tear the US apart, this is exactly how I would do it. Slowly and over time. Especially if I was Russia. :P

Your viewpoint might shift if you're more affected.

I'm German and the only party really seriously pushing for improvement of my identity rights is also neoliberal.

So I'm just out of options as a trans socialist. Of course I'll call the greens out on flying the LGBT flag while not pushing for TSG reform (the law that allows you to change your name for ~5000 EUR, two unqualified "expert opinions" and a civil court case).

Looks like it's the more modern twist of script kiddies on irc in the 90s.

There's no evidence he was referring to you, as no handle is cited in his response. Not that I'm taking sides, but evidence actually matters

I'll write up a post about this entire thing (and the irony of rob going BUT THESE SJW MAKE SO MANY ASSUMPTIONS) eventually, but the tl;dr is I followed up by email, he confirmed he meant me and apologized while still assuming I was someone else, so I jokingly asked for a certificate of being an SJW I got one for being "an independent thinker" with someone elses name on it.

And because that sounds like an insanely farfetched story... here's the certificate with the person's name he assumed I was on it.


> Dissenter is pretty great for commenting on things that have heavy-handed censorship, like political YouTube videos.

From what I've seen, Dissenter is just a way for people who "believe in free speech" to use the N words in comments without repercussions.

Yeah, the browser project is quite nice... and it has more room to improve in terms of size/speed. While most of the Brave stuff is disabled, some is still compiled/linked in the build.


Actually it's the right context. They wanted to censor the comments.

Dissenter is a great example of why we cannot trust Mozilla. Being able to link URLs to a message board is such basic web functionality. They clearly banned it out of a political grudge, and this is just another example of how they have zero credibility and should not be trusted.

In the 90's there was a Windows program that offered the same functionality, called uTOK: http://alumni.media.mit.edu/~orit/utok.html . IIRC it acted as a HTTP proxy to see which URLs you were fetching.

Ah, the good old days where neo-nazis weren't everywhere online...

Sounds like there is a graveyard of these things. I remember Google Sidebar.

It might be called Sidewiki actually...

Google Sidewiki is what I was thinking of, too. And as I recall, people were not a fan. Giving up control of your website to these anonymous, semi-invisible comments seems like a bad idea.

The description calling content moderation "orwellian" is also concerning. I think at this point we've all seen how twisted unmoderated comments get. If the platform is built on this premise then I can only guess how toxic such a community will become.

If something like this were to see wide success, that would potentially take a big use case away from Google Search, no question about that. You pretty much have to use Google Search in many cases if you want to find out what other people are saying about a given website.

And if malicious comments are a problem on the platform, then that's a failure of the design of the platform rather than the idea of it. The nature of commenting as it exists now dishes out proportional exposure to those who are the loudest and most persistent, or can otherwise game the system. We've tried to solve that with human moderators (sometimes as bad as the trolls themselves), and simple voting algorithms (lowbrow meme humor gets voted to the top).

It's now 2019, we're long overdue for a better way of doing things. Taking two steps backwards toward a completely unmoderated soapbox is a non-starter, and the fact that we're even having this discussion on HN is evidence that far too little effort has gone into solving these problems collectively.

I guess StumbleUpon had comments feature too.


Dissenter was banned from Firefox a few months ago.

You can still install the extension from the dissenter website

A probably better community.


I have tried it. The public feed given to me had something about "killing all trannies", putting <n-word> back in Africa by force, climate change denial, and questioning why America doesn't yet arm everyone who isn't Muslim so the Muslim people can be shot on demand.

And I seriously wish I made this all up. This place is a violent cesspool.

That was my experience as well. In the first six posts I saw were two by _literal_ Nazis, so I left and never came back.

I've browsed both. They are filled with hate. In fact, I just took a look on Gab's public explore page:


within a couple of scrolls found a rant about "Corey Booker's tranny abortions", and a reference to a "lispy Mexican faggot". Most other posts are either pro-Trump memes or anti-immigration rants, and there are plenty of those on Facebook and Twitter.

I get it: the sales pitch here is that you come to Gab to hear interesting thoughts are are censored by mainstream sites. But I'm not seeing a single post that made me stop and think about anything. It's mindless, hateful garbage. Even if you disagree with that and don't think it's a "bad" community I still question what would ever make it an interesting or worthwhile community. Because I'm seeing nothing.

I don't know gab too well, but the chans and voat DO contain worthwhile discussions as well as news/facts that are removed from HN/reddit etc.

I've been to Voat a number of times out of curiosity, and not once have I seen anything resembling meaningful discussion. It was a bunch a comments promoting drivel about white supremacy, lizard-people, LGBT+ lynching, Anti-Semitism, and Fascism. In fact, I distinctly remember every single thread having at least one comment regarding white supremacy.

The Chans are a different entity, as there's no voting function to complete the attention seeker feedback loop. I'd even argue they're one of the few places on the internet that doesn't bubble much, as it's completely anonymous with little reward function. Voat on the other hand is probably the one of the foulest places on the internet when it comes to discussing disgusting and dangerous ideology.

Right now, these are the top posts on voat:

- A post about Vimeos removal of the Google/Veritas Video

- A Post that criticized that r/the_donald removed 83000 posts in the last month (implying that relative to voat, T_D is too heavily censored)

- A Post about Eric Schmidts visit to a Hillary Clinton Rally during the last election where he wore a Staff Badge

- A Post about the recent murder of a German politician that was most likely murdered because of his anti-German remarks in the past

- An anti-jewish gif in /funny

- An informative post about a high number of NYPT suicides

- A post about Mexican Migrants

- A post about Muslims faking to be American Cops

Followed by some making fun of reddit and AOC, pointing out double standards of Israel vs US walls, cop power abuse, complaining about a low sentence for a child rapist, A post about Merkels Health status etc etc.

I think adults can stomach that, and from time to time learn something new.

I just looked. About one-third is drivel, one-third is pro-Trump, and one-third is just normal stuff (there's a picture of a 1930's vintage dress, and a pretty picture some one took of Cork, Ireland). Show me the social network which is clean. It's probably a similar breakdown on many others, just biased to the right rather than the left. Also, I think Gab doesn't do the kind of algorithmic filtering, promotion, and demotion of twitter/fb/etc.

Wow, it's surprising how much difference a proper post title makes. The v1 of this post had a long, but technically correct title without a link, but with a long, boring description about technical details with links. The post got like 5 upvotes and 1 reply. So I've deleted that post, shortened the title, removed the description and set the link to github instead. Now it has 150 points and 120 comments. And I really appreciate all the attention to my little project!

Wow... I feel old, remembering 'third voice'. Maybe even older, because no one else mentioned it... ?


That's exactly who I was thinking, so you're not the only one feeling old here.

Third Voice was an idea ahead of its time. Blogs ended-up being the meta-web, I suppose. They're not as satisfying to me as inline annotations.

Don't feel bad, "Third voice" is modern compared to web annotations.

This is very similar to hypothes.is, apart from the hashing: https://web.hypothes.is/

The idea is very similar, but I can't agree with a few implementation details: - The extension shouldn't need to have access to the page. Inserting an iframe into the page seems wrong. - The extension shouldn't own the comments. It should be a window to the comments, not a gatekeeper. It should be possible to implement alternative UIs and alternative extensions and connect them to the same comments. - The extension should allow to switch the UI and the data server.

I like the inline annotations, but likely it'll need full access to DOM.

I'm not intimately acquainted with the internal of hypothes.is but there is an open API, based on open standards. So you can build whatever you want with it.

I stopped using it as I moved to Firefox a year ago. More important, they didn't provide a link to download my data at least in that time.

All the data here is actually stored in indexedDb and localStorage. I guess I'll implement import/export next time.

This actually looks a lot cooler than the OP. :)

Edit: oh wait...chrome only

I think it's good. It's based on open standards, has a proactive and engaged organisation behind it and, crucially, a community of users.

Not to detract from the OP.

(Edit: It's an open standard. There are plugins for different browsers, a web interface and API)

There is a bookmarklet that works for firefox.

Apart from encrypting the comments so the server wouldn't be able to read them, I've been thinking that it's actually possible to leave private messages: it would be a comment on SHA1(user.publicKey), and the message would be encrypted with that public key. The extension uses the ed25519 crypto system (WebCrypto notoriously avoids implementing it, so I had to use a WASM module). That seems like a very cool idea, albeit it's attracting exactly 0 attention from the public so far :)

Be mindful of moderating it yourself though. You don't want your user niche to be wannabe pedophiles leaving disgusting comments on children youtube video to avoid google "orwelian censorship".

I've built the same on chrome not so long ago. Mine is probably uglier than yours.

I support you because the comment blocking hysteria these days is getting a bit too much. Let me know if you would like to see what I built on chrome.

Where are the comments stored?

firebase, I encrypt the data with a hardcoded key in the extension. Mostly a prototype.

Never launched.

Have a look : https://github.com/JonathanFillion/chat-extension

This would be so much better with a screenshot how it actually looks like.

There is one in the extension page, but sure, I can add one to github.

This reminds me of Dissenter[0]. I could've sworn there was a similar extension.

[0]: https://dissenter.com/download

The example page seems to render HTML (and I bet JS) from comments, while hilarious does same thing happen in the extension as well?

The extension does two things: - It sends sha1 of the url to the data server to check the numebr of comments, but doesn't pull the comments. - It renders an <iframe src="comntr.github.io#foobar.com"> to show the comments. Thus the extension has very little code and doesn't need much updates.

So answer is yes. The database does not sanitize user input and the extension just renders the tags as actual HTML. That doesn't seem super safe. I mean just check the example page from the github. It already has embedded Youtube videos and gifs.

Ah, right, I forgot to add basic html escaping!

What anti-spam capability does this have? What's to stop someone from just flooding the DB for the top Alexa sites with junk?

Currently nothing. But I've only mentioned this extension to a small technical audience, so I wouldn't expect a flood of spam. In practice, this needs some sort of "local captcha" that doesn't involve 3rd parties, i.e. the storage server returns a puzzle (like guess what's shown on this 3d image) and if solved correctly, it results in a proper hash that's easy to verify. A simpler, but uglier solution is to ask the user to produce a hash with N leading zeros.

I wonder, how would this work on, eg an ebay auction or another site where the same content is available at lots of different URLs?

The same auction is available at, eg





, and probably limitless other URLs.

The extension can pull comments from multiple urls. But I think this situation is unique and most of the commentable content is hosted on static urls.

How do you keep all the toxic and evil comments out?

How do you give website owners a way to opt out?

Not having a website,I guess. It's not their system to opt out of. Perhaps though some will try to get comments removed by disputing their accuracy (data protection act/gdpr in the UK), or the use of their URL for copyright reasons (I seem to recall this being an issue on one of the previous manifestations of this idea).

The likelihood for millions of users to use something like and comment on highly trafficked websites seems low.

From the Firefox add-on page:

> Many websites don't allow user comments, or disable comments after a certain period of time. comntr bypasses these Orwellian restrictions by allowing anyone to leave a comment on any website, as well as read comments left by others. Furthermore, your comments cannot be censored by the website administrator.

I like the concept of the add-on, but calling moderation of your comment section "Orwellian" is pretty out there.

Puzzling that after 20 years of internet stupidism, people still think unrestricted user content could somehow be a good idea.

Some people just want to be able to say what is legally allowed. That ability is attacked again and again. You don't have to want that freedom yourself, but imposing that restriction on others can be criticized.

So if I do not add support for unlimited anonymous comments at my own expense to my website, I am engaging in Orwellian oppression?

Then allow me to comment on this repo and display those comments prominently. Because if I’m not allowed to add whatever opinion I want to the readme, I am being horribly oppressed.

I think your comment is misguided. I have neither used the term Orwellian or opressions, nor do I have any affiliation with this extension.

I'm literally just saying that some people like to be able to say what they are allowed to, that this could be a tool to do so, and that that is OK. That was a direct response to the phrase "people still think unrestricted user content could somehow be a good idea", which implies that free speech is NEVER a good idea. I disagree with that.

I read it to mean “allowing unrestricted comments on a web page is a bad idea”

Perhaps you read it as “allowing unrestricted comments on a web page _or anywhere else_ is a bad idea”

But that second one has never been the case. People have alway been able to post responses on their own sites with links to the original. Many places like reddit are primarily that.

I think others maybe confusing the right to free speech with a right to vandalize.

The problem isn't free speech, but rather the distribution of illegal pornography and other illegal things.

I don't know about this project specifically, but usually comments are simply plain text.

If there's links to illegal stuff there, then something needs to be done about the actual site hosting the illegal stuff.

>Some people just want to be able to say what is legally allowed.

Not all speech is legally allowed, is this extensions going to deal with copyright violations, threats, libel, etc. Or even someone posting the name of a person arrested on a news story when the laws disallow that information being public.

Well they have to, as it is law. I specifically wrote about legal speech. Extensions like this (or much more popular: dissenter) allows people to exercise that right on sites that limit their free speech.

Don't refer to freedom of speech like something everyone is obliged to provide. That's not what it means. https://xkcd.com/1357/

This comic routinely used as a "Gotcha". However it so over simplifies the position that we are in.

Youtube now totally owns online video, there isn't any competitors that are even close. Facebook has almost half the world signed up to its platform. This isn't someone's online forum or a news site. These companies completely own their respective parts of the industry.

The major social media sites like Youtube, Twitter, Facebook are so large they are considered to be a "public private space" (I forget the exact legal term).

These platforms agree to DMCA safe harbour where they are considered to be a "platform" and not a "publisher". That means they shouldn't be censoring anyone on their political opinions and must be politically neutral (otherwise they are taking on the role of a publisher as they are acting as an editor), now IANAL but there is certainly an argument that can be made. Whether a judge would rule it so, who knows.

This is worth watching:


Tim Pool in this video manages to point out quite clearly how Twitter terms of service are political and they don't even realise it.

That's orthogonal to what I said. I do have the right to say controversial things (at least I would have if I would be American, but let's assume that). Sites can limit that and delete comments they don't like - that's ok! But I am still allowed to use external software to still exercise that right.

And, we already know that's not entirely true.

There was a recent decision that POTUS twitter feed is a public space (https://theconversation.com/federal-judge-rules-trumps-twitt...) . We can easily see this extended to any US elected official.

And there is also historical context in an 1980 decision in Pruneyard Shopping Center v. Robins where, based on Californian law, private property of the shoping mall was deemed open to political speech (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pruneyard_Shopping_Center_v._R...)

When its a private, non-political forum, the corps can do as they choose. But once politics and political speech move in along with public elected officials, all bets are off.

(Thanks to hn:dexen for the links. https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=20268802 )

The distinction, in this case, is that's it's NOT about using an existing forum for something. Web pages do not come with comment sections by default. So the discussion (ie: not having comments being a restriction of free speech) is about requiring you to build a forum specifically for speech to take place. It's like requiring a shopping mall to build a stage for people to have political speeches on. I feel few people would say free speech is infringed upon if every mall doesn't build such a stage.


> The distinction, in this case, is that's it's NOT about using an existing forum for something. Web pages do not come with comment sections by default.

But social media does. And so does a lot of websites that use either wordpress plugins, Discus, or other sites.

And nothing I cited requires a comments section to be made... But when it is, there's precedent for forcing whomever's running it to make way for political speech when politicians are stumping and talking there.

> It's like requiring a shopping mall to build a stage for people to have political speeches on. I feel few people would say free speech is infringed upon if every mall doesn't build such a stage.

The very act of having a floor in the private mall was enough. You don't need a stage. And even gathering signatures for a political reason is reason enough. Seriously, go look up the Pruneyard rule. You can try to derail it with 'whatifs', but that is precedent.

Freedom of speech is not the same as the 1st Amendment.

You're talking about the latter, which is a constitutional right protected by the government. What people are talking about here is the concept of unrestricted speech, which is a much broader ideal, necessary for a healthy society, and is definitely under ever-increasing pressure as the world moves towards entirely different communication mediums. When most conversation moves online, the lack of public open spaces in that digital environment is a valid cause for concern and definitely deserves discussion.

That exactly what it means

No it's not. I am in no way required to provide you a platform to talk through or to allow you to continue using a platform you've been using. All it means is that the government, key word, is not allowed to stop you from using a platform you are allowed by it's owners to use.

> [...] All it means is that the government, key word, is not allowed to stop you from using a platform [...]

The confusion (ours, not yours specifically) might arise because some talk about free speech the principle and others talk about free speech the legal norm. (The latter is prominently codified in the US constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights).

It's not the same and the principle isn't exclusively about government.

Free speech is also a very old ideal and exists in places where the US constitution doesn't apply and places where human rights aren't implemented through local policies. It can be violated in places where there is no government at all.

There's this great Wikipedia article on the topic which introduces first the idea, then different implementations: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Freedom_of_speech

Yes it is

Does this extension give any party the power to unpublish not-legally-allowed content?

I have no idea. But I would assume they would comply with the law in order to not get sued?

One person made the extension. It wouldn't take much for a company to threaten a lawsuit to take the extension out of operation.

Yup. That's why I don't post my SSN everywhere. A single data server with all the comments without any moderation won't survive. But a group of data servers with different rules and many entry points via extensions or websites, can survive.

> give any party the power to unpublish not-legally-allowed content

Like the party that published it?

Yep, it's possible in theory. Comments are signed with ed25519 and the author can sign a request to delete the comment.

Agreed, also while they can not be censored by the administrator of the website, they can still be censored (or moderated) by the Plugin Owner, right?

If this got popular, and an administrator wanted to disable comments, one thing that they could do is add a unique random prefix to every request to a URL. The web server would just generate a random prefix for each link it produces, and strip the random prefix from the path in every request it receives.

For example, HN's front page contains a set of URLs for each item. This item would be https://news.ycombinator.com/b149012c-56f4-4859-82b8-1f3f83e... for one request, and https://news.ycombinator.com/73e78d90-cc25-4091-8ffa-94783a2... for the next request. Both requests would get mapped to the same page, and serve up the same content (except with another uuid inserted into links).

Every comment would go into a unique SHA1 bucket and never seen again.

If the content is to be found via search engines, then this may not be advisable, and the plugin owner could try the same techniques that say Google would to use the canonical URL.

Yeah, perhaps a better solution would be for the comments to be stored in something like ipfs? Though if i understand ipfs right, it works like torrents, meaning that unpopular comments will disappear over time.

In fact, I seriously considered ipfs. Then I tried to patch its severe connectivity problems with webtorrent dht. I even considered dat. But internet consists of symmetric NATs, that make any such DHTs hardly possible. An extension based on js-ipfs, would need 1 GB of memory and would constantly hog CPU with some mysterious computations. It would have to keep tens of tcp connections open to maintain at least a resemblance of connectivity. Even then, if you published a comment via "ipfs add" on your laptop and tried to discover it via "ipfs get" on your phone, it would be completely unable to do so even after an hour. Yes, it is this bad. And even then, assuming ipfs add/get worked perfectly with negligible load on CPU and memory, you'd still to keep the list of comment hashes on some data server because in ipfs the key principle is immutability. No, ipns is not a solution. It does allow to change a single hash pointer, but you need to use a private key to do so. This won't scale beyond a single data server. I had big hopes on ipfs, but it really isn't there and given the fundamental problem - inability to implement fast DHT in the world of Symmetric NATs - I don't see how it can become better.

This is the thing that I was thinking about. That a blockchain-like solution would better fit the goal of the extension. And I don't think this because I worry about censorship or free speech. I think the main benefit of this extension is that it creates an option to comment on sites where to creator of the site didn't make commenting possible.

However I do worry about moderation and trolls. Allowing people to make as much noise as they can is almost as damaging to free speech as censorship. I'm not really familiar with IPFS, what does it mean that unpopular comments disappear? Is it like seeding the only torrent (comments) that you like?

>Allowing people to make as much noise as they can is almost as damaging to free speech as censorship.

The thing is, to see that noise you would first have to be on the specific link, want to see comments on it, then go out of your way to install the addon if you haven't already. This is so much better for the people running the websites as they do not have to even acknowledge the comments' existence and are not obligated to moderate anything. Anyone who wants to comment or see them should know what they are getting into. They can grow a skin or uninstall the addon.

I'd be more concerned about spam than speech I dislike.

Is there any kind of rate-limiting to stop bad actors from making a million comments per second?

Not right now. But I'm hoping to come up with an equivalent of captcha that doesn't need 3rd parties. That way any comment will need a few seconds of the commenter's time (not CPU time).

Yeah AFAIK it works like torrents.

About the moderation, etc, this is really opt-in so you use it by your own choice and by "going in" you pretty much have to expect that like any other place where moderation is light or non-existent you'll see stuff you dislike.

>I'm not really familiar with IPFS, what does it mean that unpopular comments disappear? Is it like seeding the only torrent (comments) that you like?

Uploading to IPFS is like creating a torrent for any file you share. Someone always needs to be seeding that file for it to remain accessible to people.

So what OP meant by unpopular comments disappear is that nobody would be seeding them.

Not all moderation is Orwellian but there is moderation happening right now that is Orwellian.

According to that paragraph, not having a comment section, falls under the definition of Orwellian.

Appreciate the thought behind using the hashed URL to avoid leaking PII. That does make comments difficult too though because of refs being inserted by various social platforms. Not sure how one would handle that though

Some sites use a link with real=canonical to indicate the canonical url. Maybe this could use that (when present), instead of the tab url?

Comments can be seen like this: https://comntr.github.io#http://contoso.com/ The trick is that the #... part of the URL isn't sent to the server. This request downloads JS which computes SHA1 and gets comments by that hash from the data server.

I like the idea. Third voice was fun for a while.

Are the iframes opt-in per domain? If not, how do you deal with leaking internal DNS names (referers) from within companies and government organizations? I don't see a referer policy [1]

Does your addon respect CSP policies? I assume the browser would enforce this, if iframes are not permitted.

[1] - https://securityheaders.com/?q=https%3A%2F%2Fcomntr.github.i...

The domain mentioned in the README is not up.

I guess my extension doesn't none of these. Will be fixed in v2.

"it attaches comments to SHA1 of the URL, to avoid leaking PII"

Seriously, SHA1?

Why is this a problem? I even considered MD5, to be honest. Afaik, the only reason MD5 or SHA1 are considered "insecure" now is that it's possible to use sophisticated techniques called differential analysis to carefully craft two binary files that would have the same hash. But if the space of possible inputs is limited (we can't put arbitrary stuff in the URLs), then good luck finding a collision. Discovering a collision with an existing input is a much harder problem (is it even solved for arbitrary data?). In any case, SHA1 here isn't a security mechanism, but is just a way to hide URLs from the data server and organize comments as a nice hashmap. If someone wants to put anything sensitive in the comments, they shouldn't and I've clearly warned about this with a big yellow banner. If someone ever needs security, the only way to go is to use your own data server, or encrypt comments themselves with ed25519+aes256.

The problem with using SHA1 to protect PII is it would be trivial to brute force, especially with the restrictive character set of URLs, and a big part of them being able to be guessed. One could very quickly cycle through all Hacker News URLs, for example. This is why a key derivation function would be preferable.

The space of possible reasonable URLs is way too big to brute force. If your point is that someone can just grab the set of existing HN URLs and get their heashes, then I don't see what this achieves. Someone who knows the URLs can just download all the comments for them anyway. In other words, is there an example where a sophisticated state of the art hash has advantage over MD5 in our case?

I don't think it's particularly bad for this use-case: the easy failure scenario someone can do now is that a site operator could make two URLs that the extension considers to be the same and shows the same comments for, and the worst-case scenario is that someone makes a URL the extension considers the same as someone else's URL.

But regardless, it's weird that anyone would reach for SHA-1 for anything new now.

And I'm sure this won't be used by bad actors at all...

and I'm sure the extension doesn't just send the URL of every page you visit somewhere...

EDIT: Oh, it appears to be hashed... that's not as bad as I expected - but it's still extremely abusable. Nope... just nope - absolutely not without some sort of differential privacy or other concealment, thanks.

Comments under example.com already give a good idea what it will look like when everyone will start posting comments in public places.

It's not the same, but I use this Chrome extension that tells me when a URL has been shared on Reddit so I can comment there.


Someone should make something similar for HN.

Technically the thing is nothing new, the really important questions are those related to real life operation, and I don't see them answered. * Position in regard to censorship, and technical tools to do, or counter it.

* Viability/resilience of the server which keeps comments.

* Under which jurisdiction it is hosted?

* If it depends on a domain name who owns it?

* Can a commenter be traced, and by whom?

* Can anybody (including original author) edit comments?

(1) The author of this extension shouldn't have any powers to moderate comments. At the moment I can, but this will be fixed. I believe in a fragmented network with different rules about how to moderate content, or don't moderate it at all. (2) No resilience as of today. But it should be a federated network of data servers that exchange with comments. (3) US, if you're asking about this particular server. But it's just a demo. (4) I own it. But again, there should be a network of such servers and it should be possible to add your own that would have access to all the comments and would be able to serve them. (5) Commenters get assigned random ed25518 keypairs, but you can delete yours and another one will be generated. Technically, the data server knows your IP address, but you can change the data server in the config. (6) Since comment are signed, it's possible to allow the author to edit his comments. They can't be just edited by someone else because comments are signed. At the moment signatures aren't verified, but there will be a verufy button per comment/

Thank you! I think, it worth adding these to readme.

A true decentralized solution would have no moderation, no edit, no deletion. It would be basically a 4chan on every single page.

You could have decentralized with the original poster able to edit. Every post/thread could be like it's own git repo.

You're right. However, it only enables the original authors to edit their comments. A moderation is about a third party being able to "moderate" the posts.

I've deleted the previous "Show HN" post because it was messy and hard to read and replaced it with this one.

I would be interested in a version of this extension that shows me the HN comments of the page I am on, if it has previously been posted.

Edit: Someone linked this exact thing further down https://github.com/jdormit/looped-in

A bookmarklet would be better. It could achieve the same functionality without the security issues of an extension.

Isn't bookmarklet just a script that runs on the context of the current page when you click on that bookmark? If so, the script has all the access to your data. It can steal your auth cookie or some keys from the local storage and send them to some server.

A bookmarklet is only invoked when you click it. Not on every fricking website you visit.

And it would just have to be a single line that you can read so you can trust it. Something like:

That would redirect you to discuss.com where you can discuss your current url without discuss.com having any access to your data.

To make it more convenient, the bookmarklet could also add the discussion to the current page via an iframe which also has no access to any outside data.

But if you click on it, it will have access to all your data? There is no in between: either no access until you click or full access when you click.

This can be done already:


True. Infra is already there, nothing prevents someone from making bookmarklet that uses the same database.

Google has tried this once and it failed to gain traction: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Google_Sidewiki

If an innovative and prolific technology company wants to discourage others from innovating in a certain problem domain, all it has to do is declare to the world that it's own attempts were a failure.

Another project in a similar vein was _why's mousehole proxy https://github.com/evaryont/mousehole

I love this idea, was thinking about how nice something like this would be myself. Sad it'll get no chance because of people going "muh nazis", even though it will work with any URL. It appears theres this assumption that it will be used for politics related stuff which i have no concern with myself. No neonazis will be gathering on the URLs that are meaningful to me and id say most people. Read.write.as blogs/posts have no way to leave comments and feedback, so something like this would be cool. If i wrote blogs there, id like to see feedback and supportive comments if possible. And since its an external function from the site itself, i can either grow a skin or uninstall the addon. It just works.

Every discussion method eventually gets abused. Then the owner figures out what rules they want to enforce, and how.

Every website is one URL away. You can't rely on being relatively invisible.

"If I wrote blogs there, id like to see feedback and supportive comments" -- yes, but (a) if you write a blog, you can choose a platform that has comments and (b) eventually the Nazis or the pedophiles or the Nazi pedophiles will colonize your comments section when they discover you don't have any moderation rules. At which point, you will have three choices:

1. turn off comments

2. moderate comments

3. give up

There is no turning off or moderating those comments. It's an external function of an addon that has nothing to do with my hypothetical blog in which lacks a native comment section.

To see those comments, I would have to willingly decide that I wanted to see them and go to download the addon.This is the same for anyone else. If there are people who do this and think they can make any kind of association or blame on me for having pedos commenting on my blog's url, well, they are wrong, since I had nothing to do with that comment section and have no control over it. What do they want me to do? It's some other guy's addon and other people talking amongst themselves a great distance away.

This is an old idea that never really caught on but a good one, nonetheless. But if it will ever get some traction, it probably needs to be implemented in the browser itself

For Chrome users: www.vestedyeti.com/download

We took inspiration from SideWiki and Hypothes.is, and paired it with bookmarking features.

Disclaimer: This is my app/extension.

This could be a great alternative to reviews on e.g. Amazon.

But, I guess first a number of problems should be solved w.r.t. moderation, trust, spam, ...

The only way this can be useful is if everybody has it. Not having it available on Chrome is not a great start.

I fail to see any merit in the claim that mainstream adoption is necessary for a tool like this to have any value.

You're not going to be using this tool for synchronous conversations between commenters, or even conversations at all. Any information you leave in the form of a comment is going to matter to the people who visit the site after you. You're also commenting about the website's content in question, not having a soapbox discussion.

The tool doesn't need to suffer from the effects of the empty room problem known to social networking, because there is no "social" in this network.

Granted, it's going to take something a lot more clever than what's already there to deal with the separate moderation issue.

This kind of tool, to make sense, needs to have as many people as possible on it otherwise you'll see no comment on any site you open. You can indeed leave a comment yourself, but probably people won't if they see nobody's ever going to read them.

So that's why it's strange that such an extension, which I think does have a social aspect, would ignore 60% of browsers.

If the data is open and federated (as it should be), it will still be available for ingestion by other future (and past) attempts at the idea. I don't see any fundamental problem with the idea, but understand that it's important to get the details right.

you can install the addon on chrome manually

> The extension works in Chrome too, but it's not published to the Chrome Web Store. Why? Publishing any extension there now requires (1) a phone number, to create a gmail account and (2) a credit card, supposedly to deter spammers. However the extension can be installed manually.

I remember when I was a kid, there was this program that let you draw all over any site. it was kinda cool.

Looks like a hacker news with a different topology.

This might be an idea for RSS readers.

Can you explain how?

it looks like the comments are in plaintext.

couldn't they be encrypted with the url?

Yes, they can be.

This sounds pretty cool

So basically, Reddit?

No. With reddit you can't add a comment to all pages on the web, such as someone's ebay auction.

I recommend people checkout Dissenter [1] if they are interested in this, it has quite the user base already (almost a million users late 2018 [2]). Some of the discussions had on there have been really quite interesting.

My motivation for using their comments add-on is mostly to avoid tracking, although it's quite annoying they rely on Cloudflare.

On a different note, the Wikipedia article on Gab/Dissenter is quite politically charged [2]. It seems that Wikipedia editors are mostly left-leaning (after clicking through several political articles).

[1] https://dissenter.com/

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gab_Dissenter

I have this vague memory that Gab was associated with some alt-right/neo-nazi/something-or-other thing and I should stay far away. Their website refers to Blocking "Big Tech" (which smells like "Deep State" to me).

Is this something I should be using/supporting? I'm not an overtly political person but I just don't want to be in bad company.

Just take a look at https://gab.com/popular and you can make your judgement in less than a minute.

That was... ugly. And I've seen it before. It seems worse now.

I stopped reading when I got to "our race replaced by violent low-iq brown". (in case anyone wanted to dispute the existence: https://gab.com/HankRearden/posts/MHdqTE1hWDFDTTVTR3Biak1vel...)

That's enough bull for today. Fair warning to anyone else who decides to indulge curiosity.

I consider myself pretty open to ideas across the political spectrum and even I could not stand being there for even an hour. Gab is what happens when you combine global centralization with extreme selection bias (people who are excluded or unwelcome from the global community platforms). It's like prison but for the Internet.

Prison, but full of people who want to be there.

That's debatable. I know a lot of conservative people. Even the ones who are not extreme (i.e. regular folks that believe in liberty) have a tendency to feel (perhaps rightly so) persecuted by the political correctness in the country/world.

Some people may turn to Gab with the feeling that it's the lesser of the evils, or the only place they can feel free from the vice grip of the power elite, but unfortunately that particular environment turns out to be not such a great role model. There are going to be breeding grounds for such views as long as there is an Internet, but those breeding grounds will grow in population in proportion to the additional prohibitions on speech imposed by the mainstream Internet platforms.

Rather than pointing at these people from a distance, sign up and talk to them. There is certainly a right-wing bias, sign up and change that?

Also, one of the comments below:

> Hank here is the only person on the Planet that can turn

> Sarcasm into HILARITY........

I don't find it funny or condone it, but perhaps this is some sort of sarcasm. Looking at the account of "hank", they appear to right-wing and politically engaged.

I spend quite a lot of time around conservative people due to my hobbies, and I'd dare say a good amount of the people I meet could be considered semi-radical in their beliefs; at the very least, they are hardline and structured in their ideologies. I am not a conservative person, but I am very tolerant of their viewpoints and have spent a lot of time in conversation with them, helping them see my views and learning to understand theirs; in short, I feel confident in approaching those of the "opposite side" (totally a misnomer, but the best way to put it currently).

However, everything I saw on the front page of that website is worse than I've heard even the most drunken, politically minded conservatives that I have met. The beliefs espoused on the front page of that site, keeping in mind this is not even "fringe" for that community, are all things that would elicit immediate removal from any other community that I am a part of; some of that is because of optics, some of it is because of the demographics (PoC, Religion).

I do not desire to engage in rhetoric with someone who photoshops a Nazi SS uniform onto their profile picture and calls for the eradication, in whole or in part, of an ethnic group (this is the definition of genocide). I am fully in agreement with the idea that, on a level playing field, even one whose beliefs are dangerous can be made to feel empathetic and see different views; however, the community of that website seems to be acting entirely in bad faith when it comes to discussion.

I do not desire to participate in a public forum full of bad actors and those debating in bad faith. This says to me that those in that forum are entrenched in their beliefs, and use it as an escape from debate; I, too, have these spaces, and this site for one is even one of those for me.

The act of engaging with people who self identify as Nazis and Race Realists is one of extreme exhaustion and endless rhetorical debate, subjective to extreme attempts of trolling and fallacious bad-faithed arguments. This is what Gab has showed itself to be for me. If you have a different experience there, feel free to point it out to me.

All of this is ignoring the foundation upon which the platform was created on, which has its roots here.

Well put. Thank you.

No. His "sarcasm" was that he now supports "flooding" the country with what he called "violent low-iq brown".

I have zero interest in talking to them. I've tried. Any argument I've ever encountered has been made in bad faith.

It's not what you called "right wing bias" that I have a problem with and don't want to engage with. I thought that was quite clear in my comment.

> No. His "sarcasm" was that he now supports "flooding" the

> country with what he called "violent low-iq brown".

Again: "I don't find it funny or condone it". But, how do you know he isn't sarcastically echoing the point of view of a far-right person, or what other people believe his opinion should be? I think that given the right context (and/or delivery) this could be a joke to mock people for example.

> I have zero interest in talking to them. I've tried. Any

> argument I've ever encountered has been made in bad faith.

Whether you've given up or not, they exist and will continue to exist. They lay the bricks, they hold political positions and they teach your kids. These people exist everywhere in society and somehow we need to work together for the betterment (and survival) of humanity. Given how important us working together is, I feel obliged to understand them.

> It's not what you called "right wing bias" that I have a

> problem with and don't want to engage with. I thought that

> was quite clear in my comment.

I didn't suggest you did, I'm just saying that you are able to neutralize the perceived political/ideological bias of the platform with your own thoughts and ideas.

I don't need to neutralize anything. They're not funny. I won't waste my time.

And no, these kinds of people don't teach my children. People who make remarks like that in an Ontario school would be in real hot water. Even if it's a "joke".

And yes, "joke" is in quotes for a reason. It's not a new phenomenon: https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/may/23/alt-right...

It's not about politics, man. I was very clear.

> I don't need to neutralize anything.

In the same way you don't need to donate to charity.

> And no, these kinds of people don't teach my children.

So you think some of these 1 million or so people aren't functioning members of society? How would you ever know if they hold these views privately and express them online under an alias? These are just the people who somehow collected onto this platform, I imagine many more exist (I happen to know many who are not online - and also far-right teachers (it's possible to do a job and not express politics)).

> And yes, "joke" is in quotes for a reason. It's not a new

> phenomenon:

> https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/may/23/alt-right...

The "alt-right" is just a fuzzy term without any real meaning [0]: "The term is ill-defined, having been used in different ways by various self-described "alt-rightists", media commentators, and academics." It's a convenient bogey-man for people to claim they know the exact cause of some poorly defined group. Helps in writing articles and publishing papers I guess.

This whole subject is quite complex and I don't know how anybody could possibly effectively police "jokes" vs jokes without implementing their own bias, especially inside jokes. "I wouldn't spend so long replying to HN comments if they all just dropped dead". Is it a death threat, sarcasm, an inside joke, me spreading my anti-HN ideology? Who knows without context.

> It's not about politics, man. I was very clear.

Wikipedia: "Fascism is a form of radical right-wing, authoritarian ultranationalism" [1]. Fascism is a political ideology. But it's really besides the point.

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alt-right

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fascism

You’re misunderstanding me. I have nothing to say to people who want to argue in bad faith about racism and other nonsense as if they have any valid scientific footing.

Please don’t cherry pick my remarks to make like there’s an argument to be had here.

By the way, that article is referencing a revival of a strategy employed much earlier on in the 20th century. It doesn’t hinge on “alt right” or anything else. Just bigots making an effort to normalize their bigotry.

Have a good weekend. It’s a long one here as we celebrate Canada Day.

> You’re misunderstanding me. I have nothing to say to people

> who want to argue in bad faith about racism and other

> nonsense as if they have any valid scientific footing.

Are you suggesting that I'm acting in bad faith, or the commenter on Gab? I all honesty I think we're misunderstanding each other, that's always been the challenge of writing.

> Please don’t cherry pick my remarks to make like there’s

> an argument to be had here.

Please quote specifically what you think I've cherry picked, I haven't done so on purpose.

> By the way, that article is referencing a revival of a

> strategy employed much earlier on in the 20th century. It

> doesn’t hinge on “alt right” or anything else. Just bigots

> making an effort to normalize their bigotry.

Normalization of speech through sarcasm? I'm British, sarcasm/"jokes" is the language most of us speak normally anyway, it's how we laugh about our shared troubles.

> Have a good weekend. It’s a long one here as we celebrate

> Canada Day.

Have a good one.

You’re asking more questions but I also clearly signed off. All the best.

If you want to use a "cotton wool" social media, clearly there is Twitter and Facebook. They'll happily organize your feed so that you only see pictures of kittens and agreeable posts. They invest tonnes of money into filtering in exchange for your personal information.

For those who want raw social media, there's Gab. Personally I want to be able to talk to people who I don't agree with and have a proper discussion. From my experience, strangers on the platform are much more willing to engage in a discussion and explain their ideas - and at least then I can begin to understand these people, even if I don't agree with them.

I would generally say that Gab is not always pleasant and by using it you accept that. Not every website/service/media needs to be made for everybody.

> Gab's Apple Developer account has been unfairly terminated by Apple.

Without any explanation. First time I heard of Gab, and/or Dissenter. Unsigned app? No, thank you.

I can provide a possible explanation. As a former developer of a social mobile app, I'm aware that Apple's app policies require that any social communication features also come with human moderators (the definition of human moderator is up for interpretation). In any case, that is counter to Gab's core philosophy.

Looking at comments for example.com, I understand why they want human moderators.


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