Strict moderation is the reason HN is the only reasonable discussion forum remaining on the internet. I wish good moderation was a skill that more people learned - would you ever be interested in writing a guide or teaching a class on moderation?
Also, I think that it's pretty special that the vast majority of the comments on this article is people disagreeing about what HN's prevalent opinion is. It's easy to have all kinds of opinions when you don't moderate (eg 8chan), but it's hard to moderate a forum and at the same time not let it become a monoculture.
I've seen comments claiming that HN is a neoliberal / libertarian cesspool, and I've seen comments claiming that anything mildly non-PC gets downvoted into oblivion. If both the far left and the far right feel like HN represents the "other side's" opinion, then maybe there's a pretty decent middle ground being struck.
Same. Thanks, dang. I deeply appreciate your work here.
This is why dang is so good at what he does as it draws a difficult balance.
Also add me to the people who didn't know it was "Dan G" for the longest time and loved "dang" as a name.
As one of the people who loves being that guy in another community: They're not only very good at digging up and pointing out precedents, they likely have systematic archives of everything that remotely relates to the decisions they wish to see made.
I feel like sometimes users with negative Karma like crazy become even more obvious to mods. Sidenote: I still yearn to see what HN looks like to mods and what not. Not to cheat the system but to understand the system more (I love knowing these sorts of hidden details).
His go to is to call it conspiracy regardless of what's actually being said.
When I get something wrong, I'm happy to admit it and correct it. At the same time, people make all sorts of claims about horrid things we supposedly did, and most of those leave out important information.
Either way, if you're going to make claims like this, you should supply links so readers can make up their own minds.
you state that asking for sources is, and I quote: "a rather unsubstantive contribution".
You are now telling me I should be citing a source.
If I were being snarky I would ask if you would mind raising your signal/noise ratio as you did with the other poster.
I mean, which is it? Is asking to source the claim unsubstantive or not? Is it only unsubstantive if there's a claim against you personally?
As for allowing others to make up their mind, that would be what the poster in the other thread was presumably trying to do, and you shut him down. And that's really the point.
> Edit: lol, downvotes for asking for sources? "Hacker" "news" is just full of gems!
... that caused me to reply as a moderator, because that breaks more than one of the site guidelines, as well as being lame. This is routine moderation.
Both the original commenter and now you have given a distorted version of what happened there, as anyone who looks at the original thread can easily see. If that's what you have to resort to in order to come up with examples of moderator abuse on HN, we must be doing pretty well. Better than I'd have expected, in fact, given that we've posted 38,000 of these and no one bats a hundred.
asking for sources is not unsubstantive, not in the least. It's one of the most substantive things you can do, both as someone providing information, and as someone trying to evaluate the information being provided.
The fact that you've come to feel that asking for sources is less important than not making others feel uncomfortable goes a long way towards why I don't view HN as a place for decent discourse.
The only thing we have in common is not really liking your work as a moderator, and the way it's stifled discourse on HN. You have to go to other places for that, I mostly use HN as a news source.
Not at all. It's rather the community that makes it a reasonable discussion space. Most people here understand that this is not Reddit and that proper answers are needed when you interact with other members. Of course moderation is useful and necessary in certain cases, but it's certainly far from being the key factor here.
But that was almost a decade ago. The mindset of the tech community has gotten far more political (not a bad thing, but a natural consequence of "software eating the world"), and it's really hard to imagine that HN would have turned out like it is today through self-policing alone.
Even if we assume HN were to collectively agree on taking a hard stance against anything political in nature (which still seems to be the case sometimes, given that the mods have to occasionally step in and manually de-flag and protect threads), that would've likely turned off a number of current HN users who see HN as a great place to discuss tech's greater implications and role in society.
Nowadays the mod system remains but the community has moved on and although the stories are good, there is no intellectual discussion.
A similar thing happened to OSNews. Another news aggregator I used to visit a lot.
Unless you're presenting yourself and your own comment history as an example of the problem... in which case, the opportunity is always there to try a bit harder.
It isn't, because unless you've been lurking for years or have an alt account, you're just being an elitist poser. People have been complaining about HN "turning into Reddit" for so long that it used to be listed in the guidelines as a common, semi-noob delusion.
>Why do so many of your comments in your post history denigrate women and minorities?
Point them out to me, please. I'm usually defending women and minorities here, and often getting downvoted for the effort.
It's easy when a community is small. The more prominent the community gets, the more it tempts people who enjoy stirring things up.
In the end I'm not sure if any moderation scheme can prevent that, to be honest. There will always be people who consider it a challenge to see what they can get away with, either by trying to stay just under the moderators' radar or by returning every time they're banned. Provocation makes people defensive, and then their own replies turn harsh, contributing to a negative perception of the community.
I do hope that this community avoids it as long as possible. I've discovered it only recently and am enjoying it. But past experience suggests that it, too, will one day degrade.
The community helps... but someone needs to be doing some policing to limit the effect of the bad actors or the community starts to get pissed off/wander off/degrade into pettiness.
in many discussion forums... that are not HN.
There is only one HN, so you can't make comparison with other communities out there.
I run a group of 20,000+ people, and if I didn't set the tone on what the group is about, regularly, the value of it would drop to nothing.
I love my community. But I absolutely recognize the role I play in keeping it a nice place to visit.
Enough HN members are happy to feed the trolls (even if unwittingly) and encourage more without removing them.
Downvoting, flagging works even when the mods are not around. I am pretty sure that a comment flagged too many times is greyed out and almost invisible (and that happens without mods).
Again, if we are to believe there are only 2 full time moderators on HN for the amount of comments going every single minute, it's virtually impossible to rely on mods alone for proper discussions: simple maths.
I think having the right set of rules for the site's discussion (maintaining of which is a moderator job) and having a generally "good" population as an initial condition were the keys to setting the mods up for success. The mods' job then becomes to maintain the community's high level of discourse.
I see a lot of comments which violate the site guidelines in a fairly minor way. To me, strict moderation would involve curtailing those (to the site's detriment in general, a la Reddit, Wikipedia, or stackoverflow). Instead, I think we have strict guidelines and fairly tolerant moderation thereof. (I also find it interesting and telling that I felt normal to say "we have" in the previous sentence, rather than "news.yc has".)
PS: This is not meant to take anything away from what the mods do. It's critically important and they do a good job from my viewpoint. I think I got my hand slapped once in a decade (and I don't even now recall what it was, but I do recall that I agreed that I deserved it and it was handled reasonably).
Thanks dang for doing a great job.
≥What does seem to work better is personal interaction, over and over and over again, with individual users. That, case by case by case, seems to move the needle. But it’s very slow.”
I think the guidelines are a great way of encouraging us all to be more thoughtful to others comments, and have noticed a difference in the way I might comment HN.
Often I kill my comment before I actually click "Reply", especially if I know my comment will be too divisive, or if it doesn't add to the quality of previous comments.
Sometimes I upvote a comment because it helped me question/ change a personal dogmatic view.
The guidelines are somewhat of a joke, and are only followed (even by mods) when it is convenient to do so.
For example, I've been repremanded in the past by our supreme leader dang for posting comments like "do you have a source for that?", because he assumed it was too hostile while he completely ignored his own 'hacker' 'news' guideline of 'assume good faith' (I was literally asking someone to source the information/argument they posted here.. but hey good job on completely derailing that discussion dang!)
> Ok, but "got any sources for that?" is a rather unsubstantive contribution, and then going on tilt about getting downvoted breaks the site guidelines outright. Would you mind raising the signal/noise ratio of what you post here?
It seems the attempt to correct a low "signal / noise ratio", in this instance, seems to be back firing.
No, I didn't include a link because I was posting from my phone, and "hacker" "news" doesn't include a sane way to search through thread history for specific comments. I'm glad someone else went through the trouble.
But hey, you're free to continue to not assume good faith, right?
(In your HN settings, you'll see there's the ability to see deleted posts and shadowbanned users, and if you turn that on you'll see that most posts have a load a crazy people and trolls posting on them that the mods have cleaned up.)
One of the other forums I frequent would be chock full of pricks by HN standards. They are known for being jerks on other forums that cover the same interest. It's still a very good community as long as you don't take everything personally.
Don't you find it a bit suspicious that the forum you happen to like is "the only reasonable discussion forum remaining on the internet"?
I mean that, maybe you should distrust your own judgement that "HN is the only reasonable discussion forum remaining on the internet". Perhaps other places have environments that you don't like but other people feel that they are "the only reasonable discussion forum remaining on the internet".
> I'm part of a ton of other forums and communities, and over time almost all of them have devolved into complete and utter dogshit, just an endless stream of memes and screenshots of Twitter posts.
In my experience this has a lot more to do with algorithmic instead of chronological ordering. Facebook for example, where a lot of communities have gone to die, is a context-destroying engine. Only memes and shitposts can survive. What is the point of writing something thoughtful if you don't know if anyone will even see it?
Otherwise, online communities have a lifetime. Before HN there was Slashdot and Kuro5hin. They were nice at some point, then devolved into shit. Same thing will happen to HN and everything else, of course.
> The communities that remain successful either have total strict moderation or a "shitposts" section where all of the garbage ends up, but even then the quarantine zone ends up sucking up a lot of the forum energy. I think it's best to just not have it at all.
My favorite community uses a completely different strategy: there are no moderators but it is relatively obscure. Shit posters come and go, nobody reacts, all is fine. It has been going on for more than two decades. I will not disclose it because I do not want to ruin it, but I bet lots of things like this exist. They don't make money nor are they advertising arms of money-making operations, so nobody really cares. No newspaper will ever write an editorial about them -- this is why they are so great!
I'm glad your favorite community has sustained itself for 20 years, but with this statement you remove it so far from the category HN belongs to that it's incommensurable.
It's great that there's room for lots of different internet communities to thrive with different strategies. I've always felt there's room for many more—there are lots of opportunities for communities to start with different initial conditions and grow into qualitatively different things. I wish people would start them. But let's not pretend that they all have the same problems. HN's category is that of the large, public, anonymous internet forum, and all its hard problems stem from that category.
A perfect example is the other poster who basically got called to task by dang for asking for sources to a claim. Dang characterized it as "unsubstantive" and lowering the signal to noise ratio.
For myself, a reasonable discussion is one which it's expected to be asked to cite sources. A community in which not doing so gets you called out.
Discourse on HN is too touchy feely, people are generally afraid to challenge others in a straightforward manner, so they end up using a lot of words to do so. It's like being in that meeting where the manager is using flowery language to extol the virtues of the company, when in reality everyone is there for reasons that don't involve the company itself.
I just kind of tolerate it, but in no way, shape, or form, do I view the discourse on HN as generally being honest or useful.
You may also like Lobste.rs https://lobste.rs/
Overall it is a lot better. The topics, timeline, moderation, structure and even comments. And a think some people might enjoy that.
But it also sort of highlights the greater problem which is that most people who frequent these forums these days just aren't that interesting, or interested. Or it is at least hard for those who are to show that and get something out of it.