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The Moderators Who Keep Hacker News Focused on Intellectual Curiosity (thenewstack.io)
85 points by praveenscience 27 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 15 comments

Wow I had no idea there was only two of you! Amazing! you're doing a stupendously good job with moderating HN! I appreciate it enormously. Thanks heaps!

Seconded. Even before I knew dang was a moderator I'd been impressed by dang's ability to pour oil on troubled water... Thanks to both of you for a job thoughtfully done, and done well.

How does 2 moderators actually work? 12 hours on, 12 hours off, 365 days a year?

Maybe they should hold an AMA.

This is a good question actually, with 2 mods either HN is unmoderated at some times or the mods work an ungodly amount of hours. Neither seems very plausible...

   “The site’s now characteristic tone of performative erudition — hyperrational, dispassionate, contrarian, authoritative — often masks a deeper recklessness,”
I've been surprised to find many cases where it's the complete opposite. A lot of people here are surprisingly level-headed and progressive, and not as 'hyperrational' as other parts of the internet.

That article was nice to the moderators but not so nice to HN.

Here is what I like:

I am rate limited. And it's just fine. I like to do what I do, and feel very few inhibitions. Real conversation matters to me more than volume of conversation does. And that ranges from the discouraged here to the encouraged. My own skin is very, very thick. No worries on my end no matter what. (I've read it all man. ALL) But, others do vary. Happens with people. It's all good.

For the most part, the loss is the occasional follow up that would have added value, but also no worries. The limit is there, and honestly? Yeah, there are often better things to do. Win-win, if you ask me.

The style of moderation is, for the most part, unobtrusive, very frank and polite (dang asked me multiple times, early on, and very nicely I might add, to either not do, or modify how I do things, and a fair number of those requests were easily done), and effective. Love it.

I moderate elsewhere, and have picked up more than a few good tips here, many unsaid, just observed. In particular, simple tools like the rate limiting, or frank requests, are a lot more powerful than I believe people realize.

Norms matter, and these two moderators are exemplary at establishing and maintaining reasonable community norms. Unlike rules, which people often see as targets or a thing to be gamed, norms tend to be a bit more fuzzy and us users here tend to amplify them when those norms are resonant with us and what we find here of value.

In my own efforts, I have emphasized norms far more than rules, and some of that influence comes from this fine place for discussion.

Kudos you two. Well done!

Interesting that a site published a copycat article of something that the New Yorker ran ten days earlier.

Something tells me that external media focus on the moderation of this site is going to be something we're all going to wind up regretting.

Is all of this coverage organic, or did someone hire a PR firm?

(none of the above is meant to imply that the mods here are not doing a good job.)

No PR firm. Had we hired anyone, it would have been to stop us. Too late now.

Props to the mods! I love you even if you ban me every day.

Article is a load of cobblers. The mods tend to be no different then milquetoast centrists because most of them work in the corporate world.

HN is very america centric and anything that goes against "the american narrative" that america is great, the free market is great, usually gets downvoted pretty hard. To suggest HN is a dispassionate place is quite the bit of nonsense. HN has it's mod and user hivemind because it pretends to be rational when it isn't.

Take the topic of software ownership and the mass invasion of privacy, or the theft of game software over the last 20 years by corporate america. The rise of steam, server locked software and invasive privacy invading games and apps which are specifically coded against users controlling them.

Or the fact that the public domain has been destroyed and america has been a place of total corporate lawlessnes for the last two centuries, if one is going to go by scientific evidence, the rule of law does not exist in capitalist societies. You have one class that's completely above the law.


I regularly see hn comments talking about all the stuff you mentioned.

A small number of them get downvoted, but the more well-expressed the idea, the less likely it is to get downvoted.

Of course muricans gonna murica, but hn is 1000x better than reddit in that regard, and has very reasonable moderation.

I'm not sure how article after article decrying climate change or any number of other highly-politicized topics "satisfies intellectual curiosity," but I guess if we define "intellectual curiosity" to mean "let's make HN more like Reddit," then it fits.

Climate change is a scientific discussion before it is a political one, so it fits. One could make any topic into a political issue if they want; that doesn't preclude it from being appropriate for HN.

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