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Remind HN: Put contact info in your profile if you'd like to be contacted
180 points by whalesalad on Sept 20, 2019 | hide | past | favorite | 75 comments
I've had discourse with about a dozen folks over the last few weeks who have wanted to keep in touch, but their profiles are missing contact info.

I have usernames in an XLS to revisit later, but for now, I cannot contact you.

Make sure you have an email address in your bio if you'd like to stay in touch!

Edit: the email field is not visible to others. You would need to put it into the about textarea to make it publicly visible.

Since posting this and leaving comments below, my inbox has become flooded with spam garbage.

Some of you are signing me up for mailing lists, gay porn websites, right-wing anime news? This is no coincidence.

Thank you all for taking time out of your day to “prove me wrong”, I hope you feel good about it.

Maybe I'm hideously naive for believing the entire HN crowd might have been a little more straightforward and mature in explaining why putting emails in their profiles isn't something they choose to do, rather than pulling this kind of stuff. I mean, point proven but come on, does HN also have to become a space filled with opportunistic trolls?

My profile has been untouched for a long time. Suddenly I’m getting not just spam, but “thank you for signing up for XYZ mailing list” messages. It’s totally not a coincidence and yes it’s trolls.

Doesn’t bug me. I don’t get any notifications for emails. I select them all at once, mark spam, and continue on with my day. I won’t remove my email address because there are definitely times where I want people to be able to contact me if they’re interested in doing so.

It’s really just a bummer to see that there are so many angsty individuals out there who have no better outlet for their energy.

I agree this kind of trolling is pretty weird and disheartening, but as an added example of hilarity, mere minutes after my comment and yours, someone just tried to sign you up to _my_ newsletter (presumably against your will). I'm amazed.

There's a kind of just-world moralizing people do that's like victim-blaming on steroids.

Normal victim-blaming says if you do X, and you're aware that doing it exposes you to being hurt by someone choosing to do Y, it's pretty much your fault if they do Y and you get hurt. Here on HN, what I've seen repeatedly is people not just blaming you for Y but also feeling fully justified in making sure Y happens, even if it otherwise wouldn't.

IME that kind of thinking comes from a particular worldview that's disproportionately common here.

That’s a little depressing.

Another case I keep running into is people generally using the address for sales from HN. The worst culprits are recruiters / agencies using it on Who’s Hiring when I explicitly say “no recruiters”. I’ve simply politely told them it’s our of order and then restrained from naming and shaming them...so far.

There's a site called mailbait (and probably others) dedicated to this sort of thing. It's probably just one person who knows how to use Google.

Another option is putting a contact page in your bio if you have a personal site. That's helped me reach folks in the past, and should keep most of the nastiness out.

My solution for this is to dedicate an entire inbox to different websites. Lets me label and filter it automatically as it comes into my primary inbox.

I got the same. Good times.

> right-wing anime

A little off-topic, but is right-wing anime really a thing?

Sure, kind of. Gate, for instance[0], an anime about the JSDF encountering a portal that opens to a medieval fantasy world, contains a lot of nationalistic and pro-military themes. Kantai Collection, an anime based on a game, features IJN ships as heros, and some historical revisionism[1]. I can't think of more off the top of my head. It doesn't seem to be a common theme but it's entirely possible I as a typical Western weeb just don't see it. A lot of anime set in the future portray Western powers in a negative light - the American Empire in Ghost in the Shell Stand Alone Complex is clearly villainous - but I don't know if that's "right wing" or just reasonable extrapolation.

It seems to be more common to discover the creators of an anime or manga holding right-wing or extreme beliefs, though, than for those to explicitly find their way into anime. The director of Recovery of an MMO Junkie, for instance[2] with his anti-semitic tweets.




There are a great number of Western anime fans who are also right-wing - either out of an admiration for Japan (which they perceive as being superior due to "racial harmony" and the position of women in that society) or out of the idea that Western media is infected by "SJWs", and Japanese media isn't.

I don't know how many right-wing anime fans there are in Japan (who would be the audience for right-wing anime), though going from the most popular anime, it's not a large enough group of people for the industry to cater to their tastes.

Nothing quite like being a Jewish kid going to middle school 15+ years ago and seeing classmates reading manga where the characters are basically dressed like Nazi Youth and they're 'protagonists' of the story.

To be fair, there is plenty of historically based anime and manga in which the Nazis, or vague stand-ins for the Nazis, are villains.

Still, Japan was an Axis power, and every vile thing the Nazis did, they did to foreigners half a world away, so Japanese media winds up being a lot more comfortable around Nazism as a motif than Westerners would be[0] because there's just not the same stigma around portraying it.


My email is in my profile, and it's impossible to distinguish "spam received because somebody scraped my HN profile" from "spam received because somebody bought my email address from some dark web market". So I mostly don't even consider the spam aspect.

OTOH, I get a message every now and then saying something like "I saw your book recommendations in thread XYZ and really appreciate them" or "Dude, I totally agree with your comment on $FOO" or something. Those are rare, but highly appreciated. I'd be happy to have my email in my profile just for those.

I solve this with a catchall domain which is in my profile. It says "email me at {anything}@jedberg.net". Gmail quickly learned that emails actually addressed to {anything} are spam (although to be fair Gmail's filters are pretty good in general).

If you don't want to set up a catchall, a good second alternative is plus addressing. Put foo+hn@bar.com. Almost all of the spammers will drop the plus address but real senders will use it.

I remember when Jerry Pournelle had a blog, he would request that you put a certain word in the subject line. I'm uncertain, but he might have even changed the word from time to time.

Catchall emails are a godsend and make having an email not hosted through Google/MS/anyone else a benefit I can explain to even people who do not care about vendor lock-in.

It also makes email filtering very easy

google@example.com -> Email/Google

COMPANY@example.com -> Email/Important


Or just being able to send a personal Thank You! to somebody on HN, who went through the trouble to compose an elaborate response to a brief question about how a gajin, who doesn't speak the language, can eat very, very good in Japan and have a most memorable experience in the process.

Sometimes truely magical shit happens in this community of ours and it's nice to be able to make contact.

I always send snotty replies to spam that looks like it came from a small startup. Makes me feel better.

I think I get more email from someone mistakenly using my address than I do startup spams though.

I used to get messages when I posted about remote work. People wanted to know how to get started, which companies to apply to and so forth. Many people don't write back once I explain that I do enterprise Java development for BigCo.

Anyway, I get fewer emails now so hopefully that's an indication of the normalization of remote working.

Feel free to spam me some Haskell or business strategy :)


Haskell, Lisp Developer at Wormhole Technologies.

(We are hiring Haskell Engineer: al@wormhole.technology)

[Blog: https://allenleein.github.io/brains/]

[ my public key: https://keybase.io/allenleein; my proof: https://keybase.io/allenleein/sigs/tfmUy09f1y-EvF2b6jlpwMZPv... ]

Your keybase url is 404. Remove the ;

The root github pages of that URL is also 404 so could be a configuration error?

Does Wormhole Technology have a traditional website somewhere?

I wanted to tell a friend that you're looking for a Haskell programmer, but I didn't have any luck accessing [0] wasn't particularly helpful.

[0] http[s]://wormhole.technology

No, thanks. It's pretty unfortunate HN doesn't have its own messaging system. Also lame that I can't edit/delete old posts from e.g. hiring threads. Some of us don't want to cross the streams. (Sorry, I'm not you!)

Also people do check your profile if they find your comments or submissions interesting, so don't forget to write a little bit about yourself - except you want to stay completely anonymous, which is OK too. All but one of the top ten leader profiles are good examples for how you write an appealing profile.

Aren't you worried about Nigerian princes contacting you to help get their money out of the country?

It is an interesting problem. I just put my twitter handle and hope that people will tweet at me to get my attention. Leaving DMs open is still spamable.

I read through other solutions and there isn't a good one. If HN allowed communication after a certain Karma threshold, that might work.

". If HN allowed communication after a certain Karma threshold, that might work. "

That might work, but with direct messaging, not with, "you see all emails after karma x".


Edit: Misunderstood the response, and I changed no to yes.

Attaching rewards to karma encourages karma whoring.

Relatedly, be sure not to make your email address public if you don't want to be contacted! HN is a deceptively public place, you may end up with unwanted messages before you know it.

I'd suggest something not quite as easily scrapable/spammable as your email address, but I'm not sure what the best alternative is.

I am of the opinion that the place to filter unwanted messages is further down the chain, and not at the email address distribution step. Let them send, lest you impede legitimate senders (who perhaps want to provide you with value or opportunity), and figure out how to triage on the mailserver or in the mail client.

To each their own. You do that with your email account, I will seek alternative answers. In my experience the legitimate senders do not outweigh the spam.

+1. I suggest using some service like scrim where you enter a simple captcha to retrieve the email - http://scr.im

Firefox is warning me that they have a self-signed TLS certificate. Is that intended?

EDIT: After accepting the warning it now says "Site not found" with a DreamHost error. Hmm.

(the link is to http, not https. Try without https-everywhere/etc. I think all dreamhosts sites are like this, not actually providing https. Is that a paid extra or something?)

IIRC it's free. You might need to opt in.

Scrim is neat. Never heard of it before but I just tried it and it was easy to use and not a pain for a human. Probably not that hard for a bot either, but would take a little more effort which only someone that really wants to target you would actually do.

This is a good reminder. I received a phone call one day from a recruiter on the west coast (I'm in Toronto) right around dinner one evening and was caught off guard. I had to ask how they'd found it and they explained.

I'd forgotten where I'd made it public, and did so intentionally, but had forgotten.

There are some solutions for email addresses. I use something like this on my website: http://wbwip.com/wbw/emailencoder.html

And for what its worth I put my website in my profile where my contact info is available

Can't we have HN forwarding messages that are typed in a text field?

I think this is outside the scope of HN's purpose.

This has me thinking though, actually a plaintext contact info section on the profile that's only visible to logged in profiles over a certain nominal rep to deter spam. That would be a pretty good and simple feature.

If the aim is to keep spam at bay you could also use another public identifier that doesn't readily allow spam like f.e. Twitter, Facebook or keybase

lobste.rs does.

I hang both places and like both, but as others have already pointed out, it is probably outside of the scope of HN.

I wonder what level of obfuscation is necessary to safely publicly share your email. Is foo (at) example.com enough?

Used to have my email in my bio but switched to keybase. I have not experienced Nigerian princess like spam but mentioned newsletter sign-ups. This was the reason to switch to keybase.

On another note HN has interesting user segments. Quite a few people reach out to me when they are about to relocate to Germany as an expat and have some questions. Did roughly 20 phone calls the last quarter. There are 2 distinct groups reaching out. One group reaches out with their real email and we have a nice phone chat after. The other group reaches out with a uniquely created email, does not intro themselves during or after the phone call. Staying anonymous is an odd way to make friends or stay in contact :)

I do but nobody contacts to me :-(

They might if you weren't a lurker ;)

Looked quickly into your profile and your latest comments, what do you want people to contact you about?

My HN profile about text just includes my personal website url which has a contact form which emails me. Hope that suffices, looking forward to hearing from HN users!

My profile tells you how to contact me without providing scrapable data.

"My HN username is how you'll find me pretty much everywhere else."

Huh, I just realized my about box is totally empty - at-least when I use an incognito window. Does it only show up for logged in users?

I’m logged in. Yours appears empty. And I doubt there is selective display based on this.


Seems like a great way to get spammed to death. (Pauses to build a scrapper to collect HN user emails).

Actually, I get relatively little spam on the addresses in my profile.

Where I get a lot of spam is via one-off email addresses I would use each month in "Who's Hiring?" posts. Those threads are absolutely being scraped and resold.

Same here. I added an email address a few years ago and have received maybe six pieces of spam. Someone added me to a tech related mailing list without my permission, that was only very slightly annoying.

My email address has been in my profile for years ... I never get spam. I've received maybe 4-5 unsolicited emails in the lifetime of my account (Created October 10, 2007) and they haven't bothered me.

Github is a surprising source of spam for me; whether it is the emails in commits, or from the profile I don't know.

But I'd estimate I get 1 email every 3-4 months referencing the profile and either inviting me to join some blockchain hypefest, or telling me I'd be perfect for a role .. in another country.

Is github profile email address visible?

You can choose to display one, which will then be public.

First thing on my profile is my KeyBase key, I would love to talk to more people on there, for now I mainly use it for storage and to chat with the odd bird that uses it. I did just notice I do have my protonmail email there though.

Hmm, just updated my about and now it seems to be only visible to me when logged in...

I have my keybase handle there. e-mail is too easy to scrape.

Same, I think it accomplishes the same goal.

I'm the guy writing that book, updated my profile. Hope to hear from you soon :)

I've been contacted by a few people on HN. One lives in the same city and we're good friends now. There's a few wbo become mentors, discuss business ideas, etc.

Sure, there's the risk of getting spammed and signed up for right-wing midget porn but the benefits outweigh the potential damage.

This might have gone better if couched as an FYI instead of an imperative:

If you want to be contacted, you need to list your contact info in your profile. The "email" field is not publicly visible. It is a common mistake on HN to assume that it is.

Then you might not be getting trolled so badly.

Remind HN: Don't put contact info in your profile or else you'll get spammed

Typically a throwaway email is used. Question is, is it worth filtering through the spam to pan for genuine emails?

Put your Twitter user id and make sure your DM are open.

If your email is old enough that you used it on Usenet, the spam from HN profile will surely be in homeopathic proportions!

Just imagine the amount of salesy BS and recruiter spam that must come from HN.

Very little in my experience.

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