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92 of top 500 subreddits controlled by same 5 people (reddit.com)
1077 points by DeusExMachina 52 days ago | hide | favorite | 626 comments



Little known fact: you can take over any subreddit if the creator/mods haven't had had public activity in 60 days.

How? Just ask: https://old.reddit.com/r/redditrequest/

I took over some big subreddits this way and I've had big subreddits taken away from me because I forgot to log in and comment on the account I used to create it. Even though I was active on a non-creator/non-mod account. It's actually how I found out about the "feature".

A very poorly implemented feature given the potential value of subreddits and all the work it takes to grow one.

So if you run a subreddit that you care about, remember to assign some active mods even just to avoid someone taking over your subreddit.


It seems to me like some people made it their business to "hack" Reddit with automated scripts. Taking over subreddits, promoting content to the front page, that sort of thing.

Once they got good at that, they had a saleable product, as well as a worldview that treats online discussion as a resource strata to be exploited and shepherded, not nurtured.

Here's a comment thread about "Gallowboob" which documents all this to a T: https://snew.notabug.io/r/interestingasfuck/comments/gitwbo/...


Reddit itself is tracked as a social platform in the same vein as twitter or FB. Its astroturfed to hell and back, and there's no way to know who is posting what.


Reminds me of taking over channels on IRC :)


Oh man, those were some fun days.

I remember taking over a top 10 channel on Efnet because the owner went on holidays and forgot to get someone to keep their account active.


Ha, I imagine it would have been almost a fulltime job to prevent takeovers on large Efnet channels!


It took an army of eggdrop bots for me and Kyle to hold #games on Efnet for years.


Now wholly deleted by moderators.


Could you summarize it? All I see in that thread is people complaining about a popular user they don't like.


I find it crazy people care about this.

A guys takes over some subreddits... unless you're a Reddit admin who cares? There's so much content on the web just avoid the stuff you don't like.


Governments have the resources to dedicate people to doing things like this. Once they have the ability to shape discussions, they will.

Russia doesn't care if Black Lives Matter or not. They promoted inflammatory postings on both sides of the issue simply because chaos and weaking public trust is a goal for them. Sure, you might not care about the issue and don't visit those subreddits, but it still affects you because the community you live in.


I don't think this is a very strong point. In this case we're talking about a Reddit user who has been an active redditor for a long time moderating various subreddits. What's the issue exactly? That he may sell his account or otherwise be influenced by state agents? That also applies to the CEOs and board members of Reddit, the regulators and lobbyists, and polticians. There are plenty of worse things to be concerned about than how many subreddits Gallowboob is moderating.


Someone watching that many subreddits can't have a good grasp on context. They'll end up moderating in a way that seems fine if they don't understand the culture of the subreddit.

Realistic example: someone makes a comment about something nice his boyfriend did. Someone else replies "sounds pretty gay, dude." Could one of these supermods understand that this is a normal and silly thing for queers of a certain age to say to each other? Maybe. I wouldn't count on it. They can't go and dig into each poster's history to see that they post in the same communities and often swap silly comments. The volume in their mod inbox is just too high.


You assume that the user account is anything more than a user-Agent. Accounts do not at all bind one-to-one with people. They never have, never will, and the push to try to make it so is a fool's errand.

That account could just be the tip of the spear of an entire department of information warfare specialists.

This is why the old tongue in cheek wisdom "On the Internet, no one knows you're a {dog,child,FBI Agent,Special Information Warfare Directorate Agent,Nymphomaniacal Grandma} " never stopped being relevant. User-Agents!=Users.

Don't get into the habit, lest the ones who don't run circles around you.


I will never cease to find it hilarious adults are afraid of Russians (as opposed to "Russia") posting on Reddit or Twitter, or buying a few ads on Facebook or whatever. Not, say, Israelis or Saudis or the Mujahedin-e Khalq buying congress and actively bribing our politicians: Russians posting on Reddit.


I didn't say it was only Russia. I wasn't writing a dissertation, and picked Russia as the most obvious and document example.

Also, countries don't post, people do. It is a well documented fact that Russian had a full time time operating thousands of fake accounts. Russians are posting those messages and spreading memes, but it it is in their official capacity of Russian agents that they do it.

I'm not worried about random Russian citizen posting their thoughts.


>Russians are posting those messages and spreading memes, but it it is in their official capacity of Russian agents that they do it.

I realize it's a popular, even government approved conspiracy theory, but it seems more like psychological projection (the US is absolutely doing such things, and has been long before the internet existed -for example[1]) rather than anything for which there is actual evidence.

Whether or not Russian agents are posting official FUD on Reddit is kind of irrelevant. The idea that anything on Reddit (or twitter for that matter) matters at all is what is so bloody funny about it.

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


Saying that the US intelligence does these things in not way refutes the point I was making. "Your honor, yes, I'm covered in exploding ink-pack stains, but Bonnie and Clyde have stolen from lots of banks."

What aren't you willing to dismiss by invoking the magic words "conspiracy theory?" Is this just a joke?

https://intelligence.house.gov/social-media-content/

Reddit, along with twitter and Facebook, were hugely influential in the election, if you you think it is "bloody funny."


>What aren't you willing to dismiss by invoking the magic words "conspiracy theory?" Is this just a joke?

Lol, well, I'm definitely willing to dismiss the idea that reddit, twitter and facebook are why Trump is president if that's what you mean. I suppose Obama won the 2008 election because of some dank memes posted in 4chan, and Bush won in 2000 because of funny things some weeb posted on Usenet.

As far as why people continue to say it: as I said, it's projection. The US has done 1000x worse than whatever imagined ridiculously effective Reddit posts the Rooskies have done. The fact that adult humans with day jobs who are somehow able to feed themselves without choking to death on their tongues are able to believe in such nonsense will never ever cease to amuse me.

If you actually believe such things, you really need to learn how to count.


Russians who hacked Eglin Air Force Base have indeed invaded Reddit: https://www.reddit.com/r/conspiracy/comments/1dz470/most_red...


Oh yeah I forgot about the Smith Mundt Modernization act. Probably because of Russian mind control.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Defense_Authorization...


Your other concerns aren't without merit. You can add the Chinese government and its agents to that list.

However, you can't reduce Russia intelligence operations to that kind of satire when it's been a concerted active operation for several years now.

This is an interesting read: https://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/07/magazine/the-agency.html


A pretty visible example of this is Iran on r/worldnews. Back when there was the US-Iran conflict in early January, the front page was filled with pro-Iranian content [0]. This is after hundreds of civilians were killed for protesting. It could just be that the people on that subreddit support Iran, but given that on many of the posts the comments were full of people saying they disagreed, and given that Iran has been previously found spreading propaganda on that subreddit in particular [1], I think it is suspicious. The posts seemed to mostly stop after they decided to shoot down a civilian airliner.

[0] https://web.archive.org/web/20200107185156/https://www.reddi...

[1] https://www.nbcnews.com/tech/tech-news/volunteers-found-iran...


In all fairness this can be abused by any country not just Russia or China. US and Israel could just as well use it to shape and support the endless wars and warmongering. It could be used by left/right wing extemists just as well to push their own narative. The fact that it can shape what is seen by your average joe to that extent is the problem regardless of who does it.


'Could' and 'Currently has a well know and active program dedicated to' are two entirely different things. Kind of moot to worry about hypotheticals when the existing reality is problematic enough.


Reddit is one of the largest international websites in the world and many careers, lifestyles and organizations have sprung up from it. If millions of dollars are being spent on this and the industry continues to swell, blaming passive observers for being concerned seems to be backwards.



If you are not using the mod account then you are not actively modding the subreddit, so sounds like the system works exactly as it should.


What if it doesn't need modding though? I feel the rule should also take into account the number of posts/comments, not just number of days.


How would they know if they don't log in to see mod mails? Also spam bots posts everywhere.


That ("if the creator/mods haven't had had public activity in 60 days") doesn't appear to be accurate. From the sidebar:

> Note that “activity anywhere on reddit” IS NOT limited to publicly visible posts and comments.

Reddit's admins can presumably see things like last visit, use of the moderator tools, etc. that aren't in the public feed.


That policy (and an explicit push to revive dead/zombie subreddits) was the final of many nails and straws for me:

https://old.reddit.com/r/dredmorbius/comments/dt527o/no_this...

(Post mentions/links to discussions of others, notably https://old.reddit.com/r/dredmorbius/comments/20yhxc/reddit_... )

The neonazi takeover of /r/xkcd was a stark warning sign.

Of course, a similar issue afflicts any proprietary publishing venture, see the long sad saga of American Mercury:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_American_Mercury


> potential value of subreddits and all the work it takes to grow one.

Isn't the monetary value of a subreddit zero to everyone but Reddit corporate?


Some companies (like gaming companies) "sponsor" a subreddit and give out prizes and benefits in small contests and whatnot. Those subreddits employ moderators who will delete, alter or chastise any negative content relating to that company and ban anything but positive reinforcement of that company.


cough Stadia cough - it is against Reddit ToS that employees (or at least reddiquette) to have a paid employee of a company moderating a subreddit for that company's product [1].

[1]: https://www.reddit.com/r/modhelp/comments/2v0dpa/moderating_...


Companies pay big money to get posts up in certain subreddits.


Or get paid to suppress content.


I still consider this to be the best item ever posted by The Register:

https://www.theregister.co.uk/2000/05/09/official_register_2...


Moderators can't get posts up, they can only take them down.


It is a known fact that gallowboob will repeatedly repost and delete something over and over while deleting competing posts until his gains traction


They can pin posts to the top of the subreddit though can’t they? I have to imagine that increases post traffic/upvotes/interaction.


Yes, but I've never seen this done for normal posts, just rule announcements and such.


Speaking from experience as a Redditor and Reddit mod, it does happen - just some subs are more diligent about avoiding shills than others.


Huh, I have the same experience and we never did it on my subreddits (and I rarely saw it, but I usually browse /r/all)...


how come ? can you give some examples of how this works?


You are a brand selling soda:

* /r/aww -> cat playing with a toy with your brand

* /r/HumansBeingBros -> a guy helping poor people by bringing free pizza and free soda to a shelter.

* /r/Fitness -> how about a gif of a clever workout then the main character drink a sip of your soda. After the effort the comfort.

* /r/DIY -> look what I achieve with 7919 cans!


“Doritos are the best for walking tacos.” “Fritos make the best walking tacos.” Lord savior Jesu i never even had heard of walking tacos until this morning but then leave it to reddit to first inform me of something new and then to tell me the specific products I should use.

My poor colleague was incredulous when I told him reddit was gamed. Dear summer child, it is not just the obvious product placement for Doritos. It is also entire subs that are heavily modded to the point of being useless. r/sanfrancisco is endless pix of the gg bridge, thanks mods! It also divides the discourse into red team blue team with red team bad blue team good. High karma users sell their handle so trolls and sock puppets can have a vernier of credibility. Like San Francisco fromwhere it originates reddit is a cesspool that if you practice active denial, selective ignorance, ignore cognitive dissonance and pretend like all the bounders, freaks, fairies, bohos, hippies, punks, transhumanists, burners, and hackers that came before that everything is beautiful man, its a great place that can still surprise and delight on occasion.


Let me give you a different example. The main Indian subreddit r/india has been taken over by information warfare specialists and actually anything that does not match left leaning viewpoints are deleted. You can see all the power abuse chronicled on a subreddit called r/indiadiscussion. One mod is actually a Pakistani !

Shouldn't country subreddits be sacred ? Should'nt there be a due process to call out mod excesses, some kind of quasi legal means. Instead they continue their information warfare unabated banning anyone that goes against their viewpoints. They also actively browse people posting in other subreddits and ban them.


The beauty of federations of user-managed communities like Reddit, 8chan or Mastodon is that the friction to "voting with your feet" is low enough to be practical. Migration of user communities from hijacked subreddits happens all the time.

While I agree that there should ideally be a process to deal with obviously maliciously confusing community names, a country is an entity too big and diverse to have a single centrally-moderated conversation platform for anyway. Control of the exact country-name subbreddits could be offered to official governments, but is that in any way interesting? We already have country TLDs as official government communication platforms on the web.


They may not be handled over to the Govt, however the mods should not get so powerful that they create their own quasi dictatorship in terms of what is allowable and what is not. There should also be recourse for people to raise their issues at a neutral subreddit where supermods can arbitrate.


IMO, a little transparency into the subreddits' mod activity would alleviate this completely. People don't leave subreddits that are modded in a heavily biased way because they have no way to know.

I don't see why I shouldn't be able to unhide all modded posts if I choose to.


that's the secret sauce of the information warfare era. Keep non curious people in their own bubble without a way to find out if there are other options there. They cannot leave the bubble due to network effects and no one can do this all the time. Always project that your bubble is the cleanest one.

The abuses of mods in some subreddits if it were happening in real life would be subjects of class action lawsuits.


You don't need to be a mod to post those, however.


But beeing a mod you could delete comments, pointing that out.


Lots of people get advice on what to buy. Imagine if company’s are able to manipulate buyitforlife, HomeKit, personalfinance, babybumps, travel subreddits etc.

Probably the best form of advertising. Have people just insert your products in random stories.

“I remember back when I was a kid and mom would make a cake with Betty Crocker icing”

I’m automatically suspect of any post mentioning products. Probably happens on hacker news too. And instagram. And everywhere else. We have ad blockers, but now the ads will move into the content itself.


browser extension idea: Brandomizer - it detects brand names in text on pages, and replaces it with random other similar brand names.

“I remember back when I was a kid and mom would make a cake with Duncan Hines icing”


And watch the marketing people move into the Brandonizer business

Rinse and repeat, rinse and repeat


Absolutely. And it is already the case, look closely at movies, TV shows, podcasts...


Product placement has had its teeth in movies/TV for a quite a while now. In some aspects it does help movies add more to its budget.


There’s product placement, and then there is inserting a literal advertisement into the story itself and having the actors talk about it, e.g. watching a car commercial when they get in a car and discuss all of its features.


The Oreo placement in Lost In Space was oddly fitting. If I'm off to another planet, that's the kind of thing I'll pack.


r/hailcorporate is full of examples, although beware:

1. Users on that subreddit can be quite paranoid 2. You'll become paranoid yourself if you spend enough time on that subreddit.


Hmm, browsing "top" of last month just kind of convinced me that real "hailcorporate" material is much much more rare than I expected


Could be that the subverting of posts has gotten better and the users who submit there are still looking for gifs of guys drinking refreshing cans of Pepsi™ after a crossfit workout


And people aren't always on the lookout, specially in casual conversations.


reddit.com/r/hailcorporate


There’s also value in controlling messaging in a community. You can really affect community think by controlling what messages they see.


I doubt it, they drive traffic to all sorts of places. I imagine the porn Reddits make a ton of money for people.


You can pin advertising and so on..


the sub owner can sell advertising? Or is it done under the table?


You can pin posts. A post can be advertising something just as easily as it can be a story or a link to a news article.


Yup, have had quite a few subs taken over. Really quite annoying for random small niche subs that just get nuked with weird stuff.


We need more alternatives to Reddit with different moderation practices that allow competing narratives to surface. I used to view Reddit as "what's popular on the internet?", but it's definitely become more "what's the Approved Narrative?" these days and though I do think there's plenty of danger content that calls for violence or is some other form of abuse, it's frustrating that there are many subs in which questioning the Approved Narrative will get censored.

I think content moderation could be done by the community flagging problematic content. Flagged content could be temporarily hidden, with the reason it was flagged. The OP could then write a short defense of the content, and then a "jury" of randomly selected users (who are over 18) could vote on whether to permanently remove the content or to allow it. Content couldn't be flagged again for the same reason if the jury had previously approved it. There would be a public record of content removal decisions, and perhaps even a restricted way to somehow request the removed content as a matter of public record, without surfacing it into public view.

Obviously, there would need to be some experimentation to get a better system. Which is my whole point. I wish there were more systems experimenting with this.


It's not just happening on reddit.The whole media industry works like this. If your point of view does not fit within the 'accepted bounds', it will not get the attention it should get.


Attention is one thing. What scares and frustrates me is censoring by banning accounts, removing post, and to a lesser degree echochamber downvoting hidding the content.


That reminds me: What happened to WT Social? For a while it was a shiny new thing and then it just kind of fizzled out.


Any new resource will be either too small or it will contain only "approved content" or it will be labeled white-supremacist or similar (if it is a free site, controversial/revolting content may be added by adversaries).


Is there a Tor alternative to reddit?


There's raddle.me (although I'm not a fan of it) which has an onion service running: http://lfbg75wjgi4nzdio.onion/


Dread?


There is Tildes. It’s open source and non-profit, maintained by donations and has privacy by default. The community is heavily moderated and, while we do have liberty, we do not venerate free speech. There’s a great focus on civility. Most of our users are also on Reddit, and Tildes creator also created Reddit’s /u/automoderator.

Image posts do not exist and we usually prefer medium to long text and videos that are dense with content. It’s not entirely formal though, and there are avenues for conversation and personal expression. The announcing post: https://blog.tildes.net/announcing-tildes

Extended docs and the philosophy of Tildes: https://docs.tildes.net/philosophy

Tildes' content is open for anyone to see: https://tildes.net/

We have a subreddit: /r/tildes with a permanent thread for invites and there are invites for everyone.


> The community is heavily moderated and, while we do have liberty, we do not venerate free speech. There’s a great focus on civility.

If someone made a civil argument with citations, leading to a conclusion you find immoral, but you didn't have the expertise to find errors, would you delete it or leave it up?


I don’t know I’m not a moderator. It’s hard to say without a concrete case, but if such immorality was also against Tildes principles than yes, probably.

Tildes is definitely not a place for free speech absolutists.


Then it's not a place for me. If some claim is true, I want to be able to learn that it's true, no matter whose principles it's against.


I haven't been around Tildes in a while, but they are doing the right thing when it comes to producing an alternative to Reddit - which is focusing on building a community rather than focusing on building a platform. After all, if you find Reddit to be terminally flawed, you will not solve those problems simply by duplicating Reddit.

The Tildes founders looked at Reddit, then what happened to Voat and identified the problem as a social one, not a technical one. The problem with Reddit and Voat lies between the keyboard and the chair. This is why they focus on the quality and good faith of the discourse, instead of metrics like growth or mass appeal. They aren't aiming to be a clearing house for all means of social interaction in the way that commercial social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, and Reddit are.


Your conclusion is probably correct.

For what it’s worth, Tildes is more free than it seems at a first glance. But we’re determined to not be another victim of the paradox of tolerance.


The controversial image in question: https://i.imgur.com/neT3jv5.png


Nope, that's just some blurred cropped version of original.

Here is the complete list in good quality.

https://i.redd.it/bfhl8s6o2fn41.png

Mirror https://imgur.com/a/rjE8YuW


It's controversial because people are now wondering if money is involved. Getting mod control of that number of subreddits doesn't come about for being dilligent and helpful.


This only shows us the ones that are blatantly using the same account.

There are mods that are smart enough to have different accounts for each sub - so that only Reddit admins would be able to tell that they are the same person.

...but the reality is that those Reddit admins are also some of those "power mods".

I once have a conversation with a mod, who admitted that he was an admin as well - I wish I had saved the exchange.


More people should be concerned how well the political related subs are pretty much PAC managed at this point. This is from a relative who receives what she laughs as her marching orders about what to up/down etc though reddit is not the only site on their list.

people seem to forget how easy manipulation of information is and sites with voting mechanisms are the easiest of all to manipulate especially those where you can silence with relative ease.


I think it is vastly more insidious than just greed. I think it is about controlling the zeitgeist. Propagation of authorised memes.


I believe that was an explicit conceit of the site: they're not making money via ads or "gold", they're shaping perceptions.


Its controversial because people are applying 0 reflection or analysis.

Everyone took a HEADLINE, with a single table as their proof!

Even here on HN.

This is the WORST of content I had to deal with - a virus that forces a decision just by glancing at it.

How are these mods in "control", they aren't even top mods.

How are they "controlling" reddit?

None of that is explained, none of that is proved.

The person posting it was spamming the content all over the place and seems to be driving drama.

And people swallowed this? Hook line and sinker? Discussion here is sans reflection of the facts?


Yeah, what?

I looked at the top 5 subreddits in the table, where it looks like a single person is controlling them. They have 145 distinct mods.

Controlling reddit? lol


I think it's important to note: in most cases they are not the only moderators on those subreddits. For example, /r/relationship_advice has 10 listed moderators. However, the list is correct about the five users being moderators for those subreddits, and the elephant in the room about the few controlling the many is definitely still the elephant in the room.


Oh I'll be fine then!. I don't frequent those subs. Small communities are much better.


Well, at least now I know that some subs that were sneaky removing my content are all managed by the same people. Guess they don't like what I post (:


Interesting. Reminds me that one of the reasons I still mostly like Reddit is because of all of those subs listed, I subscribe to only one (r/mildlyinteresting)

Classic example of why you never, ever look at vanilla served up for you Reddit. Just make it your own.


Is that the full image ? I don't see 92 subs in there..


One thing I constantly realize is that commenting is broken on reddit, for one simple reason. Once a thread is popular enough, and reaches a high amount of comments, any new comment is going to be drowned by upvoted ones.

The algorithm should decrease the value of old comments even more. There's already a formula, something like

position_score = score/(age^2)

Unfortunately the more a comment is upvoted, the more it's visible, so it's snowballing upvotes faster than the 1/age^2 can decrease its position.

Also the more a thread is popular, the sooner it should be locked.


I think a big upgrade for both HN and Reddit would be so simply collapse all child comments by default and only show top-level comments. That way every person doesn't have to scroll past the first thread to find the second top-level discussion.

I don't think threads should be locked, though. There is nothing on Reddit more annoying than not being able to reply to someone because of an arbitrary decision (like a mod locking the entire submission). There are better solutions. But it just seems silly to shut down discussion when people want to have it on a social site.

Even sinking a thread to the bottom is better than locking it.


One website that I think has nailed comment moderation is the website Tweakers.net. A Dutch tech website and forum.

On Tweakers you (as a user) can apply for mod rights and it allows you to rate each comment from -1 to +3.

+3 = must-read

+2 = informative

+1 = on-topic

0 = off topic

-1 = spam / insult

There's an alogrithm that gives your rating more weight if they (retroactively) allign with what the supermods (employees of the site) rate comments.

On Tweakers you almost never read insults and "and my axe" repititive comments because they are hidden by default, and the +2 and +3 comments automatically get places at the top.

This has so much over a simple +1 / -1 system. I wish more website would think about their comments systems and how they can achieve a good incentive and moderation structure for informative comments to be lifted up and unwanted ones down.

Tweakers is Dutch but to get an idea here's a news thread with a lot of comments:

https://tweakers.net/nieuws/166988/


Similar to the excellent Slashdot moderation system. Moreover on Slashdot you couldn't just moderate at will, occasionally you would find yourself with 5 moderation points to spend upvoting or downvoting 5 comments.

Even more occasionally you would find yourself with some 'meta-moderation' points - where it displays some moderation decisions and asks whether you agree/disagree that this was good moderation


Slashdot's moderation has still yet to be beaten IMO, when up/downvoting a post you had to specify why you were doing so from a defined list, including things like Funny, Informative, Flamebait, and Trolling. Then as mentioned meta-moderation would occasionally ask a user to review those votes, asking the question "Was this post funny" for example. User's who's moderation points were upheld in meta-moderation would be more likely to get given more than someone who flung them out at random.

The real genius of the system though was the amount of configurability attached to those topics. Each user could define what those categories meant to them, so if you only wanted the serious stuff you could say Funny didn't get a +1 boost when displaying comments, and give it a -1 instead. Or -5 if you really hated Slashdot humour. In the other direction lovers of a good flame war could boost comments flagged as flamebait up in the sorting order. This also extended to relationships, where you could flag people as either friends or foes, allowing you to make sure you always saw comments from people who's comments you enjoyed, and squash anything by people you just didn't like.

All of that was an absolute nightmare for performance I'm sure, which is probably why we don't see it these days, but it was a thing of beauty.


Another great thing about the Slashdot moderation system was the "overrated" and "underrated" tags. A comment could get moderated as "-1 Flamebait" then get moderated as "+1 Underrated" all the way up to "+5 Flamebait". My personal favourite quirk of the system.


Slashdot's mod system was ... reasonably good at deprecating garbage. It did poorly at elevating true quality, however. The mod activity was too thin and non-convergent (each moderation moved. by a full point on a +5 -- (-2) scale).

I'd been on the site since before registration and moderation existed, and had a very low UID, back when that ... still really didn't matter.

Kuro5hin's "mean of moderation" system converged (within a five point scale, much like Amazon star ratings), though in practice people vastly overaward high scores.

Explicit scoring systems are difficult to design. They also leak insane amounts of personal information.


While the Tweakers system might be nicer in some ways, I think the problem of new comments having no visibility still applies to the site in practice. Maybe that's less of an issue because it's a news site, but still.

Sidenote: what's ironic in your linked post is that the only comment with a +3 rating is factually incorrect. The author claims that there is no currently known quantum algorithm that breaks ECDSA.


I think Slashdot works something like that (or at least did, haven’t been there in a while)


It did, but it gained enough traction and turned into something that could be gamed. Reddit is going that way, too.

HN is my replacement for /.


Yes. Mine too. Interesting to consider what a less gameable version might look like


It did but Funny often floated to the top... same old jokes. Very Reddity before Reddit was a thing.

I think you could filter though to hide all 'Funny' and only show 'Informative' or something like that. Never did make an account.


I think the actual values of the upvotes should be hidden, but the different upvote types should just be names - informative vs funny, vs analytic, etc...

I enjoyed the say Slashdot did it.


I really like https://shacknews.com/chatty. I've been going there for years.

I even 'rebuilt' it tried to sell it as a service once (http://xcursi.com - warning, the cert is expired and I've been too lazy to replace it).


Well that famous tech website had a similar, more granular way of voting (which made sense I guess 10 years ago), but I think I like this way better


Not sure it should be all children. But maybe 2 deep or something. For instance your comment would be unseen if it was collapsed at the top level, but yours is what sparked my reply. It does get weird though, because then people would just be incentivised to reply at the top level. And end up a longer thread there. I guess if its not completely collapsed there is always going to be some attempt to reply in the right place because you will get more views there instead of a top level comment.

Also curious about being able to make a web extension that collapses at a certain configurable level. Or even reordering. Not that it helps most users. But would be interesting.


Interesting idea. If the reply chain is expanded by default, whichever top-level comment rises to the top tends to steer the direction of the discussion. This is especially troublesome on Slashdot where comments are shown in chronological order, regardless of score.

> But it just seems silly to shut down discussion when people want to have it on a social site.

Locking is meant to be used when a thread is filling with toxic bile and there's little chance of things improving. I don't think it's always wrong for mods to lock a thread.


They have some form of that already as it is, but I'm not 100% sure how it works. Some comment replies have the first few replies and then it shows a 'Show 43 more comments' button to expand that depth level, but some comments go 3,4,5 levels deep.

Maybe if it was more predictable and shallower it would be good, the problem is its annoying to keep clicking show replies to load more levels


Hacker news does the opposite. It's hard to collapse child comments thanks to the absurdly small collapse button.


you can still answer in PM


Such a bad idea. A set of comment threads is going to be a tree of some type and you need to decide if it will be deep or wide. This promotes wide with very little justification beyond 'I didnt get in early on the discussion but still want a high-ranked comment' while the idea of allowing people to necro old threads is so bad it does not even merit discussion (seriously, go try out some forum that allows this and it will take you no time at all to realize that this is a phenomenally bad idea.)


I think both ideas are good, and I don’t find your dismissive objection persuasive. The point of hiding all but top-level posts wasn’t about making comments.

It was about reading them. Specifically that with fully expanded comments, users have to scroll past even downvoted, flagged responses to the top comment before seeing the second-highest voted top-level response.


One thing I'd like to see would be a comment section that uses a multi-armed bandit algorithm based on upvotes, or by something like Thompson sampling. So each time you refresh, comments that have more upvotes tend to be shown earlier, but the fewer votes in total they have, the more it's up to chance where they appear.

If it uses a deterministic MAB algorithm, it would put unvoted posts at the very top. The MAB algorithm is constructed to find the best choices (here, most liked posts), and it can't know what the true score of a comment is if nobody has voted on it yet. Thus the need for exploration would push those posts/comments very high.


This is way less of a problem than you'd think, as long as the default "best" sort is used. Also, I don't think age is taken in to account on reddit, are you thinking of this site instead?

https://redditblog.com/2009/10/15/reddits-new-comment-sortin...

As someone who browses both reddit and hacker news (obviously), I'm regularly frustrated by the way this site hijacks your attention to ask you to judge some recent comment, rather than showing you the ones worth reading at the top. It's still never going to get enough votes to keep that position, and it makes more sense to ask people who've scrolled to the bottom to judge comments with few votes, once they've already read the current frontrunners.

When you see big subs with old comments with a lot of votes at the top on reddit, it's probably because there's nothing else worth showing towards the bottom. I scroll further than I probably should, and the more the subreddit appears to have the early-replier problem, the less I care how those comments are ordered.


I would like an option of defaulting subreddits for all users to chronological order and bumping threads to front page as soon as someone posts in it. Reddit is really bad for actual discussions. It was designed for link sharing not a forum and incidently algorithmic feeds have since becoume standard due to advertising for some reason.


Reddit has a feature called contest mode which orders comments randomly for the first few hours or so.



There also seems to be an uptick in threads being locked, usually with some lame excuse like "you people can't behave" but is more likely that the mod doesn't agree.


Some subreddits (certainly not any of the popular ones) set their comment threads to sort by new to combat this.


score = upvotes/view_count is probably a good metrics that takes popularity into account. But there is certainly some statistically trickery needed to compare a popular post with lower score and a less popular post with higher score.


So, another instance of "rich get richer." I wonder if your fix or something like it would work in other systems like twitter (e.g. the more followers you have, the less I hear from you), in science (see Sabine Hossenfelder's critique of voluntary peer review), traditional media and even capitalism itself.


What about medium comments then xD


I assume their goal has been to avoid another 2015-style "revolt" of main subreddits shutting down to protest admin/company actions: https://www.wired.com/2015/07/reddit-amageddon/


They're blatantly censoring posts and comments about this, that surely has worked well in the past.


I suspect it's about pushing paid content as part of a revenue mechanism.

All advertising platforms consolidate over time.


Considering gallowboob openly admitted to landing a job off his ability to do just that, I would say that is likely. People don’t realize how much influence things like memes or other seemingly innocuous posts can have.


How are people buying this just based on the headline?

Seriously, has anyone seen those mods control those subs?

Have they removed other mods and run the subs according to their evil designs?

What evil design?

People all over this thread are talking about this as if it was fact.

This is a point where people stop being effective on HN, and offload their thinking to assumptions of trust, jsut because its posted here.

This thread, and this post mean that this isn't a fair thing anymore.


Change the base URL to ceddit.com to read all the censored comments (that site scrapes them as fast as it can). One of the comment that was deleted:

"Reddit defiantly needs to restructure their moderation teams."

Wow. Reddit really is just a pile of rubbish now. So glad I found HN.


The problem on Reddit is the problem of all social media. HN is better simply because it is too small to be targeted by the bigger more well funded PR campaigns.

Also, it probably helps that this community is not particularly demographically diverse compared to the average. There is less value to a PR company in sockpuppeting here, unless they are specifically trying to reach tech workers specifically.


The problem on reddit isn't the fact that they're succumbing to PR campaigns. The problem with reddit is that they have by far the worst monetization strategy. Facebook probably has the best. So reddit runs this site, making basically no money. Then people act surprised when someone comes along and goes "Oh, I can totally monetize this". As a result the monetization is happening covertly. This means all the incentives are mis-aligned - because the people making money from the site aren't the same people who are running the site. Should moderators be vetted? Probably. In fact they are on the most controversial sub-reddits. Are they vetted? Well not as a general rule, because that would cost money, and the people doing the vetting aren't making any money.

The perfect example of this was /r/wallstreetbets. Its sole purpose was to funnel money into some weird crypto trading company simply because one of the moderators decided on it.


There is certainty propaganda and marketing hitting HN. It just doesn't have the number of eyeballs that reddit has, so the effort is lower.


Marketing tech startups is (almost) an official purpose for Hacker News. I don't mind, as long as it's still largely community driven.


The problem occurs to any community as it grows in popularity.

The voting/modding mechanics here on HN are not immune to the poison of becoming popular.


One day there was a post there about free 5 bucks for some PlayStation stuff. The post received 30k comments. Thats all you need to know about the reddit audience.

What would improve the content quality is a requirement to maintain membership by answering a complex enough question once a month. Questions could be prepared by mods. But then all the reddit audience would be gone, and with them the reddit's power to influence the lazy internet crowd.


Reddit corporate really wants a high valuation, and they have devoted everything to growth. They don't care if the website devolves into the comments section of YouTube. Growth and money are all that matter.

They have no interest in setting up barriers or vetting members. Dumb engagement is easier than building tools to support content creation. Infinite scroll, embedded videos. It's becoming Zuckerbergian.


wait until you hear about the blockchain they just released for the fortnite subreddit. You can earn "bricks" in order to gain features like posting gifs and emotes.

While reddit's never been amazing it feels like the quality is going downhill faster than before slowly turning into youtube level comments.


They released it to both Fortnite and CryptoCurrency subs at the same time. It's called "Moons" in ths CC sub.

Apparently they are ERC-20 tokens, and in the CC sub, there are frontpage posts already asking how to buy "Moons".


TIL ceddit.com thanks


There's also removeddit.com


If you want to get an idea of what exactly these mods use their powers for, here's a website that preserved the comments on that page before they got deleted by the mods: https://removeddit.com/r/interestingasfuck/comments/gitwbo/p...


57.7% of comments removed. Huh.


It says one mod removes negative posts of himself. Is that it? Its Something many other mods do regularly?


Looking at recent comment history for the user who posted this is also eye-opening https://www.reddit.com/user/rootin-tootin_putin/


Yikes.

Two people have now commented assuming this is some sort of ad-hominem against the user. I think it bears elaborating in-thread that the notable thing here is that this otherwise-normal Redditor has been systematically persecuted by these same mods, since posting this, completely baselessly. They do not want this discussed.


If you are saying it's baseless in part because of this post:

https://www.reddit.com/r/WatchRedditDie/comments/gj2843/so_t...

I think that's been quote mined. Here is a link to a comment by a moderator on /r/interestingasfuck that includes the context. Followed by more discussion about why he was banned from more subreddits.

https://old.reddit.com/r/SubredditDrama/comments/gjedc1/uroo...

Also if you find it interesting here is another post of him trying to explain the initial moderation action: https://old.reddit.com/r/OutOfTheLoop/comments/gj0wt9/whats_...

It seems to me like they have a basis. Do you think their basis is sound?


Seeing him getting banned from all those big subs at once (as in, the same minute) is pretty insane. And confirms what I've thought for a long time, all those big subs are controlled by the same people, no matter which usernames are listed. Also this post is interesting https://www.reddit.com/r/WatchRedditDie/comments/gj2843/so_t... as it was removed by "Anti-Evil Operations" which AFAIK are ran by the company and you're not allowed to go against them. Are these power mods not just the admins in disguise?


Wow that's a disgusting reaction by the mods and further widens the distrust between the community and the mods. Either the admins are complicit or they're oblivious, neither of which is good.


Discuss the message. The messenger is irrelevant.


The message is "there's something fishy at work". The person is being banned from huge chunks of Reddit for saying this. It is very relevant.


Please take the time to follow the link I posted before commenting.

The link is to evidence of widespread discrimination by Reddit moderators against this user, based (seemingly) on the fact they chose to post this image. It shows that they're going to far greater lengths than just censoring the original post: they're engaging in a concerted campaign against this user in response.


Looks like the typical Redditor to me. Does that mean they shouldn't be allowed a voice in public spaces?


Not sure why you would think I was criticising the user if you did follow the link. Pretty clear from their comment history that they're under attack from Reddit moderators (which I thought worth highlighting)


Reminder: If you swap out the 'r' in the 'reddit.com' URL for 'c' (meaning censored), you can read the deleted comments.. Nowadays that's a must when reading "controversial" threads on Reddit.

In this case: ceddit.com -> https://snew.notabug.io/r/interestingasfuck/comments/gitwbo/...


Wow. Reading the comment threads that were censored on that post is incredibly disturbing.


note, this also works if you add 'move' in between 're' and 'ddit' (i.e. removeddit)

so: https://www.removeddit.com/r/interestingasfuck/comments/gitw...

good to have backup services.


it's useful to check both, they do not work the same way


> Reminder: If you swap out the 'r' in the 'reddit.com' URL for 'c' (meaning censored), you can read the deleted comments.

That's true if ceddit scanned the thread prior to the message being deleted. In a heavily trafficked and modded thread, many comments will be deleted in-between scans and those will be lost to everyone but reddit admins.

The only surefire way of seeing every censored comments is for reddit to provide the option to the users, but they are too pro-censorship and too pro-mod to allow that to happen.


Woa what is this black magic -- there's an interesting quote by Aaron Swartz at the bottom too


R.I.P


It's important (when considering censorship) to quantify the impact of the UX as well.

If you post an opinion that gets downvoted a lot, your account will be given a 10 minute timer before you can reply to anyone, or post a new comment.

As a result, users must weigh the implications of compromising their ability to use all the features of the website, versus having the freedom to voice their opinion. In most cases if you want to express your opinion on some topic which is against the prevailing narrative, and you don't want it to affect your ability to post about completely unrelated things like Power Tools or Automobiles, then your only options are to self-censor, or use a different account, or wait 10 minutes between comments.

The ceddit website will show you censored content, but there are likely millions of similar comments that users did not post because the algorithm discourages wrongthink


Doesn't work for me due to Same Origin Policy. Am I missing something?


I get the same error in Firefox but it works in Chrome

edit: It also works if you disable Enhanced Tracking Protection in FF


replying to this just because i don't know how to archive a comment on HN


Click on the comment's "X minutes ago" and then click "favorite"


The inadequacies of Reddit make me miss the message board days of old. Around 2001, I was active on a niche message board for a Gameboy Advance game. The board was only vaguely about the game itself; most topics were just random news and conversation. At its peak, there were probably a few hundred posters, tops, but everyone had an avatar, a screen name and a recognizable identity. I never met any of these people in real life, but nearly two decades letter, I can still remember the various screen names and personalities. This sort of thing just doesn't exist anymore, simply because the subreddit version of X would destroy a (non-Reddit) budding community before it had a chance to grow.

Reddit is a reflection of the broader societal trend away from local or small communities toward an anonymized, faceless megacorp one, replete with all the problems that usually entails. I hope that somehow we can get back to the human feeling of the early internet.


I miss forums too, I really like reddit for finding interesting stuff, but the community aspect isn’t there so much.

Back in the late 90s early 00s I was a member of a forum for a chain of video game stores in the UK, it was an amazing community. The store went bust in ‘05 and one guy created his own forum software where most of the displaced members flocked to.

That forum is still going, although there’s probably only 10 or so regulars left - but we still talk on it every day. I’ve even met a few of them in the real world.

EDIT: I think you've hit the nail on the head, the thing that was so great about forums is, while the original point of the forum was to bring together people with a like minded interest (video game(s)/whatever) - the forum would also have separate boards to discuss cross over topics or something completely unrelated. This meant you were talking to people who you might recognise from other areas of the forum and share other common interests, so could build that sense of community.

Whereas reddit just feels more siloed, I wouldn't recongise anyone who visits subreddit X who also happens to be on Y etc


The best part of forums was that they didn't have much temporal dependency. People posted things there, and it was expected that other would reply days or months later. It made for a much more calm and lively discussion.

When Reddit puts something on the hot tab, there's one hour or two for anybody to say what they want to say, no time for anybody to reply, and it's gone. HN is slower, but not very different. It's a completely different kind of site.


Also my lamenting the loss of newsgroups for just that effect.

Used to be in alt.callahans and I can't imagine how many threads I just collapsed and moved on because I knew that conversation wasn't a topic of mine. And still managed to ping in at least a few dozen messages of varying size/quality a week.


Eternal september is more powerful than any form of site design or BBS format.


i think this may be strongly correlated with the end of dialup and the rise of always-on internet, and then again in the rise of always-on-hand smartphone internet usage (and its pervasive push notification capacity), each stage raising the ground state of expected response times. speed then proceeded to kill everything in its way.


This is also what I fucking hate about Facebook's desire to make you spend all your time there. They do the same sort of thing.


I believe this is the dividend and curse of Web2.0. Things can be so easily mixed, matched, shared and are federated. Boundaries have been eroding in the digital as in the real world. We've lost the sense of closed group, community and with it some natural short feedback loops.

There are huge benefits to this like minorities gaining scale to be heard. But I feel a lot of benefits are of the type of taking something very good and scaling it up to a global level. What is less seen is the destruction of a lot of other good solutions elsewhere which might have had a chance to develop into something even better with a little more time. We are loosing diversity in products and ideas.

Finding ways to restore smaller scale in some areas may be beneficial but it is not clear how to make it work. Arbitrage across boundaries levels differences. The benefits of tearing down the boundaries accrue with the rule breakers who gain scale. Google+ was an attempt to stem the tide. It may have been flawed but it also tried something fundamentally hard.


Forums have a dark side though. It's a full-fledged social context. Lots of drama can take place in one. Over 10 years ago I got involved in forum drama and it changed me as a person. I got too close to some people there. I've never been comfortable in online communities after this. It's become a lot harder to open up and meet people online. Privacy and anonymity became a priority for me because of stuff like that.


counter anecdote - I met people on gaming forums in the late 90s and early 2000s I'm still very close to today. We all talk with each other every day in a Whatsapp chat, and we still play games together. We meet up about once a year in person to hang out. They're by a wide margin my best friends, and they live all over the US and Canada.


Made some great friends on IRC in the 90s. Made some enemies, too - but the friendships last longer and cross over to real life, whereas the enemies typically stay online and fade away.


College football messages boards are still alive and well. Especially the paid ones that keep out most of the trolling.

If you head over to rivals.com there's a paid site for each team with a private board. Obviously, some are more active than others and there are competitor sites out there as well...but it's the same experience that you're describing.

I've been on those boards for about 20 years now and it's exactly what you describe. Regulars who talk some sports, but also news, random conversation, recommendations for contractors (since many of the members live within 100 mile orbit of the Clemson), advice on investments and fiances, restaurants, etc.

It's worth every penny for the resource it's been.


I don't know what it is, but college football fandom is one of the most fun, entertaining fandoms out there. So many memes (not an image macro, but shared consciousness ideas).

I'm only a casual cfb fan, but during my forays into the online representation of the cfb fandom (mostly through reddit/r/cfb) I always marvel at the depth and breadth of the creativity, humor, and information in the fandom.

I could see where some people (and let's be honest, it's mostly men ages 18-30 or so) could immerse themselves in that subculture and have a lot of fun.

I imagine there are multiple subcultures that are large and immersive enough to totally lose yourself in and I think it's great.

(Of course there's also an element of avoidance of the real world in there, but that's more on the individual than the community)


CFB has this great mix of alumni loyalty, in game competition, storylines and then all of the actual university rivalries with it. Other sports, state rivalries, academics, conspiracies about rival school grads and their influence.

It’s an affiliation you never lose and so many people end up coming back throughout the season for games that it turns into a large family gathering.

I’ve never seen it’s equivalent in anything else.


I'm not much of a cfb fan but somehow I started tracking a Univ. of TX Austin board called "Shaggy Bevo"[1] and found the banter surprisingly entertaining as noted in this subthread. The creative taunting of rivals (mainly A&M) especially.

[1]http://shaggytexas.com/board/


This was my experience with early 00s subject-based message boards as well.

It seems to me like Discord provides a similar experience for today's kids. But of course the medium itself is quite different (long-form vs quippy, preserved vs ephemeral) and informs the experience accordingly.

Much as I somewhat romanticize the BBS experience I think it's going to occupy less and less of this type of social space, just by the nature of the way people communicate now.


> long-form vs quippy, preserved vs ephemeral

I learned a lot by browsing years old posts in forums and usenet but with ephemeral messaging I would not be able to do that. Makes me wonder how the new generation will deal with that.

It is also about centralisation vs each community hosting their own servers and not having to adhere to the arbitrary rules that some company enforces upon them.


Most established Discord servers have moderated channels that have strict on-topic guidelines, have slow modes, as well as pins, etc. The result is that a spectrum of long-form content to rapid messaging is achievable in Discord.

If you don't like Discord managing your chat data, Matrix.org is an option.


At its peak, there were probably a few hundred posters, tops

This is mostly the crux of the matter. It doesn't matter if you're talking about Reddit, phpBB, discord, imageboards, whatever. As a community grows, it becomes harder to deal with and more "faceless". I've been in great sub reddits. I've had to leave message boards on other platforms for the problems you describe (and others).


If I remember correctly trying to fix this is what killed Digg. A high percentage of their content were the same power users rushing to post content from the same well liked sites. They tried to do away with it by just dumping the sites RSS feeds into their site. Everyone fled and because Reddit didn't make those changes it became where they fled too.


Agreed, subbredits with mere hudreds of posters often create similarly deep social connections


I think the main improvement of reddit over message boards was just the small but extremely useful concept of messages being ordered by votes in a tree format. Nostalgia aside, navigating a flat, chronologically ordered message board post is extremely frustrating once you've tried the better way.

To a lesser extent, the lack of friction caused by not having to register individually to each message board to stop lurking, and the lack of friction creating new communities also matter, but none of those improvements require a centralised site to exist - niche reddit communities should be relatively easy to move from the site if such tooling existed, much easier than moving people from social networks at least.


I disagree that organizing by votes is inherently better than a chronological view. You simply end up with different problems. I’d probably argue that diversity of thought is much penalized in a voting system, which might be worse in the bigger picture. A better way forward would somehow combine the two.


Perhaps I should have clarified that I meant better in a UX sense.

Those cons you mention definitely do exist, they're an emergent problem of the conversations and communities that arise, but opinion bubbles never seem to be a bottleneck for a platform gaining popularity - which makes sense since they, by definition, favor the majority's opinion.

I'm also not convinced that chronological ordering is better for diversity of opinion: comments might not be hidden directly, but they can be drowned. In a reddit-like system each user can downvote you just once, while in a message board system each user can post N times, with each post making your opinion a smaller portion of the conversation.

What chronological posts are better at is favoring power users over casual users: there is a clear advantage for those who can post early and/or often. For everything besides the starting post of the thread, it also rewards short and not very thoughtful posts (since posting later is punished in visibility). The result is also a bubble, and one dictated by the people that spend their lives on the boards.

And in my personal opinion, there's not a lot of overlap between the people that lead interesting lives and are great at their fields and those willing to spend a great portion of their life in a message board.


Hmm. Maybe a solution to this is a limited number of posts per day/week. Or a limited number of upvotes/downvotes to give out. It would (helpfully) people to be concise and thoughtful with their comments.


I'm still active on a forum for those types of games. They're still probably about as active as they've ever been. It's obvious why it would never work on a large scale though. Each post got the user profile next to it, their signature, and a lot of space.


I would not call reddit anonymized, that title would fit something like 4chan a lot better. On reddit it is common to attack someone based on their comment history or karma.


Maybe anonymized is the wrong word. I mean more that Reddit lacks a sense of enduring identity; while a log of past posts does exist, the site is designed to prioritize the content of a comment more than the identity of its author.

This leads to shallow takes and groupthink, IMO, as comments become upvoted or downvoted based only on what's in that specific comment and not the overall identity of the author. If Reddit were the real world, it would be like starting an entirely new conversation with every single person you meet (even close friends or family members), a kind of endless first impression, in which small things are over-magnified.


> the site is designed to prioritize the content of a comment more than the identity of its author.

The site design is similar to HN on this front. I think that it is culture that separates the two instead.

> as comments become upvoted or downvoted based only on what's in that specific comment

This is desirable imo. It should not matter who makes a post but rather the quality of the post itself.

Regardless, I think that groupthink is an inherent problem of upvoting/downvoting and that this is the main cause of it. The best system that I have seen so far is the one that slashdot and its clones use.

> and not the overall identity of the author

This instead leads to personality cults, where for example tptacek's comment will get to the top regardless of its contents and bury superior comments by "irrelevant" users. Plus it is not like groupthink does not exist in HN either.

> it would be like starting an entirely new conversation with every single person you meet

I do not see what you mean by that. Repeating the same things? If so, I do not see how this would be the case. Rather, I think that being able to discuss with others and evaluate what they post in face value without letting your prejudice and opinion of the person itself get in the way is ideal.


> The site design is similar to HN on this front. I think that it is culture that separates the two instead.

Agreed. Culture is important.

Regarding my comment on identity: I'm trying to make a more subtle point, which is that it's difficult to build a long-lasting relationship via an online community if every comment is essentially speaking to a broad, new audience. I can't say, "Hey User-X, you mentioned this last week and I was thinking about it yesterday, and wanted to say this...". There is no continuity and no relationship-building.

Another (poor) metaphor would be: imagine your job is a traveling elevator repairman/repairwoman. You go from building to building, working at each for a few days. Sometimes, you go back to the same building. Maybe you strike up a conversation with each building's maintenance staff, but the fact that you have no enduring identity, means that you never quite get to know anyone, even if you recognize some of the same faces.

Forums didn't have this issue, largely because of avatars, signatures, and basically being forced to read every comment.

> This is desirable imo. It should not matter who makes a post but rather the quality of the post itself.

I think this makes sense at first glance, but the downsides (personality cults) are a separate issue that arises from the voting system. If you had comments/posts organized chronologically, 'cult leader' comments wouldn't be at the top. This also only seems to happen when the community is large enough for an individual to be anonymous within it.


I wrote a Python script to delete my comments every other day to take care of people pulling small quotes out of context and attacking me for it, or worse what boards I posted to and gatekeeping me based on that alone.


So in other words you never write anything worth keeping. People deleting themselves is massively annoying and a major dick move to the rest of us who have to guess what was said to understand the context.


Maybe he wants some control over what a large corporation keeps about him.


Does reddit actually delete posts from their systems? Or do they just flag it as deleted in their database? I always assume websites keep deleted data around.

If you really want to be safe, you probably need to utilize multiple online identities. Give the squeaky clean one to your employer if they ask.


I regularly run an extension that first edits, then deletes all my comments.


Just don't give them anything then. What he's doing now is like handling the corporation a piece of writing on paper, letting people take pictures of it, then grabbing the paper back, ripping in up and dropping the paper thrash on the street. It doesn't serve anyone.


It serves the user; that's why the user is doing it. Whom the hell else should ever be served?

Dumb analogies are dumb. Carefully curating one's online content is in no way similar to "dropping the paper thrash on the street".


It's very similar, you leave thrash around for others to deal with. And it's just not "one's online content", you also degrade the online content of the ones who spent time replying to you and participating in the thread.


I mean it's quite simple. It serves the user at the cost of the community at large.

HN has similar problems because you can edit your post after people have replied to it. This means you can retroactively change history and how prior arguments were framed, which can make other people look like idiots or completely destroy a comment chain.

If you're really concerned about anonymity or your history being used against you, then create throwaways. Otherwise you're not stopping corporations from keeping tabs on you, the moment you hit post that data's already been scraped and stored somewhere.


It serves them, which is why they do it. They get to have converaations without them being used against them.


This is a great example of why they had to write a python script to delete comments to prevent getting attacked later. People want to throw fits over everything


So what? What other people may chose to do is their issue. Dicks are easy to ignore, but don't be a dick to others in order to prevent potential dickiness reaching you.


Wow. I feel like this is a bit of the pot calling the kettle black, at this point. I delete all of my comments, popular and hated. Equally. I don't pick and choose. There's a 48 hour clock on it. No one cares about a conversation 48 hours later on Reddit... No one cares 12 hours later, really. But if you want to think I'm a "dick", because I only give someone 48 hours to have my opinion on Reddit, well I'm old enough to live through that =) message boards don't have to be as permanent as they want them to be.


> No one cares about a conversation 48 hours later on Reddit

I do. All the reddit threads that I look at are from online searches regarding some sort of question that I have. Most of them tend to be months old, some even years. You just make the experience of people like me significantly worse. I wish that services like ceddit stored the content of user-deleted posts.


> Dicks are easy to ignore

Deleted comments are also easy to ignore. Deleting your comments regularly might be construed as a dick move by some people, but as you say, dicks are easy to ignore.


Yes, I have a similar concern but I just make a new account every now and then.


I make a lot of HN accounts because of this. Every reply includes more information that can't be deleted but can be used to tie it to my real-life identity. I don't want to have to precede every reply by pointing out it's my views and not my employer's.


I used to do this more frequently but they started requiring an email address.


No just click through. No address required.


They also need a captcha if you use a proxy.


The efficacy of such scripts is questionable considering there are sites that archive comments within seconds/minutes of them being posted.


Mind sharing this script?


The following is a good write up of how to do it and then I just set up a cron job on my Linux box to do it every 48 hours:

https://www.reddit.com/r/learnpython/comments/aoq9yj/reddit_...


Do you think this is because no one was profiting from your message board community? I'm sure there's several factors, but it takes people who love something to build a presence without motivation for profit.


Don't disagree with what your saying but I did find this an interesting take on Reddit: Smarter every Day Reddit - https://youtu.be/soYkEqDp760


Facebook also killed these forums too, but it's much more daunting joining a group using your real name and identity.

Reddit's too anonymous and Facebook is not anonymous enough!



My understanding is that Aaron Schwarz created it as a platform for free speech. So, did Reddit degenerate after he passed away?


I believe he joined as a late founder, he wasn't on the original team.


Without doubt


What was the GBA game?



If you were a frequent visitor of r/politics in 2015 and 2016 you will have noticed something very strange in the front-page posts and top upvoted comments, which seemingly happened overnight during the days of the DNC Primary. It was like watching a mask slip.

As an experiment I'm going to leave this comment ambiguous because I want to see if this description alone is relatable to users who were frequent visitors at the time.


Yup. I wasn't a frequent visitor, but r/politics always seemed like a level-headed intellectual political forum. After the 2015-2016 election the tone totally changed. For the most part, it changed to favor politics that I prefer, but it's hysterical and anti-intellectual and not a place I want to get information from or be associated with.


It was never level-headed or intellectual.


It pretty much turned into a hivemind where you would be suddenly be assaulted 300 people with the a new opinion you would never have seen before. Sunday mornings seemed to be when the information was disseminated.

It was most blatant when Hillary basically collapsed in front of the van. First wave was it was hot everything is fine, second was that she was feeling a bit under the weather due to the heat, and then it just a one off thing she's perfectly fine now look at the cute girl who greeted her. You would see hundreds of posts saying this exact thing and then change within 5 minutes.


https://www.fec.gov/data/disbursements/?disbursement_purpose...

I'm going to leave this ambiguous too :)


The problems with Reddit I'd like to add

* Bots and sock puppets pushing agendas

* Reddit counter culture movements and backlashes. Seems to be bipolar with pro China / anti China every day of the week.

* Reddit nice guys who have account names like "Iliketitties" or something really depraved. Along with all the other hypocrites

* Reddit Admins and big personalities driving content trends on the site e.g. (/u/gallowboob)

* Recycling of posts / knowledge, since there are always new people joining. You get things like "TIL that bananas are sterile" trending once every month. Which is frustrating for veteran users

* Reddit arm chair generals/economists/politicians. The points system rewards trendy content and doesn't necessarily mean quality. Unlike points in Stackoverflow, there is some degree of confidence in the users competency.

* The fact that Reddit is mainly populated with technologically proficient people, who probably have some sort of issue, whether it be mental, psychological. Sure we all suffer from our demons but the amount of stuff I read on there makes me cringe at times.

* The "Reddit Contrarian", waiting to snipe your post with their immense intellect

Sure there are many more that could be extrapolated to any other social network.


Folks are replying to you saying that HN has the same problems. I don’t entirely disagree with them, but I do think that Reddit is much worse.

It may be the more conscious moderation style on HN, but it’s much more likely you’re going to get interesting content and thoughtful discussions here than on most subreddits, particularly those that show up on r/all or r/popular.

HN definitely has issues with performative intellectualism and people being unnecessarily argumentative, but I don’t think equating it with reddit is accurate.


Comparing Hacker News with mainstream and general discussion subreddits is misleading, as is comparing it to Reddit as a whole. Obviously Reddit is going to come up worse in every conceivable metric (although, also, better) simply because of scale.

A more accurate comparison would be between HN and niche subreddit of roughly equal size and traffic. Not that I am or am willing to put in the work to make such a comparison, but I suspect the quality differential then would be smaller than a lot of people assume.


HN is more of an echo chamber than reddit because the moderation can be effectively done by just dan and there's no subreddit niches on HN to allow diversity of opinions.


HN usually allows controversial comments to stand as long as they don't generate poor discussion. Sticking to the facts, presenting evidence and avoiding broad generalization helps. People often talk about controversial topics without being censored.

Many Reddit moderators straight up ban people who post stuff they don't agree with.


If you had said something like that about u/gallowboob on a top subreddit on Reddit, your comment would have been deleted within minutes.

The fact that your comment here isn’t deleted is a testament to how wrong your comment is.


Sample size 1, great argument buddy. Go look at all the comments that get flagged every day, not for being inflammatory, but just for being unpopular. And unlike reddit you can't even read them on HN after they die. They're so afraid of dissenting narrative enough downvotes means deletion.


https://news.ycombinator.com/user?id=alden_penny

Set "show dead" == "yes".

(For other users: your own account page.)


In theory, yes.

In practice, who the editor is and how they execute the task matters tremendously.

There's a frequent mantra by a certain segment of the population, tending to "but who should judge?", or the more pointed "what gives you the right to judge?"

My answer to the first is "someone who's quite good at it, and takes the responsibility seriously".

To the second: "who are you to say I cannot?" We are all judgement-making machines, so long as we have a functioning intellect. We're trying to fit our heads around an external reality, and, generally, make better rather than worse choices.

I'm a fan of systems with checks and balances, with principle, and with transparency. HN scores well on some points, less so on. others (notably transparency). A problem with transparency reports is that excessive detail is tedious and cantip off malevolent actors, insufficient can hide many sins.


Would you care to support your accusation with evidence?


How could the HN mod roles/power/relationship improve in your opinion?


2 HN mods control 100% of fourums!

(And, generally, do an excellent job in my view. Not perfect, but it's a difficult, unending, and greatly-underthanked task.)


In your view, should there be more or how could the HN mod system improve?


Not OP, but it would be nice in my opinion if we knew a title was edited (either by mods or OP). It's weird to me when a post has been up for hours and the title gets edited. Can totally change the context of the comments.


Agreed. This wouldn't be difficult to implement would it?


Nearly every bullet point you mentioned can be sensibly argued regarding Hacker News. Particularly the fourth, sixth, and overwhelmingly the last. I have also seen a regular username here containing “penis” in an intentional fashion and a number of people with clear mental and psychological issues, as well. Perhaps the problem isn’t the specific forum.


These issues apply to any internet forum once sufficiently popular. Digg and Slashdot had the same issues, and were slowly strangled by them. The plebs dragged the average down to... well... the average, and then people moved on. Right now YC seems to be the "hip new place to be", but you mark my words, it's going to go down the same path.


HN has existed since October 6, 2006. It's maintained quality at a higher level, for a longer time, than Slashdot, Kuro5hin, Digg, Reddit, and numerous other fora.

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=1


That's good to know, and gives me hope, but this trend is generally a function of popularity, not time. Once a decent fraction of the population is on a platform, inevitably it is dragged towards the lowest common denominator.

Just recently someone on YC asked about "mind bending books" and the #1 response was Permutation City by Greg Egan.

I've read this book, and it was an amazing, nearly life altering experience for me. But lets just say... his style of science fiction is not for everyone, and it's certainly not mainstream. Even in my relatively techy circle of friends, nobody has read any books by Greg Egan. Not one. This indicates to me that the current YC crowd is an extremely narrowly filtered subset of the general population.

Recently I've been reading his Orthogonal series about a Universe that has Riemannian spacetime geometry instead of our Lortentzian spacetime. See: https://www.gregegan.net/ORTHOGONAL/ORTHOGONAL.html

Can you imagine going to Facebook, Reddit, or even Slashdot and having such books be even in the top 100? The common people upvote Tolkein, Pratchett, and J K Rowling.

Notably, even in the early days, Slashdot had... crazies. Conspiracy nuts, creationists, UFO true believers, and the like. I've noticed that YC is one of the few forums where the one or two Creationists present are mercilessly voted down and their arguments are rejected out of hand. Such trolls get no traction here. But recently... there has been an increase in such talk. It's still small, but I've noticed the trend.


HN takes a number ofvfairly deliberate steps at maintaining its limited appeal, including a decidedly and intentionally lacklustre appearance, limited features, near total lack of gamification (leader list excepted, and I've thought that maybe should be tossed), and the gently but firm hand of moderation nudging content and discussion.

Look at the "new" queue to see what fails to make the cut, much of it auto-killed.


"The fact that Reddit is mainly populated with technologically proficient people, who probably have some sort of issue, whether it be mental, psychological. Sure we all suffer from our demons but the amount of stuff I read on there makes me cringe at times."

Perhaps back when Reddit used to be a niche site, it was "mainly populated with technologically proficient people", but now it's the seventh most-popular site in the US. The days of "fellow Redditors" meaning anything concrete are long gone.

You can see it's evolution over time from a site where programming topics were very popular (as a proportion) to where general-purpose memes are dominant. (https://media.wired.com/photos/593278f0a31264584499534b/mast...)


>Seems to be bipolar with pro China / anti China every day of the week.

I see anti-china all the time, but rarely see pro-china. This in on /r/all, by the way, so it's not because of any filter bubble on my part.


Funny to read that on HN.


I nearly spit my coffee out while reading it. And it's already on /r/LOLHackerNews


To add to your list:

* using engagement as a ranking metric. This ensures the content is addictive, even if it's low quality

* the reactionary fabricated content they keep because it went viral

* important news won't surface until hours after an even happens unless an admin stickies it because they removed their traditional ranking algorithm

* the shift away from subreddits being communities and towards social media style entities

I wish reddit's alternatives gained some traction. Voat had some promise but got taken over by racist bots. saidit might have some potential.


> Reddit nice guys who have account names like "Iliketitties" or something really depraved.

Missed opportunity to refer people to the canonical subreddit /r/rimjobsteve.


A few other characters I'd add (that appear both here and on Reddit):

* "The Pedantic Nitpicker". He will respond to your long, 50 sentence comment and say something like: "That one sentence said 'all' and should say 'some' because here is a counterexample. Therefore, YOUR ENTIRE POST IS WRONG."

* "The Sealioning Scientist". No matter what you say, she will ask for linked academic sources, and goad you into arguing, all while acting sincere and curious. If you fail to cite them, then obviously you are writing fiction, and she wins.

* "The Silent Downvoter". Skims through posts, looking for ones that violate some established groupthink or simply go against the current subreddit's zeitgeist, downvotes and sneaks off into the dark. Nobody knows their username because they never comment or explain their downvote.


"The Silent Downvoter". Skims through posts, looking for ones that violate some established groupthink or simply go against the current subreddit's zeitgeist, downvotes and sneaks off into the dark. Nobody knows their username because they never comment or explain their downvote.

I think we all wish that we could see the reasons people had for downvoting, but I've accepted that it's just like real life: people will disagree or dislike you and judge you, and you might end up none the wiser, and that's just how it goes.

I think this combination of phenomena, getting downvoted for going against groupthink as opposed to not contributing to the conversation, commenters trying to call out their downvoters, commenters accusing their downvoters of being sheep, is more illustrative of a different general issue: people have a tendency to perceive negative social signals as attacks. We all understand defensiveness as a phenomenon, but humans in general are also much better at spotting defensiveness in others than in themselves, so the calmness disappears when it's you being downvoted.

Downvoting as a mechanism seems to do an approximate job of social regulation at best, and I think that's specifically because the wisdom of the crowd is only good for some things and specifically not good for handling nuance or dissent.


"No matter what you say, she will ask for linked academic sources, and goad you into arguing"

My favorite are the people who demand sources for every assertion of yours, while making numerous factual assertions of their own without providing sources.

Bonus points for disregarding sources once provided, e.g."everyone knows Snopes and Politifact are fake and just anyone can write on Wikipedia".


> It's sunny outside

citation needed


Location unclear, please specify (all I can see is overcast, I mean seriously) :)


'The "Reddit Contrarian", waiting to snipe your post with their immense intellect'

This one is interesting to me. I could certainly be accused of being this guy, you could probably make an argument that I'm being this guy right now.

We're all here and participating for different purposes, and one of my purposes is to sharpen my writing skills and my rhetoric. Arguing with strangers on the internet is the most effective way of doing this that I've found, that doesn't affect my personal/professional life.

Another thing you mentioned - people with immense issues. We've all got plenty of issues, and one of the best things about commenting anonymously on the internet is that there is no punishment for revealing them.

I think that there are positive perspectives you could take on some of these bullet points


> We're all here and participating for different purposes, and one of my purposes is to sharpen my writing skills and my rhetoric. Arguing with strangers on the internet is the most effective way of doing this that I've found, that doesn't affect my personal/professional life.

> I think that there are positive perspectives you could take on some of these bullet points

Arguing with someone on the Internet is positive only if the other party also wishes to argue.

Kind of like going out to the street and physically fighting with a random person. It'll definitely sharpen your fighting skills, but it's not a positive if the random stranger doesn't want to fight.


There are many differences between arguing and fighting. One that comes to mind is arguments ability to be productive.

I feel you've made an argument towards me with your comment, and it was welcome because you posed it rationally and without making it personal. It's impossible to pose a fight with a stranger rationally and impersonally, so I'm not sure that that analogy is a good fit.


> There are many differences between arguing and fighting. One that comes to mind is arguments ability to be productive.

I think the distinction is that while it is productive for you, it may be the opposite for your interlocutor. People have conversations for different reasons, and the reasons you have are a strict subset of those. And in real life - outside of academia and some of the tech world - their reasons rarely align with yours.

(Lesson learned the hard way).


In HN you can simply not reply when you don't want to argue.


> In HN you can simply not reply when you don't want to argue.

If you're addressing the physical fighting analogy, yes - it is an imperfect one. It is also not the main thrust of my argument.

If you're referring to the wider point, I don't see the relevance. It's not a given that the purpose of commenting on HN is for sharpening writing skills and rhetoric. It no doubt is the purpose of some on HN, but not everyone.

To take the statement to a pointless extreme, you can also choose not to reply to someone who is openly insulting you on HN. That doesn't make it OK to do so.


I don't think arguing with strangers on the internet presents a valuable feedback loop for learnings in real-life discussions. It's just a very different world with different repercussions.


It's a very different medium which is why is presents a valuable feedback loop. It presents a rare opportunity to build the skill of making a strong argument, without putting your reputation at stake.

In my work I'm able to make a convincing argument as to why a given architecture is the right way to do it, why a given tool isn't worth using, etc. This allows me to participate in high-level design discussions and be a major contributor to them, even though I have relatively little experience. I attribute that almost entirely to my experience as an internet commenter, as odd as that sounds.


I coached high school debate teams, neither that nor arguing shit over the internet are the real world because you aren't actually risking anything and they are, as we are exploring in this very post and thread, predictable.


If it was the same as the real world it wouldn't make for very good practice, now would it?

When I played sports, we spent a fraction of our practices trying to mimic the real world scenario (scrimmaging). And even in a scrimmage, it's risk free, there are no stakes.

The lack of risk is exactly what makes it great practice.


I can't agree with the idea that physical repetition is a suitable analog for any social interaction. For example, a hetero male can't get better at attracting women without being in the actual, concrete situation as it unfolds, which is exactly what is happening in coached dating situations as well.

Edit: I would go a step further and wager our brains aren't calibrated for arguing random other human beings in person we don't share assumptions, behaviors, and/or appearances with; I mean people have a hard enough time communicating with the people they've chosen to commit the rest of their life too, it's hard to conceive of being able to master a marriage without being in the marriage.


The problems with Hacker news I'd like to add

* HN Companies and sock puppets pushing agendas

* Hacker news counter culture movements and backlashes. Seems to be bipolar with pro Rust / anti Rust every day of the week.

* Hacker news nice guys who have account names like "mothsonasloth" or something really depraved. Along with all the other hypocrites

* Hacker news Admins and big personalities driving content trends on the site e.g. (/u/patio11)

* Recycling of posts / knowledge, since there are always new people joining. You get things like "TIL that microservices are awesome" trending once every month. Which is frustrating for veteran users

* Hacker news arm chair generals/economists/politicians. The points system rewards trendy content and doesn't necessarily mean quality. Unlike points in Stackoverflow, there is some degree of confidence in the users competency.

* The fact that Hacker news is mainly populated with technologically proficient people, who probably have some sort of issue, whether it be mental, psychological. Sure we all suffer from our demons but the amount of stuff I read on there makes me cringe at times.

* The "Hacker news Contrarian", waiting to snipe your post with their immense intellect


perfect example of __The "Hacker news Contrarian", waiting to snipe your post with their immense intellect__


Can we please train gpt2 with this model and get HN gpt2 going?


You just described the real world


> * The "Reddit Contrarian", waiting to snipe your post with their immense intellect

I began thinking twice before commenting on anything, and then eventually stopped. Even in the most benign subs, you can quickly escalate to Hitler if you deviate from the hive-mind.


[flagged]


“No one could possibly believe this, they must be a paid stooge” is an extremely optimistic view of human nature. Plenty of people in real life with incomprehensibly awful opinions, too.


I guess you missed the part where I pointed out browsing their post history makes it pretty obvious they aren't a random US/European citizen expressing their personal thoughts.


India is another one. Last year, Kashmir had their internet cut off and tanks were rolling in the streets, but all the posts were about Hong Kong.


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