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Question - is this at the top because you've pinned it there, or because people voted it so? I've been around here for 6-ish years now, and don't think I've seen any pinned mod comments before.

I pinned it. I usually do that for more boring reasons, like linking to a previous submission when an item is a dupe. But sometimes there are admonitions like https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=23158853 from a couple days ago, and https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=22827249 from a month ago, that try to steer a thread in a more guidelinesy direction. That works. But I try to do it sparingly.

I follow Dang's comments because I find it interesting how he moderates the site. I have definitely seen comments like this one which always appear at the top of threads, so I'm quite sure they're pinned.

This is absolutely pinned. I prefer to imagine that since we haven't noticed such comments on the regular means this power is not habitually abused to float a particular opinion/angle to the top of threads. That policy is not guaranteed to be enforced, so I'd prefer a visible indication (eg. via an icon, akin to Reddit) indicating the comment has been pinned. Transparency for the win.

Of course, a truly Evil™ company would have both options available: a visible icon for transparently pinned comments, but also the ability to invisibly pin a comment to influence readers. There is no real foolproof method, unfortunately.

I don't know if pinning is even necessarily a chief tactic as I presume they're also able to arbitrarily modify a comment's votes, or at least to overlook manipulation of votes from an entity they've given agency to.

All pretty cynical, though.

Seems like a public announcement. Don't see any problem with pinning it to the top.

I'm quite sure thare's pinning functionality in HN, it just that HN doesn't mark it like reddit does.

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