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Wikipedia Is Badly Biased (larrysanger.org)
74 points by nkurz 12 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 66 comments

> Indeed, Wikipedia defines the very term as follows: “Alternative medicine describes any practice that aims to achieve the healing effects of medicine, but which lacks biological plausibility and is untested, untestable or proven ineffective.”

OK, what? The author completely lost me at this point. This seems like a very reasonable definition of the term 'alternative medicine'. If it was tested and/or proven effective then it wouldn't be alternative - it would be just medicine.

The giveaway on bias is the string "lacks biological plausibility AND". It would be more defensible if the "AND" was instead an "OR".

Plenty of approaches practiced by "alternative" medicine practitioners are biologically plausible, but haven't been tested in randomized controlled trials, because nobody has the incentive or the resources needed to conduct one. (Trials that require many millions of dollars and several years to conduct only happen if a multi-billion dollar return is likely, or if there is a clear and achievable political incentive.)

The most significant category I'm familiar with is emotion/stress-relief-based approaches for treating non-lethal but chronic and debilitating pain/fatigue/inflammatory/autoimmune conditions.

In other discussions here on this site, when I've bothered to fully articulate the basis for the notion that emotional issues and stress can cause these physiological illness, I've found the response to be something like "yeah of course, that's uncontroversial".

And sure, any good mainstream doctor, on recognising their patient is suffering a stress-related illness, will helpfully suggest reducing stress.

But if the patient wants a comprehensive program that can identify and heal all the stress/trauma/held emotion that is keeping them in chronic illness and pain, practitioners that offer this are generally of the kind that is categorised as "alternative" – or, what Wikipedia defines, unconditionally, as "biologically implausible".

Another example is naturopathy, which seeks to improve patients' health mostly through the adoption of an optimal diet and nutrition program. Not much is more biologically plausible than this, but, hey, Wikipedia knows best.

My basis for knowledge on this is over a decade researching and experimenting with approaches to overcome my own chronic illness, finding that those based on emotion and nutrition were the most effective, and finding material from highly-credentialed scientists explaining down to the fundamentals of cell biology, why it is plausible.

As a result, whilst I still turn to Wikipedia routinely as an info source for general topics, I've come to regard it as largely useless for medical topics that veer even slightly from the middle of the road.

Great answer and great example of how small changes in framing and wording can have a huge impact. Neutrality is very hard. If the majority of people writing on a certain topic, or approving the writing, hold a certain view, it's very hard for that view to not leak into the writing in some way.

> Another example is naturopathy, which seeks to improve patients' health mostly through the adoption of an optimal diet and nutrition program. Not much is more biologically plausible than this, but, hey, Wikipedia knows best.

That description sounds a bit biased itself. You're describing a dietician, but the Naturopathy umbrella (and practicioners) also covers unproven herbal remedies, homeopathy, acupuncture, belief in 'vital energy,' etc.

Yep, I expected that kind of response, and yep it’s somewhat valid but doesn’t counter my central point.

The wording of the Wikipedia article is that anything considered “alternative medicine” is by-definition “biologically implausible”.

But plenty of what is central to what naturopaths do - i.e., nutrition - is plainly biologically plausible. That naturopaths approach nutrition differently to mainstream dieticians doesn’t make the approach by-definition “implausible”. And the “unproven” herbal remedies they may use are not “implausible” (herbs are made up of molecules and thus can quite obviously influence physiology).

“Unproven” and “implausible” are not the same thing; that’s my central point.

If some naturopaths also practice homeopathy, that doesn’t change the biological plausibility of the nutritional aspect, which in my experience, is the vast majority of the practice (at least here in Australia).

For what it’s worth, your assertion that naturopathy is an umbrella term for those other modalities isn’t correct. Sure, some of them are also homeopaths, but not the majority in my experience. And of course acupuncture is from Traditional Chinese Medicine, which is a separate system again.

Speaking of which, in just the past few years we’ve seen Nobel Prize awarded to a Chinese researcher for “discovering” artemisinin and dihydroartemisinin in the herb sweet wormwood, which had long been used as a malaria remedy. She found this by scouring 1600-year-old Chinese medical texts.

So by Wikipedia’s definition, this remedy was “biologically implausible” right up until the moment someone completed Nobel Prize-winning research to suddenly make it plausible.

Fabulous logic. How lucky the researcher hadn’t read Wikipedia beforehand and learned her proposed research was implausible.

> This seems like a very reasonable definition of the term 'alternative medicine'.

Let's try from a couple angles.

First, just the accuracy. Are there any alternative medicines that are effective? I'm fairly prejudiced against many alternative medical approaches (especially homeopathy) but within the wider field seems likely that at least one alternative approach somewhere actually works for some patients. I don't see how it can "actually work" while being "biologically implausible", which makes this a poor defining characteristic. Second, there are many people who describe themselves as practitioners of or believers in alternative medicine. Would any of them come up with or even recognize this definition? Doubtful, which means that at best this is a biased definition believed only by people with a particular preconceived view.

I'm mostly OK with this excerpt, because in this case I'm on the side that shares this bias. But even if it's "right", one should recognize that this still makes it a biased article. There's nothing inherently wrong with propagating this bias, and I prefer it to an uncritical acceptance of alternative medicine, but it's hypocritical to call it a "neutral point of view". The bigger question is whether it's possible or desirable for Wikipedia to actually have a "neutral point of view" while remaining useful, or whether it should adopt an "experts' point of view" and strive for accuracy. I'm unsure --- I think there is probably room for both approaches, but probably impossible for a single resource to serve both roles.

If Wikipedia wants to claim neutrality, it needs to write articles that all sides agree offer accurate summaries. But it can be very difficult for people who are certain they are right to neutrally present things they feel are wrong, which means that to achieve this goal Wikipedia may need to increase the ideological breadth of its base. Or it can give up on its claims of neutrality. Or it can continue to be criticized by people who correctly point out the hypocrisy of claiming to be neutral while producing ideologically slanted articles.

But it can be very difficult for people who are certain they are right to neutrally present things they feel are wrong, which means that to achieve this goal Wikipedia may need to increase the ideological breadth of its base.

that's not enough. what is needed is the ability and willingness of editors to have an open mind and actually consider opposing views. to many times such clashes just end up in editor wars instead of a neutral text.

Reality is often implausible. At least traditionally, it's fiction that's required to be plausible. This is a direct consequence of reality being that which doesn't go away when you stop believing in it.

I think this is the origin of the issue people are having.

Masks were alternative medicine up until about 4 weeks ago.

Western medicine is good if your guts are hanging out after an accident.

But it completely fails to fully cure many chronic conditions. They just give you a pill.

Eastern medicine is more hollistic (meaning it fully address chronic conditions by finding the true source so that not more pills are needed).

So for this statement above: what he was trying to say is that western medicine labels any healing methods that try to use natural remedies or hollistic healing as "alternative".

Or in other words: he is trying to show you that big pharma is controlling everything to such extend that even just trying any hollistic (permanently curing by finding the real cause) medicine is being ignored in favor of permanent pill dispesing.

Why cure it permanently if you can profit from symptom management :)

Eastern medicine that works would also be labeled as just medicine. Acupuncture is growing in use and legitimacy as it is studied and implemented for chronic pain sufferers.

Studies of Aromatherapy have found nothing statistically significant though, so that’d be down as “alternative medicine”. In the same way as “alternative facts” are not facts. “Alternative medicine” is not medicine. The nice thing about alternative medicine is that there’s a pretty clear and simple path to getting an alternative medicine to become actual medicine if it works. Have it studied and tested using the rigor of the scientific method.

I'm sorry to be glib, but I've never heard of 'just medicine'. I know there are many procedures and medications that doctors are willing or trained to provide, and I know that many doctors only know or prefer a subset of these, even for common diseases. I know some doctors who are very open-minded in their recommendations and some who are conservative to a fault.

Due to the replication crisis, I imagine it's actually much more difficult to get non-standard treatments in now than it was to introduce treatments last century.

Not that I'm disagreeing with you - I'm fully in the Ben Goldacre 'Bad Science' camp - I just wanted to highlight that these things sometimes take generational and cultural change, and for some classes of treatments, it's not always a case of taking something from the 'not yet proven to work' bucket and putting it in the 'proven to work' bucket (both buckets are somewhat leaky anyway).

> Eastern medicine that works would also be labeled as just medicine.

That sounds a lot like the "No True Scotsman" fallacy. If you define "medicine" as "anything that works", then of course "alternative medicine" is crap, by definition.

One big problem with being this dismissive is that a lot of medicine started out as "alternative" and then was scientifically confirmed over time.

If your Western doctor is not suggesting regular exercise and a balanced diet to prevent chronic conditions before giving you a pill then they are not using an evidence-based approach.

The unfortunate reality is that many doctors are actually pretty shit at their job, just like most other professions.

No doctor I have gone to in recent memory has said anything like that to me, ever.

I remember once when a test result got close to a threshold, I was told, "this test result is a little high, we should work at getting that down, and if it stays high we can pursue medicine to bring it down."

Could this merely be part of some non-confrontational advice? Maybe waiting for me to ask about exercise before answering?

On the other hand, I have had two friends whose relationships soured with their doctor by giving unwarranted advice.

One friend smoked. The other was overweight.

The doctors pursued the smoking/weight issue to the exclusion of what they were coming in for, and neither friend went back to that doctor.

I think it bears saying that doctors are people too, that includes all the flaws/biases/etc. that we all succumb to.

There is a huge issue that there is no feedback loop when doctors are incompetent or cannot be bothered to actually engage -- as your friends' experience suggests, the doctor has no way (or incentive, really, if they're just trying to satisfy a metric) to find out if they actually helped or not. The only filtering mechanism seems to be either a) passed medical school, or b) gross incompetence which gets reported to an authority, but patients themselves (by definition) usually cannot judge if a doctor is giving them actively bad/dangerous advice.

Metrics are becoming a plague in and of itself... I live somewhere in Scandiwegia, and when I reserve a time slot with my doctor, the biggest time slot I could get was 10 minutes. That's 10 minutes to discuss a complex lifelong pain-related issue which may have genetics playing into it, etc. etc. It's absolutely insane for complex issues, but I'm betting a lot of these issues are essentially invisible to the system because people just give up and take (too many) painkillers. Trying to get a referral to experts in the type of pain I experience is of course heavily gatekept, and means I have to face a whole battery of other non-specialists (neuoroligists, etc.) who can only give wholly inconclusive answers as to whether I'm "worthy" of getting to talk to the specialists who could probably give me a proper diagnosis pretty quickly.

Of course, most things (general practitioner) doctors see are probably pretty simple and can handily be handled in 10 minutes, but it just gets very frustrating when it isn't that simple.

EDIT: Just wanted to add that none of this means that TCM (or alternative medicine in general) necessarily has any worth. The science of 'Western' medicine is overall really solid, but the systems around engaging with patients is really screwed up right now.

Regular exercise and a balanced diet to not prevent chronic diseases. That’s kind of OP’s whole point. In western medicine we don’t have any philosophy for where a bunch of long term health issues come from. Now if you study aruveyda, they’ll have a lot to say about this

banyanbotanicals.com has some great articles about this, check out their six tastes article for example

Well, this is the disappointment of the day. Never thought I'd see this kind of comment in here.

On second thought, thinking how Steve Jobs died I think it is quite apt.

Even smart people can have stupid and ignorant opinions.

Also there is no such a thing as Eastern Medicine, at best you can call it Eastern Pseudo-Medicine because if it worked it would just be Medicine.

banyanbotanicals.com is a great place to learn more about eastern medicine

There’s a reason why it’s still to this day a huge tradition and there’s countless stories you can read about people benefiting from eastern medicine

As an example... reflexology. All the parts of our body get grounded through our feet into the ground. That’s why touching different parts of your feet can affect different parts of your body

Holistic ways of thinking are extremely alien and foreign to western medicine

And now we have literal spam in here. Great.


Edit: I don’t understand

IMO if your doctor is just pushing pills instead of thinking you need a new doctor. My doctors have always recommended other things before drugs.

There’s plenty of scientific support for treatments other than drugs and this idea is compatible with the definition from Wikipedia.

Eastern medicine is not empirical. Very few treatments outperform placebo.

What do you mean by "empirical"? Are you saying that eastern medicine is not based on empirical evidence, ie. observation and experimentation, but on some other approach?

Isn't the point that "western medicine" is a set of things that have been shown to work based on the outcome of controlled tests - double blind tests and so on. As a result of these tests we say that, in general, statistically, "medicine" cures the condition more than doing nothing does (or, more precisely, more than the placebo effect).

If we put something through that process and find that outcome, we classify it as medicine. My understanding is that tests of some Traditional Chinese Medicine (which I assume is what we're talking about here when we say "eastern medicine") aren't able to replicate successful outcomes and so we therefore don't classify those things as medicine in the west.

That's not to say they don't help trigger the placebo and so on, just that we haven't proven it through double blind studies and so on - which is my understanding of what OP means by "empirical".

0 proof. It's based purely on magic thinking.

If you have any relevant sources that prove other wise I'll be happy to change my mind.

Why should I have to disprove your claim?

This is not true

People who are practiced in eastern medicine don’t bother with rigorous scientific studies as much anyways. What’s the point, you can just see the reasoning and common sense yourself without needing to look at a study, not to mention the countless anecdotes they’ve collected from people they’ve met and who’ve found healing

Can't the same be said about a lot of conventional medications?

I find it quite frustrating that placebo can be observed to be effective in many scenarios but many scientist seem to dismiss it out of hand.

It really bothers me to hear that; it's a common statement, but I think when you examine what it means to say a placebo is observed to be effective, it dissolves into logical incoherence. It's pretending that a lack of results is a result, that an unknown source of bias is understood through doubletalk/think. It's worse than homeopathy.

I regret you’re being downvoted I agree with you 100%

I find it strange that the writer presents Wikipedia as a well defined entity: it is possible for anyone (including the writer) to amend a Wikipedia article. This may even be done anonymously.

The writer goes on to describe various issues about various articles, which could be brought up directly in the discussion sections of these articles, as well as possible solutions for these issues.

However, the first few lines point out something really interesting: Wikipedia doesn't seem to look for facts, but rather to describe point of views. If you are familiar with stackoverflow, the main policy there is to only provide factual information. Any opinion-based question or answer are at the least frowned upon, and usually rejected (though it may also depends on a sub-topic local behaviour). However, I believe that this policy wasn't devised from the beginning, but rather refined over time, considering that the entries at the dawn of the site were much less restricted on that ground. Wikipedia seems to be much more open to opinions, in a "neutral" way, which they explain by giving each opinion as much coverage has it is popular (and thus accepted). So, does it mean that if the "flat Earth" theory (which is given as an example in the Wikipedia page) was much more popular, it would be prevalent in the article about Earth?

So mainstream ideas will be described in much more details than so-called alternate views. For me, this seems somewhat counter-intuitive. I would want to have an encyclopedia which compiles facts, rather than opinions. Am I missing something?

Something doesn't need to be a 'well defined entity' to speak about it meaningfully. "Most Wikipedia articles are less than 20k words". Is that not a meaningful statement? "But, anyone can edit articles" What does that have to do with how Wikipedia is in 2020, 19 years into the project? Emergent tendencies exist.

> I would want to have an encyclopedia which compiles facts, rather than opinions. Am I missing something?

That 'fact' and 'opinion' aren't clean categories.

For anyone interested in reading more Wikipedia criticism, I recommend this essay by Jaron Lanier


> Something doesn't need to be a 'well defined entity' to speak about it meaningfully.

True, what I meant is that the writer accuses Wikipedia of some sort of agenda, but it's not just one group of people, but many factions with opposite goals, including the one described in the meta pages. Although not being a well defined entity doesn't preclude discussing it, there are things that cannot be said about it because of that.

Another thing that the writer says is that Wikipedia failed, as if it reached an irrevocable state, but Wikipedia is all but in a well defined state (unless you count this as a well defined state, but then we might end up in a Russel paradox), it's content is constantly fluctuating, even if slowly so. When you speak of emergent tendencies, I find the idea compelling, but I wonder if this compatible with a constantly changing set of editors. And even if it is, perhaps this trend is like a disease, and at some point (like in evolutionary algorithms), a cure will emerge?

> That 'fact' and 'opinion' aren't clean categories.

Indeed, perhaps I was guilty of the same mistake as the writer? However, it is possible to find many pages with annotations criticizing the page content for lack of references or sources. I see that as an attempt to implement fact checking.

> When you speak of emergent tendencies, I find the idea compelling, but I wonder if this compatible with a constantly changing set of editors.

Crowds, for example, behave similarly even if you shuffle around who is in the crowd.

> However, it is possible to find many pages with annotations criticizing the page content for lack of references or sources. I see that as an attempt to implement fact checking.

You seem to be operating under the assumption that if we only threw more manpower at Wikipedia we could incrementally improve it to perfection. That seems implausible to me for various reasons.

From the essay I linked,

"A core belief of the wiki world is that whatever problems exist in the wiki will be incrementally corrected as the process unfolds. This is analogous to the claims of Hyper-Libertarians who put infinite faith in a free market, or the Hyper-Lefties who are somehow able to sit through consensus decision-making processes. In all these cases, it seems to me that empirical evidence has yielded mixed results. Sometimes loosely structured collective activities yield continuous improvements and sometimes they don't. Often we don't live long enough to find out. Later in this essay I'll point out what constraints make a collective smart. But first, it's important to not lose sight of values just because the question of whether a collective can be smart is so fascinating. Accuracy in a text is not enough. A desirable text is more than a collection of accurate references. It is also an expression of personality."

> Crowds, for example, behave similarly even if you shuffle around who is in the crowd.

Indeed, but the issue is that the Wikipedia editors are not a crowd, it's a crowd of crowds. What's the behaviour of that? And can we compare this context with those used for whichever experiment was used to come to that claim I'm citing above.

> You seem to be operating under the assumption that if we only threw more manpower at Wikipedia we could incrementally improve it to perfection. That seems implausible to me for various reasons.

My idea actually was that overtime, editors would improve in their way of doing that task. However, admittedly, they would have to hang around long enough for this to happen. Maybe that's what "Hyper-Libertarians" have in mind as well? That by default humans are trying to get better at what they do, and thus the system can only improve?

> It is also an expression of personality.

That's a point I disagree with: I don't believe that an encyclopedia article should show personality, but quite the contrary. For me, an encyclopedia is something like a dictionary with a more in depth treatment of the topics. It is first and foremost a compilation of informations.

Have you actually tried editing a Wikipedia article? I guarantee it will be changed back within about 5 minutes

Actually, I did that, numerous times, although it was mostly to do spelling correction or in one case linking to external pages trying to leverage Wikipedia's SEO(?) value (ie. the external pages were discussing the topic in the wiki page in order to promote their own business, which wasn't related at all), which shows that it's clearly easy to get Wikipedia to fulfill its purpose.

So all in all what I did was minor editing, perhaps it doesn't count as what you would mean as an edit immediately reverted by other editors. I have no doubt that there are factions monitoring pages of strategic value, it makes sense for a website of that importance culturally. But it also means that the Wikipedia core community must always remain vigilant about these unfortunate slides.

That is if the article isn't locked for editing by approved editors only and you can actually edit it.

Folks, this is Larry Sanger. He was a cofounder of wikipedia, but left around 2002. He's been on the same war path ever since then. No one takes him seriously. He's already tried founding multiple alternative wikis, and has accused commons of harboring child pornography.

I mean most of this is complaining that no one is giving credence to the fairly heavily discounted Obama conspiracies, and “unfairly” detailing the behaviour of president trump.

Or is it the behavior of Obama and the discounted Trump conspiracies? ;)

It is not. Because not everything is some kind of mirror reflection across the left/right boundary.

Given the last line, it just seems like he's begging for money from crazy people.

When a significant portion of the American population stops believing in the truth, the world's most valuable encyclopedia becomes a biased beacon of leftist facts.

The author criticizes Wikipedia for not mentioning "Obamagate", but that name has no reputable source, remember Trump never defined it, even though the author seems to have understood what it meant. An encyclopedia needs to be based on reliable sources, and Trump's blabbering is just not reliable.

Just listen to this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dTLu8vCH4Os

And he mentions Solyndra.

By that logic every Venture capitalist’s Wikipedia page should have a massive section called scandals that lists all their investments that did not pay out.

He probably mentions Solyndra because they absconded with $250 million in taxpayer money shortly after it was granted to them. They got the funds and the doors were shut the same week, money gone into who knows what offshore bank accounts.

Says a dude who wants WikiLeaks closed and condones killing Assange.

> The Barack Obama article completely fails to mention many well-known scandals: Benghazi, the IRS scandal, the AP phone records scandal, and Fast and Furious, to say nothing of Solyndra or the Hillary Clinton email server scandal—or, of course, the developing “Obamagate” story in which Obama was personally involved in surveilling Donald Trump.

Leaving aside the issue of whether these articles warrant inclusion on the Obama Wiki page:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2012_Benghazi_attack https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IRS_targeting_controversy https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2013_articles_about_the_Depart... https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ATF_gunwalking_scandal https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solyndra https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hillary_Clinton_email_controve... https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Veracity_of_statements_by_Dona...

Personally I think its important for people to read this as it really does highlight an issue we have in the west. Its also important to realize that presenting facts about things which people disagree about will always be contentious.

Wikipedia is a very useful resource

and at the same time it does have its biases

I'll give an example that should illustrate this

ONe of my close friends belongs to a royal family

The Wikipedia editors who control the article will not update the information ABOUT HIS FAMILY because of some reason they will not explain

They also disregard records from the Government about his family



whoever the Czar of that area of Wikipedia is, or the group that controls those decisions

want to put their research (or beliefs)


What the government of the country says

What the actual members of the royal family say


they have family member names wrong the hierarchy wrong and key details wrong

"badly biased" is the author's way of saying that the articles he finds don't agree with his far-right view point. The current politicization of what is fact and what is fiction by the current administration in the US doesn't give me sympathy for his argument.

As an example, he complains that the so-called "obamagate scandal" is not covered on wikipedia. As a reminder, the "scandal" is that:

1) Russia sabotages the US election (both sides of the political aisle agree on this)

2) the Obama admin puts sanctions on Russia

3) Russia doesn't retaliate (this is VERY weird)

4) The Obama administration asks the intelligence agencies to investigate why they didn't retaliate.

5) They find that an American was talking to the Russian ambassador and they told them not to worry about the sanctions since they will make them "go away" when Trump is in office

6) To find out who was undermining US foreign policy, they go through a legal process that everyone agrees (including Trump) was followed to the tee.

7) They find that it was Michael Flynn (Trump's national security advisor) who was talking to the ambassador and it was on a call that as national security advisor he knew was monitored.

8) Flynn lies to FBI officials about the call (he has plead guilty to this under oath twice)

8) Obama warns Trump that Flynn is being sketchy and that he might want to reconsider hiring him

9) It comes out that Flynn was interfering with US foreign policy and Trump fires him saying that he lied to VP Pence. Pence when asked about it says that he made the right decision in firing him.

11) Now we're being asked to believe that investigation was an "Obama deepstate coupe" to bring down Donald Trump

It is a shameless political ploy to spin up a scandal that doesn't exist. I'm proud that wikipedia isn't curtailing to what is, simply put, a republican talking point designed to stir up support in an election year.

edit: I'm bad at formatting

> Wikipedia frequently asserts, in its own voice, that many of Trump’s statements are “false.” Well, perhaps they are. But even if they are, it is not exactly neutral for an encyclopedia article to say so, especially without attribution. You might approve of Wikipedia describing Trump’s incorrect statements as “false,” very well; but then you must admit that you no longer support a policy of neutrality on Wikipedia.

What? No. Objective truth exists and stating it is absolutely not an indication of bias. If Wikipedia is incorrectly referring to his statements as false then those cases should be fixed, but his argument is that it doesn't even matter if these assertions are correct or not.

His "Encyclosphere" is going to be an absolute disaster if it adopts his conception of neutrality as described here. It sounds like he rejects any evaluation of the factuality of the subjects at hand and his preferred standard for inclusion is "some people believe." That sounds like a great way to create a catalog of falsehoods and misinformation.

"Why isn't Wikipedia accepting my conspiracy theories as facts? IT MUST BE LIBERAL BIAS"

Now take that quote and expand it into a long-form article where you get asked for money at the end, and I've saved you ten minutes of your life.


How is the literal difference between conspiracy theory and fact the problem here?

Normalization and legitimization of opinions as facts when facts don’t suit those opinions. Lots of little cogs in the machine that made that change. But it’s easier to hold an opinion that is factually wrong nowadays.

Now that it’s normal for 30% of the world believing whatever they want and finding their tribe to support them, it’s hard to convince everyone that facts are even valuable, let alone more valuable than those incorrect opinions.


We've banned this account for repeatedly breaking the site guidelines.


Hi dang, I see you post this (it seems) every time you ban an account. What’s the purpose?

I’ll admit, I’ve never been banned, so idk what it looks like when you try to log in or do something.

Do you mean what's the purpose of banning, or the purpose of posting that we did it?

Purpose of posting that you did

It's basically treating people the way we'd want to be treated ourselves. Also, it's good to convey to the community some of the things we ban people for and where the lines are.

HN used to shadowban (i.e. ban people without telling them), but it led to a lot of resentment, not just from the banned users but from many community members who don't think that's fair. At the time, there wasn't much of an alternative because HN had one moderator (pg) and he was also working on YC and raising small children. It takes a ton of time and energy to write such comments and to engage with user responses about them.

We still shadowban accounts when they're new and show signs of spamming or trolling: https://hn.algolia.com/?dateRange=all&page=0&prefix=true&que....

p.s. Banning mostly just means that your posts are autokilled. They're still visible to anyone with 'showdead' set to 'yes' in their profile.


I find it amusing that the article was flagged.

To note, my submission with the original title was a little earlier than that one, which was done as a followup with the title edited to be less contentious. Both were quickly flag killed, but mine was kindly resurrected by "the mods", likely chosen because it was earlier and used the original title. Possibly further flags were probably "turned off" so it could stay alive? [1] I appreciate this, although I can also see that Sanger is a polarizing figure and this may be a difficult article to discuss here. Keeping the comment quality high probably helps to allow future similar resurrections.

[1] Or maybe not. Comments seem to have stopped flowing, and I don't find it on any of the first few pages of links, so maybe it was flagged off again.

There are some issues with Wikipedia.

And it is a left wing bias.

But this is a fail at showing it's true and any proof on it's magnitude and any argument Wikipedia just needs to be thrown out and any argument if any alternative is even possible.

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