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on Apr 1, 2011 | hide | past | favorite

Can we also skip the submissions asking people not to post things instead of just letting the community decide the same way it's been done for years?

Meta-discussions can be tiresome, but communities die if content is chosen strictly by popularity. Some moderation must be applied, and the most important things to moderate are the things that are popular but subtly undermine the site's purpose.

In this particular case the poster is being very reasonable: no lame submissions. "Joel on Coal" is a good example. That might have been funny as h*ll back when Joel was blogging. Now that he's no longer blogging, it doesn't work nearly as well as a satire. But it is funny, and perhaps worth an upvote nearly any other day of the year.

But on this day? No. It isn't actually going to "fool" anyone. April first isn't a generalized satire day, it's about pranks. And "Joel on Coal" isn't a prank, nobody is going to read that and wonder if Joel Spolsky is writing about Coal.

p.s. If you pranked me by pretending that HN has a good track record for dealing with OT submissions, I say "well-played" and redouble my argument in favour of moderating April 1st submissions: Your comment is funnier than most of the so-called prank posts I've seen.

Meta-discussions can be tiresome

Why? Let's talk about this.

EDIT: I wonder if there's an analogy here for democracies and recent US legislation: the most important things to moderate are the things that are popular but subtly undermine the site's purpose.

(Oh noes! I've added politics to a meta-discussion! [dons asbestos long johns and ducks])

Meta-discussions can be tiresome

Why? Let's talk about this.

MetaFilter (one of the longest-running communities on the web) has a policy where all meta talk goes to a separate silo (MetaTalk) so that discussions on actual topics don't get derailed. StackOverflow does the same thing.

A good idea for HN?

But why would we need to talk about this?

But why would we need to talk about this?

Why, indeed. I suggest this needs careful consideration.

> no lame submissions

Why not? What's so bad about them?

A submission is are only annoying if it is upvoted often enough, but then, there are obviously enough people out there who don't find it "lame".

So saying "don't post lame submissions" is essentially the same as saying "don't post submissions which I personally don't like".

The assumption "Lots of people want to see it, therefore it is worthy" is false on its face. Lots of people want to see "Barney & Friends," but it is not appropriate for must venues — the people who want to see it are almost exclusively children. If your postulate were correct, we would all just be on Slashdot and Digg, since people have always been able to vote there and thus the exact same content would be on top in a pure and open democracy.

Solving the problem of users voting up stupid stories and ruining the S:N ratio was one of the founding goals of HN. It is supposed to be a different kind of content, not just whatever the masses think is funny — and we need to try to ensure that or the site will become no better than Slashdot.



I think the only (scalable) way to ensure that is to only bring "good" people into HN. After all, if you want a scalable solution, the community has to be self-moderating to some degree. And if you can't trust "the masses" on the site, then you can't trust the moderation. The only solution that makes sense is to only bring good people into the community.

HN does this in a few ways:

1. Most people finding HN find it through pg's articles and through Y Combinator, which already means they're probably alright.

2. HN's loop works well. We only discuss interesting things, downvote comments don't say anything intelligent, even if they're funny jokes, etc. Therefore, people who aren't interested in intelligent conversations find somewhere else to go. Keeping HN alive and kicking.

I'm sorry you got some downvotes, because what you're asking about is interesting: Am I merely saying "Don't post stuff I don't like?"

I don't think that I'm asking people not to post stuff I don't like. For one think I like some of the stuff I'm asking people not to post. Yes, I like lame jokes. I don't think "lame" and "dislike" are strongly correlated. If people upvote something, it could be popular yet lame in some way. And if people don't want to see it on HN, they might still like it.

Here's an example. I like puns. I especially like spur of the moment puns. But quite honestly, puns are usually a fairly low form of joke. They rarely have any kind of serious insight into the human condition. I don't mull over puns and repeat them as anecdotes years later.

So, I can tell you that something to do with a pun would be (a) enjoyable to me, but (b) lame, therefore (c) I wouldn't submit it to HN, I'd probably tweet it.

We aren't really discussing puns, but i use them to try to illustrate the idea that there are things that I might like or you might like that are funny and fun and worth repeating, but they don't necessarily belong on HN. I don't blame you for liking such things, just as I'm not ashamed of enjoying a pun.

So perhaps "lame" is a bad word, because it is pejorative. Perhaps the suggestion might be "Don't post April Fool stories that lack any real insight or clever prank that takes you in." Lame might be the wrong word.

But I think the idea is worth discussion, the question of whether there are things someone likes that shouldn't be on HN. I agree that the rule "Don't post stuff I don't like" is wrong, as is any proxy for that idea.

And thank you for raising an interesting question.

I get what you're saying, and I agree. I happen to love a lot of the funny one-line comments on Reddit. They're often hilarious. And on Reddit, they get massively upvoted, whereas here we don't like them (). But in general, the spirit of HN is to only* post things which are intellectually interesting for hackers.

But on this specific day, which is a "holiday" in some sense, I think it's alright to submit jokes. That's because a lot of us members who use HN as their only (tech) news source, do want to see these posts. And it's only for one day, anyway. Analogy - on other holidays, or on other special occasions, things to do with the occasion come up a lot. Honestly this is just from memory, but I'm guessing that on Christmas, there are plenty of threads with holiday greetings and wishes, resolutions for New Year's, etc. Even though many people here (including me) don't celebrate Christmas, I don't think there's anything wrong with special occasions "clouding" the home page.

* By the way, the fact that Reddit-style one-liners are usually downvoted shows that the spirit here is still pretty much the old HN spirit. No "moderation" necessary, the community usually does its part.

but communities die if content is chosen strictly by popularity

Too much melodrama from everyone. Lame April Fools 'news' is created and submitted every year, we all know it's coming, so maybe just avoid discussion sites for a day and move on.

Ha ha...you almost had me there. I get it: your april fool's joke is that you're imagining that the community has a history of dealing with these things without going meta.

Good one!

I guess april fool's comments are okay.

> Can we also skip the submissions asking people not to post things

No. See: http://ycombinator.com/newswelcome.html. In particular "The worst thing to post or upvote is something that's intensely but shallowly interesting."

Can you please stop commenting on whether to use posts as meta-moderation? The community decided the post was worth the number one spot.

The irony is that the number one comment on the number one article is taking the opposite viewpoint.

I think we have a few years left before HN becomes Reddit.

Sure. Except that the community just decided that this post should be the top story on the site right now.

No, but thanks for asking.

It's one freaking day of the year. If you insist on being a total curmudgeon, can't you just skip the internet for a day? Come back tomorrow. If you miss one real article, the world will not come to a screeching halt.

I guess it's something to complain about. It might be best for some to remember: Hacker News is not work. Reading is a supplement to work. If the Jokes bug you, maybe you can take the day off and get something done.

Furthermore, if it was work, if you can't take 1 day away from it to have a little fun, you are going to going to beat the rest of us into a pine box.

Life isn't about what you get - it's about enjoying what you get.

Life isn't about what you get - it's about enjoying what you get.

This is a superb axiom to live by.

It's also very unambitious. Life's also about working to get what you want, then enjoying what you wanted so much, then realizing that you wanted something more, and then working harder to get that as well.

True. But if during that process you are always by default happy with what you have at any given moment, then you can't lose.

If you are always happy with what you have, then, by definition, you don't want anything else. As much as I would love to be happy, the way I see it, if you are always happy, you have already lost. Unless, of course, you have already made your billions.

I'm happy now. I imagine I'd be more happy if I had more stuff/cash, for some definition of happy. Therefore it's good now and it only gets better.

The problem starts when you decide that you don't have enough, and this makes you unhappy. Then you pursue the stuff thinking it'll make you happy. Starting from that viewpoint, I don't think it ever will.

I wish I could down vote this.

I want what I have.

There is nothing wrong with submitting really well played April Fools stories (IMO). But we don't need to see EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THEM posted here, just like we don't expect to see EVERY SINGLE startup news blog story posted here.

Curate things a little bit, don't just post-flood and expect it all to be sorted out with votes.

It would be bearable if more than 0.1% of the submissions weren't inane rubbish.

I always like those years when April 1 falls on a weekend. And, to paraphrase Homer, what's the chances of April 1 being on a Saturday? Must be 1 in 1000.

You're complaining that the submissions are 10x better on 1 April than on every other day? :)

(/classic vs. /new is such a shock)

First of all, "not using the internet for a day" is not really an option for many people. It's like telling someone that doesn't like traffic to "just not drive".

I think the frustration arises from the fact that these stories are becoming unescapable. They're popping up on every news source, and every Twitter stream. It's almost impossible not to see them popping up everywhere. See it once, fine. See it again? And again? And again? It starts to get annoying. HN happens to be one channel where venting these frustrations is relatively easy.

It'd be fine if a: the number of april fools jokes weren't that large and b: most of the jokes were actually funny. Instead what we get is a joke where every amateur lamester abuses their powers and makes the internet much less useful for a day without actually generating anything humorous. A few folks know how to do April 1st jokes well (google, thinkgeek, etc.) but most folks don't seem to know how to keep the humor at the right level.

"Hipster" is the word that came to my mind. "Too cool for the internet"

Oh well. I like them.

There's a SubHN for April Fool's submissions, /hn/aprilfools. Blame the community for not using it properly.

I don't want things contained just there. Come on guys, this isn't a special forces mission where following strict rules and regulations is the name of the game. It's life, it's fun, and people can submit what they want.

you sly dog!

What do you think, 2.5/10? I didn't put a lot of effort into it.

More. See the reason I despise April Fools nowadays isn't because of the day itself... the problem is that the "pranks" aren't pranks any more, it is just people doing silly or stupid things for the lulz.

That was a proper "prank", if a simple one.

7/10. Got me for a split second as I was moving my cursor to highlight the text

Higher than that; it's wonderfully easy to fall for. Though maybe because I was just hoping such a thing would actually exist, temporarily, for major submission-causing events.


It would have been more convincing as a url, like this: http://news.ycombinator.com/aprilfools

Half a star for trying.

You know what my solution for this problem?

Skip HackerNews every April 1st.

HN isn't a must-visited must-read site.

Get Real. Be Pragmatic.

I don't think your solution is working very well :)

Well, for it to work, you also have to skip commenting.

Skip the internet on April 1. It's not worth the brain power trying to sort news from pranks.

A favourite quote of mine by Bertrand Russell:

It seems to them vulgar to enjoy food because you are hungry or to enjoy life because if offers a variety of interesting spectacles and surprising experiences. From the height of their disillusionment they look down upon those whom they despise as simple souls. For my part I have no sympathy with this outlook.

All disenchantment is to me a malady, which it is true, certain circumstances may render inevitable, but which none the less, when it occurs, is to be cured as soon as possible, not to be regarded as a higher form of wisdom.

Here's a place to post April Fools stuff without filling up the front page: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=2394349

Oops. I submitted mine then saw this request. In hindsight I see this is a horrible thing to do and is not in line with the seriousness we face in the world today. I will stop writing humorous posts and go back to watching the price of silver and purchase a the fresh water tanks I've been thinking about. Looking for a way to vote down submissions...

When I was very young, I loved Monty Python for the funny faces, costumes, and silly voices. As a teen, I loved them in an oddly rebellious way. Now, I realize it is just a documentary slightly reworded to make a satire, more funny than ever.

"Life is a piece of shit, when you look at it

Life is a laugh & death´s a joke, it is true

You will see its all a show, keep em laughin as you go

Just remember that the last laugh is on you"

P.S. I am still trying to figure out which one of you is Tyler Durden.

Personally I like the Apple Fool's submissions. I've even been tricked by a few. It's all in good fun and puts some heart in the cold machine that is technology news.

Personally I like the Apple Fool's submissions. I've even been tricked by a few.

+1 for articulating an excellent standard for April Fool's submissions: If you are tricked by a post, it's worth submitting and seeing what other people think.

But honestly, anyone looking at a post and seeing right through it, don't bother submitting it to HN. If it doesn't fool you, it isn't that interesting.

I don't think so. Also, I predict the same sort of submissions will happen next year - and there will be a post just like this, and the comments to follow will have roughly the same set of opinions.. It's almost as if it all happened about this time last year. Spooky.

I vote for using the "Collect HN: April Fools" thread here: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=2394349

Best suggestion I've seen so far. Then I don't have to open dozens of tabs, or look for them :)

Ours, while somewhat jokey, is fully functional and we think could potentially have some interesting content: http://www.faxins.com/

Is that so wrong?

You feel this way, others don't agree. Can't you just roll with it?


I'm just going to start replying to the April Fool's articles as though they are serious, annoying the submitters who will have to reply to me. Someone is wrong on the Internet!

(Wow, xkcd is 3d today!)

So is listen.grooveshark.com

Yes, yes, a thousand times yes.

Please, please, quit submitting this inane crap to HN!!! If you must share this stuff, there's always /. and Reddit for your convenience.

I think you'll be happier if you just unplug today.

It is ironic that /. is now mentioned ass a place to dump off your non-tech submissions....

Although, /. has always had a heyday with 4/1. I used to get a kick out of it., but now I am just old and boring.

Heh, /. was cool once, and maybe it even still is in some sort of bizarre sense of "cool." But they wandered away from their original focus years ago, and seem to embrace the AFD thing whole-heartedly, so...

Communities age, and institutions which appeal to members of a certain age tend to "wander away" when in fact the actual wandering is done by the members of the community as they age. Its a weird thing to watch.

My feeling is that people who used to hang out on /b now hang out on /. and in another few years will start hanging out here. (or some other site that targets that particular group in time)

I don't mind them, I just wish they were tagged as such in the headline.

I don't know if this was a joke but it's funny.

The 37signals one really got me:


I was annoyed at them for blasting remote work, until I started reading through the article and realized it was a joke.

The uniform bit was great.

Even if we, the community, agree to stop April Fool's submissions. This submission is largely useless as April Fool's has already started (and ended in some places).

Next year, everybody will forget, people will be new and this submission won't change a thing.

Sorry. I have a love hate relationship with the Internet on April Fools Day. I hate the annoyances, but I love the brilliant stuff that happens. I think Hulu.com is my favorite today.

Come on, one day without rules why the heck not? We're coding, hacking, reading and informing ourselves all year long. There isn't something bad with Google dancing to write an email or TechCrunch giving false hopes to startups! And if you do not like April Fools day, no problem; don't open your browser and continue coding :)

No, but thanks very much for reminding me. Usually I discover it's April fool's day by feeling, well, a bit like a fool.

Yea, and the recent TechCrunch 'end fund' joke was actually quite depressing. For starving startups who have great ideas and are trying to execute them with little or no money...it was actually a pretty jerk move on their part.

It's just a day to be lighthearted. chill out, it will be over in a few hours!

I haven't really seen many this year. I think the filter on HN is pretty high. Even my Reddit subscriptions have precluded a lot of jokes coming to my front page.

Frivolity makes me sooooo angry…

Obviously, the answer is no.

Get a sense of humor man.

Every party needs a party pooper!

I think it is just fun! Why not have a little fun? I think its a nice break :)

In Soviet Russia, lame April Fool's submissions skip you!

+1, or was that an April fool's joke as well?

It's just a bit of fun. Lighten up a bit.

is this submission an april fools joke?

yes not

Seriously. After PGs systems were hacked and all YC applications were deleted last night - this is no time to joke, especially on HN!!!

I'm glad you changed what you originally wrote - Seriously. After PGs bad car accident last night - this is no time to joke, especially on HN.

That was just wrong and the opposite of funny.


I changed it because, even thoug hthe original was a joke, I in no way want to put it out there into the universe that physical harm would have come to PG... and while that was funny - still - I dont want that thought in peoples heads.

So, I pull my april fools statement just because I simply can stomach that type of thought being had about PG in the HN community.

Besides, much better if they thought their apps were deleted! teehee!

wait, is this a joke?

Cletus got 418 of you with this one


april fools!


Ba humbug.

I have a request: Enable downvoting on April 1st.

Congrats, HB is the new Digg!

Are you tired of April Fools fake press releases? Yes http://t.co/paYbbkH No http://t.co/2x79Hgp Those are fake? http://t.co/w3aJVmf

You can use this to make your friends think you are playing the Facebook version of Angry Birds:


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