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Apple does not keep the 30% commission on a refund (twitter.com/twolivesleft)
1594 points by metafunctor 10 months ago | hide | past | favorite | 351 comments

The related thread from yesterday: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=23987584.

This was a moderation failure too. We try to find out when stories are false and downweight them or at least change their titles. We want HN to be a place where erroneous claims, especially indignation-rousing ones, get fixed, not amplified, and it pains me that we missed such a clear case. I admire that people have been so proactive about correcting it, though. That is rare.

I was actually surprised that no one else posted excerpts from the Apple Developer Agreement[0]. There's millions of copies out there.

It clearly states that Apple is entitled to do what was originally tweeted, but, from a lot of anecdotal stories by developers that have actually processed refunds (I am not one. I have never processed a refund), Apple does not actually do this.

A few folks have pointed out that, even though the contract stipulates it, the practice may be considered illegal, or at least open to court challenges; which might be why it isn't enforced.

[0] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=23992510

Notwithstanding how Apple actually behaves, it seems the legal situation over this clause was at the very least ambiguous, with some parties interpreting it as you do, more than a decade ago:


Thanks for that link! I seem to remember the kvetching about that, back then.

No Apple states they are entitled to not refund credit card fees (which they would not get back) - they don’t state they are entitled to not refund the 30% cut

I don't read that at all:

> In the event that Apple refunds any such price to an End-User, You shall reimburse, or grant Apple a credit for, an amount equal to the price for that Licensed Application. In the event that Apple receives any notice or claim from a payment provider that an End-User has obtained a refund for a Licensed Application, You shall reimburse, or grant Apple a credit for, an amount equal to the price for that Licensed Application. In such cases, Apple will have the right to retain its commission on the sale of that Licensed Application, notwithstanding the refund of the price to the End-User.

"an amount equal to the price for that Licensed Application" sounds like we're on the hook for the full nut.

"In such cases, Apple will have the right to retain its commission on the sale of that Licensed Application, notwithstanding the refund of the price to the End-User." Sounds like they get to keep the 30%, no matter what.

Like I said, it may not be enforceable, in the real world, but that's what the agreement I have, says, verbatim.

Isn't this about user-initiated chargebacks through the CC provider rather than developer-initiated refunds? Or am I reading this wrong?

> any notice or claim from a payment provider that an End-User has obtained a refund

I am not a lawyer, so interpret this with lots of salt. The paragraph describes two scenarios, then says 'In such cases'. I would interpret that to mean that Apple requires that you allow them to retain their right to the commission in both scenarios.

Why say "in such cases" if you're not referring to a subset of cases?

I think that the only way to get an app (or a refund), is via some payment gateway, so I assume that Apple is indicating that this is the "official" way they are notified of a refund. It may be that they don't consider the refund "complete," until ack'ed by the gateway.

You can asked for refund via Apple Support. I've done this several times. The refund have to go through payment gateway in any case, but when a refund request comes from payment gateway (or notified by, in the TOS' wording), it is a chargeback and there's a fee associated with it.

From the customer side of things, calling their credit card company to have a refund and calling the merchant to have a refund may have the same result, however in the merchant side of things they are completely different with the former result in a penalty for the merchant (chargeback ratio).

That makes sense. I don't see any language that talks about chargeback fees, so it is my assumption that Apple will eat them.

I'm pretty sure that the "merchant," in this case, is Apple, so they would need to eat the chargebacks.

I don't think that anyone is well-served by refunds. It damages Apple's brand, it damages the developer's brand, it pisses off the customer, and generally makes life miserable for everyone. Even the payment processor is unhappy.

I suspect that if any knucklehead tried to "refund-bomb" a developer, Apple would step on that fairly quickly.

In my understanding (IANAL), the TOS actually talks about two scenarios, "In the event that Apple receives any notice or claim from any End-User", e.g. a case where user asked Apple Support for a refund and "In the event that Apple receives any notice or claim from a payment provider that an End-User has obtained a refund for a Licensed Application", e.g. a case where user asked their credit card company for a refund (e.g. a chargeback).

The "right to retain its commission on the sale" clause may cover both, but at least in the chargeback case it makes sense to have such a clause.

Why does it make sense for Apple to retain the commission on a charge back?

Because Apple might not be able to "take away" an app that was installed and then charged back instead of returned?

The fee is usually not returned to the merchant from payment provider in case of chargeback (in this case, merchant is Apple, but payment gateway may also not get the fee returned from acquiring bank also). In this case, Apple returning the fee result in them paying the refund out of their own pocket, which may be a source of abuse. This varies by payment provider, and some do charge extra in case this happens. I've posted a bit more about this in other subthread.[1]

[1]: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=23996366

Apple has had the ability to remotely remove apps from iPhones since the iPhone 1.


It literally says "commission", which is the 30% cut.

It's good to see that a chunk of HN (the ones who upvote/downvote, including myself) see that HN is formed by humans and therefore it has its own biases and that fake news aren't an external evil that can't just appear here.

That being said, if we dig a bit this also shows how Apple is being seen as a bit of a villain by many people (again, including myself) nowadays and had no problems believing Apple was doing this because it pretty much aligns with their IMHO abusive practices when it comes to grabbing money from devs.

Apple will keep selling and having some bad PR isn't going to affect sales much I guess but I can't stop thinking that some day some competitor will show up, or some law will change and they'll be forced to lift the app store restrictions and most of the devs will fly. Maybe it's time for Apple to start considering reducing the greediness with the people who make their platform attractive when these kind of news pass all filters, even in communities like this.

I don't know man?

The only thing worse than fake news, is probably taking real world actions based on fake news.

Not to put too fine a point on it, but that's how the US got itself into the mess we're in now.

> some law will change and they'll be forced to lift the app store restrictions and most of the devs will fly.

Why would devs leave if restrictions are lessened? Devs are there right now, in droves, despite those restrictions.

With restrictions I meant if you want to distribute your apps in iOS, you must use the App Store and pay your fee (the yearly one as well). What other option do you have right now? None, and that's why devs are there right now.

The devs are there because there is no other option where there are sufficient paying customers.

So in order to have that option, there must be sufficient paying customers, but it can be argued that the paying customers are there because of Apple’s restrictions.

Offer "20% off" deals on the competing store, and Apple will be forced to reduce their cut if they want to stay competitive.

What store? I specifically buy the elderly people in my family iOS devices so that they are restricted to things from Apple’s App Store.

Unless someone came around and showed they have a better track record than Apple, I wouldn’t be interested in changing. But I suspect they would be just as restrictive as Apple is now.

Not worrying about malware and tech support is worth so much in saved time.

You may not be interested; do you think the majority would agree?

I think the majority wants something that just works and accomplishes the task they want. Unfortunately, malware is rampant on other devices.

The “Apple being a greedy bully” narrative was always just an opinion, and never grounded in their actions.

That’s why this piece of fake news was so easy to believe for those people tied up in that narrative: because they’d already built up an opinion that Apple was the evil empire through sensationalized editorial pieces. (e.g. Hey being pissed off and publicly complaining that their business model wasn’t compatible with App Store rules, and yet, we don’t see Fastmail having any issues).

In reality, Apple has a monopoly on absolutely nothing, and doesn’t really engage in anything particularly evil or abusive.

Apple has a 14% global market share in smartphones, even less for computers, 19% market share of streaming music: what I’m getting at here is that Apple basically isn’t a leader in nearly any of the segments it sells to except for smart watches and fully wireless earbuds (which are not the entire market).

I can't speak for more than myself, of course, but my anti-apple sentiment comes from my experience where apple removed all apps for the iPod Touch 1st gen from the app store. I didn't realize they'd done this, and after resetting my device (to un-jailbreak it, ironically enough), I found myself unable to reinstall any of the apps that I'd been using a moment ago.

That's when I swore off of walled gardens in general. I still use them sometimes, but I won't let myself become dependent on them. So, I use Spotify for exploration, but buy anything I would mind losing access to.

In case you or someone else may find this helpful, you can install Whited00r on older iOS devices like the iPod touch 1st gen to access AppTimeMachine, which gives you access to a community-contributed collection of legacy iOS apps.


> some bad PR isn't going to affect sales much I guess but I can't stop thinking that some day some competitor will show up

I feel like this is basically what happened to Microsoft in the 2000s. They developed a bad reputation and then came the then much cooler underdogs Apple and Google to use that in their marketing materials.

More than 1000 upvotes on a piece of false information[1], on a website where people are well educated and informed. HN fell to fake news. I don't mean this in a judgmental way, when I saw this posted I thought "that doesn't sound right, but I guess if it has so many upvotes on HN it must be true".

It's kind of fascinating on many levels, I guess many of us put more trust on the community rather than our gut feeling. We are in the post-truth era indeed.

[1] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=23987584

Critically though, a correction is at #1 top spot today. That's about as good as it gets.

Corrections in newspapers don't run the same as headlines, nobody upvotes corrections to reddit or Instagram etc...

I'd suggest that as far as iterating in the direction of finding the truth, this is a best in class example of how to do it.

And in less than 18 hours. Wish all fake news were debunked so quickly and thoroughly and prominently everywhere.

In this one example. How might one know how many cases were not realized in HN's history?

Maybe a tag in the original title could also help? Something like: "[FAKENEWS] When a customer refunds your paid app, Apple doesn’t refund the 30% cut"

People not reading the comments will then have a way of knowing this is false information.

Terrible tag idea, it's implicitly negative and accusatory. In this instance, the guy was apparently just honestly misinformed.

The main problem is that most of the original thread ballooned with upvotes because it became general "<big corporate entity> is bad" kvetching which is perennially popular and probably doesn't belong on HN at all. As long as these kinds of threads aren't modkilled, these things will happen, you just have to deal with it. Tagging them won't solve anything.

Technically, it is not known what the consequences of an untried action might be. There are many possibilities, that vary according to differing circumstances.

A current front page article - "Anti-climate action statements get more visibility in news coverage, study finds" is [FAKENEWS]

You want to fight that battle?

The article is not fakenews. It covers a research about anti-climate statements. Those can be fakenews (though depends on the nature of the statement I would say).

I'd like to keep this meta if possible.

When you wrote this comment had you read the journal article to see if the Press Release and Press Release Title linked on HN accurately represents the published journal article?

It's already gone from the top.

Apple's opacity leads to this kind of thing. The "rebuttal" doesn't have a citation either. How do we know that it itself is not also fake news? Apple should have a nice clear page we can all link to that explains how this works. But nobody seems to have found one.

Edit: no, really, this is important: we're in the middle of the lesson of "social media can amplify things that aren't true and you should check them". Great. So, how do we verify things? What should we be doing? The counter claim link at the top of this thread is also just a random unsourced tweet!

It's in the terms:

"In such cases,Apple will have the right to retain its commission on the sale of that Licensed Application, notwithstanding the refund of the price to the End-User."

I have never engaged in any kind of professional legal training; I am most definitely not a lawyer.

That being said, my understanding of 'notwithstanding' in this context would imply that Apple reserves the right to retain its commission even when they refund the price to the End-User.


What is in the terms? That part says they can keep the commission if they want to. But the question is do they actually keep it.

If I were writing these terms, I'd want to include that clause so that if someone attempts to attack Apple financially by getting a lot of people together to buy apps and then refund them, Apple would have some discretion in terms of keeping enough money to offset the attack. It would be a tricky situation, but at the same time, by including that clause they also make the situation less likely to come up in the first place by making that attack vector less appealing.

There's also some other attack vectors I can think of that this renders less likely, like "let's get my big YouTube fanbase to all buy this one app today, then refund it near the end of the refund window, thus pushing this app to the top of the store at no cost to my YouTube fanbase but at cost to Apple!" This would give Apple the cover to keep enough commission to cover the attack. Given the known shenanigans played on the app store, this seems less like some bizarre far-out possibility and more like something that would be a routine thing done by sketchier app developers if the terms didn't make it a bad proposition like this.

But in a normal day-to-day transaction, the logic works out in favor of refunding it even if they do nominally have the contractual right to refuse to do so.

How would either of those situations (which are pretty much the same) cost Apple _financially_? If 10,000 people buy an app for 1$ each, the creator gets 7000$ and Apple gets 3000$. When they all get refunds. The creator refunds the 7000$ and Apple refunds the 3000$...

Apple have to pay some amount (let's arbitrarily say 1%) for processing the payments, so in this example they would lose $100.

I doubt Apple rate is this high.

That may not have a single answer.

In other words: the rebuttal is not clearcut.

Shouldnt this be the top comment?

That is a good question, and what I'm about to say is not a full answer. But I do give some of credence to this tweet because it is the original claimant publicly admitting they are wrong, which is a costly act that puts skin in the game. Now if it is found that it is true that Apple does keep the %30, the claimant is going to take an even harder hit.

There is also the matter of prior probabilities; if you had asked me beforehand "How certain are you that if Apple refunds a charge, the refund is complete and they also refund their cut?" I'd have given you an answer in the 90%+ range, on the grounds that if they did something that nasty we'd have heard by now. Furthermore, if they did change that policy, I'd expect to hear about it precisely as a change in policy, rather than the sudden discovery that it's been like that all the time.

I am emphatically not holding these up as total answers to the question. I'm not sure there is such a thing. But these are reasons to consider this tweet likelier to be true than the original claim.

There is also the constant possibility "What if somebody knows about these signals and fakes them?" In which case the question is, who would have motivation to do such a thing? In this case I can't see how this Tweeter has any particular motivation to fake this matter, as this retraction mostly doesn't benefit them any. (I mean, I do respect them for it, but we still have the original error to consider. I don't have a concrete threshold, but you're still burning a bit of rep. To see it clearly, consider the strategy of "impress jerf by making lots of public mistakes and then publicly apologize for it"... I do respect the public retraction and maybe the first time it's even a net gain, but it's not a scalable strategy.)

Apple would clearly have a motivation to claim they don't keep the refund even if they in fact do, as clearly keeping that 30% would be bad PR, so this signal would weigh against them. Weighing for them, though, would be the sheer mass of people who could contradict them if they claimed not to keep it but in fact did; any app author of any significant size has direct experience with this and that's a large pool of people, which also includes some vocal people in it.

This is really common on Reddit, where if an article says one thing, and the top comment says it's wrong, everyone believes the comment. But sometimes the article was actually right and the comment is wrong, or they're both wrong.

While I agree with you, I can't help but reference Hitchen's Razer: "What can be asserted without evidence can also be dismissed without evidence."

So opacity justifies fake news?

"Justifies"? "Fake news"?

No, but not having a clear policy makes it very easy for inaccurate gossip about your policy to circulate.

Opacity means that the blame for any "fake news" rests solely on Apple for not being clear enough.

I don't see upvotes as being a form of agreement. I often upvotes things I have no knowledge about and sometimes even things I don't agree with that I think would be interesting to hear more about from the HN community.

It an interesting topic for many HNers and such seems appropriate that it'll get on to the front page.

That being said, downvoting dissenting comments in the thread are extremely problematic. And is a common theme in HN. Which I think stems from the implicit assumption by many people that upvoting a comment or item means agreeing with it.

Same. I legit didn't know the answer and thought it deserved discussion.

My bad for posting the original tweet up without proper fact-checking... I've emailed the mods to ask them to correct or delete the original to avoid confusion in future.

I had heard rumours that Apple did not refund the 30% previously, and seeing a developer of respected apps post it (along with a graph, although actually that didn't prove anything lol) and doing a quick Google (where the top result is "Apple's iPhone App Refund Policies Could Bankrupt Developers"), I thought made it seem legit enough to post, and thought it would get shot down quickly if it was incorrect!

Interesting lesson in the realities of post-truth as you say! Also with all the negative press about App Store policies lately, it didn't seem too far fetched...

> Also with all the negative press about App Store policies lately, it didn't seem too far fetched...

It seems so easy to spread misinformation with this way of thinking going on. My point is not to blame you, I just wanted to point out that as long as we accept believable data as true, we’ll see believable misinformation on top of HN.

It's a good example of the importance of using respect/a large platform appropriately. If I was in your position I also don't think I'd have really fact checked it, since that level of scrutiny on everything would be nearly impossible to maintain if I tried to fact check before posting any given titbit. And even then, I might have fact checked by checking in with a developer of respected apps that would have experience. A significant amount of the burden of getting this right is in the hands of the original twitter poster IMO. If you are originating, rather than sharing, a piece of information like apple keeping the refund, then the burden of fact checking should definitely be on you at that point.

That's why I treat HN the same way as Reddit. Just because people talk in a more sophisticated manner doesn't mean that they are anymore factual.

To be fair you say "our gut feeling" as if everyone shares the same 'gut feeling', i.e., that Apple would not do such a thing.

On reading the original post my gut feeling believed that this could be or is quite likely true. Why? Because it aligns with the continuous declining customer experience I've had with them for the last 5-7 years. Examples include declining product quality, difficulty getting them to service properly, getting busted for impairing performance on older hardware (planned obsolescence) all that feels like tall poppy syndrome, dark patterns and arrogance.

>I guess many of us put more trust on the community rather than our gut feeling.

While that may be true, for me the gut feeling was in line with the fake news, which makes it even harder to spot (confirmation bias).

I never worked on iOS apps, but my consumer experience with Apple was such that I would have expected exactly this kind of behavior. They quoted me $400 for looking (!) at a just out of warranty macbook with a defective keyboard. I said I just want a new keyboard and I can replace it myself, but they wouldn't sell me one.

I just assumed that a company that treats their consumers like this also doesn't treat developers fairly.

Granted, this is my experience from a decade ago. I've never bought anything Apple since. So maybe they've changed.

This is a great point on how the world seems to have developed a deep sense of biases on just about everything and now we're left incapable of passing the "would only a cartoon villain do this" test. How is it ever possible to fix this, because we're quickly moving to a point where the most ridiculous of claims, that happen to fit with our biases, are instantly accepted as true and unshakable facts.

The problem is that real life is already stranger than fiction. The NSA actually tapped American phones and intercepted inter-datacenter links. Multiple major companies now have voice assistants that have been shown to send voice recordings to employees for review. Apple has used legal action to shut down repair shops. Real life is left incapable of passing the "would only a cartoon villain do this" test.

At the end of the day, we must remember that just because we can believe something to be true is not actually evidence in support of it being true. Even the most mundane of claims should not be taken on faith alone. We may not verify everything, but we shouldn't repeat or make serious decisions based on claims for which we have not seen compelling evidence, no matter how believable the may seem.

To even have hope of getting people to overcome confirmation bias and look at evidence, we need concise and convenient ways of presenting evidence. Fact checking is too much of a chore the way things are now.

>They quoted me $400 for looking (!) at a just out of warranty macbook with a defective keyboard. I said I just want a new keyboard and I can replace it myself, but they wouldn't sell me one.

Do they regularly sell keyboard replacement parts? If not, why expect them to "sell you one"?

And the laptop was "out of warranty", wasn't it? How does "barely" change this?

(I'm not the one who you commented to)

Because we all want to live on this planet for a few hundred years?

I expect a company that produces things to either supply spare parts on demand, or allow a third party to produce them.

Even more so, when the device I bought costs >1000$

Sure, legally they don't have any obligation to do so, but many things are legal but ethically wrong.

Exactly, and every other laptop company I never had an issue getting spare parts. So they were intentionally behaving worse than average.

Most other companies have easier case constructions though...

I'm sure it would be in apple's interest and ability to make their parts as modular as possible to make repairs easier if that was what they were going for.

Then they should revise their designs maybe.

They have been working well for them though... from bankruptcy to #1 company in sales in 23 years based on such designs...

Just a new keyboard for a reasonable price, like every other laptop I've owned.

I didn't expect it for free, but a lot of companies want to keep their consumers happy and will fix something that's just out of warranty, especially if it's a part that should last longer than 2 years, like a keyboard.

>More than 1000 upvotes on a piece of false information[1], on a website where people are well educated and informed. HN fell to fake news.

"Fake news" is a regular thing on the tech/HN community.

The whole hype around technologies (e.g. Mongo/NoSQL, etc) is just that.

As Alan Kay put it "Programming is a Pop Culture".

> Alan Kay put it "Programming is a Pop Culture".

Do you have a reference for the original of this? I can find people quoting him on it but not the original. I'm also wondering: compared to what? What would it mean for programming not to be a pop culture?

Google Search -> Tools -> date -> click today's date twice -> go back, set top date to 1900, set the second date to 2000.

Get nothing

Go back set second date to 2005 ->



Yes, absolutely a win and thanks for explaining how you found it.

>I'm also wondering: compared to what?

As I read it, compared to hard science and engineering for example.

>What would it mean for programming not to be a pop culture?

Less cults, less subjective opinions, less influence of marketing and marketeers and brand names, less "fans" and "fanboism" of some particular brand/product/methodology, etc, for one...

He confirms it in this interview, but is quoted as saying that "computing" rather than "programming" is a pop culture.


You can't possibly be serious.

There is no hype for NoSQL or MongoDB on HN. In fact it is the complete opposite with every one trying to push SQL and PostgreSQL for every use case under the sun.

There's no hype today, which is because the hype died out. 5-6 years ago it was all "SQL is dead", before those people got burned.

I wasn't giving an example of a current hype -- just of a hype.

threeseed is famously (to me) HN's personal MongoDB cheerleader. It always fascinated me. When I read the upstream comment my first thought was "I wonder if threeseed will show up."

Not trying to call you out, I just think the consistency + choice of hobby horse is funny, and you always stand out as the one person defending MongoDB: https://hn.algolia.com/?dateRange=all&page=0&prefix=true&que...

I always wanted to know though: why? What compels you, threeseed?

There was hype for NoSQL/MongoDB on HN ages ago, but it has long since passed. The only people bringing it up now just seem out of touch.

Why couldn't they be serious? NoSQL got big somehow. There was obviously a big push and support for it when it became big. How would HN be immune to this when it can't even spot an obviously fake story about Apple acting like cartoon villains?

The reason is that as programmers we're highly dependent on the technical choices made by the masses.

While voting is now getting considered a statement of ideological alignment (see Reddit banning people based on their vote for unsavory posts, and people in Germany being prosecuted for 'liking' a violent crime), my vote on the original post was to signal my interest, encourage posts of that sort on this website and to raise awareness, to encourage potential corrections.

"people in Germany being prosecuted for 'liking' a violent crime"

Do you have a link for this?

Can't find the article about a specific case, but according to the link below it appears that a new law specifically includes "liking" as punishable in serious cases.


Thanks though the article is very sketchy on "liking"

I agree.

More than 1000 upvotes on a piece of false information[1], on a website where people are well educated and informed

Many threads in HN reflect the tribalism that now permeates society. There are plenty of people on here that will upvote a comment or story simply because it paints Apple in a bad light. Same thing happens to Google, Oracle, and to a lesser extent these days, Microsoft.

It doesn't matter if a piece of information is true, it just has to align with someone's personal-conceived biases.

We have to disabuse ourselves of the notion that we are better than the people who get sucked in by political trolls on Facebook just because we work with computers.

This was on full display when the early Covid19 studies were coming out suggesting many more infections than what was being counted. It implied changes to thinking and numbers were needed and people came out of the woodwork, with anger even, to discredit anyone who dared agree. Same goes for anyone who dared to consider Sweden's model as anything less than a killing field for their own citizens.

it was pretty disturbing for me, i had held this place in very high regard prior to that experience.

> We are in the post-truth era indeed.

Indeed we are, it's also the interesting thing about confirmation bias in communities. In any community, they seem to always believe any news that is immediately negative about the subject that they haven't researched about or want they don't like as the real truth.

It's up to us to do our own research with actual evidence rather than sources such as: 'X suggested', 'sources say', 'my friend who works at ABCXYZ' or because it has 1000+ retweets, upvotes, etc.

Generally, a healthy dose of skepticism is needed on social media content like FB, Twitter, HN, etc.

Yeah there's certainly a factor of "title seems about right, I'll up-vote" out there.

There have been a lot of articles where even the comments were entirely "nothing about this is right" and that's not counting opinion / perspective articles, like cold hard facts wrong.

It's really frustrating to see on HN.

Where people think they are well educated and well informed. You give us a lot of credit. Most of us are ignorant about a lot of things we have strong opinions on.

The idea that HN is well informed is incorrect. The top comments to many posts are completely incorrect.

Social media caters way too much to feelings and biases.

That's what happens when you want to believe in symbols more than taking the time to investigate the complicated facts. And the symbol here was Apple as the big bad evil company trying to exploit developers.

Maybe it's a lesson to temper outrage before knowing facts.

In the very same thread there is a quote of devepors agreement with Apple that allows Apple to keep it.

And what if a more radical piece of demonstrably false information ended up being believed by enough people that they'd rise up to take corrective action?

Will there come a point where the only way to prevent violence from demonstrable falsehoods and flamebait social media posts would be to protect people from themselves and their ignorance?

If that amounts to censorship, then maybe the focus will have to be deflecting the rioters than forcibly removing the information.

I thought about this a lot recently. Why We Sleep is still legal to buy in bookstores but people have shared anecdotes of friends who have read it and gotten insomnia and anxiety from the advice in it, and in the end so much of the book that was responsible for triggering that anxiety was provably false or unsourced. So why do we still let people read it, if them doing so is a net negative? Because they didn't do enough research, so it's on them if the book causes harm? That's strange, given that people on the other side wish there were public retractions or ways to stop people from reading the book. It feels like the people that did the research are just unable to do much but watch the damage such misinformation causes to unfold because the misinformation is already in such wide circulation that it can't be prevented from being read by people who, if they got possession of the book and read it, would believe it fully and inadvertently do harm in some way.

So if a person is just not going to do the research, which I'm not sure is possible to be helped in every circumstance, and the only difference between their life or other innocent people's being impacted negatively or not is whether or not they become aware of the misinformation and read it, then what's the solution? Is there a solution at all?

One of Apple’s main adversaries, Samsung, has been taken to court for paying students to manipulate social media against their competitors.

And given Apple’s stance against the bread and butter of less scrupulous companies (privacy intrusion and data mining), it would be no surprise if there are many other people who are literally paid to make them look bad at any cost.

This is a very good observation. The "news" that intel was moving to TSMC was also on the front page the other day.

Not only was the original story incorrect, but the top comment defending the incorrect information was also wrong.

this is why I don’t take anything at face value, especially if it’s trending on social media. I wait for the drama to blow over,and check for the actual truth later.

In fairness if you take what you find here and applied it to the real world. Everyone would be using rust/go. Meanwhile everyone is still using php.

“a lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is still putting on its shoes”

In this case, "the truth" is misleading. Apple presumably doesn't do what was claimed, but it reserves the right to do it.

Perhaps it was in part good timing for the false information, with the top tech CEOs hearing that Apple/Tim Cook was involved with as well - it would seemingly be the time for such an unreasonable behaviour of keeping 30% fee on refunds to make it to the surface for public viewing.

I have a similar shock or fascination when seeing how little the HN crowd understands the benefits of UBI (when tied to inflation + VAT) - there's seemingly been little critical thinking done from foundational principles, and the same common misunderstandings repeat. There's enough momentum of people with little understanding jumping to post that those comments all gain the most traction, and it's too much to jump into discussion with.

A good comparison of differences in abilities and then innate failure/mistakes that we can all make - Elon Musk, who understands exponentials and economies of scale via his success as a marker, and stating he decision makes from first principles, is in support of UBI. He says it's inevitable with technology-automation, and then comparing that to his tweeting some arguably misinformed or shallow on the details about COVID-19 - perhaps not having as full or clear as a picture as he should before someone with his reach posts about something so serious. To me however it's really all just signals for the state of the union, and these are canary moments that highlight how reactive people are and how ill-informed they are - due to not having a hierarchy of trusted sources that most of us follow. Is there someone who's as successful and trustworthy competence wise as Elon is with EVs (etc) but for viruses? It was supposed to be Fauci in the US, right? But he first lied to Americans saying masks don't work - and that lack of integrity is harmful and blinding.

> I guess many of us put more trust on the community rather than our gut feeling.

Another word for this is groupthink.

> We are in the post-truth era indeed.

Was it really better before? The cognitive biases behind fake news are not knew. Maybe there were there from the beginning, but we are just getting better at spotting them?

No, we're certainly more politicized though.

Except, it wasn't false information: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=23992510

That section is about payment processors and chargebacks. Which is standard practice across the board.

At least the correction also made the front page. That’s more than can be said for normal media outlets who seem to broadcast the lie with a megaphone and bury the correction in a footnote.

Now we wait for all the justifications. I really enjoy HN but there is a large number of politically indignant ready to punish who they disagree with rather than allow debate.

Do you think that asking people to read -- and potentially answer a simple captcha-like comprehension question -- about content before amplifying it could help in situations like this?

(Twitter is apparently experimenting[1] with the former approach)

[1] - https://www.theverge.com/21286855/twitter-articles-prompt-un...

The upvotes of false information, based on random Tweets meeting negative bias towards Apple, worry me less than the malicious downvoting of corrections, of opinions diverging from the echo chamber's collective bias, of meta-comments addressing these issues.

The downvote is just used as a very low effort sh.tpost without content these days. It's risk-free and even more detrimental to actual discourse than its sibling.

I'm not really sure where the impression that HN is particularly well educated and informed comes from. My experience here is that people don't read what's linked, they just opine on the title (which may be clickbait) or other people's comments (which are also opining on the title or other people's comments--it's uninformed opinions all the way down). There are a few posters who are knowledgeable in their fields, but overall, I get the impression that HN users are remarkably uninformed on the topics they choose to opine on.

HN specifically prohibits remarking on this when it happens; the guidelines say: 'Please don't comment on whether someone read an article. "Did you even read the article? It mentions that" can be shortened to "The article mentions that."' I understand that the intent of this is to create a polite environment, but the end result is one where uninformed opinions are welcomed.

It's even to the point that some people will proudly proclaim that they didn't read the thing they're responding to, often paired with a complaint that the linked content is too long, or that it didn't account for some gotcha (which it accounts for, just not in the first few paragraphs).

To be clear: you may be informed on a topic, but if you don't read what you're responding to, you aren't informed on what you're responding to. And over time, people whose only source of "information" is uninformed comments are going to be uninformed on topics as well, while believing that they are informed.

> It's kind of fascinating on many levels, I guess many of us put more trust on the community rather than our gut feeling. We are in the post-truth era indeed.

But neither community consensus nor gut feeling have anything to do with truth. Primary sources, scientific observation, and to a lesser degree, logic and expert opinion--those are what we should be trusting.

It comes from the fictitious idea that if you play with bits, you're smarter than most people. My outside-of-industry perspective has me come to this conclusion.

Well... I think there's an important distinction to be made between intelligence and knowledge. If you "play with bits", you probably are smarter than most people, because there are a lot of people who can't do that. I've spent a good amount of time as an educator, and it does seem to me that some people just can't wrap their head around programming. That said, being smarter than most people isn't worth much.

I've also learned that intelligent people are a dime a dozen. There's no barrier to intelligence--you're just born smart, and fully half of people are born with above-median intelligence--so the relative value of intelligence is limited. Knowledge, on the other hand, is hard to come by: even if you're extremely well-informed on one subject, there are hundreds of subjects upon which you are completely uninformed. Intelligence can help you become informed if you apply it to learning, but as often as not, intelligent people just use their intelligence to skate by without having to learn things. I know that for a lot of my early schooling, I didn't apply myself to learning because I could get away without work due to my intelligence. This didn't pay off, and in my mid-twenties I had to really learn how to learn.

Nowadays I would rather be informed than intelligent.

EDIT: Note that in the "fixed vs. growth mindset" theory, "knowledge" is just the growth version of intelligence--I'm making a distinction between intelligence and knowledge, but that's not necessarily the terminology other people use.

Yep. Are you “technical?” That’s one of the silliest and most dismissive terms in the business.

Well, "being technical" is a filter for intelligence, in that it would be pretty hard to become a skilled programmer without also being pretty smart. I think it's reasonable to assume that a skilled programmer is probably smarter than the average bear. I'd argue that "are you technical?" is a pretty shallow question for finding out if someone is actually technical, though.

The problem happens when people assume that if someone isn't technical, that they aren't intelligent. There are plenty of very intelligent people who can't write a line of code. One of the smartest guys I know is a roofer.

And there are all sorts of caveats here. "Being technical" optimizes for a narrow type of intelligence: bearded sysadmins with no social skills exist in real life. And the opposite is true too: lots of technical people who are socially adept exist too.

Opining on things without reading the article becomes really obvious when there's an article about a non-trivial idea, but people only comment on the surface level attributes. E.g. an article about coding style may opine that as long as it's consistent it doesn't matter that much, but people will opine about tabs vs spaces, how smart indent should be a thing etc...

I totally agree with you, that guy should never have posted on Stackoverflow!


If you read the thinly veiled political pieces on this site you would never expect anything different. For a site mostly aimed at start ups and technology this site has a very large anti business view branding the whole with the happenings at outliers within the world.

Anytime there’s a negative news story against Apple, rational thought goes straight out the window.

Some years ago, HN had a reputation for loving everything Apple. That has clearly turned around.

Are you surprised? The HN crowd instinctively upvotes any headline that makes big tech look bad and is always quick to jump on the bandwagons in the comment thread without hesitation. We're no better than reddit.

Nothing bad came of it, because it highlighted a potentially abusive clause in the terms that many developers might not even have been aware of when they agreed to them.

"Apple is evil" might be wrong, but "Apple reserves the right to be evil" is still closer to the truth than "Apple is not evil".

A lot of people won't see the rebuttal and will continue thinking this is true.

In terms of risk, it is better to believe that it is true, because it could become true at any time.

What was worse about this is that some people that described and provided evidence that the story was false were often downvoted.

For all of this community's focus on civility, clearly it, too, falls victim to mob mentality.

This is not a new era. Tooling is new indeed which makes it tremendously faster and available. On the bright side, you can also get facts back rather quickly like this.

You're thinking incorrectly as well. There is no need to debate patent nonsense. Just correct it and move on. Why did we as a community waste so much time discussing and getting outraged over patent nonsense as opposed to doing the rational thing and calling it patent nonsense from the outset? The answer to that question is troubling.

HN as a community is far too accommodating to a lot of silliness simply because it gets votes. Remember yesterday's "news" that Intel was moving TSMC? And don't even get me started on the political nonsense HN upvotes. We should all be taking a good long look in the mirror. If we're not going to learn from incidents like this, at least a bit of self awareness would be nice.

Oh please, HN is one of the least trustworthy areas of my life primarily because of its echo-chamber, vocal minority ways. All online communities that allow upvoting / downvoting devolve to this. In fact, I’ve started perusing old-style BB sites of my interests which explicitly have no upvoting or downvoting, forcing me to read through comments and replies and where the only nominal “upvoting” occurs in popular threads with lots of posts that continuously push to the top of the BB.

It’s a literal breath of fresh air. I’m close to done with community sites that allow upvotes/downvotes.

Curiously, stackoverflow uses upvotes and downvotes too. How does that work?

A lot of content on StackOverflow is trivially verifiable - just put it in your IDE and see if it runs. You'll notice that the more subjective questions on StackOverflow almost always 1) get closed immediately or 2) are filled with bad answers.

(You'd think getting a refund is trivially verifiable, too, but who's going to go to all that work?)

StackExchange is a like a highly moderated subreddit mixed with a Wiki. Mods ensure the posts are of minimum quality, require sources for novel claims, and remove disinformation. An SE community also tends to strongly embrace the general rules for SE, which keeps it from being overrun with "reposts" and "clickbait".

> just use jquery

Not that well.

Any recommendations?

Have my upvote!

If you post anything that aligns with republicans on this forum (true or not), it has a very high chance of being downvoted or not upvoted.

And the correction has 1400 upvotes.

Isn't it again some random tweet not an actual apple document/confirmation.

It's more important how one deals with being wrong than always being right.

People want to hate Apple.

It is 2020. If you believe what you read on the internet...


That's not true at all. You've posted bogus insinuations about this repeatedly. It's time that stopped, so please stop.


Yes the Apple cult may have always been here but has grown more aggressive and defensive the last 5 years or so. Check any Apple thread and you will see similar results. You cannot utter a word of criticism towards the company without mass downvotes.

I think you've misread the comment you're replying to; otherwise, I'm not sure I understand how your comment applies.

He's saying the post claiming that Apple kept the 30% was fishy (and false). I don't know about a cult, but in this case, the criticism was unfounded.

Ironically, your comment is an example of a cult of the anti-cult - always looking out for signs of that other cult.

mmm... that's the exact opposite of this situation - statements in favor of Apple were downvoted.

Likewise the FOSS cult. It has been ever thus. Both sides make false claims regularly.

Downvotes should force a comment box, or have a link for list of users downvoting a comment. I don’t see what value anonymous downvotes bring to a forum dedicated to informed discussion.

I like that the original tweeter is the one loudly yelling that he was wrong. Too often, people are too proud and ashamed of being wrong to do that.

So kudos to that guy for doing the right thing.

I agree.

As it turns out, there is a decade-old issue. Apple has a stipulation in their contract that allows them to do it, but they don't actually do it. He misinterpreted some kind of interaction.

I think comments like this are equally as harmful as spreading fake news. The history revisionists/apologists.

Here is the tweet: https://web.archive.org/web/20200729052623/https://twitter.c...


> And this is minor in the scheme of things, but when a customer refunds your paid app, Apple doesn’t refund the 30% cut they took from you

> So you end up owing them money

Absolutely none of that tweet is correct. They don't cite the contract /at all/, they say very matter-of-factly "Apple doesn’t refund the 30% cut they took from you" which is 100% false.

Edit: a word

> I think comments like this are equally as harmful as spreading fake news. The history revisionists/apologists.

Be nice. That was uncalled-for.

I'm not a history revisionist, nor am I an apologist. In fact, we may have many areas in which we agree. You immediately, and intentionally, decided to make me an enemy, and I have no clue why.

I'll revise the comment a bit. Maybe that will make it clearer.

BTW: I took responsibility for writing an unclear comment, and fixed it.

THAT is the kind of thing we need to see more of. It absolutely stinks that people think of every forum in the world as some kind of gladiatorial arena.

I would respond but you keep editing your comments to say something different so I don't really see the point but here we go.

I'll just say this, I think you have a pretty warped view of things if being called out of saying untrue things is the same a making someone your enemy or brings to mind a "gladiatorial arena".

I don't hate people or think of them as enemies just because they disagree with me or I disagree with them. If I get called out on bad behavior I reflect and adjust, I don't come out swinging and playing the victim card.

I don't think of you as my enemy, I think of you as someone who said something that I find to be a dangerous way of thinking/justifying and I said as much. Intent matters and the "truth" gotten to by invalid means is a problem even if it ends in "truth" (which again, this tweet did not even meet that bar).

Actually, you did respond.

I said I agreed with promptly admitting wrong, which was what the OP was all about. I could care less about the tweet. I revised the comment to reflect what I meant more clearly, after reviewing it, and agreeing with you that it could be interpreted ambiguously.

I also added that there is a legitimate issue, in that Apple has a very broad stipulation in their agreement (did you read yours?), that actually gives them the right to do exactly what the original tweet accused. Even though he was wrong about the facts on the ground, he did actually highlight an issue that has been present since the earliest days of the App Store (more than a decade).

And, yes, you are fighting, which is completely unnecessary. I would bet that, if you (not me) hadn't come out of the gate swinging, we might have found a lot of areas in which we could agree.

I'm actually a fairly decent chap. The chances are even that you are, as well. The Internet tends to bring the beast out in us. I am a reformed troll. I could have really come out swinging, but I don't do that, any more. In fact, as you can easily verify, I attach my name and reputation to everything I post.

In any case, we're done here.

Have a great day!

More precisely, Apple has a stipulation on their contract that a non-lawyer misunderstood and didn't get a lawyer to clarify.

Well it's definitely in your interest to retract rather than to be called out publicly be another person.

The history of, well... everything, seems to refute this: very little harm seems to come from digging in your heels even if you are factually wrong.

Most of the time you can lie, distract, and slander your way out of any sticky situation. The same biases that got everyone believing the original lie will take over and your support will be deepened.

And if anyone doesn't believe this, there is currently an elected official in the highest position of government of a major nation for whom this is modus operandi.

You would think that, but have you ever seen a politician before? (I careful avoid naming any one in particular, lest this get political)

This is a good example of where a strong belief in something (in this case Apple greedily taking a huge cut of developer earnings) that something that sounds patently false is believed automatically and instantly.

Happens with people, companies, religion, and politics.

[edit: I believed it too without thinking]

And the thing here is that this tweet contained a single fact that could be disproven with a little additional information. Now try to imagine how many false yet popular beliefs there are in areas like politics or economics where you can spend your entire day counter-counter-argumenting in circles.

Agreed. Generalizing based on assumptions is very useful. Using those generalizations (e.g. assuming the apple thing is true) to reinforce beliefs is incredibly harmful

At the time it made no sense as a business practice, and seemed painful enough that I should have heard about it long before this. My immediate reaction was "really? I'll have to see confirmation before I treat this tweet as authoritative".

What is really amusing in hindsight was the number of people willing to pile on and argue that this was in fact totally reasonable of Apple to be doing and that we shouldn't be surprised or upset at all about it.

It was mostly one person who was heavily downvoted, and some people making vague hypotheticals ignoring the difference between 30% commission and 3% payments processing.

> What is really amusing in hindsight was the number of people willing to pile on and argue that this was in fact totally reasonable of Apple to be doing and that we shouldn't be surprised or upset at all about it.

Exactly, while I had doubts about this accusation on Apple, I was surprised about how many people were okay with it. These people (defenders of Apple) vote, but they're not even likely to be Billionaires (it's not wrong to be a Billionaire if you play fair). Why do they defend such an awful practice if it actually happened and wasn't fake news?

I used to work in payment industry (I kinda still do, but no longer involved in the talking with Visa/Mastercard part), and I can see why they could be doing this if they do. I know this is an unpopular opinion, but I _personally_ do not think 30% is outrageous as many people believe so although I also do hold an opinion that App Store should allows the app to use their own payment infrastructure if they have one (currently only possible for physical goods).

Stripe and other modern payment gateway makes pricing simple, but it's far from simple behind the scene. Most people on HN are probably using credit card for App Store, so it's easy to overlook that App Store offers different kinds of APMs: carrier payment[1], local wallet, stored value card, and local payment services[2]. I don't think Stripe supports half or even third of what App Store supports.

I've worked on local integration for few countries for different kind of payment methods. In some payment method they simply don't refund your fee. In some cases where currency conversion happens it's not possible to refund using the exact rate the charge was made. In some cases the fee is prohibitively high (e.g. 12% for carrier payment). In many cases there are contract fees, connection fee, infrastructure ("nah you have to have your own server cage and a direct fiber line from us") fee and many more. This, plus CDN, maintenance and everything, is one of the reasons why I don't think 30% is outrageous and will probably found it acceptable if they don't refund this fee, taking operational costs involved into account.

[1]: https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT205102

[2]: https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT202631

> Why do they defend such an awful practice if it really happened?

(do you mean "didn't really happen"?)

Controversialists work like that. There is no position in defence of power that people won't argue for, and have a little circle of people cheering them on.

> (do you mean "didn't really happen"?)

I messed up (just edited the comment to correct), what I mean is in a hypothetical scenario where Apple really did this, why would you defend them?

I am disappointed in myself that I believed this information without any evidence. I wanted to believe it because it confirmed and amplified my bias. I hope this gets more points than the first post.

There was evidence (chart showing negative income), but it was misinterpreted. What is interesting is that Twitter got a lot of corrections,but HN didn't get a bunch of iOS devs saying "No, this doesn't happen on my app" (at least not in the dozens of comments I read).

Wait till you hear the guy was technically correct, but Apple "chooses not to enforce" the rule.

A post on twitter from someone isn't much evidence, a post that got upvoted a lot seems more credible ("wisdom of the crowds" kind of thing).

I fell for it too, because it's not a far stretch to imagine Apple doing thing sort of thing.

Just yesterday I read that Audible credits expire, and the reason Audible provides is clearly just a veneer of PR over greed.

This will serve me,and many others on HN as a lesson on how easy it is to fall for false information. I did read the related post yesterday and there were lots of emotions, mainly negative. Now I don't even know whether they take the money or not, so I'll put a question mark until proven otherwise for time being.

But it isn't false information! It's part of the licence agreement, that Apple chooses to sometimes enforce, sometimes not.

If you would’ve read comments in this post thorough, you would’ve found it most likely has to do with the payment providers and not apple itself, as there’s nothing apple can do in that case (other than pay the difference from their own pocket, but they have no legal requirement to do that). Thus it’s not random.

> most likely

... means maybe.

Apple reserves the right to keep its commission and doesn't attach it to payment processing issues. It can do whatever it wants, and we can only guess.

Apple is beholden to "payment providers"? Thanks for the laugh.

I posted earlier how HN is highly susceptible to both groupthink as well as confirmation bias [1]. Check yourself and ask yourself if what is posted is actually true or is rather something you WISH was true, and also if what is posted is something that you would prefer to go with the herd than to try to run against the stampede. But humans are humans.

[1] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=23846631

The scariest part of this for me is "I don’t know where I got the idea that it worked the way I thought it did". If it was based off of incorrect sources or whatever I'd understand, but how can you make such a bold claim in a public social medium and forget where the idea came from within 1-2 days?

Um this is how twitter works. 280 char limit. Before it was 180. The nature of twitter wasn't ever meant to be taken seriously as a source but current media popularized it by being lazy and sourcing from twitter.

People say all sorts of crazy things there if you follow active users on twitter. They are quick at deleting them too.

I mean there are startups to take screenshots of tweets - https://pikaso.me

Should tell you enough.

Kind of scary how a random person on twitter can say something and that gets turned into a fact.

The craziest is how obvious we can be about it. It just happened and yet the whole conversation right now is not about how to verify it, but just to trust that new one as fact too.

It's nice that we acknowledge that we were wrong... but we are doing the same exact mistake right now.

Imagine the effect if multiple sources were to repeat the same false claim.

Imagine it if the available sources were few, and they were all repeating the same false claim.

But it didn't get turned into a fact. There was a period of discussion, and the facts eventually came out, which the original tweeter even acknowledged.

You might even say, the system worked. ;-)

It's very likely that the original story spread to more people than the retraction. So sadly, yes, for a significant number of people the falsehood is now a "fact". One they might drop as a curiosity in conversation long after the retraction has faded from view, further spreading the "fact".

Yes, but many who saw the original story will probably forget about it in time. Moreover, the retraction did spread in a way that it wouldn't have if this controversy never got public discussion. People who saw the retraction will now be available to refute the assertion if it comes up again.

Falsehoods will spread, that's inevitable. But that's not the real misinformation problem. Falsehoods also get pushback, often strong pushback. Falsehoods can get corrected, eventually.

As a society, we have a real problem when people deliberately push falsehoods that they know to be false. This is not such a case, however.

I wonder how many of the upvoters of this post similarly didn't bother fact checking the correction. Not commenting on its veracity, however I think the truth is somewhere in between (Apple has the right to hold onto the 30% commission, but hasn't invoked that in practice yet).

I, for one, upvoted both threads on the basis that this is playing out as a peculiar display of groupthink; a microcosmic martyrdom of truth tellers in the wave of internet points.

There is no such thing as a trusted source, and there never has been. Before you act on information, always double- and triple-check, if at all possible. Treating Twitter, of all things, as a trusted source seems especially risky.

Treating Twitter as a trusted source is like treating the town square as a trusted source. Treating individual people with a proven track record who happen to be on Twitter (or in the town square) as a trusted source is far more reasonable.

This overt cynicism isn't a good way to consume content.

If you create yourself a nice echo chamber (which social media and internet allows you to do so) you can triple/quadruple check to your heart's content and still consume "wrong" information.

> Apple does not keep the 30% commission on a refund

That makes sense. I worked for a big mobile games company and refunds happened all the time.

It was a classic that people will buy in-game items and ask, int our case, Facebook for a refund. They will keep the items and get the refund, until we created a tool to manage refunds and that cheat saw its due end.

As to generate in-game items has zero cost, it was not a loss per se. But it was a lose in potential earnings if it becomes common place. If Facebook has make us pay for their % that would have been a disgrace from the beginning.

Occam's razor strikes again.

What's more likely: That Apple has been sneaking a 60% cut under thousands of companies' noses for a decade and they're all super chill with this because of...what, charity? Or that a handful of business owners on Twitter are just not great at interpreting figures?

Where did 60% come from? I don't think anyone ever said that.

That is what would be happening if both 30% of the purchase and 30% of the refund were coming from the dev's pocket.

In response to this earlier post for those that missed it: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=23987584

I guess HN is susceptible to the same issues plaguing other online communities. I don’t know why I thought it would be different here.

Are we sure this is not a babylonic mistake?

Original take was 'customer refund', which I interpreted as a 'chargeback'.

A refund and a chargeback are very distinctive things.

The rush to clear Apple's name, and the inflated indignation surrounding this mistake is embarrassing. Tesla is the only other brand where I see this behavior. I don't understand the evangelism of brands by people with seemingly no direct connection. The dude was wrong (Edit: turns out technically he wasn't wrong, Apple just "chooses" to not enforce it), get over it, Apple doesn't need your help - they have an army of attorneys who can squash any legitimate threat to their empire.

That’s an odd take, I think you are looking at it wrong. IMO, this is the hacker news community getting embarrassed. After all this is a community of entrepreneurs, where everyone has an app and many multiple, on the App Store and so we must have known how it works. No one is redeeming Apple here, if anything I am thinking how easy it is to fall into this groupthink hole and not even bother to check because “we” have to rail against someone because of perceived/alleged wrong doing against the whole community.

> this is the hacker news community getting embarrassed

Exactly! Both posts are showing how reactionary and ignorant these supposedly brilliant entrepreneurs & engineers can be. At least on this thread, the second highest voted thread actually explains the issue clearly without hyperbole.

This is not about Apple so much as it is about the HN community rushing to judgement based on... whatever prejudices and assumptions they/we had.

Apple can be good or bad or irrelevant. The facts should still be the facts, and HN got the facts very wrong in this case.

Plus I still don't see the point of this post.

Apple is pointing a loaded gun at developers and we are praising them for not pulling the trigger.

Apple simply chooses to not enforce (from the anecdotes known so far), but the menace still lingers in their ToS.

Apparently it's still in the developer agreement you have to sign in order to be allowed onto the App Store [1]. Apple can't really blame people for spreading misinformation if the only reason this isn't true is that they usually decide not to enforce the clause.

1: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=23992510

> In the event that Apple receives any notice or claim from a payment provider [...] Apple will have the right to retain its commission on the sale of that Licensed Application, notwithstanding the refund of the price to the End-User.

"From a payment provider" means a chargeback, e.g. a customer calls their credit card company the charge was fraudulent, and the credit card company files a dispute code against payment provider (usually Visa 83/JCB 546/Mastercard 4853/Mastercard 4863 depending on the case). In this case it's not uncommon to not refund the fee. In fact, many payment providers will also charge you extra fee for the dispute (e.g. Stripe charges $15[1]).

There's also filing fee in case the merchant trying to fight the dispute and lose. The fee varies by network: $500 for Visa, at least $600 for Mastercard.

[1]: https://stripe.com/docs/disputes

> In the event that Apple refunds any such price to an End-User, You shall reimburse, or grant Apple a credit for, an amount equal to the price for that Licensed Application.

And the sentence above that covers the regular refund too. Not sure why you left this part out of your quote unless it is your point that at least the practice in case of chargebacks is fair (to which I agree).

I'm not a lawyer (e.g. I don't know how far "In such cases" clause applies in the statement), and simply want to provide a justification for the clause I'm personally familiar with (a chargeback)

I'm interested to know if they ever actually have enforced this

It's not misinformation if it's part of the developer agreement.

If it's in the agreement but they don't do it then it is misinformation to claim that they do it.

It’s misinformation if the clause isn’t understood by the individual sharing it.

That doesn't invalidate my statement. I made it contingent on the fact that it is in the agreement. You should take this up with OP.

How did almost no one on HN fact check this? Groupthink at work?

It has been like this since day 1 — the developer agreement says Apple has the optional to retain their 30%, but in practice, I have not heard of anyone hitting it.

Lmao! Some guy “thought” Apple doesn’t refund the commission and HN and Twitter and reddit had complete meltdown!

As some of the comments point out here, people who tried to correct the claim with data from their experience or cite directly or indirectly Apple, they were downvoted to oblivion.

If HN isn’t guarded against fake info, I guess no one should be expected to.

Another one who fell for the fake news right here.

Part of me wishes there was a better way to model retractions, corrections, and certainty of claims within social media platforms.

I almost feel like by default a post or tweet should be marked as uncertain/not serious, and in order for someone to mark it as certain, they require some form evidence like a link or a picture.

Then people browsing on the platform should by default only see posts made with certainty unless they manually select to view uncertain or unserious posts.

This might also stop the community backlash when someone says something stupid and people take them too seriously and start a flame war over it.

For those browsing in serious mode, if one user has their evidence discredited too often then they lose privileges and rights on the serious platform.

So does Apple keep the 30% or not? It’s too much information for my brain to process.

They reserve the right to keep it but in practice they do not.

This is even worse IMO.

It's almost like there was some incentive for someone to spread false information about a company's practices on the eve of a congressional testimony about the company's practices.

As a side note, in my experience Paypal does keep their transaction fees even when processing a refund. How does this behavior differ from what people were incorrectly accusing Apple of doing?

Three reasons:

1. Apple has a monopoly on sales of iOS apps. If PayPal does something you don't like, you can leave them for their competitor and still keep providing the same products and services to your customers. If Apple does something you don't like, you need to either put up with it or abandon your iOS customers.

2. PayPal's fee is an order of magnitude less than Apple's fee.

3. PayPal usually has actual costs when someone buys and refunds something, since most consumers don't keep a balance in their PayPal account. Apple usually doesn't, since a lot more consumers do keep a balance in their iTunes account (from, e.g., gift cards).

People did mention it but then you get all 'citation needed' and get downvoted or plainly flat ignored. So much so the outrage is heard more than the fact.

this was believable to me specifically because platforms like audible/kindle actually do this for book sellers. same with payment processors

A good lesson to all to fact-check what you read. Especially if your source of news is some random guy on Twitter.

When I saw the news yesterday I did think it was fishy because I have never successfully gotten a refund for a broken app store purchase from Apple before. I assumed returns weren't ever given so how could there possibly be a refund commission policy?

Glad to be corrected! That would have been a bonkers policy.

Someone quoted an Apple contract that appeared to indicate this was a real Apple's policy, which I also found sourced on TechCrunch: https://techcrunch.com/2009/03/25/apples-iphone-app-refund-p...

> In the event that Apple refunds any such price to an end-user, You shall reimburse, or grant Apple a credit for, an amount equal to the price for that Licensed Application. Apple will have the right to retain its commission on the sale of that Licensed Application, notwithstanding the refund of the price to the end.

But I'm unable to find that on Apple's current site, so hopefully it's been removed. TechCrunch's link to the referenced document is on "docstoc.com" and no longer exists.

I am still not happy with the 30% cut though. It is really rather high.

I am now ashamed that I upvoted the previous HN submission. I wish I could take back that upvote, but unfortunately too much time has passed since then.

From now on I will be more careful about what I upvote.

Aside from all this I would think a commission on a charge that was then refunded would be illegal in a lot of jurisdictions.

The other lesson here is before you blast someone on Twitter, double-check your math.

Whenever I try to correct falsehoods here, I get down-voted into oblivion. HN should take a good long look at itself.

Love to see fake news upvoted on HN. I figured it was most likely nothing more than Apple hate.

Love to see an imperfect, community moderated site calmly admit and accept retractions from people, which is a higher standard than some of the most well known "news"rooms in the country.

Ok, now this is funny.

Thanks, twitter.

>More than 1000 upvotes on a piece of false information

Not only upvoting the story but also downvoting posters to minus-12 who tried to counteract it with correct information:


[ footnote: his profile was -12 at the time I wrote the comment: https://news.ycombinator.com/user?id=hn_check ]

[ another edit:]

Sorry for confusion. I wasn't trying to say that _one_ comment got downvoted to -12. His 2 top-level comments ("and this submission is just farcically wrong" and "This isn't correct at all.") ... were at various levels of grey so those 2 comments contributed -4 or -5 or more to the -12. I do agree his tone (especially the [dead] comments) contributed to negative scores but it can simultaneously be true that downvoters thought he was incorrect.

This was how his downvotes looked early this morning: https://imgur.com/a/GuTffzP

The top-level comments have since been upvoted so they are no longer greyed out.

It seems at the moment anyway that the poster's most downvoted comments are the ones where he calls people dumb and uses a less than civil tone.

If only we had vote arrows and vote reasons, then we would know the disposition of the voters and their interpretation which is associated with the downvote. Slashdot has had this forever, and it works great with their user moderation and meta-moderation system.


Does he have a civil tone? Read his profile status and comments, that person is a troll and better if he was banned from HN.

"...less than civil"

So no. No civil tone.

"He's got no tone!"

Picking up Seinfeld vibes.

> Not only upvoting the story but also downvoting posters to minus-12

You've misunderstood how downvotes work. That person's account has multiple downvoted and flagged comments in other threads. (You can see these if you have "showdead" set to "on" in your profile.) I don't think an account gets to -12 on one downvoted comment, I don't think that's currently possible.

If an account is created and posts a single comment that lots of people downvote it, that wouldn't send their profile to (and beyond) -12?

(Generally speaking, I know the user discussed has commented more than once.)

Based on some of my comments that have been nuked from orbit, I thought there was a per-comment score limit of -3 (so a net -4) for karma scoring purposes.

A comment goes near-invisible at -3 or -4, so most individuals won't read it or downvote further.

A motivated brigade can still keep downvoting, e.g. more than 20 downvotes on a single comment.

Brigade downvoting could incentivize future self-censorship. But it's also a strong signal for the Streisand effect, which can be surfaced by a bot and reposted elsewhere.

Here's a link from dang.


> HN's software puts a floor of -4 on downvoted comments.

Has that always been the case, or was that added in recent years? I've seen more than 4 downvotes on a comment in approx 2015 era. It was noticeable because it wasn't about the comment content, but all my comments on one story were being downvoted. By the time it stopped an hour or two later, total karma was down more than 40 points. Good to see there is now a floor on downvotes.

Yeah it was definitely the case back when you could see other people's comment scores that there were often examples far lower than -4.

Don't know when the change was made, this subject has made me notice just how long ago I first joined HN and the last time I thought about how the voting works was definitely years ago.

OT: In that same comment thread is also a banned user (first time I saw this) where I'm surprised they still have a positive karma count, given the absolute toxic comments this user (troll really) has been giving for months.

Edit: Maybe shadow-banned for the most part of 3 months.

Those comments were downvoted, but comments elsewhere on the thread (pretty far down) which provided anecdata supporting his point were not.

I think the bigger question we should be asking ourselves is why people who had counter claims weren't higher up in the thread. May not be a fault of the community, I'm not sure.

Also funny (worrisome?) in retrospect is people that believed the Tweet, thought Apple was behaving fairly, and argued that it simply wasn't a big deal.

I don't think that is either funny or worrisome, at least to those somewhat familiar with credit card processing.

The way credit card processing fees work is that there are two kinds:

1. Per transaction fees, and

2. Percentage fees.

Not all per transaction fees apply to every transaction but if one does it is the same amount on every transaction. Not all percentage fees apply to every transaction, but when they do the amount is a percent of the charge amount, with the percentage the same for every transaction.

The big transaction fee is the "authorization fee". For a small merchant this might be $0.25-$0.30. If you are bigger they might give you a lower fee. I work at a company that is small now, but had a brief period of high sales and we were given $0.20 which thankfully has stuck. I've read that this can go as low as maybe $0.15 and perhaps even lower for really big merchants.

Another transaction fee is the AVS fee, which is $0.02. You are hit with this on any transaction where you supply address information and ask the card processing system if that matches the on-file information for the card. MasterCard has a $0.0195 fee called the NABU fee, which stands for something like "National Brand Use", which we apparently pay for the privilege of using the name MasterCard.

For the percentage fees, there will be a certain base percentage you are always hit with, and then various others that apply to some transactions. For all but very large merchants the base might be around 2% or so. I'm not sure what it is for the very largest.

(The above is if you have a merchant account yourself and directly use a payment processor like Authorize.Net or Merchant e-Solutions (MES). If you go through someone one step removed they might simplify it into one fixed fee per transaction plus either a fixed percentage fee or a tiered percentage fee system where a given charge gets one of the tiers. Apple almost certainly does not go through an intermediary like that. They either go through someone like Authorize.Net or MES, or maybe even are big enough to have access at an even lower level).

Anyway, the thing about this is that when you process a refund all that is guaranteed is that the credit card user gets their money back. Those fees you paid to have the charge processed? Some of them stick, such as the authorization fee. Furthermore, the refund itself is a transaction that will incur some of the per transaction fees (I don't think it incurs any of the percentage fees but I'm not absolutely certain--credit card processing bills are often extremely confusing and I've never been able to figure out from looking at the bills from at least 5 different processors we've used exactly what fees apply).

Assuming that most Apple app sales are $0.99, and taking into account the processing the refund will incur at least some fees, and allowing that Apple certainly gets better rates than I've ever seen, I can still easily believe that the net fees Apple pays on a combined $0.99 charge and $0.99 refund are in the ballpark of $0.30.

And since the whole freaking credit card system is set up, or at least appears to be from a merchant's point of view, to make sure that of all the parties involved in a transactions--the customer, the merchant, the merchant bank, the payment processor, the credit card companies, and the issuing bank--it is the merchant that bears the costs when anything happens that is going to cost someone money, nearly everyone who accepts credit cards as payments reacted to the claim that Apple keeps the 30% with "...and in equally unexpected news, the Sun rose this morning".

What scares me is that most of us measure truth in terms of "how many people upvote/like this tweet/thread/post," which further promotes fake news that go viral. It works like this:

1. Say something that clearly will make the news, regardless of it being true/false.

2. By the time people try to debunk it, it has already made its impact and served its purpose.

3. Even when the truth comes out, since it's usually boring, it won't make the news that much.

4. Congratulations! Now you have further strengthened the Internet "echo chambers," which means those who heard the false news are not even interested in hearing the truth.

Another thing that worries me is that "quiet people have the loudest minds" (by S. Hawking), which I interpret as the silent, lurking community members who don't stand up to correct a wrong (e.g. out of fear of getting downvoted/grayed_out, or simply because they don't want to get involved in discussions, etc.) IMO, they are just as blamable as those who publish lies.

What scares me is that most of us measure truth in terms of "how many people upvote/like this tweet/thread/post,"

I certainly do not equate votes to truth, and I hope most HN readers do not. Voting on HN is just a way to avoid adding shallow comments. I always assumed that most of the people on here are used to treating the popular opinion with a grain of salt.

I believed this particular story because it seemed like something Apple would do, which maybe is a bigger problem in Apple's image. Or maybe I'm just cynical.

HN at least realized a mistake then posted updates to counteract the wrong information.

Imagine if this happened in more mainstream, more polarized communities where this Tweet would get posted, immediately and undeniably be taken as fact, and then promoted/upvoted without being taken down. And debunking something popular with facts will lead to it being parodied, downplayed, or ignored in favor of keeping the false narrative.

No wonder a lie travels halfway around the world before the truth puts its shoes on.

Maybe because you were calling dang on someone who correctly said it was false.

I’m pretty sure the downvotes are from shouting and calling people gullible.

I've been downvoted several times for asking simple questions. No shouting or accusations needed. It's enough that you are seen as political, and your post will be downvoted. Sadly this is turning HN into a stigmatizing and self-censoring echo chamber. I'm glad that HN has posted this retraction, though.

True, but incidents like this make me wonder what other HN posts I have believed simply because they were upvoted.

Maybe, just maybe, could it be because of his tone which masked the point he was trying to get across?

I would like to read flagged comments, is it possible?

Click your username name up at the top of the page and turn on showdead.

I'm not certain it works for all flagged comments, but it definitely shows you more than you'd see otherwise.

I don't think this allows you to see flagged comments. There is an elite group on HN which are allowed to flag comments and these really will be hidden from everyone.

It's not really an elite group since I'm in it :-P You can flag after you get enough points. I can't say I've ever seen flagged things disappear. They may be marked "[flagged][dead]" but the content is still there.

Multiple people have to flag something to make it [dead].

It can also be autokilled but I don't think anyone other than the mods know how or when that occurs.

Does anyone know if a post is flagged (and normally hidden) after one poster flags it or is there some other way?

Is there any mod review that takes places before (or after)?

It seems if enough users flag it gets killed instantly.

If not enough voters flag it might still catch Dans attention and he might manually kill it.

If a comment is dead we (users with over 500 points I think) might still revive it if enough of us vouch for it.

I'm not sure if we can revive a comment after Dan has used the banhammer.

Also I can confirm that unlike what someone thinks we who flag and vouch are not an elite group.

After 500 you get downvote and I guess vouch as well. You don't have to apply it anything, at least I didn't have to with the accounts that had those privileges, and I don't know anyone important around here, I'm just a bored sw engineer currently located in Northern Europe.

It's even less ‘elite’ — I have < 500 points and see a ‘vouch’ link on dead comments. The FAQ doesn't state the exact threshold; I'd guess it's 100 (at most).

It's more than 100.

It's not just one person normally. Not only you can click "flag" and find that no change was made, you can also vouch for flagged posts to make them visible again.

It’s not an elite group. I used to believe as you do, to a lesser degree. But even if that were true, you aren’t meaningfully disadvantaged by not being able to flag things. It’s like a super-downvote. You don’t even have downvote at 0 karma to my knowledge. There are karma tiers for feature unlocks, but they are pretty low, like 31 or something for vouch? I know there’s a link on HN with this info.

The lack of negative interactivity for new and lower karma accounts is meant to be a kind of training wheels period, where if you get karma, you’ll implicitly learn what is acceptable at HN, and until you do, your ability to embody and enforce the ideals of HN is limited to positive or neutral actions of upvoting and posting.

Here you go, courtesy of HN user minimaxir



I think HN works pretty well. Yes, some wrong material may get upvoted to the top of HN, but then it usually gets corrected quickly. In fact, the correction is staying on top of HN longer than original and the comments correcting the error in the original thread have been upvoted, too.

That's a pretty efficient way to handle errors. I wish mass media worked the same way. My 2c.

> This was how his downvotes looked early this morning: https://imgur.com/a/GuTffzP

Judging from your screenshot I'd say that comment was styled as .commtext.c5a:

  .c5a, .c5a a:link, .c5a a:visited { color:#5a5a5a; }
It only takes one net downvote to get there. Even one fat finger could flip that, and I fat finger on mobile a lot.

Anyway, discussions on downvotes are boring and guidelines-breaking, and even worse when it's misinformation, as a single comment could only contribute -4.

I've emailed the mods to detach this thread.

Edit: And... this comment has promptly contributed -4 within ten minutes. I don't really give a crap since I've got enough points to withstand a scratch like this. But the irony of being heavily downvoted for correcting misinformation on a thread supposedly correcting misinformation...

We detached this subthread from https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=23996123.

How do you know it's -12, just out of interest?

The comment isn't at -12, the poster's overall karma (visible on the user's profile) is.

That comment was likely downvoted for toxic tone, and adding no authoritative information..

Just a tip, when you want to correct people. Don't end with:

> Is this community this clueless?

don't downvotes stop at -4, for a single post?

going through his history, like 50% are gray -- fair or not, didn't bother reading -- but I don't think its from this one event.

Yup. This will make it to n-gate alright.

People are saying stuff about tone here.

I have learned, as most of us have, that communication technique has everything to do with how well information is received.

But IMO we need to stop acting like that’s a good thing. It’s an unfortunate reality.

Niceness in not a virtue. We should be careful not to elevate it to such.

Truth is more important that how something makes you feel. Honestly is more primary than politeness.

The problem with believing people based on how well they communicate should be obvious: if someone can communicate well, it might alter the chances towards more expertise, but it is not a guarantee.

At a certain point we start fetishizing polite communication.

This isn’t wholly different from liking people more because they are good looking.

It’s inevitable that people act that way, but we shouldn’t celebrate it, should try to resist it.

I've struggled with this myself and I've also found that stating truth and using civil words are not mutually exclusive.

Like you wrote, the words used can promote truth to a greater or lesser extent. Almost always a polite but confident phrasing increases the transmission and replication of truth.

It does take more work. It does take increased linguistic and emotional skill (and work). It gets easier with practice.

I mean they were factually correct but that doesn't take away from the extremely toxic way they interact with the community. I think the comment deserves to be downvoted (although that doesn't change the overall point that accurate information wasn't bubbling up).

This is their bio:

"HN was created as an example of how to foment Dunning-Kruger among a community. Nowhere else will you find such a wonderful collection of imaginary "experts". Today's outrage -- someone who is clearly wrong about how refunds on the App Store work, yet the overwhelming majority of HN are too profoundly stupid/ignorant/myopic to see the error and just run with it.

Top of the front page, thousands of comments...original guy retracts it. Hours later the story is still here and still getting comments from the idiot base.

I'd be embarrassed to be herding this collection of dumbshits."

That sort of approach to talking with HN is going to be downvoted. And I would argue deservedly so.

It could be the other way around. The person came to HN in a good faith but faced unfair downvoting of otherwise reasonable comments. Which eventually made the person write in their profile what's currently written.

Sometimes people become toxic because they weren't treated fairly.

This thread shouldn't be about how the guy was a meany poo-poo pants, but about what is it with today's world that makes people fall for the most unbelievable things based on the flimsiest of evidence. People with harsh words speaking the truth are far less worrisome than mobs being suckered by obvious falsehoods based on 10 second video clips, a random tweet, or some random post on HN's.

You're possibly right. Which doesn't make them less toxic or more frequentable, still.

This is scary. And should scare everyone.

We need to remove downvoting temporarily for next 6 months. See how things pan out.

Cancel culture. Dissent and attack on free speech. Smearing of truth. People are afraid to speak up. Chilling effect.

@dang - this is urgently needed. It’s raising alarm bells like no other to me.

Counterpoint: downvoting is how Hacker News has maintained a comparatively high quality focused discussion while having only one full time moderator. It's not without its disadvantages - certain things will get instaflagged off the front page, especially "sexism in tech" stories. But it's like a firewall. If you don't have one, you get pwned eventually.

Occasionally you get "Boston Bomber" moments, and something true gets downvoted. That is on the poster to figure out why and how to present it in a way that will be accepted.

(I have 60k karma, so I know how to play ranked competitive HN, but even I still get downvoted occasionally if I'm lazy about sourcing or needlessly confrontational)

(edit: first downvote received in less than thirty seconds. Walked into that one, I suppose. Now leaving the edit window at +3. Sorry, +8. You're not really supposed to threadsit your own comments like this, but since we're talking about the voting system I thought I'd mention it)

"quality focused discussion"

If you go against the grain of HN on Elon Musk, Tesla, India or the US (and many other topics) then your comment, like this one, is tanking. Which also shows as many regulars from 5 years ago have left, I seldom see someones comments I recognize.

So I do object your argument.

Comments are good to get some opinions on a topic if you dont know about the topic of the linked post. I still read topics therefor.

> I seldom see someones comments I recognize.

I was not around for the early days of HN, and I recognize certain posters by their usernames. Here's a few off the top of my head (I am able to give a short description of each, but that's more work than I want to put into this comment). Also note I may misspell since this is from memory: Bytecode-dev, DoreenMichelle, ChrisMarshallNyc, Arathorn. This tends to happen when the person focuses on one topic in their posts, like bytecode-dev and python (and I hope at some point, myself and funding FLOSS, but maybe I comment too widely for that). There's more people; the point is not necessarily that I can regurgitate their names, but that I'd recognize them if I saw them (for example, I'm blanking right now on Drew from SourceHut's username, but I'd absolutely recognize it on sight.

Every now and again I wonder whether something like "reddit enhancement suite" would be useful for HN. It probably already exists. The ability to tag usernames with your personal opinion of them and reminders of their place in the community.

I recommend validating your perceived bias. Look through the archive for posts about Elon for example. You'll find people arguing HN is biased both ways. It's even more common for articles about Apple. (And it's quite funny to find in different comments on the same story)

"You'll find people arguing HN is biased both ways."

This is not contradicting what I have said.

The true comment "This is not contradicting what I have said." making an argument to a comment about discussions is voted down. What more do I need to say?

> If you go against the grain of HN on Elon Musk, Tesla, India or the US (and many other topics)

I'm not even sure which direction the grain is on India. I've even seen Indians arguing vigourously among themselves on this, which is not surprising given how contentious Indian politics is.

I think downvoting should remain available but more strongly dis-incentivized, maybe for instance by rationing the number of downvotes that one user can issue in a day.

But in the end I don't know if it'll make much of a difference, a bad community will always manage to push bad content to the top, a good one will manage to reward insightful content. Technical solutions can only go so far to fix what is essentially a social problem.

Just charge karma points for down voting. That will make people think twice

Depends on how many points. It should scale with the amount of points the user has. A percentage based scheme seems fine to me. 0.1% your points for every downvote.

I'd be okay with 1%. I really don't downvote much.

I'm not sure I'd like to spend six hundred points dealing with a single idiot; I'd have to develop a better battery of cut-and-paste denouncements instead. I'm not sure this would improve the overall signal-to-noise ratio.

Downvotes are already rate limited. I know because I run out of them within 10 minutes of browsing the site nowadays.

I couldn’t disagree with you more, by the way. The amount of throwaway comments, puns, etc. are out of control. We need stronger downvoting, or weakened upvoting for new users.

I prefer upvoting good comments to downvoting mediocre ones. I keep my downvotes for trolls/insults and reddit-tier "meme" comments for which I apparently have a higher tolerance threshold than you because I don't find them all that common. Maybe we just tend to read different stories though.

Downvotes should cost the user their own points.

People are bizarrely attached to their magical internet points and such consequences would perhaps have most think twice before flippantly greying out a comment they only read the first sentence of.

With the rampant vote inflation I think the limits should be at least quadrupled.

That is how you kill a site. It should be easier to remove bad content than to create more crap. The table is already tilted towards those creating misinformation and spam, making it more costly to prune this is an incredibly bad idea.

Bad content can be removed by flagging.

Then more mods will need to be hired because no one will waste a downvote on spam.

I would save mine for the next spaces vs tabs thread.

I think what I see is the following:

Side A: 1000+ voted story, with Apple’s recent App Store sentiments, emotionally engaging. This is the mob.

Side B: A lone fact checker. The comment posted by this fact checker was not ambiguous. It literally said that this whole thread is false. That kind of gravity in a comment is different from your usual discourse.

Side B is overrun by Side A. I am seeing this in our society, not just on this forum.

I feel like it’s different than you and I discussing whether tabs or spaces are better. It’s being overrun by emotions. We need to allow criticisms to surface and counterpoints to be heard when they’re devoid of attacks/trolling. Downvoting is creating a rather reinforcing mechanism for the mob the feel good about their stance. Further fueling it.

I am spooked by the current atmosphere on the internet. And I’m spooked by many instances of mob mentality in our society. Note: I am not talking about US protests.

What makes side B a "fact checker"? How can you identify them as such?

The real problem is that for pretty much any claim I can find you a tweet saying it was false. That doesn't help. We're into relative assessments of credibility by origin here. It looks like the original tweet author has retracted, which is pretty convincing.

When someone says:

> Apple takes back from the developer exactly what they gave the developer. This has been verified by a number of people, and this submission is just farcically wrong. How is this nonsense front page on HN? Is this community this clueless?

This is a pretty harsh opposition. Not a small thing to gloss over. Why was it downvoted?

Probably because it's harsh opposition.

Yes, downvotes are unexplained, and we're reduced to mind-reading, but what I reckon is that the following would have done much better:

"Apple takes back from the developer exactly what they gave the developer. This has been verified by a number of people"

.. especially with a link to said verification and the bona fides of the verifiers.

The gold standard would be a link to a statement by Apple. Of course, simply being said by an official source doesn't make it true either!

Here is what I fundamentally don’t understand. You have one guy make an unfounded, yet emotionally strong claims (every developer hates the appstore) and now his word in written in stone.

To refute him, you need multiple people to show that he’s wrong, a written statement from Apple and consignment from the Queen of England. This seems broken

When an account calling itself "hn_check" posts a series of comments like these they're going to get downvotes across most of their comments:

"Every clown who repeated this and argued the unfairness of it, like rattray here -- delete your accounts."

"rattray is intentionally spreading hilariously dumb misinformation to make HN look like a bunch of stupid assholes."

"This place is a den of absolute idiots, time and time again. And when it is realized it goes to auto-dead time. Absolutely fucking embarrassing for anyone who is proud of their association with this shithole of stupidity."

"Don't ever change your adorable ignorance, HN. It's such a laugh.

And this will be auto-dead. I was spot on and completely right and got pummeled down by the imbeciles of this cesspool. Hilarious. "

Hm, if I got a comment like this in reply to mine, I would double-check my facts before rushing to the downvote button.

Haha, so would I. I think I'd instantly suspect I've fucked up in some dramatic way. But HN is usually civility > truth. The community values politeness over correctness.

Useful to know that characteristic. I use a personal user-moderation tool built by a friend to remove these people from comments. I actually really like these threads since it lets me identify people with lower thresholds for truth and lower thresholds for what they'll amplify as truth.

You can't downvote replies to your own comments, so it's other people reading the insults and (correctly) downvoting them.

Looking at his comments I see insults coming 3 hours after his original comments were voted down. Apparently, being civil did not worked out for him either.

Idea: In layout place replies horizontally. Then you will see more thoughts. As of now many thoughtful comments are burried.

That you are being downvoted to oblivion is another indication that something is wrong.

Slashdot had a better moderation system ca. 20 years ago - you needed a reason along with the downvote and people would think twice about downvoting for "comment says something that may be factually right but somehow hurts my feelings or aligns with orange man". Meta-moderation also helped.

The moderator here is doing a good job, but perhaps he's being overwhelmed lately by the polarization and extreme groupthink on many issues.

I would love to see some academic research on the topic of forum moderation. The problem is probably as difficult as fixing democracy, but it would be nice to see what progress we have made in this area.

Community moderation has been a problem for a long time. There's a paper on Lucasarts "Habitat" MMO from the mid-80s! (can't find it at the moment). There's also JC Hertz's somewhat sensationalised anthropology of online culture from the 90s, https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/2284572.Surfing_on_the_I...

A number of experiments were made and abandoned; Slashdot's different types of up/down vote that users could weight themselves, Advogato's trust network, and so on.

Thanks for the links. I found that this link might be a good entry point into the field:


But I don't like the word "reputation" as it goes against the idea that people who are new might have good input too. Using reputation as a discriminator is very much like committing an ad-hominem fallacy. But perhaps that's the best we can do.

A big problem is that an apparent new contributor may not actually be either new, or even a person. Only then can you determine that they're not somebody you've previously assigned a negative reputation value to.

(mind you, this is not at all sufficient; a major problem of the present day is people tweeting abuse from positions of power under their real names)

As moderated online spaces continue to displace traditional media, forum moderation itself has a growing influence on modern democracy.

Downvoting has 13 years of work and stress testing by 10,000s of people, you don't just turn it off.

Software 101, something 10 years old has some sort of proportional to 10 years worth of work in it.

It's also not cancel culture here yet, flagged and dead are viewable.

Part of the reason HN has defences against cancel culture is they don't make changes.

> Downvoting has 13 years of work and stress testing by 10,000s of people, you don't just turn it off.

This may be an argument for its correct functioning in the technical sense but is blatantly ignorant on changes in society and communication. If a mechanism becomes misused and exploited after a community grows and welcomes people from other communities, it has to be reconsidered. Social interaction definitely doesn't scale smoothly.

I think this guy downvoted for being rude, not necessarily for being wrong, although probably everyone who downvoted him thought he was wrong as well, when he was correct.

> when he was correct.

How do you know he was correct?

This whole "cancel culture" thing is a 2020 thing, while HN has operated like this since when? 2005? HN has been "cancelling" comments since forever, and it's suddenly a problem? It's part of the rules of the game here :-) You play or you don't.

ok when I said he was correct I meant his main point was correct, which I did not see as the cancel culture thing but rather that Apple does not keep the 30% commission. The cancel culture thing I saw as more of the rudeness.

on edit: clarified what I meant by correct better

I've been downvoted for stating a simple sourced fact last week. It happens all the time, when there are echo chamber or when the truth hurt some fanatics feelings they downvote in order to hide the truth, truth which hurt their ridiculously high sensitivity. https://news.ycombinator.com/reply?id=23977461&goto=item%3Fi...

Such people should be accountable and loose their ability to downvote (and to a lesser extent to upvote) As they actively hurt the epistomological quality of HN comments

So here's the idea: we should be able to call a moderator/contributor, explain to him why you think the downvoting is unfair and he will give retroactions.

It's possible that you were downvoted for irrelevancy? Dunno, I almost never downvote.

I don't see how that would be irrelevant. I talked about async stack trace and the original blog post talked about it. BTW a guy thanked me because he found my comment useful.

I disagree with this (tho I acknowledge the dissent points and I'm one of those who moans occasionally - with the corresponding downvote hit about unreasonable downvoting). I've also never (yet) downvoted anybody despite severe provocation :)

I think some limits on downvoting might be useful (some of which might already be in place, I can't remember).

e.g. You can't downvote replies to your comment. (Already in place).

A limit to downvotes to a particular comment. (I thought this was in place but can't find a reference)

Time limit on downvotes. (I think this is already in place).

X downvotes use up Y karma.

I would also like a guideline that you should only upvote or downvote based on the quality of the comment rather than whether you don't like what you think of the commenter...

The point is a serious one and really shouldn't be downvoted. On balance, I disagree, but social bubbles are a systemic risk in our online communities, and the way downvote buttons are often used can promote a groupthink tendency,

definition of overreacting

This is ridiculous, pearl-clutching nonsense.

> This is scary.

That a profile where half the comments are rude gets downvoted? If I want to get called an asshole and read rude, barely intelligible comments I'll go to 4chan. You can disagree and present well-reasoned arguments without devolving to "LOL WAT? U IDIOTS"

> We need to remove downvoting temporarily for next 6 months.

"Need" is an overstatement if I've ever heard one, wow. Sort of an arbitrary timeline, too.

> Cancel culture.

Equating downvoting and community moderation with "cancel culture" is pretty far off base.

> Dissent and attack on free speech.

You have absolutely no right to free speech on HN, nor should you, nor did you ever, nor is that what free speech actually means.

The number of people who equate "the government shall make no law abridging the freedom of speech" with "I can be an asshole in a private forum and you're not allowed to call me an asshole" is astounding, and that is the real problem here.

> Smearing of truth.

By downvoting rude comments?

> People are afraid to speak up.

They're demonstrably not.

> Chilling effect.

Word salad.

> @dang - this is urgently needed.

It's not.

> It’s raising alarm bells like no other to me.

By most news accounts the US is careening toward a totalitarian apocalypse, China is literally sending train loads of Uighur muslims to re-education camps, and we're in the middle (or start, in the US) of a global pandemic, but HN's community moderation standards and practices are what's got your spidey sense tingling?

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