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Hacker News, say hello to the Flagging Bury Brigades
17 points by swombat on April 12, 2011 | hide | past | favorite | 17 comments
I have to say, it's really disappointing to see the flagging functionality being abused in this way.

http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=2438002 , which has had 47 points in 1 hour (despite being flagged by a number of individuals) is exactly on-topic for HN, It concerns a product that is relevant to HN, it is built by an active HN member, it has been upvoted by a good number of HNers despite its unnaturally low placement (due to the flagging), it is written by an active HNer (me), and it is on a blog which is popular with HN.

It's hard to think of a more on-topic post.

And yet, at least 4 people have flagged it, possibly 5, thus lowering its placement by a lot. Flagging is supposed to be reserved for egregiously off-topic and spam posts.

If this is what happens to on-topic posts, one thing is clear:

Flagging is totally broken.

Why? I suspect too many people have access to flags, so flags have become indiscriminate. Simultaneously, pg made flags have a very large effect on story position (effectively, one flag is worth maybe 5-10 downvotes, no matter who applies the flag).

I have long since learned not to try to coerce pg into doing anything, but I really think this is strong evidence of broken functionality. If you want to introduce downvotes for stories, let's have downvotes for stories. But let's not have mega-downvotes in the sneaky form of flags that are supposed to be for spam.

I'll add that this is not the first time I've seen this happen, though it's the first time I see a perfectly legitimate article get quite that many flags. Is HN skipping the Reddit step and going straight to the Digg graveyard?

No one flagged it. It set off the voting ring detector.

This is probably why: http://twitter.com/swombat/statuses/57853143689601024

I have seen a good hack to get around this problem.

At the end of the article add a link "Discuss this on Hacker News" linking to your submission of the article here. Then you can just tweet your article directly and all the HN'ers will click through and comment and vote for your submission. It's not ideal but it works.

One problem is old comments. Anyone that sees the article and wants to add to the discussion is pretty much screwed if it's been more than half a day. HN submissions older than that get few views and fewer responses to any late additions.

The logical follow up question is: assuming swombat isn't part of a secret cabal, how does he avoid setting it off in the future?

You probably can't answer that, but I know I like tweeting about my HN posts and inviting folks over to HN to participate. If that's a bad thing, we need to know that and not do it anymore.

EDIT: Is there is a prohibition against tweeting submissions?

EDIT2: Happy to abide by whatever rules there are, but without knowing them I can see where it could get very frustrating for a lot of folks. A couple of my submissions I was sure were being flagged, but now I'm guessing it's because I shared the link with folks. That's an extremely non-intuitive system response.

If tweeting about your posts and getting them exposure is a bad thing, this is no forum for entrepreneurs.

Tweeting about your posts is fine. I do that myself. But you didn't link to your post (http://swombat.com/2011/4/12/bushido) but rather to the HN story about your post.

I frequently link to the HN story rather than my blog posts directly due to the additional value HN comments provide.

Linking may be ok. I suspect it is the explicit request for upvotes that ends up setting off the voting ring detector.

Same here. Even if you have something bad to say about my submission, better to share it with the rest of HN than simply tell me on my blog. Helps everybody. Keeps somebody else from submitting stuff like it. And if you have something interesting to add, more people see it on HN than on my blog.

As long as you're not explicitly trying to game the system, I never saw a downside to it.

This isn't a forum for entrepreneurs: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=2403868

Sad. I've told numerous people that this was the best online community of entrepreneurs bar none. I guess we need a new one.

As far as I know it is. As a forum for hackers, it's a forum for a superset of the subset of entrepreneurs YC cares about.

There are several reasons it's better to aim for the superset. One is that this type of founder is more omnivorous by nature, and even when in the throes of starting a startup, gets bored reading about nothing but startups. The other is that hackers are more likely to become founders unintentionally. Many don't realize till only a few months beforehand that they are about to start companies. So if you look at the set of people who will eventually start startups, what they're interested in reading about now is not "entrepreneurship" but e.g. programming languages.

Whoa, same here. I guess I will direct my referrals elsewhere from now on.

On that note. Where is the best online community for entrepreneurs then?

> On that note. Where is the best online community for entrepreneurs then?

That's easy. Check out Hacker News. Oh wait...

I own the domain startup.io which I originally thought I would use for a Startup Q&A site.

A news submission site is appropriate as well.. anyone want to help?

Its a great forum for entrepreneurs to learn. For entrepreneurs to promote things on is a different story.

From the YC application page: "We're more likely to fund people we know are smart from their submissions and comments on Hacker News."

With all due respect to PG, this sounds like an invitation for entrepreneurs to use HN, since one would think that YC is looking for entrepreneurs.

HN not being for (i.e. targeted at) entrepreneurs doesn't mean that there wouldn't be a high concentration of entrepreneurs on HN (especially if you hypothesise a correlation between being a hacker and being an entrepreneur).

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