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Coinbase offers exit package for employees not comfortable with its mission (theblockcrypto.com)
681 points by crones 22 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 1258 comments



I agreed with what Brian Armstrong said in his blog post and thought it was admirable to publicly take that position, but now I have even more respect for his dedication.

I don't know if the severance package is good or not, but it seems generous and it gives employees who aren't aligned with the company an easy way out.


There is a lot of value in removing political activists from your company, and so it's worth paying them to leave.

Aside from the combative toxic environment they generate, they are also often the source of disgruntled rogue employees that will generally behave improperly, misrepresent coworkers, leak documents, raise alarms about operations they don't understand, and generally draw the company into litigation.

In a highly sensitive market like crypto, you don't want to gain unnecessary regulatory attention, and activists like this will be the first to testify against the company with their biased interpretation of internal operations.

They're just poison. In the best case scenario, they are just a huge distraction - and in the worst they will cost you 10x their salary in legal drama.


In my experience, the vast majority of employees don’t want their workplace to become a political battleground. Even those who occasionally discuss politics at work and are mature enough to behave like adults about it.

It’s tempting to think of this in terms of Democrats vs Republicans or right vs left, but that’s not really the domain of the most problematic employees. The most problematic employees are the ones who have given up on the notion of reasonable debate or disagreement and instead have become convinced that the other side is committing acts so terrible that fighting them at every juncture is the only acceptable thing to do. Strangely enough, the “other side” isn’t just far-right or fad-left people, it becomes centrists, or people who don’t vote, or people who don’t want to engage in politics at work.

When you’ve reached the point where a small handful of employees are fomenting outrage at their company for not putting a BLM statement on the company Twitter account, for example, the situation has arrived at a “with us or against us” false dichotomy.

Generally, the only way to win with politics at the office is to not play. However, when one side decides that not playing is equivalent to being evil, everyone is forced to play. When everyone is forced to play by a handful of disgruntled employees, everyone loses.

Paying to remove these people from a company makes a lot of sense. If you don’t do something to remove them, the people who are sick of being dragged into political debates at work will slowly diffuse out of the company. The hyper-political employees are a loud minority, but the people who just want to do their jobs and remain professional are very much more common. Don’t let the tail wag the dog.


Paying to remove these people from a company makes a lot of sense

I think most business owners would say this is not at all sensible. If someone is a troublemaker you don't normally pay them to leave. You fire them. Brian is being very generous here, almost inexplicably so except for the fact that they're based in the Bay Area. Most CEOs would tackle it in two phases:

1. Tell people they may not attempt to bring social activism into the work place.

2. Fire anyone who keeps doing it.

Payments wouldn't enter the picture!


Paying people seems easier for a well funded company. If you fire people they get upset, sue, and create additional headaches. I’m sure someone crunched the numbers and paying people to leave made more sense.


The court of public opinion, even if sometimes unfair, still exists and impacts your business's ability to operate.

By using the carrot instead of the stick, you protect yourself somewhat from these disgruntled employees tanking your public image.


I saw this firsthand in May/June in the aftermath of the George Floyd killing. It was a pretty small company and there was one employee in particular who was very much an activist, though a number of employees of course felt very strongly about what was going on. The company genuinely tried to do their best to support them, encouraged this person to take a week off for mental health and from my perspective was making a real effort to be understanding and support this person and also to express support for the BLM movement as a whole.

There was one manager in particular who really tried to do the right thing in supporting this employee. The manager convinced the marketing folks to make a pro-BLM post on LinkedIn, but then this employee got upset that it had not gone far enough and was too weakly worded. A good friend of the employee and former coworker at this company actually called out the company in the comments of the post on LinkedIn for not taking a stronger stand. The manager also convinced the executives to have the company donate money, and this kicked off a broader giving back initiative where they wanted everyone to vote on causes that the company could support in various ways. This caused even more backlash, because it had now lost site of the BLM focus and become a broader thing.

By the end, the company was just cluelessly walking on eggshells with no idea how to not make things worse in their attempts at support. The employee was extremely frustrated, struggled to regain any level of respect for the company and stopped really performing in their job and ended up leaving a couple months later. I still very much believe nobody was in the wrong here, nobody involved was a bad person or even an insensitive person. It just proved to be very difficult to navigate this situation, there were too many ways for it to go wrong and the company didn't handle everything absolutely perfectly and so they just made things worse.

Anyway, in the end I'm very convinced that everyone, including the activist employee, would have been much happier under the model as stated by Coinbase. And even if this person left or had never joined this company to begin with because of that policy, the result would have been very similar in the end, but without the weeks of frustration and stress and lost productivity all around.


> I still very much believe nobody was in the wrong here

This just doesn't strike me as reasonable. The employee was in the wrong. Clearly. Just because the thing you support is a moral and good thing to support doesn't mean you get to foist your activism upon everyone else around you. I care about endangered species conservation - but if I did what this person did and held the organization hostage to my demands I'd be looked at sideways, and rightfully so.

It's not that there's no place for activism in the workplace, it's just that the line should be drawn at the point where it starts harming the organization as a whole.


My process of engaging at work is strictly professional. I don't even like going to happy hours. I don't want to bond with anyone on a personal level. Ok, we joke and entertain ourselves on a personal level but it is very much small talk / elevator chat.

I honestly do not understand why people socialize at work. Can someone who holds a contrary viewpoint shed some light on why this is so common place in corporate environments? My guess is that it has to do with various kinds of personalities.


I spend a lot of time working. I'm not a machine; having meaningful conversations with my coworkers makes me feel human. Especially during the pandemic, when I have even less social contact than I already did.

I also just happen to share similar interests/perspectives with my boss, and we trust each other a lot. I count him as a friend instead of just a coworker.

I only talk politics obliquely, and tend towards analysis and hearing what people have to say. I try to come off as friendly and tolerant of other perspectives, and my conservative coworkers tend to return the favor.


This very same thing happened at the non-profit where my wife works.

They released a statement. Kind of a milquetoast, bland statement, but still unambiguously supportive of BLM.

But not supportive enough for some employees, particularly those of color. Lots of complaints, and a lot of non-racial issues started boiling up to the fore as well. They've since amended and re-released the statement to be stronger, and included statements for battered women, Native Americans, and a full-on separate statement for at-risk immigrants.

It's utterly paralyzed the organization -- and is totally unrelated to their primary mission -- and will likely lead to at least one lawsuit. It sounds like a manager or two may be a rebuke or termination as well.

I ultimately agree with the parent and OP -- create a safety valve or squash the discussion, because there is no way to function as an org if you're 10 minutes from screaming at, or stabbing, or suing your coworkers


I can sort of understand that at a non-profit, but a company is a company (even if I think a world where crypto is normal would be a much better world).


If the employee was finding ways to get upset at everything, it’s not unbelievable that they’d find a way to get upset about being given a bonus with their severance. The first thing to pop in my mind is: “they’re paying me because they don’t care and want me to shut up!” Not saying that they would’ve, but I could see it happening based on how you’ve described it.


Do you think the outcome would have been different without COVID and WFH?


> They're just poison.

This. And like another commenter pointed out, it's not unique to one side or the other. Anyone who defines their entire existence in this left/right dichotomy is suffering from media-induced mental illness.


Pepsi and Coke only want you to think about Pepsi and Coke, because it means they only compete against 1 rival, instead of Fanta, Sprite, RC Cola, Faygo, etc.


I think Coke wouldn't mind us thinking about Sprite, as Pepsi doesn't mind us thinking about Fanta.


All those were acquisitions, iirc


Not like they don't make money for Coke/Pepsi post acquisition.


> There is a lot of value in removing political activists from your company, and so it's worth paying them to leave.

Your company should be 100% political activists, but (at least during work hours) they should be focused on advancing the mission of your organization.

Even within activist groups you have the exact same problem that Joe is talking about, e.g. at some point in the 90s Adbusters went from lobbying against advertising to just generally supporting any leftist cause. And that's why every highway (except in Vermont, Alaska, Hawaii, and Maine) is still lined with billboards 25+ years later. The only way for an organization to accomplish its mission is to actually focus on solving the specific problem they're trying to solve, not to get distracted by trying to fix every random problem that exists in the world.


Unfortunately what often happens is orgs take on a life of their own. They won't be happy with "mission accomplished, let's disband now" Nope, they will redefine what they are supposed to do in order to keep giving the members either purpose or salaries.


For an organization wishing to preserve its specific mission, I wonder if one positive step would be clearly defining the point at which the organization would say "mission accomplished" and pack itself up. Riffing on your example, suppose an anti-ad organization said, "We want to achieve a goal of 20/50 states banning highway ads. Once we get there, our organization will be wound down [in some way.]"

There are reasons that might work badly, though. Without the org continuing to generate political pressure, public awareness, or money, the originally-achieved goal state could backslide. But ... change is inevitable. Perhaps at that point you try and get the org back together,; if you can, you can, otherwise you accept the world has moved on.

Easier said than done.


That's not an entirely accurate picture of Adbusters. They were never exclusively anti-advertising, it was always an anti-consumerism (and anti-capitalism to a large extent) organization. Advertising is just a manifestation of consumer culture.


Marin County California has banned billboards since 1935.


Individual counties can ban billboards, such as Marin County, but they’re not banned state wide AFAIK.


You could reasonably extend this to your friends and neighbors as well.

Growing up, politics was private outside of the family dinner table. Any dedication to an injustice or a good cause was done through donating or volunteering. No yard signs, no shouting, no blaming.

I understand that dramatic actions bring attention, but I just hope that we can start focusing more on doing our own part and leading by example rather than preaching and focusing on how much others are doing. This goes for everyone on the modern political spectrum.


Social media is the root of the problem here. All you have to do is make a post promoting the cause, and then you get a flood of little dopamine hits with each like.


Social media is certainly an accelerant, but these issues of leading through blame rather than leading through example have been prevalent in our worst leaders for a long time.


American politics, at least, has been very partisan at times long before social media showed up. Much of 19th century was like that, even outside of the Civil War. That recent period you referenced, when politics was mostly private and considered embarrassing to bring up, is actually more abnormal than normal in that regard. IMO, it just indicates a period of time after major political issues get decisively resolved one way or the other, and a new issue hasn't come up yet (or, more likely, hasn't come to the boiling point yet).


> Growing up, politics was private outside of the family dinner table. Any dedication to an injustice or a good cause was done through donating or volunteering. No yard signs, no shouting, no blaming.

It's a nice thought, but my mother in law has original presidential campaign pins and bumper stickers from as far back as the early 60s.


I'm curious what era this was. Pre civil rights movement?


I suspect your comment isn't really being offered in good faith, but can you name a specific example of a company where a coworker did one of these things:

> leak documents, raise alarms about operations they don't understand, and generally draw the company into litigation

and it was actually a case of misguided political activism rather than legitimate whistleblowing? I suppose maybe in slaughterhouses or animal testing laboratories, but definitely not with tech.

> In a highly sensitive market like crypto, you don't want to gain unnecessary regulatory attention, and activists like this will be the first to testify against the company with their biased interpretation of internal operations.

It is very difficult to not read this as "sometimes crypto companies need to break the law to make that cheddar, and you really don't want any of these radical 'companies should obey the law' activists getting in your way."


> I suspect your comment isn't really being offered in good faith

Assume good faith https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html


It's a very minority view on HN, but important to keep in mind that there are quite a few people who consider what Snowden did "a case of misguided political activism".


Weren't there a few at Google?

A conservative guy who generated headlines because of being discriminated against because he voted for the GOP?

Also some sort of whistleblower who got fired for speaking out against anti-union activity (but may have been a personal / non-union issue)?


Companies that are in industries which generally attract the attention of regulators because they're doing something new, exciting and potentially disruptive won't want to create unnecessary scope for controversy that will lead to a regulator feeling the need to clamp down on them (this shouldn't happen if the controversy is unrelated to the regulated activities, but people are irrational, and it does). Conversely, an activist employee will know that they will have a far more effective platform to spread their message if they do it in an environment that has more regulatory exposure, and as a result greater potential for media coverage.


sounds like my experience at google


True, hyper-political people of any persuasion are generally toxic. Trust and alignment are essential to performance.


Coinbase is owned by the federal gov.


My LinkedIn right now is full of professionals writing about how Coinbase is wrong and unsupportable. That is surprising to me.

I would like to see more mission focused companies.

They can help the societies they are in with some unilateral initiatives like Netflix did with helping capitalize banks in certain communities, without discussing it or changing the focus.


The guys who’d go on public platform to denounce Coinbase probably intersect with the type of people Coinbase wants to rid itself of.

I fully support what Coinbase is doing. It seems very fair to all sides.


It doesn't change my stance on what I would prefer companies do but it seems like a multilayered issue on the tides to pay attention to here and at the very least makes me not want to espouse my own thoughts about "Yeah! mission focused companies!" publicly.

Here are quotes from my feed:

"The path to an IPO is to purge Black and Brown people from Coinbase ... this is very unbecoming of a federal contractor"

"Over a dozen diverse crypto industry leaders [are] calling it out as racist."

"Sweden took 60 years to admit its neutrality policy was racist. How long will it take Coinbase to do the same? Being neutral is a position in support of the status quo - it always has been."

"Coinbase's CEO's recent statement of neutrality is unacceptable and complicit."

An out of context comment unfortunately adding to the gradient of the same context: "IBM's first computer sold to Hitler. Ford converted cars to tanks sold to Hitler. Why???"

The people posting are all identifying as black, in San Francisco Bay Area, and using their platform in support of black communities.

What's going on is that there is more context than Brian Armstrong's post, there is the context of what actually occurred within Coinbase amongst Coinbase's employees, something I have an incomplete picture of. And I think all of us miss that.

I like Brian Armstrong's post - in isolation. People with more context don't like it, and are galvanizing support against this very quickly. That's too bad. I hope Coinbase gets their IPO.


>"The path to an IPO is to purge Black and Brown people from Coinbase ... this is very unbecoming of a federal contractor"

Do normal people actually believe stuff like this???


Normal as in average? No, that leans pretty far left. It's not particularly unusual to see though. My theory is that there is a very loud minority of people online that believe things like that (or are willing to exaggerate to that degree).

Extremists abound on the internet.


Depends on where you're from. US appears to be quite a bit more embracing of that viewpoint than people from other countries who aren't so well tuned to US societal sensitivities (which can be very difficult to navigate).


Based purely on the headline, it feels like the people who yell about it are the exact Twitter shitstorm party that tries to start a pitchfork mob everywhere, and if you just try to stay away from it, they'll form a mob against you for staying out of it.

In other words, exactly the toxic group of people that this is trying to remove from the company.


I think that is pretty clear, but I think taking that approach of excising them is going to shoot themselves in the foot.

It should be clear that this isn't "just" trying to be mission focused, that was very eloquently written and timely, but it is failing because it is a reaction to internal issues which wasn't clear to the rest of us. And as such it has stirred a hornets nest that also no longer wants to keep things inside the company.

Many of the people it has stirred are also people that have been fighting for more inclusivity and also identify as part of underrepresented groups. People that feel like their voice isn't loud enough because they are so few inside the companies. This doesn't represent everyone in underrepresented groups, only that there is a significant overlap in the goals of inclusivity and people that want the company to be more welcoming by speaking out against inherently political nationalism, which the company doesn't want to do.

I'm not offering any solution only observation.


I think there are two groups: One that generally tries to treat human beings well, and is open to reasonable arguments, and one that attacks everyone who doesn't agree with their specific position. It's the difference between someone who makes a proposal how to improve inclusivity and tries to convince people that this is the right thing to do, and someone who will start attacking people who don't want to implement that proposal.

The latter is the more visible one and being targeted by this, and in my opinion rightly so, because that behavior (attacking others) is toxic and helps nobody.


Do the people making the statements you quoted have more context/information, or are they just more vocal.

In my experience, there has never been a shortage of people with practically no information communicating very strong opinions online?


It is a mixture of more context, more vocal, as well as people joining the fray with less context, assimilating to the same perspectives.


> "Sweden took 60 years to admit its neutrality policy was racist. How long will it take Coinbase to do the same? Being neutral is a position in support of the status quo - it always has been."

As a Swede, I... don't even know what they might be misinterpreting here!



As a Dane, the neutrality of Sweden (and your acceptance of it) enabled us to bring 90% of Danish Jews to safety.

I have no idea why you should apologize for that.


It's rare but still surprisingly common for Americans to mix up Sweden and Switzerland. Switzerland is famous for its policy of neutrality, perhaps that's what they're thinking of? Except I don't recall Switzerland ever abandoning it, let alone deciding it was racist. So I think that person is just terminally confused.


No, Sweden.

Sweden apologized recently about their neutrality was not that neutral. They maintained favorable trade conditions with Berlin as well as granted land access for military incursions.


Seeing as how Sweden was entirely surrounded by Nazi Germany or its possessions, it's not hard to see why they would have given Berlin slightly favorable trade conditions. Especially with any potential help against military invasion being on the other side of a lot of land and sea. In fact, a closer reading of Swedish history during WWII shows that this was exactly what influenced their biases towards the Nazis' favor here and there.

Despite this, Sweden still did an impressive job of allowing in many refugees from persecution. Its diplomatic representatives were instrumental in assisting the persecuted throughout Europe during the whole war. Anyone interested should look up, for example: Raul Wallenberg and Count Folke Bernadotte.

Sweden had nothing to apologize for during the war, and especially given the much more evident racism of other states like the U.S, which explicitly forbade many refugee jews from entering U.S soil during the Nazi persecutions and expulsions of the 1930's before the war. The writing was on the wall in dripping red letters, but Roosevelt simply disregarded it to please certain voters. At one point in 1942, when presented by Polish resistence agent Jan Karski with a whole eye witness narrative of the massive German extermination program against the jews in Poland, his first question to the Home Army solider was about the Nazi treatment of horses and cattlein the occupied territory!


Er, is this a reference to world war 2? Which was 80 years ago, not 60? And don't you think their "neutrality" might have been slightly biased by other factors than, um, racism?


You're reading what you want to read. The comment said it took them 60 years, which means it could have happened 20 years ago. They also never said Sweden's circumstance was racism, the only common denominator is neutrality being harmful.

I also have no opinion on that direct quote which is in quotes. Go find and ask that other person, on LinkedIn, why they wrote it in the context they did.


The guy said they apologised "recently", that's why it's confusing. 20 years ago isn't recently. Nor did they mention World War 2 anywhere, perhaps because it would have made it more obvious that such events had nothing to do with Swedish racism (lol, Sweden, a country famous for its strongly pro-middle-eastern-migration stance, is hardly anyone's top pick for racism).


> "Being neutral is a position in support of the status quo - it always has been."

This is undeniably true.


What’s there to admire? This is common sense and he should have set these expectations from the start. why are people discussing politics at work?


It’s generally a small but vocal group. And I wouldn’t call it politics so much as activism. A sort of religious zeal has made its way into our institutions like schools and universities. Some people have taken to it like a missionary would religion and believe it’s their duty to spread the word everywhere at all times. The Inquisition was no different in this regard.

You just have to read what the activism says. It says everything is racist, sexist, etc and that in every situation you must try and identify not if things were problematic but how they were. And then “do better”, etc. so it’s impossible for these people to separate their beliefs from their jobs.

It’s far beyond politics and more a religion than anything. It would be as if a very Christian employee made it their goal to point out everything that isn’t within Christian morality and protesting the company to comply with the word of god.


> It’s far beyond politics and more a religion than anything.

I believe this is a result of the fact that Americans have turned away from organized religion in recent years (note: I'm not religious myself). There seems to be something deep inside of most people that requires a shared spiritual experience. Wokism has emerged to fill that need.


I think this article is going to interest you: https://gist.github.com/jart/b73868081a5e1a1c5cf0

>Finally, our parasite will employ a strategy of politicization, insisting that everyone in a society be involved in the contest for political power. Since our memetic parasite is already bound to one or more political factions, politicization leaves no one with the option to ignore it, and simply live their lives. Neutrality is not acceptable. All those who are not actively infected, and who do not openly endorse the parasite, are by definition its enemies. And they will be crushed. The safest thing is to play along, and raise your children in the faith - even if you don't really believe, they will.

>At this point we've established, at least to my satisfaction, that

>(a) there is such a thing as Universalism;

>(b) Universalism is an educationally-transmitted tradition that works just like any theistic religion, and is best understood as a descendant of Christianity;

>Universalism, again, is a mystery cult of power. Its supreme being is the State. And all of the Universalist mysteries - humanity, democracy, equality, and so on - cluster around the philosophy of collective action. Christianity has been a state religion since Constantine, of course, but it always also included magical and metaphysical mysteries, which the advance of science has rendered superfluous at best, embarrassing at worst. So Universalism, unlike its ancestors, is not concerned with the Trinity or transubstantiation or predestination.


Obviously the solution to workplace politicization is...dissolving the federal government and appointing Eric Schmidt the CEO of a newly founded business-state?

> One day in March of this year, a Google engineer named Justine Tunney created a strange and ultimately doomed petition at the White House website. The petition proposed a three-point national referendum, as follows:

1. Retire all government employees with full pensions.

2. Transfer administrative authority to the tech industry.

3. Appoint [Google executive chairman] Eric Schmidt CEO of America.

https://thebaffler.com/latest/mouthbreathing-machiavellis


TBH, that article doesn't really make any sense. Saying "because ideology A shares a few attributes with my favorite ideology, it's really just a subset of my ideology" doesn't really make sense. Also, I don't understand how he thinks that pacifism or communalism are unique to christianity. That's just a bizarre claim.

It's also weird how he's aware of the oversimplification involved in classifying birds and bats in the same category, and then he immediately goes off and says the equivalent of "both a birds and planes have wings and a tail, therefore planes are a subset of birds". While that statement can be true from a certain point of view for certain uses ("can this thing fly?"), in the end it's just a bad analogy and bad reasoning.

Which is all not to say that the point I think you're driving at from your selection in that article can't be correct. I would agree that post-religion, people will pick up causes to fight for and act in ways that are reminiscent of fundamentalist religions, but that doesn't mean the fundamental truth is that they're all variations of religion. The fundamental truth is some people just enjoy picking up causes that let them justify bad behavior. This used to include religion a lot more in the past, and now that humanity is moving beyond it, we're discovering new ways to justify the same old behavior that we've always had.


I came to this realization when someone at a job was waving and thumping Cracking the Coding Interview like I remember people doing with the bible when I was growing up. I was a missionary in a "past life", non-religious non-believer now, and I know religion when I see it.


There seems to be an obvious counterexample in the rest of the Western nations (ie Canada, Australia, most of western Europe) that have experienced a similar reduction in organized religion but have not seen a corresponding rise to political division. Certainly not to the degree that the USA has.


Good point. My explanation for the discrepancy is that Canada, Australia and western Europe are more homogenous racially and ethnically than the US is, which makes them less vulnerable to the excesses of an ideology or religion-substitute that revolves around race and ethnicity.

On some of the troop carriers going to Vietnam, soldiers starting fighting each other along racial lines; in response, the US military started a major initiative to promote racial tolerance in their training of soldiers and in their personnel policies. Similarly, according to my theory, the leaders of the other major institutions of the US realize that the performance of their institution depends on the different races getting along or at least not openly fighting each other, so they will exhibit a weaker tendency to push against a radical belief system that prioritizes racial tolerance than their counterparts in more homogenous countries will.

Also, starting with the Puritans of England, the western Europeans that chose to emigrate to the US were on average more religious than those who chose to remain in western Europe.


Your assumption would be wrong. Australia is highly diverse.

One in four of Australia’s 22 million people were born overseas; 46 per cent have at least one parent who was born overseas; and nearly 20 per cent of Australians speak a language other than English at home[1]

I think the key differentiator, is Australia, Canada and Britain have parliamentary democracies.

[1] https://humanrights.gov.au/our-work/education/face-facts-cul...


"Overseas" is kind of useless as a descriptor. When I was living in Melbourne, I knew a lot of kids with German, Italian, Macedonian, and Serbian backgrounds, most spoke their respective languages.

But on the street they were just generic white christian Aussies who were out to slam a few beers and grab a chick parm. Not generic Anglo, but still very white and very western.


> Similarly, according to my theory, the leaders of the other major institutions of the US realize that the performance of their institution depends on the different races getting along or at least not openly fighting each other, so they will exhibit a weaker tendency to push against a radical belief system that prioritizes racial tolerance than their counterparts in more homogenous countries will.

Unless said leaders have an interest in curtailing the institution's function or scope, in which case causing the institution to perform worse, or even fail in their mission entirely may be their intent.

For example, they might subscribe to an ideology that questions the legitimacy of the institution, or they may have previously been a leader in an industry the institution is supposed to regulate.


I disagree. I'm in the UK and it's every bit as bad if not worse than the US in all cultural spheres and academia. The difference is that there has been much less pushback, if someone like Trump managed to be elected - which is highly unlikely as the gatekeeping is much worse than in the US - you'd see similar.

The atmosphere during the Brexit debate is/was absolutely fierce. The remain side has fundamentally a cosmopolitan-utopian worldview and the brexit side a nationalistic one (radically so compared to the orthodoxy in London and metro areas).

In other parts of Europe they're experiencing a severe decadence in culture and media because of the creeping monoculture of wokeism. They're having existential debates about their very national ideas, people don't want to have families anymore, nobody wants to defend their country and so they outsource this work to the US, while Russia and especially Asian powers have nothing of this whatsoever. Eastern Europe is caught in-between because they don't believe any of this but they don't have the size or clout to stand up to the soft economic power of Western Europe and the real power blocs elsewhere.

Out of the so-called West, the USA strikes me as by far the least decadent, and I'm not American. This feels to me like end-of-civilisation times as described for ancient empires. America pushing back presents some hope.


Funny. As someone from "the continent" I see this quite different.

The UK presents us with a good example what happens when you spread enough fear, nationalism and protectionism. From here it seems like "end-of-civilisation times" for a once great nation that has lost its power and importance and is failing to find a new way for itself, while it tries to clinge on the status quo that is running through his hands. I think the (probable) hard Brexit will tell us quite quickly who's right on all of this.

The rest of Western Europe seems to understand that the times are changing and our cultures are getting more diverse and that this will lead to conflicts which have to be solved.

Eastern Europe, joining the EU with a strong background from its UDSSR times, wars and whatnot else, has problems adapting to "the Western Europe way". You see this especially with Poland or Hungary which have strong nationalistic, traditionalistic tendencies with "strong leader persons" at their top. But I think they'll also fail once people from the newer generations are getting more and more in charge.

edit: And the US... Well... The jokes are writing themselves.


The denial is strong in the continent. I know this very well because that's where most of my family lives and where I spent nearly half of my life.

The EU gamble is going nowhere and this is a crisis that will affect us all, regardless of Brexit. It is what it is. Europe is decrepit and best case scenario is managed decadence into a third rate bloc. Russia and EE are screwed too, of course, but not because of self-doubt. Asia and the US will shoot ahead. But that's not really a prediction, it's been happening for a while.


> They're having existential debates about their very national ideas, people don't want to have families anymore, nobody wants to defend their country and so they outsource this work to the US, while Russia and especially Asian powers have nothing of this whatsoever.

Russia's fertility rate is pretty much on par with rest of Europe if not lower.

Same goes for Eastern Europe. Not to mention many Eastern European countries are no strangers to overtly left wing leadership.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_sovereign_states_and...


Fertility rates yes, but because of economics. No shortage of patriotism though, lots of people join their armed forces.


It feels like Western Europe very much did experience political divisions in that time period, looking at how various populist parties (that thrive on that) are faring now compared to, say, 30 years ago, and the kind of rhetoric they're generating.


This article really fleshes out what this thread is discussing: https://www.devever.net/~hl/newchurch


I think it has more cult dynamics than a church per-se. Seeing people end friendships and relationships with family members. “Unlearning” things, otherwise known as reprogramming. Seminars (that are expensive) and “required reading”. Obsessive recruitment of new people to initiate. And then of course if you question things you’ll be ostracized and exiled.


I think this is painting a rather stereotyped view of people on the left. I share most of the views of the left, however don't end relationships with people over it, preach, or attend any seminars. I think you're seeing the vocal minority here, which is of course more outspoken as they care enough to talk about it. Apart from the most extreme people, I have had many productive conversations with people whose views were more left than mine and haven't been ostracised once.


You are of course right that most people aren't like this. This thread is about those few who are, and how they can end up dividing everyone else, unwillingly, into accolytes versus enemies. It's not safe to say "I am left/center/right/whatever but I don't think this is the way to go about it" around this type. It is a separate axis from left-right, and is maybe correlated with the authoritarian-libertarian axis.


I agree. It's more of a cult-type church than a mainstream church. That said, I think it's being driven by some of the same socio-spiritual needs.


One of the guys that article cites clearly has some less savory beliefs about race (that I disagree with, people are mostly the same the world over) but man did he do a good job predicting the ideological battles lines of 2020 for someone writing in 2012.


Read "Kindly Inquisitors" if you'd like a very thoughtful defense of Enlightenment ideas as it pertains to knowledge and speech. If you're impressed with someones prediction from 2012 then you'll be more amazed with someones analysis from 1995. This book is a classic and the author, Jonathan Rausch is highly respected.

https://www.amazon.com/Kindly-Inquisitors-Attacks-Free-Thoug...


It wasn't so much a prediction as an observation of an incipient trend that went dormant and re-emerged. Post-modern attacks on Enlightenment ideals such as free thought and free speech were common on campuses in the late 1980s and early 1990s, then went dormant in the mid-90s, then re-emerged in the early 2010s.


Soviet Union collapsed and China started retooling for capitalism. Foreign propaganda dropped off.

Meanwhile in the US the 90s boom was kicking off and the US was exploding into global hegemony. Why protest and fight the man when communism was collapsing and there was more to gain from getting on board the winning team.

In other words, the trend dropped off externally and internally there were a lot of reasons to assume that history was in fact ending and to jump on board with MURICA and FREEDOM.


What is this in reference to? I went through the citations in the article and did not find anything from 2012.


Thats a frightening and original idea Id never considered. Your observation makes lot of sense the more I think about it.


The book Sapiens talks about this well. People have a limited number of relationships they can maintain in their head. The only way societies can form to be larger than that number is shared myth between people. University graduates are in large part taking on the role of clergy in this wokist cult.

The cynical side of me sees it as America being transformed into an economic zone instead of a country. This is just what a religion looks like when you're binding people together in one large brutalistic finance zone.


I'm curious, in the various responses to this comment people are really getting into this interesting concept of certain political ideologies replacing the church, and resembling a religious fanaticism in their application of these ideologies.

My understanding is that we have had secular societies before, eg. the Soviet Union, China, which explicitly try to reduce practicing religion. Did this same kind of "new semi-religion appears to fill the void" event occur in those societies? Is it the particular "holy sacrements" that the west has adopted that is unique? Or are we unique in even having something arise the "fills the religious void"?


Read up on the Reign of Terror during the French revolution.

They were very secular and extremely violent and even evil (making shows out of drowning believers etc).

As much as the Catholic Church has something to answer for with the witch processes around here etc, they are small guys compared to the secular/atheists of the French Revolution.

Same goes to some degree for USSR and to a large degree for Khmer Rouge.


Reign of Terror during the French revolution was neither secular nor atheistic. They have state religion 'Cult of the Supreme Being', which was deistic. Robespierre himself was deist and opposed to atheism.


Ok, I'll not argue about that even if I still think the topic is arguable.

Anyways in case you are right it probably makes GPs point even stronger: when established religions are chased away quasi-religions - and often extremely dangerous ones - take their place.


Here in Czechia power of established religions went away (~ less than 1/3 population is religious). They were partially replaced with folk esoterism (astrology and so), which is much better alternative, as folk esoterism does not have concentrated power of e.g. Catholic Church.


Heh yes it did. The cultural revolution and mao's little red book being spread everywhere are prime examples in China.

Eventually as the new converts temper their zeal as it hits against reality, but if it's a wave it can make a society do crazy things.


Politics by definition is activism.


[flagged]


This might come as a shock to you, but a large majority dislike political correctness no matter what group they belong to. They just go through the motions because they are attacked if they don't.

> While 83 percent of respondents who make less than $50,000 dislike political correctness, just 70 percent of those who make more than $100,000 are skeptical about it. And while 87 percent who have never attended college think that political correctness has grown to be a problem, only 66 percent of those with a postgraduate degree share that sentiment.

https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2018/10/large-majo...


Can you explain to me what constitutes "political correctness"?

From where I stand, it just means treating people equally and not being an asshole.

ETA: In considering all the worries of modern living, I have never once been concerned with using the wrong words for a group of people. Am I really the exception? It seems easy to call people by the terms they prefer. Not sure about which terms to use? Then I just ask.

I am struggling to see the burden of being "PC".


It means conforming your speech to current political trends.


Can I have an example?


Whitelisting/Blacklisting.

Change of innocuous and unrelated terminology in source code and documentation without any technical justification. No shortage of those examples throughout the industry and open source.


So you are saying people have a problem with the term "blacklisting" ? I guess I live a sheltered life then. Nothing like this has remotely ever come up and I live in a major metro.


Yes. You can find PR's on Github and if the maintainer rejects it, accusations of racism and hate crimes.

The acceptable term is something like allowlist/denylist/blocklist.


I've seen the discussion come up about changing these terms and whether it was worth doing. Not once have I seen it turn into an "accusation" of racism against a person, much less hate crimes, so I don't think that paints an accurate picture.


Many codebases are moving away from that term. Here's two large efforts that I am familiar with: https://chromium.googlesource.com/chromium/src/+/master/styl... https://developer.apple.com/news/?id=1o9zxsxl


Changing terminology:

* whitelist/blacklist * slave/master


The poll didn't define it, so not all respondents necessarily understood it the same way, but in my experience it's generally used to refer to speech codes requiring people to take great care in how they speak and write to avoid accidentally giving offense. The recent controversy about the USC professor who said 那个 in class, for example, would be a typical example.


Which makes all of the claims you and the others have made as to what that data actually means basically useless. All we know is that a lot of people think some definition of political correctness is some definition of problem. That's barely information.


I have no idea what your example means.

As far as speech codes, they seem very mild. I would not even call it an inconvenience. Are people mad that certain phrases are now considered slurs and not welcome in polite society?

Ex. it is no longer appropriate to call someone a "retard," even in jest. Is this a problem?

I'm still not understanding the meat of the objection to "PC".


Most people are against it. Around 80% for each racial group. A bit less for blacks at around 75%. It’s like the 1 thing a super majority of us agree on.

However, slice it up by income and education. Middle and especially upper-middle class people are generally for it much more than everyone “below” them but even they don’t like it.

From politics, republicans hate it a lot and democrats mainly hate. Except 1 group. Progressives love it with about 30% of them against it. They are the only group that likes it.

It is elitist and no one likes it. Except the far left. Yet we are all forced to live with it.

https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2018/10/large-majo...


> It seems like everyday you wake up something has changed … Do you say Jew? Or Jewish? Is it a black guy? African-American? … You are on your toes because you never know what to say. So political correctness in that sense is scary.

I'm still struggling with the objection here, but this is ridiculous.

It's ok to say "black". Is that hard to figure out? Ask a black person and they will say it's fine. The term "african-american" seems more nonsensical than anything -- not all black people identify with Africa.

As to the rest, I don't care about popular opinion, that doesn't inform my world view. Still waiting to hear about the burden of "PC" because I have yet to hear a compelling case.

And I have never once wondered whether or not I should call someone a "jew".


Here's the report: https://hiddentribes.us/pdf/hidden_tribes_report.pdf

Political correctness doesn't appeared to be defined. I assume if you asked people their opinions on concrete events versus a nebulous concept the results would be quite different.


You didn’t even write “black person” with a capital “B” as in “Black person”. In many places you’d be jumped on for this recent development.


Actually as far as I'm aware, the current politically correct term is "person of color" specifically so "person" is first instead of "black", and "color" instead of "black" so middle-eastern/etc aren't excluded.


No you’re totally wrong here. From Kimberle Crenshaw herself (Pioneer of critical race theory) there is a difference between a “Black person” and a “person who happens to be black”. It’s important to understand what this means and how it guides this philosophy and the activism we now see in the workplace.

This is all intentional. “People/Person of color“ is an entirely different thing. You need to understand the hierarchy here and why it’s important to concepts like intersectionality and thus social justice.

You should read the actual work and come to understand they mean what they say and the “language game” being played isn’t really a game as critical theory understands the power of language quite well and is ready, willing, and able to indoctrinate useful idiots to propagate it.

It’s all in their literature. I’ve read it.


It’s also frowned upon to prefix with “the”


Very much doubt that.


You won’t for long. Read this from the paper of record. Life comes at you fast.

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/06/26/us/black-african-american...


The article explains different perspectives. The author uses lower case when they have a choice. Who got jumped on?


When people say they're concerned about political correctness, they're generally disputing your assessment that modern speech codes are very mild. Many people feel that modern speech codes are quite intense - that it requires significant study to identify all the terms and phrases that currently aren't welcome in polite society, and that complying with the list once you've studied it severely restricts the ideas you can express.


Retarded was invented to be a “kind word”. It’s humorous looking at records from Ellis island and seeing records describing people as “idiots” “imbecile”, and “morons” as actual terms to describe different levels of intelligence. We use these words outside that context now. But they were actual classifications. Words like “retard” came into being to cover those terms which became derisive slang that is today considered harmless. But retard isn’t.

https://www.merriam-webster.com/words-at-play/moron-idiot-im...

Obviously teasing an actual mentally retarded person by calling them a “retard” or the above terms is cruel and in poor taste, and worse. I don’t believe almost anyone would though.


Would you like to provide an example that's in english?


Sure. One example would be that many companies (including my own) are now instructing engineers to avoid any public usages of the terms "whitelist" and "blacklist". Obviously this isn't the most important thing in the world, but it requires pretty significant mental effort on my part, since the terms had no racial connotations at all until a couple months ago.


It's telling that the only concrete example in english, though only from two of you, is the same one.

It seems like there aren't a lot of examples to choose from.

I have personally never heard of this concern, and as you mention it doesn't seem particularly taxing. I would like to understand better the consequence of misusing (or using) blacklist/whitelist. I very much doubt the fallout would be severe.


Other examples:

- "master"/"slave" terminology in databases and such; most recently, even the "master" branch in source trees was deemed impious, and GitHub will be renaming it by default to "main" on new repos starting tomorrow

- there was a recent case where the author of RuboCop (a linter for Ruby, a pun on RoboCop) faced a lot of pressure to rename it because, I guess, cops are now considered verboten (!?): https://metaredux.com/posts/2020/06/08/the-rubocop-name-dram...

- adding codes of conduct to all public-facing projects, most of which are taken directly from the Contributor Covenant (a safely orthodox choice); this isn't a naming thing, but is pushed for in a similar way by similar people


For the people who have not watched the movie, the hilarious thing is that RoboCop is anti-police, anti-corporate, anti-autoritarian and anti-dystopian.

But since woke people are corporate, authoritarian and dystopian, I can see why they would object to the name.


Holy shit. That was a wild ride, and in the worst way possible.


Here’s the full lost of banned words at twitter and other woke companies / opensource projects. https://twitter.com/TwitterEng/status/1278733305190342656?s=...

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/08/05/realestate/master-bedroom... ‘Master bedroom’ is racist now.


It's the most recent and thus the most salient one for a lot of people in software. There are many other examples of neutral terminology that's become politically charged: "all lives matter", "color-blind", the OK hand gesture...

I completely agree that none of these rules are individually taxing and that the consequences of breaking them are unlikely to be severe. But when taking everything in aggregate - the sum of all the rules I know about, the concern that there could be new rules I don't know about, the tiny but not unprecedented chance that I could face severe fallout - the net effect is stifling. Again, not the most important problem in the world or even the most important problem I personally face, but still a problem.


"All lives matter" is not and has never been neutral.


"All lives matter" is a natural English sentence expressing the idea that every person's life matters. This is not a particularly controversial idea.

I recognize that it's also a non-neutral political slogan, and that modern speech conventions require people to avoid saying things that sound like controversial political slogans. But that's precisely the problem! I have to keep up to date with all major partisan controversies, a task I generally find quite miserable and pointless, in order to know which new phrases I should avoid!


If that isn't, what is?


non sequitur.


You just don’t ever know how it will interpreted against you forcing an apology or more recently a written declaration that you are sexist/racist/etc and that you will “do better”.


What are you no longer allowed to say at work?


Do a search for USC communications professor to understand the previous example.

It's hard to defend insulting a person's intelligence, regardless of the word used. A better example would be referring to something inanimate like a company policy as "retarded". Even better is the purging of words like "master" from software. Or actors having to apologize for their Halloween costumes. It seems like every major comedian is complaining bitterly about political correctness lately, save perhaps for certain partisan ones.


That's because "political correctness" is a somewhat vague term with intensely negative connotations. It's like asking if people are in favor of "government overreach" - people may have very different ideas about what that specifically constitutes but saying you oppose it is an easy nonspecific way to connect.


It just filled the gap of religion disappearing, people want to belong in groups. Maybe broad categorization but this religious activism seems to be more of an American thing, Europe is definetly more diverse when it comes to different issues.


> religious activism seems to be more of an American thing

I would argue it's a Reformed Protestant thing. Reformed Protestantism is the religious scaffolding of American culture.


It's easiest just to go along with the popular opinion so you don't stick out. Given that all the most valuable companies are taking stances about social issues, I'd wager that it's profitable to do so. I think it's admirable for being honest with his apolitical stance as opposed to just going along with the flow.


> why are people discussing politics at work?

Probably because the work these companies do is frequently political.

Let's be clear: What Coinbase is saying is, we the founders, who set the company's mission, and are doing so with a clear political view (rooted in libertarianism and so forth), are allowed to use the company to further our political ends.

But the staff? Sorry, you have no voice.

Maybe that's fine. The clear message to staff is: you are either onboard with our mission, or you can leave.

But let's not pretend companies and workplaces are apolitical. That's, at best, deeply naive.

Frankly, I wonder how much of what we're seeing now is due to the destruction of unionized labour, which were organizations explicitly designed to channel the political views of employees into collective action. Absent those structures, a) you get this bizarre perception that the workplace is apolitical (it's not), and b) staff no longer have a path whereby their views and values can be channeled and expressed.


You're absolutely right, and I'm disappointed that you've been voted down to negative. At the very least this is a well worded argument worth looking at.

Politics, as much as we all hate it, is engaged with everywhere in business.

Choosing to be apolitical is effectively a form of political engagement, usually resulting in a vote for the status quo and/or the pursuit of money eschewing engagement in difficult questions in society.

This can be argued about whether it is moral or not, or even if a company has much of a choice in the matter (There are many entrenched companies that do "immoral" political things that are near impossible not to engage with as a business), and this is not unique to coinbase, but it's not somehow withdrawing from judgement on morality when you say you are "apolitical", and you still should be judged on your politics and lack of engagement in society.

Let's not be naive here, any larger company, even the most "apolitical" company still has large influence, uses services, and makes decisions that are politically charged.

That said, it's not all one direction where all political activism within a company is great, but eschewing all politics is not doing so at all.


The employees have a voice: as private citizens. The workplace is not a democratic community, and the employees are not its constituency. It a place where employer-employee come together to complete a mission that both sides consent to, otherwise they separate. Of course, mission is a negotiable term just like compensation and benefits, an employee is free to ask "in addition to pay you must also dedicate the company's resources and attention to my preferred causes", and the employer is free to decline. Coinbase is simply make it clear that changing their mission is not a price they are willing to pay, so please look elsewhere.

I think this brings clarity to the work relationship, as "the power to direct the political mission of the company" had been previously an unstated, unnegotiated axis of the terms of employment. People are now learning that this need to be crystal clear upfront.


There's a group you forgot to consider: the investors.

What do the investors think? They are free to usurp the founders if they feel that Coinbase is not paying proper homage to social justice.


Certainly true, though to me that only reinforces my point.

Investors invest in companies based on their perception of the value of a company, and that perception is of course coloured by political views.

Heck, we have an entire financial movement called Socially Responsible Investing, something which is nakedly political and a clear acknowledgement that politics cannot be, and has never been, divorced from business.

I find it infinitely more strange to think that workplaces can be apolitical at all. Choosing to work for Palantir or Coinbase or The Gates Foundation or Amazon is (in part) a political decision. It may not be a conscious or intentional political decision, but it's a political decision nonetheless.

How could anyone think otherwise?


Movement to support the investor class is just another angle of politics. People forget this, since they are such a dominant wing in western society.


> Let's be clear: What Coinbase is saying is, we the founders, who set the company's mission, and are doing so with a clear political view (rooted in libertarianism and so forth), are allowed to use the company to further our political ends.

One hundred percent this. There is a reason Coinbase is one of the few companies to take a stance like this.

The company's foundational value is literally based on the notion of state-free finance. They have no incentive to do anything to allow their company to be steered into engaging with conventional politics. In fact, they benefit from taking strong stances that maintain the status quo if the status quo furthers their own mission.

So, yeah, Coinbase is indeed very mission oriented.


This is literally the only take I've read in this entire comment thread that has a firm grasp on the entire picture. Thanks for that.


> What’s there to admire?

Which other Silicon Valley company is doing this?


Facebook


Reminds me of the band Fugazi who used to charge $5 admission to their shows, and if you were causing problems and asked to leave, you would be escorted out and handed an envelope with $5 in it. In other words, anyone not "comfortable with the mission" (i.e. there to cause a ruckus and not for the music) was "offered a separation opportunity" but still treated fairly and with dignity.


The severance appears respectable to me given the circumstances. It’s on par with many layoff packages and more generous than the ongoing “pay to quit” program from Zappos and Amazon. [1]

[1]: https://www.cnbc.com/2018/05/21/why-amazon-pays-employees-50...

The extended window for exercising options is something I haven’t encountered before. I’d be curious to hear if others have seen it offered elsewhere.


Seems pretty damn good severance to me. Four to six months of a SF salary?

I wonder if the real goal here is just reduce headcount.


I wonder if the real goal is to foist problematic employees onto competitors.


I'm not too familiar with SV culture, but wouldn't an employee exit from Coinbase for the next few months also act as a signal to future employers? Since google has already been bitten from both sides with their "bring your entire self to work" culture, you'd think they'd want to avoid ex-Coinbasers.

Maybe I'm reading too much in to this.


Honestly, I wouldn't think so. People can change / learn, too. If you've already ticked off your boss and coworkers at Coinbase with your politics, this might be an excellent time to get some severance, re-evaluate whether or not you should continue to do that in the workplace, and frame your resignation differently when applying elsewhere.

Besides, I'd expect the "true believers" to find some way to outright brag to future interviewers they parted ways with Coinbase over moral / ethical objections.


I would take the payout and go get another high paying job.

Easy money. Not much to read about politics in the decision of getting paid for nothing.


Foist... i see what you did there ;)


Where do I apply for a join @ Coinbase? This is exactly the kind environment I want to work in. No petty identity politics while I'm supposed to test or deploy some code, I want my colleagues to come to work... to work and nothing else.


s/join/job of course.


Brian should have said we don't mix politics and activism in our company, if you don't like it, leave. Which should have ended like that.

On the other hand, it's a good move because it keeps things neutral. These annoyed employees should just take it and leave.


The problem with taking such a hardline position is that there is a significant switching cost borne by the employee when they leave, and so at the margin you'll have employees that don't buy in to the mission statement, don't like your new/restated position, but need the job/dislike job-hunting even more.

So now you've created/agitated a population of disgruntled employees; this will tend to cause problems. Paying a generous severance is enough to lift most of these employees over the "activation threshold" and is (in my opinion) the correct good-faith way of managing the situation; it's saying "no hard feelings if you don't agree with this direction, and we respect/value your contributions thus far."

Regardless of whether you agree with the object-level mission statement, I think that, having made the decision, this is a good example of strong leadership; it's important that everybody is bought in to the company mission, and you need to proactively filter out folks that aren't. But at the same time, you need to do so with respect; it's not necessarily a black mark for someone to no longer be a fit for the company or role, as both company and individual can change over time.

This is the same sort of idea as when you part ways with an exec after a strategy shift (e.g. pivot from B2C to B2B; replace your consumer-facing head of sales with a B2B veteran). It's not necessarily the case that they aren't doing a job, just that they aren't a fit for the role as it now stands.


Which is presumably why the exit package is being offered, to solve this problem.


There could already be a majority agitated, disgruntled employees--those agitated and disgruntled by the political discord at the company caused by the activism.


Isn't this what he said though (just in a more polite tone)?


I suspect its only some activists that Mr Armstrong want's rid of.


I highly doubt that. Unrestrained political activism on either side has been shown to be a lose-lose situation for any large company. The only winning move is not to play (at work).


There’s more than two sides.


If someone went around the Coinbase office demanding that the company speak out against abortion, I'm pretty sure Armstrong would want to get rid of that guy too.


However if someone went around the office demanding that people self censor any speech deemed "political", that person would be celebrated.


You're assuming ill intent. The goal is to minimize workplace hostility, not to censor anyone. Let's say someone goes around snooping into people's conversations and overhears two coworkers casually talking about attending a protest and reports this. I'm guessing that person snooping around will be the only one who will be reprimanded.


I don't agree. In all the places I've worked, even the most apolitical ones, someone would be viewed quite negatively if they walked into the break room and tried to break up a private political discussion.


So then someone who was attempting to enforce the CEO's mission would be viewed negatively? This feels self-contradictory.

You can't say "We won’t: Debate causes or political candidates internally" (quoting Armstrong) but simultaneously say that anyone who attempts to enforce that would be viewed negatively. That would imply that Armstrong would view himself negatively for enforcing his own rule.


No one's disputing that.


The grandparent comment is disputing just that.


Seems to be a way to avoid possible future litigation.


This is going to work great for Coinbase. It's very helpful for employers to select for conformists who can be told to shut up, and not stand up for what they believe (unless they believe in the status quo and the company, which is called non-political).

Selecting for groupthink^W mission is pretty important in the business of cryptocurrencies. Reduces chances of anyone having a different moral stance that would push them to become a whistleblower. It might even be a way to prevent employees unionizing. Any disagreement about policies is political, free speech is political, so this is perfect to pre-emptively censor every criticism.


Is being apolitical really being a conformist? 20 years ago yes, but in the age of social media where every brand from banks to ice cream posted their stance on the BLM protests it would appear being political in the workplace is conformity.

If what Brian Armstrong is saying here was considered the norm, this article wouldn't even be on the front page.


I think the parent comment is just quite typical of modern political extremism. Where every actor must take a position on every issue, where failure to take the correct position is heresy, and where failure to take any position amounts to taking a position against the one of the extremist who is demanding that you take one (and is therefor also heresy).

The role of an employee is to deliver value to the employer during their working hours. The role of the employer is to provide an income to the employee. It’s insane to think that the role of the employer should be to further the political objectives of the employees. By that rationale, having any interaction with any party who’s politics are different from yours in any way is conformism.


> Where every actor must take a position on every issue

Not taking a position is, by default, choosing to uphold the status quo. When the status quo is unjust, it's choosing to uphold injustice.

That's fine, just own up to it. Hiding behind "I'm apolitical" when you're a loyal foot soldier for the current system isn't a good look.


This line of reasoning falls over with even the slightest level of scrutiny. It's just a way of bullying people into adopting the political views that you want them to, and it shouldn't be tolerated in a society that values democratic freedoms. An uncountable number of injustices take place across the world every day, and any individual person will be playing no part in, and have no influence over a vast majority of them.

This argument can't be taken as honest or sincere, because with absolute surety I can guarantee that horrific injustices took place today that you have absolutely no concern about at all.

When somebody presents this argument, they are not honestly advocating for justice. What they are actually saying is that "by not adopting _my_ political views, you are acting out evil". Part of any person's political world view is how they choose the issues that they consider to be important, knowing that they only have the span of their short life, and the means of their limited resources to address the problems in the world. You have no right to demand that somebody make the same decisions in this respect as you do. It is absurd, it is hostile to the notion of free democracy, and it is a standard that no living person could ever meet.

And all of that is before you account for the fact describing something as an injustice in the first place is quintessentially an opinion. This sort of thing reminds me a lot of the psychology of warfare, where soldiers are systemically taught to view the enemy as animals who lack humanity. It has a terribly toxic influence on society. Your ideas no longer need to compete on their merits, because the people who disagree with them are the enemy, and the enemy is less than human.


> It's just a way of bullying people into adopting the political views that you want them to, and it shouldn't be tolerated in a society that values democratic freedoms.

> You have no right to demand that somebody make the same decisions in this respect as you do. It is absurd, it is hostile to the notion of free democracy, and it is a standard that no living person could ever meet.

Well said. It's sad that activists are anti-liberty in this way. It undermines their campaigns.

I had a professor in college tell an entire class the first day - "nobody really cares about you except your family and maybe some friends". You could see the shock to a lot of the students who had been coddled and told how awesome they were their whole life. Once you accept that concept, you can learn to be more effective in communication and not expect things from others.

Most of these activists have no tact.

Neil deGrasse Tyson says in his MasterClass that his father taught him that it's not enough to be right. You must be effective.

The world would be a much better place if everyone followed that.


> describing something as an injustice in the first place is quintessentially an opinion

Unless you mean a critique of the notion of justice in general, that seems to be a bit reductive. Accusations of "injustice" in most societies typically don't stand on their own; they're accompanied by evidence, which is debated, and an ethical stance, which is also sometimes debated. But injustice isn't some Hitlerian discussion-ender; it's an idea and a value set, always selectively applied, just like "fairness", "equality", "utilitarianism", or whatever. It's not like invoking the devil in church.

I'm not GP. I've no clue whether they were being honest in their statements or not, or how they'd choose to back them up, but: at what point is an accusation of injustice not an "opinion", or a "toxic influence on society"? When one person believes it? Ten? Some percentage of society? Some magistrate? When you agree with it? There's no general answer to that question, so saying "they said it was unjust, that means that they're dehumanizing my position and making me into the enemy!" is somewhat silly.


That’s definitely the most minor detail of my parent comment.

The fact is that every person in the world gets to choose for themselves which issues they consider to be most important to them. They each get to choose which issues they devote their time/attention/money/skills/resources/etc to.

When you account for the total number of all injustices that take place everyday, any person will only ever be able to concern themselves with a minuscule portion of them. By not concerning yourself with a particular injustice, you are in not automatically supporting it. A failure to intervene does not make you responsible for the actions of every other person on the planet.

Somebody who says this is not saying “why are you not concerned about every injustice on the planet”, they’re saying “if your concerns don’t align with mine then you’re a bad person”. Unless they consider themselves a champion of injustice, any person who repeats this is necessarily a hypocrite.


I used to be baffled at the use of "SJW" as a pejorative, but comments like this reveal it's aptness to me. It's not the fighting for justice that's negative, it's the adoption of the warrior mentality. Which, ironically, is a perfect reflection of the problem with American policing - viewing the world as a battlefield and anyone not with you as against you. There are no non-combatants in the streets, just as there are none in the ideological trenches. The struggle for order and/or social justice is a totalizing endeavor that demands complete obedience, to the point where non-compliance/apolitical intransigence is treated more harshly than some forms of law-breaking/ideological deviance.


The "soldier" metaphor was unfortunate, but I think the underlying thesis is well taken.

We live in a deeply interconnected world. Most actions, even studied inaction/uninvolvedness, have repercussions on lots of other people--complex repercussions that have to do with privilege and affluence and race and gender and all those other hot-button issues that people get up in arms about. We call that "political".

Now, nobody's making you be an activist (someone who puts a ton of time towards advancing one of those causes). Nobody's making you care. You're free to do whatever you want. But choosing not to care doesn't make the repercussions of your choices any less political.

It weirds me out when people get prickly in response to that pointing out that basic reality, because it sounds very much like "I don't want to acknowledge that my actions have wide reaching consequences."

What you should/shouldn't do about that reality is a separate question: opinions range from "don't tell anyone what to do" to "sell all your belongings in service to $cause right now". But accepting that basically everything we do in an interdependent society is not just tangentially but fundamentally political (yes, even refraining from discussing political topics at work) isn't a super contentious or extreme claim.


At very best, the claim is pointless. In order to live up to that standard, you would have to consider the interests of all people (both living and yet to be born), every time you made any decision. Even if you narrow the scope of those interests to down to only those relating to justice, you’re still left with fundamentally impossible proposition (and even if you were omnipresent, you’re still going to need to neglect some injustices, in cases where the judicial interests of two parties are at odds).

Nobody takes that position because they’re concerned that you’re not considering the injustices some random far away people, that neither of you know about, are currently experiencing. People only take that position when they want to bully/guilt/coerce/intimidate others into caring about the same issues as they do.

If taking no action against an injustice is equivalent to supporting it, then the history of humanity has been comprised entirely of absolutely despicable people. Because for every injustice that you have taken a stand against, there is an essentially unlimited number of additional injustices that you have fully supported by virtue of never even knowing they occurred.


This is an example of conflating the two things I talked about: acknowledging that almost all actions are fundamentally political, and talking about imperatives.

The reality is that actions have political consequences. You interpreted that as a requirement to track every possible consequence of your actions. That's a deeply false dichotomy, and is commonly used by people to avoid having to confront discomfort from the more immediate political consequences of their actions: "you're saying I have to worry about everything that might possibly happen as a result of what I do?!".

Nobody's insisting on that. That's a cop-out that allows people to say they're "apolitical" when what they really mean is "apathetic to the political consequences of their actions". Which is fine, sure, but, per the original comment, it's a bad look to not acknowledge that there are consequences when what you mean is that you are not interested in them.

What the "everything is political" folks (and the social justice folks, and the BLM folks, and unions, and environmentalists, and missionaries to a lesser extent, etc.) are saying is that you should care about a given set of specific consequences of your actions.

Whether you choose to agree to learn/care about some of those specific consequences, or none of them, is up to you. Whether you choose to associate morality with action/inaction (i.e. the difference between "taking no action against an injustice is equivalent to actively supporting it" and "taking no action against an injustice is equivalent to allowing it/passively supporting it") is up to you.

Like, there are plenty of things I don't give a shit about. Maybe I should, maybe I shouldn't. But I don't for a minute pretend that the fact that I don't care about those things means my actions don't affect them in potentially extremely influential ways. Denying that is Bugblatter Beast of Traal[1] logic.

1. https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/24779-a-towel-the-hitchhike...


I agree that the world is a complex system, but I don't actually agree that all or most of my actions as a private individual have wide reaching consequences. If you're below a certain critical threshold of wealth, power, social influence or some combination thereof, it really just doesn't matter what you do, it's the law of large numbers. The butterfly effect is a rare exception in complex systems, not a regularity - COVID Patient 0, for example, took actions that had wide reaching consequences, but I wouldn't consider those actions to have been "fundamentally political". Both the impact and the opportunity cost of the vast majority of my actions or inactions, on the greater world, is close to zero. People trying to convince you that "you can make a difference" in your everyday life as a private citizen by voting, recycling, showing up at the protest, boycotting the right products, etc, are in fact lying - they can, potentially, make a difference by causing a wide enough cross-section of a population to change their behaviors, but you the individual are not acting with wide reaching consequences, you are simply shuffling between indifferent behavioral cohorts which will continue to exist in the same proportions regardless of your individual choices.


Therein lies the difference between "This is what I believe." vs "This is what I believe, and anyone who isn't actively fighting for my cause must be evil." None of us here can really know what Brian has done as a private citizen in terms of political activism. What would you think if he is privately active (maybe even for causes you agree with!) and also chooses the workplace to be politically neutral?

(Speaking of which, what have you done to fight the status quo? Why not more? Why have you not consumed all of your time/money/attention on it? What level is necessary to be considered not-complicit in the status quo?)


...point in case


Just as Poe's law predicted, it needs to be clarified: my comment was sarcastic.

Coinbase is full of shit. Cryptocurrencies are a political statement themselves. The policy is just an excuse to eject employees with any moral compass, and signal that Coinbase won't out people with abhorrent anti-social views. It's not a surprise that it comes from a business that is borderline illegal, and adjacent to scams, extortions, and money laundering. They've found a way to treat employees as obedient dumb cogs, and have them feel smart about it.


So Coinbase would not have open discussion of ideas, employees would hesitate to question managerial decisions. It would be amazing for a company to succeed with that culture.


Quite the opposite. It opens up discussions without the pressure to be on only one specific side. I don’t ever talk about politics in my workplace because my views clearly do not align with those of our management.


This all makes Coinbase more attractive to me. I probably won’t be deplatformed no matter my ideology which is a desireable trait.


If Coinbase are more attractive to people who are worried about being "deplatformed" for their ideology, then they are selecting for that group. You write "no matter my ideology" when you mean "despite my ideology".


Personally I find it attractive to get away from the ridiculous bullys who attack other people in the name of pc .. I'm not debating those issues .. especially not with hothead radicals who bully those with nuanced perspectives with personal attacks


Hell, I support BLM and lean quite left, but I think it’s absolutely childish and counterproductive to bring politics into the workplace.

I’d love to work at a place like this. It looks like a “get down to business, cut the bullshit” place. And I’d quite like to chat with coworkers and make friends regardless of our political viewpoints. It’d be interesting.


As a supporter of radically free speech, I'm selecting for the widest possible grouping. That's tolerance.


A supporter of radically free speech is attracted to a company because it bans political speech.


Since non-progressive liberals are also being punished for being insufficiently woke, that's not the negative that you seem to think it is.


No idea what you are trying to say here. You are intent on reading more than is there.


On the contrary, the conformists are the ones he's trying to oust.


a conformist is someone who conforms to a norm, there is no such thing as a conformist minority by definition. Are you thinking half of the employees are activists and he wants to kick them all out?


The majority of people in Silicon Valley are liberals. The loud, troublesome activist liberals are who he is ousting. Just look at Google.


You probably haven't spent much time in Silicon Valley if you think that.


Do you think that the majority of Silicon Valley is conservative?


Maybe. Or maybe they just want energy dissipating in political activism at work, it's fairly fashionable these days. The future will tell.


crypto attracts a lot of misfits, so yes it seems it will be good for them. I doubt they are conformists though, i mean, being a conformist to a very minority opinion (anarcho-capitalism) is not really possible, is it?


Erica Joy (Director of eng at Github) had an interesting take on this. https://twitter.com/EricaJoy/status/1311178025275289600

"coinbase engineers walked off [in June] because brian wouldn't say "Black Lives Matter," he posted it so they'd get back to work, now he's having an executive "YOU AREN'T THE BOSS OF ME!" meltdown* about it" and "this looks a whole lot like the play certain advisors tell CEO's to run when they need to extend their runway. whether or not they backfill the people who leave will tell the tale. guess it's time to watch linkedin."


Although I think we differ in terms of our sentiment, I'm really glad to see a plausible hypothesis about the proximate motivation for Brian's decision posted.

Erica's theory that this is a way of trimming payroll while eliminating personnel Brian sees as problematic seems to fit all the facts about the pressures Brian and Coinbase are feeling right now.

While I'm not sure this will turn out to be a bad thing for the world, it's a lot clearer why now & why Coinbase with this in mind.


That speaks much worse about herself than it does about Coinbase.


Seriously, I can’t believe grown adults say stuff like this. So much professionalism from the “Director of Engineering at GitHub,” saying that people who don’t share her perspective on politics in the workplace are having “meltdowns.”


I think quite the opposite. We give far, far too much cultural deference to megalomaniacal executives and petty business tyrants; it’s refreshing to see them called out on their bullshit. More refreshing would be seeing more CEOs, founders, and VCs forced to cede control to employees, but I’ll take what we can get.


I don't see how saying "let's focus on work" leads you so call someone megalomaniacal.


Yep. I didn't know who she was before this twitter thread, so the impression it gave off was a typical teenager trying to burn someone.


Why does it speak worse of her?


The part about being pressured to post the statement about BLM may be true. Nothing wrong with pointing that out.

But then she starts to over-speculate about Armstrong's emotions without any basis and tries to frame him as an unstable person. All of this simply because Armstrong posted about his company's mission.

How would she feel if talking about her company's mission resulted in execs from other companies tweeting about her "having a meltdown", simply because she has a different political perspective?


She comes off, to me at least, as:

Unprofessional, ideological, dogmatic, crazy-lady


What specifically did she say that made her come off that way to you?


Spend a few minutes scrolling through her Twitter feed:

https://twitter.com/EricaJoy/status/1307109690917224449

https://twitter.com/EricaJoy/status/1306403761603051521

https://twitter.com/EricaJoy/status/1306280514035179521

https://twitter.com/EricaJoy/status/1303264312354512896

And on, and on, and on. She tweets so much it's kind of sad. Practically none of her tweets have anything to do with actual engineering. It's all identity politics and other leftist nonsense.


I didn't find any of those tweets unprofessional. I found them to be a genuinely interesting perspective on social issues that I am interested in. I am not sure how that's unprofessional of her.

If you think its "leftist nonsense", then that's just your opinion.

She is entitled to tweet whatever she wants to from her personal twitter account. Do you think its reasonable for her to follow your idea of how a Director of Engineering should tweet?


Why would tweets (from her personal account) need to be about engineering?


Like it or not BLM -the organization- does have some pretty leftist ideas that not everyone is fond of (Marxism for example espoused by some of the leaders of the movement). Some of them involve completely dismantling police forces as they're traditionally formed. However BLM the concept of equality for blacks and equal treatment under the law that is something 90% of the population can get behind. I think there is a lot of nuance to this stuff and companies need to be specific and careful about such things.


Every political term has at least 3 layers of meaning.

1. The literal meaning of the term or its original definition.

2. The core ideas proposed by the group or by whoever defined the term.

3. The real actions of people who feel identified by a group or people who use the term.

Many times we have misunderstandings because we are thinking about different layers. Also, these differences in meaning are often astutely used to manipulate and tergiverse things.

Examples of terms with different effective meanings depending on the layer: blm, antifa, alt-right, feminism, neoliberalism, capitalism, communism.


There's a fourth layer of meaning you may be overlooking - the willful misinterpretation of the term used by its opponents.

One obvious example being the use of "all lives matter" and "blue lives matter" to reinforce the false interpretation of "black lives matter" as meaning "only black lives matter," when the phrase more correctly means "black lives matter as well."

Or the way that "fake news" has been re-appropriated to refer to bias within mainstream media, rather than literally fabricated stories and memes posing as news on social media and the web.

Or ask a feminist and a redpiller to agree on what "toxic masculinity" actually means.


I see the issue of compelled speech troublesome. Maybe it's one of my character flaws, but I don't like being bullied into saying some group's mantras. Even if we agree.


Most people like BLM and Marxism, they mostly disagree only if you refer to them by their names.


Thanks for posting this. I think she makes excellent points. I've worked at companies where similar executive retaliation to principled employees has happened before, and I can relate to the changes that seem to have been instituted (pre-vetting town hall questions to execs, shutting down slack channels that allow for asking questions to execs directly).

Funnily enough, I interviewed at Coinbase not that long ago, and almost joined the company. I am glad that I did not, this would have made me quit. One of the things that one of the interviewers mentioned was the openness and transparency of the execs. I wonder if these draconian measures will make these employees think twice about working at such an institution.


“Draconian” is a bit of a strong word, don’t you think? Coinbase isn’t prohibiting employees from doing activism in their free time.


I think that term described pretty well what he's instituted.

> Definition of draconian

> 1 law : of, relating to, or characteristic of Draco or the severe code of laws held to have been framed by him > 2 : cruel also : severe

from https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/draconian


It's corporate erasure (a form of violence) when people aren't able to be their authentic selves at work—something that includes, obviously, being able to speak up about basic human rights and dignities in the workplace.

Maybe we should roll back anti-discrimination laws in the workplace too? I'm sure CEOs find that to be a hassle…

Perhaps every company can offer severance packages to workers who don't want their rights taken away? Don't like the 40 hours work week? Here's a severance package. The rest of you are now required to work 60 hours. Etc. etc. etc.

This kind of behavior is a textbook example of how rights in practice are eroded.

To downvoters: in the past, the LGBT community was asked to "hide" their identity at work, literally, by pretending to be cis at work. This isn't any different.

Imagine offering a severance package to all LGBT individuals today. If that would horrify you, think again about what Coinbase is doing (and why).


From Brian Armstrong's letter:

"We create job opportunities for top people, including those from underrepresented backgrounds who don’t have equal access to opportunities, with things like diverse slates (Rooney rule) on senior hires, and casting a wide net to find top talent."

"Fair talent practices: We work to reduce unconscious bias in interviews, using things like structured interviews, and ensure fair practices in how we pay and promote. We have a pay for performance culture, which means that your rewards and promotions are linked to your overall contribution to the mission and company goals.

Enable belonging for everyone: We work to create an environment where everyone is welcome and can do their best work, regardless of background, sexual orientation, race, gender, age, etc."

"Of course, there are exceptions here around internal employment matters, whistleblowing, etc. And we want all employees to feel safe disagreeing on the work itself. Candor and debate are core to a healthy team, where it is safe to disagree. We consider these to be related to our mission."


His words say X, his actions say Y.

c.f. North Korea, a communist totalitarian state that calls itself the "Democratic People's Republic". Their words say X, their actions say Y.

This isn't hard: you shall know them by their fruits.


Two weeks the same CEO campaigned against Apple's App Store policies on Twitter, and totally made it out to be a moral issue when it benefitted him.

https://mobile.twitter.com/brian_armstrong/status/1304490208...

"There are many unbanked and underbanked people in the world who have no ability to get a loan to buy a home, or start a business, so this kind of technology has enormous potential to improve the world over time, even if it is still early days."

"I greatly admire Apple as a company, and think they build amazing products, but their restrictions on the app store, in particular around cryptocurrency, are not defensible in my view, and they are holding back progress in the world."

The way that Coinbase puts pressure on Apple is the same as what Coinbase's politically-active employees are doing.


He was kind of very up front about being solely focused on economic freedom.

  Coinbase’s mission is to create an open financial system for the world. This means we want to use cryptocurrency to bring economic freedom to people all over the world.
This is squarely in line in trying to push Apple to be more amenable on this issue.


I don't think the OP is arguing the merits of the argument. The OP is pointing out the hypocrisy in the founder using political tactics to pressure another entity into complying with his principles, while prohibiting his employees from doing the same. Disguising the latter under a "no politics at work" principle seems hypocritical when the founder himself is engaging in politics at work.


It isnt hypocrisy. Employees are not prohibited from working and campaigning on the company mission.


Well, it's also core to Coinbase's mission statement. Brian rightfully wants to keep Coinbase focused only on political issues that are part of the company mission.


The degree to which you are taken seriously when you announce that a thing should happen because you care that “it will make the world better” is tightly related to your credibility as a person who cares about making the world better. When you announce that the only causes you support are those that directly enrich you, you’ll find that people are more skeptical of that claim. Agree or disagree, but it’s why PR has existed for decades (centuries.)


Look at the race of the people who are unbanked, and tell me then that it isn't relevant


> Two weeks the same CEO campaigned against Apple's App Store policies on Twitter, and totally made it out to be a moral issue when it benefitted him.

Yes, because he is the CEO of HIS company, with an app on IOS. Not just an employee and he never asked his staff to agree with his position and tweet about it. At coinbase right now, some people want HIM to talk about "Black Live Matters". It's like employees in IT in US don't understand the concept of subordination and think that a company is a college campus... or maybe the problem is that too many companies thought they should be like college campuses, and not a business.


The thread on the original blog post is here: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=24610267

It got relatively little discussion because it set off the flamewar detector (http://hnrankings.info/24610267/). Normally we'd turn that off in such a case, but we missed that one.

Also: don't miss that there are multiple pages of comments in this thread. That's what the More link at the bottom points to. Or click:

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=24636899&p=2


the flamewar detector seems interesting: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=23280488

how often does it get triggered?


> how often does it get triggered?

That's my least favorite part of HN: There's zero transparency in the moderation and a lot of it is extremely subjective.


Here's how it works: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=22159031

You can disagree with how it's implemented, but it's not subjective.

dang does a way better job of addressing moderation issues as they're happening than anything you'll see on Reddit (besides perhaps tiny, niche subreddits.) And at least he's not surreptitiously changing people's comments. (https://www.theverge.com/2016/11/23/13739026/reddit-ceo-stev...)


I'm not just talking about the "flame-war detection", although that system alone is extremely crude an ineffective (in my opinion).

There are lots of other moderation features -- e.g. shadow bans and automatic vote penalties -- that are completely opaque but turn HN into a strong echo chamber.

I also disagree with your point about Reddit. At least on Reddit you can easily track what was removed (there are entire subreddits dedicated to tracking what's been removed by moderators) and many subreddits provide explanations of why content was removed.


> There are lots of other moderation features -- e.g. shadow bans and automatic vote penalties -- that are completely opaque but turn HN into a strong echo chamber.

Every time I click "vouch" I wonder if a counter is being incremented on my account, or if a record of things I've vouched is being kept for moderator perusal. A chilling effect which certainly exists outside of HN, of course.


>Every time I click "vouch" I wonder if a counter is being incremented on my account, or if a record of things I've vouched is being kept for moderator perusal.

There is. I've lost vouching privileges after the mods disagreed with my decisions. They don't tell you, either, you'll just notice one day that it no longer seems to work.


> dang does a way better job than Reddit

How is that a relevant comparison? Reddit is orders of magnitude larger (looks to be around 100 times more active users) and allows users to create public and private subreddits that can easily become echo chambers.

HN moderation is not even in the same ballpark as what Reddit deals with.

To be clear I'm not defending Reddit or even saying they do a good job; I'm just saying the comparison is not fair or useful.


Not surreptitiously (at least to my knowledge, but of course that would be an oxymoron anyways), but the moderators do have the ability to edit comments and do so on occasion.


A few times a day. We get notified each time, but we're not always online.


> Also: don't miss that there are multiple pages of comments in this thread.

Is comment pagination still necessary?


The pagination also breaks comment deep links that aren't on the first page - ie deep links to a comment after a 'more'


Sorry for the meta hijacking, but now that we're here, HN developers: Please penalize comments that jump the queue by responding to the top comment. There are frequently topics with hundreds of comments, where almost all are replies to the first comment, or the first comment of that comment, ad inifinitum.

Reddit does it right by auto-folding comment trees once they reach a certain depth vs. upvotes.


We regularly detach replies to the top comment that aren't really replies to the top comment. But of course we can't do that in every thread.

> Reddit does it right by auto-folding comment trees

That doesn't address the "faux replies to top comment" problem unless you auto-fold at depth 1 (i.e. collapse away all replies to every top-level comment) – which feels like too much auto-folding to me.


The way it seems to work is that direct replies to highly rated comments need to 'do more work' to stay unfolded (i.e. it needs to gain a higher amount of upvotes-per-view). This burden is similarly increased the deeper nested comments get, and possibly the more replies already exist to the parent.

It is a deterrence to posting a direct reply to the top comment, since there is a higher chance that the reply gets folded, unless it is high quality.

I like this idea that comments have to earn their keep, in a weighted ratio to how visible a space they are trying to claim.


Oh that's much nicer than I realized. Thanks!


I regularly read the first 30-40 replies to the top comment then collapse the thread as they tend to splinter off into unrelated discussions.


I believe there is an explicit goal to remove pagination once the site can handle it. There was a couple days earlier this year where pagination was turned off.


For true positives, do you down-weight them?


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