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Show HN: Ten seconds to ponder if a thread is worth it (jse.li)
148 points by eat_veggies 46 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 47 comments

I think the author wants to prevent his/her compulsive clicking of links. I can relate to that, as I tend to open a lot of content without second-guessing.

I accidentaly discover a different method to the same effect. To circumvent censorship in my country, I began regularly using a tor proxy. (Not the tor browser, just my regular browser setup). Of course everything became slow, reminding me of the good old 56k days. At first I was annoyed, it's not only slow, it's also full of CAPTCHAs. Most websites using cloudflare ask me to "prove I'm human". Annoying as it might seem, it's my ultimate "anti-compulsive-click" tool.

If I don't bother filling a captcha and/or waiting a few (~10-20) seconds to read something online, is it worth it ?

Most likelly not.

My version of this has been saving news to a reader. I read very few articles in the moment, it's all pushed onto the reader stack.

The stack gets a little out of control, but it also makes it easier to make reading news a discrete time chunk of acceptable duration. It also makes clickbait a waste of effort.

Maybe it's like the news version of sleeping on a purchasing decision. See if you still care about it tomorrow.

I do pretty much the same. If it takes longer than like 10-20 seconds to get through, it goes straight into Pocket.

I then pick up my Kobo reader (built in Pocket support) which is usually on my living room desk when I feel like reading a thing or two. Usually during morning coffees or over the weekend.

Two problems I have: I can't highlight stuff on Kobo, so I have to awkwardly highlight them on my phone when I find something interesting, and I have used this method for many, many years to the point where it'd take me months of non-stop reading to go through all of them. And I remove like 70% of the saved articles within the first week.

We’re all getting used to insta-load but around half of us will leave a site if it takes more than ~3 seconds to load about half of the people give up and the majority won’t come back [1]. It’s that dramatic, and I’ve seen myself doing it - or well, I just fallback to Google cache/web archive.

[1] https://www.hostingmanual.net/3-seconds-how-website-speed-im...

Another accidental method I found was leaving Javascript off by default. It's a bit more granular since websites experience different levels of breakage (if any) without JS. But it makes me similarly thoughtful. I can't count the amount of times I've clicked back on personal blogs (via HN) that don't load because of JS. And IEEE. It seems to be a good filter so far.

People need to fill out captchas to read web pages now? What happened to the internet?

Cloudflare happened. Deanonymizing users since 2009 with their captchas.

TOR in practice became pretty much unusable in censored countries because of it.

I've done this as well, and it's often made me happier and saved me time.

It made me realize most links that I open I don't care to read, and often just the headline or a few sentences about a topic is the best signal/noise ratio and use of my time. This is especially the case for most news/politics/event articles (although in that case I'd not even bother with most headlines either).

> To circumvent censorship in my country, I began regularly using a tor proxy.

Depending on your ISP's firewall implementation, you may not need to use a Tor proxy or a VPN. https://getintra.org (and its forks) should be more than enough [0].

[0] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=24612486

People talk about the attention economy and how Facebook is optimized for mindless scrolling but HN is by far the worst drug for me. I get serious FOMO from potentially missing out on a good thread so not sure this would actually help but I like the idea nonetheless.

I have HN Alerts set-up for a few keywords of interest, I get like 50 daily emails and usually go through all of them just because sometimes there is that one relevant post that I'm interested in.

Not to mention that the threads shift up and down due to votes in-between clicking on Page 2 and further, so really the only way not to lose sight of the threads you want to read is to open them all as tabs at once, and then be left with 20-30 items that are of marginal interest.

HN to me feels like being nerd sniped[0] in perpetuity. I've only myself to blame for this, ofc, but that doesn't change how strong the draw is.

LeechBlock NG has helped me somewhat. I still waste time on HN, though not as greatly as before. That override button makes me think: am I willing to burn another 10 minute block of productive time this day on doom-scrolling Reddit and HN?

[0] https://xkcd.com/356/

If you email HN support, they can enable a (slightly buggy) feature on your account which highlights new posts, which helps with this a lot.

But this only works on comments?

I combat this problem with a combination of LeechBlock NG (https://addons.mozilla.org/de/firefox/addon/leechblock-ng/) and hckrnews.com. The former prevents me from visiting Hacker News before 8 o'clock. The latter records every link that made it to the front page so that the possibility of FOMO is properly addressed.

Knowing that hckrnews.com exists helps me, too. I use HN's built-in "no procrastination" feature to prevent checking too often throughout the day,

Can you explain your motivation behind this?

If you're looking to evaluate if a thread is worth your time would it not be better to skim the article and comments? What benifit is there in making a decision with restricted information?

I think it's to stop the HN equivalent of "doomscrolling" or mindlessly wasting time. If you have to wait then there's time to think, ok should I even be doing this right now?

I do the inverse of this: scan the front page, middle click to open the most promising articles into new tabs, group them and save them for later, and then skim/read the ones that interest me.

HN is probably one of the most varied, important bits of my media diet. Then I'll circle back for any discussions I think might be interesting.

I do the same thing. Middle click -> open up a ton of tabs -> read later or forget about them and have them persist in the long forgotten vestiges of my bookmarks. Most of them never get read.

Do you also do that thing where you think of an HN headline some weeks later and go "Oh! I think I saw something about that?" then dig through your history, find it, and then read it?

“Do you also do that thing where you think of an HN headline some weeks later and go ‘Oh! I think I saw something about that?’ then dig through your history, find it, and then read it?”

i do this all the time, with websites of all sorts. i really wish the browser would allow me to search the text of all the sites i’ve ever visited (realizing that’s a big ask), as regular internet search (ddg) often doesn’t return the page i dimly (and perhaps incorrectly) remember.

This is gonna sound dumb, but I also wish there were a way to search by the prominent color of the site.

I don't know how else to explain it, but if I can't exactly remember the title, sometimes I remember roughly what it "looked" like. Completely subjective, impossible to implement in a way that would be useful, but that in addition to searching text as you suggested would go a long way toward finding something!

Certainly showing 3 - 5 “summarization” bullets on mouseover would be more useful.

Rather more difficult to do in a CSS style sheet though, so perhaps this is the right ROI.

Click a link consciously

If I keep finding myself in black holes - the real problem is I am not busy enough, and being busier will not only solve this but several other things one can't predict.

okay I see your point after falling into a black hole again.

I opened this expecting some heuristics to use to help decide if it was worth doing some work on a different thread.

In a similar vein, does anybody know of a browser extension that lets me throttle bandwidth for a defined list of domains? Or some piece of software I could run on a Mac that would accomplish the same thing?

For the longest time I've wanted to make Twitter load at a snail's pace. Make it so everything takes just long enough that I don't mindlessly scroll for long periods of time. In my mind, it's a nice middle ground between blocking entirely and allowing full access.

I can mimic it via "Throttling" in DevTools > Network with a custom profile (or one of the 3G profiles), but I'm looking for something that doesn't need DevTools open all the time to work.

This can backfire and you’ll just end up spending a lot more time waiting for the same amount of dopamine hits. Better to just quickly consume a lot of content until satiated and move on. If anything you should quickly speed up the rate you consume tweets so you get exhausted.

I think I'll try this out, I definitely have a bad habit of opening up multiple tabs of comments at a time. It's pretty much just muscle memory now. And that's a tasteful loading bar. Thanks for sharing!

I have often thought something like this would work much better than those extensions which block websites outright. Sure, you can watch that youtube video, but you have to wait 10 seconds first.

I'd love this to be part of the site (perhaps as something similar to the noprocrast setting).

While I'm asking for things, I'd also love upvotes to be restricted - e.g. the button to upvote doesn't appear until after you've clicked on the upvote button and a minute goes by (or so). I feel like this would do a lot to cut down on clickbaity/incendiary articles without much substance, and emphasize longer-form content.

I expected a sentiment analysis that marks drama threads.

Weird , I posted a show HN yesterday that actually find constructive "drama" in threads. But the HN title was poorly worded. I changed the copy on the website since, thanks to some early feedback. You can find it here https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=26298358.

wouldn't that simply be comment_count > N ?

Drama (controversy) may be more like replies per parent.

Flame wars, depth per parent.

Engagement, top level comments per upvote.

If I were designing a heuristic for this, it would be based on a threshold of flagged comments and the existence of more than one post from dang.

Well sure, easy mode if you add in the dang AI.

The noprocrast setting on your HN profile can be useful. Having e.g. 10 or 20 minutes a day max on HN tends to concentrate the mind wonderfully.

People need ten seconds to ponder if an upboat is worth it.

I think what's even a better attention mechanism is my late internet strategy.

I didn't bother to register an internet connection at my workshop, and I only have a mobile "flatrate" with 2G slow there.

It's amazing how precious your value of time instantly gets, and you have to get innovative for all sorts of tools.

GitHub Issues? Nope, need to build a caching browser extension [1]

Google? Nope, need to build a browser extension that blocks the damn consent banners...because the JS for consent banners takes 3 minutes to load while happily displaying the unclickable results in the background.

Duckduckgo? Nope, doesn't work via TOR and blocks you as of late.

The general web? Nope. Browsers are too stupid to cache anything. So I guess I need to build my own web browser as well [2]

There's just so much noise in web sites these days, it's absurd. JS, ads, web fonts, tracking gifs, banners, gdpr consent banners, cookie banners, analytics...

All noise, not signal. It's time to browse the web differently. Instead of blocking noise we should start selecting signal.

[1] https://github.com/cookiengineer/github-scrumboard

[2] https://github.com/tholian-network/stealth

And here I am thinking this was about when going multi-threading...

and before clicking I thought this was gonna be about software threads not discussion threads lol.

That's definitely something that goes beyond any kind of imagined sentiment analysis discussed in the comments here.

Related, I really wish threads had a tooltip with a tldr of its contents. Sometimes it's impossible to tell what the article talks about without clicking on it.

Which can be subtly exploited by using clickbaity titles, or 'fixed' by using editorialized titles (which also are a problem on their own).

You're already getting the "fix" if you're regular here: titles very very frequently are edited and often have a very different meaning as a result.

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