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How did Replit respond to this blog post? (intuitiveexplanations.com)
300 points by mindB 3 months ago | hide | past | favorite | 115 comments



I understand the feeling of being taken advantage of, but this seemed clearly like an over-reaction. A 100% apology was in order from my (sideline) opinion. He's just an ex intern having some fun, probably trying to impress his former boss even.

I was reading through the replit blog to see what kind of things are trade secret vs public, and noticed that they didn't go out of their way to highlight that Bret Victor's "Learnable Programming" is clearly the complete inspiration for replit's debugger (time travel, no hidden state, etc). They have a small link to Bret's work but don't mention him by name. Considering Bret's article is basically THE piece to read w.r.t. programming environments, and the gif that replit shows looks pretty identical, it seems right to have his name/article clearly at the top.

https://blog.replit.com/debuggest

http://worrydream.com/LearnableProgramming/


The parting jab in the closing email is classic:

"you said 'I will not be copying more stuff' " (OP didn't say that and given their current stance of not copying anything, I doubt they would admit that)

"Arrive at new ways of doing things -- make new mistakes"

Egotistical people always try to get the last word in. Even when apologizing.


That was so icky and I'm glad Radon didn't let the remark go unanswered. It's hard to take Amjad's apology seriously given the continued verbal gymnastics seeking to paint himself as the victim.


Yep. One last twist of words knowing it would be screenshotted. He had his fingers crossed that would be the last of it -- and it was not.

Like a used car salesman sliding in some hidden fees after the deal is done. All of this is poorly saving face anyhow.


It certainly seems like he's trying to weaponize that "apology" call against the intern. This continues to be so gross.


The craziest part, to me, is how the CEO could have expressed his view in a way that would have been much more compelling.

"Hey, really cool project. Though honestly, not sure how I feel about a former intern of mine publishing a project that is so similar to what they worked on as an intern. But on that note, we'd be happy to have you back on the team if you want to continue the project with us :) What do you say?"

or something along those lines. I still wouldn't agree with him, but at least I'd sympathize.

instead he went full-on attack mode, lawyers and all. sheesh. talk about tone deaf.


I am curious, and I'm curious for many others commenting in these threads; did you read the entire email thread was that posted on imgur (and referenced as "technical details" from the post), or just the content of the original blog post?

I only ask because there is a 3-page (in my opinion, aggressively worded) email response in between "I feel this is unethical" and "legal action". I could see how the content and tone of that particular email could be interpreted in a way that could escalate the situation.

Again, I do not agree with the response here, but it's not as if there wasn't a long email with a fair amount of context in the middle.


If you're referring to the email which Radon responds to the technical details; I don't think it's fair to label it aggressively worded without mentioning that Amjad had essentially accused them of copying internal design decisions.

Taken directly from the email; "but this feels weird/unethical since you worked for us and now are copying internal design decisions (even bad ones)".

Could Radon's email be worded better to defuse the situation? Probably; but they are a fresh graduate just out of university and I think it's reasonable to hold Amjad to a higher standard.


Three pages of text is a lot to read in images you can't reprocess for accessibility on a site made for viewing images.


Ya, it's definitely a lot to read.

But if you are going to make statements like "I can't believe he responded in that way!!", it's important to read the thing that is actually being responded to.


I read the three page disaster and it was a disaster. However, it was from a recent graduate.

The response was written by a CEO. C level positions carry a certain duty and require tremendous skill. In this case, Amjad responded to a poorly written email in such a way that every investor and employee has to fear or they’re not paying attention.

Humans have thousands of years of experience processing trust. It takes a life to build a good reputation and one email chain to destroy it. C level leaders genuinely have to be a lot better than this, especially when faced with difficult emails.


It looked like his first reaction was exactly that, he even pitched him on a job. It was the second and third reaction where he started bringing up issues with copying


I learned very on in my founder career that invoking potential legal action is a big red button you must be extraordinarily cautious about using. Chances are if you need it, other core team members will be telling you as much. And using it at the wrong time looks like setting off a bomb in a restaurant because your water glass is empty for ten minutes.

So much egotism from the CEO in this exchange. I'm glad this was published and posted to HN because it's a valuable lesson to learn by example from.


not defending his action here at all but the psychology of being a startup founder is interesting here. he couldve "seen this movie before" and jumped to conclusions. he couldve just had a rough day. sometimes you spend entire adult life feeling like the whole world is against you and you lash out without thinking it through.

everyone is armchair quarterbacking here on what was the rational thing to do. but we are mostly not rational creatures esp when our "babies" are involved.


The CEO Amjad Masad was on Twitter doubling down on his accusations that Radon is a thief, even after his post on HN.

Even now Amjad refuses to provide any detail or receipts to Radon for his public accusations of tortious behavior.

> everyone is armchair quarterbacking here on what was the rational thing to do.

Do you seriously prefer your web psychoanalysis?


BTW, a habit of spurious legal harassment is called "barratry". It is harder to demonstrate it to the satisfaction of courts than it perhaps should be, possibly because the habit is profitable for lawyers.


If anyone reads this, finds it interesting and wants to learn more, read about ‘vexatious litigation’. The process through which lawyers can be disbarred or litigants can be named vexatious is genuinely quite interesting.


> but we are mostly not rational creatures esp when our "babies" are involved.

The difference here is that CEOs are expected to handle things professionally, especially CEOs of a VC-backed startup.

As noted in the previous thread, the "rough day" excuse doesn't fly when you double down and offer legal threats.


Every time there's a thread on this I want to bring up the fact that Amjad still has not listed what this open source project stole. You cannot go around accusing someone trying to start their career (this intern) of IP theft and not present evidence. Release a statement clearly stating NOTHING was stolen or release evidence.

We have the public commit history of the project. Feel free to go through each commit and point out what was stolen from you.


This is a seriously defamatory comment by Masad if there is no proof. Accusations of IP theft are not something to be taken lightly, especially against someone who is just beginning their career in software development. Such accusations can have real damaging effects on their career.


I think it's fairly obvious that the content of the accusation is something like "you took our idea of making a web front end to a bunch of virtual machines in which one can interact with programming languages".

Problem is, using a web-based terminal to access a host is not original. They have no patent on it.

In general, such an accusation could be legally actionable. E.g. say you were employed by some restaurant and stole their secret recipe, and then used it to offer the same menu item in your own restaurant. Type of thing.

There is no secret sauce here, though.


> You cannot go around accusing someone trying to start their career (this intern) of IP theft

I'm not saying that I agree with threatening legal action here, but this isn't really a fair classification. You are implying the the CEO put an ex-intern on blast in the community. There is a huge difference between making a statement in a private email (which the other party then releases), and making a public accusation (which is what you're implying).


> making a public accusation (which is what you're implying).

These are the words Masad used on Twitter to describe the situation in the OP:

> As a matter of principle, when someone goes into your home and steals from you, even if it's not material, you have to respond.

That's a direct public accusation of IP theft.


I understand what you're saying, and I agree to an extend. But this is a thread about the apology after these accusations were made public. Instead of the apology Ajmad gave, clearly stating that nothing was stolen would be much more beneficial.


If Amjad had left it at the email, all would be fine. He went way too far on Twitter and behaved like a brute.


His HN response is pretty baffling to read. Saying he's "no longer the struggling kid from Jordan" who now needs to "be kind and model better behavior" is oddly focused on him, but it also kind of points to... people from Jordan are incapable of being kind?

The whole approach he took here is just very poorly thought out.


Haven't been following this except for reading the post yesterday, but these words strike me as kinda vulnerable for him to admit (in the good way), and I want to applaud it. It seems like he's admitting that his environment shaped him, and his hustle mindset and "me against the unfair world" might not always be appropriate. * shrug *

Though yes, he seems to have some personality flaws. I hope he's working on them, but also don't think he should get a pass just for admitting them.


Please. We all have struggles in life, all of us. Nothing can justify bad behavior, and straight up bullying. I do believe anyone can change though, so here's hoping that he does so for the better.


The opportunity to demonstrate that he could change was in the follow up call. I had considered ceasing my company's use of Replit after the original HN post; the supposed olive branch message that was really to elicit underdog sympathy, the phone call and his behaviour on Twitter was the nail in the coffin.


Looks like victimism to me.


To me your interpretation seems to miss the point RE: struggling kid from Jordan.

I think the point the founder was probably getting at was to recognize that he is no longer in a underdog / position of no power / have no resources (aka struggling kid from Jordan) but is now in a position of power and needs to reset his mindset and no longer have the 'do anything to win' mentality that it often takes to get out of poverty / fight as David against Goliath, etc.

Not sure why you would think he is implying anything about people from Jordan not being kind rather than just state you don't get what he's trying to get at.


It's an attempt to paint an image of himself as the victim that you should feel sorry for. I feel manipulated when reading it.


I interpreted this comment from the CEO as part of the common, and I think not very productive, practice of describing whatever negative or potentially negative trait as part of the intro to a statement. To describe what particular hardships are specific to me, even if not relevant (eg, “As a left handed, childhood beating survivor, true fan of the Last Jedi, I think tabs are better than spaces…”)

I just kind of ignore it and assume it’s a natural rhetorical technique, sometimes unconscious, to just say something that’s perceived positively. I suppose technically it’s “appeal to irrelevant authority.”


That's honestly the worse possible interpretation. He's obviously focusing on what he feels he did wrong and what he thinks is the reason.

The main point is that he apologized and undid his mistake, what else do you want?

Also he's obviously not saying that people from Jordan can't be kind, he's saying that his upbringing may have had something to do with it which is completely possible.

I really don't know what else do you expect, I find your comment unnecessarily negative for an apology that came with a redeeming action.


I disagree. Past traumas shape us and how we see and respond to the world around us.


While certainly true that past traumas shape us, not all are relevant to every statement. Also, growing up in Jordan isn’t necessarily a trauma.

This is something that’s true, but not really relevant.

Note that we did not reference all of our past traumas these two comments. Not because our traumas didn’t shape us, but because it’s not practical to describe our traumas in every thing we say, all the time.


Jordan is a poor country. He's just illustrating how he's used to being the underdog.


IANAL, but if Radon is reading this: in such situations, don't discuss things over the phone like the other guy proposed (you can see it was a mistake, with him "quoting" stuff you may not have said or that were taken out of context), only in writing.


The problem here is the unreasonable reaction off the bat. Look, I’ve faced issues like this before - I’ve even done dumber things in response, in my past.

But, and this is important, just stop. For five minutes. When something upsets you, and you JUST WANT TO SEND THIS EMAIL - don’t. Wait five minutes. Take a walk. Tell someone else about the issue.

Then, and only then, after you’ve not thought about the email for a bit, erase it and write it from scratch.

It helps. It’s therapeutic. You don’t end up with your emails screenshotted and posted to the top of HN for two days in a row.

Assume the best intentions. I find far fewer people are looking to take advantage of you than are simply looking to be liked.


Tell someone else about the issue.

This would solve a lot of problems, I think.


"I give you permission to publish Riju".

Emm. Really? Since when does he hold such a power?


Off-topic, but does anybody remember the name of the emancipated slave that said something along the lines of "You can't give me freedom, you can only give it back"? I really love that quote but I can't find the original source.


I’m not familiar with the quote but it sounds like Frederick Douglass. My favourite Douglass quote is, “What to a slave is the Fourth of July?”

If you find the quote, let me know! I’m always looking to expand my mountain of unread books...:)


Wow my memory completely butchered it. Here's the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fZfcc21c6Uo

The top YouTube comment(s) say the quote I was thinking of: “You can’t give me my rights, I was born with them. You can take them away, but you can’t give them to me.”


Thanks friend!! First, thanks for the link. And second, thanks for mentioning you butchered the quote - I do that almost constantly and I love knowing I’m not the only one. This is a very kind response - thanks for the link and your openness!!


Yeah I think this should have been "I withdraw my request for you to take it down, and the corresponding threat of legal action if you didn't do so."


That phrasing doesn’t give permission or remove the possibility of future legal action. Giving permission expressly removes that.


I agree. It should be worded as "I won't attempt to sue you if you publish Riju", which is a completely different message.


Granted, that particular phrasing could imply that Repl.it would never sue the OP ever (for issues unrelated to this IP keruffle), which could lead to an issue down the road.

Everyone hates it, but this is why you involve lawyers from the start if possible. It's better for everyone in the long run.


Amjad clearly still believe that Riju is somehow "stolen property" and is just allowing it to be published due to negative public outcry.


Since he thought he could sue a guy for literally making a tool to help people run shit in containers?


I'm in the minority (I think?) of people who felt that while there was an overreaction from Replit, there was some merit in their original complaint.

I think that the situation has escalated though partly due to the approach of the former intern here, who - while rightly calling out the non-apology aspects of the apology is aggressive themselves now that the power is with them courtesy of the public exposure and general backing of HN.

The blogpost here drilling down into every perceived slight and human failing lacks grace and magnanimity and doesn't seem much better at handling the favourable side of the power balance than Replit did in the original correspondence.

Maybe time to move on.


> still refused to list any specific part of Replit he thought I had copied, even when I asked him for such details multiple times during the phone call, despite his continuing to claim both privately and publicly that I copied Replit unethically

The CEO Amjad Masad was still doubling down on claims that Radon is a thief on Twitter even after he apologized. And he still refuses to provide details or receipts to his public accusations, despite Radon's willingness to provide receipts.

But you are asking for Radon to be gracious?


> The blogpost here drilling down into every perceived slight and human failing lacks grace and magnanimity and doesn't seem much better at

You forget that the author is personally offended too. He just has no way to extract a proper apology because he's an unemployed fresh graduate up against a well-connected CEO. It's not even about legality anymore, since there's technically no wrongdoing here. It's just a sincere apology from one human being to another, but Amjad's never going to give it because it's pretty clear from this exchange what kind of person he is.


I really respect that the author wrote this post. He may be just an intern but he was trampled on and exposed the true nature of the “leadership” at Replit. I will never use the service again and thank the author for speaking out and this follow up. I’d hire him in a heartbeat.


> The blogpost here drilling down into every perceived slight and human failing lacks grace and magnanimity and doesn't seem much better at handling the favourable side of the power balance than Replit did in the original correspondence.

I think it's fair to forgive some lack of grace. Sure, the post could be more generous, but the whole handling could have been, and the poster wasn't the one making the legal threats.


The issue is that, without the force of HN's public opinion, the OP would have no recourse. Being threatened with legal action is very upsetting, specially if you don't have the money to defend your rights.


I think the author did the right thing by being transparent about the incident. IP trolls need to be exposed, disgraced, and defanged. We don't need another SCO.


"I apologize, but not really. I am still right, you're not." This only happened because of the public eye. Immature apology is reflected in evocation of a sob story about a (presumably struggling?) kid rising from whatever - that's manipulation, an excuse. Guy didn't learn anything but at least there's a close.


Not a real apology when it only happens because of public pressure, this is just saving face. And not a very good attempt at that.


It doesn't have to be real, and it's probably impossible to squeeze a real one out of this individual. Getting egoists to not do what they want is a good enough compromise IMO.


So we've succeeded in making an egotist feel uncomfortable for a bit? They're very unlikely to change.


Was this removed from the front page because Replit has taken money from Ycombinator?

EDIT:

Just to clarify. This post has gained over 200 points and 70 comments on the last hour. It jumped from top 5 posts to low end of the top 50 posts in seconds and is rapidly sinking. Just curious what decision led to the hiding of a popular post.


This story was at #1 all day yesterday: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=27424195. Under normal circumstances we downweight indignation threads—we have to, because otherwise they would dominate HN's front page every single day, and that's not the kind of site HN is supposed to be.

However, we moderate HN less, not more, when YC-funded startups are involved in a story (https://hn.algolia.com/?dateRange=all&page=0&prefix=false&qu...). In keeping with that principle, we took a hands-off approach with yesterday's thread.

Today's post, however, is a follow-up to yesterday's. Indeed it's basically the same story. There are well-established moderation rules about that: repetition is bad for curiosity [1]; we downweight follow-ups [2] unless they add significant new information (SNI), defined as information capable of supporting a substantively different discussion [3].

Moderating HN less does not mean not moderating it at all—that would be a gigantic loophole. Having bent the rules drastically to accommodate yesterday's thread, I don't think it would serve the community to do the same thing all over again the next day. Indeed, we've gotten a significant number of emails about this post, asking us why it was on the front page when the same story was so prominent yesterday. That's because HN users are used to the site not being overly repetitive. People come to HN for new things and different things [4], and we need to take care to preserve that property.

[1] https://hn.algolia.com/?dateRange=all&page=0&prefix=false&so...

[2] https://hn.algolia.com/?dateRange=all&page=0&prefix=true&sor...

[3] https://hn.algolia.com/?dateRange=all&page=0&prefix=false&so...

[4] https://hn.algolia.com/?dateRange=all&page=0&prefix=false&so...

Edit: I posted a related comment at https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=27439412.


Hey Dan, completely unrelated, but I wanted to report what seems to be a HN bug. Please feel free to detach-collapse this.

album: https://imgur.com/a/QcHG9VK

In the first screenshot, notice that the highlighted comment has no replies. Here's a link to the page I was on, anchored to that comment: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?p=3&id=27424195#27429786

In the second screenshot, after navigating to the comment directly, there are in fact replies: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=27429786

The bug is that those replies should be showing up in the first link, shouldn't they? E.g. https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=27430242 is a reply to https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=27429786, but when viewed on the original page https://news.ycombinator.com/item?p=3&id=27424195#27429786, it's absent.

I know that "more" pages shift toplevel comments around, but I've never seen child subtrees get completely pruned with no indication that they exist at all unless you navigate to the comment directly.

Sorry for the distraction. I didn't want to email this for a few reasons, some of which might be invalid. However, it does seem to be a slightly-serious bug if true, since a recent refactoring must've caused deeply-nested children not to show up when browsing top-level "more" links. I'm not sure anyone else has noticed yet.

(If this is intended behavior, sorry!)

Good luck bug hunting.


The 'more' link in place of a 'reply' link is intended to indicate that there are more comments in the subthread.

We're experimenting, in order to deal with this problem: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=27437362.


We all love and owe you, Dan. I hope you hear that constantly.


Oh! I’m sorry, I had HN blindness. I didn’t notice at all that “reply” got swapped to “more”. Cool.

(Wish it was a different color, or included the descendant count.)


It probably will.

Ideas about how to get this right are welcome.


Hey, it looks like you shut it off entirely (a few seconds ago?). For what it's worth, I didn't hate it. If it's a necessary performance change, people will understand. It was nice to see HN trying an experiment; I'm sorry if my comments sounded negative.

From analyzing it today, one alarming thing I noticed was that in all recent threads with "more" links, the conversation never seemed to nest more than one or two levels deep. But the moment you go to an old thread, e.g. https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=21231208#21232605, the "more" links turned out to be hiding 9+ comments.

But, like, it's not a horrible thing to constrain the comment subtree. If you were feeling like it was the way to go, my only feedback is to trust your judgement on that one. Personally, I thought it was an interesting new dynamic, even if I had my own (probably-unjustified) concerns.

Anyway, best of luck, sorry for the mistaken bug report, and keep trying new experiments! It's really cool!


Honestly, at HN’s scale, maybe it makes sense now. After spending today using it, my gut reaction was to be sad that people will feel reluctant to throw a bunch of effort into replies that will immediately be hidden (as with Reddit). But after the server meltdown yesterday, it’s understandable.

14 years was a really good run. I suppose even lisp has its limits. :(

Yeah, adding the descendant count would make it pretty good. Hard to think of anything better.

I’ll be honest: I’m really worried this will become another tool for moderators to control discussions, while concealing the fact that it was a moderator (rather than algorithmic) decision. But no one can stop you if that’s the kind of control you want for your team.

The flip side of that is, since 2018, your team has done a stellar job, as far as I can tell. I don’t know if something changed, but things seem calmer now. I can’t even recall the last worrisome moderator decision, and I’ve found myself arguing on your behalf more than once.

Dunno. You’ll get it right; you usually do. Thanks for being welcoming about ideas, and good luck wrestling with transpilers and performance issues.


If anyone wants to see the descendant count now, rather than waiting, I've submitted a snippet of javascript as a Show HN: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=27442644

Or just open your browser console and run the JS directly:

  [...byTag(document.body, 'a')].filter(x => x.innerText == 'more').map(x => { x.innerText = `${byClass($(x.href.split('item?id=')[1]), 'togg')[0].attributes['n'].value - 1} more`; });
I find it much easier to browse HN now. It's immediately clear whether I'm missing a large subtree.


why have a different interface than the expandable [more] used for dead comments?

seems intuitive to piggyback on the same fading ui hint as comments, having a bright "more" indicating standing of hidden comments...



That’s for the previous thread though. Unless I’m missing something every thing he says doesn’t necessarily apply to this thread.


From my perspective it does apply. Please see my comment upthread: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=27439301. If there's something there you feel I haven't addressed, I'd be happy to hear what it is.


Thanks for your reply and explain.


Usually updates are penalized, which this is.


That makes sense. Infinite scroll and linking to the updates section made me think it was a new article.


Yeah, seen this before: people apologising not because they suddenly care about what they did to their victims, but because they care about what the world thinks about them.

Edit: not responding to guilt but to shame.


> still refused to list any specific part of Replit he thought I had copied, even when I asked him for such details multiple times during the phone call, despite his continuing to claim both privately and publicly that I copied Replit unethically

And unwilling to backup their public accusations with detail or receipts.

The CEO was also on Twitter doubling down on the accusation that Radon is a thief even after posting on HN.


Exactly this. He's only acknowledging that the legal threat was wrong when that was one of only several troubling behaviors.


In my experience, evasiveness and “baffling” behavior of this kind can indicate a deeply rooted in personality trait.

Personalities like this exist across the social stratum. They are something to take careful note of as quickly as possible and avoid.


I agree with you - humans have thousands of years of experience figuring out who and what to trust. It’s kind of amazing how easy it is to destroy a reputation, especially when you consider how hard it is to build one.


This is a follow-up to the huge thread from yesterday:

Replit used legal threats to kill my open-source project - https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=27424195 - June 2021 (1234 comments)

(Edit: I'm adding some text here because people have been linking to this comment.)

This story was at #1 all day yesterday, in contradiction to HN's normal rules. That is, we bent over backwards to allow this story to have much more attention on HN than it would have gotten in a normal case. That's why it got 4000 upvotes and 1300+ comments and was the #1 story the entire day (https://news.ycombinator.com/front?day=2021-06-07).

Why did we do that? Because we moderate HN less, not more, when YC or a YC startup is the story: https://hn.algolia.com/?dateRange=all&page=0&prefix=false&qu.... That is literally the first principle of HN moderation, and we stick to it strictly.

Less moderation does not mean no moderation, however. It does not serve the community, or the quality of HN, to repeat the same thing all over again the next day. Not having the same story repeat itself two days in a row is standard HN moderation.

Downweighting follow-ups in order to avoid repetition, is a bedrock principle of HN; otherwise the front page would be dominated by the same few stories every day. There are lots of past explanations about that at these links:

https://hn.algolia.com/?dateRange=all&page=0&prefix=true&sor...

https://hn.algolia.com/?dateRange=all&page=0&prefix=false&so...

We bent the rules considerably to allow the story to keep a prominent position it would not otherwise have had, for an entire day. I don't think it would be proper to do the same thing two days in a row, and indeed many users were emailing us to complain, when they thought that was about to happen.


A very empty non-apology all in all, and not nearly addressing what Masad did wrong. Very disappointing.

Masad, if you're reading this, get off your high horse. Bullying and scaring people into compliance with lawyers does work, but you pay it dearly in PR, especially when you're working on products oriented towards highly opinionated people.


Amjad seems to be apologizing because he fears what others think about him.


Glad to see this outcome. However, too little too late for me. I'll look beyond Replit for ways to author and share runnable code in the cloud…non-VC-funded and open source extremely preferred.


All people make mistakes and need to learn to introspect and learn from their mistakes to not make the same ones.

Really, this was a great opportunity to acknowledge and learn from aggressive mistakes while still running just a series A company. It was a blessing to the CEO to be highlighted now before the real weighty damage occurs. Unfortunately, it's pretty apparent to most of us and future investors that his public persona will get eviscerated if his company proceeds to ever become more in the public spotlight.


Wow, not enough apology from the guy. The apology is not sincere. That guy is flawed. All the perfects are judging a flawed guy. Man, this is a strange world we are living in.



> Streisand Effect

Not when someone can banish it from the front page[1]. See this comment timestamp[2] and compare it with the sudden drop in ranking on the upvote tracker chart.

[1] https://upvotetracker.com/post/hn/27437665

[2] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=27438258


This story spent the entire day yesterday at #1 on HN. It got 4000 upvotes and 1300+ comments and was by far the most prominent thread of the day: https://news.ycombinator.com/front?day=2021-06-07. That's the opposite of "banishing".

We bent the rules considerably to allow this, for reasons I've explained at length here:

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=27439301

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=27439412

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=27427198

https://hn.algolia.com/?dateRange=all&page=0&prefix=false&qu...

Not having the same story repeat itself two days in a row is standard HN moderation.

p.s. Please see https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=27433981. If you could please stop creating accounts to break HN's rules with, we'd really appreciate it.


The ego and hubris in all of this is absolutely insane. Replit is a cool product no doubt, but my God, people need to take themselves less seriously. I seriously put some of the blame on the culture here. If we keep on acting like these companies and founders are God's gift to mankind, we will continue to see this type of egotistical, narrow-minded behavior.


Wow… someone just nuked this right off of the front page.


Please see https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=27439301.

It's very important to understand that this story was at #1 all day yesterday, in contradiction to HN's normal rules. That is, we bent over backwards to allow this story to have much more attention on HN than it would have gotten in a normal case. That's why it got 4000 upvotes and 1300+ comments and was the #1 story the entire day (https://news.ycombinator.com/front?day=2021-06-07).

Why did we do that? Because we moderate HN less, not more, when YC or a YC startup is the story: https://hn.algolia.com/?dateRange=all&page=0&prefix=false&qu.... That is literally the first principle of HN moderation, and we stick to it strictly.

Less moderation does not mean no moderation, however. It does not serve the community, or the quality of HN, to repeat the same thing all over again the next day. Downweighting follow-ups in order to avoid repetition, is another bedrock principle of HN moderation; otherwise the front page would be dominated by the same few stories every day. There are lots of past explanations about that at these links:

https://hn.algolia.com/?dateRange=all&page=0&prefix=true&sor...

https://hn.algolia.com/?dateRange=all&page=0&prefix=false&so...


I hereby grant you premission...


Given that Amjad seems particularly worried about people encroaching in this space, let me again say that nothing about Replit is unique, the use of Nix for Replit is literally an idea years past its prime. Nothing remotely unique.

Amjad, if your securing your moat via threats, you better look out.

To anyone else, go grab Theia. In about an hour you can get something better than Replit going, and if you combine with Nix/Guix, there's just no reason to deal with people that behave like Amjad.


this fiasco reminds me of those YouTube guys who started sending notices to people doing reaction videos about stealing "their format"... when reaction videos had existed long before YouTube and certainly before those guys got involved.

Kinda the same thing here


For those calling Amjad's apology insincere: what would convince you otherwise? He's stated plainly that he did x, x was wrong, and he's sorry for doing x (x being making legal threats and abusing his power). Do you need him to concede his entire point of view 100%? If Riju really did copy repl.it, are you saying he should let that go in order to make a proper apology? Why is that a reasonable demand?

I think I see one part of the problem, though. Many people implicitly believe the claim about Riju copying repl.it is itself ridiculous. So I want to talk about this.

It's famously said that execution is worth more than ideas. Meaning a large part of a company's value is in its acquired knowledge from iterating on designs and the paths they landed on. Imagine everyone who sets out to create an online code runner starts at the same point in the online-code-runner problem space. Every decision you make is uncharted territory, and every choice, small UI changes, how you serialize messages, how you orchestrate containers, has consequences.

When you take the result of those learnings -- a very specific design path -- and copy it, it can seem like you were just doing the obvious thing, precisely because the first company carved that path first. It seems like nothing, and you'll never enforce it in law. But what you're doing is basically pirating the encoded knowledge from all those iterations and trial-and-error cycles; instead of starting from the initial point in the problem space and independently reasoning at each point what direction to "step" in, you teleport right to the same spot as the company, getting for free any progress they've made.

Saying there are a bunch of repl.it clones, etc. misses the point. The "online code runner" idea is cheap. That's not what Amjad is saying. It's not even about individually patentable trade secrets. It's more like, we've been iterating in this problem space for a long time, an intern comes in, sees the path we took, leaves and releases something that takes largely the same path, then tries to claim the path is just "the obvious route." But anyone who's worked on a long, hard problem knows that's not how it works. A million micro design decisions go into eventually arriving at the path you take. It's all the more suspicious if they made all the same micro-mistakes you did (as Amjad claims). What are the odds they started at the initial point, independently reasoned through each sub-decision, and made the same "steps" in the problem space you did, mistakes intact?

It may not be legally enforceable, but I think it's very morally shady.

I'm not saying Riju did copy repl.it, by the way, just that it's not a completely crazy accusation. And I don't think Radon's blog post definitively proves he didn't. It goes through his tech stack in a very accounting-like, line-by-line breakdown. But it doesn't address my point above, the point I think (can't speak for him) Amjad was trying to make.

So if Amjad saying "I still think you crossed a line ethically, but I apologize for reacting by making legal threats and abusing power" -- which is, actually, the entire thing he did wrong -- strikes you as insincere, what's the right way for him to assert his own moral grievance here before this whole matter wraps up?


> what is the right way for him to assert his own moral grievance before this whole matter wraps up?

No one owes Replit success. It doesn’t matter what the CEO says, I’ll be using alternatives. There’s really nothing to “wrap up”. Other than to act as a cautionary tale to other executives who may be tempted to flex a power differential.


It's not an actual apology when you not only justify the bad behavior, but then go on to repeat the accusation.

"I'm sorry I slugged you but you made me really mad. I won't do it again if you don't" is wholesale failure.


I guess my question then is: assume for a second Amjad has a legitimate grievance that Riju copied repl.it. (I hoped my comment would show that this is at least not a completely outlandish claim.) In that hypothetical scenario:

Sure, Amjad should apologize, and he did. Shouldn't Radon apologize? Why is this a completely one-sided thing? Why is Radon allowed to be like, I don't think I did anything wrong, and I'm disappointed by Amjad's behavior, but Amjad isn't? In this hypothetical, they both did something wrong, shouldn't there be a mutual apology?


One person made a quick hobby project, one person bullied with potentially ruinous threats.

Not complicated, really.


IMO it’s relative to when Amazon uses then forks Elasticsearch. It’s something that happens. The transfer of ideas cannot be stopped because you arrived there first.

The reaction to the situation from the CEO and the reaction to the reaction by the development community are both soaked in cultural faux pas generated out of a few decades of startup-pop-goes-the-weasel.

I’m sure both sides love the untrue misnomer phrase:

It’s not personal, it’s business.


Masad response does not seem to have the tone of apology. He is apologizing to the legal threat only. He is still not ready to accept about open source Project.

Good that Radon has responded well to that criticism and made communication transparent in his blog.

Setting the wrong tone from the position of CEO.


From the wording of this “apology” it’s clear that this is just meant to save face and damage control. I don’t think he would’ve reached out had the author not published the first blog post.

“Virtue is what you do when nobody is looking. The rest is marketing”. – Nassim Taleb


This interaction is why I don't do things that involve legal matters via phone. there needs to be a paper trail for all correspondence to avoid he-said/she-said situations.


Honestly, this is about what I expected. I have the admittedly niche and somewhat impractical opinion that it's within no one's rights to have ownership over an idea, an implementation, or a solution to any problem at all. When businesses try to base themselves off of that type of ownership, of course they'll be threatened by someone putting together a small side project for the fun of it. Ideas aren't something you can totally own: someone else will come up with them simultaneously, make a derivative work, or just have fun with it in a way you can't physically stop. I think I'm seeing that play out as a business in a bad position and a person trying their best here. I mostly just feel bad for the OP and a bit irritated at capitalism, as always.


I also have the same opinion that its within no one's rights to have ownership over an idea, implementation, or solution to any problem at all! All good ideas should be shared as the good idea itself, without any ties to ownership or credit where its due.


If the author is here, could we get the code, I would like to hack on a not-clone of replit :)


If you look in the original HN thread and on Twitter, people have posted forks and backups of the original project.


Still better story than SCO vs IBM.


I think the disappointment in the CEO's response to the blog post is understandable, but I think much of it is a reflection of different contexts.

I'm sure from the information at their disposal, the CEO thinks their IP was stolen, and feels obligated to defend it vigorously. Yes, he did not provide specific claims, but often it considered unwise to be specific in these situations (both when threatening legal action and when backing down). What's described as "misquoting" could be deliberate, but given how all of this seems to be in the context of two parties not communicating effectively, it is far more likely a case where what was heard from the CEO's context was very different from what Radon intended to communicate.

Like I said, I don't begrudge Radon's feelings and perceptions of the situation, and he may well be perceiving things accurately, but with disagreements like this, the norm is that all parties have a distorted perception. I'm just glad it has been resolved without going to court.


I fail to see how Amjad was in the wrong in the first place. He is well within his rights to assert copyright, which OP probably violated at least on an SSO level. The only things left to quibble over are how much the infringement was and how it may have affected, or have the potential to affect, Repl.it's business -- matters to be settled in court if both sides do not agree to terms.

Never, ever, EVER release an open-source version of your current or former employer's product. If you do, the employer can establish you had access to their code and they can argue that your work is substantially similar to theirs, meaning THEY CAN AND WILL SUE YOU for copyright infringement.




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