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Poll: Did you know that HN allows you to make polls?
441 points by AussieWog93 26 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 188 comments
It isn't obvious, but it seems like you can!

The link to do so is here:


2152 points
402 points
Yes, and I sincerely believe that dang is a lizard
233 points

I did not know that you could make polls on HN and I’m also 5 karma points short of being able to make them. Besides that, I don’t think that I would make polls here, I value the good story links posted and the insightful replies, and often when I see polls in other places it just seems to ignite flame wars and low value discussions. It’s a good thing that it is obscure, long may it be rarely used!

omg, I did not even know we have "karma" here (never looked at my "profile") I actually read HN to get away from stuff like that. Funny, perhaps people come to HN as most people here do not pay attention to those items.

Karma on this site is more of a means to manage trolls, by way of leveraging the community's response to individual's posts that may over time show a pattern. Karma doesn't mean much here in terms of visibility - over time your best-voted comment might be at the bottom of a long thread. If you get enough, you can downvote but I'm wary of doing that outside of obvious trolling or maliciousness.

HN tries to curb the karma addiction by not showing the karma of comments (other than your own), while still keeping it as a proxy for reputation (both in the profile and to gate certain features, most notably the ability to downvote).

Not being able to easily compare yourself to others certainly helps, even if it isn't perfect.

And i believe you can't downvote direct replies to your messages, which i think is great. Either you provide an answer, or ignore the comment. The downvote flamewars are avoided either way.

By far the most important for me is the absence of notifications. I avoid Reddit most of the time because there's no option to turn off notifications, or even clear notifications without reading them. Your only option is to click the button that takes you to the page with the reply to your comment.

> or even clear notifications without reading them. Your only option is to click the button that takes you to the page with the reply to your comment.

As a "clear" feature, you can always open that page in a new (background) tab, let it load so Reddit thinks you saw it, then close the tab without ever looking at the content. No idea if this works on new.reddit, but it's possible on old.reddit.

If you use Chrome, there's an extension called NoVote that removes a lot of Reddit noise including the notifications button: https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/novote/kepihilioco... (Disclaimer: I manage this extension)

Maybe i've missed something, but the only way i've been able to browse replies so far is via the threads?id=myself page. is there another way?

I use hnreplies.com

Also seeing the whole thread started by your reply. Reddit notifications make it feel like a 1:1 conversation, while HN encourages true many:many threads

You can disable that element of the Reddit website using uBlock origin.

How much karma do we need to downvote?

if i recall correctly, 500

https://github.com/minimaxir/hacker-news-undocumented is useful in figuring out these undocumented karma limits.

You though you escaped, but karma eventually got you.

I'm glad you now got the needed karma to create polls :)

How much karma is needed?

"How accurate are online polls?"

[M]ost online polls that use participants who volunteer to take part do not have a proven record of accuracy. There are at least two reasons for this. One is that not everyone in the U.S. uses the internet, and those who do not are demographically different from the rest of the public. Another reason is that people who volunteer for polls may be different from other people in ways that could make the poll unrepresentative. At worst, online polls can be seriously biased if people who hold a particular point of view are more motivated to participate than those with a different point of view.


Rather than serve as accurate assessments of public opinion or beliefs, online polls at best surface sentiments and potential areas of interest. Some are mere amusements. Many serve a darker purpose of advocating for a specific cause or ideology (a "push poll" https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Push_poll), fishing for either insights on how audiences might be manipulated through advertising or propaganda, or outright soliciting personal information that is of use in hacking into accounts by guessing passwords or so-called "security questions".

I guess we’ll just have to accept that we may never know how many people were previously aware that they could create polls on HN.

It’s not just that online polls do not provide valid data, it’s that they provide misleading data.

Then we have to accept we are being misled about how many people did not previously know about HN polls.

I'm just annoyed there's no CowboyNeal option

For those that don't know and were born after 2K Cowboy Neal is (was?) a moderator(owner?) over at slashdot.com. His name usually appears(ed?) with some snarky option on slashdot polls.

This was also my immediate reaction, especially given the non-serious 'dang is a lizard' option.

We're getting old. Most people here wouldn't recognise it.

"dang is a lizard" is the new Cowboy Neal.

On HN you use dang instead. Didn't you know?

Until a few hours ago I didn't know you could have polls at all

I was joking,I didn't know either.

But by who? Who is the puppet master?

Deception and bias can emerge without intent or control.

Which again is a major point behind statistical data gathering methods and practices. Invalid methods -> invalid results. Regardless of intent.

(Though of course, those intent on deceiving can construct biased samples to drive their agenda.)

@dang? /s

Potato potato, as they say. It wouldn't be surprising if there was no link at all between reality and the poll.

Consider as a worse case; there is a political question with a fairly clear reality ("the legislators should legislate the value of exp(1) to be 2.5 to make life easier"). The silent majority ignores the silly poll, and the lunatics who believe this is a good idea all put in a vote because they want to promote their mad cause.

The poll could therefore be biased to be exactly wrong. May as well call it invalid data and save the time thinking about it.

Opinion polls, properly constructed and conducted, measure opinion. They do not measure any truth other than the truth of a specific opinon.

Polling for the value of e is rather like polling for the piloting of a jetliner. You could certainly do it. It would end rather badly in virtually all instances.

The point is the poll wouldn't be picking up the opinion of the crowd. It would be picking up the least representative sample of people; those who have an incentive for the poll to mis-represent popular opinion.

I only picked exp() as an example because it can't start a political argument.

HN is very representative of the type of technologists that frequent HN.

It's the kind of thing that's very popular among those who like that sort of thing.

I think we're largely in agreement, if discussing different elements of the same question.

Are you suggest that my vote of ‘yes, dang is a lizard’, ‘yes’ and ‘no’ is misleading?

This depends entirely on the lizards.

every data is misleading when you dont know how to interpret it

Corollary: all data are relational.

Misleading implies intent, no?

This is always very apparent on /r/SampleSize (a subreddit dedicated to posting and taking surveys): While Reddit as a whole has far fewer women than men, women often outsize men, Germans are usually the 3rd biggest group after USA-ians and British, and transgender sometimes make up 15%. Luckily, most people there (judging by the comments) are aware of that.

Most serious online pollsters are using random sampling through panel providers and stratify based on known demographic statistics. Samples are re-weighted by raking (which reduces bias but increases variance) to better match population statistics.

This of course doesn’t mean all sources of bias are eliminated, but you also can’t eliminate all sources of bias in phone polling. Just like those taking polls on the internet, certain slices of the population that you can’t control for or don’t know about may be more or less willing to participate.

> “Another reason is that people who volunteer for polls may be different from other people in ways that could make the poll unrepresentative.

See also “most of what you read on the Internet is written by insane people” on r/Slatestarcodex - https://www.reddit.com/r/slatestarcodex/comments/9rvroo/most...

It’s definitely worth remembering that just as polls can be misleading about sentiment, so can the voting of comments.

These criticisms are not limited to just online polls. One advantage that online polls have is a larger sample size. Gallop polls, for example, tend to have an extremely small sample size of less than 2,000 people while an online poll can reach hundreds of thousands. Both online and offline have advantages and disadvantages. At the end of the day, if you're being shown a poll that you didn't pay for or participate in then it's likely intended to influence rather than educate.

Systematic bias in participants would be a far bigger worry to me than sample error from few participants.

I'd take a properly randomised poll with 200 participants over a non-random one with two million any day of the week. At least if participation is truly randomised you can calculate the maximum possible extent of the error. With bias, who knows?

Yep. People tend to underestimate the power of truly random sampling. For questions with a roughly equal split, a poll of just 100 people properly selected randomly from a population of 100 million has 99% confidence of being within 12% of the value you would get if you sampled the entire 100 million. This falls to 4% with a sample of 1000.

And the other way, you can’t make up for bad sampling with response count; the classic case study is the Litery Digest poll of the 1936 US presidential election, which polled over 2 million people but got the result wrong by over 30 percentage points.

Right. "Dewey Beats Truman" is another notorious example:


As household telephone service became near-universal, telephone surveys did become highly valuable and generally accurate in measuring public opinon. That's reversed over the past decade or so as both practices (refusal to pick up unknown calls) and service (landline service is at or below 20% in many parts of the US) have radically reformed.

Political pollsters have commented on this at length, and it's a major concern. See Nate Silver at https://fivethirtyeight.com among others.

A larger random sample reduces error by the square root of the sample.

If the sampling is biased, however, all bets are off.

A 100,000 observation poll has 100 times the costs of a 1,000 poll (data must be collected from 100,000 times more samples), but offers only 10x greater accuracy.

You'll find this mathematically in the definition of standard deviation, which divides by the square root of the sample size: sqrt(1000) ~= 31.6, sqrt(100000) ~= 316.

Larger random samples are useful where you're exploring many variables, or very small portions of the population. They afford greater precision. The accuracy however is dictated by the randomness.

I had a strong lesson in this a few years back when the question of active user participation in Google+ came up. I'd had one too many hand-wavey assertions that the site was far more active than was generally claimed in the press. I'd realised that G+ had a set of sitemaps files, and included in those were sitemaps of individual Google+ user profiles. Present on the web results for that URL was an indication of whether the profile had never posted publicly at all, or, if it had, what the most recent publicly-posted content was.

Each sitemap file had roughly 50,000 entries. There were something on the order of 40--50,000 profile sitemap files, about 25 GB in all.

I took a gamble and made the assumption (later tested and largely validated) that profiles listed within a given sitemap were themselves a random assortment. This checked out on any number of eyeball analysis (creation dates, user names, global regions, and activity status all seemed both random and uniform over a few tested files). So I selected one sitemap file (itself at random) and over the course of a few days using a pretty modest laptop and broadband connection pulled down and web-scraped some 50,000 entries. A simple pattern match told me whether or not the profile was active, and when.

Within the first 100 profiles viewed, the trend was very clear. Only about 9% of profiles seemed to have ever posted any content. That percentage varied between roughly 7--12% initially, but rapidly converged as my dataset grew.

I let the run continue regardless. I resampled my sample subsetting it variously ("Monte Carlo estimation") to see if the values varied (I believe either 60 or 100 record subsamples), and again, the same 7--12% or so was returned for each. Looking at recent activity (within the month during which the analysis was performed), was 0.3%. The analysis also revealed just how much the forced integration of YouTube and G+ had inflated G+ activity numbers (a bit over 1/3 of all most-recent activity).

This generated some blow-up on G+ among members there, and I got called a few things, as happens. Google themselves never formally responded (I did hear from a few Googlers who contested findings or methods.) A few months later, an Internet marketing group, Stone Temple Consulting, re-ran the analysis based on my methodology but on a 10x larger sample (500k profiles), selected from across a much larger set of the sitemaps. They fully confirmed my own headline numbers, though could (thanks to their larger sample) offer more precise insights on smaller groups within the overall population. I had absolutely no participation in the follow-up study, and was unaware of it until it was made public.

Stealth edit/update: Then as now, what annoyed me most about the whole episode was that Google were so obviously dissembling, making up numbers and/or outright lying about Google+ activity, and the press were largely lapping it up, when a very modest investment of time and effort would put paid to the lie. And after I'd done the analysis, armchair warriors continued whinging even as I'd fully documented methodology and tools used, enabling anyone to replicate and confirm or deny findings. Eric Enge of Stone Temple was the only one to do that. I don't generally hold marketers in high regard, but he earned respect from me in doing that.



(Stone Temples has since been aquired by Perficient.)

> A larger random sample reduces error by the square of the sample.

You mean by the square root of the sample, right?

Point. Yes. Corrected above.


I wonder what could be done if HN itself were to analyze data from an HN poll, combining it with other data they have on the participants?

Quite a lot about a person on HN can be inferred from that person's comment history. Inferences could also be made from their IP address history if that is logged. Upvote, downvote, flagging, and vouching history if logged would also provide some information.

I wonder if there would be enough to correct for some of the biases?

Pew Research is a biased source because CGI Script polling poses an existential threat to their business model.


Pew Research (and pretty much any other credible research institution or academic) are domain experts, understand sampling methodology, and the very-well-known biases which occur from biased and/or self-selecting samples.

Public polling can be exceedingly accurate based on surprisingly small samples (roughly 300 in most national political polls, for example, and even that is generous), so long as the sample is in fact truly random. Oh, and that the responses are not similarly filtered.

One of the most famous cases of a poll which failed due to sampling bias was in the 1948 US Presidential election, and resulted in the Chicago Tribune erroneous headline, "Dewey Defeats Truman". This was drilled hard in my own stats education several decades ago and remains a sharp lesson in the risks of biased sampling. For a good descrition of the error, see:


Were you under the impression that the HN voting feature was intended to predict U.S. election outcomes? I can see you like Pew but their magical authority on sampling and biases doesn't apply here.

My point is that your statement is an unsubstantiated shallow dismissal which suggests a very poor understanding of statistical and research methods.

Pew was simply the first well-articulated reference I turned up. There are numerous others. You've offered nothing other than your uninformed opinion and casual insults and accusations. Please don't do that.

Polls brought a plague of dumb clickbaitiness to LinkedIn, unwittingly amplified by commenters complaining of their lack of nuance. Let’s not do that here

Back around 2012 HN had a massive amount of polls every day on the frontpage. I even wrote a scraper to scrape them all off and write them to a hnpolls website. Glad it's not really a thing these days.

Let’s vote on it.

Problems like that don't have to be solved by changing the existence of a feature. There are many ways to address such an issue; adjusting the incentives, changing the ranking algorithm, etc.

Exactly. If they start getting used at all, I hope the feature gets disabled.

No, but I also sincerely believe that dang is a lizard. Not because I have any reason to believe that dang is a lizard, but because my ethos obligates me to believe anyone is a lizard when I see an opportunity to do so.

>but because my ethos obligates me to believe anyone is a lizard when I see an opportunity to do so.

Sounds like you're one of those people


I can even vote twice; choices aren't mutually exclusive.

Yep, I tried it before reading your comment.

I think that's great. Approval voting is awesome, and probably a better default for a lot of things anyways.

Even mundane things like "where do you want to eat lunch" with first-past-the-post you run the risk of selecting a place most people don't want to eat at because they split their vote between a bunch of options most people preferred. Really, you want people to distinguish between places they want to eat at and places they don't want to eat at, and the optimal thing is to select the one that the most people do want to eat at. That's basically how approval voting works.

> Even mundane things like “where do you want to eat lunch” with first-past-the-post you run the risk of selecting a place most people don’t want to eat

If you have open ballots and either approval is a commitment to join or disapproval is a waiver of the right to join, approval is very good method for choosing group activities in a way it is not for most public elections, where there is no coherent meaning to the approval/disapproval divide so it ends up just being a very weird forced reduction in resolution of a preference ballot to two preference ranks. (The lack of coherent meaning between different ballots is a problem that most analysis ignores in basically all voting systems that aren’t either bullet ballots of full forced or unforced preference ballots; of popularly proposed alternative voting methods its a particular issue for those using approval or range/score ballots, or variations on either.)

I think approval voting ballots have a pretty reasonable interpretation: if you would tolerate this person in this office then vote for them, if not then don't. The winner of the election is the one with the highest approval rating.

If it's a three candidate election and there's one person you like, one person you don't, and one you're ambivalent about then it gets a little more complicated if you want to vote strategically. Generally, you'd vote yes to the first, no to the second, and for the third you can either vote for them or not based on whether you're more worried that your favorite candidate will lose or that your least favorite candidate will win.

Range voting is a bit more expressive because you can rank candidates on a scale of one to ten or whatever, but the problem with range voting in real elections is that voters have the most influence over the result when they only use maximum or minimum ratings, thus a minority of strategic voters can outvote a majority of honest voters. Approval voting solves that by forcing everyone to follow the strategic voting strategy.

STAR (Score Then Automatic Runoff) voting is another way to solve that problem. STAR voting works like range voting to select the top two candidates, then does a runoff between those top two after maximizing everyone's voting preferences. It's not perfect, but it's a way to allow people to express ratings that are more subtle than yes/no for each candidate while still giving people who vote honestly the same voting power in most situations as people who vote strategically.

Approval voting is excellent for public elections. It was used in Fargo and St Louis to apparent great public satisfaction.


And computer simulations show that it does extremely well at measuring public support.


You're talking about how the _concept_ of approval makes you feel. But the _results_ you'll get with it are highly accurate/satisfying.

Reality is complex. HN supports a complex reality.

...even though the options are; I voted "yes" and "no"

"Sorry, you need over 200 karma to create a poll." :(

That’s going to take a while to process for me. Have tried to be an active user since 2014 and whenever I have something of value, it’s already been expressed better by someone else.

Marc Twain had a technique to create text of value.

If you hear some news, notice your immediate reaction. Everyone thinks the same thing, so dump that thought in the litter. Same for your second immediate reaction. The third or fourth reaction are maybe different enough to merit writing down.

I almost didn't reply to this to say, "This is the same for me as well," because, well, it's the same! Someone already expressed, in better phrasing, what I would otherwise say.

But given the subject matter, I feel a reply is in order.

I've deleted many comments before submission because I decided I wasn't in the mood for a debate on the topics.

I don't think ive ever read a reply to one of my comments. I use Materialistic for Android and it doesn't really provide all the controls the desktop does. Particularly, I cannot edit comments, and I have no inbox or way to see replies to my comments. I remember when I realized that was even a thing when browsing on the desktop once, I had all these thoughtful and interesting replies and rebuttals but in the end it just gave me anxiety. So I just don't worry about it anymore, I comment what I think without the need to see if someone wants to debate, it's very freeing as I only comment rarely and on things which i feel strongly about.

Maybe im missing out on being schooled on all my 'infantile, toxic' opinions but I like it better this was. Reddit, has a much stronger echo chamber as there's no way to not see constantly delayed prominently, blinking and screaming for your attention, that someone replied to you. Likely a mob here to attack your self worth just for the sake of hurting your feelings, usually provoked by any opinion that's even slightly outside/opposed to the subreddit-approved thought patterns. It trains you to be afraid to challenge the status quo (there are many people who seem to use reddit only to attack). I know HN is better than that but I cannot help feeling some anxiety after a couple specific comments from which I futilely attempted to defend myself with reason and caring conversation.

I learned my lesson

Get in the habit of submitting interesting articles you read! It takes 15 seconds and adds a lot to the community to take a handful of shots at a submission each month.

But all the articles I read only come from HN in the first place :-/

That's probably not healthy. HN is a very niche subculture whose interests aren't at all representative of what's happening in the world.

I stopped when I eventually empirically learned you all disagreed with me about what we interesting.

Well, it wasn't so slow for me, but it did feel slow.

What I found most disappointing is that while I am here most for software development topics I got my karma on economic, political, geographic, Europe vs. US etc. topics.

Me too. Your comment is one such example.

Even two hundred valueless comments will get you there though.

Question is if you want to make those.

No, a comment with a score of 1 (i.e. that isn't voted down at all, or equally up and down) contributes 0 to the author's karma.

Today I learned that all my beautiful, insightful 1 karma posts are just for my own vanity.

That seems counterintuitive. Shouldn’t the score be zero in that case?

It is a bit to me too yes, I don't make the rules! I can make sense of it though: 0 is neutral, as expected; comments start at 1, because everybody votes for their own comment; 1 point of comment score doesn't move user karma, because increasing karma just by commenting is undesirable.

While counterintuitive it does make sense. IMO psychological perception of difference between score 0 and 1 is far greater than difference between 1 and nigher scores.

Yeah your 1 score of post / comment doesn't give your karma, but it's still show your contribution as valuable.

Upvotes are what contribute to karma, not comment scores. A comment with a score of 1 hasn't received any upvotes (okay, maybe an equal number of upvotes and downvotes).

Counterintuitive for normal mortals. Maybe not for hackers who have learned that the first element is indexed by 0. Doesn't work in fully equivalent way. But hackers use more than languages and concepts are often somewhat different between them. It's been a long time I wrote FORTRAN IV :)

I always viewed it as 0 is neutral but your comments start at plus 1 because 'we' trust that it will be interesting/ engaging.

We begin @dang, the HN collective, the illuminati that run the internet...

Don’t worry too much. Go find an Apple thread and post about CSAM or proprietary walled gardens, find any random CVE thread and post about how “heads must roll” or some shit, go find a meta thread and post about how repetitive the comments can be.

> go find a meta thread and post about how repetitive the comments can be


Easy, just start a "AWS is down again" thread. The chances are 50/50 that you're right :P


I'm impressed that you got a 5 letters username less than 3 years ago.

Maybe not as impressive since it's a number, but I got mine in 2021. HN names aren't terribly competitive, it seems. Maybe it's due to the more mature culture here.

> Maybe it's due to the more mature culture here.

Perhaps a bit of that, and perhaps a bit of a non-existent marketplace

HN is one of the only sites on the Internet where I was able to get my name in 2021.

So are you Charles I or II?

Actually he’s the spaniel. Works for DataDog.

On the Internet nobody knows I'm a King Charles Spaniel.

Except you. You know Ꙭ

Ah man, don’t give me those puppy dog eyes!

For what it's worth, this whole submission came about because another user was shocked that someone had registered the HN username "ford" in 2022.

Turns out another user named "fordprefect" existed and had commented on a poll from 2009, which surprised the heck out of both of us.

I got a 5 letter username less than 3 minutes ago

Yours does not include an English dictionary word or name though (unless sh counts, but that's shorter and less common than 'max'), but yeah 5-char words being available, I'm also not too surprised by.

This was the second 5 letter dictionary word I tried. :p

So now it's gone for all time? Thanks :p

What I've done on reddit for throwaways is use 123123 as password so they can be reused. Not a one has gotten 'hacked' yet over months of use, I'm quite surprised tbh. Maybe I should publish the password on the relevant accounts once I decide to stop using them. Ideally there'd be a time factor before it changes hands to avoid confusion and editing old posts, but I would probably forget (hence the dummy password strategy).

Related: https://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2008/01/my_open_wirel... "It wasn't me officer" (of course IP logs... and not that I'd do anything illegal on reddit anyway no sir)

I managed to snag this one by emailing hn@ycombinator.com to transfer it to me as the nick was dormant for years.

Was the account frozen?

Not sure. There were no comments or submissions since its creation.

Edit: I just realised, heh. You cheeky fella.

slow clap

26^5 is 11881376, surely there aren't that many users here yet (?)

And 36^5 is even a bit bigger. (Numbers are allowed. Think that's it though - case is recorded, but I don't think you can sign up Dheera, because dheera exists.)

Underscores and hyphens are allowed too, so it's at least 38^5 ≈ 79e6.

Have an upvote, one less karma to go.

And you too, sir. Have one yourself. On the house.

One constructive rant on a controversial topic and you're done.

Eh. I’ve found that a reasoned argument works better than a rant.

When I send a story out for beta reading, I go through and fix all the major spelling and grammar mistakes first. I shouldn’t need to, but people get hung up on the spelling and don’t see the story.

It’s the same with rants. People see the anger and frustration and miss the argument being presented.

You can argue people should look past the emotion and consider the logic. I’d agree. And I do my best to do that myself. But the reality is many people won’t. I choose to be pragmatic and rewrite any rant more carefully so I’m heard. Or I delete it because it doesn’t add meaningfully to the conservation.

Also, some controversial topics are the result of irreconcilable beliefs. See any discussion of Apple. In those threads, people talk about things they value and other people don’t value those things. There are arguments and rants that don’t go anywhere as a result.

As a result of this observation, I approach communication deliberately. If I think a rant will be heard, I’ll let myself rant. If I don’t, I take time to think why I disagree and figure out how to phrase it in less aggressive language.

There are people who really dislike this approach for a variety of reasons. I enjoy talking to them because I don’t have to do this song and dance number.

TL;DR read the room and speak in a way you’ll be understood. :)

> When I send a story out for beta reading, I go through and fix all the major spelling and grammar mistakes first. I shouldn’t need to, but people get hung up on the spelling and don’t see the story.

One good rule of thumb: people will respond to the weakest part of your argument. So instead of making it as long as possible, and addressing several unrelated points in an attempt to preempt all objections, it's best to cut out everything but the core of your message. The question I always ask myself whenever commenting here is, "is my comment strong enough?". If it isn't, I delete my comment. If there are weak parts, I prune them. It's better to leave an incomplete but strong comment, than a comment which tries to be complete but has several weak pieces.

> people will respond to the weakest part of your argument

Huh. I honestly hadn't thought of it in those terms. I usually arrive at the same result by gut feeling. This will save me a lot of time. Thanks!

That's what I mean by "constructive rant" :P

Either that or I've embraced cynicism and dark humor more than I should have. Probably both.

You’ll get there one day. I’ve kind of enjoyed the idea that downvoting is limited to a few, meaning someone that is greyed out must have said something very wrong or worthless. I’m guessing that gate keeping polls also means that they’re more of an event than low rent submission spam.

Grayed out, to me, about as often means that someone expressed an opinion, and others disagreed with that opinion. Or they tried to joke and it fell flat.

¯\_ (ツ)_/¯

You're downvoted here because others disagree that someone that is greyed out must have said something very wrong or worthless, but that's not a very wrong or worthless opinion. Only naive, perhaps.

I try to use downvotes rarely, and only for "egregiously contravened community guidelines" not "expressed opinion I strongly disagree with"

Keep participating! Downvotes (and flags) are not generally a big deal if your overall contribution is positive

You're downvoted here because others disagree that someone that is greyed out must have said something very wrong or worthless

Or there was an attempt at irony by the downvoters. That sometimes happens. You discuss downvoting at your peril. <dons helmet>

True that

I know we're not supposed to comment on voting, generally, but this might be the... meta-funniest grayed-out comment I've ever seen.

I want to upvote this just to keep it out of gray (since I do think it adds to the conversation), but this being grayed out is just hilarious on a meta level.

And not greyed out anymore right after upvoting and responding.

The downvoting system is indeed pretty witty, in that few people can downvote, but a lot more can undo the downvotes. I can't downvote myself yet, but I do check downvoted comments and when I feel that it got downvoted by personal bias, I simply undo it.

And usually don't follow up on what happens next, so whether it gets downvoted again or not I wouldn't know. But then I don't care that much, in most cases.

At the time when I chose my answer, I did know. So I was obligated to pick "Yes".

"Did you know.." refers to before you read the question.

NOW ya tell me!

Wait until we tell you about The Game.

Wow didnt know it could, found a list a past polls, with really popular ones.


No, and your handle made me laugh as a fellow ‘93 Aussie Wog.

If you don't mind my asking, could you explain what a "wog" is?

It's a racial epithet used mostly in Australia.


It’s a slur.

And similar to the n word - some Greeks and Italians have taken the word and used it themselves with pride. I’m conflicted about this but happy for my friends who can do it. I certainly don’t think anyone else should use the term.

This isn't really accurate, but I can see how you'd come to this conclusion. Wog definitely started as a slur, but is really just an umbrella term for people of olive skin in Australia these days.

It's not polite venacular, but it's inoffensive and common enough to have a movie with the name a few years ago ("Wog Boy"). I can't imagine the term you've equivolised being plastered on posters in theatres everywhere.

People used to occasionally post polls to HN asking demographic data. Probably not entirely accurate but semi useful to me.

Perhaps polls are obscure by design. The new poll link is mentioned only in the FAQ and does not appear anywhere on the home page or submit page.

(Interestingly, you can vote for more than one response, e.g. both “Yes” and “No” which happens to be the correct answer for me.)

Where's the option for 'I saw your comment about in that other thread a few hours ago and that reminded me this was launched and forgotten a while ago now'?

-- frustrated pollster with poor prognostications for options

Well i am on hackernews since April, 2013 and i still dont have enough karma to do a lot of things, i think i have to be more confident on commenting here

Any idea why it is not available in the /submit page?

I realize a lot of folks aren’t fans of poll. But there can be some value.

Eg I could be off basis here but it seems like the norm in the Bay Area is comp approaching $1M. But if you look at this poll from 8 years ago, Bay Area comp of $300k+ is exceeding low.


A lot has changed in 8 years.

Is this a bot?

And now I am reminded of the CmdrTaco option, and reminiscing about days long gone - certainly appropriate for New Year's day.


Looks like it lets you vote for both options

I am certain I’ve heard about this before, but I see it so little that I forget every single time.

Yesterday I precisely thinking about polls in HN and if they would make sense. Although polls might seem the preamble of an ad populum fallacy when it comes to agreements, I see their potential too.

Glad to know they are available and thanks for sharing.

Happy new year, BTW!

And the answers are randomized for each pageload. Can be a good thing, or it can be annoying if it's more of a scale kind of thing. Then again, polls aren't used that much anyway so having this as only option is fine.

Is there a practical reason that they are randomized?

Unless there is a particular order, such as 0-5 stars ratings or whatever, one would randomize the choices to avoid people picking the first option they see or other psychological biases related to the list position.

Makes sense, thanks.

This is cool but I hope they don't become too popular, otherwise we'll start getting a bunch of HN listicles started by buzzfeed staff that they can retread on their site.

Maybe if there were a filter criteria on the top row to show only polls posted to HN people would be more aware of it.

We have: Ask, Show, Jobs

I guess I should repost this as a Poll

I did not and I guess the person who created this app (Materialistic) didn't, either, cause I don't see a poll here.

Well, I vaguely knew, but what I learned today is that polls break the ‘Hacker News Enhancement Suite’ plugin.

The poll looks like a tiny version of the HN home page. It’s just missing comment threads on the choices.

Maybe is UX, but I don't see the poll link anywhere on my HN. There is ask, but that is different...

Wow, thanks for this tip! I have been using HN for more than 5+ years addictively and never knew this!

Right now it only seems to support multiple choice polls, is that correct?

It seems to be, although one could argue the default behavior on HN is a short answer poll.

Did you know that Hacker News frequently prevents users from commenting for several hours if they receive multiple downvotes in a short timespan? You go to respond to someone attacking you, write a long response and.. nope, you've posted too many times.

respond to someone attacking you

A common mistake on a forum, that’s how you feed them for more and for everyone to deal with it. HN also rate-limits hot/deep discussions for them to not grow quickly, by removing the reply link for few minutes.

If someone misbehaved, it is wise to remain silent and trust the crowd.

For an IT crowd I would think other methods would be used to prevent spam/bots, not actively promoting for censoring organic discussions (because a crowd says so).

Hacker News is about preserving its culture and maintaining a high signal to noise ratio, as well as avoiding the Eternal September effect. It isn't a space for free organic discussion, it's a space for curated, thought provoking discussion.

Conversation here is steered and controlled aggressively on multiple levels in the name of quality control, including making it purposely easy for the crowd to censor anything they want, for any reason.

Think of it less as your local pub and more the water cooler at work, except HR posted a lengthy policy about water cooler conversations on the wall, which seems to get longer every week, and the boss is always glancing out of his office, and everything you say around that water cooler goes into your performance review. Also sometimes you'll find the water doesn't dispense but only for you, because apparently that's dependent upon a metric you weren't aware of and at some point you fell under the threshold and were never told but from now on you just have to stand there holding your empty cup like a shmuck.

I don't know what the "pub" equivalent of HN is. I don't think it exists and if it does it's probably already infested with incels and edgelord tools.

In my experience, it works beautifully on HN. It's not censoring, it's giving everyone a timeout and a chance to walk away from the keyboard.

Censorship... Such a beautiful thing, gives people time to think about life. Seriously, this is some 1984 BS. Also, if they are going to prevent you from posting it should say so before you start typing not when you go to submit.

To be fair, I've never had my comments censored in any way. I sometimes get the "you're posting too quick" message because I did upvote a couple comments in the previous few seconds, but trying again after a minute works for me. So I honestly haven't seen any automated censorship system you're talking about in my 11 years on this site.

Fair enough, however when I get the "you're posting too quick" message it can take upwards of 3 hours before I can post again... so I just stop trying and end up losing whatever response I composed beforehand.

I, for one, welcome our (not so) new lizard overlord. /s

oops, looks like there's an issue with other people being able to create new options - only had yes/no when I first looked

Sorry, you need over 200 karma to create a poll.

No, I did not know. But now I know, thank you!

You need 200 karma sadly


It's in FAQ, so yes.

Sorry, you need over 200 karma to create a poll.

Sorry, you need over 200 karma to create a poll. :(

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