There is an unofficial "Upvote YC company articles" rule among YC founders. So, that's why YC company news tends to dominate HN. And, why so many amazing non-YC companies tend to not get profiled here.
It creates a echo chamber, which I think is detrimental to the entire startup ecosystem. It also gives an incorrect assumption to a segment of geeks that YC companies dominate startup the startup scene in Silicon Valley. In reality, YC companies are a very small percentage of the $20B of Venture Capital that is invested in Silicon Valley every year.
HN has in fact been less and less focused on YC cos as time has passed. The initial core of users were YC founders, and anything to do with YC was interesting to them. But over time that group has been diluted by large numbers of new arrivals. A lot of people now think of "Y Combinator" as a news site rather than an investment firm, which was certainly not the case a few years ago.
I'm suggesting that it's common for 500+ YC founders who are and have been active HN members, to quickly upvote articles about other YC companies.
I'm suggesting that this is a cultural artifact of what's happening on HN, not an algorithmic one.
And, I'm suggesting that this cultural artifact changes the content on HN to be quite focused on YC companies. It's natural. It's reasonable. And, certainly beneficial to the investment aspect of YC. You run a media site about startups, and you invest in lots of startups. Those startups naturally want their investor to do well, and their brand to succeed.
I'm not accusing you of malice. What I'm saying, is that I think that this cultural artifact benefits YC and it's startups to the detriment of the startup community at large.
I'd be surprised if I wasn't one of these alleged puppets. Of course I'm more likely to vote up something that someone mentions to me in IM, because I have to see it before clicking the button.
I can see how this looks like sock puppets. You've got a few dozen users that always upvote the same articles from a few dozen other users, and are much less likely to upvote other articles. I'm not sure the best way to know that we're all humans. If there were fewer people using/excited about/writing about ruby on rails, then the behavior would appear very similar, I suspect.
The term "gaming" is really vague. It's not at all clear how "this is something interesting that I'd like to share and discuss" is much different from "this is something that I'd like to get people to look at." It seems to me like the ultimate purpose of a site like this is to be gamed in a particular way by a particular population.
Just would be interesting to be more transparent.
Here is what iamelgringo said
"Problem is, Paul. that YC companies do this exact same behavior on a regular basis. I've gotten emails from founders to ask for word of mouth upvotes on specific blog posts, etc.."
iamelgringo is just one of thousands of people who receives requests to upvote HN posts. I have received several requests myself (from people who are YC founders as well as people who aren't YC founders).
I'd be happy to forward some of those (mass-email blasts) emails to you, if you think that YC founders and other HN members don't game HN the same way that the nodejitsu guys tried to do)
* Can you enumerate what you claim we did?
* Can you provide log files illustrating your arguments?
If the answer to either of the above is "no", then please keep your false claims to yourself. I'm happy to view this as water under the bridge, but I will not allow lies about my company, Nodejitsu, to circulate: we did not (and would never) use any kind of malicious, automated, or anti-competitive tactics to falsely generate upvotes for anything on *.nodejitsu.com
Again, if you'd like to speak with me personally I am available at email@example.com.
Apparently this is Marak Squires using multiple accounts (barracks and changelog) in the same comment thread. I learned about this when the guys who run the changelog wrote to me to complain about it.
Posting from a different account and up voting from multiple accounts are two completely different issues. We have never used fake accounts to artificially upvote anything. Period. Nothing provided suggests otherwise. On the subject of data, if the above is an attempt to justify the original decision it is insufficient.
* How were you able to infer that both accounts were in-fact represented by a single individual?
* When one considers it objectively, two accounts with the same IP Address posting comments to HN on the same thread from different accounts is not necessarily malicious. It simply could be two different computers on the same home or work network. Point in fact, Marak and I were roommates during the early days of Nodejitsu. How would you be able to infer the difference?
Full logs of all relevant messages / comments with dates and IP Addresses included are really the only thing that will be satisfactory, feel free to email me: firstname.lastname@example.org.
I still do not see a pattern of malicious behavior or any malicious behavior at all. As I mentioned before, I am very happy to make this water under the bridge, but please stop making false claims in public without providing more than conjecture.
I was able to infer the two accounts were the same person because, as I said, the changelog guys emailed me and told me so. I notice you don't deny it, which seems both revealing and revealingly disingenuous.
(Incidentally, if anyone is reading this far, this sort of thing is why it sucks to run a forum.)
Of course not. My wife and I both post to HN, and nobody has ever criticized us for it.
It helps that we give full disclosure. If we're both involved in the same thread, whoever came in second will usually say "so there's no confusion, I'm married to [the other of us]".
That seems to be one factor some of your colleagues are missing.
> "It is simply posting from a different account."
The HN community has no problem with those who post from separate accounts for "personal" and "professional" stuff. Anonymous threads asking for legal, moral, or health advice are commonplace. Using your personal account to comment on political stories and your business account to comment on code stories is cool.
But it definitely bothers me when someone uses multiple accounts in the same discussion. pg suggests this is a pattern, not a one-time occurrence. Whether or not it's intended to be malicious or manipulative, posting to the same thread from multiple accounts definitely comes off that way. Similarly, using multiple accounts to circumvent bans so you can give your posts publicity appears sketchy.
Maybe pg, the moderators, or the algorithm made mistakes. There are better ways to respond than making multiple accounts, and there are better ways to "make this water under the bridge" than the path you've chosen in this thread.