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The biggest problem is the like button. The like button is not only a bad metric - it's the worst possible metric.

Speaking up used to be something you do to change someone's mind or yours. What's the point in speaking up if nobody does anything with what you said?

The like button reprogrammed people. They started getting positive feedback for speaking in an echo chamber, for saying and doing things their audience already agrees with. They started getting negative feedback for doing the thing language was designed for.

Normal purposeful speech makes different opinions closer, while speech under the feedback of the like button makes similar opinions even closer and different opinions further apart.

If the interaction stays the same of course fragmentation is inevitable - but that's not a good thing. This fragmentation extends to the real world and has real consequences. It will blow up. Even with Twitter being internally fragmented the polarization in society grew. Nobody wants to listen to the other side anymore, while there's always the most to be learned from listening to the other side.

The core of the problem needs to be addressed: that social media has reprogrammed people to the purpose of speech.

One of the reasons I'm even bothering with websites like HN as opposed to social media is because it still feels like there's a slight chance of making people change their minds here.




The biggest problem is that you can make money from the internet.

The internet was more about self-expression and fun. Then people realized they can sell things or themselves (being a "content-creator", "thought-leader", etc.).

As a result the most active people are tailoring their actions towards increasing engagement, getting you to buy something, getting you to think a certain way, etc. and we have a divide between "content-creator" influencers/producers and passive consumers who like or retweet things they haven't thought through but sound catchy and provide the same opinions.

It's not 100% bad; content is more polished and organized, but you have to be discerning in order to get good value and a lot of people don't have those abilities.


I would say the biggest problem is advertising. It would be much less harmful if commercial content was upfront about asking for your wallet, and the transaction ended there (the publisher's incentives are directly aligned with the end-customer's). Instead, we have stuff that's technically "free" but actually comes with plenty of strings attached such as mismatched incentives - the content is only there as bait and the actual objective is to get you to look at an ad or think a certain way for commercial gain. Worse, this "free" stuff being out there means there's not enough pressure to build a good, universal micropayments system to displace advertising, so the problem remains.


I would hazard a guess to say that the best micropayment service in the world is going to have trouble competing with "free" for the average user.


I've said this for so long. The horrible mismatched incentives that ad money has wrought is disasterous.


Not just advertising, its the ad networks that have been silently putting their finger on the scale to coax/trick the major corporate customers to support certain issues.


Wait, so the ad networks are the puppet masters pulling the strings of the major corporations to support...what certain issues?


Capitalism. It’s paperclip maximisers all the way down.


Pushing like button on this.


The reason surveillance capitalism will always win out is because with direct payments people only have to pay for something once.

Even if (and I hope this never happens) we had some "perfect system" where every website was automatically paid some fee every time there was a page view, the companies behind those websites would lose money on that deal.

If I own example.com and you click a link to www.example.com/somepage.html and after I serve you that page your bank account automatically transfers some small fee to me, that's the end of the transaction. You'd be done paying! Why would I want that when with surveillance capitalism you will continue to pay for the rest of your life?

If I collect huge amounts of your personal information, then sure, I can make money by using it to push ads in your face (and I will), but after I do that I still have all your data. I can leverage that later in any way that benefits me. I can use it manipulate you into loading more pages on my website, I can use it to safely increase the prices of things you buy from me, I can sell and resell that same data, in whole or in part, over and over to anyone who wants it. Combined with data about others it becomes even more valuable too.

You. on the other hand, will deal with the consequences of that data being used against you for your entire life. It will be used by scammers to try to trick you. It will be used by the state to control and monitor you. It will be used by other companies to take more of your money. It will be used by advertisers to manipulate you. It will be used against you in courts. It will be used against you by employers. You will never stop paying. You'll pay in ways you never imagined and in ways that aren't possible now, since your data will still be there when they become possible later. When consumers spend the rest of their lives endlessly paying for everything they have and everything they do it means more wealth and power for the few at the top.

Unless your new universal micropayments system can do all that, why would corporations switch to it?


To expand on Parkinson's Law: capitalism grows to fill the space allotted to it.

The 90s internet was great because it was built by academia. Post Dot Bomb, the internet got saturated by big business. Everything evolves so quickly on the web that we're already finding ourselves living under the eventualities of late-stage capitalism and ultimate wealth inequality (slavery).

I've come to view tech as an ever-tightening noose that solves every problem except how to get out of it. Loosely that means that whatever goal each of us has for going into tech will be the one that gets us in the end. We get older, conditions change and we find ourselves becoming the villain of our own story. Even if we succeed, we fail.

Stepping outside of that, I've decided to embrace magical thinking in my own life. I believe that ultimately tech will bring magic back into the world and we'll find ourselves confronting the ethical dilemmas of fairy tails. In the New Age, when everyone has the ability to change the world for better or worse, wisdom becomes more important than knowledge.

The status quo is threatened by that, so there's already a backlash against stuff like wokeism. Socialism becomes the bogeyman to keep us distracted so we don't turn our attention away from systems of control in general. And so on.

How to protect ourselves from that? I think it's helpful to meditate on what the opposite of all this might look like. What's the opposite of profit? Or power? Softer questions might be: what's our individual definition of success? Why are we doing this?

Now to get back to watching superhero movies on New Year's Day..


Money does this to everything.

Radio used to be cool, now it's mostly ads.

Circulating pamphlets was once a potent political tool, now they come sandwiched between ads in a newspaper that nobody reads.

Evaluate a randomly chosen NFT-referent for artistic merit and see how it stack up to a randomly chosen pre-nft art.

I'm still optimistic about the web though. It's more configurable than the other media. We may yet find a way to wall off the advertising cancer and make some space for cool stuff to survive.


There are many online radio stations without ads, and you can already wall off advertising with something like PiHole or extensions like uBlockO. I never hear or see ads anymore :)


If you're looking at a blog that might've been presented with ads, but you're not seeing those ads, well that's nice. I also rarely see those ads. But how do you know whether the blog itself is an ad? That's the more insidious problem.


There are also many very good publicly funded radio stations out there. Shout out to WNRN in central Virginia.


The Internet is television with lower production value and longer commercials.


I spend far less time subjected to advertisements on the internet than when I used to watch TV. Near zero time, actually.

Now it is a game of figuring out the shills that are advertising, but trying to disguise their content as not advertising.


A lot of internet advertising comes in different forms. For example, with Search Engine Optimization, businesses will create "content" or pages with information for keywords to get their pages ranked higher. This also applies to social media and youtube. In order to be popular or remained ranked, you have to put out video content or stream almost daily.

This is essentially "junk" content which shows itself as reaction videos and related content. If you want engagement, then it turns into having a strong opinion about something the creators probably don't care that much about because it will get people who agree or disagree with the stance to comment and get into comment battles, etc.

It's definitely not as annoying as TV commercials, but it's not good for people unaware of it who get anxiety or waste a lot of time feeling upset about things designed to push views to someone's platform, or in worst cases push their agenda.


That is exactly what “spending your time dealing with advertising” means. See also cigarettes and food products with the labels turned out. Soap operas are literally named after advertising. At least they’re honest about it.


TV is minimum 1/3 time advertising, 2/3 content, but that is ignoring shilling and product placement in the content.

I do not spend anywhere near 1/3rd of my time on the internet figuring out what is and is not advertising. Mostly by avoiding content with images and video.


I'd say 1/4 advertising, 2/3 content and 1/12 opening and closing credits but I take your point.

I don't know if you've tried to search for anything on the internet lately, but I've found that any time I'm trying to be an active rather than a passive consumer of the internet, it's getting damned hard to avoid things that are 'SEO optimized' and relevant content pessimized.


>The Internet is television with lower production value and longer commercials.

This is upside-down. In the old days stuff went to you: you had to tune in at 8p to see your show, you had to sit through or mute the commercial breaks every 8 or whatever minutes, which by the way are synced across every channel to punish people who try to tune it out.

It was a nightmare. There were no podcasts, 2 hours of unedited conversation; you had people wearing a ton of makeup screaming at each other and interrupting with one-liner quips. You had no ad blockers.

No. Way.

If you suffer ads online and getting mediocre content then the good news is it's under your control.


First, I agree with the reprogramming.

But in my experience, the goals shouldn’t be to as you state “to change their minds.” , it should be to listen and respond. If I disagree with you, I want to know how you came to that conclusion , I am not interested in your talking points you had recycled from somewhere.

This also makes discussions way more interesting. Now, this principle should extend to anyone, and the problem is that in online debates discussions often become asymmetrical. Say if your debate partner has no interest in listening, or argues with bad faith. Online communication should promote that mindset (something HN does in a form, but surely not perfected yet)


I said change theirs or yours. Not necessarily change it completely but at least learn where the difference comes from, and either move my position to account for new information or logic, or try to convince the other side.

But I do see it as a goal to get the opinions closer. I prefer listening while having a clear picture of what I'm currently thinking about it because only then you can realize where's the difference, and the difference is what you want to learn.

If the other side doesn't listen to statements, they might listen to questions. Asking what they think about X might get a better response than just stating X. Works in real world too against these types. Many times it's not because it's online, it's just narcissistic personality. Many people won't acknowledge when something moves their opinion.


"Seek to understand before seeking to be understood."


Why does someone’s position need to change? That implies that somebody is wrong, and that’s not necessarily the case. More often, the “wrongness” comes from having a different point of view.

For example, it’s easy to say “fuck cars” when you live in the city and they are only polluting, noisy nuisances that are, at best, optional for living your life. But when you live where I do, not having a car means a significant number of unreasonable changes to your life.


Great example, because people saying "fuck cars" probably aren't talking about your cars or your situation. They mean the cities. They too have a different point of view. What discussion is good at is allowing us to talk about topics even with differing points of view, but a like/dislike button only rewards or disuades what you said. There is no opportunity for the meeting of minds, and it makes an echochamber.

Had you seen a video titled "Fuck cars" and disliked it, Youtube would a stop showing you that content, and now you only get pro-car content. Or someone who loves bikes sees the video, they like it, they would never get pro-car content, and would never see your point of view. No one is challenged, no one is brought closer together in understanding.


Generally from my experience, people saying "fuck cars" aren't just talking about cars alone. They're talking about all poorly designed towns, cities, and infrastructure that completely cater to cars while disregarding the necessity of human movement, transportation, and health.


So get rid of pre-fabbed "individualization" by the platform, and allow individuals to choose what they do&don't want to see. This usually cuts ads way down, so I see why they don't do it, but it would fix the issues of bubbles. (Assuming bubbles and division is not what they wanted in the first place).


The "fuck cars" position is a great example. I advocate for pedestrian and cyclist friendly infrastructure for our city at our local planning board. The quality of online discourse even for people that share my position is terrible. There's a lot to discuss like fire apparatus access or construction labor shortages causing backups, street classifications, but the online discourse has so little of that.

A lot of these folks are driven by YouTubers who do advocacy work for those unfamiliar with the debate. But actually showing up at a planning meeting with that kind of rhetoric makes no sense. And this isn't even beginning to engage with people with different positions on road infrastructure. It's the double edged sword of the internet that raises awareness for issues but loses nuance because nuance loses engagement.


Ever heard of someone saying "fuck cars" in person? Where the conversation just stood on "fuck cars", and stopped there? When someone on the internet says "fuck cars", it's because he's expecting to get some dopamine from getting liked by similarly minded friends who also hate cars.

If his purpose was to have a discussion, to convince you, it wouldn't be "fuck cars", it would be "cars are polluting". And even if he's an arrogant asshole in real life, you could explain how cars are useful to you, and ask what he's suggesting to do. Maybe 1% are such total careless assholes you shouldn't be talking to them, but others will try to come up with an answer, and if they fail to give it, they will remember it.


It's not a binary. The position doesn't have to change from one to the other. It's that with more information from each side, both positions should evolve. That's where progress can be actualized. Echo chambers don't get results, they just echo.


> Why does someone’s position need to change? That implies that somebody is wrong, and that’s not necessarily the case.

Depends on your purpose in talking. My purposes are to inform people of things, to request information about things, to ask people to do things, to play, or to indirectly express approval(hug) or disapproval(hiss.)

If I'm arguing with somebody, I should either be improving the quality of their information or improving the quality of my own, or determined to convince somebody that they should do something. If I'm playing, by definition I can't be seriously arguing. The only people who care about my approval or disapproval as such are my parents and other loved ones; to other people the news about my current feelings as an individual aren't important, and if other people who didn't care about me found them important, they wouldn't want innuendo, they'd just want the facts.

If we have two incompatible opinions about something, yet we have no desire to bring them into agreement, why are we even arguing about it? Surely there's something better we could be doing.

I think a lot of people have started to think that the internet loves or hates them personally, and are desperate for its approval in an unhealthy way. The fact that there's money to be made in being noticed on the internet makes the situation even worse.

> For example, it’s easy to say “fuck cars” when you live in the city and they are only polluting, noisy nuisances that are, at best, optional for living your life. But when you live where I do, not having a car means a significant number of unreasonable changes to your life.

"It's easy to say that if you're you" isn't part of any legitimate argument. It's just extraneous ad hominem that people add while making (or eliding past) an argument. It also doesn't get you out of explaining "significant number" or especially "unreasonable," which begs the question.


Isn't the whole point that you can change the position of a person who says "fuck cars" by talking to them and telling them why some people need them?

If they are not trolls, learning about how much of the world is reliant on cars should absolutely change their position.


My experience is that people who say "fuck cars" are entirely aware of how much of world is absolutely reliant upon them.


What about upvoting and downvoting in hn? Do you find that to be positive?

Personally, I find I have to work to not write striking statements because I know they give me chance of getting a ton of upvotes. If I’m tired, the temptation is harder to resist


On Reddit, sometimes it's fun to sort by "most controversial", e.g. posts with most upvotes AND downvotes. That's where some of the most "edgy takes" lie. I kind of wish you could do that here, too


Speech is also about comfort and venting where echo chambers shine. And those chambers predate the social media. IME even IRL people tend to congregate mostly with like minded individuals.

And if the congregation turns out to have too many views in contrast to ones own then folks tend to leave.


> even IRL people tend to congregate mostly with like minded individuals

Historically, forming these tiny niche communities wasn't possible. Sure you had different social groups but they were geographically limited. You are also stuck to a degree when there is conflict.

> if the congregation turns out to have too many views in contrast to ones own then folks tend to leave.

Sure and it tends to be moderate people who leave first. Groups become more dogmatic and cultish, more extreme over time as they demoderate.


> Historically, forming these tiny niche communities wasn't possible.

Friends?


Your friends were your church, schoolmates, etc. You can't pick "People who are X, Y, Z and support only A and B" because the pool of potential friend candidates just wasn't large enough.

On Twitter, I can choose to only be friends with conservative libertarian furries who believe in crypto. That doesn't scale to real life.


> Your friends were your church, schoolmates, etc. You can't pick "People who are X, Y, Z and support only A and B" because the pool of potential friend candidates just wasn't large enough.

It seemed to work well enough for me. One thing worth noting is that people who live in the same geographical location already tend to be somewhat like-minded, for obvious reasons. But you seem to be talking about a "perfect match", which is an impossible, unnecessary standard.

> On Twitter, I can choose to only be friends with conservative libertarian furries who believe in crypto.

You're not friends with people on Twitter. If you think you are, try leaving Twitter, and see how many of your "friends" still talk to you afterward.


I was so baffled years ago by a man on the street series of interviews where people in a Liberal US City were asked if they had any republican friends or if they would be friends with such. Most said no. I also know a US lady who echo's this. Today my YouTube feed is filled with both conservatives and liberals (most of which voted republican)


Pardon if I'm just a little slow, yet not sure I follow what you're getting at.

If both the urban citizens and YouTubers are liberal, and the latter even (mostly) voted republican, then how are you defining 'liberal'?

Or is the distinction that things have changed over the years because YouTube broke geographic bubbles? So now even YT liberals often vote republican?


Sorry, I meant I was baffled at how they refused to have friends from the other side of the political aisle. That's real wacky. From watching political YT for years its clear that the left refuses to engage or discuss with people they disagree with, yet the moderates, republicans are happy to, in fact crave it.

It's heartwarming to me to see when someone from the other side will engage. Destiny is a great example but there are a few others, but not enough. It's these discussions where the two sides come together where there is the most information to glean.


This is one of the more astute things I’ve read in a while. The like button has become what an angry mob yelling to one another while holding pitchforks use language for. And this is what using the internet feels like now.


It's not the "like" button. It's the "likes" number. Hide the number and the like button is signal to the system. So "likes" and it's a signal to the poster. That IMO is the problem, not the button itself, the "score" you see visually.

I've hidden the score here on HN for myself and on StackOverflow. Two places where score has a negative effect on myself.


Once in a while I’ll say something snarky and get downvoted. I usually delete those because I’m not really adding to the dialog. But the world is full of uncomfortable truths, software doubly so (or at least, I can see more of them). It’s humbling when people agree, irritating or amusing when they don’t. Confusing when I say the same thing in two replies in one thread and one gets 25 downvotes while the other gets 35 upvotes.

My fake internet points go up every week whether I say something controversial or not so since they’re fake anyway what do I care? I know some people do but get a grip.

At the end of the day if you understand something that other people don’t, I figure that’s a way to stay gainfully employed. I don’t like cleaning up other people’s messes for long though. It’s fun at first and on some teams I get copycats and everything goes well, more or less. I’ve maybe made the world a better place by teaching some people something new. On others I become the janitor and end up leaving. Getting “downvoted” at work does matter.


I leave my stuff up, since most people downvote based on what they think I am trying to say, not based on what I am actually saying, at least seeing from responses I get.


Everything you say about the like button also applies to votes, so if the like button is what makes social media bad, I don't see why HN should be better.


HN's vote count is not public, and negative count is capped at -4 so you can't downvote someone into oblivion.


When -4 pushes you to the very bottom of the page in text so grayed-out that it's not even readable unless you highlight it first, I'd still call that oblivion. Also, flags from just two (?) people remove your comment entirely.


Yeah, as much as I don't want it to be true, HN algorithm is one of the harshest I've seen in terms of allowing people to hide/remove unpopular opinions. Some people think it's a feature not a bug though. I am not one of those people.

It's definitely "an elegant system for a more civilized age". Not for whatever you call the internet in 2023.


I've seen my comments come back from -4, and being flagged. Apparently, 'unflag' action cancels one 'flag' action. Thus, local oblivion is not irrecoverable.


As far as I know, there is no such thing as an 'unflag' option.

I've heard of the existence of a 'vouch' option, but supposedly it only appears on [dead] comments, not the merely downvoted/flagged-into-oblivion. And of course [dead] comments are hidden entirely by default.


Does your account not have vouch? It has enough karma that I would expect it to.


I think the weight of flags varies by account. I'm not sure if it's just karma that affects it, or some other information that's not visible to us.


Most social networks don't have an equivalent to downvotes at all.


I think this might be structurally related to our political ideology of liberal democracy.

We assume that bad takes die out or are overcome by good takes in the marketplace of ideas. Therefore, the ‘magnitude’ of a bad take should intuitively be close to 0, and the magnitude of a good take should be positive and nonzero.

Allowing negative scores permits bad takes to become large in magnitude. Allowing or disallowing downvotes is basically just scaling the distribution of magnitude of takes since bad takes will sit closer to zero than good takes in general, even if they cannot be downvoted.


But lack of downvotes mixes "just average takes not worth a upvote" with "this guy is obviously a moron, why I'm even seeing his comments together with other competent people?"


That's why upvotes and downvotes should be shown separately.


I feel the better approach would be where if you wish to downvote you must give a reason for the downvote.

This would eliminate the snowball effect.


...that nobody would read.

I think the usual "just don't show score for few minutes"/"don't show score that's only a bit negative" does the job well enough.


>The biggest problem is the like button. The like button is not only a bad metric - it's the worst possible metric.

ANY single metric is going to be unfit for purpose. We need to have a continuum of responses, tags or perhaps a vector for votes instead of a scalar.

It's like trying to force everything into a single hierarchy, it never works. You always end up at Matthew 6:24[1]:

  No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. 
  Ye cannot serve God and mammon.
Any single vote/rank/option range ends up serving mammon

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Matthew_6:24


Imo there's dimensions to which different systems let users express themselves.

1. The like button (e.g. Twitter) [1 dimension, discrete]

2. Clapping (e.g. Medium) [1 dimension, (kinda-)cotinuous]

2. Upvote/downvote (e.g. Reddit) [1 dimension, 2 directions, discrete]

3. Preset reactions (e.g. iMessage) [multiple dimensions, discrete]

4. Any emoji reaction (e.g. Slack) [(kinda-)infinite dimensions, discrete]

5. User-defined tags (e.g. Steam) [infinite dimensions, discrete]

6. Tags you can agree/disagree with (e.g. Kongregate) [infinite dimensions, bidirectional, discrete]

I could go on, but my point is that maybe the reason the like button is so bad is because it's literally the simplest possible implementation of user interactions to content. Perhaps a system that allowed for more nuance would make users consider their interaction more


The simplest possible implementation of user interaction is writing a response. It's already as rich as it can be. It gives less power to bots because bots are incoherent. I feel like the internet devolved us from eloquent human speakers back into monkeys making few noises for communicating. Emoji is similar.

Speak. Write text. Formulate your position. We're humans not apes. Get feedback from speaking. The video format in some cases is the same - ape like reaction movies, no content. Assume you're interacting with someone intelligent who isn't convinced by the funny number of likes on your post, but by the content of what you say.


I agree with this, but the point of these user interactions is to whittle them down to something that others can easily relate to.

If you then say "well people can agree/disagree" with comments, then we're back where we started. Why are they agreeing? Do they find it funny, useful, or just like the way the user makes their point? How MUCH do they agree? What if they disagree?

If your reaction is that we should completely kill these interactions then... well have you ever been on giant forums with no way to sort? Sometimes they're fine. Like when there's low volume. Some forums evolve chronologically and that method works as well. But if you're not gonna commit to reading a pamphlet, you're probably not gonna find such a comment section very useful


> It gives less power to bots because bots are incoherent.

ChatGPT would like a word with you.


I've always wondered why someone hasn't created what I call the 'orange slice' expression button. Much like cutting an orange in half it gives a preset amount of positive and negative values. Sort of a play off the meta moderation that Slashdot did.

For positive values it you could have something like

[I believe this is truthful], [I like this content],[Funny],[Positive message]

and for negative values

[I believe this is false/untruthful],[I dislike this content],[Sad/hateful],[Something else negative I can't think of at the moment?]


That's what trive.news was about. Turns out crowd sourcing truth gives a weighted average towards accuracy. Something tells me businesses relying on getting "experts" to sell you on things, would want to keep general public opinion out of the equation.

http://www.trive.news/Whitepaper.0.2.6x.pdf


Interview of trive founder, where he explains the process

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=ZJDL-kaJ_sY


BBC - The Wisdom of the Crowd (original experiment)

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=iOucwX7Z1HU


The Wisdom of Crowds v.s. The Stupidity of Herds

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=FuObIEngySA


the whitepaper offers no evidence for such claims except some vague about the "wisdom of the crowd"

Experience from political betting spaces tells me that the wisdom of the crowd rarely actually holds up to scrutiny. Political bettors[0] hardly ever do as good as simple poll aggregators like 538 or RCP.

[0]: https://electionbettingodds.com/


The wisdom of crowds is a well known principle, used in engineering to overcome something that is extremely difficult to measure (noisy data for instance), considering only one single measurement would be very dangerous, since it might be extremely imprecise. However, if you measure 1000 times and take the average, the errors cancel out and you have a pretty accurate measurement :)

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=HNQ3GccCAI0


That's not wisdom of the crowds. That's just a big sample size

Also, the video you posted points out a critical part of it working: diversity

I think that's why an aggregation of independent pollsters, as few of them as there might be, often ends up giving us a more accurate prediction than the millions of users that engage in PredictIt or similar betting websites


The maximum amount of nuance is here: the Reply button. But I agree with your point. We need something short of the Reply button because reading large numbers of replies just to get a sentiment analysis is not practical.


Right, I generally agree. But even comments can be agree/disagreed with or voted on or saved to lists or... etc. We're back to where we started

Imagine hackernews or stackexchange if there was absolutely no upvote/downvote mechanism


1) "Speaking up" is just one of many forms of speech. Why is speaking up "the purpose of speech", or even the purpose of social media speech?

2) There are many reasons to speak up. One may be to organize like-minded people into an effective advocacy group. Another may just be to lament something that you can't change.

3) I'm not trying to be snarky, but do you have any examples of changing people's minds on HN or social media? I personally don't feel like I ever change anyone's mind.


I’ve had my mind changed due to HN. But the posters of comments would never know. I’ll give them an upvote and move on.


> I’ve had my mind changed due to HN.

Do you have an example?


No specific one comes to mind, but normally the comments move my position, not flip it on its head. This is most effectively done by the poster giving an example of something I didn’t know about along with a link to a primary resource.


Speaking is meant to exchange information. You're not exchanging any information when the other side agrees with you and knows everything you're saying.

An advocacy group is ineffective if all its members have this mindset. With signaling mindset you have no chance to convince anyone of anything. I'd rather get someone thinking differently a little bit confused than lament something with people who think the same. It doesn't reinforce helplessness.

I have many anecdotes with somewhat low chance of moving opinions. Few people will admit changing their minds, but sometimes they will agree with you but still offer a weaker counterpoint of the opposing narrative.

You can't flip someone's opinion 180° on the internet, but you can get someone on the other side to acknowledge a counter point.


> Speaking is meant to exchange information.

Speaking has many purposes. Why do you keep trying to "limit speech", so to speak?

> You're not exchanging any information when the other side agrees with you

I disagree. Is there not a difference between facts and opinions? Why do I have to "change my mind" in order to learn a new fact? What if the new fact actually supports my opinion?

> and knows everything you're saying

Confirming that another person knows what you know can be useful.

> An advocacy group is ineffective if all its members have this mindset.

To the contrary, advocacy groups are most effective when the members agree with each other, and most ineffective when they fight among themselves.

> Few people will admit changing their minds, but sometimes they will agree with you but still offer a weaker counterpoint of the opposing narrative.

This gives the appearance to me that you're telling yourself you've changed other people's mind and that they now agree with you, despite evidence to the contrary.

> You can't flip someone's opinion 180° on the internet, but you can get someone on the other side to acknowledge a counter point.

What does this mean? To me it sounds kind of like debate club, a game with scoring.


If you change your mind right now that people's minds are changed on HN then you will have evidence of it happening : - )


> The biggest problem is the like button. The like button is not only a bad metric - it's the worst possible metric

But there is a real need for some kind of post rating/ranking (like like/dislike button, or explicit point rating). Once you got to thousand-post threads the without ranking mechanisms interesting posts are lost in noise. I guess that effectiveness of these mechanisms is an important part of why people prefer one forum before others.


The problem is no system is immune to incompetent/uncooperative users.

If in reddit/hn-like sites users use up/downvote as "okay, this is interesting discussion"/"this adds nothing to the topic" it works reasonably well.

If they decide that it is just same as like/dislike button (as is common on many bigger subreddits), then we get back to promoting echo chambers


Maybe AI is the answer. It can be be the better judge of comments in a conversation.


"Ah sorry the magic AI has decided only comments aligned with <X> political party are good. It must be correct!"

AI is just an algorithm. It's not a magic truth knower.


I agree. I also think the downvote button is a bad metric since it can be interpreted as, “this comment is wrong,” when often times it just means, “I don’t like this point of view,” “I disagree,” or even “I didn’t like something you said a month ago, so I’m going to be vindictive and downvote everything you say in the future.”

Even on Hacker News, I think it would improve the experience if you had to explain why you were downvoting (or upvoting) a comment before being allowed to do so. It would let everyone else know whether your reasoning justified the action.


I've caught myself being sensitive to the popular narrative when uttering my opinions, fearful of my "citizenship score". Shameful, yes. To a degree, here (yes!) but much moreso elsewhere (might be unavoidable).

Feedback is divine. Convenience is king. So let's go with the vote button. This distributed god-king is our best way to control this stuff (moderation, filteration etc).

We should not only be voting but looking at our peer's votes too. Weight votes by the voter. Stuff like that


Finally, big geek brains are going to get applied to this problem. Maybe we can come up with some algorithms to improve this experience! I was hoping this demographic would do something to fix the problems created... the last time this demographic tried to fix this and created these problems. ( glad to see such humility and self awareness on what made internet toxic in this discussion).


I'm pretty sure I agree with you 100% but as I write this I'm wondering how different an upvote is from a like button...

Also wondering if there was a pre-internet social equivalent of a like button. Maybe there wasn't one. It's probably dangerous to assume there was always some version of a like button. But it's probably just as dangerous to assume there wasn't?...


I think the like button is fine. There have been ways of expressing agreement or disagreement long before that idea came along. (See also: "This")

In my opinion, infinite scrolling is substantially more damaging. If you have poor self control, which I think many people do, using an app that does nothing to tell you when to quit is an open invitation to addiction.


> The biggest problem is the like button. The like button is not only a bad metric - it's the worst possible metric.

Upvoted for this


For me it was this:

> Normal purposeful speech makes different opinions closer, while speech under the feedback of the like button makes similar opinions even closer and different opinions further apart.

But there is another aspect to the complexities here.

Years ago, I started thinking of the LIKE/UPVOTE button as an "increase visibility" button.

I don't upvote just because I like it (humor perhaps being an exception).

Often, I'm not upvoting just the comments I like: I'm upvoting the whole containing _thread_, including the conflicting views if they seem to have been made in good faith.

Because when good quality discourse takes place, I want the whole instance to be seen.

In these cases, the intended audience of my upvotes is most immediately the algorithm (in a way), rather than human viewers.

Sometimes I've found myself wishing my upvotes could be made invisible to humans since I know many of them will interpret my upvote differently than intended. There is no nuance.

It gets me wondering how feedback mechanisms might be diversified to add nuance back into these systems (while still moderating complexity).

Emoticons (as on Slack) do add nuance, but every emoticon pack I've seen lacks nuance most in neutral and critical responses.

Of course, no technology we have now can compare with verbal discourse for nuance. But you and I are more likely to be able to influence feedback features on social media than to succeed in eliminating them.


> Years ago, I started thinking of the LIKE/UPVOTE button as an "increase visibility" button.

I think Mastodon tries to make that distinction with like vs boost. Boost seems to be about making a post more visible ("hey look at this!") and like is more about "thanks for posting". At least on the server I use.


The dislike button is worse than the like button.

You may as well say get lost.

The Orville episode “Majority Rules” allegorises the concept wonderfully


The like button or upvote or whatever has the same meaning: the viewer is signalling most of the time "I agree with this". Once you factor in other things like quotes and replies you're no longer measuring "engagement". You're measuring and optimizing for "outrage".

Thing is, social media didn't invent this. Outrage-as-engagement existed on TV long before social media existed. For decades, local news has pushed the "crime is out of control" narrative because it gets viewers and readers. Car chases, wall-to-wall coverage of violent and property crime, etc. To do this, local news needs to cooperation of the police so the net effect is local news becomes the propaganda arm of the police.

Cable news has been on this bandwagon since at least the 1990s.

> ... that social media has reprogrammed people to the purpose of speech.

I disagree. We have this high-minded view of what speech used to be only because we weren't there. Go back and look at segregregation-era (let alone slavery-era) newspapers, speeches, etc.


I agree with you on mass media, in fact I think the problem already started there, and it's even worse because it's not even a conversation, it's one sided.

When I'm speaking in person it's still similar to what I'm describing. I could have political discussion in highly polarized family with different opinions and people listening, and with friends too.

It's not "used to be", unless somehow you stopped talking in the real world.


I upvoted you since I want others to see your opinion which I agree with.




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