I never did figure out why I'd been hellbanned; my (polite and apologetic) emails were never answered. I'd never been impolite, trolled, or called people names, and although I was a fairly new user, I'd built up karma quickly in that short period. (Around 100 karma in 30 days; not too bad I thought.) I'd hardly ever been downvoted, and even now, looking back, I have absolutely no idea what I might have done to warrant a hellban.
Hellbanning "normal" users is just cruel. If your spambot/troll problems are so bad that you need to resort to hellbanning, it should be used rarely and sparingly. But on HN, apparently, it's not. If you browse with show dead on, I'd say 9 times out of 10 the hellbaned people you'll see should never have been hellbanned. And, take it from me, it really really sucks to realize that someone you don't even know has taken a couple seconds out of their busy day to screw with you and waste hours and hours of your time, without any possibility of recompense, or even a dialogue.
shrug Of course, I'm still here. HN has a great community. But I question if we need quite so much arbitrary cruelty to enable that community.
UPDATE: did a quick scan through a couple of recent articles and only found two hellbans (as opposed to comments which have been retracted/deleted):
http://news.ycombinator.com/threads?id=tonio09, apparently banned for this post: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=3107413
http://news.ycombinator.com/threads?id=chadmalik, apparently banned for his reaction on this thread: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=1702447
Who both seem to have deserved it, ie. they have a long string of inflammatory, poorly thought out one line posts which will never see the light of day.
UPDATE 2: http://news.ycombinator.com/threads?id=eurohacker is another one, for: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=3278165 or http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=3278149
The post he got hell-banned (without any notice visible to him) was:
ok. wtf is going on. why does this story have 314 points? it's about a man taking a photo of a couple. Is this supposed to be a top quality post or what? Why does it matter that the man was Steve Jobs and not some random dude? Did you get more out of this story one way or the other? HN FAIL.
Ok, clearly not a high quality post, but far from something I would consider worthy of a ban, especially in the style that will encourage him to keep contributing and yet trash anything submitted.
The only other post he ever made that was voted negative was: <blockquote> Apple designs Macs, the best personal computers in the world, along with OS X, iLife, iWork and professional software. Apple leads the digital music revolution with its iPods and iTunes online store. Apple has reinvented the mobile phone with its revolutionary iPhone and App Store, and has recently introduced iPad 2 which is defining the future of mobile media and computing devices. </blockquote> I just wanted to highlight this segment as a perfect example of media neutrality.
It's not a random event that both of his down voted posts relate to apple. In my experience at HN posts about apple or Steve Jobs that fail to adopt a complimentary tone are often down voted. I have every confidence that if he had made those posts about Microsoft, Yahoo or Facebook he'd still be posting freely now.
In contrast, here are some of the posts that HN has "saved itself" from seeing by hellbanning him:
I'm taking a Masters Machine Learning class at a top UK university and I must say that I'm sure the lecturer is an expert in ML but he's got absolutely no teaching skills. 90% of the class has absolutely no idea what's going on, and the 10% has extensive previous ML experience. Professor Ng's lectures are like a life savor to me. They help me understand the basic concepts of ML so that I can go on and study in the deep waters.
Every generation thinks that they are somehow unique. That they face problems that could mean the end of humanity. That they reached some kind of singularity and at this stage evolution stops unless they somehow do something about it.
I think the current age is no different than any previous age. Sure we have a different set of problems to cope with, but in the end we will advance and get over them. There's really nothing extraordinary. There will be humans in 100 years time and they will more developed than us.
Some people will retreat into virtual realities and be entertainment junkies. Some won't and will make the world go forward. Just like some people took drugs in the 60s and got high all day, and some people didn't.
I don't think this is a viable strategy in the long run. He managed to make it work for now because of all the media attention and sending it viral on social networking sites. In addition, he puts lots of moralistic pressure on the buyer which may work for him because it fits his comedy style. Also, with this experiment we prove a point to the public that this model can work, so that we, the consumers, can continue to torrent high quality entertainment material for free and not having to pay for it. Yes, it's pure selfishness.
In all other cases for all other "content producers", making it easier for people to torrent your stuff is equal to shooting yourself in the foot. That's the only reason people still pay for stuff like this nowadays anyway: (1) They either haven't got a clue what torrenting means or (2) they're too lazy to do it or (3) they're feeling morally generous.
You can combat (1) by keeping silent about it, (2) by putting as much protection on it as possible, (3) having skill in manipulating masses. Yes, it's manipulation. YOU'RE NOT PAYING 5 DOLLARS FOR THE SHOW, YOU'RE PAYING 5 DOLLARS TO FEEL GOOD ABOUT YOURSELF BEING MORAL.
Thanks but no thanks, I can feel good about myself whenever I want to, I don't need to pay 5 dollars to a dude for it. His show is great by the way but let's face it, it's essentially free.
This poster is perhaps an example of your category -- someone who is a cultural misfit and is banned before their Karma has a chance to recover?
I tend to agree with the subby. Shadowbanning, slowbanning, hellbanning are petty, vicious, and passive aggressive tools.
Before you implement them, you should make it clear that the person is treading on thin ice, and why.
Yes there are spammers and worse.
But the silent treatment and similar is recognized as a form of psychological abuse (remember that in your relationships folks. Someone giving you the silent treatment is abusing you as much as physical abuse is.)
So if you're going to implement hellbanning, shadowbanning, slowbanning, I really urge you to implement one or more intermediate steps like
+ coloring/greying/dimming/shading/collapsing the post
+ limited time timeouts.
Now, at some point I got barred from flagging articles, so I don't know whether this is some sort of mind-gamey attempt at community management or just a simple bug.
You've almost certainly been slowbanned. To check, create a throwaway account, and log in - you should find HN is fast. Log out, log in as your main account - you should find HN is slow again.
If so, then cnsider this your one and only warning. Someone didn't like something you did. You'll probably never know what it was exactly, but if you do it again you'll likely be hellbanned.
A "warning step", I suppose, absent anything like a warning. But then, a warning would imply that a human being made a choice, as opposed to some arcane calculation in the backend of the server that's hidden from the user by design.
And seriously, it applies to the list views, too. All the same things, including the links to upvote articles, get generated when you're logged out. You just get redirected if you actually click on one.
I may just have to dump this account that I've had for three years.
I don't know what your comments were like, but evidently users didn't want to read them. So although hours of your time were wasted, tens of hours of other people's time was saved. The good of the many outweigh the good of the few.
You should seek out an online community where your contribution is appreciated.
In my case, I view http://news.ycombinator.com/submitted?id=jonmc12, I see link #25 as http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=2007314 while logged in. When I am not logged in this link is missing, and the URL contains blank content.
No idea why.. I skimmed the article, thought it would be of interest and submitted. Maybe it was omitted because it mentions a YC founder? no clue really. This was the original link: http://opensource.washingtontimes.com/blog/2010/jan/8/how-we...
I don't pretend to be an expert on community moderation, but I find these practices disingenuous. Why not just expand the guidelines page to include these things? issue warnings?
For the last few months, I've been making a small range of comments here just to kind of test the waters and see what people react to. It has been a really good personal learning experience because it is almost like people are telling you something to your face, instead of what they'd normally say behind your back or just keep to themselves.
In general, I really like the community here, mostly because it favors positivity. I wish it favored a bit more humor and sarcasm, but those are two things that are hard to convey as text on a page.
Not commenting one way or another on the validity of hellbanning, just making an observation on the linked article.
I've seen some well-meaning people post friendly explanations to such comments by new users and to "not worry about it", but apparently such new users would be better off starting another account by that point.
ETA: One of the things I don't like about HN is that it's so opaque in that regard. It has secret rules that only exist in the Arc code and get hinted at randomly in threads, not put together somewhere a new person could read them. (No, the Guidelines are not those rules.)
PG et al do not value your time and contributions, so it's best not to get hung up on karma or handles. Say what you want, and change accounts regularly.
neat idea! never heard of it until now...
Personally I love the quality of HN posts and comments and I feel the crowd here is one I love being part of. If hell-banning contributes towards that then it's working.
After all like mentioned you can always send an email asking for the action to be revoked.
I'm disappointed to learn that it's in use here.
See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hellbanning and http://www.codinghorror.com/blog/2011/06/suspension-ban-or-h...
On the other hand, pg has no obligation to publish your comments on his website.
(notice how no-one said there was an obligation to publish things -- read this article as a piece of feedback, not a demand)
> pg has no obligation to publish your comments on his
Your vitriol against pg is pretty unwarranted though. You have to admit that spam is a big problem for a site like HN, and the automated tools to detect it will inevitably have some false positives.
In this case, the system is setup to let the user continue to post, without knowing that (effectively) their posts are doing to /dev/null.
But I can't help but feel sad and sorry for jcitme. He's a bit abrasive, but so are non-hellbanned folks sometimes. I think 198 days in purgatory is a long time and it starts to seem a bit cruel.