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There are two problems with your wall of text.

Firstly your comparison to lawyering is disingenuous, lawyering has the partnership model, you take a load of young naive idiots, you dangle this partnership jackpot in front of their noses and then you work them to the bone doing dull and even pointless work that you bill your clients many $$$s an hour for while the partners take the bulk of that money home. Lots drop out, some make partner, the cycle repeats. It's a 'jackpot' industry.

Programming is not that way, there's a massive demand for programmers, there's not a massive demand for young lawyers.

The second problem is your belief that working long hours = working 'exceedingly hard'.

There's a massive body of evidence that working past 35-40 hours per week that you're actually less productive in the medium to long term past about a month, it's bad for your health and the whole scenario feeds on itself in a horrible vicious cycle as employees who decide to 'opt out' of it get punished with no promotions and lower raises, perhaps even fired.

You see posts like yours trotted out when anyone puts their hand up and says 'hey, why are we working these long hours?'. Worse still in the UK, where a lot of companies also have this ridiculous culture, we have contracts in place specifying the amount of hours to be worked but they are just ignored. The employer is wilfully and knowingly breaking the contract and often lying to prospective employees in the interviews. But what can you do, you took the job and you can't have too many jobs in the last 2 years as people will begin to wonder.

But we have to protect startups and free enterprise right. Because all managers and CEOs know exactly what they're doing and have been taught that creating a culture of long hours rapidly creates pointless busy work zombies where everyone's losing.

And that's where you're argument falls flat on its face. Turns out we're not actually training any managers they just wing it and one of the intuitive fallacies everyone subscribes to is that more hours at the desk means more hours of production that somehow putting more hours means you're working 'exceedingly hard' instead of the truth which is 'exceedingly inefficiently'.

Perhaps it is time for government to step in as the free market's quite obviously failing at it as they refuse to listen to the scientists and worse are totally ignorant about studies done 100 years ago.




You're not arguing with Grellas so much as cherry picking sentences out of his comment and howling at them in isolation. If we extract the signal from your comment --- that partner-track law careers are problematic, that working unreasonably hard is a bad idea for employer and employee alike --- from the emotion, we find a series of arguments that Grellas himself likely agrees with.

In some cases I can guess that he agrees with your underlying argument because he's written comments to that effect in the past (for instance, you can use the search bar at the bottom of the page to find out some of what he thinks of partner-track law). In others, unfortunately, I can guess that he agrees because the very comment you're replying to says that he does.

I think I speak for a lot of people on HN when I ask that you not berate one of the more uniquely valuable contributors to HN for writing "walls of text". He writes differently than you and I; longer, yes, but also much more carefully and considerately. I have never, ever seen him address someone else on HN the way you just did him.


"You're not arguing with Grellas so much as cherry picking sentences out of his comment and howling at them in isolation."

That's certaintly a creative way to put it. But that is what everyone does when they make comments. They respond to things they don't agree with. The use of "cherry picking" in your context seems to indicate taking unfair pot shots. The use of "howling in isolation" brings up an image of a lonely dog in the dead of night. Why is that necessary exactly?

"I think I speak for a lot of people on HN when I ask that you not berate one of the more uniquely valuable contributors to HN for writing "walls of text"."

Then why do you need to say this? If there are people that think that they will downvote, right?

By the way this is not to say I agree with his language. I think it's great that grellas takes the time to write a "wall of text".


If you focus on individual points, then the discussion will degrade. Take the time to synthesize what the overall message from the post is, then respond to that. The danger of responding to individual points, instead of the message, is you start arguing about the trees, not the forest. It's the difference between an honest discussion and a game of "Gotcha!" I admit it's a difficult balance.

I will sometimes pull out individual sentences from a person's post, but only if I feel that sentence is representative of their overall point, or it is a mistaken premise that when corrected, the rest of the post is moot.


Because historically HN favors extended discussion of entire points. Not doing what "everyone does" is the name of the game. In particular, the rebuttal was not on argumentative parity with Grellas' well-tempered text, mere downvotes don't explain that. So, I agree with Thomas here.


You are reading it rather more harshly than it was meant and ironically your comment has probably exacerbated that. While I wish the discourse here could be my primary focus, I can't spend hours researching each commentator, I say what I honestly feel.

It is a wall of text, it's hard to really pick out what he is arguing.

It is the top comment at the moment and I felt it hadn't been effectively challenged and this is an area that I actually feel strongly about. I fundamentally disagree with the conclusion of his comment, which admittedly may just be mine. In my reading this is what I perceived:

Historical employer/employee relationship + Freedom of contract = unshackled startups encouraging hard work (with an overarching definition of a 'professional' and hard work = lots of hours)

There's an overall theme to his comment which is 'it's a factor of the historical way of the relationship between the law and the employer and the employee'. I don't fundamentally disagree with that. But only if we were talking about accountants or lawyers or retail employees or engineers or architects, etc.

I am cherry picking out the arguments as to why this theory should apply. Why is this a particularly compelling argument for the field of modern startups or programming, neither of which have to be shackled by convention as they're not established industries.

Perhaps he does agree with the general gist of my comment, ignoring any unintentional insult, but the comment and the underlying assumptions about what is career development and hard work certainly didn't. I am attempting to demonstrate that there is no link between many 'professional' industries as they operate on different models. I fundamentally disagree with several statements in there like I think they see it as career development and I will not begrudge them the choice to work exceedingly hard (especially as they are first developing in their careers) to achieve other "unbalanced" goals.

There is no choice if that is the culture of the company or even, as it seems in this case, the country.


Grellas writes thoughtful, balanced posts that come out of more years of experience than the median HN user has been alive, in a domain where most of us know little and are in serious need of a trusted guide.

What he wrote above is a high-quality legal and historical and cultural explanation of why programmers don't get paid overtime in the US, something I've often wondered about.

p.s. I'm sure it's true you didn't mean to be rude, but "A gentleman is one who never gives offense unintentionally." By the way, anybody know who said that?


You guys are taking this too far. I've not been around here that long, but I've seen much ruder posts go by without this level of chastising. It seems like the only reason this moral pile-on occurred was because he dared to challenge one of the celebrated community regulars.

I feel you guys trying to belittle someone into humbling himself before your 'special community member' has clogged up this comment section and completely detracted from the entire discussion. On top of that his argument isn't half bad, which can be justly noted by it being one of the top reply comments.


I don't need Matt to apologize or genuflect to George Grellas. But we get maybe one 'grellas comment every other week when we're lucky, and you can be sure that when someone tries to chase those comments away for being overlong, I'm going to call it out (if nobody else does).

It's not a waste of time or thread space to point out the value that Grellas brings to the site. I'm not doing it because Grellas is "special"; I'm doing it because his comments are extremely valuable. I've never met the guy.

The world will little note nor long remember what was said about Matt Manser on this thread (in fact, neither will I), but at least the thread now says "long 'grellas comments are a good thing". :)


Fair enough about clogging. I edited my comment to tone it down.


Hm. Was it Newton? No wait! Gandhi! Nah, couldn't be. Dante? No... maybe it was something they used to say at Burroughs. Oh wait no, I know! Eleanor Roosevelt!

:)

Aside: I have roughly the same feeling for someone who's glazed over all Grellas' posts as I do for someone who's never watched more than a single episode of The Wire: envy. You missed out, Matt Manser! Go read his backlog. It's great stuff. Also 'anigbrowl, 'tzs, and 'dctoedt.


Heh. What can I say? I like attributions.


>>In my reading this is what I perceived: Historical employer/employee relationship + Freedom of contract = unshackled startups encouraging hard work<<

Then you should read more closely. (Sorry, I say what I honestly feel.)

I think the comment you extract in the second to last sentence of your post is much closer to what OP is arguing. "It's not for me, but who am I to tell you that you can't reach for that brass ring?" If you read it in that light, from the perspective that free choice is a good thing, the argument doesn't "fall flat on its face".

>>There is no choice if that is the culture of the company or even, as it seems in this case, the country.<<

This would be true, except such countries don't exist. There is always a choice, even in places with notoriously bad working conditions (China, India, Vietnam, etc.) This culture may exist in some companies, but luckily, in more free market systems, most industries aren't controlled by one or two companies. To wit, even in the legal field in the U.S., there are many positions available that only require 40 hour workweeks.


Become a manager or CEO, and you will sing a different tune quite quickly. At that point you will realize that people want to get tons of money for flagrantly doing nothing, and some of them actually resent their peers who bust their humps so that the company can survive. At every company there are a few who do real work, and many who simply serve time.

Government is driving the US economy into a ditch and has also bankrupted the EU. Apple, by contrast, posts record numbers year over year. I think it's clear who should be dictating best practices to whom.


I've been a manager.

One day you'll realise that you're the failure, not the staff. Either you let the wrong people in your team, you fucked up their motivation or you're a bad manager.


There are bad managers, but there are also many bad employees. Peter Principle notwithstanding, within organizations that must post a profit to survive, those who found companies or rise to leadership roles are generally smarter, harder working, and more disciplined. Your original post does not contend with this.


No they're not. I vehemently oppose any arrogant and childish position that those who found or rise to leadership are special intellectually.

Brains aren't needed to found a company, only balls and drive. I've met plenty of stupid CEOs and managers of successful companies, IQ wise.

I'm sorry, but you need to grow up. People not choosing to found their own company does not make them stupid. Intelligence does not signal competence, more often as you go upwards it's social intelligence that's needed to become competent, not raw smarts.


I believe Grellas' main point is that, outside of a few areas society has deemed vulnerable and thus in need of protection, that the US gives skilled employees the ability to choose and negotiate with freedom.

If, for isntance, someone (even someone holding a JD) does not like the partnership model, they do not have to agree to it. They can seek other employers more conducive to the way they want to work or start their own firm or go into another industry.


It seems to me that you completely missed the point of grellas's post.

The second problem is your belief that working long hours = working 'exceedingly hard'.

That's not really what he said, but even if that's true, nothing in your post refutes that. Someone who is working long hours, is working hard. They may not be working smart, but they are working hard.

Now, the rest of your post addresses why working overtime may not be beneficial to your goals. This does not fundamentally contradict grellas's point that the US model is based around the theory that skilled professionals should have the choice and that they have the knowledge and power to exercise that choice. In the US, if you don't want to work 100 hours a week -- or don't think it's productive -- you can quit. There may be some problems with this view but I don't see any convincing arguments against it in your post.

Lastly, I would like to echo tptaceck's comment that grellas is always informative, helpful, and exceedingly polite. Your disrespect was completely uncalled for.


Sitting at a desk for 10 hours is actually incredibly easy, the only hard part is looking busy the whole time.


I see -- your definition of working hard includes an effort quantifier? I can see that, although I did not interpret the phrase that way. I took "working hard" to be some determiner of resources expended. Time is certainly a resource -- whether or not it is highly valued by the employee is a different matter.




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