- Votes by direct link don't really count. So you could see a high total but it's not the actual value being used for the rank.
- Many flags can penalize a post
- Voting rings are heavily penalized
I'm in favor of all of these things because they prevent the most obvious gaming schemes.
Edit: looking at your history (http://news.ycombinator.com/submitted?id=destraynor) it's clear you only submit your own stuff. No one will argue with people self-submitting stuff here and there, but only submitting your own posts? If the content was worthy, someone would post it and it would get enough votes to rise organically.
For what it's worth -
I don't have a voting ring of 40/50 people (that I'm aware of :-) )
I don't think the post would have been flagged.
I can't control people voting by direct link, as another commenter alluded to, there are twitter accounts with tens of thousands of followers that tweet direct links. Maybe they're accidentally triggering this, which would be unfortunate.
Re: me submitting my own posts, it's just a matter of ritual really. I write a post, then publish, tweet, HN, Facebook it all at the same time. I also dislike when others submit my posts with terrible titles like "Marketers, this is a good article" or "Read this post about emails".
Thanks for your time John.
what is a 'vote by direct link' and why?
So if some of your upvotes come from what the software thinks is a voting ring, and/or if a few people flag your posts, they will drop to #80 or below very quickly.
Several technical solutions have been suggested in the past, but personally, I think it's a mistake for flags to count so heavily in the ranking. I think flags should not affect the ranking, but that sufficient flags compared with upvotes should result in deletion.
Consider. At the moment if a few people take exception to your posts then they will disappear from the front page and get very few views. Vigilant vigilantes can bury items quickly. Worse, spam gets buried, but not deleted.
If an item truly is spam, let it remain visible so that more people will flag it and thus cause its deletion. Simply burying it runs the risk it will never get deleted.
If this is the case, it would do HN a great deal of good for this system to be made more transparent. I understand that it might not make sense to publish the exact formula or algoritm which could expose "exploits" to those wishing to game the system, but I think it would be useful to at least show how many flags and down-votes a post has received. It would, for one thing, put an end to this speculation.
If it is the case that these extraordinarily fast demotions (#2 to #88 in one step) come from "normal" flagging and down-voting, I would ask: Why the hate? :-) I can say categorically that people LOVE Des' posts—not one gets less that 50k uniques in a week or so. Including the ones that are ripped off the HN home page. If it's simply because Des posts all of his hard work here, I would then ask: Does HN not want good content? And Des simply submitting it does not ever cause it to hit the home page—it takes a lot of votes to get it there. (Which is more than can be said for YC hiring posts…)
I love(d) HN, and it's totally within the rights of YC to do what they wish with it. But situations like this are doing a lot of long-term damage to the trust one can have in it as a source of quality, relavent content.
Disclaimer: I work for Intercom.
With the continuing popularity of HN the audience has become much more diverse, so it may be that the majority of people here quite simply don't agree with you. On top of that it only takes a few active dissenters to cause items to drop, as said earlier.
So you say "categorically that people LOVE Des' posts." Well, clearly not everyone. And with the range of interests, that's only to be expected.
For what it's worth, I agree that things aren't optimal, but it won't change. So live with it, or build something better.
I wish there was a 48h delay between the creation of an account and being able to post your first comment.
I wouldn't expect this to solve all our problems, but I think it would help.
Leave it to others to decide if your posts are worthy of promoting on HN.
Moreover, I think Des himself knows the commercial value of all this promotion:
Blogging has been our most effective weapon thus far. We'll give advertising a go soon, just to compare. But right now it looks like a good article that's related to the product drives readers, which we try to then funnel into the site.
I think everyone wins when this happens.
We do know how many people upvoted. We don't know how many people flagged. Perhaps very many flags are needed to drop a story.
If it's only a handful, you're never going to last on the front page for long -- it's part of the standard HN algorithm (something with time/number of votes and maybe something with spread in vote count over time -- at least that's what it seems to be)
But regardless, it should slide down , not literally drop on a refresh from #2 to #87.
Let's perform a thought experiment, all completely hypothetical, of course.
Suppose someone, call them R, has been on HN for over three years. Suppose also that over those years R has, for various reasons, ended up with more than one HN username.
Suppose that R noticed some interesting behavior in relation to flags and rankings and decided to investigate. Waiting until one of his (or her) submissions hit the front page, R then used the other usernames to flag it and watch how the ranking changed. Having done that, R then unflagged the submission to check that it returned to its previous ranking, providing evidence (although obviously not a guarantee) that there had been no other flags to affect the ranking.
At the end of that R would hve a pretty good idea of how many flags were needed to change the ranking of an item.
Would you agree?
Having worked it out, though, R might decide not to make this information public. Why? Perhaps because R respects PG's decision not to make various details of the rankings system public, and chooses to cooperate.
So now, you claim that I "have no idea how many flags are needed." In the light of the above completely hypothetical thought experiment let me ask:
Are you sure?
Added in edit: In response to the replies to the above thought experiment, let me add that "a flag or two" was not intended to be taken literally. My apologies if you thought I literally meant either exactly one or exactly two. I did not. In hindsight perhaps I should've said "a few." I do not, however, intend to make public exactly what I do know about this issue.
> Are you sure?
Added in edit: Cool - I report the results of an actual experiment providing evidence in a discussion, and I get a downvote. Fascinating - I clearly still have much to learn about the people who read and react on Hacker News. I have no idea why this should get a downvote.