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Ask HN: What are some iconic comments on HN?
103 points by etrvic 34 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 99 comments
Over the years, I've seen some iconic comments on HN. Inspired by this, I want to create a website showcasing the most memorable discussions and comments on this website.

What are some of your favorite comments on HN?





A fun thing in that broader thread is that cperciva is actually interacting with a Dropbox founder and both pulled of their vision via wildly different trajectories. Having a vision and sticking to it long term. ‘07 was a good time to be wrong on this forum.


Almost everyone in that thread is either a founder or an early employee of some well known unicorns! I wish I was around here (and not a 9 year old) back in 2007 :).


I love that this continues to top the list.


kudos for being a good sport about it too :)


"Just the once, though, huh?" was the best part, kudos for taking it in stride at the time.


Is it just me or that comment seems planted to get that response? I don't get why is there a random reference to Ravi Vakil who has nothing to do with the context of that conversation. And if you want to cite for academic accomplishment, you can cite someone known much more widely. I find it much less iconic due to that.


Ravi's my cousin.


That still does not make it relevant. Saying to some random stranger on the internet who claims to be bold that he is not bolder than your cousin and quoting a specific accomplishment just feels too much like one knows that the accomplishment is common to both and invites the now famous reply by Colin.

Don't get me wrong, Ravi being your cousin adds a lot of context and makes it much easier to understand why. But still makes the comment much less iconic for me.


The stray is what it’s so funny


If you click on lists at the bottom of the page[0], there are two relevant entries:

* highlights: Particularly interesting comments (manually curated via request) https://news.ycombinator.com/highlights

* bestcomments: Highest-voted recent comments https://news.ycombinator.com/bestcomments

[0]: https://news.ycombinator.com/lists


Ask HN: How do I safely contact drug cartels?

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=36731320


He was clearly trolling

> I'll be sure to have the cartels sign my EULA before proceeding with anything

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=36738007


haha! the replies are hilarious.. also considering their usernames. good laugh.. thanks!


"The 4-color map theory is bunk," [0] a comment in which a user boldly refutes modern mathematics and, when faced with contradictory evidence, continues to double down on his assertions.

(Note the OP is flagged so you need to be logged in with showdead to view it.)

[0] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=16862553



It’s worth reading dang’s comment on this:

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=27068148


For all the times I've seen the quote reposted, I have never seen this context added - it should be perma-pinned as the first reply to OP!

Thanks for the historical color.


This explanation doesn't add any context.

> When BrandonM wrote "I have a few qualms with this app", he didn't mean the software. He meant their YC application.

Of course. Criticism #3 (arguably the funniest one) was about monetization: "It does not seem very 'viral' or income-generating."

-my sides-

> The criticisms he was raising turned out not to be problems in hindsight, but were on point in 2007

They weren't really on point then, were they?

---

This comment isn't an example of "ha ha, low IQ" it's an example of "ha ha, humans can be hilariously bad at recognizing opportunities."


Yeah I agree, dang's comment doesn't really address any of the issues that I or other people have with the original comment that we're talking about.

Dunno why dang felt hte need to write that comment.

No one felt the need to write the same kind of comment from Commander Taco regarding the iPod.


> Dunno why dang felt hte need to write that comment.

Who writes the checks that keep the HN lights on?


Wow, like my sibling poster, I've never seen this and it adds so much context completely changing my perspective of the original comment.


> For a Linux user, you can already build such a system yourself quite trivially…

This is the part where he loses any sympathy.

If it’s so trivial why was nobody doing it? It’s classic tech bro know-it-all-ism.

Plus yeah wow, without the 3% of people who run desktop Linux whatever will a business do?


> If it’s so trivial why was nobody doing it?

It was commonly done, and still is.


It’s probably why Dropbox failed.


I don't understand the snark here.

The existence of restaurants doesn't imply that people don't cook their own food. That people have long come up with their own solutions for the problem that Dropbox addresses isn't incompatible with the notion that Dropbox can be a successful product. Obviously.

The world is packed full of products and services that do things that people can easily do themselves, because plenty of people are happy to not have to do that thing regardless. That's Dropbox's target market.


I remember reading this comment at that point. I totally agreed w/ the author, at least on point number one. A lot of us here where already paying for web hosting and using FTP clients to upload our files and like mentioned Linux, which had the time meant Ubuntu for most of us had it so nicely integrated into the file system. In someways we/Ubuntu were just ahead of the OneDrive. Honestly the only difference between OneDrive and the aforementioned setup at the time was it required you put in a host, username and password to set it up.


> at least on point number one

Point number one is

> I have a few qualms with this app: 1. For a Linux user, you can already build such a system yourself

Thus objecting to this Dropbox idea on the basis that it was redundant to 2% of desktop users.


For enterprise customers, this is an entirely fair objection. You could do this, and many places do. The companies I've worked for use NAS a lot more than they use Dropbox, I can tell you that much for sure in 2024.


How about all the Dropbox competitors/clones such as OneDrive?


OneDrive fucking sucks. If they didn't advertise it constantly through Windows I don't think anyone would know it exists. Google Drive gets used sometimes, but only slightly more frequently than Dropbox.

In SOC2 compliant orgs it's really not very common to store your files with BigCorp. At least, it's one of the no-nos they try to impress on you pretty early.


Lol, HN cannot ever accept the L.


Nor disrupt B2B storage, apparently.


This will always be the best example of HN.


Yes, in the sense that it’s someone providing useful and concise feedback on a YC application, which is what the original poster (the Dropbox founder) explicitly asked for.


What part of the feedback was most useful to Dropbox?

* That it didn't solve a problem for Linux users?

* That it ultimately relies on some internet connectivity?

* That it is not very "'viral' or income generating"?


Useful feedback doesn’t mean saying something that will seem insightful 15 years later. Setting the bar so incredibly high just means you’re going to lose out on the majority of feedback, and that’s a net loss for a fledgling project.

The benefit of early and unstructured feedback (like what you can get from a Show HN) is that it prepares the recipient to answer those questions down the road again. That’s why the Dropbox comment qualifies as useful. “Is this viral” sounds silly now, but in 2007 it was a question that the founder undoubtedly faced again and again.


I always forget how young I am, just for HN to remind me :)


I still see this comment referenced once a month or so on random parts of the internet (twitter, reddit)


This is the canonical HN comment.


I'm partial to this comment from Jedd saying my "seen things you wouldn't believe, attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion" / bill gates installs movie maker esque comment was his favorite of all time. https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=17522861 /bias


Some searches:

Ask HN: What Hacker News comments have you bookmarked?

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=19716401

Ask HN: What are the most uplifting comments you've read on HN?

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=9393213

Ask HN: Favorite HN comment(s)

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=14396104


Brian Armstrong looking for a Coinbase co-founder: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=3754664


I enjoy that his motivation for starting Coinbase was that credit card transaction fees are too high, and digital currency can solve this problem.

Here we are, 12 years later, and people still buy and sell cryptocurrency almost exclusively as an investment/bet, and very rarely is it used to facilitate any real transactions.


Not to forget that "cheap fees" is an argument that doesn't hold up anymore - Bitcoin and Ethereum fees are outlandish; Solana and other chains are just about "alright".

The tech at its core is really interesting though, sadly the most innovation seems to be in marketing at the moment.


The fees are virtually nothing on the layer 2 chains, but of course that's besides the point because it's a hurdle for anyone remotely non-technical to get there.


All new networks promise low fees, but as soon as the activity shifts there they don't hold up. I have seen it happen too many times before and is just by design of the fee market.

I don't even think the hurdle is that big, I find a lot of "crypto wallets" nicer to use than many banking apps - main issue imo is the risk to loose funds, which is significant even for technical users.


And the Fed released FedNow to support cheap domestic US instant payments: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=36801491

Sometimes, a startup is not the path to solve for a problem statement (but you can still be wildly financially successful as is the case with Brian).


Here we are 12 years later and Coinbase has the highest fees of any.


the guy who pulled 1.3m from multiple remote jobs and lived to tell the story: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=31156417


Had a friend who did something similar in the early aughts before remote work was a thing in order to buy a townhome outright without any mortgage. He had a day job as a developer until 3:30pm. He would then come home, shower, eat dinner and then head off to a night data entry job for another company until around midnight or so. His main job was salaried, his data entry job was hourly with bonuses for how much he could get done.

It took him about 18 months to hit his goal, while still paying all his bills and rent. The one thing he said was it took a huge toll on his health/mental wellbeing and said he spent another year getting back into shape and getting healthy again.

The other interesting thing was he said he got a lot of perspective about why people chase money and how it can be really unhealthy.


His subsequent replies are hilarious. I sometimes feel like I am doing this but with one job, and not on purpose… just because I’m a single dad of a young kid. It’s often just not possible to work more than 1/4 to 1/2 of the workday and keep him safe. Public school is only about 9-2pm. I don’t know how most people manage to have both kids and a job.


Wow what a legend.


If anyone sees great examples that haven't been added to https://news.ycombinator.com/highlights yet, please let us know at hn@ycombinator.com. We love getting those suggestions!

I still need to make an "I feel lucky"-style random sample version of that page.


what would be useful is to show comments in the order they are added to that list. and not in the order they were posted. i check this page every day, but if you add old comments, i won't see them.


i found this funny. bitcoin's first HN post, and commentor claiming its cute, but no will entertain the idea.

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=600813


And everything they said is still true. yes there are some believers but most crypto lovers are nothing but trying to get rich quick. No real world practical adoption after 15+ years.


Except for it creating the possibility of transferring wealth digitally, to anyone, across borders, without any centralized intermediary you have to trust. That's pretty amazing, especially for people who live unbanked, or in hyperinflationary economies with totalitarian governments.


Except in practice western union does almost all of that (minus centralized intermediary) more reliably, hence why the overwhelming majority of the third world doesn't use or rely on crypto despite these supposed benefits (which seem tailor made to help the third world out)


The (centralized) part you put in brackets is quite important. That's the differentiator.

Both systems can obviously co-exist. Much like how gold co-exists with fiat money. Or how there's bittorrent and S3.

And it is true the adoption part is still tiny (just equivalent to one of the top S&P500 companies in market cap) compared to its potential. And the numbers show that as adoption increases, volatility goes down.


A third world with a reliable govt doesn't need it. You need trustless currencies only when the centralised alternatives are actually untrustworthy.


I don't disagree that it had promise but it has failed to live up to the hype and after 15 years, we can safely say it has failed. A tiny minority may be using it for transactions but it did not gain the actual adoption it was supposed to and never solved the problems it was supposed to. Funny thing is that it created companies like Coinbase that is the exact opposite of what De-Centralization and anonymity was supposed to be which is supposedly the biggest problem solved by Crypto.


How can you "safely say that it has failed"? Bitcoin is in the top 10 largest assets in the world, just below silver. I think few people would've expected that 15 years ago. That's a pretty high bar you're setting.


The "Asset" is just about speculation and getting rich quick. Again, it failed because there is no real world application in day to day life for transactions to replace the Fiat currency and be de-centralized. You did not address any of my points in earlier comment btw.


Which of your points isn't also true for physical gold right now?

Maybe put those forward, and someone will address them for you.


> No real world practical adoption

You can quibble about which parts of the world are "real" or not, but the adoption of Bitcoin ($1.3T) dwarfs 99% of company market caps.


Well, I mean it's not absolutely wrong. Who today has faith in Bitcoin as a currency ?


BTC is 60k+ right now. Since, the price is based on supply-demand. That should explain, atleast 1 person has enough faith to put money on it.


In some ways, it's not wrong.


Since Bitcoin fans have entirely pivoted away from “peer-to-peer electronic currency” to “no actually it’s a store of value mumble mumble gold mumble ETFs”, that old comment was on point.


https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=9562212 has a 2015 discussion of the same topic, with many good comments.


From u/buryat:

SR-71 speed check

One time we were going fast

a small plane got on the radio and said "how fast am i going"

the tower said "you are going fast"

and then a bigger plane got on the radio and said "haha i think i am going faster how fast am i going"

and the tower said "you are going a little faster"

and then a jet fighter was going really fast and talked like a really cool guy and said "hey there, I sound like a cool guy, tell me how fast I'm going"

and the tower said "you are going very fast" but he sounded totally normal

And then I wanted to say something but that was against the rules, and then the other guy in my plane said "hey tower, are we going fast"

and the tower said "yes you are going like a million fast" and then the guy in my plane said "I think it's a million and one fast" and then the tower said "lol yeah ur plane is good"

and then I said "did we just become best friends"

and the other guy said "yes"

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=29373436


that's copy pasta, not a buryat original



The original story doesn't pass the smell test, but it's fun and hard to disprove.

Sled Driver is a great book for anyone looking for something to read. Physical copies sell for the hundreds of dollars, but there is a PDF floating on the high seas.


The volatility of voting on my comment seems like an explanation is deserved:

Here's a different SR-71 pilot saying it's probably not true: https://old.reddit.com/r/aviation/comments/xis19w/reddits_be...

There was another thread that had a larger discussion as to additional holes in the story, but Google is not as good as it once was.


Ugh man I cannot stand this kind of alpha-nerd bragging story. I’ve heard it’s ilk so very very often.


This one was iconic among the people involved, we printed it and stuck it on the wall in the office: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=13783584


"Entrepreneurship is like one of those carnival games where you throw darts or something. Middle class kids can afford one throw. Most miss. A few hit the target and get a small prize. A very few hit the center bullseye and get a bigger prize. Rags to riches! The American Dream lives on.

Rich kids can afford many throws. If they want to, they can try over and over and over again until they hit something and feel good about themselves. Some keep going until they hit the center bullseye, then they give speeches or write blog posts about "meritocracy" and the salutary effects of hard work.

Poor kids aren't visiting the carnival. They're the ones working it."

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=15659076


Along the same lines:

"[..]Here’s the recipe for success, as far as I can tell: 1. You’re not going to make any money from your side projects. Internalize that, and believe it. 2. Do everything in your power to try to make money from your side projects.[...]"

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=39508076


The interface isn't the best for finding older comments but there's the HN highlights list: https://news.ycombinator.com/highlights


https://hn.algolia.com/ is quite good for finding things on HN.


Curiously, you can search stories by popularity but not comments.


Unfortunately, what I really want is to find any story about my search term that has comments, but I've never found a way to do that. (Usecase: "Hm, should I install Foo or Bar? Let's see if anyone on HN has used either and written about it...")


I can search my comments by popularity, but I only get comments from 8 years ago and this year. I think that HN doesn't let it get the karma of comments from the intervening period. (If not, then it's an algolia bug.)



>Nice try FBI cockwad...

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=25884541

Goofy (but not r*ddit-tier) comments like the above are iconic in their own special way on this intellectually serious site.



> Do blind people not have feet? I'm confused by the geometry of this story.

.

> People often complain about how complex it is, but it's really just a matter of passing endofunctions through transplainer pipelines so that you can asynchronously hydrate the islands.

.

> I sent it to my wife but she spelled her own name wrong and now she thinks I have a crush on someone else

.

> Is zero greater than or equal to zero? Yes! reply

> > What an obviously unreasonable position reply.


Sources?



Found the first one (using HN's Algolia search api) https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=37803494


---

Yes. Un-wise super intelligent programmers are the worst. They come up with the most amazing roundabout way to achieve even the most mundane tasks, and consider complex code a mark of honour, rather than a pathology to be purged.

At some point people mature and realize that their job when writing code for work is not to concoct brilliant puzzles for next maintainer, but to do exactly the opposite. And then they reach the meta-level of realizing that simplifying things is actually just as hard and pleasing as puzzle-making, and they've reached a maturity in the quality their program design.

The worst kinds of programmers are those that plateau at the "Riddler" stage. They potentially are able carve themselves a nice safe niche, but the value they could have delivered could have been so much more if they'd ever matured. "Oh, that code... yeah, better call Edward ... it's his baby, supercomplex. Nobody seems to be smart enough to work in it except Mr. Nygma".

There are pieces of code that are potentially super-complex due to the intrinsic complexity of the problem space. But since for an outsider it's impossible to distinguish between the two, utmost empathy should be always used to introduce new people to such a thing.

-- fsloth: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=37808848


Thread between Rich Hickey and Alan Kay about 'Data'.

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=11945722

I'm on my phone, hopefully that's the correct link.


"revolutionary battery checklist" meme comment: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=28025930




moxie and Telegram's discussion about Telegram's unorthodox security choices: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=6915741


I think about it often.

toaster fucker problem: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=25667362




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