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Ask HN: Where is the Hostility on HN Coming From?
171 points by OoTheNigerian on Aug 8, 2012 | hide | past | web | favorite | 151 comments
Jut take a look at this thread that is proposing NOT implementing a new design for Wikipedia. http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=4352290 The presentation is very polite but the HN'feedback'? Woah!

The responses even from veteran HNers is nothing short of shocking. I can mildly 'understand' harsh responses from people whose present jobs are to design Wikipedia however, the extremely harsh responses from others is not constructive and leads to no learning whatsoever both for the designers and others.

This post is just an example of the latest trend of a new and unusually hostile HN.

Not cool.

People in the comments are claiming it is "Feedback". How many of you would critique that presentation that way (like in the comments) to the designers in person?

There is a whole world of difference between:

"Hey, did you consider this and that." and "What you have done is rubbish. You did not think"

For heavens sake the presentation ended with "And here we stop. But, hopefully, the discussion begins." http://www.wikipediaredefined.com/

If it was that bad, then you do not upvote it. if it was good enough for a discussion (upvote), then discuss politely.

Not once in the comments did I see an alternative suggestion. even it it was entirely different from what was proposed. It was all condemnation.

At least we can agree Wikipedia can be improved, they made a suggestion. If you cannot constructively improve on what was proposed, then you can avoid polluting it. Or better still propose your own suggestion.

If I am working with someone on a design and they bring me something as bad as that redesign, I'm going to tell them it's awful. That redesign is rubbish and it very clearly was done without thinking about what was important, and nobody benefits by pretending that's not true. As a designer, you should not be offended by people telling you things you've made don't work, so long as they're providing reasons. Those people are doing you a favor. You cannot remain emotionally attached to your own work and be a good designer.

It is far easier to work with people who are direct and harsh than the people who dance around the matter. You can never trust anything the latter group of people tell you, and so you end up wasting a tremendous amount of time because you have no idea what they actually want because they refuse to actually tell you.

(That said, there is a world of difference between "that is rubbish, you did not think" and "that is rubbish because you did not think about things X, Y and Z". The first is useless, the second is helpful.)


Your idea that people must offer alternate suggestions before criticism is ridiculous. If you present your redesign idea to the public and it's terrible, the correct response is "that's not very good, go back and try again", not "that's not very good, therefore I will spend the months required to come up with a non-awful alternative before commenting".

This absolutely breaks rule #1 in dealing with people: "Don't criticize, condemn, or complain."

> (That said, there is a world of difference between "that is rubbish, you did not think" and "that is rubbish because you did not think about things X, Y and Z". The first is useless, the second is helpful.)

This is not true. They are both needlessly critical. You can compliment the design aspects you like, ask for issues to be addressed, and nurture ideas all without telling someone their work is rubbish. No matter what else you say, if you criticize my idea as "rubbish" I'm not going to hear anything else you say.

This "tough love" idea of telling people what they did is awful is just terrible advice and please stop spreading it. You don't win people to your way of thinking by telling them they did a bad job. It's plain false.

That's a fucking stupid rule.

(And I say that with the full knowledge that my phrasing will make you less receptive to my argument.)

Environments where you can't discuss mistakes are poisonous. People make mistakes. People do stupid things. If those mistakes are not dealt with directly, they become larger mistakes, and you end up in situations where people don't take minor actions that can prevent disasters because they're afraid that somebody's feelings might be hurt.

As an example, a few years ago the college I was then attending switched from internally managed email to gmail. For a month after the switch, you could log into anyone's email account without a password. This happened in large part because there was a culture of ignoring mistakes, and people who regularly raises issues were branded as "complainers". And so when they were doing the switch, nobody was willing to stand up and say "have we done basic testing?"

There are, of course, times and places where your goal is not offending people, and criticizing them is obviously a bad idea. (Telling a VC "that investment you made a week ago was really dumb" is probably a bad way to get them to invest in your company.) But much of the time, that rule causes many more problems than it solves.

It's also worth noting that phrasing and delivery matter quite a lot, and that's something that's much harder to convey in text. There's a huge difference, as I've said already, between insulting somebody and criticizing their work. The first is not productive--the second can be.

I never said anything about not discussing mistakes. I never said to not deal with issues. I said that if you call my work "rubbish", I will be resentful, not grateful. Your comments elsewhere make me think that we agree on this. When you criticize someone, their absolute first instinct is to defend themselves. Even if you're commenting on a thread on a message board on the internet on something made by someone you'll never meet, saying "it's rubbish" 1) won't get your point across (because they will resent you for saying so publicly, for giving them bad press, for insulting their work, etc) and 2) won't improve the discussion.

We agree on basically everything you said. You're 100% right that phrasing and delivery matter quite a lot - which, and this is really the most important part, is exactly what the original post was trying to say. The tone and delivery of most of the comments on the original submission was just ridiculously hostile. And when you're giving someone feedback, that tone matters, whether you have to work with the person every day or it's someone you'll never meet.

>That's a fucking stupid rule.

Version 1: Your reply if fucking stupid, you arrogant bastard, and you successfully made an ass of yourself. Even if your example was relevant, which is not, everyone knows you can't ever get idiots in any IT department to fix something like missing password. Fuck, nobody gets a job in IT in a college department without being terminally brain-dead. You are not smart enough to realize that the right thing to do is go in the server room with an ax, and hope that when they rebuild the system they'll get a clue. Sheesh, you people are the reason we need an Internet license, to prevent folks like you from polluting the web with nonsense.

Version 2: Dear samdk, I fail to see why people would fix the email system faster if you criticize them or make them resent you. You did not provide the details of the story, but I know of a similar case where the problem was fixed in private, technical, and polite e-mails. That case involved early Sun4 systems where everybody could read anybody's screen over the network, so it was relatively critical too... All it took was showing the sysadmin's screen on mine to get things fixed rather rapidly.

> (And I say that with the full knowledge that my phrasing will make you less receptive to my argument.)

This means you write this for yourself and not to fix things. This is the reason why rule #1 is a good rule: it places the other guy in the center. Your ultimate goal in a negotiation is to get the other side to do what you want. This means they are the center of the universe at that moment. You illustrated that very well with your VC example. What makes a VC different from an IT admin? That you think they are more powerful?

Jon Kershaw, who manages killer whales for a leaving, likes to bring the point that if you try to force a killer whale to do something, you end up dead more often than you want. To bring killer whales to do what you want, you need to make them want to.

Back to the story at hand, I liked the new design, except for the J-like capital I and a few details. Yet, I would certainly have remained silent on the thread because of the vocal and needless criticism, which I find a bit low for YC.

If you want to improve your craft, you need feedback. Honest feedback, not feedback guided by other goals (like, making friends with/influencing you).

My point is that improvement does not grow out of negative feedback. This thread is about how the original post had just a torrent of negative and hostile feedback - that kind of feedback is not useful to the submitter for a whole host of reasons that SelfishMeme covered quite adeptly above.

There's a vast difference between honest feedback and what was in that thread. Publicly taking someone to task for a design experiment is shameful behavior, especially given this community's standards of participation.

> If I am working with someone on a design and they bring me something as bad as that redesign, I'm going to tell them it's awful. That redesign is rubbish and it very clearly was done without thinking about what was important, and nobody benefits by pretending that's not true. As a designer, you should not be offended by people telling you things you've made don't work, so long as they're providing reasons. Those people are doing you a favor. You cannot remain emotionally attached to your own work and be a good designer.

I think that's a terrible and even dangerous attitude - especially when done in public - for several reasons.

Firstly, if you heavily criticize something when many people are watching, it might keep you from receiving balanced feedback. Some people probably liked some of the aspects of the redesign, but with dozens of people in the thread saying how awful it was, they will rather not speak up and talk about what they liked. If you tell a mass of people "X is rubbish and whoever came up with this is stupid", and some more people join in, the others will probably assume they are idiots for liking it and say nothing. As an analogy: When I was younger I really liked a girl in my class but all my friends were going on about how ugly and weird she was, probably because of some kind of social feedback loop. So instead of telling her that I liked her, I started joining in with the "X is stupid" meme because I didn't want to look like a fool in front of my friends. Had they not talked about it in such an extreme way, things might have went differently, but because of the situation, I lost all my courage to admit it to her and my friends.

Secondly, if you mix valid criticism with being a dick about it, people will more likely think that your criticism is less valid since it's easier to just assume you are an asshole. Most people are emotionally attached to their work. If they weren't, their work would probably suck. They'll learn how to handle criticism, but that doesn't mean it won't hurt or demotivate them if you tell them it's rubbish.

Thirdly, there is absolutely no need to ever mention that it's rubbish or awful. All you need to do is to list the points where they failed and maybe give advice on how to improve it. Calling their work rubbish helps nobody and makes you feel smarter and more powerful than you actually are. If you treat people like this, their work will become worse, not better, and at the same time they will probably stop asking you for advice because you can't stop being a dick about it instead of just encouraging them to improve on what they did by giving valid advice.

People aren't just machines that you can tell "this is all awful, throw it away and start over" without hurting their feelings in at least some way. You should learn to use these emotions to steer them in the right direction, not condemn them and call people who express them unprofessional. You'll get a lot further by nicely packaging your criticism.

    "X is rubbish and whoever came up with this is stupid"
To be clear, I agree that this is awful feedback. It contains no useful information and personally insults the creator, both of which are bad. There is a world of difference between saying "this design is bad" and "you are a bad designer". Even good designers come up with truly terrible ideas constantly--it's part of the process. (I certainly have more than my share!)

Obviously people get emotionally attached to their work. I certainly do. But you have to be able to let go of that while you're receiving feedback, or there's no point in you getting any.

Again, to be clear, I would not say "this is rubbish" or "this is awful" while critiquing a design. I would say "this is not working at all because you're ignoring considerations A and B". There are many, many design ideas that just do not work. As a designer, you are much better served by someone telling you "this is not working at all, you need an entirely different approach" than you are by someone trying to hint you towards evolving a design that's based on a faulty premise.

Well said.

"How many of you would critique that presentation that way (like in the comments) to the designers in person?"

All other things equal I think internet interactions are "weaker" and carry less weight that regular in-person interactions. If I come to your desk and say "good job" or "I think what you did is terribly lame", I'm sure it won't have the same impact that if I wrote it as a comment in some website. I think that's why internet interactions tend to be more polarizing. So I don't think your question is appropriate.

Besides, for many articles linked on HN we don't know whether the creators are ever going to read our comments. I might be a little more gentle and diplomat in a "Show HN" post than in a regular "look what I found in the internet" post.

But all other things aren't equal- this is HN, not the rest of the internet. I think one of the draws of the HN community is that interactions often carry more weight than your typical comment section on a blog.

According to the authors of that terrible design, they spent two months on it.

"Not once in the comments did I see an alternative suggestion."

The onus isn't on us to spend two months coming up with an alternative suggestion, when we can clearly compare the existing design with their proposal.

If I'd personally spent two months trying to re-invisage Wikipedia, I would certainly have brought that up.

A lot of the heat in the critiques comes from the fact that it is not a real redesign project. If that firm had actually been hired by the Wikimedia Foundation, or even better, actually engaged with the volunteer leadership to work on implementable design improvements, you would not see such anger.

But the firm did not do that, which gives the "project" the hallmarks of a pure PR exercise for the firm (which is what it obviously is).

The reason this matters is that design is very hard to do because of the real constraints that must be met, in terms of existing technology, limited budget, limited time, internal politics, etc. Pretending constraints don't exist can offend people who spend a lot of their (frustrating, hard working) time actually dealing with them.

But a post on hacker news is not a comment to the designers in person.

Compare with book or movie reviews published in newspapers. They frequently give very harsh and sarcastic criticism, and this is considered fair game. The standards of politeness for face-to-face conversations and public commentary are different.

> If it was that bad, then you do not upvote it. if it was good enough for a discussion (upvote), then discuss politely.

Why can only goodness be cause for discussion? The top comment by tptacek actually goes into a lot of detail about what's wrong with this. That's useful discussion. It's not positive, but I thought his comment was very high-quality discussion, even if the tone was not positive and happy.

Wikipedia don't need to be cool. It just need to be simple and clear. It don't need a better logo or anything. Wikipedia is content and people who are building it. You design is ok for a design brand or a contemporary art stuff but not for the worldwide encycopedia.

A lot of the strong feedback appeared to be a backlash to the perception that this was a marketing scheme dressed up as a public service suggestion. Offering an open letter of advice coupled with biting critique, rather than making a private offer, does strike a certain self-serving tone. While I generally love seeing how designers would, free of real-world constraints, re-imagine popular sites, maybe the authors didn't choose the best tone or format for their submission.

That said, when I find myself typing something venomous (more often than warranted), I try to take a breath and delete. Worked for Lincoln: http://www.examiner.com/article/an-unsent-letter

Yes, there's been a trend recently of "I'm redesigning X, completely from scratch, because it needs it" with the implication that X's current design is badly in need of improvement. This is going to bring the designer both positive and negative attention, and deservedly so. Typically the redesign is radical and makes bold, often false assumptions about the product, which makes these posts seem particularly self-serving.

I think that these designers could do just as good a job of demonstrating their creativity by using a fictitious brand (and possibly even drawing comparisons to known brands in the article). It is not classy to drag someone else's brand through the dirt.

>It is not classy to drag someone else's brand through the dirt

Wikipedia is fairly democratic, they're open to redesign decisions if they work for the site and are free. See this response to the article: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:2012_main_page_redes...

Of all brands the designers could have chosen, Wikipedia may be one of the most appropriate.

I think the response would have been different if the design firm had openly approached the Wikipedia community at the beginning of their project to offer their pro bono services. Instead it seems like the designers did the work in isolation for 2 months and then sprung it on the world--not a very collaborative working style.

I believe most design firms offer some kind of prototype as a first step, which is what they did. They weren't commissioned to do anything, and there is no go-to person at Wikipedia for them to work with; an iterative process would have required working with a democratic committee of volunteers who individually don't have the authority to make any kind of decision.

I've hired a lot of web design firms over the past decade and I've never seen or requested a 2-month-long prototype phase as the first step.

The first step in a web design project is always discovery, so that the design firm does not waste their time (and my employer's money) on work that does not solve the right problems, or cannot be implemented.

Ad agencies, in contrast, will typically come to a pitch meeting with some concepts or prototypes. But that is ok because ads are self-contained products that are largely free from legacy systems.

The unfortunate reality is that any designer will garner vastly more attention for redesigning a popular website than for creating a fictitious brand.

Then the unfortunate reality is that they might get flamed—sorry, receive a hostile and extremely harsh response—for it.

Interesting suggestion.

I do really enjoy seeing creative individuals do unrequested design comps, but I think you hit the nail on the head: Don't drag someone else down to do it.

Without the hostility, the designers might get the idea that their suggestions were good.

Without the hostility, the submitter might get the idea that hackernews liked the article.

You say the response "is not constructive and leads to no learning whatsoever". I'd like to substantively address the second claim.

    "A smart man learns from his mistakes.
     A wise man learns from the mistakes of others."
The designers learned that their changes were bad. They learned WHY their changes were bad: many responses gave detailed reasons. The submitter learned that their model of what HN likes was wrong. And if the submitter thought this was a good design, they learned their understanding of design is wrong. All the others who read the submission and responses learned a few design pitfalls to avoid. There are whole chapters in books on design that teach less than this.

And this is learning from the event itself! What learning could this event LEAD to? I don't know, someone might pick up a book on design?

(As an aside, I didn't address "not constructive". I have a truly marvellous rant on the emptiness of this concept that this comment field is too small to contain.)

If hostility is the only way for someone to get their point across then I suggest they may need to work on their vocabulary.

What, in your eyes, is a better indicator of hacker news liking or not liking something? Is it the over 400 points or the stream of hate coming at them in the comments?

Sometimes these redesigns reek of audacity, sometimes they're just not done very well. In any case, hostility is not necessary to make that point. The situation is not so dire that we need to be mean to someone to tell them we don't like something. It's hard to share what you've done with the world, and it's even harder when many people from a community you respect will shit on you in the case you overlook something.

I don't mean to be impolite, but don't try and pass your anger that something has 400 points on hacker news for some sort of tough-love criticism.

"If I don't hit you, how will you know I'm mad?"

Work on your communication skills.

Saving this for the next yelling match I get in over a system design...

You presuppose that hostility is necessary to conveying a point. There are many ways to get a point across.

Say what?? I, for one, LIKED the submission a lot! The Wikipedia Redefined site is a great way to present a design proposal from an outsider. The redesign had some flaws, like not fully accounting for i18n and accessability issues, but there where some great nuggets in there too. Such as using a stylized W instead of the plain boring W as the favicon.

It is so sad that people instead choose to criticize the flaws and ignoring the good and valuable ideas just so they can be extra critical.

No, there is a lot of better ways to inform the designer about his mistakes than just ranting about them.

I hope you can think of better examples.

I hadn't seen the post you mentioned, but the whole thing was so dripping in arrogance and a complete disdain for Wikipedia and its international users and contributors it is begging to get panned.

Basically, it is the original post that is not constructive to the point of being hostile. There is very little "polite" about it.

Maybe it should have been ignored rather than reacted to, but this kind of thing would provoke a negative response anywhere.

Also, I suspect the whole scenario of arrogant designers presenting a design that completely ignores the needs and identity of the client and the audience, interspersed with arrogant statement declaring their own superiority is not entirely unfamiliar to many here. At least my first reaction was "oh great, that again".

This is not a way to start an friendly open discussion or get constructive criticism. It's a provocation, which is also a perfectly valid way to start a debate, but it does set the tone.

I think the wikipedia post is a great example.

I love wikipedia, but it is poorly designed. In fact, there has recently been speculation that the decline in new editors is due to wikipedia being too arcane, particularly on the edit side. Despite its popularity, I can't see how that basic notion is even controversial.

Meanwhile, somebody comes up with a redesign mockup and it's the end of the world because 1 page (out of ~ a dozen) doesn't make it easy enough for people to switch to the right language version?

Anyway, I'm not sure about 'all the hostility,' but I agree that thread was a little weird. I expected HN types to maybe not be thrilled with that redesign, but at least agree that wikipedia needs one.

None of the criticism was of the flavor "Wikipedia must not be redesigned." The hate was directed toward the actual redesign presented there, not the general idea of a different design.

The designers took a big, unsolicited, passive-aggressive public dump on the design of Wikipedia – which is, for all its faults, undeniably a project that has attracted a million people to lavish love on it without pay – and now you profess astonishment that they got some harsh feedback?

Perhaps tomorrow you'll profess astonishment when someone walks into Yankee Stadium wearing a Red Sox shirt and uses the PA system to "objectively" redesign the Yankee pinstripes to "be more functional, more useful, more pleasing to the eye"? Oh, lordy, lordy, who could have predicted the harsh language in response? I thought New York was a civilized town!

If the designers had actually wanted to improve Wikipedia, the correct strategy is to start small and modestly, and aim the pitch at the decision makers - presumably Wikipedia has a design committee? - not the entire Internet. You suggest ideas one or two at a time and collect feedback as you go, not merely because you care what the customer thinks - you do, right? - but because you're trying to get them to feel invested in the new product instead of clinging reflexively to the old.

People don't see designs objectively; that's an artist's special power. The see designs like they see puppies. If a strange puppy walks in and starts fighting with my puppy I'll call Animal Control and have it dragged away in a cage. But if my new puppy chews the furniture, I might scold him, but I probably won't disown the little rascal. The secret is to introduce the small, cute, innocent little puppy to the customer and have it be petted for a while before you let it soil the old rug, drive the customer's other pets insane, and run up vet bills.

To use your metaphor, walking into the Yankee Stadium and using their PA would be akin to this person putting the new design up on Wikipedia, like on a talk page or linking to it from Wikipedia's entry on Wikipedia. No, the person put their new design up on a totally separate website.

He didn't say that Wikipedia has to change, it was merely just his design idea that he wanted to share with the world. Yes, if he actually wanted Wikipedia to change there is a process of contacting Wikipedia and going through the whole bureaucratic process but I think it was more of a show what's possible. Kind of like that design project that was on HN a while back showing a possible rebranding of Microsoft.

I may be in the minority here but I don't believe it warranted such harsh criticism.

"He didn't say that Wikipedia has to change, it was merely just his design idea that he wanted to share with the world."

Well, the cynic in me -- which I've been trying to restrain throughout the last few days of this discussion -- thinks he was doing it primarily as "content marketing" for his design firm. Maybe it's a little unfair to pin that motive on him. And I certainly have no way of knowing what the hidden agenda was, or even if there was one. But when you make a "pitch" to the entire Internet in this fashion, generally speaking, you're doing it to get attention (and business).

There's nothing wrong with content marketing. Some HN luminaries do it all the time. But the content has to provide some value, and a lot of folks (myself included) are still struggling to find the value in the Wikipedia redesign post.

It was a poor design, that altered the UX in a significantly negative fashion due to a lack of understanding of what Wikipedia is.

I'd be like someone doing a very swooshy automobile design, and then moving the clutch to the passenger's side, just for kicks.

Also, in general I believe that hacker culture should tend towards cutting through the bullshit. You have no expectation of courtesy except for the courtesy of honesty on the Internet.

Harsh criticism is the quickest way to let someone know they're doing the wrong thing, and the fastest way to get your point across.

While you would probably be naive to expect courtesy on the Internet, there is no reason not to offer it.

It's no harder to write a courteous and constructive criticism than it is to write a harsh and mildly condescending one. The former can serve to foster creative discussion while the latter often kills it.

Spare us the "kumbaya".

You earn respect and the courtesy of others falls out the other side. And even with all the trolls, anonymous bluntness and dens of iniquity that exist on the internet, there are plenty of ways to engage in positive or constructive feedback loops.

But if you've got a bad product (in this case a poorly executed and thought-out speculative redesign promotional piece) and you actually host it on a .com domain name for said product, it stands or falls on it's own merit.

Had this been a forum post or addressed to a design community with a culture of courteous discourse, I would decry the lack of respect and courtesy provided free expression, but as it stands, this was a cynical and misguided top level domain attempt that failed and should be called out as such.

I agree that respect is earned. I disagree that courtesy should only fall out the other side.

There's no point in creatively discussing a mound of shit.

In that case, silence is a good option.

No it's not. If you're silent only the praise is represented in the discussion. If five people like it and a hundred more hate it, I'd like to hear from the latter crowd as much as or more than the former.

Ok, I get it. You're just a dick.

Agreed. A lot of terrible design practices get voted to the top here. Since it isn't a design-centric board and because we can't downvote (and it's rude to downvote without stating the reason anyway, generally), the best way to convey bad practices is through writing a reply. A good portion of people here have never had to deal with a real design critique and don't know the lingo.

At the same time, this redesign is supposed to be an advertisement for this agency, so much so that they bought a domain for it. It's not just something they did for their mother's crochet club. It is supposed to show the depth at which the agency thinks. It is supposed to show their design chops. It is supposed to illustrate that they can tackle large problems. It fails, incredibly, at every single one. In an industry where everyone bandwagons onto concepts and ideas due to a lack of their own, this behavior needs to be called out. The scale at which they completely botched this project is astounding and people need to stop thinking colors and minimalism will solve information issues.

Take for instance the thread on .Mail (http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=4291803). The designer does good work, but didn't display the app as well as he could have. The discussion delves into everything from ways to better present the information to does this app even have a place in the ecosystem to I would never use this !@#$%!! While a good portion of the comments are harsh, if you drill down to the intent, there's a lot of good stuff there.

These are the conversations I love about HN, even though they tend to be a little dry. I've yet to find a more passionate group of people who understand the web and have played with and built enough of their own products to know what they're talking about. And not to generalize, but that's how the programmers I've worked with tend to be, and I love that about them.

While some people might see this Wikipedia redesign as a playful experiment and treat it as such, it's intention was to sell you on the agency's talent. When you look at it through that lens, there's a lot to complain about and I don't think it's out of bounds to do so when we all work in this industry and these are the types of people we're (indirectly) competing against.

Also worth noting, another agency recently attempted to redesign the Associated Press logo with similarly weak results - http://www.objectivesubject.com/work/project/associated-pres...

People are hostile to that posting because it talks down to its readers by being a gigantic infographic, as if the reader was retarded, instead of being a few paragraphs of text. Also, the idea is without merit, and you don't need to read past the first character to realize that it's made by people with a preference for form over function. It is a truly revolting submission.

>It is a truly revolting submission.

This is the problem. The MSM is full of hyperbole. One nice thing about HN is that it is rarely rewarded here.

You could have said:

People are hostile to that posting because it talks down to its readers by being a gigantic infographic. It could have been explained in a few paragraphs of text. Also, the idea appears to be made by people with a preference for form over function. Therefore it has little practical merit.

It would have made the same point, without the hostility or hyperbole.

Personally, I found the overall idea unrealistic, but it was interesting to see Wikipedia mocked up in another way. Their schematic using the color bars for languages gave me some ideas.

But to anyone who understands the dichotomy between those people and the people who get real work done, "revolting" is the right word.

IMO so readily putting people into groups of 'approval' and 'disapproval' based upon such limited information is a mistake. Quickly writing off others as those people seems close-minded, and you can miss out on a lot of opportunities with such an attitude.

The nice thing about opinions is that you can change them more often than you change your underwear.

Sure, but inconsistency of opinion isn't a very admirable trait.

I'd rather be right than consistent.

I'd rather be consistently right.

Not everyone can be tptacek.

But surely this depends on your perspective of 'real work'?

The guy that spends 13 hours a day shovelling fish heads probably thinks that my 9 hours in a chair in front of a screen doesn't really consist of 'real work'.

> The guy that spends 13 hours a day shovelling fish heads probably thinks that my 9 hours in a chair in front of a screen doesn't really consist of 'real work'.

You can't tell me that you've never wondered if he was right.

Hyperbole is part of communication and so is "tone". Hacker News does not run on Lojban.

A presentation about design that shows instead of tells is hardly condescending! This is not an infographic. An infographic is a summary, this is a point-by-point walkthrough of the meaning of each design element.

P.S. Form over function is not evil.

> Form over function is not evil.

I must disagree wholeheartedly, all the more regarding a tool as valuable as Wikipedia. As small as I try to keep my identity, this is part of it.

I suspect some of the hostility we're seeing is a delayed reaction to the prevalence of this viewpoint here. HN no longer has consensus about which of the Two Cultures is favored.

The fact that this got voted up kind of disturbs me.

So was it a test? It disturbed me too.

It wasn't a test so much as that I tend to write comments that I regret minutes later.

> people with a preference for form over function

People who keep using that phrase as an excuse to hate on anything designed that they don't like are the truly revolting people.

Stifling discussion, silencing opinions, and perpetuating engineer-elitism.

First, now you're guilty of exactly the tone the OP is complaining about. Second, youre implying design is how so,etching looks. I said it in the original thread and I'll say it again, it was really pretty how they redesigned Wikipedia but it still wasn't good because they glossed over very important critical concepts am functionality of the site. It was no different than slapping a fresh coat of paint on any "ugly" website and calling it a day. Visually appealing had nothing to do with it.

(for all its flaws) that's just how you structure a design presentation.

I kind of disagree. I think there would have been better ways to present a design. For startes it would have been nice to know why specific decisions were made instead of just "we thought it was prettier".

Maybe usability studies, A/B test results and if at all possible some form of prototype, even if it is just static.

Plus the article lacks consideration for mobile and small screen platform (i.e. considering edge cases). In fact I'd go as far as to say it actively disregards them by choosing gigantic fonts and lots of useless whitespace in favor of useful content.

I theorise that the post gave the hackers of the community an opportunity to vent their latent dislike of superficial or even detrimental UI changes. Note though that the 'vitriol' was mostly sarcasm and scoffing. If we use 1 torvalds as a unit of hacker irascibility, then the comments never rose above about 300-400 millitorvalds.

Having gone through design critiques in architecture school and presented designs to clients in practice, I would say that taken individually the specific comments were largely constructive criticism when I last read through the thread (yesterday evening) and that the discussions of the problems with designers were largely consistent with my experience in a design discipline.

The project in general looked to me like the response to an academic design brief, and taken individually, the comments were largely consistent with the sorts of comments which might be made during a juried crit in a US architecture school. However and although piling on can occur in a juried crit, the pack mentality is constrained by time - unlike typing on the internet.

On the other hand, nothing in the comments when I looked at them stood out as even close to the limit of what a paying client or one's boss might say during a design presentation or review. Tptacek's top comment might have been conveyed as a Jobsian "This is shit," and perhaps accompanied by a discussion of whether or not the designer should seriously consider ever reproducing.

One factor I think led to the volume of comments is that unlike most "Show HN" threads, this one was not couched as an MVP (or in this case a minimum viable design), but as finished project. In other words, it wasn't "Here is the landing page with a new logo and a drop down menu for choosing the language," with changes to the editor left for version two.

What I think contributed to a more visceral reaction among HN'ers is that the designer as hero approach feels at odds with the particular ethos of Wikipedia which is iterative and collaborative - particularly telling considering that audacity and heroism are among the common fetishes of HN.

In my opinion, the level of criticism was not unusual for HN. I've read plenty of blunt responses (closer to "This is shit") on "Show HN:" threads. It was really the volume which was unusual, and that I attribute to the subject matter.

Read the top comment and first thing that went through my mind: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=4328399

On another note, I think the lack of a down vote button on submissions might explain this behavior. If a topic is highly polarized/controversial, it might end up on the front page with a lot of up votes even if most HNers would have down voted it. This results in a lot of people venting off in the comments who would have otherwise simply down voted.

I thought the top comment by tptacek was perfectly reasonable and constructive, and didn't find it offensive at all. On the other hand I found the original article to be naive and remarkably arrogant, despite its saccharin use of language.

Be curious to hear pg's thinking on the absence of downvotes for stories. This particular story was of such low quality, that I wonder if people were really upvoting the discussion as opposed to the original story.

Having argued with tptacek about wiki policies a while ago here, I'm inclined to agree. I've contributed my share of venom to what I've perceived as silly/stupid submissions though as well so I don't believe I've got much of a highground.

I agree with you. Not cool at all. Unfortunately, there is an unpleasant trait that hackers seem to suffer from more than most other people. I call it the 'know it all' complex.

Know-it-alls are intolerant of views that are contrary to their own, usually very narrow opinion on how things should be done. Woe betide anyone who does not do it their way.

I felt it was the complete opposite. The wiki redesigners were showing an incredible amount of arrogance and know-it-allism with their redesign. I was just dripping out of their poorly thought out, americentric, hover-over design. Just look at the way they designed for I's.

I think it's slightly ironic that you present the "know it all" complex as trait that hackers suffer from, given that the OP refers to a post made by a designer that is a prime example of such behavior.

This trait is far from unique amongst hackers, and neither are the negative reactions to it.

Ah yes, the alpha nerd syndrome. Symptoms include not commenting code because "it should be obvious!"

A lot of people don't like comments because they feel that they tend to go stale, and code should be self-documenting.

"Alpha nerd syndrome". Brilliant observation!!!

i agree. it's a subconscious attempt to exert their ego even though they betas.

I work as a designer. And seeing fellow designers doing things without research on the domain they're designing in is shocking. This is basic stuff, and people need a heads up.

The designers should take this as valuable input, ignore the subjective comments, and move on to create greater things.

Yeah, but I sort of took it in the same way you take it when you see a design for transparent phone that you can roll up and put in your pocket. The technology isn't there to do that, it just is what it is.

What great technology or... thing, isn't there to do the wiki-redesign?

My point is that I don't think their design had the existing technology / current Wiki infrastructure in mind (and never meant to).

It was just design for the sake of design - it didn't need to be based on a MediaWiki theme or anything like that. It's just a visual representation of what 'could be'.

You are right, and that's why this is not good design.

To be honest, I am a pretty negative person sometimes. I hope my cynicism isn't ruining the mood or setting a bad example or anything.

As far as that particular Wikipedia thing: I think a lot of people really liked the design, and most of them clicked the upvote. On the other hand, most of the people who didn't like it couldn't downvote so they left comments instead.

So part of the hostility you notice might just be the fact that they took on Wikipedia and really put themselves out there, so it was a controversial post. And HN needs to fix the downvote thing (there I go being negative again).

One other thing is that you have people with really different backgrounds coming to Hacker News. Some people are like me and have a lot of coding experience including, for example, enterprise(y) application programming. Other people have much more experience in marketing and/or graphic design and/or UX/UI.

This might just be another example of me having a bad life, but there also might actually be a bit of pent up resentment between UX/UI designer people and coders in general. I will be too honest as usual and elaborate.

Basically, what it seems like from my own programmer perspective is that the people doing the software UI design in Photoshop or whatever think that they know better how to build software than me and therefore are placing themselves over me in the project decision making, even though they have written very little (or zero) code. That sort of misplaced disrespect could possibly sometimes make a person feel righteously hostile. Of course, I do realize that UX is its own field with knowledge that isn't automatically absorbed in the process of coding, but that doesn't really change the situation between coders and UX designers.

I think the most obnoxious thing about this post (and I saw a Wikimedia employee point this out in the comments as well) is that it completely ignores the fact that Wikipedia is built on the MediaWiki platform and doesn't even attempt to address how their proposal could be realistically implemented from a development standpoint in coordination with the Wikimedia Engineering team and the community's ongoing product roadmap.

Maybe this is being a tad catty, and standing in the way of innovation in some respects but design led initiatives that don't take a close look at the world from other discipline's perspectives are usually doomed.

Wasn't this exactly what it was though? A design led initiative?

I don't think they ever had any intention of it becoming a default wikipedia/mediawiki design - it was simply a way for a design team to show their chops by saying 'this is what it could have been / could be'.

I can totally understand the frustration from the engineers and developers who get that 'the design team always think they know best' feeling - hell, I've been there countless times - but I don't think they meant for that.

But reading some of the comments in that thread, I felt awful for them - nevermind a lack of constructive criticism, some of it was just out and out hate.

I'd like to think if they were ever taken on to design a site they'd be able to sit down with the developers/UX team/marketers/SEOs/whoever and come up with something that works for everyone. That's a lot of what being a good designer is about.

(For the record, there really has been countless times I've been given a design from a designer and almost wept with frustration. Mostly with agencies that employed print designers who've been forced to now design for web.)

All good points, iamben.

"I will be too honest as usual"

I think you might be conflating honesty and hostility.

No need to get snarky and twist words. He was being honest about a bad feeling or bad interaction he has with designers. edit: or she was, whatever.

I don't see people in that thread being hostile - only honest. And honestly, that redesign is really bad. There's really nothing positive to say about it and although the old adage goes "don't say anything if you have nothing positive to say" I'm glad people here don't bide by it and provide useful critique instead.

Criticism is not the same as hostility. We should be polite even if the criticism is harsh.

I agree, even as a submitter I'd rather people would comment -- even if it's just to criticise -- than if everybody is too polite to say anything. This way, I think everybody can profit from it.

Agreed. It's a shame too because many of the harsh comments have good points but the tone of the comments is vitriolic.

Slow down people. These people put a ton of work into a project which is really cool. They deserve constructive criticism.

>This post is just an example of the latest trend of a new and unusually hostile HN.

It's not a new trend, you're just starting to notice it. I've been coming to HN off and on for years. It has always been unpleasant. I get physically uncomfortable whenever I come back here.

The community here is toxic. It's dressed up in the veneer of thoughtfulness, but it doesn't take a genius to identify the cultural attitudes, group-think and see how the detractors are treated. I got burned by my wrongheaded assumption that it actually was a place for reasoned discussion. Not gonna make that mistake again.

J don't think that the response was that out of order.

Edit: I feel bad getting upvotes for a snarky off-handed comment. So here's what I think: Contrast and compare the comments to thread regarding the hn statistics page. I don't get the feeling the community is critical for being critical's sake at all.

Recurring rationale I've noticed in this conversation:

If nobody harshly slams this, they might think they're good designers.

The designers are so arrogant, thinking they could redesign such an important website.

Harsh feedback makes you better.


First, I have never encountered anyone important (to me) who cared what HN thought, or even rethought their opinions after reading HN slam something. I've only heard people talking about HN as a source of news, not as a relevant gauge of anything, and certainly not to reconsider if one is right or wrong.

Frankly, nobody ever should pause and reconsider what they are doing because of HN's sentiment; at this point it's still better than some random forum, you get a lot of useful links and facts, but the critiques are totally worthless. People rarely try to be helpful here, it's just a positive feedback loop of nerds trying to show that they have more refined taste, more nuanced discernment, or a bigger mouth than the nerd before him.

I think it is because lately there are just more postings which are posted and voted up because they are emotional more than the fact that they have anything to do with the core topic(s) normally found on HN.

As I mentioned in the other post yesterday about the NYTimes reporter being beaten there are more emotional posts now which are on the site just related to how bad big companies, government, the music industry, Google, Facebook, Craiglist and Hollywood is (this due to the PG Destory Hollywood post I'm sure).

It seems there is more bandwagon jumping lately on hating anything which is big and makes a lot of money, so it is inherently bad (see every post about Craiglist this month). HN talk is usually about startups and small business, it seems to go against the ethos here about building businesses that somehow when you make a lot of money you are now 'the man' and must be destroyed, or at least give your hard earned work to new HN'ers startups to help them profit (information wants to be free and all), since that must the right thing to do.

Is Square set to become the enemy soon due to their big deal they just signed with Starbucks?


Oops. Fixed. :)

I'm a designer - it's not hostility, it's feedback :)

There's no point being nice to people when they present flawed work - that just propagates bad work.

(and my CTO is way harsher on my Pull Requests than anyone has been on the Wiki redesign anyway)

Your profession doesn't make your opinion any more valid than anyone else's, or less valid.

There is a point in being nice, it's part of being sociable. We could have all the best solutions in the world, but if we can't share them in an agreeable way then they are going to be useless

Think of a world where parents mocked their toddlers for presenting them with a anotomically and structurally defective picture of their family and home. Would the child continue to create with happiness or just associate experimentation with negative response?

Not sure we should compare a design firm to a toddler... are you joking?

I'm not comparing a design firm to a toddler,

I'm comparing the act of creating and reviewing. More explicitly I wanted you to think about how a new designer would respond to overly harsh and non-constructive critisim in the early stages of developing their skillset.

"I don't like this design because of x, y, and z. Let's go back and fix it."

Bad work stopped. Niceness maintained.

Sounds like your CTO is lacking in social skills.

Honestly, I didn't find the feedback that terrible--I'm somewhat new here, but if you want carebears you should be over at reddit. I appreciate having a community honest enough to say what it thinks. I'm not sure what your other datapoints are, though?

For what it's worth, I thought it was an interesting and refreshing design proposal, though I did have issues with the way they chose to render logos and use screenspace--it was a bit too kitschy in its minimalism.

I agree. The main factor should be whether it's constructive criticism or not. In the case of the Wikipedia redesign thing, the tone of some of the comments might be a bit harsh but they were mostly insightful.

This is the internet, it's how it works, it's how it worked since at least Usenet (and probably before, but I can't testify of that). The social norm is different than regular "face to face" conversation.

It's harsher, but it's also often more honest I think.

This is the internet, it's how it works, it's how it worked since at least Usenet (and probably before, but I can't testify of that). The social norm is different than regular "face to face" conversation. It's harsher, but it's also often more honest I think.

That's exactly what PG intended HN not to be. It's meant to be different, nicer, better thought out. If it devolves to a common web message board, we lose what makes it special. Read this, if you haven't before. Especially the last paragraph:


In any case, if there's a secret HN where everyone is nicer, sign me up.

My impression is that HN is generally friendlier and more professional than Reddit, not harsher. You may want to dig a little deeper into Reddit; there's a lot of behavior on there that wouldn't fly here.

Reddit is a pretty angry community if you don't conform in a thousand unwritten ways, I wouldn't at all say that it is "carebears".

This applies to more than just the tech space, but I get the sense that people feel under siege from a lot of different directions these days that are out of their control. This encourages knee jerk reactions to anything where they think they have an area of expertise in (or just an opinion) and they use any forum possible to air how they think things should be done, or just what other people are doing wrong and why something will never work.

If you're frustrated about the general status quo, some people will become extremely vocal, and use language to stand out in the crowd and have their opinion be heard. Venting alone becomes therapeutic to them, because it's their way to contribute to the process.

...until they need to do it again in the next thread.

I think this is largely a communication issue. I don't think people on here are inherently hostile, except for a few. Personally, I tend to chose rather strong words to get my point across. People who know me realize that I don't mean to insult anybody with this. It's just that I have strong opinions and try to emphasize them in discussions. You could call my discussion style harsh, but I'm really just trying to be as honest as I can and I don't care whether my wording is polite or politically correct or whatever, as long as it serves it's purpose. And there are quite a few people like myself.

There's also an exact opposite of that: People who choose their words carefully in order to be polite and constructive. That's what you describe, if I understood you correctly.

I personally think that most people here are constructive, no matter whether they're giving harsh responses or polite ones, because it's all feedback. It's part of the discussion. I think we (not just here on HN) shouldn't get caught up in social norms too much, as it only hinders the actual discussion. Words are just words and the way somebody tries to get a point across is a part of his character and others just have to accept that.

But still, there's a line in the sand and that's ad hominem attacks. This is what can truly kill constructive communication and should be avoided in any community.

However, just my 2 cents.

It might be due to the fact that it is about Wikipedia.

Most people have strong feelings about Wikipedia because it has become a big part of many people's internet experience. And people usually don't like change and can become offended when people propose to do so.

You are onto something. I wasn't a huge fan of the redesign but I couldn't understand the high emotional tone. A lot of the feedback runs along the lines of 'how dare you change Wikipedia without going through the Wikipedia process', etc.

I'm probably as guilty of this as anyone else.

Perhaps we should all watch Derek Siver's "A Real Person, A Lot Like You" on a regular basis.


Thanks for this. We get the occasional vitriol-lined customer feedback. Intellectually, you have to let it roll off. Emotionally, it's obviously more challenging...

Without knowing the details, it's entirely possible that some of that vitriol from customers has real signal value for your business and is ignored at your peril.

I think that article was treated so harshly, because it was a genuinely bad fit for the tastes of the HN community. Given this community's preferences, I don't really understand how it got so many upvotes and stayed up on the front page for a while. I thought it was bizarre.

>genuinely bad fit for the tastes of the HN community

Suited me just fine. Whether or not I agreed with the design conclusions they came to is not the point. They gave something a try - good on them. Maybe it sparks ideas for someone else.

Failing or succeeding aside, surely the spirit of this whole community is about trying ideas and getting constructive feedback.

I didn't post in that thread, but I did find myself cringing at the author's suggestions.

Actually, I lavished on praise for their brilliant redesign, but it turned out I was hellbanned and slowbanned for an earlier comment. My comment of praise never showed up.

And that gets to the point of why people are hostile on HN: because the site administrators and moderators are hostile and hellban users for the most benign comments.

Leaders and administrators set the tone. It all rolls downhill, as the saying goes.

Oh, and my account will be hellbanned and my connection slowbanned yet again for speaking out. As per usual.

TLDR: Look to the admins of the site. They have been setting the tone all along. That's where the hostility is originating from.

Natural part of a community's lifecycle.

I think HN has got to the stage were members are assuming to be knowledgeable on all, rather than trying to learn, experiment and educate.

Added to that a certain attitude of 'just because I'm right, I can be mean'

All just leads to an environment where trying new things is discouraged. The guy didn't follow the status quo, he tried something different. What happened wasn't quite a pitch fork smack down, but it felt pretty mean spirited.

I certainly didn't see anything constructive in the comments.

As an interested party, may I ask why you feel citricsquid's and my comments in http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=4352446 are not constructive?

Im not attempting to single anyone out, your comments are 3 amongst 200+ (the link u send is actually a useful opinion which could be acted upon and something I'd agree with). So I and you shouldn't take yourself representive of the entire HN community right?

That said...

I responded to the OP who seemed to be making a general observation, based on a particular post. My reply was to be in generalisation too, so it may not be a correct view of the state of HN

Before the meme invasion and death of quality?

I think many have said that's already happened! :-) I'm not so pessimistic, but I've been a long term user of Slashdot, MetaFilter, Reddit, and HN, and you do tend to see these cycles occurring and it's interesting to see the differing ways they deal with them.

>I'm not so pessimistic, but I've been a long term user of Slashdot, MetaFilter, Reddit, and HN, and you do tend to see these cycles occurring and it's interesting to see the differing ways they deal with them.


All of this has happened before, and will happen again.

HN seems to focus a lot on execution. I want to say that I think it would have been better received if they had just taken the wikipedia full content download, taken a small subset of the data and actually just built the redesign as a live site with all of their proposed features. Then we could have just tried the original, the new, and see what really did or didn't work. As a side benefit, the designers themselves while doing this would also have made lots of adjustments going through this process and probably would have fended off a lot of the caustic comments.

Plus, if they actually had access to coders who could take a full image of wikipedia, div it up and refactor it to a db, then wpredesigned.com could actually run as a real site, with hourly updates from wikipedia merged in automatically.

We are, after all, humans. Not machines. Our goal may be to remain civilized, yet we sometimes succumb to our raw emotions. Hackers are a weird bunch (I know, because I am one). We see ourselves as logical, prudent, and fact based. In reality, we are as emotion led as any other individual. Biggest difference is that we work with machines. A machine cannot (yet) get angry or offended. And when the day they are able to do so, I will no longer will be able to write code without being sued by the computer I'm programming. Alas, I'm not defending any behaviour. Just stating something we forget. Hackers are people. People are irrational. We are just a bit more logical than other professions, but not less rowdy. Though losing our shit is sometimes the right course of action. :)

Granted that people can be emotional, but the aggregate tone of HN itself isn't completely stable, which it would be if it were entirely determined by generic facts about people.

Good point. Though sometimes I feel that HN is hosted on planet Vulcan, rather than on planet Earth.

Generally I feel Karma does a good job of keeping the comments in check.

I think the Wikipedia article was an emotive exception.

EDIT: Thought I'd add that there were a lot of positive and friendly comments surrounding the Curiosity landing. So I don't feel like the tone of comments is leaning in one particular direction.

The problem with Karma is that too often people are voted down for simply posting views others disagree with, and I didn't think it was for that. That that leads to is people not sticking their necks out and only posting if they agree with the community vibe.

Cards on table: I have often avoided replying through fear of people not liking my opinion, regardless of how well thought out it might be. Often only replied if I already know my views are acceptable here. In fact, to get Karma up, I have merely posted agreeable posts. For example, I have noticed that having a go at the MPAA gets lots of up votes. See what happens if you dare argue for the MPAA, you enter down vote hell!!!

That has to be badly wrong, right? Surely its is the worst sort of mob rule and utterly stifles diverse opinion. Is that what HN is all about?

However, I don't know of a better way to do it, so it is better than nothing.

I thought it was a pretty crappy article although I never said that in the comments.

> "rubbish; passive-aggressive dump"

Many here were jealous someone had the nerve to redesign their precious wikipedia and lashed out at the poor sap who dared stuck his neck out.

It may not have been perfect, but what project of that size could be? A few things on the page looked like an upgrade to me. The appropriate reaction should have been, "interesting, meh," rather than ugly comments.

"...no one ever kicks a dead dog." --Dale Carnegie


I too was surprised by the comments. I thought the post was nice. It demonstrated their process for coming up with a new logo. It showed their thought process. It gave me an insight into how such things are done. An insight I didn't previously possess. A number of the comments to the redesign rubbed me the wrong way. I didn't down vote any of the comments but I didn't like tenor of them.

I did like their redesign though so this may skew my perception. I don't like Wikipedia's landing page. It's quite frustrating to me.

People are hostile because it's an awful design.

An awful design is no excuse for hostility. If it is, what is the emotional response if you are personally insulted?

Just saw a video about something similar about how we normally talk to a real person compared to someone online.


Another disturbing trend I've noticed is upvoting and downvoting based simply upon whether or not you agree.

A well-reasoned, polite and civil viewpoint that doesn't match your own should not be downvoted. The result of this is that people will not post viewpoints that differ from what they think the community will agree with. That doesn't help anybody. It causes groupthink and a hivemind mentality.

Downvotes should be handed out to posts that do not contribute positively to the discussion, that are spam or trolling etc. Not to good faith comments you don't agree with.

because if you are really a coder you prefer negative feedbacks than a false confidence. Even though it is yet socially unacceptable, social rules are stupids.

You cannot earn any glory in publishing your code if people don't tell the truth. To be pleased by one «I love what you do», you should ready yourself to get a couple of «you are doing crap». Coders are not expected to publish good code at first, they are expected to improve their work through sincere feedbacks. That is our culture.

Social norms are unproductive when it comes to work in cooperation.

The fact that Asperger (sociopaths) are 10 times more prevalent in coding expertise might not help.

Excellency in coding is an aristocracy that needs no excuses and don't fear critics. You shall not fear the fight if you believe in your creation, because good design can stand the assault of the best criticisms.

Social norms are only their to protect a hierarchy of status. Truth protect the hierarchy of competence.

If you are just a hipster searching for a social status based on consensus then flee for this is war against you. THIS IS SPARTA!!!!!

The fact that Asperger (sociopaths) are 10 times more prevalent in coding expertise might not help.

This is not an accurate characterization of Asperger syndrome or the hacker community. Wikipedia offers the following definition:

Sociopathy is the result of social conditioning which leads to a lack of natural human values. It refers strictly to a social condition where a person knows, yet has been socially conditioned to disregard, the intrinsic human values which are believed to be universal.

The somewhat similar characteristic of Asperger syndrome is a lack of demonstrated empathy. In the case of a harsh review of someone's project, this could manifest as statements that are accurate from the author's perspective but do not take in to consideration how they might make the reader feel. I don't think being blunt in a review is a sign of disregarding universal intrinsic human values.

Well, I like to exaggerate a little bit. Especially since sociopathy/asperger are rather ill defined. So discard all my remarks as pure troll (don't feed the troll :).

The real point is there are no truly acceptable positive feedbacks if one does not equally express negative feedbacks.

So ... one should not whine for getting flamed even if it is socially unacceptable to discard all this work because that's the path for improving...and later maybe getting praised.

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