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Ok, I'll try that too.



If you would ever consider putting a quote in the guidelines, I heartily recommend and humbly submit Teddy Roosevelt's Man in the Arena

  It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points 
  out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds
  could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man
  who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust
  and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who
  comes short again and again, because there is no effort
  without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive
  to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great 
  devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the
  best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and
  who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring
  greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold
  and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Citizenship_in_a_Republic


The man in the arena. Classic. And fitting with the theme of entrepreneurship too, at least for me. When I started my first company I went to a business after hours event to meet and learn from people who'd done it before. One very bright woman took me aside into an office away from the party, told me there's one thing I need to know about business and that it's about the journey, not the destination then she turned on a computer, went online, and printed out this exact quote. She said its what got her through the hard times and after having to read it many times I can say it gets me through them too.


I really enjoy that, that is a great quote. It is the last thing I read before posting this comment and I instantly started looking for a more diplomatic way to tell you that I think it's a bit poetic and would likely be skipped by people who don't have the time to decipher the metaphors. Then again, it seems to have worked.


We can always make the understanding of metaphors a required step for signing up.


Tongue-in-cheek, how hard would be to make a captcha?

Examples from [1]:

Metaphor: Argument is war I shot down his argument He couldn't defend his position She attacked my theory

Love is a journey: Our marriage is at a crossroads We've come a long way together He decided to bail out of the relationship

[1] http://pinker.wjh.harvard.edu/articles/media/2006_09_30_then...


Great stuff, love TR, should be read by all entrepreneurs and my kids too. But I would point out, snark off, that the Man in the Arena in ancient Rome was a slave, butchering another slave while rich citizens watched.


"A thing is not necessarily true because a man dies for it." -- Oscar Wilde


As an example, Tim Ferris has this right above the comment submission box (getting to users right when they're about to take an action):

  Comment Rules: Remember what Fonzie was like? Cool. That’s 
  how we’re gonna be — cool. Critical is fine, but if you’re 
  rude, we’ll delete your stuff. Please do not put your URL in 
  the comment text and please use your PERSONAL name or 
  initials and not your business name, as the latter comes off 
  like spam. Have fun and thanks for adding to the 
  conversation! (Thanks to Brian Oberkirch for the inspiration).
Screenshot: http://cl.ly/Ipex Guidelines are nice, but most people won't see them. It might work better to get to them right when they're taking the action.


How about just adding a flagging option for each comment and making the flagging weight related to the karma of the account. Therefore the opinion of people who have in the past made high quality contributions are weighted stronger than those of the others. And this is something I am suggesting with an almost pathetic karma...


That sounds like a second voting system, or am I understanding incorrectly?


I'm going to resubmit an idea that has been brought up before (it's not mine- it may be yours, in fact): two buttons for voting. One for agreement/disagreement and one as a rating specifically for quality of the comment.

In the "old days," there was more-or-less agreement that the vote was for quality of comment -- feedback about the value of the participant to the community -- and agreement/disagreement was voiced (if necessary) in comments. As a rule I (and others) would upvote comments we disagreed with as long as they were thoughtful. There were exceptions, of course, as you have aknowledged, but this was a pretty good guideline.

Now I think things have turned around a bit, and votes have started signifying agreement/disagreement more than quality of comment. I think this takes the community in the wrong direction.


"Cool, now there're two ways for me to punish someone I don't like." The flaw, if you want to call it that, with this suggestion is that it is a mechanism based on the idea that people are decent, reasonable, and well-informed. Which is not a bad thing, but it is not well suited to fixing a problem caused be people behaving indecently, unreasonably, and/or with little experience being "Good HN Citizens."


How the votes get turned into "punishment" will have to be tested and tweaked. I think it is worth a try, because it sets the expectation for what your votes mean be the nature of the button that you are about to press.

You seem to be thinking that this is largely trollish behavior. I suspect, however, that most of it comes from ignorance of the expectations of the community. I'm not sure there is a fix for the trolls. But for noobs that watch reality tv shows and want to come here and be the acerbic judge I think we can stop it by keeping the behavioral expectations in the forefront.

The flaw with the idea isn't what you say. I think it's important to expect decent, reasonable behavior. The flaw is, 'ok, we have two buttons. Now what?'

I would start with having the quality score 'float' the article and pretty much ignore the agree/disagree score in karma metrics. But I would probably keep that a secret.


True, unfortunately. But the flipside of having more people on the site is that there is no longer any need to ensure that everyone's comments become public on every story. You can afford to be choosier about what actually shows up, you just have to come up with a proper filtering mechanism. I think karma can be adequate, there just needs to be a more effective system of distributing and using it than what HN uses currently.


It could be too radical, but we could end anonymity in the sense of keeping public track of who upvoted, downvoted or flagged what.


The obvious fix for that is to have slashdot style moderation where you have a single vote to assign to one of many categories: offtopic, flame bait, funny. Insightful, etc.


Why not make the upward facing arrow be text like "good quality" or "useful" or "thoughtful"?


Also remove the downvote button and replace it with "flag this comment"


People would click on [flag] too often, making it hard for mods to monitor the queue of flagged content.


Also I should be allowed to veto at least one YC applicant per batch.


You of course are allowed to joke because more people know who you are and allow it (so your comments aren't greyed down for everyone to see). (I've noticed this a few times at least). So now the poor puppy of a newbie user thinks it's ok to tell a joke (because he doesn't know who you are) or be funny and then BAM he gets slapped with a newspaper full of downvotes and runs away yelping all confused with his tail between his legs. What happened what did I do so wrong?

Now personally I'd rather be able to tell jokes on HN than be able to veto. But then again I'd have to sift through the bad jokes that other's tell.

In any community like this it takes some time to learn the rules. I'm sure there are quite a few people who don't necessarily know who "pg" is for that matter.


Maybe overthinking this one a little.


May I please be the first to say "WTF"? I know who you are, I know what you contribute, but... WTF?


It's an old joke. You make a request and somebody acquiesces more easily than you expected, so you follow up with an absurd request like "Also, can I have a million dollars?"

And now I went and explained it. Sorry, tptacek.


Ah, got it (humble pie eaten, apologies tptacek).


People should stop piling onto you with downvotes. No apology necessary.


That too, but also, I'm going to wear him down with this someday.


To add to your thought when negotiating it's always important to offer nominal kickback generally. Lest the person feel they left money on the table.

If I am selling something and asking $1000 and the person comes back with an offer of $500 and assuming I am willing to take that offer (because I was shooting high) I need to offer some "kickback". This could be as simple as saying something like "well, if I accept can you pay within 5 days?" Or perhaps, "can't do $500 but I'll consider $600". Otherwise the buyer feels perhaps "hmm wow that was to quick and to easy" and might back out of the deal. Strictly my experience over many years.


Well in every joke lies a bit of truth: http://www.scribd.com/doc/25450984/Freedman-Compliance-WITHO...


Oh, thanks. Now I get it. I think the problem was I missed that this was a reply to pg's acquiescence. It was several pages down by the time I read it so the joke was lost.


Given the risk/reward tradeoff for a YC investment, vetos are pretty worthless. Even if you were the most brilliant vetoer ever, there is very little upside for YC.

Instead you should ask to be able to green-light one applicant per batch. That way, it would be possible for your contribution to be very valuable.


whoosh


Apart from the content itself, I would suggest to place the guideline link more prominently. Maybe even at the top, directly before the "New" link.

To support this proposal: When I first arrived here (from your homepage), I didn't notice anything about guidelines until I stumbled upon a comment which mentioned them. Then I eventually found them on the bottom of the page (which can be quite long), where I seldom look at.


I think they're mentioned when new users sign up, and also when they make their first post.

I'm not keen to make a new account to test this out though.


What I do personally is keep a (relatively short) file of hn usernames I find particularly good and those I find particularly bad. I go and read comments from those I find good sometimes, in addition to encountering them through the normal course of articles.

The bad ones, I reevaluate whenever I see another comment, but I've never yet seen a good reason to remove someone from that list. Sadly they never seem to end up hellbanned. It's uncorrelated largely with agreeing or disagreeing with views; it's just that there are a group of people who are, as the OP said, really negative, irrational, and destructive to civil discourse.


Not to deter you from the social standards approach, but I thought the concept of measuring comments was clever.

The problem I see is - How do you know if a comment is negative or not? Surely, you can tell, but problematically that might be tough.

Maybe swap out the "post comment" button for 2 "commit" buttons 1 that says "Positive" the other that says "negative". (This could be done a myriad of ways, but you get the point)

You could then measure a users tenancy to post useful positive/negative comments based on the average votes that type of comment receives.

posters that consistently have low average scores for their comments could lose posting rights, for a period.


I could see keyword association much like PG's email spam filter working for this.




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