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Lobsters (lobste.rs)
297 points by relation on Aug 30, 2012 | hide | past | favorite | 209 comments

No about page, no way to register, no mention of Yehuda Katz...

edit: Apparently, the site was launched by Joshua Stein (after getting hellbanned from HN), not Yehuda Katz. https://jcs.org/notaweblog/2012/06/13/hellbanned_from_hacker...

Yehuda is one of the active users: https://lobste.rs/u/wycats

Update: The site is also open source: https://github.com/jcs/lobsters

Last shameless update: Would love an invite. Email in my profile.

There's also some more information here: https://lobste.rs/s/bkeYe9/about_lobsters

Thanks for that link. FTL: Hacker News is operated by a company, Y Combinator, which has a significant financial incentive to censor or promote the links and discussion posted on the site that relate to Y Combinator-funded startups (or competitors of them).

Haven't seen much discussion about this HN flaw. Interesting...

No, because everything along these lines that appears on the front page gets killed. It's one of the major flaws of HN imo - a huge lack of transparency.

It is brought up constantly but it is not the kind of discussion which seems to be much approved of. (In the interest of disclosure, I don't even care)

As a YC founder, whose YC startup got torn apart on HN, I find no truth to this statement.

You don't think it is brought up or you do think that it is approved of? (edit: I never indicated any level of agreement with YC using HN to unfairly promote YC companies, so if you are responding to that then maybe you meant to respond to my parent)

I did in fact intend to respond to the parent. Apologies.

I don't believe YC messes with the algorithm or moderation to benefit YC companies. My YC startup got attacked on HN (2 years ago!), and I've seen many hostile articles and comments about other YC companies.

[Edit: fixed ambiguous antecedent]

The antecedent of "this" is ambigous.

You don't think it true that HN has significant financial incentive to censor or promote the links of YC companies?

or you think there has been a lot of discussion about the HN conflict-of-interest? (perhaps I don't read regularly enough.)

I suppose you could mean both.

Fixed, I hope. Is that clearer? Sorry for the ambiguity.

Yes, but does it suffer from "Unknown or expired link", that's all I want to know..............


Nice. Notice how it so neatly slices off exactly one demographic from here and transplants it over there, without anything that would distract them. It's focussed just on one topic: Software development stuff for Software Developers.

There are four main camps here at HN:

- "Software Entrepreneurs", building Big Important Startups or quaint little "lifestyle businesses" that let them drive their cute little "italian supercars" around their quaint little midwestern town.

- "Computer Programmers", talking about languages, deployment strategies, open source stuff and how to configure their dotfiles to automatically convert tabs to spaces.

- "Tech Gossip Afficianodos", excited about what Techcrunch has to say about who got funded, and taking sides in fights between giant corporations.

- And the guy who just wants to point out that pirating movies off the internet is technically just "copyright infringement" and therefore not bad at all (and really HBO's fault anyway.)

These guys grabbed just their team, and now they're free to talk shop without any of the myriad distractions they'd get trying to do it here.

It's a little selfish to note that I actually see this as a good thing for a slightly different reason: If Camp 2 leaves, that's more HackerNews for those of us in Camp 1, which is the reason I'm here. We'll still have to flag stuff from the other two distracting groups, but it just might make this place a little nicer as well. Everybody wins.

What amazes me is that in 2012 we still haven't found a decent auto-moderation tagging system that would allow these demographics to emerge naturally and we have to hope for someone to leave.

I just want 2 moderation buttons : "insighful" (make this contribution more visible) and "relevant to my interests" (make the things this user tags as insightful or relevant more visible to me. May include a partial transitivity of the "relevant to my interests" operator)

Does such a system exist? Is it flawed.

It's tempting to install such a system, but it would establish a strong tunnelblick for users. Also, what if I change my interests (interest reset button?)?

I could imagine an opt-out system, like "funding stories don't interest me at all", but then, Facebook's IPO would fall into that category and I followed it with interest.

I would assume you could tune or adjust your interests over time, similar to any other user specific preferences.

To your second point it is merely a matter or design choice. Does "funding stories as a whole" trump your more specific interest of Facebook IPO or does your specific interest in Facebook's IPO trump your desire to opt out of the funding stories as a whole.

The problem I see is making such a system intuitive to your user base and clear. It seems the more complex the system is the more complex the user preferences become.

Personally I thought the demographic here was supposed to be 'hackers'. I kinda wish the other various demographics would get a room:

- Silicon valley gossip scenesters - The "I read an Ayn Rand novel, would you like me to turn this into a debate about why Government Is Always Bad and Tax is Theft?" crowd - The "I know what would improve my productivity! spending all morning reading mediocre blog posts about productivity!" crowd - The business self-help book reading group.

Each to their own I guess :)

There are also a few scientists!

I am puzzled - why do you want computer programmers to leave HN?

Same reason I'd prefer "Apple Sued Somebody! Better post it!" guy to leave. Not because he's a bad person or anything. Just that he clogs the homepage with things I don't care about.

Take a quick spin through the articles on the Lobster homepage. Lots of (presumably) good articles there, but not one that I'd consider clicking on because it doesn't interest me in the slightest (even though I make my living programming computers).

That sort of article tends to occupy about a third of the homepage here at any given time, likely pushing things that might actually help me build a software business out of the way. If they were gone, it'd make my life a little easier. That's all.

I definitely like computer programmers. I've spent the last 20 years working with them (and being one) every day. I'm just not all that interested anymore in hearing about how they configure their text editors. Or rather, I'd prefer they discussed that elsewhere. This site we're discussing seems like a great place for that.


Actually, thinking it through a bit more, I don't think that's my actual reason. It occurs to me that most of the "programming" talk that goes on here is actually quite good.

The thing is, there's a certain type of rank & file developer, who we're all familiar with, that is just plain no fun to be around. He's the super negative guy with a few "social issues" who's always complaining about how much things suck (and how stupid everybody is for not just doing X, which is obvious).

You can see that guy near the bottom of most threads here these days, with his snarky one line comment. Every once in a while he'll have the top comment on a thread or get in a loud fight with somebody. I wouldn't be surprised if he's the guy who really likes all those terrible distracting articles from camps 3 & 4. He's probably having a great time. But he's making the place worse. Making his behavior seem less unacceptable by virtue of it being visible as an example.

My hope was that he'd leave with the rest of the programmers, but I bet you're right that he would be the one guy who'd get left behind. So you'd still get the snarky negativity piled onto every launch announcement, but we'd lose a bunch of smart people.

So yeah, scratch that part. You're right.

But this website name is Hacker News. Configuring text editors is closer to hacking than talking who got funded no ? I think the combination of the two groups makes HN interesting. We probably all agree that the two last groups are the one we want to avoid.

It was originally called Startup News.

Thanks for the trivia, I had no idea. Anyway doesn't change my point : Hacker News née Startup News is great because of these two cultures.

I want a site for discussing software development news that has the equivalent of a kill file. There are a handful of prolific users at Hacker News who post multiple low-quality messages every day. I avoid Hacker News because of users such as these.

I honestly believe that at least a few of these users are secretly employed by the companies that they promote and defend daily. I don't know if they're paid to post here or that they're simply blind loyalists. Either way, they deserve to be plonked.

Below are two examples (posted by a prolific user) of the type of messages I would like to see less of, which could be filtered by a kill file feature:

"HN is going to hell because its overrun with people who practice an ideology of socialism -- pro-google because its "Free" and anti-Apple because they actually innovate and have the audacity to charge for their products."

"Apple has done far more to make the world a better place than any corporation I've ever heard of. Far more than any government in history ever has. Far more than any charity every has or ever could."

+1 for a kill file. I'd also love a 'follow' mechanism. Only a small subset of HN users post deeply insightful posts and if I could see only their posts and comments, that would be a great time saver.

Follow mechanism: http://hackerfollow.com/

I see this idea pop up on every community I've been involved in, and the simple answer is that it's extremely taxing to build individual comment pages for individual users. So this type of thing usually gets passed back to end users in the form of "build a browser plugin to hide these people on the client side"

If you want to do it on the client side, it would be perfectly easy to script it on the page.

Greasemonkey (or user scripts on Chrome or Safari).

According to https://jcs.org/projects/ "Lobsters (2012 - present) - A link aggregation site that I created after I was banned from Hacker News."

EDIT - also found https://lobste.rs/s/bkeYe9/about_lobsters which explains some features

JCS was banned from Hacker News? What the hell?

His post is mistaken. His account isn't banned. I banned it temporarily while waiting for a reply to my email, then unbanned it. (I often do this when I ask people to stop doing something, because I've found that some people keep resubmitting otherwise.) I don't remember exactly how much later that was, but usually it's less than a day; if it were longer I'd forget. If he'd replied to my email I would have unbanned him immediately.

I told him this when I came across that blog post a while ago, but he seems to prefer his more colorful version of the story.

You should stop doing stuff like this. I know managing this site is an enormous pain, but these personal hellbans are terrible for the community.

You sir....get an award for "Mega Cojones".

J3L2404: yes, like you.

I think the problem here is that the only type of banning you have is hellbanning and slowbanning. It would have been clearer if you had just “normal-banned” jcs, so he got a message saying “you have been banned and can’t post anything”. That would have avoided the misunderstanding to some extent.

Hellbanning should be reserved for users you want to prevent from noticing that they’re banned, so they won’t create a new account. That would be users who you think hold no hope of salvation, not those who you are just giving a warning to.

Even better in this particular case would be yet another type of ban that informs the user “you have been temporarily suspended from posting; check your email for the reason”. That would let the user know that the ban is temporary so they don’t get upset that they were apparently permanently banned for one mistake.

Yes, it would be nice feature to have two kinds of banning. But there are so many other things on my todo list, and though this particular glitch attracted lots of attention, it happens vanishingly rarely and doesn't affect the site much. So there is a lot more payoff for users if I focus on e.g. ways to improve comment threads.

As an aside, you should consider disabling the automatic IP banning, which is clearly overzealous. The places I read HN from, including the office and my home LAN, have static IPs, and approximately every 14 days I find that my IP is suddenly banned, and I have to resort to a proxy server to use HN.

When this happens I end up shooting you a personal email, to which you have replied, dismissively, only once. Either you are reading my emails or there is some kind of expiry on the bans, because I find I am usually unbanned within a few days to a week.

Oh, and there is nothing malicious happening on my LAN that warrants this kind of banning. I'm a casual HN reader/poster.

The irony is that the current submission's title needs to change from "Yehuda Katz..." to "Joshua Stein..."

He seems to now be unbanned: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=4324381.

Joshua is user 'there.

I got the same treatment he did -- and have on accounts I have made since -- and we exchanged emails during development. We both went through each others' posts and couldn't find any rational reason for the treatment (slow banning and hell banning, in both of our cases).

Lack of transparency is a pretty big deal on this forum, and once you've crossed Paul -- without knowing how -- it's scorched earth on any account you make. That's why Josh developed Lobsters, and why I'm user #2, and why I'm glad to see it's gaining traction as a community.

This site is more threatening to opinion and discourse than any on the public Internet, and that isn't hyperbole. The irony is that this is a hacker community, and most hackers would be appalled at slamming the door and creating a curated garden of ideas. I've posted as jsprink_banned and jsprinkles on the topic, if you're interested; won't spam this thread with it.

Graham allows the dumbest people on the Internet to come onto this site to berate startups he all but begged people to create, but hellbanned a guy who pooped out a better version of HN in his spare time, for nothing. For fuck's sake.

From the date in the blog post, it seems you got things backwards; after getting hellbanned, he created lobsters.


I honestly can't tell if you are agreeing with what the parent wrote or disagreeing.

I'm leaning toward disagreement.

Not sure what the down vote was for, it was a genuine question. The parents comment IS ambiguous and I would be interested in a clarification.

Sometimes it is difficult to pickup on sarcasm in the written word. This post is not being sarcastic. Neither was my one above.

Wouldn't it have been easier to just register a new account on hn, or just treat it r/o and don't bother registering? Unless, of course, PG has written some software that identifies your browser across accounts (which isn't terribly hard,) but as you say there's no transparency here, but then it is his forum so I don't expect any kind of transparency. He can do what he likes and ban whomever he feels like.

I commend the effort, so far the content looks like it is a clone of hn pretty much, I recognized many of the titles, but I think it's great you've created your own version.

I didn't create anything.

Did you try getting in touch?

My first account was hellbanned for no obvious reason. I had a bunch of karma, hadn't been downvoted, hadn't trolled. I asked pg for an explanation/reconsideration...nope!

One of the dirty secrets of hackernews is that you can be hellbanned at any moment without rhyme or reason, and you'll likely never know why. I assume it serves some purpose OTHER than driving away helpful contributors, but I'm not sure what that might be.

I think it's fair to say that hellbanning is done to improve the site, rather than for the nefarious purposes you're trying to ascribe for it. Clearly, there are problems with it's application and transparency, but that's not the same as suggesting there's some plot here.

No, it's not fair to say that hellbanning - as implemented on HN - is done to improve the site. It's arbitrary, capricious, and hugely non-transparent.

No, I'm not suggesting a plot, but there's no natural law that says tech news sites must have a hairtrigger hellban (nor, as far as I'm aware, does any other site have anything remotely like HN's policy). Concious or not, it's a policy that HN has adopted, and it's a terrible policy.

What I'm saying is, dont confuse the motivation and the implementation. Yes, its the wrong implementation, but that doesn't mean that they apply it maliciously.

To what end? Paul doesn't want me around and has made that passive aggressively clear, so I'm not sure what good contacting him would do. I discussed on jsprink_banned how not spending immeasurable amounts of time in HN threads has had a positive impact on my life anyway.

Now we just need invites!

That about article should be linked from the top nav on the site. Or at least in a footer. It would go a long way to explaining the origins and intentions of the site.

Explanation for the site being invite only:

"Not for exclusivity, but rather, invitations will be used as a spam-control mechanism. New users must be invited by a current member and invitations will be unlimited (unless scaling problems temporarily prevent new accounts). If spammers are invited to the site and banned, the user that invited them may also be banned, going up the chain of invitations as needed."

Seems basically sane, though I imagine the site would be pretty cliquish at first. You do have a pretty strong disincentive for inviting people you don't know.

Any member want to break up the cliquishness by inviting me? If you trust metrics, my high average karma means I'm probably less of a risk. Probably.

"my high average karma means I'm probably less of a risk. Probably."

If anything all this means is that you conform to the culture of HN, precisely what (it would seem) Lobsters is trying to break from.

https://lobste.rs/s/bkeYe9/about_lobsters says nothing about trying to break from the culture of HN. Lobsters differs from HN in features, moderation transparency, and spamming-prevention techniques, but it doesn’t say it tries to have a different user culture. So rauljara conforming to HN culture would not be a reason to avoid inviting him to Lobsters.

Seems like the cost of slower adoption isn't worth the upside to spam control, given that that's a relatively small problem for sites like these with proper IP control and user moderation. Lower quality comments is the bigger problem and that wouldn't easily be solved by being invite only.

Slower adoption? By default a site like this is going to have no traction, since there are a gazillion other reddit clones around. But make it appear exclusive, and you immediately have people begging for invites.

(Edit: I don't mean to imply that hype-generation was the real reason to make it invite-only. I'm sure that the stated reasons are the real ones. The interest generated by exclusivity is just a nice byproduct.)

However people are hearing about the site to even care about getting an invite, or know what it is, those are the same circumstances that they could happen upon the site and want to register. I don't think I've ever heard of a principle that stated invite only leads to greater adoption for a new site than open register, it's rather done to retard growth so the new infrastructure can keep up, or in this case to control spam. I believe slow growth, in absence of traction, is a perfectly valid way for many sites to grow and eventually gain traction.

I can't imagine that making an echo chamber at all. The likelihood of me getting an invite is next to nil, as I don't really fraternize with people around here. Guess I'll stick around here.

I’ll invite you, but you’ll have to put your email address in the “about” section of your HN profile first. (The address in the “email” section of your profile is not publicly viewable.) Or you can just write your email in a comment reply if you’d prefer.

I'd be grateful for an invitation, too. My email is in my "about" section. Feel free to peruse my comments here to see if you think I'd add any useful perspective. (I say this without reviewing my recent comments first, but my impression is that I generally say relevant things...) Thanks.

I updated my profile. Many thanks. You are a scholar and a gentleman.

Is it possible to have an invitation too? colt450 on Gmail. Thank you roryokane!!

I'd appreciate an invite. My email address is in my profile for the moment.

If you're willing to toss out another invite my e-mail is on my profile.

If per chance anyone has a free invite, it would be greatly appreciated!

I'd like an invite. My email address: mihai dot tarnovan at cubus dot ro.

Thank you

I would also like an invite. If they are being given.

Hi, if you have any left, I'd very much appreciate one.

carlos.fenollosa at gmail


I'd really love an invite, please =)

I'd like an invite as well please :)

I would like an invite too please :)

May I? zgstewart from gmail dot com

I'd love an invite, if available.

Anyone able to invite me?

Thank you, I now have an invite :)

could I have an invite as well ? My email is in my profile.

After 4.6 years of using HN obsessively, I'm surprised to find that I'm really hoping this takes off (I was ready to hate on it).

After hearing the JCS story and remembering my own experience of PG manipulating headlines + killing my own frontpage submission, I'm all for this.

I'm also tried of the YC job listings from companies that launched 4yrs ago flooding the homepage.


When it comes to learning, sharing, and growing together, online or otherwise, there are no competitors, winners, or losers. Just a bigger pie.

(Good luck to lobste.rs, but I'll probably be staying right here on hn.)

I disagree with that notion.

I've been a contributor on HN for around 5 years and over the period of time I've seen a constant decline in the quality of comments, community support (read some of the 'Show HN' posts) and to an extent even the quality of the stories submitted.

A new improved hacker/startup community can be a serious contender for replacing HN (in its current state), just like Reddit is/was to Digg and others.

I'm relatively new to HN (<1year) and the one thing I notice on here is a HEAVY amount of cynicism. Perhaps the tech industry needs that to keep itself in check, but I feel like a lot of argumentative comments can sometimes be REALLY nasty.

I understand that in a competitive, fast paced and big money industry there will be massive egos, but I could sure do without some of the jerks

Well a real problem is the fact that it takes no effort to by cynical. It doesn't take intelligence or facts to be cynical, only doubt under the cover of pragmatism.


Isn't that true of every geek-oriented news site with comments? In every community that reaches a certain size people start complaining that everything was better in the early year(s). There's always a lot of cynicism because that's just geek humor (actually I think HN is far better in that regard than many other sites - I don't know any other major site where you can get so much useful and positive feedback). And on sites with lots of comments you will always find lots of negative comments. That's just the way it is.

While this account is only approaching its 2 year anniversary, I was a lurker for a while before that. I do agree there has been some decline, but my biggest complaint about the comments these days are the complaints about the decline of HN. They are all over the place and to me are a bigger annoyance than anything that the actual comments are complaining about (except for the community support comment - that needs improving).

Not meant to single you out - just my opinion on the overall sentiment on HN these days.

This account is 4+ years old and I was a lurker as well for a while before creating an account. I too have noticed a distinct decline in the quality of commentary over the years. It's not downvotes that are messing up the community; it's upvotes. The things that get upvoted more lately seem to be short quips or similar scoped posts. Maybe pg needs to experiment with removing the upvote feature from new accounts until they reach a threshold of x karma. If it wasn't for the 10 or 20 prolific posters here this community would be full of people with nothing to say but saying it loudly. I don't know if the removal of points from comments changed the environment for the better but I can only hope that it staved off the decline in community for a bit longer than inaction would have.

Edit: I think it's funny that the title of this post was changed to lobsters from its original title.

that's not entirely true, the amount of time any of us spends online looking at tech news is finite, therefore as the pie gets bigger some of the online communities shrink their viewership, have less participation and less engagement. So the idea of competition is actually quite valid. It's like saying there's room for Facebook and Google+, while that's true there definitely are winners and losers because user engagement in a community is a function of its health and status.

I applied for lobste.rs, sending an 8 paragraph email about myself, the admin didn't even take the time to reply to me, which I find extremely rude, if I am too lowly for his application, then letting me know how to improve would really have been polite.

As it is, because of how I was treat by them, I have an extreme aversion to this website. I don't see it as competition for HN, I was merely curious about the community there and it's comparison to the one here.

I guess I got my answer...

When did you send it? I don't know about the recipient of your email, but it's not uncommon for me to have a multi-week backlog of email. Long emails tend to get a long reply, so those take even longer.

I sent it when the site was released, day 1 or 2 I think, the first time it was posted on HN.

Wait, what? You have to apply for lobste.rs? What kind of nonsense is that?

Yeah, it's invite only too, so the idea is, you lower yourself and apply or you get invited by a friend because they like you.

So the end result is either it's full of really friendly, intelligent, hand picked people, or it becomes a clique full of friends who are less than intelligent.

I think you either missed or ignored his point.

I do think there is a risk of 'intellectual ghettoization'. The quantity in a community might not be that important after a while. But the quality, in terms of diversity of ideas, is very important.

lobste.rs for sure has/will have his public but what I like in HN is that is not only technical but also features interesting stuff for smart people allowing curious people from other fields to join and enrich the community (even if lots of people claim the opposite). For example I'm an architect (buildings not IT) and HN is my favourite community. You can say that for me there is reddit but it is full of BS where people too many times comment without having nothing to say.

I'd like to cite the Nader Principle: Groups of people with similar ideas should look for ways to compromise instead of splitting their effort.

There has always been value in collecting very different people with similar goals in one place. Greater diversity of perspective, backgrounds and points of view. I'm always a little sad to see a group of people split over a minor dispute or philosophical difference. It's taking what could be a great combined effort and diluting it.

I agree with you in principle, but in practice it is hard to even have that discussion on HN, where metadiscussions are frowned upon, there is zero transparency into how moderation is conducted, and you can be hellbanned without explanation or recourse.

This reminds me of a tale from the Internet of yesteryear...

Long ago, circa the year 2000, I was a member of the very first niche social network, makeoutclub.com (MOC)[1], a site originally about indie rock music. One day, a group of members got tired of gibby's (the owner) benign dictatorship and mutinied. The group started lipstickandcigarettes.com (L&C), which is now a parked domain. At the time, L&C targeted the same demographic, but was very restrictive on which hipsters could join and had a more savvy GUI than MOC. It had great early success in attracting members interested in indie rock from MOC. Eventually, though, the proprietors of L&C lost interest and let the community there dissolve in order to pursue other interests (there were rumors of drug addiction at the time, IIRC). MOC, on the other hand, is still going strong and presumably making money for gibby.

I suppose the moral to my story is this: unless your social network fiefdom actively feeds your pocketbook (as MOC does for gibby and HN does for pg), expect to lose interest in maintaining it once the novelty of protest has worn off.

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Makeoutclub

This looks pretty good but a few things come to mind:

- no comment collapsing, long comment threads will become a problem just like they are here which ends up sucking, I'd love to see something like reddit's threading / collapsing and I'd really love to a see a whole other forum-ish way to browse stories as well so discussion is even more emphasized

- no registration sucks, there are easier ways to identify spammers such as their obvious affiliation with particular website(s), auto-submission honey pots, even a manual glance at submission and other stats can be pretty revealing

The biggest concern though is the site's own affiliations ... digg needed their widget everywhere which ensured the quality was locked into a downward spiral. HN gives TC traffic in exchange for publicity, and of course all the preferential treatment and posts by YC startups is less interesting now that their batches are so large. What happens when it's time for lobste.rs to pay for itself?

I really do think it's time to replace HN though, it's mainstream and it's targeted by rubbish publications and it's full of users who are here to exploit it or to be exploited by rubbish sites who manipulate them with stunning precision.

I'd love an invite if someone's giving them out.

This headline does seem unusually misleading. I already came across this site 10 days ago, it doesn't seems like it was "launched" in any fashion? And it's not by Yehuda Katz, and also doesn't seem like a HN "competitor" since it probably doesn't want to attract as big an audience.

So basically there are three things that are flat-out wrong with this headline.

It is a HN competitor. The person who built says they did so out of frustration with HN.

The motivation for creating something is not necessarily its primary purpose.

Exclusionary tagging seems nice.

More than giving why you're downvoting, I wish HN didn't ban/banish-to-purgatory people for low karma, but for upheld flagged posts. Someone can be horribly wrong, often, and still learn, and become worthwhile to the group. At least in theory.

Seems to solve my biggest HN complaint, downvotes without reasons. I'd love to give it a spin and see how that works in practice.

Slashdot also had upvotes with reasons, and I personally think that is just as important if you agree with downvotes with reasons: it lets you differentiate between things that added new information, made good arguments, or was simply funny.

That said, the problem with downvotes with reasons is that it now feels much more harsh. I'm downvoting something that is clearly an insulting comment that should not have been made on the site, and yet I'm wondering "do I really want to use the term 'troll'? that seems harsh".

I always feel bad when I hit the down vote button by accident on my mobile devices. I wish there was a way to undo those fat finger goofs.

Interestingly, you can see the user invitation tree here:


So if you want an invitation, you should see if you know anyone on that lists.

[edit: "If spammers are invited to the site and banned, the user that invited them may also be banned, going up the chain of invitations as needed." If your parent gets banned, do all children get banned?]

Can an existing user of Lobsters please send me an invite? (My email is in my profile.)

According to https://lobste.rs/s/bkeYe9/about_lobsters, the only reason Lobsters is invite-only is to prevent spammers from signing up. So if you want to check that I’m not a spammer, just glance at my past comments (http://news.ycombinator.com/threads?id=roryokane) and submissions (http://news.ycombinator.com/submitted?id=roryokane).

If you still want another reason to send me an invite, I support the idea of an improved Hacker News – pg seems to barely care about improving HN. I might contribute to the Lobsters code at https://github.com/jcs/lobsters.

Someone sent me an invite – thanks!

That's awesome - any chance you could pay it forward? My email is also in my profile. Thanks!

I'm looking for an invite as well, if you wouldn't mind, thanks!

I'll take an invite as well, if someone has access.

I'd appreciate an invite as well. Email in profile, along with submission and comment history of course.

I'd appreciate an invite too (my email is in my profile as well).

I would also love an invite! Anyone care to patch me in?

I would appreciate one too.

I would really love an invite to this. Competition is good regardless of whether or not it was created out of spite. I often wish there were more competing sites to HN because the quality of the moderation and the way things work around here has really deteriorated as of late.

I don't know the reasoning of Paul Graham hell-banning people on this site for merely questioning the way it's moderated or for whatever reason, but the lack of transparency on HN is a big issue that needs to be fixed.

As much as I love HN, I think it's time for a change and whether it be Lobsters or another site, I am really hoping a successor breaks the ranks and perhaps PG and the moderator team will then make an effort to fix this place.

Honestly Prismatic is so very good at content curation -- at least for me and my friends -- that a "tech/startup/general geekery news" content aggregator is superfluous. I come to HN now to see the comments on the articles I read on Prismatic.

It's invite only. Tried a few different urls and got this one: https://lobste.rs/signup

So it's not actually launched, but more of a ShowHN.

It's very much launched. Been out for a month and a half now. And I don't think OP has any affiliation.

Why ever would it be appropriate to post this here, not to mention with the (now-edited) false headline, in read-only mode?

People can still check out what's happening there. It's nice to hear about a new site (I wouldn't have heard about it otherwise). Also, I'm not sure what the title (used) to be so I can't comment on that.

"Yehuda Katz launches Lobste.rs" where he is only a user and not involved behind the site at all. As noted elsewhere, it is run by someone who was banned by HN because they were banned from HN, so, to me, a presumption of bad faith is warranted.

While I hope this doesn't split the HN community, I hope it also serves as a wake up call that HN needs to improve or it will die. Some parts of Lobsters are really really good for solving some of the problems that HN has:

- invite only to prevent spam and increase accountability

- tags are ideal for the problem where not everyone cares about everything - getting to be a major gripe you see a lot ("oh my god, do we have to have another discussion about X")

- HN needs significantly better transparency in bans, title rewrites, etc. I don't believe that PG has an agenda or needs to protect YC companies, but the issue comes up so much that it needs to be addressed

- reasons for downvotes are genius

- private messages are worthwhile IMO

- the domain indicator is actually useful (sick of seeing co.uk or github.com instead of myblog.github.com)

Other things HN needs:

- to work: the fact that "more" barely works is astonishing

- an API for all the apps that want to provide a better or different experience

- comment collapsing - an essential feature for actually reading past the first comment thread

- a meta site where we can actually discuss this stuff without violating guidelines (meta.stackoverflow.com is one of the most innovative and important community tools ever, IMO)

I've heard "there are no technical solutions to social problems" as reasons not to do a lot of these, but the same argument could apply to the downvote. HN needs to innovate to keep its community, and I hope it does.

Some stream of consciousness thoughts on the history of internet communities, particularly those centred around tech.

Usenet had immense value in well defined subgroups prior to the Eternal September (and for some time after, regardless of what people may say). IRC ha(s|d) similar values, and remains a force within niche communities on the tech side. Slashdot was an early mover in the moderated community space which had to arise from the newfound populist web.

I still think /.'s comment moderation was superior to the HN system (pre and post-visible comment scores), but the firehose was too late and too poorly implemented to solve editorial issues.

In the middle of this, Kuro5hin rose and fell, metafilter grabbed some component of the serious moderated discussion which it still retains. Fark came and went. Boingboing, SA, b3ta. All significant for a time but not names on people's lips today.

HN cannibalised a significant portion of /., but failed to convert the greybeards - the discussion here is noticeably different because of it (and lacking the perspective sometimes).

Digg suffered greatly from demagogues (as does HN to an extent), descended too rapidly into linkbait and celebpop trash, and fell to Reddit. The redesign was just the nail in the coffin of an already dead community.

Reddit became a very granular experience from its initial tech focus, with a current frontpage of dubious intellectual interest, but their popularity speaks wonders for the ad-hoc community created by diverse interest groups with a common central park. They struggle with discovery for new members, and an apparently descending base age group.

Communities come and go. Small herds migrate towards the latest point of interest and some stick. Groupthink is a large driver of community malaise, certainly within the tech discussion arena. Individuals dominate submissions and discussions and evolve to minor demagogue status. Some communities evolve to tackle a smaller arena than just the general topical discussion field, but topicality remains critical.

Quora has tackled 'big answers'. StackOverflow 'correct answers'. These are some minor elements of the value of the larger communities, much in the same way that Hipmunk, AirBnb etc have abstracted value away from Craigslist. Hyperlocal is the next big thing with FrontPorchForum and NextDoor tacking non-technical local discussion.

I still view the approaches to these problems as relatively unsolved and ripe for disruption, in particular the algorithms related to subject and comment popularity, user 'karma' (for better or worse), and approachable comment threading when a userbase grows beyond the 'scan a single page' scale. I'm not convinced that a one-size-fits-all approach will ever work, but even within niche tribes there remains a problem with staying 'current' while avoiding alienating the 1-2% who drive much of the discussion.

I fully expect a new dominant discussion forum to arise in the tech scene in the next couple of years, but Lobsters seems to be a kneejerk reimplementation of HN that even if it claws some traction would have to evolve rapidly to solve problems rather than dangling the 2013 model of a 2012 carrot.

Communities come and go. Small herds migrate towards the latest point of interest and some stick. Groupthink is a large driver of community malaise, certainly within the tech discussion arena. Individuals dominate submissions and discussions and evolve to minor demagogue status. Some communities evolve to tackle a smaller arena than just the general topical discussion field, but topicality remains critical.

I agree with this, but this is also why I have now come to seriously question why anyone would be interested in investing in any community-based site. Let's not mistake that for social networks (which in of themselves have their own potential issues). But regarding community-based sites, I can't ever see any as having long-term value, not after all the carcasses I see lying in decay on the web. :(

I'm curious, are there any active newsgroups worth visiting and discussing?

I used to roam some groups until about 2003, but most of them are pretty much abandoned now, and I haven't been able to find the same level of discussion on the Internet

You forgot advogato

I Like it. Needs some modern design, minimalist and clean.

It would be sad to see HN die, but if you don't water your plants...

It definitely needs some background, cue from /r/apple might be a good idea.

Also a distinctive header in a different color.

A footer.

Remove bold from links in front page and

    Font-size 1.2em
    Line-height 1.2
Hmm, I'll work on something tomorrow. You guys should open a contest just to let the good vibe flow.

> It definitely needs some background, cue from /r/apple might be a good idea.

Please, please no. Its fine the way it is.

My favorite forum feature is 'the blender'. I first saw it on nuclearphynance.com(and not since). Once a critical number of people blend a thread it gets deleted so as not to pollute the list of threads.

In practice it worked very well. The overwhelming majority of blended threads were from new users who were still getting a hang of the quality standards for posting in the forum.

What are 'blended threads'?

When speaking about forums each topic and its associated posts are referred to as a thread.

About Lobsters: https://lobste.rs/s/bkeYe9/about_lobsters

This isn't linked anywhere obvious on the site itself.

Quite good, e.g. enforced SSL, responsive layout, tag, built in search, feed ordered by time ...

This has to go down as the biggest missed opportunity ever.

The name has to be in Lobster (http://www.google.com/webfonts/specimen/Lobster). This is not an optional thing. Come on.

One thing I liked right off the bat was a good mobile experience. The fact that you still can't get this on HN is quite appalling to me.

There is also the open sourced clone Lamer News (http://lamernews.com/) by antirez.

Huh, this looks pretty cool. I like the transparency. JCS, can I get an invitation?

Me too. I'm not a member of a startup community (outside of this forum), so unless they are given out/open up soon, i guess i will be excluded.

How about allowing automated signup for read-only accounts? I don't want to post comments on lobste.rs, but it would be nice to have access to other features (e.g. tag-based filtering.)

I'd love an invite as well! I love how damn fast and nimble it feels, and I've already enjoyed some of the discussion.

Can I get an invite as well? Thanks.

I'd love to contribute to this.

I wonder if this article will be removed...

Ha, I was just thinking about how to architect a discussion forum (ala HN) this morning.

It's much faster than HN. No long pauses when loading pages.

That may mean you've been slowbanned from HN. If you slightly annoy a moderator around here they'll flag your account so you see very long page load delays.

Try logging out of HN, and see if the long pauses go away for you.

Oh, there's almost zero doubt I've annoyed a moderator at some point.

There's no list of moderators anywhere is there? I could tick off the ones I haven't annoyed.

Nope, no list of moderators. You'll never know who, and you'll never know why, and you probably won't be able to get it reversed.

Also, Macro: The step beyond slowbanning is hellbanning, where nobody can see your comments except you, and users with "show dead" on. You've been hellbanned for over a year. As to why...maybe some mod thought your first comment was a bit content free. Maybe they were just having a bad day. I'd recommend getting a new account.

Haha, poor Macro. Look at his comment history: http://news.ycombinator.com/threads?id=Macro

wow. Macro posts one slightly vapid but inoffensive comment and is struck by instant death lightning.

Well we know why. I pissed off one of the cool kids. That's crime enough.

I remember how much I really enjoyed seeing points...

Hell-banned and slow-banned? I didn't know that mods for HN would do that to users they disagree with.

Spammers, I can understand....but users you disagree with.

Wow....just wow.

It's about time.

Looks cool. But what about people like me who don't have any friends but still have interesting ideas?

I would like to see an invite only site that had an application process where an inviter can pick out applications they like from the pool. This way the people of value but without networking are fine.

I think that's how Dribbble works, and it's quite a good way of doing it.

If somebody would be kind enough to invite me, it would be much appreciated. Email in profile...

It's a shame there isn't an about page that suggests what will be different (or better) about lobste.rs from HN. If it's just a clone site where a different set of people post the same articles and similar comments, I won't waste my time.

There is an about page, though there’s no link to it on the site: https://lobste.rs/s/bkeYe9/about_lobsters

So it's like a country club for hackers? No explanation of what it is (scope/core philosophy) other than the links. No sign-up, or even an indication of how to join or why there isn't a general sign-up form.

Somewhat off putting, elitist first impression.

OK, to be fair, it does look like there's a normal sign-up/application feature that was just quickly disabled/commented out:


Now if he can implement the multi-root voting system that would be way cool.


What is really needed, is a HN for other domains outside of technology.

I prefer HN's background.

I support this. It's kind of ridiculous to see YC company's job postings on the front page all the time. And there's no reason to conflate the cult of YC with actual hacker news.

It looks like a cool site, would be nice if we could register.

Can anyone spare an invite? I'd really like to join up!

It's unfair to blame Paul Graham for every moderation decision made on HN. It's been stated that YC funded founders help with moderation and editing on HN, and it's a safe bet that YC partners also have elevated permissions here. If you're like me, a normal HN user, then you will never know all the details. If you find yourself having a bias based on knowingly incomplete information, then you need to stop and rethink your position.

The most any normal user can say for certain about jcs getting hellbanned is, he did something annoying enough that someone did something about it!!! --Unfortunately, if you believed the previous sentence, you are mistaken.

The reality is, a lot of stuff on HN is automated. If you do bad stuff, bad things happen to you (your account) automatically. For example, if you get into a flame war and pass the "posting too fast" threshold, you could get warnings initially, and if you still don't stop, you could hellban yourself. In other words, you simply never know if a human being with moderator privileges did something, or if you did it to yourself. Also, you don't know if it's permanent or temporary.

The most I can say with real certainty is, pg is smart enough to design a system which merely gives users enough rope to hang themselves. I would do the same, and if you've studied the problem in depth, you would too. Eliminating human moderation through computerized automation is the only sane way to design a discussion forum.

Now if you were a long time, active contributor like jcs, and you ensnared yourself in the sites protective automation, and you thought someone was doing it to you, then ya, you might be miffed. You would probably react harshly, and by doing so, make matters even worse for yourself and give yourself even more "reason" to be upset.

Have you ever watched someone get absolutely livid at a chat bot?

It's hilarious. It may be a wee bit sadistic to let them keep trading increasingly heated insults with a machine, but it's still fun to watch. At the end, they might learn a valuable lesson.

With pg, there's one thing I've come to rely on; he means well. There is no requirement to agree with him on everything, but if over many years you've watched him carefully, studied the things he's said and done, or better, interacted with him, then you can be reasonably certain that he means well.

If you know anything at all about Y-Combinator, then you already know that Paul has far more important things to do than mess around with HN. If you don't know the history of HN, you're at a disadvantage; it was started as a for-fun side project to test out the ARC programming language, and HN was originally called "Startup News" for a very good reason -- to attract people with an interest in startups. The name was eventually changed to "Hacker News" due to the retrospectively obvious oversight; a lot of the best coders haven't really thought about doing a startup, and the people interested in startups are often already doing one. Broadening the scope of appeal with the name change makes sense.

If you haven't read everything Paul has written, then you don't about the massive amount of time and effort he's put into thinking about the interactions between people on (open) forums, and how to encourage beneficial exchanges between (potentially conflicting) people. HN is now, and always has been, an ongoing experiment to improve the ratio of beneficial exchanges in discussions, as well as reduce human moderation overhead. It's fun watching it evolve.

And lastly no, of the small bits of HN secret sauce I've discovered over the years, I absolutely refuse to give you the details. If the details were public, then some people would use them to game the system.

If you find yourself having a bias based on knowingly incomplete information, then you need to stop and rethink your position.

If another party is purposefully keeping information from me, I'm not going to feel bad for making guesses as to what's up and sharing those guesses.

That said, I don't think "open moderation" is necessarily a good thing. I like the experiment that HN is doing of secret moderation. While I like talking about how communities regulate themselves, "open moderation" usually leads to huge amounts of drama and navel-gazing. It remains to be seen if the benefits of secrecy outweigh the drawbacks.

I DO blame PG for the mindless enforcement of the "Title MUST match the linked page's title" rule. Sometimes this is a good rule but there really are exceptions!

EXAMPLE: This very post was actually submitted with the title

Yehuda Katz launches HN competitor - Lobsters

but then some mod just changed it to 'lobsters' which means absolutely nothing. How is that an improvement?

EDIT: Please invite me to Lobsters!

Well, it's an improvement on the basis of stopping the spread of false information; Yehuda Katz did not create lobsters. jcs did.

Sure, the edit could have been both more correct and more informative, but most people have better things than endlessly (re)correct trivial and inconsequential stuff like titles that might matter for only a handful of hours.

My question for you is, "When you're on your death bed with fleeting time left in your life, will you consider the time you spent on this issue of title editing to be well spent or wasted?

If I don't reply, at least you'll know why.

When you are on your deathbed, will you be happy with the time you spent editing titles?

It's frankly embarrassing to have to ask this in public but if anyone would care to invite me, it looks like my kind of place.

I feel it's pretty hard to look at. HN is simple, but still designed well. This, on the other hand, feels cramped.

Variety is what makes HN so engaging. If I wanted to read exclusivly about computers, I would just hit usenet.

I'd be interested in trying this out. Can anyone offer an invite? My email is available via my profile.

I was trying really hard to register so I could make some votes and comments, but could not.

* clone HN

* put a link to it at the top of HN

* expect something different to HN?

I would like an invitation also - if someone is monitoring this and giving new ones away.

Thanks :)

Oh no, invitation only.

I'd like an invite...

Me too please! Pretty please? ^_^

I promise to behave!

I'd like to register on the site

can anyone spare an invite? :)

An invite would be nice.

Where's the about page?

Did he use emberjs for the interface? If not, why Not?

dont like the white background. at all.

if reddit and HN had a child, it would look like lobster.

Some thoughts from user #2:

- Joshua Stein developed Lobsters by himself. Yahuda Katz was, to my knowledge, uninvolved.

- The site is invite only because, and I'm speaking for Josh here and mostly guessing (he'd be a better person to ask), it's still trying to identify itself. Communities are grown organically and I gather Josh is letting Lobsters grow slowly, intentionally. I don't think he has "launched" it, per se.

- I emailed Josh to support him when he was hellbanned (as my HN story parallels his), and a couple months after that exchange he invited me to the site. I don't participate much at all -- heads down on a product -- but I think it has potential.

- I have 5:1 odds the headline will not be fixed, even though there are three factual errors in that tiny bit of text (Katz, HN Competitor, Launched).

is it possible to get invited? or do I need to have a mac book pro and be a ruby fanboy?

Great, another a site with ruby on rail kids discussing shiny web design.

whats wrong with that?

It's great if you're a kid, but when you grow up you should work on solving cancer or making spaceships.

Which of those are you doing?


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