After I wrote this one, I had to go back and armor it by pre-empting anything I could imagine anyone willfully misunderstanding to use as a weapon in comment threads. The whole of footnote 1 is such armor for example. I essentially anticipated all the "No, what I said was" type comments I'd have had to make on HN and just included them in the essay.
It's a uniquely bad combination to both write essays and run a forum. It's like having comments enabled on your blog whether you want them or not.
At least some of the people who are questioning you are probably doing so out of intellectual curiosity, rather than animosity. You probably know that intellectually, but for many people—including me—it's sometimes hard to remember that in the heat of the reading moment.
Of course, my blog posts don't get nearly as much attention as your essays, and I don't have the problem of having people try to draw attention to themselves in the hopes of being remembered when applications are considered for the next YC round.
Your posts are more technical in nature, and can benefit from debate. Other people might write things that are more personal, or opinion, or thinking-aloud, and while a little bit of good-natured feedback from trusted people might be appreciated, lots of nitpicking and debate and very public arguing is not.
The point I was trying to make was that I would be disappointed if what pg clearly saw as a problem was "fixed", because for me it's a feature.
(I'm not picking on you btw, I have a tremendous amount of respect for you. But I don't think your desire for debate on what you write is suitable justification for other people putting up with the same, especially when it's discouraging them from writing.)
This is perhaps the worst thing about discourse on the internet. If you and I were having a conversation in room, you'd never pretend to not understand me to rip into me (maybe to understand my point better.) But on the internet, so many people are just trying to score points that it's nearly impossible to have a conversation.
1, that's terrible. So many benefit from the ability to read (and interact with) your opinions. It's so much more valuable than a random once-off Reddit AMA. It's a shame the value is reduced through the actions of a few.
2, this community attracts young smart people, exactly those who might want to match wits with you. Some of it is valuable, some is just annoying. I'm reminded of the niceness value in discussion; if everyone was nice about it, maybe you wouldn't feel as apprehensive or besieged and we could still have a good debate to extract the maximum benefit.
In the end, I hope you find some way to care less about the opinions, because what you do and write about are so valuable. In the spirit of "If you aren't writing enough wrong stuff, maybe you're being too cautious."
You don't give your detractors enough credit. Many of these misunderstandings are not willful, and actively seeking to avoid them is almost always good practice on your part. (In my opinion.) For the record, I found footnote 1 illuminating.
I'm sure that the intense scrutiny you get would annoy any writer. But I think it genuinely makes your essays stronger, too, and I hope you don't hate it too much.
I think at least half of the misunderstandings that arise in HN comment threads are honest misunderstandings.