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Hacker News supports browsing with a points threshold (ycombinator.com)
264 points by martincmartin 1885 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 81 comments

I'll be the grouchy contrarian and observe that I frequently don't like the more highly voted submissions.

Seems the high point submissions are frequently pop science or culture articles (e.g., "Amateur astronomers discover a planet with four suns" or "A Very Unusual Camera That Emphasizes Time Over Space"), while the lower point submissions are articles I actually learn from (e.g. "Exploring the Virtual Database Engine inside SQLite" or "How to do a great product promo video for less than $200").

I get enough of the former on Reddit; I come to Hacker News for the latter.

I would like to see a solution that addresses this issue too. Perhaps something like http://news.ycombinator.com/classic but instead of users who have been on HN for a year, you pick the users. Some AI programmers might suggest that HN itself could figure out what users typically upvote the same content as you -- no thanks, I can pick them out myself.

A tag/keyword system would be ideal but that's a lot of work and tags never seem to turn out as good as they sound.

(also, `larrys`, you died yesterday -- hellbanned, and looking at your comment history yesterday, seems like an entirely inappropriate response from the mods)

Where are you seeing `larrys`? The guy you're replying to doesn't seem to be "larrys", and when I looked at larrys profile here on HN I can see there was some recent arguing, but nothing that I would think would merit a ban, and additionally, I don't see a 'inappropriate response from the mods' (but perhaps I'm not sure what to look for; do mods get special CSS styling or anything?). I'm confusered.

You can't reply directly to hellbanned users, so a lot of people reply to the person such a user was replying to, to try to send them a message that they've been banned.

Most users won't see these comments/users. If you go to your user page, you'll see an option called "showdead". Enable that ('Yes'), and you'll see these messages.

Thanks! That clears things up.

Also, his complaint about speed is likely because he is slowbanned in addition to being hellbanned. It seems pretty clear there are moderators inappropriately hellbanning users for personal gripes.

Hellbanning is an unnecessarily hurtful and cowardly way to deal with people other than outright trolls.

How do you know that someone else has been banned? How do you know if YOU have? What's "hellbanned"? What's "shadow banned"?

You can look them up (the terms that is, not the users), but here's a good start:


I think they're the same (or at least similar), and basically you're invisible to everyone but yourself.

This is a 'safer' form of banning, as someone who is outright banned would notice right away and might try to get revenge in some way. But, if everything works just like always and they don't realize they're banned, then they won't get upset (and won't raise hell).

Or a modified version of the follow model would be interesting.

>hellbanned, and looking at your comment history yesterday, seems like an entirely inappropriate response from the mods)

Isn't that normally the case here? I've seen more people shadow banned for seemingly no reason than I've seen shadow banned for a legit reason. The whole point of shadow bans is supposed to be to waste the time of obvious trolls, here it is used randomly and seemingly as the only response to any perceived misbehaviour, so whatever wrong-doing is perceived never gets corrected, people just make a new account and continue as before. By far the most baffling and absurd aspect of HN.

Any discussion of the hellban procedure seems a quick way to be hellbanned.

It's a horrible, unjust, arbitrary system and is generally abused by anonymous, seemingly petty moderators.

My main account was hellbanned (also slowbanned, and my IP address banned) for apparently replying to the wrong mystery moderator with something he/she didn't like.

Hellbanning on HN is sorely in need of oversight and reconsideration. Hellbanning should be used only for obvious trolls. There are other ways to punish and train bad behavior from legitimate contributors.

> Any discussion of the hellban procedure seems a quick way to be hellbanned.

I haven't noticed this? I posted a few critiques on hellbanning over the past few weeks and since most of them got some upvotes, I assume I did not incur any mod wrath ;)

I was gonna say, maybe I've gathered sufficient points to get away with more, but then I took a look at larrys user profile page (https://news.ycombinator.com/user?id=larrys) and he has accumulated nearly thrice my score.

That's good. There's already sufficient naturally occurring social pressure that lets older accounts get away with more, no need to inflate the effect based on karma.

In larrys' case, I can't see anything that's remotely offensive in his last few comments, so I'm going to assume good faith and guess that the actual offending comment probably got removed entirely.

It's a shame we have to guess about these things though. Wouldn't it be trivial for moderators to leave a note about their reasons? Very short and to-the-point, like a Wikipedia edit-summary. It wouldn't even require extra code to start with, they can just edit it into the relevant post. I've seen very large blog-type forums work that way. It merely requires moderators to decide and agree to do it that way.

> There are other ways to punish and train bad behavior from legitimate contributors.

Yes. Problem is that while it does punish (in some sense), in no sense does it "train" the affected users, because there's no telling when/if they will notice the punishment, it could be many months, and even if by then the user takes the trouble to figure out what post caused this sanction, the complete lack in immediacy of consequence entirely negates any effectiveness in behavioural change (see: Operant Conditioning, there's a lot of research that is directly applicable to online community moderation).

I've been hellbanned twice.

Were you restored or did you open a new account?

I stopped using "sbierwagen" when my flag button was removed, and my downvote button disabled. (The second one turns out to be temporary-- just don't downvote so many people)

The next two accounts, being of fairly low karma and recently made, got hellbanned within a couple months, for saying things "sbierwagen" could easily get away with.

I really really wish there were a filter so that users could eliminate all HN from aggregation sources (read wired, extremetech, etc).

Wouldn't that be relatively easy to do client-side as a bookmarklet or GreaseMonkey script?

(And yes, that's a challenge, lazyweb!)

> I get enough of the former on Reddit; I come to Hacker News for the latter.

I subscribe to a lot of tiny subreddits on specific computing and math related topics that I'm interested in--they may be (very) low traffic, but things that may not get many upvotes in /r/programming, get reposted in those places, so they still show up on my personal frontpage. The discussions there also tend to have hardly any "memes" (because that's only fun if you know hundreds will read it).

I do agree that Hacker News has even more "meat" hidden away in this manner. I recently re-discovered this, at some point I had changed my HN bookmark to /best and saw only the top-voted links. Recently I've been peeking at the regular feed and indeed there's loads of quality posts that "only" get a few tens of upvotes and therefore not even show on /best, but are definitely worth reading.

Do many people actually read HN/newest? I suppose they must, how would new posts get their first upvotes otherwise :) But it moves so fast, and it has a lot of (blog)spam last time I looked? Why'd you go there if the regular feed has so much better quality links, except of course out of some sense of "duty" maybe?

True, possibly because articles of value are very specific, in which not everyone can relate to or retain anything of value. What might be your domain expertise, I might have no interest in, or don't have the background to comprehend, and vice versa. Thus, the "least common denominator" tends to float up.

edit: there doesn't seem to be an "under" call for the karma number, it might be fun to troll the submissions with less love...

Exactly my thougth. Most of the time I prefer the mid-upper range while excluding the highly voted.

Here are some fun points-related search queries:

Comments with the highest number of points:


Stories with the highest number of points:


Users with the highest karma:


"Ask HN:" stories with the highest number of points:


"Show HN:" stories with the highest number of points:


Some "official" lists are here: https://news.ycombinator.com/lists

Well there goes my morning. I love to read this high quality stuff, I wish all comments/submissions were this great!

Here's the recent top ten submissions into Hacker News (all above 440 points). I'm happy to see the top ten has a pretty good variety of topics.

    * Conway's Game of Life, using floating point values instead of integers (jwz.org)
    * Show HN: We open sourced Lockitron's crowdfunding app (selfstarter.us)
    * 37signals Earns Millions Each Year. Its CEO’s Model? His Cleaning Lady (fastcompany.com)
    * Why is processing a sorted array faster than an unsorted array? (stackoverflow.com)
    * I Have 50 Dollars (ihave50dollars.com)
    * Why was a scam company able to raise $76 Million Series B?
    * The Five Stages of Hosting (blog.pinboard.in)
    * Where has all the money in the world gone? (reddit.com)
    * If Software Is Eating The World, Why Don't Coders Get Any Respect?
    * Hit men, click whores, and paid apologists: Welcome to the Silicon Cesspool (realdanlyons.com)
EDIT: As rwos as pooriaazimi point out, these are not the absolute top ten, but only the top ten among the recent submissions. My bad!

I often skip the articles, or skim very quickly, and read the comments much more closely, leaving those tabs I found most interesting open for the day and refreshing for updates.

Why does espinchi's post not have Steve Job's passing post?

Edit: apparently because it only searches articles that are in memory. And that article was not in memory when op checked.

All of them are recent ones, not top submissions of all time.

For example, the post on Steve Jobs's death (http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=3078128) got 4,269 votes!

No, as others have said these are only recent ones.

Here's the real top ten: http://www.hnsearch.com/search#request/submissions&sortb...

there is also http://news.ycombinator.com/best although only recent links are listed on it

Shht, don't tell anyone! I always user Hacker News with a threshold of 100, but the more people start doing that the fewer there will be left to upvote new articles.

And then there will be nothing to read or I will need to lower my threshold or wait for other people to do that. Prisoners dilemma.

I'll see your prisoner's dilemma and raise you a repugnant conclusion: I think we get the most total utility if everyone reads lots of low-quality articles and up-vote the few good ones.

Really saves time.

I used a threshhold of 35 at first, then I upped it to 50. These days you probably want 75 or 100 if you really want to sift through the less important items.

Or you can just subscribe to daemonology's RSS: http://www.daemonology.net/hn-daily/index.rss. This summarizes the top ten every day. These are most of the important articles; of course you will miss some important things.

On the other side of the scale, you should try http://news.ycombinator.com/newest every once in a while as well. The fact is, the HN point system ends up filtering a lot of things by whatever's popular or in sync with the groupthink at the moment. Newest can help you avoid this "filter."

I use the daemonology top 10 list, but most days I end up reading that, then also scanning the front page directly, because occasionally there are posts I'd like to discuss -- and if I only see the top 10 from yesterday, the discussion is already over and done.

Obviously this defeats the purpose of using a cut-down list to save time, but so it goes; I may try the points filter approach instead of bothering with HN Daily.

I've been running at 75 for the past few months, saves me from wasting _too_ much time here instead of working ;)

I have noticed it's a bit quirky though - occasionally I'll have an article from a year or two ago show up on "my" front page.

I also like browsing the site in classic mode http://news.ycombinator.com/classic for submissions upvoted by long term members

When does a user become 'long term member'?

When classic first launched, it was accounts older than 1 year (http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=607271). It might have changed since then.

I'd love for there to be a "Show HN" filter as well. My favorite part of Hacker News is seeing what others have built.

I think the "Ask" link at the top does this - it actually shows Ask HN and Show HN posts.


The "Ask" tab shows any post that has a text body rather than a link.

I always load this page for Show HN stuff http://www.hnshowcase.com/

Only one post crosses into 4 digit territory...


...it's an interesting one though. Justifies sticking with HN as your news outlet.

That's not true.

This one got 4269 points: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=3078128

Hint: Steve Jobs

There's been more than just this post that have got 1000+. I'm guessing this filter doesn't search the entire archive of submissions.

It only looks at articles that are in memory. You'll notice that the Steve Jobs article has made it there now that people have been opening it.

I see, that makes sense, but why is it so? Aren't the posts stored in a database somewhere? How does it work?

Indeed... my original comment looks kind of dumb now. Odd algorithm though, if I may say so.

Gotcha, good knowledge - thanks!

It's still time limited as there have been posts in the past to reach those thresholds.

Example: World Lens http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=2014555

Hadn't read that article. Scathing! Thanks for digging it up.

There are also independent RSS feeds that only post feeds over a certain threshold.

I wish there was a browser extension that only showed highly-ranked (or sufficiently new, maybe) comments, too. It would be useful on the comment threads I find most interesting, but probably be too much of a detriment on others to actually be implemented.

Wait... did I just advocate turning HN into Slashdot?

And also Twitter feeds, which along with Hacker News Daily (http://www.daemonology.net/hn-daily/) is the primary way I browse the site:

https://twitter.com/newsyc20 https://twitter.com/newsyc50 https://twitter.com/newsyc100 https://twitter.com/newsyc150

(I find the 100 point threshold to be the sweet spot.)

I actually subscribe to 100+, 20+ and the regular feeds. If I'm having a busy day (or skip a few days), then I'll just look at the 100+ and mark the rest as read.

This is cool, and I will probably use it sometimes to help force myself to waste less time, but isn't there some risk of a 'tragedy of the commons' (maybe not the right game theory term, but one of those) where too many people want to see only high point submissions so fewer people are around to vote low point submissions into higher ones? Maybe even some adverse selection where now the people viewing lower point posts are the ones who care less about discovering high quality posts, thereby making it harder for those posts to get high points?

Great option. I was waiting for such an option.

Another problem I have is that I keep scanning the front page list of references to see if a new article popped in somewhere in the list between the last time I checked.

This is inefficient. My impression is that providing a list of references sorted by the time they reached the threshold would do the trick. Though, this would require a significant amount of work to produce. Being able to precompute the sorted list and share it with many users would allow to cache it.

So I raise the question if it is not preferable to propose predefined threshold values. How much difference would it make to have a threshold at 55 and 54 anyway.

Let say you propose a treshold at 10, 25, 50, 75 and 100 for example, the pages could be precomputed and cached.

A script on the browser side could keep track of the last references seen and show older articles in gray for instance.

http://hckrnews.com is all you need.

That's the exact reason why I use hckrnews.com - to be able to easily figure out what's rising to the top and also to have the most popular threads in chronological order.

Still not implemented: Next page that doesn't expire.

Great feature!

I had a suggestion: This feature gives you stories 'above' a certain threshold. I think it would help a lot if there was an option for stories 'below' certain threshold.

Rationale behind it is that lots of folks here (like me) don't check the New Submissions section regularly and lots of good stuff never gets much love. If there was an option for generating a front page for stories below certain points, a user can review them and upvote worthy ones, which eventually can feature on normal front page. Any opinions?

What's the difference between your suggestion & the 'new' feature?

The prime difference is that the proposed feature would rate the stories according to HN algorithm (taking threshold into account) not chronological order as 'new' does. It'd give a filtered-out 'new' section. As in, a story that is upvoted by 2-3 people and has made to second/third page of HN but never makes it to front page. Few good stories deserve wider audiences IMO.

Ah, I understand. Wasn't sure if you were being sarcastic in your original post!

Just out of interest, how did you discover this?

He knew about this.

Check pg announcement: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=1998376, almost 2 years ago.

Bingo. I figured many people either would either have missed that post, or have joined in the last 2 years. Either way, it seems like something people didn't know about and are happy to hear about it.

I think he may have read the code that makes up hackernews. If I remember correctly its open source.

That functionality is not present in the release of Hacker News that goes with arc here: http://arclanguage.org/install

could we also get under? Or a range? Instead of just new and top, (and now "over"), we could hang out in the 5-10 land and see what's just above "new". Other people might want to hang out in 15-30 land and see what's decent, but potentially getting untoward social effects.

On a related note, here's a search tool (though not perfect) I wrote some time ago that helps filter out stories by points, age & #comments:


There's no way to get a filtered feed (I couldn't find one), so I suggest: http://feedhint.com/

Slashdot actually got the deep filtering right. Mainly because that was the only way a sane person could consume it.

When I click on that link.. it goes back to the main homepage, not the article. What gives?

It links back to your main homepage that has been filtered to the articles above a certain points threshold.

Can this be used to get filtered RSS feeds?

Is it time for Hacker News sub-categories?

ie /h/something

Fascinating. Only 2 articles above 3000.

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