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Ask PG: Fix the broken flagging system? Surface article just got flagged off FP
65 points by cooldeal on Nov 29, 2012 | hide | past | web | favorite | 28 comments
Just like it happens like clockwork on any Microsoft article that is not negative on them, the Surface Pro pricing announcement just got flagged off the front page.http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=4848998

If there's anything flag worthy there, can anyone please tell me what it is? From the HN guidelines "If you think something is spam or offtopic, flag it by going to its page and clicking on the "flag" link."

As usual, I suspect it's the overzealous MS haters armed with the flag button. Simlar things happen to some anti-Google and anti-Apple stories.

I think the logic behind the flagging system was that someone good enough to get enough karma(now 500) would be objective enough not to flag anything legit that show their favorite company in bad light. Clearly that has failed. Paul Thurrott's Winsupersite is completely banned from HN because of this and any articles that reach front page that paint MS in good light are flagged to death. I have multiple screenshots of this happening if anyone cares to want them.

The flagging system is clearly outdated and broken and doesn't account for people with good karma trying to censor legitimate news articles they don't want others to see.

Exactly the same thing happened just a few days ago on the article about Windows 8 reaching 40million sales. http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=4839972

Could be related to the similar app numbers story being exposed as questionable?

People generally don't like sales stories that promote a product unless its from a trusted source.

What does "flagged off" mean? Where are you seeing the number of flags, and how are you concluding that flagging causes something to fall off the front page any faster than normal? AFAIK the front-page sorting has always been counter-intuitive.

You (and recoiledsnake) seem to make the exact same accusations on a very regular basis, but I'm not clear on how you're arriving at them.

You could've just asked me earlier. Anyway, there is a hotness rating which is combination how fresh the article is, and how many points an article has.

For example, an article with 45 points posted 10 minutes ago will have a higher ranking than an article with 10 points posted 45 minutes ago.

The Surface article with 50 points was ranking much lower than articles with less points posted before it. That indicates flagging.

As to the front page being wonky, can you point out any instances of articles with 50 points posted 1 hour ago being in the second page?

>how are you concluding that flagging causes something to fall off the front page any faster than normal

That's the whole point of flagging. If the flags are many more, it will even kill the post completely.

Also, see http://hnrankings.info/4848998/

The sudden plunge does not happen with other stories.

You could've just asked me earlier.

In all sincerity, the quality and quantity of your earlier comments on this left me with the impression that you had nothing but accusation and rage. (Disclaimer: I use Windows on a ThinkPad. I have a Samsung phone.)

Also, I don't rely on the front page, rarely vote on stories and have flagged maybe two or three times, so this isn't something that I am particularly concerned with or think anybody else should be. But comment quality I am concerned with, and so I care to the extent that addressing this issue will assist you and cooldeal posting fewer of the same angry comments.

So, to that extent, while I remain unconvinced that the problem is as described, I appreciate the effort.

That indicates flagging. [..] That's the whole point of flagging.

You answered neither of my questions: How are you counting the number of flags? Where are you getting the idea that flagging is effectively a downvote? I've never understood flags to cause anything to happen without a human moderator.

"I've never understood flags to cause anything to happen without a human moderator."

That's the way most sites work. HN isn't most sites. Unlike vBulletin, etc. content on HN isn't static. Like up and downvotes, flagging allows community moderation without the moderators getting involved. They can work instead.

People know how flagging works on HN because the basic code is available for inspection.

I have looked at news.arc and I do not come to the same conclusion about how flagging works. Without any additional information to understand the allegations, I've concluded that this is probably bullshit.

In fairness, Microsoft's announcement is competing with the actual sighting of a Linux laptop on Dell's website.

Err, I believe you're referring to the Wired article, while this post talks about the earlierMS Blog post that got flagged off the page.

"Err" is correct. Your belief is mistaken. I commented upon the topic at hand.

iOS developer here, see the same thing with any article writing positively about an Apple product

Another example of a Microsoft article getting hit today:


Microsoft mocks Internet Explorer haters in new ad


Urm, Microsoft should not be mocking people for suffering their late and fragmented attempts at web browsing.

They should be thankful the dev community is giving IE10 a go and actually being encouraging to some extent.

That is completely orthogonal to the fact that the news about such an ad needs to be flagged, which is meant for spam and offtopic links.

> flagged, which is meant for spam and offtopic links

It's meant for bad links. Spam and off-topic articles are included, but that is not its exclusive use. For example, a post about how much the author hates gay startup founders is more on-topic than a lot of stuff that gets posted here, but is nonetheless inappropriate on numerous levels.

I don't know if I would flag a news story about a Microsoft ad campaign, but I'd probably at least consider it, because those are not generally very intellectually stimulating.

It does if the links content is badly unfunny.

Why should propaganda necessarily be something we see promoted on HN? At last previous MS ads apologised for the 1000s of hours debugging poor IE bugs.

Eh, it's nothing new with the fanboys here who form a defacto "Bury Brigade", if you remember that term on Digg where articles just used to die a sudden death.

They're just waiting for the inevitable Gruber's, Marco's or Siegler's deprecating takes and hit pieces on the Surface Pro pricing. Those will stay on the front page for days. This typically happens with any important MS related announcements or launches.

A good start would be to make it a bit transparent by actually showing the number of flags. I sometimes also wonder if it's the shareholders of competitor companies or some of their employees doing the flagging.

It's more than a defacto action in regards to Windows. WinSuperSite articles are killed upon submission automatically.

True, perhaps all the user flagging made the HN server think it was a spam site.

Clickable link: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=4848998

HN Rankings graph showing the sudden plunge. http://hnrankings.info/4848998/

I'm not pg, but that looks to my untrained eye more like the voting ring detector going off than the effect of flags.

Stop acting like you need special treatment because you're some kind of starved minority.

Windows has ABSOLUTELY dominated the world (in numbers, at least) for over two decades and is still #1. What's your problem? Not enough attention? Not getting enough hipster love for your c0rp0r4t10n?

There are 2 stories about Windows and one about Microsoft on the homepage. Boo hoo?

Hmm... pointing out the heavy amount of MS stories on front page... pointing out MS dominate the OS space.... obviously this must be down voted at all costs.

Yesterday, I downvoted your post because its tone was inconsistent with HN, its logical structure was poor, and its intent appeared to be inflamitory rather than informative or entertaining.

If these were honest mistakes, then you should consider any downvotes as feedback indicating a need to improve your written communications to better and more clearly express your thoughts to an HN audience.

It's being downvoted because the the tone of your post does not fit the kind of conversation that Hn users want to have here

And MS items get flagged off often because microsoft cannot buy peoples hearts with a billion dollars in advertising after decades of an ugly monopoly.

Works both ways.

Seems MS do get adequate coverage based on the number if stories I see on first few pages and an hour on the homepage isn't woe.

They are attempting to change their tact, from ruthless business tactics to inspiring the people. Maybe that hasn't translated yet to the HN mind

Flagging on HN is different from downvoting, this is not Reddit.

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