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Ask HN: Please stop using TL;DR
19 points by jgrahamc 973 days ago | 15 comments
I've noticed recently some people using the TL;DR abbreviation to give summaries of stories posted here. I don't like this trend because to me the point of HN is to read the articles and comment on their content, not to read a tiny summary and comment on that.

I think commenting on TL;DR will lead to poorer discussions because commenters are relying on the TL;DR being an accurate summary. It could well be that the TL;DR has an editorial slant from the person who makes the summary.

And often the point of stories on HN is not some tiny summary or moral, but a long article with many different points and data that are hard to summarize.

Also, I'd argue that reading a long piece (especially if it contains an illustrative story) is much more memorable than a summary like this.




I think you missed the point of a TL;DR. I have always treated TL;DR as an abstract to a paper. It kind of sets the stage and presents the conclusion in a concise way so that if one is still interested in the full content of the paper, they can read in depth. For example, if the title is interesting enough for me to get to the page/post. The TL;DR basically packages and refines the crux of the topic so that I can get the gist of the post.

Of course, it would be plain stupid to try to get involved in a discussion without actually getting into reasoning for the conclusion but then there is no solution to stupidity.

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And this is why I post things to Hacker News. An intelligent reply with a useful, different perspective.

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Like semicolons in general and abbreviations in online discussions, "tl;dr" is both mis and over used.

There is a trend among authors to use it as a stand-in for "In conclusion" and another trend among commentators to use it as an introduction for dismissive snark.

"Too long" inherently implies fault with the writing. When used by an author it is often an excuse for bad writing. Only on rare occasions is it endearing self deprication...or rather it is just possible to imagine such circumstances regardless of their actual occurrence.

On the other hand, its use by a commentator carries the negative connotation that the author's writing isn't worth reading.

tl;dr: Don't use "tl;dr."

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to me the point of HN is to read the articles and comment on their content

Hear. Hear. I think of Hacker News as a community of people who know how to read, and who appreciate good writing. Submissions to Hacker News should be from reliable sources and submitted with the original article titles in the first place,

http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=4624933

so the reader should already receive a signal from the submission and its title that it is worth a read to the end, and a signal of what the article is about.

And often the point of stories on HN is not some tiny summary or moral, but a long article with many different points and data that are hard to summarize.

Yes. The best submissions to HN have some consideration of more points of view than just the author's point of view, and will be harder to condense to a one-line summary than the articles that need not even be submitted here.

Also, I'd argue that reading a long piece (especially if it contains an illustrative story) is much more memorable than a summary like this.

Agreed with this too. A pithy point embedded in a carefully reasoned article with pertinent examples and discussions of alternative points of view is actually better understood, and better remembered, than the same pithy point written in isolation.

Here's to the readers who still read writing longer than one sentence. Be bold in submitting articles that are more than five paragraphs long. Invite your fellow participants on HN to be absorbed for a few minutes in THINKING about a detailed, nuanced argument. Encourage the submission of articles with analysis and factual detail by upvoting those articles. Reward your fellow readers by submitting and upvoting articles worth reading in full.

P.S. My user profile here on HN begins with a one-liner tl;dr summary. Yes, that is a joke, although the summary is accurate.

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I'd call it TL;MWTRITAIM "Too Long; Might Want To Read If This Abstract Interests Me".

So I dislike the "Didn't Read" part only. It implies the reader can't be bothered to consume the whole piece.

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tl;dr Adding TL;DR to stories encourages lazy readers and might mislead them.

:) ... I see this often on very long stories and ones which are tough to read (like a nitty-gritty physics story). I don't see a problem when used judiciously. Plus the up/down-voting usually only surfaces tl;dr's when they're actually good and needed.

What's absolutely terrible are Slashdot-like forums where they give an official TL;DR for every story. I think /. quality would improve greatly if they removed these.

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What is a TL;DR anyway? The core of an article in fewer words, an alternative title, an excuse for laziness, a tool for busy people, a bird's perspective? Some people like writing a TL:DR, it's an attempt to reverse the article's conception, it's game-like. The problem is when we assume TL:DR to be a perfect distillation of the article and comment on it. And, do writers mind being TL;DRd?

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tl;dr is useful when a piece of long and bloviating, or when the piece is outright wrong and can be refuted by re-stating the thoughts of the author in fewer works.

It's also useful to other users when someone is using it to summarize a scientific or niche post which other uses might not understand, putting the story into layman's terms.

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I always thought tl;dr was some sort of utf 8 encoded symbol or something that didn't come across on my browser.

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Same here. I've only really noticed it recently too.

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> Also, I'd argue that reading a long piece (especially if it contains an illustrative story) is much more memorable than a summary like this.

Yes, sometimes, but ...

1. Many people have limited reading time.

2. Many topics can be accurately distilled to a few words with no loss of meaning.

3. Economy of expression is highly esteemed in journalism, and it can often be accomplished with no loss of useful content.

Some tl;dr endeavors fall flat, and/or excise the meat along with the fat. Some succeed admirably.

Many submitted essays seem to have been written by someone who expects to be paid by the word, therefore the more words, the better. Such essays are often greatly improved through distillation.

So, in my humble opinion, no conclusion can be drawn -- each tl;dr effort should be judged on its merits.

I will close with my favorite tl;dr story, in which Woody Allen says, "I took a speed-reading course so I could read 'War and Peace'. It's about Russia."

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[dead]

I read this a few times trying to figure out what it meant before realizing it was a bot of some sort or a none-native English speaker posting generic content.

I would downvote it if I could, but for now I'm happy in the knowledge that the domain he is 'pimping' has already been taken down by Hostgator.

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How does one flag the comment as spam or the user as a spammer?

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If you hit reply, there will be a link for flagging on the reply page. There may become enabled at some karma threshold, but a fairly low one.

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Is there a word for something, like the service being advertised here, that by its operation demonstrates that it's not fit for use?

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