His last post was 37 days ago. Years of high quality posts, one "debatable" comment, a great deal of criticism, then he's gone.
This same group of people then responds by making an entire series of angry comments towards the same person. A person that is probably pretty fucked up right now by the fact that someone he was recently unkind to ended up committing suicide for a reason that's at most, marginally related to his dickish comment. Congratulations, now you are all edw519.
How many of us have made a comment to someone, whether on the Internet, or in person, that we later regretted? How many of us have entered a conversation with the assumption that we knew the whole story, when in fact we were misinformed? How many of us have ever made fun of anyone, ever? I don't have any extensive data to back me up, but I suspect the number is pretty fucking close to 100 percent for each person on all three counts.
Didn't like edw519's comment about not being willing to comment so soon? Me neither, but I understand that when I seriously fuck something up, it might take me a little while to collect my thoughts.
Maybe edw519 is taking a well deserved break? Then again, maybe he has
left for good? Of course, maybe he got tired of the endless argument
that is the current state of HN? But also, there may be some other
HN has changed. In fact, HN has been constantly changing since its
inception as "Startup News" six years ago. You might consider the
changes to be "good," or you might consider the changes to be "bad," but
either way, the rate change is fairly consistent.
pg (and RTM, and TLB, and JL, and ...) has found technical
countermeasures for many of the common ailments of discussion systems.
Sadly, a lot of the advancements are not public, but if you pay
attention and have a lot of free time to invest in studying, you might
see some of them at work here on HN. The trouble is, no matter how
bright these people are, they can't mitigate all of worst parts of human
nature, and particularly, they haven't managed to compensate for the
human propensity to disagree .
Though it sure seems as if most of the newer HN members haven't read
Paul's "disagree" essay (linked below), Paul was still prescient enough
to realize HN could (d)evolve into an "argument site," rather than a
"contribution site," and the result of the rise as an argument based
site would be driving away the contributors.
Whether we've quietly lost another great contributor with edw519 is yet
to be seen, but if he is gone, he'll be missed by me and most likely
If he was silentbanned, he'll be able to post again the next time management lifts the silentbans.
Unless you interpret "take responsibility for his actions" as a samurai would, there's no inconsistency here.
1. In general, meta discussion like this does not improve HN, but is a distraction from useful content and discussion.
2. It's none of your business how edw519 chooses to spend his time.
If you want to start some kind of crusade, either to bring edw519 back or prevent HNers from "scaring people off" in the future, I think you're fighting a losing battle. If you valued his contribution so much, why not follow his example and contribute positively instead?
"Meta" discussion tends to get flagged heavily, because a lot of people feel like, "I'm here for interesting discussion about hacking and entrepreneurship, not to watch Hacker News stare at its own navel." It's basically off-topic.
Posts about individual HN posters also seem to get a lot of flags, as many people find it kind of creepy and/or invasive.
For those asking who Ed is, the OP link (albeit unlinkified) to Ed's comment threads (and so, to his profile) is a good place to start.
Ed's average comment score, per his HN profile (so, across his most recent X comments, with outlier(s) discarded), is circa 25.
The 'edw519 bashing thread was extremely stupid and aggressively rude, but nobody who's been on HN as long as he has can really be unprepared for atavistic shitshows.
You should have stopped with your first line instead of bashing the others.
I tweeted this thread to him, but he hasn't been on Twitter in nearly a week so I doubt he'll reply anytime soon.
Personally, it wasn't his comments to Aaron that bothered me so much as ones similar to this tweet. I think the fellow has no humility.
Sorry, but this sort of comments don't feel genuine. Like something that was written with one goal in mind - to be upvoted.
So "scared off HN"? Right, right, but no. I think it's far more complicated than that.
Not everybody has to agree, it is not productive to try and change others' beliefs in a hateful manner. The Internet is written in permanent marker, it's just going to add to the hate out there already, clogging up our mind tubes.
What a shame, for humanity and technological advancement. Aaron would have advocated for his right to post, even if he believed differently. So glad this made the front page.
Usually the best part of such occasions is when I walk away and forget about it. I did that with Swartz's suicide. After the first discussion I just didn't click through to other discussions.
Often, when I take a break from a site, what is meant to be a short holiday turns into a few months. Or a permanent thing.
If a website makes you unhappy, why waste your time and stamina there?
Unfortunately in such a big community you get a lot of people that need a scapegoat that they can blame and in this case Edw519 was one of them.
I dont blame him for leaving the community to be honest. It's not what it once was and may be not worth his time and energy if he feels he's not getting much back.
"You scared him away." Okay, why did we scare him away? Why does it matter?
As a reader, I'm left wondering who this person is and why I should feel bad about this. I don't mean they weren't a valuable contributor or whatever, I just mean, why am I being asked to feel guilty/outraged over this?
Xcelerate felt as if he was a valued member that would be missed, he made it clear in the OP. If you don't care about him and didn't chase him away, there's no need to feel guilty or stick around in this thread.
EDIT: Sounded kinda dickish myself at first so I edited before I saw your reply. My bad.
1 - Put down the pitchforks.
2 - Be good to one another.
I'm very much sounding like a broken record these days, but even predating aaronsw's suicide, the Tesla-NYT debacle, and recent newsworthy events, HN's crowd has been quickly descending into Reddit/4chan level of hysteria. Every news item has been spun to its most sensational extent (and then some), and the membership take turns shaking pitchforks and burning effigies of whatever simplistic villain we've decided was worthy of our collective rage today.
It could be Ortiz, or Aaron, or Broder, or Musk. This community has become less empathetic over time, more verbally violent, less rational, more prone to sweeping judgment, and much more absolutist. I am not enjoying this shift in attitudes at all.
All of us have been bullies at different times in our lives, even if it was just for a moment. No one's perfect, and what happened to edw519 could have happened to anyone. The mob mentality some people adopt in these situations just proves it.
(pg is the first, but is not listed there :)
"The past 24 hours confirms Hacker News is both a kind caring supportive community and a bunch of people who talk when they should listen."
Some people do that more than others and some people don't care about the context in which those comments are made.
We also make judgements that can change every second of the day.
I think both edw519 and HN as a community put their thoughts down in line with what I mentioned above and done so in light of a very sensitive matter.
I have no doubt edw519 will be back, perhaps under a pseudonym. At least I hope.
The lack of humanity and cynism in the whole edw519 bashing process showed that many HN users lack manners and suffer from EQ deficit.
Instead of protecting a person from public bashing from a very low standart publication, we jumped in the bashing wagon.
He may also simply be on vacation from HN. I sometimes go a month or two between posting. But, then, I've never been as active here as Ed.