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Hacker News Parody Thread (bradconte.com)
589 points by B-Con on Mar 5, 2013 | hide | past | favorite | 187 comments

I disagree with the author. This isn't exactly a parody thread. A parody is "an imitative work created to mock, comment on or trivialise an original work" [1]. For one thing, I would hardly call Hacker News comments "original work", and a simple creation like this hardly captures the full scope and breadth of comments on here.

Furthermore, I'm not really sure why this belongs on HN, because it's not very technical, and frankly, not very intellectually stimulating. People on here don't appreciate humor, so those who upvoted this should have known better. I've flagged the article.

Also, I've never even heard of Brad Conte.

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parody

I'm sorry, you seem to believe you can just throw around these opinions of yours without evidence. I demand you provide me with multiple peer reviewed scientific papers from journals of note to backup your so called claims.

Frankly there's no point in even continuing this conversation until you do and we should just assume that I'm right and you're wrong.

Don't support the scientific paper racket. Instead have this link to a joel spolsky post from 2001 about why the web is dead. http://www.joelonsoftware.com/articles/fog0000000296.html

Stop arguing the web is dead and just SHIP something. Your customers aren't paying you for blog posts.

My customers aren't paying me for anything, we don't have a business model yet.

How much you pay to read a blog post on why that isn't important?

My mind is blown.

No, OP is correct.

* You omitted that HN is also a place to talk meta.

* You misunderstand that a parody is not supposed to capture the full scope of something.

* It was funny to read, that's all that matters.

Who's the OP and why do we care about his opinion?

How could you not know the OP?

I want to talk about JIT.

Spot-on. PG talked about this subject in relevant essay. [1]

[1] http://www.paulgraham.com/relevantessay.html

I actually clicked that link in hope that Paul graham had value to add to this discussion.

This article made me switch to Gentoo Linux.

I'm only replying to you comment because it's the top voted one.

Correction: "you" should be "your"

Correction: "your" should be "you're"

Correction: "you're" should be "ur"

I want to laugh, but the grammarian in me is cringing too much. If you don't understand the cause of my cringing, please read the Their/They're/There section of http://theoatmeal.com/comics/misspelling

EDIT: saraid216's response was funny, without being cringe inducing

Glad you cleared that up, I was unsure of how to react to saraid216's post.

I would like to piggyback off the original comment, and disagree.

>People on here don't appreciate humor

How could you possibly come to such a conclusion? I appreciate humor, and I am sure others do as well.

I think that everyone likes humor, we just also know what isn't funny.

JIT isn't funny.

I don't understand why you're making this so complicated. This problem can be easily solved using unix pipes. There's no need to complicate your technology stack with extraneous definitions of "parody".

Or you can use Lisp S-expressions, which are much more elegant and powerful.

Or perl regexps for that matter.

So meta, I can't even tell which of the comments replying to you are in on the joke.

I accidentally downvoted you - meant to upvote. Sorry about that.

I know this is off-topic, but could you teach Redditors how to make funny threads? It's very funny.

It's these types of headlines and comments that make HN get worse and worse, year after year.


Why can't I downvote comments?!? Argggh.

> Brad Conte

I'm honestly really curious about this. Could you elaborate?


Found the redditor!

Seems more like a TFM [1] reader.

[1] totalfratmove.com

You, sir, made my day!

How could you have used the Internet more than three times and not heard of Brad Conte?

Actually, if you've visited more than 3 sites on the Internet, you've probably used something he designed.

Good god this was funny, right down to the usernames.

But now its time to be very HN about it.

> Rats, top comments will be impossible to beat.

Actually I think I have a solution to this, though its just guesswork.

I'm not particularly well known here (or anywhere), but either people actually like the words I say, or I simply have yet to make a complete ass out of myself. (I think one of these is more plausible, but who is to say.)

My average karma on HN is 20.59, which seems to be a lot. Specifically, on the Leaderboard[1] that puts me in fourth place among the HN big names for average karma (though I have nowhere near the total karma to appear there).

I've noticed that when I reply to a post, even if there's already 30 comments, my post usually ends up at the top. And it stays there, even if no one replies, and even if I don't get many or any upvotes for it, for a few hours sometimes.

Alas I don't know for certain, but my guess is that if you have a high average karma then your posts are automatically weighted higher, so you can inject your opinion into almost any topic at any time. This affords me the luxury of being a contradictory whine even if I come late to the party!

Can anyone confirm or deny my suspicion here?

[1] http://news.ycombinator.com/leaders

> Alas I don't know for certain, but my guess is that if you have a high average karma then your posts are automatically weighted higher, so you can inject your opinion into almost any topic at any time. This affords me the luxury of being a contradictory whine even if I come late to the party!

One thing I dislike about the 'average karma' is that it discourages engaging in an extended discussion. For example, if you reply to this post, you may get a number of upvotes, but probably not as many as your original post. This creates an incentive just to ignore replies (when possible) so as not to bring down your average comment score.

It matters in high performance Python.

Just sort the comments randomly, as long as their karma is >=0, and place the negative-karma comments at the bottom.

Done. :P

This algorithmic craze is too clever for its own good. It is particularly evident in the false-positive bans.

(And I swear, it's scary how HN joke comments are indistinguishable from the real ones.)

Well, random sorting might be a bit of an annoyance due to HN's other annoyance, the "Unknown or expired link" problem, which seems to crop up more often if I do actual work and then pop over to HN when I have to wait for tests/compilation/etc. Locating the comment you were replying to with random or date-based sorting (so that you can click "reply" again, paste your previous reply, and then resubmit) would be a serious pain in combination with that.

But you're correct in that the current algorithm (or any sufficiently transparent algorithm) does lend itself to gaming. It might be harder to game if you didn't mind penalizing comments based on the quality[1] of replies they generate, then sorting based on the thread's average quality would mean that there's less incentive to post in the top thread just to get exposure, since your new, karma-less post will drag down its average and subsequently could drag down the thread. That could get prohibitively expensive to calculate for huge threads, but would be less prone to gaming, I think.

[1] If we can hand-wave "karma" to mean "quality"; I get way more upvotes when I am flippant but technically correct than I do when I try to be thoughtful.

I'm not sure how much you're kidding, but locally perturbing the comments might help a lot. Similar to simulated annealing.

I was being serious (I know it's impossible to know in this submission's comments). I genuinely don't like the system the way it is now.

Locally perturbing and simulated annealing sound interesting. Maybe we could convince pg to reticulate the splines as well.

>This algorithmic craze is too clever for its own good. It is particularly evident in the false-positive bans.


OMG dude google it!


Edit: Why am I being downvoted????

Well, I've been banned on this acccount for long periods of time for one. I don't know if people keep written accounts of being banned for stupid reasons.

It's not like I'm a menace to the community.

I have stuff to say about JIT.

Absolutely, if you care about those numbers. I think my average karma is pretty low, but that's not why I'm here.

Well, no, right now average score is meaningless. But if having a higher average score means that you have a stronger voice, as OP suggested, then people will start to care about those numbers.

I assume the goal is to encourage high-quality discussions (including extended discussions/back-and-forth), in which case average comment score will work against that.

If you measure something, people will try to increase it. Just by presenting the number, people are encouraged to maximize it.

I tend to think that better discussion in a forum like this comes about with less back and forth. That's not to say that alternating comments on opposite sides of a viewpoint can't be enlightening, but I think it's stronger if those viewpoints come from multiple people on both sides.

The metric which would be a tad closer to ideal would be some average of u/t where u := the number of users who upvoted a given comment, t := total number of users who saw that comment. Where "saw" can mean either "the comment was already there when the user loaded the comments page", or, if you want to get fancy, "the comment was within the browser's viewport long enough to be read" (which some clever JavaScript can tell you.)

You are also forgetting your groupies. People will upvote your post because its you and not due to its content. tptacek has mentioned this in the past, and I personally suffer from it.

> also forgetting your groupies. ... tptacek has mentioned

I never would have guessed.

I wonder if this thread could be turned into a parody of the parody?

It already has.

The question is whether we control it.

Councillor Harmann: Of course not. How could they? The idea is pure nonsense. But... it does make one wonder... just... what is control?

~ The matrix revolutions

The answer to that is always no.


Disrupt. Disrupt. Disrupt.

Crisis averted.

I've certainly noticed it's become easier to get replies as my average karma rises. It's also easier to get posts modded up, creating a positive feedback loop (I'm guessing more people vote on posts that are near the top of the page?). Don't have any concrete evidence though.

Well, pg isn't on that leaderboard. Not sure what karma means or what it's worth other to the user than giving one the ability to down-vote (which should require posting a reason for having done so, but that's a different thread).

As a tool or "quality score" that aims to control and keep a forum from derailing this kind of a scoring system has probably done OK. Not sure if it is solely responsible for these effects on sites like HN and SO, but there's not denying that the signal to noise ratio is far better than for example USENET S/N or some forums out there (vBulletin or phpBB type).

Having operated a forum before I can tell you that it can be an absolute nightmare (I was using vBulletin) on many fronts. HN seems to be able to maintain decent quality.

I believe he has a special rule to take himself off - his karma would put him at the top, and I think he used to be on it.

Yeah, he was definitely at the top before, and now he doesn't appear at all. I'm pretty sure you're right, and he coded in a rule to remove himself from the list.

Rats, top comments will be impossible to beat. I can probably piggy-back off a top comment, though, those comment threads aren't long yet...

Piggybacking off a piggyback comment to take the discussion back on topic:

    There is further parody content in the URLs of the 'reply' links
Didn't realize until stalking through to the author's commentary on his personal blog: http://bradconte.com/hacker-news-parody-thread.html, because the relevant replies (including the author's own: ctrl+f "B-Con") were too far down this thread to ever see without foreknowledge.

> Actually I think I have a solution to this, though its just guesswork.

Darn you ;)

The parody is funny. The comments here are hilarious. I fear I will never again be able to tell if an HN commenter is just jerking my chain, no matter how sincere they seem.

Poe's Law.


/s ... or is it?

Cole's law.

(is mostly shredded cabbage)

I agree. I love the response that I got. :-)

Care to elaborate?

I have some interesting thoughts about the Hacker News meta.

Define funny

Black text on a grey background? How can anyone expect to read this? We don't all have retina displays and use OSX.


I have a Macbook 15-inch 2.7GHz with Retina display, it baffles me that it is 2013 and there are still people who don't have one yet.

I mainly do my programming by SSHing to it and using Vim on my ipad.

> I mainly do my programming by SSHing to it and using Vim on my ipad.

I've both actually done this, and told people about it on HN. I'm ashamed.

want my dotfiles? I added a cool hack that lets you do hjkl by rubbing your penis on the ipad screen. You have to map it with your DNA though.

See, dotfiles like yours are why there's not more women in technology. As a feminist, I demand that your dotfiles be made inclusive by also accepting input from boobs.

Also, who uses h and l anymore? It's 2013, you should be using w and b.

It's open source, fucking do it yourself.

you should have checked github first. I'm using dotfiles that allows me to hjkl by tea-bagging, which requires less precision than my "stylus". Its called "dotmynuts," and its really active - 400 pull requests in the last 10 minutes.

Already rebinded those to toggle insert mode.

The blog's text looks fine for me on a 95DPI monitor using Firefox on Windows 7. It looks quite bad on a recent Chromium build but that's to be expected for Webfonts rendered in Chrom* running on Windows.

Hey, that's my line!

"Rats, top comments will be impossible to beat. I can probably piggy-back off a top comment, though, those comment threads aren't long yet..."

actually, this text in the reply box highlights a huge problem with threaded (and voted) discussions in general: there is little incentive to reply to any already-huge thread, even with valuable content.

i've been thinking of how to solve this issue for the past week and have some ideas, working on a prototype.

I generally agree, however, your comment would be more valuable if you would include verifiable information instead of anecdotes and personal opinion, and you would actually analyse the problem instead of throwing around vague criticism.

My take on the subject is:

This effect can be mostly attributed to the fact that a top comment means more exposure, and given that the upvotes outweight the downvotes on the response (which is true, since that's why it is at the top), by deductive reasoning we arrive to the obvious conclusion that more exposure will further cement the position of a given post.

Also we must not forget about the effect of peer pressure[1]


For those with a lack of humour, I include a smiley here: :-)

Obligatory xkcd comic related to peer pressure - http://xkcd.com/1170/

I'm curious what you came up with. I used to work on Google Moderator, which was a project created to solve this problem for non-threaded discussion (which is even worse), and we had some neat solutions. We displayed comments to users to be voted on, and ended up using a variant of wilson confidence intervals not just to rank, but to figure out which comments we should display to users to be voted on.

where i ended up was, it cannot be solved within a single view. there needs to be some form of split side-by-side view for the discussion, each prioritizing replies differently - by freshness, votes, weight or other metrics. another idea was to create a heat-map based on reply velocity to give a third dimension to the whole thing.

replies need "simmer" time at the top to aggregate enough votes. if there is one huge reply thread that dominates, few will scroll through pages looking for new content.

just the ability to fold comments on HN would help a lot already.

Why not push really long threads to the bottom? People will find the long discussions by scrolling to them. Indeed, they will know that they are there, just like now we know that the long discussions are at the top. The effect though is that now readers have to get past other discussions first. Basically, the order should be short-good, long-good, all-crap.

Also, while this may be a problem here, HN still has the best comment sorting system I've seen (but not measured). Comments have time to stay at the top and simmer down and if they are good they gain enough momentum. The only time this seems to be come a problem is when you get to a really popular thread after hours/days of discussion. Then you cannot get a word in edgewise.

An alternative solution could be that for every comment you make, you give up a bit of karma and you gain it back through comment upvotes (but not article postings). That way people will watch what they say. This may give some positive feedback to posters that harvest huge amounts of karma, but it will also prevent bad comments. On top of that, you could make your post stick up top longer by paying a blood price: for every 50 points of karma you get another minute guaranteed at the top of your discussion thread, or some such. Or just free market FTW: the person that bids the highest amount wins the top spot for that many minutes.

Another site that I was on had the ability to fold up everything that you'd already read, and only show you the new content. It made keeping up with active discussions utterly trivial. Of course a first time user still sees everything.

I think they changed the underlying code, but http://forum.iwethey.org/forum/main.iwt still looks the same. So you can experiment with the idea there.

There seems to be some level of encouragement for letting old discussions fall away, though. The ranking algorithm specifically has it built in.

The usernames made me chuckle, my favorite is "DefaultSearchIsWikipedia".

Also, you forgot at least one archetype: the enthusiastic rant from an oblivious hell-banned poster.

Also, you forgot at least one archetype: the enthusiastic rant from an oblivious hell-banned poster.

There should also be a subthread complaining to the moderators about the title change.

Seriously, LoseThos is the reason to read HN

Lose Thos actually was renamed Sparrow OS http://www.sparrowos.com/

I thought the concept behind hellbanned posters was that nobody else could see their posts?

As in every HN thread where hellbans are mentioned, someone has to be the person who has to explain that you can see hellbanned posts by enabling showdead in your preferences. I guess that's me this time.

vectorpush - you have been banned. No one can see your comment.


Samuel_Michon, I can't reply to your comment directly, but just to let you know, you're hell-banned, and no-one can read your comment.

You can't reply directly to comments of hellbanned users. Should've replied to OP.

I think a parody of something is one of the best ways to draw insight, and in my opinion I'm kinda happy that this is what the parody of HN is: links to wikipedia/cited sources, debates about whether or not an article was correct, nitpicks and views from different positions/experiences, and the off hand XKCD comic.

Probably much more civil than a parody of a slashdot/reddit/4chan post would be.

Let's not be too self-congratulatory. Hacker News today is in many ways like reddit of a few years ago, and Slashdot of many years ago. And this is a somewhat bowdlerized parody anyway.

I think all social news networks will degrade over time, but it's still good to have these health checks every once in a while to see what the state of it currently is. It lets us know when we need to move on.

Your comment would be might better without the last sentence.

The good content can stand on its own. No need to look down on other sites to look good by comparision.

At the risk of a) being wrong and b) breaking the 4th wall by not conforming to said stereotype, looks like both my username and my tendency to ramble just within the limits of OT have been parodied there.... Oh well, if that's actually the case, then I'm honored :)

EDIT: btw, hate my username and emailed PG to get it changed; he said it's not currently possible in the code. Wouldn't want him poking around the DB for me! Made my username back when HN first started as an anonymous account, but kept using it thereafter... CamelCase usernames suck!

Yeah. My freenode account is EpochWolf and it mocks me every time I log in. :(

I read the first few responses but when I finally searched for "haskell" and nothing came up I got bored and moved on.

Relevant XKCD: http://xkcd.com/386/

Nice - thanks for sharing!

There's surprising amount of hidden jokes in there too - feel free to read the OP's blog post [1] for many of the details (assuming you like spoilers)!

[1] http://bradconte.com/hacker-news-parody-thread.html

OP here: Thanks for the positive response, HN. The comments here are hilarious. Way to embrace the spirit. :-)

Just in case it wasn't noticed by many, note that all the links on the page are mini-jokes as well. Replies, navigation, everything.

How about if you mouse over the upvote button the down vote button jumps up under your cursor!

How about if you mouse over the upvote button the sow vote button jumps up under your cursor!

"Who's the OP" was pretty funny. Honestly, the hacker-hero worship on HN gets a little ridiculous sometimes.

I have a related question: what is HN's stance on parody?

I've seen many parodies posted to HN that have been flagged to hell because some don't notice that it's a parody. (excellent example: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=5126318) I also have my own parodies that I've stopped posting because they've met the same fate.

Is the a kick starter for HN parodies as hardware? I would sponsor that.

As Russian poet said to describe his portrait:

  Себя как в зеркале я вижу,
  Но это зеркало мне льстит.
A. Pushkin


  I see myself as in a mirror 
  But this mirror flatters me.

A good laugh -- it's all in the details; and surprisingly plausible

The point of the article was to focus on the predictability of the HN user base as a whole, not that it would be a plausible outcome.

You obviously misinterpreted the author's intentions and you missed:

* The fact that it wasn't made to make you laugh

* Why do we laugh, what makes things funny?

* What is laughter, really?

(tongue in cheek, of course)

If you want to know more about laughter here is the wikipedia article[1]. Also HowStuffWorks explains how laughter works[2].

[1]: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laughter

[2]: http://science.howstuffworks.com/life/laughter.htm

Ugh, disgusting; take your laugh privilege back to Reddit.

Forgot an "Edit: Why am I being downvoted?" comment.

Hands up if you felt the need to actually reply to some of the comments.

I've upvoted more than 10 comments on that thread, fully knowing nothing will happen.

I disagree with the author. I know he's incredibly successful and right about pretty much everything he's ever said, but I've had some experience in this area and just finished reading through some of the archives and I think his focus is wrong. I'm going to ignore the technical issue and talk about the bigger picture and higher level things than what was said in the blog post. If the OP thinks that the process is most important, it's really about end results. But if he thinks it should be about the end results then he's an idiot for not thinking about the process. I'll weasel in a reference the startup I co-founded even though it's not directly relevant.

The one thing this is missing is someone using or accusing someone of a straw man:


I've finally seen how downvotability looks like in HN UI :-)

I also like how the user "redditor" is highlighted in subtle green.

New users have that highlighting. Poor guy is apparently still adjusting to the comment culture.

Oops, you said something wrong? Shadowbanned!

As a Node guy, does this really matter for 95% of the world?

Check where the reply links point to for some extra fun.

I wish we had more of this kind of content on HN.

I find it a bit creepy that I got all the jokes.

I'm tempting to make a version of this that will take a URL and automatically generate comments that follow this model.

Is it possible to downvote people? Why can't I do that?

I just learned from the post you need 500 karma. I'm only 2 away!

Couldn't resist. Happy 500. :-)

Ha ha! Thanks! I have exactly 500 now. Maybe I should change my handle to icandownvote.

Edit: Maybe it takes more than 500, or some time. I don't have down arrows yet.

It got mine relatively recently. I remember it took about 15 minutes after I reached 500. Either the system takes a little while to recognize the change, or I reached 501 in that time.

Note that you can't vote on comments over 24 hours old or replies to yourself, so don't use those to check your ability.

I just got downvote power!

You need more karma. There's a karma threshold below which you can't downvote. I haven't reached it either. Soon, though. And when I do. Oh...

you need ~500 karma to downvote comments.

I like how this article has 460 upvotes, is only 5 hrs old, and isn't in the top spot :-)

That said it reminds me of the 'every oscar winning movie' video on Youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rbhrz1-4hN4

I have stuff to say about JIT.

That statement truly sums up 99% of compiler discussions on the web.

I know this is off-topic, but does anyone know how he put this together?

Just in case you're serious: I wrote the replies out in a simple indentation format. Then when I had convinced myself I had some legitimate humor material I saved an HN page, looked at the internal layout structure (and lost a few IQ points in the process), and found an easy way to copy blocks of markup to create comments. Then I did a ton of link replacing and modifying for each comment, to give them unique IDs for voting, make username URLs match up, etc. (Note the ID numbers are all prime.)

If you view the source, it's obvious how it's cobbled together.

Interestingly, writing the first 90% of the comment content only took about 10% of the total time. Refining it and adding the rest took the other 90%.

Seems like a typical idea v.s. execution case. I found it funny. Thanks for taking the time.

Probably vim.

I wish Stripe would come to Denmark.

Hey, nice to see another Dane on HN. Care to meet up for a beer sometime?

I'm based in Malmo. The scene here isn't as big as in the Valley, but I look at that as an advantage, because it's easier to get traction locally and then expand.

Nice article.

This will probably be the only "Nice article" comment to end up vote positive.

I see what you did there.

TIL HN has a thread where redditors are safe from downvotes.

i am think about posting this!


The first thing i did when i opened your link knowing it was a parody was to check how many responses to the article there were. And there were too many. Way too many.

Comments on Hacker News more often than not go into the meta almost immediately, and constantly, so there's usually one comment with well over half of the op's responses nested under it. I use a userscript for HN for this exact reason.

It's upsetting, to be honest.

The URLs for the menu links at the top were spot-on.

Got distracted halfway through the thread, came back 10 minutes later, and read another 3 comments before I remembered it was a parody.

The funniest thing about this parody (to me, at least) was that so many of the made up names were actual HN usernames...

Someone just get me off from a -1 karma!

Honestly, I find the culture of "top comment contradicts the OP" a bit weird and unauthentic in a sense.

The author couldn't be more wrong. Eating animals is always wrong. Would you eat your own dog? Or little brother? They are made of meat as well. I wouldn't eat my own dog and my little brother, well, if he was a gingerbread boy maybe.

I love the snarky comments in the reply URLs, too; I missed them on the first pass.

I'm always saddened when the "guru3" type post is found in the middle of the pack.

What do you mean? tokenadult is ALWAYS at the top! ;)

"I hate to be the person to point out": The brain-washers offer to help explaining that only when you realize where you have gone wrong can you end the self-loathing you are now experiencing.

As a Python guy, does this really matter for 95% of the world?

Missing a comment on how much the commenter hates Unity.

Even nailed the search, if you didn't catch that.

Why is this on HN?

Golden that this thread reflects the OP exactly.

This also needs "our slashdot clone of super geniuses is being ruined by comments such as this" pearl clutching from the admin.

I love what happens when you search. Lol.

I have no idea whether to take any comments here as serious or continuing the parody :)

This has nothing to do with parodies or hacker news threads. What's the point?

Where am I? Someone point me in the direction of Google.

Links are broken. Can't reply on any threads. DAY RUINED

The only funny part was the Randell Munroe cameo.

I don't get it and therefore it's bad.

The search function joke got me good.

pg is not top comment.

Did you actually read the article?

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