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Sam was just telling me how much he regretted looking at this thread.

"Oh, you should never read Hacker News comments about anything you write," I told him.

Whereupon it immediately struck me how strange and sad it was to be saying this, as the person who started HN.

Seriously, some of the comments on this thread are HN at its very worst: bitter, willful misinterpretations of what Sam is saying.

I've been thinking about why open forums tend to go eternal September and I've come to think it has a lot to do with how veteran users act.

In the early days of a site like this if a new user comes along and makes negative/snarky comments which don't fit the community it is pointed out, politely. Usually someone posts a reply friendly reminding that this sort of behavior is not welcome. This helps both the offender in question and lurkers to understand how to behave.

Then, at some point, people just snap. They've got enough, they don't want to help new people any more. Even though it has always been like that. Obviously, as the site grows faster users stepping out of line happens more often. So they start making 'everything's getting worse' posts. They are perpetuating the idea that all hope is lost.

So let me propose to try and tell people why they're wrong instead of just making a global assertion, even if true. Next time anyone wants to make a post how 'this community is getting worse and worse' instead try to salvage the discussion instead.

You may be right that the solution is to depend on the established users. I have some ideas for how to do that that I may try when I have time.

I think there is a life cycle. A user starts fresh and new, and then tentatively puts forth a comment or submission. If the comment or submission isn't immediately lauded, I think the user my temporarily become snarky and/or bitter. Then I think they come around again and more maturely interact.

Maybe you have to have wait 30 days after registration before you can comment? Or comments within 30 days of registration have special "new user" formatting?

I think a lot of the blowback Sam gets around here can actually be attributed to you presenting him as your "favourite founder" when its not apparent to the rest of us what makes him so great.

I like mint chocolate chip ice cream.

I don't give a fuck if it's not apparent to anyone else what makes it so great. I like how it tastes.

Why is it unreasonable for PG to have someone as his favorite founder? What if they're just good friends and he really resonates with this Sam guy? Why does it matter if you can't see what's so great about someone you've never met in your life? Maybe Sam is funny in person and has a great attitude. You wouldn't know. Just accept it for what it is. Maybe PG's reasons ARE irrational. Who cares? I have a ton of irrational favorite things.

You people are crazy sometimes.

I'm probably going to get down-voted for this, but here goes. Have you met Sam in person? Have you experienced his energy? His vibe? I can't say I have, but I think a lot of people pre-judge others without actually even meeting them. I didn't know PG presented him as his 'one favourite founder', but if he really does, I guess there has to be a very good reason... That being said, he might just recognise a lot of himself in Sam.

The way you put it makes it sound like the rest of HN is just bashing him out of jealously in all honesty, which is, well, just for the wrong reason & plain sad at the end of the day.

I thought it was brilliant myself. Yeah, the comments have been very frustrating, but comments on HN obviously are. No different than Slashdot used to be back in the day, or anywhere else cool on the 'net.

Here's my favorite quote from the post: No matter what you choose, build stuff and be around smart people. “Stuff” can be a lot of different things—open source projects outside of class, a startup, a new sales process at a company you work at—but, obviously, sitting around talking with your friends about how you guys really should build a website together does not count.

Doing real work with smart people (preferably smarter than you, preferably much smarter than you) is what matters. It's what makes you a better person. Doesn't matter if it pays well, or if it's secure.

Ambition isn't a purely financial thing. It's "I want to be a better person, and I'm willing to work for it", and a clear concept of what "better" is. Better can be rich, or powerful, or creative, or famous, or happy. It could just be creating a family. But wandering aimlessly and letting fear drive you to the nearest safe-looking hole... that's not ambition.

I wonder if the upvote/downvote system should be based on karma, so e.g. a downvote/upvote from someone wouldn't be equal to -1/+1 but to something proportional to their karma.

This will be more similar to how peer-review works in universities. A peer-review from a professor with a long-standing reputation is worth more than the peer-review of a new professor.

I wholeheartedly agree, some people here really miss the point, including myself from time to time.

Sam, I actually think your advise is really good, I wish I'd followed this when I was 19. But I'm still ambitious, I'm not too late. Thanks for the good read!

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