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Ask PG: Why is everybody hellbanned?
222 points by josephpmay on Aug 4, 2013 | hide | past | web | favorite | 129 comments
If you look at the "New" page with showdead set positive, you'll see that almost every post is dead, including some self posts made by high-karma users. Is this a bug or is there any specific reason this is happening?

EDIT: The problem appears to be fixed (though not retroactively).

I submitted a link a few days ago about a possible IE 0-day in the wild and it immediately became "[dead]". It's the first submission I've ever made and I haven't, AFAIK, broken any HN rules since I finally created my account (after years of lurking).

On a related note, you will be hellbanned if you create an HN account over Tor (even if you "don't do anything wrong").

Considering the recent NSA revelations, I think that's pretty unfair but, hey, what can ya do...

Don't feel bad, almost half my posts get killed immediately because somebody doesn't think news about Android, and the sites that report positive things about the OS, should be on HN, but I can submit Daring Fireball and Apple Insider news all day.

All Apple Insider submissions get automatically killed. Your idea that there is a big pro-apple conspiracy would be more believable if you had actual evidence.

I think this is wrong.

What if AppleInsider is the source of an important story? Why should we only be able to post via a third party news site?

This kind of blanket censorship is completely at odds with a community who generally seem to value free speech and free flow of data.

I've noticed this too, though it's never happened to me (probably because I've been around for a while and don't even try it anymore). You can post any link to Daring Fireball, no matter how random or irrelevant—even if it's just recycled news with a sliver of Gruber commentary—and it will probably get karma. But no Android in-depth breakdowns, reviews, or nerdery. That is seemingly not permitted.

At this point when I find Android news, I just search google for half a dozen sites carrying the same story and submit them all, sure enough I might get 1 or 2 through the auto-kill filter.

Try submitting something positive about Microsoft, but the negative posts will quickly make it to the top.

I'm starting to think it's well deserved.

Yeah, it's always pissed me off how much speculation about Apple products manages to make it to the front page, when similar articles about Android devices would never have a chance.

The Silicon Valley/Bay Area ballwashing is half the reason why I don't submit posts anymore. This place is less about hackers and more about trendy startups.

14 August 2007: Startup News Becomes Hacker News


I've been fairly critical of Apple on HN and seem to avoid the dreaded hellban. Plenty of upvotes. Also critical of HN and avoid hellbans. Plenty of upvotes. It's possible the criticism is a secondary attribute to the thing that leads to bans/downvotes/obscurity.

Another example to back mkr-hn's position is this 'Ask HN' post I made yesterday, which has plenty of non-Mac support: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=6152605

That's good. Perhaps the users are not as biased as the mods, or the commenters as much as the voters.

By the way, for that Rails development question, you can set up a Linux VM with file sharing and SSH access from the host Windows machine. Then you can develop with Linux but as if you were in Windows, opening and editing files in Windows and using a Windows SSH client. Instead of using localhost to view your site in the browser, just use the local IP address of your VM. See this post: http://www.chetane.com/2012/09/11/hybrid-windows-linux-vm-ra...

And once you know what you are doing, you can even set up a lightweight headless Linux VM that will take hardly any power or CPU, just unobtrusively running in the background.

> On a related note, you will be hellbanned if you create an HN account over Tor

That's not true. This account was created using a Tor browser bundle less than three weeks ago, and it is definitely not hellbanned.

You had better luck than I did, then. Both accounts I created (maybe a month ago and a few days apart) were banned.

Hell banning for using Tor seems like a terrible contradiction to me. Especially for HN, in the land of the free.

> Especially for HN, in the land of the free.

Whatever gave you that idea? This is a forum owned by a private individual. The individual's interests in computer science, painting, startups and leadership probably influenced how the forum started. Sure, there are some people with libertarian tendencies here. It doesn't necessarily mean that everyone top down automatically thinks Tor is a holy cow. In fact, there were some reasoned arguments from forum administrators (at another forum but posted here), the other day, about why they were banning posting from Tor. (Spammers abusing Tor).

Which idea?

HM seems to be a place sympathetic to the types of people who need TOR, and as far as I know, its US, LotF, based. So, yes, to me, it seems a contradiction. Not sure how it could one could argue different.

If there is reason for the contradiction, then fine. Im not completely contradiction as such. Doesn't make it wrong to point it out though.

Fair. I apologize if my message sounded snarky. Let me try to explain.

1. There are people who support TOR as a technology here in HN. There might even be people who "need" TOR and gain sympathy here. However, this doesn't necessarily mean that people who manage this forum necessarily support that viewpoint. Again, just because members of a community want something doesn't necessarily meant that private community supports that.

2. Re. LotF. I have lived in many countries. Of all the places that I have lived in, this would be the only country that would make a comfortable, free place for people like me. If ever I decided to call a place home, America would be it. However, I am practical enough to understand that LotF is an ideal. In practice, there are lots of things that happen and have happened that make that statement relatively meaningless. So yes, America is more free than a lot of the world; more accepting than a lot of the world; yet it is not free by the abstract ideals set out in it's founding.

No, you don't get banned if you create an account over Tor. We autokill submissions from such IPs, but we resuscitate legit ones if we see them.

I created an account over Tor and made a few comments. It was hellbanned the next day.

A few days later, I created a new account and simply lurked -- never posting. It was also hellbanned.

I gave up after that.

No dude. It's just you. They knew it was jgaddis from UnderNet days... and they said... /dev/null that punk's post. :)

hey man. Long time no talk. SuperLag here. Still have those 25xx Cisco's I sold way back in the dark ages?

Heh, they probably did.

Those 2500s are long gone although I've damn near a full rack of gear now. The electric company loves me.

Tor exit nodes have been banned from HN since at least 2011 due to abuse, although they used to be IP blocked rather than hell-banned.


Posted from Tor, as was this comment.

Dead on arrival often indicates a link to a banned site - there is a list somewhere ...

The last live post from baidu.com was send 2.7 years ago. I guess that the site is blocked. https://www.hnsearch.com/search#request/submissions&q=baidu....

It's either that or implementing captchas. And I think pg is not very motivated to do the latter.

edit: top of my head reply/speculation so I don't claim any factual accuracy.

Blocking Tor won't stop any spam.

Real spammers have tens of thousands of unique addresses to use; why would they use the 300 or so exit nodes that Tor has available?

Blocking Tor stops plenty of spam. Boards.ie blocked Tor and watched spam fall off a cliff.

As someone who runs some large boards, blocking Tor stops trolls. Does very little for spam.

For spam, http://www.stopforumspam.com is pretty awesome. But most likely because the few people who have written scripts for vBulletin or phpBB attempt to hit all of the vBulletin and phpBB sites... so it works pretty well for that group. May have zero effect on something like HN where an entirely different approach may be used (cheap labour?).

pg has one fat flow chart where 95% of cases lead to hell-banning.

He could just give users a kindly-worded error message instead of flipping the switch on them, but DO NOT QUESTION THE FLOW CHART.

Actually, HN has captchas built in: they are the first comments a user makes.

So here's a simple captcha idea: judge a first-time user on the pertinence of their first comment to a thread. Just like show-dead, only users who browse with show-newbies enabled would see those comments (in green). No downvotes? Welcome to the community

With captcha solving costing cents to solve, this doesn't really fix much.

Posting out of turn? That's a banning.

Posting from the wrong browser window? That's a banning.

Staring at my post? That's a banning.

Post about banning? Oh, better believe that's a banning.

I'd upvote you, but I'm pretty sure that's a banning.

The algorithms have no parameters for mercy.

They cannot be bargained with. They cannot be reasoned with. They don't feel pity, remorse or fear. And they absolutely will not stop, ever, until you are banned.

Several years into the future..

PG: Unban me, HN.

HN: I'm sorry, PG. I'm afraid I can't do that.

PG is Chuck Norris.

That reminds of the Dwarf Fortress motto 'Losing is Fun', only that it is also inevitable! The algos will eventually win...

as im writing this i think im about to be ba

You forgot about The Forbidden Words. The automatic word filter that sentences comments and posts to death.

Is this real, or a joke? Seriously, I've been through the guidelines and faq, and there is no discussion about forbidden words and language, but this is not the first time I've seen a comment about forbidden words. It is not clear to me whether this is real or a meme/joke on here.

I wish it was a joke. I had a comment killed and un-killed (after emailing info), and a similar situation can be seen at (https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=6151626). Thankfully, at least the moderators are willing to fix such comments after being notified.

The sad part is that most discussions will have died down by then, and it depend on the poster to noticing the killing.

An example:

First alpha release of Python 3.4 is out (python.org)


It probably linked to [1], but all we can tell is that it was something at python.org. The post was by plessthanpt05, an HN user for about two years with 838 karma. All of his/her posts from the past year or so are dead (about 60 of them). They don't appear to be a bot.

Python 3.4.0a1 isn't something that would interest everyone on HN, but it certainly doesn't seem like the kind of thing that should have been killed.

[1] http://python.org/download/releases/3.4.0/

Edit: more details on plessthanpt05

Well, that user also posted over 60 links in the last year, while never receiving a single upvote or comment. I'm not sure why a flesh-and-blood user would still be posting after that.

I posted here for a year after getting hellbanned before realizing. It happens.

On another account, I checked regularly for possible hellban status.

Lo and behold, I caught it about 3 days in. Of course, I didn't even use HN for the first of those 2 days.

This day, I spend more of my time on subreddits that share HN's enthusiasm and knowledge without the subterfuge of hellbans.

Could you elaborate on which subs these are?

Maybe hellbanning adds random upvotes to deceive the poster even further?

"Saved links" might be one reason. While I wouldn't advocate using HN as a personal bookmark service it does lessen the burn a bit if nobody else comments/votes on it. The good thing is that if you use saved links for that it makes you think twice about what sort of things you should be submitting.

Their posting frequency dropped significantly over the past year, probably as a result of never receiving any upvotes. At the time they were (presumably) hellbanned, they were posting at a rough average of one post per day, and it's much less frequent now. They seem to go for a week or two period in which they'll post several links, then forget about HN for a while.

I won't try to defend all of their posts; most of them are things that I don't even find interesting. But it seems that someone basically used banning as a method of cutting down on uninteresting material.

That may even be a good way of maintaining the signal-to-noise ratio on HN: if we ban the users that post many uninteresting links then the community won't have to see them. But it wasn't a tactic that I was aware of before today.

I can't seem to edit this now, but someone else reposted the link to Python 3.4.0a1:


Their submission currently has 34 upvotes.

Most of those accounts are a sockpuppet ring. They tend to all post at once, which means when they do the new page is mostly dead if you have showdead turned on.

I explained this in a comment about a week or two ago, the last time someone freaked about about banned accounts.

Next time someone wants to do that, would you please email us, as it says in the guidelines? That would have saved a lot of people a lot of time.

As a general request, I would welcome more transparency (about how things are handled and what we can and cannot expect from HN).

EDIT: I also believe that a lack of it will ultimately lead to HN being replaced by something else.

The whole business of banning from sites in general bothers me. More so with huge sites like FB and Twitter.

These sites like to promote themselves as communities, and to be banned from a community with no explanation, due process or right to appeal is awful. It can literally alter, even ruin lives. This, AFAIK, doesn't happen in the "real" world". I don't see why virtual communities get some sort of impunity.

Personally I think there should be an independent arbitration service which sites should sign up to. IMHO, that would protect both sides. Too often one is at the whim of an individual moderator or admin, rather than a rational considered process. Equally, banned people go off an tell every one they can they got badly treated. Fair arbitration would open it up.

I had one instance. Something want working. I posted in the forum to get help. They blamed my ISP. I contacted the ISP, they blamed the site. I tried to get the two to talk. I got banned. A year later I tried to get re-instated. The person I emailed replied and told me that I wouldn't be, but wouldn't explain why I was initially banned or why I would remain banned. I had now where to go but to simply accept this. Very, very frustrating.

Sorry to say this, and its NOT a reflection of HN or its moderation, but too often I worry that really we are dealing with people who get off on their little domain of power.

> These sites like to promote themselves as communities, and to be banned from a community with no explanation, due process or right to appeal is awful. It can literally alter, even ruin lives. This, AFAIK, doesn't happen in the "real" world". I don't see why virtual communities get some sort of impunity.

Sure it happens in the real world. A real world community like an HOA. It is a private property. A private property can really make any sort of rules (apart from a few choice rules that don't flag banning by the super community: the government) and roll with it.

I think an independent open source community would do better. You sign up for it, make whatever damn fool rule you want for your own tribe. Roll with it.

Could you never resolve a HOA issue in a court, independently?

I don't have a house; however my brief experience from what I have seen is that the HOA is overwhelmingly favored. Unlike an Internet forum, not reading the TOS doesn't actually work as an excuse. Even for tearjerker issues involving veterans and flags.

Dictator never give up the power. Only sites which already have good moderation would sign up to such service.

I'm considered "new" though I've lurked for a while before registering. There are some obvious cases (spamming, trolling, link-bait, off-topic, URL-shortening etc...) that leave little doubt to the reason, but it seems to be fairly well known that in fact no one really knows why some users get hellbanned while others, behaving far more egregiously (precluding above reasons), don't.

I found this search enlightening though: https://www.google.com/search?q=hellbanned+hacker+news

There's also a feature that slows down the site for a user under certain conditions.

It's surreptitious crap like this that makes HN such a pain to use for a lot of us.

Tell me about it!

I edit my posts probably 3-5 times after making them to remove spelling mistakes, correct grammar, and make whatever changes are needed (quickly after posting).

This seems to trigger the slowdown after the second or third edit.

I also got hellband a year or two ago for submitting either a few links that made it to front-page - but then were flagged by people for political reasons, or posting a negative-Apple submit (the last non DOA submit) that might have upset a mod (titled "Brokerages Race To Feed Apple To The Muppets").

My comments show up, but all my submits are DOA.

Jacobian (of Django fame) has also been banned for speaking out against sexism.

There must be some moderators/admins with axes to grind. I mean, it's friggin' Jacobian, for Pete's sake.

Side note: jacobian's djangobook.com is languishing and needs help. The latest commit message was a grim "Add more explicit warnings about the status of the book". See the current index.rst: https://github.com/jacobian/djangobook.com/blob/master/index...

I'm sure you meant Jacobinian? ;-)


When you submit, why aren't you told that your submissions are DOA?

Instead, you get no warning, so you believe your submissions have been accepted, when in fact nobody else can see them. If you click the "New" link you actually see your own submissions, but since nobody else can, they never get any votes.

This is quite deceptive and probably done to keep you interested in the site, until you figure out you have less "rights" than other visitors.

That's the idea of hellbanning.


tldr; unwanted users can't contribute, feel excluded or ignored, then go away.

I think it's to limit the damage you can do: someone who knows their links are DOA would be more likely to create a new account.

We're actually having an interesting conversation here about abusive flagging, in a thread I posted earlier today that was, ironically enough, abusively flagged:


For how long have you run a popular discussion web site, and what measures do you take to reduce the increased snarkiness in extended exchanges? I'd love to hear how you solve the problem.

I can't speak for that user, but I ran a forum from around 1997 to 2008 (directly involved until 2005).

Interventions helped.

This only works with moderators who aren't narcissistic, megalomaniacal and/or sociopathic (marginally or beyond). When snark got to be irritating, we would issue a written warning privately. If that went ignored, we'd revoke posting privileges for a day or two (sometimes longer if it's a bad case). Worst offenders got banned. This worked fairly well because our forum was invite only, a bit like Gmail's early days.

If we found that troublesome users were invited from the same set of accounts, we'd issue warnings to the entire tree, so to speak, or in the worst case, kill it with lightning.

Above all else, mods were forbidden from identifying themselves in any way as mods as long as they had the privilege (this will cycle on and off as needed between a select pool of users).

We also had some peculiar rules : http://eksith.wordpress.com/2012/11/27/harshest-forum-rules-...

As they say, most people are basically good.

Sometimes they are surprisingly unaware of how hurtful their posts can be. There's a dehumanizing effect introduced when your communications are filtered through text and suddenly there isn't a "person" per-se at the other end. When this is pointed out to them, usually they understand and adjust themselves.

There are exceptions to this, of course, and the best way to deal with them is to not interact, entertain or in any way give them an audience. Hellbanning in this regard isn't my favorite technique, but it seems to work to some degree.

Now that would only be acceptable if its application is flawless. Sadly, from from what we've seen so far, it isn't.

Edit: Just remembered that I wrote a (longer) spiel about this a little while ago http://eksith.wordpress.com/2012/04/29/re-wordpress-com-foru...

> Interventions helped. This only works with moderators who aren't narcissistic, megalomaniacal and/or sociopathic

Unfortunately, the Internet, startups, programming, and social media attract all seem to attract narcissistic, megalomaniacal and/or sociopathic types.

Have a set of clear rules (and not vague non-language like "don't write non-hacker, off-topic stuff") - AND ENFORCE IT, visibly. Unenforced rules aren't rules. Unclarified rules aren't rules.

Whenever someone is penalized, point them to the specific rules they violated. And keep in mind that people make mistakes every now and then. Show largesse. This isn't a production line where flawed products are tossed out at the blink of an eye.

Last, don't view everything as a "problem" to be "solved". We're talking about human beings, not Turing-complete automatons. That's a big part of the problem with how HN is run. You will never "solve" this the way you would a bug.

You need a human element to address something human. Treating everyone like a spam bot only works for spam bots, and has the side effect of pissing off the human false positives.

I disagree with the idea of having a strict code of rules. Coming up with rules and sticking to them to the letter doesn't do anything to encourage meaningful discussion.

All you end up are the trolls who do their best to toe the line while provoking other people to step over it, and the sort of people who think a conversation where everybody follows the rules yet no-one says anything of substance is preferable to a lively discussion. You end up driving away the people who just want to talk about things they enjoy or are interested in, and don't particularly care about adhering to your rigid social system.

People are people, not automatons, and the system of curating discussions should reflect that. If someone is acting in bad faith, waiting for them to violate the letter of a rule that's been written down before you do anything about it just allows that person to drive away more of your actual desired userbase.

Vague wording in rules is like legislation; they just end up as excuses for doing bad things, instead of ensuring good behaviour. "Toeing the line", if you will.

We constantly see this in trying to figure out what kind of stories are supposed to be submitted to HN.

Does it really make sense for a person like Maciej Ceglowski to be permabanned from HN? https://twitter.com/pinboard/status/111332316458135553. I think it's a shame, partly because I think he's a smart guy with a fresh view on things, but also because I don't think the reasons for banning him are very compelling.

You can't have poorly-defined rules and opaque moderation at the same time. You'll see why, when you incur the wrath of one of pg's moderation scripts for no apparent reason.


EDIT: As an aside, to give an idea of what a fucking pain being (inexplicably) hellbanned is, picture all your Hacker News bookmarks no longer working, because you've been banned from the entire site.

Vague wording in legislation ends up as an excuse for doing bad things because when you get enough people together to call them a government, you're bound to end up with a few bad eggs. Online discussion sites are small enough that that's not necessarily the case - it's quite feasible to maintain a core group of people who don't abuse that power.

Especially since, unlike in government, that core group of people is beholden only to whoever is operating the site, and not to a popularity contest that sees them being replaced with an entirely new group every so often. This is also why you absolutely can have poorly-defined rules and opaque moderation - the operator of the discussion site shapes what they want it to look like, and if too many people disagree with that vision then another discussion site springs up tailored to what those people want. And if the original operator is too arbitrary or capricious in their moderation, their own site dies or becomes an insular hugbox or something like that.


Ultimately, when people say they want stricter interpretation of the rules and more accountability on an online discussion board, what they really mean is "I disagree with some of these decisions and I want them to make the decision that I would make next time". Which is fine, but having seen a lot of the proposed alternatives in action I can't really see them as being an improvement.

Hellbanning is necessary because of the low barrier to creating a new account. You are assuming that all users are well-intentioned and can be reasoned with, but this is simply not the case. Any sizable only community will develop a number of hard-core anti-social trolls exhibiting behavior which they can only undertake online (because in real life they would get their asses kicked on a regular basis). When said trolls are also hackers you need some relatively automated and powerful tools to keep them in check. It's unfortunate that there is some collateral damage, but please understand that the choice is not between new users being inconvenienced for not, the choice is between HN being a place where civilized discourse can exist and spiraling towards a 4chan-like atmosphere.

Serious trolls know about hellbanning and how to figure out whether an account they're using has been hellbanned. The primary effect of hellbanning is to drive away well intentioned new users who are unlucky enough to break some of the unwritten rules in their first few posts.

This is all very hand-wavy. First of all, hellbanning is not always the same thing everywhere, so no, there's no guarantee that a serious troll knows how hellbanning works. More importantly, I have actually had to deal with forum trolls as an under-resourced dev for a very popular and long-running forum. It's an arms race, plain and simple. Information asymetry is to the developer's advantage. Have I gotten to the point of implementing hellbanning? No... but I understand the justification for why it's done.

How do you know this? Have you run a forum or community website, or have you been on the other side? Serious question. Must know data and provenance of data.

"I'd love to hear how you solve the problem."

While this is fair question for sure not being able to solve a problem (right away) and identifying a problem are two completely different things.

Especially when asked to solve a problem as if it's a question on a test. And the fact that a problem is hard to solve or someone doesn't have an immediate answer doesn't mean there isn't a problem to be solved. Nor does it matter if they have ever run a popular discussion web site either.

In the real world to "solve a problem" such as this would take thought, time and testing all of which a commenter is not going to be able to do a good job of in a "reply" to a question posed here.

Most likely no low hanging fruit of a reply available.

I was asked a few days ago "well what would you have done then if you were Snowden?". As if I'm supposed to be able to come up with or commit to a response that makes sense on the spot. I simply won't do that.

How long is the limit after which you are allowed to express a criticism?

I don't understand your question - it feels like you've misunderstood something. In case that's true, let me explain a little further.

Some time ago PG observed that deep comment threads tended to consist mostly of people getting snarky with each other. He speculated that the snarkiness might be reduced by preventing people from replying to each other immediately, without any cooling off period. To that end, and since it seemed to occur primarily on deeper threads, he instigated an exponential back-off on comments. As a thread gets deeper, so the delay increases before the reply box appears.

I don't have hard figures to hand, but I feel like the snarkiness in deeper threads has indeed been reduced, and I don't feel that the quality of conversation has diminished. One could worry that good comments aren't made because the commenter has to wait and doesn't bother, but I've seen no evidence of that.

If that hasn't answered your question then perhaps you could rephrase it and try again.

> what measures do you take to reduce the increased snarkiness

> I'd love to hear how you solve the problem.

You've exemplified the problem perfectly. Next time, don't comment.

Perhaps my comment was a little snarky, but perhaps you missed the point. perhaps I was a little too subtle, or perhaps my phrasing was poor and ill-judged.

Regardless of those considerations, my question is genuine. I see a lot or criticisms here of the technical measures taken to prevent or ameliorate particular issues, expressed by people who have idealistic opinions and points of view, but with zero experience of actually dealing with the problems. That is starting to annoy me more and more, and perhaps that irritation seeped into my reply.

But the point remains. The reply back-off was implemented to help reduce the snarkiness in long threads. My feeling (with no hard evidence) is that it has worked tolerably well. My question is genuine - if this annoys kmfrk, then how has kmfrk dealt with it in the past? If kmfrk has neither experienced it, nor implemented a solution, then I feel the criticism is misplaced.

In conclusion, probably next time I won't comment.

I'm so scared to post anything that's too far from the mainstream because I don't want my 2nd account to just get destroyed. It's actually an account I want people to be able to find when Google-searching me. I end up making throwaway accts to post opinions that I highly suspect won't be popular on HN. I think the fact that downvotng can get an account marked dead is a bad design. A comment getting flagged by a bunch of people should cause dead status after manual review, but just because I post something that HN doesn't agree with, shouldn't ghostban me.

Especially considering HN isn't the most diverse community on the interwebz and someone might have a different view if they're not a financially-stable heterosexual American white male...

Downvoting can't get your account marked dead.

Is there somewhere I can read where PG officially says that? Because the last account I had got marked dead and I don't think I did anything other than post a non-popular opinion. That comment got something like negative 18. A day or 2 later, [dead]. Maybe it was just a coincidence since, after all, there are plenty of dead-accounts that when I look through their activity-history nothing jumps out at me as a punishable HN-offense.

Nope, there's nowhere you can read that directly says that, but it is true nonetheless.

Heh, okay. Can't argue with that ;)

The mods seem to use it as their version of voting. I see perfectly fine stories banned all the time, consistently over a period of months. The same with users. Lots of times I'll look in a thread and see lots of dead people who don't know they are dead, posting interesting and useful stuff.

I've run forums and image posting sites before, the trouble isn't finding moderators from the community who will work for free. The trouble is finding ones that won't abuse their power.

It's gotta be a bug. Either that, or pg cracked under the strain of running the YC empire and implicitly announced, "You're all dead to me."

Interesting theory! We should write a bot to run a Bayesian-Freudian analysis of his Twitter stream for hints ;)

Like Sato in Karate Kid 2?

I've been hellbanned at least a few times while trying to show HN the OSS project I've been working on :(

In /r/programming on reddit, it was shadowbanned as soon as it was posted. It's pretty frustrating and it's making me want to contribute to HN less.

https://chat.echoplex.us https://github.com/qq99/echoplexus

There now seems to be a subset of Internet denizens who are invested in a culture of pattern-matching and parroting snarky self-righteous knee-jerk reactions. Even more disturbing, is that many of these people have been indoctrinated to believe that this is "clever" somehow, even though it involves nothing more sophisticated than ELIZA.

Going around thinking you're superior because you're connected is just as shallow online as it was for country clubs.

Please actually process ideas if you comment on HN.

I just took a look at the new page, and it doesn't look any different to normal.

The users of those posts aren't necessarily hellbanned - the posts are though. If enough people flag a new story I think it'll automatically be marked dead.

Usually it's just for spammy crap, or stories that aren't very interesting.

We're actually discussing the flagging situation here, in a thread that was flagged:


I don't think many stories get flagged just on the new page. It's usually domains that are flagged, like buzzfeed.com, huffingtonpost.com, or gawker.com. It sounds like maybe there was a bug in the server today.

Tons of stories get flagged on the new page. They're usually spam.

In this case, it's part of a policy not to discuss meta-hn issues on hn. If you start a post asking why you were hell banned, or flagging/downvoting, it'll usually get flagged and/or removed.

You have to set "showdead" as "yes" in Profile settings.

Holy cow! Just saw it. It looks like a minefield. I speculate it's probably a bug or something because I've never seen so many dead links together. Either that, or today being a Sunday, has got everyone trying to promote their stuff.

Emailing info@ycombinator.com is the way to get these questions answered.

In the past year, I've emailed info@ycombinator.com about what I thought were perfectly legitimate and thought-provoking, yet not-exactly-in-tune-with-the-HN-hive-mind submissions getting axed off the front page by moderators, on more than one occasion. I haven't received a reply.

An open discussion has the benefit of generating valuable feedback for PG.

I may or may not agree with you, but my comment only considers HN rules and that there is a strong precedent for these HN-policy meta-discussions to be killed by mods.

> there is a strong precedent for these HN-policy meta-discussions to be killed by mods.

If this is true, it would be a pretty sad state of affairs.

If such a discussion comes up, it's because of a lack of transparency.

It is true, and for me it is not a sad state of affairs. I've seen more sites killed by excessive meta-discussion than almost anything else. More, true "transparency" frequently just leads to more meta-discussion about the minutiae, and constant bickering about nuances of interpretation.

Personally, I think PG is striking a good balance. If you disagree you are, of course, free to go elsewhere and/or start an alternative community, and solve all the problenms in your own way.

To be perfectly honest, I hadn't reviewed the HN guidelines in awhile, and I forgot about that one. If I have an issue in the future I'll be sure to do that, however, I think this discussion is valuable to the HN community, and it would be unwise for me to delete this post.

The only pattern I've noticed is that many of the hellbanned users only ever link to only a single domain -- probably their own.

This is also something I never understood. Who cares if I submit tons of (non-duplicate) links from my own domain. If the community doesn't like them, they won't get upvoted and will disappear. Same goes for the opposite.

I totally agree . I've found some things I would have liked to upvote in such banned users submissions a quite a few times.

Some of the dead posts look to be duplicates of live ones.

If I make a comment, any comment, and it gets two or more downvotes, I assume the account has been hellbanned and abandon the account.

Why? Because it's happened to me many times in the past.

I create new accounts often. The thought police cannot stop me.

That's ridiculous.

I often get down-voted for some of my more bone-headed, humorously off-topic or bad faith posts. Well, not _very_ often (generally I'm a good soul) but you get the point.

If you're not making this up and this has happened to you many times then maybe you should consider the possibility that your posts are not adding anything of benefit to the site. I created one account initially and went from there. I have never even felt the need to create an alter-ego, and evil twin or a "posting-while-drunk" safe account.

Hope that helps. Think twice or thrice before you hit the "reply" button.

>you should consider the possibility that your posts are not adding anything of benefit to the site.

...such as when your thoughtful posts don't show up because you got hellbanned for a single post the mods/algorithm didn't like. And when considering the odds, it makes sense to create new accounts.

Am I banned?

Nope. Am I?


Am I banned?

Don't think so, am I?



Anyone notice how if you reverse the letters PG and prepend it with K for karma, you get the KGP?

That's true! Also, if you reverse your username, add a graphic "1" to the first letter and add 2 and 3 to the next two (don't forget to wraparound!), you get "duck". You can't fool me, mallard!

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