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on Aug 15, 2013 | hide | past | web | favorite

I will just quote what I said a few days ago:

It's worse than that. Since you can't editorialize titles and some authors like to give their articles poetic, meaningless names like "A butterfly in the sky," when the actual article talks about a security exploit in Bitcoin, coded in Go and released by Wikileaks.

I often find myself ignoring interesting articles on HN only to go read them later on reddit with a much more descriptive, editorialized headline.

Right now there's a good example of this problem on the front page. The article about the Android/PRNG security flaw is aptly editorialized as "Google confirms Java and OpenSSL crypto PRNG on Android are broken," but the original article is titled "Some SecureRandom Thoughts," which is meaningless and I would never have clicked it under any circumstances. Thankfully the mods left this one alone.

It's kind of funny, I find myself doing the opposite--when I see a completely meaningless title on the HN front page, I assume it's actually something much more interesting and a mod de-editorialized it into meaninglessness, so I click through to see what it is.

But that's not a road we want to walk down, imagine if every title was meaningless!

The point of titles should be to give an informing mini-summary about the topic.

It wouldn't be that bad--being on the front page is itself a prequalification, and being on the front page despite having a meaningless title means it's on the front page for reasons other than being linkbait. Removing titles altogether might make things more meritocratic, actually (if a little more painful for the people who only click things if they're about a certain topic.)

So, no titles but a tag cloud about contents?

Your comment, standing alone, sounds like a really interesting idea.

Further, including comments in that tag cloud (styled differently?) might also be interesting.

Let me know if you submit to YC, I might join!

I didn't realize it until just now, but I ignore the meaningless titles. I come to HN to catch up on the news first, and save the fluff later.

It would be nice if every title accurately described what it was about so I could make better decisions about what to read now, what to read later, and what to pass over.

It's trust. Over time you learn to trust the HN headlines for accuracy. Editorialization leads to overhyping junk articles for clicks.

I did a submission from the New York Times about how the IRS was targeting open source groups, and the title said as much. The title was changed to "Documents show liberals in IRS dragnet". So I had to write a short HN-adapted blog post on my blog and redundantly submit that as well.

The article about the Android/PRNG security flaw is aptly editorialized...

Thank you.

I revised the title for that link several times. My final edit lifted the style of the Ars Technica[1] headline, but specifically added the more technical "Java and OpenSSL crypto PRNG" that I worried would be incomprehensible to the layman...

Though, the mods did remove my trailing "." from text. ;-)

[1] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=6215972

My 5 cents: today I've submitted this [0] post, its title was "Valve is planning to use Blender as a game modding tool in Steam". Then it was renamed by somebody to "Steam-powered Blender" which resulted a bunch of title related comments like:

> You know, with a link title like that, I was really hoping to see a food processor powered by a steam engine.

>> That's HN for you. You're never quite sure whether it's programming related or not.

>> Same. I was expecting something along the lines of the pulse jet powered tea kettle: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-fDM9Eb16Do

[0] - https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=6215219

My eyes flicked across the word "Steam." I assumed it referred to Valve's Steam, and my interest was piqued.

Then my eyes settled on the word "Blender," and my interest grew stronger as I thought about 3D modeling.

Then my brain ingested the complete phrase, "Steam-powered Blender," I figured it was steam-punk related, and I moved on, slightly disappointed.

Awful title.

Wow. That's a bad title. The rule doesn't make sense when the submitted title is accurate and nonsensational.

Haha... I clicked on that "Steam-powered Blender" link thinking the same thing. If I'd known it was about Valve's Steam (which I have no interest in) and about Blender (which I have no idea what it is) I never would have clicked.

I was tempted to click on that actually, then work got the better of me. I figured it was some crazy hardware.

The most egregious case of title manipulation that I recall was when the submission of a blog post that broke the airbnb scandal [1] was renamed. The title of the blog post was too generic to attract interest and gave no indication that it was related to airbnb [2]. The submission's title was originally something like "Airbnb user's home wrecked". The title of the HN submission was changed to the blog post's vague title of "Violated: a traveler's lost faith, a difficult lesson learned."

I get that HN doesn't want editorialized submission titles (e.g. /r/politics), but if a title is too vague to warrant attention, what's the harm in submitting it to HN in a manner that gives it context?



The cynic would say that AirBnB is a YC company and HN doesn't want to draw attention to negative news, which makes sense (if you were the operator of this or any site, you wouldn't want bad news to surface)

Those who believe in cock-up before conspiracy would say there is a 'bot running round changing submission titles to <title> tags, given a certain SOUNDEX gap (ie if the title is close enough, leave it, else call it editorialised)

It might be feasible to test this by changing titles a lot. A mean person could build titles ("AAA AAA") to discover the algo.

Whatever. Bit of a tangent.

Hah, haven't heard it as "cock-up before conspiracy" before, which seems to be a rather amusing way of stating Hanlon's razor[1].

1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hanlon's_razor

Well, I don't drink in the sort of pubs where a sentence beginning "Never attribute to malice" will be allowed to finish, but a sentence with cock and up in it will happily run its course.

What confuses me is why many submissions are killed off and hidden. For example, right now, if you click new is show dead on you will see this grayed out:

15.[dead] Oracle's Larry Ellison enthusiastically applauds NSA spying (techeye.net) 1 point by Mitt 17 minutes ago | flag | discuss

I copy and paste it in to google, and find what looks to me like a reasonable article. It even has a CBS video source(1). It is a legit article and fits in HN guide lines. The submitter has a decent karma level too.

Why was it banned? Could one suggest that HN is protecting Larry Ellison from the likely criticism? Should I hold on to that, or will we get "openness", "transparency", and all the other things HN members seem to want from every one else?

Looking at these dead submissions makes HN look like one of the most oddly censored sites on the net. Many of them seem perfectly legitimate. Of course, I have no real idea how censored other sites are. Maybe we cant trust any one at all.

I'll tell members this: It would come as a real blow to find that a site and community one comes to trust, may not be trust-able after all. Title manipulation is bad enough, true, but what we have here is what we accuse others of, opaque censorship. With out frank explanation, I have to conclude that Hacker News is hypocritical.

Lastly, I do hope this isn't censored. Wouldn't that be ironic?

(1) http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-18563_162-57598390/tech-tycoon-l...

"ROSE: Let me just hear you clearly. You were saying whatever the NSA's doing is okay with me?

ELLISON: It's great. I wish, you know, it's great. It's essential. By the way, President Obama thinks it's essential.

It's essential if we want to minimize the kind of strikes that we just had in Boston. It's absolutely essential."

And, even if we disagree, its a reasonable position to take.

You are waaaay overthinking it.

Probably was just flagged to death because people are getting overloaded with NSA stories, especially when there is no new additions. I would probably have flagged it if I saw it, doesn't really advance the discussion and frankly, I don't come to HN for politics.

alan_cx is not describing a scenario that fits with the explanation of being "flagged to death."

Alan is speaking about the "new" page, where you will routinely see dead articles if you have showdead enabled. In fact, if you reload the new page frequently you can see many articles that become dead the moment (effectively) they are posted. This isn't flagging; it's an automatic mechanism. It may be an automatic mechanism informed by previous heavy flagging of other articles from the same domain or any number of other heuristics, but it happens too quickly for it to be the result of user action on the specific article.

As far as I can tell, flagging affects the sorting algorithm for the home page (use of the user script "HN Slapdown" allows you to visualize each article's score versus its rank order, providing color coding to indicate heavily-flagged articles) but I have not in my admittedly short HN experience ever seen an article become dead as a direct result of flagging.

I have my own misgivings about the rigid title-normalization policy so I appreciate him and the op taking the time to ask some questions.

Be careful when flagging articles you are tired of seeing, apparently if your tastes are different to that of the watchmen the ability to flag gets removed from you.

Well that sounds down right democratic.

Probably was just flagged to death because people are getting overloaded with NSA stories, especially when there is no new additions

People also seem to flag stuff a lot even when there are new points made. That is, we have a gazillion articles about programming patterns, frameworks, or languages, NONE of which add "new facts"; which is fine, because they make new points, or even just old ones in an eloquent way.

The Snowden/NSA stuff was/is news, but there are also essays about the general situation. These also get flagged, and looking at dates, points, numbers of comments and positions on the front page is actually so SNAFU sometimes, I actually thought of scraping the first few pages and making a graph of position vs. time vs. points, just to find the interesting stuff that gets buried for some reason more easily.

frankly, I don't come to HN for politics.

Right. Then why do you and others engage in the political act of stifling discussion about a specific topic, for reasons you then don't apply to other topics as well?

I don't come to HN to masturbate about money and disruption; yet I'm sure if I just started flagging everything I don't like, I'd loose that privilege real quick.

Some sites are auto-banned. I wouldn't be surprised techeye.net is among them, based on a quick look at the home page. While this has the occasional false positive, there are reasons for most of them.

It would be nice to know which sites those are, so we don't try to submit links to them. I submitted an article last week from i-programmer.info that went dead immediately. I assume this is the reason, but I was very confused as to what happened.

Strange that DemocracyNow.org is auto-banned.

Just yesterday, they had a video interview with Ladar Levison, the CEO of Lavabit. Excellent interviewed, yet banned at HN.

OK, if it is some sort of aggressive automated system, I can at least understand it. At least its not necessarily a human political or ideological thing, to a point.

If that is the case, then my request would be that its toned down, because to my eyes, it at least looks suspicious.

Less "extreme" examples than an overtly political site are BuzzFeed and the Gawker network that - although they may suck at times - have some good contributions every now and then.

The weird thing about online communities is that at some point they transition from being promotional opportunities owned by the promoter to online communities owned by the users and promoters alike.

HN has a moderation policy that is heavy-handed, overbearing, inconsistent, and pathetically ineffective at preventing the lowbrow discourse that such a policy is theoretically designed to eliminate.

This is consistent with the site's elitist tendencies.

There is an old latin saying like "the pot finds it's own herbs" which you can interpret like leaders gather those they want around them.

The problem is not that titles are edited, but that such edits are not indicated in any way, effectively putting someone else's words in submitter's mouth.

It is simply unacceptable.

I find changed titles to better whenever I happen to notice them. I also think its a great check on the kind of mob mentality a social site can develop. Having said that, I think it would be an unequivocal win for the site to show titles had been edited by mods.

I think it's not really putting words in the submitters mouth since

A. We all know it happens. B. It's replacing it with the actual title written by the author. It can't be confused with words written by the OP.

Personally no rule is perfect and simple things like just changing it can work. We all know or quickly learn the rule.

It could be worst like reddit style where the titles have collapsed and are consistently emotive/sensational/misleading to get the clicks.

It would be good to at least indicate when an editor has rewritten a submission, so that responsibility for the headline can be pointed to the correct user. Like a '/ editorsusername' after the submitters name.

I agree with the premise but not the justification you use. I see the opposite at work, where the submitter is changing the intent of the author.

Sidenote: Why would someone down vote this parent comment?

> Why would someone down vote this parent comment?

I didn't (I can't downvote) but I would guess it's because it's wrong. See sker's comment above:

Right now there's a good example of this problem on the front page. The article about the Android/PRNG security flaw is aptly editorialized as "Google confirms Java and OpenSSL crypto PRNG on Android are broken," but the original article is titled "Some SecureRandom Thoughts," which is meaningless and I would never have clicked it under any circumstances. Thankfully the mods left this one alone.

And quadhome's response shows that he's the one who edited the title, so edits can be made that could be seen as putting words in the OP's mouth:

I revised the title for that link several times. My final edit lifted the style of the Ars Technica[1] headline, but specifically added the more technical "Java and OpenSSL crypto PRNG" that I worried would be incomprehensible to the layman...

> A. We all know it happens.

I didn't until now.

This title manipulation is the reason I abandoned my real account on HN. I just don't want that someone else change what I wrote while keeping my name on it.

I won't go as far as accusing HN for impersonation (if that's the name), but please, if you change original title, at least remove original submitter name.

But if you publish post using "fake" accounts I assume that these accounts have low karma and most of your posts won't make it to the main page thus no one will read them.

I don't care about karma, and didn't care about it even in my old account. I just don't want my real name next to what someone else wrote. And no, this account is not "fake".

If I have to hide my real identity here on HN because of such behaviour, this could be just a sign of more serious problem with this so called "moderation".

Posting news stories on HN is independent of karma. Posts end up on the front page because people upvote them, not because the poster has high karma.

More or less. Many times I submitted a article and it got ignored and then someone popular posted it stay and got 300+ upvotes.

But it is not really karma related,.and more if people remember your nickname.

It's also possible that the "popular" user has high karma because he or she is good at timing submissions.

There's a guideline that you're not supposed to editorialise titles. When an editorialised title is detected, it is usually corrected.

I happen to disagree with this policy and I think it's a somewhat overly rigid application of the guidelines. However, this is why it's happening, and it makes some sense from at least one perspective. And, after all, this is entirely pg's call to make.

I submitted this article: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=5181742

Which included David Byrne's (slightly misinformed) thoughts on the Aaron Swartz case. As such I titled it something like "David Byrne on Aaron Swartz" - it was changed to "Civil Disobedience" (the title of the blog article).

Although the old title may be have been guilty of "editorialisation" in some sense, the new title gives no indication of why it would be of interest to HN readers.

I really think this policy does a considerable deal of harm.

So it seems that the problem here is one field trying to do two jobs.

It would take a change to the way things are presented, but what about having a title that is the same as the original article, and then another line -- a subtitle, if you will -- that (optionally) can contain the poster's rationale for contributing the link.

In this case it could be:

Civil Disobedience

<small>David Byrne on Aaron Swartz</small>

In cases like these "David Byrne: Civil Disobedience" might get past the mods.

And yet that's still useless.

And I think the more important point is that there should be an indication that the title has been edited by a mod, and perhaps also show the original submitter title in the article page.

"Editorialize" is a very different word than, for example, "modify".

What the current guidelines actually say is: "Otherwise please use the original title, unless it is misleading or linkbait."

What they SHOULD say is something like "Don't editorialize the titles".

I'm not sure that just this one word 'editorialize' is clear or specific enough, particularly given that a person much more readily identifies an 'editorialized' headline if it's one s/he disagrees with.

Perhaps we should add an information criterion? E.g.

"Otherwise please use the original title — unless it is linkbait, or misleading (or uninformative) about the content of the article."

I agree with you in that this is pg's site and his to run as he pleases. I also agree with you that the guideline doesn't always produce desirable outcomes.

The issue as I see it is that the sum of parts is more than the whole; if less people of the calibre similar to yourself stop turning up then the site as whole starts to lose its value. Personally it's not enough to turn me away; maybe I have no taste :)

Having said that it is a subjective issue and opinions are like farts; everybody's stinks. Damned if you do, damned if you don't.

I think it is a fair guideline. It is so easy to spin and editorialize issues just by playing a bit around with a few words.

It also avoids click baiting as most users probably can tell already by the url in how far a certain medium (...) uses sensationalist headlines.

If somebody thinks that there is a different view or a overlooked aspect in a linked submission that is not reflected by the headline it would probably be best to blog about it and resubmit the link to the blog.

The policy is public, it is consistently applied to any submission, even if you don't follow it the problem is fixed by an admin. I don't see any issue here that demands that kind of public outrage, let alone some kind of weird formal public letters.

I discovered this the other day, and I was really surprised at how silently it happens. So, plover.net is run by a writer called Stephen Bonds. He's got article upon article doing what I believe is very insightful criticism of nerd/programming culture, explaining how he believes the artistic and political biases of "nerdy" people come about.

Someone linked to his article about Ender's Game (https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=376820), which opens up with a comparison to pornography that he carries throughout. The original submission title was something like Ender's Game Review: It's Porn. It's an accurate edit.

Reading through the comments I found this exchange

> jimbokun 1723 days ago - Ugh. My kingdom for a submission down arrow. Citing Jesus and mocking Christianity as part of reviewing Ender's game totally jumps the shark. This is such an obvious troll, I am utterly disappointed that Hacker News has collectively up-modded this close to the top of the front page (as I write this). I thought this community was better than this.

>>pg 1723 days ago - Yeah, I thought the same thing. I considered killing it, but it didn't seem quite deliberately dishonest enough. I just took "it's porn" out of the title. I suspect that's why this got so much attention.

So, here's an author with a website full of essays talking about the issue with the unacknowledged self-selection bias that afflicts geeks, criticizing one of their most beloved works, and the response is "he must be fishing for views. let's not give him attention" (btw, Bonds' website does not have ads in it).

Truly bizarre.

In the interest of experimentation with censorship, I'm going to state the following:

pg is an asshat.

As I've commented before: it provides a perverse incentive to editorialize a title until it gets upvoted to the front page and gets enough attention from a mod to be corrected. It makes the game of titling a submission even more complex.

When I see something with Title A in the morning and re-click the link with Title B later in the day, and to my surprise they are not only the same article but the very same HN submission, it leaves a bad taste in my mouth. This happens a lot, perhaps because I'm on the East Coast and the mods are on the West?

I've started spending less and less time on HN partly due to this, and all the meta-discussion that it generates. Reddit has successfully managed to take these types of discussions off into subreddits where they can be safely ignored, it is the first discussion board of any significant note to not shove meta issues in front of everyone. I'm actually starting to wish that HN would become more like Reddit, in some ways.

My chief misgiving with the title policy is partly of my own making. Not being a graphic designer, I created a style for my personal blog that uses a large font for titles. I think the design looks best when the title is short and only a single line. So I recently titled a blog entry "Unfair comparisons" and when I submitted it to HN, I added parenthetical clarification to the title that this was about comparing across disparate attributes when benchmarking web development frameworks. That clarification was later edited out of the HN submission, leaving just "Unfair comparisons."

Fine. It's just my blog, so be it. Like I said, it's my own fault for making a design that limits my title length, and I should correct that if I had a serious problem with the policy. But since I was asked at submission time to provide a title, I preferred giving the potential reader here at HN some added clarity about the subject matter before they clicked. I know as an HN reader, I don't like vague, short submission titles. I probably would have never clicked "Unfair comparisons" myself because I'd quickly think, "about what?" and move on.

The original title should be kept somewhere on the comments page if possible, to show that the title was edited.


Vulnerability in ICMPv6 could allow Denial of Service (was: Ping of Death Reloaded)

This is a really good idea.

And for this fatal flaw it will never be implemented.

I really dislike this about HN. Titles are part of the submission, can carry humour and set the tone of discussion, and can be a lot more interesting and meaningful than the article title. And the way it is done in such an autocratic manner makes me want to go back to Reddit.

This, along with the equally draconian practice of shadowbanning, really ought to be ceased.

People create threads to discuss hellbans (or shadowbans, or whatever others might prefer) from time to time, too. Hellbanning is a practice that I find almost embarrassing. Browse this site with "show dead" enabled, and you'll find perfectly good comments showing up as dead. You'll also see legit problem posters showing why they should simply be banned, rather than allowed to post dead comments all day.

I like hellbanning.

A few people are unfairly caught out by it, but they are usually told about it.

And the fact you see problem posters continuing to post on their banned accounts shows it works well enough to prevent those people just changing IP and creating new accounts.

In the case of one of our infamous hellbanned posters (hint: the guy with the random text generator, attributed to "God"), I'm fairly sure that he knows he's hellbanned.

losethos provides a certain amount of entertainment every so often ... the guy wrote his own OS, with his own compiler for his own language. Sure he is weird, and has his quirks, but I have to give him credit for what he has achieved.

> but they are usually told about it.

Ummm, no. If so, why would they persist in posting using their hellbanned accounts.

In any case, there are numerous threads where people have said that they had no idea they were hellbanned.

i) You don't tell the trolls who are hellbanned, but more importantly

ii) You can't tell people if they have no contact information in their profile. You can leave a post in the thread and hope the hellbanned poster sees it.

If the problem posters were banned, I think the technical nature of most members here would mean that they would quickly and easily set up a new account to troll from again, leading to playing whack-a-mole with the banhammer. That was, IIRC, one of the reasons for shadow ban creation.

>I think the technical nature of most members here would mean that they would quickly and easily set up a new account to troll from again,

Shadow bans are so much different!

Source: I have a shadowbanned account.

Wouldn't outright banning be more draconian (I browse with show dead on, so I can still read some interesting comments from time to time, this wouldn't be the case with outright bans), or are you suggesting no banning at all?

hellbanning is worse because the person doesn't know they are banned and almost no one sees their content. it would be much nicer to the person being banned to simply tell them they are banned and not to waste effort any more. the only reason hellbanning exists is to trick the banned person into not making a new account with a different ip. for spammers and people making personal attacks, fine. but a lot of people hellbanned are simply voicing unpopular opinions. there were several europeans in a thread recently about how europe has different rules about PC who were dead, for example, which was pretty funny but also sad

Welcome back from the dead, btw.

Posting an entry on HN changes its original context - it is, in itself, a hermeneutic act, performed by posting, upvoting as well as retitling it. Changing the title back to its "original" state is not only naïve, but also counters HN's raison d'être .

The second best way to hide something is by saying it vaguely.

The real purpose of HN for PG to hawk his investments while not being too brazen about it. Anything that takes too much attention that he has algos he tweaks every day to take care of that peskiness.

That strikes me as unfair on two counts, one, its not brazen, at least by any standards I know of. HN is hardly a rolling advert for HN companies.

Secondly, and more importantly, we are all about using algorithms to automate and take care of peskiness.

I applaud people who do that in nearly all circumstances.

I meant that he's trying to hide HN's real intention, publicity for YCers - their job ads and blog posts are on front page but no one else is allowed, and if anyone else's story gets up there it's dealt with by his algos. Algo's are good, but his algos are specifically designed to promote his content while not revealing that.

Google has a strict policy of separating ads and organic, "do no evil". PG doesn't adhere to that. He even openly boasts about how he tricked his investors back in the day by having random people show up on meeting days, and encourages this type of behaviour in YCers - all the while expounding he doesn't like a-holes. Couple that with his decidedly evil hellbanning policy, he needs to do some serious soul-searching.

I would like some citations here - Yes there is a whole job posting section solely for YC'ers. But thats pretty clearly sign-posted. And AFAIK, the only way a post there makes it to the front page is if it is voted up. And they are clearly marked 'cos you cannot comment on them, so everyone ignores them unless its for a cool company.

Do those posts get to go higher on less votes? I don't know but some proof would be nice before I agree.

And while its in context re: Google, as a personal bugbear, please reserve the word evil for events in Syria, and the like. Message boards don't come within spitting distance of evil.

Why not start your own similar message board? I'm not just being glib. You know HN is based reddit's free software, right? I would love to see more competition and more variants of moderation policies. I've watched reddit's and slashdot's both evolve in interesting ways. I've run phpBB forums and ended them quickly b/c of the load of moderating. I've been on usenet groups with extremely high signal to noise ratio. I've got many more ideas on how to solve the problem of optimizing signal to noise, so I know many more people must have them. I say, GO FOR IT!

I'll get to it right after I start my own OS because Microsoft's too evil and my own superpower country because the military-industrial complex is too evil.

lobste.rs seems like a good alternative, but you need a referral from a member to get in. Still worth browsing in read-only mode but it lacks any real discussions. [The sum of the comment count for all front-page articles on there is 15, though most of the links are less than a day old and the oldest is 4 days.]

I don't think pg and co. have ever responded to complaints about changed titles. Probably the policy of HN I like the least.

I'm surprised this post isn't dead yet, to be honest. That's the usual answer to any attempt to discuss moderation.

People must be on vacation.

This thread will probably disappear soon as one of the few rules that is actually enforced on HN is the "no talk about moderation" one. You should instead (per the rules) e-mail info@ycombinator.com with your concerns.

If this topic rises to the front page every time, and is removed from it only when the mods burn it, then it is big enough issue that is really important to many people.

Some can find it ok, many find it annoying, and some others, like me, find it good enough reason to hide, but no amount of moderation will make it disappear.

I don't really care if some modster change my submission title, but if my name is still there and someone googling for it can see it next to something I didn't wrote, then it is a big problem to me.

ah, the feeling of living in a false democracy...

What on earth ever gave you the impression that HN was any sort of a democracy?

Like most internet discussion sites it's rather openly a benevolent dictatorship isn't it?

This question gets asked every few weeks.

The mods change titles. This is mostly to try to normalize posts, so things with super linkbait titles don't always do well, and things with terrible titles don't always do poorly.

You are copying and pasting a link into a box and writing a few words. You are not doing real work. How the post does should be relevant to its content, not the few words you typed into the box.

> "This is mostly to try to normalize posts, so things with super linkbait titles don't always do well, and things with terrible titles don't always do poorly."

I don't get this impression. If anything, I've found that original article titles are far more likely to be link-baity than editorialized versions. In addition, It's rare that I've seen a bad article title improved the way you're suggesting.

If anything, I've had the impression that this system is somewhat automated and original article titles are used if they differ significantly from the title submitted (triggered after some threshold).

> How the post does should be relevant to its content, not the few words you typed into the box.

This is true, but idealistic. "How the post does should be relevant [...]" is not the same as "How the post does is relevant [...]".

Some lousy articles with click baity headlines get upvotes.

And it's particularly frustrating when a neutral informative headline is changed back to the uninformative or clickbaity original headline of the article.

IMHO the new title was clearer than the old one as (a) it doesn't require the reader recognise a vulnerability that was patched 15 years ago; and (b) it notes the problem is IPv6-related. Neither the old nor the new title mentions that it's a Windows-only vulnerability.

I agree there should be some marker to show the title has been edited, but I don't disagree with this particular edit.

My least favourite are product titles that are completely unrelated to the use (which is fine), but when titles are modified, it becomes completely pointless:

"Goose - A JS library for 3D graphics" --> "Goose"

Yeah thanks guys.

Another annoying result of this policy is it makes it hard, if not impossible to search for articles later (that I've not felt strongly enough to save). A few times I've thought "oh wait, I saw that on HN" but have been unable to find the (now changed) title.

You can make some very small changes to titles. Thus, if you had used

    Vulnerability in {windows} ICMPv6 could allow Denial of Service (microsoft.com) 15 points by vog 7 hours ago | 11 comments
You'd have stuck with the original title, and provided the needed extra information.

I agree that it's a problem when the original title is lousy. Or when the original title is both lousy and longer than 80 chars.

> Result: I have never entered that crappy title, but receive the complaints!

It's frustrating that so many people made those comments - it's pretty obvious that an article from MS is going to be talking about how MS does stuff. If it helps I don't think the complaints are about you, but about MS. Because, you know, there are some companies which provoke that kind of reaction.

I agree that sometimes titles are changed to things that make no sense. That seems to be the rule, and it's consistently applied. That means that people do make comments about the title. This seems to work against PG's desire to avoid the "middlebrow dismissal".

As an aside: I'd love a plugin that helped with the text box. Something that highlighted 80 chars.

> it's pretty obvious that an article from MS is going to be talking about how MS does stuff

No it isn't. To quote one of the complaining comments:

| Sure it links to a Microsoft.com domain, but there are plenty of research projects hosted by Microsoft that are not necessarily on Windows


> it's pretty obvious that an article from MS is going to be talking about how MS does stuff

Ever heard of research.microsoft.com?

> Ever heard of research.microsoft.com?


The submission clearly says microsoft.com, not research.microsoft.com

Didn't you know that HN shows the research subdomain in submission titles?

EDIT: Sorry, this reply sounds a bit snarky.

EDIT2: I'm wrong! Thanks to TeMPOraL for pointing out my error about HNSearch and HN.

LOL it does?

'HN to show subdomains' is, I think, number 1 requested feature, but it never was officially done. Is there a whitelist of domains somewhere that get their subdomains shown?


Except it doesn't.

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=4136016, https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=6108151, et al.

Make sure to remember that a) lots of HN plugins fix that, and b) hnsearch is NOT HN, even though it looks similar.

> The submission clearly says microsoft.com, not research.microsoft.com. Didn't you know that HN shows the research subdomain in submission titles?

Oops. I didn't. Is there somewhere a written collection of rules to learn?

No, there isn't. And only a few domains get the full subdomain listed; HN used to get a ton of "(github.com)" submissions that were just GitHub pages.

It's an annoying bug, it keeps getting raised as a problem, but it's never been dealt with.

Well, I only know this because I just now did a search for research.microsoft.com after your message. :-)

Then I think you're mistaking HNSearch interface (unofficial search for HN) with the HN itself ;). The former shows subdomains, the latter does not.

First of all, the quotes you included to show user confusion were all about Windows vulnerabilities when your title didn't mention Windows either, so the complaints don't help your case.

Secondly, I expect a certain quality and professionalism level from HN. The administrators have every right to improve those things through editing of titles, marking some threads as dead, banning trolls, and setting up some basic guidelines for online behavior.

The Internet is such a big place. There are so many news aggregators, sources for the original news, places to discuss the news, why would you frequent/support a site that has a basic policy of quality maintenance that you find oppressive?

There are tons of problems with Hacker News. Unfortunately it's a monopoly (network effects), so there's basically no market pressure to improve the site. The site has remained practically unchaned for years and there are so many things that could be improved:

* Real-time notification when someone replies to my comment (or when someone upvotes, turned off by default).

* More openess and transparency.

* Speed. Just tried to open this comment page in another tab: 8 seconds. Seriously?

* Collapsible comments (I have to use an extension for that).

* Limit the max width of a comment text.

* Show newest submissions in some box on the homepage.

* Highlight new comments since last visit.

* Show top submissions for a specific day.

* Markdown support.

And many more.

Perhaps the original title should still be shown when a mod has changed it?


| Vulnerability in ICMPv6 could allow Denial of Service (Ping of Death Reloaded) (microsoft.com) 1 point by vog 9 minutes ago | discuss | edit | delete

I agree with the sentiment expressed in this post, and also think that in some cases more descriptive titles are more than welcome. Maybe we could add a rule that the description has to be in square brackets (like [video] or [scribd]).

> Please don't post on HN to ask or tell us something (e.g. to ask us questions about Y Combinator, or to ask or complain about moderation). If you want to say something to us, please send it to info@ycombinator.com.


Another Problem: I've been a member for over 2 months and still can't upvote stuff. Just wondering how it works?

Karma thresholds for doing this and that. Not sure where "upvote" is, but "downvote" was recently at 500.

Thanks, anyone sure of what the upvote threshold is?


I just logged into an (old) account[0] with no comments or submissions. It has 1 karma and as far as I could tell it was able to upvote no problem.

[0]826 days old. Can't for the life of me remember why I created it, or what (if anything) I did with it but the karma count was at 1 and there were no listed comments or submissions.

I'm fairly sure it's 1. Maybe ~25 or something. It's not that obvious but the upvote button is a little gray triangle to the left of a comment/post

They're still at it! https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=6217742 just had its title changed, as has https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=6217968 (which lost the interesting $12m hook to boot).

This is doubly frustrating: it's a stupid policy, and when the changes are this significant it makes me re-read links I've already read. Argh.

Simple, the mods that editorialize titles should just suffix the title with a *.

The real question is why do they have a box for title in the first place. If they don't want editorialized titles, just have a URL box and use code to grab the title. Then we stop all these meta discussions. (Or we could leave the box and stop screwing with things once they get to the front page because the original piece was titled poorly)

Indeed; I submitted an article that had a title that I felt was clickbaity and a subtitle that was more straightforward. I submitted it under the subtitle, but it was eventually changed to the main title. So even if you aren't making the title up yourself, it apparently has to be the text in <h1> on the article, not <h2>.

I agree that I see a lot of title edits that are simply worse than the original. This is pretty much classic micromanagement. Someone who doesn't know the details thinks they know better and force their opinion on everyone else.

As far as I can tell, my title was shorter and still more accurate than the article's title.

Really? Because I had no idea what the original title was referencing, whereas the new title gave an accurate summary.

This is where a twitter-length Slashdot style summary would come in handy. But for the bulk of the links posted, the titles are accurate. Lately we've seen far more 'no comment' links on the front page.

Notifications in general would be great, but it takes away the simplicity that makes this site and community so great.

Beyond title changes and such, I think what the real request is for better curating.

This may be an unpopular opinion but I think the policy should be to use whatever the title of the original article is, by default in the link to the content. Allow the text field or another field for the submitter to describe (briefly) the content as it's relevant to HN users.

Or at the very least add an 'updated' or asterisk or something next to the title when it gets changed.

Part of the role of Reddit, HN and other social media is to motivate you, the collected developers out there, to write your own version and fix all the problems you see in the system (software + admins + "culture") as it is now.

That includes me. Maybe after the wedding, kid's baseball game, co-worker's going away party, and stuff this weekend.

Problem is, fixing the software won't fix how it's misused. I come here both for the community and the network. Added features would be nice, but my rather small list of gripes is primarily with the utterly opaque, broken, and sometimes downright moronic way it's run sometimes.

It's not broken enough to drive most people away, and that's its prime benefit. But what I'd give for the same site, moderated differently...

That's an insightful analysis.

For me, the question is knowing what exactly I'd do differently. On a lot of crucial points, I don't know and don't know how to find out (except experimentation).

I've speculated before that it's algorithmically updated in most cases.

If 5 people submit a link to the same url and 3 of them use the title "ABC" but the first submitted used "XYZ" then at some point the algo changes it from "XYZ" to "ABC".

Other than that, active moderation because of excessive editorializing by submitter.

I think it's very telling how this complaint is the single most upvoted item on the front page now (400+ points).

So whose the guy with the clumsy iron fist that keeps editing titles? LOL 'Steam Powered Blender" Here, I'll do ya a solid http://bit.ly/1a8j71D

I still stand by my offer to make a Hacker News API that retains the original post title: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=5653878

I'd read it.

Well, I've seen the editors of HN save my butt when I've written things I shouldn't have written and they edited it so I think of it as a feature rather than a bug. Where else do you get service like that?

Perhaps the original title could be kept as a tooltip, so people could see both.

I would bet that PG will not respond to this one.

When was the last time HN's policies updated or changed?

This is how it's been for years. It's fine. You'll survive.

Why not have both the original title and a separate editorialized version that can be modified/upvoted for accuracy?

Not to sound flippant, but who cares? I don't see how editing of post titles has any meaningful impact on my day to day interactions with this site.

This may be a community, but it is not a democracy. The management and moderators of this website are free to do what they wish with the content that is submitted and the members are free to take their posts and opinion elsewhere if they don't like the policies.

It's a shitty policy.

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