I find it very disheartening that the negative voices are being given so much weight. Everything that's worth doing will have detractors, and when it's something really worth doing it will have vocal detractors. Back when I had comments on my blog, every article I wrote that was any good had at least one person commenting that I was a moron or some equivalent statement.
Great things arouse passion - on both sides.
Giving 10x the power to the people on the negative side just creates an environment where new ideas are discouraged, where important but difficult discourse is pushed aside, where things of true import are penalised out of the group's attention by a few detractors.
There does need to be a system for flagging and removing spam articles, but if this system can (as it plainly regularly is) be co-opted to remove articles from sight just based on not liking them much, then it is broken. The people who have flagging powers are not responsible enough to use them wisely, perhaps.
I see at least one simple solution: lift the flagging privileges so it only becomes available to a much smaller segment of the population. Perhaps making the limit 10'000 instead of 500 would do that. That would still include hundreds of people, based on a quick extrapolation from https://news.ycombinator.com/leaders ). An even better model would be to make it dynamic - perhaps the top 200 commenters...
Not really a big loss for me. One less distraction.
I doubt I used more than double-digit flags in the 6+ years I've been here.
Hardly any of the climate change stories are "interesting", but basically just "LOOK SEE I AM RIGHT IN MY BELIEFS AND THIS PROVES IT" sorts of articles. Those are poisonous to a site like this - they just beget a lot of useless discussion without much substance in it.
In other words, they are, IMO, highly inappropriate posts, not just stuff I happen to find uninteresting or don't like.
"On-Topic: Anything that good hackers would find interesting. That includes more than hacking and startups. If you had to reduce it to a sentence, the answer might be: anything that gratifies one's intellectual curiosity."
Climate change definitely fits that description. Lets search for climate change: https://www.hnsearch.com/search#request/submissions&q=climat... None of those articles look any more inappropriate for HN to me, compared to what you'd find for any of the other categories I mentioned.
If you think a comment in a discussion is inappropriate, you shouldn't flag the story, you should flag the comment.
How many articles are there about uncontroversial, but interesting aspects of climate science? Do any of them ever get upvoted, ever?
But whether or not YOU should find these articles intellectually gratifying is beside the point. We already have a feature for those kind of articles: don't upvote them. Flagging is not for those kind of stories. Again, if you find a discussion inappropriate, flag the comments in the discussion. Anyway, I don't think this discussion is going to be productive any more, so this will be my last comment.
I probably would not have flagged the perl/gnuplot one, I'll grant you that one.
Node.js articles are on topic, even if one or the other happens to be boring. So I would not flag them, even the most uninteresting ones.
But the weight of every flag should depend on how well user's downvoting correlate with your own downvoting.
If there is no correlation between user and you - then downvoting should not affect ranking.
That way you would get types of stories you don't like on HN to be quickly downvoted.
PG's comment explaining it: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=6596311
In fact this article does consider the flamewar detector. How accurate it is in it's claims, I do not know.
Wouldn't it make sense to remove the upvote option on the article page, surely I'm not the only one who got this wrong (I hope).
I.e. if you get to the article page from the main page, then that's fine. But if you arrive there with no referrer or from somewhere else, then it isn't counted, since quite possibly someone sent you the specific article just to upvote it.
At least that's how I understand it...
As to flagging, I think a bigger problem is activism-upvoting, in other words upvoting so others see a story and not because it's interesting.
If you don't trust the average user with flagging powers because of how they affect the front page, why do you trust them to upvote good articles onto the front page? Clearly only select users should be able to upvote articles.
Presenting a polarizing opinion (non circumspect) is a great way to get people involved and commenting.
For example, which would get more activity:
"No programmer should use perl!"
"Why I personally don't use perl"
"Perl and CGI routines"
They're not. They're controlled by editors who will place items where they want to.
For me, the worst part of hacker news is the silent banning if you are critical of any YC funded startup. Censorship is ugly, but it happens routinely.
It pulls https://www.hnsearch.com/bigrss and re-sorts it with the basic formula (but without penalties). If people like it/return to it I'll clean up the UI for better readability/mobile use (and display comments there instead of linking back to HN).
EDIT: Interestingly, without penalties it looks like this thread would no longer be on the front page.
I'll be modifying my page to highlight penalized items and calculate their penalty when I have a bit of time.
It shows articles that came to the front page, in chronological order, so there's no ranking. If the article goes dead, it shows it crossed out.
I installed the plug-in too
It's just a website for people to talk to each other and share links. Trying to out-think the algorithms is, to me, a smell for cynical PR or at best misplaced priorities.
The algorithms will save us. Over optimization is the root of all evil. Smart people are dangerous.
People expect machines they interact with to behave in some kind of logical manner. After 2 or 3 times of submitting an article that HN has traditionally liked -- and watching it tank -- just not that motivated to submit more. After submitting my own articles, having people stop me in the hall and tell me they liked it and voted up for it on HN, only to see it have no votes? Not so motivated to submit more. After the tenth conversation about how people expect HN to act one way and instead it acts another? Not so crazy about it.
I think the problem here is that PG wants folks to participate, but only to a certain extent. People want to interact with the system, but on some kind of mutually-fair terms. I'm not sure PG's goals line up with the average user any more. There are good reasons for this, and I'm not trying to trash the entire effort. It's just that this is a tough problem. I don't think you can code your way out of dealing with messy human issues at scale. If you could, we'd all be managed by computers in 50 years, and that's not a future I would wish for my children.
Short answer is HN is basically deal flow for YC. To that goal it obviously works very well.
PG and YC need "everybody" but yet they need "nobody".
As a business HN works to achieve the greater goals of YC. I don't think it is about anything else and I haven't been around long enough to know if things were ever different. They may have been back at the start because I guess if you were to arbitrary you would never build up an audience or fan base.
On a personal level I've always thought that people who get up to the karma level you are at actually deserve some special treatment because to me the top commenters are some of the glue that makes a place like HN special. In any business I have ever run you always give special treatment to the better customers.
Got a better idea? There's never been an easier time for one to start their own link aggregator site.
I believe it to be uncontroversial that all communities need some moderation, but the lack of transparency or involved around these parts has always made me feel uncomfortable.
I distinctly recall some articles on gender inequality in the industry…
Very droll :)
For the most part you don't need to be "afraid" of comments - an article is only penalized if it has more than 40 comments AND more comments than upvotes. Most articles have considerably more upvotes than comments, so commenting won't hurt them at all. But you might want check the upvote and comment numbers before adding a comment just in case...
It was more like the monthly job thread and HN might have legitimate reasons for discouraging analogous threads for everyone's side projects.
It is also possible that the thread's pattern of growth triggered some heuristic.
The first is stifled by the lack of metadata (tags, categories, subboards, pick your poison) so everything rises or sinks within the same channel.
A broader userbase means groups of people who want to see posts about x and others who think x is destroying the community, and the strife caused by what may be the inevitable fact that some users want variety and others want bubbles.
This leading to the third problem, complex threads which can in practice be composed of more than 40 comments and more comments than upvotes without necessarily being a flamewar. Hacker news appears to be set up to promote upvotes and comments directly to the OP post, and discourage discussion between users. If that's what their ideal model represents then they should just move to a flat commenting system which makes it more obvious, visually.
The internet is the platform that provides the variety: Hacker News for some topics, and for example RCGroups, SpaceFlightNow, or hundreds of other topical forums for others.
While it is silly to complain about "community X is going downhill", I do miss the old "information bubble" that HN was many years ago. The YC alumnus Reddit has taken over the role of a general link-sharing and discussion on every possible topic platform for every topic - but there is no longer any website (that I know of) focused on the advice, thoughts and discussion of technology startups mostly by founders of technology startups.
Tags for posts might serve the same purpose but allow the community to remain more cohesive.
I find it interesting only the NSA articles get penalized. When in reality, you can make the same argument for a host of other topics not getting penalized.
Correlation does not equal causation
NSA articles may be more often penalized...but they are likely more often to be flagged. It's not that people here are defending the NSA or anything, it's that people have often said that they are tired of reading NSA all the time. And so, their reaction may be to flag those stories, giving them a penalty.
The referenced article does not really account for that, AFAIK
Edit: Several people said I should have said more in the article about flagging. There's no way to distinguish between penalties applied by administrators and penalties due to flagging. So there's not much I can say.
Google was replacing #000000 with blue links to make sure some won't deceive users that underscored black text is or is not a link. So of course people start using #000001 color, then this one got blocked they went into #000002. Gmail quickly realized they wont win this one :) so they revert it back to replacing only 000000.
Anyways, it would be nice if we in the settings could apply our own penalizing to subjects that we don't care about or that we find controversial instead of having others decide for us. But that would mean that submissions ranked differently for different users, of couse...
From an American perspective, you could argue that it's tough to have a candid conversation about the monarchy in England, World War II in Germany, abortion in Ireland, or entrepreneurship and wealth creation in France.
Unfortunately many British people have the idea of royalty tied up very tightly with their national identity, so any suggestion of getting rid of the monarchy is seen as being treasonous.
Isn't a British subject suggesting getting rid of the British monarchy basically treasonous by definition?
It is an opinion that gets discriminated against a bit more than most (along with Anarchism) simply because the Media and the Police don't take either seriously as ideas.
Example: People planning republican protests during the Royal Wedding were arrested in advance and held during the event, to stop their protest being heard. As far as I know, nobody was actually charged with anything, only arrested on suspicion of "conspiracy to cause a public nuisance" and then released when it was all over.
Nonetheless, writing about the idea is perfectly acceptable, and a protest in a less sensitive area / at a less sensitive time would be "tolerated" (not that this justifies the censorship it gets sometimes.)
Personally I'm pro-tradition. If I wasn't, worrying about the complicated but small-impact question of the monarchy would come after issues such as the de facto Christianity in our post-disestablishment country.
You're right about national identity, though, a concept I would happily burn if it were possible. Worldview is a terrible thing.
Even in subjects like social insurance you'll find an abyss among Europeans and US. I believe it has to do with how we grew up.
Maybe it's rarer than I thought to apply this to ones own social ideas, though. Shame.
Did you go out of your way to test the assumptions behind this idea before taking it seriously?
Although a lot of people are (IMO) intellectually dishonest in what they really consider intellectually gratifying, rather than simply find themselves strongly agreeing with, or angry about. For instance, US immigration/border policies are something that I feel strongly about, but are they interesting from an intellectual point of view? I don't think so, particularly.
This is true, but often times we learn quite a bit from conversations digging into eg IP law. The bigger (and unfortunately) more nebulous area is who writes the laws? That is a question of politics, why discussions have a lot of strong opinions.
Fortunately, Hacker News is not a nation, and can censor all it likes to keep out all the crap.
BTW, who are you to say what is crap and what is not? I mean, I may consider your reply to be crap.
Someone who has seen lots of good forums wrecked by political bullshit. And to be perfectly clear, I do not mean "politics that I happen to disagree with", but politics, in general.
I like forums that remove it as much as possible.
Abortion, religion, health care, gay marriage, immigration, welfare, guns.
To name a few.
Discussion here: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=6755071
It's not a duplicate (as far as HN is concerned), the URLs are slightly different.
If you do comment, however, you can be as verbose as you like (as long as you are bland enough not to provoke replies.)
I wonder if this will change the strategy some post authors have of "hosting comments on HN" (and replying to every comment, even just to say "thanks".)
EDIT: and to edit your posts instead of replying.
I think this is penalisation of comments is a shame - I certainly come to HN for the comments, not the articles (although they're interesting stimulus for discussion).
On the other hand, if you are an article writer and add a "discuss this on HN" link in your articles, you should remove the link as soon as you get a good ranking. Or actually don't ask people to discuss at all, because it is harmful, just ask them to vote and have your own comment system for discussion.
HN basically reinvented "sage", the concept from 4chan and its Japanese origins where people sometimes comment on a thread just to get it closer to the comment limit before it would no longer be bumped up to the front page when replied to.
In order to prevent flamewars on Hacker News, articles with too many comments will get heavily penalized as controversial. In the published code, the contro-factor function kicks in for any post with more than 20 comments and more comments than upvotes.
Is a vigorous discussion bad? Should everyone commenting also upvote?
Some specific examples might be questions that touch on child-rearing, or college experiences, or city-of-residence questions. Everyone knows next to nothing (sample size 1) but feels compelled to share. It's not information-dense enough to bother with.
I typically comment without upvoting. Maybe now that needs to change if I want to see discussion continue on topics I'm involved in.
I understand that for some people the moderation choices offend them, I think that is unavoidable, but the goal is, I believe, to make a 'better' collection not to shoot down particular articles.
It's a shame for those articles sparking insightful discussion though.
It seems like a weighted penalization could be implemented, potentially looking for red-flag words like "pedantic", or "not to be *". Or maybe it already is.
Hope I didn't just set it off. :)
Rings true to me and, if indeed accurate, it seems like a good practice for HN.
That particular weighting doesn't make sense to me. Clearly some people vote by commenting. Which is as it should be.
They disagree with the article or what have you and say so in the thread.
Would love to see ideas that broke from the model of a single ranked list: let folks tune their personal penalty amounts and gravity; add random jitter to rankings and throw a couple random new stories onto each list; classify/cluster users by their votes, so people who vote for jokes or NSA articles or their neighbors' articles (automatically) see more of those things.
It's maybe a bit much to ask PG and co. to architect radical alternatives to HN, because HN is a handful as it is and, besides, I hear they have day jobs. It could be cool to let a thousand flowers bloom: publish most of the now-hidden ranking data (maybe not all, because it can be useful to obscure how anti-spam algorithms work); let users opt in to publishing anonymous votestreams for clustering, etc.; then let other folks use all of this to make their own homebrew HN frontends within certain limits.
I suppose that, too, is kind of a pipe dream, because opening HN up for people to easily build their own frontpages is far-from-trivial for both tech and policy reasons. But it's a nice pipe dream.
Applying an automatic penalty to certain topics / tactics which are likely to gather excessive upvotes, due to the nature of the content vs. it's quality, helps ensure you've got a diverse mix of content occupying the front page. Which is generally good for the overall user experience.
Otherwise, the front page will be a massive list of shock jock posts about the NSA.... [since controversial posts about those subjects will get sympathy votes, regardless of their actual contribution to the community...]
It would be interesting if it somehow incorporated other elements to determine article "value":
- Open rate
- Ratio of comments to opens
- Time spent on article or comments
- Depth of comments
And given that the hackaday article is blossoms, don't be surprised to see it fall.
Apparently being brutally honest about VC means that everything I say is of low value.
For more, go here: http://michaelochurch.wordpress.com/2013/11/03/heres-why-pau...
==Why there will never be a Flat tax...