|A surprisingly long time ago (2013 was a busy year) I
mentioned a new plan to improve the quality of comments on
Since I'm going to check out of HN at the end of this
YC cycle, this was my last chance to get this done.
I didn't want the people who are going to inherit
HN from me to have to build it as their
first project, because it interacts with so many
different bits of the code in such subtle ways.
So I found time to implement pending comments this
past week, and with any luck it will launch tonight.
Since it's a big change, I wanted to warn HN users in
Here's how it currently works. From now on, when
you post a comment, it won't initially be live.
It will be in a new state called pending. Comments
get from pending to live by being endorsed by multiple
HN users with over 1000 karma. Those users will see
pending comments, and will be able to endorse them by
clicking on an "endorse" link next to the "flag" link.
Someone who has a pending comment will have to wait till
it goes live to post another. We're hoping that good
comments will get endorsed so quickly that there won't
be a noticeable delay.
You can currently beat the system by posting an innocuous
comment, waiting for it to be endorsed, and then after
it's live, changing it to say something worse. We explicitly
ask people not to do this. While we have no software
for catching it, humans will notice, and we'll ban you.
Along with the change in software will come a change in
policy. We're going to ask users with the ability to
endorse comments only to endorse those that:
1. Say something substantial. E.g. not just a throwaway remark,
or the kind of "Yes you did, No I didn't" bickering
that races toward the right side of the page and no
one cares about except the participants.
2. Say it without gratuitous nastiness. In particular,
a comment in reply to another comment should be written
in the spirit of colleagues cooperating in good faith
to figure out the truth about something, not
politicians trying to ridicule and misrepresent
the other side.
People who regularly endorse comments that fail one
or both of these tests will lose the ability to
endorse comments. So if you're not sure whether you
should endorse a comment, don't. There are a lot of
people on HN. If a point is important, someone else
will probably come along and make it without gratuitous
I hope this will improve the quality of HN comments
significantly, but we'll need your help to make it work,
and your forbearance if, as usually happens, some
things go wrong initially.