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This is an interesting feature, and certainly not something I would have expected as the "next" feature to add. When I read "pending comments" I expected something similar to slashdot's old "preview" feature so one could double-check spelling, formatting, etc. i.e. preview the post before submitting to HN. I would not have expected "pending" to mean "pending moderation" given the successful voting feature here.

I would ask what the goals of the change are, but they seem obvious:

1) Limit nastiness and negativity

2) Encourage deeper and pensive comments

3) Cynically, it seems like a private goal would be to limit criticism of YC, though I know this would never be a stated goal. The criticism may simply have increased the priority even though HN has seemed more civil in recent months as an outside observer.

While the change may achieve these results, I would expect the following effects:

1) Fewer comments overall (there is a new "tax" to post, so-to-speak) and as a result there will be fewer visitors in the medium term (sites like HN, reddit, slashdot, huff post, etc all thrive on both the quality _and_ quantity of comments since that's what entertains people). Without controlling the number of front-page stories, you will in effect decrease the available content for viewers to consume. The demand will be filled elsewhere. I always assumed there was a private, invite-only forum for YC and that you would leave HN alone as a great PR platform... this move makes me wonder some more.

2) Comments will trend towards the quality of bane, tokenadult, ChuckMcM, patio11, cperciva, etc (we all know them) at the risk of fewer "provocative" posts. Often the greatest quality posts, however, are in response or to contradict simple-minded or provocative posts.

3) I am concerned by this line: People who regularly endorse comments that fail one or both of these tests will lose the ability to endorse comments. I like meta-moderation and all, but I don't like being reminded that all actions are recorded and tied back to my account. I would ask for some separation between "endorsing" and "agreeing" -- as a continual skeptic, I like reading and promoting contrarian views since it helps us learn.

I look forward to watching the experiment, and as a parting request, would you be able to record and measure the goals? There must be a YC company that can help with that, and I imagine it would be a wonderful blog write-up!




It wouldn't limit criticism of YC. A comment only needs a few people to endorse it to become visible. To suppress comments on any specific topic would require all the users with over 1000 karma to agree not to endorse them, which is hard to imagine.


Correction: it would require all users with over 1000 karma to read the comments of every post to HN. It seems like you are making the assumption that every user reads every post


If a comment isn't seen by many users with over 1000 karma then it isn't seen by many users period, and thus doesn't have much influence anyway.


Does a comment need to be seen by many users to be worthwhile? If it contributes to the discussion of a small group of users (who may not have over 1000 karma), is that not still valuable discussion that you would want to continue? I understand the goals of trying to promote healthy discussion, but I fear that this will have many unintended consequences.


Comments are often used as communication between specific users and not necessarily intended for widespread consumption.


Can you give us some indication of what % of active users have over 1000 karma?


It seems like a fallacy that if a comment isn't read and endorsed by users with over 1000 karma within a certain timeframe it will never be influential. Weren't most of the literary and artistic geniuses completely unappreciated by their contemporaries? We may not be a literary and artistic community, but I think the rule applies all the same.


Nonsense. Lots of conversations continue with an interested subgroup, especially new or niche topics. Its easily possible no one with 1000 karma will ever visit.

Which means such topics are dead to HN. What remains? Something we can't predict right now, but I suspect it won't be what we want.


But that would be a reason to show it, not hide it.


I believe this is not hard to imagine at all. It's unlikely that all >1000 karma users will take the time to review every comment. So it'll be enough if the few users who happen to browse a thread have the same views on that particular topic.




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