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There hasn't been any penalty on NSA/Snowden stories for a long time. I'm surprised to see this even come up, since I've commented on it quite a bit and thought the information had gotten around by now.

"Minimize awareness"? Obviously we don't try to do that, nor would we ever want to, or even think that way.

The reason there was a penalty—the mildest possible—was procedural. For several months after the Snowden news broke, HN's front page was overrun with copycat stories that were simply follow-ups and added no new information. Many users complained about this, and they were right. So we applied the best tool we had available, with the intention of taking it off when the flood died down, and so we eventually did.

The discussions got very redundant, but I don't recall many duplicate articles. Early on, there was a ton of information being released every few days, and of course a lot of drama with Snowden himself.

I don't see how a blanket penalty works better than manually removing the small number of genuinely pointless articles.

This depends on how you define "duplicate". I said "copycat", meaning the plethora of follow-up stories that invariably appear when something big happens that don't include any new information, but either report on what has already been reported or are garden-variety commentary. Obviously, HN's front page doesn't have room for all of those. If you think that there aren't many of them, we must be working with different data.

It's true that during the initial period there were major revelations coming out every few days. But I was talking about later.

Yo guys - FWIW, dang is only one letter away from NSAdg...

That doesn't appear to be the case:

    7.  Hacking Oklahoma State University's Student ID (snelling.io)
        94 points by samsnelling 5 hours ago
    9.  Introduction to Facebook's Flux architecture (ryanclark.me)
        204 points by wayfarer2s 8 hours ago
    11. Edward Snowden, Laura Poitras and Glenn Greenwald: AUAA (reddit.com)
        376 points by ahamdy 4 hours ago
Maybe there is some forgotten code in there somewhere?

You can't compute story rank from just points and timestamps. The story is being weighted by user flags, by the fact that it comes from a source of a lot of flagged content in the past, and possibly by other factors. But none of that has anything to do with NSA, at least as far as the code is concerned.

It's probably just been flagged by users a few times as an unsuitable story (as they see it).

> "Minimize awareness"? Obviously we don't try to do that, nor would we ever want to, or even think that way.

The higher up on Hacker News an article is, the more awareness will typically be allocated to the story. If a story drops from the front page, significantly less attention will be allocated to it.

While the penalties might not have been intended to minimize awareness of these stories in the greater scheme of things, they were certainly meant to minimize awareness of the stories on Hacker News.

It's not exactly difficult to move past the first page or to use the search bar, and any comments about those stories are going to appear on /newcomments anyway.

If there is an effect of 'minimizing awareness' at work, I don't think the effect is very large.

> If there is an effect of 'minimizing awareness' at work, I don't think the effect is very large.

You're assuming most HNers a) move past the first page b) search for submissions, or c) frequent /newcomments. My counter-assumption would be that is not true for a majority of users.

Fair enough, but it shouldn't be HN's fault if people are lazy about viewing the site.

You seem to be saying placement on the front page shouldn't impact the eyeballs driven to a story. If that's what you believe, I won't try to convince you otherwise.

No, i'm saying a lack of placement on the front page still doesn't make a story that hard to find.

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