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HN Cheaters: Catch me if you can (porter.io)
455 points by adieu on Apr 7, 2015 | hide | past | web | favorite | 163 comments

This post provided interesting reading, and I think the focus on protecting the credibility of the karma system from fraud is an important one. I don't think those charts show any evidence at all of cheating. I also don't think the "outing" idea will work.

Is it likely that there are people upvoting their own posts? Of course. It's likely because of the risk/reward ratio, which the post points out, likely reflects the reality: ie, easy to do, hard to detect, big pay off.

That argument is convincing.

I don't see any evidence in the supplied charts for cheats. The features identified in the charts could have been produced by many other factors, and even if they were produced by cheats, the features themselves are not that convincing: "the rough shape of a graph". It reminds me of people who have systems for Forex investing based on the shape of a graph. Compelling indeed, and yet probably doesn't work. More extensive study and testing would be required to validate the method.

My impression is this argument is fitting data to conclusion already assumed, rather than discovering a conclusion from the data.

If the proposal is then to administer a sort of "justice" via this approach, it's really no different than a kangaroo court.

Far more importantly, if some kind of analysis from rank and votes were able to identify cheats, I think those capable of doing so should really think through, go slowly, and work with HN/YC before deciding to "out" them.

Self-anointed vigilantes outside of the system almost never work as a way to create justice, because they end up wielding a power for destruction, which the community itself has not organically decided to give them. By holding power to decide who is a member of the community and who is not, without also shouldering the responsibility for building and constructing that community, they have an outsized ability to reshape the community away from the forces that built it.

In some cases, like when a community’s culture is so toxic to people’s common good, this kind of dramatic shift from equilibrium works as a way to restore an order more suited to people.

I don’t feel HN is in need of such treatment.

Sure, there's likely pain if a post doesn’t get upvoted, and that doesn’t mean that there is anything that doesn’t work about HN. It also, as the article points out, doesn’t meant there is anything wrong with that post. I haven’t noticed a limit on the number of times someone can submit new stories, so if a post doesn’t succeed at first, it can always be tried again.

The response to the upvote-pain could be to say, "What can I learn?" or it could be to say, "Who can I blame?" I think the implicit assumption that “the HN voting system is flawed” is incorrect. For a poster it’s a compelling idea to “explain” a post's lack of desired upvotes, because then I doesn’t have to take responsibility for ways they I have iterated and improved my post. I choose to blame an external system, in this case “the voting system.”

It’s a very compelling story because then whenever I post something that doesn’t get upvoted as much I want, I can say, “It’s not my responsibility, the system is flawed, and other’s successes are fake.” That can make me feel better. Except, it’s fake because I’m not actually feeling better because I created something of value, only by diminishing the value of something in comparison, and thereby elevating something which otherwise may not warrant elevation outside such straw-man comparisons. Secondly, it doesn’t work for me because then instead of learning from that experience, and iterating, I effectively reduced my learning to zero. Instead of saying, “what can I do that works?” I said, “The system doesn’t work. Now I will prove that is true.”

If we put all that aside and assume that the system really is flawed and a method really can identify fraudulent post elevation, then I still disagree that “outing” HN members is something which will work. Trust amongst HN members, the sort-of anonymous quality of it, even the unspoken “sacredness” of the voting system as a way of bringing us content, all contribute to social harmony here. This place has been shaped by the forces on HN and YC that sweated to build and unite it. If suddenly an asymmetric power arises outside this system that can identify cheats, and publicly outs them, this divisive force, used without the same care for the sacred harmony of community that the people who built it have invested in it, there will be a lack of harmony. This vigilante power would erode the trust and bonds between HN members.

It doesn't work trying to simultaneously mend the social fabric by breaking it. The threads are the laws and the people who protect and respect them. An entity which, outside of the fragile fabric of justice, decides which members are "good" and which are "bad" is eroding the lawful links that connect people, which were decided by the gestalt. Those laws, and unspoken codes and culture, were not created by one fell swoop of a powerful tech. They were created by sedimentary deposit of 1000s of man years of collaborative time and interaction, whether on HN or in other communities. This is how these bonds are shaped and the harmony they create is precious. It works that the ones who create this order in a community, with the members themselves, are the same ones who should wield the power to exclude members to protect some values, rather than an asymmetric power self-granted to some external self-anointed "authority". This seems unlikely to create harmony, because it is an external force imposed rather than one that arose and was guided skilfully by highly-invested and integrated community maintainers.

In this case the values to be protected are the credibility of the karma system, which is certainly an important aim. I don’t think public naming and shaming is the way that works to do so. And if it turns out it is, then it works to be based on a solid evidentiary process.

Good that someone raised this topic.

1. Many good articles & posts don't get upvoted.

2. There are pre-formed HN groups who game the system often.

My Feedback

1. Some special users can be given special Front-Page-Post Button permission.

Say, 3 Top Users have voted this Post for FP(Front Page)

2. Frontpage should not be the highlighting part of HN. At least it looks like that as of now.

The other good parts of HN: new|Ask|Show be shown side by side or given equal weightage.

3. Giving Better experience is the challenge.

The Front page feed can be a variable of Votes, Interest based.

There is lot of scope for improvements.

4. Users Gaming the system, be strictly banned for X Days and shown in different colors.

Many good articles & posts don't get upvoted.

As someone involved in news delivery, I find this to be an opportunity. I frequently dig up stuff with only 1 or 2 votes here that I can share on and look like I found it - ha! :)

As a long timer HNer, I think the main problem is there's little reason or motivation to monitor /newest so it's mostly visited by people being asked to vote up other people's posts. It'd be very cool if on the bottom of the homepage, you got a few items from /newest you were invited to vote on without actually going there.

It'd be very cool if on the bottom of the homepage, you got a few items from /newest you were invited to vote on without actually going there.

Nice idea. This is HN's biggest problem I think - there is no real incentive to visit /newest and the vast majority of good stories slide off it without getting more than a few votes. Adding some new stories to the bottom of home would be an excellent way to get votes.

The other problem of course is that what is popular is not always what is good.

A minor point but I'd rather see the newest stories at the top ... and I'd even say you could reserve the top 5 (or so) positions for new stories. That way, every story starts on the front page but has to work to stay there. Once you throw out the stories marked dead, I suspect each of the new stories would get a few minutes even during the busiest periods (gut feeling ... no data analysis).

As someone involved in news delivery, I find this to be an opportunity. I frequently dig up stuff with only 1 or 2 votes here that I can share on and look like I found it - ha! :)

I really thought you'd have automated 99% of the information gathering for your newsletters based on something like that. :)

Not quite automated but there is certainly a process! :) Even just doing searches for common terms on here can dig up some gold.

Another good part of HN is active[0] which is not linked on the top bar. It shows the most active topics by comment count. Useful for finding topics with lots of discussion.

[0] https://news.ycombinator.com/active

I've felt for a while that HN would be much improved if vote count and karma were invisible. If you give users a stat, you're encouraging them to gamify and optimize for it. Personally, I would rather there was no karma at all, but that's not going to happen. It serves its purpose by affecting the sort order of the thread - it doesn't need to be visible to do its job.

The value of gaming the frontpage could be reduced by having random items from below the fold bubble up from time to time, and perhaps by also having popular items bubble down. Not only would this encourage worthy but not necessarily popular stories to be read, it would (more importantly to me) encourage users to notice that there is more than one page and those thirty slots to read. I believe lobste.rs does this.

It also occurs to me that some people find stories through /comments, and this page can also have an overcrowding problem when multiple comments for the same story take up most of the page. More stories would be discoverable there if comments were grouped by story instead of individually.

I think /active should replace or sit alongside /new. It would provide a nice contrast between the stories getting upvotes and stories getting comments.

I believe that the incentive to optimize votes/Karma has very little to do with the actual Karma count. I believe it is mostly about driving a narrative or page-views for income.

Focusing on Karma as the outcome is vastly underselling the power of sites like HN (and especially reddit). Those who want to warp the system don't just want numbers on this site. They want power over crowds or money for their business.

Nevertheless, having actual numbers there provides (by design) a form of operant conditioning, intended to encourage posters to want their numbers to go up, not down, and to associate a posters' credibility with their karma score. It might be a minor issue overall (as the effect of karma would be the same either way) but not having the numbers there at least makes the forum less obviously gamified.

As an obvious example, tptacek is sitting on 200k+ karma right now. What purpose does that number serve to anyone? How does it make the site better? I don't think it does at all.

So, is your argument that, because tptacek has 200k+ karma that its comments and submissions are upvoted more?

I would argue that the content of submissions stands on its own compared to the total; I've not once checked a user's overall karma before voting.

And it's still not on point. The point is that for the people we really need to worry about, it's not about karma at all. Get rid of karma, I agree with you. It serves no real purpose.

But, the problem of gaming the system will still exist - it's all about money. I can drive views to my site or product without karma.

>So, is your argument that, because tptacek has 200k+ karma that its comments and submissions are upvoted more?

Not necessarily, but I would argue that the karma score is there to suggest that his comments should be treated more seriously in general, since karma is meant to be a signifier of 'quality.' It's an easy (and deceptive) metric to determine who in any argument should be listened to and who shouldn't. Although his having that much karma might mean his upvotes and downvotes count more which to me would be a bigger problem for the fairness of the forum in general.

I would be happy if Hacker News got rid of karma entirely, but that seems unlikely. The next best thing at least would be to just not have the numbers there at all.

My comments are absolutely voted up way more because of status. Some of it is unavoidable: there are people who follow my comments, just like I follow 'patio11 and 'rayiner, and so my comments get statistically more positive exposure.

I think the post/propter is swapped here, though. I doubt I'm voted up because of the silly number. I think the number is silly because of the reasons I'm voted up.

I agree: I'd like HN to get rid of karma. We got past the point where karma stopped being funny and became embarrassing for me several years ago.

I think you're absolutely on the money and I think your suggestions would really help.

I'd like to add something: replace the down-vote button with a "report spam" link.

The one thing that makes me rage on HN is seeing people getting down-voted for having a disagreeable opinion. It's supposed to be to suppress trolling or spam, but people just can't help but use it to oppress others' opinion. Just on principle, it makes me angry, but for practical reasons it's irritating as well because it becomes harder to read often more interesting comments.

Well, if you hide Karma but still use it in the ordering of the thread then Karma could be derivated. In a day you could extract the data from the posts and build a kind of karma-book with top users etc etc...

Roughly, perhaps - you could obviously tell that one thread is more popular than another because it's on top, and maybe in some cases determine that one poster has more karma relative to another based on the way a thread reacts when it's known that they downvoted (since I believe but may be wrong that downvotes from higher karma posters are weighted more._ But factors other than just karma determine the sort order of the threads, and where stories wind up on the front page. How much can you really determine on a site with as much direct moderation as here?

reddit like : apply a random modifier. It would probably leak data, though.

> 4. Users Gaming the system, be strictly banned for X Days and shown in different colors.

I don't think users gaming the system can be spotted so easily. Let's take an example: let's say both of us like Astronomy and post sometimes articles about spatial exploration. It is only natural that we would end up upvoting each others' submission, especially if we both like to check the new submissions and tend to read HN approximately at the same time. Users like I described could easily be mistaken by a voting ring detector.

By giving harsh penalties like you suggest to users who are gaming the system, you take a big risk to alienate people who simply have shared interests. I think the ranking algorithm of HN takes voting ring into account, so if you and I are part of a voting ring, our upvotes will impact less the standing of a page - I think I read about that somewhere but can't find the exact source.

I think the ratio of page views vs likes would quite a telling indicator. This should mean less click bait (a great title with mediocre content), which seems to be plaguing the web these days, even HN!

Having articles appear on the front page briefly, to seed views and see if they stick could be helpful to give then a chance. A report button would quickly stem any spam.

Additional feedback:

5. Use of better colors: For following keywords or topics & colors for users by active | top | influencers etc.

6. Verified accounts.

7. Use of on Demand Badges like: Trustworthy User Badge, Looking for(Badge), Looking for co-founder, Hiring, Remote jobs etc.

All these can be grouped under a Paid plan? I would definitely pay for value & additionals, even a good mobile app experience is missing.

8. There is lack of networking and peer discovery in HN.

They should add community managers & make this evolve. Take it to the next level.

9. Follow options: Follow this discussion, Alert-me's, Follow Posts by keywords.

10. Finally, there is lot of scope to Improve.

HN team & YC should Rise up to the expectations and deliver richer experiences. What are they doing?

11. Add a separate Top Link: Voice-UP your concern.

This is for: Alerting, finding loopholes in the system(gaming the system etc), User Site feedback, new interface ideas.

Creating a vibrant HN ecosystem is the way looking forward. Lets do it.

With 5. I'd be inclined not to colour influencers or other user accounts. I'd be concerned it would exacerbate hivemind as 'these are the opinions I should upvote and follow'. I like in HN that I typically read a comment before I note someones username on this vs reddit type interface where the username is highlighted.

Agree with you. HN has been (seems to be) moving away from indicators that can influence upvoting (for example, folks upvoting a comment already substantially upvoted because its upvoted while downvoting dissenting views). Coloring influencers could assign undue heft to persons of a particular color over others and influence conversations in ways orthogonal to the dialogue.

Also I'm told that YC-Alums can see each other's user name on HN as a particular color and non-YC-Alums don't see this. So I guess that's already a thing.

overall reputation he/she has earned in the HN ecosystem.

A light (grey shade)color underline can shown up as his overall reputation, function of his contributions, activity in HN etc.

Reputation is a great judge of quality and for certain things, and absolutely awful for others. For things that take a great deal of base knowledge to properly evaluate, like cryptography, quantum physics, etc. relying on reputation is generally the best bet unless you've studied the topic for years. There is simply no way to objectively and properly evaluate them for a significant majority of people. On the other hand, on topics that are inherently subjective, or topics that most people understand and end up having conflicting, subjective viewpoints, reputation is an awful way to evaluate the quality of content.

Most of the time on HN, reputation only contributes to the problem. Comments and posts should be evaluated based on their content, not on the person posting them. Reputation only fans the flames of "groupthink", "the hive mind", or whatever you want to call the inevitable tribalism that exists in every sufficiently large community. Reputation has a way of turning subjective opinions into de facto truths, even on things that are unrelated to the source of the reputation, and how could you possibly have an dissenting opinion on the truth ? Giving a popular, well known, "reputable" name priority has a chilling effect on discussion, since going against them is a surefire way to catch some heat from the rest of the community. If reputation and the popularity of a name didn't affect people's views, celebrity endorsements wouldn't be a thing.

The best system I know of is the one 4chan has. Everyone is anonymous, previous comments have no influence on current ones, and the only thing there is to evaluate is the content of your post. Since posts are ranked by time, not by score, every post has an equal opportunity, and it's incredibly difficult to cheat. Obviously that system also has problems, and a lack of threading is annoying at best, but at least it doesn't suffer from stifling discussion and punishing anyone who dissents.

The ideal system would be one where users have a per-topic reputation score, and the poster's handle isn't shown. This way eg. an expert on crytography doesn't have any sway in a discussion about marketing. The fact that someone is revered for their knowledge of networking says about the validity of their thoughts on economical issues, and should have no weight in those discussions. However I imagine this would be incredibly difficult to actually implement in a reasonable way, and could probably still be gamed, though it would be better than what we currently have.

Side Note: I didn't (and can't) downvote you, and I'm not sure why people feel your comment doesn't deserve to be seen.

I don't agree with you but I upvoted your comment (that was already being downvoted) - it adds value to the discussion.

The simplicity of HN is something innegociable IMHO. As I understand you are proposing to evolve HN into a mix of Reddit-social network for hackers/entrepreneurs.


It was an open opinion & you understood it well. Others simply downvoted it.

I don't feel anything for downvotes, but opinionated things gets often misunderstood and the whole discussion stops there.

The Idea that someone brings a new conscious(new topic) open for discussion is also gone down by downvoting. The essence of further discussion is thus diluted, because of first few downvotes or no enough upvotes.

This is still a persistent problem in HN, if there is a downvote, there can be fair explanation too(as you did) or don't push it so down, so others might re-consider this topic to be validated.

Nice, these kind of open discussions is the way looking forward.

They could interlace new, Ask, and Show articles with the top page at random. This would definitely increase overall votes on new stuff, while at the same time reducing the power of voting circles.

Topics like these crop up from time to time: 279 days ago Sama posted asking people to read newest as a solution[1], and I wrote:


Sam I think you have great power to give /newest more views if you'd consider minor redesigns.

Perhaps you could dither stories so the front-page list goes top/new/top/new/top/new, etc, but that is potentially very messy.

Or perhaps instead, the front-page can show 30 top stories, then a line break, then 30 new stories, all on the front page. Long-scrolling pages are in fashion, after all.

These aren't well-developed ideas, but the point remains that the inertia of being one click away means that a huge percentage of people will never even look at /newest, never-mind up-vote interesting stories.

Please consider changes to modify the median behavior. It's within your power and would do us all good. It's worth an experiment, isn't it?


Sam replied: "good ideas here and in the responses. we will consider", but I guess they never got around to testing any of them, or nixed the idea, or mere inertia, etcetc.

[1] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=7972941

Another possibility is to show just a single random post from new. Considering the difference between loads of the homepage and the new page, even that would likely make a dramatic difference.

> Another possibility is to show just a single random post from new.


Maybe hire CmdrTaco to select stories for the front page? :)

(I have the 2nd story HN as I write this.)

I've had front page stories on HN maybe five or six times over the last couple of years. I don't feel anything has changed over that time. If you look at my submission history, you'll see about 90% of what I submit gets no votes. I once tried submitting a story a couple of times when I felt that it was getting less traction than expected - it made no difference.

I'm actually surprised at how well HN surfaces decent content (I'm quite happy to accept that my stuff which got no upvotes just wasn't of interest.) Whenever I put something up it gets about twenty eyeballs off the 'New' page so real people are looking at it.

I can say for sure that I don't have any friends with HN accounts (much to my disappointment!) and I've never tried to game it.

"I don't feel anything has changed over that time."

Approaching 3000 days on HN. The things I notice most:

* increase in users has increased the churn rate of new submissions.

* the new page is dead because of the submission rate. good stories disappear off the stack quickly.

* the up-click is not a good indicator of story quality. I now see stories with up to 80 votes sans one comment. I used to read the comments BEFORE the post. This has now changed because of limited comments.

* the rate of high vote submission decay, means some good stories are lost as the HN crowd chew over some interesting post(s).

* also interesting to see users comment/post ratio. A lot of ppl have limited or no posts yet they comment. If you look at my post profile, in the last 60 days I've posted 100 posts. Approx 1:25 hit > 100. It would be interesting to see how this has changed over time. cf: https://news.ycombinator.com/submitted?id=bootload&next=9025...

The biggest problem is the dilution of good posts/actual posts. Slow the rate of posts and might influence the quality of posts.

Excellent point. One (or two?) submissions per day for each user would be a reasonable restriction. Good stories will find their way here via someone else if my submission limit has already been reached..

Good points.

On the comments:upvotes ratio - I think there's two types of submission.

Blog or newsy stuff invites discussion and comments. But other things, like Show HNs, for instance, might be upvoted for being useful but without anyone commenting much. Both are fine.

Highly technical articles often get a lot of upvotes with few comments as well. I often find these good, so I usually do click if a post has a lot of upvotes, 0-3 comments, and seems to be on a technical subject.

"Highly technical articles often get a lot of upvotes with few comments as well."

I often wonder about this. Is it a sign, nobody reading it knows anything about it (noobs)? or is it a sign it's so specific there are few people who understand it. Either way you'd expect some questions and comments.

There are a few people who make very many submissions. Some people submit more than 2 stories per day, every day. And those are often duplicates-but-different source of other articles already on HN.

Better enforcement of the deeply interesting guideline would help but stories that are intensely interesting get many upvotes so it's unlikely to change.

If there was a submission quota, either time-based or karma-based, the "new" page would clear up rapidly, especially if obvious spam was not displayed as well (though that may be a result of my "show dead" setting).

Perhaps it would work to have users earn posting tokens by upvoting new stories. Need to find a balance of upvotes to token for a good flow. Would foster attention to the new articles and reduce the rate of new submissions.

I've had your experience, but I've also had the experience of content which has been posted multiple times suddenly skyrocketing to the frontpage. I wouldn't be so quick to think that the fickleness you experience is your content's fault.

In my experience so few people visit the /newest page, and so few in general vote, that there is a disturbing amount of chance involved.

I can attest to the chance factor - some times I reposted a story that wasn't picked up, and the second time it got picked up.

That was long enough ago though, don't know how much has changed since - and I submit stories very rarely.

I can report roughly the same thing.

However, I'm sometime quite disappointed that what I submit does not get traction because I really think it is interesting to the HN community and the discussion here would be even more interesting. I guess the time of posting and luck plays a big part in what is upvoted.

I sometimes link my newly created posts to friends or IRC (some of them have HN accounts and may upvote) but it doesn't seem to make any difference.

> This chart looks perfectly normal since the green line is smooth and the blue line is relatively stable.

The first chart goes to over 1,000 votes. The other ones stay one or two orders of magnitude lower. Cheating or not, it's absolutely normal that a stochastic phenomenon looks smooth when there are many events, and not smooth when there are few of them.

Exactly this...

This comparison is statistically on very shaky ground at best.

Sidenote: HN page rank is not solely based on upvotes (for example the recurring recruitment thread). So analyzing it like it was will not provide reasonable results.

I've done a LOT of analysis into the voting patterns behind Hacker News stories (http://minimaxir.com/2014/02/hacking-hacker-news/) and Hacker News comments (http://minimaxir.com/2014/10/hn-comments-about-comments/). Here are a few thought regarding comments made in the thread.

1) Yes, submissions are manipulated, but due to the flagging mechanic, any bad submission with vote manipulation will be shot down. It's worth noting that public vote manipulation on HN (https://twitter.com/search?q=https%3A%2F%2Fnews.ycombinator....) is far, far less worse than the meritocracy known as Product Hunt (https://twitter.com/search?f=realtime&q=product%20hunt%20upv...), which doesn't penalize spamming people for upvotes.

2) Using startup-esque techniques like Recommended Articles and Verified users won't work, as it will kill the simplicity of HN (note that Reddit has tried similar systems not too much success). Content is the most important factor to determining upvotes.

3) Yes, there are a few articles by YC alumni over the years which receive suspicious amounts of upvotes, and I'm disappointed by that. (case in point, see the cofounder of ReelSurfer's submission history: https://news.ycombinator.com/submitted?id=njoglekar)

I wrote up a detailed analysis of the HN ranking algorithm a while back, explaining the time decay of votes, penalized topics and sites, and the controversy penalty: http://www.righto.com/2013/11/how-hacker-news-ranking-really...

Flagging works for stories that are completely unsuitable for HN, but not product announcements that are somewhat relevant but not popular enough to reach the front page on their own.

Any thoughts on why getmagicnow got such an insane amount of upvotes? Especially when there was so much negativity in the comments.

That was submitted on a weekend, which always results in atypical voting behavior.

Also, there's no correlation between negativity-in-comments and the number of upvotes an article receives.

Most of these can be explained by the fact that submitting the same article as someone else counts as upvoting the first submission.

It makes sense to me that submissions comes in waves (as several HN'ers could find articles they find HN worthy through other channels at the same time)

I am sure that some manipulation happens (I imagine a lot of people use their network to ask for upvotes to their submissions if it's something important to them), it's just not that clear cut

I also wonder if caching has some sort of influence. Maybe the spikes in the data are when the score is updated after a while of remaining static. The variation in this could have something to do with load levels on the site.

The mysterious case is probably manual moderator intervention to re-surface good articles that got lost in /newest. So basically a one-time 5 point boost (just to the article score, not to submitter karma), enough to give it a second chance on the front page for half an hour or so.

(I might be wrong on this, but it definitely should not be taken as a sign of cheating. It happens way to often, with links that have no obvious commercial motive).

Yes, when this came up about 9 months ago, 'dang acknowledged that they occasionally manually promote stories: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=8313505

Also: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=8122290

It could also have surfaced in a different media outlet, prompting many to see it for the first time. For example, some article comes out and gets submitted, but the submission dies out. Then a blogger or news site mentions is, and people re-submit the article to HN all in a short time (but much later than the original submission)- which counts as an upvote.

Also, the first abnormal result the OP was talking about 3 votes. I don't think we can worry about a handful of people voting for their own startup submission. The first, "normal" graph had hundreds of votes.

I think my takeaway from all of this is that, like other statistics, with small numbers the values have little meaning. Now if we had seen evidence of, say, 25 or 50 people working together (a few people with multiple accounts each, for instance), then that would be more actionable evidence. But my guess is that pg has already dealt with that problem, and apparently pretty effectively, because it's not showing up here.

One of the open secrets of YC alumni is that many will vote brigade new posts by other YC companies when asked. This has been confirmed to me by multiple YC alumni and I've seen it in practice.

This isn't to say others don't do it to, they do, just that it's another "benefit" of going through YC.

They do, but it ends up backfiring because those posts typically get hit by HN's voting ring detector. It's definitely not a "benefit" of going through YC. We tell YC alumni over and over not to do this, that the rules are the same for everybody, and that the way to get on the front page is by posting something intellectually interesting. Many, being human, try for shortcuts anyhow. But in this they're no different from the general population.

I've thought about this a lot and believe that the way for us to help YC startups make HN's front page is by giving them our best advice about what the community finds interesting vs. what tends not to work—and then sharing the same advice with everybody. In other words, do for HN what PG did with advice about startups. Everything he tells YC startups to do and not do, he published in essays that anyone can read.

That approach makes even more sense for HN, since it's in all our interests to have better stories, regardless of who posts them. I hate to see startups (YC or not) put a ton of effort into content that is unlikely to resonate with the community. There is much to say about this. Unfortunately, I am a slow writer.

I was on an accelerator a few years ago (http://ignite.io/), and we all emailed each other to ask for upvotes. It still happens now except most people moved to posting on Product Hunt instead of HN. Every accelerator must surely have a similar thing going on, and if one doesn't then it's a really bad sign that companies aren't interested in helping one other.

I've seen many YC alum posts blatantly brigaded; that's what the flag button is for.

The interesting thing about the flag button is that it's more impactful than an upvote, which means that if the system is gamed and an article is vote-rigged, it makes the article more prone to be flagged and it immediately corrects itself. It's an unstable equilibrium.

I honestly suspected some form of this happening to some extent. I did not realise the extent of the suspected cheating, but it does remind me of the old days of Digg.

I recall Digg had a massive "digg brigade" problem where certain groups of users and particular power users like MrBabyMan would make the homepage on what felt like a daily basis. Solving these kinds of problems is a lot harder than just analysing data and looking for patterns, because sometimes innocent users can get caught up in data.

If solving cheating on social link submission sites was easy, it would have been solved already. Even Reddit suffers from the same issues.

Reddit is fudging displayed votes and shadowbanning (the poster can't tell he has been banned) for similar reasons, iirc.

The shadowbanned poster can tell he has been banned, sut by trying to view their profile as an logged out user. It will give a 404.

This is really interesting, but not all examples are convincing. For example, this one:

> With huge front page traffic, it’s hard to believe that a good story would only get 4 or 5 up votes in its 3 hour window on the front page, therefore, it makes the first 3 upvotes look very suspicious.

Sounds like a typical 5-10 point story that didn't go anywhere? I feel like I see lots of them on HN. Is the described story _that_ abnormal?

The front page and /new are very different, and I'd say that when browse /new (which happens rarely), I focus on giving upvotes to stories that deserve them.

There's a few factors other than vote totals and submission age at play, any/all of which could skew the results a fair amount.

1- Some source sites are penalized heavily. Sites with a history of low quality articles have built in negative modifiers (ie Gawker)

2- Posts with more comments than upvotes are penalized, on the theory that someone is flame warring in the comments. This actually seems to work out more accurately than you'd expect.

3- Flagging, which you don't see as a visible indicator until a story is dead. However, there's some threshhold beneath which it affects a story's ranking, but it hasn't yet killed the story.

And the mods sometimes manually tinker with stories they feel are / are not what they want on the site.

> on the theory that someone is flame warring in the comments.

... one mans flamewar seems to be another mans: it takes a few tries to explain this.

I'm find HN is very civilized. On other forums I see people talking about nuking entire counties, calling each other names etc all while posting under a full, real life names.

The thing that bugs me at HN (except interesting content disappearing like this post describes) is anonymous downvotes, - and mostly not because they hit me (usually they don't do : ) but because so often they are so obviously a result of political correctness and groupthink that it hurts.

Posts like these assume that HN needs or wants to display all the good articles submitted on their front page . This is not the case. HN just needs to insure that all the articles on the front page are good, that is to say a representative sample of all the good articles that were submitted.

I lump these types of posts in with those that decry how unfair Google's hiring process it and how they reject highly qualified engineers. Again true, but there goal is not to hire every qualified engineer. There goal is to make sure every engineer that they do hire is highly qualified.

Karma to me is my score. How well I'm doing and how respected I am in the community. At the moment I'm (proudly) on 517.

If my contributions are valuable. I will get upvotes. If they are not, then I won't. Without gaming the system, I believe this was by design (PG also shared this in a few of his earlier posts).

In reality. I'm always sharing links with the community of things I find interesting. My experience is that rewards for sharing links (upvote karma) seems to be very random, with stories I think are genuinely fresh, conceptually challenging and interesting getting far fewer upvotes then stories which I consider to be relatively dull.

This is a double edged sword, and most probably the thing I like least about HN. It strikes me as elitist and encourages a particular type of groupthink That I am uncomfortable with. As an example, conservative thinking is usually rewarded and less conventional thinking is usually overlooked. In some ways, I find HN to lack diversity in its culture and what it values (which is why I rarely contribute - I definitely put myself in the "on the fringe" category who will remain that way unless some diversity in thinking creeps in, or there's a radical change). This is interesting because I am a big contributor at other sites where I feel diverse thinking is more respected .. I am absolutely happy to accept this is my own bias, however, HN is a unique experience for me in that respect (except Slashdot that I gave up on for similar reasons). Personally, I don't pay any attention to these scores. I prefer less profile visibility, less badges, less karma and more weighting on an article or comment in isolation. If anything, maybe encourage certain knowledge domains, eg. Science or biology. The domains themselves are less important to me at this moment (except where they are political - and I include gender politics in that: it's stifling and off putting to me, despite its current popularity), but it may diversify what I see and view at HN. Ultimately, I don't get a lot of benefit from HN, but there are some (few) exceptional articles that I wouldn't otherwise see - which is why I visit HN. Diverse thinking is very important to me. I am more likely to attribute HN "rigging" to encouraged groupthink than being gamed. Other than categories and less egocentric measurement, I don't have suggestions that would improve things. I apologise if my post offends, I've felt these views since I first came to HN. It's not intended to insult, but it most probably will.

Agreed, Reddit chose to take the route of having subreddits or as you said in your comment, Categorys. This absolutely makes sense in my mind as I can then browse the sub-specialisation of most interest to me personally.

Subcategorisation does not need to be user-driven like reddit though and I'd encourage the admins of Hacker News to control that themselves with the type of content posts they would most like to see us post around.

If they are open to suggestion, I'd at least consider categories such as: Startup Advice (like Ask HN), Innovative tech, Show HN (as its own category), VC

Downvote karma is also arbitrary. I've been on negative karma for some time following my negative comments about the HN-described behaviour of someone's beloved mentor - who forced his classes to buy his book. I think this was a bad behaviour on the teacher's part but 'others' took offence. I sometimes feel the that a self-appointed in-group or coterie is being a bit arbitrary and authoritarian in its conduct of these HN matters.

There seems to be some demand here to warp HN into some bastardized version of Reddit?

The vast majority of submissions that hit the front page cannot be explicitly linked to one company, or a product, which would indicate that the vast majority of that which is on the front page is there because users liked the content and upvoted it.

If some parties are occasionally abusing the system to promote their own content then I don't think the answer lies in a dramatic overhaul to everything including throwing in flair pieces to submissions and giving people special accounts.

Perhaps a solution would be to disable the upvote button until a user had a certain amount of karma points, as is done with the downvote button? Or maybe add weighting to upvotes based on the amount of karma points a user already has? Or maybe monitor submissions for actual link clicks and use that as a weighting i.e. to prevent people upvoting content they themselves haven't even looked at?

All of that is game-able, of course, but not without significantly more effort than is currently required, and the abuse of the current system appears to be infrequent as it is.

I don't think HN needs any radical changes.

In Steam there is something called "the review queue" to encourage you discover games you might like.

I think it would be possible to build review queues for user by listing stories positively correlated to stories you up-voted and even more correlated to stories you commented.

How do you define cheating? There's lots of cliques of people that hang around some product or community or service X. Someone tweets/emails/taps-you-on-the-shoulder and says: look at this cool thing that just happened! Being an avid HNer, what do you do? Submit to HN for the karma of course. Which results in a lot of upvotes happening in chunk. There is nothing wrong about this. How do you distinguish such behavior from outright cheating?

"These two stories are submitted at almost the same time. The first one failed to reach front page even after more than 10 upvotes. And the second one got on front page after 2 upvotes. This indicates the first one is very likely to be a failed attempt to cheat which got detected by the system."

Why does it indicate cheating? Couldn't it just mean that there is a variable that you are not accounting for in the ranking algorithm?

What we need is collaborative filtering:

Posters would self-organise and voting gangs would talk to themselves. Gaming it would mean that voting gangs had to have convincing interests etc.

An old writeup on the idea: http://williamedwardscoder.tumblr.com/post/15581427232/self-...

I've been on the front page a few times. I don't actually know anyone else on HN who would or could vote my submissions up (that I'm aware of). It seems to be a combination of content, timing and luck.

Hence there are some front page posts that have nothing to do with cheating. Just to add some balance here.

I'm relatively new to HN and I dont understand how your article gets to the FP, I don't know if is the upvotes, karma, comments, etc.

I had a submission for three days in the FP and that was the only time I didn't ask any friend to upvote me over IM.

There are certain algorithms in place to prevent unwanted spam, in your case: voting ring detection

> The upvotes is like fuel to lift your position and the time since submission is like gravity to pull you down. To get on frontpage, you have to get as many upvotes as possible shortly after submission. And to keep your place, you have to get upvotes continuously.

> Getting on the front page is too random.

So in other words, getting to the front page is hard because you don't know your delta-V and TWR before launch, and the cheaters are the ones who are able to secure an estimate for those parameters.


I've experienced the same thing which made me wonder whether there are any control by the admins deciding which stories that should end up in the front page.

For example a magic button for admins or moderators that will boost a story to the front page irrespective of the votes or time the stories have been submitted.

Because some older stories with little number of votes come up to the front page where new stories with same number of votes doesn't end up in the front page.

What do you guys think can there be a power for a selected few?

Please see the links at https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=9333611 and in my reply for a description of our experiments and longer-term intentions.

A variation of Campbell's Law?


Thanks for that. That's really interesting.

I guess there might be some manual work by HN moderators. They must have a way to help you get to the homepage and also to mark you as a cheater/spam. Don't you think?

The Hacker News moderators have a way to rescue posts that were submitted but never made it to the front page. That still doesn't guarantee that they will get upvotes the second time around, though.

"With huge front page traffic, it’s hard to believe that a good story would only get 4 or 5 up votes in its 3 hour window on the front page, therefore, it makes the first 3 upvotes look very suspicious."

This article makes a BIG assumption about what constitutes a good story and about how HN users actually use the upvote feature. The least subjective way I could define a good story on Hacker News is by basing it on the only visible metric - number of upvotes. This doesn't mean I agree that the article is good from a subjective perspective.

Upvotes could be given for lots of reasons and the higher number of votes could just be because the article is about a subject that more people take an interest in (you also have to take an increase in casual visitors into account). An article about a niche subject, however "good" that article or product is, is less likely to get a higher number of upvotes because less people are interested in it. And posters need to ask themselves if their article or product really is of interest. Posters would also need to put effort into promoting their article elsewhere too (twitter, reddit, other social) and not just expect results from HN.

A feature suggestion (it might seem stupid to some people, but I think it's interesting):

At the lower right corner, every minute or so, pop up a small box containing three or four newly submitted links. The box is only shown for five seconds, then it disappears by itself. Of course users can close the popup box with a click (and can turn off the feature altogether).

In this way a whole lot of new links are exposed to HN readers.

I don't mind this distraction at all, because 90% of time when I am on HN I am not working, have no need for intensive concentration. Frankly, I am often looking for distractions and unexpected/unusual contents. The more links I can see the merrier (come on, I know you agree with me). When I see an interesting link in the popup, I might click it right away, or just keep it in mind.

The links shown can be the same to everyone on HN at the moment, or better, tailored to the user depending on many factors generated by some testing algorithms.

The benefits are more exposure on newly submitted links and probably more additive and longer mindless browsing on HN :-)

Equally suspicious are popular but controversial stories that disappear off the front-page within a very short amount of time despite having accumulated lots of votes and comments quickly. I've always gotten the feeling that there are groups of users who flag submissions to make them disappear.

Exactly, though I suspect moderator intervention, not user groups. Notably, anything remotely critical of AirBnB. Changes are too sudden (e.g. story on #3 position, loads of upvotes and comments, and while I'm formulating a comment, it disappears and a completely inane and inactive post takes its place). At times I've even had trouble finding the original post again in the first few pages. Maybe Porter could shed some light on that too.

Maybe I'm just missing something, but what does one get by "cheating" the HN ranking algorithm? Just some karma points?

IMHO, it's rare to see obviously gamed submissions, and the quality of front page articles has been pretty decent for something that rises out of hive behavior (although it's not as well targeted to my own interests as scanning-and-hand-picking-what-I-like, obviously).

My own theory is that with the high volume of medium-high quality submissions (i.e. a post can easily fall off the first page of /new in less than an hour), you end up with lottery-like dynamics since your post is likely not in the "breaking news" magnitude.

Most of the internet is funded by sites desperate for page views. All of the Gawker sites, for example, have content written by content authors who receive most of their pay based on how many views their content gets and fired if they are bad at it. HN is small compared to the real large social news sites like Slashdot and Reddit and Digg, but it is still 10s of thousands of page views if you get on the front page. Many startups are similarly desperate for press or talent so also consider it vital to get their content out there in front of people.

You get to steer the content of the website, and put your ideas\agenda in front of several thousand people.

For patterns like the last case in the article, all it takes is one browser-of-the-depths to link a story in an IRC chat, and a few more people to check it out and like it. It sounds like a standard pattern rather than cheating.

So how do you fix it? I don't really see another way to rank large amounts of stories other than points. Sure, you can try to detect cheating, but you want a minimal amount of false positives, too.

Edit: missing word

Few options: make system more complex, add randomization, increase moderation effort or make it less open.

I am fan of adding randomization. It was previously proposed: show few random new items on a front page in random places, maybe with a little threshold.

I was thinking about community page destined to fork. After community reaches certain threshold (size, activity) there is automatic fork and 2nd generation community is created. Some algorithm adds accounts for certain users and blocks some other users from account creation. It's just a pipe dream...

> I am fan of adding randomization. It was previously proposed: show few random new items on a front page in random places, maybe with a little threshold.

We tested this idea (though we didn't roll it out for everyone) and the results were terrible. The median story is too low in quality for randomness to add value here. You just end up planting junk on the front page and annoying people. From that we concluded that there needs to be additional filtering, be it by algorithms, humans, or a combination.

I think the easiest option would be more transparency. If HN had a system in by which its users could see how things get to the front page (e.g. with graphs and data), rather than simply having to trust a magic points and time algorithm, it would become immediately obvious to the community at large if/when someone were cheating and we'd be able to react accordingly, over time learning how to identify and punish these.

One Idea would be to increase the "gravity" effect on the frontpage: If it doesn't get the expected influx of votes in a short timeframe, drop it.

Obviously still cheatable but would require more (i.e. easier to detect) votes.

What a great way of penalising posts that take a long time to read.

So maybe we should propose a new field which is the approx. time to finish reading when submitting a story.

And so the cheaters would pick longer durations.

This can be easily identified since other readers won't agree on this field.

It's a game. Cheating the system without being caught is win in YC's universe. But now, this is hunters' turn to take one step ahead of the game!

6 of the top 10 articles at the time of writing are corporate news sources (sciencedaily, nytimes, washingtonpost, cbc, bbc, medium).

I don't have any data but I would be interested to know if these companies are gaming the system. It sure would be in their best interest and I can't help but shake the feeling that they are after looking at the front page sometimes.

It would be good to get a 'hail corporate' button / profile setting that could toggle some of these domains from your front page.

I haven't seen evidence of that and would be shocked if they were. Maybe this is an advantage of HN being relatively small.

To me the easiest solution is to expose more users to the /newest page. When more eyes are on the new stories, legitimate ones will have more of a shot.

Yes, except that users just don't do it. It's a tragedy of the commons: sifting through the story stream to find the interesting ones is not, itself, interesting enough. The reason people come to HN (to read interesting things) is a reason not to do that.

Our current idea for the solution is twofold: create a new review mechanism for stories (not to replace /newest but to live alongside it), and reward users with karma for participating. But we're a fair way away from having anything worth rolling out.

That's funny. By reflex, I visit the new page most times after I visit the main page. And I venture to guess that on many days I visit HN more than the average user here. But, yeah, when N gets big enough, what any one person does doesn't set the culture of the whole community.

It would be nice if the score of a page was not a global thing, but if scores were clustered, depending on interest. This could be automatic, based on the user's own upvoting history. Of course, it may be important to not get too much "bubbled" into one's own world, but this could be mitigated by a slider in the UI by which the user could specify how much "bubbling" he/she wants.

Trying to login to Porter.io via Github gives a Cloudflare error suggesting your server is down:

Error 502 Ray ID: 1d351e9c19a519b6 • 2015-04-07 10:41:24 UTC Bad gateway

Scaled to a large instance with more instance. Should be stable for now.

Still unavailable unfortunately!

hmm...I'm running out of ideas. Which country are you in?

Australia - you could contact Cloudflare and let them know - they can shuffle the CDN if there is a dodgy node.

If you log into your Cloudflare you can perform a full cache flush very easily on your domain.

Maybe it's not cache that caused the problem. We host our website on Google Appengine which is global balanced. Maybe some cloudflare nodes just pick the wrong entrance.

Reporting back in that it's all working now. I managed to sign up, request an invite and I also sign up to your digests to try that out as well. Everything was very quick. Thank you.


I guess this would be a good example of the "gratuitous negativity" that was on the frontpage the last few days?

While there seems to be something funny going on it is most likely something more than just adding an email address to a database.

When I was younger this was how I though. After maintaining and interfacing a few applications over the last few years I am a whole lot less annoying I hope.


I guessed they were planning to use the github integration for something. Then I might be wrong and it might just be "cool, new feature, must have" but whatever the reason was I didn't question anyones intellect over it.

Sorry about that. Could you drop us an email at hi@porter.io with your GitHub account? We could manually add you to the list. We're trying to debug the problem. But it's hard to reproduce it since it only affects few people.

Here's an image of the post: http://i.imgur.com/zAbUck5.png

Thanks, that's helpful.

We've been hit by the HN effect. Fixing it right now.

This just in: You need a boost to get to HN frontpage!

Or your link could be about inequality, net neutrality, spying, self-improvement or a hot language/framework. HN has pretty predictable interests.

Lately everything deep learning seems to get upvoted, even rather mediocre stuff. I like deep learning and certainly think it is interesting but it is getting ridiculous.

I think the mediocre stuff is often necessary for people on the outside of relatively specialist areas - like I am - to have a way in. Not that I've been upvoting much deep learning stuff, but I'm sure I've upvoted similar.

I seem to recall that the same thing happened when HN had a fling with Bayesian statistics...last year? Two years ago?

I think it's a necessary consequence of having a large, broad technical audience that really enjoys investigating very narrow niches. Eventually even the people on the 'edges' of that topic's appeal want/need to find a way in.

A shallow treatment of a topic can still be excellent, if it picks the right stuff to present and does so in a pedagogical manner.

Going by reputation, the dragon book would be an example of the opposite: Very in-depth, but with horrible writing.

This might sound strange...but an imperfect ratings system might actually be a good thing.

I'm already drowning in information overload. HN feeds me several good stories a day. If it got any better I would probably stop reading because it would take too much time and work.

Not to say I like cheaters...but short of adding the equivelant of subreddits...I'm fine with only enjoying a few top page stories a day.

Sounds like a fun project.

I did some digging in the upvote data of ProductHunt a while back, and although submitting a product needed special privileges, I easily found lots of dubious upvote behaviour. Unfortunately its hard to distinguish between people asking their friends to help upvote (eg via twitter) and 'spamming' upvotes.

If the actual content is good, do we really care how it got in the top ranks?

Is there also a reverse issue, where posts that should reach the front-page are downvoted or prevented from reaching it for some reason? I.e. how many posts are there that fit with what HN is for and are popular on similar forums online (such as /r/programming), but still do not reach the front page?

A lot of posts. The overwhelming reason is simple neglect. We've been working on this problem for a while. If you're curious about what we're doing, see the links at https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=9333611 and in my reply. They're a bit out of date now, but the intentions remain the same.

Right, neglect is an issue, since most people don't check the new page and links quickly fall off it.

I wonder if there might also be a more nefarious problem where say YC alumni down-vote competitors?

It seemed like stories that get submitted and then take a couple of hours to start getting votes are the result of one person with an RSS feed / notifications from the posted site, then people submitting the story after it hits social media thus upvoting the original submission.

Someone need to develop an userscript that will display a two pane Hacker News. On the left the standard page on the right the newest tab. These days I'm in rehabilitation from surgery if no one want to materialize the idea I will look into it.

Thank you, I will check it.

I was always suspicious of the LISP articles. Just kidding.

I think that the lack of down votes for normal people means that you end up seeing a lot of support for some things that are popular with the people who CAN down vote.

Maybe I've got it wrong, but it seems that way.

Anyone with an account can upvote stories. It's probably a good idea to visit /new to upvote interesting submissions.

Anyone with an account can flag a submission. Flagging should only be used for submissions that violate site guidelines. No-one can downvote a submission.

Anyone with an account can upvote comments. (Click the timestamp to reveal the flag link.) Anyone with an account can flag comments - again flagging should be restricted to comments that violate the guidelines.

People with karma over 750(?) 1000(?) can downvote comments. There's disagreement about when downvotig should be used. Some people feel it should only be used for posts that violate site guidelines[1]; others think that downvote to disagree is okay.

[1] that makes the flag redundant?

Plenty of people downvote comments because of disagreement. It means that conversations that are contentious disappear...so the subjects popular with the high karma crowd end up being the ones that are seen over and over again.

I'm not trying to be too negative here...I'm just saying. There are days when the number of Go stories is just crazy. It reminds me of the Linux advocacy of the 90's where people seem to think they are doing a great good by posting them.

I realize that it could also just be a very visible indicator of the overall zeitgeist of people using the site. Something tells me this isn't the case, though.

People can downvote comments but not stories. Anyone can upvote stories. So the number of Go articles has nothig to do with downvoting or users with high karma.

I have 621 karma and downvote buttons on comments.

When I submitted my Lisp project, it didn't get even a single upvote. Maybe I should've mentioned I wrote it in Lisp to enjoy the grace of this invisible Lisp brigade, but I always felt it's tacky to submit stuff like "X but written in Go/Javascript/whatever!!!" because it basically shows that you're just reinventing the bicycle. The project should stand on its own regardless of the language it's written in.

If you mean https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=8572800, that looks cool and you should repost it. Randomness more than suffices to explain why it didn't get upvoted.

I recommend providing more detail about how it works, to gratify readers' curiosity.

Right on. I wish more people thought this way.

Alternatively - the votes aren't being manipulated, the rankings are. HN has the most manipulated rankings of any reddit clone. The rankings are changed for all kinds of reasons other than just points and spam flags.

Thanks for this, looks really interesting, also because I'm getting demotivate on publish stuff in HN. All the link look dope, for marketing reasons, and some are just interest to read.

I have found my success/failure to be hit and miss with things I have submitted over the years... I just thought it was luck

After try to login with GitHub to have early access, i back to page and get one "Error 502".

Thank you for your feedbak. We'll look into this.

This needs a user-script that adds a small warning around potentially suspicious stories.

It would be funny if they cheated themselves to get this on the front page.

The way Slashdot worked when I last used it was cool. Regular visitors would be randomly granted 5 moderation points which could be used to either upvote, or downvote stories and comments. You had to give a reason for the vote (funny, interesting, off topic, etc)

Frontpage should be a sample of some pool different for each user.

I'd like to see these graphs for every hn story

Your email subscription page is offline.

website is offline?

Any system that ranks popularity undoubtedly can and will be gamed, it's as simple as that. This is how news outlets end up reporting ridiculous statistics or outrageously skewed public opinion polls. In 2013 it was estimated that between 5.5% and 11.5% of facebook's users were fake accounts, but their likes and votes are real. I'd hazard the guess, based on the shear volume of global propaganda perpetrated lately, that number is substantially larger today.

Have you considered that maybe HN doesn't display the real number of upvotes to prevent gaming?

Note to mods: Please unban TerryADavis, I don't think his occasional god-mode is harming anyone.

Any story about Google on HN or reddit will be heavily manipulated.

Just look at the abnormal vote patterns on stupid stories concerning Google...they've mastered the art of getting their shit on social media.

Unfortunately the masses are too stupid to tell and Google continues to destroy freedom on the WWW by curating the WWW and controlling what is seen and what is not.

Google killed the free(libre) WWW and now it's their ad crap box.

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