Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
Dear Paul (zedshaw.com)
469 points by barbs on June 1, 2015 | hide | past | favorite | 168 comments

I've read HN almost every day for the last 7 years. In that seven years, I don't recall ever reading a post that said something particularly slanderous about Zed. I have seen post after post about his Learning XXX the hard way, and, in fact, I've even purchased at least one as a result.

The one thing different about HN is that if you even slightly start to get overly negative on a post, you are downvoted into oblivion, and nobody sees what you've written.

So I'm really confused, Zed is upset that things that are negative are written about him (and I can appreciate that, who wouldn't be upset when negative things are written about them) - but the one place he criticizes, happens to be the one place on the internet (that I'm familiar with), where slanderous, objectionable, heck, off tone comments are censored by the community.

Because that's what I love about HN - the community keeps the tone civil, reasonably polite, and holds commentators accountable for their contributions, to the point of hell banning anybody who does draw too much ire.

I think Zed's criticism is a little off base this time.

I thought his point was mostly about the credibility and influence carried by negative comments on HN - probably thanks to both its link to YC and the presence of highly regarded industry figures in the comments. So a negative comment on HN might have a more tangible effect on the man's professional life compared to a negative comment on, say, reddit.

Disclaimer: I honestly don't know how bad things used to be. By the time I started visiting HN in earnest, dang et al. were in charge, so I'm assuming a fair bit of moderation takes place now.

I bought a (paper, hardback) copy of Learn Python the Hard Way as a result of seeing a post about the book on this forum. Nice pedagogy, nice template, font a bit small but I have reading glasses.

Ditto, I have read HN for many years and have never seen the post in question. In fact, this has prompted me to look it up. I love programmers drama!

That all sounds great, but then why is he so upset? It's impossible to reconcile your picture with his.

So either (a) he's imagining things, or (b) you're painting over the cracks or can't see them, or (c) the real truth is somewhere inbetween.

I imagine that it was prompted by this post [1] which was on the front page a couple of hours ago.

[1]: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=9636605

I just clicked on that - here was what the top comment had to say about Zed:

"Zed is known as one of the most prolific and capable software engineers around and I have heard his C code for Mongrel 2 server https://github.com/zedshaw/mongrel2 described as being amongst some of the best examples of C code to study, learn and understand (trying to find the link that said that). I hold his work in high regard."

Or (d), he thinks one comment is representative of the entire HN community.

  user: zedshaw
  created: 2224 days ago
  karma: 8960
Yes, I'm sure he thinks one comment is representative of the entire HN community.

Well he's writing that way. Did you even read the post? He insults the entire HN community for stuff that most people can't even recall or find evidence of.

Also, if you read the post it sounds like he's not a very active user. He is likely completely disconnected from how this community works.

He has nearly 9000 karma which you don't get by being completely disconnected from how this community works.

> He has nearly 9000 karma which you don't get by being completely disconnected from how this community works.

Sure you can. Karma is mostly an indicator of tending to post things that are popular, and there's a pretty big bonus to that if you happen to have name recognition as a popular figure. If you're a popular figure and your natural inclination in writing is in a direction which would be generally well-received on HN, you can get lots of karma whether or not you have much understanding of the community.

(Of course, if you wanted to maximize your karma, developing an understanding of the community would help. But that understanding isn't a necessary precondition to getting a high karma score.)

...and how is any of that being "disconnected from the community"?

While I can't speak for zedshaw, I think the problem with HN is that while it, as you say, shuns and bans anyone who speaks in an aggressive tone or who directly vituperates others, it also allows (and often supports, with upvotes) one to completely slander someone as long as they do it in a calm and reasonable tone.

As an example, specifically regarding anonymous accounts and zedshaw: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=9276436

If that is an example of the "slander" Zed speaks of, his response is way overboard. It has that "more hacker than thou" tone that I find annoying in anyone (and most annoying when I catch myself using it, which is often), but I can't imagine anyone would consider it slanderous. And, it is by a no-name account, which, I suspect, makes everyone somewhat less likely to pay it any mind. The idea that something like that constitutes a years-long campaign of defamation against Zed is worryingly like paranoia.

From what I can tell, I do believe that Zed Shaw has experienced abuse from a larger community over a few years, I think starting with members of the Ruby community. Some might say that Zed fans the flames of controversy by reciprocating with insults.

Perhaps he sounds paranoid because he has nobody concrete to point a finger at, which is part of the nature of being famous on the internet.

Well, it's an example I came up with, don't hold it against him :)

I spent a little time browsing Zed's comment history (after seeing his reply to the comment you linked). It does seem to be representative of the kind of comment Zed calls "slanderous", at least in the past year or so. Perhaps there's something else, or perhaps there are comments that Zed did not respond to, that are actually problematic in some way. But, what I see is a polite but somewhat negative review of one of Zed's books. If that is "slander", then I have slandered Steve Jobs so many times it's not funny.

Anon1385 has been here 1500 days and has over 8000 karma.

Algolia has removed the comment scores from search so I don't know if that comment got any upvotes, but it's not grey.

We don't remove the comment scores actually :) For the first 10 days of a comment's life, HN's API always returns 0: so we index 0. After 10 days, comment scores are visible and should be updated in the index.

The API stopped returning scores ~ 10 months ago:


ETA: Perhaps incident to this incident:


Actually, it probably happened when Algolia transitioned from a custom feed (or whatever was going on) to the official api.


Yes indeed, I think so.

Disappointing to see this at 139 points in under an hour (and still going...). It's just a lot of bile.

I like Zed when he's talking about software development. I like tptacek when he's talking about cryptography or money or cooking or any of the other several subjects he's reasonably skilled in. I like pg when he's talking about startups.

All of them are capable of getting their hackles up, getting in fights, saying things they shouldn't, or talking with authority outside their expertise. It happens.

But we shouldn't be feeding this kind of drama. pg isn't going to shut down HN because it hurt zed's feelings, zed has just introduced me and probably a bunch of other people to some video that I'd never heard about before (that I'm not going to bother tracking down), and hopefully whenever whatever's bothering zed now passes, he'll reconsider at least some of what he wrote.

Also, it's sort of odd that it was directed to pg, considering pg has made exactly one comment on HN in the last year. (...which, to me, is pretty much the severest possible indictment of the HN community, though maybe I'm reading more into it than I should.)

I'm flagging this. I know we're not supposed to say when we're flagging things, but I don't want zed getting the impression that it was pg that suppressed this. No, it was little ol' me, and, hopefully, a few other folks here.

Regarding this Video - I follow tptacek religously, particularly when he's talking about cryptography, and I'm always interested in what Zed is up to. And, while I seem to recall a post by Zed somewhat negative about RoR, I've never heard about this "video".

And if someone like me, who reads HN every day, and follows both Zed, and tptacek postings closely has never heard of it - it's pretty clear that next to 0% of the world even knows what Zed is ranting about.

I was at the talk Zed was ranting about and didn't know what Zed was ranting about until I looked it up.

> Also, it's sort of odd that it was directed to pg, considering pg has made exactly one comment on HN in the last year.

That's pretty much the point Zed was making, in an off-kilter way. Zed is all about real names, taking responsibility for things by putting your name on what you say, talking to people in real life to settle disputes because people aren't empathetic enough online, etc.

The abusive comments on HN need to be "blamed" on someone. Someone has to take responsibility for them. If there's no way to blame the commenters themselves, then the most obvious thing to do is to blame the person under whose aegis those comments receive the protection of anonymity. PG has the ultimate authority (or near-enough) to change HN such that anonymous untracable abuse is no longer possible through it. Thus, he's responsible for not having done so.

...is, I guess, the logic.

I think you missed this part:

"Apparently you will allow links to be posted repeatedly even after they’ve been voted down if it’s “gratuitously negative” of me, but take anything about one of your shitty startups down immediately."

(Emphasis mine)

I didn't, but I'm presuming a specific mechanism to that, because HN really doesn't have that much moderation (just dang, as far as I know, and previously just pg very part-time.) This might be overly charitable, so correct me if you know more:

Probably these YC companies' founders—or, if they've gotten big enough, their social-media people—read HN. They see these things, and then, being wiser-than-most to how HN works, they report them directly to the HN email address.

From there, maybe dang has specific orders to do things YC company founders ask him to do, but I doubt it; probably any contact to the moderation staff asking for a "gratuitously negative" (and possibly slanderous) post about you personally to be taken down, would be taken seriously. It's just that you'd have to do such policing and reporting yourself, like the YC companies do.

What I don't expect, is that dang remembers every possible YC startup (or has some userscript highlight all mentions of their names for him or something), and then deletes posts if-and-only-if they're both "gratuitously negative" and about a YC company.

It's much simpler than that. We don't have any orders to do anything about YC companies, nor do they email us about negative posts (if they did, we'd tell them it's a public forum and there's not much we can do), nor do we delete posts. From my point of view it's a non-issue, though I understand why that's far from obvious.

"I didn't, but I'm presuming a specific mechanism to that, because HN really doesn't have that much moderation (just dang, as far as I know, and previously just pg very part-time.)"

This is not correct and has not been correct for the vast majority of HN's existence. There were a number of moderators in the early days, selected by pg, and there are a number of moderators now, presumably selected by dang. And, of course, everyone can contribute to moderating by flagging things that don't belong on HN.

Is there proof of this happening? It sort of sounds like conspiracies a paranoid person would come up with.

No one doubts that it's happening. But the reasoning and the mechanisms are opaque, which leads people to speculate.

Not sure what you mean by "no one doubts that it's happening", but we don't take down negative posts about YC startups. It's a perennial accusation, doubtless because it's so easy to make, but it's false. We try to be as careful as we can about this. I've written about it many times; a recent example is https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=9635659.

I like Zed, and his contributions and writing are a credit to the community. But yeah, this attack seems off-base for him. From what I can tell, this was sparked by a submission [1] and subsequent upvoting of a critique of his book, a critique that is months old. That it got upvotes means that, well, it got upvotes, from 50 or so of the thousands of HN users who might be reading the site at any given hour. It doesn't mean there's a high conspiracy to shit on his work. If there were, would his books be so highly upvoted as they've been over the years?

I would love to see Zed critique the "Don't Learn C the Wrong Way"...it seems like a better use of his energy than ripping on Paul and the HN mods who don't seem to care directly either way.

[1] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=9636605

I agree with your points, but I'm not flagging it as I feel the resulting comments are actually quite good, and are pushing forwards the ongoing discussion about civility, assumption of good faith, etc.

But the bile is mostly correct.

HN has a severe problem of a lack of civility between people actually here, and that problems gets worse the further away the person being talked about is.

HN is a really unpleasant place to be sometimes. (I know I'm guilty of this sometimes, and I welcome downvotes to steer me)

You're active in a lot of threads, and the more time you spend on HN, the more toxic it will seem. There are a lot of argumentative personalities here and communication in the modern forum format isn't very good (where everyone always has to rush to write replies before a thread becomes inactive and is replaced by the next active thread). So it can lead to friction and people's nerves get frayed.

It sounds like a silly thing to say at first glance, but the less actively you participate on HN (or Reddit, or Slashdot, or probably most places), the better the community seems.

Otherwise it's too easy to make the mistake of getting really invested in the small dramas, like this one.

>But the bile is mostly correct.

Really? Where did you get the stats for the average penis size of the HN commenter?

You get access when you reach 25,000 Karma points. You know, so you don't feel too bad if the data doesn't swing in your favor.

Mostly ≠ totally

You should only flag things that are against the guidelines. In that regard, I don't see anything about this particular post that is problematic. It has some bile, sure, but the man makes some excellent points that we would benefit a lot from openly discussing here.

The best communities are those that self-reflect. They don't sweep the criticisms under the rug -- and I perceive your flagging as an attempt to do just that.

Zed will enter a community, will contribute, will leave and burn his bridges behind him preferably in such a way that those that are still in the community will be seen in as negative light as possible.

See also 'rails is a ghetto', this is in a way the HN variation on that theme.

HN does plenty of introspection but it doesn't need Zed to shoot some more holes in his own foot to tell it what is wrong with it, especially not because Zed himself was an active participant and in fact instigator of some of the nastiest stuff seen here on HN. Addressing Paul like this shows how out of touch he is with respect to the state of affairs on HN.

Note that Zed invariably attacks people when Zed's production is being criticised, this post is a nice example of exactly that.

Zed seems to feel he is personally under attack quite a bit of the time and I've learned to read through his rants with that in mind so if you apply that filter you might get something out of it.

How many little dick insults before you just consider the author to be inflammatory and small-minded? If this weren't for someone with a big name, it would have been dead on arrival.

Unfortunately, the RoR “community” and Zed have a history when it comes to penis-related insults. There was a time when you could add anyone you liked to a github project & they couldn’t block you, so a bunch of developers thought it would be funny to add Zed's github account to a project to draw ascii penises. Every time he’d remove himself, they’d add him to another one & so on.

Puerile? Yup. Also, possibly career sabotaging if a potential future employer looks at your github project list.

See https://web.archive.org/web/20130117043748/http://sheddingbi... for some of the gory details. Github woke up, smelled the coffee & made it possible for their users to block other users shortly after this little saga.

Yes, it’s easy for us to say “he should be the bigger person & not respond in kind” but on the flip side, we haven’t been on the receiving end of this kind of abusive behaviour.

> Yes, it’s easy for us to say “he should be the bigger person & not respond in kind” but on the flip side, we haven’t been on the receiving end of this kind of abusive behaviour.

But he's not responding in kind, because the people he is attacking "in kind" aren't the people who attacked him. And so, insofar as Zed's abuse is "in kind" to the unrelated-to-the-issue-complained-about abuse he has previously received, we (as in the HN community) have, in fact, been on the receiving end of that kind of abusive behavior from Zed.

Some people abusing you doesn't provide you license to abuse other people while complaining about how you hate abusive people.

I flagged this too for unnecessary drama, personal attacks, and off-target criticism - it is problematic because it encourages all the worst instincts of online forums - warring mobs taking binary positions, heated comments, and meta-debate over moderation.

It's likely to produce lots of sound and fury, signifying nothing.

> I hate abusive fucks

And yet he's sitting there saying things like "[HN] is a place for men with tiny little mosquito penises".

I once heard a piece of advise (by Caitlin Moran): you should never write angrily. You may be angry, but don't write angrily. People tend to react with the same emotions, if you come across angry then people will tend to respond with anger.

The guy is obviously angry and upset, but its completely masking his point. He obviously feels something is wrong with the way HN is moderated, but based solely on his tone I'm in no way inclined to a) take his point seriously and b) actually start a discussion about the way HN is moderated. If he hadn't been swearing like a sailor, gave some example comments that support his point, etc, then people would be way more inclined to actually get involved.

Sounds like a recipe for the sterile PR speak we're surrounded by. If he's angry, why shouldn't he write angry?

And the preoccupation with swearing is just puritanical nonsense.

>Sounds like a recipe for the sterile PR speak we're surrounded by. If he's angry, why shouldn't he write angry?

This guy let his rage blind him so much it's hard to actually get anything of substance out of the article. I think the only real example he gave was Thomas's video. The rest was just complaints about generic behavior towards him that I haven't ever witnessed in the last 4 years I've been on this site.

Also, it makes him sound incredibly stupid. The best insults he can come up with are that people have little dicks? What is this, high school? There are lots of much better insults around self-importance that you could easily sling at this crowd.

> If he's angry, why shouldn't he write angry?

Well, among other reasons, because excessive incivility and outright slander when you are accusing people of incivility and slander kind of makes it hard to take you seriously.

But then again, its also kind of a repeated pattern with Zed and communities he has been involved in, so its not all that surprising. (Which, again, might be a speaker-specific reason to avoid it; instead of attracting attention to the subsequent message, it might be dismissed as "oh, so its HN's turn now, big surprise".)

Well, there's a difference between speaking to vent and speaking to effect change. If you want to change things, speaking (or writing) angrily is usually counterproductive. If you just want to express yourself, then you can write however you please.

because then instead of paying attention to what you have to say, we will pay attention to how.

(As an example, consider the above sentence continued with "stupid motherfucker. I can't understand how idiotic and entitled people on the internet are this days.")

There is a vast gap between sterile PR speech and "weak limp dicked little loser".

Writing angry is fine if you want to get into a fight. Writing angry is not a great tactic if you want people to stop attacking you.

I dunno, because I don't have a tiny little mosquito penis?

I feel you. Sadly, almost no one else here does. I am yet to determine as to why, but everyone prefers smoothed-out shit to blunt truth. And the topics discussed here are not even that emotional compared to other possible alternatives.

This is also said in the context of the recent 'blabla no negativity' rule.

"The rule is no gratuitous negativity. You can be negative, just try to at least be constructive about it"

"The rule is no gratuitous negativity you stupid fuck. You can be negative, just try to be constructive".

Which sentence do you think is goig to derail conversations and lead to useless but heated argument?

If people are not obsessively looking for reasons to be offended (which kind of might hint about subtle underlying psychological problems) - neither.

I'm sorry, I felt I also had to jump on the bandwagon. For me it's got nothing to do with psychological problems, I was just heavily put off by the incredibly macho and sexist tone (many paragraphs contain references to size of male genitalia).

I'm with the GP post; write after having cooled down. That doesn't have to turn it into PR speak at all, and it might have as a side-effect that it'll be taken to heart by more readers.

But that's just my €0.02.

Calling someone a stupid fuck is clearly corrosive and going to derail threads. Do you really not see that?

And placing the blame for that on mental health problems? That's ignorant and lazy.

Why is the premises here that everything to the last letter has to be taken seriously? I'll be damned, but there's reddit? netsec and such places. They seem to fare pretty well. Relevant rules?

- Don't create unnecessary conflict.

- Keep the discussion on topic.

- Limit the use of jokes & memes.

Places a bit of trust in people's hands instead of slapping 'lel no this, lel no that'.

I can't say I blame something or someone (well maybe people introducing those rules), after all it barely affects me.

You don't think that calling someone a stupid fuck is creating unnecessary conflict?

> taken seriously

It absolutely does not always do that (although you've chosen a pretty harsh phrase which has a high chance to be considered extreme).

What you call "blunt truth" I call weak-willed, knee-jerk tantrums. I guess it's a matter of perspective.

You don't have to weigh your words like a two-faced politician to get your point across.

What an odd rant. I don't see where it's coming from, and honestly, I expect better rants from Zed. So here's my response.

Dear Zed.

For better or worse you've made it; you've become a public figure. Your voice carries weight whose normal people's doesn't. Most people don't make it that far. And very few gets to enjoy the luxuries associated with that.

But as you've clearly noticed, there's a backside: All public figures, warranted or not, receive slanderous comments everywhere across the internet where internet egg-heads like ourselves can post comments.

Tough shit. It's a internet-wide problem. It's like a law of sorts. Should we call it Zed's law? The problem is that nobody knows what the solution is. Nope. None.

Blaming Paul for not making a special-case of you and comments written about you on a site who is supposed to be as open and transparent as possible (or at least likes to pretend so) doesn't make much sense. It honestly makes you look like an entitled child wanting special treatment others cannot expect.

I'm not sure what the solution is, but if your beef is how your public figure is reflected via HN, posts and drama like this is not likely to help.


- Some random internet egg-head, but at least not a anon or throw-away. Hope that makes you feel better.

I don't want to be a useless +1 but this was pretty much my thoughts summarized. Zed's a great guy and his books have been very useful to me. But I remember when he dropped his Rails rant. He's a grating fellow and -- surprise -- you'll get the same response in kind.

The core point of this (people are jerks, especially on HN) has been a recurring theme ever since the new mods have showed up on HN, trying to clean up our act. Things seem a lot better than a year ago, and I try extremely hard to assume good faith from people on the other side of the screen when replying to comments (helps my mood a lot).

But this suffers from the same thing everything I read from Shaw: such strong language. I can't comment for him (I think I've seen him post before, would be interested), but my impression is that he's genuinely hurt by these people. Is he trying to change anything, or just venting?

> I’d like to point out that one of the reasons most of your moronic baby penis followers hate me is because I wiped out epic amounts of Ruby on Rails with one blog post full of truth.

This doesn't make me want to agree at all. I like HN and don't give 2 shits about RoR. I care deeply about making the internet slightly better by convincing people to stop being assholes. But hey, this is pretty rude! I won't quote the entire thing, but it's a lot of crass imagery.

Maybe this is satire, but I don't think so. I don't have a witty conclusion to reading this, just a bad feeling in the pit of my stomach

It's very inconsistent. Replace "Paul Graham" by "John Doe", "Hacker News" by "Kernel driver" and "Zed Shaw" by "Linus Torvalds" and the commentary becomes "hihi oh my, that is some funnily crass imagery".

Language is just language. Crass language exaggerates a point, an emotion. If the underlying point is poor in the first place, the only thing swearing does is amplify how stupid the whole thing is.

For the record, I think Linus' usage of crass language is just as pointless. It's totally possible to show that you're pissed without demanding that someone be shot or aborted.

Language is not "just" language, there's underlying nuance, history in usage of an expression, and overall context. There are degrees, of course, but when you start offending a large portion of your potential audience _solely_ because of the words you choose, it might be important to consider how you say things.

Though that language usage might be part of one' objective, I think Linus' objectives is furthering the development of Linux, not the advancement of cutting-edge English language insults.

I think Linus' swearing is pointless as well, but people don't get turned off from his posts because the underlying point he makes tends to be true, which is what I'm trying to say here.

having a hard time parsing your comment, and I don't want to do too much back and forth, but:

If you go back to some HN posts linking to mailing list stuff with one of Linus' rants, there's often more than one person saying "I do not want to work on Linux because of how Linus talks".

This could be exaggeration, but it's turned off people and it turns me off. Though I agree that Linus does gets brownie points due to his usual rightness on the technical domain.

In the words of the Dude: not wrong, just an asshole.

Rather than satire, it comes across as rage.

That's certainly how you can tell his feelings were hurt significantly. The extremism of his language, and his need to lash out, tells you the extent to which he feels wounded.

Do people really think HN's denizens are abusive? I remember usenet from the mid-nineties. It was really, really bad. People would routinely post very graphic messages about killing other people (and worse), and sometimes there'd be personally-identifiable information posted (like physical addresses), and all manner of other intensely awful stuff would happen. This was usually restricted to certain groups, but due to the nature of "cross-posting", it would often spread all over the place - in fact, people would quite often randomly add "nice" groups into a massive flamewar just to cause trouble.

Sometimes the police would be involved, too, but they never did anything - from what I can remember - because usenet didn't have real-life celebrities on it (apart from a few sci-fi and fantasy authors) and was fairly incomprehensible in comparison with, say, Twitter or Facebook. Also, teenagers didn't commit suicide very often from it so I suppose it was hard to turn it into a political issue.

But, Usenet also had some really great discussion on it, and with a good news client (like slrn) was vastly better than any web forum anyone has ever come up with since... and with a suitably powerful client, you could actually filter out a lot of the abuse too.

Against all of that, anyway, HN seems incredibly tame to me.

> Against all of that, anyway, HN seems incredibly tame to me.

Comparitive badness of online forums is just a variant of Dawkin's "Dear Muslima" nonsense.

Agreed in full--because X is really bad, Y should not get a pass for being mostly bad. And if laundry's going to get aired, there's a ton of virulently racist, sexist, and anti-poor garbage that gets thrown around here, not even by green accounts, that actually gets voted up.

HN has a problem. I've discussed it offline with people, including dang. Nobody seems to have a solution for it, but a solution needs to exist. (I mean, the real solution is to fix the incentives that turn tech people into ravening shitweasels, but I think that's out of scope for a message board.)

Given the popularity of my comparison, I think you've already lost that battle.

I think you're right, and it makes me sad. The reflexive urge to downvote cultural criticism is a pretty bad one--we as people (not "tech people", but people) need to be forever vigilant against making the world a worse place. We do it a lot. But that responsibility is not terribly fashionable.

Good example of a Streisand effect.[1]

The red flag in this post is that it doesn't discuss concrete specifics, just claims "slander" and victimhood as if it's a given, then takes that all the way to "Paul Graham has created a great big slander and abuse platform."

As far as I can see this the "retraction" he's referring to: "Zed Shaw will not kill your company. For a very poor choice of words, I apologize sincerely. It's his ideas about security that kill." - @tqbf [2]

So, not really a retraction of "slander", just a clarification that the guy's ideas on security are terrible. Now I kind of want to see that video.

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Streisand_effect

[2] https://twitter.com/tqbf/status/7668904147

I tried to find the video, which used to be hosted at http://www.viddler.com/explore/rentzsch/videos/31/ but has been taken down.

If I may believe the quotes, he called Zed Shaw, djb, deRaadt etc all brilliant developers with terrible views on security.

Since most developers out there have a terrible view on security, the takeaway is that Thomas actually gave a compliment by naming Zed Shaw in the same breath as DJB and deRaadt, and that Zed Shaw is very sensitive to criticism.

I'm sure Zed feels "complimented" every time he goes to a job interview and has to defend against the assertion that he's going to kill the company if he's hired. I believe the technical term here is "tortious interference."

I'd be interested to know how often that video got posted, and how many upvotes it got each time, and how many flags etc it got.

And Zed uses circular reasoning: he uses himself as an example of a mean poster who gets upvotes but then complains when HN downvotes or flags his meanness.


> Over the years here and before I started commenting people called me a cocksucker, cock, asshole, douchebag, and every mean ass thing you can imagine. They do it to other people too, and I sure as hell don't see anyone getting flagged or kicked off. If you pick someone unpopular to insult you're totally allowed to be a dick here.

i'd love to see an example comment of someone calling someone sle one of those names and not being downvoted or flagged for it (I guess with the exception of powerful people where a certain amount of punching up is tolerated). More specifically I'd like to see a post where someone made comments like that about Zed Shaw.

Here's one from six years ago: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=703219

And here's one from two years ago: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=6806864

Searching for [zed shaw asshole] returns a bunch of people saying that he isn't an asshole; or that he's only an asshole to people who attack him; or that he's sometimes justifiably an asshole. It also returns a lot of zed shaw calling other people assholes.

What does Zed actually want to happen here? For HN moderators to remove comments critical of him or his work? This entire post and the attitude behind it seem really childish. I'm confused why anyone is voting it up.

TLDR; "I don't care what people on HN think about me. I'm concerned that other people are being treated the same was I was."

Although I haven't seen any of these supposed hate posts on HN recently (likely due to the new mods) but knowing the internet I can be certain that, from a historical standpoint, there is possibly credence to what he is saying.

Nothing anybody ever said about Zed did Zed as much damage as anything Zed himself said. I'm flagging this because I don't think that Zed is doing himself a favour with this post.

His language and metaphors diminish him to an extent that he evidently does not appreciate. It's an obsessive habit I guess he'll never drop. I think that's something to regret.

This. Zed is a talented guy, but this is painful to watch.

>What if I started offering to advise new coders, the millions I teach a year (yes, millions Paul) to avoid all of your company’s startups?

Talk about delusions of grandeur. Just because people read advise on programming doesn't mean they will listen to political rants of yours. In fact, that's usually the quickest way to kill off your audience. Good programming insights will quickly be shadowed by talk of slobbering on Paul's balls.

People can say what they want about Zed Shaw, in the end, he built things. Things used by millions of people. And he does deserve respect for that.

Building things is nice and will get you respect for building things. Attacking people and being abusive will typically undo some of that.

The tech community has a couple of other examples of people that built things and that managed to lose a lot or even all of the respect they deserved for that because of other things they did.

I would agree with that, definitely. But then I would expect both sides of the story to be expressed in a more balanced manner in the articles criticizing the contents of what has been produced. I've found that more often than not, people tend to be blindsided and go for blood because it's better shock value and helps create buzz and clicks.

Something akin to: "Zed Shaw took on a complicated task, one that hasn't been fully mastered since K&R, but he still took a swing. The author knows what he's talking about, having produced software X/Y/Z. Yet, teaching C, a language that has known worldwide adoption in all layers of software for the past 30 years or so, is such a divisive and complicated matter that I feel that even a skilled programmer such as him somehow missed the mark. Here's my opinion about the good aspects and somewhat less perfect bits of Learn C the Hard Way, so that future readers will know where to exercise caution and where to relax while unleashing C's potential".

This conveys the very same opinion, but in a way that is less polarizing and recognizes that writing a book about C programming is a touchy subject, where opinions are aplenty and often strongly engrained in a long-established mindset, making any potential author a target for criticism.

But really, I absolutely agree that "You built something" is never an excuse for any behaviour, I would just like to think that it buys any person a wee bit more of the benefit of the doubt.

I agree with your opinion, but I also add: being accomplished gives you a microphone for both the insightful and the insulting things you have to say. It's unfortunate that sometimes smart people don't realize that not everyone's words are equally powerful.

There are direct and there are underhanded attacks. Unfortunately, only the former are really condemned.

Try directly criticizing anything Zed has written and see what you reap.

For instance:


To be fair I just trawled through that thread and found your posts most obsessive, and Zed seemingly sticking to technical discussion with (for him) not all that much profanity. Now, not that I disagree with your assertions (epoll/poll overhead << actual I/O processing) but I don't know why there was so much traffic on this. I don't know zed of course but I used to follow him before the term follow was owned by social media. Trying weird/apparently-pointless shit like measuring how polling scales is Zed's thing. Trying it for the goal of making the absolute fastest http server seems positively sane.

So it seems a bit weird that somebody posts zed's adventure to HN and then suddenly he has to defend this experiment like it's a billion dollar company.

Perhaps I've missed the egregious thing you were referring to in that thread, but many of his responses to your (numerous!) replies asked for specific stats behind your assertions, and I think it's telling for our industry that you had none (I also have none, yet believe I'll never have to care), which for a person trying to write a fast server by deliberately doing things differently, you can see why he wouldn't be so quick to drop the question and defer to your unsolicited wisdom.

That's a great example of Zed going all macho and abusive when confronted with carefully reasoned criticism. Others have been pointed out in this thread.

I randomly found this after clicking on that other C link today (Don't learn C the wrong way or something), only to realize that I had no idea what I was reading but to note that it had just been posted.

A quick overview made me realize this would reach the top of HN and that I no longer cared about the argument within. As an industry of people at the forefront of technology, why do we try to hurt each other?

I would be surprised if that news doesn't get flagged and killed(not by me I have no stakes in this).

This an old a complicated story about people with ego being a jerks to one another especially in the Rails world. Rails used to be the new shiny stuff everybody wanted a piece of it because loads of $$$ so everybody started to be mean and tried to kill other's consultancy for greed.

But the internet doesn't forget so , if you behave like an ass on the internet, 7 years after people can certainly google you and stumble upon your past deeds...


> The best part about ripping on these guys though is this:

If they have a blog, speak at conferences, publish papers, or write books then they are public figures just like me. This means that thanks to Larry Flynt I can stab them in the ear verbally, insult them, question their sexual orientation, and say anything that’s true and they just have to take it. Their only recourse is to write their pathetic little rebuttals in their stupid little blogs.

Oh, the irony.

> I’ll add one more thing to the people reading this: I mean business when I say I’ll take anyone on who wants to fight me. You think you can take me, I’ll pay to rent a boxing ring and beat your fucking ass legally. Remember that I’ve studied enough martial arts to be deadly

Man, that ThoughtWorks/big consulting companies stuff sounds horrible. Is there any truth to it? Is this a norm with these types of companies? Or are they outliers/extreme cases?

There's some truth to it. I am encumbered so I couldn't give specifics if I wanted to, but more than one of my clients in the past has hired me because they needed somebody to unscrew the devops/platform work done by one of those Real Big Consulting Companies.

>In fact, I had job offers from a YC startup and a non-YC startup and am looking at the non-YC startup, just because of HN.

From the tone of this article, it sounds like YC startup would end up coming out ahead in this deal. This guy sounds pretty immature and emotionally unstable. I wouldn't want to work with someone like that.

1) If every site shut down or removed commenting every time someone was personally attacked, even repeatedly, there'd be no one left. I've sustained my fair share of attacks in the past as well (not on HN), and had some abrasive interactions here as well, but the vast majority of comments on HN have nothing to do with the behaviors described. So claiming it's worthless and only serves to facilitate personal attacks seems pretty unfounded, except possibly for a few more well-known members who may be easy targets.

2) Posts like this basically show you've been worn down to a high degree of vulnerability and will likely encourage more attacks in the future. Want to see any of the involved parties hurt, or watch one side wage war on the other just for the lulz? Now it's easy: start an anonymous smear campaign against Shaw. (Though I'm not recommending this.)

My sympathies to anyone who experiences this kind of thing, but it seems a pretty counterproductive thing to post.

I like Zed, and appreciate his open source work and his programming books. I think he let himself get a little carried away.

"Taking criticism in stride is just part of quality, and trying to eliminate any criticism of your ideas is a sign of both immaturity and abuse of power."


This post is a prime example of why you should take a deep breath, count to ten, and make sure you really want to post that long rant in a public place online.

I'm pretty sure I'm here for reasons other than to slander people and it's working out pretty well for me so far, so I don't think the claim that this is a place 'only' for slandering people really holds up. Drawing comparison between HN and some abortion protestors is not really a good way to make a point, either - that's just immature and insensitive.

The whole rambling post seems rather crazy and the OP probably needs some help over the (I'm sure very real) issues he faced several years ago. This isn't a healthy means of dealing with it at all.

Yeah... you'll find people being jerks everywhere. Most often, you'll find people being jerks without knowing they're being jerks.

But if it happens to you, then the source is "the cesspool of the internet". I hope Zed knows he's being hyperbolic here, otherwise he's got another thing coming.

"..he's got another thing coming."

I am curious about what you think this means?

It used to be "he's got another think coming", meaning "he'll have to think again." It's along the lines of "he's had a thought, now there will be another thought coming."

But it's been mutated by people who never heard the original properly and ended up misquoting it. It's like people who say "to all intensive purposes" when the original, meaningful saying is "to all intents and purposes."

It has become an idiom, an atomic phrase, not to be understood by trying to take it apart and examining the components. This is a common occurrence in linguistics.

Annoys the hell outta me.

In the simplest case, the thing referred to is 'a think', and they're entirely equivalent :)

I'd argue that this is more of an Eggcorn[1] than a malapropism, unlike your second example.

"The proof is in the pudding", or the classic "Could care less"[2] are the two worst offenders I can think of immediately.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eggcorn

[2] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=om7O0MFkmpw

You got me curious. I looked it up. Definitely not what I thought. I'm not a native English speaker though, so that's my excuse :)

this has come to mean "they should think again"

Does pg run HN or even YC at this point?

Either way, this post applies just as much to any website which allows user content. There were Wordpress blogs calling for false police reports, tumblr and twitter feuds where posters tried to get someone fired (and occasionally succeeded), etc.

HN isn't even particularly bad in this regard or set to personally go after Zed Shaw. He has an account here and is often upvoted through the roof when he posts.

> Would I have to cost you millions before you decided it wasn’t worth it to run a shitty 1990s forum site just to listen to a bunch of grown men complain about another grown man’s choice of hobby while they jerk their tiny puds at fake tits MILF porn?

Funny that this is a sentence in a paragraph titled "So Mature, Right?".

I guess sometimes you have to act with such a personality to prove a point. It gets to a point though where you can't tell if it's pure ego or a form of expression; similar to how I would view Kanye West.

Any jokes aside, I highly respect and am thankful for what Zed has contributed to tech, but I'm not seeing the point of this post. People are trolls on the Internet, it's a given. Anything with user generated content is hard to moderate, and gets harder to moderate with popularity.

The message behind the curtain, negativity, tone, and ego is good but probably a fantasy. This is simply the world we live in.

I actually don't see too much insults on HN. They are usually voted out on to the bottom, and if anything you do get an allergic, hyper-analytical observation on posts as comments that seem offensive but that's simply how some nerds are (I say this in both jest and pride). Through back and forth some people own up to their comments as mistakes and it's pleasant to see that maturation.

It's quite a marvelous thing to see what we have here. It's more of an example of human nature than anything, and the contrast between HN and Reddit is an interesting study of itself.

Is hacker news the problem or the way people choose to behave and communicate?

TL;DR Just be nice to people. Try not to let trolls get under your skin. Put your ego aside.

> People are trolls on the Internet, it's a given.

All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing. It's a given because people allow it to happen.

This is a reason I will spend some of my time thumping the occasional troll or bully around here--I realize it won't change them, but there are far more readers for the troll to hurt than trolls to reply to. I've gotten emails from readers thanking me for not letting the sort of crypto-racist or crypto-sexist or openly poor-hating rhetoric that festers around here go without refutation; I'd do it without that, but that reinforces to me the necessity of not letting shitty people do shitty things without opposition.

> if anything you do get an allergic, hyper-analytical observation on posts as comments that seem offensive but that's simply how some nerds are (I say this in both jest and pride)

You seem to be invested in excusing horrible behavior because "that's how X is." No, that's how X is now, and excusing poisonous behavior (including, as it happens, Zed's) is tacit encouragement thereof. There is a powerful need to make the world not be the that you feel compelled to excuse. if we're going to have a healthy future, and if you're a decent person it falls upon you to speak up and refuse the broken, mean status quo in which we continually simmer. You may not have asked for the nomination, but you cannot refuse it--for it is vital to be good in the face of small evils as well as in the face of large ones.

Excusing common reprehensibility because it is common is complicity. Don't do that.

Good point. I commend you. Thanks. I'll try to do better.

I try not to use shortcuts like this, but I'm always very wary of vitriolic posts that address the founder of a site with "Dear <first name>", thanks to Something Awful: http://www.somethingawful.com/news/annotated-dear-richard/ It's happened so many times over there that it became cliche, as that post indicates.

> I mean fuck man we all know HN “hackers” flat refuse to buy anything except porn, lube, and prosthetic dildos to compensate for their teeny tiny weenies.

I feel slandered. Should I write a post and threaten the OP to cause millions of damages to him until he closes his blog?

Judging from his previous rants, Zed tends to overreact to things and blow out of proportion. Idiot commentors are everywhere, you don't just shutdown the community because of that. Other than that seems like a great guy.

Don't forget that celebrity can work both ways -- positive and negative. Just saying it is hard to tell if someone is overreacting without more information.

Does this guy understand that HN is user-submitted content? It's like reading complaints from an old-man the first time he uses the Internet and comes across something offensive.

Yes, I'm pretty sure that zedshaw, who has been an HN user for much longer than you have, understands how it works. Now why don't you try reading the piece under the assumption that he isn't a moron?

I read the piece with the assumption that he is smart (because I heard everyone praising his Learn X The Hard Way series). The end result made me revisit that assumption.

Well the other conclusion that you have to come to is that he thinks he should not be allowed to be criticized on the Internet, which is pretty naive. The same thing could happen on reddit, 4chan, etc.

Well as long as we're setting the bar so high...

But it's so long. /s

Even on user-contributed sites, such as this one, there are admins who have the ability, and in many cases, have demonstrated the ability, to control the content. Besides that, the concept of the Hive Mind tends to keep the content that floats up consistent. I imagine an anti-YC piece that wasn't written by someone as prolific as Zed would have a lot of trouble getting to the top.

I worry about Zed. He's obviously a very bright guy, a very helpful guy, and a very productive guy. But, he also seems to be dealing with a lot of pain.

It's true that the Internet hate machine focuses on Zed a lot more often than many in his position (as he notes, he isn't powerful, he isn't wealthy, he is merely nerd famous), and I'm uncomfortable with that and don't support that. I like to see the hate machine directed exclusively at powerful, or at least evil, people. Someone like Zed, as we can see from his response, can be genuinely hurt by it. And, that's unfortunate. He doesn't deserve to experience this pain, regardless of how angry or upset his tone or approach can make some folks feel.

That said, Zed's not doing himself or anyone else any favors with public meltdowns like this (this is not the first, though it may be the worst). I don't believe HN is anywhere near the worst offender, with regard to personal attacks and similar being tolerated. In fact, I can't think of a site that is more pro-active about excising personal attacks. However, sometimes there is a bit of a blind spot when personal attacks are directed at someone "famous". I don't remember any of the negative posts Zed is talking about; and I've been using HN since very early, and far more regularly than is healthy. I don't know what he's talking about; what he describes is a massive, orchestrated effort to defame and insult Zed Shaw, with many participants.

I don't know how I could be so completely oblivious to something on such a scale. So, one of us is imagining the scale of the problem. It is either vanishingly small (compared to other sites with user content), as I see it, or it is the predominant tone of the site, as Zed sees it. It really can't be both. Since the reality of the site I see is so very different from the reality of the site Zed sees, I find it hard to be sympathetic to his plea for reform. I want to be sympathetic, and I don't want to deny Zed's lived experience. But, reading what he's written and making that fit into my own reality of HN just isn't working.

Finally, the tone of this rant is so far beyond acceptable that I'm even less inclined to sympathy or empathy. What he accuses HN, and pg, of doing (that I'm really finding hard to believe without references), he is actively doing in this rant. This is an attack on every HN user, in addition to pg. I'm not particularly bothered by it; I've been on the Internet a long time, and I don't take any of this shit personally. And, I imagine pg is not terribly bothered by it (and he can wipe any tears away with one of his hundreds of millions of dollars). But, Zed is definitely making it personal.

I have never wished Zed anything other than the best. But, this rant does make me think maybe both he and I would be happier if he took a break from the Internet for a while.

And, on that note, have I just completely missed seemingly years of sustained and intense Zed hatred on HN or is Zed imagining that it is far more pervasive than it really is?

Something about penises?

Seriously, that's an impressive number of phallic references. Something on your mind?

"Man who feels he is subject of slanderous ad hominem attack decides to retaliate with baseless ad hominem attacks, more at 11..."

I only know of Zed because of HN. I'm aware that there are controversies about him, but overall I have a positive impression of him.

Just goes to show that other people probably don't think as much about oneself as oneself is prone to think.

wait, he's upset cause something got posted to HN? why is he upset with Paul? That's like someone getting the shits with Gutenberg because a newspaper printed something.

It's more like being mad at the owner of a particular newspaper for allowing/turning a blind eye to/actively encouraging certain kinds of content to be printed in said newspaper.

Your analogy would fit if Zed was directing his post at the creator of the "online forum" in general.

ahh good point.

I still don't understand HN's algo. The current 1st post has 301 points in 7 hrs while this post has 301 points in 3 hours but is in the second page ??

Posts like this get massive upvotes but they also get massive flags. The upvotes make the post go up and the flags make it go down. That's what happened here.

My guess is that it's being flagged (see the current top comment)

Zed, after reading this (and reading a few of your other posts) I can't help but be drawn to the honesty you put into your writing and the honesty you put out into the world. I really value that in a person. Though conversely, I can't help but feel that I'd take your advice with a grain of salt (which I think is healthy for almost EVERY piece of advice...but more-so with yours).

Do things. Tell people. Ignore the hate.

I know it's hard. There are people out there who will make you regret ever making/doing something and sharing it with the community.

Like my dawg Kanye West said, "...usually when you're the absolute best, you get hated on the most.'

Is HN a thing that can be abusive? This is a serious question. Don't say yes or no yet.

As far as I understand it: people are abusive. Places, or groups, can only allow for abuse, perhaps systematically, but cannot abuse anyone by themselves. On the other hand, places, or groups, can prevent abuse themselves. (I'll get to that in a moment.)

In this case, specific people choose to act badly toward Mr. Shaw, anonymously. I would think they would continue to do this in a different venue, if their ability to do it on HN were removed. (By stating this, I'm trying to short-circuit all the talk of whether HN is a place that incentivizes or disincentivizes such talk by banning people, etc. In the end, it doesn't seem to matter if such talk is discouraged on HN; the talk will still be generated somewhere else, and will percolate around the internet until it reaches Mr. Shaw all the same.)

On the other hand, HN could help Zed figure out who is anonymously slandering him. HN could put him in touch with these people. They would probably stop after even a plain small-talk conversation, due to having generated even a shred of empathy for the man.

But is this HN's responsibility? Maybe! Right now HN is just barely moderated at all, and even that's a step up from when it was pg's hobby that he had no time for.

HN would be a very different place if it was trying to behave in a "role model" fashion toward the tech community. Maybe you'd have to tie your (long-lived, active) Facebook/LinkedIn profile to your (thus forced-to-be-unique) account, which the mods would then see even though you'd then get a choice of pseudonym. Maybe "throwaway accounts" would only be a temporary privilege granted by asking a mod to make one for you in an exceptional circumstance, and only exist within one post-thread. Etc.

I can certainly see ways in which HN could be systematically less tolerant of abusive behavior—trying to stop it at the source, rather than just making it go somewhere else. But is this a fight YC wants to fight?

I could see this ending with HN being handed over to its own community under some foundation, because YC doesn't want to take responsibility for shepherding the tech community in the way I'm talking about. I could also see YC think that doing exactly what I said above would be a great PR move. What I can't see is HN being shut down: if it was, everyone here would just flock to another place (Lobste.rs?) and continue to be the same community.

"Is HN a thing that can be abusive?"

Absolutely. In the past I've watched karma burn as much as 30/40 points drop because I made some point that isn't what was expected. That's not the real problem. The real problem is the stream of stupid non helpful and nasty comments.

"HN would be a very different place if it was trying to behave in a "role model" fashion toward the tech community."

Suggested this but what I've realised there is absolutely no way this will happen. THe site has its origin in one person and translated into code where the only metric is an UP or DOWN vote. What that vote means has drifted as the site has added users over the years.

"What I can't see is HN being shut down"

It will just become irrelevant.

The real abuse is what happens beyond the walls of this forum. HN has an outsized influence on the startup culture in San Francisco and the tech community across the world. People read things here and it affects how they view the technology they use and the people they interact with.

"HN has an outsized influence on the startup culture in San Francisco and the tech community across the world."

Difficult to tease apart HN and YC. From the outside HN may look like YC but isn't. Agree though. Didn't use to be like this. Nobody cared.

I'd argue that HN and YC used to be a lot more fused in the past than they are today.

I think you've answered your own question, tbh.

A site becomes abusive by tolerating abusers. If someone really has it in for zed or pg or whomever, they'll find a way to say it. HN could be more moderated/less tolerant of abuse/disallow throwaways, and those people will just go elsewhere and continue to say what they want.

Personally I think zed is wanting to throw the baby out with the bath water, but that's easy for me to say because I'm not the one getting abused by that video.

> HN could be more moderated/less tolerant of abuse/disallow throwaways, and those people will just go elsewhere and continue to say what they want.

Not necessarily true. Imagine, specifically, if HN acted in a "honeypot vigilante" manner: allowing these people to think they're getting away with it, and then privately finding them and doing things to them (sending defamation suits?) that have the effect of stopping them from trolling anywhere ever again.

Ever since he (Zed) was a complete asshole to Bagder (of cURL) I can't take him serious. He is just an abusive asshole with some sort of superiority complex. I would link to the conversation but it was on twitter (so probably gone by now).

I think rather alot of people like Zed Shaw and step to his defence.

Might we be making the mistake of confusing neglect for malice?

"I would notice that about once every 6 months this video would get posted, and then the HN crowd would call me the worst shit ever."

That's a problem.

" I hate abusive fucks, and right now HN is so abusive and out of control that someone has to do something about it."

also a problem.

" I keep a low profile professionally, and personally because of HN."

Another problem.

"It’s now causing more damage than good, and a simple curated news site without comments or with only YC companies commenting is a better option."

Good solution.

HN really has been dropping in civility. The post quality seems ok and new is broken and can be improved (contact Dan if you have any good ideas) [0]

As for me, when I read about @Zed, a prolific hacker who gives so much away, being pissed-off enough to write this I think I'll spend less time here.

[0] https://news.ycombinator.com/user?id=DanBC

Don't contact me! I have nothing to do with HN. I just post a lot. Contact the other Dan, dang, who is a mod and can implement ideas.

ossreality, FYI you're hellbanned. All of your comments are dead.

Did you read the comments? It's pretty obvious why.

Who's Paul?

Sad to see this downvoted, because Paul's full name is never mentioned in the article and someone who is using HN mainly as a news aggregator and doesn't know the full extent of YC probably never heard of Paul Graham in the first place. Get your shit together HN people.

I think that's a good litmus test to see how new you are on HN.

Paul Graham (YC founder/I think he wrote the initial iteration of HN?)

Paul Graham

I'm surprised he didn't get worked up to the point where he challenged any particular HN poster to a fight, or just any hater HN regular in general. He got close on some occasions, but never all the way.

Lets look at some of Zed Shaw's comments.

I hate abusive fucks, and right now HN is so abusive and out of control that someone has to do something about it.

I've just looked at his blog and it is full of insults and slurs about other people.

He's a hypocrite.

Currently the most popular way to slander someone on HN is to create a “throwaway” or “anon” account, say what you want, then slink off into the shadows like a weak limp dicked little loser.

I mean fuck man we all know HN “hackers” flat refuse to buy anything except porn, lube, and prosthetic dildos to compensate for their teeny tiny weenies.

Is it that your balls are so incredibly dirty that you periodically need to have a bunch of grown men come slob away at your scrotum every demo day?

Would I have to cost you millions before you decided it wasn’t worth it to run a shitty 1990s forum site just to listen to a bunch of grown men complain about another grown man’s choice of hobby while they jerk their tiny puds at fake tits MILF porn?

He loves to be macho and call people names.

You may be chuckling now, but I’d like to point out that one of the reasons most of your moronic baby penis followers hate me is because I wiped out epic amounts of Ruby on Rails with one blog post full of truth.

I also have two books that bring in more traffic in a month than probably all the traffic your bottom 80% startups bring in during a whole year.

What if I started offering to advise new coders, the millions I teach a year (yes, millions Paul) to avoid all of your company’s startups?

He's a narcissist.

I’m not physically afraid of the idiots there. I bet most of them start breathing hard when their fingers break 100WPM on their fancy “hacker” sticker coated MacBooks.

From another post of his: I’ll add one more thing to the people reading this: I mean business when I say I’ll take anyone on who wants to fight me. You think you can take me, I’ll pay to rent a boxing ring and beat your fucking ass legally. Remember that I’ve studied enough martial arts to be deadly even though I’m old, and I don’t give a fuck if I kick your mother fucking ass or you kick mine. You don’t like what I’ve said, then write something in reply but fuck you if you think you’re gonna talk to me like you can hurt me.

I’ll never be afraid of some pilsner fresh fat fuck who eats donut hamburgers and only gets exercise when he plays World of Warcraft on a DDR pad.

He's a thug.

Because after 7 years of abuse I’ve had to adjust my life around the raving fucking idiots on HN and the rampant abusive shit they say.

That would happen in any community he participated in.


I don't know why people like a person like this. He seems to be poison to most people around him. A person who will beat you into disability if you say anything that doesn't support him or you look at him the wrong way.

He may have written some things that are moderately popular, but still his behavior is harmful. A murderer does not get excused because of the work they do.

So I still don't get it. Why do people like him?

This post actually does cross the line into being a personal attack. We don't need character assassination attempts in this thread or any other.

> Currently the most popular way to slander someone on HN is to create a “throwaway” or “anon” account, say what you want, then slink off into the shadows like a weak limp dicked little loser

> undescended nerd testicles

> your balls are so incredibly dirty

> their tiny puds

> your moronic baby penis followers

> their teeny tiny weenies

> men with tiny little mosquito penises

Well, from the horse's mouth: http://i.ytimg.com/vi/zMZZPiJrBo0/maxresdefault.jpg

This article speaks at the heart of online bullying and how mediums such as HN promote it even without being aware of it it seems.

I am quite saddened that persons such as jacquesm[1] who are otherwise respectful individuals want to shove a fist in the mouth of persons who have been victims of bullying (such as he does on this thread).

And this post has disappeared from the front page in less than an hour. I am disappointed by the HN community reaction.

[1] https://news.ycombinator.com/user?id=jacquesm

Since you feel the need to address me by name:

I think you're mistaken about my intent, besides, calling Zed the 'victim of bullying' is in a way humorous given that Zed has personally driven a couple of good contributors away from HN.

I don't think leaving this post up does Zed any favours, it shows him as caustic, uncivil and downright hostile. For a professional that translates into 'hiring risk', and that's something Zed probably does not need more of.

Feel free to be disappointed but my memory regarding Zed's interaction with others on HN is definitely not lacking in resolution.

Zed is a fantastically productive programmer that is super sensitive to criticism of any kind and will come out swinging with all manner of insults whenever he perceives one of the conspiracies against him (for which I have yet to see proof), and this blog post is a nice example of that. It's a pity that Zed feels the need to periodically tear down the reputation he's building for himself but that seems to be his nature, this is just a re-run.

Maybe I spent to much time on 4chan. As in, any time at all. But, I was more than a bit moved when I heard moot claim "People deserve a place to be wrong."

I believe that arguing is a tremendously important and valuable activity. So much so that I'd argue that even tired old arguments with idiots and assholes are worth revisiting occasionally because sometimes, on rare and special occasions, idiots/assholes have something to teach you. Not nearly as often as they like to think. But, sometimes.

Usually they don't. Usually their arguments are ill-formed, confusing, irritating, a bit scary, pretty-surely not worth the emotional investment required to confront. But, if you don't occasionally perform a genuine check on your assumption that the assholes are also idiots, you shouldn't continue to confidently move forward acting on that assumption.

I think that HN is incredibly valuable. I think it still has a fine mixture of inspirational and questionable criticism. Not a homogeneous, consistent, reliable mix, but a fine mix nonetheless. But also, not a mix that is effortlessly self-sustaining, certainly.

And so, even though I disagree with him, I'd like to thank Zed for making the personal expenditure to call out HN on some of it's bullshit. He's on the receiving end of more criticism than most. Whether that criticism is inspirational or questionable is a good question... Either way, although that's a downside that should be expected from his, let's say, 'unusual' and highly public style, expected doesn't mean easy. I certainly have no idea.

So, thanks anyway Zed, you magnificent asshole, for checking your assumption. Here's hoping you find it in you to continue checking until you learn something.

Guidelines | FAQ | Lists | API | Security | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact