It's also a great deal friendlier place than this one
My experience has been the the opposite, I stopped contributing to user forum based sites after I left /. and did not do so for a long time. I read HN for a while before deciding that it was home, and it was, because in my perception, there was a lot less "I'm the smartest guy in the room" conversations. Take that with a grain of salt though, because it has been a long long time since I have been over there. Things almost assuredly have changed since then. Has anyone else had the same positive impression of the exchanges over there? Most the posts I see on the subject tend to complain that there is still a lot of it going on.
HN seems to have a different set of values. While there's less tolerance for jokes and culture references for the sake of culture references, HN tends to house a lot of intellectually frank discussion that a lot of other sites discourage.
A good example is this post from several weeks ago on the subject of denying blood donations from donors with a history of male-to-male sexual contact: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=3237895 It's very fact-centric, to the exclusion of any sort of pandering or apology. When I read this post several weeks ago, I immediately thought, "this would never fly on reddit; people would quickly downvote it for being 'insensitive' or similar."
This also reminded me of PG's essay "Persuade xor Discover." http://www.paulgraham.com/discover.html HN users seem to care less about "persuasion," which can lead to perceptions of "unfriendliness" because things aren't written to please people. However, it does lead to a lot of interesting discussion that couldn't take place on a site more concerned with being "nice."
There's probably more bravado but I tend not to notice it, in the sense that the brain tunes out noise. However, I find that different from the active downvoting of (what in real-life would be considered) the niceties of conversation.
E.g. I don't think I've ever been downvoted on slashdot but if I did it would be for spam or hate, not a "thanks."
OK I get you, I guess it is all in personal comforts, I personally don't suffer tech bravado well, I have run across that arch-type in real life too may times and it has always made (for me) getting good ideas done difficult to impossible. To the extent that when confronted with it, too many times, I will disengage, whether it be a site or a project/job/activity. I have come to understand that it is born out of stubborn ignorance and that it cannot be, or I do not have the capacity to, navigate around it, I therefore choose to not engage it.
On the flip side I can see where legitimate comments getting down-voted could be taken as rude, the ones I hate to see are new people asking legitimate questions and then getting dog-pilled into oblivion, but it is the nature of the site. I do wish there where less of the i don't agree, or my comfort does not like what you say down-votes but for me it is preferable to the "i'm always right" personality. I never really thought about viewing down-votes as rude, save for the occasions where it is evident that it is a group think dog-pile.
I still spend time on there (especially when I've overdosed on HN startup scene stories) and have had an account since 2000ish. Providing you filter no lower than level 4, I find it's still as good as it has ever been.
Right, I get the irony of trusting the guy that says the other guy is the guy. I just though, I either missed something and a few people would pipe up. It's not scientific sure but suffices for my, "well maybe it's him, filter"
K5 was interesting to me, and I actually was the one who negotiated an ad deal between Andover and Rusty to help him with money for the first couple years. K5 had very much the same feel as Everything2 which was the "other" site to Slashdot that the original krewe did. E2 still has a tight community with numerous marriages, people still talking. I think the problem with K5 is that become too self-referential, and ultimately people lost interest. That was the same thing with E2 -- while people for a time loved being part of the community at some point you have to start to do other things in life and the time commitment drops away.
The latter. I can testify to that. And if you look back at when Kevin Rose was doing the G4 stuff, there's an interview with Rob where Kevin asks Rob what he would do different. Rob outlines basically Slashdot + user voting. A few months later, Digg comes out. True story.
What's been interesting to see is the gradual migration back from Digg & Reddit; not so much HN. But the issue tends to happen when sites begin to try and cover "everything" that you end up driving out the original and central audience.
I actually stopped visitng /. for awhile there when I found digg would cover stories almost immediately, only showing up on slashdot a day or two later. But once digg got too popular their promotion system clearly broke down (not to mention the awful awful 'community', and I've been back to /. (and later HN) since
I actually like the slightly slower, curated speed of 10-15 posts a day, spaced out a bit, instead of a constant churn of thousands of things. Although, with HN you can get an algorithmic approximation of that via HN Daily. The main thing that's still missing is the "why you should care" blurb that's Slashdot's signature: not just a link, but a link with something about why it's being linked in the first place. I find titles to be a bit too cryptic for my tastes, and the use of only titles tends to promote linkbait titles.
It was; Neil and I actually talked about that at one point. Our first email exchange ran something along the lines of me saying my (then baby) first born had a Sandman mobile above her crib; Neil's reply "And my son's home page is Slashdot"
The moderation system is one of the things Rob and I are most proud of. We set out to make a system that would allow for anonymous postings while avoiding it turning into Usenet. I think, with some hiccups, we largely succeeded. We also took careful steps to make sure that we get anonymized all the data; all the IPs and subnets are hashed, so even we can't go back and find the real IP while still having something to work with.
You guys did great! Nothing in the world even comes close to /. moderation.
Reddit is a prime example of a simple karma system going off the deep end. Instead of reinforcing good behavior, the trend is now that a substantial majority of the community competes for karma score. The noise level has increased sharply over the previous years such that the "popular reddits" are now in the same domain as Digg or 4chan. (Thankfully subreddits such as proggit are still an excellent source of information.)
I think karma works here at HN because it is a hidden score (to avoid the Reddit scenario) and the community heavily discourages low-quality posts. In a sense it relies directly on the userbase mentality and could easily be negated by a change in demographics. (Hopefully we maintain a high signal:noise ratio...)
/. meta moderation rewards users for moderating "correctly" and it doesn't consider the sum input of all users. It's not something that every community could or should adopt, but it certainly seems to have prevented a large fluctuation in community quality for well over a decade. It's also really awesome that comments are not just quantitatively scored, but also have qualitative tags.
Both you and Rob have effected the evolution of the Web as well as how we consume our news in more ways than we'll ever know.
>I think karma works here at HN because it is a hidden score (to avoid the Reddit scenario)
That's only recently been the case, and the majority of the HN community still seems to be against it. If anything I've noticed more low-quality comments that haven't been downvoted lately, but that could easily, as you suggest, be a result of changing demographics and not connected with hidden karma. Unfortunately, as any community grows larger there will be a lowering of overall quality, though the number of high-quality comments may remain the same. It's the perception of lower quality that drives away the best members, so a preponderance of low-quality comments obscuring a number of very good ones can have a disastrous feedback effect.
I recall reading that part of pg's decision to start HN was as an experiment in entropy-avoidance. To that end, he has never sought to grow HN's traffic beyond that which the community could absorb. Now that HN is constantly mentioned in blogs, techcrunch, on facebook and g+, that might not be a viable strategy anymore. I eagerly await the changes he has in store for HN.
As for reddit's karma system being broken: that's not the problem. It's the demographic. The karma system works great in subreddits with a good community, and terribly in some of the larger subreddits with more of a 4chan/facebook crowd. Determining visibility by voting is only a problem when the voters are idiots. Also, as much as the HN community (many of them current and former redditors) may decry the devolution of reddit's overall quality, we really aren't the target audience. Reddit is a business that makes money through growth, and the overall reduction in quality has coincided with a huge surge in popularity and profitability. That's no accident. We may not like it anymore, but that's not an indictment of their business model or strategy.
Absolutely spot on for Reddit. Don't get me wrong, it's amusing as hell, and the community is open about it's Karma-mongering, but still... basically broken from the point of view of intelligent, accurate, discussion. /. was always good in moderation and what gets posted.