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They have their own compiler for a custom VBScript derivative. If there's no C anywhere in it, I'd be surprised, but I am operating without knowledge of its implementation or output.

Edit: So what did I do wrong here? I admitted that I'm shooting in the dark, admitted that I'd be surprised if my hypothesis was true, and had absolutely no knowledge of who the person I'm replying to is. It's certainly not on his profile.

I put forth an incorrect assertion, a couple comments corrected me and I was happy to learn this insight, but my comment is already -1 because I'm what, not contributing to the conversation? Or because I was wrong? Do you have to vote on everything?

It's really interesting to me that HN whines daily about the decline in comment quality, then turns around and grays this comment. Decline of HN, indeed, downvote everyone unless they're correct or a valued member of the community. After yesterday's observations I figured I'd give it one last go, but now I just hope this community dies the hypocritical death it deserves.

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alexgartrell 1101 days ago | link

Ted worked at fog creek until very recently. He's also an OpenBSD contribiuter. I'm inclined to agree with his opinions regarding the relative value of C at fog creek.

I did an internship there but didnt ever look directly at wasabi. I know that it's not really in active development (only FogBugz even uses it) though so even if K&R hacked it up themselves, I'd argue it's not really important there anymore.

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gecko 1101 days ago | link

There's no C in Wasabi; it's pure C#. That said, keep in mind that Wasabi's only purpose in life is as a compatibility shim so that we weren't forced to rewrite FogBugz from scratch. No products other than FogBugz will ever be written in the language. Kiln, for example, is C#/Python/JavaScript.

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tedunangst 1101 days ago | link

I didn't downvote, nor do I think your comment deserved to be, but I'll point out one thing. Instead of asking a question about the language used, you made a statement. In effect, you asserted that I was wrong. You don't need to know someone's full background to give them the benefit of the doubt, especially if your own knowledge is limited. I admit to being guilty for doing the same, it's quite easy to dismiss faceless handles.

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grav1tas 1101 days ago | link

I'm not sure what's surprising about a compiler with no C in it. They're becoming much more common. I personally think C is an awful language to write a compiler in. One shouldn't be worrying about C's bookkeeping while also worrying about the bookkeeping a compiler requires.

Also, I think it's interesting when people use the word "interesting" when they probably really mean to use the word "annoying". If something really bugs you just say it bugs you.

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fractallyte 1101 days ago | link

A 'random drive-by downvoter' struck again... Not much thought involved in the action, and certainly nothing to contribute to the discussion. They feel good downvoting such an obvious 'troll', and then vanish into the ether.

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This isn't a C-specific problem; of course people are going to be more relaxed in their comfort zone. If you asked me to write a Web server in Python, I'd be a lot more relaxed about it than if you asked me to do the same in Forth. There's a reason nothing changed when he dropped C (what goes unsaid: is he putting C in the job description?).

Joel's observation about pointers is dead-on, but I've personally beat that horse on HN in the past and will spare everyone a greatest hits anthology.

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You're not the only one that feels that way. Sadly, the elitism implied by "wow, our community sucks now" is overlooked by everyone practicing it.

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jdp23 1102 days ago | link

Indeed. Even when people bring it up :-)

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This really bugs me. What defines mediocre to you? We're defining the problem in relatives. I mean, look at the exchange that just happened:

> Comments are getting worse.

>> What is worse?

> Comments are overwhelmingly mediocre.

So, I ask, what is mediocre?

Comments are the thoughts of human beings using your system, and there's no technological or psychological means to have any semblance of control over them. Their perceived quality is a direct reflection of the community you have. Any attempt to "fix" perceived quality is going to divide your community, and any disruption or improvement to the community is going to indirectly adjust perceived quality.

Just like none of us writes like Thomas Jefferson these days and a number of words have fallen out of favor, so has your community evolved and a new definition of "average comment" must be found. This is all a relative game, anyway; a comment that you call mediocre I might find to be a golden nugget of awesome, and why should my opinion matter any less?

As an aside, I wish I had a dollar for every suggested technological fix to the declining-comment problem. Based on how this thread is shaping up, I'd be doing better than my 401(k).

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epochwolf 1102 days ago | link

Example of a comment I find mediocre: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=2433896

It doesn't really add anything to the discussion. Snarky comments really don't belong here on HN and I've noticed a trend of them getting far more up votes than they used to.

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jedsmith 1102 days ago | link

Ah, but neither does yours!

Why does the mediocrity apply to the comment you're replying to, but not your own? Your comment is dripping with snark and someone called you on it (thankfully). I actually think your comment is shittier than the one you're replying to, because you put yourself on a pedestal of telling the rest of us what to do.

Was that comment at the top of the discussion before you snarked it to oblivion? Probably not. It was most likely already in the deep hell of very light gray, and your content-free comment just made it worse. Calling the kettle black, in my opinion.

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danssig 1101 days ago | link

And now you've just provided another snarky, content-free comment that consists of nothing but an attack. Further, it's longer (and therefor more intrusive) than the comment it addresses.

Can we please stop this silly fained-hypocrisy treasure hunt? There is certainly appeal to a game everyone can play, but it's a pointless waste of time. What exactly do you hope to achieve? A world where spammers and trolls say what ever they want and well meaning people just remain silent?

Sometimes the only way to stop immoral violence is with immoral violence.

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javert 1101 days ago | link

Actually, this is an example of a "mean" comment.

I think it was fine to say the guy's comment was "dripping with snark" (a specific criticism), but not that it was "shitty," and not that he was "telling the rest of us what to do."

I would call those bits "mean" because the amount of insult they add is disproportionate to the amount of content they have. In other words, it would have been worthwile (IMHO) to find a better way to say the same thing.

Now, the whole point is that who am I to say what's mean? And I agree, hence the proposal I made to allow people to "vote" on what's mean, and have a threshhold. I mean hell, different communities find different things to be unacceptable "mean," and that's fine.

"Mean" for a girl scout meeting and "mean" for the LKML are pretty different; I think HN should probably be somewhere in between.

And the point is, if HN becomes like the LKML, we're gonna enjoy it a lot less; that's why we want to limit meanness, not because we're big softies.

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brendano 1102 days ago | link

It's very reasonable to recognize quality.

I can distinctly remember several times the comments on an article were written by absolute experts in the material, full of insight and interesting content.

I could believe comments like those have become rarer.

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jedsmith 1102 days ago | link

That's your definition of quality, and I'm glad you shared it, but disheartened that you consider it the one true quality.

Reading your second sentence strictly, we can infer that to you, quality means (a) expert-level familiarity with a linked article, (b) insightful -- difficult to generalize because insight is different for different people, or (c) full of interesting content.

Of the three of those points, only one of them isn't dependent on the perspective, knowledge level, or interests of the reader. What is insightful to me might be common knowledge to you. What is insightful to you might be tediously stupid to me. What is interesting to you might be boring to me. On, and on, and on.

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brendano 1096 days ago | link

It's obvious there's no such thing as "true quality". But I am willing to value certain types of quality more than others.

I'm just expressing one vote that I agree with some peoples' consensus, that a particular type of quality of HN has decreased; and it's a type of quality that I value.

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That your last parenthetical is necessary to have an opinion about the direction here is telling, to say the least.

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What I haven't seen anybody acknowledge yet is that "critics" includes everyone who tiredly mourns comment quality. Everyone.

Depressingly, HN would rather front page an article about personal growth than admit that maybe, just maybe, all of this meta bitching is setting the tone. That's from the top down and I partially, and with respect, blame pg for carrying the flag of comments suck -- instead of taking an opportunity to turn common sentiment around.

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pg 1102 days ago | link

Meta posts and comments may be boring, but based on pretty close observation I don't think they're setting the tone. I fear it is nothing so exciting. The most likely explanation is simply that HN is reverting to the mean for forums.

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jedsmith 1102 days ago | link

Standing my ground.

Common sentiment is now comments are declining in quality. Wherever that came from, that's now parroted fairly often and is undoubtedly planted in the back of everybody's head as they go about their business. That cannibalizes some comments, because people now think "am I contributing to a decline?". That makes people more inclined to snark, to discourage others from adding to the decline. This is the exact sort of thing I watch happen all day long in the comments now.

Take one recent example. Someone quoted a highlight from a linked article because it was humorous, and you could have missed it[1]. They presented no original thought on it themselves, they simply quoted it verbatim. Some asshole came along and berated him for it, as if he'd committed some kind of grievous sin. The fact is, I enjoyed the quote in question, and I upvoted him because I'm glad somebody else noticed. Worse comments have happened, but now there's such a fixation with "quality" that people are starting to up the snark. Which adds to the very problem we're trying to fix. Look at that entire thread.

The rub is that rather than focus on opportunities for improving going forward, this community has an inane fascination with returning to the way things were. Your thread was too late, I'm afraid, as the negativity has accelerated any decline that exists.

You're dead-on; HN is reverting to the mean. This navelgazing lament about the times that were is setting the pace for the future evolution of HN, though. The high-karma users have spent so much time wondering how to get back to the past -- a now completely unattainable goal due to growth, I'm sorry -- that there has been immeasurable lost opportunity on focusing on where to go from here.

I'm not sure that technological improvements are going to fix it, either. Even if the negative trend is as pronounced as believed (and I don't think it is), acknowledging it and spending countless comments focusing on it has cost precious time in reversing it.

Rather than embracing the inevitable evolution, understanding it, and finding ways to make the evolution more positive, we've established blood-curdling fear at the mere prospect of evolution. Now, that glacial evolution is sliding along on a trail of fear instead of a trail of positive outlook.

[1]: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=2437486

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jdp23 1102 days ago | link

> Someone quoted a highlight from a linked article because it was humorous, and you could have missed it....

I may well the guy you're talking about who was berated and then downvoted -- even though two others besides you had posted that they liked my comment. And when I replied to the post that berated me, I was once again downvoted. At least one comment has been deleted but it's still a pretty interesting snapshot of what the mood is on HN these days http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=2437225

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jedsmith 1102 days ago | link

Thank you. I looked for it and couldn't find it, and actually did mean yours.

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jdp23 1102 days ago | link

ooops, yes, that's what I meant to link to. Thanks -- and thanks for mentioning it!

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icey 1102 days ago | link

If it helps - people complain, then they leave. You won't have to endure it much longer, I'm sure.

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jedsmith 1102 days ago | link

Your comment is ironic given the comment that you started with.

I am speaking from the perspective of improving HN, so I'm startled (should I be?) to find that the first reply is an admitting that the community will eventually split apart.

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sgift 1101 days ago | link

From my experience (which was as a developer of a browser game) this is not true. People who complain are people who care. And people who care will stay. People who really want to go will not complain. They will stop contributing and go without much fanfare.

In the end you stay with all the complainers, but none of the non-complainers. This is a real risk for a community. (In the case of the game it was 'simple' to fix this: change the game. It is far harder for something like HN)

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redthrowaway 1102 days ago | link

Since you posted your thread asking the community for suggestions, I've been mulling over an idea that I'd now like to share.

I think jed is right; the navel-gazing is part of the problem and the more meta-discussion occurs the lower overall quality gets. This belief is informed by my experiences on a variety of fora, and is not HN-specific. Tackling the problem then, should occur in a way that doesn't draw attention to the fact that there is one, but fixes it silently in the background. This is partly why I like hidden karma scores; they (in theory) reduce groupthink and handwringing about karma.

My suggestion is this: pick a few dozen people who you think are good contributors, and write a quick script to dump their voting patterns. Take a look at how they're voting, and choose some number whose votes you think best represent what you'd like HN to be. Then make those people a class of superusers, but do so invisibly. Neither they nor the rest of HN should know they've been tapped.

I envision the superusers as being vote accelerators. Their votes would not only confer the typical +/- 1 karma, but would tag the comment they voted on. An up-tagged comment would gain, say, 2 karma for every upvote, and a down-tagged one would lose 3 for every downvote. Those values are provisional and arbitrary, and should be changed. Tags could stack or cancel each other out, but that's something else that should be experimented with.

If the superuser scheme seems to be having a positive effect, consider making it viral. That is, if some receives, say, 200 positively tagged comments, they too become superusers. Again, that constant should be chosen carefully. The idea behind making superuserdom viral is that it scales automatically (given a wisely chosen threshold), and offers insurance against decreased contribution from the original set of superusers.

Karma can be a very effective way of cultivating the kind of interactions the community desires, but can also lead to gaming and groupthink. By increasing the value of trusted users' votes, but keeping that mechanism hidden, I believe you should be able to maximize karma's benefits while minimizing its drawbacks.

Anyway, I apologize if this post is off-topic or should be addressed elsewhere. I figured a meta-thread was as good a place as any to introduce it.

I also wanted to say in postscript that although HN may be suffering the growth pangs of any forum, it still offers far better discussion than most sites I've found, so the doomsday-ery is perhaps premature.

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frossie 1101 days ago | link

Then make those people a class of superusers, but do so invisibly.

That actually reminds me of the metacritic scheme. IIRC they take reviews and then (a) translate them into a numeric score according to some method they don't tell you about and (b) weigh each critic by a different weight, of which they don't tell you about.

So your idea is not only interesting, it is probably workable.

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If you have a day job, look for the problems that your day job has to solve. Undoubtedly, these problems will be echoed at other companies like yours (and maybe even not like yours), and you have an opportunity there. You might have even been able to work on solving the problem, so you already have a leg up when you generalize it for others by knowing what to expect.

I'm practicing this at the company I work for, and I have many ideas. Be cautious about legality, here, and don't get too specific with how your employer solved the problem, just use the tactic to identify the problems.

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ASCII key, from the source: http://pastebin.com/raw.php?i=RFeUcdXd

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peterwwillis 1103 days ago | link

The whole source: http://pastebin.com/raw.php?i=mXVK93sY (edit: updated with 0.03)

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jameshl 1103 days ago | link

Already out of date - 0.03 fixes IPv6. Please, get it from the site (if it hasn't been Slashdotted or something yet :/)

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peterwwillis 1103 days ago | link

The first time I tried it was slashdotted so I pastebin'd. Thank you for your work!

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It's dead, Jim!

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spicyj 1104 days ago | link

"Now that the AirTunes private key is known, it could allow for 3rd party software to act like AirTunes devices. If this for example would be implemented in XBMC, Plex, Boxee etc you could send audio from your IOS device straight to XBMC using IOS built-in Airplay support."

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duncanj 1103 days ago | link

Can someone explain to me why this comment was deaded?

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PascalW 1103 days ago | link

I'd like to know this as well.

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Botulinum, I'd guess (among natural toxins). A casual Google seems to indicate I'm right.

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sliverstorm 1103 days ago | link

Yup. 10x more toxic than palytoxin.

And we inject it in ourselves voluntarily.

Humans are such funny creatures.

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delackner 1103 days ago | link

There is a poisonous dosage of ALL chemicals. H2O among them. The question is, is there a dosage of botulism that has a therapeutic effect?

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ojbyrne 1094 days ago | link

Botulinum toxin type A is known as "Botox." It has some therapeutic uses, but mostly cosmetic ones.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Botulinum_toxin

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