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    Why Lobste.rs Is Better Than Hacker News culture meta kevq.uk
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    Interesting, but I feel it could have stopped at “it’s smaller”. That’s the overwhelming difference IMO.

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      And I think they address that by bringing up the invite system which will naturally limit the growth of the site.

      There was an HN comment on this that, I think, rightfully called out the downside of this that you don’t get as many random domain experts adding meaningful comments that get sorted to the top by voting.

      I would still prefer the smaller, more civil community and hope we can invite domain experts and the like over time.

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        Agreed. Having a smaller community doesn’t mean it has to have the same composition of people, “just fewer of them”.

        I think Lobsters has done extraordinarily well in attracting domain experts while keeping out the valley-style surveillance capitalist blockchain AI expert “investors”. Let’s keep it that way!

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          Not to mention that Lobsters discourages any non-tech posts, especially the culture war related ones.

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            True.

            Reading some stuff on HN felt like a weird civil war between the I-got-my-economy-degree-from-Ayn-Rand camp and the I’m-continously-looking-for-reasons-to-be-offended-and-I’ll-make-it-your-problem camp, whose only common nominator was their despise of the poor, the weak and the people not living in SV; usually caused by some silly clickbait non-tech article that would never have gotten posted on Lobsters.

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              This entire article is naval-gazing meta nonsense that I’ve flagged as off-topic and yet it’s still at the top of the front page. So I’m not sure you’re correct.

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                I don’t disagree, but we do have the meta tag.

                As long as we can avoid descending into a self-congratulatory circlejerk I think there could be some benefit to it.

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                  At least its only one category and I think it’s an acceptable “necessary evil”. I filter it out in my feed and just search “tag:meta” every so often to see what’s going on in the meta.

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            I think it’s also important there’s a way to get invites without knowing people but it requires a small amount of effort and knowledge of irc.

            If it was purely invite only, that would be a big limitation by having only a friends of friends effect.

            What I liked the most about the internet when I joined is because there was a “proof of work” required, the population tended toward people with some sort of shared mindset. I like that, but don’t want to be arbitrarily difficult.

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              I think the biggest downside of the invite system is how much it limits access to anyone who doesn’t have a low Erdos number to the guy who founded the site. The note to show up in the chat room is a vital second route.

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                rightfully called out the downside of this that you don’t get as many random domain experts adding meaningful comments that get sorted to the top by voting.

                If like those, put an email address or site with contact form into your profile. They sometimes contact me about Lobsters comments that way. That’s a mix of some that I saw on HN and some that don’t post on either.

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              I like how several people have marked this story as off-topic. That’s what makes this site different and I love it. Carry on.

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                It’s amusing how the same post on Hackernews got flag killed.

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                  This submission has 18 flags too ;)

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                    And that’s great, because it’s transparent – unlike basically anything associated with HN ranking/moderation/criticism/…

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                      Transparency gets exploited, on a site of HN’s scale and value.

                      One of the things I like about Lobsters.

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                        Scaling is failing.

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                          How would you choose a preferred size for a community? Or more specifically: Lobsters has been growing pretty consistently for years, how do you call the top?

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                            IMO we passed it around the time when the autogenerated icons stopped being a useful way to identify who was posting.

                            The people are all great, but something is lost when you have enough of them to make a “website” instead of a “community”.

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                        Absolutely. I mentioned moderator transparency in another comment, and this is related (user action transparency). I also appreciate that when someone wishes to downvote my comment, I can see the reasons chosen.

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                    I’m happy it’s being voted off-topic, though I’m certain there are users on both sites who agree that comparing different cultures is unproductive at best and antagonistic at worst.

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                    Tangential: I have recently had my articles featured on the front page of Lobsters and HN within hours of each other. Not the same article, so it’s not an apples-to-apples comparison, but:

                    • It’s very hard for a HN post to get noticed. New posts linger in /newest (frequented by relatively few people) for about half an hour before falling down to the second page, and you need to be lucky enough to receive enough upvotes in that timeframe to hit the front page. Lobsters’ “success rate” appears to be higher.

                    • In terms of traffic, I got about 11K hits from unique IPs from HN and about 1.7K from Lobsters.

                    • I like that Lobsters clearly indicates when a submission is authored by its submitter.

                    Overall, both communities are great. I’ve only been here for a couple months, but I’ve been enjoying the experience so far. So thank you!

                    [I’ve posted the mostly same comment on HN]

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                      Very similar experience to my own - both are great sites, but Lobsters feels like more of a community to me.

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                      One thing I like about HN is that it has a broader scope; there are often many interesting non-IT related articles, although the broader scope is both an advantage and disadvantage.

                      Tildes might be a good compliment to Lobsters for that, although it’s still very young. I’ve got a bunch of invites if people want them.

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                        I like this about hn too. It’s fine for lobsters to be a place solely devoted to computer technology, but I’m happy to read hacker news articles that “gratify one’s intellectual curiosity” without necessarily being computing related.

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                          Yup, for being “tag driven” lobsters is surely narrow. Seems like wasted opportunity of having a more open and flexible platform. I was disappointed to find out that tags were basically crossposts.

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                            Having a narrower platform has its benefits. Reddit and 4chan have a lot of openness and flexibility, but a decidedly different culture.

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                              The platform is available; depending on design that tweak may be as little as a few hours of work.

                              This community, however, succeeds in large part because it is narrow. Look at Reddit 13 years ago today: it was a programming community with thoughtful sidelines into history, science, and even politics. Today I can only describe it as lowest-common-denominator pop culture, mostly images and video that can be fully consumed and understood in a few seconds.

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                                I mean is lobsters narrow by design or because there aren’t many people here? I’d argue the later.

                                It has always been the case of numbers for reddit and many other forums. Moderating critical mass is the challenge and I don’t see how Lobsters addresses that. I was under impression tags were the proposed solution but it doesn’t seem to be any different from subreddits other than you can add multiple tags instead of one subreddit.

                                Personally I think that dynamic tags with tag subscriptions is the way to do this. Diaspora kinda nailed the design in that regard but unfortunately failed in many others.

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                                  Lobsters is narrow by design. The about page has always included that focus in its first sentence, and always included:

                                  [Tagging] keeps the site on-topic by only allowing a predefined list of tags. These tags represent what most of the users of the site want to read, so content that does not fit into any of those categories should not be submitted.

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                                    That’s a bit of a stretch isn’t it. It’s identical to suvreddits - it’s just now you can have 3 from limited selection instead of 1 from very big selection. It doesn’t make anything narrow just limited.

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                                Laarc had some great articles but didn’t take off. The experiment did show how it might look to have a HN-like site with a small community, more open tagging, and better search capabilities. Check its design out.

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                                I’d love to have an invitation, my email is jussi at protonmail.com - thanks!

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                                  There are a bunch of comments on HN about why this submission hit the front page and then left the front page. People are arguing over whether it was users flagging it, or because it had more comments than up-votes, or moderator action. A minute ago it was marked [flagged], now it’s not.

                                  Something I really like about lobste.rs is that there is a moderation log. It is just much more honest and transparent, and it shows more respect for the user base.

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                                    This comment is hilarious:

                                    And HN is arguably better for not being invite-only.

                                    I never felt accepted over at HN. Many of my comments eventually would get shadowbanned for no known reason. They also tend to ignore my requests through email.

                                    Lobsters on the other hand is simple, and I had no trouble getting an invite and participating here without any undocumented moderation censorships happening behind my back.

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                                    OK, there’s our quota of stories about how great we are out of the way for the 2020s. See you all in the thirties.

                                    EDIT: Longer version: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=22156438

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                                      What are some other reasons folks prefer us to the orange site?

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                                        This isn’t an “other” reason, but I like most that there is some level of explanation required on downvotes. I think this makes people more willing to engage even if they might be a little more controversial (the invite-only policy helps control the really wacky stuff). That said, I think there are some users who equate “I disagree with” with “incorrect,” which I disagree with and is incorrect. I’ve always had the policy that I simply won’t upvote something I think is wrong; I’ll only downvote something I know is wrong.

                                        Aside from that, though, it’s really the high S:N that keeps me coming back. I’ll glance at Orange now and then but I’m not even logged in anymore most of the time.

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                                          I agree with you - it’s a great idea but I wish it wasn’t so in your face. There are many bullshit down votes on lobsters and they still have huge negative connections event hough they are clearly wrong. Take a look at this submission as a prime example.

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                                            Not everyone agrees on correct and incorrect. Things that may appear obvious to you and things that may appear obvious to someone else can be completely different. If you’re getting a lot of incorrect votes, and you think you’re unambiguously correct, perhaps there’s room for a discussion for either you to learn a valuable new lesson or for them. Either way a incorrect downvote is probably better than a flamewar.

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                                              I haven’t participated in many “flame wars” on lobsters. I don’t generally find that to be the character of discourse here.

                                              Clearly that mechanism works for you, and it’s in the code, so more power to you and in future when I find myself thinking “whiskey tango foxtrot?” about an Incorrect in a case where assigning factual incorrectness seems impossible to me, I’ll politely message in hopes of getting a clue :)

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                                            Totally agree. This post is the first I’ve ever voted off topic on here. I think people are WAAAY too fast & loose with Troll, Incorrect, etc.

                                            However that’s a very small quibble in an otherwise great big pile of satisfaction I have around this place :)

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                                              The incorrect flag is often the alternative to a unnecessary discussion without meaningful resolution :). While I get that some people want to duke it out (myself included), it often just clogs up the comments.

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                                                I don’t agree. I see it being used in cases where factual correctness would be nearly impossible to determine. When it’s used to call out an actual factual inaccuracy I’m all for it, but sometimes I think people use it as a passive agressive “I think your comment is full of crap” signalling mechanism, and I’m not wild about that.

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                                                  Is that better than a 30 post argument back and forth where neither are satisfied because the outcome is probably not fully knowable?

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                                                    I don’t personally have that problem very often. Once in a while I fail to catch myself, but I try to take it to private message when the back and forth counter starts to tick up.

                                                    I suppose I could and should do the same with the incorrect thing as well.

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                                              I have a downvote on one of my comments which is expressing an opinion, and the reason for a downvote was “incorrect”. There’s no way for me to contest or countermoderate, so I will disregard the voting system entirely. Downvotes feel the same as reddit.

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                                              Mainly for me it is the technical signal:noise here is much better than on HN. While I appreciate the industry relevance of stories about such-and-such company’s IPO, or such-and-such CEO’s being fired, it’s not what I go to a tech aggregator to read. I prefer the densely concentrated technical content of lobste.rs to the broad mix of HN.

                                              Not to mention the comments… reading HN comments is usually painful, while the comments here are insightful and civil.

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                                                There’s a few extra features here that go a long way, but not too many that it pollutes the main features. These extras go along way for me

                                                • reply notifications
                                                • preview
                                                • messaging
                                                • sane formatting
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                                                  I’ll add messaging can help keep down the site noise, too. I might use a message if it’s a compliment or something I’m pretty sure only benefits the person I’m replying to.

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                                                  What are some other reasons folks prefer us to the orange site?

                                                  I can easily quote the previous reply in a readable way. I appreciate that HN predates Markdown, but some more formatting would be very helpful. Might seem like a small thing, but writing on HN can be somewhat annoying.

                                                  Also, stories tend to perform more consistently here than on HN (example). On HN it’s a bit of a gamble, the same story can get 1 upvote or 400; you never know.

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                                                    I appreciate that HN predates Markdown

                                                    Markdown dates to 2004; HN launched in 2007.

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                                                      https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=1 : October 9th, 2006.

                                                      Still postdates Markdown, but Markdown took some time to be adopted (as arp242 says).

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                                                        Oh, I thought HN was older. It still predates Markdown’s ubiquity.

                                                      2. [Comment from banned user removed]

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                                                          I get where you’re going but I think you’ve confused the destination with the vehicle :)

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                                                            I’m just saying that there’s not really any excuse for HN to not render comments nicely except that they don’t want to. For what it’s worth, not rendering quotes nicely probably discourages people from doing that reddit-style quote-every-paragraph-and-respond-to-them-individually trolling where people nitpick individual points instead of addressing someone’s overall message. At least in theory. In practice people use code blocks to quote which is so, so much worse.

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                                                        Transparent moderation.

                                                        Edit - related to the above, a semi-clear feeling for what’s on-topic. I, for one, am happy not to see random Wikipedia articles submitted.

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                                                          I have exactly zero interest in, and thus tolerance for, articles about ‘founders’ and startup culture that have exactly zero technical content.

                                                          I don’t see myself ever starting a company, and if I ever do I’m not convinced keeping up with HN is the path to success I’d choose.

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                                                            Reply notifications.

                                                            Means you can have a conversation.

                                                            Hack news tends to invite twitter style snarks rather than engagement.

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                                                              HN is often too corporate which I hadn’t seen it happen on lobsters yet. Many threads devolve to IPOs and silicon Valley cringy corporate cultures.

                                                              I’m not sure how exactly lobsters discourage it so it might be just because we’re too small.

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                                                                People mentioned community feel. I’ll add specific example of the “What are you doing/reading/etc?” threads where people just show up, talk about themselves, support each other, and sometimes connect in interesting ways. It has a sort of small town or neighborhood feel. Hacker News is so big that their Show or Ask threads are like reading a survey of a city’s worth of people. The latter is also why you’ll see more opportunities, though.

                                                                Different strengths and weaknesses.

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                                                                  I prefer it because the articles are more on topic to programming and development. As for a second reason, I find that people tend to be more civil here. I’m personally a fan of heavy handed moderation around aggressive or troll-like interactions , even if sometimes I get hit with it myself as it keeps the discussion interesting and productive.

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                                                                  No (less) politics and virtue signaling.

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                                                                    Both sites have in common an unwillingness on the part of many commenters to think seriously about the impact on our fellow humans of the things we build. Which some people tend to dismiss as “politics” (or, at least, dismiss when the people being impacted aren’t them or their friends/family).

                                                                    Which is sad, because considering those things is incredibly important. Even mundane everyday things can have unforeseen impacts; when I give talks about Unicode, for example, I make sure to mention that poor normalization, storage, and comparison of string data can have severe impacts on people. In some places it can even get someone’s right to vote revoked, or result in them being incarcerated!

                                                                    Yet many people outright refuse to engage with that, and it’s generally only accepted on sites like this if it’s presented obliquely in ways that don’t really explain the importance or confront people with the effects (say, in one of those contextless “falsehoods programmers believe” articles that tells you something is wrong, but not why it’s wrong, what impact it will have, or how to get it right).

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                                                                      Politics is important and nobody disputes that, but it also is the best known way to cause acrimony. In an ideal world we could discuss politics here but it’s just too likely to ruin lobsters imo

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                                                                        I’ve flagged your response here as unkind because it assumes the worst of your fellow posters.

                                                                        The degree to which your fellow users are thinking about the impact of the things they build and the degree to which they are willing to discuss those thoughts in public are orthogonal.

                                                                        On this site we have lost some serious thinkers who have decided the conversations they engaged in weren’t worth it, and we’ve had a good number of people who will happily chime in on anything without giving a sign of thorough forethought. Please do not conflate these two things, and certainly please do not pretend to know the minds of your colleagues beyond what they’ve expressed.

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                                                                          The degree to which your fellow users are thinking about the impact of the things they build and the degree to which they are willing to discuss those thoughts in public are orthogonal.

                                                                          And yet it is usually quite easy to see whether or how someone thinks about such issues. For example, if their response to someone mentioning that kind of impact is to roll their eyes (or textual equivalent) while lamenting that someone felt the need to bring politics into the discussion. Or if they stake out ground by pre-emptively insulting anyone who might care about such issues – say, by hinting that it must all or mostly be “virtue signaling” (a term which by definition implies that the person so labelled is dishonest).

                                                                          Meanwhile, if some person failed to consider the impact of their choices on, say, performance or maintainability or testability, I doubt many users here would feel much sympathy if that person complained that others kept asking pointed questions about those issues. And if such a person were to leave the site because they had decided it was not “worth it” to stick around when they know those issues will be brought up as a routine matter, I of course do not know of my own knowledge, but I certainly do wonder, whether you would be willing to describe such a person as a “serious thinker” the site had “lost”.

                                                                          So I shall say it plainly: I would like to live in a world where we consider, at every stage, the impact of our work on our fellow humans, and treat it as just as much an essential part of quality programming as we currently consider thinking about performance, maintainability, and so on. I would like to see pointed questions asked about, say, how a project will ensure accessibility, protect its users’ privacy, prevent or at least mitigate common patterns of abuse. Yet those are all frowned on, for some reason, as not being part of the process of building technology; instead, they are subspecies of that mysterious animal called “politics”, which apparently can be an afterthought, if indeed thought about at all.

                                                                          I also would like to live in a world where it is not automatically considered “unkind” to suggest that these issues should be considered and that programmers should have good working knowledge of them, and where it is discouraged to assume immediately and without evidence that a person advocating such a position gives no “sign of thorough forethought”. In light of which, I have to inform you that I have flagged your comment, and I respectfully request that you not repeat this behavior.

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                                                                            but I certainly do wonder, whether you would be willing to describe such a person as a “serious thinker” the site had “lost”.

                                                                            They exist. They’re usually in the category of people who care about people, politics, etc but need a break. They want a space to relax delving deeply into interesting problems in tech or whatever. Then, they fight battles else where.

                                                                            That was my category when I voted tech only for this site whose front page was almost entirely tech only at the time, including from pro-politics people. For a while, the consistent exception was @adsouza with interesting articles focused on people.

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                                                                              I didn’t flag you for suggesting that the issues be considered. I flagged you for saying that nobody does consider them, in effect defaming them.

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                                                                                You should also flag the original poster for labeling many people as virtue signalers. The label also implies that many people don’t consider the issues, that they merely feign consideration for social power. I agree the idea that not talking about politics doesn’t mean you don’t care is completely true. Equally though talking about politics does not mean you’re some robot hoping to exploit others emotions for power. Ultimately in real life, it’s hard to know when someone is or is not merely feigning interest in a topic. It is nonetheless still important for us to extend generosity to at least our fellow lobsters until proven otherwise. While I agree that not EVERY post should be a political discussion, I also think it’s also reasonable that some posts warrant a discussion. If some discussion appears like flamebait, such as claiming your peers are sociopaths hoping to exploit others for social power, perhaps we could start by moderating that instead of the downstream responses.

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                                                                            Most threads wanting Lobsters to be political just talk about it in general terms. +1 for your two links since I can actually use them to do good.

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                                                                            Proclaiming one’s detachment and disinterest in politics is a virtue signal.

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                                                                              For me that’s a problem. I mean, hackernews is a right-wing shithole and I prefer no politics to that kind of “well, if you’re poor, it’s your fault. Start a start-up like I did” but still, Lobste.rs feel extremely restrictive in that sense, like we all have to pretend that what we talk about has no strong political implications and ideological roots. Especially when people discuss open-source projects management pretending it’s some kind of special bubble with unique dynamics and it’s tooootally not like politics.

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                                                                                That is interesting, because for me and some of my friends HN is pretty far to the left.

                                                                                Anyway, I’m one of those people who avoid politics at all costs and have zero interest in having a political discussion. From this point of view I don’t understand why you want to mege politics with technical problems. I mean, what are the political implications of using SHA1 in Git commits?

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                                                                                  Intentionally using SHA1 today, now that it’s been fully broken, would make individual developers less secure, but specifically in a way that only a very well-resourced attacker could take advantage of. So, effectively, a minor power transfer from the people to governments and corporations. Git itself was specifically written, by Linus Torvalds, in part for the purpose of transferring power just a little bit in the other direction. I know this concern may seem exaggerated, and I don’t raise it because I think it should be a major consideration in anyone’s mind, but it is a real consideration that we shouldn’t let ourselves forget.

                                                                                  Technology is inherently political because the purpose of technology is to empower the people who use it. Everything we do as technologists is political.

                                                                                  The choice to avoid topics that are perceived as political is, itself, a political choice. It may be the right choice for a given community, but it is not a neutral one.

                                                                                  The above is purely my personal opinion, not my opinion as a moderator. Since this is my first comment on this thread, and it may be my only one, I want to say that I’m incredibly proud of how carefully everyone has been discussing this topic. I haven’t seen the need to intervene in it, and that makes me really happy.

                                                                                  (Edit: I accidentally wrote “Linux Torvalds”. :))

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                                                                                    I don’t know whether ‘left’ is the right term for the accepted political climate at Hacker News but I do see what you mean. The herd mentality and, dare I use a Swedish term, “åsiktskorridor” (range of acceptable opinions, those who dare to venture outside get ostracised) was actually one of the factors which drove me from there to here. Another factor is the glorification of the startup culture, the place feels a bit like a fraternity at a cross between a business school and a technical institute where members vie to “make their first MVP before 20” instead of their first $million. Sometimes it feels like the domain should be hacquerrenews instead of the current for the boutique mega-karma ‘hackers’ which roam the place. Other times the subjects and surrounding discussion is intelligent, open and interesting so I do have HN in my feed just like I have Lobsters - I never use the front page of either site.

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                                                                                      I don’t know whether ‘left’ is the right term for the accepted political climate at Hacker News but I do see what you mean.

                                                                                      I think HN has a very libertarian, laissez-faire bent as regards politics and the economy. In the US, those characteristics tend to be identified with the political right.

                                                                                      a Swedish term, “åsiktskorridor” (range of acceptable opinions, those who dare to venture outside get ostracised)

                                                                                      A similar concept exists in English (at least, American English), and it wouldn’t surprise me if you had already heard the term: the Overton window, although I think it tends to be applied more frequently to political discourse specifically.

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                                                                                        I don’t know whether ‘left’ is the right term for the accepted political climate at Hacker News

                                                                                        IDW would be a better term. It is predominantly left, and some are right.

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                                                                                          It is predominantly left,

                                                                                          From the linked Wikipedia page:

                                                                                          According to Weiss, individuals associated with the intellectual dark web, in addition to Eric and Bret Weinstein, include Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Sam Harris, Heather Heying, Claire Lehmann, Douglas Murray, Maajid Nawaz, Jordan Peterson, Joe Rogan, Dave Rubin, Ben Shapiro, Lindsay Shepherd, Michael Shermer, Debra W. Soh, and Christina Hoff Sommers.[1]

                                                                                          Most of these names a predominantly conservative.

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                                                                                            The IDW is reportedly composed of a majority of liberals and some fairly mainstream conservatives.

                                                                                            It is composed principally of Sam Harris (liberal, Democrat), Eric Weinstein (liberal, Democrat), Bret Weinstein (liberal, Democrat), Maajid Nawaz (liberal, former Liberal Democrat candidate), Jordan Peterson (arguably conservative), Ben Shapiro (textbook mainstream conservative Republican), Joe Rogan (liberal), and Dave Rubin (former left-winger, now libertarian or arguably mildly conservative).

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                                                                                              You’ve left out half the list from the Wikipedia entry.

                                                                                              Here are those people, along with quotes from their Wikipedia pages

                                                                                              Ayaan Hirsi Ali is a Fellow with the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, a Fellow with the Future of Diplomacy Project at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at The Harvard Kennedy School, a visiting scholar at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, D.C., and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.

                                                                                              [Bret] Weinstein describes himself as a political progressive and left-libertarian.

                                                                                              Christina Marie Hoff Sommers (born September 28, 1950) is an American author and philosopher. Specializing in ethics, she is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. Sommers is known for her critique of contemporary feminism.

                                                                                              Claire Lehmann (née Jensen, born 18 July 1985) is an Australian journalist and the founding editor of Quillette.

                                                                                              Debra W. Soh has written articles for Quillette, The Globe and Mail, New York Magazine, Playboy, Los Angeles Times, and The Wall Street Journal.[4] She began hosting Quillette’s Wrongspeak podcast with Jonathan Kay in May 2018.[2] Soh describes herself as a former feminist who later became disillusioned with the term.

                                                                                              Douglas Kear Murray (born 16 July 1979)[1] is a British conservative author, journalist and political commentator. […] He is the author of Neoconservatism: Why We Need It (2005), Bloody Sunday: Truths, Lies and the Saville Inquiry (2011) about the Bloody Sunday Inquiry, The Strange Death of Europe: Immigration, Identity, Islam (2017), and The Madness of Crowds: Gender, Race and Identity.

                                                                                              Heather Heying is married to Bret Weinstein

                                                                                              Politically, Michael Shermer has described himself as a lifelong libertarian.

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                                                                                                I’m only saying that IDW (Quillette included) is not “predominantly conservative”. And being libertarian is not the same as being conservative either. Your sample does not really contradict that.

                                                                                                You’ll find that most members of IDW are left-leaning (liberal or left-libertarian), with some leaning the other way (conservative or right-libertarian).

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                                                                                                  You’re apparently prepared to fight for this very weird hill. I will leave you to it.

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                                                                                                    I think the solution is to call them Left and see if they get mad at you. Having personally interfaced with plenty of HN people, they for the most part do not enjoy the characterization as left, liberal, or socialist. Some of them do, sure, but they are in my experience the minority, not the majority. This is not a criticism or condemnation of HN, or people on HN, it’s merely a matter of fact observation.

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                                                                                            This might be relatively accurate when it comes to putting people in those silly “left” and “right” boxes but elsewhere the comparison fails. While parts of the HN and IDW domains overlap I do notice some significant discrepancies, often related to things which violate “political correctness”. The IDW domain by and large shuns this by a far larger margin than the HN domain.

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                                                                                          I mean, what are the political implications of using SHA1 in Git commits?

                                                                                          This is a bit of a strawman. The fact that there are topics that have no evident political consequences doesn’t mean it’s the norm.

                                                                                          HN is pretty far to the left

                                                                                          They are liberal (in the American sense) in the best case and far to the right in the worst. This, in most of the world, is right wing. Yeah, the Americans have a very skewed political spectrum and here I’m not using their system of reference but a more global one. Asserting any kind of opinion that would be mildly progressive in Europe or Southern America earns you unconditioned downvotes. “What do you mean that programmers should unionize? Everybody knowns that unions are bad. Am I right bros? Let’s go to play nerfs that today we have to ship this disruptive software and we won’t go home before 11 pm”

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                                                                                            This is not my experience at all, I have seen plenty of comments which propose something along those lines get high upvotes and many positive comments. You won’t get those when you start off the discussion by quoting Marx and Engels but that is no more than logical at a place like HN - or, for that matter, Lobsters.

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                                                                                              A small group of people who hold very left opinions affect the median, but not the mean. In my experience I am a left leaning individual and I have found no such haven on HN, save for a very small very vocal minority. While I don’t view the audience at Lobsters particularly left leaning (which is fine, I don’t need an echo chamber), I also don’t find them to be as belligerent about right wing talking points.The fact that HN is not a left wing site really makes sense because the culture on HN is somewhat centered around well, start ups. Start ups are not typically bastions of left thought. We’ll see liberal start ups hoping to make money solving some social inequality or ecological problem, but I’ve yet to see actual left wing articles hold much if any traction.

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                                                                                          I think you’re blurring lines a bit. While it is true that almost all human activity is permeated with politics and power relations, there are definitely completely apolitical topics and discussions to be had. This might sound contradictory, but nuance is required. “Mathematics” as a whole is a human activity, there is a community in which power relations exist, and mathematicians can gather to discuss those. But they can also choose to suspend discussions relating to people and focus on concepts, like, say, two students discussing commutative rings or whatever.

                                                                                          Once we’ve established this fundamental difference (that not everything relates to social matters), which I hope you won’t deny, it’s now an open question of what kinds of discussions we should be having. Barring value judgements for now, there simply exists a logical possibility for a community to be overwhelmingly dedicated to one kind of discussion: for example, a forum where programmers primarily discuss politics pertaining to the programming community and the IT sector. Another possibility is a site where we primarily discuss the non-social, purely-technical aspects of our work. There can also be a mixture of both (HN, for better or worse, is an example of that, even if the politics are extremely one-sided as you note).

                                                                                          Now comes the time for the normative stuff: what kind of community should lobste.rs be? Ironically, this meta discussion is political in itself. You say it should be moved more in the direction of a mixture.

                                                                                          Personally, I disagree, it should remain focused on the tech side of things. I’m selfish in this regard and I won’t really attempt to give a universal justification: I just want a place where we don’t talk about politics. I feel like that’s the majority opinion here.

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                                                                                            dang temporarily suspended me on HN during their no-politics “detox” week, because I flagged a few dozen front-page posts and provided explanations of how they were political or had political implications.

                                                                                            (I have since voluntarily stopped participating on, or even reading, HN, though I do read and usually enjoy the weekly n-gate summaries)

                                                                                            But that was a way of pointing out there are no “apolitical” topics. There are only, at most, discussions in which participants have agreed to deliberately ignore any political implications.

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                                                                                              I’ve had this discussion many times here and I’ve seen your point in the past. While I agree that a safe space where programmers can discuss purely technical topics is not a problem in itself, the boundary you talk about is not always so well defined.

                                                                                              You speak about discussing concepts, as if the creation and discussion of concepts isn’t itself dictated by social, economical and political elements. I’m fine with suspending the judgement on this reality until suspending the judgement prevents me to make a point that is technical in nature. In the IT, on topics of design and practices, we hold as true a lot of beliefs that go unquestioned and were created by a specific social structure, with specific economic interests and power dynamics. These can rarely be challenged if you restrict yourself to the box of beliefs that is “IT rehashed common-sense” and would require prohibitively extensive collection of empirical evidence to be disproven. These same beliefs could be more easily challenged by pointing to the interests of the managers that have pushed some kind of bullshit as “objective truth” or how an environment of a few thousand 30-something anti-social white male in the 60s and 70s produced the ideology in which these discussions take place. This includes the boundary you talk about.

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                                                                                              hackernews is a right-wing shithole

                                                                                              That’s not true. Many dead comments or slowbans were conservatives getting downvotes by PC liberals that dominated the thread. Myself included. There’s definitely a huge pile of liberals and capitalist types. I’m not sure how exactly given the moderation is opaque. They might just be going with the flow on votes on top of their own preferences.

                                                                                              There’s also lots of centrists/independents like me whose content doesn’t have a strong, voting correlation. I don’t think they’re a vocal or voting majority. Probably less cohesion among people who go issue by issue with less crowd voting. Sometimes I wish I could see the raw data behind the scenes to see what patterns are really there.

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                                                                                            In my case, I do not have an account on HN, but I do browse it often. When I find a particular topic I like, it is invariably posted here, and I come here for discussions. While I think the number of experts/well known people here seems to be much lesser than HN, the community seems more welcoming.

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                                                                                              It’s invite only

                                                                                              Interestingly, not 100% true. I registered without an invitation during the april 1st phpBB prank. I wonder how many other people did that, too…

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                                                                                                28, they appear in the invite tree as invited by me. If you click from your user profile to the invite tree it’s sorted temporally, so it’s the names directly above and below yours.

                                                                                                Four were banned within a month. Three of them were phpBB spambots (Google turned up their spam messages on real phpBB forums) and one was an aggressive content marketer who registered several sockpuppets to push his work to the front page. He was so delighted by the traffic that he pretended to be a new user seeking an invite on Twitter, created a new voting ring, was banned again for it, then repeated that process once.He tried unsuccessfully to convince me via Twitter DM that it was someone else’s fault, that he wouldn’t do it again, etc. but after a while accepted that he’d just get banned again and wandered off.

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                                                                                                  april 1st phpBB prank

                                                                                                  I never heard of this, do you have a link or can explain what it was? Would really appreciate it!

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                                                                                                    I think it was two years ago where as an April fools prank lobste.rs was re-themed into a phpBB board, and as it seems, it was possible to get free invites this way.

                                                                                                    Edit: Here’s a screenshot of how it looked like.

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                                                                                                      I really miss the days of proper forums instead of these threaded-upvote-downvote link aggregators and social media websites dominating.

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                                                                                                        We are actually running a political party on one of these: https://forum.pirati.cz/ :-D

                                                                                                        It’s not ideal, the threaded discussions tend to move the most frequent opinions upwards, which leads to a more proportional representation.

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                                                                                                        Ah, very cool! I thought they had added implemented some phpBB security flaw that let visitors escalate their privileges … :-)