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Recently there has been a dispute concerning whether discussion of mergers and acquisitions belongs in Lobsters. I believe it doesn’t, so I propose explicitly adopting such policy.

Here is a suggested wording. Add a new bullet point below “If no tags clearly apply to the story you are submitting, chances are it does not belong here” saying that:

Discussion of mergers and acquisitions does not belong here.


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    I almost always remove stories of mergers and acquisitions; you’ll see them in the modlog with a reason like “Removing business news” or “Removing business analysis”. I deliberately left up Microsoft acquiring GitHub because it was big news about an overwhelmingly popular tool. I would’ve removed this story if I’d noticed it, but I didn’t see it go by on IRC and only one user flagged it as off-topic so I didn’t spot it on the mod dashboard.

    Please do flag stories and comments when they’re wrong for the site or otherwise need mod attention. About 1% of get flagged and it’s enormously helpful that we see these quicker and can spend our time just on them. All of us have jobs that prefer we don’t spend all day refreshing /comments. (And on the flip side, please don’t flag stuff because you disagree with the author and want to punish them. You know who you are, and so do mods.)

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      I’m obviously in favor of this. My reasoning is:

      • Nobody who isn’t on the board of directors (so, basically no lobsters) have any say in whether or not a given M&A is going through–so, it isn’t actionable.
      • These things happen frequently enough every week for tech companies that any individual one isn’t particularly notable–so, it’s not unique.
      • All parties have a stake in publicizing the deal in hopes of gaining or assuaging investment–so, it isn’t unbiased.
      • Usually M&As are announced in a press release, and if you’ve read one you’ve read them all–so, it isn’t quality material.
      • Very little technology is discussed or learnings given in the announcements–so, it isn’t educational or enriching.

      Without going into the larger discussion of news, this particular type of topic I would suggest (and will lobby) is completely unsuitable for Lobsters.

      Our sister site barnacl.es has a solid business and practices slant, so these stories may be better for that audience. The orange site has numerous submissions every week talking about this, and people there seem to not complain. So, it’s not like there aren’t more establish places to discuss those things.

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        The entire time I’ve been here I’ve only noticed 1 or 2 stories that were about “our incredible journey”. Seems like a pretty low frequency to worry about.

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          There is a reason for that.

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            Ah, I should have realized there was a Maxwell’s demon somewhere fixing up the entropy.

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              Mostly I say “janitor” or “gardener” but maybe “stableboy” after a code of conduct thread.

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          I don’t know, I kinda think this is worthy of discussion. Sure, most people may not be super engaged in the details, but how many comments are actual facts and not experience working/participating in the field.

          Let’s assume I didn’t know F5 and 90% of 100 comments would be “they’re like Cisco, avoid at all cost” then that would be as much useful information as when we’re talking about software X with the same outcome.

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            Likewise the acquisition of Travis CI was in fact pretty interesting and actionable given that while it was technically an acquisition, it also entailed nearly killing the product.

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              I might be misremembering, but I think the layoffs were only announced 2-4 weeks after the acquisition news. Not sure anyone would’ve commented in the same .

              Point still stands, it was directly related and noteworthy.

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            I disagree with this blanket notion strongly. There’s a small group of users here frequently hammering that point home, always leading to this dispute.

            Business and technology are interwoven in complex ways and especially mergers and acquisitions have tremendous impact on products. I do actually enjoy some of the discussions coming out of the announcements and would hate to miss them.

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              I think the community flagging submissions as off-topic is enough to police this sort of content.

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                Agreed. This kind of thing is not why I joined Lobsters: I’m here for technical content.

                If such a post happens to also discuss technical assets in some depth, I do think it could be interesting, but that is rarely the case.

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                  I also agree with this notion. A website ostensibly concerned with programming isn’t affected much in a negative way by missing out on abstract product placement.

                  For that matter, while this is an interesting article, do we want people posting such an article every time a journalist writes one? Perhaps to help counteract such things, there could be, say, a heuristic that helps submissions authored by someone here, omitting obvious cases such as the meta tag; of course, I’m not aware if such a heuristic is already in place.

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                    There should be no middle ground here between clear top own control structure or community driven consensus.


                    { A benevolent dictator puts in place this system where either the community likes content and upvotes it, or it doesn’t and downvotes it. Individuals can filter content they don’t want to see with tags. People who regularly get strongly downvoted stop of their own accord or are kicked out if they keep posting stuff which the community is obviously not in favour of. The community controls the content, everything else is noise. A benevolent dictator or administrators/moderators step in in extreme cases. END }


                    { There is a benevolent dictator or some form of governance group which makes content decisions either with or without community engagement to make broad decisions to control content as they see fit. Individuals or the community can lobby this group but their decision is final. }

                    Asking the community to vote and comment on these decisions through meta is the worst of both worlds for several reasons:

                    • the community has already voted. In this case at time of writing the article in question is +16 -0, and @friendlysock’s comment is +8 with critical responses of +14 and +7.
                    • these conversations are unfacilitated - there is no one taking care of consulting the community as a whole and reasonably aggregating opinions, checking heated behaviour with emotional sensitivity and doing this with an eye on the stated vision/goals of the community as a whole. These conversations therefore have high risk of losing coherence and bad behaviour erupting.
                    • power dynamics, backroom conversations, stuff from IRC are not well integrated or transparent. (This is totally fine, though if there is a clear power dynamic where one or more people say ‘This is the way lobste.rs is, like it or lump it’). However it is not totally fine if there appears to be a transparent process or convention but actually this is highly influenced by opaque power dynamics.

                    My personal opinion is that this community is self-regulating fine, and either there are no serious issues or moderators are doing a great job of nipping them in the bud so they’re not too visible. People can complain, people can respond. If those forces are not too big and somewhat in balance, all parties should acknowledge the overall state of opinion and that there is no serious problem and/or no clear consensus on a change, and step down. +/- 10 in lobste.rs is not a big deal, and on the issue in question there definitely less than 10 difference between the sides of the argument. On this issue: go home, do something more useful, this thread is a gross mis-use of community time because all parties should be able to collectively see that there are two points of view which only a small number of people care about and are roughly in balance here: https://lobste.rs/s/f09zkw/nginx_join_f5#c_pmwuxn

                    Overall direction of a large community is very, very, very hard to do by consensus. If a dictator or a committee wants to shape the long term direction of the site by making small adjustments such as banning X content, then either that committee should just assume control through power dynamics and starts making calls as they see fit (quick, clear, painless for most, extremely painful for a few), or the community as a whole votes a governance group or a governance process into being (slow, painful for all once there are more than a handful of participants with high trust, requires clearly written rules, might never finish executing).

                    A good middle ground is to have a clear change process which is facilitated by a party who has been given the authority to run it, however if this doesn’t exist then bringing it into existence would be painful if done by consensus (because it requires itself to exist to bring it into existence).

                    Are we so afraid of slightly OT stuff existing in our database, or in people who may be interested in those topics sharing our virtual space?

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                      I waffled on this a bit but I think having a strong focus on technology itself and better-than-average discourse in the comments is what keeps me interested in this site. So I agree with keeping business and general-interest stories from cluttering up the feed.

                      The orange site has always been primarily about businesses around technology, so that’s where I would go for that kind of news, if I wanted it. I do drop by from time to time but lately it seems to be the new Slashdot… about 1/3 of the stories currently on the front page have nothing to do with technology. I’d hate to see Lobsters turn into the same thing.

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                        Practical consequence of this action would be that I would flag any such submissions without any self-doubt.

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                          This is a pretty big hammer for such a small nail. Alternatively, you can just express your personal preferences here both without self-doubt and without attempting to turn them into site-wide policy.

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                          I disagree on a blanket exclusion of business articles. The article in question didn’t spawn a useful discussion (say, how nginx positioned itself against F5 and why it was good at it) but the opportunity was there.

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                            More broadly, I’d be interested in either a policy against nontechnical content, or a convenient way to filter out every article without a solid technical slant. I have no problem with M&A articles that present more than a surface treatment of technical details, though I can’t think of any offhand.