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So I am no longer commenting on HN due to ridiculous censorship, but sometimes people will submit stories associated with the work I do, and today one of these stories was censored from the front page for no obvious reason I could discern.

This got me wondering what other content gets censored from the front page? During a walk today I had a brilliant (I think) idea for a website that will expose that sort of censorship live as it happens (and for more nuanced censorship it will accept user-submitted content).

Would anyone be interested in developing such a website with me? I’ve registered a fairly kick-ass domain for it: hnuncensored.com ^_^


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    http://hnrankings.info/ is useful for monitoring a story’s ranking, such as when it sharply falls off the front page (e.g., http://hnrankings.info/11213071/)

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      Nifty, thanks! Another useful link where someone analyzed the application of penalties (ironically the post was itself penalized).

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      I would much rather see Lobsters find its own way (which it already does quite nicely) than focus my attention on these kinds of things. I’m not fond of HN either, but it’s their site, they can do whatever they want, and I’ve always figured that that’s what they do. So, what goal would this have anyway other than exposure? Change how they ‘censor’? Or just watch the drama unfold?

      You know, you could also just turn your back at HN and leave it at that.

      In general I just don’t like this “us vs them” thing on Lobste.rs in relation to HN. And I think that stuff like this “let’s expose them” idea is not making Lobsters more attractive either. HN is full of useful content and useless content. Great people and douchebags. Fair and unfair moderation. I think that on Lobste.rs this is different, because it’s way more friendly, constructive and on topic. Please don’t turn this place into an ex-HN refugee shelter. It’ll ruin more than the good it will bring.

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        I totally agree. Well put.

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          So, what goal would this have anyway other than exposure? Change how they ‘censor’? Or just watch the drama unfold?

          I’ve been rather clear about that, and it has nothing to do with what you are saying. Your comment is one giant straw man.

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            Instead of ‘goal’ maybe I should have said ‘effect’. I am not questioning your intentions either, I think you mean well. These things just tend to attract bad vibes and hostility.

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              Again, I’ve been quite clear on the purpose, and it’s not to generate any bad vibes or hostility (HN is taking care of that by itself).

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          It sounds like it would be an interesting service in general, not just specifically for HN.

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            newsdiffs.org is already doing something related, for major newspapers. Of course forums are a different scenario that need different kinds of tracking, and it would indeed be interesting.

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            I’m usually weary of people crying “censorship”, but HN moderation is pretty well known to have an agenda (which is also the reason why I do think that moderation should be very cautious about policing the content here, as some call for).

            It’s especially not unusual that posts by well know critics of the ecosystems and persons that HN revolves around are kicked of the front pages.

            Such transparency efforts also have quite some upsides: I love following twitter accounts that for example document when state IPs change the wikipedia or politicians delete tweets. My takeaway from them is that most of the changes are very, very reasonable and politicians usually delete tweets for typos :).

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              What am I looking at? You’re not providing any comparison, nor any evidence that anything other than users downvoting/flagging is happening. And twitter doesn’t exactly have a great record on censorship, so it seems a poor place for this kind of effort.

              I am perhaps interested. What is it that you want help with, and what parts can you do yourself? I mean if the offer is “build the software for me, I’ve registered the domain” obv. I’m less interested :P.

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                Though the first paragraph reads a bit off-topic to me (what does twitter have to do with this?), I’ll reply to the great questions you asked at the end:

                I am perhaps interested. What is it that you want help with, and what parts can you do yourself?

                Great to hear you’re possibly interested! I’m looking for help with development, for although I do have extensive coding experience I have too many other projects on my plate to do the bulk of the code. I can work on the design of the system, the censorship-detection algorithm, defending against cat & mouse games, and if necessary, setting up & maintaining the server. You can see my credentials and expertise here. My contact info is on that site as well if you’re interested!

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                You could make a service which tracks and makes available the data which you’re supposing is going to show censorship.

                You could then use that to take a stab at understanding the ranking algorithm in use, and then identify outliers.

                Would be a bit less alarmist that way - in the very small amount of content you’ve provided I don’t see any proof or evidence of censorship. I would certainly not upvote your comments in that thread re. Mike Hearn and Bitcoin and depending on context and if I thought you were a troll I could see easily voters downvoting them enough to kill them, if that’s how their algorithm works. I don’t immediately see any clear case to cry ‘censorship!’.

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                  I don’t see any proof or evidence of censorship.

                  Then either I have failed in clarity, or you don’t understand what censorship is, or you’ve failed to read all the links in this thread.

                  The first link points to comments that gave accurate, relevant, on-topic info about Mike Hearn (feel free to read this if you are not up-to-speed on his doings), and yet the comments were hidden by mods, radically changing the meaning of the thread. Furthermore I was permanently shadow-banned for posting said accurate info.

                  The second link you did not mention, but since you say you haven’t seen “any proof or evidence of censorship” I will elaborate on it as well. In that second link is proof and evidence of a post that should have gone to the front page but didn’t. Whether this was due to moderator action or a voting ring of people who hit the “flag” link (I’ve heard one theory that some VCs might have been upset by the, again, accurate info in the post), I do not know, but nevertheless I am curious what other accurate information has been prevented from hitting the front page, or, after hitting the front page, taken down.

                  That brings us to the other links in this thread that you also, for some reason, did not mention, that contain “proof or evidence of censorship”, like this one. I invite you to read the link and explore the proof and evidence of censorship therein. ^_^

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                  It’s worth saying that other online communities with some kind of communal voting mechanism and responsible admins have both a published explicit agenda and an implicit agenda which is the sum total of the subjective expectations and curation abilities of the users. This includes lobste.rs!

                  Accepting that these explicit or implicit agendas exist, and attempting to live inside them or challenge them respectfully is a good way for online community peacefulness. The alternative is suffering that most aggravating of Internet afflictions: getting butthurt.

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                    Not only is my blog (now mostly defunct, because fuck tech) pretty much banned on HN, but I’ve had people involved with Y Combinator go out of their way to damage my reputation and career. Paul Graham thought that a 2013 blog post was in reference to him (it wasn’t) and went apeshit, and his attack dogs (esp. Gackle, Buchheit) still have a hard-on for me three years later. There was some drama about that last fall, when they extorted Quora (YC Summer 2014) into banning me.

                    I’m definitely interested in taking these slimeballs down a notch. That said, I’m skeptical that you’d be able to get anyone to care. Hacker News’s moderation is political, corrupt, and self-serving in the extreme, but most people already know that. Over the past 6 months, they’ve also been involved in policing the reputations of their companies and their people on other YC-backed social media sites (e.g. Quora). They seem to have no ethical qualms about any of this, and it goes far beyond Hacker News (where they can afford to be flagrant, because it’s a private website and they can legally censor whatever they want).

                    Everyone who matters in tech already knows that Y Combinator is a cancer (for reasons that go far beyond Hacker News idiocy) but, unfortunately, that doesn’t stop them from being successful. I’ve had five or six real VCs (not kiddie-pool players like the YC partners) tell me that they would love to see Y Combinator go down for good, and maybe it will.

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                      Wow, thanks for sharing that!

                      That said, I’m skeptical that you’d be able to get anyone to care.

                      As I tried to make clear, this is not about making anyone care, but rather it’s about finding out what is getting censored. That okTurtles post that got censored is quite significant (that is not a brag, you’ll have to read it to understand what I mean), and I want to know what other important content gets censored because someone (doesn’t necessarily have to be the mods even), doesn’t want people to hear about it.

                      I would consider such an X-rated HN site a useful source of information in of itself, just as I find Lobsters a useful source of information, and I think others would too.

                      Clearly there are many gems to be discovered.

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                        There’s a lot of other stuff going on in HN rankings. People who are judged “inconvenient” to YC’s economic interests are put on so-called “slowban” (the site becomes annoyingly slow, with 10-15 second latencies) and “rankban” (your posts automatically fall to the bottom no matter how many upvotes they get) and “detachban” (which came around after I left).

                        It’s a corrupt, mismanaged site from a corrupt, evil company (YC, if that wasn’t utterly clear) that I hope will die in a taint fire when the bubble pops.

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                          Add to that list personalized bubbles (maybe): I was chatting with a very well known, highly influential figure, and this person was seeing different content, but only while logged into their account! A post most people saw as #5 on the front page was for them #77 (on page 3)! They said they could see the post at #5, but only via Chrome’s Incognito.

                          Sure, maybe something else could explain that discrepancy, but I’m not sure what it would be. Perhaps some weird database eventual consistency thing? It’s usually what people mention when “weird” things like that start happening. OTOH if your site’s database behaves in a way that’s identical to censorship, maybe get a better database?

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                      There are probably a great many more useful ways of spending your time than wasting cycles showing HN moderation policies not working in your favor–sometimes, the rankings just don’t work out.

                      Speaking as somebody who has spent a lot of time being angry at people on the internet: just move on.

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                        What the fuck?

                        That’s pretty bloody ridiculous. I’m sorry about that.