1. 7

    And best of all, he’s documented it all in detailed blog posts and nearly 50 videos uploaded to YouTube, sharing what he’s learned for others who might follow in his footsteps.

    I actually worry about this. Andreas Kling (with Serenity), Handmade Hero, Bisqwit, etc. Lots of educational content that is in the hands of a single company.

    1. 0

      Did you also worry about blockbuster having all the movies??

      1. 3

        It’s not common, but I have heard multiple accounts of YouTube terminating channels, without warning. One was this morning.

        1. 2

          I actually don’t get your point from that … unless you’re implying that failure of YouTube / Google in the same vain as Blockbuster could lead to the permanent loss of content not stored elsewhere?

          1. 2

            I think the kind of cataclysm that would produce a situation where YouTube suddenly and without warning got completely deleted along with all of its backups would be the kind where a few channels getting deleted is the least of our worries. Maybe I’m just not forward-thinking enough but I have a hard time imagining any of us here outliving Alphabet without something comparable to the apocalypse happening.

            And to the top level comment, it’s not like YouTube owns the content in question. I seriously don’t understand the what the problem is supposed to be. YouTube is just a means of transmission for video content from creators to their viewers. It isn’t, uh, I don’t know, holding that content hostage or whatever is being implied. I’m not even sure what the alternative is supposed to be. Some sort of peer-to-peer decentralized thing where everyone holds some subset of the thousands of petabytes of content on YouTube and shares the load of streaming the exabytes of content people watch per year? There aren’t enough people with high speed internet (and who have the required storage) in the world for that to be feasible and if there were it’d experience incomparable downtimes and constant, massive data loss. Some kind of federated thing would require each instance to have funds that only Fortune 500 companies have, and massive amounts of content would be lost whenever one of these collapsed. I don’t get it.

          2. 1

            Blockbuster predates DMCA.

        1. 32

          This seems like an oversimplification, and an unreasonable one.

          This model is true if a dependency has a fixed benefit and a cost that scales linearly with the cost of your app. There probably are some dependencies that work that way, but I doubt it’s all, and I’m not even sure if it’s most. The author mentions just using jQuery, but comparing jQuery and React, both the costs and benefits of React scale with the size of the app.

          In other cases, building your own solution might be great when you’re small–you build a solution that works perfectly for your use case, and avoid the complexity of the dependency. But as you grow, you may find yourself wandering into increased complexity. If that happens, you can end up reimplementing the complexity of the dependency, but without the benefit of a community that has already solved some of those problems.

          A final issue with NIH is that it can impose a real cost when dealing with turnover and on-boarding new people. The tacit knowledge that current employees has is lost, and new employees will expect things to work like “standard” tools they’ve used elsewhere.

          …that was three somewhat pro-dependency paragraphs, but that’s not the whole picture either. The same dynamic that I’ve cited above can go in reverse. There have been times when my judgment is that depencies don’t pull their weight, but for the opposite reason the author thought–I didn’t think we’d be using enough functionality to justify it. Our version might not be as robust, but it would be 10-100x less code, perfectly match our use case, and we could adjust the functionality in a single commit.

          The real point isn’t to be pro or anti dependency, but to argue that you need to understand how the costs or benefits of any particular dependency will play out for your project.

          1. 5

            The tacit knowledge that current employees has is lost, and new employees will expect things to work like “standard” tools they’ve used elsewhere.

            You meant this part as pro-dependency, but I think it can work equally well for anti-dependency.

            “Standard” carries a lot of weight here, and assumes that the bespoke tool is harder to learn than the standard one. It also assumes that every current devs, and new ones, are proficient in the standard tool. But if that “standard” tool is React, or Angular, say, this often won’t be the case.

            I have personally seen all of React brought in to add a little bit of dynamic functionality to one part of one page. On a team where most people had never used React and about 50 lines of vanilla JS could have done the same job as the 50 lines of React did (and we ultimately did rewrite it to remove React).

            It’s not just about the tradeoff between “re-implementation cost” and “learning cost.” It’s about accurately measuring both. But ime the full costs of dependencies are rarely measured correctly. This failure is magnified by the programmer’s love of new toys, and the rationalizations they’ll make to satisfy it.

            1. 2

              The tacit knowledge that current employees has is lost, and new employees will expect things to work like “standard” tools they’ve used elsewhere.

              An organisation can try to do an industry scale inverse Conway’s maneuver by pushing its internal solution as a “standard.” When it works, the organisation reduces their cost of onboarding!

              1. 1

                After your first sentence, I was expecting a strong, non-nuanced opinion.

                But your comment is nicely nuanced and balanced and drills right to the root issue. Thanks!

                1. 1

                  As org gets big they have more money to consider inhouse solutions.

                  As for the inverse graph, would it apply to something like git or gcc? You got big enough the benefit of using gcc goes into the negative (or zero)?

                  1. 3

                    That may be true in isolation, but you need to factor in two other things: competition and opportunity cost. A company the size of Apple or Google could easily afford to create an in-house GCC competitor, but the money / engineer time spent doing that is money and time spent not doing something else. Apple was very explicit when they started investing in LLVM that they didn’t consider a compiler to be a competitive advantage. Their IDE tooling was, but a toolchain is just table stakes. By investing in an open solution that other companies are also putting money into, they benefit in two ways:

                    • They aren’t paying all of the costs (for a while, Apple was paying for over 50% of LLVM development, that’s dropped off now as others contribute more), so their opportunity cost is lower.
                    • They have the same baseline as their competitors in something that they don’t consider a differentiating feature.
                  2. 1

                    Addendum, since my previous post has a negative tone: I appreciate that the author asked how the cost/benefit analysis changes as a project scales. While I obviously disagree with the generic answer, it’s a good frame and I’ll keep it in mind whenever I try and talk about the subject.

                  1. 94

                    For a huge number of cases (dense, two dimensional, tabular data) CSV is just fine, thank you. Metadata comes in a side car file if needed. This file can be read by your granddad, and will be readable by your grandkid.

                    Lots of programs can process gzipped CSV files directly, taking care of the OMG this dataset is 10 GB problem. You can open up a CSV in an editor and edit it. You can load it into any spreadsheet program and graph it. You can load it into any programming REPL and process it.

                    CSV is problematic for unstructured data, often known in the vernacular as raw, uncleaned data. Usually this data comes in messy, often proprietary, often binary formats.

                    I was also disappointed to see that the article had no actual point. No alternative is proposed and no insight is given.

                    1. 13

                      They do suggest alternatives, avro, parquet, arrow, and similar formats. Yes, that throws away editing with a simple text editor. But I believe the author was more concerned with people who import and export with Excel. Those people will always load the CSV into Excel to edit anyway, so plain text isn’t a key feature.

                      You can load it into any spreadsheet program and graph it.

                      If the author’s dream comes true and spreadsheets support a richer binary format, that won’t change.

                      You can load it into any programming REPL and process it.

                      Yes. And the first step: import csv or the equivalent in your language of choice. How is that any different from import other_format?

                      CSV is just fine, thank you. Metadata comes in a side car file if needed.

                      I feel this argument is equivalent to “programmers are smart and therefore always do the right thing.” But that’s simply untrue. I’ve gotten malformed CSV-format database dumps from smart people with computer science degrees and years of industry experience. Programmers make mistakes all the time, by accident or from plain ignorance. We have type checkers and linters and test suites to deal with human fallibility, why not use data formats that do the same?

                      CSV is like C. Yes, it has gotten us far, but that doesn’t mean there’s nothing better to aspire to. Are Rust, Go, and Zig pointless endeavors because C is universally supported everywhere already? Of course not.

                      1. 12

                        Yes, that throws away editing with a simple text editor.

                        It also throws away using command-line tools for munging, client-side JS validation via regex or chunking, or all kinds of other things.

                        Author needs to sell a replacement for CSV for business reasons, but that doesn’t make CSV bad.

                        1. 2

                          throws away using command-line tools for munging

                          FWIW traditional unix command line tools like awk, cut and sed are terrible at all of the above with CSV because they do not understand the quoting mechanism.

                          I would vastly prefer to be using jq or (if I have to cope with xml) xmlstarlet most of the time.

                          client-side JS validation via regex or chunking

                          We’ve got ArrayBuffer and DataView now, we can write JS parsers for complicated file formats. ;)

                          1. 4

                            FWIW traditional unix command line tools like awk, cut and sed are terrible at all of the above with CSV because they do not understand the quoting mechanism.

                            It’s worse than that. They’re all now locale-aware. Set your locale to French (for example) and now your decimal separator is a comma. Anything using printf / scanf for floats will treat commas as decimal separators and so will combine pairs of adjacent numeric fields into a single value or emit field separators in the middle of numbers.

                            For personal stuff where I want a tabular format that I can edit in a text editor, I always use TSV instead of CSV. Tabs are not a decimal or thousands separator in any language and they don’t generally show up in the middle of text labels either (they’re also almost impossible to type in things like Excel, that just move to the next cell if you press the tab key, so they don’t show up in the data by accident). All of the standard UNIX tools work really well on them and so do some less-standard ones like ministat.

                            1. 1

                              Tangentially, this reminds me of how incredibly much I hate Microsoft Excel’s CSV parser.

                            2. 3

                              Those tools are terrible, but are totally sufficient for a large chunk of CSV use cases. Like, yes, you’ll get unclean data sometimes, but in a lot of cases it’s no big deal.

                              re: JS parsing…I’ve done all of those things. I still appreciate the simplicity of CSV where even an intern can bodge something reasonable together for most use cases.

                              Like, this is all super far into the territory of Worse is Better.

                              1. 2

                                I’d much rather be code reviewing the intern’s janky jq filter, or janky for loop in JavaScript, than their janky awk script. :)

                                Like, this is all super far into the territory of Worse is Better.

                                Haha, for sure.

                          2. 3

                            This is the reason why some industry app I work on needs to support XLSX, because of Office usage. We got CSV, XSLX and Parquet formats support in different parts of the app, depending to how data is uploaded.

                          3. 7

                            I was also disappointed to see that the article had no actual point. No alternative is proposed and no insight is given.

                            My understanding is that this article is a marketing blog post for the services they provide. Tho, I mostly I agree with them that CSV should be replaced with better tools (and many people are already working on it).

                            1. 21

                              Better at what though? CSV is not a “tool”- it’s a universally understood format.

                              You had better have a fantastically good reason for breaking a universally understood format.

                              That it is “old” or that it doesn’t work in a very small number of use-cases is not sufficient reason to fragment the effort.

                              1. 1

                                The problem to me is not that it is old. The problem is for the exchange and interoperability of large datasets. In particular how do you stream update a csv from a diff / delta?

                                1. 3

                                  If you’re slinging data back and forth within your own organisation (where you control both endpoints), CSV is indeed sub-optimal.

                                  If you’re exchanging data between heterogeneous systems, CSV is the local minimum. You can wish for a better format all you want, but if just one of the systems is gonna emit/accept CSV only, that’s what you’re gonna have to use.

                            2. 6

                              Totally agree. I’ve contributed to a project that works with 100 million line CSV files (OpenAddresses). It works absolutely great for that. Honestly my only complaints with standard CSV are the dialect problems and the row oriented organization.

                              The dialect problems are real but in practice not a big deal. Common tools like Python’s CSV module or Pandas’ CSV importer can autodetect and generally consume every possible quoting convention. In an idea world more people would use tab as the separator, or even better 0x1e the ASCII record separator (which no one uses). But we make commas work.

                              The row orientation is a nerdy thing to quibble about, but CSV doesn’t compress as efficiently as it could. Rezipping the data so it’s stored in column order often results in much better compression. But that’s usually an unnatural way to produce or consume the data so fine, rows it is.

                              1. 4

                                I was also disappointed to see that the article had no actual point. No alternative is proposed and no insight is given.

                                It seems like the author is angry he had to go through other people’s data dump and cleaned it up even though that’s basically what he is trying to sell. Bad arguments like “this data format cannot survive being opened in an editor and manually edited incorrectly”.

                                thb this is just a “hey we need to drum up more sale can you write an article about something?” type of low-content marketing.

                              1. 14

                                In metric units 170F is about 75C, which is literal Sauna temperature. Wow.

                                1. 1

                                  A sauna is much more dangerous. Just as the air in a 150 celcius oven is pretty hot, but a 100 degree steam coming out of a pot is going to hurt way more. Temperature isn’t the only relevant factor when it comes to cooking…

                                  1. 4

                                    You make it sound like a sauna is dangerous. It’s not, because you get out when you get too hot.

                                    In Finland there were less than 2 deaths in sauna per 100,000 inhabitants per year in the 1990s. That was a time when on average, Finns spent 9 minutes in a sauna twice a week. That’s one death per 780,000 hours spent in the sauna. And half of that is because people binge drink and go to the sauna.

                                    I don’t have statistics for deaths per hours a child spends in a hot car, but it cannot be very high considering reasonable people don’t leave children in a hot car at all yet there are dozens of deaths every year.

                                    1. 2

                                      In these comparisons I think the deciding factor is the ability/inability to leave the hostile environment…

                                    2. 1

                                      Saunas are typically dry air (although you can sometimes pour water onto hot stones). There are 100degC saunas which you can sit in for several minutes because heat transfer is so low. But a 100degC steam room would instantly burn you (and so doesn’t exist).

                                      1. 1

                                        Yeah humidity plays an important role as well. Sadly the post doesn’t show the record high with humidity info, but maybe @JeremyMorgan can enlighten us :)

                                        1. 2

                                          It looks like the min [1] humidity was 7.8% from one of the pictures.

                                          [1]: Humidity and temperature should be inversely related, so as the temperature rises, the humidity should decrease, as more water vapor can be “stored” in the air. Similarly, when the temperature drops, humidity increases, leading to dew in the early morning or fog.

                                          1. 1

                                            @bfielder

                                            Humidity levels:

                                            Outside

                                            • Min: 13.6
                                            • Max: 89.3

                                            In the car

                                            • Min: 6.8
                                            • Max: 55.3

                                            Seems like some wild fluctuations. It was an unusual weather event for sure.

                                      1. 9

                                        It’s amazing just how much those graphs resemble an RC charge/discharge cycle. It’s like the car is a capacitor for heat.

                                        1. 7

                                          They are both governed by exponential dissipation vs constant charging/heating so the shapes are the same. Well the heating is not constant but close enough engineer shrugs.

                                          1. 2

                                            I hadn’t noticed this before, but now I can’t unsee it.

                                            1. 1

                                              That is pretty amazing

                                            1. 2

                                              So we are giving up our ability to run simulation with our minds now?

                                              “If the Earth hadn’t been habitable then we would not be here to care about our CI builds not finishing.”

                                              True. But you could also keep your imagination closer to the event and then they will be more relevant. Just because a search space is big doesn’t mean there are no good ways to zero in on relevant areas.

                                              this cloud of hypotheticals becomes a “blamestorm” looking to rain down on somebody. Defenses go up, and learning stops.

                                              The correct solution to this is to create a good culture of fixing problems so people are confident and high-trust. Not to stop thinking because then scary thoughts might make some people sad.

                                              1. 3

                                                I don’t think that’s what the author intends at all.

                                                The counterfactual leap indicates where people stop looking for causes and jump to thinking about solutions. Try to reformulate the counterfactual as a statement about future prevention

                                                As long as we remain clear that these counterfactuals are not the cause of the problem that already happened, but are changes to our reality that can prevent future occurrences, we can use them without inducing blamestorming

                                                Whether you agree with his point about using them as causes or not, it’s very clear here that the author’s not denying that counterfactuals are useful, or trying to stop you thinking of ways to improve things.

                                                1. 1

                                                  Suppose I brainstorm a solution to a problem, and I imagine three solutions. The first solution uses Looney Tunes logic, the second solution uses Harry Potter logic, and the third solution uses a modal logic of your choice. In all three situations, just because the logic makes sense in the world which hosted it does not mean that it makes sense in our world. Given this obstacle, how can we compare different possible worlds in order to determine which possible worlds have logical conclusions which can be used in our world to deduce facts?

                                                  So we are giving up our ability to run simulation with our minds now?

                                                  How do you show that your simulation accurately emulates reality and isn’t an imagined fantasy?

                                                  1. 1

                                                    How do you show that your simulation accurately emulates reality and isn’t an imagined fantasy?

                                                    Based on similar logic being used to great success in the past.

                                                    Given this obstacle, how can we compare different possible worlds in order to determine which possible worlds have logical conclusions which can be used in our world to deduce facts?

                                                    This is too abstract for me. What’s the relevant of this line of thought to the prior post?

                                                    1. 1

                                                      How do you show that your counterfactual reasoning is not based in e.g. Harry Potter logic, but in a logic which is valid in our world?

                                                      1. 1

                                                        Based on past events that describe our world?

                                                        1. 1

                                                          Reasoning based on past events is not counterfactual; the past really did happen in our world. It can be partial and provisional, since our knowledge of the past is imperfect and incomplete. But instead of counterfactual assumptions which lead to modal logic, our observations about the past give us analogies and narratives for considering and analyzing current events. When those analogies are coupled with a descriptive explanatory model, then we have a field of science.

                                                          All of this fails to account for black swans. Indeed, you’ve found one of the big gaps between counterfactual reasoning and science: Counterfactual reasoning is deductive, while science is inductive.

                                                1. 3

                                                  There’s this inherent assumption that suicide is bad.

                                                  But if the person doesn’t want to live anymore, why shouldn’t she be able to not? Suffering is inherent to living, why should we not allow people to opt out?

                                                  How could such a prolific contributor, not just to Redox but to many projects, feel that death was preferable to life? This was a person who was boundlessly competent, and who seemed until recently to have a good handle on their life.

                                                  Again is the inherent assumption. “How could somebody who was boundlessly competent prefer death over life??”. Even the language is rigged. mental health. You MUST be sick to consider anything except living forever to be the only choice. Instinct controls them and it’s understandable but that doesn’t justify trying to control others. People never choose to start living. They should at least be able to choose to stop. And we should respect that.

                                                  1. 11

                                                    As someone who has struggled with suicide (I’m bipolar), I can not agree with this. Many people I’ve known are grateful other people intervened.

                                                    Many people attempt suicide from a place of irrationality. It is not a carefully considered decision but a moment of overwhelming hopelessness.

                                                    1. 3

                                                      It would be easier to understand your points if you mentioned [objections to suicide, as perceived by you] and discussed points & counterpoints to those objections. As your comment reads now, it doesn’t look well-researched, as if you didn’t consider putting any worth to the “inherent assumption”.

                                                      1. 2

                                                        This is basically a third rail, but the place we want to be in the end, is that all deaths are suicide, because the person is just done. They’ve done what they wanted to (and could), seen what they felt they needed to see, and just don’t feel like it any more.

                                                        Edit: this is a magic fairy land without accidents, violence, old age and cancer (or with backups).

                                                      1. 34

                                                        For those who don’t know, Tavis Ormandy is one of Google’s infosec research people, and has been involved in discovering many high-profile vulnerabilities. People should be taking his observations here seriously.

                                                        1. 6

                                                          On the other hand, they work for Google. Google makes a web browser, and their most profitable business is leveraging user data to sell advertisements and ???

                                                          So this person saying “trust me, use your browser’s password manager” kinda seems like a conflict of interests…

                                                          1. 7

                                                            As someone who works on security for the competition, I can say this is far-fetched.

                                                            The (current) security model of web extensions is really bad and Tavis is giving really good security advise by sugesting the browser built-in password manager mainly and firmly for the reason that it doesn’t have to subject itself to the a huge class of attacks. It’s somewhat hidden behind Tavis’ main evidence link.

                                                            There are easily dozens of password managers implemented as extensions which have fallen into the very same trap. Really, the web extensions API are an unfortunately brittle foundation to build upon. The original author of AdBlock Plus, Wladimir Palant, has written countless articles of password managers being broken due to this poor design (and poor implementations), take a look at the password-manager category on his blog.

                                                          2. 8

                                                            If this had been written anonymously, should I take it less seriously??

                                                            1. 27

                                                              Attribution is one among many factors in considering what is worthy of your attention. Since the Internet is infinitely large in comparison to our available attention, most people only look at what they have somehow been guided to look at.

                                                              In this case, you are looking at a website which is dedicated to pointing out other interesting websites, for some very weird values of “interesting”. So your first factor is “did it appear here?”. Another factor, probably weaker, is “how many votes did it get?”. A stronger factor would be “Does the subject line interest me?”.

                                                              All that gets you to look at it, but the actual quality is still debatable. Since the subject is security, it is relevant that the author has some significant accomplishments in that area. If the subject was solo trekking the length of the Erie Canal, information security expertise might be much less useful in evaluating whether the author knows whereof they write.

                                                              This whole process includes discovery and distribution in many different and repeated ways.

                                                              So, yes, if this had been written anonymously, it is less likely that you would be seeing it and you might consider it less thoroughly. There are a lot of wackos out on the Internet.

                                                              1. 2

                                                                I think you’re raising a serious epistemological question, and I’m happy to chat about that over on IRC (regulars to the site should feel free to direct-message me), but I don’t think it makes sense to have the conversation here. It would be a lot of controversy and not really topical for the site.

                                                                1. 2

                                                                  I agree that this is ad hominem but then again, ad hominem is only dangerous because it’s a good heuristic.

                                                                  Still, I agree that putting this here as an argument seems silly.

                                                              1. 31

                                                                The reason IMO for deleting flamebait comments is to prevent the discussion thread from being hijacked by people responding to the flamebait. Maybe deleted comments should be exposed in the moderation log, since your concern is transparency of moderation, but it makes sense to remove them from public view in the threads where we are trying to discuss the topic.

                                                                1. 17

                                                                  So perhaps disable replies to those comments.

                                                                  1. 4

                                                                    If I see a comment I want to reply to but that comment cannot be replied to I will just get angrier and reply to it in the top level using a quote.

                                                                    1. 20

                                                                      …and get banned for continuing a flamewar that got the other users banned and caused the thread to be unrepliable in the first place.

                                                                      1. 19

                                                                        That sounds like very unhealthy behavior and maybe you need to consider why this is your reaction

                                                                        1. 1

                                                                          I was actually commenting on what some people might do but I used ‘I’ in place of ‘some people’.

                                                                    2. 9

                                                                      How about we quarantine it so by default it says “USER WAS BANNED FOR THIS POST. VIEW?” And if you click “yes” it displays the comment.

                                                                      It doesn’t immediately display the comment, gives a reason not to engage, and requires an extra click to view. This nudges people who don’t care to keep scrolling.

                                                                      1. 3

                                                                        It still doesn’t prevent either search engine scraping, or bad faith screenshotting purporting to show that lobste.rs condones content that’s actually removed.

                                                                        1. 16

                                                                          Anyone who cherry-picks like that in order to discredit this community is probably not above doctoring screenshots… This threat model is iffy at best.

                                                                          1. 2

                                                                            Not ever keeping comments that are removed defeats the threat model in its entirety.

                                                                      2. 3

                                                                        Just locking the thread would be enough to avoid this.

                                                                        1. 1

                                                                          So, why not delete the comment in the thread but save the comment content in the banned user’s profile with the explanation that this got the user banned?

                                                                        1. 109

                                                                          Independently of what burntsushi decides, I think that the following concrete actions would be in order:

                                                                          1. Remove the last half-sentence of the banner that explains how to delete your account. Having it as the last part of the message adds a lot of weight ot it: after you read the banner it’s the main thing you remember, the oddly detailed explanation of how to erase yourself.

                                                                          2. Reformulate the rest of the banner to indicate that this is a heuristic that may be wrong. It’s important when providing hints from data to tell people explicitly that we know the hints may be wrong. Otherwise it feels very different.

                                                                          Let’s rephrase this banner with the explicit goal of doing no harm (better, doing good) when it is wrongly displayed, instead of thinking about the formulation when its assessment is correct.

                                                                          1. 59

                                                                            Speaking as somebody who’s gotten that banner basically permanently on their account, I think a lot of folks here may be missing important context:

                                                                            • The call to delete your account makes a lot of sense if you have to handle users dramatically declaring, in DMs/IRC/elsewhere “One more and [clutches pearls] I shall leave, forthwith!”. This is tiresome from a moderation standpoint and annoying for a community, and if one can nudge somebody into removing their account–in the common case!–rather than continue to engage in a community they don’t fit into (for whatever reason), it’s a win for both parties.
                                                                            • This isn’t some randy sketchy heuristic–the warning links directly to a histogram that shows where you are in the flaggings. It’s deterministic, it’s impartial, and if you’re getting flagged a lot there’s something going on with either your posting or the community.
                                                                            • Moderation team here is currently basically just @pushcx. It’s a large community with real, actual bad actors, and asking for any sort of increase in manual moderation is a very real burden.
                                                                            • One of the biggest reasons for Lobsters coming from the orange site was @jcs being annoyed at opaque moderation. While I might disagree certain particular actions, there is a public log. The thing here being complained about? It’s in the source code, it’s very clear how it works, and it provides impartial, statistical feedback about what’s going on.
                                                                            • There’s a trend for folks to go on IRC, Twitter, or wherever and talk trash about our community, about how @pushcx is powertripping, or whatever. This behavior probably plays well with the circles they’re familiar with and probably feels like punching up, but it’s gotta suck for the person who manages the community to have people he’s tried to work with and accomodate throw it back in his face.
                                                                            • People are really flag-happy, and this is what happens when you are.

                                                                            (Minor annoyance: we used to have a very good explanation of how to use flags, what borderline cases looked like, and so forth, but that was purged for whatever reason. I’ve seen a lot of bad flagging by either new folks who don’t know better or users with an axe to grind.)

                                                                            1. 35

                                                                              Moderation team here is currently basically just @pushcx. It’s a large community with real, actual bad actors, and asking for any sort of increase in manual moderation is a very real burden.

                                                                              This bit deserves signal boosting IMO.

                                                                              Lobsters doesn’t cost anything to join or participate in. The people who run it are clearly doing it for love, not money.

                                                                              Speaking for myself I’d much rather get past the momentary ouch of having a red warning message attached to my account than have the owners or moderators rage quit as a result of feeling UTTERLY drained by the experience.

                                                                              I’m watching the life get sucked out of some very stalwart well meaning people in another community I care about simply due to the sheer VOLUME of constant negative feedback, so I think we all owe it to the mods to suck it up and cut him/them some serious amounts of slack.

                                                                              1. 21

                                                                                <3 Thank you very much.

                                                                              2. 24

                                                                                (Minor annoyance: we used to have a very good explanation of how to use flags, what borderline cases looked like, and so forth, but that was purged for whatever reason. I’ve seen a lot of bad flagging by either new folks who don’t know better or users with an axe to grind.)

                                                                                I would love to see this come back in some form. As someone who joined after that was removed, I feel there isn’t enough information about flags. Every single time I’ve ever flagged something, I’ve been really hesitant because I wasn’t able to find any guidance on what qualifies to be flagged.

                                                                                1. 3

                                                                                  I agree. I actually don’t think this is so minor on its own though I can see why you phrased it that way in its original context.

                                                                                2. 23

                                                                                  I realize I’m not as active as I might be - I’m bipolar, my ability to spend time on things comes and goes - but I promise that I do still pay active attention to the site and step in when it seems warranted. Also, the mod team has lots of discussions behind the scenes. Just because @pushcx is the face of a decision doesn’t mean the rest of us aren’t involved.

                                                                                  I felt I should address that, since you mentioned it.

                                                                                  Edit to add: Thank you for the kind words, overall. It’s helpful to know that you and others do see the point of the banner.

                                                                                  1. 22

                                                                                    People are really flag-happy, and this is what happens when you are.

                                                                                    Speaking from experience as someone who’s moderated some decent-sized subreddits – where reddit has both the ability to downvote, and a separate ability to “report” for posts/comments that break subreddit or site-wide rules – this is absolutely the case. The number of people who just spam-click the “report” button thinking it’s some sort of super-downvote that will remove the thing they dislike is astounding. Same with people who periodically decide they just don’t like some type of content even if the subreddit generally allows it, and go mass-report a hundred posts to express their displeasure.

                                                                                    1. 11

                                                                                      Yeah, this is what I think is fundamentally the issue. A lot of people simply have no emotional control. They have strong believes but no ability to defend them. With that, when they see opinions they dislike, instead of engaging with a retort, they will use the report button. Perhaps in their mind, if the post was deleted, then the opinion no longer exists or is somehow invalid???

                                                                                      I have gotten the banner too. I thought the words were harsh. But over the years I have noticed that some of my posts will follow the pattern of (+10 upvote, -8 troll), except the troll downvote count has increased over time. Based on this I assume that the general ratio of people on this site who like to report opinions they don’t like as troll versus people who are willing to engage in intelligent discussion has increased.

                                                                                      People simply think people who disagree with them are either stupid, or trolling (deliberately saying stupid things hoping for a reaction) or both.

                                                                                      1. 12

                                                                                        A lot of people simply have no emotional control. They have strong believes but no ability to defend them. With that, when they see opinions they dislike, instead of engaging with a retort, they will use the report button.

                                                                                        It’s also true that people sometimes repeatedly post tired nonsense, and that merely (and at obviously low cost) repeating something that’s poorly researched, or broadly offensive, doesn’t entitle the poster to a vigorous debate. Sometimes the use of a flag is the only viable option.

                                                                                        1. 4

                                                                                          If somebody posted some tired nonsense then it should be very easy to dispute.

                                                                                          doesn’t entitle the poster to a vigorous debate

                                                                                          You don’t have to reply. The issue here isn’t whether or not to reply but whether or not reporting is an appropriate response to somebody saying something that you think is wrong and the answer is no.

                                                                                          Sometimes the use of a flag is the only viable option.

                                                                                          Anybody could deem all your posts ‘tired nonsense’ and just report all of them? That is as legitimate as when you do it. Do you somehow think that your idea of what is tired nonsense is universal and therefore a good metric for when a post should be reported?

                                                                                          1. 8

                                                                                            If somebody posted some tired nonsense then it should be very easy to dispute.

                                                                                            In the case of trolling, the whole point is to trick people into taking the bait, which I believe moves the subthread higher up in the scoring ranks.

                                                                                            You don’t have to reply. The issue here isn’t whether or not to reply but whether or not reporting is an appropriate response to somebody saying something that you think is wrong and the answer is no.

                                                                                            I think that detecting trolling is a skill that’s pretty key to the survival of a community, but a good troll will make it quite difficult to resist engaging. Trolling isn’t commonly overt, over the top rudeness. Way more often it is an attempt at looping other community members into a “debate” that ends up in people pointing edgy and charged hot takes at each other.

                                                                                            In its worst form, it will promote socially harmful conclusions through pseudo-from-first-principles lines of reasoning that are aesthetically attractive to the type of people that visit tech forums. To dispute requires dissecting phony arguments, which at a glance, appears to legitimize the “debate” and grant the troll a certain level of community approval, especially if they’re good at giving off the appearance of rationalism. IMO ignoring and flagging this type of content is nowhere near what’s required fully address it.

                                                                                            1. 3

                                                                                              How are you not using an accusation of trolling as a free ‘You lose’?

                                                                                              How do you know that something is true? It is via putting your ideas up for others to engage and debate. But you want to simply circumvent that by calling opinions you don’t like trolls, and then saying that those opinions don’t even need to be debated or engaged because that will legitimise it.

                                                                                              Sooner or later instead of having attacking each other’s ideas so we can improve then, all we will end up doing is claiming the other side is ‘trolling’ so they are immediately wrong and don’t even need to be disproven.

                                                                                              Why even bother defending your ideology against opposition, when you can simply claim the opposition is a foreign spy or a mentally ill person and then getting rid of them?

                                                                                        2. 5

                                                                                          I have gotten the banner too. I thought the words were harsh. But over the years I have noticed that some of my posts will follow the pattern of (+10 upvote, -8 troll), except the troll downvote count has increased over time. Based on this I assume that the general ratio of people on this site who like to report opinions they don’t like as troll versus people who are willing to engage in intelligent discussion has increased.

                                                                                          Or maybe you’ve gotten more and more trollish over time.

                                                                                          1. 5

                                                                                            Or maybe we have too many politically driven ideologues who are not interested in communication and they simply throw the word troll around to avoid having to engage with their opposition on the idea plane.

                                                                                            1. 9

                                                                                              Nah, I’ve been around just about as long as you have, I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve not seen you be a troll in a thread. I don’t even know what technical subjects you have expertise in, since I’ve never seen you contribute technical insight to a thread. Pretty much all you do is get into fights around here.

                                                                                              1. 3

                                                                                                Devil’s Advocate: Perhaps @LibertarianLlama is among a new breed of Lobsters who are also concerned with the human side of things, not just the technical one.

                                                                                                1. 2

                                                                                                  I’ve not seen you be a troll in a thread

                                                                                                  I suppose you are one of those people who have a very low margin for what constitutes ‘trolling’.

                                                                                                  I don’t even know what technical subjects you have expertise in, since I’ve never seen you contribute technical insight to a thread.

                                                                                                  I didn’t realise technical expertise in a subject is a requirement of using this website. Regardless you can just assume that I have no expertise in any subject.

                                                                                          2. 6

                                                                                            I wonder if a literal “super downvote” button would work as a psychological trick. It would act as a normal downvote, but just look like a bigger, angrier button that would absorb more anger from whoever clicks it. (At the same time, possibly rate-limit the actual report button per user…)

                                                                                            1. 8

                                                                                              That’s a pretty cute idea. I’m tempted to say that, for people who have the self awareness to realize that what they mostly need is catharsis, I recommend getting it from their favorite action videogame, or a trip to the gym or whatever… I don’t want to dismiss your idea though, it’s true that it could help to have some sort of reminder or prompt to seek catharsis.

                                                                                              1. 3

                                                                                                Edit: someone has looked at the system and much of this is actually already automated(!): https://lobste.rs/s/zp4ofg/lobster_burntsushi_has_left_site#c_qiipbc

                                                                                                Previous:


                                                                                                OK, another cute - or hopefully even better - useful idea:

                                                                                                I think HN has a pr account setting that ignores flag from that user, I’m fairly certain dang has mentioned at some time that one should be careful with flags. (Now that I think about it it might have been the vouch option he was writing about.)

                                                                                                I’m not really sure how it would work with perfectly transparent moderation:

                                                                                                • would the user get a warning?
                                                                                                • or would it just show up in the moderation logs?
                                                                                                • maybe it is a fraction so if a user has 1/5 flag weight it takes more than 5 such users to flag before it counts as one ordinary user? Then the moderation log could still say “flagged based on user feedback” or whatever it say but omit the details about there being 10 flag abusers counting as two full votes and 3 ordinary users?
                                                                                                1. 11

                                                                                                  Good thoughts. On Lobsters, if I know that a user is going to continue using flags vindictively, I would rather just ban them… of course, I’d talk to them first.

                                                                                                  Automation in this sort of thing can be a false savings because if we set up a certain automated rule, we are implicitly sending the message that any behavior that falls within the rule is allowed. So in your example, I would expect to see users who intentionally stay just below the threshold for having their flags de-valued, as well as users who intentionally go past the threshold and flag in a wanton manner because they know that the punishment for doing that is just that their flags will have less numeric weight. Having it be a socially enforced rule, counterintuitively, can often lead to better behavior overall compared to having a technical enforcement mechanism.

                                                                                                  1. 1

                                                                                                    Good thoughts. On Lobsters, if I know that a user is going to continue using flags vindictively, I would rather just ban them… of course, I’d talk to them first.

                                                                                                    Automation in this sort of thing can be a false savings because if we set up a certain automated rule, we are implicitly sending the message that any behavior that falls within the rule is allowed. So in your example, I would expect to see users who intentionally stay just below the threshold for having their flags de-valued, as well as users who intentionally go past the threshold and flag in a wanton manner because they know that the punishment for doing that is just that their flags will have less numeric weight. Having it be a socially enforced rule, counterintuitively, can often lead to better behavior overall compared to having a technical enforcement mechanism.

                                                                                              2. 5

                                                                                                The moderators of r/TheMotte (a subreddit which has the best moderation IMO) observed pretty much the same:

                                                                                                No one who has seen a mod queue would be surprised by this. Even those of you who are always very calm and nonconfrontational, with middle-of-the-road opinions, might be shocked how often your posts are reported. Some of the most reasonable, unspicy posts get marked as “It’s targeted harassment.” Some people will report “Inflammatory claim without evidence” just because they don’t agree with the post.

                                                                                                I pretty much started brushing aside (like several other users reportedly do) the red warning that lobste.rs throws in your profile for this reason, as well as for that condescending final phrase “Reconsider your behaviour or take a break” which rests on the erroneous assumption of there incontrovertibly being sound rationality in this community’s flagging behaviour.

                                                                                                I have a theory that this became worse after the site removed the downvote functionality thus removing a potential anger-outlet for users, who have now shifted to channel that affective energy via flagging. This theory however can only confirmed by doing a simple analysis of the data (was there an increase in flagging right after disabling downvoting?)

                                                                                              3. 12

                                                                                                It’s irrelevant that it is impartial if it is exploitable. Which it very much is.

                                                                                                So the system allows for a mob to harass an user into leaving the site, but you claim that it is important to note that anyone can be harassed. That is the matter subject to challenge here, not “important context”.

                                                                                                Yes people are trigger happy, for that reason, the flagging feature might be counter productive.

                                                                                                1. 5

                                                                                                  you claim that it is important to note that anyone can be harassed.

                                                                                                  I’m not sure I see where you got that from my post.

                                                                                                  The ability of the mob to harass users here exists, and is exploited, at scale and quite apart from this notice that “yo, you’re getting a significant number of flags.”

                                                                                                  It doesn’t make sense to optimize for people who run away when told others disagree with them.

                                                                                                  1. 21

                                                                                                    No one wants to be told they don’t belong here. I really enjoy Burntsushi and a system that is constructed that make it so people like that dont want to be here is a system that needs to be fixed.

                                                                                                    Your response of “I don’t want people with a thin skin”, is itself thin skinned in the opposite direction.

                                                                                                    1. 6

                                                                                                      OK I see an important distinction here. I tried to point this out to burntsushi on Twitter.

                                                                                                      If you read the message he got VERY carefully, it sets forth a very specific sequence of potential and suggested routes to mitigation. They are:

                                                                                                      1. Take a breath. Take a break. Step away for a bit and think about whether maybe the problem might exist at least partly in your head and the resultant behavior you’re exhibiting in the community.

                                                                                                      2. Talk to a moderator about the situation.

                                                                                                      3. Then, and ONLY then, does the message point out that you can if you so choose also delete your account.

                                                                                                      Having gotten the big red warning myself a ways back, I DO sympathize that it’s an ouchy thing to have happen in the moment, but I strenuously believe that the intent here isn’t to make anyone feel unwelcome. Just the opposite, my read of the intent is an earnest attempt on the part of the community to help people moderate their behavior, and if that’s not possible or applicable, to seek other options for mitigation.

                                                                                                      1. 11

                                                                                                        No one wants to be told they don’t belong here.

                                                                                                        I’d agree, but we have done very poorly by some of our users in that regard already and the mob likes it that way. Remember that time recently the mods banned one of (if not the) current expert on evidence-based software engineering because of an off-hand comment touching culture war stuff? Peppridge farm remembers.

                                                                                                        There are no shortage of Lobsters who will clack and freak out if made aware of anybody who doesn’t appear to be in their political tribe–and they’ll get even angrier if you suggest that maybe, possibly, we should focus on something else.

                                                                                                        So, while I agree in principle with you, the community has through its actions demonstrated that it does not care.

                                                                                                        Your response of “I don’t want people with a thin skin”, is itself thin skinned in the opposite direction.

                                                                                                        I don’t believe that it is. You are, of course, welcome to your own interpretation.

                                                                                                        1. 14

                                                                                                          Remember that time recently the mods banned one of (if not the) current expert on evidence-based software engineering because of an off-hand comment touching culture war stuff?

                                                                                                          IIRC he had a pattern of problematic behavior, and also I’m not sure how much of an expert in ESE he actually is: his book is overwhelming, but keeps giving me bad vibes. I’m struggling to explain what it actually is, but I’m really suspicious that there are serious problems with it.

                                                                                                          1. 1

                                                                                                            I’d definitely be interested to hear more.

                                                                                                            I’m struggling to explain what it actually is

                                                                                                            Mind giving it a try? I couldn’t see anything particularly bad (relatively speaking) in their comment history, nor anything related to the ban rationale. Seems like you’ve been paying more attention, haha

                                                                                                          2. 14

                                                                                                            There are no shortage of Lobsters who will clack and freak out if made aware of anybody who doesn’t appear to be in their political tribe

                                                                                                            The basic problem with statements like this is that nearly everyone can feel it applies to the angry mob that’s disagreed with them.

                                                                                                            Personally I’m on record as believing that there is no way to separate “politics” from what we do (simple example 1, simple example 2) or to write software without considering the impact it will have on people.

                                                                                                            But I also see plenty of “oh woe is me, the cancel culture and the woke and the leftist and the SJW are taking over” stuff that gets left in place and even highly upvoted, which says to me that it’s not that people don’t want “politics”, it’s that their definition of what is and is not “politics” is at issue. The hypothetical guy (example 2 above) with no criminal record who can’t get bail because the system could only store his name as a bunch of “aliases” is “politics” to me, but apparently not to many other people (it’s just “falsehoods programmers believe about names”), while holding a software project’s leader accountable for misbehavior is “politics” to many of those people and common sense to me. A staggering percentage of actual “political” fights really are that sort of thing.

                                                                                                            1. 3

                                                                                                              But I also see plenty of “oh woe is me, the cancel culture and the woke and the leftist and the SJW are taking over” stuff that gets left in place and even highly upvoted, which says to me that it’s not that people don’t want “politics”, it’s that their definition of what is and is not “politics” is at issue.

                                                                                                              I mean the proof is at hand right? A “let’s not discuss politics” non sequitur as successful troll.

                                                                                                              1. 0

                                                                                                                But I also see plenty of “oh woe is me, the cancel culture and the woke and the leftist and the SJW are taking over” stuff that gets left in place and even highly upvoted

                                                                                                                I don’t think I’ve ever seen this on Lobsters, only on others sites. Do you have any examples?

                                                                                                              2. 1

                                                                                                                I think we disagree about what it means to be thin skinned. I thought you were admonishing the people who leave into toughening up. If that is the case, I think it will lead to either an echo chamber or a dungeon of trolls or both.

                                                                                                                But based on your other comments, I don’t think you meant what I interpreted.

                                                                                                                You in this context means, us, or the offended user that flags people into quitting. How about we make flags public and you can only spend them in certain ways? Do comment points even mean anything? There is a huge distinction between “this person is harmful” and basically anything else. if someone is harmful, they should be removed. Otherwise … if you don’t want to see their posts, then that would be a personal choice.

                                                                                                                1. 2

                                                                                                                  Making flags public is a terrible idea.

                                                                                                                  1. 2

                                                                                                                    I agree. I DO think that people here are overly trigger happy with the flagging, but given other comments in this thread I’m willing to believe this is simply human nature at plan and unavoidable. Making flags public would be in effect shaming someone for trying to make a small contribution to the community by flagging a post.

                                                                                                                    1. 2

                                                                                                                      I feel that maybe 60% of flags are not trying to contribute to the community, but rather to avenge themselves, or to have an outlet for disagreement without having to engage. It’s part of the problem with the Internet at large: for digital natives, disengagement is no longer an option. People can’t just ignore stuff they disagree with; they have to respond to it, and if it’s a troll, they shouldn’t engage directly, so they instead engage indirectly by flagging. There’s a reason why Twitter’s first option when reporting is “I disagree with this”. It’s just human nature.

                                                                                                                    2. 1

                                                                                                                      Because? Without justification your statement is opinion, what am I to do with that?

                                                                                                                      1. 1

                                                                                                                        Because it can lead to retaliatory, tit-for-tat flagging of the flagger’s comments. Mods can already see who flags what and can take action against those who misuse it.

                                                                                                                2. 2

                                                                                                                  a system that is constructed that make it so people like that dont want to be here is a system that needs to be fixed.

                                                                                                                  Who are “people like that”? To me, this sentence seems to extrapolate based on a single data point, which is based on some observations of another person. That is to say, we don’t know Burntsushi well enough, and maybe no matter how we setup the system, he would find something to quit. And striving to optimize for one would put burden and alienate others.

                                                                                                                  1. 5

                                                                                                                    people like that

                                                                                                                    Hardworking, smart, helpful, writes a lot of great Rust. Reddit and github

                                                                                                                    I am talking about specifics not a generalized idea of a Lobste.rs user.

                                                                                                                  2. 0

                                                                                                                    Since that person left, I’m not getting a flag on every single of my comments anymore.

                                                                                                                    An interesting coincidence. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

                                                                                                                    1. 0

                                                                                                                      Obligatory “correlation is not causation”.

                                                                                                                  3. 5

                                                                                                                    That is the problem right there. It.s not a “disagree” link, it’s a “flag” link. Obviously, looks like there are people abusing it because they disagree with something rather than unacceptable behaviour being reported.

                                                                                                                    Personally, I wouldn’t take it too seriously much less posting on other websites about it. But it is rather shitty to be told to take a chill pill just because one’s opinion is not widely accepted.

                                                                                                                    1. 1

                                                                                                                      Accounts with low “karma” can’t downvote but can flag. Perhaps this needs to be looked at..

                                                                                                                      1. 6

                                                                                                                        There are no downvotes, only flags.

                                                                                                                        1. 2

                                                                                                                          TIL. I stand corrected

                                                                                                                          1. 1

                                                                                                                            Thanks for clarifying this. I was wondering where the downvote links were.

                                                                                                                            1. 4

                                                                                                                              iirc the downvotes were the flags, just with a downvote arrow instead of being hidden.

                                                                                                                      2. 3

                                                                                                                        It doesn’t make sense to optimize for people who run away when told others disagree with them.

                                                                                                                        I think discourse is improved when all participants feel safe. Then instead of spending energy in handling negativity emotionally, they can make better arguments. Moreover I don’t want to see valid viewpoints shut down due to mob shouting. I think human discourse works well with a variety of opinions.

                                                                                                                        1. 16

                                                                                                                          I think human discourse works well with a variety of opinions.

                                                                                                                          I agree!

                                                                                                                          I think discourse is improved when all participants feel safe.

                                                                                                                          The problem we’re seeing in the last several years is that there are people who will never feel safe, at least not without massive sacrifices from everybody else in a community, often including systematic self-censorship and topic avoidance. The great online community question of the age is how to strike a balance between being welcoming and letting your demographics become taken over by–for lack of a better way of putting it–people who are not robust enough to survive or flourish in a sufficiently diverse/hostile memetic ecosystem.

                                                                                                                          1. 9

                                                                                                                            people who are not robust enough to survive or flourish in a sufficiently diverse/hostile memetic ecosystem

                                                                                                                            I’m not sure what kind of online future you’re envisioning but I don’t want any part of it.

                                                                                                                            1. 15

                                                                                                                              An (only slightly contrived) example:

                                                                                                                              You run a message board that hosts tech content.

                                                                                                                              On one extreme, you tell everybody “hey, we want you here! everybody is super nice and you’ll never be criticized!”.

                                                                                                                              After some period of time, you end up with a bunch of users of C and a bunch of users of Rust.

                                                                                                                              Some of those users cannot bear any perceived slight of their chosen language. There are C people that go off in a tizzy if anybody points out the memory safety issues in C, and there are Rust users that freak out if anybody complains about long compile times. The house rules–because remember, we’re optimizing for welcoming and that means supporting everybody, no matter how thin-skinned they are!–end up including “Never talk about shortcomings of another language.”

                                                                                                                              Since engineering is all about tradeoffs, and since no language is actually good for all things, strict adherence to this rule ends up with only the most optimistic and vapid discussion–worse, it infects other topics. It’s really hard to explain why you might like immutability for concurrency if you can’t talk about memory safety issues because you’ll trigger the C programmers. It’s really hard to explain why you like dynamic or interpreted languages if you can’t talk about how much long compile times suck because you’ll trigger the Rust programmers.

                                                                                                                              On the other extreme, you tell everyone “hey, we talk about tech and things on their own merits here, and if you can’t stand commentary that offends, fuck off!”.

                                                                                                                              Our C users and Rust users come in.

                                                                                                                              Some of these users are just assholes. There are C programmers that strictly use bizarre sexual analogies for anything involving pointers, there are Rust coders that sign all of their posts with Holocaust denial, frequently threads devolve into seeing who can outlast who in massive shit-slinging, and in general a sport is made of making miserable and hazing anybody who won’t stick around.

                                                                                                                              Obviously, there will be users who would be knowledgeable assets to this community but who are squicked out by this stuff and leave. There are other users who can put up with the rampant nonsense but who don’t want to spend the cycles required to weed through the bullshit to talk about what they want. Over time, the community stagnates unless it can find a way of attracting and retaining new users, and odds are that’ll be based on its reputation for no-holds-barred “discussion” rather than actual technical insight…this userbase will also skew towards younger folks who have a deficit of experience and all of the time in the world to share it. This is, incidentally, how /g/ works.

                                                                                                                              ~

                                                                                                                              I’m not sure what kind of online future you’re envisioning but I don’t want any part of it.

                                                                                                                              My point isn’t to advocate for one or the other, but to point out that it’s a central question of community.

                                                                                                                              It’s also a question whose answer shifts over time, as groups tweak the trajectory of their tribe.

                                                                                                                              1. 8

                                                                                                                                Some of these users are just assholes. There are C programmers that strictly use bizarre sexual analogies for anything involving pointers, there are Rust coders that sign all of their posts with Holocaust denial, frequently threads devolve into seeing who can outlast who in massive shit-slinging, and in general a sport is made of making miserable and hazing anybody who won’t stick around.

                                                                                                                                And there’s a pretty easy way to fix that – kick ’em out. There are communities which do that.

                                                                                                                                Because as the saying goes, there are two ways to be a “10x programmer” and one of them is to have such an awful effect on people around you that they drop to 0.1x their prior productivity while you stay average. And even if someone really is “10x” (whatever that means) on some aspect of technical skill or knowledge, it’s still likely to be a net loss to put up with “asshole” behavior from them.

                                                                                                                                1. 2

                                                                                                                                  This is good advice and knowledge for me as I try to build one or more Open Source communities. I think you are correct that such communities should have no room for such users.

                                                                                                                                  1. 1

                                                                                                                                    For the purposes of that thought experiment, we take the position in the second case where we do not eject members for being assholes.

                                                                                                                                2. 3

                                                                                                                                  I saw another attempt at creating a HN clone go down a few years ago, not because of flaming or lack of interesting users but because some early users decided they and everyone else decided they needed to be much nicer than HN.

                                                                                                                                  I quit commenting soon after.

                                                                                                                                  You can check my comment history, I’m not at rude person but those rules made me feel unsafe. I started carefully considering each word. Then stopped posting,

                                                                                                                                  I wasn’t the only one. The “super nice” crowd didn’t have anything else to contribute and the site was down a few months later.

                                                                                                                                  1. 8

                                                                                                                                    Honestly, one of my main issues with HN has always been the focus on superficial civility. You can be an absolute horrendous awful drive-others-away-in-droves trainwreck of a poster there so long as you do it the “right” way. And you will be valued and rewarded for it.

                                                                                                                                    A real “anti-HN” would care less about those superficial aspects and more about dealing with the actual trolls and assholes.

                                                                                                                                3. 4

                                                                                                                                  people who are not robust enough to survive or flourish in a sufficiently diverse/hostile memetic ecosystem

                                                                                                                                  Perhaps I don’t see this as an issue. I believe, in my ideal community (where I’m stressing “ideal” because it’s probably not practically realizable), that any commenter with a good-faith argument should feel empowered to make that comment, even if others in the community viscerally disagree. There are two problems at hand here, one is defining what “good-faith” mean and the other is protecting arguments from being shouted out. When it comes to “good-faith”, due to the nature of human ideology, there will be disagreements. In my mind, the easiest way to come to a consensus on what “good-faith” means is to clearly define it. This is why I’m a fan of Code of Conducts. They lay bare what a community considers “good-faith”, so the minimum bar of participation is met. Ideally the CoC would change infrequently and have community buy-in so that it acts as a minimum bar to entry.

                                                                                                                                  Ideally (again the ideal here not the practice, probably), we can create a community where there is no hostility after agreeing to “good-faith” rules. It’s one thing to enter heated discussion, but I’m hopeful that a community can use its own moderation tools to ensure that a heated discussion does not turn hostile.

                                                                                                                                  I just don’t see a world where diversity and hostility are equivalent.

                                                                                                                                  1. 1

                                                                                                                                    When it comes to “good-faith”, due to the nature of human ideology, there will be disagreements.

                                                                                                                                    I make good-faith arguments all the time that seem to fall into the class of bad-faith arguments that @bitrot points out, so I get what you’re saying.

                                                                                                                                    I just don’t see a world where diversity and hostility are equivalent.

                                                                                                                                    In the interest of naming things, it seems what’s under discussion is the paradox of tolerance. I’d link to Wikipedia, but it seems it’s a Marxist idea, which I know not everyone would be comfortable with 😄


                                                                                                                                    At some point, I think you just have to go by how things seem. Which is a shame, because that makes it a game of “survival of the fittest”, where those who are best at branding, or putting things “the right way” to seem good to other people, survive; while those who are prone to misrepresenting themselves, or discussing “untouchable subjects” such as the example in @friendlysock’s comment, are booted out.

                                                                                                                                    1. 2

                                                                                                                                      In the interest of naming things, it seems what’s under discussion is the paradox of tolerance. I’d link to Wikipedia, but it seems it’s a Marxist idea, which I know not everyone would be comfortable with 😄

                                                                                                                                      Indeed, I am familiar with the Paradox of Tolerance. My hope is that a CoC or otherwise similar guiding document or constitution would provide a floor on tolerance, but everything beyond that would be tolerated. Not only does that set community baseline rules but it keeps rules distinct, clear, and constant. There’s a reason many real, representative governments go through due process to change laws.

                                                                                                                                      At some point, I think you just have to go by how things seem. Which is a shame, because that makes it a game of “survival of the fittest”, where those who are best at branding, or putting things “the right way” to seem good to other people, survive; while those who are prone to misrepresenting themselves, or discussing “untouchable subjects” such as the example in @friendlysock’s comment, are booted out.

                                                                                                                                      Perhaps the conclusion I should arrive to is that direct democratic (e.g. “upvote” and “downvote”) discussion sites just lead to dynamics that create and sustain echo chambers. I’m not sure, it’s certainly something I’m mulling about myself.

                                                                                                                              2. 2

                                                                                                                                when told others disagree with them.

                                                                                                                                But that’s not what flagging tells you… If you’ve been doing everything alright, it tells you that others who disagree with you have leveraged a system unrelated to disagreement to make you look unreasonable, unkind, and/or trollish.

                                                                                                                              3. 4

                                                                                                                                I’d be interested in learning if mods have any way to detect brigading, possibly such as by looking at correlations in users who consistently flag the same comments.

                                                                                                                                1. 13

                                                                                                                                  Yes, we do. If you look at the mod log you will see that people are banned for this practice now and then. Don’t do it.

                                                                                                                                  1. 1

                                                                                                                                    I’m not sure why you needed to admonish me like that at the end. I wasn’t probing your defenses. I was merely going to suggest this if you didn’t have it.

                                                                                                                                    No need to reply, I know this is a tough time for all the staff.

                                                                                                                                    1. 7

                                                                                                                                      Sorry, I should have been clearer that I wasn’t directing that at you in particular. I know you were trying to help.

                                                                                                                              4. 8

                                                                                                                                Preface: I don’t have his comments handy and am just looking at the system. Despite this I will be embarrassed if it turns out he was actually making an enormous mess 🤣

                                                                                                                                Also want to add whoever worked on the existing system clearly put a lot of thought into it (e.g. factoring in flags on multiple stories, percent-flagged, and limiting to N users all seem wise, and thought went into the message). Probably no fun to see someone armchair quarterbacking with much less time thinking about the problem space than they have. Hope this at least crosses the threshold of possibly useful.

                                                                                                                                The thing here being complained about? It’s in the source code, it’s very clear how it works, and it provides impartial, statistical feedback about what’s going on.

                                                                                                                                It looks like this is it. My guess is if you’re prolific, it’s inevitable you’ll pop over the hard numerical thresholds sometimes and the 10% of comments is the biggest barrier, followed by the top-30 ranking.

                                                                                                                                10% of comments seems not that unlikely if 1) your recent comments are seen by lots of people (upvoted, early, etc.), 2) they address things a lot of people disagree about, and 3) some % of folks who disagree will flag, which seems likely as long as flagging is one of the easier ways to express disagreement (more below). You could do something like subtract the upvotes/N from the flag count (lots of fiddly options), just because there isn’t a number that represents visibility directly.

                                                                                                                                The top-30 ranking has has the same considerations as flag count, and also if discussion is going well enough, the 30th “worst” person might not be that bad. (Somebody’s the least polite person in a group of absolute diplomats.) The histogram/rank data does seem interesting to expose to the more flagged folks. Given all that, I’m not entirely sure what I think about the wording of the message–definitely already phrased to aim for “stop and consider this” not “you’re a bad actor”, but I can also see how humans get defensive.

                                                                                                                                People are really flag-happy, and this is what happens when you are.

                                                                                                                                (Added clarifications here in [brackets] after friendlysock’s comment.)

                                                                                                                                A nice thing about [the idea of downvotes for simple disagreement, as used on some other sites, is that it lets] people who simply don’t like something say “I don’t like this” without putting noise in the channel that’s used to catch abuse, spam, and so on. I think the dream behind the current system is that not having [no-reason] downvotes leads to a very pluralist site where many people disagreeing (or fewer disagreeing strongly) doesn’t count against a comment as long as there’s no objective problem with the phrasing/on-topicness/etc. Realistically it seems as if without another outlet, some fraction of disagreement will get funneled into the flag system (even just through people looking hard for technically valid reasons to flag) even if you try to discourage it.

                                                                                                                                Just as a random thought, you can offer downvotes without treating them as -1 upvote (-0.5 or -0.25 or whatever in a ranking algorithm), or disagree flags that you treat differently from others.

                                                                                                                                tl;dr if I guessed at possible tweaks they might be allowing [no-reason] downvotes or disagree flags that have less impact than existing flags, just to keep that self-expression out of the flagging system; look for a way to factor in that being more-read will get your comments more negative attention; and maybe there’s something to do with the message wording, though it’s clearly already had a good amount of thought put in it.

                                                                                                                                1. 16

                                                                                                                                  A nice thing about downvotes is it lets people who simply don’t like something say “I don’t like this” without putting noise in the channel that’s used to catch abuse, spam, and so on.

                                                                                                                                  Yes, I very much agree with this. On Reddit and Hacker News, which lobster.s is modelled after, I think of as:

                                                                                                                                  • upvote: “I would like this to appear higher on the page”
                                                                                                                                  • downvote: “I would like this to appear lower on the page”

                                                                                                                                  Flag is a totally different thing than downvote – it means that the user is abusing the site, and continuing that behavior SHOULD result in getting banned from the site.

                                                                                                                                  But expressing minority opinions (thoughtfully) may result in downvotes (*), but it should NOT result in getting banned or encouraged to leave.


                                                                                                                                  As far as I can tell, the burntsushi warning was a result of mixing up these signals. I only read a portion of the Rust threads, so I haven’t followed everything, but from what I understand he was probably just expressing some opinions that people disagreed with, not actually abusing the site.

                                                                                                                                  So I think you have diagnosed it correctly – the lobste.rs UI is sort of mixing these 2 signals up by omitting downvotes. The “flag” button has 5 reasons, and “off topic” and “me too” should be a downvote, not a flag IMO.

                                                                                                                                  Again, the difference between the two is whether continuing the behavior should lead to a ban, and that’s a very important distinction.

                                                                                                                                  (Honestly I am surprised that I haven’t gotten this banner ever, given that there is a minority of people who disagree with my opinions on shell. Since I’m writing a new one, I’m opinionated about it, but also invite disagreement)


                                                                                                                                  (*) Some people may want opinions they disagree with to appear lower on the page, and some people might not. In my view it’s up to person to exercise that discretion – that’s why you get one vote :)

                                                                                                                                  1. 3

                                                                                                                                    upvote: “I would like this to appear higher on the page” downvote: “I would like this to appear lower on the page”

                                                                                                                                    That’s not actually what they mean on Reddit:

                                                                                                                                    Vote. If you think something contributes to conversation, upvote it. If you think it does not contribute to the subreddit it is posted in or is off-topic in a particular community, downvote it.

                                                                                                                                    ‘I would like this to appear higher/lower on the page’ is so ambiguous that it leads to different people misunderstanding it and applying it differently.

                                                                                                                                    1. 6

                                                                                                                                      I’d say that’s a prescriptive definition, but a descriptive one is more useful [1], and thinking about it that way will be more likely to solve the problem.

                                                                                                                                      That is, “users don’t read documentation”, and it means whatever the users think it means, and it changes over time. FWIW I’ve been using Reddit since 2007, and HN since 2011 or so, and there’s never complete agreement on what these things mean.

                                                                                                                                      I’ve seen the debate about downvote vs. disagree several times over the years on the sites. I choose to sidestep it with the vague definition – that’s a feature! :) It’s OK to be vague sometimes.

                                                                                                                                      In cases like this, where the number of flags leads to either banning or encouragement ot leave, I think it’s better not to be vague, and have 2 distinct mechanisms. This isn’t a big change, as lobste.rs had both downvoting and flagging until very recently.

                                                                                                                                      [1] https://amyrey.web.unc.edu/classes/ling-101-online/tutorials/understanding-prescriptive-vs-descriptive-grammar/

                                                                                                                                      1. 2

                                                                                                                                        This isn’t a big change, as lobste.rs had both downvoting and flagging until very recently.

                                                                                                                                        I don’t think it had both, rather the flag button just looked like a “downvote” button. You still selected from the same reasons that flag presented. This change is the one that altered the styling I believe. There’s plenty of places that refer to it as “voting” in the code still, but unless I am mistaken there was only ever the one mechanism.

                                                                                                                                  2. 7

                                                                                                                                    A nice thing about downvotes is it lets people who simply don’t like something say “I don’t like this” without putting noise in the channel that’s used to catch abuse, spam, and so on.

                                                                                                                                    So, the purpose of downvotes was emphatically not to express disagreement…it was to signal one of a handful of error conditions (bad information, factual inaccuracy, etc.). There is very little utility in seeing how many people merely disagree about something, especially given how fast people are to be mean to each other.

                                                                                                                                    As a historical point, @jcs at one time disabled downvotes. It did not last more than a week or two before it was brought back.

                                                                                                                                    1. 11

                                                                                                                                      Sorry, I see how it was worded unclearly. I understand that the intention currently is to have no “disagree” button. I’m saying that having that button could reduce how often people flag comments they disagree with as having one of the error conditions, which they might do by by stretching definitions, picking a random reason, or just preferentially noticing real flaggable issues when they happen to dislike the content. (I think the unclarity comes from me using “downvotes” to mean “a no-reason downvote button” as opposed to flags as they exist–I edited to clarify above.)

                                                                                                                                      It may be useful to let people push a button for disagreement even if your algorithms assign a low weight to those clicks. I say low weight rather than zero because having a 100%-placebo button in the UI raises other issues, even if moderators give zero weight to an easy expression of disagreement. I’d probably give a no-reason-given downvote nonzero weight in my head but I don’t expect others to adopt my weights.

                                                                                                                                      Shorter, the idea is that people sometimes find a way to “downvote” for disagreement however you set up your UI, and you might get a net harm reduction by just giving them the button they want and then deciding what to do with the data.

                                                                                                                                      1. 6

                                                                                                                                        Ah, so kind of like the buttons on crosswalks?

                                                                                                                                        Anyways, thank you for elaborating further. :)

                                                                                                                                        1. 4

                                                                                                                                          Very well said. Even if the system is not equipped with a “disagree” button, some users may desire one and use whatever means are at hand to express themselves. The phrase, “the purpose of a system is what it does,” comes to mind.

                                                                                                                                          If existing mechanisms are not meant for use in disagreements, then we might ask if that is actually how they are being used.

                                                                                                                                        2. 4

                                                                                                                                          That’s nice, but you can’t make users behave the way you want them to behave, if you’re not going to actively act against it. People not only downvote because they disagree, but they’ll also flag things as spam or off-topic or “troll” just because they disagree, or feel you’ve insulted their particular religious (as in vimacs-vs-spaces) beliefs.

                                                                                                                                          1. 6

                                                                                                                                            I think I’d prefer a system that discourages misuse of flags. Maybe a similar message for people who flag a lot

                                                                                                                                            1. 3

                                                                                                                                              Sure, folks determined to game things would still flag. My theory is decently many who flag today are not determined to game things, and would click a down arrow for “just no” given the option. That’d reduce noise in the flag system even though it wouldn’t eliminate it. (And not saying you couldn’t do other changes too.)

                                                                                                                                          2. 4

                                                                                                                                            in fact, you can have placebo downvotes that show up for the person doing the downvoting but do not affect the vote count otherwise. that would keep (almost) everyone happy, i think.

                                                                                                                                          3. 6

                                                                                                                                            Agreed.

                                                                                                                                            I think it’s fair to discuss whether the wording of the warning message can be improved, but various comments here that pretty much amount to “person X is popular, he should be exempt from the rules” are just tiring.

                                                                                                                                            1. 8

                                                                                                                                              How is being flagged a rule? It’s not a rule. That is the whole problem.

                                                                                                                                              Anyone can flag any comment any time.

                                                                                                                                              1. 2

                                                                                                                                                Receive too many flags, get a notice. That’s the rule.

                                                                                                                                                1. 9

                                                                                                                                                  That is not a rule in the sense of rule that can be followed by users. I did’t read a single comment suggesting that shouldn’t apply to some user because of its popularity, but rather many people pointing out that this is a clear case illustrating that such system is broken and should be fixed for all users.

                                                                                                                                            2. 5

                                                                                                                                              rather than continue to engage in a community they don’t fit into

                                                                                                                                              Is lobster a community that accepts a plurality of opinion? If it is, then you will always have people disagreeing with you and therefore be liable to be reported by some of these people.

                                                                                                                                              Democracy leads to lynching. Mass reporting is basically the lynching of internet persona. Any kind of automatic penalty that can be initiated via reporting is simply giving power to the angry mob. Autoban and autosuspend based on reports have always been abused.

                                                                                                                                              1. 3

                                                                                                                                                You’re still here, so evidently the suggestion doesn’t apply to you. You’re glad to contribute.

                                                                                                                                                Why not show the warning to flag-happy people? I don’t have stats but I feel like that could be a better indicator of who doesn’t want to be here.

                                                                                                                                              2. 21

                                                                                                                                                Why do we need this passive aggressive banner anyway? It looks bad for Lobster, not for the person seeing it, and it’s not clear what problem it’s supposed to solve.

                                                                                                                                                1. 19

                                                                                                                                                  We consistently see the vast majority of bad behavior come from the same few users. There’s a phenomenon, called the normalization of deviance, whereby people whose behavior is far away from the norm often genuinely don’t realize just how far it is. The banner, and the histogram that it links to, are intended as a way for people to self-correct. I personally am a big believer in giving people opportunities for redemption, and the histogram makes the point in a way that mere words can’t.

                                                                                                                                                  1. 6

                                                                                                                                                    far away from the norm

                                                                                                                                                    Far away from the norm doesn’t mean bad. You seem to be assuming that it is.

                                                                                                                                                    1. 8

                                                                                                                                                      I appreciate you raising that. On the contrary, I agree that sometimes people’s behavior is far from the norm for positive reasons. I do think that, even in those cases, everyone can benefit from a heads-up and a chance to reflect about whether it’s what they want.

                                                                                                                                                      1. 3

                                                                                                                                                        As in reflecting on do you want to be good when everybody else is bad?? Am I reading that right?

                                                                                                                                                        1. 6

                                                                                                                                                          Well, yeah. I know for a fact that people have left Lobsters for that reason (or at least, that’s how they see it). While I am sad when people leave, I don’t think anyone is obligated to stay somewhere that doesn’t make them happy. It would be wrong of me to try to trick or coerce people into staying when their free choice, with all the facts available, would be to leave.

                                                                                                                                                          I’m not really sure why you’re asking this, though. The flagging system doesn’t have the ability to determine who’s right and who’s wrong. Even if I wanted to take my personal concept of “good” and write code that ignores flags that aren’t “good”, there is no existing technology that can do anything like that. If that’s what you’re advocating for, feature request noted but I’m not able to do it.

                                                                                                                                                          1. 3

                                                                                                                                                            I’m not really sure why you’re asking this, though

                                                                                                                                                            I am not asking anything. I was commenting on an implicit bad argument you made (the implication that the norm is correct). You decided to double down by arguing that even if somebody was correct, they should ‘reflect about whether it’s what they want’. I simply then pointed out that this doesnt reinforce your original argument, because it itself is bad, because having a bad feature (aggressive warning about being reported) is not validated by having that feature also be useful to do useless thing (letting people reflect on whether they should be good, because the answer is always yes).

                                                                                                                                                            I don’t think anyone is obligated to stay somewhere that doesn’t make them happy.

                                                                                                                                                            Of course not. The point is that assuming that lobsters want a community that engage in meaningful discussion, then it should make people want to stay and be happy, that is a worthy goal. all of this is following your argument for the banner, the argument which I consider to be invalid, as pointed out.

                                                                                                                                                            1. 5

                                                                                                                                                              Being distant from the norms can hold little moral judgment and yet be relevant when operating in a constructed community.

                                                                                                                                                              1. 2

                                                                                                                                                                Okay, I guess that’s fair.

                                                                                                                                                                I think we disagree about something in there, but it sounds like figuring out what isn’t a high priority for either of us? I appreciate the discussion, anyway.

                                                                                                                                                        2. 1

                                                                                                                                                          I at least didn’t read that implication into the post. Not all ways of being far from the norm are likely to result in seeing the banner. It isn’t a perfect system but it’s definitely not symmetric, so that assumption isn’t necessarily required.

                                                                                                                                                        3. 2

                                                                                                                                                          Thanks for clarifying. But I still think it doesn’t make Lobster looks good because this feature implies that “deviant” behaviour should be corrected and can be automatically detected, and I expect most people (especially in tech) aren’t comfortable with either of these.

                                                                                                                                                          I’m wondering what’s the worse that could happen if the banner is not displayed? Maybe the person who’s being flagged all the time will get the point and adjust their behaviour, or maybe they don’t need to adjust anything and it’s other people that will start seeing that perhaps that person has a point. I also believe in giving people a second chance but I don’t think the solution to everything has to be algorithms, sometimes simple human interactions are preferable.

                                                                                                                                                          1. 3

                                                                                                                                                            The hypothesis that motivates the banner and histogram is that, by displaying them, those conversations about what to adjust will happen sooner and be more productive. The goal is to head off situations where somebody doesn’t believe mods when we tell them something needs to change, and they ultimately leave the site. It may be right or wrong but that’s the motivation.

                                                                                                                                                          2. 1

                                                                                                                                                            Do you think that the banner has an observable positive effect? Do you see a change in behavior from the few users you say produce the majority of bad behavior? As friendlysock says above, they see the banner nearly all the time. Do you think they have been falsely-flagged by this system? If so, can you estimate how high the false-positive rate of showing this banner? If friendlysock has been appropriately warned by this system, have you seen any change in their behavior onsite?

                                                                                                                                                            If it is truly only a few users producing undesirable behavior, could it be more effective to simply reach out to those users personally?

                                                                                                                                                            1. 3

                                                                                                                                                              I’m not going to publicly discuss my personal feelings about specific community members. It wouldn’t be fair to anyone.

                                                                                                                                                              I don’t have a methodology to conclusively determine how much influence the banner has had, but the site has a lot less flagging in general than it did a couple years ago. I take that to be an indicator that things have calmed down significantly, and I do think that’s good.

                                                                                                                                                              I do reach out to people personally from time to time, as do the other mods. The banner and histogram were created to address a shortcoming in that approach, where sometimes people aren’t willing to listen to criticism unless they’re presented with data that validates it. I’m skeptical of going fully data-driven for everything, but I think it’s nice to have at least this one particular metric for those who find it easier to take concerns seriously when there’s a metric.

                                                                                                                                                        4. 20

                                                                                                                                                          Additional suggestion to all the previous improvements: make that banner a thing that’s moderator-initiated. I of course don’t have statistics on how many people see it (I never got it, so I just learned about it now, anecdotally) but I could imagine that this is rare enough that moderators could just evaluate sending this message to users by hand after the system flags the user internally.

                                                                                                                                                          1. 6

                                                                                                                                                            I of course don’t have statistics on how many people see it

                                                                                                                                                            I don’t have that statistic either, but as I posted elsewhere, only 13 people have been flagged more than me in the last month and I haven’t seen it. Only 7 people have been flagged 10 or more times. I’d therefore expect that trimming it down to 5 people that moderators need to take a look at per month is quite feasible.

                                                                                                                                                            If even that is too much of a load for the moderators, then it might be possible to select a dozen people who have been active recently but not participated in any of the flagged threads to do a triaging pass. At that point, having someone reach out to the person and say ‘you’ve had a lot of things flagged recently, is there anything going on in your life that you want to talk about?’ would be a fairly low load.

                                                                                                                                                            1. 3

                                                                                                                                                              You can a chart that gives you a clear idea how many people see it at /u/you/standing. So you can see it at /u/david_chisnall/standing and I can see it at /u/hoistbypetard/standing. The red Xs should represent users seeing the warning.

                                                                                                                                                              I’d never suggest that someone else should just add a thing to their plate, but it does seem like the kind of thing where, if there were a few active moderators, requiring someone to approve the red box might be an improvement for a relatively low effort. That feels like the kind of statement I should only make if I’m accompanying it with a patch, though, and I can’t offer that right now.

                                                                                                                                                          2. 15

                                                                                                                                                            Yep, I think the current wording will probably trigger exactly the wrong people “have I overstepped a border? Probably” and the people who are actively engaging in a little bit of flaming won’t be bothered.

                                                                                                                                                            1. 7

                                                                                                                                                              Following on the “let’s get shit done” vibe, is there an open issue for discussing this in more detail on github? I did a quick lookup and didn’t find any, would be cool if it was posted here (even better if as a top comment)

                                                                                                                                                              1. 5

                                                                                                                                                                Good idea, thanks! (Obvious in retrospect, like many good ideas.) I created an issue.

                                                                                                                                                              2. 4

                                                                                                                                                                I mildly agree with both of those things, but I also think that the suggestion further down the thread to re-introduce downvoting as “non-bannable feedback” could address the issue more directly.

                                                                                                                                                                https://lobste.rs/s/zp4ofg/lobster_burntsushi_has_left_site#c_padx5h

                                                                                                                                                                Some people may misuse flags and downvotes, but overall I think these guidelines are intuitive and easy to remember:

                                                                                                                                                                • upvote: this should go higher on the page
                                                                                                                                                                • downvote: this should go lower on the page
                                                                                                                                                                • flag: if the user continues this behavior, they should eventually be banned
                                                                                                                                                                1. 2

                                                                                                                                                                  In my post I’m trying to focus on an easy thing to do to help reduce this problem. I have the impression that rewording the banner is something that’s reasonably easy, while “let’s reintroduce downvotes” or “the banner should be approved by moderators before being shown” are important change in process that require a lot of discussion. They may be excellent ideas, but it’s a lot more work to discuss and turn them into action, so I think it’s best not to mix the two kind of suggestions if we want to change anything at all in the short term; they should be discussed separately, and maybe differently. (I could just send a PR to rephrase the banner; any of the other suggestions requires more discussion with contributors, etc.).

                                                                                                                                                                  1. 1

                                                                                                                                                                    Yes, it makes sense to do the easy things first. My impression was that we had downvotes several months ago, so it shouldn’t that big a change to restore them, but I’m not involved so I could be wrong.

                                                                                                                                                                    I was mystified by the removal of downvotes, and never saw the rationale for it. I saw one thread discussing it 3 or 6 months after they were removed, which still didn’t answer my questions about why they were removed. It made the site worse for me, but not enough to really complain about it. I know this is an all-volunteer effort and I didn’t have time to look at it myself.

                                                                                                                                                              1. 11

                                                                                                                                                                You don’t “accidentally” shut down every channel with libera.chat in the topic

                                                                                                                                                                Either they didn’t do their command with a dry-run first, in which case they are inept, or they knew exactly what it would do and are just malicious.

                                                                                                                                                                1. 5

                                                                                                                                                                  My guess is both.

                                                                                                                                                                1. 36

                                                                                                                                                                  Better title, “don’t just check performance on the highest-end hardware.” Applies to other stuff too, like native apps — developers tend to get the fastest machines, which means the code they’re building always feels fast to them.

                                                                                                                                                                  During the development cycle of Mac OS X (10.0), most of the engineers weren’t allowed to have more than 64MB of RAM, which was the expected average end-user config — that way they’d feel the pain of page-swapping and there’d be more incentive to reduce footprint. I think that got backpedaled after a while because compiles took forever, but it was basically a good idea (as was dog-fooding the OS itself, of course.)

                                                                                                                                                                  1. 4

                                                                                                                                                                    Given that the easy solution is often the most poorly performing and that people with high-end hardware have more money and thus will be the majority of your revenue, it would seem that optimising for performance is throwing good money after bad.

                                                                                                                                                                    You are not gonna convince websites driven by profit with sad stories about poor people having to wait 3 extra seconds to load the megabytes of JS.

                                                                                                                                                                    1. 6

                                                                                                                                                                      depends on who your target audience is. If you are selling premium products, maybe. But then still, there are people outside of tech who are willing to spend money, just not on tech. So I would be very careful with that assumption.

                                                                                                                                                                      1. 2

                                                                                                                                                                        It’s still based on your users and the product you sell. Obviously Gucci, Versace and Ferrari have different audiences but the page should still load quickly. That’s why looking at your CrUX reports and RUM data helps with figuring out who you think your users are and who’s actually visiting your web site.

                                                                                                                                                                        I don’t own a Ferrari but I still like to window shop. Maybe one day I will. Why make the page load slow because you didn’t bother to optimize your JavaScript?

                                                                                                                                                                      2. 5

                                                                                                                                                                        These days your page performance (e.g. Core Web Vitals) is an SEO factor. For public sites that operate as a revenue funnel, a stakeholder will listen to that.

                                                                                                                                                                        1. 3

                                                                                                                                                                          I don’t work on websites, but my understanding is that generally money comes from ad views, not money spent by the user, so revenue isn’t based on their wealth. I’m sure Facebook’s user / viewer base isn’t mostly rich people.

                                                                                                                                                                          Most of my experience comes from working on the OS (and it’s bundled apps like iChat.) it was important that the OS run well on the typical machines out in the world, or people wouldn’t upgrade, or buy a new Mac.

                                                                                                                                                                          1. 2

                                                                                                                                                                            Even if you were targeting only the richest, relying on high-end hardware to save you would be a bad strategy.

                                                                                                                                                                            • Mobile connections can have crappy speeds, on any hardware.
                                                                                                                                                                            • All non-iPhone phones are relatively slow, even the top-tier luxury ones (e.g. foldables). Apple has a huge lead in hardware performance, and other manufacturers just can’t get equally fast chips for any price.
                                                                                                                                                                            • It may also backfire if your product is for well-off people, but not tech-savvy people. There are people who could easily afford a better phone, but they don’t want to change it. They see tech upgrades as a disruption and a risk.
                                                                                                                                                                          2. 3

                                                                                                                                                                            I’ve heard similar (I believe from Raymond Chen) about Windows 95 - you could only have the recommended spec as stated on the box unless you could justify otherwise.

                                                                                                                                                                            1. 2

                                                                                                                                                                              It would be very useful if the computer could run at full speed while compiling, throttling down to medium speed while running your program.

                                                                                                                                                                              1. 1

                                                                                                                                                                                Or you use a distributed build environment.

                                                                                                                                                                                1. 1

                                                                                                                                                                                  If you use Linux, then I believe this can be accomplished with cgroups.

                                                                                                                                                                                2. 2

                                                                                                                                                                                  They might have loved a distributed build system at the time. :) Compiling on fast boxes and running the IDE on slow boxes would’ve been a reasonable compromise I think.

                                                                                                                                                                                  1. 1

                                                                                                                                                                                    most of the engineers weren’t allowed to have more than 64MB of RAM,

                                                                                                                                                                                    Can OS X even run on that amount of ram?

                                                                                                                                                                                    1. 15

                                                                                                                                                                                      OS X 10.0 was an update to OPENSTEP, which ran pretty happily with 8 MiB of RAM. There were some big redesigns of core APIs between OPENSTEP and iOS to optimise for power / performance rather than memory use. OPENSTEP was really aggressive about not keeping state for UI widgets. If you have an NSTableView instance on OPENSTEP, you have one NSCell object (<100 bytes) per column and this is used to draw every cell in the table. If it’s rendering text, then there’s a single global NSTextView (multiple KiB, including all other associated state) instance that handles the text rendering and is placed over the cell that the user is currently editing, to give the impression that there’s a real text view backing every cell. When a part of the window is exposed and needs redrawing, the NSCell instances redraw it. Most of the objects that are allocated on the drawing path are in a custom NSZone that does bump allocation and bulk free, so the allocation is cheap and the objects are thrown away at the end of the drawing operation.

                                                                                                                                                                                      With OS X, the display server was replaced with one that did compositing by default. Drawing happened the same way, but each window’s full contents were stored. This was one of the big reasons that OS X needed more RAM than OPENSTEP. The full frame buffer for a 24-bit colour 1024x768 display is a little over 2 MiB. With OPENSTEP, that’s all you needed. When a window was occluded, you threw away the contents and drew over it with the contents of the other window[1]. With OS X, you kept the contents of all windows in memory[2] . If you’ve got 10 full-screen windows, now you need over 20 MiB just for the display. In exchange for this, you get faster UI interaction because you’re not having to redraw on expose events.

                                                                                                                                                                                      Fast forward to the iPhone era and now you’ve got enough dedicated video memory that storing a texture for every single window was a fairly negligible impact on the GPU space and having 1-2 MiB of system memory per window to have a separate NSView instance (even something big like NSTextView) for every visible cell in a table was pretty negligible and the extra developer effort required to use the NSCell infrastructure was not buying anything important. To make matters worse, the NSCell mechanisms were intrinsically serial. Because every cell was drawn with the same NSCell instance, you couldn’t parallelise this. In contrast, an NSView is stateful and, as long as the controller / model support concurrent reads (including the case that they’re separate objects), you can draw them in parallel. This made it possible to have each NSView draw in a separate thread (or on a thread pool with libdispatch), spreading the drawing work across cores (improving power, because the cores could run in a lower power state and still be faster than one core doing all of the work in a higher power state, with the same power envelope). It also meant that the result of drawing an NSView could be stored in a separate texture (CoreAnimation Layer) and, if the view hadn’t changed, be composited very cheaply on the GPU without needing the CPU to do anything other than drop a couple of commands into a ring buffer. All of this improves performance and power consumption on a modern system, but would have been completely infeasible on the kind of hardware that OPENSTEP or OS X 10.0 ran on.

                                                                                                                                                                                      [1] More or less. The redraws actually drew a bit more than was needed that was stored in a small cache, because doing a redraw for every row of column of pixels that was exposed was too slow, asking views to draw a little bit more and caching it meant that you make it appear smooth as a window was gradually revealed. Each window would (if you moved the mouse in a predictable path) draw the bit that’s most likely to be exposed next and then that would be just copied into the frame buffer by the display server as the mouse moved.

                                                                                                                                                                                      [2] Well, not quite all - if memory was constrained and you had some fully occluded windows, the system would discard them and force redraws on expose.

                                                                                                                                                                                      1. 1

                                                                                                                                                                                        Thanks for this excellent comment. You should turn it into a mini post of it’s own!

                                                                                                                                                                                      2. 3

                                                                                                                                                                                        Looks as if the minimum requirement for OS X 10.0 (Cheetah) was 128 MB (unofficially 64 MB minimum).

                                                                                                                                                                                        1. 2

                                                                                                                                                                                          Huh. You know, I totally forgot that OS X first came out 20 years ago. This 64M number makes a lot more sense now :)

                                                                                                                                                                                        2. 1

                                                                                                                                                                                          10.0 could, but not very well; it really needed 128MB. But then, 10.0 was pretty slow in general. (It was released somewhat prematurely; there were a ton of low-hanging-fruit performance fixes in 10.1 that made it much more useable.)

                                                                                                                                                                                      1. 15

                                                                                                                                                                                        There are a lot of accusations in this and the subsequently linked posts against this ominous person called Andrew Lee. With all the democratic impetus on these resigning statements, please audiatur et altera pars. Where’s the statement from Lee to the topic? What does he think about this? Does he not want to comment (that is, takes the accusations as valid) or is it simply not linked, which I would find a dubious attitude from people who insist on democratic values? Because, if you accuse anyone, you should give him opportunity to explain himself.

                                                                                                                                                                                        Don’t get me wrong. What I read is concerning. But freenode basically is/was the last bastion of IRC. The brand is well-known. The proposed alternative libera.chat will fight an uphill battle against non-IRC services. Dissolving/attacking the freenode brand is thus doing IRC as a whole a disfavour and should only be done after very careful consideration and not as a spontaneous act of protest.

                                                                                                                                                                                        1. 13

                                                                                                                                                                                          Where’s the statement from Lee to the topic?

                                                                                                                                                                                          You can dig through IRC logs referenced in the resignation letter linked by pushcx above and see what he has to say to the admins directly, if you assume the logs haven’t been tampered with. My personal assessment is he makes lots and lots of soothing reassuring non-confrontational noises to angry people, and then when the people who actually operate the network ask for actual information he gives them none. When they offer suggestions for how to resolve the situation he ignores them. When they press for explanations of previous actions (such as him asking for particular people to be given admin access) he deflects and tries to make it seem like the decision came from a group of people, not just himself.

                                                                                                                                                                                          So yeah. Smooth, shiny, nicely-lacquered 100% bullshit.

                                                                                                                                                                                          1. 16

                                                                                                                                                                                            I’ve now skimmed through some of the IRC logs. It’s been long that I read so heated discussions, full of swear words, insults, accusations, dirty language, and so on. This affects both sides. It’s like a transcript from children in the kindergarten trying to insult each other and it’s hard to believe that these persons are supposed to be adults. This is unworthy of a project which so many FOSS communities are relying on. Everyone should go shame in the corner and come back in a few days when they have calmed down.

                                                                                                                                                                                            I’m not going to further comment on the topic. This is not how educated persons settle a dispute.

                                                                                                                                                                                            1. 6

                                                                                                                                                                                              Amen.

                                                                                                                                                                                          2. 11

                                                                                                                                                                                            Lee has issued a statement under his own name now: https://freenode.net/news/freenode-is-foss

                                                                                                                                                                                            1. 10

                                                                                                                                                                                              As a rebuttal to the URL alone, freenode isn’t foss, it’s a for profit company. So before you even click through you are being bullshitted.

                                                                                                                                                                                              1. 14

                                                                                                                                                                                                freenode isn’t foss, it’s a for profit company.

                                                                                                                                                                                                You can be for profit and foss. So this is a non-sequitur.

                                                                                                                                                                                              2. 3

                                                                                                                                                                                                Ah, thanks.

                                                                                                                                                                                              3. 7

                                                                                                                                                                                                Self-replying: Lee has been e-mail-interviewed by The Register, giving some information on how he sees the topic: https://www.theregister.com/2021/05/19/freenode_staff_resigns/

                                                                                                                                                                                                1. 7

                                                                                                                                                                                                  “freenode” is both a brand and an irc network run by a team of people. if the team did not want to work with andrew lee, but wanted to continue running the network, their only option was to walk away and establish a new network, and try to make that the “real” freenode in all but the name.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  this is not the first brand-vs-actual-substance split in the open source world; i don’t see that they had any other choice after lee tried to assert control over freenode-the-network due to ownership of freenode-the-brand.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. 6

                                                                                                                                                                                                    who insist on democratic values?

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Democracy isn’t about hearing both sides. It’s about majority winning.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Actually getting angry over one-sided claims and forming an angry mob is very democratic and has been its tradition since the time of ancient greeks.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. 5

                                                                                                                                                                                                      If and when a representative of Lee’s company (apparently https://imperialfamily.com/) posts something, a member can submit it to the site.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      As far as I know Lee or his company have made no statement whatsoever.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. 2

                                                                                                                                                                                                        Could this just be the death knell of irc? A network split is not good as people will be confused between Freenode and Libera Chat.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        Most young people that look for a place to chat probably look at discord first. For example, the python discord server has 220000 registered users and 50000 online right now. I don’t believe that the python channel on Freenode has ever gotten close to that.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. 16

                                                                                                                                                                                                          Having multiple networks is healthy.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. 11

                                                                                                                                                                                                            I strongly believe that IRC is on a long slow decline rather than going to die out due to any one big event. Mostly because there are so many other IRC servers. It’s an ecosystem not a corporation.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. 7

                                                                                                                                                                                                              IRC has survived, and will yet survive, a lot of drama.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. 3

                                                                                                                                                                                                                Well, people were already confused between OFTC and Freenode. More the merrier.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. 27

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Generally I liked it, but from some reason it discourages square-style borders in designs. One answer treats a square border as a wrong answer, but that’s just a style issue. I don’t see anything wrong with square borders.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. 30

                                                                                                                                                                                                                Also, having the “skip” button just be text instead of being an actual button is somehow the “correct” design.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. 6

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  You’re not alone. That’s an aspect of mobile platform standards that plenty of people in the design world aren’t wild about.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. 11

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I am not in the design world but I really want to punch somebody for this. Either give me a choice or don’t give me a choice. Don’t hide half the options under different design. This is the standard cookie bullshit dark pattern.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. 4

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Oh yeah, you’re talking about the “option that preserves your privacy is diminished” dark pattern? Agreed. That much is not a platform standard. What I was referring to as a platform standard that many designers don’t like is for buttons to be borderless.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. 2

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    With a single ‘highlighted’ option it makes speed-nexting easier.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Too bad most organisations put the anti-user option as the default whenever they could.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  3. 10

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    What’s not explicitly stated here is that these designs are in the style of popular mobile standards like the stock iOS search bar or Material Design in the share prompt. In mobile app development we often try to keep consistency with other apps. Users switch between apps quickly and they need to be more similar in terms of appearance and layout to keep the friction to a minimum. Colors and fonts are fair game to change, but shapes, capitalization, putting the confirm button on a certain side, etc. are viewed as having a correct (conformant) answer. At least, that’s a common viewpoint.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    On a web app, go nuts :) In that case it’s all up to your own design system, and I agree fully.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Another possible interpretation of “correct”: Your designer gave you the intended appearance. You built it. Now it looks like this. Either the design or implementation might have introduced a mistake, but either way the buck stops with you. Is it right? “Did I do this correctly” is an everyday question for mobile app developers.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. 1

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      As others have said it’s more about consistency. If there are two rectangular items, and 6 of the 8 corners are rounded, then the smallest change that achieves full consistency is to make all 8 corners rounded (requires changing only 2 corners) rather than making all 8 sharp (requires changing 6 corners). Even more so if rounded corners are the default style of the platform (which they often are these days).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. 1

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Pair programming was invented so that organisation can dispose of any one developer without fear of losing knowledge. The alternative is, of course, treating developers well so they don’t pull the rug from under you. But we all know that’s never an option.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      The two times pairing is beneficial is when one person is bringing another person up to speed e.g. junior-senior. The other is when you really like the other guy, then it is just a lot of fun.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      When you have a board of names of the manager just pull 2 names at random then you are in for some pain.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. 1

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Pair programming was invented so that organisation can dispose of any one developer without fear of losing knowledge.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Also it saves money on surveillance “employee performance monitoring” software, by having employees “monitor” each other.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. 4

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        It’s remarkable how long this battle between botters and the bot detection system has been going on. Jagex claims to be banning thousands of bots per month. More details here on the backstory, written from Paul Gower, one of the creators of RuneScape, just over 10 years ago: https://imgur.com/a/eAuN6uT

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        As an additional aside, not only has this ongoing battle led to more sophisticated botting techniques to “win” at the game, but reverse engineering the game client has in and of itself led to the creation of “private server” communities. Jagex hasn’t open sourced the RuneScape server software, so players have gone off and written their own server software instead, based on reverse engineering the game client code to understand the game’s protocol.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. 2

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          The issue with bots are bad game designs around non-fun gameplay i.e. grinding. You only want to bot the grind. If the game is fun there’s no point in botting because you are playing to have fun.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          When you have to kill 1000000000 boars to progress obviously it’s only gonna be bots doing that.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. 7

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            That’s not the only reason people use bots. If your game has a market, someone is going to game the market. If your game has PVP, someone will want top tier PVP gear without earning it. And if your game has other people in it at all, someone is going to figure out a way to grief or harass them.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. 1

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              i agree - whether the game is fun or not is not the important factor here, it’s the existence of the open market that leads to these issues. (If there’s no market, then bots don’t negatively effect the experience of other player as much either)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            2. 2

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Automation like this will emerge in any online space with competitive elements. For online games, this means competition for economic or social standing. If a leaderboard exists in some capacity, someone will begin finding a way to cheat it, and botting is one way that manifests.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            3. 1

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              runescape bot detection is somewhat notorious for its false positives – there’s a significant community of innocent players who have been falsely banned for botting and unable to appeal! if playing the game legitimately puts players in danger of irrevocable bans, perhaps aggressive bot detection effectively makes botting the only real way to play the game…

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. 10

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I must be out of sync here but people were thinking SQLite was a toy database??

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. 9

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Same. I’ve never considered it a toy. Not suited for multiple concurrent connections? Sure. But the usefulness of having a full SQL store for a small application is almost impossible to overstate.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. 57

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                You don’t need to put random files somewhere, the ext filesystems have had a “reserved percentage” and set it to 5% for exactly this reason. If you ever run out of space on a partition, just

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                tune2fs -m 0

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                clean up fs

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                tune2fs -m 5

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                and you’re done.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • NB, this doesn’t work if the thing that is using all the disk space is run as root, but that is one of the many reasons why you don’t run services as root.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. 10

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I can already see myself forgetting to do the second part.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. 11

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Yeah, I prefer the “8GB empty file” approach more. If I’m in a panic trying to fix a server which fell over, I’m much more likely to remember how rm works than how tune2fs works.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. 15
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      alias uhoh='tune2fs -m 0'
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      alias phew='tune2fs -m 5'
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. 8

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        You’re almost never going to use those aliases. If you’re lucky, you’ll still have them in your shell rc file in 5 years when you run out of space. You’ll certainly have forgot about them by then.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. 3

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I was being somewhat facetious :) my point is that now you know about the trick, there are ways to make it easier to remember and use if you ever need it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. 2

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I think the trick is knowing that the fs saves 5% of the drive for exactly this situation. The exact command can be googled. I’ll admit I looked at the man page before typing in the original comment. I know disk space is cheap these days, but losing 8GB of space more than the 5% that you’ve already lost seems really wasteful to me.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      3. 7

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Wouldn’t you also be just as likely to forget to recreate the file if you were using the strategy proposed by the article?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. 2

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I’d probably have them set up in an ansible config. Don’t need to remember, the computer remembers for you.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. 4

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            you can set up tune2fs -m 5 in an ansible config as well.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. 5

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          You can tune a file system, but you can’t tune a fish.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. 2

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            This is great information, but I can see it not finding its way to everybody who needs to know it, like someone spending their time mainly on building the application they then serve. When / how did you learn this?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. 7

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              This is something that’s been in UNIX since at least the ‘80s, so any basic intro to UNIX course ought to cover it. I came across it in an undergrad UNIX course. Per-user filesystem quotas have also been around for a long time, this is just a degenerate special case (it’s traditionally implemented by setting root’s quota to 105% and underreporting the ‘capacity’ of the disk).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Note that this is far more reliable than creating an empty file. Most *NIX filesystems support ‘holes’, so unless you actually write data everywhere, you’re not actually going to consume disk space. Worse, on CoW filesystems, it’s possible that deleting a file can require you to allocate space on the disk, which may not be possible if you let the filesystem get 100% full. I believe this is the case for ZFS if the zpool gets completely full.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. 2

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Thanks! In the early years after university (think mid-2000s), I often wished my school had given some more practical knowledge. They were very much on the theory side, so I learned a lot of OS concepts and was ready when functional programming really landed, but only my internships stooped to discuss pragmatic things like version control. If you didn’t get this knowledge from academia or if you didn’t go through academia in the first place, where would you look for it?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. 3

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  It’s been over 20 years since I read a Linux book, but I’m pretty sure that the last one I read covered it. It’s the sort of thing I’d expect to see in anything aimed at sysadmins.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                2. 1

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  the output of df and fsck will tell you about this. I probably learned about it when I realized the filesystem was one size but df had a slightly smaller size.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. 8

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I’m not sure what the point of this story is? That two nerds trying to impress one another have overengineered the simplest problem to infinity? That most programmer interviews are bollocks? Something about how the company is too woke, or not woke enough? I’m thoroughly confused.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. 17

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                https://aphyr.com/posts/340-reversing-the-technical-interview and its follow up posts might provide some more context :)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. 2

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  People used to try to come up with clever ways to do fizzbuzz to show how clever they were. That’s not in vogue anymore, so people instead veil it as a criticism of contemporary technical interviews instead. Now they not only get to show how clever they are, but also how many fancy words they have in their eclectic lexicon.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Some of it is pretty cool, but I would prefer to get straight to the clever part, without the short story.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. 6

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  The problem with this argument is that it is entirely possible to do that with a non-proof-of-work system as well. In fact, a blockchain may not be necessary at all.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I don’t think anyone would deny that centralized databases are more performant than distributed ones, pretty much across the board. The key tradeoff Bitcoin makes here is trustless immutability. Gold was our previous trustless money, and over the past couple hundred years all credit monies and fiat currencies have massively depreciated against it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Centralized ledgers do work, but they cannot provide an ironclad guarantee that the rules of the game will remain fixed into the future. We don’t even know what the supply of dollars will be six months from now. Bitcoin’s supply is predictable decades into the future.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  The root problem with conventional currency is all the trust that’s required to make it work. The central bank must be trusted not to debase the currency, but the history of fiat currencies is full of breaches of that trust.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  — Satoshi Nakamoto

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. 9

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Gold was our previous trustless money, and over the past couple hundred years all credit monies and fiat currencies have massively depreciated against it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I recently read Valerie Hansen’s The Silk Road and she makes the point that gold was not the trustless money. It was more accepted than coinage, but you need steady, reliable trading partners to make it useful as currency. The real universal currency in the oasis kingdoms was bolts of cloth.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. 4

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      The real universal currency in the oasis kingdoms was bolts of cloth.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Bolts of what cloth, from which producer, what quality, at what time was it produced?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Meanwhile a chunk of gold is a chunk of gold.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. 2

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        [Warning: speculation ahead]

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I’m imagining the bolts to be silk.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Gold can be alloyed with base metals in ways that are hard to detect using technology known to the merchants of the Silk Road. Silk can be more easily assayed.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. 1

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I’m sure the oasis kingdoms would have been convinced by your brilliant analysis.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. 2

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Nice book, I will have to add that to my list.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Certainly, different commodities have served as trustless money at different times. Shells and pelts are two other examples. Gold eventually won out for global trade, but it wasn’t universal until fairly late in history.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        3. 2

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          You’re falsely equating the space of “not proof-of-work” and “not blockchain” with “centralized.”

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          The claim is that one can achieve similar decentralized feats (depending on the goal) without requiring the planet killing compute power of a proof-of-work blockchain.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. 3

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Hmm, well it comes up twice. First they claim that FedWire can provide properties such as transaction finality and Sybil resistance. Which is true, it can!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            This entire kludge is negated in FedWire because all participants are known: it is permissioned.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            With 25 core nodes FedWire has a degree of replication, but it is definitely not permissionless. Most importantly, it can’t provide the guarantee I highlighted about the rules remaining fixed.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Second, near the end of the article they mention proof-of-stake, but it’s a bit of a throwaway line.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Through the usage of either permissioned systems (like an RTGS) or a proof-of-stake chain, the energy consumed by PoW chains did not need to take place at all. In fact, PoS chains can provide the same types of utility that PoW chains do, but without the negative environmental externalities.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            They mention that the “transition to proof-of-stake is beyond the scope of this article” and don’t really dive into how PoS achieves any of these goals.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            The fatal flaw with proof-of-stake is that 51% attacks are unrecoverable. If one entity ever manages to get more than half the PoS coins, they forever control the rules of the network. PoS networks can be decentralized, but they can never be permissionless. In order to get new coins, you have to buy them from someone who already owns them.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            In contrast, PoW is both decentralized and permissionless. Anyone can participate in the mining process without a prior investment. 51% attacks can temporarily interrupt a PoW chain, but an attack is ultimately recoverable.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            So to clarify my position I would add that it’s not just decentralization which is important, but permissionlessness.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. 2

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Centralized ledgers do work, but they cannot provide an ironclad guarantee that the rules of the game will remain fixed into the future. We don’t even know what the supply of dollars will be six months from now. Bitcoin’s supply is predictable decades into the future.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Being able to reinterpret or change the rules is a feature, since it makes it possible to fix mistakes that were made at the inception of the rules. Generally speaking, if you had a traditional contract where a random participant can just set every other participant’s stake on fire, you can probably convince a legal entity that wasn’t the intention and roll back the contract without affecting everyone else using that currency. If the use of the system goes from “currency you can use to buy pizza, drugs, fake IDs, or murder” to “thawing the tundra and flooding my neighborhood so a few really rich guys get even richer” maybe the rules should change, and in a way that doesn’t require the few really rich guys’ consent.