1. 4

    So, uh… I see that Passing the torch is tagged as “meta” and Migration Date and Plans is tagged as “announce” but otherwise, there’s nothing to distinguish these threads as anything particularly special. They aren’t, like, pinned to the home page, or listed at the top of the index, or highlighted as anything fancier than the rest of the stuff under their respective tag markers.

    I guess this means these threads are roughly as significant as any of their peers. Or, maybe I should just decide for myself, based on all the information I have available, and go with that, whether my hunch is right or wrong, and everyone else can just point and laugh, as usual.

    Anyway, figure they’ll get buried in a day, and we can all just move on with our lives.

    1. 2

      P.S. Thanks for pinning this as the top thread! Figure it’s relevant enough, since user action is prescribed for users interested in preserving or destroying information before the hand-off.

      1. 2

        Lobsters doesn’t have any thread/comment pinning features - this thread is at the top of the homepage solely due to upvoting of the story and its comments.

        FWIW, I originally tagged this thread meta and jcs retagged it with announce, as visible in the moderation log.

        1. 12

          Actually, I cheated and made the hotness_mod of the announce tag really high so it will stay at the top of the front page for a considerable amount of time. It was already falling down to number 3 the other day.

      1. 6

        If you want to export your messages before the migration, I added JSON interfaces for your inbox and sent messages:

        1. 31

          I will be deleting all private messages before handing over the database, just for increased privacy in the event someone doesn’t see this before the hand-off. I’ll have a backup in case there is some critical info in a message that gets deleted, but I’d rather err on the side of caution.

          1. 2

            Wait, so are all messages getting zorched or not?

            1. 11

              I will back them up, delete them from the database, then give the dump to @pushcx. So the site on his hardware will have no private message records in it, but if someone urgently needs something from the backup, I can manually fetch it for them.

            2. 2

              Great, then the only other thing for folks to do is change their email address if they don’t want me to see it - anything @mailinator.com should work fine.

              1. 4

                I’ll probably change all deleted accounts to have an email at @lobste.rs before the dump as well.

                1. 30

                  Might I suggest @localhost instead? In case lobsters emails are valid someday.

              2. 1

                Perhaps there could be a setting that you don’t want your messages deleted?

              1. 151

                Hi jcs,

                In an attempt to preserve a community which has been a large part of our lives for a better part of the last few years, @angersock @pushcx @355e3b @alynpost and a few other of the IRC folks feel that we can take over running the website. @alynpost will be able to provide the hosting in Santa Clara, CA under pgrmr’s infrastructure. @pushcx will assume the role of head administrator and take over the domain name along with the Twitter account. @355e3b and @aleph- will take over the care and feeding of the Rails codebase.

                We will not be making any moderation changes at this time—continuity is the important thing.

                Our transition plan is as follows:

                • @pushcx will take over the domain name and Twitter account; @angersock will also have access to resolve emergencies.
                • @pushcx will set up a GitHub organization to own the repository long-term.
                • @alynpost will provision new hardware.
                • @355e3b and @aleph- will take over the administration of the IRC channel on Freenode.
                • @alynpost will invoice @angersock, @pushcx and @355e3b for the costs of running the server long-term.
                • @pushcx and @alynpost will pick a deadline by which anyone who wants their private messages or email address deleted should request it. Once that date has passed, we will pick a date and time for the migration to occur.

                This is solely to ensure continued hosting and maintenance of the website, and a continuation of the community. Long-term, if the existing moderators wish to step down, @pushcx will be responsible for picking new candidates.

                We would also like to thank you for all of your years of work put into this.

                ― #lobsters IRC regulars (aka the clawlateral committee)

                1. 77

                  And I assume @tedu will be in charge of the TLS certificates?

                  1. 21

                    This comment made me super happy :D - Thanks!

                    1. 1


                    2. 56

                      That sounds like a great plan, thanks for putting that together. I’ll feel better knowing the site will be managed by a group instead of falling all on one person.

                      1. 22

                        Glad to see your approval. :)

                        /u/pushcx should be the central point of contact for the migration deets. We’ll keep the community updated!

                        1. 26

                          Great! We’re really happy to step up and take good care of a community we love.

                          And, for the community: the first update is that I just started an email discussion with me, jcs, and alynpost to handle the technical details of the migration. I’ve migrated barnacl.es a few times, so I’m familiar with the procedure. My guess for a timeline is two weeks, but that’ll be adjusted if needed. I’ll post a comment in this thread when we’ve picked a date or there’s otherwise news.

                      2. 18

                        This sounds great. I’m thrilled to see people working together on this. :)

                        1. 10

                          I got back from talking to the people planning out the transition (aleph, push, socky, goodger, alyn, 355, irenes) on Mumble and IRC - they’ve all been wonderful people putting in their best to ensure the community will experience a smooth transition and avoid any turmoil.

                          1. 10

                            Awesome, glad to have regulars and good people taking things over.

                            I would strongly recommend, and as a lobste.rs regular personally request that as a group you take a bit of time to define some basic agreement about decision making and ownership, so that it is clear between you all, and also to the community.

                            This is not a problem when there’s one guy in charge - it’s simple and clear and whether you agree with them or not you have consistency and stability (thanks @jcs !)

                            When there’s more than one, you need extremely strong value alignment and high levels of trust. If you guys have not known each other for 5+ years and can meet in the same bar to share a beer, you need to talk about and get down some basics. Who makes decisions, how, when; who is in control of the domain / hosting / features / community management.

                            Personally, I like the ‘benevolent dictator’ situation. It reduces ambiguity and facilitates short sharp clear decisions. Greater than 2 people needs work to define that recognises that you will eventually have a conflict, that some of you will come and go, and that there is no way you can all have perfect understanding of what each other wants for this community and what your values are.

                            Not doing this is a valid choice too; equal to commitment to cede to whoever has ‘root’ and control of the hosting and then domains if a conflict happens, and requiring proactively thinking about forking / commuity splits.

                            1. 6

                              The way that I personally view it is, @pushcx will step into @jcs’s role and take over as the benevolent dictator.

                              1. 2

                                Is that what you’re thinking too @pushcx ?

                                1. 10

                                  That’s the current plan I’m executing on, yes. I want to continue this excellent community. Lobsters is in a good place: we have a healthy, active userbase, the code is stable, bug-free, and has little need for new features, and I’m on sabbatical so I have plenty of time and attention to devote to a smooth transition.

                                  After the migration is complete I think it’s worth having a new meta thread about if we want to shift to a new community governance model. I’m comfortable being BD for years if not indefinitely, but there’s enough folks talking about community models that I want to have a dedicated discussion to explore examples and consider the option.

                              2. 4

                                One of the guiding principles we talked about a lot during the clawlateral committee meeting was that we wanted to stray as little as possible from the existing governance structure for the time being–the site has done well in its current incarnation, and @pushcx is we believe a good steward to carry on the precedent set by @jcs.

                                The plan explicitly has redundancy in roles (think failover) for all important things you mentioned. We also tried to follow a principle of least-trust and a little bit of separation of powers for the failover folks, so that continuity of service is easy but forking and hijacking is hard.

                                1. [Comment removed by author]

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                                    So what moderation changes will you make later?

                                    The first rule of intelligent tinkering is to keep all the pieces. When we say we will not be making any moderation changes at this time, we mean that we have no moderation changes to make. This group volunteered to operate lobste.rs because we like the way the website has been run. We will moderate with the same principles the site has always operated on. The moderation log is available for public inspection. Changes to the site, just like the one announced here, will be discussed in their own meta thread.

                              3. 6

                                Thank you all. I work a lot, don’t know Rails, and don’t really have anything constructive to contribute, but this is far and away the best signal to noise community I’m involved with and I really appreciate it.

                                If throwing money at the problem will help the new maintainers along please consider setting something up and I’ll chip in.

                                1. 4

                                  They said they should be able to pay for everything out of pocket, as far as I know.

                                2. 6

                                  Does this mean we can finally get an @angersock plushie?

                                  1. 2

                                    You guys were my first thought when I saw this post lol. Thanks for your continued commitment to the community ~

                                    1. 1

                                      Thanks @angersock, @pushcx, @355e3b, @alynpost!

                                      I’d hate to see lobsters die!

                                      1. 1

                                        I love how fast this plan was put together and I feel it will be in good hands. I was scared seeing this post and am excited to see the community I love will keep going and be in good hands!

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                                        1. 2

                                          fantastic ?

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                                          1. 3


                                          1. 10

                                            work: adding support for UDP Options to FreeBSD while trying not to mangle the network code too much.

                                            !work: More work on drivers for my GPD Pocket. I figured out the ACPI junk to get most of the power related stuff attaching to i2c buses described there, but I have hit a snag with ig4 where it times out transfers. While avoiding looking at that I found OpenBSD has a driver for the gpio(chvgpio) so I am porting that to FreeBSD now.

                                            1. 4

                                              What are you planning to do for the Broadcom wireless?

                                              1. 3

                                                I am using a tiny usb dongle right now, tear downs have shown there is no way to replace the internal card. The wireless is the same as the pi3(though pci) and there is an effort right now to add support for the colocation controller on the soc. It might actually be a card that sees support in the next year or two.

                                                1. 4

                                                  The corresponding Linux brcmfmac driver is ISC licensed.

                                            1. 3

                                              I appear to be hitting an ssl exception on this URL. Something about the certificate issuer being unknown.

                                              1. 6

                                                @tedu hasn’t gotten to the book about CA infrastructure yet

                                                1. 2

                                                  Lol. Oh he has. @tedu went further to launch a small-scale experiment on the psychological effects of highly-technical users encountering SSL problems on the homepage of someone they expect understands security. Aside from personal amusement, he probably focused on categorizing them from how many ignore them to quick suggestions to in-depth arguments. He follows up with a sub-study on the quality of those arguments mining them for things that will appeal to the masses. He’ll then extrapolate the patterns he finds to discussions in tech forums in general. He’ll then submit the results to Security and Online Behavior 2018.

                                                  Every tedu story on Lobsters having a complaint about this is the fun part of the study for him. A break from all the tedium of cataloging and analyzing the responses. On that, how bout a Joker Meme: “If a random site by careless admins generate CA errors, then the IT pro’s think that’s all part of the plan. Let one, security-conscious admin have his own CA and then everybody loses their minds!”

                                                  1. 2

                                                    Not far from the truth.

                                                    1. 2

                                                      He’ll pay the $$$ and jump through hoops for DNS; but, the CA system— the line is drawn here!

                                                      1. 2

                                                        Well, domain names are scarce in a way that RSA keys aren’t, and have unevenly distributed value. My domain name was not randomly generated. :)

                                                        1. 1
                                                          tedunangst.com name server ns-434.awsdns-54.com.
                                                          tedunangst.com name server ns-607.awsdns-11.net.
                                                          tedunangst.com name server ns-1775.awsdns-29.co.uk.
                                                          tedunangst.com name server ns-1312.awsdns-36.org.

                                                          Did you ask for people to add your nameservers to their resolver roots?

                                                          Domain names and RSA keys are equally scarce. It’s all protection money, for root servers and for root CAs.

                                                      2. [Comment removed by author]

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                                                          This comment is totally unsupported by data, the Chrome team in particular has done a ton of research which has improved error adherence: https://static.googleusercontent.com/media/research.google.com/en//pubs/archive/43265.pdf in particular, but there’s others as well.

                                                          The past few years have featured the greatest improvement in both the quality and quantity of HTTPS on the web since TLS was introduced, and it’s been supported by careful research on both the crypto side and the UX side.

                                                          1. 3

                                                            Huh? The situation was much worse: browsers just displayed OK/Cancel dialog and most users just clicked OK. Today it’s harder for users to click OK, and this single change of UI made many more users secure against MiTM attacks. I don’t have links handy, but those Chrome and Firefox “assholes” did a lot of research regarding this, and made browsing more secure for the majority of non-technical people.

                                                            1. 2

                                                              At the same time, I think they’ve made it harder for technical users to make informed decisions.

                                                              1. 1


                                                                1. 1

                                                                  How is that not a win? ;-)

                                                      1. 6

                                                        Anyone know if any browsers explicitly define their caching semantics for what they store, for a live-streamed object which is never “terminated”? This isn’t server-push object replacement, after all, but one object which has internal framing, and so keeps getting larger. So if the 4kB/sec claim on the page is right, then if you leave the browser open for a day then that’s a third of a GB. I know people who can forget their browser tabs for days on end.

                                                        1. 4

                                                          I remember on older webcams, their web interfaces could stream video via motion JPEGs, which just sends endless JPEG frames to the browser. I don’t think it was a problem back then even for those old browsers.

                                                          1. 1

                                                            I don’t think it was a problem back then even for those old browsers

                                                            Even if it was a problem, this was the nineties we’re talking about. People would barely even notice if you crashed their browser or computer and they had to restart it, so long as you didn’t crash it much more than once an hour or so.

                                                        1. 10

                                                          From CNN:

                                                          The charges relate to alleged conduct occurring between July 2014 and July 2015.

                                                          The indictment

                                                          1. 1

                                                            Ok, a bit weird, why did they redact the name of his co-conspirator?

                                                            1. 2

                                                              Perhaps they acted as an informant?

                                                            2. 1

                                                              I don’t know how much damage (i.e. the total of the thievery) the people who used Kronos caused but $2000 seems to be a pitiful sum. I’m just surprised at this number. In my mind malware would be something you’d be selling for like $50000 or $100000.

                                                              From http://money.cnn.com/2017/08/03/technology/wannacry-bitcoin-ransom-moved/index.html I see the total take looks like $140000, which I guess is a high return for the investment ($2000) and who ever sold Kronos didn’t want to deal with the risk of the actual crime. It’s just such small potatoes to say other ventures.

                                                              1. 2

                                                                WanaCry isn’t derived from Kronos, and that sale has nothing to do with it.

                                                                I read elsewhere that Kronos “licenses” used to sell for $5000-$7000.

                                                            1. 24

                                                              Bring back IRC I say

                                                              No need to bring it back, it’s always been there. The problem is convincing everyone else to use it.

                                                              1. 33

                                                                IRC has a fair share of problems which are often circumvented by layering additional services like bouncers on top of it. I like it for its ubiquity, but let’s not pretend it doesn’t show age everywhere.

                                                                1. 19

                                                                  I think matrix could very well be the successor to IRC. Open, federated, secure, multi-device sync and good support for bridges to other protocols.

                                                                  1. 13

                                                                    I can’t bring myself to like a communications protocol that’s based on HTTP+JSON, with the reference client written as an Electron app. It just all feels so… inefficient :(

                                                                    1. 4

                                                                      The very core of matrix is just the graph behind it all. JSON is just one representation of the information and HTTP is just one transport. Those are the only reference implementations right now, but others are possible, if I’ve understood correctly. But someone more knowledgeable should probably weigh in.

                                                                      1. 2

                                                                        Those are the only reference implementations right now

                                                                        The problem with reference implementations is that, by inertia, they end up being the only implementation.

                                                                        1. 1

                                                                          Would you rather there wasn’t an implementation? But, in this case, there are several other implementations. There’s the next generation reference home server dendrite (in golang instead of python like synapse) and ruma (in rust). And there are lots of clients. I think only riot supports e2e crypto, but I hope others will start supporting it as it stabilises.

                                                                      2. 4

                                                                        To be fair, Riot can run perfectly happy standalone. In fact, I have it running right now on my OpenBSD box. Also, there are many other clients!

                                                                        1. 5

                                                                          HTTP+JSON isn’t all that inefficient, just a bit of extra headers, whatever.

                                                                          Matrix is actually fundamentally inefficient in a different way — it’s not ephemeral message passing like IRC or XMPP, it’s a replicated database — and it’s worth it.

                                                                        2. 6

                                                                          I stopped using IRC and my bouncer 2 weeks ago for Matrix/Riot on my own server with my own IRC bridges and couldn’t be more pleased. Works incredibly well.

                                                                          edit: was an irssi+irssi-proxy user for over 15 years. Tried every other bouncer. Hated them all. Had a perl script to send my phone a pushover notification for mentions. It worked, but it sucked trying to open up IRC app and find the conversation with no scrollback and respond.

                                                                          Now I have: consistent chat client on every device, always have scrollback, all my logs are stored in Postgres, logs are searchable in every client and the search is handled server-side, and I can do E2E encryption with my friends on Matrix. I will never experience Slack bloat because the federation means I only need one server connection and account.

                                                                          1. 4

                                                                            The Riot web app can also serve as a nice IRC client (+bouncer, email notification, etc) if you only need the networks they bridge to.

                                                                            1. 3

                                                                              I haven’t been impressed with the quality of tooling or clients yet. Their Debian package documentation is incorrect and commands tell you to… run the same command you just ran. I haven’t seen a client I’ve been terribly impressed by either; Riot is your typical Electron fare.

                                                                              1. 3

                                                                                Riot is your typical Electron fare

                                                                                The electron wrapper is completely optional, why do so many people say such things, that’s unfair :( I just use it as a pinned tab in Firefox.

                                                                                1. 3

                                                                                  Even without the performance concerns of Electron or running in the browser, there’s still the fact these overgrown web apps feel alien in UX on every platform.

                                                                                  1. 2

                                                                                    I’ve found it to be very unperformant and laggy.

                                                                                2. 1

                                                                                  Didn’t know about this. Thanks for the tip.

                                                                                3. 10

                                                                                  The IRCv3 working group is attempting to standardise a lot of interesting extensions to the old IRC protocol in a backwards-compatible manner. Amongst other things, they seem to be working on history, standardised registration/authentication, and metadata such as user avatars.

                                                                                  1. [Comment removed by author]

                                                                                    1. 1

                                                                                      It’s really too bad IRC v3 is moving along slowly

                                                                                      It is, isn’t it? I am watching their repo on GitHub and get excited every time I get a notification, hoping that it’s about something major like a good history extension. If I had more time I would love to contribute. Wish they had a Patreon account, or something similar.

                                                                                    2. 2

                                                                                      One aspect of Slack I’d be interested to hear any progress on is the fact that it combines chat and fileshare for groups.

                                                                                    3. 1

                                                                                      Is Twitch still running this way?

                                                                                    4. 5

                                                                                      Maybe if it was written in JavaScript, used a million npm packages, invented some new Json/Jose derived protocol,.. then you might have a hope.

                                                                                      In all seriousness, I ask myself that question all along. At work we use lync and skype for business and those still feel like a step backwards compared to old Skype, man, icq, and irc. In fact we had logging turned on for a while but the fat xml logs are up our entire email box so it was turned off company wide.

                                                                                      1. 5

                                                                                        Additionally, Slack supports IRC. I just use tmux + issi to connect to Slack and other IRC networks.

                                                                                        1. 6

                                                                                          Slack’s gateway is highly lossy though.

                                                                                          1. 2

                                                                                            What do you mean? I haven’t had a single issue.

                                                                                            1. 12

                                                                                              You lose formatting, inline replies (so you will see out of context messages), that kind of thing.

                                                                                              1. 1

                                                                                                Ah, gotcha. Thanks for the clarification.

                                                                                        2. [Comment removed by author]

                                                                                          1. 14

                                                                                            IRCcloud comes pretty close to that.

                                                                                            1. 3

                                                                                              IRCcloud has a couple of interesting issues when using it in a business setup. For example, for simplicities sake, they load twitters, facebooks and stripes JS libraries into their webapp, giving third parties access to that data. We talked to them about this and they said they were looking into it, but never ended up doing something.

                                                                                              It’s nice otherwise, but I prefer to only use it as a bouncer. Finally, it costs ~5$, so it’s not a feasible chat for many people outside of companies.

                                                                                            2. 6

                                                                                              It’s been done (minus the open source). Used to be called Convore, then changed names to Grove: https://grove.io/

                                                                                              In fact, they conceded defeat to Slack: https://grove.io/blog/closing-shop

                                                                                              1. [Comment removed by author]

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                                                                                                  Those are really hard to iterate on without a lot of people. You’d have a hard time keeping up with Slack’s fire and motion around you.

                                                                                                  Possible though. Particularly if you used their IRC gateway to counter their network effect advantage (until they close it).

                                                                                                  1. 2

                                                                                                    You just want a native slack client?

                                                                                                2. 6

                                                                                                  I think Jabber would make more sense as a modern communication platform than IRC. There’s not much that IRC provides that Jabber conference rooms don’t, but Jabber provides a lot more extensibility than IRC (especially without add-on services like Chanserv, Nickserv, etc.). In which case there are already commercial packages like Cisco Jabber and Openfire that are quite popular.

                                                                                                  1. 1

                                                                                                    I liked PSYC back when I was comparing them directly since Jabber seemed too complicated:



                                                                                                    Whatever we use needs to be really simple and efficient at the core. Then, layers or plug-ins for more complex stuff from there. Preferably, super-easy for library users to add or remove. What’s closest any of you know to that which has a decent chance of being converted into a Slack competitor? Other than IRC.

                                                                                                    1. 2

                                                                                                      There aren’t many that are federated like IRC. I can only think of Jabber/XMPP and Matrix. But if you look at slack, which doesn’t seem to be federated, you have lots of options, like mattermost, rocketchat, hipchat, …

                                                                                                  2. 5

                                                                                                    You can’t offer Slack’s UI on top of the standard IRC protocol (it lacks links, images, replies, authentication, history…). Proposals to extend the IRC protocol have not been welcomed by the IRC userbase or by established networks. You could tunnel a custom protocol over IRC with magic strings etc. but this would be inherently clunky and the user experience from any other client would be very similar to using Slack’s IRC gateway. You could publish your custom protocol but what would you gain from that? What’s the value proposition where this idea improves over what Slack offers?

                                                                                                    1. [Comment removed by author]

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                                                                                                        Why would this “eat Slack’s lunch”? Theoretically an open protocol would make it easier for others to integrate with you, but Slack attracted plenty of integrations (which now act as a competitive advantage precisely because their protocol isn’t open). Other than that, what’s the advantage of making the protocol public?

                                                                                                        1. [Comment removed by author]

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                                                                                                            Well I explained that that particular issue doesn’t seem to have been a disadvantage for slack, quite the opposite.

                                                                                                            Building a protocol as an extension of IRC is inherently going to be more expensive than building it without regard to compatibility with IRC, not cheaper.

                                                                                                            1. [Comment removed by author]

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                                                                                                                Slack extensions are not interoperable. IRC bots have been written for decades.

                                                                                                                All true. And yet for so many services one might use when developing (e.g. CI), it’s so much easier to find a good Slack integration than a good IRC integration.

                                                                                                      2. 2

                                                                                                        Proposals to extend the IRC protocol have not been welcomed by the IRC userbase or by established networks

                                                                                                        Not sure whether you’re talking about some specific extensions, but from what I can see there are multiple IRCv3 extensions that are implemented by common servers.

                                                                                                  1. 12

                                                                                                    if i were to spam lobste.rs I’d search up random blogs and register profiles with a similar name than the ones uses in random tech blogs.

                                                                                                    I don’t think anyone’s done this in all the time the invite queue has been around, but such blatant spam would be really easy to spot and those accounts would quickly be banned. The bigger problem is legitimate accounts posting corporate blog spam and marketing for their startups, which account verification would do nothing to prevent.

                                                                                                    1. 3

                                                                                                      OpenNIC’s TLDs grant you access a whole new space on the web. These domains can only be accessed using our democratic nameservers.

                                                                                                      This seems like a bad idea considering ICANN keeps approving new TLDs all the time and the OpenNIC ones could potentially conflict in the future. Then users using OpenNIC servers suddenly can’t see properly-registered domains on the internet. I would imagine it’s also impossible to register TLS certs for such domains, since providers can’t do domain/whois validation on these fake domains.

                                                                                                      1. 1

                                                                                                        Then running a local resolver could be a better compromise.

                                                                                                        1. 1

                                                                                                          This very thing happened with opennic’s .free TLD, and it was a cause of some annoyance.

                                                                                                          There have been talks of trying to set up a CA, but nothing concrete yet.

                                                                                                        1. 12

                                                                                                          So will this finally be the laptop that @jcs ends up with happily ever after?

                                                                                                          1. [Comment removed by author]

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                                                                                                              I have commitment issues.

                                                                                                              1. 0

                                                                                                                You probably should tell your wife that.

                                                                                                          1. 2

                                                                                                            Thank you for this!

                                                                                                            Small bit of feedback: Should unlogged in users see “Saved” in the header?

                                                                                                            1. 1

                                                                                                              Nope! Fixed, thanks.

                                                                                                            1. 5

                                                                                                              Very nice.

                                                                                                              Small bit of feedback: on mobile, Saved is unfortunately placed right under the logo because of how the menu items wraps on small screens. I’ve missclicked/touched a couple of times already, I apparently click the logo a lot.

                                                                                                              /Someone with big fingers

                                                                                                              1. 7

                                                                                                                It should probably be one of those hamburger menus so the options can drop down and have big hit targets only when you need them.

                                                                                                                1. 6

                                                                                                                  That could work, but keeping the most commonly used links visible would save clicks. A bit larger targets would suit me well, but I’m only one data point :)

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                                                                                                                Today I learned that downvoting a comment requires you to pick a category. I guess I’ve never tried to do that here before.

                                                                                                                The comment provided as an example is the first comment I tried to downvote here on Lobste.rs…

                                                                                                                And indeed, none of the available categories fit.

                                                                                                                If there was a ‘destructive’ category, I’d pick that one. Meanwhile, I’ll use ‘troll’, which is clearly not correct. AFAIK.

                                                                                                                [EDIT: uh-oh, it looks as if I’ve committed a “me-too”!]

                                                                                                                1. 5

                                                                                                                  I only learned that downvotes require a category today as well. And I was pleasantly surprised both because I realized that I haven’t needed to downvote a comment here before, and because I really like that lobste.rs requires a reason for a downvote. I feel like your comment had value beyond just a me-too, so you’re fine :)

                                                                                                                  1. 6

                                                                                                                    Interestingly, gave me an opportunity to upvote that comment. Don’t know why someone’s personal feelings, which is what they are describing there should be less valid because of the color of their skin. I thought that was what we were all striving for.

                                                                                                                    1. 4

                                                                                                                      People reading that comment who missed the thread might not know it was very context-sensitive. Remember that the context (OP) is specific people pushing a specific set of political views on everyone asking that all disagreement be censored. They say they benefit minorities but wont allow them to have a say if they have different beliefs. Coraline et al are uncompromising in that the options are (a) agree with them pushing same things or (b) shut up and leave every public space they take over.

                                                                                                                      With that backdrop, I read the various Github articles and the OP. She constantly talked about extreme negative reactions she got as if it’s incidental to being a minority. She was a minority, did some work, and piles of hate emerged. She never mentions when doing so that she aggresively evangelizes, insults, and coerces FOSS projects usually with a pile of likeminded people behind her. I kept bringing that behavior up since I think her showing up at people’s doorsteps insulting them and telling them to do her bidding in their projects might be why people dont like her. That pisses all types of people off here in the Mid-South, including minorities. Consistently. I imagine some in other areas, too.

                                                                                                                      Anyway, in the thread you linked, my main comment on that article was judged by site as follows:

                                                                                                                      +73 yes -4 incorrect -1 off-topic -8 troll

                                                                                                                      It means the main post got overwhelming support esp considering how few upvotes I normally get. The others were peripheral supporting it as part of a larger debate. Anyone trying to judge the linked one should probably look at OP and first comment to get context:


                                                                                                                      Im just a political moderate calling out hypocrisy/deceit of an article’s source (i.e. source integrity) and protecting right to dissent as usual. I do it on all topics. Even my favorites on occasion. On political ones, people tend to have strong emotional reactions that clouds judgment or just evokes strong reactions. Im not saying whose right or wrong so much as disagreement they take personally, get disgusted/angry, and will hit any button to make that person or post disappear.

                                                                                                                      I think I warned of that in either linked thread or Community Standards discussion. Both then and now, people started calling out others that should disappear with often opposite views of what should be allowed. There was no consensus except against comments that are blatantly harmful where there is a consensus by most peeple that it’s abusive. The same thing I see play out in person every day. So, I oppose comment deletions or bans in political situations without consensus so long as people keep it civil and about specific claims with supporting evidence. And if one side can speak, the other parties better be able to as well.

                                                                                                                      And a minimum of politics on Lobsters period! Keep it focused on tech and such. Somone had to post something by a decietful activist on politics pushing a mix of truth and propaganda. And that hit my mental button of calling them out staying as civil and factual as I could despite knowing with every word I might be censored for it. Might. The upvotes from my first comment were reason I kept taking the risk of more argument given there was a surge of dissent that needed to be represented. Not just me. I always help the underdogs. :)

                                                                                                                      Note: That was long as we were just talking about but I wanted context and intent clear given it’s about whether to filter or ban me. I also hold no grudges against anyone who did. It’s their deeply-held, personal beliefs about what’s right and wrong. People will do what you believe is necessary there.

                                                                                                                      Note 2: Lunch break is over. Darn. I was hoping for tech over politics. Ill do what’s necessary, though, since I value and respect this community. Gotta defend dissent as it’s critical.

                                                                                                                      1. 3

                                                                                                                        While I disagree with your positions on the topic of the OP, that’s not really what I wanted to bring attention to in this thread. And, as you correctly point out, the longer post you had there does contribute to the discussion. This is why I specifically linked only to that one comment, because that is the only one I feel is not contributing, constructive, or otherwise meaningful as a part of the larger thread. Under no circumstances do I think any of what happened in that thread is cause for banning or deletion; on that, we are in complete agreement. What I wanted to highlight in this topic is that we should have a way of discouraging comments that are solely inflammatory without carrying other value, and I believe that particular one was of that kind. I did not downvote your other posts despite disagreeing with them, because (as also mentioned elsewhere in this thread), I do not think disagreement should be a reason for downvoting. We can have a whole different discussion about how politics and tech mix, but that does not belong in this thread.

                                                                                                                        1. 3

                                                                                                                          This is why I specifically linked only to that one comment, because that is the only one I feel is not contributing, constructive, or otherwise meaningful as a part of the larger thread. Under no circumstances do I think any of what happened in that thread is cause for banning or deletion; on that, we are in complete agreement.

                                                                                                                          Well, my respect just went up for you quite a bit. Very reasonable position far as critiques go. The selected comment was lower info than the other one and maybe even unnecessary. Likely because it was part of a back and forth on politics where comment quality on all sides (including my own) tend to get lower as it goes on. One of reasons I don’t like political discussions in low-noise sites like Lobsters. They also can have less info since more of the specific points and context is already defined where the replies start just implying that stuff with less info content in general. That one was some combination of those.

                                                                                                                          In any case, I appreciate you clarifying your position. I at least get why you’d want to see less of that kind of comment than the main one.

                                                                                                                          1. 4

                                                                                                                            I’m glad we’ve found common ground. As I’ve said elsewhere (this thread is getting pretty large), I don’t want to see downvotes used as a way to signal disagreement, nor do I want them to be used to “punish” a particular user or otherwise label the user as bad. Downvotes to me are a way of signaling that a particular comment is unwanted, along with the reason why, nothing more, nothing less.

                                                                                                                            1. 1

                                                                                                                              I’m fine with that as long as there’s a consensus across majority of community’s users. That’s really all I ask with these sorts of things even though I’m biased toward free speech or low censorship. Your proposal isn’t a big risk to that esp given it’s mostly a tech-focused forum.

                                                                                                                        2. [Comment removed by author]

                                                                                                                          1. 11

                                                                                                                            If you never mentioned your religion, I would have never found out what kind of person you are. Why would I want to talk tech with you?

                                                                                                                            See how stupid that sounds?

                                                                                                                            1. 4

                                                                                                                              What’s needed is an expanded signup form with ten or so position statements (“programming in php is ethical”) that one chooses to agree or disagree with. Then all the comments made by anyone who agrees with a statement I strongly disagree with are automatically hidden. Works for okcupid, why not lobsters?

                                                                                                                              1. 1

                                                                                                                                You’re joking, but I would like, and would make heavy use of that feature.

                                                                                                                              2. 0

                                                                                                                                So you’re saying that if I find out someone here wants to ship the minorities back to where they came from, I should want to talk tech with them as much as I would my kindly religious coworker?

                                                                                                                                1. 14

                                                                                                                                  You are free to not do whatever you don’t feel comfortable with, but if neither of you brings up minorities because you’re talking about technology, why would that even be relevant? Are you worried about being associated with such a person or do you think their ideas about minorities are going to creep into their ideas about tech?

                                                                                                                                  1. 11

                                                                                                                                    I believe the concern is that people holding those views ,and as a result the views themselves will be percieved as welcome in the broader technical community, or in our case specifically in the Lobste.rs community. The result of this will be that minorities will in turn feel unwelcome in the community, and they have every right to feel that way.

                                                                                                                                    If you own a restaurant and host a nice dinner for a Jewish family celebration while there’s a Nazi convention at the next table, there’s no amount of politeness, courtesy, good intentions or kindness that you can bring to bear that will make them feel welcome.

                                                                                                                                    Do we have the explicit racist behavior on Lobste.rs that’s equivalent to a Nazi convention? No. But I’ve seen comments on here defending racists, using SJW as a perjorative, using the incorrect gender pronoun for a trans person (in a way that makes it hard to believe it was not purposeful) and a variety of other behaviors that would signal to someone in a minority group that they wouldn’t be welcomed here. Most of these posts did not recieve many downvotes, and when they do, it’s often enough that there’s an outpouring of discussion about what downvotes are for.

                                                                                                                                    The point of this is that it’s the decision of the person entering a community as to what will make them feel unwelcome. As the hosts, we decide what behavior is acceptable in our community. No matter what we decide, someone will feel unwelcome. So it falls on us to decide how to make trade-offs about who feels unwelcome and why.

                                                                                                                                    Personally, I think it’s not unreasonable for a minority to look at the Lobste.rs community and say “I see a lot of people there defending racists/sexists/transphobics and their views, and I don’t feel welcome as a result.” On the flip side I think it’s less reasonable to say “I don’t feel welcome at lobsters because I came to the defense of a guy who said slavery was a good idea and I got downvoted a bunch.” Even if you soften it to “I played devils advocate to argue the case for a guy who thought slavery was swell and got downvoted” I think the first position is more reasonable.

                                                                                                                                    Given that we can only welcome one of those groups in that situation, I’m inclined to welcome the folks with the more reasonable view. I think it would be nice to give the community better tools to make that decision. I think downvotes for “hostility” and “unconstructive” could both work, with a few caveats:

                                                                                                                                    “Hostility” would be intellectual hostility, not emotinal tenor. It’s pefectly possible to politely and calmly argue that women are inferior to men, or that that’s an acceptable view that has a place in modern discourse, but I’d argume both of those positions are hostile toward women.

                                                                                                                                    “Unconstructive” is broader in scope and the hope would be that it reduces hostile viewpoints as a side effect, as well as cutting down on the number of pointless technical rants, which I also don’t feel add much to the discussion. I suspect it’s hard to be politely hostile toward a group and simultaneously provide actual constructive criticism. I find it hard to imagine some of the more SJW-hostile folks proposing suggestions that would make both trans/minority folks and the hetero/caucasian men they see as under attack feel more welcome, but I would certainly like to hear about it them if it happens.

                                                                                                                                    In either case, I think we’ll have to recognize that these judgements are subjective, and that there’s no way to avoid being subjective if we want to consciously set a tone for our community. I’d also suggest that losing ephemeral internet points is not the end of the world. It’s a very mild form of social reprimand and a fairly gentle tool in the larger scheme of things, and isn’t mutually exclusive with open discussion. I understand being cautions in the application of downvotes, but perhaps we have erred too much on the side of caution in the past.

                                                                                                                                    1. 8

                                                                                                                                      I think the easiest way to address the concern that the first thing people see when they come here is “hate” (for lack of a better word) is to post more and better comments. You’re fighting a difficult battle, in no small part because there’s little agreement about what constitutes hate. But banning the haters is not the only way to reduce the likelihood a newcomer will see something they don’t like. One can hope they don’t stop at the first comment they read, so work to ensure the next ten comments they read after that are all worthwhile.

                                                                                                                                      There does seem to be a phenomenon where people will have accounts for months, not post any comments, then one day announce “I’ve had it with this site; I can’t believe somebody in this community wrote that.” If you’re so concerned about what the community is, try being the community. (Not directed at any particular individual.)

                                                                                                                                      1. 8

                                                                                                                                        I understand the appeal of the “fight content with content” approach, and I think encouraging folks who are friendly and welcoming, and being the community you want is important. We shouldn’t lose sight of that.

                                                                                                                                        That said, the issue I have with this approach is that it ignores outside constraints on community members, and cedes the discussion to whoever has more free time and energy. Or in the presence of malicious behavior, whoever puts the most effort into gaming the system. This is a general problem with community moderation, and it seems like people with more hostile views often are willing to devote more effort to spreading their views than more reasonable individuals. I have a number of hypothetical ideas about why that may be which may or may not be correct, but it does seem to be a consistent pattern across many of the communities I’ve participated in, and others have made the observation as well.

                                                                                                                                        Speaking for myself, I try to participate and be a friendly and welcoming voice as much as I can, but I don’t have time to rebut every mean-spirited comment, or even comment all that often. I’ve got two small children to raise, three-and-a-halfish teams of folks at work to manage, a couple of side projects as well as the very rare occasional social engaement. I literally don’t have the time and energy to put in that some people do, and I don’t think that “whoever has the most time on their hands in aggregate wins” (that sounds snarky - not intended, sorry.) is a good strategy for building a welcoming community. My view is that communities have to make conscious decisions about what they want to be, otherwise the unknown trade-offs we make by not deciding will end up biting us, much they way they would if we were to abdicate making explicit decisions in engineering information systems.

                                                                                                                                        Additionally, I’ve found that trying to speak up against hostile viewpoints and/or people who defend those views often leads into some pretty gnarly rehtorial weeds that end up being particularly time-consuming. Perhaps I could be better about disengaging when the conversation feels fruitless, but at some point that further discussion is no longer useful and it might just be best to let the community literally “vote on it”.

                                                                                                                                        I also want to reiterate that I’m not suggeting that anyone should be banned, but that we create a category of downvote for the sorts of behavior we decide want to discourage, so that we can express our collective opinion without always having to engage in extensive (and at times fruitless) discussion in order to make headway toward whatever we decide we ant our community to look like.

                                                                                                                                        Apologies if this comment is a bit redundant/rambling. I’m running on small amounts of sleep because children, and I’m a bit too tired to proofread. Think it’s time to call it a night.

                                                                                                                                        1. 3

                                                                                                                                          There does seem to be a phenomenon where people will have accounts for months, not post any comments, then one day announce “I’ve had it with this site; I can’t believe somebody in this community wrote that.” If you’re so concerned about what the community is, try being the community. (Not directed at any particular individual.)

                                                                                                                                          I saw this happen in some of the community discussions. It came off to me a bit like the people in FOSS projects using them, not contributing, and then demand the developers are bad people for not doing (feature/fix here) in (time here). Whether that’s valid comparison or not, I just rolled my eyes thinking “yeah, you’d be a big loss…”

                                                                                                                                      2. 4

                                                                                                                                        To be clear, I’m for it staying off the site as much as possible. Most of Lobsters and the better parts of HN are a mental break from all that crap for me. I’d rather it not even show up. Also, @Irene made a great point in the last discussion that keeping the articles focused on tech or non-political things in general avoids all this crap as a pleasant, side effect since there’s fewer opportunities for it to show up. I’d rather not even see it on front page. There’s other places where they can talk to folks about it. I’d even support banning such discussions on all sides as off-topic since it’s rare good comes out of them. Or at least the flamewar-level, personal stuff where we can still talk, say, NSA surveillance tech and legal implications. Or copyright/patent law w/ people’s opinions coming in. Those things haven’t been so bad.

                                                                                                                                        And what led to this thread? People butting heads or getting irritated by a thread about politics. That figures…

                                                                                                                                        1. 3

                                                                                                                                          I focused a lot on the issues of social inclusiveness in this sub-thread, partly because of the parent comments, and also because it’s an issue that’s important to me.

                                                                                                                                          On reflection, I think it’s worth tying it back into the larger conversation. To that end, I want to say that even if we were to only ever discuss technology, I think having an explicit downvote category for nonconstructive / hostile comments would benefit us. I think many of the points I’ve made about the exclusion of specific groups of people also apply in the context of being a welcoming community in general, and improving the general quality of discussion.

                                                                                                                                          1. 3

                                                                                                                                            I think we may have seen that keeping it off the site is not really possible in practice, as there’s a strong desire to address these kinds of questions in the community.

                                                                                                                                            Additionaly, I think that simply by saying that topics of equality and fairness in the tech industry are off limits, we’ll end up excluding some folks that we might be better off hearing from. Perhaps I’m wrong there, but I’d prefer we reach consensus through a more organic process than a blanket moderator-imposed ban on that sort of discussion.

                                                                                                                                            1. 3

                                                                                                                                              I see where you’re going with that. It just hasn’t worked well in practice so far with more problems reported than benefits from what I can tell. There’s all kinds of sites and even private messaging to help people on politics. The unique thing about Lobsters for me was it was very focused on tech, little BS in general, few comments, and they had more signal on average. If I told someone about it, I found @friendlysock’s description in “What Lobsters Is” to reflect the better content:


                                                                                                                                              I say leave it for that sort of thing which is how it grew into what it was. The political stuff adds to noise but doesn’t seem to help hardly anyone unless they’re just not searching for information elsewhere. I mean, just Googling a bunch of things would probably get them more information. They’d need to, too, if subject really mattered for them. So, let’s leave it offsite.

                                                                                                                                              Of course, I’m just pushing my preference. You’re pushing yours. I’m for whatever jcs decides or if a vote what the consensus is. I’ll just probably ignore them more often. ;)

                                                                                                                                              1. 1

                                                                                                                                                The unique thing about Lobsters for me was it was very focused on tech, little BS in general, few comments, and they had more signal on average.

                                                                                                                                                This is what attracted me as well to the site. There are some good people in here, and I want to hear what they have to say, but after being here for a while I’ve came to the conclusion that it’s full of the same old SJW/PC-rhetoric like on HN and other sites.

                                                                                                                                                Some people like to discuss tech, but there’s a strong militia that intervenes when they think you discuss tech the wrong way. Meaningless words like “snark” and “condescending”, and harmful concepts like “this is not constructive” are uttered as justification.

                                                                                                                                                In effect I have stopped discussing anything.

                                                                                                                                                I must say this is somewhat unexpected to me. Since there are relatively many OpenBSD developers here, and this website was created by an OpenBSD developer I expected (and desired) the atmosphere and discourse here to match the atmosphere on OpenBSD mailing lists, but it’s pretty much the antithesis of that.

                                                                                                                                                1. 10

                                                                                                                                                  To me, the use of SJW or “PC rhetoric” as pejoratives is offensive and never adds anything positive to a discussion. Those labels are an attempt to dress up ad-hominem attacks - attacks that boil down to “your ideas are invalid because you suck” - as something else.

                                                                                                                                                  1. 6

                                                                                                                                                    If we’re going to be using pejorative right-wing terms like “SJW”, we could mix it up with some pejorative left-wing terms too. You don’t see someone’s viewpoints denounced as “petty-bourgeois” often enough around here!

                                                                                                                                                  2. 4

                                                                                                                                                    after being here for a while I’ve came to the conclusion that it’s full of the same old SJW/PC-rhetoric like on HN and other sites.

                                                                                                                                                    I’ve only been here a week or two and yeah, I agree that there’s too much anti-SJW/PC rhetoric. The comment thread about Coraline at Github was a garbage fire that needed a strong moderator to step in and say “cut that crap out” but no, they instead got upvoted and now use those upvotes as defensive armour in this thread.

                                                                                                                                                    1. 1

                                                                                                                                                      As an outsider, it appears to me that the OpenBSD community has a strong, filtering process on who will get in there and some way of indicating what’s expected. Whereas, Lobsters is more open-ended plus did the mass signup. There’s so many more kinds of people and interests here that you’re going to see really different behavior.

                                                                                                                                                      It’s interesting how well the site handles the meta-threads, though. I’ve been impressed or even proud of those Lobsters engaging constructively and carefully in this thread. I don’t see it happen that way in a lot of forums. There’s more fighting and mud slinging in those than anything.

                                                                                                                                              2. 4

                                                                                                                                                There are plenty of non-technical reasons for not wanting to talk shop with someone. Perhaps they have terrible personal hygiene and you can’t be in their presence without gagging. Or maybe at some company event they got drunk and made a pass at your wife and you can’t be in their presence without thinking about it. Or, more relevant to this conversation, they might agitate for politics that have a visceral negative effect on your life. It seems obvious to me that someone might find these scenarios deeply unpleasant and would seek to avoid them, and in such a case it would not be hypocritical for them to be fine with talking to someone who is religious.

                                                                                                                                                1. 2

                                                                                                                                                  Or maybe at some company event they got drunk and made a pass at your wife and you can’t be in their presence without thinking about it

                                                                                                                                                  What a weird example to use. Surely if it bothers you this much (FYI people probably make a pass at your wife every week, 100% sober), just go talk to that person.

                                                                                                                                                  I do agree with the rest of your post though. It’s hard to have a discussion about anything if you know the person is advocating against you.

                                                                                                                                                  1. 2

                                                                                                                                                    It was an example of something that would bother some people, not an anecdote from my personal life.

                                                                                                                                                  2. -1

                                                                                                                                                    Or maybe at some company event they got drunk and made a pass at your wife and you can’t be in their presence without thinking about it.

                                                                                                                                                    Jesus. What insecurity. So what if someone made a pass at your wife?

                                                                                                                                              3. 1

                                                                                                                                                I know people have very strong opinions on this subject, and it’s one that is particularly amenable to gut reaction type responses, but surely this could be phrased in a less condescending way?

                                                                                                                                              4. 6

                                                                                                                                                You still don’t know what kind of person I am. The commenting guidelines of Hacker News and Lobsters don’t allow me to show you what kind of person I am. How I say or do things, esp in high-stakes situations, defines me more than what words you read. The people I work with, especially the black folks, have a lot of respect for me and enjoy my company. Almost everyone fist bumps me or (women) big smile or hugs me even though I’m not popular per se. Infamous, too, for reasons I’ll say in a minute but I’ll avoid doing what bothers them when asked. Online in a low-noise forum, I’m just blunt, try to be informative, help people out, and call out BS with counter-arguments usually with citations. All I can do that matches what subset of my nature is allowed on such forums. I slip up and be more combative or low-info at times usually of high stress, low sleep, or just personal failure in self-control. Usually, though, I’m data driven and civil enough.

                                                                                                                                                As you see in this thread and there, I won’t hide when called out. I put myself out there at great risk since I believe in being honest and standing up for your beliefs even when it hurts. So, you want a personal profile? In person, I’m a “nerd” that was ostracized & beat up in kindergarten since I could count without my fingers (a “freak”), that went to black school by 2nd grade, experienced constant discrimination + physical attacks due to skin color (including with concrete! it works, too!), ostracized by white rednecks since I was an intellectual non-hater vs football guru w/ “right” friends, ostracized by white liberals in some places since I was a devout Christian who loved or held to account everyone instead of targeting one group (white males = The Devil), an UU/agnostic later after a lot of reading of Old Testament too much to believe divine inspiration for its evils, a civil rights activist, help people locally (esp society’s outcasts or young workers), a pseudo-union rep defending employees from corrupt/abusive management (including against minorities) for years staying in management’s cross-hairs, gave research/advice on INFOSEC away for no money for years (do that here), and risked my life numerous times to protect strangers that I knew were good people w/ nobody else to help them with no reward expected or given (maybe just sincere appreciation). Plus, unlike imagined “offenses,” watching people suffer from real things makes me feel sick and enraged. I’d probably be richer or popular if I didn’t care.

                                                                                                                                                The result of all this, much of which I didn’t ask for, is I have a blunt style w/ plain dress to filter superficial people, a twisted sense of humor that PTSD victims often develop for managing stress, quick to counterpoint any echo chamber where many people aren’t represented (like I lived in for years), avoid most unnecessary fights, don’t back down in necessary ones (perceive as necessary), and I’m great at “checking” with solid, improvised references thanks to years of self-defense at black school in many on one attacks where weakness = maybe beatdown. At work, I mostly just listen to people’s thoughts/gripes, inform them on interesting stuff, or especially make them laugh. I do the heavy lifting plus most unpopular tasks. Exhausted by the time I get home with sleeping problems on top of it. I think I do OK since most people that came from where I’m from (esp whites in black schools) are racists that mostly look after themselves. A mean, practical bunch. They get much worse in hostile environments with low sleep. I do still constantly listen to feedback from everyone to try to improve myself.

                                                                                                                                                Now, did you guess any of this based on my Hacker News comments outside maybe race since I’ve brought up white guy in black school/company/city issues before? Or did you see me in a few threads represent some dissenting views personally or as devil’s advocate doing same against an echo chamber where you then projected all kinds of terrible judgments on my life as a whole? And while we’re at evaluating each other’s goodness, how many times have you risked imprisonment or stared at death trying to help strangers born in unfortunate circumstances that just needed a boost in life? I’m guessing you didn’t or rarely did based on your response to what little I say on moderated sites. Armchair quarterbacking or low-risk charity is the default of most people since it’s the safest and easiest to do. I’ll still overall reserving judgment in case you similarly sacrifice regularly at risk for others and simply slipped over-projecting.

                                                                                                                                                Note: I’m not even mad in case anyone is wondering. This thread happening after a holiday week and long day at work is just a little more draining… maybe annoying. This one comment just has my focused attention since it opened with a personal attack. Although not easy, years of practice at de-escalation lets me keep it at “lets talk” instead of “lets fight”… most of the time… I’m happy to share what kind of shit produces a walking contradiction like myself with people who may see morality as too binary. Long, tough, complicated life I spent most of helping others with me being in bad circumstances for it esp after Great Recession with lots of layoffs. I’m still recovering from that and bad job I landed but still keep helping folks survive and learn with what resources I have. I learned a lot back from many, too, esp at work, on HN, and on Lobsters. Much appreciation to all for your contributions. I give back what I can.

                                                                                                                                            2. 1

                                                                                                                                              alynpost’s suggestion meets my needs and I withdraw my support for a new category.

                                                                                                                                              1. [Comment removed by author]

                                                                                                                                                1. 15

                                                                                                                                                  In that thread @nickpsecurity shared a lot of views I deeply, deeply disagree with. I also shared those views eight years ago. People aren’t all-good or all-bad, and our beliefs aren’t simple or static. Are those arguments stemmed in malice? Ignorance? Circumstance or experiences? I don’t know, but I do know that nick has made many contributions to our community in computing history, formal verification, and software engineering. He’s been nothing but respectful and insightful when I’ve talked with him.

                                                                                                                                                  Does that mean it’s okay to be hostile and malicious? Definitely not. Does that mean it’s okay to be ignorant or come from a different context? To me, at least, it is. And while I don’t know whether he’s being malicious or ignorant or hurt or what, I’m willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. I’m willing to give everybody the benefit of the doubt.

                                                                                                                                                  We can’t hold everybody up to every standard. God knows I’d fail that, and I suspect everybody else here would, too. Being human is hard, and being a good human is infinitely harder.

                                                                                                                                                  1. 8

                                                                                                                                                    To me, that reinforces the fact that having an appropriate downvote label is the right thing. That way, we could downvote that particular comment with a clear reason, without otherwise penalizing or alienating them. In theory, this could even serve as constructive feedback, though I admit that’s a stretch.

                                                                                                                                                    1. 8

                                                                                                                                                      100% agree. I am in favor of a rude/snark/hostile/abuse tag as a means of shaping what we want our community to be. I’m not in favor of banning a person for saying something rude now and then (unless there’s clearly malicious intent and/or they are unwilling to stop being rude).

                                                                                                                                                    2. 2

                                                                                                                                                      Off topic: have you written anything about you eight years ago vs you today? I’m curious.

                                                                                                                                                    3. 13

                                                                                                                                                      If someone writes a shitty comment but you don’t see it, does it exist? In every thread about downvotes and mean people, there’s a similar comment that somebody is surprised at all the bad things going on. Maybe if we stop collecting and highlighting all the bad things fewer people will be exposed to them? It seems contradictory that people who don’t want to read bad comments are so eager to click on links to bad comments. Maybe you were right the first time, when you didn’t read the thread.

                                                                                                                                                      1. 2

                                                                                                                                                        I’m hesitant to support a ban here, as they clearly have contributed a bunch to the site too (4486 karma at time of writing). The particular comment linked, and some other sentiments expressed in that thread, are ones that I disagree strongly with on a personal level, but it’s unclear whether that alone is grounds for banning someone.

                                                                                                                                                        1. 8

                                                                                                                                                          Disagreeing should not ever be, much less for the invite tree.

                                                                                                                                                          Off-topic can be taken elsewhere.

                                                                                                                                                          Why is this such a problem? Just have someone slap “Here be dragons” on it and hide the thread.

                                                                                                                                                          There is no way to win online.

                                                                                                                                                          1. 4

                                                                                                                                                            Sorry, my comment may have been poorly worded. I was trying to convey that I don’t think disagreeing should be grounds for banning, but my years of living in England may have caused unnecessary understatement.

                                                                                                                                                          2. 2

                                                                                                                                                            What about his karma per story/comment? Is it low or something?

                                                                                                                                                            Let’s compare him to his direct peers.

                                                                                                                                                            5574, averaging 8.48 per story/comment 
                                                                                                                                                            5232, averaging 3.90 per story/comment 
                                                                                                                                                            5191, averaging 2.82 per story/comment 
                                                                                                                                                            4882, averaging 2.86 per story/comment (moderator)
                                                                                                                                                            4762, averaging 5.44 per story/comment 
                                                                                                                                                            4488, averaging 2.45 per story/comment <==
                                                                                                                                                            4165, averaging 6.35 per story/comment 
                                                                                                                                                            3863, averaging 4.19 per story/comment 
                                                                                                                                                            3585, averaging 3.55 per story/comment 
                                                                                                                                                            3098, averaging 3.03 per story/comment 

                                                                                                                                                            No, this isn’t data that speaks for itself. I don’t have a conclusion.

                                                                                                                                                            1. [Comment removed by author]

                                                                                                                                                              1. 4

                                                                                                                                                                I’m not willing to generalize “they made a comment I found unnecessarily inflammatory” to “the contributions of this user are tainted and should be purged from the site”. I don’t think you should either, but that’s your prerogative. If a user has repeated offensive behavior, then banning becomes something that can be discussed, but I don’t think there’s evidence of this (at least not that I’ve seen thus far). And suggesting that a ban is an appropriate reaction without extended examples to back that up seems unnecessarily provocative in and of itself.

                                                                                                                                                                1. 1

                                                                                                                                                                  Well put.

                                                                                                                                                                  I’d be thrilled if lobsters turned out to be a place where “the culture war” was more of a heated discussion.

                                                                                                                                                                  1. 2

                                                                                                                                                                    I wouldn’t. I already have every other forum to wage the culture war. If this is going to be a place where it’s waged, I’d like it if all culture war links and discussions were regulated to a specific thread that could be easily ignored or hidden.

                                                                                                                                                                    1. 1

                                                                                                                                                                      I genuinely fear the fragmentation into two camps who refuse to talk will (in years to come) cause a civil war.

                                                                                                                                                                      Civil discussion with people whose Overton windows barely intersect ours might yet stop it.

                                                                                                                                                                      1. 1

                                                                                                                                                                        You seem to be under the misapprehension that I (and potentially others like me) don’t wish to engage at all in politics or in what we’re calling the “culture war”, because we’re scared or weak or obstinate or have any other set of emotional characteristics that make debate hard.

                                                                                                                                                                        That’s not the case for me at all. I spend nearly all day every day in it, on the internet and in my personal life. I have plenty of avenues to converse with folks who agree and who disagree with me. Speaking hyperbole about a desire to stay focused on a certain subject leading to civil war is frankly hilarious. Politics are important but they are not the most important, and they don’t need to be involved in every single conversation.

                                                                                                                                                                        1. 2

                                                                                                                                                                          You seem to be under the misapprehension that I (and potentially others like me) don’t wish to engage at all in politics or in what we’re calling the “culture war”, because we’re scared or weak or obstinate or have any other set of emotional characteristics that make debate hard.

                                                                                                                                                                          I apologize for coming off this way; not at all my intent.

                                                                                                                                                                          My point (poorly made) was that the ‘no culture war here’ boat sailed long ago (we have hundreds of active users on each ‘side’ now and they aren’t about to ignore their differences to talk tech).

                                                                                                                                                                          The best plausible outcome I can imagine is the discussion remaining civil (if heated).

                                                                                                                                                                          Speaking hyperbole about a desire to stay focused on a certain subject leading to civil war is frankly hilarious.

                                                                                                                                                                          Sorry, not really the right parent comment to attach that idea to. The concept stands, however; there is an increasing urban/rural political divide (in the USA, Australia and the UK, at least), and this sort of geographic political divide has been a precursor to civil war elsewhere.

                                                                                                                                                                          It’d take a decade or more of the trend continuing (and it might reverse in the meantime), but I’d not be so quick to discount it.

                                                                                                                                                                          1. 1

                                                                                                                                                                            I appreciate your reply. I agree that the boat sailed a long time ago. My hope is that we can keep the discussion focused in as much of the site as possible, and limit the war to defined spaces. Fostering community (or even disunity) is all fine if it’s sequestered.

                                                                                                                                                                            And I see now that I misunderstood your comment. I agree about the growing divide. I don’t see as grim a future as you, but I certainly fear for how the disparity in value-sets between the two “sides” grows and festers.

                                                                                                                                                                            (I had a small worry about it earlier this year, but reading this Quora answer/article changed my mind pretty definitively. Even if the young-to-old doesn’t hold, the sheer number of deaths sustained pre-Civil War compared to now is startling and I can’t imagine a modern-day America (or Great Britain/Australia) waiting until it got that bad.)

                                                                                                                                                            2. 2

                                                                                                                                                              Thanks for pointing me to these great comments I would have otherwise missed. I have upvoted them all.

                                                                                                                                                              Oh, and by the way, I think you should be banned because I disagree with you. Apparently that is all that matters?

                                                                                                                                                              1. 6

                                                                                                                                                                It’s dishonest to reduce their position to “you should be banned because we disagree.”

                                                                                                                                                                1. 2

                                                                                                                                                                  No, this is exactly what it is.

                                                                                                                                                                  1. 3

                                                                                                                                                                    “Our forum shouldn’t tolerate posts that I believe denigrate activists fighting for the rights of minorities, therefore we should also ban Gophers who disagree with me on the value of generics.”

                                                                                                                                                                    Terrible argument. Try engaging with the actual content of the post rather than its broad structural properties (disagreement).

                                                                                                                                                                    1. 3

                                                                                                                                                                      that I believe denigrate activists fighting for the rights of minorities

                                                                                                                                                                      I’m an activist that fights for the rights of minorities. I constantly survey them. Huge chunks of minority members disagree with the political views or expectations of the group I called out. Your categorization makes no sense in light of that. Instead, proper categorization is I pointed out that they represented one group among many that was dictating how minorities would live or be treated despite a lot of disagreement by minority members outside their group. They also have no interest in what those minority members have to say. One commenter here even said there was a denigrating term for the latter where they were considered deluded or brainwashed by society instead of simply having different views.

                                                                                                                                                                      So, I don’t think that’s denigrating “activists fighting for the rights of minorities” if they’re (a) harming the interests or wishes of a lot of minority members, (b) don’t care what they have to say or want a discussion, and (c) will actively censor them or go after their job if they disagreed since that’s the doctrine of those I called out. If anything, that looks like an uncompromising, political movement forcing its views on everyone with a sizeable chunk of liberal non-minorities or minority members agreeing with them but also plenty in disagreement. That means resistance is fighting political pushes, not minorities’ rights. I’m fighting for the rights of all groups that a few on left and right are trying to control, dominate, or punish for non-compliance with those few’s political views. Instead, each group, including within minorities, should have a say on their future with our laws or policies coming from consensuses or compromises from such discussions.

                                                                                                                                                                      That isn’t what’s happening. The few are dictating the many including against their wishes.

                                                                                                                                                                      1. 3

                                                                                                                                                                        I’m not the person who has a beef with you or called for you to be banned. I was giving what I believed to be a more charitable interpretation of their position than “I disagree with you.”

                                                                                                                                                                        1. 1

                                                                                                                                                                          Sorry if I jumped the gun. Quite a few of these were about me then I projected onto a quick read of your comment. Then, let’s consider that one directed at whoever that was if they’re reading.

                                                                                                                                                                    2. 2

                                                                                                                                                                      I think that’s a disingenuous interpretation of the opinions expressed in this thread as a whole. If anything, the overall impression I’m getting is that we are all concerned about how to get this right such that it doesn’t cause downvoting and banning just because you disagree with someone. You’re right that the specific comment you replied to did bring up the question of whether the poster of the comment in question could be banned, but as you can see from the subthread below it, this is not something most people seem to agree with. As far as I can tell, your comment is at best unnecessarily inflammatory, if not outright trolling — what constructive discussion were you hoping to initiate with your post that couldn’t also be stated in a much less snarky and passive-aggressive way?

                                                                                                                                                                      1. 4

                                                                                                                                                                        what constructive discussion were you hoping to initiate with your post that couldn’t also be stated in a much less snarky and passive-aggressive way?

                                                                                                                                                                        I believe this type of language police that you are trying to practice here is more harmful to humanity than nuclear weapons, global warming, Donald Trump, and even Google; and I will fight my whole life against all effort to police language and thought.

                                                                                                                                                                        I speak the way I want to speak and absolutely nobody can tell me I speak the wrong way.

                                                                                                                                                                        1. 3

                                                                                                                                                                          I’m baffled that you feel as though any of that advocates policing what you’re allowed to think, or what you’re allowed to speak about. That was not at all my intention. I think there is real value to having a conversation be civil, and especially so if it’s with someone I disagree with, and that’s what I’ve been suggesting here. That the way in which you put your argument into words matters, and that you should take care to make it precise and to-the-point. Otherwise it all reduces to petty shit-posting back and forth, which serves no-one and resolves no disagreements.

                                                                                                                                                            1. 10

                                                                                                                                                              I fee like, purposely or not, the title of this post is misleading as is, even with the caveat in the text that it’s simply one user’s opinion. That should have been made clear in the title IMO.

                                                                                                                                                              Additionally it’s worth noting that this particular interpretation of downvotes leaves a lot of room for unfriendly, hostile, and ugly behavior provides that it can be plausibly denied as an opinion.

                                                                                                                                                              The idea that opinions cannot be subject to downvotes coupled with the admonitions against “badthink” leave room for things like:

                                                                                                                                                              In my opinion, women are generally inferior programmers than men.

                                                                                                                                                              Black people are genetically pre-disposed to be good slaves (author will present “evidence” to back up their “opinion”.)


                                                                                                                                                              More broadly, the idea that social interactions can only be mediated by some objective set rules in order to be fair is a peculiar oddity of the internet that runs counter to meatspace human behavior and often enables, intentionally or not, abusive and exclusionary behavior.

                                                                                                                                                              1. 5

                                                                                                                                                                That’s the core of it, though–what’s wrong with expressing those opinions?

                                                                                                                                                                If an opinion is actually totally bonkers, ignore it. If an opinion might be based on incorrect facts, a polite discussion–followed, perhaps, by an agreement to disagree–is an adult way to handle it. The mere gut reaction of “this person says that they feel like about and so must be punished” is just tribalism, pure and simple.

                                                                                                                                                                If the opinion is, say, “I think that angersock should be violated with a rake for being such an argumentative shithead”, that’s something that falls under our usual civility guidelines. Something like “I think that angersock is ill-suited to public discourse because of their race” is something that can either be engaged with (and nuked once civility is dropped) or ignored entirely. And even in that latter case, usually the off-topic flag becomes relevant. We have mechanisms in place to deal with this, we just need to use them.

                                                                                                                                                                As an aside, your second example is stated as a fact and not as an opinion (is similar to the borderline example in my original post).

                                                                                                                                                                1. 10

                                                                                                                                                                  Because they create a hostile environment. I’m entirely uninterested in reading bonkers racist statements, but I am interested in reading technical content from people who won’t put up bonkers racist statements. You have to decide what audience/participants you want.

                                                                                                                                                                  1. 5

                                                                                                                                                                    I think that angersock is ill-suited to public discourse because of their race

                                                                                                                                                                    I don’t think racist arguments of any kind fall inside the realm of civil discourse. I would downvote as troll.

                                                                                                                                                                    1. 9

                                                                                                                                                                      Racist comments would be moderated.

                                                                                                                                                                      1. 4

                                                                                                                                                                        Given the other comments downthread, I think it would be more accurate to say that overtly racist comments would be moderated, which is not quite the same. I’m not suggesting we ask moderators to make decisions about where the line is for overt / implicit / accidental racism, but additional ways of downvoting would let the community draw those line, which we should expect to be somewhat fuzzy and subjective, but should still exist.

                                                                                                                                                                        Modern racism (and other isms) rarely takes the form of explict denigration and demonization of minorities. It’s typically framed as believed to be true (honestly or not) “facts” or “i’m just saying” opinions, and we have a terrible habit of building rule systems that excuse any behavior that can’t be proven to be malicious (which is extremely difficult), regardless of how negative the actual outcome of that behavior is.

                                                                                                                                                                        In this case, both @grumpyoldman and @tm knew that their position would be considered racist, which means they should also know that going out of their way to express and defend those opinions here would create an environment hostile to PoC. No matter how much they believe their statements to be true, I think it’s reasonable to expect them to know that their personal belief in the truth and meaningfullness of something does not make it objectively so, and that expressing those particular beliefs creates an environment of hostility.

                                                                                                                                                                        This sort of behavior is counter-productive to community building, IMO, and is not exclusive to social topics of race. It’s entirely possible to generate unwelcoming hostiliy by ranting about systemd or non-constructively dismissing technical work as useless. In general, I think it’s reasonable ask people to consider the effect of their behaviors on the community and give the community an easier way to speak to damaging behavior that’s independent of intent.

                                                                                                                                                                        1. -1

                                                                                                                                                                          No matter how much they believe their statements to be true, I think it’s reasonable to expect them to know that their personal belief in the truth and meaningfullness of something does not make it objectively so, and that expressing those particular beliefs creates an environment of hostility.

                                                                                                                                                                          Finding something uncomfortable or “offensive” doesn’t make it false either.

                                                                                                                                                                          For example, we all know that on average, black men have larger penises than white men. In other words, being white kind of sucks in that regard. We’d all much prefer having big penises, just like we’d all prefer being smart.

                                                                                                                                                                          But somehow talking about the differences in penis size is perfectly fine, but anyone who brings up the differences in IQ just absolutely needs to be shouted down for being “racist”. It’s a double standard.

                                                                                                                                                                          Facts are not racist. Everyone on this forum is certainly smart enough to understand that, and we’re all capable of discussing and debating things. So why the irrational, extreme hostility to some ideas then? It makes no sense.

                                                                                                                                                                          Unless.. the larger problem here is that the world is allergic to the truth.

                                                                                                                                                                          Not only that, but just like when something seems “too good to be true”, when someone seems “too irrational to be true”, it’s probably not true!

                                                                                                                                                                          So basically people are just pretending to be outraged by some uncomfortable truths being mentioned.. but not others, like penis size.

                                                                                                                                                                          I have no idea why this is happening, but it is. And it’s incredibly destructive to our societies as a whole. In fact, it’s almost like there’s a concentrated effort to drive Western civilization into the ground.

                                                                                                                                                                          We’re all up shit creek, sans paddle, and a large percentage of us “little folks” is busy drilling holes in the boat as best they can.

                                                                                                                                                                          The mind boggles..

                                                                                                                                                                          1. 1

                                                                                                                                                                            Yes, if expressing a true statement which is supported by objective and evidence and fact and not subjective opinion “creates a hostile environment” then a community that holds that viewpoint is itself toxic to humanity. I hope that isn’t the case here.

                                                                                                                                                                            If certain facts and truths cannot be mentioned and falsehoods are upheld because they aren’t what people want to hear, then that creates an entire layer of falsehood I have have to view everything else through if the community norm is decided to be a standard which supports and encourages deliberate dishonesty.

                                                                                                                                                                            “Offensiveness” is about the worst criteria for moderation or self- censorship imaginable in a world where everyone is offended by anything and everything, reasonably or unreasonably.

                                                                                                                                                                            Heck, I’m highly offended and consider it disgustingly ‘racist’ that minorities and PoC are being effectively ignored and are suffering lost opportunities because instead of seeing our differences as mere differences (or strengths) we choose to shut our eyes or claim they don’t exist. This is absolutely toxic, hostile, and ignorant.

                                                                                                                                                                            In the end we need to decide what sort of culture we support and want sort of world we want to live in. Monocultures can be fragile and diversity can be our strength, and to claim these differences simply aren’t real and don’t exist is ignoring the elephant in the room. The unintended consequence of such hyperbolic political correctness is that it hurts the very people it claims to be supportive of.

                                                                                                                                                                            1. 0

                                                                                                                                                                              I hope that isn’t the case here.

                                                                                                                                                                              That’s the case everywhere.

                                                                                                                                                                              For example, speak certain uncomfortable truths on Hacker News, and you’ll be shadowbanned. It’s happened to me several times.

                                                                                                                                                                              The same will/would probably happen here too. This post might do it! Not that I really care.

                                                                                                                                                                              If certain facts and truths cannot be mentioned and falsehoods are upheld because they aren’t what people want to hear, then that creates an entire layer of falsehood

                                                                                                                                                                              The world we live in is a massive pile of falsehoods. As a random example, we’re told that 2% is a good rate for our income, savings and pensions to be losing their purchasing power, i.e. that 2% inflation is somehow good for us.

                                                                                                                                                                              But in reality, there’s no good rate for a bad thing to be happening. How fast would you like gangrene to spread through your body? How about not at all?

                                                                                                                                                                              We’re also led to believe that being ruled over is in our interest, instead of say, our rulers’.

                                                                                                                                                                              In the end we need to decide what sort of culture we support and want sort of world we want to live in.

                                                                                                                                                                              There’s two sides to “we”: psychopaths and humans. The former run the world and are turning it into shit, and the latter have no clue what’s going on and are abused and exploited by the psychopaths.

                                                                                                                                                                              But hey, there’s a pretty decent chance that you’re a psycho too, so I’ll just stop here. In fact, posting on the Internet is mostly a waste of time, because I’m mostly talking to a psychopath anyway.

                                                                                                                                                                              It’s just a bad habit I picked up before finding out what’s going on.

                                                                                                                                                                      2. 2

                                                                                                                                                                        I am hard-pressed to think of a reason that such a line of discussion should ever come up here, unless in maybe cogsci or culture threads. I’d trust our mods to crack down the second it strayed from reasonable science.

                                                                                                                                                                        (On a related note, that’s why submissions that lend themselves to that sort of bile are cancer.)

                                                                                                                                                                        1. -2

                                                                                                                                                                          I don’t think racist arguments of any kind fall inside the realm of civil discourse

                                                                                                                                                                          Even if someone actually made an argument, instead of just running his mouth?

                                                                                                                                                                          On a related note, there are studies that find different races to have different average IQs. But if someone brings that up to support a related claim, lots of people will shout him down as a “racist”.. and that’s bullshit.

                                                                                                                                                                          1. 3

                                                                                                                                                                            Actually that is not bullshit. People who claim race influences IQ are racist and I’m 100% uninterested in their odious opinions.

                                                                                                                                                                            1. 4

                                                                                                                                                                              Sure, but the point being referenced above refers to correlation and not causation.

                                                                                                                                                                              Anyways, in some cases, it’s basically impossible to talk about policy issues without noting biological differences. Like, there are other cases (alcohol flush reaction) where we could talk science and biology and be having a strictly racist but civil conversation.

                                                                                                                                                                              The problem is that people often go off on dumb tangents and assert policy choices that should be made, or that they go and overgeneralize when things are complicated.

                                                                                                                                                                              1. 0

                                                                                                                                                                                Yay, I’ve absolutely prepared and resigned myself to be down-voted to oblivion, but here goes.

                                                                                                                                                                                The claim that race influences IQ isn’t “bullshit” - it’s the accepted scientific consensus and if you’ve chosen to wholly disregard a truth because you don’t want to hear it, then I might be 100% uninterested in your odious opinions as well. I’ve hesitated on commenting in these meta-discussions, and I won’t be down-voting any comment as “Incorrect” because it’s not helpful to do so, but it would be absolutely correct in this case.

                                                                                                                                                                                See https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2016.00399 for good recent meta-study that appears in a high impact peer-reviewed journal. I could literally provide you with hundreds and hundreds of similar articles, but what would be the point, as you’ve already decided that you are going to ignore both reality, scientific consensus, and the accepted views of most scientists working in this (controversial) field, all because they don’t fit your preconceived ideas of the way things should be?

                                                                                                                                                                                Just my $0.02, but I’m venting that this is even a topic on lobsters at all. It shouldn’t be and if there is any strict moderation necessary, it should be to keep these political posts off this site and away from this community. If lobsters is going to start allowing this sort of discussion - is it “uncharitable” or to start marking Incorrect statements as incorrect even if I would be perceived as some sort of racist and start a whole circus?

                                                                                                                                                                                The truth here is complicated and not what people want to hear. It is absolutely incorrect to state that race and IQ are not correlated and to claim otherwise is to ignore decades of data. Does this mean science is racist? I wouldn’t make that argument. I actually would agree with vyodaiken, if he said that it is “bullshit”, if the argument presented was that race can be seen as the causative factor and used an indicator of innate superiority or directly linked to ability; that sort of thing is not supported by data and while never argued seems to be what was inferred.

                                                                                                                                                                                I’ve never down-voted in a meta topic and usually avoid this sort of discussion because it is so far off the scope of this community I would argue it doesn’t belong anywhere near this site. I absolutely understand that people will be offended when they think they are being attacked based on their gender or race.

                                                                                                                                                                                Simply discussing the scientific findings in this field is upsetting to many people and makes them feel uncomfortable or unwelcome. That is an unfortunate truth. But, using false statements to defend against perceived racism is just as intellectually bankrupt as using false statements to support racism - and none of it has anything to do with technology.

                                                                                                                                                                                Where does it end? Are we going to add “fact checkers” to support or overturn “Incorrect” down-votes? Is it “uncharitable” to down-vote a factually incorrect statement that is being used in an argument defending minorities - a righteous position? Would it be not “uncharitable” to down-vote the same sort of factual incorrectness being used by a racist to support their argument?

                                                                                                                                                                                With that said, I’ve hidden the “meta” tag going forward, because these recent threads are so far off-topic I don’t care to see any more of them. I appreciate being allowed in this community, outside of the meta threads, it is generally civil and tightly focused, but if we start mixing in subjective down-voting rationales and having threads about controversial topics of self-identity, race, or religion, it is my opinion that will greatly diminish this community and I probably won’t want to participate any longer, especially if we are going to accept hostility to facts and reality.

                                                                                                                                                                                Edit: A good related piece - http://www.politico.com/story/2013/08/opinion-jason-richwine-095353 - Why can’t we talk about IQ?

                                                                                                                                                                                1. 4

                                                                                                                                                                                  I do sympathize with your position, but I will observe that blocking meta threads means that you’re going to be subject to rules and norms that you will not have any warning of or input into.

                                                                                                                                                                                  1. 1

                                                                                                                                                                                    So the unintended consequence is that I will likely end up contributing much less and commenting much less than I might otherwise, which would be unfortunate.

                                                                                                                                                                                    I’ve enjoyed that what makes the front page here has generally been free of politics. I’ve not noticed any recent outbreak of uncharitable behavior here. I’ve actually found lobsters to be a rare gem of an online community with some cohesion and civility absent elsewhere. It’s a refreshing retreat, especially since we live in a world that is politically polarized on a global scale. The extremists on both sides not only claim they have the sole moral high ground - they share so little common ground and finding their opposites so abhorrent that civility is purposely abandoned, often to the point where violence often rationalized.

                                                                                                                                                                                    I’ll reconsider filtering meta - for now - but if lobsters starts to get political and new subjective down-voting reasons are added where ‘feels’ have the same weight as facts, I’ll probably have find somewhere else to get my tech links from.

                                                                                                                                                                                  2. 3

                                                                                                                                                                                    The claim that race influences IQ isn’t “bullshit” - it’s the accepted scientific consensus

                                                                                                                                                                                    Only to racists. This is not a debatable question. There is not even a scientific definition of race. IQ is not known to measure anything at all. The only people who keep pushing this phrenology level bullshit have an axe to grind and their pretense of dispassionate scientific interest is transparent. The fake plea for civility doesn’t fly either.

                                                                                                                                                                                    1. 1

                                                                                                                                                                                      Then feel free to consider me a racist and ignore my further commentary and I’ll do the same.

                                                                                                                                                                                      Edit: I’m not going to do it, but this absolutely Trolling here - as well as Incorrect. I guess I’d much rather be called racist because it’s a laughable term that has no sting when it’s thrown around in response to a refusal to accept facts and reality. Also, that you decide that you know my intentions and think I have some axe to grind without knowing me is just pure trolling. Enjoy, I’m done with it because I have no need to gain your respect and I’m not going to waste my time defending myself against your personal attacks.

                                                                                                                                                                                      1. 1

                                                                                                                                                                                        So, I’m broadly of the opinion that individual and cultural differences trump (nebulous at best) “racial” differences.

                                                                                                                                                                                        That said, given that complex traits are typically 30-50% heritable, I would be very surprised if any given measurement of intelligence turned out not to be heritable.

                                                                                                                                                                                        The degree to which heritability generalises to racial traits in a multiracial society is arguable (largely hinging on whether race is a useful concept in genetics at all), but is far from settled.

                                                                                                                                                                                        In short, you are making an assertion which isn’t falsifiable (let alone evidence supported) and it adds nothing to the debate.

                                                                                                                                                                                        A more useful question might be: if racial intelligence differences were proven to exist, would that justify racism?

                                                                                                                                                                                        (In my opinion it would not; curious about contrary arguments).

                                                                                                                                                                                        1. 0

                                                                                                                                                                                          It is a double-edged sword, of course.

                                                                                                                                                                                          We can use our knowledge of differences to make us stronger and better as a culture or we can use that knowledge to support (or justify) our hateful and unhelpful behaviors. Would such behavior be justifiable? I would argue absolutely not in a civil society.

                                                                                                                                                                                          The choice of course is ours. What sort of community do we want?

                                                                                                                                                                                          My point remains that to label certain knowledge as inherently ‘racist’ is absurd and and then to claim only ‘racists’ acknowledge those truths, well, I’m gobsmacked. If this is how it is, I will be ‘proud racist’ in this context as the alternative is to be a proud ignoramus.

                                                                                                                                                                                          1. 2

                                                                                                                                                                                            Your representation of the discussion is not correct and what you claim to be “truths” are opinions that are not even posed as scientific questions and are being deceitfully marketed as scientific consensus. Whatever motivates people to insist on bringing up political claims about race/IQ in a discussion forum about computer technology, it’s not science. I am not asserting that scientists should not study genetics and intelligence, I am asserting that the pseudo-science such as that promoted by Richwine is off topic and offensive and has no place in a forum such as this one.

                                                                                                                                                                                            1. [Comment removed by author]

                                                                                                                                                                                              1. 1

                                                                                                                                                                                                (You appear to have double posted)

                                                                                                                                                                                                On this point we can finally agree.

                                                                                                                                                                                                While we both likely see our respective viewpoints as repugnant, we are unlikely to ever come to any agreement except that these discussions are off-topic.

                                                                                                                                                                                                That is a point I’ve been making all along. I absolutely disagree with essentially everything else you’ve said and would gladly continue the discussion but this isn’t the place, is it?

                                                                                                                                                                                                These “meta” tagged threads are pure cancer.

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                                                                                                                                                                                          This is a perfect example of the kind of HN content I come here to escape. A tech forum is the wrong place to express your plaintive cry that you need more social experience.

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                                                                                                                                                                                            argument presented was that race can be seen as the causative factor and used an indicator of innate superiority or directly linked to ability; that sort of thing is not supported by data

                                                                                                                                                                                            If the data shows that there are differences between the average IQs of different races, why wouldn’t the same data support race being a causative factor?

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                                                                                                                                                                                              Ah, simply because correlation does not necessarily imply causation. In this specific case, it should also be noted that due to disagreements on a “scientific” definition of “race” most of these studies use racial self-identity as the criteria.

                                                                                                                                                                                              There are too many uncontrolled variables to make any reasoned conclusion as to a cause, but to deny these differences exist at all, like some here are trying to do, is insanity.

                                                                                                                                                                                              (Also, I use “insanity” here as “extreme foolishness or irrationally”. I’m not intending to imply their positions are enough to medically diagnose and label them mentally ill - only that the many of the arguments made in this thread are irrational.)

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                                                                                                                                                                                                The question is what makes some people insist on bringing up this topic in forums like this. Are they truth seeking iconoclasts, unwilling to let irrational mobs limit the scope of their scientific curiosity? Given the quality of the “science” presented in these arguments, that’s impossible to credit. Jonathan Richwine is a professional ideologist who was forced to resign his position at the Heritage Foundation! Charles Murray wrote a book that was roundly denounced by the most prominent genetic scientists as a racist rant - he’s merited his own page in the SPLC directory of hate groups.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                  Ah, simply because correlation does not necessarily imply causation.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  Necessarily, huh? :P

                                                                                                                                                                                                  Race happens before IQ tests though, and for some mysterious reason there are people in Africa trying to cure AIDS by having sex with virgins, and living in huts without any plans to change that.. and they’ve had just as much time to develop as we have.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  Go figure.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                    I am waiting for the defenders of free and open scientific inquiry to explain how this stuff about Africans living in huts fits into their brave defense of rationality. To me, it’s just racist nonsense, but perhaps that’s just me.

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                                                                                                                                                                                            I find interesting highly entertaining that I was just shouted down for being a “racist” for merely trying mentioning the scientific consensus on the matter. I wish there was a way to ignore these people but sometimes, like a train wreck, it’s too crazy to turn away from.

                                                                                                                                                                                            New Scientists’ Ethics Special issue out now actually has a debate that science itself may be “unethical” to practice going forward because of its potential to be dangerous/destructive/racist! What fragile and special snowflakes we all have become these days!

                                                                                                                                                                                            I wonder if a better option would be when clicking down-vote, you are given the option to ignore the user.

                                                                                                                                                                                            Seems like it could be a mature choice, but possibly it would just fragment the site and make echo chambers?

                                                                                                                                                                                            I guess a Greasemonkey script could collapse the comments automatically as well.

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                                                                                                                                                                                              That racist babble is not even close to the scientific consensus . That political hacks claim a scientific consensus doesn’t make it so.

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                                                                                                                                                                                              To quote a small (fair-use) bit from that now famous “Why can’t we talk about IQ?” article, emphasis mine:

                                                                                                                                                                                              For people who have studied mental ability, what’s truly frustrating is the déjà vu they feel each time a media firestorm like this one erupts. Attempts by experts in the field to defend the embattled messenger inevitably fall on deaf ears. When the firestorm is over, the media’s mindset always resets to a state of comfortable ignorance, ready to be shocked all over again when the next messenger comes along.

                                                                                                                                                                                              At stake here, incidentally, is not just knowledge for the sake of knowledge, but also how science informs public policy. The U.S. education system, for example, is suffused with mental testing, yet few in the political classes understand cognitive ability research. Angry and repeated condemnations of the science will not help.

                                                                                                                                                                                              What scholars of mental ability know, but have never successfully gotten the media to understand, is that a scientific consensus, based on an extensive and consistent literature, has long been reached on many of the questions that still seem controversial to journalists.

                                                                                                                                                                                              Apparently accepting the scientific consensus, based on extensive and consistent literature, which has long been reached by the relevant researchers in the field, is still a struggle for many computer scientists and otherwise very smart and reasoned individuals as well, especially when the science doesn’t support their preconceived notions.

                                                                                                                                                                                              I’m not sure if I should laugh or cry anymore these days.

                                                                                                                                                                                              http://www.politico.com/story/2013/08/opinion-jason-richwine-095353 for the original article.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                1. Richwine is not a scientist.

                                                                                                                                                                                                Jason Matthew Richwine is a conservative public-policy analyst[2] and commentator[3] best known for his controversial views on immigration and IQ. Wikipedia

                                                                                                                                                                                                1. Richwine’s dissertation was not in science, not in social science, but in public policy

                                                                                                                                                                                                2. Richwine’s dissertation made claims that are unsupported in science about the genetic basic of IQ and tied them to public policy recommendations.

                                                                                                                                                                                                Richwine appears to not understand what it was about his dissertation that disturbed people. He argued for a clear and persistent genetic basis to IQ, used that to argue for an immigration system based on IQ tests, and then provided political advice on how to hide the intent of that system. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2013/08/09/jason-richwine-doesnt-understand-why-people-are-mad-at-him/?utm_term=.4f44ca32a804

                                                                                                                                                                                                1. In his Politico article, Richwine attempts to rehabilite the widely debunked Bell Curve and its racist political program

                                                                                                                                                                                                “As a consequence, the interesting policy implications explored by Herrnstein and Murray were lost in the firestorm.” http://www.politico.com/story/2013/08/opinion-jason-richwine-095353

                                                                                                                                                                                                Here’s an example of Murray from Bell Curve: “The professional consensus is that the United States has experienced dysgenic pressures throughout either most of the century (the optimists) or all of the century (the pessimists).” - from https://www.splcenter.org/fighting-hate/extremist-files/individual/charles-murray

                                                                                                                                                                                                There is no credible argument here that dispassionate scientific research is being shouted down. People who persist in bringing up this claim create a hostile environment for the targets of Richwine and Murray’s and others racist remarks and political program.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                  I wanted to comment that this sort of clear, crisp disagreement/refutation with minimal quotes and links to sources is exactly the sort of thing I like to see more of.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  That said, let’s drop the subthread for now.

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                                                                                                                                                                                            In practice skepticism about Rust or Haskell nets more troll ratings than racist babble. Tells you something.

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                                                                                                                                                                                          I don’t think the release tag is appropriate here. Julian posted a design proposal earlier today. I didn’t even have time to read it yet. There’s a long road ahead of this being shipped in an official release. (@jcs, could I get an SVN developer hat?)

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                                                                                                                                                                                            (@jcs, could I get an SVN developer hat?)


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                                                                                                                                                                                              My impression was that Subversion development had basically stalled, so this is really exciting to see, even if it’s only a firm and concrete proposal on how to implement it. Can I ask whether the proposal for explicit branches (I think it was called labels or something?) is also something y’all’re still thinking about? And any idea when a proposal like this might actually land, if accepted?

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                                                                                                                                                                                                Development hasn’t stalled, it has just become very slow. The project used to enjoy several full-time developer positions being funded by various companies, and that funding has now mostly vanished. A lot of developers used to regard Subversion as their regular day job, which makes switching the community to a fully volunteer model a bit difficult. Assembla is trying to reverse this trend, but so far they have only employed one developer. Let’s hope for the best :)

                                                                                                                                                                                                The checkpointing and shelving issues in the bug tracker are quite old. In fact, they predate the migration of the issue tracker to the ASF’s Jira instance. So these are not new ideas. They’re being picked up by a company which has a business case that involves SVN and is funding a developer from the community to drive them forward.

                                                                                                                                                                                                Explicit branches have been proposed over and over, but they are difficult due to the design and code that’s already there. Sometimes, it’s better to leave things that are “good enough” alone. I certainly had ambitions at some point. Julian’s (the same Julian) element-based merge was the most advanced attempt at this, but it was never completed. His current employer seems to prefer him to work on shelving and checkpointing, so it’s probably up to somebody else to finish his element-based merging work (more likely, I’d expect it will never get finished).

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                                                                                                                                                                                              Mostly agree on “off-topic,” “incorrect,” “me-too” and “spam”, with some caveats:

                                                                                                                                                                                              • “incorrect” - I find that many comments aren’t worded carefully enough to distinguish between whether they are stating facts or whether they are stating opinions. You might think that the context makes it obvious—sometimes it does—but I don’t think it is the common case.
                                                                                                                                                                                              • “me-too” - I think the opposite of agreement, content free disagreement, is also grounds for this category.

                                                                                                                                                                                              The place where we disagree most is the “troll” tag. I really, really, really strongly believe that too much unconstructive commenting or excessive negativity hampers discourse significantly. Snark, low brow dismissals, condescension, uncharitableness, and so on are all things I downvote for under the category of “troll.” I do it because I don’t want to see that crap here. I’d rather come here and talk about interesting things and share ideas instead of having to filter out all of the asshole comments.

                                                                                                                                                                                              I don’t really care if you type 5 nice sentences and then 1 mean spirited sentence. If that doesn’t get downvoted, then we as a community are saying that mean spirited comments are welcome here so long as you do enough good to outweigh the bad. That’s not how I see things. I don’t want to encourage that sort of thing. How about we just try to be nice all the time? (That isn’t an expectation that we will be nice all the time. I’m certainly not perfect at it! And that’s OK, because we have a way to signal to each other when we’ve done something that someone else finds inappropriate for discourse.)

                                                                                                                                                                                              I just assume it’s the same anonymous group of cowards who don’t like me.

                                                                                                                                                                                              IIRC, I’ve made my distaste for your commenting style pretty clear. (It’s your comments that I don’t like, not you yourself.)

                                                                                                                                                                                              We have a good community here, we have better discourse than a lot of other “technical” sites, and the reason for that is that we aggressively police off-topic and malicious behavior. At the same time that only works because we have been judicious in our use.

                                                                                                                                                                                              Lobsters is about on par with HN in my own experience. I know I’ve personally had more rewarding conversations on HN than I have had here. But then again, I tend to only stray into the more technical discussions on HN. I try to stay away from most of everything else, which I imagine could be quite insidious. In general, I am in favor of HN’s more hands-on moderators. (In a similar vein, I am in favor of the “here be dragons” stuff that I’ve seen on Lobsters as well.)

                                                                                                                                                                                              The big problem we have is that people seem to like using this when encountering posts that they disagree with or when they want to hurt the credibility of the poster. For what it’s worth, we tend to have very polite conversations on Lobsters and we tend to quickly get rid of truly bad-faith posters…we shouldn’t be purging badthink.

                                                                                                                                                                                              It’s a common refrain to blame excessive downvoting on the mere state of disagreement—probably because it actually does happen—but, you know, people could just have a much looser interpretation of what it means to be “troll.” There’s a lot of room between “someone made a comment that was entirely mean” and “I’m downvoting you as a troll because I disagree with you.”

                                                                                                                                                                                              I try very hard not to downvote when I disagree with someone. But it’s a two way street. Disagreement begets emotion and emotion begets trolling.

                                                                                                                                                                                              More broadly, I think we need to think about what we want Lobsters to be. Is it a place for discourse and ideas? Or is it a place to mock, whine, complain and vent about other people and the work they do? Lobsters has, in the past few years, gotten a lot more of the latter than it used to have. I think the former has also increased, though, which is personally why I’m still here.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                In a similar vein, I am in favor of the “here be dragons” stuff that I’ve seen on Lobsters as well

                                                                                                                                                                                                jcs disabled this functionality so you won’t be seeing it in the future. Unless he brings it back of course.

                                                                                                                                                                                                I do think lobste.rs could do with more moderators.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                  Is it a place for discourse and ideas? Or is it a place to mock, whine, complain and vent about other people and the work they do?

                                                                                                                                                                                                  I think that all of our disagreements basically stem from a difference of opinion on this point right here.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  I don’t see those as mutually exclusive. For reasons I’ll probably have to go into in more detail in a blog post some day, but which can maybe be summed up as “taste requires saying no”, I believe that it is important to have the ability to call out bullshit in blunt and humorous forms.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  I don’t think that unrelenting positivity actually helps as much as everybody thinks it does.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  In general, I am in favor of HN’s more hands-on moderators.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  Those folks have the unenviable task of keeping the agitprop of YC running while still appearing to be authentic/unbiased enough keep around a slushfund of users who might become investment opportunities while still keeping out trolls and idiots. Not a fun job, and nobody is going to be happy with everything they do.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  That said, more generally, the problem with more hands-on mods is that the people I trust to do it (say, @jcs, @Irene, etc.) are also not the people who have lots of cycles to burn. And folks that are willing to burn those cycles but who maybe have biases…well, would you really want to see me, for example, as a mod?

                                                                                                                                                                                                  We have a system that more or less works as long as everybody is on the same page, hence threads like these. :)

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                                                                                                                                                                                                    I don’t see those as mutually exclusive.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    I don’t either. Lobsters is example numero uno that they aren’t actually mutually exclusive. My point is that I continue to visit this web site despite the comments I don’t like. Therefore, it makes sense for me to act in a way that discourages the proliferation of content that I don’t want to see here. Otherwise, I’ll just leave eventually. (Well, the idealistic part of me wants to believe that anyway.)

                                                                                                                                                                                                    I didn’t intend to start a should-we-have-moderators debate. Personally, I’m happy for Lobsters to be an experiment in mostly self moderation of community norms. So far, I think that’s trending toward failing from my perspective (and that’s OK, experiments fail sometimes).

                                                                                                                                                                                                    I believe that it is important to have the ability to call out bullshit in blunt and humorous forms.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    I don’t think it is specifically important to have that in the sense that it is some bedrock of good discourse, but I’m not actually intrinsically opposed to it either. However, I think it requires exceptionally good taste to pull off. But that skill is rare in my experience, including among us here at Lobsters.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                      Thank you for elaborating on your position. :)

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                                                                                                                                                                                                      I don’t think that unrelenting positivity actually helps as much as everybody thinks it does.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Says friendlysock.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      I’m not against having more moderators, but I think what @ngoldbaum is calling for is a more heavy-handed approach to comment moderation which the 3 current moderators don’t do. I think that would really change the tone of the site and prompt more meta threads about censorship and all that garbage.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      I just checked the database and of all the moderations in the past 5 years, there have only been 9 comment moderation actions. 6 were flagging or unflagging as dragons, 1 removed a comment because someone quoted an entire article in it, 1 removed a comment because a big sub-thread was off-topic (and recently would have just been flagged as a dragon), and 1 removed a comment because of bad language.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      So basically in 5 years, only 1 comment has been “moderated”.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      (edit: I’ve banned a few users which also took out their comments, which would not be tallied here.)

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                                                                                                                                                                                                        I’ve been doing moderation since ~2000 (basically, since I’m on the internet) and while I’m a huge fan of strict rules, I believe the default mode of moderation should be discussion-based. Calling out or supporting people from a moderation position can be a much more sustainable solution in the long run. I’ve moderated coding- and non-coding communities and experiences are all the same :). Many patterns that can be moderated (like people prone to derailing) are also not fixable through bans.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        Something a lot of people don’t notice: in most forums, ban action that needs to be debated is very rare. In those years, I had around 5 outright bans of people already involved in the community. This excludes cases where people just sign up to insult a member or call the community names or such, which people usually consider clear-cut.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        Moderation is sadly a subject rarely talked about. I sometimes submit talks to conferences about that, but sadly, they rarely get accepted. With CoCs becoming more en vogue (which I support), I think there should be more insight into the action of the teams in charge.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        Having a ban-hammer usually doesn’t mean wielding it. I think that’s a good thing.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        Finally, I find “positivity” too hard to grasp to use it as a guiding concept. Anger is certainly not positive, but voicing it might be constructive. I prefer someone voicing their anger about the current way lobste.rs then people turning passive-aggressive.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                          Appreciate you sharing your insights. I agree we need more info on moderation strategies and results. I rarely see anything on it despite its importance. This article below is literally the only in-depth piece I’ve seen hit a major site (HN I think it was):


                                                                                                                                                                                                          You got any links for us on the subject that go into detail in the theory, techniques, experiences at specific sites, and so on?

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                                                                                                                                                                                                            You got any links for us on the subject that go into detail in the theory, techniques, experiences at specific sites, and so on?

                                                                                                                                                                                                            Sadly not. Most moderators meet at conferences and just have a round-table.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            Fetch you favourite ones at the bar at your favourite conference.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            There used to be the MeatBallWiki, but I don’t find it very useful for current issues. http://meatballwiki.org/

                                                                                                                                                                                                            In any case, sites that talk about human interactions like https://captainawkward.com/ and similar help a lot, especially as they also discuss online interactions.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            I gave a talk about community management recently (don’t mind me making the Free Desktop Foundation the FSF literally in the first minute) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fUEki-o2ihA (I talk about moderation a little later, but it’s not the only subject)

                                                                                                                                                                                                            FOSDEM regularly has rooms on the subject, with a lot of good people and talks.