1. 1

Reminds me of a “shebang for a C dynamic library” I saw recently in: https://github.com/kahing/bin/blob/master/cleancache.c

1. 33

Hey, so… Speaking on behalf of the mod team, we aren’t quite ready to make a rule “no sex toys” or anything like that, but this post is on our radar as being borderline. I’m letting you all know so the community can think about what standards make sense for a place like this.

I personally believe in sex-positivity, but I can imagine that we have many readers who work in corporate environments and wouldn’t particularly want their managers to see them reading this article. Also it seems to have brought out the worst in everyone humor-wise, so that’s a point against it… I’m removing the worst comments (mostly just sex jokes).

We’ve had feedback recently, by the way, that people don’t realize we have a full team of moderators who coordinate on decisions. So we’re all trying to be a bit more visible - that’s why I’m the one posting this.

1. 29

I’m absolutely in favour of on-topic sex-related content here. But even TechCrunch, hardly known for sober and sensible reporting, was able to cover this story without sniggering. And in my opinion, if managers have a problem with their software developers reading a serious, objective article about computer security like this one just because it’s about a problem with a sex toy, the problem is with the manager/company, not with the employee.

If people aren’t able to discuss stories like this without making content-free comments with crude jokes, though, it doesn’t speak well for the community here.

1. 19

The problem with bawd is that it is even more subjective than normal humor…and given the quality of jokes that were removed, I can’t disagree with a sort of broken windows approach.

But, like, I can’t get behind the pearl clutching amd serious business aspect of this. The story is about an exploit wherein a dick gets stuck in a poorly programmed cage. That’s pretty fucking funny. Let us not give up our ability to laugh at the absurd.

1. 8

Most of those jokes were dumb and disposable, but yours (at roughly 28 upvotes when I saw it) was very well done. Maybe a little crass, but given the subject matter hardly crude or offensive. I’m sure it was removed out of “fairness” or some high-minded ideal like that. Not a pearl to be clutched, but the site lost a tiny little… sparkly rhinestone or something, with the loss of that joke.

(All you late-comers missed it, sorry. Please direct any feedback you may have to our hard-working mod dom team.)

EDIT: typo fix

1. 12

The problem with my joke–and thank you for the kind words–is that it shifts the Overton window a bit far on a direction that isn’t sustainable.

I get pissy about advertising and marketing here for the same reason, even with submissions that are of themselves high quality.

If a bawdy joke of mine has to be removed to spare us legions of copycats citing it as precedent, I can’t really in good conscience object.

1. 2

All you late-comers missed it, sorry.

I’d love to receive a copy in my email inbox if you don’t mind. First two letters and last six letters of my username at the big search engine’s mail domain.

2. 5

Oh, I agree that it’s hilarious. I just think jokes like this have an effect, probably unintended for most people, of reinforcing the perception that the site is only for men. I don’t want that outcome, so I felt the need to step in.

1. 16

As a woman myself, I don’t feel excluded by the particular sex jokes that were shared here because of my gender. I’m more concerned about the stigma that the jokes reinforce and the culture of mandatory conformity to conservative sexual standards they strengthen.

To get personal, I’m involved in the BDSM community myself. (In my case, this isn’t a secret, but it’s also not something I tend to bring up in other social circles.) I know men, women, and those that lieth betwixt who enjoy both sides of this particular kink. I also know plenty of people in the community who are absolutely terrified that their work might find out about this part of their private life, because they’d lose their job (and possibly their entire career), have their children taken away from them by social services, etc. In most cases, even if sexual orientation (that is, basically, whether you fall under the LGBT+ umbrella) is a protected category under anti-discrimination laws, other kinds of sexual interests are not.

Allowing jokes like these makes people feel like they’re a fair target for jokes when they’re already under serious and massive pressure about this aspect of their lives. We’re not asking to be ‘out and proud’ — we know that for most people in most contexts, an interest in kink is just TMI. We’re just asking for an environment where, if it does come out by accident, we know our colleagues and our bosses will just shrug and say ‘it’s your private life, whatever’ and not start making jokes at our expense. And if there’s one thing we can learn from the struggles against sexism and homophobia in the workplace, it’s that the road from stigma expressed through humiliating jokes to stigma expressed through firing someone is shorter than you’d think.

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I am unsure that ceding the space of sexual humor to males assigned st birth is anything but sexist, but here is not the place to litigate it.

1. 4

I’ve recently started spending more time on IRC, please feel free to send me a DM over there if you’d like to discuss that. I don’t expect that we’d necessarily come to agreement but if you want to know more about how I think about this topic, I’m happy to go into detail.

1. 9

I feel like your admission that you removed a bit of humour that you yourself found funny because you want to attract more women to the site reinforces the perception of (at least a contingent of) women as spoilsports of male humour, which is probably not going to do much to endear the people here to the new guests that are attracted here for that reason; you seem to have gone against your original goal.

I also find it quite unnerving that individual mods have the power to shift the direction of a thread for activism purposes. If it becomes a stated goal of this site to cater more to women and it achieves that by cleaning up what men like about the site… well, I’m a man. How far will this go? What kind of incentives for women that ruin the site for us men can we expect? It can’t just be down to individual mods with no checks in place.

1. 12

It is fair enough to raise those topics for discussion. There’s three things in it that I’d like to reply to.

First, it’s not down to individual mods. The mod team talked this over privately before doing it. I’m handling the public-facing communication today because I am closest to the issue and because I have the time. I understand that it’s not very visible to site members that that happens, which is why we’re trying to be more explicit about it, such as my remark that I was “speaking for the mod team” up-thread. To whatever extent things here are matters of my personal opinion and not the site’s position, I have tried to be extremely clear about that, as well.

Second, I’m trying to retain the women we already have by not driving them away with unchecked, gendered, sexualized humor. As a trans woman I promise that I have many hilarious observations to make about genitals, but I also recognize that were I to start doing that in a professional space, it would make many people uncomfortable. I think highly of lobste.rs community members, and I’m sure most people here can recognize that some topics are for private conversations where you know everyone involved. In a private setting, you can be sure you aren’t violating people’s boundaries and expectations. In a semi-public space such as this, you don’t really know who’s reading or how they feel about it.

Third, I don’t think this is a zero-sum thing. I think everyone benefits from trying to have a civil community where nobody has to be confronted with jokes about genitalia unless they want to. I think that makes things better for everyone, regardless of gender. If I truly viewed this as a thing with winners and losers, with one group’s happiness being possible only at the cost of another group’s unhappiness, I wouldn’t be taking the time to justify the decision and engage with discussion about it. I would simply have deleted the page - it would have saved several hours of work.

1. 12

Thanks for taking the time to respond.

First, it’s not down to individual mods. […]

Fair enough. I still have my apprehensions about the implicit activism angle, but you’re right, you were clear on the fact that this wasn’t just you and what was your opinion. I guess I just inferred from some of the comments that this would have probably gone differently without your influence; the rule applied seems arbitrary until you realise the views that are probably being represented in ‘the cabal’s secret meetings’ ;).

Second, I’m trying to retain the women we already have by not driving them away with unchecked, gendered, sexualized humor.

Just curious, is this something the women we already have (or used to have and then left) tell you is driving them away, or are you basing this on prior research/knowledge/beliefs of how women react to bawdy jokes?

As a trans woman I promise that I have many hilarious observations to make about genitals, but I also recognize that were I to start doing that in a professional space, it would make many people uncomfortable.

Sure, but lobste.rs isn’t really a professional space in the same way your average office workplace is. Most people understand the limits at a workplace are necessary to some degree to avoid making people uncomfortable, but restrictiveness in humour is itself often uncomfortable, and I don’t understand why you’d prefer that discomfort over the other in an online community like lobste.rs.

The community itself as it stands were apparently reacting quite favourably, so I’m not sure why we would restrict the community’s humour to appeal to some outsiders.

I’m sure most people here can recognize that some topics are for private conversations where you know everyone involved.

Yes, like swear words, some would say. But we don’t have to care about those people’s sensibilities. This site happily accepts swear words like “fuck” in submission titles, comments, etc, even though it makes some people uncomfortable.

The reality is that you’re implicitly saying that the set of people made uncomfortable by sexual jokes are more worthy of catering to than the set of people made uncomfortable by swear words, whether it’s because they are a (net) bigger set (big enough?) or because they seem to you subjectively to have a more ‘valid’ reason for being uncomfortable or whatever other reason.

If it were just about not making people uncomfortable, you wouldn’t be able to say almost anything interesting. When choosing whose discomfort to prioritise, you’re revealing your values or sympathies or allegiances (either it makes you uncomfortable, or you sympathise with those made uncomfortable by the joke more than by the restrictiveness in humour or other things you could have removed, or you are just catering to the biggest or loudest group).

In a private setting, you can be sure you aren’t violating people’s boundaries and expectations.

Not really. You can make an educated guess, but you never really know how someone might react to something. But we don’t let that stop us. Talking or joking about taboos or controversial topics or breaking taboos in general is always risky. Someone often has to be the first to set the tone to a riskier level (bit by bit) and the other person may always react negatively.

In a semi-public space such as this, you don’t really know who’s reading or how they feel about it.

Sure, I just don’t see how that’s relevant. There are people that feel offended when they read swear words, but the tone of this site is such that we allow them. The question isn’t why should we set rules around what’s acceptable and what isn’t, the question is why this particular rule? Why should we cater to people who find bawdy jokes uncomfortable over those who find they brighten their day?

Third, I don’t think this is a zero-sum thing. I think everyone benefits from trying to have a civil community where nobody has to be confronted with jokes about genitalia unless they want to.

Or stories about genital instruments? I’m sure there are lots of people that are quite disgusted by this story, or at least made uncomfortable by it. Why are jokes about genitalia any more uncomfortable than stories about genitalia? Hell, the title of this submission makes a genital joke (“cock-up”).

I don’t think everyone benefits. Not all the people missing out on the humorous comments that were removed are going to be happy about it or would have been made uncomfortable by them. That’s why we’re having this conversation. It quite literally is zero sum, at least in the way it’s been implemented currently.

If I truly viewed this as a thing with winners and losers, with one group’s happiness being possible only at the cost of another group’s unhappiness, I wouldn’t be taking the time to justify the decision and engage with discussion about it. I would simply have deleted the page - it would have saved several hours of work.

You can justify the decision all you want, it’s not going to make everyone on the other side of the debate happy. If you’re talking about fielding compromises, then perhaps instead of removing these kinds of comments entirely, they could be quarantined in some way. Still not gonna make everyone happy, but might go a good way.

1. 5

Thanks for your patience. This is a lot to respond to!

Ultimately, yes, some people are clearly unhappy with this decision. To those people, I say that I encourage you all to view this as a chance to reflect about how important sex jokes are to you, and treat it as an opportunity to change course.

Once again, I believe that this isn’t zero-sum and that everyone benefits. However, to whatever extent there has to be a choice between priorities, I am choosing to side against people who feel that making sex jokes on this site is a fundamental attribute of who they are, which they are not willing to surrender.

I think the unifying theme in your concern was really that I can’t make everyone happy. To whatever extent that turns out to be true, I take full responsibility for it. I think that cost would be worth it in this particular case.

I think that addresses most of the substance of your long comment. What it doesn’t address, I’m not sure I have anything particularly interesting to say about, that I haven’t already said. There’s one exception, which I’ll respond to directly:

Just curious, is this something the women we already have (or used to have and then left) tell you is driving them away, or are you basing this on prior research/knowledge/beliefs of how women react to bawdy jokes?

Both.

1. 2

This doesn’t address the meat of my comment (or my other comments), which is about the seeming inconsistency in reasoning:

However, to whatever extent there has to be a choice between priorities, I am choosing to side against people who feel that making sex jokes on this site is a fundamental attribute of who they are, which they are not willing to surrender.

This trivialises one side’s feelings on this. No one feels it’s a fundamental attribute of who they are. Some people are reacting strongly because it’s an application of a nonsensical rule in pursuit of a gender activism agenda that degrades the quality of their experience. People can deal with limiting rules, but it stings more when it’s done in the name of reasons that would be shot down in any other context.

I could just as well say, ‘however, to whatever extent there has to be a choice between priorities, I am choosing to side against people who feel that swearing on this site is a fundamental attribute of who they are, which they are not willing to surrender’. People would be bemoaning how stupid these rules are and all to please some dumb puritanical and/or religious agenda, why should we acquiesce to this?, etc.

I think there’s a certain contingent of people who see certain activist rules as just as nonsensical as certain bureaucratic rules and their mind rebels just as it does when faced with silly rules in any other context; they react quite strongly to what they see as the inability of humans to think clearly when their mind has been infected by bureaucracy/activism/religion/patriotism/whatever.

I’ve responded to your other comment on bitrot and dpk having articulated your reasoning clearer, so that’s where I’ve addressed that.

1. 4

The point I’m trying to make is that I’m not taking a side against “men” or any larger group. I’m specifically only taking a stance against the making of sexual jokes here on lobste.rs. Whether you’re part of that group - of people who make those jokes, here on this site - is entirely within your control.

1. 1

Just to be clear, when I say that people don’t like nonsensical rules that come from a gender activism agenda, I’m not insinuating that you’re taking a stance against men.

I’m saying that (a few) people are reacting strongly because they’re pattern matching on [imposition of annoying new rule that prioritises some outcome that they struggle to care about] [with justifications that they believe make no sense, and were they applied to anything else, would not fly] [for a cause they’ve had previous experience with that seem to constantly do this].

1. 4

I do appreciate the clarification. I feel like I’ve done everything I know how to do to defuse such fears, by explaining the rule and why it’s important.

I do believe that the rule is straightforward; I note that the people who are objecting are not the people whose jokes were removed.

If there are truly people out there for whom this is complicated or ambiguous, I’m happy to continue to clarify, but it kind of sounds like you’re expressing concern about the possible fears of a group that’s mostly hypothetical. I’m trying my best to help, regardless, because I feel an obligation to, but at this point I don’t have much to say that isn’t just repeating myself.

1. 1

Yes, you have (explained). People (including myself) will disagree strongly, but as you said, there’s not much left to be said.

I do believe there are deeper layers of thinking and disagreement we could take this to, but I’ve been avoiding that, as I don’t think it’ll do much good for me to make this even more protracted than it already is, especially as I’m quite new to the community myself. I also don’t have enough information to make an informed case tailored to you.

I will say, I don’t think it’s much relevant that the rule is straightforward; I mean, better than it being a contradictory or hard-to-follow mess, but it’s only necessary, not sufficient, for a good rule.

I also don’t think it’s much relevant that the people complaining aren’t those who made the jokes. Just as the rule is being implemented for the sake of people who might read the comments and be negatively affected, the people complaining want the rule to not be implemented for the sake of people who might read the comments and be positively affected (people like themselves), not just for the people who write the comments (who they might be among in the future).

If anything, by that metric, it’s worse for you; you, the person pushing for, implementing, and enforcing the rule, are not someone who is negatively affected by the jokes, as per your admission elsewhere in this thread. It doesn’t make your position any less valid or important, so why should it make ours (if we even were unaffected by the rule just because we’re readers not writers)?

1. 2

I haven’t argued that your position is invalid or unimportant. I consider it, at the very least, important enough to merit a response.

On the other topics: Fair enough.

1. 1

Okay, I may have misunderstood your intent.

What’s the relevance of the people complaining not being those whose jokes were removed? Why’s it noteworthy?

1. 3

It’s noteworthy in that you’re arguing about a harm that, as far as I can tell, is entirely theoretical.

Just to restate my understanding as fairly as I can, the harm you’re talking about is a loss of trust. Correct me if I’m wrong?

I do ultimately have to make my own assessment of what I see evidence for and what I don’t. We appear to have a factual disagreement about the degree of harm and the size of the affected group, and I think that’s relevant.

1. 1

Loss of trust would be a problem if, for example, mods were removing posts simply for holding or arguing a position that people didn’t like. I wouldn’t trust this place to give me all the facts.

We’re talking about jokes; I actually thought you were at least on the same page here, that there is a harm to removing jokes. People derive pleasure from jokes, therefore removing them denies them that pleasure. It’s pretty direct.

Again, it’s just the flipside of what you’re saying. You’re saying there are people who derive discomfort from these jokes, so you’re removing them to prevent that discomfort.

The harm is a simple dulling of the culture, a shifting of the dynamic, sucking the humour out of certain threads. Even if I never consciously notice for the rest of my stay on this site, the impact is felt. A joke is removed, and I never knew it was removed, but it still means I’m a chuckle, a giggle, a belly laugh, a snicker poorer that day. Compound that across threads.

Just as I imagine you might say the harm to keeping these jokes is a simple juvenilising of the culture, a shifting of the dynamic, sucking the comfort out of certain threads. Even if a woman never consciously notices for the rest of her stay on this site, the impact is felt. A joke is made, and she never imagines the site without it, but it still means it’s just another discomfort she has to go through that day. Compound that across threads.

(Now I’m thinking of looking into the intersection of juvenile and sexual humour and gender differences around them; there are certainly stereotypes. As a man, I’ve never observed women being asked to change their style of humour to make men comfortable, except for the sake of equality as opposed to the humour intrinsically making men uncomfortable.)

The fact that this was motivated by gender activism does also make me suspicious of what future changes could be coming that are a problem beyond just jokes, since that motivation does often lead to extreme censoriousness, IMO. That’s just not what I was arguing here, since that is genuinely theoretical.

But since you brought it up, would the Damore memo be allowed on here, for example? That made a lot of women uncomfortable, even mad, but I read through that, and I don’t think he said anything worthy of ostracism or job loss.

2. 5

Thank you for trying to shift the culture.

2. 13

Coming to this from when I posted the comment, likely after some pruning has been done: I think the post itself is very on-topic and worthy of discussion. If objectionable comments were made, that’s a shame, but I can understand the tendency to go after “trivial points scoring” for internet funbucks karma. I’d hate to see this type of submission removed/censored.

To bring some level of technical discussion: I’m reminded, amusingly enough, of nuclear reactors. AIUI, to keep the rate of reaction low, you insert/remove control rods into the reactor core. Those rods are made of boron and other elements that are very good at hoovering up neutrons. That’s an obvious need because too many neutrons make nuclear reactors get spicy.

In these reactors, your fail safe is gravity: the rods are lifted away from the core with electromagnets. Something goes wrong, power gets cut, and all the rods slam down into the core and quench the neutrons, halting the reaction. And in many reactors, the routine shutdown process is “press the button to release the electromagnets”: a safety critical system becomes integral to routine operation.

We could learn from this in software. We could certainly learn from it with locking sex toys, and it’s remarkable that someone didn’t say “do we want this to fail open or fail closed” at the very beginning of the design process.

1. 5

it’s remarkable that someone didn’t say “do we want this to fail open or fail closed” at the very beginning of the design process.

Unfortunately, I think this is a case of fantasy getting the better of reality. ‘100% inescapable!!’ is a sexy marketing point for the device’s target market. Safety, on the other hand, is just a spoilsport.

(Not that this excuses the manufacturers, who should certainly have known better.)

2. 9

I would like to express both that I am in favor of such subjects being posted here and my displeasure of the perceived inability of the community and the security community to discuss them in an appropriate fashion.

The teledildonics industry has bad security standards and this should be as openly discussed as security flaws in other industries. We should also discuss the particular space these suppliers are in, in which they operate in an environment where high trust is needed and consent on all levels is necessary. But we, as a community, on the other side should not use this as a “finally, a place to make dick jokes for fun”, but rather make an effort to discuss the underlying issues in a sober and direct fashion to allow people the space to discuss in a space that is full of emotions, fear and literally things that people keep secret for good reasons. Every joke here about chastity locks rules out discussions with people that do for example use them and get pleasure from them. This makes the conversation not only worse, but impossible.

1. 4

This. The whole product sounds like an ethical failure from the get go: How can one not have hardware fallback? How can one willingly write software knowing the consequences of bugs lacking that fallback? And that’s even before you get to this security issue.

1. 2

I couldn’t agree more. Thank you.

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I understand. I posted this because it was an actual on-topic technical analysis; not the possibly bawdy blogspam that pops up around this kind of thing.

1. 2

Thanks for replying. Yeah - when I saw the post I also didn’t immediately know whether it belongs here or not. It’s a judgement call, and I can see several defensible positions about it.

2. 5

people don’t realize we have a full team of moderators who coordinate on decisions

Um, how big is this “full team” honestly? I read the mod log as often as I read anything else on this site, and I only ever see you and The Boss in there. You tidy things up and occasionally make high-minded statements while wearing your Sysop hat; he’s a bit more terse, deletes stories he doesn’t like and bans people. I think that’s all there is to your team. Everything else is automatic from “user suggestions”.

1. 7

There’s three of us who make decisions pertaining to the site, and a couple more who focus on the IRC channel. I think that’s exactly the right size for a community like this. It’s enough to provide redundancy, but not so many that we can’t talk things over and make sure there’s consensus on big decisions. Your tone is accusatory, but I’m not seeing anything in what you described that I consider to be misconduct. Everything you mentioned is working as intended. Thank you for taking an interest.

2. 5

Maybe it’s worth having some sort of nfsw tag. Then if people don’t wish to see this type of content they can filter the it out.

1. 1

This to me feels like the most practical way forward.

2. 4

I don’t understand:

Regarding the link: I think that simply displaying the post title cannot be considered not safe for work, and it is up to each of us to choose whether or not to open the link.

Regarding the comments: they are not adding information to the link, so I assume they do not meet the rules, and it is fair to remove them, but how are they excluding? If I remember correctly they were mere puns: their only comical value was in the double meaning of words, not in some judgement of value on this or that practice,

Maybe we should envision having a “NSFW” tag, or by default blur, but saying this is borderline for a tech website feels wrong. This is dealing with security, ethics and the impact our decisions can have on users.

1. 6

I tried to engage with this a bit in my longer comment responding to habibalamin, but briefly, when people see a community tolerating sexually explicit remarks they have to also wonder whether that community would tolerate more targeted forms of sexual harassment, should they receive any. It’s a safety issue.

1. 4

when people see a community tolerating sexually explicit remarks they have to also wonder whether that community would tolerate more targeted forms of sexual harassment

Are we to understand that bawdy jokes are a less targeted form of sexual harassment? Please tell me this is just a poorly phrased sentence.

Also it seems to have brought out the worst in everyone humor-wise, so that’s a point against it… I’m removing the worst comments (mostly just sex jokes).

The worst comments, mostly just sex jokes. They’re the worst, yet they’re just sex jokes.

“Nothing, they were just sex jokes.”
“Why’d we remove them?”
“It was the combination of the fact that they were about sex and they were jokes. The story’s about sex, but it’s fine. We allow jokes in comments, too. But don’t ever put them together.”

We’re not talking about the quality of humour here or how mean they were, since friendlysock’s joke was removed, which, rumour has it, was pretty hilarious, and most of the jokes were just puns.

Now I’m wondering how mean friendlysock’s joke was; it can’t have been that bad, right? It was just a sex joke. You yourself didn’t say any of them were mean or anything like that. Just the fact that they were jokes about sex was enough. Were the puns not funny enough and friendlysock’s joke hilarious, but a little too mean?

1. 3

I apologize for not replying at length today, I’m still trying to find time and hope to get to you on the other stuff. This part I can address quickly:

Are we to understand that bawdy jokes are a less targeted form of sexual harassment? Please tell me this is just a poorly phrased sentence.

Yes. In the legal sense, if you made those jokes in a workplace they would constitute sexual harassment in most jurisdictions. That has been upheld many times. Lobsters, obviously, is not a workplace, but if it makes sense to talk about sexual harassment outside of that context at all, it makes sense to let that understanding inform these discussions.

1. 1

No worries, I’m not in any rush.

I would say that bawdy jokes are legally sexual harassment in the same sense that a corporation is legally a person. I was asking for your opinion, not a particular legal system’s (or family of legal systems’).

I could pull out all sorts of definitions from legal systems that would define rape as only penis in vagina, but outside the legal system, I think there are a lot of people who would object if someone said, “well, he penetrated her mouth, not her vagina, so it’s sexual assault, not rape” even if they weren’t saying so to downplay the crime (maybe they were asked why they don’t use the term that activists might want them to use in their coverage of the event).

Of course, for people who care about men’s rights, there’s all sorts of bias in strictly technical definitions, such as the fact that, until as recently as 2011, by the FBI

“Forcible rape” had been defined by the UCR SRS as “the carnal knowledge of a female, forcibly and against her will.” That definition, unchanged since 1927, was outdated and narrow. It only included forcible male penile penetration of a female vagina.

From your own opinion, would you really say that what friendlysock said could be defined as sexual harassment without doing some injustice to the concept or to friendlysock?

1. 3

I phrased it in the careful way that you noted, precisely because I have no desire to take any firm stance for or against that position. I think a full answer would involve a lot of work parsing out the context of what power dynamics exist here on the site, vs. what power dynamics exist in a workplace. The situations have some similarities but they are not the same and I certainly don’t think it makes sense to pull rules from the one context into the other without some examination of the degree to which it makes sense.

No decision that I made on this thread required me to come to a conclusion on that question, nor do I expect that any moderation decision ever will. So the site has no official position on it, and doesn’t need one. I have my personal views, which I’m still happy to talk about.

2. 2

Honestly I think most people would react much better to a “no sex toys” rule than a “no dick jokes” rule, because humor is a much more personal thing than topics. Having your joke removed might feel like a personal offense, having your link removed because the topic is banned is much more “oh okay whatever”. So not even having the link (the context for the jokes) in the first place would prevent more anger.

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I disagree and am quite on the opposite of the spectrum: humor is a function of the group and setting you are in and negative reactions from the group are on you.

1. 2

That doesn’t contradict anything I said? Sure, yeah, that’s the group side of things. I was talking purely about how whoever writes a post perceives moderator action against that post. (Especially when the group reaction was positive generally)

1. 8

This looks like a static page but it constantly uses 100% of one CPU core and the “GPU process” in Chromium also is spinning at a high rate. What is going on here?

1. 5

There appears to be a task scheduler with hugely deep stack frames; maybe matter.js? There’s ~2mb of JavaScript so it’s hard to tell.

1. 4

I ran the FF profiler on it and it looks like you’re right on the money. I found references to objects from matter.js in all of the most heavily used functions. The process taking the most time is “graphics”.

Profiling the site with JS enabled, I got an average of 44fps. Profiling it with JS disabled, I got an average of 127fps. With JS disabled, the biggest difference is that none of the code snippets loaded.

2. 4

I suspect it’s the sparkles around “holy grail layout” that might be the cause.

1. 4

Don’t know if that’s it but the page loads and then become blank on my low end smartphone.

1. 1

Out of curiosity, did you compare zola to cobalt (another rust static website generator) ?

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I looked at them both, but ultimately chose Zola because it seemed more well known (so more community, support, and coolness-points once I start contributing). They both seem pretty neat, and I’ll always support a Rust-based project.

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The quality of the illustrations is most impressive! Kudos to the author.

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I see where withoutboats is coming from here, but I disagree with:

he programmer must implement code in a certain way for any exploit to be achieved; in the language these CVEs use, the “attacker” is the programmer. That is to say: it rather involves being on the other side of an airtight hatchway.

Rust’s claims for safety are stronger than other languages, and are described in the rust-o-nomicon:

One may wonder, if BTreeMap cannot trust Ord because it’s Safe, why can it trust any Safe code? For instance BTreeMap relies on integers and slices to be implemented correctly. Those are safe too, right? The difference is one of scope. When BTreeMap relies on integers and slices, it’s relying on one very specific implementation. This is a measured risk that can be weighed against the benefit. In this case there’s basically zero risk; if integers and slices are broken, everyone is broken. Also, they’re maintained by the same people who maintain BTreeMap, so it’s easy to keep tabs on them.

And IMO, the CVE withoutboats points to break this promise: I could very well pass well formed usize from the user of say, a webbackend, and still get unsafe behavior. Rust’s promises make me welcome users’ gifts on the other side of the hatchway, even if they are big horses, as long as these horses are made of usize, because Rust told me it would handle the little soldiers getting out of it for me, and in this case, it fails.

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Rust’s claims for safety are stronger than other languages

Than some other languages.

Not all.

And then only with a very very narrow definition of safety that doesn’t affect most programmers or most programs.

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Cool to see some numerical methods here, wish there was more posts on the topic.

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Steered by ANSSI.

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Indeed. Do you think I should edit the title to make it clearer?

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Nice visuals!

A couple of remarks though:

1. It is a bit weird to have notations such as O(3) = 3. Big-O notation is about asymptomatic behavior so it kind of only makes sense with a symbolic n.
2. You do not mention at all the fact that these bounds are only up to a constant, and for n greater than given threshold, which for example means that matrix-multiplication algorithms with the best big-O are not the most efficient ones in practice. I guess this out of a desire to keep it simple but I’m afraid it could be misleading to some readers.
3. Apart from the fact that your log is now in fact n/10 as iswrong saif, you also have a typo in your symbolic notation log_n, it should be $log_10(n)$.
4. Speaking of complexity on problems whose input are an integer can be ambiguous. Strictly speaking, the “size” of the input is the log2 of the integer n, so for example, if you loop n times to print something, some may nitpick and say that you have an exponential complexity.
5. Your plot of 2^n and log(n) seem a bit off, are they actual plots or just hand drawn? Log in particular seems very flat, but maybe it’ss just the way the plot is scaled.
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Thanks Arthur for the feedback. I mostly kept it as simple as possible for the sake of fitting it in an image and be easier to understand at the same time. I agree with all the points that you have mentioned and will address them in the associated article. Thank you!

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Thanks a lot for the post. How does this approach compare to the “multiprocessing” module ?

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You’re welcome! The standard library’s multiprocessing module is around since Python 2, while concurrent.futures was added in Python 3.2. They both can be used to achieve multithreading / multiprocessing, but doing so they leverage different coding patterns. As implied by the name, concurrent.futures yields futures objects. If you know some JavaScript, you might be familiar with promises - futures and promises are quite similar. On the other hand, multiprocessing is the right choice for more oldschool concurrency patterns such as the consumer-producer problem.

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Once upon a time I saw a related article about the nasty habits of doing curl sh, which btw is proposed by lots of project pages, these days.

The idea was to detect (server side) the latencies introduced by the script interpretation (client side), and determine if the evil payload should be included or not. If you curl > x.sh to inspect x.sh you don’t see it, if you curl | sh you get it.

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I’m not sure of what the purpose of this post is. The only information it seems to contain is “the rust compiler uses too much RAM (for example compared to Go) when compiling a 1e6LoC main”, formatted in a very irritating way. No insight as to why, or if it is a pitfall that may be an issue in actual use case.

Also, you’re comparing to V, but last time I checked, V was nothing but unbacked claims.

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I’m not sure of what the purpose of this post is.

Seriously though, what’s the point of anything?

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Exactly! Do things have to have points?

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Seriously though, what’s the point of anything?

I sincerely hope more people do things without there being a ‘point’ to them. Not everything we do has to produce a useful widget, and you never know where random exploration of the space of [the universe of all experiences] where it intersects your abilities might go.

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Also, you’re comparing to V, but last time I checked, V was nothing but unbacked claims.

To me this was clearly a joke, and probably a reference to the author’s other article titled “V for Vaporware”.

Anyways, the post was okaay in my opinion. It presented a story, and an interesting outcome. I hate the formatting as much as you do, but I appreciate the information that I got from it, which is that Rust and Go with this example were worlds apart when it came to compilation speed.

Unless we’re gonna pay the author I see no reason for us to decide how insightful their articles should be, and it certainly still fits here regardless of that.

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I was in the middle of making a comparison with multiple languages, but we got nerd sniped by rust ooming the biggest systems some friends and I all had. Then a friend broke out the x1e.32xlarge (4 TB of ram) and it still oomed. I was laughing so hard I yolo’d it and published it as is. I plan to do it for other languages at some point in the future (2-3 months from now).

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haha fair enough, I actually liked how verbatim it was by the way! only the aesthetic of the tweets put me off.

I plan to do it for other languages at some point in the future (2-3 months from now).

looking forward to see the results:)

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My answer is “the question makes no sense.”

Why do we have PEMDAS? Because we need to standardize on something. It’s a convention to make communication easier. We break it all the time. If I give you 1/2x, is that (1/2)*x or 1/(2x)? Most would say the former, but I know a lot of physicists read the latter. If you meant (1/2)*x, why did you write 1/2x and not x/2? It’s still a bit ambiguous, though. But if I gave you y/2x, everybody would read it as y/(2x). So order of operations is actually contextual!

PEMDAS is a contextual convention. A question designed to mess with the convention is outside that context and PEMDAS doesn’t automatically apply. If you asked “according to PEMDAS, what is 8÷2(2+2)”, then that’s 16. Without that frame, though, the answer is “wtf”.

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For reference Cedric Villani (2010 Fields Medal) take on this is: “The right reaction is not to give the result. But to say that the expression is poorly written and that the ambiguity must be removed by adding brackets, for example. Better go on holidays without worrying about this non problem.” [1]

I find it pretty baffling that this post reached so high on the front page.

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I find it pretty baffling that this post reached so high on the front page.

This phenomena exists on ‘hacker’ ‘news’, where articles related to ‘math’ are upvoted highly but there are scant comments. My personal opinion is that folks on both sites embellish the idea of ‘math’ but don’t actually understand enough about the post to contribute. E.g. ‘upvote the idea, but any discussion escapes me.’

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Ironically, this exact submission on HN has very low engagement: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=20613244

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Agreed. People usually use the convention that concatenation represents some arbitrary common operations. This ‘common operation’ is then pretty arbitrary: 2x represent 2 * x, 1½ represents 1 + ½, and D f(x) represents the derivative of f at the point x. There are lots of ambiguities and weird things, but it mostly works out because of context and conventions. And note that these notational ambiguities are examples from math, where things are defined quite rigorously compared to other fields.

Resists the urge to rant about questions on assessments

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but I know a lot of physicists read the latter.

They would probably write it as

    1
--
2x


though.

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May be there is a different convention at play here. My mental grouping order when I read 1/2x or y/2x is different from when I read 1/2*x or y/2*x. I imagine y/2x to be similar to \frac{y}{2x} while y/2*x is not read that way.

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Indeed…

In at least a handful of respected academic journals, textbooks, and lectures, multiplication denoted by juxtaposition (also known as implied multiplication) is interpreted as having higher precedence than division. This makes sense intuitively, but most decent calculators have no truck for it, and doggedly follow the left-to-right order for division and multiplication.

So journals and textbooks say to do one thing, the intuitive thing even, but because some calculator lacks a button for it, we just ignore all that? How sad the state of mathematics that the expression of ideas is limited by such mechanical devices.

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Sad or not it is how things have always been. If you can’t express an idea in your computation systems, you are unlikely to express them outside of those systems. We use calculators and computers because they’re useful, but they come with a cost nonetheless.

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So basically there was no math idea before computers calculators, and there is not a single mathematician who does math without them. I really wonder how I did nearly all my studies in math without using calculators or computers.

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More broadly speaking the tools we use to do math shape the math we choose to do and how we do it. This was true with the slide rule, the abacus, napier’s bones, compass and straightedge, chalk and slate, or clay tablet.

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These problems (and others, like ‘which bucket fills first’) are created specifically to generate arguments, because the more comments / reactions a post gets, the more algorithmic reach it’s creator gets on facebook/twitter.

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Here’s a much simpler more intuitive way…

Take a bucket (cylindrical / vertical walls).

Make a small hole in the bottom.

Pour water into the bucket, (just don’t overflow it) at a varying rate.

The rate that water flows out is proportional to the water level in the bucket.

Low and behold you have a kalman filter.

If your input is a dirac delta…. (ie, take another bucket, dump the whole bucket all at once into your leaky bucket), the output flow rate is a decreasing exponential.

When somebody says “Kalman filter” at you, shrug and say “leaky bucket” back at them.

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Not relevant to Kalman filters at all, but I got nerd-sniped by:

The rate that water flows out is proportional to the water level in the bucket.

That’s intuitively how it works, but surprisingly not true once you have more than a little bit of water pressure - more pressure will not make the water flow faster.

The outflow rate is governed by the speed of sound in your medium (water, in this case) and the size of the hole, and no amount of pressure will increase it (until it tears a bigger hole in the bucket).

As the maximum flow rate is reached, water molecules hitting the side of the outflow hole and bouncing back create a standing wave with an equal (sans the maximum flow pressure), opposite force to that exerted by the internal pressure.

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Certainly it’s a “linear approximation” to reality…. and you can as you observe, easily wander out of that linear region (higher pressures, bucket overflowing, different shaped buckets….)

…but the main appeal of Kalman filters is their simplicity and the hence their amenability to analysis.

ie. We don’t necessarily use them because they are an accurate representation of reality, but because they’re sufficiently simple we can reason about them.

The other very common place they are using is in analyzing resistor / capacitor circuits… but again at too high a voltage or too high a frequency or for low quality components…. you rapidly get out of the linear region and shit happens.

(Partly that’s a recursive definition… a “Good” component is one that has a “largish” linear region not because it’s better, but because we know how to reason about it.)

All of which is why I like the “leaky bucket” analogy… it makes it clear that this is not deep magic worthy of arcane jargon. It’s the simplest thing we can make headway reasoning about.

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Oh yeah, wasn’t trying to argue about kalman filters, just reminded me of a fascinating (to me) bit of physics.

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No problem…

I remember my fluid mechanics lecturer talking about “dry” water….

Incompressible, irrotational laminar flow…..

Completely unlike real water… but the stuff we could make some progress on analyzing!

Real fluids have all kinds of weird and exotic (and fun) behaviours.

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Post author here, could you elaborate on this ? I fail to see the link between the two.

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You are right to not see the link, there isn’t one in any meaningful sense, the grandparent has made an analogy to a single-pole low pass filter (an RC filter), not a Kalman Filter. It will only confuse you if you’re trying to understand the Kalman Filter.

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From the wikipedia article….

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kalman_filter#Underlying_dynamical_system_model

Kalman filter model assumes the true state at time k is evolved from the state at (k − 1) according to

x_k = F_k x_(k − 1) + B_k u_k + w_k


where

Fk is the state transition model which is applied to the previous state x_(k−1);
Bk is the control-input model which is applied to the control vector uk;
wk is the process noise which is assumed to be drawn from a zero mean multivariate normal distribution, N


Now let’s pare that way way down to the basics….

Assume the system we’re looking at isn’t changing, just the inputs and the outputs…

So now F doesn’t depend on k.

Assume we’re just dealing with one dimension now, so these are just plain values not vectors and matrices. (I’d argue making it multidimensional doesn’t alter the intuition, merely the complexity.

Now call the “Bk is the control-input model which is applied to the control vector uk”, “the amount of water we put into the bucket” at step k

Now call F x_(k-1) the amount we’d have in the next step assuming we didn’t add any water.

If F is 1… we’re steady state the hole is plugged.

Obviously if F is > 1 water is coming in the hole and the bucket is going to get exponentially fuller. In dynamical control situations we’d say this thing is unstable “She’s gonna Blow!”.

Obviously if F is < 1 water is leaking out the hole and the bucket is going to get exponentially emptier.

If F is < 0…. things are pretty weird, oscillating on each step.

So how much is leaking out in each step (x_(k-1) - x_k) = delta = x_(k-1) - F x_(k-1) = (1-F) x(k-1)

ie. as I said, the amount leaking out of the bucket is proportional to the amount inside the bucket.

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Pour water into the bucket, (just don’t overflow it) at a varying rate.

Presumably the varying rate bit is there to be an analogy for noise in the system state estimation?

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If you thinking in terms of signal processing… the rate at which you pour water in is your input signal, the rate it comes out is your output signal.

If your input signal is noisy, it’s going to get smoothed out.

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The point of the Kalman filters isn’t smoothing I thought…isn’t it improved modeling of a system with noisy measurements?

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Ok, I will note a lack of accuracy in what I said….

The leaky bucket describes the Kalman Filter dynamic model. The Kalman Filter would be what you’d choose to use to control a tap to keep the bucket filled to some desired level.