Threads for srid

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    Quite a few things, but in particular

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      nix-darwin + flakes provide a much simpler setup IMO, and you can share it with Linux/WSL systems: https://github.com/srid/nixos-config

      I don’t use homebrew at all. And Nix is what I use for developing Haskell projects (see template) on my M1.

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        I’m nearly done with my invoice generator for hledger’s timedot format: https://github.com/srid/timedot-invoice

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          Question: what would be a good progression for a FP / Haskell programmer to internalize HoTT ideally in context of a programming language (like Agda)? Should they start studying it directly, or go through other theories (set theory, category theory, type theory, etc.) first?

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            What a coincidence, I was looking into learning Agda yesterday. Considering this short guide is far from complete and its last chapter is marked deprecated, are there any other good resources for learning Agda? As far as the ideas themselves of dependent types go, I’ve read “The Little Typer”, which gave me a good understanding of the fundamentals, but I’d like to read some more about things specific to Agda and the ways it is unique in the proof assistant landscape.

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              I do wish there was a detailed comparison review / table / something of tools in the dependent types / proof assistant space… As someone trying to learn about this area, I currently find it quite hard to work how to choose between Coq, Idris, Agda, Lean, etc. At the moment, it feels like the people who know the area deeply enough to write such a thing are also heavily involved in one specific camp…

              If anyone knows of such a resource, please do share it!

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                I don’t know of such a resource, but as a very quick overview:

                • Coq really is a theorem proved based on tactics, and supporting proof automation. Its syntax is ML-like. In Coq, one can write automated procedures to get rid of similar (or not-so-similar) cases for you. A great example is the Lia tactic, which automatically solves many proof goals with equalities and inequalities in them using some kind of algorithm. You never have to see the final proof object. It’s quite convenient. Another thing Coq has is extraction. It has built-in functionality for turning Coq code into, say, Haskell or OCaml. It’s not ideal, but you can verify a Coq program and then use it in some other project. The main downside of the language is, to me, its size. There are multiple sub-languages in Coq, with similar but different syntaxes. It’s a lot to learn. I also think the documentation could use some work.
                • Where Coq lets you prove things via “tactics”, Agda lets you do so using standard proof objects and functions. I’ve seen it used for formalized mathematics and computer science (“Programming language foundations in Agda”, “Univalent foundations in Agda”), and also in multiple recent PL papers (a not-so-recent example is Hazel, a programming language whose semantics were formalized in Agda I believe). However, it’s also a much nicer language for actual dependently typed programming. It’s got a Haskell-like syntax and also some pretty nice support for custom notation and operators.
                • Idris is also a Haskell-like language and it’s really geared towards dependently typed programming rather than proofs. It has some helper functions in its standard library for basic things (replacing one value with another equal value in a type, for example) but it’s far from convenient to write. In fact, Idris2 is (last I checked) not even sound. In it, Type : Type, which I believe can lead to a version of Russel’s paradox. Thus, you can technically prove anything. Idris’s new tagline is “language for type-driven development”. The approach that Edwin, the language’s creator, wants you to take is that of writing down types with a hole, and then gradually filling in the hole with code using the types to guide you.

                I know you asked for a detailed review, but I thought maybe this would help.

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                  Thank you! Does anyone know enough about Lean to add a quick overview of it?

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                Are there any other good resources for learning Agda

                I’m going through PLFA, and there is an ongoing Discord study group here. For a concise 40-page introduction to Agda, see Dependently Typed Programming in Agda.

                You might find some of the links I collect here on Agda interesting: https://www.srid.ca/agda

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                  Programming Language Foundations in Agda looks useful. Haven’t had the chance to dig into it yet though.

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                    If you’re interested in using Agda as a vehicle to learning type theory, there’s also Introduction to Univalent Foundations of Mathematics with Agda, which isn’t exactly beginner material, though. Agda also itself supports cubical types, which kind of incepts the whole thing.

                    In general, most of the material in Agda I’ve seen is oriented towards type theory and/or programming language research. It’d be interesting to see other mathematics as well.

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                      Thanks for the pointer! How feasible would it be in your opinion to understand this with only a few definitions’ worth of category theory knowledge?

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                      Gonna explore the use of Markdown notes for task tracking. Initial ideas here.

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                        How do CS topics like automata theory, formal languages, theory of computation relate to the Software Foundations series? Would you say that they are to be considered foundational prerequisites to the Software Foundations series?

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                          Emanote, the neuron successor, is pretty much done for anything but the Zettelkasten usecase, so I will be thinking about how to do the graph management / visualization part.

                          If you’d like to learn Haskell via hacking on it, checkout the Matrix room link in here.

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                            I know Matthias F. I know Matthew B. I know RMS. And other people. I respect their accomplishments. I also know that people can be very difficult. As one friend puts it, some people have a user interface that is broken. I also know that the greater one’s distance from a person, the more likely the depiction of a person can be distorted, showing for example one dimension but not others. As with everything in society these days, I yearn for a way for people to work things out. I don’t want anyone to be ostracized. I don’t want anyone to not feel welcome. This is a very difficult problem, but we must work on it. It is good to talk about these issues, but I want the discussion to be fair. I’m all for inclusiveness, but not at the cost of exclusion.

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                              This is a classic response to someone calling out people that misbehave. “Bob is not that bad, once you get to know him”. But that’s beside the point!

                              If Bob is pushing other people down through his behavior, it is right to criticize his behavior, and maybe also remove responsibility from Bob, no matter how nice he “really” is.

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                                This is a classic response to someone calling out people that misbehave

                                Not to mention that “I’m all for inclusiveness, but not at the cost of exclusion” is an impossible situation to begin with: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paradox_of_tolerance

                                That shit just does not work, as proven time and time again. People looking the other way and making excuses for abusive behavior is how we got to this situation of people being driven out in the first place.

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                                  1000% agreed. This is part and parcel of the technology community having gone mainstream a while ago. The fallacies we used to indulge in to excuse bad behavior are showing themselves to be more and more ugly as we bring them into the light.

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                                    Diversity tends to shine light where it needs it the most.

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                                  I am ranting a bit, and I hope it does not come across as directed at you. I do not mean it that way. I’m a couple of levels down in this thread and it seems like somehow we’ve gone off the rails regarding what the topic is.

                                  I don’t care if Bob is a good person or not. I care if we’re all being invited to judge him publicly and decide whether he’s good or not. I don’t participate in these activities and I don’t tolerate others that do. Of course, other people are free to do whatever they’d like. My point is that the one unyielding rule I’ve found regardless of context is that productive teams cannot carry on this way with the public story-telling back-and-forth. It’s corrosive. That observation is completely orthogonal to what kinds of behavior I’d tolerate in a team, which, frankly, is nobody’s business but mine and the teams I join. (They also tend to change from situation-to-situation. People aren’t statues, and standards aren’t the Ten Commandments. Situation matters.)

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                                    You speak as though Butterick’s comments are taking place in a vacuum, or worse, are arising unprompted. But please remember that the only reason he feels it necessary to write this piece is that his life has been disrupted, he has suffered poor behavior, and now he has had to withdraw from a community that he had dedicated significant resources to.

                                    I know you haven’t raised the specter of ‘cancel culture’, but phrasing like ‘we are all being invited to judge him publicly’ speak to a similar enough view of the proceedings; and the fallacy operating with both this critique as well as larger complaints about ‘cancel culture’ is this: you and I come to this post from a null position. This is understandable; we, and the vast majority of readers, are not members of this particular community and have no experience with its members. And from our position of no experience, it seems we are being invited to judge someone we don’t know. That feels icky and unnecessary.

                                    But Butterick is not asking us to judge someone. I don’t think he cares particularly that we, who have no stake in this, walk away with a solid negative judgment of the personal qualities of another person. What he cares is to provide an account of his experience, because: in light of a widespread taboo against airing dirty laundry, if you didn’t know about his experience, his conduct is confusing and probably not very flattering. Here’s someone who dedicated themselves to a language and a community: wrote code, wrote books about it. And ‘suddenly’ (to an observer), he drops off the map. This represents a loss of social capital, probably a loss of real livelihood, and raises questions about him and his fitness to this kind of work.

                                    In light of that experience (again, one that is centered around Matthew Butterick and his desire to manage his own reputation and professional prospects, as opposed to a desire to manage your view of a third party), you can hopefully understand why he feels the need to give an account of what he has actually been experiencing, even though that includes the unpleasant work of publicizing the shittiness of another person.

                                    I will wager with you that, oh, 95 out of 100 of those folks who have publicized the toxicity of leaders, bosses and executives over the last little while have been motivated similarly. In other words, I wager that they too definitely would have preferred to conduct themselves exactly as you prefer: to keep their personal experience private, to settle things through private channels, and to negotiate via their existing personal relationships. Unfortunately, toxic people (abusers, whatever you want to call them) are usually toxic because they have a position, personality, and skill set that neutralizes exactly that approach.

                                    In conclusion: I invite you to reread that article from the perspective of its author. From the perspective of the uninitiated reader, it would seem to be about some other figure who we don’t know from Adam. But I don’t think it is.

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                                      I don’t care if Bob is a good person or not.

                                      If he’s in your team, you should. The whole problem here exists because people are going out of their way to ‘not participate’ in judging a bad person as bad. If you don’t root out assholes, you’re complicit to their behaviour.

                                      Come on, there’s a few witness statements in this thread, in this small corner of the internet, that corroborate the story. People are being warned against his antics. No one that goes “I’m surprised and have only had positive experiences with him”. Even the positive ones are hedging. That’s damning evidence.

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                                        I want to add here that we’re talking about good/bad along some specific axis. People have many traits and can be good in many ways, while bad in others. The context here is that someone is e.g. bad for the community.

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                                        If this had been a team in an organization or business, I would agree with you. Airing private laundry publicly is not constructive.

                                        But this is an open source project, where transparency and being public are important factors.

                                        If someone is pushing other people down through their behavior, repeatedly, it’s balanced that they also receive criticism and possibly removal of responsibility, publicly, IMO.

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                                          Perhaps I’m wrong when it comes to FOSS. I don’t know. I’ve been wrong many times before :)

                                          I know that open source is much more like running a charity or a minimum-wage restaurant: each person’s spirit and morale have to be very high for them to stay dedicated over any length of time.

                                          I’m happy to see various open source teams publicly announce their team norms. Folks can then either select in or out depending on how those standards make them feel.

                                          But trying to take interpersonal human communication, an emergent behavior involving perhaps millions of years of evolution, and digitizing it? That doesn’t sound workable to me.

                                          As a personal example, I’ve been online since the net came up. I try as hard as I can to be a nice person online and understand other people’s viewpoints. But I don’t doubt for a moment that either through chance encounters or cherry-picking I could be made out to be a horrible monster. People change, and little slices here and there of printed text can tell us but very little.

                                          This doesn’t work for me, even in an open source environment. Even with clear and written boundaries, too much here is random, subjective, and prone to personality conflicts. For some people, their personalities just don’t mesh with one another. I’m trying, but I just can’t see this as a useful thing for people who actually care about writing good code that helps others. I’m trying, and I’m open to being wrong, but so far I’m not getting anywhere near changing my mind on this. Apologies.

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                                            But I don’t doubt for a moment that either through chance encounters or cherry-picking I could be made out to be a horrible monster.

                                            Read thru this whole thread. Of the five people (so far) recounting first-hand experience with this person, 100% of them say that their experience is consistent with the story in the post. I have a hard time to believe that’s due to cherry-picking.

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                                              Read thru this whole thread. Of the five people (so far) recounting first-hand experience with this person, 100% of them say that their experience is consistent with the story in the post.

                                              Also read through the HN thread which contains first-hand reports (neilv, rebelshrug, …) saying otherwise.

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                                                Toxic people aren’t toxic to everybody all the time.

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                                                  My childhood bully wasn’t a bully to everyone, either. He had great friends who supported him, and his behavior. There is literally an example of this, right now, in US Politics; but the example is as old as humanity.

                                                  This doesn’t make the bullying behavior right, and it doesn’t make the person speaking up about the bullying wrong. The bully, however, is almost always in the wrong.

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                                                    With childhood bullies (which by the way no one in education cares to fully address), there is generally no ambiguity as to the harmfulness of the aggressor’s intent. Thus, that analogy breaks down here, where it is not clear as to where exactly lies this anecdotal accusation in the spectrum from it being a subjective taking-offense to being an intended harm (giving-offense). Some people, for instance, would interpret the below stern behavior (and it is possible to be stern without being offensive), as reviewed by someone from ratemyprofessors.com, to be “bullying”,

                                                    I hated [Matthias’s] guts while in his class, but in retrospect he’s almost certainly the best teacher I’ve ever had. As somebody said above, this guy is absolutely brilliant. He will kick your butt, but it’s all for your own good in the end. He seems to really care about teaching, and it shows.

                                                    (Have you ever seen a victim describe their childhood bully this way?)

                                                    Besides, bullying behaviour is not uncommon among people who are not normally characterized as ‘bullies’ - inasmuch as they are covert. Example here. I used to work for a company (based on San Francisco, incidentally) where this sort of behaviour was not uncommon.

                                                    The Racket core team, and people who closely work with Matthias, would be in a better position than us passerby’s (who know nothing but a few anecdotes) to fairly assess the facts of the matter.

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                                                      The Racket core team, and people who closely work with Matthias, would be in a better position than us passerby’s (who know nothing but a few anecdotes) to fairly assess the facts of the matter.

                                                      What facts are you disputing, exactly? In nearly every case of human-to-human problem it boils down to a proverbial “he-said, she-said” type argument. The “facts” here are, for sure, a one sided account of how Matthias’ actions made people feel. I’m certainly not in a position to assess this. But, I can acknowledge that there are many people who feel this way after interactions with Matthias and decide for myself whether or not I want to risk seeing this behavior first hand, or avoid it. (FWIW, I stopped contributing to Racket. Not because of Matthias directly, but there is definitely something in the air in that community, that I’ve never been able to articulate)

                                                      Butterick did not write a hit piece. People are, and will interpret it as that. His piece answered the question “Why did I leave the Racket Community?” and I think he fairly presented his side of things. I also trust him based on previous knowledge of him from years past. Matthias, if he feels so inclined, or other members of the Racket community should certainly present their side of the “argument” here, but that should never discount Butterick’s feelings, or reasoning for this. Butterick feels he was wronged, presented reasons for why he feels that way, and took actions he deemed necessary, resulting in him no longer contributing to the community (a great loss, honestly). Any interpretation beyond that, or other anecdotes are your responsibility to consider if you feel like it, or ignore if you don’t.

                                                      As a community, I hope that the discussion being had here is a wake up call. People are actively being discouraged from collaborating on the Racket project as a result of behavior stemming from it (I don’t think it’s only Matthias’ fault, fwiw). My guess is that nothing will change, and Racket will never ever meet its full potential outside of academia. This has never seemed to be a goal anyway, though, there has been mention of it, and it is certainly the case that members of the community would like this to change.

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                                                        Matthias, if he feels so inclined, or other members of the Racket community should certainly present their side of the “argument” here, but that should never discount Butterick’s feelings, or reasoning for this. Butterick feels he was wronged, presented reasons for why he feels that way, and took actions he deemed necessary, resulting in him no longer contributing to the community (a great loss, honestly). Any interpretation beyond that, or other anecdotes are your responsibility to consider if you feel like it, or ignore if you don’t.

                                                        Exactly my point. Butterick feels he was wronged; this much we know as facts of the matter (and there is no need to put the word in scare-quotes; I’m using it in its dictionary definition sense). What we don’t know, as facts, is whether Matthias is a ‘bully’ (your word) or, whether how Butterick feels is a result of “Matthias’ fault” (also, your words). The feelings of Butterick, you or me alone do not automatically establish Matthias to be ‘bully’ (as opposed to merely being stern, for instance). You are entitled to your opinion, of course … but whether that is in line with the facts of the matter or not (so as to use as a basis to make any genuinely positive changes in the Racket community) is a different thing entirely.

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                                                          Matthias is a ‘bully’ (your word) or, whether how Butterick feels is a result of “Matthias’ fault” (also, your words).

                                                          The actions of Matthias, and the inactions of the Racket Core Team (“Everyone just shrugged and moved on. I was encour­aged to do the same.”) are literally the reasons cited for Butterick’s moving on.

                                                          The feelings of Butterick, you or me alone do not automatically establish Matthias to be ‘bully’ (as opposed to merely being stern, for instance).

                                                          Right. But, the collective feelings of others, can certainly establish a pattern that we can look at. An Elementary school administrator might look past one isolated incident, of kid A pushing around kid B as almost hearsay. But, if kid B, kid C, kid D, kid E, kid F, and then a number of anonymous comment cards talk about being pushed around by kid A, it’s a bit harder to ignore, don’t you think? Even if that kid is top in his class, and in retrospect, “great at helping their fellow students succeed” – is the behavior somehow more excusable?

                                                          Anyway, as kid Z in this fictional Elementary school, if I hear of all of these accounts, I’m going to be cautious about interacting with kid A.

                                                          Incidentally, this is why a prosecution in a court system attempts to establish “patterns” of abuse in crimes against other humans. It’s a lot easier for a jury to believe an accuser’s side of the events when there’s a pattern of the same / similar behavior.

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                                                            The feelings of Butterick, you or me alone do not automatically establish Matthias to be ‘bully’ (as opposed to merely being stern, for instance). You are entitled to your opinion, of course … but whether that is in line with the facts of the matter or not

                                                            Felleisen has published an apology where he basically admitted to the bullying (as much as bullies ever do, anyway), so the facts aren’t in dispute.

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                                                          (Have you ever seen a victim describe their childhood bully this way?)

                                                          I didn’t address this before, but have you heard of Stockholm Syndrome?

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                                                            I didn’t address this before, but have you heard of Stockholm Syndrome?

                                                            At that link

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                                                              There’s no consensus on what “Stockholm Syndrome” is, but I bet you knew exactly what I was referring to when I wrote it…

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                                                              Your own link immediately notes that the research on Stockholm syndrome existing is severely lacking— and that the situation for which it is named does not match up with the purported effects.

                                                              I know of several educators that made me react similarly to the reviewer: I honestly believe compassion is a better way to teach 100% of the time, but the ‘tough on students’ facade is effective for them too, so what do I know.

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                                                                No. Stockholm Syndrome does not directly apply to the situation, in so much as students are not being held captive by their teachers (under most circumstances!). The reason for bringing this up is that it is a related phenomenon (victim is apologetic / empathetic after trauma), however dubious it actually is.

                                                                Relatedly: do you dismiss the cycle of domestic abuse, too?

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                                                                  I don’t think it’s even a related phenomenon. I think the simplest solution is most likely. The student didn’t like his teaching style at the time, but when he looked back he saw that it was effective for him. There’s no trauma or brainwashing involved. This has happened to me many times before in many different contexts, some interpersonal, some personal.

                                                                  I’m not dismissing the existence of trauma bonding and PTSD, which I think is what you might have meant by Stockholm Syndrome. These are both serious, real things. I just thought that Stockholm Syndrome was a poor choice of armchair diagnosis, considering its dubious origins.

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                                                                    Keep in mind that the original discussion was about bullying, and that the answer to @srid’s direct question of “have you seen a victim describe their childhood bully this way?” Is what I was replying to, directly.

                                                                    The answer, is yes. Yes I have. Childhood bullies are great examples of situations in which there is often an eventual “the bully toughened me up,” in retrospect, and “I respect them, have empathy, etc, etc, etc.”

                                                                    This entire pattern of having empathy for abusers, and reminded me of “Stockholm Syndrome,” in which a similar pattern is purported.

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                                                                      Oh I see, sorry. I thought you were saying the student was displaying signs of Stockholm syndrome. I haven’t really heard that line about bullies in real life ever, although I have seen it a lot in media (there was a whole anti-bullying craze, which might be where some of the ‘have empathy for bullies!’ rhetoric comes from). It’s a hazy line between ‘tough but wants the best out of you’ and ‘just an inconsiderate asshole’ that I think a lot of people cross without knowing. It’s probably better to not do the whole ‘tough but fair’ thing in the first place.

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                                                                This was exactly what leapt into my head when I read that paragraph.

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                                                    This is a very prominent figure in a public community. I just don’t want when people meet one of the authors of the Little Schemer to find a gigantic asshole. It makes the community look bad, and Matthias is more than capable of acting better. The other author, Dan Friedman, I should stress is one of the kindest, sweetest, thoughtful researchers I have ever met.

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                                                      This is a very prominent figure in a public community. I just don’t want when people meet one of the authors of the Little Schemer to find a gigantic asshole.

                                                      I’m not really a Scheme person; I played around with it for a bit several years ago and found it fun in insightful, but ultimate also found it hard to build actual actual programs in, so not really practical for me.

                                                      The Little Schemer, however, is easily my favourite programming book. It’s just fun, almost cheerful, and also quite good at actually teaching Scheme. A lot of books that try to be “fun” usually aren’t very good at actually teaching stuff, and books that are good at teaching stuff are usually a bit of a dry affair. Combing both effectively (and in such an unique way) is rare.

                                                      Programming books are not the best way to gauge the author’s personality, but it’s just so contrary to the impression I got from the book that I had to triple-check that this was really the same Matthias Felleisen and wasn’t somehow a confusing two people with similar names.

                                                      People are complex I guess 🤷

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                                                        I think the style of presentation of the Little books is Friedman’s, as he’s written several other books in the series with other people like The Little Prover, The Reasoned Schemer and The Little Typer.

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                                                        The other author, Dan Friedman, I should stress is one of the kindest, sweetest, thoughtful researchers I have ever met.

                                                        I never met him personally, but he must be quite the guy. They held a conference in honor of him on his sixtieth birthday. Fun fact: the conference was colloquially known as DanFest.

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                                                  Dunno…given the description of actual behavior rather than pejorative value judgements, I would much rather have Alice on my team than people who criticise her, and would find it more likely that they are the jerks (or bullies, to be more precise).

                                                  In my experience, workplaces that frown on Alices are nice, but not kind, and actually have way more underhandedness and backstabbing.

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                                                    I think the problem here is isolating people and their behaviour. I enjoy blunt and direct people around me. I even encourage them, it gives me clarity. I even prefer them, I don’t need to decode them. Sometimes, people see me with a person that I enjoy working with and are like “they treat you hard” and I have to tell them that this is how I want it. Fast. Clear. Cut me off if you got my point and agree or disagree. I’m okay with people being grumpy on a day or - given that I run projects of global scope - people just being tired and through that sometimes not take the mental load of choosing every word carefully. I would still expect those people to treat other people differently and not approach me this way right away.

                                                    The blog post does not talk about sources of Alices behaviour. For example, Alice may take this approach because her feedback is never addressed, which is quite different category of a jerk than someone who just makes that their persona and feels good in it.

                                                    My problem with niceness is: it’s highly cultural. It’s a category that is immediately exclusive e.g. to foreigners. A lot of people find different cultures behaving “nice” actually odd and weird and are insecure around them. For someone who’s third-language English, it may be a struggle to fulfill those requirements. I’ve definitely seen writing of e.g. people writing in English as a foreign language being framed as jerky just because it was direct and to the point and omitted some amount of fluff. When I approached those people, the reason was simple: they already spent more time than others on formulating their point right, the “niceness” would even incur more cost to them.

                                                    There are jerks out there. But we need to be careful that perceived jerks also exist.

                                                    I also agree with your underhandedness and backstabbing reading. “nice” cultures tend to be conflict-avoidant and conflict always finds its way.

                                                    It’s okay to formulate sharp boundaries around the edges (e.g. using peoples identity to attack their points), but inside of those boundaries, communication is a group exercise and curiosity and willingness to understand other people needs to apply, especially in a more and more interconnected world.

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                                                      I think the crux is that there’s an entire “taxonomy of jerks” one could make; Alice doesn’t sound too bad, and Bob sounds like a right cunt. But in between those two there’s a whole lot of other jerks.

                                                      Take the “this is one true only correct way to do it, anyone who disagrees is an idiot, and I will keep forcing my views through ad nauseam even when the entire team has already decided against them”-kind of jerk. These are “selfless jerks” in a way, but can be super toxic and demotivating if not dealt with properly by management. These people don’t even need to be abrasive as such (although they can be) and can be very polite, they just keep starting the same tired old discussions all the time.

                                                      They’re not like Bob’s “selfish jerk”, and genuinely think they’re doing it in the good for the company.

                                                      I once called out such an jerk as an “asshole” in a GitHub comment when he reverted my commit without discussion; that commit fixed some parts of our documentation toolchain. The change was a trivial one: it changed a lower-case letter to a capital one one in a Go import path, which is what we used everywhere else. Perhaps unfortunate that the capital was used, but fixing that would be a lot of work and inconvenience on people’s local dev machines (not all of whom are dedicated Go devs) so after discussing this at length we decided to just stick with the capital.

                                                      Yet he sneaked it in anyway, in spite of the previous consensus of just a few weeks prior, while simply calling the toolchain “broken” and reverted my fix (a toolchain I spent quite some time on outside of my regular work duties I might add, and it’s wasn’t broken; Go import paths are just case-sensitive and it didn’t account for two import paths differing only in case, dealing with that is actually an entire can of worms I did already look in to and discussed with him when we talked about changing this company-wide).

                                                      From the outset I looked like the “perceived jerk”, as you put it, as I swore at him in frustration while he was perfectly polite, but that ignores all the context that we had already discussed this before, came to an agreement, that he decided to just ignore this, and kept forcing his opinion through, and that this was the umpteenth subject on which this happened. HR didn’t see it that way though, “because it’s inappropriate to call people assholes”. True I suppose, but … yeah. And trust me, “asshole” was the filtered polite response and was subtle compared to what I had typed (bit didn’t send) originally.

                                                      It’s almost devious and underhanded in a way, especially the taking offence at the “asshole” part and harping on about that while refusing to discus your own toxic “polite” behaviour. Having to deal with this kind of bullshit for years was a major reason I got burned out at that job, and I’m from the Netherlands which is probably one of the most direct no-nonsense cultures there is.

                                                      My point is: politeness is not unimportant, but often overrated, especially in a context where you all know each other and know perfectly well that they’re just the abrasive sort but are basically just decent folk (it’s different on a public forum like Lobsters and such).


                                                      Adding to that, I’ve definitely been a “perceived jerk”. Communicating over text is hard; my culture is very direct and also kind of sweary, and even as a skilled non-native speaker at times it can be difficult to fully grasp the subtleties of how something is perceived by native speakers. In all the COVID craze of “remote work is the dog’s bollocks and the future” I think people are forgetting about how hard all of this is, and why I’m skeptical that remote work really is the future (but that’s a different discussion…) It’s probably also a major reason for a lot of Open Source drama.

                                                      I’ve had quite a few people tell me “I thought you were a jerk until I met you in person”, a major reason I always went out of my way to meet new people face-to-face for a pint at the pub (not always easy, since we had people world-wide). I tried very hard to change this, and I think I’ve mostly succeeded at it, but it was a lot of active effort that took years.

                                                      1. 2

                                                        I also fully agree with you there. I have worked as a moderator for years and before I engage e.g. in the whole thing I wrote above I do an assessment whether it’s worth figuring out. Someone jumping on a board, registering an account and blowing off steam with the first comment? => kick But someone going on a long and unfair rant after 12 months of participation? Let’s check out what happened, rather than taking all he said at face value.

                                                        While I’d love to give every person the benefit of doubt and a long conversation, the day has 24 hours and this assessment must be done. But usually, if that assessment must be done, we’re talking about 1-2h chatting, which is manageable.

                                                        Adding to that, I’ve definitely been a “perceived jerk”. Communicating over text is hard; my culture is very direct and also kind of sweary, and even as a skilled non-native speaker at times it can be difficult to fully grasp the subtleties of how something is perceived by native speakers. In all the COVID craze of “remote work is the dog’s bollocks and the future” I think people are forgetting about how hard all of this is, and why I’m skeptical that remote work really is the future (but that’s a different discussion…) It’s probably also a major reason for a lot of Open Source drama.

                                                        I have a bit of a handle on that, interestingly because I got trained in international relationships and marketing. The trick is as easy as it is hard to consistently implement: Always voice your feelings clearly. “I am frustrated that…”. “I am happy that”. Cut tons of slack and assume good faith.

                                                        “Lack of training” is also a hard problem in open source.

                                                        I’ve had quite a few people tell me “I thought you were a jerk until I met you in person”, a major reason I always went out of my way to meet new people face-to-face for a pint at the pub (not always easy, since we had people world-wide). I tried very hard to change this, and I think I’ve mostly succeeded at it, but it was a lot of active effort that took years.

                                                        Same :).

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                                                          I have a bit of a handle on that, interestingly because I got trained in international relationships and marketing. The trick is as easy as it is hard to consistently implement: Always voice your feelings clearly. “I am frustrated that…”. “I am happy that”. Cut tons of slack and assume good faith.

                                                          I’ve independently discovered the same trick as well. I also wish people would do this more in political/social justice discussions and the like, e.g. “I feel [X] by [Y] because [Z]” rather than “[X] is [Y]!”, but okay, let’s not side-track this too much 🙃

                                                          I wish people would give more feedback on his type of stuff in general. I once heard through a co-worker “hey, Bob has a real problem with you, I don’t know why”, “oh wow, I had no idea”. I followed up on this later by just asking him and it turned it was some really simple stuff like PR review comments “just do [X]?” being taken as passive-aggressive. I can (now) see how it was taken like that, but that wasn’t my intention at all. So I explained that, apologized, slightly adjusted the phrasing of my comments, and we actually became quite good friends after this (still are). But if I hadn’t been told this while drunk at 3am in some pub by another coworker then … yeah.

                                                          Granted, not everyone responds well to this kind of feedback; but if you don’t try you’ll never know, and the potential benefits can be huge, especially in the workplace where you’re “stuck” with the same people for hours every day. I can close a website if I don’t like it; bit harder to do that with your job.

                                                          I found that communicating with native English speakers in general (much) harder than communicating with other non-native proficient speakers. Maybe we should just go back to Latin so everyone’s a non-native speaker.

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                                                      In my experience, workplaces that frown on Alices are nice, but not kind, and actually have way more underhandedness and backstabbing.

                                                      Extreme examples of this from the real-world,

                                                      The leadership style in Elm is extremely aggressive and authoritarian.

                                                      By that I do not mean impolite or rude. It is almost always very civil. But still ultimately aggressive and controlling. — Luke Plant

                                                      … once enough people are piling on to complain or tell you what’s wrong with what you did, you’re going to feel attacked - even if every single comment is worded politely and respectfully. — StackExchange

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                                                        Yeah, if someone (or the news) tells me what to think about someone, without telling (or far better SHOWING) me exactly what they did, I tend to just reserve judgement. Even then, it’s easy to make someone look like the jerk by omission of important information.

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                                                        I agree, there was a thread pruned the other day that was transphobic (I think?) where a few people got banned, some of which I was surprised to see banned as I thought they were pretty thoughtful participants in lobsters (afaict).

                                                        In such cases I think being able to access the comments by digging a bit would be good.

                                                        However it also means more surface to bicker with admins over minutiae - something which I feel is already too common with these meta topics popping up asking for tags for example.

                                                        Maybe we can do like the orange site and allow people with high karma to see dead comments. Then again, wasn’t the whole point of lobsters to have more transparent moderation than that place?

                                                        Tbh I think the issue is that we are trying to form consensus on too many things. This model of discussion (centralized link aggregation) is just not good enough to handle the expectations placed in it.

                                                        1. 2

                                                          Maybe we can do like the orange site and allow people with high karma to see dead comments. Then again, wasn’t the whole point of lobsters to have more transparent moderation than that place?

                                                          I have a few concerns with this:

                                                          1. The first is one of privacy; do we really want comments from people who get embroiled in a heated discussion and say some stupid or offensive nonsense remain visible forever, even if only accessible by a limited set of people? I have definitely been guilty of this, mostly when I was younger (17 is not a good time to be on the internet…) Never anything so egregious that it’s ban-worthy (from what I recall), but definitely delete-worthy. Lobster’s invite system mostly weeds out the quick-to-anger 17-year olds, but it’s not a perfect filter, and people get drunk, or stay up until 4am, or are in a bad mood because their spouse left them, etc.

                                                          2. Similarly, I think we should also allow people to redeem themselves, having old stupid comments remain visible isn’t conducive to that. At some point you need to forgive and forget. There’s also a reason Lobsters allows you to disown old comments.

                                                          3. Some content really ought to be deleted IMHO. For example, when I announced a “show” project some time ago, someone posted a very one-sided take of a previous GitHub interaction on a completely unrelated project which ended with me blocking this person, the only user I have ever blocked or even plan to block if I can help it. They deleted some of their own comments in that issue which definitely made me look a lot worse than I actually was. I was happy this was promptly removed and not visible, aside that responding to these kind of things is a lose-lose for me (you will look bad unless you spend a lot of time carefully refuting the allegations), deleting it but having it remain visible for a significant set of users also means I won’t even be able to respond to it. I don’t think everyone (or even a lot of people) will take such a thing at face value, but it does spread FUD and I wouldn’t be happy with it.

                                                          “Transparent moderation” is one of those things that I feel few people could really disagree with in principle, but if you get to the actual specifics and details it quickly get rather thorny.

                                                          I think expansion of the moderation team is the best long-term solution (which is being worked on). “This one person made a bad decision” is believable, even if you trust that person as everyone makes mistakes. “These five trusted people discussed it and decided the ban was kosher” less so. That was also the problem with HN back in the day as I understand it, where Paul Graham was basically the only mod and he got involved in a personal fight with jcs.

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                                                            I agree, there was a thread pruned the other day that was transphobic (I think?) where a few people got banned, some of which I was surprised to see banned as I thought they were pretty thoughtful participants in lobsters (afaict).

                                                            This is exactly why moderation transparency is important.

                                                            Admins are fallible human beings too. They don’t necessarily get everything right all the time. Moderation transparency allows us, the users, to hold the mods accountable if they deviate from what is right and just; it also gives the mods an opportunity to learn from the feedback. The end result is a healthier community.

                                                            https://www.reddit.com/r/TheMotte is a stellar example of this in action.

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                                                              Sometimes moderation isn’t sufficient to establish a healthy community. Critique is also needed. One shouldn’t go to the Motte without also visiting Sneer Club, for example, or else one might actually believe Motte headlines.

                                                              1. 2

                                                                Sure, critique & heterodox views are always good thing - however, given human nature to seek consensus and enable groupthink, those views rarely survive in any large community with non-transparent moderation.

                                                                What makes communities like TheMotte shine is their transparent moderation, which in turn encourages the most sensible behaviour in moderators (and thus users). The same cannot be said for other places like SneerClub,

                                                                It’s probably worth mentioning [SneerClub] is pretty consistent with banning people who get in the way of their circlejerk. There is no pretense of trying to provide an accurate, fair, or representative perspective.

                                                            2. 2

                                                              I think it was Alex G’s release of his Pleroma Fork (SoapBox; also the name of his Pleroma UI/frontend) where someone started screaming about one of Alex’s political views. IIRC the user attacking Alex didn’t get banned. It’s impossible to really know what transpired because: https://imgur.com/a/SUL7cpq

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                                                                Would having those comments visible help? We would just re-argue the thread over and over again.

                                                                For the record, I’m the person who stated that Alex Gleason is a TERF, and that we should not support his projects because any community that welcomes TERFs is not welcoming to trans people.

                                                                I do not agree that this is a “political view”, any more than opposing interracial marriage would be mere politics to someone whose parents are of different ethnic backgrounds (like mine). It is an attack on your right to exist in general, and in particular to exist in the space where that “debate” is happening. It is a fundamental problem for any community online or in the real world, and in the end each community will have to choose which group they welcome. I wonder how Lobsters will turn out?

                                                                I don’t think it’s accurate to characterize my statements as screaming, either.

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                                                                  This is a political view. Capitol punishment is a political view. Believing someone should or shouldn’t have their hands cut off for stealing is a political view. Whether slavery should be allowable in society or not, is a political view. Just because you believe something in a fundamental human right, doesn’t make it so. Rights are just as much a social construction as race or anything else.

                                                                  The ontologist will retort, “If everything is political, nothing is political. If nothing is political, everything is political.” Touché? Maybe, maybe not. What is the line then? Fact? Up until a few thousands years ago, it was a fact that the Earth was in the center and the sun revolved around it. It was once a fact that Vioxx was a safe medication, and DDT was a safe insecticide.

                                                                  TERF is a label. I honestly don’t care about your or Alex’s political views (and yes, they certain are political/religious. If they were not, they would not be bannable offenses, and they would not exist only in the metaphysical). Alex is a good person. I’ve talked with him, I’ve read his work. I do not agree with everything he believes, but I believe he is a kind and decent human being. That is a truth I will stand behind. Now if Alex goes and murders a bunch of people, obviously my views would change (he wouldn’t, he’s Vegan), but you are literally defining the entirety of a man through one label about one belief.

                                                                  Stanley Milgram wanted to know why millions of god-fearing, moralGermans would defy all logical, sense and standards of morality. In his experiments, he learned ~60% of all human beings would murder another human beings if the right barriers were put in place and the right authority/men-in-lab-coats was portrayed.

                                                                  Let me ask you something, if you were the subject in a Milgram study, how confident are you that you wouldn’t keep pushing the buttons until you got to 300 volts?

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                                                                    You’re both wrong. It’s a political view, but there’s nothing wrong with having political views. What matters is which pragmatic effects those views inflict upon the world.

                                                                    There’s no such thing as a good person. As Pirsig covered to death, “good” is a noun, not an adjective. (Content warning: Hateful fuckwittery.) Gleason is not taking care of their good; they lack good. Your points about facts in the past are irrelevant, given that facts in the present contradict Gleason’s claims.

                                                                    Let me ask you something. I’m going to use words. If you were subjected to a Milgram-style experiment, but you did not know that it was an experiment, how would you use your genre savvy to smoothly extricate yourself from the situation? Would you be prepared to injure or kill your supervisor? Would you be willing to die so that the other person is not tortured? What pragmatic effects would you be willing to cause in the world in order to correct the injustice in that situation?

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                                                              I’ve been having a pretty good time digging in to NixOS over the last month or so. Got a bit bogged down trying to declaratively configure applications I seldom is actually use via home-manager, but that’s on me, not the tools.

                                                              I’m currently cranking through this upgrade and I’m not sure I want to run the bleeding edge release again any time soon, as it appears a number of large packages (like, WebKit-sized) don’t have cached binaries yet. My nixos-rebuild command for the upgrade has been chugging away for a couple of hours now and doesn’t appear to be all that close to done.

                                                              On the plus side, I know I can roll back at any time, which means I don’t feel at all stuck if I want to hit eject and keep running on 20.09 a while longer. So, yay NixOS, I think? Just maybe don’t try the upgrade on a machine with less than 4-6 fast cores unless you really like watching the output of configure, cmake, and g++. ;)

                                                              1. 6

                                                                If you have a relatively powerful computer lying around, you can distribute the build on to it.

                                                                https://nixos.wiki/wiki/Distributed_build

                                                                I use this trick to delegate builds on my X1C7 to the more powerful P71. What happens here is that a nixos-rebuild switch (or even per-project nix-build; like compiling GHCJS projects!) in X1C7 will use ssh to do the actual builds on P71, and then download the built binary assets from it.

                                                                If you do not have a powerful computer, there is also https://nixbuild.net/

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                                                                  That’s a great idea; thanks!

                                                                  My primary dev machine is actually a P1 Gen2, so it’s not so much a question of CPU power or RAM as it is needing the keep the machine plugged in and awake throughout the build. :)

                                                                  That being said, I have a nice 8C/16T Xeon box in my office closet with gobs of RAM that would happily grind through these compilation cycles so I’ll definitely look at offloading builds.

                                                                2. 2

                                                                  You can get cached binaries in unstable if you checkout one of the commits that got built by hydra: https://hydra.nixos.org/jobset/nixpkgs/trunk

                                                                  1. 4

                                                                    You can also get the commit hash from https://status.nixos.org - which displays it for all active channels.

                                                                    “Upgrading” then merely is a matter of changing this line in flake.nix and running nixos-rebuild switch.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

                                                                      This bit deserves signal boosting IMO.

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

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

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

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                                                                        <3 Thank you very much.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

                                                                                  doesn’t entitle the poster to a vigorous debate

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

                                                                                    1. 3

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

                                                                                        1. 2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

                                                                                        Previous:


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

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

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

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

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

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

                                                                                          1. 1

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

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

                                                                                      2. 5

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

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

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

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

                                                                                      3. 12

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

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

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

                                                                                        1. 5

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

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

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

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

                                                                                          1. 21

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

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

                                                                                            1. 6

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

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

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

                                                                                              2. Talk to a moderator about the situation.

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

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

                                                                                              1. 11

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

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

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

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

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

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

                                                                                                1. 14

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

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

                                                                                                  1. 1

                                                                                                    I’d definitely be interested to hear more.

                                                                                                    I’m struggling to explain what it actually is

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

                                                                                                  2. 14

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

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

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

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

                                                                                                    1. 3

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

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

                                                                                                      1. 0

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

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

                                                                                                      2. 1

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

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

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

                                                                                                        1. 2

                                                                                                          Making flags public is a terrible idea.

                                                                                                          1. 2

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

                                                                                                            1. 2

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

                                                                                                            2. 1

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

                                                                                                              1. 1

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

                                                                                                        2. 2

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

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

                                                                                                          1. 5

                                                                                                            people like that

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

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

                                                                                                          2. 0

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

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

                                                                                                            1. 0

                                                                                                              Obligatory “correlation is not causation”.

                                                                                                          3. 5

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

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

                                                                                                            1. 1

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

                                                                                                              1. 6

                                                                                                                There are no downvotes, only flags.

                                                                                                                1. 2

                                                                                                                  TIL. I stand corrected

                                                                                                                  1. 1

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

                                                                                                                    1. 4

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

                                                                                                              2. 3

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

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

                                                                                                                1. 16

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

                                                                                                                  I agree!

                                                                                                                  I think discourse is improved when all participants feel safe.

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

                                                                                                                  1. 9

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

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

                                                                                                                    1. 15

                                                                                                                      An (only slightly contrived) example:

                                                                                                                      You run a message board that hosts tech content.

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

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

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

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

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

                                                                                                                      Our C users and Rust users come in.

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

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

                                                                                                                      ~

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

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

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

                                                                                                                      1. 8

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

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

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

                                                                                                                        1. 2

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

                                                                                                                          1. 1

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

                                                                                                                        2. 3

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

                                                                                                                          I quit commenting soon after.

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

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

                                                                                                                          1. 8

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

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

                                                                                                                        3. 4

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

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

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

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

                                                                                                                          1. 1

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

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

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

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


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

                                                                                                                            1. 2

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

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

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

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

                                                                                                                      2. 2

                                                                                                                        when told others disagree with them.

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

                                                                                                                      3. 4

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

                                                                                                                        1. 13

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

                                                                                                                          1. 1

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

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

                                                                                                                            1. 7

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

                                                                                                                      4. 8

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

                                                                                                                        1. 16

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

                                                                                                                          1. 3

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

                                                                                                                            That’s not actually what they mean on Reddit:

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

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

                                                                                                                            1. 6

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

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

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

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

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

                                                                                                                              1. 2

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

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

                                                                                                                          2. 7

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

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

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

                                                                                                                            1. 11

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

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

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

                                                                                                                              1. 6

                                                                                                                                Ah, so kind of like the buttons on crosswalks?

                                                                                                                                Anyways, thank you for elaborating further. :)

                                                                                                                                1. 4

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

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

                                                                                                                                2. 4

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

                                                                                                                                  1. 6

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

                                                                                                                                    1. 3

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

                                                                                                                                  2. 4

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

                                                                                                                                  3. 6

                                                                                                                                    Agreed.

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

                                                                                                                                    1. 8

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

                                                                                                                                      Anyone can flag any comment any time.

                                                                                                                                      1. 2

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

                                                                                                                                        1. 9

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

                                                                                                                                    2. 5

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

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

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

                                                                                                                                      1. 3

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

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

                                                                                                                                      2. 21

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

                                                                                                                                        1. 19

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

                                                                                                                                          1. 6

                                                                                                                                            far away from the norm

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

                                                                                                                                            1. 8

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

                                                                                                                                              1. 3

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

                                                                                                                                                1. 7

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

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

                                                                                                                                                  1. 3

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

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

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

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

                                                                                                                                                    1. 5

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

                                                                                                                                                      1. 2

                                                                                                                                                        Okay, I guess that’s fair.

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

                                                                                                                                                2. 1

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

                                                                                                                                                3. 2

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

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

                                                                                                                                                  1. 4

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

                                                                                                                                                  2. 1

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

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

                                                                                                                                                    1. 4

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

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

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

                                                                                                                                                4. 20

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

                                                                                                                                                  1. 6

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

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

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

                                                                                                                                                    1. 3

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

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

                                                                                                                                                  2. 15

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

                                                                                                                                                    1. 7

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

                                                                                                                                                      1. 5

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

                                                                                                                                                      2. 4

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

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

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

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

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

                                                                                                                                                          1. 1

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

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

                                                                                                                                                      1. 14

                                                                                                                                                        But why? Ain’t broken, do not fix it. Better cd? Seriously? Better cat? Seriously??? I wish I had the time to rewrite such trivial things in Rust for no good reason. Literally zero value is added by this.

                                                                                                                                                        1. 27

                                                                                                                                                          Literally zero value is added by this.

                                                                                                                                                          This is literally false. I use bat for its syntax highlighting, and it is a significant value add for me over cat.

                                                                                                                                                          1. 6

                                                                                                                                                            But that is not what cat is for. cat is for concatenation, nothing else.

                                                                                                                                                            1. 6

                                                                                                                                                              I used to use cat to quickly view short files in the terminal. bat replaced cat for me:

                                                                                                                                                              https://github.com/matklad/config/blob/f5a5a9db95b6e2123d2588fe51091fa53208c6e6/home/.config/fish/set_universals.fish#L28

                                                                                                                                                              I am sure that this matches significant fraction of usages when people type cat. I’d even say that viewing files + “priming the pipe” (for which <in.txt prog is the “proper” tool) represent majority of cat usages in the wild.

                                                                                                                                                              So, I don’t find “cat is for concatenation, nothing else” statement useful, as it doesn’t describe the reality.

                                                                                                                                                              1. 3

                                                                                                                                                                it does for me. I never use cat to view files, I either use less (sometimes more, if I am on a very restricted system) or vim. I think you could remove cat from my system an I would not even notice, that is how often I use it. Most cli heavy people I know tend to be similar.

                                                                                                                                                                1. 1

                                                                                                                                                                  Then you were misused it as you should have been using less for viewing files. That is the purpose of pager.

                                                                                                                                                                  1. 9

                                                                                                                                                                    less is less convenient to me. I do not want to have to type q to close it, and I do want the file to be visible while I type further commands.

                                                                                                                                                                    On a meta level, I just don’t get these prescriptivist comments. I would understand “less is more convenient than cat” framing, but what is the value of “cat should be used only for concatenation” statement eludes me.

                                                                                                                                                                2. 5

                                                                                                                                                                  cat(1) is also, depending on your platform, for line numbering, non-blank-line numbering, the removal of runs of multiple blank lines, the explicit display of end-of-lines, the explicit display of tabs and form feeds, converting all non-printables to a human-readable escaped form, and for line ending conversion.

                                                                                                                                                                  1983 called and wants its boring whinge back.

                                                                                                                                                                  1. 1

                                                                                                                                                                    Right, and now we have a program for bonbatenation. It replaces cat and less. I don’t see the problem here.

                                                                                                                                                                    1. 1

                                                                                                                                                                      To be clear, bat’s pager capabilities start and end at running an external pager if stdout is a tty. It supplements less, it doesn’t replace it.

                                                                                                                                                                      I wonder how much stuff would break if you taught cat to do the same thing. Nothing springs to mind.

                                                                                                                                                                3. 15

                                                                                                                                                                  If humanity had followed the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” maxim to the tee without exception, we would all still be living in the stone age.

                                                                                                                                                                  1. 8

                                                                                                                                                                    And we might actually be better off that way. At least, a lot less likely to drive half the planet to extinction, and probably not significantly less happy (hedonic treadmill, etc).

                                                                                                                                                                  2. 11
                                                                                                                                                                    • Bat is awesome. It’s not really a cat replacement, but a “terminal file viewer with syntax highlighting”. I would never use bat in, say, a script to concatenate files. Two tools for two different jobs.
                                                                                                                                                                    • I haven’t tried loc or tokei, but cloc is a giant ball of slightly buggy perl. Run cloc on a big enough project and you’re bound to encounter issues.
                                                                                                                                                                    • Cut can only split based on single-byte delimiters. Lots of tools try to do some form of alignment by using multiple space characters, or they use a syntax like key: value, so cut usually doesn’t cut it. Having to reach for awk just to get the third column of a thing is unfortunate, so a better cut seems like a good idea.
                                                                                                                                                                    • Sudo is security critical. Every now and then, there are new memory issues found in sudo which couldn’t have existed if sudo was written in a safer language.
                                                                                                                                                                    • People like writing system monitors. Htop, bashtop, bpytop, gotop, the list goes on. I’ve even written a few myself. It only makes sense that someone would eventually write system monitors in Rust.
                                                                                                                                                                    • Hyperfine isn’t really a replacement for time. Rather, hyperfine is a fairly complete benchmarking solution which does multiple timed runs, warmup runs, detects outliers, and can compare multiple commands against each other. It’s become my ad-hoc benchmarking tool of choice.
                                                                                                                                                                    • Zoxide is certainly not just a cd replacement. It’s a completely different way to navigate the filesystem, learning which paths you usually go to so that you can write part of a path and have zoxide take you to a frequently used directory which matches your pattern. If you’re gonna complain about zoxide, complain that it’s a reimplementaiton of something like autojump (Python) or z.lua (lua).

                                                                                                                                                                    I don’t have any experience with the rest of these projects, but I would bet that the same pattern holds for most of them. It seems like, actually, a lot of value is added by many of these projects.

                                                                                                                                                                    1. 5

                                                                                                                                                                      tokei replaced my use of sloccount, which is also a giant ball of Perl and assorted support programs.

                                                                                                                                                                      It’s slightly faster than either. On FreeBSD /usr/src:

                                                                                                                                                                      • cloc: 3 minutes 40 seconds
                                                                                                                                                                      • sloccount: 3 minutes 16 seconds
                                                                                                                                                                      • tokei: 2.1 seconds
                                                                                                                                                                    2. 9

                                                                                                                                                                      How sure are you that the existing pieces of software are in fact not broken (in the sense of having some memory-safety-related security vulnerability that might get discovered and exploited tomorrow and become the next Heartbleed)?

                                                                                                                                                                      1. 2

                                                                                                                                                                        I have been using broot instead of tree and it is quite a joy.

                                                                                                                                                                        1. 11

                                                                                                                                                                          I wonder if we had posted this under a different title – such as “Replit gets Nix support” – it would have attracted active discussion here?

                                                                                                                                                                          Utilizing the power of Nix, every repl comes preloaded with over 30,000 packages. Adding a package is as simple as adding it as a dependency in the replit.nix file.

                                                                                                                                                                          The site rule here that your post’s title should be faithful to that of article is not very useful in cases like this.

                                                                                                                                                                          1. 1

                                                                                                                                                                            “We went from supporting 50 languages to all of them, using Nix” would have been a better original post title, too. (I don’t like teaser headlines that start with “how”.)

                                                                                                                                                                          1. 32

                                                                                                                                                                            I find this whole thread depressing.

                                                                                                                                                                            We have a long technical and economic list of why Urbit has a lot of problems and yet 2/3rds of the comments are about the politics of the guy who wrote it and has now stepped down. Character assassination is something everyone in open source has to deal with and I would have hoped people who are at least somewhat involved in the field would know better.

                                                                                                                                                                            Sacrificing scapegoats in the hope you’re not targeted never works.

                                                                                                                                                                            1. 16

                                                                                                                                                                              Urbit submissions are third-rail submissions, and have been for as long as I’ve been a member here.

                                                                                                                                                                              The best thing to do is to hide them and get on with your day.

                                                                                                                                                                              1. 13

                                                                                                                                                                                Which is really stupid because distributed systems are the only way that we can ensure that the internet isn’t taken over but we still have no idea how to build them so they can operate at scale, work for micro-payments and not have a central server - all the crypto coins have been a huge disappointment with their ridiculous fees and the time needed for a transaction to be logged.

                                                                                                                                                                                That Ted Nelson managed to predict the problems of an internet with no payment layer in the 60s yet we’re still no closer to solving even basic routing with payment 60 years later is dismaying.

                                                                                                                                                                                1. 12

                                                                                                                                                                                  Nelson’s ideas about compensation and the value of information were simply wrong. If Nelson’s vision had taken place, then Wikipedia wouldn’t exist, because it would have been slowly cut to pieces by middlemen. Instead, those middlemen are relegated to the second page of search-engine results.

                                                                                                                                                                                  Instead, take a page from the communists, and distribute the means of production. Give people enough democratic control of enough computational power, and they’ll maintain common resources for everybody. The recent revolution of Libera from Freenode is instructive.

                                                                                                                                                                                  1. 5

                                                                                                                                                                                    Those middle man now edit Wikipedia for a fee.

                                                                                                                                                                                    Go to any medium to large corporation that you know where the skeletons are buried and read the article. Be amazed that all the publicly available information about corruption, fines, prison sentences and human rights abuses aren’t in Wikipedia and are relegated to the second page of search-engine results.

                                                                                                                                                                                    Which is ironically what Ted Nelson said would happen if we couldn’t monetize content so people could live of it in a capitalist society. Everything is now an ad, including Wikipedia. We are the product and we’re cheering on the free ed-vertisement like geese cheering the farmer for the free food.

                                                                                                                                                                                    1. 4

                                                                                                                                                                                      While I will admit that paid editors generally have a large advantage over volunteers in the amount of time they can dedicate, you can report particular instances of abuse to me, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Conflict_of_interest/Noticeboard, or other venues on or off Wikipedia, like our IRC or Discord channels.

                                                                                                                                                                                  2. 8

                                                                                                                                                                                    Monero is basically the coin you’re describing, with one-minute confirmation times and incredibly low fees (the devs are constantly solving difficult equations in the quest to lower fees), but is on the verge of being made illegal for being too-much like cash.

                                                                                                                                                                                    1. 18

                                                                                                                                                                                      I’d really like to believe that, but after bitcoin, tether, etherium and a whole bunch of other shit coins I just don’t have the mental energy to spend yet another weekend reading about a coin that will solve all the worlds problems and find out that it’s just a different flavour of pump and dump.

                                                                                                                                                                                      1. 3

                                                                                                                                                                                        Monero really does work like private cash and has quick confirmation times as @WilhelmVonWeiner said. Plus it exists right now and you can derive value from it right now. That said, it’s fair to be exhausted from the pump-and-dump garbage fest that crypto is now. I tell most of my friends that unless you’re willing to literally sift out the shit, crypto isn’t the place to be right now.

                                                                                                                                                                                        1. 3

                                                                                                                                                                                          100% agreed with you there, the early Ethereum craze really killed a lot of interest for me in shitcoins. I like the competition though because it drives innovation.

                                                                                                                                                                                          I’ll just say that Monero is at least worth reading about as it solves Bitcoin’s fungibility problem in a much more user-friendly and effective way than making people use coinjoins and careful UTXO management. Fungibility is becoming more and more important because of the advancements being made in chain analysis. KYC exchanges these days are closely watching what you do with your BTC both before & after the coins touch their systems.

                                                                                                                                                                                          It also seems to be effectively preventing mining centralization with RandomX (ASICs and GPUs aren’t cost effective to mine it), so it’s closer to the original “one CPU, one vote” idea of BTC.

                                                                                                                                                                                    2. 4

                                                                                                                                                                                      They’re third-rail submissions in large part due to the persistent campaigning of certain users, yourself included if memory serves. Let’s not pretend otherwise.

                                                                                                                                                                                      Edit: memory served poorly. :(

                                                                                                                                                                                      1. 12

                                                                                                                                                                                        I think Urbit is a project doomed for irrelevance for many reasons, and I’d rank Yarvin’s ideology around third in the list of those reasons. But if I’ve ever tried to shut down a discussion about it on this site, I’d welcome an example. It was never my intention of doing so.

                                                                                                                                                                                        1. 13

                                                                                                                                                                                          I double-checked my work and I offer you my profuse apologies. In the last year at least I can’t find you having done what I complained of. Sorry about that!

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                                                                                                                                                                                            Apology accepted!

                                                                                                                                                                                            Maybe we need a RES for lobste.rs…

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                                                                                                                                                                                      All the articles that mention Yarvin’s “politics” quote from and link to primary sources. “How dare you quote the exact words I said” is kind of a flimsy basis for claims of “character assassination”, and when the project in question is meant to enact the creator’s beliefs onto the world it is always on-topic to analyze and discuss those beliefs, since acceptance of the project’s technology is, by the project’s design, inseparable from acceptance of the creator’s “politics”.

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                                                                                                                                                                                        I’d say in this case it’s not character assassination, but rather character suicide

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                                                                                                                                                                                          Terrible, he killed himself by stabbing himself in the back twelve times.

                                                                                                                                                                                          If you look at the sources on the wiki list none of them actually link to his writing, but to people writing about his writing to explain why what he said is racist, without actually linking to any of his writing.

                                                                                                                                                                                          I find it ironic that the skill of detecting character assassination I developed to find worthwhile socialist and anarchist authors in the 00s is now something I’m using to do the same for right wingers.

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                                                                                                                                                                                            I have a limited amount of time in this Earth, and I am yet to see any evidence that trying to find out whether someone that seems a nazi is a nazi is worth spending any of it.

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                                                                                                                                                                                              You would perhaps be interested in how that exact type of thinking allowed big tobacco to use Nazi anti-smoking policies to paint all its detractors as Nazis for decades after the war and kill more people than the holocaust: https://theconversation.com/smoking-rates-in-us-have-fallen-to-all-time-low-but-how-did-they-ever-get-so-high-107185

                                                                                                                                                                                              Calling someone a word doesn’t mean they are wrong, it means you don’t have anything to say.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                I am sure you might be able to raise all sorts of reasonable doubt over whether or not this dude is a nazi, specifically, just nazi adjacent, or just an asshole in general.

                                                                                                                                                                                                I am not, however, a court of law. I’m just a guy, with limited time and resources (way more limited than the justice system, by the way), so I go by general heuristics and even gut feeling. And that’s truth by pretty much all of us, really, despite how rational people think they are.

                                                                                                                                                                                                So far, all I seem of that guy points to a direction, and it ain’t a good one. There are LOTS of other people being silenced and de-platformed for inconvenient and unpopular opinions that are CERTAINLY more deserving of my time, so, this dude will seat on my nazi bucket and I will not give it a second time until extraordinary and massive evidence surfaces indicating otherwise.

                                                                                                                                                                                                The whole point of me even posting this is that it doesn’t actually talks much about the political aspects (although it doesn’t ignore it), just goes over some very technical and concrete reasons why it’s kinda crappy.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                “Always judge a book by its cover”?

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                                                                                                                                                                                                If you look at the sources on the wiki list none of them actually link to his writing, but to people writing about his writing to explain why what he said is racist, without actually linking to any of his writing.

                                                                                                                                                                                                This is not surprising given that Wikipedia cannot be trusted on controversial topics. I wish people stopped linking to Wikipedia (unless the topic is uncontroversial), and instead cited the sources directly.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                  Imagine spending your time going on the internent to cape for someone who claimed that race determines one’s “intelligence”

                                                                                                                                                                                                  Seems like a waste of time to defend nazis online but go off I guess.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  EDIT: I love that people on this website think that my comment was unkind, off-topic and/or trolling. Great to live in 2021 where people are going to bat for extremely blatant nazis because apparently arguing for a fascist state ruled by tech CEO’s, or that race determines one’s “intelligence”, or that slavery is good isn’t enough to be considered a straight up nazi. Cool. Awesome!

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                                                                                                                                                                                                    Thanks for (implicitly) asking for feedback! That’s a great start.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    I think your comment is about as off-topic as the rest of the thread. If you’d like to know what you did differently, your comment targets and criticizes another member for having a different opinion in a mutual conversation, and with a sarcastic tone of voice at that. It seems like the kind of comment that would be better suited for Twitter than Lobsters—a short, quippy, dismissive take that adds nothing to the conversation but to half-assedly try to shut it down and embarrass others. That’s why I chose to flag your comment as “off-topic”, for lack of a better term.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Before you commented, I saw it as an honest conversation that was less about the story and more about how we judge people online in general, often at face value whilst ignoring the substance and context of a conversation. After you commented, it became about judging people online, while ignoring the substance and context of the conversation. So ironically, your comment does the exact thing the thread debates. Maybe a better phrase than “off-topic” would be “um, hey. that thing you’re doing right now? yeah, we were just talking about that”.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    In general, I think Lobsters is better when the authors of these types of comments actually engage with the conversation. Or, failing that, if unkind things directed at fellow denizens are just left unsaid.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                      Imagine writing all this that I won’t read just because you want to cape for nazis.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                FWIW what I think people are missing is that he was not great at advocating his beliefs, and probably considers his project a failure in that respect.

                                                                                                                                                                                                He has left the project and his writings and beliefs have been disavowed by the current maintainers of the project. See the end of the FAQ: https://urbit.org/faq/

                                                                                                                                                                                                Curtis laid the foundation for Urbit by delivering its first prototype but, since 2013, it has been refined and almost entirely rewritten by a community of developers. No one working on Urbit today had anything to do with Curtis’s writing. For the most part, we couldn’t be less interested in it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                So I would suggest that it’s OK not to take him that seriously. Maybe 5 years ago, but not now.

                                                                                                                                                                                                Also I remember that ironically his farewell blog post indicates that leaving the allocation of Urbit real estate to the free market produced a result he wasn’t happy with … it wasn’t in line with his notion of “fairness”


                                                                                                                                                                                                What seems to be happening now is that the current maintainers are actually producing useful documentation about the system, moving away from all the intentional obscurantism. It does seem like Urbit is flawed as a system, but there are some interesting design elements for sure.

                                                                                                                                                                                                Both of these docs are pretty good reading for people interested in the intersection of languages and operating systems:

                                                                                                                                                                                                https://urbit.org/docs/hoon/overview/

                                                                                                                                                                                                https://urbit.org/blog/io-in-hoon/

                                                                                                                                                                                                They use regular words and are quite readable :) (in contrast, the political stuff was always danced around in a way to create plausible deniability; there’s none of that here)

                                                                                                                                                                                                It seems obvious to me that Urbit will not succeed or become mainstream, so I’m not very threatened by it. But it has plenty of ideas that are not about policies for resource allocation (i.e. the political stuff). A lot of it is about the representation of code and data for a distributed/networked operating system.

                                                                                                                                                                                                1. 3

                                                                                                                                                                                                  I’m really glad they are working on making it less obscure, and documenting the system. The linguistic approach to operating system design is definitely fascinating, and is what originally got me interested in Urbit in the early 2010s when I came across it (before I learned about the underlying goals of the project).

                                                                                                                                                                                                  He has left the project and his writings and beliefs have been disavowed by the current maintainers of the project. See the end of the FAQ: https://urbit.org/faq/

                                                                                                                                                                                                  Curtis laid the foundation for Urbit by delivering its first prototype but, since 2013, it has been refined and almost entirely rewritten by a community of developers. No one working on Urbit today had anything to do with Curtis’s writing. For the most part, we couldn’t be less interested in it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  In the circumstances if they really want to convince me that they’ve cut ties, I’d want them to clearly denounce the racist and pro-slavery views of the creator, and demonstrate how they are rearchitecting the project to move away from the original feudalistic, non-egalitarian aims of the project. Given the project’s history it’s important this needs is addressed explicitly, rather than hiding behind euphemistic statements which give fascists a space to continue to work unchecked.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                Some interesting comments from the project lead over at HN.

                                                                                                                                                                                                And here’s the user-facing post. I created a space for Haskell here (it includes the IRC bridge to #haskell).

                                                                                                                                                                                                1. 1

                                                                                                                                                                                                  I created a space for Haskell here (it includes the IRC bridge to #haskell).

                                                                                                                                                                                                  URL changed to: https://matrix.to/#/#haskell-space:matrix.org

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                                                                                                                                                                                                    How did you set the URL of the space? Been wanting to do this for Pikelet, which is currently a random hash…

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                                                                                                                                                                                                      You add an alias for the room that is the space. The UI is probably missing currently, but you can use the API. https://matrix.org/docs/spec/client_server/r0.6.1#put-matrix-client-r0-directory-room-roomalias

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                                                                                                                                                                                                        Is there a way to send this request from element in the browser, or so I need to do some more involved shenanigans for this?

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                                                                                                                                                                                                          More involved shenanigans, sadly. Adding aliases to Spaces is top of the list for the next wave of work in the beta though.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                            No worries, looking forward to it! Thanks for your efforts!

                                                                                                                                                                                                1. 5

                                                                                                                                                                                                  I tried using this a number of times. It works similar to emacs magit so the UX is perfect, however staging, commit, push always has a bit of lag. So I went back to using good old tig in terminal. I’m not a fan of VS Code’s native Git UX either (but edamagit is much better than it).