Hacker News

I’ve been an avid Hacker News (https://news.ycombinator.com/) visitor for a long time. About 5% of the articles which make the front page each day are interesting to me, so the signal-to-noise ratio is good enough that I keep visiting. But the comments are horribly poisonous.

I’ve commented on topics when I feel like I know something and can add value but I need to stop again (I’ve stopped for various durations a few times before). The karma system often ends up downvoting comments where the mass of HN readers disagree with a comment rather than promoting insightful debate. The signal-to-noise ratio in the comments is extremely lower than 1% for me, but it often sucks me in. The comments are a horrible brain suck.

Anyone else feel similarly? Maybe this is just how commenting on the Internet is now and HN isn’t special? Is there any way to avoid it? Small communities of like minded people like tmpdir are the solution?


I’ve not spent much time on Hacker News, but I feel Twitter is similar – fairly toxic culture – and very distracting. I’m not sure what the answer is as the TMPDIR community has not grown much (here is the original vision), but I feel there is sitll value for me – kind of an online notebook. I also feel there is value in sharing publicly because it encourages writing, which encourages disciplined thought. I view this forum as “lighter” than a blog post, but potentially much richer than Twitter or other forums where posts and comments are short. I don’t think I’ve gotten a single customer through linked-in. Others have probably had different experiences.

Perhaps the rigor and value of writing might be in the following order:

twitter/linked-in → discourse post → blog → book

If you know of others who might be interested in participating here, please invite them. I hope someday this is more than Cliff’s sounding board.

I still continue to be amazed at how pleasant it is to use discourse – it is very well done software.

They recently released a chat plugin for discourse – hope to try that soon.

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Another thing I feel strongly about is capturing information (howto, etc) that is reusable. Information here is that way. Information in Twitter or other social media platforms soon disappears into the noise.

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The concept of documenting things, partly for myself but hopefully also for others, was why I started my blog back in 2010. I haven’t been writing nearly as much as the years have progressed but I think that’s because I made the progression professionally that I wanted to, so much of the point of my blog was completed.

I have found recently that I do miss having an online community of like-minded people to talk with. I had such a group about 15 years ago when I owned a diesel VW (https://www.tdiclub.com/). Now lots of online discussion seems toxic, maybe this is the kick I need to participate more here on tmpdir…

same here Its probably over 12+ years when it was called Startup News :slight_smile: . Its a good source of information ( minus the karma system). I also like lwn.net for linuxy news.

I’ve been an on-and-off reader and subscriber to LWN since about late 2010. I think my most recent subscription ended about a year ago and I haven’t been reading it much lately. Maybe I should resubscribe and start reading it again…

LWN has a very high signal-to-noise ratio, even the comments are usually quite good (except for flame-war type articles like when systemd was the big controversy). I think when I’ve decided to stop subscribing in the past it was due to a long spate of articles which focused on topics which didn’t really interest me, but these seem to come in waves which sometimes fall out of sync with my own interests and work assignments so maybe I should give LWN another shot. :+1: