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Angry Nerds atlassian.com
560 points by kevinburke 6 days ago   41 comments top 18
39 points by zzzmarcus 6 days ago 2 replies      
I love the "Cease and desist - Rovio" testimonial. Wouldn't surprise me if that became a reality since they're selling merch. Awesome idea though.
38 points by Stormbringer 6 days ago 1 reply      
The Agilista

More process than progress. This dev fails fast and fails often.

Special Move:

Drops a jargon bomb on each level.

Priceless :D

29 points by brianwillis 6 days ago 3 replies      
Ladies and gentlemen, April Fool's day has arrived (at least in Australia).
4 points by brown9-2 6 days ago 0 replies      
Is the "nerds" hitting the ground rather than the pile of 0s and 1s a part of the joke?
11 points by mr_pppoe 6 days ago 0 replies      
The dev manager
The most useless character in the game.
Nobody is quite sure what this character does.

Can't agree more, :P

1 point by halv01122 17 hours ago 0 replies      
The Offical Angry Nerds Shirt is now available! http://www.atlassian.com/en/angrynerds/orderform
6 points by anactofgod 6 days ago 0 replies      
April Fools?!?

Now, I'm really angry... nerds...

2 points by robin_reala 6 days ago 1 reply      
After having to deal with Atlassian Confluence it's no surprise I'm angry.

JIRA's alright though.

5 points by piaskal 6 days ago 0 replies      
What I love the most about it is that I don't see any flash there. It's all HTML.
2 points by spenvo 6 days ago 0 replies      
(Despite just being a good joke) there's something to be said about the link between success and product familiarity/likeness. The "success" being that it got all of our attention (300+ votes on HN). It's more than just a cheap trick; companies copy ("learn from") each other's ideas and UI layouts all the time.
5 points by dcosson 6 days ago 0 replies      
Haha, this is awesome. And fairly accurate.
4 points by Brashman 6 days ago 1 reply      
I'd love to see the Nerds vs Plants mentioned.
4 points by erik_p 6 days ago 0 replies      
The level design is a little repetitive... :P
2 points by fjw 6 days ago 1 reply      
Should have included at least one other level design.. definitely made me laugh though.

Also: clicking on the App Store/Android link opens the game in full screen in case anyone is interested.

4 points by thascales 6 days ago 0 replies      
Ooh! I'm really good at this game!
1 point by Raphael 5 days ago 0 replies      
Also, try Happy Owls. http://hootsuite.com/happy-owls
1 point by amitraman1 5 days ago 0 replies      
This is the best one I've seen so far today.

BTW, Angry Birds RIO is disappointing. I miss the pigs!

-3 points by sitkack 6 days ago 1 reply      
You can't lose. Lame.
Solarized - Color scheme for vim, mutt, terminal emulators ethanschoonover.com
466 points by lamnk 6 days ago   152 comments top 41
59 points by daleharvey 6 days ago 1 reply      
Its really rare to see that much thought going into the aesthetics of stereotypically "geeky" applications like vim and terminals, even the website looks entirely different from pretty much every website I have seen around these tools

its a refreshing change, awesome work

15 points by tptacek 6 days ago 1 reply      
So, my mind is blown that you put so much effort into designing a color scheme, and thanks, but maybe put the img/ directory in your git repo somewhere else, so that a git pull of a color scheme doesn't take 50(!) megs.
13 points by julian37 6 days ago 4 replies      
9 points by moe 6 days ago 6 replies      
I don't like this scheme and I don't buy the pseudo-science blurb. It's based on shades of blue. Our eyes are the least sensitive to blue. And what's up with the red and pink, is this some cruel joke?

I'll stick with Zenburn[1].

[1] http://slinky.imukuppi.org/zenburn/

9 points by brianr 6 days ago 5 replies      
I don't know about the rest of you, but my eyes literally started to hurt when I read the text on that page, presumably because of the color of the text v. background. Doesn't bode well for using it in vim...

Maybe it looks better on a different monitor? (I have a Samsung LCD.)

9 points by lamnk 6 days ago replies      
Please share your favorite color scheme(s) !

My favorite for gvim/MacVim is molokai: http://winterdom.com/2008/08/molokaiforvim , seconded by vividchalk when i'm on the terminal: https://github.com/tpope/vim-vividchalk

Haven't found any good color scheme for iterm2 yet. Currently i'm using thayer: http://ecto-plazm.deviantart.com/gallery/

6 points by xiaomai 6 days ago 2 replies      
I haven't looked into how one can export gnome-terminal color palettes yet, but if anyone else is interested, I think these are the correct settings in gconf:

    /apps/gnome-terminal/palette: #070736364242:#D3D336368282:#B5B589890000:#CBCB4B4B1616:#2A2AA1A19898:#6C6C7171C4C4:#858599990000:#EEEEE8E8D5D5:#00002B2B3636:#D3D301010202:#58586E6E7575:#65657B7B8383:#838394949696:#26268B8BD2D2:#9393A1A1A1A1:#FDFDF6F6E3E3
/apps/gnome-terminal/background_color: #00002B2B3636
/apps/gnome-terminal/foreground_color: #65657B7B8383

Edit: Ok, I pulled down the source for gnome-terminal since I couldn't find a way to export/import color schemes. The color palettes are all hard-coded, so that is unfortunate :(.

4 points by pyre 6 days ago 1 reply      
Anyone get a chance to test out how this looks with vimdiff? That's one area that usually ends up looking fugly b/c the theme creator neglected to look at it. Other areas that are typically neglected (though not in this case): code folding, split buffer dividers.
5 points by stevejalim 6 days ago 2 replies      
I don't mean to sound particularly thick here, but is there a way to apply these colours to my OSX Terminal too? I've installed the bundle for Terminal.app, and they look lovely in emacs, but can I use them in my general bash environment, too?
3 points by aidenn0 6 days ago 1 reply      
It would be nice to have a script that would start with this as a base, but let you tune the contrast. I like the theme, but would like more contrast than this (I use small fonts, and I really feel like more contrast is necessary when doing so).
6 points by kunalb 6 days ago 1 reply      
I found the theme rather comfortable for using in the terminal; however I set TERM=xterm-256color so that vim would also pick up the light colour scheme"there seemed to be some issues with the background colour on gnome-terminal/Ubuntu.


1 point by aperiodic 6 days ago 0 replies      
The 64-bit TerminalColours SIMBL plugin that's linked to in the README doesn't play nicely with binaryage's 64-bit Visor plugin, for some reason. However, Evan Phoenix's fork[1] works perfectly for me.

[1] https://github.com/evanphx/terminalcolours/downloads

9 points by mark_story 6 days ago 1 reply      
Fantastic work. If I happen upon some spare time I'll try and port it for TextMate users.
2 points by leif 6 days ago 0 replies      
the bold colors are bad, this makes most of my terminal apps annoying as hell (ncmpcpp, byobu, aptitude, htop)

for one thing, at least one of the bold text colors is the same as the background, this makes this text not even show up when it's present

it would be nice if not for this

15 points by gmaster1440 6 days ago 0 replies      
Make it for TextMate ;)
2 points by varikin 6 days ago 0 replies      
I made a Solarized dark theme for XCode 4. I used the Vim definition as a guide, though varied it a little while staying within the color palette.


2 points by PonyGumbo 5 days ago 1 reply      
Am I the only coder who doesn't like working with light text on a dark background? I have 20/20 vision, and I find it really uncomfortable to use these.
3 points by gnufs 6 days ago 0 replies      
I would really love to have emacs, gnome-terminal and gedit themes made out of this color scheme.
1 point by antihero 5 days ago 0 replies      
It looks nice, is there a tmTheme file?

Currently I use TwilightMod, which is as the name suggests, a modification of Twilight.

This is what it looks like: http://i.imgur.com/u802t.png

Get it here https://gist.github.com/809720

2 points by JulianMorrison 6 days ago 0 replies      
I really don't get the terminal color assignments. Why are the brfoo colors set to grey?
4 points by cycojesus 6 days ago 0 replies      
any volunteer to submit it for emacs24 @ http://elpa.gnu.org/themes/ ?
1 point by neurolysis 1 day ago 1 reply      
When I use this in my .Xdefaults, my terminal emulator (urxvt) goes hot pink ( http://ompldr.org/vODRtMg/2011-04-05-165103_1024x600_scrot.p... ), any ideas?
1 point by bricestacey 6 days ago 1 reply      
I cannot seem to get the colors to render properly on Snow Leopard, using Terminal.app, and vim. Anyone else have any trouble but get it to work?

I installed the thing as instructed. I installed SIMBL and the SIMBL plugin, installed Solarized Dark Terminal.app theme, installed vim using pathogen, and set .vimrc with the additional g:solorized_termcolors=16 option.

1 point by Luyt 6 days ago 1 reply      
A bit too much color according to my taste - I like a more subdued color scheme, as seen in http://www.michielovertoom.com/pictures/kwrite-textanalyse.p... All black on lightgray, strings dark gray, and prussian blue comments).
1 point by jzawodn 6 days ago 1 reply      
Any chance of publishing the Xresources version (or at least hex codes in that file) for the "white" version?
1 point by swaits 6 days ago 1 reply      
Does this work in the console (vim)? I currently have desert256 working nicely in iTerm (xterm-256color). I'm away from my computer or I'd test it myself. Thanks! Never seen anyone put this much effort into a color scheme! I actually feel like I personally owe it to you to give this a shot.
3 points by flexterra 6 days ago 0 replies      
My favorite vim color scheme is two2tango. Here's a preview http://cl.ly/2Y0v251z0A29203K3d3D
1 point by maayank 5 days ago 1 reply      
Any chance someone can pull an Eclipse Color Theme version? (pretty please :
2 points by iwjames 6 days ago 0 replies      
Very nice! It is indeed amazing how much thought and effort was put into this, and it is appreciated. At some point, I'll have to convert for Visual Studio use if someone doesn't beat me to it.
2 points by lbolla 6 days ago 1 reply      
I tried to install the iTerm2 colorscheme and also the vim colorscheme, but they look nowhere near the screenshots.
Anyone having issues like this?
1 point by john2x 5 days ago 0 replies      
I made a simple Pygments version[1] for use on my website. I immediately thought it was perfect for my site, but I'm sticking to molokai for Vim. Thanks!

[1]: https://bitbucket.org/john2x/solarized-pygment

2 points by rane 6 days ago 0 replies      
I love the effort put into this, but somehow the background is way too light for my taste, in vim the colorscheme is kind of bland.
2 points by retrovirus 5 days ago 0 replies      
Any chance for gedit and gnome terminal versions? Fantastic scheme, would donate my kidney for a gedit port
3 points by streeter 6 days ago 1 reply      
Anybody know of a TextMate port?
2 points by argleblargle 6 days ago 1 reply      
Is anybody willing to explain how to switch between light and dark? I can't seem to understand the scss snippet that he gives. Apparently, you only have to switch 4 colors, It would be nice to know what those colors were.
1 point by freedrull 5 days ago 0 replies      
Does the font on the website look extremely blurry for anyone else...?
1 point by GrandMasterBirt 6 days ago 0 replies      
Request for intellij impl.
1 point by bloom 6 days ago 0 replies      
It's a remarkable work.
Although, on the dark background, the red and the magenta colors are too saturated.
1 point by meemo 6 days ago 0 replies      
Wow. Beautiful colors. Beautiful site. Very impressed by how much effort the author has put into this.
0 points by sashthebash 5 days ago 1 reply      
Am I the only person on HN that just happily uses the default color schemes that comes with editors?
Predator Object Tracking Algorithm gottabemobile.com
453 points by helwr 3 days ago   76 comments top 21
23 points by d2 3 days ago 3 replies      
This is massively ground breaking. You'll get it if you've used motion tracking on several game interfaces and had to make perfectly white backgrounds with bright lights to make it work. This is incredibly accurate - really game changing stuff.
12 points by 6ren 3 days ago 3 replies      
The key thing seems not to be the specific algorithm, but the idea of using images obtained during performance for training - an algorithm that can do that. An early prototype algorithm, with lots of room for tweaking - and there are likely radically different learning algorithms, as yet untried or undiscovered, that work better. It seems that in the past, performance images has been religiously separated from training image.

It reminds me of early approaches for robot walking, which tried to plan everything out, and more recent approaches of incorporating feedback - which turned out to be much simpler and work better. Sort of waterfall vs. agile.

It seems a tad unreliable (his "mouse pointer" was lost a few times while still on screen), but this is still a prototype. It's really impressive how the panda was tracked in 360 orientations - probably helped by the distinctive colouring.

New input devices (this, kinect, multi-touch) and applications that can really use them, may be a main source of disruptive innovation in computers for the next decade or two.

7 points by ChuckMcM 3 days ago 1 reply      
As this doesn't seem like an April fools joke (some of the papers were published last year :-)) its interesting to think about it in the context of what it might change. That being said I don't doubt for a minute that the university has locked up as much of the technology as possible in patents but that is another story. We can speculate about what it will be like in 20 years when people can do this without infringing :-)

Clearly it could be applied immediately to robotic manufacturing. Tracking parts, understanding their orientation, and manipulating them all get easier when its 'cheap' to add additional tracking sensors.

Three systems sharing data (front, side, top) would give some very good expressive options for motion based UIs or control.

Depending on how well the computational load can be reduced to hardware small systems could provide for head mounted tracking systems. (see CMUCam [1] for small)

The training aspect seems to be a weak link, in that some applications would need to have the camera 'discover' what to track and then track it.

A number of very expensive object tracking systems used by law enforcement and the military might get a bit cheaper.

Photographers might get a mode where they can specify 'take the picture when this thing is centered in the frame' for sports and other high speed activities.

Very nice piece of work.

[1] http://www.cs.cmu.edu/~cmucam/

7 points by sbierwagen 3 days ago 0 replies      
Interesting that TFA mentions "Minority Report-like interfaces" several times when: 1.) The Minority Report interface is the canonical example of a UI that is very impressive visually, and is beautifully mediagenic; but is hideously fatiguing and impractical in a real world scenario. (Hold your hand out at arm's length. Okay, now hold that pose for eight hours.) 2.) The MR UI has actually been commercialized, and has entirely failed to take the world by storm.

Also, computer vision demos are trivially easy to fake, and it's even easier to make an impressive demo video. You can have the guy who invented it spend a couple hours in front of the camera trying it over and over, then edit it down to three minutes of the system working perfectly. It wouldn't be nearly as impressive when you have an untrained user trying it live, in the field.

6 points by sp332 3 days ago 2 replies      
With something like this we could have truly “Minority Report” style human-computer interface.

Actually, the guy who invented the Minority Report interface commercialized it and has been selling it for years. Product website: http://oblong.com Edit better video: http://www.ted.com/talks/john_underkoffler_drive_3d_data_wit...

8 points by jallmann 3 days ago 1 reply      
Technical details here, with links to relevant papers at the bottom.
5 points by BoppreH 3 days ago 0 replies      
The face recognition part was too good for not picking up the face of other people. Or was it detecting just the most similar face?

But facial recognition aside, the uses are endless. If it can be brought to the same level Kinect drivers are at, but with finger tracking and no custom hardware, this could change everything.

4 points by dotBen 3 days ago 0 replies      
Ok so the fact that he has produced this himself, using off-the-shelf commodity laptops etc is really great.

But this technology doesn't seem new to me - technology already exists for surveillance cameras in police and military helicopters to track an object like a car and keep it in vision as the helicopter turns and maneuvers.

Likewise, facial recognition - both statically and within a video stream - isn't new either.

Not taking anything away from the guy, but just wondering what it is I'm not getting that is new/amazing with this particular implementation?

6 points by mrleinad 3 days ago 1 reply      
From his webpage at Surrey: "We have received hundreds of emails asking for the source code ranging from practitioners, students, researchers up to top companies. The range of proposed projects is exciting and it shows that TLD is ready to push the current technology forward. This shows that we have created something "bigger" than originally expected and therefore we are going to postpone the release of our source code until announced otherwise. Thank you for understanding."

Also, the message where he states the source code is under GPL 2.0 dissapeared. Seems that he chose to leave Richard Stallman empty handed and go to the dark side.

3 points by pyrhho 3 days ago 3 replies      
Bah! I was hoping to download the source (from here: http://info.ee.surrey.ac.uk/Personal/Z.Kalal/tld.html) and check out his algorithm, but he requires you to email him with his project. If anyone knows how the algorithm works, or where it is described in detail, I'd love to read that!

Absolutely amazing stuff!

3 points by exit 3 days ago 2 replies      
> Can Predator be used to stabilize and navigate a Quadcopter?

> That is not straightforward.

anyone know why not?

2 points by helwr 1 day ago 0 replies      
1 point by motters 1 day ago 0 replies      
This looks impressive. I've written tracking systems previously, so can appreciate that it's not an easy problem to solve.
3 points by donnyg107 3 days ago 1 reply      
Every time something like this comes out, I feel us taking a step away from "video camera mounted on a robot where the eyes should be" and a step toward real perception. I always wonder though, if a computer can one day recognize all different types of hands, could it draw a new one?
1 point by giardini 2 days ago 0 replies      
It must be shown what to track. That is, you (or some other external system) define the "object" to be tracked by clicking on a bounding box.

A good addition would be an algorithm that automatically delineated "objects" in the visual field, then passed them to Predator.

Which raises another question: how many "objects" can Predator simultaneously track (with given horsepower)?

2 points by chops 3 days ago 0 replies      
Wow, this is pretty amazing stuff. I sincerely hope this guy makes a pile of money off this.
2 points by direxorg 3 days ago 0 replies      
World becoming a better place with such code available for public to be built up on and not only to military in homing heads. I guess it is one point for "Make something free that was initially available for pay?" Just like "plenty of fish" doing...
2 points by elvirs 3 days ago 0 replies      
The video where system tracks Roy from IT Crowd sucking his fingers is epic:)
1 point by marcomonteiro 3 days ago 0 replies      
This looks awesome! I want to build this into apps for iPad 2.
1 point by bossjones 2 days ago 0 replies      
Extremely impressive. Can't wait to see how this is applied to everyday problems. Kudo's to this gentleman.
-3 points by Tycho 3 days ago 1 reply      
Uhhh... 'Predator?' What's his next project, SkyNet Resource Planning? This seems like an April fools to me. I mean I'm sure he's done work in the area... but the article is dated April 1 and the previous literature didn't mention 'Predator.' I could be wrong, but it seems too advanced, and scary.
Ask HN: How to stave off decline of HN?
417 points by pg 3 days ago   662 comments top 236
78 points by mixmax 3 days ago replies      
I used to be a big contributor to this site, but for the last months I've found that my interest in the site has waned.

I've thought a lot about why, since I used to really enjoy HN - now it's just one of a few newssites I visit every day. It's hard to quantify but here are my reasons and my take at the decline:

1) The obvious one: Signal to noise ratio in the comments is way down. The problem is twofold - there are both more bad comments, and the ones that are good aren't necessarily voted to the top. This makes it harder for me to find the nuggets that would be shown at the top of every comments page a year or two ago. As others have pointed out it sound easy but is in fact a very hard problem to solve.

2) The interaction in the comments is less interesting. I used to have great arguments in the comments. Sometimes I would convince someone of my point of view sometimes it was the other way around, sometimes there just wasn't agreement to be found. But it was always interesting and civil, and I very often learned something new. Engaging in, and watching others have interesting discussions was for me one of the main things I loved about HN. It's like when you go to a dinner party and get to sit next to this incredily interesting guy that is exceptionally insightful and has some really interesting things to say. The conversation leaves a mark on you.

3) I often find that the comments I make that I personally find insightful or interesting don't get a lot of upvotes, while the ones that state something obvious or funny get more upvotes. This isn't encouraging me to interact with people here on an intellectually interesting level. If others do this as well, which I suspect they will, then it's extremely degrading to the discourse in the comments. I often find that I don't bother to write up a response to something because I know won't get a lot of attention. Sometimes my points are totally missed.

4) Maybe I've outgrown the site. Many concepts that were new to me when I joined HN are now familiar, and many discussions have already been had. RiderofGiraffes describes it well in the linked comment.

I owe a lot to HN, and I really want it to succeed, so I stick around and hope that things will change. But for now it's from a less engaged position.

59 points by coffeemug 3 days ago 4 replies      
Look at http://gamedev.net - they've grown their community from a few active users to more than a hundred thousand and the quality only increased. They had to go through a period of significantly decreased quality as the community grew, and faced all the same problems as HN. I believe a combination of the following changes would fix things: (from most to least important):

- Upvotes need to be weighed by karma, and karma of exemplary members of the community needs to be seeded by you (and other exemplary members). This way cliques of mean/non-insightful users can upvote each other to their heart's content without making any appreciable difference in their karma value.

- The above would fix the quality of articles on the front page, not just the quality of comments. Our most successful blog post to date was "will the real programmers please stand up" (http://www.rethinkdb.com/blog/2010/06/will-the-real-programm...) which is at best a provocative rant. The actual technically insightful content isn't nearly as successful. TechCrunch mastered the art of linkbait headlines. Weighed upvotes will solve this problem.

- Anonymity breeds animosity. If I don't know someone it's much easier for me to say mean, dumb things (see: YouTube). The solution is somewhat controversial, but I strongly believe the downsides of threaded discussions strongly outweigh the upsides (ability to carry on multiple discussions at a time). Removing the ability to have threads will force people to pay attention to who they're talking to and have a coherent discussions instead of snarky oneliners.

- Moderators need to be able to lock down threads that are getting out of control.

- When the article is off the front page, the discussion quickly dies off with it. There needs to be a "hot discussions" tab that allows people to continue the conversations. This encourages people to get to know each other and participate in a coherent discussion that spans beyond 24 hours.

65 points by strlen 3 days ago replies      
Cap the score that is displayed with a comment e.g., past 10 points, just display "10+". Don't display karma and average scores of users, again, past a certain point: this prevents (subconscious) game incentives which lead to e.g., posting comments that say something stupid or mean but which tend to agree with general tendencies of the site.

For example, I can post a comment decrying Blub with a snide remark (e.g., "You wrote a 1,000 line Blub program? Was it 500 getters and 500 setters?" in a thread discussing software projects) that is both information free and mean (perhaps Blub wasn't the author's preferred choice, but chosen for him or required in order to build an application for the iBlubber). People on this site generally dislike Blub, so the comment will get upvotes without adding any value to the discussion (an example of adding value would be saying you were able to do this in 100 lines of Flub using its cool new hygienic macros with a link to a paper on hygienic macros in Flub).

That's not to say all comment score data should be gone. Comment scores can still be kept and comments could be displayed on stories in the other in which they're displayed now (a mix of comment score and how recently it was posted). Generally, what I've found is that comments showing up _first_ tend to be of higher quality i.e., overall algorithm works more often than not.

[NB: I work at LinkedIn and we do this for connection counts-- we want users to network with each other, but we don't want to make it a "who has the most connections" game, that's why when you have over 500 connections (which is perfectly legitimate and allowed), only "500+" is displayed as the count on your profile]

45 points by idoh 3 days ago 1 reply      
Let us not be too hasty in proposing solutions when the problem isn't really understood. At best they are shots in the dark. Even after you ship them you wouldn't be able to tell whether the fixes actually did anything or not.

If this were my product then I'd try to gather a corpus of bad comments, selected outside of the vote system (because the problem is that voting might be broken). While I was at it, I'd also find out the good comments, because promoting good comments might be just as good and easier than getting rid of the bad comments. After that, I'd try to figure out what counts as a good vote or a bad vote, because the problem probably doesn't really lay with the comments themselves, but rather how people vote against them. Bad comments aren't really a problem if the vote system does a good job of spotting them.

Then I'd take a careful look at comments and votes:

- Is the distribution of good comments / bad comments even throughout the set of commentators, or are there users who are dependably good or dependably bad? If it is a lumpy distribution then you can use that. I'm guessing that everyone makes dumb comments, and there is something with the system that inflates the scores of bad comments compared to good comments as more people can vote. But I'm also guessing that only so many people are capable of leaving good comments too. Get the data and find out for sure.

- Do the vote scores that these comments get a reflection of the quality? If the votes are, then maybe the system isn't as broken as you think. If they aren't, then you've got a lead on the problem - you can look at the bad comments that get lots of upvotes and try to suss out what is going on.

- Do high-karma voters do a better job of finding good / bad comments that average? If they are better, then maybe you give them more weight. If they aren't then you'd have to shelve that idea.

- Are there people good at commenting but bad at voting, and vice-versa?

- Are there people who are good at upvoting, but not at downvoting, or vice-versa?

It's all sort of tedious, but basically I'd advise leaning on the data and make decisions based off of that. I'm pretty sure that if you dig in a bit something is going to really stick out in a big way. Once you've found that, then you can build a feature / change around that.

122 points by tptacek 3 days ago replies      
A hard ban on politics and current events, instead of the wiggly one we have in the site guidelines now.
54 points by tptacek 3 days ago 5 replies      
A privmsg feature, available to people who cross a karma or karma average feature, that would allow gruseom to tell people offline that their comments are dumb. Sometimes it's good to make an example of a dumb comment, but other times it just begs for an unproductive fight.
42 points by tptacek 3 days ago 4 replies      
Some policy/feature/system to aggregate related stories ("killing" stories that duplicate stories that already have active threads, and posting a link to the "duplicate" story in that thread, or something similar to that --- I'm being minimalist here).

A lot of dumb comments appear to germinate on threads that are the 3rd or 4th take on some tech news story about Facebook or Apple.

8 points by jedsmith 3 days ago 3 replies      
Complete the fledgling environment of selectivity in one fell swoop and explicitly say, in the guidelines, that low-karma users are no longer allowed to participate. Remove the ability to vote, comment, and perhaps read from all users below 5,000 karma. These meta posts, the how to vote posts, the discussion here and in other threads, the lamenting about comment quality in general: all of this aggravation is dancing around the central issue, which is low-karma users turning Hacker News into something that the high-karma users do not want. Period.

Just look at this thread. One person has eight separate top-level comments on this item, and is winning popular support. A large number of them have almost the exact same number of upvotes. You might as well rename HN to Shaped in the Old Guard's Image and wall it off. Just get it overwith so people will stop:

- Writing tired farewell pieces, and calling it a good thing because they're respected and high-karma

- Then turning around and churning out blog content that is front-paged daily on the community just departed from

- Complaining about HN's slow decline towards Redditdom

- Downvoting comments because they disagree with them

I know this sounds like snark, but it's totally honest. You have a big choice to make here: either you foster and encourage new users to participate, or you wall it off and keep HN in the bubble of functionality and community that the old guard reminisces about.

As a relatively new contributor, I've never felt more unwelcome on a site than I have here at times. It's not even about me. It's certainly not about disrespect to those high-karma users who believe in this community the most. It's about the community. If you want your community a certain way, then lock it to the people who made it that way. I also intentionally set the theoretical karma limit above my karma, because I'd love an excuse to not come back.

Aside: All of this meta crap recently is setting up for HN to be disrupted by a new community. I also find it telling that in the time it took me to submit my comment and upvote the parent post -- say, ten seconds -- I was already at zero.

66 points by pkaler 3 days ago 3 replies      
There is no scarcity with upvotes. If I have an infinite amount of money to spend, I will spend it without prudence.

Cap the number of upvotes that a user gets each day and give explicit feedback on how many upvotes that they have left.

38 points by gleb 3 days ago replies      
I'd try to severely decrease total # of comments.

Really bad comments are not the root of the problem. Simply having large number of mediocre comments crowds out and discourages thoughtful discussion from starting at all.

I'd say:

* create some real cost to making comments

* make bad comments disappear/not display at all with time

* make things less democratic -- to encourage good behavior identify users who have this behavior and make this behavior more prominent programmaticly

21 points by jjcm 3 days ago 4 replies      
I'd suggest that there are more tiers to functionality than are currently in place. At the moment, after 500 points you're given the ability to downvote comments. Perhaps there should be additional barriers in place, such as this:

0 - Ability to comment on threads

50 - Ability to upvote comments

500 - Ability to downvote comments

1000 - Ability to submit articles/stories

2000 - Ability to downvote articles/stories

etc. While this may reduce the number of incoming stories, perhaps there could be a way for power users to sponsor stories submitted by those who aren't able to submit them to the feed themselves. The more I think about it, the more I like this approach - create a queue of "pending stories" that anyone can submit to, but only those who have sufficient experience on the site can approve them (or remove them from the queue).

For those who say that I'd be pandering to myself here, note that I'm at 620 points right now - with this proposition I'd be reducing my current abilities. However I think that it's a small price to pay to improve the quality of submissions.

14 points by solipsist 3 days ago 2 replies      
The problem lies within the deeply nested threads that continuously go back and forth between a few select people. Most of the mean/dumb comments on the first level thread are downvoted or flagged and moved to the bottom. This makes it easy to read the high quality comments - just look at the top.

The problem occurs when you start reading into a nested thread of comments. Users will sometimes argue 4 or 5 times back and forth, often becoming mean and uncivil. What results is a somewhat personal discussion among a few people that doesn't fit in with the rest of the thread. While the quality may actually increase the deeper you go into a thread, the relevancy to the original thread decreases (which matters most).

I think that this behavior is what is hurting HN's overall quality. Uncivil and deeply nested threads like these are hard to keep track of and deeply get out of control.

The solution:

  - hide deeply nested threads (greater than 3 or 4 comments deep) and
let the users choose to show them

- promote commenting in higher threads (this will come as a result
of hiding deeply nested threads)

- hide or lessen the visibility of threads consisting of comments
from only 2 or 3 people

37 points by tptacek 3 days ago 1 reply      
Stop showing people other people's comment scores. They stimulate argumentative comments.
17 points by chaosmachine 3 days ago 1 reply      
This is probably 300 comments too late, but I mocked up a solution:


It's something I've suggested before, getting rid of downvotes and replacing them with flags.

14 points by ig1 3 days ago 3 replies      
I was writing an open letter to HN on my blog for this topic, but this now seems a more appropriate place to reply (apology about the style which seems out of place in a comment):

Once upon a time Hacker News was called Startup News, it was a place to share links and discuss between people passionate about startups. Good links and discussions stayed around for days, every aspect of startup life was discussed.

Sadly that time has long gone. As I write this, on the front page of HN there are maybe 4-5 stories out of the top 30 that relate to startup topics.

Articles relevant to startups are being pushed out by generalist tech and programming articles that are better served by the many many subreddits on these topic. While it's open to debate whether these are on-topic on Hacker News or not, HN is far less about startups than it used to be.

Many contributors to HN don't even see it as being about startups anymore, even contributors who've been involved in HN for over a year are talking about it as a tech or programming site. The startup stories that reach the frontpage tend to be on technical topics, the non-startup tech audience of HN now means stories focused on the non-technical aspects of startups such as marketing and raising money make it to the front page far more rarely than they once did.

I remember complaining at one point about the number of stories about A/B testing on the front page. I wish I could complain about that now.

Take a look at Gabriel's Ask YC archive - it was created to address the startup questions that frequently turned up on HN, for many of these topics I can't recall when I last saw them discussed on HN.

There are a hundred social networking sites that serve the tech community from proggit to dzone, what differentiated HN was the focus on the startup community. That focus is dying out, and we're becoming just another tech social news site.

I don't think we can make HN be more about startups again, the audience has changed too much for that, and it wouldn't be fair to the non-startup tech community that's come to rely upon HN.

So instead I'd like propose that HN stays as it is, but pg creates a new HN called Startup News, which has startups at it's heart as HN once did.

14 points by psawaya 3 days ago 2 replies      
Make it easier for new stories to get noticed before they fall off the new page. It's a crapshoot if your submission gets noticed, and (it seems at least) the stories on the front page come from the same domains and submitters, probably because people tend to vote based on name recognition.

I realize that doesn't directly relate to comments, but I think some of the declining quality of conversation owes to the fact that it's getting a bit stale. How many blog articles about productivity can we discuss without some decline?

I don't think we should ban political articles at all. In fact, I think less blog posts about "are we in a bubble?" and more articles on economics, science, philosophy, etc would make HN much more interesting. The median comment here is still of much higher quality than at sites like reddit. And although certain subjects can be sensitive, I doubt that banning these topics will actually reduce meanness, it will just make the change in decorum harder to notice.

Finally, a more extreme idea: why not add a second kind of vote? Perhaps we could vote comments agree/disagree in addition to up or down. These could be right and left arrows, to drive home the point that disagreeing with something ought to be orthogonal to whether it adds to the conversation. We could weigh these votes less, so that rankings more reflect how insightful we think something is, instead of how popular.

19 points by jacquesm 3 days ago 1 reply      
I think it is in part the comments but also very much the articles.

One very simple suggestion: an 'off topic' tab where stuff that does not fit the HN bill can be moved to. An 'offtopic' link similar to the 'flag' link for users with more than 5K karma, that answers the questions 'what do you get for karma' nicely as well too.

7 points by andywood 3 days ago 0 replies      
First, thank you for acknowledging this as a real problem. The quality of HN is a function of the community. This doesn't just mean who's here - it means who's here, and how they act when they're here. While tweaking the "game variables" on the site may help, I believe it's more important and to the point to reinforce community standards somehow.

When I first discovered HN, I quickly learned by various cues that this is not a place to drop sarcastic, one-line zingers, but rather a place to act as you would in a real-life business setting. The cues included both the example of the dominant commenters, and their chiding of non-conforming commenters. Over time, with the growth of the site, there are proportionally fewer commenters setting a strong example, and more commenters lowering the bar and getting away with it.

We are conditioned to feel that democracy = good, but in online communities I do not believe it is the case. Rather, when there were more "good" commenters, democracy was on your side. The "good" commenters had the power of numbers. Now, increasingly, the unconditioned, lower-quality commenters are beginning to gain the power of numbers. In order to counter this, you must provide the "good" commenters with a some other type of power.

You could hand select a number of members, based on your personal knowledge of their historical comment quality, and how much you think they reflect the HN that we want. Give them the ability to super-downvote. This status does not need to be public. It's not a status-symbol. As a bonus, this could give the exemplary members some small incentive for sticking around, by making them feel like they can do something meaningful to fight for HN, beyond just complaining.

Also, Eliezer has dealt with this problem quite a bit, rather successfully, IMO. Maybe ask him.

30 points by tptacek 3 days ago 3 replies      
Have comments start at -1.

(Or, better yet, -thread_depth).

8 points by ChuckMcM 3 days ago 0 replies      
Extracting a requirement from the question, you have

Define bad comment : A comment which has either or both of the properties 'mean' and 'dumb' and is 'massively upvoted.'

Define Hacker News Health : The ratio of non-bad to bad comments.

In previous systems this function has been addressed by moderation whereby a speaker for the culture has the authority to remove comments deemed to be 'bad' and thus by gardening the experience make it more 'good' for the participants. Not a system that scales well.

I see a number of comments "Is this just another Reddit?" which suggests that from a culture perspective there are immigrants from other groups who bring a different definition of 'interesting' which has enough support from the group to prevent them from being pruned early.

That suggests an experiment.

Add east west buttons to comments, and perhaps topics as well. Notionally the value of 'east' is 'more like Hacker News' and the value of west is 'more unlike Hacker News'. Let readers vote on what they see as being more or less what they expect to see. Track their 'east/west' karma (perhaps we could call it there 'wings' with a nod to left-wing and right-wing).

One could imagine then creating a 'fog' effect much like trending topics are moved to the top of the page we could move top left topics to the top of the page and top right topics to a new page. In the ideal world people would self select which page they were more interested in, and HackerNews could in fact develop a community much like Reddit algorithmically with their own start page and their own high karma posters.

Could provide an interesting space to explore if nothing else. Probably a publishable paper in the results if someone were so inclined to go there.

33 points by geuis 3 days ago 4 replies      
Make voting on comments cost karma. Alternately, make new story submission require at least 100 minimum karma level. I suspect the effect here would be to reduce the number of frivolous and spammy submissions. When more high quality submissions are the topics of conversation, the quality of comments will go up.
17 points by user24 3 days ago 4 replies      
Limit us to N upvotes per day.

In other words - make votes precious.

That way people will think more about how to 'spend' their precious votes.

A similar thing works in poker. If you empty out your change jar and give everyone a fixed amount to start, and at the end of the game it all goes back in the jar, people play in a certain way. If you play for actual money, even just change, the gameplay does often change for the better, because their chips now have value.

At the moment we all have an infinite amount of votes to spend, so we can casually upvote anything we find briefly interesting - because our votes have no value to us.

By limiting the number available per day, we are forced to spend our votes more wisely.

Alternatively, making upvote decrement our karma will also add perceived value to the action of voting. However I think HN users care less about their karma scores so I think this approach wouldn't work as well as limiting users to N votes per 24 hours.

N can be fixed at, say 10, or increase with karma so 'better' users get more votes and thus more influence.

8 points by goodside 3 days ago 1 reply      
"The problem has several components: comments that are (a) mean and/or (b) dumb that (c) get massively upvoted."

Find a few examples of comments that are unambiguously (a), (b), and (c) and have either you personally or someone you trust flag them as such. Next, take the set of all people who upvoted the abc-flagged comments. Their votes now have a 50% chance of not counting towards vote totals from now on, but in a way that the user isn't shown that their votes aren't being counted -- perhaps with an artificial "offset" vote that appears a few minutes later.

There's fun parameters one could throw in there too, like exponential decay on the likelihood of a vote being magically offset that spikes back up every time the user votes stupidly.

9 points by tptacek 3 days ago 0 replies      
Add "Assume Good Faith" to the guidelines; this is one of the few Wikipedia rules that I think really helps.


5 points by raganwald 3 days ago 2 replies      
One thing I wonder about is whether accumulating personal karma is a red herring: trolls don't seem to care about their karma, and good folks may not care either.

Perhaps the most important thing about upvotes and downvotes is how they affect visibility. Everyone wants their voice to be heard, and some people want the opportunity to influence whether other people's voices are heard or not, e.g. by flagging stories or killing comments through downvoting.

If the big deal here is visibility, then I would concentrate on the algorithms that decide when a comment thread is rendered gray or invisible and the algorithms that decide the ranking of comment threads. I would look for patterns of votes or commenting that might help distinguish "popular but fluffy" from "popular and thought-provoking."

6 points by tokenadult 3 days ago 2 replies      
The problem has several components: comments that are (a) mean and/or (b) dumb that (c) get massively upvoted.

a) If a comment is truly mean, a personal attack on another community member, delete the comment and subtract from the user all the karma that the comment gained. That is something that can only be done by someone with curator powers here, but the rest of us can be encouraged to flag such comments more, and reminded not to upvote them.

b) If the comment is dumb, make a better comment in the same thread and downvote the dumb comment, especially if the dumb comment already has significant karma accrued. Anyone who has downvoting power (and user who has made many upvoted comments) can do all of that, and anyone who can post a comment can do some of that. Again, the curators can remind users from time to time to maintain those standards.

c) All users can browse the bestcomments list


to search for massively upvoted comments that are still within the downvoting time limit, and downvote those that are mean or dumb. Curators can delete those comments as needed.

Example and reminders go a long way. (By the way, because I, and I suppose most users, don't read this site exhaustively, I'm not fully aware which recent comments may be the most problematic. But definitely feel free at any time to provide me or other users with advice on how to raise the quality of comments here.)

After edit: another comment from another user in this thread prompts me to ask whether all new users who sign up see the site guidelines automatically or not. That might also help a little, if it isn't already done. Posting links to the site guidelines in threads with problems might also help.

7 points by citricsquid 3 days ago 0 replies      
I don't think you really can. This site is a community and the users matter above all the features. If the user quality takes a nose dive all you can do is hold off the inevitable with new comment rankings. Every site has a point where it gets so big it declines in quality, reddit hit that and now those who want the old reddit back are coming here.

The only way to truly guarantee it would remain high quality would require credentials to use the site, or require invite/referrals, but then that has a whole host of its own problems.

I'm relatively new so I don't know what HN "used" to be like, but in the short time I've been here I've noticed it decline. It seems to me that more and more people who aren't knowledgable or have insights to offer are joining and people like jacquesm and riderofgiraffes are leaving. It was inevitable and has happened in every community I've ever used.

12 points by sunir 3 days ago 2 replies      
Idea 1. Charge for memberships like Metafilter.

I believe in the Quaker rule, "Only speak when you can improve the silence." Other people think speech is like squatting on land. You have to speak to gain footing. By charging people for the privilege of speaking, you make them consciously decide whether what they have to say is worth the $5 to join. They will probably say no.

5 points by Locke 3 days ago 1 reply      
I hate to be unhelpful, but I think this problem is intractable.

The fact that these meta discussions predictably offer a wide array of solutions -- many of which are at odds with one another -- leads me to believe there isn't a solution. In fact, it seems like many of these discussions devolve into:

    1. I have an idea!
2. Yeah, but that won't work because...
3. Oh, in that case we could just...
4. But, then...

The "quality" of HN and it's community is a function of many variables. It's hard, maybe impossible, to tweak the site and expect predictable results (and, there are always unintended consequences).

It doesn't help that the feedback cycle is so long.

Let's have a hypothetical. Suppose, we decided the problem was that HN had become to design-centric. We want fewer designers and more programmers. So, let's make HN ugly. Really ugly. Then all the designers will leave and we'll be left with programmers. How long after making the site ugly will we have to wait to see the results? What if the designers retaliate by making a client-side css hack to make HN look even better? Do we end up with more or fewer designers? Did we do damage to the population of programmers who also happen to be designers? And, how do we account for outside influences? What if a prominent designer linked to HN the week of our changes and our tweak is overwhelmed by the flood of incoming designers?

I hope I'm wrong. I've been here 1467 (!) days, I'd like to stay a long while longer.

11 points by tptacek 3 days ago 3 replies      
The comment flag button could be changed to really mean something; for instance: sufficiently flagged comments can stop collecting upvotes.
14 points by RiderOfGiraffes 3 days ago 2 replies      
A final thought: If you don't discriminate between the actions of the vast majority, and the actions of those identified as being aligned with your desired intentions for the site, nothing will work. I can probably "prove" that.

I think any solution will require the identification of individuals whose actions are "more trustworthy," and giving them greater weight, or more powers.

Anything else can and will be swamped by the majority, whose intentions you have no control over, and no reason to trust.

6 points by silentbicycle 3 days ago 1 reply      
I think that having more content on the front page that isn't shallow industry gossip would have a positive effect on discussions overall - they tend to drag down the other threads, and bring in a lot of people who don't understand / follow the commenting culture here.

The new page is out of hand, IMHO - there's a huge incentive to be the first to submit an article (and no cost), so new content is continually posted. Many interesting posts fall off the bottom of the new page within an hour - a post has to quickly appeal to lots of people, or it's gone. This leads to lowest-common-denominator submissions.

Instead of moronic "first post!" comments, we've got a plague of "first submission!"s.

The sum of the scores on the new page divided by the oldest's age may be a good metric. Currently, the total is 217, and the oldest two say "1 hour ago" and "2 hours ago", roughly 90 minutes. That's only 2.4 points per minute, and this thread (118 points, 1 hour ago) is a major outlier; without it, it's 1.1 per minute.

Whether you make submitting articles cost karma (3-5 points?) and/or add a penalty for posting an article that was subsequently flagged and deleted, fewer dull submissions would improve discussions. (It would also help with spam.)

5 points by michael_nielsen 3 days ago 0 replies      
Many people have made interesting feature suggestions. However, the core problem isn't features. It's developing a general understanding of how to scale up online communities while preserving quality. pg has written before about the benefits of essay-writing as a way of deepening one's understanding of a problem:

"If all you want to do is figure things out, why do you need to write anything... Expressing ideas helps to form them. Indeed, helps is far too weak a word. Most of what ends up in my essays I only thought of when I sat down to write them. That's why I write them... Just as inviting people over forces you to clean up your apartment, writing something that other people will read forces you to think well."

So why not write an essay on how to build large online communities?

6 points by JesseAldridge 3 days ago 0 replies      
Looking at this comment page it's clear that there is an absolute deluge of excellent ideas waiting to be implemented. The bottleneck here is pg. pg doesn't scale. As far as I can tell, he's the one who does the vast majority of work on Hacker News, and as the site grows -- and as YCombinator grows -- pg's (already huge) workload is only going to increase. This is, of course, similar to the "Linus doesn't scale" problem faced by the Linux kernel, to which the solution was git. [1] I expect a similar distributed solution is needed for Hacker News.

Re-writing the software in a language more people understand (e.g. Python) could be a good first step here. But I don't know if pg is willing to give up on his silver bullet (arc).

Turning Hacker News into a business might help. Create a situation where exceptional people can make lots money by figuring out how to make HN great and let market forces do the rest. Although figuring out how to make money off of content could be a pretty tough problem.

More generally, I think pg should be thinking less, "How can I improve Hacker News?" and more, "How can I create an environment where other people can improve Hacker News?"

I mean... investing in startups is a full-time job, running a high traffic website is a full-time job, building a programming language is a full-time job, raising a child is a full-time job... trying to do all four at once probably isn't going to work.

[1] http://lkml.indiana.edu/hypermail/linux/kernel/9809.3/0957.h...

19 points by euroclydon 3 days ago 3 replies      
When tptacek flags a front page article (and tells us he did), I can't think of a single time I have disagreed with him. Yet, the story usually remains, for hours or indefinitely. So, find more people like tptacek, and give their flags more weight.

In other words: Moderators who enforce the spirit of HN and have the ability to just kill stuff. I'm really surprised this isn't happening already. If I go post some derogatory remark on a heavily moderated blog or forum, it's get's junked almost immediately.

4 points by btilly 3 days ago 0 replies      
This was a long thread, and I have no idea whether my response will be noticed. But I've been around a lot of online communities, for a lot of years, and there is one thing that I have noticed. The key to sustaining quality seems to be barriers to entry.

It doesn't much matter what the barrier is. A commenting system that crashes and destroys conversations occasionally, driving away people who are not sufficiently invested. A focused remit that drives away most people who see the site. A small group that does not advertise. But I've never seen any community sustain itself in a form that I want to be part of without some barrier to limit who gets involved in that community.

I'm not entirely clear on what the reasons are. Is it that we can only track a certain number of people? Is it that communities can only sustain themselves if turnover stays low? I don't know. But I've observed the rule in multiple places.

Given that, I've been surprised at how well HN held up. It started with a good seed. People who find pg interesting have a reasonably focused remit. The site lacks a lot of silly bells and whistles. People mostly find out about it through word of mouth. But still in the end without some barrier to entry, any sense of community is doomed. At least if my experience/opinions/etc is accurate.

7 points by tptacek 3 days ago 2 replies      
Allow commenters themselves to publicly flag their own comments to prevent them from accruing karma. Call it the "sincerity" flag. Actually, this is my #1 top feature request for HN, period.
19 points by b_emery 3 days ago 3 replies      
3 words: Bayesian Comment Filter. Just does the opposite of what the spam filter does. Use the corpus of great comments from the past to find great comments of the present.

I'm only half joking. Fundamentally, the thread is about a filtering system.

5 points by rlpb 3 days ago 1 reply      
1. Set up a Twitter-like directed graph of users, so users can provide HN with people they'd like to "follow". This graph need not be public.

2. When someone upvotes or downvotes, all followers of that person upvote or downvote the same submission or comment by proxy. If a person follows multiple people some of whom upvote and some downvote, or upvotes or downvotes himself, then cancel their proxy vote. This proxy voting is the sole purpose of the follow graph, eg. "I want to vote the same way tptacek, cperciva and pg do".

Perhaps publish a leaderboard of top followed people and their voting history to try and avoid a Digg situation.

Perhaps limit the number of people one person can follow. This would help with performance as well.

Perhaps the number of proxy votes would need to affect the score of a comment or submission logarithmically instead of linearly.

Edit: there may need to be a minimum level of karma needed to proxy vote to avoid sockpuppets. Perhaps limit it to active accounts, too.

3 points by harshpotatoes 3 days ago 0 replies      
Why are mean comments posted? Answer: because they are massively upvoted. People like Karma, and Karma is a useful tool to teach newbies how to act, by giving them shining examples of excellent posters/posts voted on by the community.

Why are mean comments upvoted? Answer: I don't know.

People learn how to act on HN by watching what gets upvoted, listening to the tone of discussions, and reading the submitted articles. Presumably, the unwanted comments are being made by new members of the community. Somehow, these new members were not properly taught by the community. In which step were they not properly taught?

I would like to submit three possible problems, along with three possible solutions.

1) The problem is in the voting system. Mean comments are being upvoted, and the senior members of the community are largely powerless to stop these comments. Sure, they can downvote, but they are just one vote, and there are still many more junior members who will upvote the mean comment.
If you believe that: Senior members know what's best for the community, these members are senior because they have high karma, these members have high karma because the community has voted that these people know best. Weighing a vote by the karma of the user who made that vote would solve the problem of mean comments being upvoted.

2) The problem are the stories that make it to the front page.
Mean comments and the votes they receive are a symptom. The users who upvote are getting their social cues from the stories they read on the front page. Broad requirements on stories that are HN worthy allow for a wide variety of stories to get posted to HN. This is good for somebody who sifts through the 'new' section, but it also means that the only stories that get massively upvoted are stories that have general intersections between all of our interests. Evidence seems to show that the most common shared interest is gossip, which is conveniently unwanted by the community. The solution in this case, is to make stricter requirements about what stories are allowed.

3) The problem is that bad apples will always exist no matter what you do. At the moment, the easiest place for bad apples to exist is on the front page of HN. Unfortunately, this is also the place a lot of normal users like to exist. Perhaps a sandbox could be made for the bad apples to hate each other, and allow the normal users to exist in separate but equal lives. Unfortunately, this seems to go against the HN spirit, and I can't think of any useful ideas on how to implement such a sandbox without it sounding like a subreddit.

Finally I would like to add:
I like that HN takes the time for these self analysis every now and then. But, I think it's important to remember that we don't know what's best for us. The mere fact that we will upvote the type of content we don't want shows this.

This leads me to reiterate a comment best stated by idoh: "Let us not be too hasty in proposing solutions when the problem isn't really understood. At best they are shots in the dark. Even after you ship them you wouldn't be able to tell whether the fixes actually did anything or not."

3 points by crasshopper 3 days ago 0 replies      
Weight upvotes differently as they come from different people -- or, play around with displaying different "top" content to different users.

Some starting places might be:

* upvotes from someone who reads regularly but votes irregularly count more

* upvotes from IP's that have not clicked through count less

* using a collaborative filter on upvotes to guess which stories are more likely to appeal to different readers

* randomly putting a few threads or stories out of order for each user

* users who, early on, vote-up comments that are voted up later are rewarded (f''<0 or just a ceiling on the reward like 10 upvotes) with their upvotes being worth more

* modal version of the above, using a pagerank style algorithm to calculate the helpfulness of users

* upvotes from people with more karma are worth more (again f''<0)

* mess around with sub-thread weighting. I don't know how you do it right now but it seems like a good comment on a lower sub-thread is less likely to be seen than a mediocre comment right below the +43 top comment.

* mess around with page-placement weighting. The very top is most likely to be seen and voted on. 3/4 of the way down is very likely to not be seen -- so a vote either way means more there.

* limit the number of upvotes each user gets. Could be per time, per story, per karma....

I didn't use HN a year or two ago, but it seems to me that across such social news sites the following types of content are unjustifiably upvoted:

- confidence

- lists of books

- slams (mother###ker)

- references to high-IQ stuff

- certain lengths are preferred [must be 2-3 para's long to get hugely upvoted, 2-3 sentences has a higher prob. of just a few points]

If you do some more research perhaps you could just decide on what are "bad" kinds of comments, such as negativity, and use text mining / sentiment analysis to detect them and hold back their points.

Using any of the - ideas would force HN designers to commit to what actually constitutes bad content, rather than social engineering (* ideas).

6 points by Mz 3 days ago 0 replies      
A couple of things I have commented on previously/elsewhere on HN:

A) My understanding is that "formal culture" is the historical human antidote to trying to interact with large numbers of folks they don't know all that well. Older, more densely populated parts of the globe tend to be more formal than American culture. Yet American culture is the primary influencer of many online communities, including this one. The assumptions made by a less formal culture and the practices which grow out of them start to cause problems when you don't actually know people that well and it simply isn't possible to know everyone here all that well with 100k uniques a day.

B) "Greet people warmly at the door": The general assumption that the ill-mannered newcomers are The Problem tends to promote the problem. Greeting people warmly who are new to the site and speaking with them gives them opportunity and motive to learn the culture and try to fit in. Talking trash about how they are mucking up the place and studiously ignoring them until you are ready to chew them out gives them every reason to behave badly or to assume no one really notices or cares what they do and little opportunity to learn to fit into a polite culture. They don't ever even get to experience the polite culture. All they experience is rejection, insults and such themselves. "Eternal September" isn't because there are new people. It is because the new people don't get inculcated. Hating them on sight and giving them a hard time for simply being new (which is the undercurrent of a lot of posts here) is a major fail if you want to preserve a valued culture. Culture is not preserved by just hanging on to the old folks. It is preserved by teaching it to the new people and helping it grow in a healthy manner.

I'm sure there's more but that's what readily comes to mind and, right this very minute, I'm not up to giving it more thought or time and effort.

4 points by colinsidoti 3 days ago 1 reply      
I almost launched a site that was meant to compete with HN. Here was the strategy to take you over:

Note: Thanks to Incubomber.com members and Aaron Burrow for coming up with these ideas.

The specific problems that were being addressed:

1. Karma is given for link aggregation instead of content creation. Consider the user that is lucky enough to be the first to realize that you have posted a new essay on PaulGraham.com. That user will instantly post the link on Hacker News, and is guaranteed to gain a ton of karma. But aren't you more deserving of that Karma?

2. Community bias crushes the little guy. It seems that a bot is constantly running on Hacker News that matches titles against the regular expression "`YC ?[WS]?\d{2}`i" and automatically adds karma until it reaches the home page. But what makes news about a Y Combinator startup any more interesting than another startup? Some power users have a similar effect on the community. This predisposition makes it excessively difficult for unknown users to establish themselves.

3. Up votes are given where up votes are not deserved. It's hard to blame the users, though. If someone makes a hilarious submission, it certainly deserves some recognition. Similarly, if someone reiterates a widely known fact, it still feels right to express agreement. Unfortunately the only way to communicate these feelings is by placing an up vote, which is not the proper way to place votes and detracts from the quality of the community.

The solution was Anonymerit.com (Never launched, but one of us may get to it eventually.)

Eliminating Bias While Evaluating Credibility

What is Anonymerit?
Anonymerit is a new type of community where submissions earn merit anonymously. At the end of each month, the top submissions will be compiled and published with their author revealed (optionally). (Kudos to Hacker Monthly, we may have swiped this from you)

How does Anonymerit work?
Anonymerit is focused on content creation rather than content aggregation. All submissions and comments are the original work of their author, but Anonymerit will withhold their identity. Submissions are kept anonymous so the community can evaluate the content's credibility without introducing bias towards "noobs" or "power users," a symptom that plagues many communities as they become more established.

To evaluate a submission, users can participate in two polls with simple plus ('+') and minus ('-') options. The first poll evaluates the popularity of a submission. In general, this is used to determine if the community agrees with a post. The second poll evaluates the merit of a submission. For this poll, a '+' is used to indicate that the submission was thought provoking, informative, and insightful. A '-' is used for submissions that focus on widely known ideas, or are simply reposted content.

This separation is imperative because it allows users to quickly express their feelings at a granular level. The total scores can reveal that a submission is generally disliked but still worth reading, or that nearly everyone agrees but the content is already well-established and does not need to be reiterated.


A monthly publication combined with anonymous postings is awesome. The publication is required because it motivates people to post their original content on HN rather than their own sites. Entrepreneurs, knowing that investors will inevitably be reading the publications, would kill to write quality content that makes it into the publication. This same fact also serves as motivation to properly vote and comment on submissions. YC already has a huge name, but imagine how much bigger it can be with a renowned publication.

The anonymous aspect is good because it lets people post anything without the fear of being stomped on by PG. In the end, you're only really looking for the best, and you can still find that through the publication. It's a win win.

8 points by diego 3 days ago 1 reply      
I'm surprised this book hasn't been mentioned here yet:


If you read that book and then look at HN, it's clear how its design encourages behaviors that are not aligned with the goals of the community managers.

5 points by webwright 3 days ago 2 replies      

You could have people who have over X karma (or people you hand pick) have disproportionate abilities to downvote or nuke comments/stories that are mean or dumb.

It would be easy to train a small circle of people how to moderate well. It seems nigh impossible to train the entire userbase of HN to do it.

4 points by jcl 3 days ago 1 reply      
I think the main problem is that there are too many comments: The number of comments has increased, but the number of comments that a person can reasonably read, reply to, or vote on has stayed the same. Thus, comments receive less moderation, and less of it from long-time HN users.

Part of the problem is the increase in the number of users. And there's not much you can do about that other than to actively drive users away from the site. (Difficult captcha? Erlang Fridays? Comic Sans?)

The other part of the problem is that the karma system rewards commenting. It isn't considered appropriate to downvote a comment unless it is overtly offensive or incorrect, so mediocre commenters don't receive signals when they are contributing almost nothing to the conversation. In fact, a mediocre commenter will comment more, because more comments mean more chances for random karma. And others see the mediocre comments and reciprocate. There is no way to reward someone for not commenting, even when it improves the site.

A number of the solutions already mentioned would help decrease the number of comments. One additional one: Make more of the site's behavior conditional on a high karma/post ratio rather than a high karma.

18 points by noblethrasher 3 days ago 3 replies      
The nuclear option: Periodically take the site down for a while and then rebuild the community (kind of like the Matrix). The quality people will likely stick around.
5 points by nhangen 3 days ago 1 reply      
Relatively new user here...

I found the site when someone submitted something and asked me to upvote it. I didn't know what that was, so came here and made a stupid comment and got downvoted. I didn't know what that meant or why it happened, and no one went out of their way to explain it.

Months later, I have almost 1k karma and still didn't know who RiderofGiraffes was, and don't find myself caring.

The real issue here is culture, and the cultivation of it. There is a culture, but it's tough to find, and it's far from discoverable. Most of the links new users need to know about, such as the top 20 list, are hidden deep in the site. There aren't any avatars, and because of the strange nicknames, I never know who I am talking to unless I click through and they happen to have listed a URL or Twitter handle.

Point being - if you want people to act a certain way, I think you need to do a better job of describing it. I say that to the entire community.

I don't get the feeling of a nurturing environment here, and because of that, it's sort of a "fend for yourself" environment, which leads to the sort of behavior we see.

Just my .02, but this is what I'm picking up here.

I still love HN.

7 points by petervandijck 3 days ago 0 replies      
HN is beyond the point where you can improve comments with small adjustments to the comments or karma system. History (on other sites) shows this. The problem is sheer size.

There is only one real solution, which is to reduce size.

You can do that by closing new signups, which is a little bit like tying rope around a girls feet to prevent them from growing. Not great, and probably leading to rot.

Or you can do that by fragmenting up the conversations. Reddit has the rather primitive subreddit system. It works somewhat. A better system is Twitter's follow or Facebook's friend systems.

In either case, if you do this, the result would be something quite different from the old HN. The uproar would be great, and lots of people would leave.

The alternative is the slow death of online communities with scale. I just don't think that tweaks in the comment-karma system are going to solve this problem.

Good luck!

4 points by Tycho 3 days ago 1 reply      
I know you're talking about comments, but I did a quick snapshot of the front page and color coded each submission by it's category

    blue = hardcore hacker stuff

turquoise = industry-related light reading

biege = acceptable entrepreneur/political commentry

red = fluff, stuff we could do without

black = meta (eg. this thread)


That's a pretty healthy mixture if you ask me. Only about 10-15% or the articles are unworthy of HN, and even that's debatable. The majority is technical stuff, with a few valuable pieces on business/economics in general sprinkled in.

So although some people seem to think the quality of comments is declining, I still believe HN provides phenomenal quality in its capacity as 'news for hackers.'

I'm not sure if changing the rules will do much good; it might have the opposite effect. I think there's pro-active measures we can take which might prove best, like: finding interesting people and inviting them to HN. Quora would be a good recruitment ground.

One last point, I think the role of the founder/leader is very important to online communities. I've been in other forums which went to absolute shit once the 'pg-equivalent-person' ditched them in favour of Twitter. More essays from Paul Graham, perhaps ones talking about online behaviour/ethos, would be a big benefit :-)

4 points by naner 3 days ago 0 replies      
Commenting is almost no-friction and there is an immediate psychological reward in getting your voice heard. This makes it extremely easy to knee-jerk. Perhaps you can A) make commenting cost more or B) delay the reward long enough to force a re-evaluation before the comment goes public.

For A you might try making commenting cost karma in certain situations.

For B I've got no ideas. I'm thinking about how I sometimes will write an emotionally charged email and then wait a day before sending it because I know I'm unable to think clearly. Emotions will have cooled by then and the email looks like it was written by a crazy person. There's not any way to force delays on commenting that I can think of since the articles and discussions here move so fast.

3 points by gnosis 3 days ago 2 replies      
Implement something like a recommendation system for comments.

Any time any two users vote on the same comment, the HN system should create a number representing the "affinity" between the two users.

This affinity should increase if the users voted the same way on that particular comment, and decrease if they voted differently.

Then, instead of displaying the number of upvotes or downvotes next to a each comment, what should be displayed should be the number of upvotes and dowvotes weighted by the affinity of each user who made that vote.

Comments should rise or fall using the formula HN uses now, except it should use affinity-weighted upvotes and downvotes.

In effect, in this system the other users are making "recommendations" on the comments they vote on. And their recommendations are weighted by how similarly their previous votes were to the votes you made.

This scheme results in every user seeing comments customized in a way that automatically infers their preferences.

So, if you prefer deep, insightful comments about technology, you'll presumably upvote those comments, and the affinity between you and the other users who upvoted those comments increases, and when they upvote future comments, the comments they upvote will be more likely to show up on your radar as they'll probably be closer to the top of the page and have a higher numerical score.

Conversely, those people who prefer brief, funny comments would similarly have the comments they see be displayed in a way that caters to their preferences.

Instead of trying to please everyone in a one-size-fits-all top-down approach, this is a more distributed approach which "recommends" to each individual user those comments which are likely to be preferred by that particular user.

Of course, this scheme is more computationally intensive than having the current system of simple, unweighted upvotes and downvotes, or even of manually curated/moderated comments. It also requires active upvoting and downvoting of comments by users for it to work well.

But the advantage of this is that the more users upvote and downvote, the more accurate the system gets in "recommending" comments to them. So implementing this system would provide an incentive for active participation.

It's also an automated, algorithmic system which should scale much better than proposals that require manual human intervention, such as implementing moderation/curation of comments.

A similar scheme could also be applied to articles, such that the HN backend would weigh articles based on the affinity between the user viewing the article list and the users who've voted on those articles.

5 points by kulkarnic 3 days ago 0 replies      
I think I am too late to the discussion already, but I think all of pg's a), b) and c) are caused by people who think that this is OK-behavior.

I think a new user should, by default, get "read-only" access. Once the account ages, so the user sees what is acceptable behavior, should you get write-access.

Another idea is to actually make good the name of the site (Hacker news). EITHER a) Show us you actually are a hacker-- do you build things, or just troll? Is your relation to technology deeper than "I read techcrunch?"
This could be a simple matter of adding a text-field or a mandatory homepage/startup URL field, and asking (say) 3 longtime HNers to decide if the "applicant" is interesting enough to the HN community.

OR b) get invited by a long-time HN-er to join (There should be a strong disincentive to invite indiscriminately: for instance, everytime a person you invite gets downvoted, you lose 0.2 karma points).

I know, this scheme sounds elitist. And it is. Yet, I can't think of a single interesting HN-er this would filter out.

4 points by sunir 3 days ago 0 replies      
Idea 3. Enlarge space. There are too many people in the common agora, so split up the community into smaller, more focused spaces, akin to Reddit. For instance, there are natural categories here around news, programming, business, science, and politics.


3 points by anurag 3 days ago 1 reply      
It would be a big change, but enforcing real identities could help. Very few top commenters on HN are anonymous, and people are much more likely to be rude or intellectually lazy when no one knows its them. Given HN's readership there is a big incentive for most users to appear smart and nice through their HN activity - if potential co-founders, investors and clients could dig up my mean/dumb comment (or my upvote of one), I would be less impulsive in commenting and upvoting.
4 points by johnyzee 3 days ago 0 replies      
Thank God you've noticed. I seem to recall that you brushed off this observation for quite some time.

One thing I've noticed repeatedly in the online communities that have scaled succesfully (in a cultural sense) is that the founders/owners/admins tend to take a very active role, both proactively by being role models and also by stepping in and settings things straight whenever they feel the community is straying too far from their vision. Reddit is a good example of this. Joel's forums at joelonsoftware, which fostered a very tightly knit entrepreneur community, were also heavily influenced by the omnipresence of the site owner.

Unfortunately this is not an elegant technical hack, just simple hard work on the part of administrators.

4 points by bdclimber14 3 days ago 0 replies      
I think the root cause is inherent to growth. As the number of naive new users increases exponentially (assuming this is happening), the more experienced portion of the community has a harder time swinging vote totals for quality pieces. It's not that new users are stupid or malicious; new users are simply uneducated about the type of comments and content that are most fitting with HN. With more new users, the community gives affirmation of mediocre content through votes.

I've been fairly active on HN for about 6 months. A year ago, I remember submitting articles and making comments that, while at the time I thought were fitting, I am now embarrassed of. (This also may be the case 6 months from now for my current submissions).

Sure, I perused the introduction, FAQs, and other comments and articles. However, I didn't get a real sense of quality until recently. Just like with software development, the best way to learn is by doing.

Here are a few ideas:

- Enforce some sort of social contract that users must agree to before submitting articles. Describe appropriate usage to give users a sense of pride in the community.

- A combination of account age and page views could be used to ensure new users are experienced enough to participate. There are the obvious negative side effects of this.

- Allow high-karma users to send private messages (previously mentioned) to users that submit inappropriate content informing them of the reasons why it may not be best. Down-voting and public comments are too cold. A warm private message from a 5 year HN veteran explaining how I can be a better member would be welcoming.

The bottom line is that the quality decrease isn't from malicious users (rude and negative comments aren't necessarily malicious in those users' eyes) but from naive users.

3 points by socksy 3 days ago 0 replies      
I see two issues in comment threads:

1) Despite guidelines, people vote up comments they agree with. If they have enough karma, they vote down ones they disagree with. There's little you can do to change such a situation

This is inadequate " sometimes you can see interesting and informative posts up the top; sometimes interesting posts have a relatively low comment score, simply because they are controversial. The more specific and detailed a post is, the more chances they have to offend (or just not overall agreement), and the more chances they have to get a downvote/not be voted on. If a comment is very general, (eg "How awful.") it will be a lot less controversial, and thus more get more votes.

On the other hand, it can be useful to see comment scores as a barometer to popularity " which framework/language/cool solution for a specific problem is upvoted the most can be genuinely useful information.

This is a problem that many sites that implement "voting" have. I'm not entirely sure of what a solution can be. One might be that there be two metrics " one for interestingness/helpfulness/what the guidelines are for anyway. The other for whether you agree with a post(/find it funny). There are potential problems with this idea, for instance, it complicates voting (the simplicity of a vote increasing a comment's score is one that everyone can understand). However, I think that the benefits would outweigh the costs.

2) Comment threads that try to be increasingly funny, with signal to noise ratio decreasing with every increase in depth. I often find myself scrolling down past a lot of uninteresting and unimportant comments to get to the next comment that isn't part of the first thread. This is a little harder to tackle, as sometimes good comments can be revealing deep in a thread full of mediocre ones, making it difficult to just fold comments part a certain level. Perhaps only fold when most of the comments are under a certain threshold (like 5 points)?

12 points by ComputerGuru 3 days ago 2 replies      
A hard limit on the maximum upvotes a comment can get. Say, 25.
2 points by bonaldi 3 days ago 0 replies      
This is a fairly classic problem of forum scale. If people don't have an investment in their profile and what it stands for, they won't care about that persona, and you quickly fall victim to the Law of Anonymity.

Number of suggestions to solve it:

1) Put a real value on user accounts. Charge $5 for them, or otherwise make them hard to get -- perhaps invite-only from users with a certain rating -- so that they are felt to be valuable.

2) Active editing. Assigning a numeric value to everything a user does only goes so far: eventually there has to be a consequence for their posts (greater than it going grey). It's OK to ban users who are all noise, after a fair warning.

More controversially:

I think threads re-ordering themselves make it incredibly difficult to follow a conversation. Because comments move around, when you return to a thread you either have to re-read or re-skim multiple comments that you've already read. The alternative is to treat threads as one-shot jobs. Visit once, don't come back. That's death to conversation, and conversation is the heart of a community.

It's this reason, I suspect, people don't often post meaty comments in threads once they already have a good few comments in them -- they know they'll never get the traction of upvotes to stay near the top, so why bother? The fix:

3) Flat threads. Don't rearrange, don't indent. Show scores if you will, but don't order based on them. The longest-lived web communities, the ones with the best conversations, from the Well to Metafilter, all have this in common.

3 points by dkokelley 3 days ago 0 replies      
Limit comments? I think that commenting must COST the poster something, which means that for a comment to be worth while, it must justify the cost.

Karma might be worth it, but a: I don't think posters value it THAT much, and b: this doesn't prevent stupid comments that are likely to gain popular support. In fact it might encourage it.

Instead I would say that a user gets a limited supply of comments to post. Then, the user must decide if their 'lol this made my day' comment is worth giving up a portion of a limited resource.

Determining the appropriate way to limit comment supply without a major negative impact on positive replies is the tricky part. Karma, membership length, submissions and comments could calculate into the figure. Is the figure reset every day, week, month? I don't know. Hopefully this works as brainstorming food.

5 points by mbesto 3 days ago 0 replies      
I think I have a simple fix:

When you hover the up arrow button a tooltip should say "This comment ADDS to the discussion" and on a down "This comment DOESNT ADD to the discussion". Too often I think people just click the arrows based on (1) the username (2) "oh ya I agree, I hate that too!".

Up/down voting should be an extension of the community's ability to assess whether someone's opinion is adding to the community thought process. We often forget that (I do myself).

3 points by ankeshk 3 days ago 0 replies      
Let moderators mark a comment as "not useful". And everyone who voted for that comment earns negative karma. This will make people think twice before voting for a comment. Dumb and mean comments won't be voted on.

This allows you and the mods to set the tone for comments.

Of course, the weak point is - moderators bias may show up. And a worthy comment may be marked as not useful occasionally. So depending on the number of moderators you have, you could make it so that the minimum criteria is x number of moderators have to mark a comment as not useful.

1 point by dman 2 days ago 0 replies      
I am a bit late to comment but here are a few thoughts

a) Staying on top of HN and current with articles and comments is becoming a fulltime job. Contributors who are productive in their non HN life will overtime realise that they are spending a disproportionate amount of time on HN. Something needs to be done to the mechanics of HN to change this. The only thing I can think of for this is highly unusual but here it is - Do not allow people to comment on stories by default, only vote for them as ontopic and offtopic. Later after a certain amount of time - stories become available for commenting or disappear entirely. This effectively decouples a story into two phases - is this story worthy of discussion on HN and second how good is the commentary on it. Doing this split will allow you to attack the story and comment quality in a more granular manner. Also sometimes its tempting to open an offtopic story just because it has 80 comments, hoping that some HN stalwart has added non trivial analysis to an otherwise trivial story. By not allowing discussion on offtopic stories such wayward curiosity on part of readers like yours truly could be avoided.
b) Remove the indirection currently in place to flag stories and comments. Downvoting is more convenient currently, perhaps flagging should be a bit more convenient than it is currently.
c) Turn HN into a fully customised experience. People prone to gossipping will overtime find themselves in a version of HN where gossip is abundant, ditto for technical users. An implementation is left as an exercise for the determined reader.
d) All changes dont have to be live on news.ycombinator.com. You could try out multiple versions with different incentives, maybe different sub-communities will find different local optima.
e) Force people submitting stories to write a comment longer than a certain threshold about the story.

5 points by crasshopper 3 days ago 0 replies      
Bias in favour of upvotes from the bottom of the page.

Everybody scrolls from the top down. Those who vote for lower-down stories are less likely to be amplifying the hive mind.

4 points by pbiggar 3 days ago 1 reply      
Here's one you suggested to me: have people pay to comment.

If this were any other website, I'd suggest simply requiring a Facebook or twitter account to log in. Worked for Gawker et al, but it won't fly with this demographic.

So just charge people $1 to activate their account. It'll reduce the shite, and 99% of the commenters won't care. What happens to the edge-cases of people who don't have a credit card is an open question, but I suggest validating them some other way (solve a problem in Lisp perhaps).

9 points by ChrisNorstrom 3 days ago 0 replies      
I don't know but maybe get rid of Karma that caries over from article to article. This is what drove me insane about Reddit. The mean, smart ass, slightly funny but useless comments made it to the top while other more useful comments where completely ignored or buried. The problem with democracy is "Bandwagon" + "herd mentality".

I myself tried this on TechCrunch and got up into the top 5 most "liked" commenters. All I did was post snarky, rude ass, criticizing, comments that appealed to the sarcastic douche bag within us all. It was easy. My faith in humanity vanished over that time period because it was so easy to do.

2 points by bootload 3 days ago 0 replies      
"... Anyone have any suggestions? We're on mostly uncharted territory here ..."

This is a radical idea probably without merit but small incremental steps to improve the quality of submissions & comments are short term fixes to deeper problems. What are the root cause(s) of poor quality responses?


Good behaviour in any group is important if you encourage identity. I tried hard in any sites I've joined to stick by the spirit of the group because my identity is tied to anything I say. What would joining HN be like with no identity and zero reputation. A place where there is high competition for submissions and few examples of what is really expected of you? The only sign post I see is karma some FAQ's on behaviour - but who reads those? My behaviour is effected by those around me who in all reality want to improve their standing through karma. Progress is measured by a score that is derivative of what I do, who cares about the outcome. Make identity meaningful. SO does this well. Users are recognised and rewarded. The hard bit is HN isn't binary.


I join sites like HN because of the quality gap on the web. The only other way I can do this is directly interact with fellow entrepreneurs. HN fulfils this purpose. HN also is about things that interest hackers. That was the intent, discuss new ideas, intelligently. HN is a lot like the LME discussing the effects of X on Y, substituting copper for ideas, effects of conflict on price for execution of product. What happens when the purpose is subverted or unfulfilled?


Who reads and contributes in HN matters. I don't recognise the readers I started with. As the audience drifts the early adopters leave as the utility of HN drops. A lot of good hackers started here but will probably leave or have left. This is a real problem. Hackers leaving is a signal that things are broken or that the usefulness has been reached. Hackers are really sensitive to certain types of audiences, especially non-technical. Like frogs, Hackers leaving HN might be a sign the audience is polluted with the wrong type of users.


HN is fundamentally broken. We already know this. It's not a new problem. But something has to fundamentally change to address user identity and utility. Encourage good behaviour by looking at [Identity]: the need to fit in, contribute, improve and [Utility]: the reason users contribute and not get bored or get up to mischief, leave.


Entry needs to be set higher than it currently is. Where else of value is entry a handle, email and time enough of a measure of worth? I would put a concrete intellectual challenge in the form of some writing, say 500 words in their profile. For extra credit a link to a site the post exists. The purpose is twofold. Create a baseline set of information that can be classified
through code and used to judge the quality of the HN user. Users could game this if they wanted but a quick check against a post on a users website could avert this. This benchmarks each user.


All subsequent posts are measured against their score. Submission scores are scored against their benchmark.


Make a real purpose for staying on at HN. Encourage interested HN users to also submit to apply to YCombinator, even if they think they don't fulfill the criteria to make them improve. Tie identity to purpose by making contributing to HN a part of submitting to YCombinator. Give some real purpose. Make being on HN way beyond just submitting links, making stupid comments and watching your score.

2 points by GHFigs 3 days ago 0 replies      
Hand out short-term (up to 24-hour) mandatory noprocrast vacations (i.e. bans) freely, visibly, and arbitrarily. If somebody makes a stupid comment, they get asked to leave for a while, and everybody sees it. Simple and unambiguous. It also puts the onus on the user to modify their behavior in a way that lengthy meta-commentary threads about just how bad their comment was tend to not.

One problem with this is the perception that being banned (however temporarily) is a severe punishment reserved for major infractions, and that people might react strongly against that perception. To some extent that's the point: you want to drive away the people unwilling to change. On the other hand, you want to give those who are so willing the reason and opportunity to do so, and I think the occasional "time out" provides that.

It may still be an indelicate instrument for addressing the problem, but I think it's justifiable when the status quo is that known-good people are leaving voluntarily.

4 points by bvi 3 days ago 0 replies      
Flag comments (essentially public shaming). Look at how Quora does it. If a user's reply is not in line with the question, other users flag it as "not helpful" (and explain why below).

So the more the people who flag stupid comments (instead of just downvoting), the more these comments should descend to the bottom, regardless of number of votes.

1 point by JoachimSchipper 3 days ago 0 replies      
Give high-karma users more power to downvote: if you downvote a comment, click the now-red downvote button again to add e.g. <your karma>/500 extra_downvotes. At any time, a comment with extra_downvotes has min(#extra_downvotes, max(0, #points) / 2) fewer points than it would otherwise have.

Some examples:

- "good": tptacek likes something and gives +1 point - he has no more power than anyone else to upvote

- "bad": RiderofGiraffes downvotes for -1 point

- "crap": RiderofGiraffes thinks a comment at -2 is mean, and downvotes twice. The comment is now at -3, since extra_downvotes do nothing on comments with zero or fewer points.

- "popular crap": tptacek double-downvotes a 17-point comment to 8 points. Two 2000-point (top-1000?) double-downvoters could also get it to 8.

- "ridiculously popular crap": tptacek and RiderofGiraffes hate a 302-point comment. tptacek double-downvotes it to 176; RiderofGiraffes double-downvotes to 150 (half of #upvotes - #downvotes = 300); lots of others also lend their extra_downvotes. The comment stands at 150 and upvotes have half effect.

I think this proposal strikes a nice balance: users with high (500+) karma can better help keep the crap out; extremely-high-karma users get a bit more power (only a bit - realistically, tptacek will typically remove something like five points from a popular-but-crap comment since others also have extra_downvotes).

More importantly, "normal" users still run the site (that 150-point comment is still at the top of the page, and no amount of extra_downvotes is going to dislodge it). If you're going to cry "democracy", remember that the only current way of dealing with popular crap is [dead] - losing half your comment karma is not that harsh. And, again, people with lots of karma are apparently interesting.

Note that points and extra_downvotes must be tracked separately; otherwise, people would want to wait until a crap comment has gained some points to make their extra_downvotes more effective.

Finally, two tweaks: it may be a good idea to let only comment karma count for extra_downvotes purposes, and it may be a good idea to allow extra_downvotes on submissions.

It's a pity that no-one is going to see this comment...

[Note: HN handles used for illustration only, I'll happily remove them if you'd like.]

5 points by scott_s 3 days ago 0 replies      
An explicit voting protocol may help. Personally, I would like to see "No downvotes for disagreement" made official.
7 points by mikek 3 days ago 0 replies      
How about notifying people when their comments have been flagged and pointing them to the site guidelines?
1 point by macrael 3 days ago 0 replies      
A well implemented following system could solve a number of problems. The most important feature of this would be to automatically create (or suggest) "follow" connections based on your upvotes. If I upvote someone a few times, suggest I follow them. Then, display comments from people I follow with some sort of marker.

This would give comments context. The site would in effect be saying "hey, you've read four or five comments by this person and thought they were sharp." or, "don't waste your time with this comment, you haven't liked their others." I don't know how many times I've read smart comments without actually connecting that they were all being written by the same person. It is only extremely good and prolific people who I actually recognize by hnname. This would help me find more.

This is really a reputation/karma system, but scoped per user instead of site wide. You can go further and trickle votes down the follow chain, so that the people who I follow follow also are part of my personal reputation network. This would help cut down the amount of interaction I have to do to make the following system useful. This is essentially page rank.

With this in place, HN can become a more personalized aggregator wherein the links and comments that are liked by the people you like are more often presented to you. It is quite possible this could create the equivalent of subreddits organically as the site's membership creates following chains interested in different things.

Now, this is a very technical solution to the problem, which means it probably isn't merited. I think that metafilter is probably one of the right guides to watch and that for them careful moderation has been key.

Also, there are a number of real problems with this solution, the first being that it significantly increases the risk of the echo-chamber as people start to be split in to like minded groups. I've thought about some ways to deal with these issues, but I don't feel like this post is the place for them.

3 points by rexreed 3 days ago 1 reply      
It sounds like Hacker News needs a reason for being. Who is the audience? What is the value proposition? Shouldn't the needs of the audience and the "problem" HN is solving be the answer to this question?

For me, I came to HN for:

* A free, online location where people can exchange ideas and commentary relevant to tech startups, that welcomes newcomers and experienced alike.

Perhaps it's different for others:

* A place to collect points to boost one's ego and sense of self-worth in front of peers.

* A paid site for members of a small community to exchange topics in a way closed to outsiders

* A place for those who have earned a role as experts or taste-makers to evaluate and/or judge the ideas of others.

Looks like there's no consensus, hence the reason for HN's decline.

4 points by Groxx 3 days ago 1 reply      
Don't make submissions give the submitter karma. Currently, the fast way to gain karma is to be the first to submit a big story, and duplicates abound because everyone tries something different.

If there's no incentive, there's no race.

I, personally, also like the up-votes costing karma. It'd make the act much much more costly to perform, so high voted comments will be more likely to be selected on content than laughs.

1 point by davidmathers 2 days ago 0 replies      
Uh oh. Over the past 6 weeks I've had the feeling of being liberated from my years-long Hacker News addiction. Now you want to fix it and suck me back in.

I'm surprised to see so much focus on the comments. I think the front page is the primary problem. I wonder how much of the comment problem would fix itself if the front page had more signal and less noise. Maybe that's naive.

Personalization is most certainly the wrong answer for HN, but when I thought last week of my ideal solution to the problem this is what I came up with:

1. Personalized weighted point calculations. Each vote is multiplied by a number which ranges from 0 to 2 in .1 increments. Everyone starts at 1. Everyone who up-votes the same story as me gets .1 added to their weight. Everyone who up-votes a story I down-vote gets .1 removed from their weight.

2. New users can't submit stories during an initial probationary period. They also start out at .1 and get .1 added to their weight each week they're active on the site. After 10 weeks of activity they can submit stories.

3. Weights are applied to comment rankings but not derived from them. Comment rankings also need to be much harsher. We want fewer comments and higher quality comments. Maybe ((weight*2) -.5) for calculating comment points. But the floor is always 0.

I don't know if ideas along these lines could be successfully de-personalized.

These ideas I think are mistaken:

1. Any notion of explicit control. Such as: hard coded karma values, comment size, non-bayesian content filters, etc. (New user probation being the 1 exception)

2. Anything based on unweighted karma values.

These ideas I'm suspicious of:

1. Economic solutions. They strike me as having the same problem as micro-payments. I don't want to have to think about how I'm spending my alloted money each time I up-vote or down-vote. Also the purpose of money is trading, not creating artificial scarcity. And even assuming the goal of artificial scarcity is worthwhile (I don't) then it implies some kind of hard-coded explicit control to determine purse size, which will always be a mistake.

3 points by hanifvirani 3 days ago 0 replies      
How about weighted votes based on karma? After a certain karma threshold, your vote value is doubled. The system could also have multiple levels. For e.g. at 2k karma, when you upvote/downvote a post, it gains/loses 2 points. At 5k karma, 3 points and so on. Or maybe the user can choose his vote value, limited by his maximum vote value.
Perhaps we can also use the average karma somewhere in this equation.

Another suggestion is the ability to downvote submissions after a certain karma threshold. We can use the weighted vote system here as well.

Yet another suggestion is 12 hours/24 hours/1 week bans.

Another problem that I admit facing is the unwillingness to post something with the fear of it not getting upvoted and thus affecting my average karma, even though it might have added value to the discussion.

8 points by peterlai 3 days ago 1 reply      
You could help people discover good comments by allowing them to collapse comment threads. A simple [-] button by each comment should do the trick.
5 points by ig1 3 days ago 1 reply      
We could penalize commenters not using their real name.

Techcrunch comment quality has improved by an order of magnitude and trolls have been largely wiped out since they started requiring people use Facebook or Yahoo accounts to comment.

3 points by revorad 3 days ago 0 replies      
The problem with these posts on the declining quality of HN is that people can't agree upon what the ideal comment quality should be, just like they can't agree on what stories should be on HN.

I propose we have complete transparency.

PG, please start by giving 10 examples of the kind of comments you are most worried about, so that you define the problem in very clear terms. There might be disagreements and we need to surface those before suggesting solutions to a vague problem.

Extending the idea of transparency generally, make all votes public, such that everyone can see who voted what.

3 points by randall 3 days ago 0 replies      
I understand this is primarily about comment quality, but I had an idea for keeping story quality high: Score votes via bookmarklet as higher than a standard vote. That'd be one way to ensure that someone actually read a story, rather than just upvoted a catchy headline.

Naturally this would have to be kept secret, since it'd invariably lead to a potential voting ring issue.

7 points by Sargis 3 days ago 3 replies      
Make it invite-only to post threads/comments and quietly associate the inviter with the invited person.
1 point by knowtheory 3 days ago 0 replies      
The real problem is that it's difficult to encode social constraints into a system. StackOverflow tries it, and i think that they have erred on the side of restricting contribution in order to preserve their system.

It is far more effective to have members of the community, particularly people who are representative of the ethos that HN has had to point out bad behavior, and recommend more responsible courses of action.

In so far as we are a community, we should encourage behavior as a community. Ultimately the point of writing comments and posting links is for others to see them, karma is worthless otherwise.

To that end, i think there's interesting things that could be done with average karma. If we're trying to encourage hill-climbing behavior towards better karma, why not highlight comments w/ higher average karma than you have? If we are trying to encourage leadership, then perhaps we should point out who is leading, and the behavior which we should be emulated.

3 points by Jarred 3 days ago 0 replies      
I'm fairly new here, but I've been in a lot of different internet communities for several years now. This seems to happen to every major growing internet community and maybe this is a way to both filter out the bad content and encourage the good content.

What if user's had the option of investing karma into a submission/comment? If a user wants to comment or send a submission then they have to spend some of their karma points in order for other people to see it. This would bring the submission/comment more default points but would be negative points toward the submitter. That means it will appear higher on the page dependent on the amount of points they invest in the post. When/if a submitter's post is upvoted enough to pass the amount he invested, the submitter would gain karma.

I think this would work better because right now people can basically post what they want without worrying about their karma going down very much. This would do two things, firstly it would reduce the karma inflation, and secondly it would encourage higher-quality submissions and discussions.

I originally said this here http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=2403085, but I think this would be a better place to say it.

2 points by crasshopper 3 days ago 0 replies      
Make downvotes worth more against massively-upvoted comments.

The point of downvoting a 1-point comment is usually to let someone know their comment was inappropriate. A downvote against a 60-point comment is supposed to mean "This is not that good. It's just hivemind / good placement."

Taking one point away from a 60-point comment doesn't change its position, however. Maybe downvotes should increase its gravity or maybe they should have a greater push-back, even if it's not 1.1*count(downvotes) but rather (count(downvotes))^1.1.

3 points by benologist 3 days ago 0 replies      
Comment collapsing ... with 260 comments on this submission it's such a very long page that the voting activity is going to be concentrated in the first thread/s.
2 points by staunch 3 days ago 0 replies      
Plenty of good suggestions here. I just want to add one thing: I've been here since the very early days and still think the site is great.

Yeah, it's become a much bigger community and there are more of every kind of post (good/bad/ugly). Overall it's still a great site and it has been successfully maintained.

So please do tighten things up some, but avoid any drastic change for now. The system is working pretty damn well.

2 points by planckscnst 3 days ago 0 replies      
Allow every user to have downvote suggestions. Allowing people to suggest that a comment should be downvoted allows those with sufficient privilege to hone in on the bad comments and it lets other users be more involved. Possibly, track a user's 'discernment' level - increase it when a suggestion is acted upon. Use this to weight how much that user's suggestion effects a comment's "downvote-suggestion rank" as it is shown to the trusted users. Promote users to trusted status when their discernment reaches a certain point. This discernment level would both measure a user's interest in maintaining the site as well as predict how good they would be at it.

Maybe even do this in general (for up and down votes): all users cast only suggestion votes. Trusted users cast the real votes.

3 points by znt 3 days ago 0 replies      
A turkish message board (www.eksisozluk.com) with about 200k users faces the same problem, and uses moderated user acceptance as a quality filter.

First of all if you want to create an account you have to wait for the mods to announce application submission dates.

If you can manage to create an account during that period, you are made a 'rookie' and what you submit to the message board is invisible to everyone, except mods. You are only allowed to post a total of 10 messages.

When you are done posting your first entries, you wait for mods to read and evaluate the value you bring to the platform and if you keep within the format & legal limits of the board. If so, you are made a normal user.

A similar process would especially prevent the bots spamming this place.

2 points by teyc 3 days ago 0 replies      
I believe the decrease of 'quality' is due to the failure of HN to create a society of like-minded people. This failure is on two levels. Firstly, the open voting system and comments drive has a tendency to revert to the mean. Secondly, HN needs to create hackers the way a school creates students. I realize there is an anti authoritarian streak among hackers but a geek club is pretty exclusive in its taste. New members have to be "schooled" into the ways of a hacker. In real life, it is impossible to have a town hall meeting where everybody talks at once, but HN is already bigger than a town hall.

I believe Quora does rather well in this respect because it encourages longer, considered posts. The (fast) rate of decay on the front page partially contributes to the problem because it models a news site, rather than a technical discussion site, where most techniques and approaches remain timeless.

Here are some possible approaches:

1. Encourage longer answers and comments at the top level. This can be either implemented as a simple word limit, or automatically placing longer comments at the top of the comments list.

2. Recycle old posts which have good comments. This should fix the disincentive for people to provide long-lived answers.

3. Make HN a "not" news site. This means that the incubation period is longer before posts make it to the front page. Unless something has a long term value, it will less likely be voted up because the reader would have already seen and discussed it on TC, Reddit, Digg etc..

4. (option to #3). Have posters classify whether the post is a news or a technical discussion one. News links will have a different rate of decay, and will occupy limited number of spots on the front page. Furthermore, these posts will not be recycled.

5. Require a link to be submitted with some comments. This is to encourage submitters reason like hackers do. Provide some guidance - e.g. does this news contain some data? What are the insights/inferences one might draw from this? Does this article discuss a problem domain? Does the post illustrate an assumption that is subject to hacking? What is your personal take on this? It also acts as a disincentive for people to submit links without giving the topic due consideration. I recall that eHarmony was very succesful in its early days because internet dating sites usually have more men than women. By subject the men to a barrage of interview questions, eHarmony was able to maintain a balance between the male and female participants. I thought this was a great hack.

6. Implement some sort of disincentive for upvoting of inane comments. For an example, do an automatic Quora-style follow, where you will start to see this person's comments at the top of the comments page. Make it difficult to "unfollow" (say three clicks). It will encourage people to be more careful about polluting their personalizations.

3 points by thorax 3 days ago 0 replies      
Experiment suggestion: Upvotes are weighted as today, but downvotes are heavier weighted when you're downvoted by a user with high karma. I'd probably say that weight can't send a comment negative.
2 points by duck 3 days ago 0 replies      
Let's make karma actually worth something. To do this, change these items:

1) You can submit one link a day. Additional submits cost karma.

2) Costs karma to reply to any comment. Top level comments seem to already filter okay. If you get downvotes on the comment you made the karma cost is a multiple of that.

I also think some things would help in general:

1) Title/Domain Regex - Allow me to specify a regex to exclude things from the frontpage. For example /Apple|iPad|techcrunch/.

2) You have to have 10 or 20 karma to do anything besides top thread comments. It would be easy to get that with a little effort, but it would pretty much eliminate all the spam and low hanging crap.

3) Have a option to (turned on by default) to collapse comments using the common +/- interface and display the total score for that thread. I think then you would be able to focus and find the good threads quickly. Coming into this discussion 5 hrs after the fact like I am doing is where this is really needed.

4) This is a big one, but I will throw it out there. Create an API. With that I think a LOT of smart people (instead of a few) could play with all of this and maybe find somethings that no one here is currently thinking of.

3 points by tlrobinson 3 days ago 0 replies      
What about giving more weight to users that (a) have been here longer, or (b) have more karma?

I feel like this would add some "drag" to the rate of change.

2 points by brk 3 days ago 0 replies      
Lots of good suggestions, forgive me if my suggestions are a dupe that I missed.

1)For certain high-profile domains, assign no karma to submissions. This would probably a hand-curated list of domains, but would probably include: Techcrunch, pg essays, avc.com, etc.

2)Allow users above X karma (500?) to vote to give any other user a "time out". At some threshold (25?) of votes, that user is muted for 1 week.

3)For any users that submits more than 5 articles from the same domain/subdomain, either suspend karma accumulation or suspend their ability to submit until they reach some mix of other submissions with an average score above 10

4)Create an article tagging system, and/or a way for users to ignore submissions on certain topics and/or from particular domains.

2 points by rlpb 3 days ago 0 replies      
Find some way of qualifying upvotes by who made them, at what point in the lifetime of a comment and each upvoters upvoting frequency. Use these factors to adjust the score, rather than just a score+=1.

A user who upvotes ten comments a day should have far less impact per upvote than one with very high karma and a high average score who only upvotes infrequently (and is not involved in the thread).

I realise that you're asking about comments; I think that this applies equally to story submissions.

2 points by tspiteri 3 days ago 0 replies      
For (c): create a limit to the amount of votes a user can use, for example, make it impossible to vote on more than 5 items in 24 hours. Story votes, comment upvotes and comment downvotes would all count towards this limit. This would be useless if there is a large number of users who vote up negative comments, and would only work if the problem is caused by a smaller number of users who upvote a lot of frivolous comments and stories.
2 points by danielford 3 days ago 2 replies      
I've generally found a strong correlation between forum quality and the difficulty of gaining admission. One of my favorite forums put me on a waiting list for three months before they let me post.

So I'd prefer the addition of some sort of barrier to entry. Either an invite system like the private file-stealing sites use, a sign-up fee like Metafilter uses, or a vetting process for potential members.

Ideally, I'd love to see Paul Graham take a couple hundred of the best users and start a new forum. After they had some time to establish the community, people like me could apply for membership, which would involve submitting a written case, and waiting a week for the existing members to vote on it.

*This was originally a reply to lionhearted, who deleted his perfectly reasonable post.

1 point by gruseom 3 days ago 0 replies      
This feels like a demographic problem of a larger population dragging down the average. If that's the case, then some sort of curation (vote-weighting or otherwise privileging certain users' input over others) is probably necessary, because the overall level of dumbness, meanness, or mediocrity just isn't going to change that much in response to anything HN does. (I'd much prefer to be wrong about this. Any elitist solution seems regrettable.)

I wonder if this could be tested. Even something as simple as http://news.ycombinator.com/classic applied to comments would be interesting. Or let PG pick, say, a hundred users and let each of them pick an additional two or three. Could the software show us the site as it would appear if those users' votes counted for more? It seems to me it wouldn't take long to get a feel for whether it had helped or hurt.

3 points by rexreed 3 days ago 1 reply      
Get rid of the whole point system. I go to HN for the community, not to collect points. It seems to provide incentives for the wrong behavior, even tho I understand that it was originally intended to do the exact opposite.

A community stands or falls on the quality of the interactions. Therefore to a certain extent, you have to let it thrive or die on its own.

Solely my opinion, but I see points as getting in the way, motivating bad behavior, and not relevant to why I come to HN.

2 points by donohoe 3 days ago 0 replies      
There has been much talk of better days, better comment threads and such.

I've been here less than 2 years but I ask if anyone can spare the time and dig up some classic examples of stories and threads, and great back and fourth comment based conversations...

I realize this is difficult given the non-archival nature of HN but can anyone show a "then" versus "now" difference?

3 points by eof 3 days ago 0 replies      
It's a significant change, but I think the way to solve the problem generally is to have move than one dimension to vote on.

As social sites rise in popularity, common denominator posts such as humor or common circle jerking are going to rise to the top.

The answer, I think, is to allow people to vote on multiple metrics: 'cool', 'funny', 'good idea', 'hacker porn'.

With those separate signals it would be easier to tweak the algorithm to get the front page looking 'like you want it to,' or the users could choose how they want their posts to be ranked.

2 points by crasshopper 3 days ago 0 replies      
pg, you could present cleaned data in a Netflix Prize-style challenge. Let the hackers see the patterns in the data (whether bad upvotes are coming from new users, from old users without a lot of karma, etc) and make the prize be XX minutes of your attention (or money).

It seems like a lot of the comments on this thread are asking for more information -- or at the very least working from very different personal experiences.

2 points by Devilboy 3 days ago 1 reply      
Admit defeat and just use the slashdot system. For all its trolls and failings slashdot still has the best crowdsource comment moderation system on the interwebs.

The Slashdot System

- Comments start at +1 and can range from -1 to +5 only

- Mod points are limited and distributed randomly as needed

- Only members with good karma are eligible for mod points

- Mod points must be used within 24 hours

5 points by dchs 3 days ago 0 replies      
How about a basic API (make comments/votes/users available as JSON objects) so people can build different filters and see what works?
2 points by mindcrime 3 days ago 1 reply      
A few thoughts

A. "flag" for comments? Whether that just brings them to the editor/moderator's attention, or kills them based on some algorithm, would be an open question.

B. More moderators/editors - drawn from the pool of people who have shown themselves to share the "HN spirit" (or whatever you want to call it), who are empowered to kill stories and/or comments.

And maybe some limits on what new accounts can do? Maybe go so far as requiring new users to lurk for some period of time, before being allowed to post? Or some limit on post / comment frequency, until you've demonstrated some sense of alignment with what's appropriate here?

2 points by ajju 3 days ago 0 replies      
A community can grow only so large before it has to provide some personalization so it is not trying to be everything to everyone.

Reddit has subreddits and you can choose the ones from which stories appear on the front page. HN can start with allowing users to 'frontpage' other users aka whitelisting by showing stories from only these users on the front page. The next logical step is allowing blacklisting. Version 2.0 of this would allow whitelisting and blacklisting of content-sources (sites), in addition to users, so that I could blacklist certain blogs if I wanted to.

This will result in some fragmentation of the community, but in my opinion, it will keep HN interesting for everyone. This may also reduce the need to answer subjective editorial questions such as - we don't allow politics, but is open-source-politics politics? Is coverage of world-changing-elections allowed?

2 points by jacques_chester 3 days ago 0 replies      
> Anyone have any suggestions? We're on mostly uncharted territory here.

I'm surprised to hear someone as experienced as you say that. I've only been online since 1997.

All successful internet communities seem follow a common life cycle:

* Early adopters seem to be good

* They attract more users

* Someone pines for the old days

* Earnest discussions start about how to "save" the community

Here things bifurcate:

* Descent into infinitely recursive navel gazing with site population following a visible half-life; OR

* Equilibrium is reached after a certain number of the early adopters leave.

I imagine this can be modelled as stocks-and-flows. It would be interesting to see if there are any predictable tipping points or at least observable, predictive metrics.

3 points by noblethrasher 3 days ago 0 replies      
Create positive and negative moderators but make the roles mutually exclusive.

The positive mods can promote stories and comments beyond normal up-voting and the negative mods do something similar with down-voting/flagging.

People can become 'supermods' based on karma, election, or something more arbitrary.

2 points by j_baker 3 days ago 0 replies      
Every article from techcrunch and about techcrunch should get an automatic ranking penalty. Seriously. Techcrunch occasionally posts an article that's useful and warrants not banning them completely, but I don't think the community would lose anything by not having the average techcrunch article that gets posted here.
4 points by ericflo 3 days ago 0 replies      
Reddit solved this problem by splintering into different communities, and let them self-select.
2 points by jp 3 days ago 0 replies      
Display percentages instead of points relative to sub-tree total. This way points are hidden but relevance stays intact. Then use colors instead of numbers to indicate "good" sub-trees so that people have to convert hexadecimal values to extract the relative karma. Then add a hidden karma-boost mode where a up-voting "short term good commenter" indicates the presence of another "short term good commenter". Add another view called "contested" where down voted links can get a second chance. This might reduce group-think and content-shaping. Let "short term good commenter" double vote on contested links. Add a content merge option to reduce or group duplicates.

I think people are mean because they get down voted a lot by people who "play" HN like WOW and everyone non-omg-erlang is a target. And lots of people here think KARMA == FREE TRAFFIC SPELL. Because spending most of your life on HN showcases how busy you are making money. Although.. nobody will ever read this comment because the thread is already two hours old and the in-crowd has already started writing meta posts that will take over the front page two hours from now.

Or maybe this is all about.. hello TechCrunch readers !

2 points by Skywing 3 days ago 0 replies      
Perhaps some logic, during new thread creation, that looks for similar, older threads? Prompt the user to comment in an existing thread if it's very similar. Much like StackOverflow, if I recall. This may reduce duplicates.

It appears to me that most of the URL submissions are just tech blog websites using HN as a tool to drive traffic. There are even users out there that just wait for a new blog post by jacquesm so that they can post it for free karma. I think in situations like this, karma and voting become less useful because people will up vote just so that something might land on the front page, for traffic.

This leads me to another trend I see a ton in #startups. Somebody will create a new submission and link it on IRC and ask for free up votes so that it gets more visibility. Once again, this is where up votes aren't being used properly. But, I also think it highlights a potential difficulty for valuable new submissions - it's difficult to get that initial visibility and up votes. Perhaps to remedy this, make the "/newest" section be the default section, and move the highest voted to something that you have to navigate to. This will at least highlight new entries for people just hitting the main URL.

2 points by dreish 3 days ago 0 replies      
Pick as many active users whose judgment you trust as you can find, train a Bayesian classifier on their votes, up and down, and use that to score the voting patterns of users. Set ignore for the ones with the worst scores. Even if it turns out not to help much, at least you'll have had some fun doing it.

Also, there's currently nothing reminding users of the ideals you want them to uphold just before they submit a comment -- i.e., right next to the submit button. It never hurts to ask.

7 points by eggoa 3 days ago 2 replies      
Institute a one-time $5 fee to participate.
2 points by jmtame 3 days ago 0 replies      
I'm making an assumption here, but maybe the original folks who made up HN are voting less. so you might have newer people doing more voting, and they may not understand the quality of comments before upvoting.

similar to how google looks at more than just keywords in a document before it ranks it highly, maybe you can weight each vote. a vote cast by an early HN user isn't so binary, maybe in reality it counts as 2 or 3 votes while we call it "+1" there is a weight to their vote based on how long they've been on hn and their karma?

2 points by dangoldin 3 days ago 0 replies      
Thanks for bringing the problem up. I never contributed too much but dropped in whenever I felt I had something insightful to say. Recently it has been getting less frequent but I think it's just that many of the front page stories aren't as interested as they have been and there is a good amount of duplicates. Since the community is large the comments tend to drop down faster as well so it's more difficult to get a discussion going.

A possible idea is to put up a dump of the HN data somewhere for users to download. Maybe the community can analyze it and find interesting patterns/behaviors and possibly solutions?

2 points by baguasquirrel 3 days ago 0 replies      
I don't offer any solutions, but I can offer a cause of the problem.

HN has become important. I know people IRL who will get their friends to help mod their submission. I likewise see stories that just scream, this person has friends who probably modded them. These won't stay on the front page for long at all, but they do increase the signal to noise significantly.

3 points by YuriNiyazov 3 days ago 1 reply      
Add more moderators, put them on rotation duty, and, instead of having them kill comments (except in the most egregious cases), have them patiently educate the people who put up the mean/dumb comments, as well as the upvoters. Write software that makes this process efficient.
1 point by abbasmehdi 10 hours ago 0 replies      
There are a lot of responses to this question and I haven't read all of them, so I apologize if somebody has said this already, but the answer is dead simple: HN has gotten more popular! That's it. If I must state the obvious, this translates to a lower average IQ because the larger the degree of separation from the original creators of the forum, the lower intellectual density gets.
2 points by jerhinesmith 3 days ago 0 replies      
This is more or less me thinking out loud, but why allow upvoting for new users and not downvoting? Does it not make sense to have a barrier to entry for each? Maybe the ability to upvote only happens after you've been here for 3 months and downvoting after 6 months? (I personally like tying those abilities to seniority vs. points as I tend not to comment often, but can easily identify a snarky comment that adds no value -- with no ability to downvote it).
2 points by CrazedGeek 3 days ago 0 replies      
The simpler ideas I have are to aggressively kill any snarky or pun-filled comments and raise the downvote karma limit (again...).

A slightly more interesting idea would be to temporarily ban any member that does very anti-guideline things from posting for a little while, coupled with an explanation as to why they were banned. Even an hour-long ban may be effective. The GameFAQs boards do this, and while they have their own problems, not following the guidelines isn't one of them.

3 points by bmelton 3 days ago 0 replies      
You might also check out this thread, which pertains to submission karma and its distribution: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=2387873
2 points by apollo 3 days ago 0 replies      
1) Provide an api (or release a dataset) and let people experiment with new ranking schemes.

2) The influence of your votes on ranking could be correlated to your relative importance in the community. You could do this with a simple PageRank where nodes are users and edges are votes.

2 points by brm 3 days ago 0 replies      
I've said it before and I'll say it again, limit the number of comments and submissions per user per day... See discussion here:


2 points by eli_s 3 days ago 1 reply      
Stop trying to rely on the hive to vote good stories to the top. Either the democratic approach doesn't work or HN is getting gamed - either way the site is now effectively broken.

A decision has to be made from the top about what HN is all about. If it's startups and business then that's the only type of story allowed. Everything else gets dumped. I don't need another Reddit.

Mods would need strict guidelines about what qualifies and everything even slightly outside of these guidelines gets turfed.

oh and get rid of karma. It's bs. Encourages hivemind like nothing else.

2 points by dustingetz 3 days ago 0 replies      
* more comments than upvotes seems to correlate with low-content articles, because everyone feels qualified to comment

* articles with disproportionately few comments per upvote are sometimes the most interesting

if you can get low-content articles off the front page faster, and more interesting non-pop articles visible longer, it would probably attract the hacker community more and the pop community less.

misc ideas:

* remove all system incentive to submit links

* change UI to increase visibility into user history, so that reputation becomes even more important, and low-quality activity sticks with you for a while

* fix the new page! incent people to upvote new links, or a creative UI hack like a single new submission at the top (e.g. "sponsored" on reddit)

1 point by presidentender 3 days ago 0 replies      
Base moderation on a points system, a la Slashdot. Grant a user one (or three or 6.5 or n) mod point every time another user replies to one of his comments.

The effect this has is twofold. It grants some incentive to posters who start comment threads, rather than making just single comments which are likely to strike more users' upvote chords. It also reduces the tendency to blindly upvote or downvote based on agreement or for dumb humor.

1 point by jackfoxy 3 days ago 1 reply      
The way to save HN from its own success is to take it to the next level. You need to spin it up into a commercial enterprise. Improving the quality of HN, as it stands today, requires expenditure of human effort, either in the form of professional moderation, or some sort of AI-ish enhancement: pruning of message threads, credentialing users in more sophisticated ways, finding ways to bubble up story submissions that otherwise get lost.

No doubt some will find the commercial option distasteful, but I think the pure crowd-sourced option has run its course. Commercializing HN would allow further expansion, for instance splitting it into several areas of interest. Stackoverflow/StackExchange is a model for this. There is much value that can be added on to HN, as many Hackers have shown in the past with various projects.

2 points by mrb 3 days ago 0 replies      
pg: allow more people to downvote. For example I have 409 points of karma, yet I do not have the right to downvote.

Or perhaps assign more weight to upvotes/downvotes from members with a high karma, than those with a lower karma.

5 points by SoftwarePatent 3 days ago 0 replies      
Allow us to mark certain accounts as "friends" or "favorites". Then on every comment and article, display points originating from "favorites". Like "77 points by pg / 15 points from friends." This preserves the democratic aspect of the site, while giving users valuable information they can use to skip boring content.
1 point by SeanLuke 2 days ago 0 replies      
My previous comments on this issue:


I think the primary accelerator in the inevitable slide towards 4chan is anonymity. I've seen this in my own experience: I'm anonymous on reddit etc. but use my own real name (easily googled) when posting on hackerne.ws. And the difference is potent: on reddit I am much more of a jerk than I am on HN. I think this is fundamental nature: anonymity gives you license to release your inner jackass.

I think you should require all posters to use their real identities except with special permission.

I know the standard arguments against this: how to verify identities, valid reasons for being anonymous, etc., etc. But I don't think they're enough reason to avoid a simple measure which would keep the site much more relevant, polite, and personal.

1 point by joelburget 3 days ago 0 replies      
First of all, change is inevitable. The worst response is too much worrying about it and talking about how you would like things to be how they used to be. Users come and go so it will never be exactly the way it used to be. A good response is to embrace the change and make it work.

In this case the problem seems to be an influx of new users that don't completely understand what the site's about. It seems to me the best response is to more actively encourage good commenting from new users. My suggestion is inspired by stackoverflow. Over there, below a certain karma threshold, users must submit their edits to be reviewed by others. It might be beneficial to do the same thing for, say, a user's first 10 comments. They would submit a comment, a more experienced user reviews it and gives feedback if necessary. That way new users are forced to learn a little bit about what the community values in a comment.

1 point by gokhan 3 days ago 0 replies      
Just based on observations, not numbers: Any member can upvote and HN is more popular. There will be more upvotes to be distributed among comments. Early comments seem to be receiving more upvotes than late comments, regardless of the community. So, unqualified comments will be receiving more and more upvotes.

Did raising downvote limit to 500 made any difference in unfair downvoting? If so, giving upvoting to more qualified people will also solve this for some time, means we can focus on measuring the qualification.

Maybe we should be able to mark individual comments as unfairly upvoted. Higher unfairly upvoted scores might decrease the value of future upvotes of voters on that comment.

2 points by GBKS 3 days ago 0 replies      
I think it's a problem inherent in the larger audience - it's a different dynamic with less intimacy. To restore the intimacy that begets the high quality, I recommend introducing ways to customize my experience, whether it's sub-HNs, categories, following, or something else. That way people can create clusters and privacy for themselves and control their experience.

I don't think this can just be solved by tweaking karma logic.

2 points by ssp 3 days ago 0 replies      
Make a graph containing edges from each user to the comments they voted for, and from each comment its author. Then run something like PageRank on it and show the resulting ranks of both comments and users.

It would help with comment quality because it would make people compete for approval from high-quality users.

2 points by PStamatiou 3 days ago 0 replies      
Perhaps make it so that posting a comment actually costs karma (maybe based on your comment karma average for some subset of users with low averages) making people only comment when they are sure they are adding value. This makes it hard for new users to get started though.

Edit: appears I'm not the only one that suggested something like this. searched the page for "cost karma" and found a few comments.

3 points by pumpmylemma 3 days ago 1 reply      
Consider starting (or merely sanctifying) a HN IRC channel or webchat. I think a lot of people comment and visit HN now just for something to do; they are bored and want to do some intellectual sparing.

If there was a irc.ycombinator.com with real-time chat topics, it might help separate "the wheat from the chaff," so to speak.

E.G. #japan-nuclear-chat

If not a chat, I'd say focus on something that doesn't fight the size of the community. Personally, I'd prefer if HN was shrunk to like '08 levels, but that's not going to happen. I think adding a service that allows for water cooler talk but keeps it isolated from deep technical discussions would work better than karmic tinkering at this point.

1 point by Sandman 3 days ago 1 reply      
I think that part of the solution may be to introduce a feature that would give users that reach certain karma thresholds the ability to give more and more points to a comment when upvoting.

For example: a newbie would only be able to assign one point to a comment he's upvoting, but a user over a certain threshold could assign two points. The user that has even more karma (and is over the next threshold) could assign three points and so on. Users should be able to decide how many points they want to give to each comment.

The same should apply to downvotes. Prominent HN users should be able to make their downvotes "hurt more" if they want to.

Also, these thresholds could be used for "downvoting penalties". For example, a newbie would lose 4 points when downvoting, but a user over the first threshold would only lose three and so on. Users with karma above one of the thresholds would no longer lose karma when downvoting.

2 points by bbulkow 3 days ago 0 replies      
I think the answer is fairly clear. If you remember Digg before it got popular, and Reddit before it got popular, you understand how these sites lose focus when they increase readership. The devistation of Digg, and now the serious problems at Reddit, are forcing more general-readers to HN.


1) Reddit staved off this effect for a while by both re-tuning the karma ranking computation, and wiping everyone's karma back to 0. The effect of hyper-people with too much power is problematic. I don't think that will work here, but it's possible a re-tune will help.

The general idea of a redo on the karma system was stated above: the right answer is to take a look at "good comments" and "bad comments" and look at new threads.

2) HN as invite only. Anyone can read, few can vote/comment. I'm not sure I'd make the cut if you were to have certain blessed voters/commenters. I like the suggested improvement of having this calculation be hidden, and never to show karma.

3) Moderators. The community I live in with the longest lifetime is "chowhound". They don't have a voting system (or good web technology), they have ruthless monitors. Monitors are never supposed to remove for quality of post, but they do simply nuke from orbit "that's what she said" post chains.

4) Look, there's one real fact here. As someone who, myself, sells a database product aimed at people like those who read HN, I have a huge incentive to get an article into HN. It could make or break my company - no fooling. Once you incent bright people to break your system, it will be broken. Socket puppet rings will rule. Eternal vigilance - that is, a moderator-like junta charged with looking at quality every few months and ruthlessly implementing whatever solution is correct at that time, is the only way to continue HN's spirit.

5) I will guarantee you that if something isn't done, there will simply be a slow, sure slide to mob rule and ignorance.

3 points by rbarooah 3 days ago 1 reply      
I think the larger problem is that comments that aren't emotive, but are reasonably insightful get ignored. HN quickly trains newcomers not to bother with them, and to go for pithy zingers.
1 point by gasull 3 days ago 0 replies      
What about making the points of a comment be multiplied for a factor depending on you karma?

That way comments from users with good reputation having comments with more points by default. I know this makes the rich richer, but that's the way PageRank works too. If your karma/reputation doesn't make you to be heard more, what's the point of karma anyway?

This isn't really a reputation system, or if it is, the reputation is comment-based and not user-based. I don't see the karma of a user when they comment. I would need to click on the link of their name, what I never do.

1 point by davi 1 day ago 0 replies      
Delete humorous one-liners vigorously, especially ones that get lots of upvotes.

Lots of other good suggestions in this thread but I don't see
this one.

I hope you can turn it around, I've gotten a lot of value from this site.

2 points by FirstHopSystems 3 days ago 0 replies      
In point I don't think it's a decline, just more of a noise issue. Many of the articles are interesting but I am noticing more submissions that have only a abstract connection to qualify for "Hacker" news.

I don't have any well though out answers to the question. I do think the more questions out there that could help solve this problem.

I'm thinking the commenting is more of a symptom than the underlying issue(s).......

2 points by dpcan 3 days ago 0 replies      
430+ comments on a Sunday. One might say that for HN'ers, the quality of posts comes in at a close second to having this community of peers to converse with, argue with, share with and even make lame jokes with.
1 point by kgo 3 days ago 1 reply      
There's one problem that's similar to reddit. Although there are guidelines (or reddiquite) you need to go out of your way to find them. Sure, clicking a link isn't that tough, but it's not automatic either.

I wonder what would happen the guidelines or some sort of one-page community code of conduct were displayed when you actually created an account. Would that give users a better set of expectations? Or would they just click throug it like a EULA?

Maybe force existing users to click through it one time as a friendly reminder when the feature is introduced.

6 points by julius 3 days ago 0 replies      
Limit the number of upvotes to 1 per thread.
So the user has to choose the best comment.

This adds a cost to upvoting just like the "N upvotes per day" ideas (which I like a lot).

1 point by Goladus 3 days ago 0 replies      
It would be nice to be able to click a button to inform the poster, discreetly, that the comment exhibits negative qualities like:

unclear connection to parent
factual errors


Discretion is necessary to encourage people to address and fix the problems with their comments and style rather than provoking them to guard their reputation.

Sending individual emails is effective at this, but takes too much time and energy. Being able to click a button that gives a commenter specific feedback could be very effective.

4 points by th0ma5 3 days ago 1 reply      
A suggestion could well be to not have threads like this one (not trying to be disrespectful!) An interesting thought is the idea that punk music was dead the first time someone said punk's not dead.
2 points by zyfo 3 days ago 0 replies      
Comment scores should either follow the opinion of
the elite (role models, learn-from-the-best) or your "peers" (like snide remarks? go ahead).

Currently it's the tyranny of majority. Suggestion for b (possibly intensive processing): Change comment display order depending on your previous voting.

1 point by sage_joch 3 days ago 0 replies      
Add a mechanism that encourages people to think before upvoting, like a karmic bank account. Maybe someone could upvote twice for every once they were upvoted. It could reduce the common reflex of upvoting a short/witty comment; with only so many upvotes to give, you'd want to "invest" in comments that really earned it.
2 points by planckscnst 3 days ago 0 replies      
Every N times someone upvotes a comment, prompt the person with a reminder that good reasons for upvoting a comment are x,y,z, not a,b,c. One especially important thing for the latter category is "You agree with the content of the comment."
1 point by Tycho 3 days ago 0 replies      
Simple and easy suggestion: above the textbox on the reply page, add some guidance on tone and behaviour. Like,

    'Please refrain from making mean-spirited comments,
we like to maintain a positive atmosphere at HN;
and if you are planning to crack a joke, you might want
to think twice as jokes here are usually downvoted unless
they're *particularly* amusing.

Or whatever you think's more appropriate. The problem to me seems that general bitchy behaviour is the norm on internet IT forums, so people come here thinking it's ok. Maybe they just need a little guidance.

2 points by moblivu 3 days ago 0 replies      
I may not be a long time HN user, even less of an experienced one, but I think that the race for Karma may be responsible. The core mechanic of HN is to function through Karma, but unfortunately it is also the source of this problematic. If users are obsessed about obtaining it, why not make that every action on HN costs some.

Another problem is what the comments are about. It's more a matter of Objectivity vs Subjectivity. At first the point of a comment is to give a point of view about the article and then discuss about it. I have found that now it is more a matter of who has the best point of view and that if it is contrary to the majority; it will fail. Thus resulting in multiple pointless comments, giant upvoting for the one who "blasts" the one with a different point of view and so on.

Filtering may be a solution, but if the problem can;t really be solved with an algorithm due to the human nature, it is a matter of a longer brainstorm...

1 point by crasshopper 3 days ago 0 replies      
How about giving users two upvote buttons. The second one appears X seconds after the first one has been hit. Because really great comments, I've noticed, often provoke first: yeah, good. And then, later: wow, that was really really good. I wish I could upvote it again. (the second upvote can have a different meaning)

Google Hotpot does something like this, limiting the number of Really Great votes you can make with unlimited +1's.

1 point by siculars 3 days ago 0 replies      
Vote scarcity. The way all these karma systems work now is that you, the user, have unlimited votes. But ask yourself, when did you ever value anything you had unlimited quantity of? There needs to be some limit to the number of up or down votes a user can cast in any given time frequency or other metric. The key point is to make votes 'cost' something.

Also, weighted votes based on the karma of the user casting said vote.

1 point by zbanks 3 days ago 0 replies      
To help improve the quality of comments, what if the OP's vote was weighted more than everyone else's? Their upvotes could be worth 3-5 instead of just 1 point.

An OP is motivated to keep their comment thread awesome: having better comments leads to more upvotes on the story. And, on a personal level, the OP would be less likely to upvote snark against their own story.

The obvious downside would be that the OP could effectively censor opposing ideas. However, I don't think this would happen that often: counterpoint comments generally do pretty well on their own, and would probably still rise to the top even without the OP's help. (Of course, the best OP's would recognize the benefit of discourse and promote these comments anyways... but not everyone is perfect)

1 point by JeffJenkins 3 days ago 0 replies      
How about using the ratio of points to comments as a signal for articles, and maybe the ratio of up+down votes (i.e. number of votes, not net points ) to sub-comments for comments.

This gives you some of the effect of what I think would be the best solution -- limiting the site's scope significantly -- in that it would give you things which people found interesting but weren't so general that everyone felt they could comment on them.

I think this would work well in conjunction with some of the other ideas in the thread which reduce the number of upvotes people are likely to give (specifically, a cap on the number of upvotes and a visual cap on the display of upvotes).

1 point by bootload 3 days ago 0 replies      
"... fixing the decreasing quality of comment threads on HN ... Anyone have any suggestions? We're on mostly uncharted territory here. ..."

In any group of people where the cost of joining is minimal and the freedom reins are loose, you will see behavioural changes mutate in ways resembling Golding's "Lord of the Flies". The big problem with HN is the founder assumption that we (users) will be a) civil b) willing, positive contributors and c) thoughtful. Maintaining this requires some means of natural selection. At first it was probably a combination of being curious, an early adopter and nerd-like. Some (quick & possibly stupid) ideas:

- intellectual paywall: add a penalty of a kind that selects readers/contributors

- classifier: run a classifier that categorises users by type and apply rules (behaviour modifier)

- change focus of HN to News with sub hacker focus (radical focus change)

- add a real minimal paywall sending $ to something like EFF or other hacker friendly charity (penalise by currency - bad)

- stop HN altogether (deny)

- wipe the slate clean & build a new HN like community but with http://perlmonk.org like progression of privs by tasks (enforced discipline) at start of user creation.

1 point by ohyes 3 days ago 0 replies      
I would recommend getting rid of up-voting and positive karma. People make pithy comments in order to get positive karma. Same reason for meme threads.

The real reason for a karma mechanic on HN is to filter out incredibly stupid comments. So keep down-voting. Things that are down-voted should go to the bottom of the stack.

2 points by nickolai 3 days ago 0 replies      
How about having an additional metric in terms of responses to a post? If it doesnt deserve a response, it probably doesnt add much to the discussion.
1 point by asdf333 3 days ago 0 replies      
I think it is about whether the identity of the HN community remains in tact. HN can survive as long as the identity (even if it morphs) remains something specific and associable. Reddit, for example still has a distinct identity/culture even though it is a very different one today than in 2007. Digg, for example, had less of an identity and culture. It was more of a "mainstream place". Reddit kept its quirks and its colorful users which made the place unique.

As long as there is an identity that people find distinctive at HN, I don't think it will die.

All of the suggestions here kind of fit into that paradigm for me....how do you control/preserve identity?

- You could give old timers more control (downvoting)

- You could give newcomers less control until they prove themselves (no account creation just to upvote your friend's post)

- Enlist help in keeping tracking/managing the pulse of the community (like reddit, which has multiple admins on the lookout for issues)

1 point by bigwally 3 days ago 0 replies      
The problem is the constant refreshing of stories on the front page. I need to visit a few times a day to have some idea as to what is going on.

If the refresh rate was slower, or the ability for a story to get to the front page would take longer then I would visit less.

At a guess most of the dub/mean comments get made by people who visit many, many times a day and comment out of boredom.

Some method to slow down the entire system would slow down all the posters and would result in longer posts rather than a bunch of witty one liners. Why would anyone go to the trouble of writing an in depth response to anything when it will be gone in three hours.

Increase the quality of the articles and you will increase the quality of the comments.

At least HN doesn't have youtube quality comments yet. :)

1 point by sunir 3 days ago 1 reply      
Idea 2. Restrict memberships like Gmail invitations.

Give finite invitations to your YCombinator classes and alumni. Have them pass out invites to people they know. Give out more invites when you think you need them. At least this reroots the site back in the "Startup News" seed.

1 point by hollerith 3 days ago 0 replies      
Comment quality here is still vastly higher than it is on most other sites frequented by programmers, designers or entrepreneurs, and higher than any other site (e.g. Wikipedia) of its size or larger. It's just really hard to maintain the quality of a site as big as the HN of 2011 when there are no significant barriers to participation by anyone with internet access and a basic command of the English language.

I humbly suggest that for the conversation to lead to HN's doing even better than HN has so far will require the participants in the conversation to verify that they are referring to the same thing when they write "comments that are (a) mean and/or (b) dumb", e.g., by the participant's providing actual examples (with the author's name removed) of comments they consider mean or dumb.

2 points by scythe 3 days ago 0 replies      
Something slashdotty -- i.e. qualitative moderation, not just quantitative moderation -- would help. If you had seperate upvote buttons for "amusing" and "informative", this could factor into sorting.
2 points by noahl 3 days ago 1 reply      
I don't know the solution, but let me offer a suggestion as to what the cause of the problem is.

I think the issue is that the things that seem insightful to relatively unskilled programmers seem obvious to very skilled ones. A lot of the blog posts I see on sites like this rehash issues that I thought were settled a long time ago, but what's happening is that people understand things for themselves over and over again. And it's actually helpful when they write it up, because their writeups then lead other people to understand these things. Thus there is a steady stream of posts about the same set of ideas that are always helpful to people, but are still clogging HN.

The trouble is that there's no way for people who have already understood something to stop seeing the same old posts. I see three options:
- get rid of the less-skilled people
- keep the less-skilled people, but stop them from learning from these posts
- somehow let people opt out of seeing posts on things they understand, but keep them around for other people to see

It seems obvious that the third solution is correct, but I don't yet know how to do it.

1 point by niels_olson 3 days ago 0 replies      
You need gardeners. Which is work. But you don't ask just anyone to tend your garden. You ask a gardener.

Another way to think of it: a university needs teachers in the classroom. You can't just do research and have an open admissions policy. Someone has got to be providing training and feedback to the newcomers. Which is work. And you can't just have anyone do it. You need someone who's already had some training. A couple of thoughts:

1) You could feed those vested and proven folks with say, 1000 karma, 20% of their stories with top-level comments in non-descending order:

-- in randomized order instead of rank order, or

-- in inverse order, so they presumably have less cognitive burden to those undervoted great comments. Presumably it is less of a burden to skip over crap than decide if the 59 pt comment is really not as good as the 12 pt comment further down.

2) You could also add a more pre-emptive burden to rep: eg, you can't earn more than 10 points a day unless you vote on 10 new stories first. Feed a daily cookie to them with a popup with the policy, and encourage them to do it.

If you want an experimental focus group to pilot on, feel free to include me.

1 point by 3dFlatLander 2 days ago 0 replies      
All of the suggestions listed involve changing some mechanic of the site. Some of them are quite good though (I think voting based on karma is neat).

My theory: Internet marketers descend on online communities that are popular.
Possible solution: No follow on frontpage stories with less than X upvotes or no follow all frontpage stories.

2 points by invertedlambda 3 days ago 0 replies      
If I were to rephrase the question on this thread, it seems to me that it could also be stated as "how do you keep HN comments from turning into Slashdot comments"? I don't say that in jest - I used to read Slashdot, but after a while I got really sick of 1) the vitriol and 2) the inanity of the comments that were on the first page. Granted, some folks had really interesting things to say, but truly funny/insightful comments seem to be a rare commodity.

But look at it in a positive light - the comments on HN could never be classified in the same - or even near the same - bucket that comments on sites like YouTube and Yahoo! News.

2 points by mkramlich 3 days ago 0 replies      
I think it is very likely that there are voting rings and sock puppets here on HN. If so, it would cause a distortion in the scores awarded to all the content, sometimes up or down, depending. Therefore anything that helps fight that would improve the site by more honestly gauging the quality of submitted posts and comments, which then improves the S/N ratio.

How to do this exactly? Not sure. But I'm confident that fighting it more will improve any site.

1 point by sushrutbidwai 3 days ago 1 reply      
Few suggestions -

1. On top of comments section have one which is for recent comment. I think lot of people feel that once the post is around for 30 mins (for a fairly popular post), even if they have something good to say, it will just not reach audience.

2. Remove karma points completely, just hide them some place where no one will see them. Use them silently in the background to optimize things, but dont bring them at the center. Generally new comers to site want to rise to top (of whatever) because that way they will be taken seriously. This incentive drives people to just write anything

3. No karma for submissions. People submit any article and get 10-15 upvotes but lot of articles do not add any thing to HN.

4. I think there is already some threshold on upvotes, perhaps increase it? Only so many upvotes/downvotes/submissions in a day or even in an hour.

2 points by jmatt 3 days ago 1 reply      
Make voting transparent. Provide access to who has voted a comment up or down.

The community will act differently if they know others can see their behavior. Then again this may have negative effects.

I think that in general I'd be more thoughtful when voting comments up or down if I knew others could see.

2 points by steve19 3 days ago 0 replies      
Explicitly ban bots.

This will get rid of some of the (b) comments from bot sock puppets.

1 point by crasshopper 2 days ago 0 replies      
How about a "suggest an edit" button? Maybe senior members can suggest

# more polite language

# removal of irrelevant bits

# removal of memes

and hopefully this would encourage newbies to write better comments.

1 point by pama 3 days ago 0 replies      
How about only upvoting comments of at least DH4 [1]?

Comments that state their ranking in your disagreement hierarchy are allowed to be upvoted above a threshold (say 5 karma points) if these comments are at least DH4. The remaining comments are questions, clarifications, suggestions, or plain old mean and/or dumb comments; they would remain below the karma threshold.

You could add an optional DH tag to each new comment and only enforce the threshold rule in an alternative "view" of the HN site (until you are happy with the results).

[1] http://www.paulgraham.com/disagree.html

1 point by DrJokepu 3 days ago 0 replies      
How about calculating comment and submission scores as log(sum(karma of upvoters) - sum(karma of downvoters)), while the way individual karma is calculated would stay the same (that is, total number of upvotes minus total number of downvotes)?
1 point by rokhayakebe 3 days ago 0 replies      

Threat upvotes/downvotes as currency and limit the amount of coins someone has in one day. If you have only five upvotes per day, you are going to start to think about how to spend them.

Closed doors, but glass walls.

Reading should be open to everyone, participating should not. No more new sign up unless they have an introduction or they submit a request and we can have a way of letting certain users approve.

1 point by bbq 3 days ago 0 replies      
You're trying to control the character of this site. It started in a good position, but has been slowly drifting. You can wait for it to change its course and find its way back to the sweet spot. Or do nothing and hope it finds a new position. These are both long shots and not very likely. The other way is to apply force to move it back where it was.

The content of this site is the average of community activities. If you want to increase the quality of content, you have increase the average quality of activities.

Moderation does this: removing low quality submissions increases the average quality. You could be more aggressive in moderation. Remove more comments. Take away commenting privileges temporarily for repeat offenders. Ban bad users.

Another option is giving trusted users 'megavotes,' worth more than 1 point. They can downvote that admittedly-funny-but-not-constructive comment to a more appropriate point value and upvote that other comment that's downvoted for no good reason. These users work to increase visibility and rewards of high quality content and decrease the visibility and rewards of low quality content. Hopefully this would work in a feedback loop to increase the natural average quality of content.

Both of these suggestions can help force the decline of mean, dumb, and inappropriately upvoted comments.

However, I think many will be wary of these suggestions because it can lead to bad things. I'm concerned too. Trusted users can abuse their power and destroy the feelings of community that have developed. Mistakes will be made and people will be upset.

But it needs to be done. Mistakes are mistakes. People find ways to get upset here everyday. Valuable members leaving already hurts the community.

Technical solutions won't cut it. Hacker News could be about coin collecting and the software could be exactly the same. The software does little to shape the community on a larger scale.

Ultimately, the average of the community is pushing in the wrong direction, so you need to push back by fixing the average to your favor. There may be better ways of doing this then what I've described, but it's time to pushing hard.

3 points by gte910h 3 days ago 1 reply      
I disagree that the quality is declining. I think you're just suffering a misapprehension of the quality of old.
2 points by physcab 3 days ago 0 replies      
There needs to be a better system of moderation. Perhaps highlighting moderators and/or allowing people to apply to become one.
2 points by pvandehaar 3 days ago 0 replies      
The question is in two parts: (1) Why do people add bad comments and stories?, and (2) How do we keep those from getting upvoted?

1) When newbies first see the karma system they begin (like in any game) to work hard to raise their numbers. They watch closely to learn what kinds of comments will get them points. Ways to address this:
-Make new users read the guidelines and address this issue more directly there.
-Make Karma look less like a competition.

2) Like other comments have said, figuring out who upvotes bad comments requires data-mining. A serious question here is whether democracy is a viable option any longer. What is the site meant to be: a mob, or a tight community which a mob may watch? Do we educate the problem-voters, or do we dis-empower them?

2 points by Panoramix 3 days ago 1 reply      
This is a separate issue, but one thing that is not perfectly clear to me is what an upvote/downvote is supposed to mean. Does it mean that I agree with the comment, or that it adds to the discussion?
7 points by akkartik 3 days ago 1 reply      
Make votes public.
2 points by roadnottaken 3 days ago 0 replies      
Limit comments and/or submissions and/or votes to a few per day.
2 points by rooshdi 3 days ago 0 replies      
Hide the username and vote count for comments with positive votes. Show the username and vote count for comments with negative votes. Users will be able to see the profile and username of a positive user by clicking on a "see profile" link in place of the username.
6 points by jawartak 3 days ago 0 replies      
Make commenting cost 2 karma.
1 point by projectileboy 3 days ago 0 replies      
I think the best you can do in news.arc is to experiment with various forms of throttling (i.e., the first link/comment vote = 1, the second slightly less than one, and so on). Beyond that, it might require you to play the role of benevolent dictator and kill user accounts that consistently engage in nasty behavior. The most extreme option would be to shutdown HN and spawn a small number of child HN-style sites, each with a narrower focus.
2 points by nathanhammond 3 days ago 0 replies      
Decompose commenting score into a two-part system representing up-votes and down-votes:

Up-vote score = sum(karma of up-voter)

Down-vote score = sum(karma of down-voter)

Score is displayed in both absolute and relative terms. Absolute score would be the same method as we're currently using. The relative score is presented as a part of the whole.

Something like [+++++++|--] could represent the ratio of the positive score to the negative score (which are the weighted scores based upon karma).

And, as a possibly added benefit, taking this approach enables the ability to reduce the karma level before allowing of down-voting, making people feel like they're able to participate more-fully earlier.

2 points by zecg 3 days ago 0 replies      
It's a solved problem already, a new /classic/ every two years. Looking forward to /classic/classic/, since /classic/ has really gone downhill lately.
1 point by ig1 3 days ago 0 replies      
Comments that are legitimate and well thought out often get downvoted if they disagree with the popular opinion, but "me too" posts that agree with popular opinion get voted up.

HN should make it clear that voting should reflect the value a comment adds to the conversation and not whether you agree/disagree.

1 point by gersh 3 days ago 0 replies      
I'd look at how different users respond to different articles? Do they click on the article? Do they comment? Do they come back to the site after they see the article? Do they vote for the article.

Next, you can correlate how various people voted with whether a specific person will like the article and/or comment. Finally, you should be able to tell who will like or not want something to get voted up. At this point, you can customize for everyone or weight the influence of people based on well correlated their taste is with the top karma people.

1 point by xccx 3 days ago 0 replies      
Simple upvoting/downvoting can't handle the herd voice. Too much text. No time to read it all. Make something actionable to better filter and engage us. Please!

Personally, I want information to inform my actions. I want to make better predictions. Please give me info I can use. Help me sort it. Make me act on it.

I want statements I can agree with, or not. If I'm not sure which, please provide me access to distillable arguments for and against any such statement.

First, I want to very clearly understand what any statement intends to say. Please provide ample means for clarification of such a statement. What is said? What does it mean?

Next, I want to sort and compare reasons to agree or disagree with any such statement. I want to see who agrees or disagrees with such a statement. This is much more valuable to me than the herd voice.

Make it systemic: let broad statements rest on supporting statements, where each statement provides for debate to define whether it is True or Not, Unlikely or Likely.

Something like this might suck less than the bloviating blog/comment/infoglut of yesteryear, especially as the next billion users go mobile.

2 points by soamv 3 days ago 0 replies      
It seems that both reddit and metafilter seem have stronger meta discussions than HN. Reddit seems to have meta posts on the frontpage every once in a while, while metafilter has a fulltime forum (metatalk) dedicated to meta discussions.

Though there are meta discussions once in a while on HN too, they tend to be more general in nature, not specific to a certain comment or post.

I think an active meta discussion community would help with continuous small corrections, and eventually improve people's opinions on what kind of comments are good or bad.

1 point by crasshopper 3 days ago 0 replies      
pg, how much have you played around with simple weights of upvotes vs downvotes? Eg, making a downvote worth -1.1 and an upvote worth +1.0.
1 point by anthonyb 3 days ago 1 reply      
The main issue seems to be that comment quality is decreasing, so you could always try my honeypot idea: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=2352247 :)
2 points by maxer 3 days ago 0 replies      
having been here for a few years, i feel that any time i comment or post anything interesting it will be downvoted. unless your a rockstar having an opinion doesn't count.. expecting downvotes...
1 point by bergie 3 days ago 0 replies      
On Maemo News we solved this by enabling downvoting of submissions (well, aggregated feed items), and by making downvotes worth 5 upvotes.

The unpleasant side-effect has been a slight tendency to shoot the messenger by downvoting relevant-but-unpleasant news. But in general it has helped with story quality

1 point by gasull 3 days ago 0 replies      
Paul, what about using StupidFilter to filter out trolls?


1 point by ctl 3 days ago 0 replies      
What would happen if people could see both the upvotes and the downvotes on a given comment, rather than just its total karma score? I've used sites (not social news) that worked like that, and I've found that e.g. seeing +6/-0 on one of my posts is more satisfying than seeing +15/-4. If you implemented downvote visibility I think the overall effect would be to discourage comments that get lots of downvotes. (The current policy, in contrast, encourages any comment that'll get a net positive karma score.)

I'm pretty sure that on the whole that would be a very good thing. Downvote visibility would certainly discourage dissent, which sucks. But I think the kinds of posts it would most strongly discourage are, in order, mean comments, stupid comments, and contentless (e.g. snide) comments -- which are exactly the things that have been dangerously proliferating recently.

And I don't even think it would much reduce the expression of minority opinion; there's a certain pride that comes with dissenting that makes it tolerable or even enjoyable when other people disagree with you. Whereas when you make a cheap joke, being able to see all the people who found it stupid or crass is a major buzzkill.

1 point by edanm 3 days ago 0 replies      
Charge people a (modest) sum to participate in HN. Say $10 a year. I don't know many regulars who wouldn't easily pay that money, but I doubt too many trolls would.

Not sure what is behind the paywall, e.g. commenting only, or commenting and upvoting. You can try a few combinations.

1 point by weaksauce 3 days ago 0 replies      
Have you thought about scaling the effect of an upvote based on the number of words that a comment has? Of course there are implementation details that you would have to worry about but I could see that encouraging longer more thoughtful commentary and penalizing snarky 5 word answers that garner easy upvotes.
2 points by Locke1689 3 days ago 0 replies      
Add a story downvote at a very high karma threshold.
1 point by flipside 3 days ago 0 replies      
If I had a way to improve the quality of HN but that would require a complete overhaul of the voting system, extensive testing, and slightly more work by 5%-20% of users, do you think people would go for it?

My feeling is that things aren't bad enough for radical change here yet, but if the right 5% are, it might be possible.

1 point by sabat 3 days ago 0 replies      
It's not all bad, but I've noted a disturbing trend of dogpile upvoting and downvoting.

What about taking away downvoting? It would change the dynamic, at least. I suppose it doesn't solve the problem of stupid posts and comments being upvoted.

1 point by rexreed 3 days ago 0 replies      
Maybe the fact that there's no separation of topics is part of the problem? Right now it's just one big comment bucket. Maybe some categories of posts so that off-topic stuff can be ignored would be really helpful. Right now, it's just one big stream of consciousness.
2 points by zyfo 3 days ago 0 replies      
Karma threshold for upvotes. Higher for topics than comments.
1 point by BrainScraps 3 days ago 0 replies      
Okay, I've given this a little bit of thought and think that like many problems, game mechanics can be applied to control human behavior here.

HN Karma can be retooled to give people a certain number up/downvotes as well as a rate of regeneration. Perhaps new users will get 3 upvotes a day and no downvotes. Upvotes need to be rebranded so that users understand that they are not the mechanisms of popularity contests or flame wars.

This is my vision, feel free to take from it what you will:
"HN tokens are for you to use to make this is most intelligently crowd-curated site known to the English language.If you find a post or comment that helps you to solve a problem, see another point of view, or expand your thinking, drop a token in to promote it. However, if you are found among those using your tokens to add fire to flame wars or to reward comments that have no creative or intellectual value, your token regeneration rate will be reduced. Choose wisely."

2 points by sampatterson 3 days ago 0 replies      
Rather than making the site invite only, how about some means of differentiating read and write access, i.e. the amount of times you can upvote or submit is tied to your karma.

That way the information is still accessible to everyone, and if someone new has something to interesting to contribute, that info will still surface if it's picked up by vetted users.

1 point by rafaelc 3 days ago 0 replies      
One idea is that you would only allow users with X month old accounts to comment. X is simply the time since you started noticing the decreasing quality of comment threads, with perhaps a small buffer added onto that time.

This would still allow everyone else to utilize HN as their source of news or as their RSS feed into the tech/startup world, while testing for the source of the decreasing quality of comment threads.

1 point by jrspruitt 3 days ago 0 replies      
This site has been my go to place for reading material for a year to more. The other day I finally got an account, to test the waters of participating in the comment section, which often times are more interesting than the articles linked to. I hope my participation maintains the expected levels, but there in lies the problem. Anything based on a community, is bound to that community, like democracy, freedom to choose doesn't necessarily mean, the people are going to choose well. One universal truth through out human history, what rises, shall fall, when it involves a community of people. I figure, if my participation isn't rewarded, its not the place for me, so I'll move on, or just refrain from creating more noise. Its hard to convince people to self regulate like that, which is the only way to deal with it not becoming an over generalized, overly watered down link repository, that lost its niche in a flood of popularity, which would be a shame.
1 point by pitdesi 3 days ago 0 replies      
Agree that there is a problem with comments, but there is also a problem with terrible or duplicate articles getting to the front page. I'd like the ability to downvote articles and we should all patrol duplicates - only allow linking to primary sources, etc.
1 point by dglassan 3 days ago 2 replies      
Have you considered adding a down vote button like Reddit has? I know you can flag comments above a certain karma level but I think that either giving everyone the option to down vote or having a lower karma threshold to down vote would allow the community to regulate itself.

Just a thought, but it seems to have worked for Reddit. This puts a lot of responsibility on the community to keep the quality of the discussions up, but I think enough people on here care about the quality of the community to help out.

1 point by malbs 3 days ago 0 replies      
The timing of this post is amazing.

I'm by no means a prolific commenter on HN. If I have something of value to add I'll try to ask; otherwise I usually abstain (but I'm only human, made a few dumb comments)

I just saw another article, http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=2404157

and the two comments on it were either bashing IQ, or talking about penis size.

I feel like maybe the reddit/4chan community has started reading HN?

I felt like posting a comment on that thread asking, nay begging, for someone to post something interesting as a followup to the kids question in the video, instead we have.. I just don't know.

And after saying that, I have no useful suggestion. Any feedback system that is implemented can still/will be gamed.

1 point by MrMan 2 days ago 0 replies      
Question - is a YC class currently in session, or did a selection round just end? I am an outsider and do not know the routine, but what if you are seeing a seasonal effect caused by increased activity by YC hopefuls and participants before and after these periodic selection events?
1 point by invertedlambda 3 days ago 0 replies      
How about a rotating group of admin users? Every 30 days a new batch of X users with greater than N karma get to bury/downvote/ban poor quality submissions/comments. This group would be forcibly rotated so that you don't get the "entrenched elite" problem.

It would encourage admins to be wise and for others to respect their wisdom.

1 point by Yana_Convelife 3 days ago 0 replies      
How about rather than down-voting, you allow people (possibly with some minimal karma) to delete comments if they violate the terms? If a comment is deleted, there would be a trace showing that there used to be a comment that got deleted by John. John's profile could then show all the comments he deleted, just like it now shows John's submissions and comments and anyone (perhaps with the same minimal karma) would be able to revive a frivolously deleted comment. Hopefully, that would mean that people would not delete comments unless they can stand for it.

But I'm pretty new to HN, so my comment may not take into account its evolution.

1 point by jarin 3 days ago 0 replies      
Isn't that what downvotes are supposed to be for?
1 point by rosenjon 3 days ago 0 replies      
I think it would be interesting to have to say why you up or down voted something, along with the vote. Make the reasons public, so people can see how the system is being used, and then publish guidelines based on the aggregate results that give people an indication of the best way to use the system.

It would probably not be ideal to publicly publish names along with reasons, since this might encourage flame wars about why people voted in certain ways. However, perhaps there could be more private means of dealing with people who consistently misuse/abuse the system.

1 point by Dnguyen 3 days ago 0 replies      
May I suggest going back to earlier time of HN? Because of the success, there are too many cooks in the kitchen. You have to always increase the number of moderators as the input from users increases. We are all here to read/discuss pretty much the same news. Why not have a chosen few provide the links and start discussions. Maybe the moderators themselves? This will cut down on duplicate links/stories and it will cut down the noise tremendously. Those who are truly interested in HN, will stick around and discuss. Those who are not, will simply go find their news somewhere else.
2 points by ronnier 3 days ago 0 replies      
Stop accepting new members for awhile.
1 point by jamesrcole 3 days ago 0 replies      
In the guidelines, ask people to write titles that try to summarize the content of the linked page. Think of titles as micro-abstracts.

You could even change the 'title' field in the submission form to 'description' (with its content limited to fairly small number of characters, of course. e.g. < 100).

Of course I'm just speculating about the potential value of this, but it might indirectly help a little.

6 points by allending 3 days ago 0 replies      
Get rid of karma.
1 point by da5e 3 days ago 0 replies      
Perhaps the karma for submitting articles should be separate from the karma for comments. I know when I was out to build karma I focused on submissions because there wasn't a downside.
1 point by sc00ter 3 days ago 0 replies      
Personalise the front-page? Add a weighting that pushes up contributions posted by users whos previous contributions I have upvoted, on the basis that there's a chance we share similar interests if I consistently upvote their contributions. It could also push up articles that users I've previously upvoted have commented on.
6 points by paolomaffei 3 days ago 0 replies      
1 point by Naomi 3 days ago 0 replies      
Here's an idea I've seen on other sites: before a comment is approved, the poster has to go through a page that contains general posting guidelines. Often it seems people write something quickly, without stopping to think whether it might be offensive. This would give them an extra chance to censor their contribution.
1 point by mcgin 3 days ago 0 replies      
You may be doing this already as it seems pretty obvious to me, but you could give more weight to comments based on their length. In general the most insightful comments are longer than poorer dumb comments.
Also be more firm on the shouldn't appear on mainstream news sites rule
1 point by 13Psibies 3 days ago 0 replies      
1/ The point of the karma system, as far as a user is concerned, is to increase one's karma number.

2/ External values such as "democratic" likely oppose the actual objectives of HN.

3/ Within HN culture, there is an element of gate-keeping.

1 point by dispenser 2 days ago 0 replies      
As a user of HN for pragmatic (read: non-timewasting) reasons, here's what I want to see on HN in this order:

1) Useful plugins, technologies, tools, or resources for development.
2) New Platforms (hardware, app store, device) or policy (privacy) changes.
3) Inspiring projects, stories, or news.
4) Cool science, physics, math, or other explanations and stories.

TBH - most popular HN stories cause knee-jerk reactions but have little content.

Maybe a specific 'work' filter would prioritize links into these categories?

0 points by derrida 3 days ago 0 replies      
Have a captcha-like box at the bottom of "submit" with methods that need to be written for some giant program created by the community. The interface that gets implemented could be selected by the community.
1 point by hi_from_cuba 2 days ago 0 replies      
(a) follows from (c), and (c) is trivial to fix by anonymizing the comments before they are voted on. Way, way, waaay too much fanboyism is going on HN and selected few users get all their comments voted up regardless of the merit. Fix this and the rest will follow.

PS. I'm 3000+ karma, 3+ year HN user posting from public terminal in a hotel, hence the anon account. My apologies.

1 point by aaw 3 days ago 0 replies      
I really like the /classic front page view. Could we try a similar comment view as well, with votes only counted from users who've been here for at least a year?
1 point by karlzt 3 days ago 0 replies      
what is the best example of a comment that is mean and/or dumb that got massively upvoted?

as a last resort you can always stall HN for 1 month.

1 point by newguy889 3 days ago 0 replies      
Have a hard tech theme day once a month, like Erlang day. Let's do Scala Day tomorrow!
0 points by adrianwaj 3 days ago 0 replies      
Simple, tie board participation more closely with YC application scores. What were you thinking?
Jason Fried: Why I Run a Flat Company inc.com
414 points by duck 1 day ago   173 comments top 41
28 points by jwr 8 hours ago 0 replies      
I've started companies that grew from 1 to 50 people. I find that business advice from 37signals is often quite naïve and I hope people treat it as a data point, not as a set of guidelines.

Managing a company below 25 people is relatively easy. You can still talk to most people every day, you can gather them all in one room, information flow is unrestricted. But staying under 25 people means for most companies that you are stifling growth.

Once you get above the magical 25 people threshold, you'll find that it is simply impossible to manage the company effectively using a completely flat structure. Also, you'll discover a lot of new problems you never suspected existed before: you'll need internal PR, for instance, as people in one part of the company won't know what people in other parts are doing. There will be myths to dispel, growing animosities, lack of direction. And there is simply no way you can keep your pretty flat structure with 45 people.

I know that 37signals' advice resonates with people. They are the cool kids. But keep in mind they are an exceptional company, in every sense of the word.

27 points by tptacek 23 hours ago 2 replies      
This really resonated for me because we have almost exactly the same company dynamics at play (we're of roughly the same size).

I'm not sure we have similar answers, but one response to the problem of not being able to afford people who don't do real work is to make sure everyone is doing real work. We're primarily a services firm, and everybody in that org, including Dave, our President, is billable. It's something I tell people in interviews, and that I'm sort of proud to be able to say; everyone's grounded in the actual work that our actual people are actually doing for actual clients.

In that spirit, one way to address this problem might be to have team leads instead of managers.

I feel like Joel wrote about this a few years ago too, and while I'm probably wrong about this, off the top of my head it feels like their answer to this is that when they have too many senior people, they think about new products. Isn't the highest level on their comp ladder (not a fan of that thing) reserved for people who can run products?

Would love to hear more about what people in the 20-40 employee bracket are doing here.

54 points by mhp 23 hours ago 4 replies      
Fog Creek and 37Signals are probably more alike than either of us would care to admit (ha!) and I could see Joel writing a very similar article a few years ago when we had 20some people at the company. But what works there, or at FC, is not a one size fits all answer.

Having managers when there are 10 people are at your company makes no sense. The hierarchy starts out flat, you add a few more people and you're at 20, and the idea of making someone a manager seems like a waste and something a 'BigCo' would do. "We need people who get stuff done, not people who sit around doing nothing but managing", you think. Then you get to 50 people and everything breaks down. You wonder why people are frustrated they can't get things done, while other people are doing things that embarrass your company or compete with other things you are doing. And you realize your company isn't a special little gem that is wholly unlike every other company in existence. You need management.

Just make sure you give the devs a professional ladder and compensation structure that doesn't involve moving to management, because managing isn't something everyone is good at or even wants to do. And make sure that management knows their job is a support role to the people at the company who are making things happen, not the other way around.

10 points by ChuckMcM 19 hours ago 6 replies      
"Even as we've grown, we've remained a lean organization. We do not have room for people who don't do the actual work."

That is a priceless comment. It exposes Jason's huge blind spot. Worse, it is on this undefended flank that great future pain may be inflicted. I look forward to the post-learning article.

The underlying premise/assumption is that a 'manager' is not only not doing 'the' work, but they aren't really doing 'any' work. Its a very common meme in engineers, "The company makes money on the code I write, it makes no money at all on this guy telling me what do, it just costs them money."

Let's reason about this using a fairly simple analogy. We will start by positing that we are all rats in a maze. Our maze is, unfortunately, filled with rat dung. We further stipulate that walking on dung would kill us so the only way we can move through the maze is by shoveling the dung in front of us, to the pile behind us and then moving into the space we opened up. All the shoveling burns up calories, if we don't eat we will eventually starve to death. Finally, we add that there is a cheese somewhere in the maze, and once any rat makes its way to the cheese, everyone gets to eat of the cheese. That resets the rat's hunger level, after the the cheese is located the maze resets around all the rats and process begins again.

Now in our analogy our engineers are the rats. And writing code is shoveling rat dung. And the cheese is a monetizable opportunity. Eating the cheese is collecting money from the opportunity.

In a small company, having everyone shovel as fast as they can, is a great strategy for finding the cheese(s). Some mazes have more than one cheese in them, sadly some mazes have no cheese in them. A manager, whether its the founder/CEO, or someone in that role, is given the opportunity to stand above the maze and see if there is a cheese nearby or in the distance, by seeing both the maze and where the cheese is relative to where in the maze rats are, they can direct rats that have the best chance of getting to the cheese quickly in the direction they should turn, otherwise each rat would be following his/her internal idea of the best way to find a cheese in a maze like ‘always follow the left wall' or ‘alternate left and right turns' or ‘leave marks in the dung piles of parts of the maze you have already passed through so that you can pick new passages the next time.'

So the leadership role of management in any technology company, is measured by their ability to get teams to the cheese while shoveling the least amount of rat dung. Good leadership will understand that there are many cheeses (and flavors of cheese, some more nourishing than others) and be able to evaluate the choice of going further for a very nourishing cheese vs going out of the way to munch a nearby, but less satisfying, cheese.

So back to the comment tail … “who don't do the actual work.” briefly.

It is pretty easy for an engineer to recognize a problem in one of their colleagues, even though their colleague is ‘doing' a “lot” of work, that work is inefficient and thus ‘poor'. Someone checking in version after version of a subroutine, trying to get it correct, when that subroutine is doing something that is provided by the underlying operating system. Lots of ‘work', lots of ‘check ins', but someone who had a bit more breadth might have done in a couple of hours what this loser is taking a week to do. As an engineer, one can easily appreciate that this person is taking up an employee spot that could be put to more efficient use by a better quality engineer.

And yet it may be hard for that same engineer to understand that a manager is helping him, and his colleagues, be more efficient by working excellently on a component that will get them to a good cheese, versus working excellently on a component or a technology that does not proportionally have the business value they need to pay their own salaries.

A real world example was a shopping cart company that had, at one time, all of its engineers working on a universal language independent component for presenting product descriptions in over 100 languages and nobody on the team was working on making the shopping cart code play nice with various payment services. Which is the more nourishing cheese? English only and you accept any kind of payment, or any language but you have to have one type to payment card from one vendor ? The engineers were all writing excellent code, using all the latest best practices and the language support module they came up with was best in class, but product was a shopping cart and the “high order bit” for a shopping cart implementation is “can it take money from customers and put it in the bank?”

So when an engineer makes a comment like Jason's about valuing ‘doing' over ‘directing', it can sound like the oarsmen in a galley complaining that he should be accorded higher status than the navigator since without him the boat wouldn't go anywhere. But the reality is that without the navigator the boat wouldn't arrive anywhere. Considered in the larger context, the navigator's role is both more stressful and more important to the overall success of the trip than the oarsmen.

What Jason's comment misses, and it sounds like a blind spot, is the understanding that you cannot successfully navigate and row at the same time.

1 point by clarebear 1 minute ago 0 replies      
Sarah Hatter, who is the employee described in this story, left an insightful comment that unfortunately showed up as a child of aless insightful comment and is therefore buried. Check it out here: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=2417278
31 points by michaelchisari 1 day ago 1 reply      
I really appreciate the idea of having a career path that doesn't involve moving "up" to management. I'm a developer because I love development, and my own personal hell is managing a team and never getting to code.
7 points by hapless 22 hours ago 1 reply      
"The fairest rules are those to which everyone would agree if they did not know how much power they would have."

This quote really, deeply bothered me. One of the major differences between alpha males and the rest of the population is that they will always assume they'll end up in the top spot. Your prototypical alpha male won't even consider the odds of being on the bottom in that lottery.

To push it further, those same aggressive types will have the passion and voice to draw support for their views, no matter the substance. A "flat" structure overvalues the opinions of the loud and aggressive, with little room for more pensive contributors, especially women.

In other words, if you leave the authorship of the social contract to the loudest people, you may end up with a rather oppressive outcome. This is a universal rule, often overlooked by the alpha males who spend their time talking to Inc. Magazine.

13 points by tom_b 1 day ago 2 replies      
Love the idea of rotating "managerial" or "lead" person in a small group.

I'm on a small team within a larger organization that we support (in dev and tool usage). A challenge for us is that people in the larger org are used to having a manager to route their requests to.

I may give a rotational approach a whirl. But right now, one of my primary roles is as s&!t umbrella and I don't want to overly burden my real producers.

8 points by dansingerman 1 day ago 2 replies      
While I totally buy what this espouses, I think it is probably incredibly hard to scale. They are doing well if they keep things flat(ish) for 26 employees. I can't really see it working at all for > 50.

And while they may not have anyone with the job title CTO, I'd be very surprised if DHH was anything other than the de facto CTO.

9 points by ibejoeb 21 hours ago 6 replies      
It's unrealistic to not promote people. If you run a "flat" organization, you're telling your employees "I don't care that your resume indicates no progression." That's a real career limiter, and it can be perceived as an underhanded way to retain talent.

Also, more pragmatically, how realistic is it to have 30 direct reports?

6 points by tomlin 23 hours ago 3 replies      
What Jason Fried is expressing is something I've been pondering for a while. And I think we'll (hopefully) see more of it (sorry, manager-types).

In my experience, managers in most departments have essentially taken the role of sheep-herders. So, I started to ask myself: why do I need a manager when I work well on my own, making smart, educated decisions that are based upon the ideals and successes of other smart, educated and passionate people?

After all, I'm being hired for my prowess, no? If I am, do I need a manager? And shouldn't you always hire people who have these sensibilities?

I think the message I find within this rubble of contemporary and progressive ideologies is: Hire smart. If you have a good team who understand their roles and how it pertains to the goals of the company, you don't need managers - not for a small or mid-sized company, anyway. Basecamp has been the best PM I've ever worked with - alive or binary. Software has already begun to facilitate the role perfectly for me.

6 points by ssharp 23 hours ago 0 replies      
37signals can do this because of their hiring practices. They need to be extremely picky with the type of employee they hire. Their hires need to be able to function within their unconventional structure.

This type of information doesn't translate well to most other companies. I hope 37signals' audience gets that. For software startups, many of their ideas are exceptional and it's fantastic to see real-world examples. For already-established companies and companies that can't be as picky as 37s, testing this type of structure seems unnecessarily risky. I believe 37s has addressed this in the past, and Jason has in his Inc. writings. I just hope people are paying attention.

3 points by vacri 13 hours ago 1 reply      
Skimming the comments, it seems a lot of people are missing a significant point - the employee is in customer service. Customer service is a dead-end job. It doesn't take long to get on top of your game, and there's really nowhere to go.

Managers and marketers get new products and changing business conditions to keep them interested, developers get new tech to explore and tech debt to resolve.

Customer service... is easy to master and once done there's no new fields to conquer. It's ultimately boring. Fine if you want a job to show up to and just do, but if you want to be interested in developing/advancing skills, it's not going to happen in customer service.

I actually find it a little insulting that the tone of the article is a little "well, the developers can handle 'not advancing', why can't the customer support person?".

The professional development tree for customer support looks like a stump.

17 points by antidaily 23 hours ago 1 reply      
Looks like Sarah has started her own thing: http://cosupport.us/
7 points by sreitshamer 22 hours ago 0 replies      
I like that he mentioned in 2 places how he/they supported people in the best way for those people even when it was clear they weren't going to work for 37signals anymore. (In one case they helped someone find another job, in another they helped someone start her own thing.)

It's important to set other people up for success, whether it's success at your firm or at someone else's. They're not "human resources", they're people!

7 points by rosenjon 21 hours ago 1 reply      
The thing I've always liked about Jason's writing and approach to business is that he isn't afraid to say that they might not have the exact right answer. At the same time, they refuse to accept the "conventional wisdom" as being the correct answer; I think too often we believe that because most companies do things a certain way, that all companies should be run that way.

The takeaway for me is that you should be constantly questioning whether there is a different way to run things that enhances the performance of your organization as a whole. I have personally been privy to how the people with the most impressive titles frequently have the least connection to what's going on in the business. Some of the methods taken at 37Signals seem to be aimed at fixing this problem, which I think is commendable.

At the same time, it seems a shame to have to let go of a good employee because they want to take on more responsibility. If their view on more responsibility is simply a bigger title, then perhaps they weren't the right fit for 37Signals. However, in my opinion, ambition and competence should be rewarded, so it seems like there may have been a better way to handle the situation than choosing between staying in the same role and leaving the organization.

1 point by Uchikoma 1 hour ago 0 replies      
My view on managers: Turn your org chart 180°. All managers are supporting those "above" them, this is their primary goal. Usually companies have this the other way round. This also means there is no problem with "useless" middle management (Scrum calls this manager type ScrumMaster).
7 points by abbasmehdi 20 hours ago 1 reply      
I would like to commend Jason Fried on establishing a source of free and recurring advertising in a massively distributed publication that has had his target audience cornered for years. Not only is this free advertising, but it is the highest quality of advertising congratulating small and medium size business on being flat (which they usually are because in a small army, even the Generals are on the front lines) and reassuring them about the benefits of being so (imagine you're a 6-person company where everyone does everything and you have just read this article: now decide between buying MS Project and 37 Signals' Basecamp for your PM needs - cloud over your head says "Jason gets me, man!"). Jason, if you're reading this I know you're smiling - you have my vote for strategy!

There is a PR lesson in this for all of us!

3 points by sili 21 hours ago 3 replies      
I like the idea of keeping people closer to what they are good at. However I'm afraid this strategy will backfire on your employees if they are forced to leave to another company for whatever reason. In an environment where every company does not have this flat hierarchy it is strange to see a person who has spent 10 years in one place and has not advanced to some managerial position. New employer will think that he is unfit in some way (even though the opposite is the case) and will probably not even give the person a chance to explain themselves.
3 points by stevenj 22 hours ago 0 replies      
There's a saying in team sports along the lines of, "Players play the game; Coaches coach."

Employees play the game (ie do the work), but I think a good manager/leader can make a big difference.

Sure, Michael Jordan was a great basketball player who had good teammates, but Phil Jackson must be doing something right in order to extract the talent out of his players in just the right way to win year in and year out. And that is hard.

Perhaps there's just not very many good coaches or managers, which is why there's such distaste for "management."

But every good team, organization, or company has a great "manager" or "managers".

In the case of 37signals, it seems that person is Jason Fried (he is the CEO).

7 points by grimlck 1 day ago 1 reply      
What about creating a career path that doesn't involve moving people into management? One that involves more prestigious titles (e.g.: sun had a 'sun fellow' title), and significant salary growth (20% here and there isn't significant, imho)

As the organization grows, i can't see a totally flat structure working - you're going to end up with people who have been there 5 years, wake up one day and realize they have the same role and similar salary to what they had where they started, realize they have no career path with their current employer, and will move on.

1 point by mayutana 1 hour ago 0 replies      
How does such a model work for tasks where you need to perform long term planning? Similar to national elections, such a model could result in policies being changed every time a new manager is in place.
2 points by Murkin 22 hours ago 1 reply      
Appears there are two types of people,

The 37Signal employees:
* Like their field and want to be 'hands-on'
* Don't mind staying in the same company for 10X years.

The supposed norm:
* Prefer to advance to other positions vertically
* Like moving between companies (for challenge/change).

Makes me wonder what is the difference between the two types of personalities and how those affect the organization.

For example, is there more or less innovation in 37Signals ? Are people more ready to step up and fix/report problems outside their immediate responsibilities ?

5 points by abuzzooz 23 hours ago 2 replies      
Jason seems to imply that managers are useless when he says "We do not have room for people who don't do the actual work".

I think this is very naive of him, and a little selfish. He's enjoying the title of "President" which, to me, is a purely managerial position. I doubt if he considers himself useless, but he's happy to label other managers useless. I might be wrong, but it seems that he's either too selfish to see other people take away some of his control or he's afraid to tackle the problem of a growing company. Both of these will have negative consequences in the future.

Just for the record, over my 14+ years in a technical field, I have been a manager for 5+, and have given up that title twice before to focus on more technical work.

1 point by trailrunner 3 hours ago 0 replies      
This "flat" system sounds very nice, and I really like this rotation of responsibilities and "managerial positions" to all members. I wonder though, if the same principle is applied to the CEO and Business Owners positions as well (both in respect of decisions and profits). If not it doesn't seem that flat to me.

So preaching "flat" while being a business owner sounds a little suspicious, because you are preaching everybody about flat while standing above them.

I hope 37signals is truly different (I cannot judge since I don't know crucial details), because if at some point after ten years the business is sold to a big corp, and everyone finds himself trapped below ten levels of management, without a career path, 4 day workweeks during the summers of youth will sound like a bad joke.

2 points by adaml_623 15 hours ago 0 replies      
I think it's a good thing that a potential employee of Jason's can read his blog and be warned or at least aware of what kind of company he's running and potential future careers there. Personally as a developer I'm looking forward to gaining more managerial experience as I can see how you can make bigger more exciting things as you have more people contributing.
Incidentally I work for a company twice as big as 37 signals although growing quite fast in comparison and I can see that the people in the nontechnical roles quite enjoy the possibilities (and realities) of progressing to different and managerial roles. It makes me happy that they can stick around and don't have to leave when they might otherwise stagnate.
1 point by nikcub 23 hours ago 2 replies      
"Besides being small, 37signals has always been a flat organization."


"We've experimented with promoting a few people to manager-level roles."

So they are flat, with no chief anything, but they have 'manager-level roles'? Am I missing something or is there a contradiction in his description?

Edit: Got it, 'experimented' meaning that they tried, didn't work, and they went back to flat. Thanks for the responses.

Besides that I find that even with no job titles or formal roles, people within a company tend to self-organize and take on de facto roles. The only difference is that it isn't formalized, and people who end up managing aren't being paid manager salaries or getting manager options.

2 points by terryjsmith 23 hours ago 1 reply      
There seems to be a rift here between what people are good at/what they want to do now and what they want to do later. I consider myself a good programmer, but it's not where I want to be forever. I have always wanted to branch out and learn multiple facets (management, service, sales, etc.) and this seems like it would be limiting in that regard. I guess I just wouldn't be the target of 37signals?

Without wanting to sound snide, do you look for people who want to stay in the same role forever? It surprises me that people's ambitions to branch out and take on more responsibility haven't caused this to come up before. A salary bump, more benefits, and more vacation time wouldn't help me placate my desire to learn about other skill sets.

6 points by mmcconnell1618 1 day ago 2 replies      
I believe some sociologists found that personal relationships begin to break down at about 150. Beyond that it is very difficult to maintain meaningful interaction in person. Online relationship numbers are much higher so maybe a distributed team like 37Signals can get away with this for a while longer.
3 points by imbriaco 21 hours ago 0 replies      
I was one of those experiments, as the Operations Manager, and I like to think it went pretty well. As many people here have rightly pointed out, though, being hands-on is the key. I continued to do a lot of the day-to-day technical work.

The main difference between what I did, and what the rest of my team did, was that I had the added responsibility for dealing with partners and vendors, negotiating contracts, scheduling hardware installations, and the like. The rest of the team was able to remain completely focused on the system administration issues that we cared about while I split my time.

For our team, it made good sense. For the other development/design teams, the way they're run makes sense. It all depends on context.

1 point by slee029 17 hours ago 0 replies      
While I completely agree that flat vs a vertical hierarchy should be assessed from organization to organization, I tend to prefer flat structures mainly because they allow for the culture to mold perception of progression over an existing structure itself. What I mean by this is that if you have a structured way for internal progression (usually vertical) people mold their perceptions around that ladder no matter how much you try convincing them otherwise.

You can clearly see this being played out within the big 4 accounting firms (I recruited for them and from them). Within the firms its extremely vertical in that progression is dictated largely by how long you stayed until you hit partnership where its strictly vacancy. Thus, you're basically looking at steady yearly promotions until you reach being a senior manager after 6-8 years within the firm.

This is where I was able to take the most senior people usually in a seasonal manner pretty easily. This is because after being a senior manager you really have only two trajectories within the firm, associate partner or partner. The AP is basically a position they created to please senior managers who sounded too old and weren't good enough to be partners. So what you generally see is 3-4 hotshot senior managers all vying for the 1 partnership position that will be available that season/year. Inevitably I'll have 3/4 partner potential senior managers leaving because they know they're better off leaving the firm and going to an industry position or worse a competitive firm. They already know the stigma of being an AP.

Thus, you don't simply see attrition at the top level, but the attrition of the very best at the top level and the rest being APs. What's worse is those guys who are the best usually have a loyal following within the firm. Well guess who gives me a call after placing that senior manager as a hiring manager where they're building a team? Now you see an attrition of even better people who you were probably underpaying at junior positions leaving the firm for better pay and better hours. The only guiding light there is you're hoping that senior manager becomes their client in the future.

Thus, you see a system where the highly vertical nature of the structure led to a culture where attrition was the norm. While it might be naive to think so, I think being a flat structure might give a better chance for the culture to shape that perception of the promotion and have them "feel" it rather than perceive it.

2 points by orev 16 hours ago 0 replies      
This is a lot of BS, spoken by a Founder with no understanding of employee needs. Employees do not have their eyes set on always staying where they are. They are not reaping the monetary rewards the way a Founder is. To an employee, EVERY job is a stepping stone to the next one, eventually. This Founder is completely self-absorbed.

Job titles are free and it helps the employee along on their career. No, they shouldn't be inflated, but they shouldn't be held back either. Eventually the employee needs to put that job on their resume and if it looks like they were an entry level person because the Founder was a jerk about titles, it's better if the employees leave now instead of later.

2 points by rishi 23 hours ago 1 reply      
"And because we don't have a marketing department, we don't have a chief marketing officer."

37 signals is amazing at marketing. Their blogs. Their books. Video Lectures. Mission statements. Guest posts.

1 point by raheemm 22 hours ago 0 replies      
That idea about rotating leadership within the customer service team is brilliant! I wonder if changing it every week is too frequent though - what about doing it biweekly?
1 point by MrMan 23 hours ago 0 replies      
The only way to solve management issues with a high degreee of confidence is to stay small enough to avoid management. The NASA analogies are problematic, however, because large organizations do indeed manage to manage themselves while completing critical projects. Which is more interesting? Large-scale management, or head-in-the-sand? I could personally never work in a large-scale organization, but how can we all avoid these issues and still create a highly functioning economy, which produces both critical and lifestyle goods and services?
1 point by skrebbel 19 hours ago 0 replies      
Why don't you just split into two little 37signalses when the time comes?

In all the proposals / solutions mentioned here for dealing with growth while maintaining a flat culture, this is one approach I haven't seen yet. It worked well for a Dutch consultancy firm called BSO, which reached over 6000 people in the 90's, all organised into near-independent little companies of 50-ish people each, all targeting a different market, but each with the same culture and values. The firm itself was a flat company of these little companies (called "cells"), so effectively there were just 2 to 3 layers of management.

(http://www.extent.nl/articles/entry/origins-original/ if you care about the details)

2 points by mcdowall 23 hours ago 2 replies      
I find it outstanding that they have 5m users and only 5 support staff!. I would love to know how they manage that.
1 point by shn21 22 hours ago 0 replies      
In many companies the managerial titles are invented incentives, not necessarily they "manage" people. They exist as part of the incentive package, and certain companies attract certain personalities who would be happy with titles. Management position gives one probably a different satisfaction, "doing better than the other guy", and assumed better pay above the managed is all that is needed. It's a kind of a distraction. It is not bad unless it kills nurturing leadership environment. The best case is that laders become chosen managers by their peers. The worst case is that those who can not manage become assigned leaders (managers) by "the management".
1 point by fletchowns 19 hours ago 0 replies      
Four day work week in the summer? Holy cow that sounds awesome.
0 points by ck2 21 hours ago 1 reply      
Way to reward the one critical person who actually has to do the hard work of interacting with your customers AFTER they've been sold and paid you money.

That's the hard part because it's only dealing with problems and never "great to have to call you".

I guess customer service these days is disposable and easily replaceable.

1 point by hpux 19 hours ago 0 replies      
But what if a young startup company want to use this approach. consider a programming team which its developers are not in the same level of expertise and ability. Is it possible for this team that the manager rotate among team members? Doesn't it lower the performance of the members and the self-management of total team?
Larry Page Begins Major Google Reorg: Engineers, Not Managers, In Charge allthingsd.com
405 points by citizenkeys 1 day ago   150 comments top 29
74 points by SoftwareMaven 1 day ago 3 replies      
I question the title. It doesn't sound like engineers are in charge, instead, it sounds like smaller operating units will be in charge. That is a very different thing from having the inmates running the asylum.

I have yet to see a large company that successfully treats software as a creative endeavor instead of a production line that still manages to be able to focus on solving customer problems. I really hope that Larry figures this out because, if he does, that will (IMO) be his greatest legacy.

What I think will happen, though, is Google will focus even more on technology and care even less about actual users.

53 points by CoffeeDregs 1 day ago 5 replies      
This is a big story. I'm both an engineer and a manager (to which engineers will say "management!" and managers will say "developer!"), and I haven't seen this pendulum swing back and forth so much as be ripped in half and pulled in opposite directions. Google's obviously got very smart folks in both engineering and management, so it's going to be very interesting to see how this is handled.

I can't imagine a Microsoft, Sun, Oracle, etc going through this exercise, so I'm seriously rooting for Google. It'd be lovely for this change to produce some real knowledge on how to run a modern, big, high-speed tech company without getting trapped in the argument over engineering-vs-management.

8 points by 6ren 1 day ago 0 replies      
It's also similar to how Berkshire Hathaway is run; and how Christensen advocates nurturing disruptive businesses - smaller units can get excited about smaller sales that are a rounding error to Big Google (new markets start small); independent units are free to customize their business model and how they do things to what fits the opportunity (instead of fitting in with the parent's model and processes - which has compelling economies, but only early).

e.g. it seems highly unlikely that advertising is the ideal revenue model for every business Google is in. The appropriate fit might be sales, renting, monthly charge, pay-per-use, royalty, per-developer, per-other-metric. It's not necessarily about extracting more money from customers, but revenue that makes sense for customers - that they prefer, that makes sense in the competitive set, that motivates the business to improve along the right dimensions.

9 points by blinkingled 1 day ago replies      
This got me thinking about role of managers in a modern org (to simplify things let's say it's a Tech company).

It certainly needs a CEO/Visionary, it most likely needs HR and front/back office folks, it certainly needs PR and marketing people. But in a world where people communicate rarely in person, have their own management and economics 101 abilities, are smart enough to not work against their own interests (and look after the org's interests) - what's the role of the future manager?

It sounds inevitable that senior Engineers will double up as managers for their group as and when required (working with marketing etc.) instead of it being a dedicated managerial position.

16 points by joebadmo 1 day ago replies      
It's awesome to see a fundamentally engineer-driven company like Google and a fundamentally designer-driven company like Apple become so successful. It has always seemed to me that management is an important but overemphasized skill (as a fundamental trait of the way large organizations work) and it's really refreshing to see this happening.
6 points by microcentury 1 day ago 0 replies      
The reality of a large corporation like Google is nowhere near as simple an engineer-vs-manager dichotomy as many of the comments on this thread would make it. Products need to be developed, but they need to be supported and sold too. Which of these functions is most important depends on your world view and your tolerance for angels-on-a-pinhead debate, but it's undoubted that each of them are crucial.

An engineering mindset of automation and solution-by-algorithm gives us the miserable customer service that Google is famous for; a realisation that people are tricky and messy gives us something more like Zappos. The people who are good at support and managing support teams are not like engineers, and the people running sales are an entirely different breed. Rare is it to find someone who can successfully manage all three. Indeed, I would go out on a limb and say - as an engineer myself - that it's easier to find a non-technical person who can make a positive impact in product development than it is to find an engineering who can significantly improve sales or support.

22 points by aridiculous 1 day ago 3 replies      
Can someone who works at Google chime in with what the organizational temperature is like at Google? Does this whole 'party time's over for the managers' thing we're hearing about have any real weight to it?
4 points by drawkbox 1 day ago 1 reply      
Seems to work pretty well for Honda. They innovate and everyone still copies their designs and products, but they also have great financial results magically with innovative products. http://www.forbes.com/forbes/2006/0904/112.html [2006]

I hope this is a trend in America, Google can set a great example (as all companies early on do) on keeping innovators in charge with a startup culture/meritocracy.

Before the recent change in CEO, I felt Google was getting too suits focused and simply competing on a byline/reactionary technique. Bring it back Google.

5 points by sabat 1 day ago 0 replies      
Certainly, Rosenberg has been crucial to Google's success, so his exit has come as a shock to pretty much everyone to whom I've spoken.

That said, its timing seems quite convenient, particularly in relationship to what looks very much like a significant reorg that is currently underway at Google, said sources familiar with the situation.

Note first that Rosenberg's replacement wasn't immediately named and it's not clear whether Page even feels one is needed.

Maybe Rosenburg helped Google do great things. Maybe I'm about to over-simplify. But weren't the things that made Google a true powerhouse created long before guys like this were hired -- back when the company was more engineer-driven?

It seems to me that Larry Page's frustration has been growing as he watched MBAs take credit for the success the engineers had created years before. If that's the case then I wish him success in changing the company's structure.

2 points by ramanujan 1 day ago 1 reply      
This may finally lead to outright combat between the ChromeOS and Android groups.

Chrome the browser itself is fairly successful, as are Android phones. But Chrome OS vs. Android...that is a huge showdown. ChromeOS is a minimalist OS, whereas Android is a fat client. Philosophies are totally different.

Attitude within Google right now is "let the market decide". Only a company with the free cash flow of Google could build two operating systems intended for mobile devices and take that kind of approach.

I'll get my popcorn.

13 points by asknemo 1 day ago 2 replies      
Ever since "management" and the dedicated "manager" were invented, we have been told, increasingly in recent decades, that they, rather than talents in other roles, are the key to business success. With the increasing importance and accelerating pace of innovations in our time, it's time to test if to what degree such doctrine would still hold true. Good job Larry. That's some risk worth taking.
3 points by clistctrl 1 day ago 0 replies      
I think this is a great direction for Google, but it certainly is not a direction most other companies with equivalent growth can pursue. I think one of the unique aspects of Google, is the type of engineer they pursue.
2 points by endlessvoid94 1 day ago 1 reply      
I'm really interested in seeing how companies grow; I hadn't realized quite how large of a role non-engineers played in Google's structure.

Glad to see it's moving in the right direction.

2 points by rwmj 1 day ago 1 reply      
So here's a question for potential HN entrepreneurs:

If your company got as big as Microsoft or Google, would you split it up, spinning off subdivisions as separate companies?

And (in the case of MSFT/Google) why haven't they done that?

3 points by spydertennis 1 day ago 1 reply      
I hope this doesn't create a Microsoft like situation where its very difficult for departments to work together.
3 points by dennisgorelik 1 day ago 2 replies      
GOOG is 3% down today (while market overall is about the same).
I personally like Larry's change, but average investor seems to be skeptical.
1 point by jay_kyburz 1 day ago 1 reply      
I don't think they should be letting Managers or Engineers run things. I think they need to have... I'm not sure of the title... lets call them Vision Carriers. In the video game industry we call these people Creative Directors.

These vision carriers need to understand the product they are building and the people who will use it.

They don't need to be good a managing people or budgets, they don't need to write code. They need to understand what is good and what is bad and they need to be able to clearly communicate it to the team.

1 point by teyc 1 day ago 0 replies      
No, I don't think this will solve anything.

The problem with Google is that it is sized to deliver big brands, big scale and big projects.

First. Google today cannot deliver small brands because failure is very expensive. Every Wave, Buzz, Knol costs Google because future enterprises are less likely to want to try their products.

Startup culture could no longer exist in Google, because the salary means that the people will be taking risk with other people's money, and it doesn't work for early stage projects.

Secondly, Google cannot deliver small projects. I can relate this to my past history working at a large mining company, there are some mineral deposits that they may not develop but sell off because it is too small for a company their concern. The management overhead is simply too big.

Finally, to deliver large projects require specialist departments. The functional structure is there to deliver this. The alternative would be a matrix structure where there will be a lot of confusion as to who reports to whom, or serious duplication.

1 point by abbasmehdi 1 day ago 0 replies      
This is such a good move! It gives Google the nimbleness, hunger, and guerilla mentality of a start-up in new areas it wants to explore through these small mostly-autonomous teams, while simultaneously allowing it to defend the already captured beachheads (search, gmail etc.) - all funded by the deep, deep, Google pockets.

In any innovation-oriented org, curious engineers and inventors need to be able to play and push the boundaries, but even large organizations with strong financial backs are so defensive when it comes to innovation, so afraid to fail, or waste resources on experimenting. Google has always been okay with this "waste". If you go back before year 2k and try pitching to a goliath sw company to let 20% of dev time be spent on employees' projects of choice you'd get assaulted by the CFO. Google was okay with this "waste", because they knew if you let the right players roll the dice, every now and then you'd hit jackpot. And they did! Many of their most successful products came out of the 20% project.

Organizations today have split the vision and execution aspects of building something. The vision comes from management and the execution from engineers " this is straight from the defensive playbook - ‘engineers can execute with minimum risk, and managers are close to the customer therefore know what will sell for sure'. This kind of thinking will work when you want to improve marginally (like Henry Ford said something along the lines of 'If I asked my customers what they wanted they'd say a faster horse'), or if you are the market leader, but it will never cause disruption or let you make headway in uncharted territory. It is very important to know when to play offence and when to play defense.

2 points by pdaviesa 1 day ago 0 replies      
I'm beginning to worry about Google. Companies don't make these types of changes when everything is going great.
1 point by sunstone 1 day ago 0 replies      
This brings to a head the interesting situation of the modern tech company. Unlike companies in almost all other industries, the average developer at Google (and a lot of other companies) needs to be much smarter to do the job than the manager.

So the skill pyramid is actually inverse compared the "military corporation" model. It's also true that many, perhaps even a majority, of the deveopers would be "even better" at management, marketing and strategy etc, than those normally filling these roles.

This situation really does beg for a solution beyond what the typical corporation/MBA paradigm has come up with so far. Kudos to Mr. Page for taking a shot at it.

1 point by akkartik 1 day ago 0 replies      
Seems to fit the playbook at http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=2369445 a teensy bit, but not the one at http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=2405198.
2 points by noamsml 1 day ago 0 replies      
I wonder if part of this is the result of growing competition from the engineer-driven Facebook.
0 points by pdaviesa 1 day ago 0 replies      
There is a big difference between a manager and a leader. A manager takes the credit for things that go well and looks for people to blame when they don't. A leader understands that they are only successful if their team succeeds. A manager worries about how the team might screw things up. A leader thinks about how the team can exceed their goals. A manager tries to consolidate their power and protect their turf at all costs. A leader knows that the team follows them out of a sense of mutual respect and understands that if they can no longer effectively lead the team than it may be time to step aside. Leaders are not just found at the top of an organization.
1 point by dr_ 1 day ago 0 replies      
Like I've stated before, this would be the perfect time for Microsoft to take Gundotra back and make him CEO.
They desperately need the same type of change at the executive level.
1 point by donnyg107 1 day ago 0 replies      
I love when companies move back to their purer roots. I don't know where this puts Google's progress as a company over the next few years, but it definitely means we won't be seeing the innovation slowdown that Microsoft experienced after their years of explosion. As long as our tech superstars arn't just turning into company gobbling monsters, but rather are constantly iterating, innovating, and developing their product line like a company should.
1 point by swixmix 1 day ago 0 replies      
I mistakenly thought Larry Wall was the new Google CEO. It seemed a little odd at first, but then I thought it was very cool. Now it doesn't seem quite as interesting.
1 point by elvirs 1 day ago 0 replies      
I wonder if this change will result in Google focusing and releasing more hard core technology products or more social products.
-3 points by hobb0001 1 day ago 1 reply      

  That jibes well with Page's push to whittle down Google's
manager bureaucracy, eliminate politicking and rekindle its
start-up spirit.

I first read that as "pot-licking" and thought, WTF is that? A new managerial term like dogfooding?

Tron Legacy: how the special effects were done jtnimoy.net
406 points by basil 3 days ago   76 comments top 15
26 points by nlawalker 3 days ago replies      
What I love most is seeing how they go about thinking and producing the effects used for computers used by characters in the film! From the films that do it really poorly to the films that attempt something realistic, I always wonder who's in charge of it, how they think about it, what tools they use to create it, etc. For the films in which it's poorly done I always figure it's the assistant FX designer's kid who has 4 months experience in Flash. For the good movies I always wonder if they grab the DB administrator for all the film assets and ask him some nerd questions :)

From the article:

In Tron, the hacker was not supposed to be snooping around on a network; he was supposed to kill a process. So we went with posix kill and also had him pipe ps into grep. I also ended up using emacs eshell to make the terminal more l33t. The team was delighted to see my emacs performance -- splitting the editor into nested panes and running different modes. I was tickled that I got emacs into a block buster movie. I actually do use emacs irl, and although I do not subscribe to alt.religion.emacs, I think that's all incredibly relevant to the world of Tron.

It's utterly fascinating to me that people have jobs like this.

7 points by jedsmith 3 days ago 0 replies      
The computer visuals were great. One thing that I caught, being the complete nerd that I am: if you look closely at the terminal that Sam sits down at before going on-grid, there is a copy of top running. It reports the system uptime as a few days (9?) even though that system was supposed to be up for years.

Rebooted Tron for a kernel upgrade?

The rest was great though, and I smiled too. I wonder if the author knew how his terminal footage was going to be used...Cillian Murphy's actions were entirely plausible in context.

23 points by ENOTTY 3 days ago 0 replies      
This account goes to show how valuable domain-specific knowledge is in creating a plausible space. The movie was such a visual masterpiece because the artist used algorithmically-generated visual effects to illustrate a world purportedly generated by algorithms.
13 points by nkassis 3 days ago 6 replies      
Tron Legacy was incredible visually and musically, I'm sad the story didn't live up to the rest of the movie. I hope Disney can look pass that and maybe make a sequel.

I hope this guy does go ahead and create a OpenGL UI toolkit. He should start a donation site to fund the project.

11 points by keyle 3 days ago 1 reply      
Wow. That's any creative developer's dream job. Amazing stuff. I'd love to work for a startup that just comes up with stuff like that. It seems like such a dark and hidden industry.

I do create fun stuff in my free time http://noben.org/term.io/

8 points by rbanffy 3 days ago 2 replies      
I would love to see some of these visuals make their way into xscreensaver... Unfortunately I have already promised I would take a look into the Apple II screensaver because it's not completely faithful to its 8-bit namesake. Besides that, this is completely beyond my modest knowledge on mindblowing visuals.

I am more than a little embarrassed because I thought I could map the output of the Apple II screensaver to a curved surface to mimic a CRT screen on current flat screens. That was humbling.

3 points by jinushaun 3 days ago 1 reply      
Great write up! It's good to see real world uses for Processing and OpenFrameworks outside the context of trivial tutorials and sample code. I've always wondered who actually uses them and for what.
3 points by niktech 3 days ago 2 replies      
I've never heard of Houdini so I had to look it up (it's a purely procedural 3D animation package): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Houdini_(software)

Here is their demo reel: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=leJks6ay4tg

Apparently Maya, Softimage and 3DS Max are not the only players in this space anymore.

6 points by djenryte 3 days ago 0 replies      
The author, Josh Nimoy, gave a great talk at last month's LA Hacker News meetup. Unfortunately, can't find a video recap.
2 points by flexd 3 days ago 0 replies      
I'm amazed to know that openframeworks gets used in movies.

A good movie is a lot about level of detail, at least if you have a good knowledge of technology similar to whats being used in the movie.

You can nearly spot a good movie just by seeing how much they have paid attention to detail, based mostly on who they target as their main audience.

This is obviously one of the things the Tron: Legacy creators did right :-)

1 point by jmtame 3 days ago 2 replies      
incidentally, if you look up the "top 100" movies on piratebay right now, you'll see tron legacy show up as #3. i think this goes to show just how popular this movie is--the visual effects were incredible.

was there any information on how they created the younger version of kevin flynn?

1 point by rokhayakebe 3 days ago 0 replies      
It is quite interesting to see how much work has been done.
2 points by sradnidge 3 days ago 1 reply      
I didn't like TRON Legacy at all, but after reading this I'm going to watch it again. Several times even.
1 point by sjm 3 days ago 0 replies      
Terminal font looks very similar to BitStream Vera Mono Sans if anyone else was curious.
-3 points by fractallyte 3 days ago 1 reply      
While the graphics are technically well done, I was offended by this movie. Prior to seeing it, I'd decided that, for me, the real 'test' of whether I could consider this a genuine sequel would be in the landscapes...

Tron came out in 1982. Ken Perlin won an Academy award for his work on the procedurally generated textures (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Perlin_noise) used in the movie.

The Mandelbrot set (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mandelbrot_set) got widespread fame in August 1985, with that famous Scientific American cover. Tron just missed that graphical opportunity! So, I figured, any true student of CGI involved in the sequel would relish the notion of putting some sort of tribute to Mandelbrot into the scenery (here are some examples: http://www.fractalforums.com/3d-fractal-generation/heightfie...).

How mistaken I was... Yes, I'm really bitter about producers and artists who don't care to know anything about the history of their art. And they had the presumption to call it 'Tron Legacy'??

Show HN: my weekend project, Gumroad gumroad.com
365 points by sahillavingia 3 days ago   202 comments top 58
69 points by sahillavingia 3 days ago replies      
Over this past weekend I had the idea to build a sort of link shortener but with a payment system built-in. There have been many times in the past where I wanted to share a link - on Twitter or just through IM with a few friends - but did not want to go through the overhead of setting up a whole store.

So I built Gumroad. I coded/designed from 12PM -> 11PM on Saturday and 8AM -> 11PM on Sunday. There are still tons of features missing (I'm working on AJAX file uploading next!) but I think it's reached that - buzzword alert! - MVP stage where I want to see if anyone's actually going to use the darn thing (I'm thinking about taking a 30% cut).

Here's an example Gumroad link: http://www.gumroad.com/l/hjbaod - I use Stripe for payments. Here are some screenshots I took while making it: http://letscrate.com/gumroad/gumroad-progress - I didn't use Photoshop so no crazy time-lapses!

I think it has some potential. What do you guys think?

34 points by JoshTriplett 2 days ago 7 replies      
Interesting idea, but I see two main issues with this.

First, anyone who pays and gets to the resulting link can trivially share that link; of course, you can always ask them nicely not to do so, and in some contexts that will work, but in general the security model just doesn't work unless you authenticate each paid user at the destination. You need to come up with an answer to this.

Second, if you market this as a link shortener which requires payment, I think you'll get backlash from people who currently use link shorteners to share links on Twitter and similar; from that perspective it feels like the kind of thing you'd see used by Twitter spammers/scammers. Suggested fix: flip it around, and present it as an astonishingly simple payment system based on URLs, which happens to behave like a shortener.

66 points by bhousel 3 days ago 3 replies      
17 points by jasonlotito 2 days ago 2 replies      
Things you have to look at fast.

* Money laundering. Cap fees now.

* You are using Stripe, but you're still collecting CC data. Are you PCI compliant?

* Does Stripe allow you to do this? Really? Basically, you're acting as a third party processor, an IPSP. People can sell anything through your service (Think adult content)

I'm really interested if Stripe is aware of what you are doing and fine with it.

14 points by Xk 2 days ago 0 replies      
You have an XSS on the login form. I create a page which posts to the login page with the name

" onclick="alert('do evil here')" onfocus="alert('do evil here')" foo="

It errors out, and my javascript is now in the input box. They click the name and then it runs my javascript.

It's great you've escaped < and >, but you need to do more.

15 points by btmorex 2 days ago 3 replies      
What do you plan on doing about fraud? Seems like it would be way too easy to move money around with stolen credit cards.
18 points by mgkimsal 2 days ago 2 replies      
As with many ideas I see floated and mvp'd on HN, I'm jealous. Great idea, good execution. I'd agree with others that the 30% is too high. 5-10% would be acceptable.
7 points by kqueue 2 days ago 1 reply      
Traceback (most recent call last):

  File "/base/python_runtime/python_lib/versions/1/google/appengine/ext/webapp/__init__.py", line 634, in __call__

File "/base/data/home/apps/gumroad/1.349472656690944858/main.py", line 60, in get
if is_logged_in():

File "/base/data/home/apps/gumroad/1.349472656690944858/main.py", line 110, in is_logged_in
s = sessions.Session()

File "/base/data/home/apps/gumroad/1.349472656690944858/appengine_utilities/sessions.py", line 562, in __init__
self.session = _AppEngineUtilities_Session.get_session(self)

File "/base/data/home/apps/gumroad/1.349472656690944858/appengine_utilities/sessions.py", line 142, in get_session
ds_session = db.get(str(session_key))

File "/base/python_runtime/python_lib/versions/1/google/appengine/ext/db/__init__.py", line 1422, in get
keys, multiple = datastore.NormalizeAndTypeCheckKeys(keys)

File "/base/python_runtime/python_lib/versions/1/google/appengine/api/datastore.py", line 180, in NormalizeAndTypeCheckKeys
keys = [_GetCompleteKeyOrError(key) for key in keys]

File "/base/python_runtime/python_lib/versions/1/google/appengine/api/datastore.py", line 2339, in _GetCompleteKeyOrError
key = Key(arg)

File "/base/python_runtime/python_lib/versions/1/google/appengine/api/datastore_types.py", line 364, in __init__
raise datastore_errors.BadKeyError('Invalid string key %s.' % encoded)

BadKeyError: Invalid string key agdndW1yb2FkciMLEhtfQXBwRW5naW5lVXRpbGl0aWVzX1Nlc3Npb24Y.

9 points by retube 2 days ago 4 replies      
How does this work for art though? I mean you want to see the icon/graphic/design/whatever before you pay for it.

Also - once you've been redirected to the page, what's to stop you taking the link and sharing it yourself?

Also also: if I've got something to sell, can't I just bung it on ebay?

10 points by petercooper 2 days ago 0 replies      
Loving the simplicity of the idea. The simplicity is worth a higher cut (though maybe not 30% ;-)) and makes it a lot more attractive to use in small situations. One thing you need to beware of, though, is the filing requirements.. you might have to start issuing tons of 1099s and that process will cost you.
11 points by fizx 2 days ago 1 reply      
Please put a video on the homepage. If I'm on the fence, I'd rather watch a video than create an account.
5 points by kloncks 2 days ago 1 reply      
The copy on the re-direct page is bothering me a bit. Anyone else?

You're being shared Gumroad!

With the "You're being shared". Sounds confusing.

7 points by jcapote 3 days ago 1 reply      
If the payment fails, will you still redirect to the link?

If you only redirected based on successful payments, you could use this as a simpler paypal for charging clients on your site using unique gumroaded links.

4 points by barredo 2 days ago 2 replies      
Is the redirect-link unique in any way? I mean.

If anyone buys the access to a a non-unique-link (ie: http://mybook.com/book.pdf), and then shares the redirected URL to a third person, this third person could load the link without paying, right?

10 points by evoltix 3 days ago 4 replies      
Seriously? I'm not sure I could take anyone seriously that tried to sell me a link of "value." Why not just share the link for free like people have been doing since the beginning of time?

Don't get me wrong. You did a great job getting this rolled out over a weekend and it looks nice. I must need some enlightening because I really don't get it.

4 points by donnyg107 2 days ago 0 replies      
If this becomes a high traffic site, it could really help fight internet piracy. If I have a high demand, hard to find video, I'm far more likely to try to sell it than just give it away. And even if I can't because the site is closely watched by the actual copywriter holders, the idea that money can be made off any online property can give internet knowledge and assets the feeling of physical worth, to the degree that people may grow hesitant to just give away their video and music files. It also has potential to detract from the information free-for-all of the internet, as people may also grow hesitant to share in general, but that would only be for sellable things, so blogs and general information are basically out. If successful, this site could make major change in the attitude of the internet. In essence, conflict exists between copyright holding companies, who believe their intellectual property should be paid for, and the general population of the internet, who freely share information constantly. This conflict could seriously benefit from a general shift toward the resounding feeling that information and online assets are worth something and should be bought and sold. That could be of serious detriment to the culture of the internet, but the communities could also gradually adjust. After all, the feeling that assets have monetary value is the way we live in the real world, its only a matter of time before the internet starts to follow.
3 points by dools 2 days ago 0 replies      
I'm already giving this away for free with a PayPal donate link at http://pickdropapp.com/ but what the hell: http://gumroad.com/l/cvhhwi
11 points by suking 2 days ago 1 reply      
Nice - how about this as a feature: # of downloads allowed. This would allow people to sell just 1 copy or set up something like a groupon-esque clone. First 50 people get 50% off. Then after 50 people say you're too late. Just an idea.
4 points by rokhayakebe 2 days ago 0 replies      
This may just be the simplest way to sell digital goods.

I think all content should be uploaded to your servers otherwise if someone gets to the final link they can just send others to it.

18 points by cavilling_elite 2 days ago 1 reply      
This looks like a really expensive way to get Rick Roll'd :)
3 points by tezza 2 days ago 0 replies      
Seems good.

How long until exact clones appear? What makes GumRoad the micro-paywall of choice?

How long until shortened<-->lengthened websites appear which reduces how many people pay up?

5 points by mtw 2 days ago 0 replies      
Are you collecting taxes? if it's a company registered in the US

Also how do you deal with chargebacks?

4 points by aquark 2 days ago 0 replies      
Interesting concept -- how do you deal with the legalities?

If I buy something am I buying it from you or from the original owner?

How long do you hold onto the funds to deal with any potential chargebacks?

2 points by nyellin 2 days ago 1 reply      
You can tell clients to check the http referrer for your domain. That would (mostly) stop people from posting now-useless destination URLs online.

http referrers are easily spoofed, of course, but it'll be enough to prevent most people from sharing secret urls on twitter. You could also pivot and allow people to upload files to your own server, but that's a different story.

2 points by hugh3 2 days ago 1 reply      
I'd work on the name. Gumroad? What does it mean?

To me it brings up an image of a road, covered with gum. I'm trying to get where I want to go, but there's all this gum on the road slowing me down. It's a huge and annoying obstacle. And that is a bad mental image, given that what you're selling is a sort of obstacle.

It's not too late for a different name.

2 points by bryanh 2 days ago 0 replies      
Brilliant little idea, I think the big selling point is speed and ease of use. I might create a similar product to this for BitBuffet.com (a similar file selling service I created), as I think the process can be further streamlined.

Digital sale processes still need streamlining for everyday users (especially one-off users) and I can see a service like this taking off.

2 points by eddieplan9 2 days ago 0 replies      
Nice product!

Feature request: use the top half of the screen to show a preview of the linked page rendered as a PNG. Use the other half of the screen for soliciting payment. I want to know what I would get with the payment. How much of the target page is shown should of course be configurable by the page owner.

5 points by schwabacher 2 days ago 1 reply      
I really like you color pallette. How did you come up with it?
3 points by kloncks 2 days ago 1 reply      
Is this what you've been working on in SF, Sahil :) ?
2 points by tlrobinson 2 days ago 0 replies      
I already dislike URL shorteners, there's no way I'm going to give my credit card info to one.
2 points by icco 2 days ago 0 replies      
Seems cool. I wish you'd render the about text box for products with Markdown or something though so the links were clickable.
1 point by franze 2 days ago 0 replies      
i love the idea, i hate the new "We have a tiered system for pricing:" basically it says: if you earn less, we will take even more. so basically if - lets say - earn 2 dollars (casual user who sold a psd template for 1$) this service now takes 2$ - 230c = 1.40$ - (1.40$ 0.3) = 98c

this tool should encourage casual use
it makes a perfectly simple product complicated.

please overthink your pricing-strategy. make it as simple as possible, iterate from there.

1 point by mekarpeles 2 days ago 0 replies      
Traceback (most recent call last):
File "/base/python_runtime/python_lib/versions/1/google/appengine/ext/webapp/__init__.py", line 636, in __call__
File "/base/data/home/apps/gumroad/1.349498677539326613/main.py", line 292, in post
File "/base/python_runtime/python_lib/versions/1/google/appengine/ext/db/__init__.py", line 1491, in delete
datastore.Delete(keys, config=config)
File "/base/python_runtime/python_lib/versions/1/google/appengine/api/datastore.py", line 516, in Delete
keys, multiple = NormalizeAndTypeCheckKeys(keys)
File "/base/python_runtime/python_lib/versions/1/google/appengine/api/datastore.py", line 178, in NormalizeAndTypeCheckKeys
keys, multiple = NormalizeAndTypeCheck(keys, (basestring, Entity, Key))
File "/base/python_runtime/python_lib/versions/1/google/appengine/api/datastore.py", line 157, in NormalizeAndTypeCheck
(types, val, typename(val)))
BadArgumentError: Expected one of (<type 'basestring'>, <class 'google.appengine.api.datastore.Entity'>, <class 'google.appengine.api.datastore_types.Key'>); received None (a NoneType).
1 point by primigenus 2 days ago 0 replies      
There's some potential for gamification here. Here's a Gumroad URL which, when paid for, unlocks some kind of challenge that you must solve in order to find a new Gumroad URL. Which unlocks another challenge that leads to another Gumroad URL, continuing for n steps until you unlock the final reward. Each step costs less than a dollar.

How would this have played out if eg. Dropbox had run their challenge on top of Gumroad?

3 points by lux 3 days ago 1 reply      
What are your fees? Didn't see that anywhere on the homepage.
4 points by mgeraci 2 days ago 1 reply      
I like the simplicity of the home page, but I would want to see what a user would see when supplied with a gumroad'd link before singing up.
1 point by suprafly 2 days ago 0 replies      
Traceback (most recent call last):
File "/base/python_runtime/python_lib/versions/1/google/appengine/ext/webapp/__init__.py", line 634, in __call__
File "/base/data/home/apps/gumroad/1.349472656690944858/main.py", line 60, in get
if is_logged_in():
File "/base/data/home/apps/gumroad/1.349472656690944858/main.py", line 110, in is_logged_in
s = sessions.Session()
File "/base/data/home/apps/gumroad/1.349472656690944858/appengine_utilities/sessions.py", line 562, in __init__
self.session = _AppEngineUtilities_Session.get_session(self)
File "/base/data/home/apps/gumroad/1.349472656690944858/appengine_utilities/sessions.py", line 142, in get_session
ds_session = db.get(str(session_key))
File "/base/python_runtime/python_lib/versions/1/google/appengine/ext/db/__init__.py", line 1422, in get
keys, multiple = datastore.NormalizeAndTypeCheckKeys(keys)
File "/base/python_runtime/python_lib/versions/1/google/appengine/api/datastore.py", line 180, in NormalizeAndTypeCheckKeys
keys = [_GetCompleteKeyOrError(key) for key in keys]
File "/base/python_runtime/python_lib/versions/1/google/appengine/api/datastore.py", line 2339, in _GetCompleteKeyOrError
key = Key(arg)
File "/base/python_runtime/python_lib/versions/1/google/appengine/api/datastore_types.py", line 364, in __init__
raise datastore_errors.BadKeyError('Invalid string key %s.' % encoded)
BadKeyError: Invalid string key agdndW1yb2FkciMLEhtfQXBwRW5naW5lVXRpbGl0aWVzX1Nlc3Npb24Y.
2 points by yoshyosh 2 days ago 0 replies      
Am I missing something or could you just employ a download method rather than link? Maybe something like how istockphoto does it. Although the link leads to a purchase terminal, if they make the purchase it would prompt a download rather than a link they could share.

Also link shorteners + asking for credit card information immediately can get iffy in terms of trust and fraud. I understand that it is an mvp though. Later you might be able to employ a buy credits system like istockphoto does.

1 point by Noleli 15 hours ago 0 replies      
I saw this post the other day, then came across Pulley. Is there a difference? http://pulleyapp.com/
2 points by ojilles 2 days ago 0 replies      
sahillavingia, your personal site looks awesome too!
3 points by fuscata 2 days ago 1 reply      
I get a broken lock icon, and "Connection partially encrypted" message. You need to make sure all externally linked resources on the page use SSL. Specifically: change http://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Cabin:regular,bold to https://...
1 point by ck2 2 days ago 0 replies      
Just a caution, if you are taking in money via paypal and then paying out via paypal, paypal will probably shut you down within a month. They don't like competition.
1 point by jimminy 2 days ago 1 reply      
First off, I like the idea, but there are some noticeable flaws, many which have been brought up.

One interesting one for me, which is more an oversight, is that anyone can make money off of the sale of a link. There is no way to validate that the person posting the link, is the owner of the content. So someone could sell links to a page on HN, Reddit, Techcrunch, etc. at no expense to them.

If this did occur, I think it would cause a quite negative view of Gumroad links, as being scammy. In which case, people would begin to avoid them, reducing their effectiveness as a possible sales medium. Without oversight, as to who is selling a link, this might end up smothering itself out.

3 points by mizerydearia 2 days ago 0 replies      
2 points by bokonon 2 days ago 0 replies      
I saw it mentioned here already, but the idea of a "Name your Price" option would be really cool. Just like how Bandcamp does it. I'm always more motivated to support artists that chose this option.
1 point by erikch 2 days ago 0 replies      
I've been thinking about this exact problem for a few weeks now. I have gone as far as buying a domain for it (epayfiles.com) and I just started coding. I think I'll continue on with my project I'll just focus on a different payment niche.

After doing some quick research I found five or six sites with similar ideas. Most of them focus on selling digital files not links. The link idea sounds novel. The presentation is also very clean. Looks good.

1 point by bauchidgw 2 days ago 0 replies      
please tell us when the first (real) vc are knocking on your door ... this is just awesome and has more potential then the most startups covered by techcrunch and co
1 point by potomak 2 days ago 0 replies      
This is my daily fail: http://potomak.tumblr.com/post/4361901296/developer-business...

Developer ≠ Businessman

1 point by ddkrone 2 days ago 0 replies      
There is no way to stop re-selling of the content once somebody has bought it short of implementing some horrendous DRM system.
2 points by jorangreef 2 days ago 0 replies      
Well done this is brilliant.
2 points by tommoor 2 days ago 0 replies      
I think it's a great idea, and really well implemented so far.

Best of luck with it!

2 points by caioariede 2 days ago 0 replies      
If the value is zero the user is being redirected to home, after accessing the link url.
1 point by livejamie 2 days ago 0 replies      
I like it, there's a lot of functionality missing, as you said but tons of possibilities.

I'd like to see a "pay as much as you'd like" feature, where you can set a minimum amount (like radiohead and girl talk do) but still allow them to pay more.

1 point by DrOkter 2 days ago 1 reply      
Why wouldn't stripe just implement this themselves? Since their payment processing service (and API?) is 99% of the project, seems like they'd make their own and cut you off if this gained any traction.
1 point by huge_ness 2 days ago 0 replies      
So it's funny that this happens today: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=2407969
1 point by Flam 2 days ago 0 replies      
How do I know that, when I pay, I am actually getting what I am paying for?
How do you handle chargebacks etc..
1 point by dps 2 days ago 0 replies      
Great idea. Your email address matching is case sensitive, you might want to fix that.
1 point by woodall 2 days ago 0 replies      
Really neat way to sell vulnerabilities.
Why GNU grep is fast freebsd.org
320 points by shawndumas 6 days ago   68 comments top 14
25 points by DarkShikari 6 days ago 2 replies      
- Roll your own unbuffered input using raw system calls.

A small toy project I wrote last year was a modification of GNU grep that did the opposite -- it aggressively prefetched ahead of the file it was currently reading. This helped performance dramatically on fragmented data (e.g. tons of small files).

For most typical greps (at least of files as opposed to standard input), "grep" is likely disk-bound, not CPU-bound.

(Note: I mean literal prefetch, not actually reading the file from disk. This is important because file input is a blocking operation in UNIX -- the thread blocks when read() is called and can only be resumed when the read is complete, unlike the case of output. This prevents the filesystem from reordering or merging multiple reads unless they come simultaneously from different threads. This is why reads are often slower than writes on typical data.)

82 points by jrockway 6 days ago 4 replies      
The key to making programs fast is to make them do practically nothing.

This is the Ultimate Truth of optimizing computer programs, and it seems so few people understand it.

"Why can't you make Python faster!?" Because Python does a lot of stuff without you asking.

31 points by yan 6 days ago 1 reply      
Obligatory post by ridiculous_fish on grep's speed optimizations: http://ridiculousfish.com/blog/archives/2006/05/30/old-age-a...
18 points by aidenn0 6 days ago 1 reply      
Interestingly enough, awk is many times faster for an inverted grep (grep -v) than grep is. Get a large file and test yourself!

grep -v regex
awk '$0 !~ /regex/ {print}'

This is possibly due largely to this not helping in that case:


awk is very fast at breaking the input into lines (that's what it spends most of the day doing!). I don't understand why it's so much slower though. (I had a 100+MB log file that I was searching when I discovered this).

39 points by RiderOfGiraffes 6 days ago 1 reply      
Dup: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=1626305

Many, many, many comments there.

8 points by ecaron 6 days ago 0 replies      
This is discussed best in the opening chapter of O'Reilly's Beautiful Code: http://oreilly.com/catalog/9780596510046. Google Books has a readable snippet of the section at http://bit.ly/g34QRh, but I highly recommend buying the book because it is a great read.
10 points by juiceandjuice 6 days ago 3 replies      
I have some serious love for mmap.

I don't know how many people's code I've optimized by eliminating:

FILE *f;

f = open("file.dat","r")


and replacing it with mmap'd I/O

3 points by dasht 6 days ago 0 replies      
Mike has only given part of the answer there. GNU grep obviously is very I/O tuned. And GNU grep optimizes the special cases of constant strings and of regexps that (more or less) start with a constant string -- but there's more!

GNU grep is also fast for most commonly encountered non-constant-string regexps (even those that don't start with a constant string) because its regexp engine avoids backtracking by doing an on-the-fly conversion (of many patterns) to a DFA. These extra cases are algorithmically neat and when you want them, you're glad they're there -- but they are less sexy in benchmarks because the most common use case in the real world, by far, is a search for a constant string.

11 points by nprincigalli 6 days ago 3 replies      
Check out ack, tailored for programmers: http://betterthangrep.com/
6 points by gorset 6 days ago 1 reply      
The other day I was actually surprised over how slow gnu grep was. I wanted to count how many lines in a log file contained a domain. Using grep -c <domain> <file> took 25 seconds for 1.7GB log file, whilst agrep only took 5 seconds.
1 point by pedrocr 6 days ago 1 reply      
How far could you go in a discussion like this before BSD grep could reasonably be considered a derived work of GNU grep?

The discussion is going deeply into how GNU grep is implemented so it's clearly not a clean-room reverse engineering kind of situation. On the other hand nothing is being discussed that could be subject of copyright as only ideas and algorithms are put forth and no code is shown. How careful do you have to be to be sure?

1 point by terrapinbear 6 days ago 0 replies      
Unrolling that inner loop in the Boyer-Moore algo is called "Duff's Device".
-2 points by petermin 6 days ago 0 replies      
Thank you very much for sharing this!!!
-2 points by crasshopper 6 days ago 0 replies      
This makes me wonder: how is greplin so fast? And how come gmail search is slow?

(Yeah, I could ask somewhere else ... but this is HN, I bet someone looking at this Just Knows.)

Before I Die... candychang.com
318 points by Dysiode 13 hours ago   45 comments top 20
25 points by corin_ 12 hours ago 1 reply      
Photo #5 shows a man writing "tried for pi" and I badly wanted to know what the ending was. Hilarious that it was "tried for piracey" (as shown in #9), given he is genuinely dressed as a pirate.

Awesome overall idea, too.

12 points by iamwil 12 hours ago 2 replies      
It's not inspiring unless it moves people to action. I hope those that wrote on there are on their way to figuring out some way to make their dreams and goals come true.
11 points by staunch 12 hours ago 1 reply      
...begin receiving life extension therapy? ;-)
9 points by Kilimanjaro 12 hours ago 1 reply      
Hmm, great idea for a web project that can go viral real quick.
6 points by sagarun 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Another interesting social project from the same person http://candychang.com/post-it-notes-for-neighbors-2/
1 point by mhb 1 hour ago 0 replies      
3 points by mgkimsal 12 hours ago 0 replies      
Found this - not quite as good, but lots of pics: http://www.beforeidieiwantto.org/usa_other.html
13 points by s00pcan 10 hours ago 0 replies      
This is the least scary way you could write "Die" on a wall 81 times.
2 points by jrockway 9 hours ago 1 reply      
Everyone has hopes and aspirations. What's troubling is realizing that you have an aspiration that you will never be able to fulfil.

I want to fly a fully-loaded 777. I want to sleep with every member of my favorite all-female band. These things are never going to happen. Does that mean my life is a failure?

8 points by zarprey 12 hours ago 0 replies      
What a great use of a neglected space. Really inspiring project. It'd be great to do a timelapse of people writing on the wall. The variety of people would be interesting to see.
1 point by InfinityX0 10 hours ago 1 reply      
The less I sit and ponder about the meaning of life and what I'm doing and what to do in the future, the happier I am.

Before I die, I don't want to contemplate what I want to do before I die. Not to say I'm not achievement-oriented, because I am, I just associate "before I die" type statements with similar "what if?" personalities - although obviously "what if?" is a concrete statement while "before I die" still leaves room for change, which can inspire hope - although it most often won't inspire action.

2 points by rokhayakebe 11 hours ago 1 reply      
I found this project a few weeks back and loved it. Almost posted it here. I would love to see a web version of it or at least aggregating tweets with a hashtag like #b4id
2 points by nhangen 11 hours ago 0 replies      
Fantastic project, and it's also a fascinating social experiment. Many people talk of changing bad situations, but this is a case of using art and engineering to make a solid attempt.
3 points by spencerfry 12 hours ago 2 replies      
This is genius. Need this in every city.
2 points by gcr 13 hours ago 0 replies      
This is exactly the kind of thing my art professor would love. Interesting!
2 points by wicknicks 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Totally liked the "Before I Die... Make a difference" message.
2 points by mrleinad 9 hours ago 2 replies      
How long 'til someone creates a cool site with this idea? I bet less than a week..
1 point by hammock 12 hours ago 0 replies      
I did come across this a few days ago and thought it was cool. Would not have expected something like this to make the front page of HN.
1 point by testingisageek 9 hours ago 1 reply      
Wish we had this in our city pluse I like the idea the othe guy said about having a time lapse that would be really neat great work.
0 points by zelandpanther 2 hours ago 0 replies      
Before I die I want to have a great life.
Slice HD: you will hurt your fingers on your iPad arstechnica.com
305 points by ivank 6 days ago   52 comments top 19
37 points by Tycho 6 days ago 1 reply      
I've got to try this. I love it when people come up with really original stuff for the iPad like this.

edit: bought it, great fun. the touch interaction works the way you need it to (ie. more advanced than most touch apps) so you can come up with lots of different techniques to beat the levels. when you get cut it does cause a slight 'aaaahh!' reaction and withdrawal of fingers. you get kicked back a level if you get cut, but hey, no pain no game.

11 points by robg 6 days ago 0 replies      
Simulation at its best! Great app!

Here's a popular story of the "hand" study:

Here's the paper:

16 points by some1else 6 days ago 3 replies      
Cool trick, but the blood spatter could be done a lot better. From what I can see, blood just "grows out of" the point of contact, and a general splat appears all over the screen. I hope knife velocity impacts the blood splat in the next version.
21 points by moblivu 6 days ago 2 replies      
A true tablet game! Not another try at porting a console or PC gameplay like a First or Third person shooter on this form-factor. This is something that you need a touchscreen device to experience at best. Simply amazing as is the execution!
14 points by nickolai 6 days ago 1 reply      
Sounds cool. Makes my hands feel uneasy just reading it.
6 points by leftnode 6 days ago 0 replies      
It's like Twister but for your fingers and with knives. For $3, I love it.
7 points by 6ren 5 days ago 0 replies      
One of the few apps that really makes use of multi-touch.
5 points by leoc 6 days ago 1 reply      
Seems Ramachandran http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vilayanur_S._Ramachandran -inspired, right?
2 points by bigiain 5 days ago 0 replies      
I'm finding myself fascinated and curious about the review...

What a great spin "I was anxiously waiting my review cide, then realized it's three freaking dollars, so I bought it myself". That's marketing/PR/psychological manipulation gold! I'd love to hear aout the process that lead to Ars publishing that for them. Was it just pure dumb luck on the reviewers part? Was it a "primed" phrase from the developers? Or was it part of a carefully planned and highly skilled marketing/PR campaign?

I _really_ like it!

I might even buy the game...

2 points by jhuckestein 5 days ago 0 replies      
I just tried this and I endorse every aspect of the game. I reached lvl 15 and I had to call my roommate in to help me on one level (yea yea cheating ... :()

I do think they should include more boobie traps though. Most levels I played were easy to solve mechanically. I want to be scared to touch ANY part of the screen.

9 points by geophile 6 days ago 1 reply      
Killer app
2 points by roadnottaken 6 days ago 1 reply      
Anybody figure out how to get past level 10?
1 point by greattypo 4 days ago 0 replies      
Anyone else beat it? I'm still not sure what exactly happened in that last level..
3 points by heffay 6 days ago 0 replies      
What a great concept. For $3, I'm all over it. Great use of the multi touch features
1 point by cambriar 5 days ago 0 replies      
Great job! Definitely creates an environment of fear for the player, just watching the video gave me that 'oh my gosh I'm cutting a lime' feeling.

We HN readers know it takes more than an original idea to shock and awe, nice work on the execution!

1 point by zrgiu 6 days ago 0 replies      
wow.. just amazing. Cutting-edge, like someone on ars said
1 point by edanm 5 days ago 3 replies      
Looks amazing.

No iPhone version :(

2 points by risico 5 days ago 1 reply      
For apps like this it's worth to buy an iPad.
1 point by kmfrk 5 days ago 0 replies      
It's like a Mikado 2.0.
How to find startup ideas that make money paraschopra.com
295 points by sushi 3 days ago   44 comments top 18
19 points by kristofferR 3 days ago 2 replies      
I really like the strategy layed out in MJ Demarco's Millionaire Fastlane. A lucrative startup idea should have five things:

Need - There has to be a need for what you're delivering. Don't blindly do what you love or are passionate about, do what the market requests. The market doesn't care at all about what you love, they care how you can solve their needs.

Entry - It shouldn't be easy to start the business/to step in the market. If it's to easy to get into the market, it's probably way harder to succeed in that market. There's a reason why it's almost impossible for blogs to earn serious money, it's simply too easy to start one. Everyone can start one. If everyone can start up a clone of your business, it's not likely to succeed. However, if it takes some real work/investment to startup your business, it's probably a better business.

Control - You must be in control over your own business success. If somebody else can shut down your business, you're not in control. If your business is relying on API access or affiliate income from somebody else, it's not a very substainable business.

Scale - The business must be able to scale to the masses. If you're running a sandwitch cart, it doesn't matter how good your sandwitches are. You can't suddently sell 100 000 sandwitches in a day in your neighboorhood. However, if you're selling access to something online the whole world is your market and it doesn't cost you much more to sell 10000 subscriptions than it does to sell 10.

Time - The business success needs to be seperated from your time. If the business can't grow seperated from your time , it's not really a business. It's just a job you have created yourself. This doesn't mean that you shouldn't spend a lot of your time on your business, it just means that what your business earn shouldn't be connected to how much time you spend running it.

Read the book, it's really good (71 five stars/1 four stars/0 three-two-one stars).

40 points by 6ren 3 days ago 3 replies      
Just a note on (b): ease-of-use can also disrupt an industry, by making it accessible to people with less skill/time. It's not that it becomes less tedious use for existing users, but a step-function, that it becomes possible to use for non-users.

[The reason this (and low-cost) are potentially disruptive is because they target non-consumption: people who aren't customers of incumbents, and so acquiring them doesn't provoke a competitive response, while you grow strong enough (e.g. improve product performance/features) to potentially defeat those incumbents. The same effect also makes it easier to get started.]

14 points by noelsequeira 3 days ago 0 replies      
I'm extremely grateful to entrepreneurs like Paras who've been in the trenches (and stumbled several times, only to pick themselves up and dust themselves off each time), lay their cards on the table and share tidbits of actionable insight (Non-esoteric, actionable insight being the operative words here).

I think this extends PG's classic words, "Make something people want" to something that sounds like:

Make something people want that

1) they're ready to pay for / you can monetize

2) is in an expanding / sufficiently large market

3) has precedents / incumbents that validate the need

4) you're sufficiently well leveraged to execute on

5) you and your team are passionate about

While there will always be outliers / exceptions to the rule, I'm convinced this is an excellent heuristic to filter the several hundreds of ideas that course through the average entrepeneur's mind in any given year.

7 points by tuhin 3 days ago 3 replies      
Great perspective from Paras in the article. No doubts the way his business has grown is actually a story of how determination and simplicity in an established industry can lead to great businesses.

However, using a blanket statement to characterise the potential of a startup might not be the best way forward. From what the author says, it would be impossible to see Twitter, Foursquare, Square ever be born. I for one would not be happy if they did not exist.

Just because one has never seen an idea getting successful might not always mean it is impossible. It often means no one has tried hard enough. I know the pragmatists would thrash me by saying the contrary.

The truth is that there are many ways to go about founding a company. One is to actually set off to found one because to you the joy of founding and working for yourself while solving a real pain is what is of prime importance. The idea or the sector you are in might not be the closest thing to your heart. (Though it must not be too distant too). This is the way that Paras speaks of and for most of the folks it is great.

Another way is to just work on something that solves a real problem for you. It might be just a simple app that tells you all the cool places in a city maybe just your city but something that you want to do and feel there is a real need for. A point to be noted is that by now you have not thought of how it will make money or how the server bills will be paid. Well do not worry you are not the first person to go this way nor the last one.

The other route is to just come up with a crazy idea that everyone who hears has just one thing to say: "Why won't I use this with that or why do I need that". Don't worry if others cannot see what you clearly see. In such a case the final product is already in your head and you can see hundreds of uses for this. Every day you refine it in your head till the reality and vision of the product converge. Chances are that if you actually stayed around to see them converge then you have something going on for you. Either you actually believe in the product and it is a great product that the world did not see the need for till they started using it OR you were just being delusional. I would say the chances of being delusional if you stuck around till a final MVP are not very high.

Each of the above 3 paths are for different types of people. So before you follow any advise as a rulebook, step back and do some soul searching. You already know what way to go for.

5 points by vaksel 3 days ago 1 reply      
the best way is to find an industry where people are already making a ton of money, and carving a piece of that.

Inventing the wheel is a recipe for disaster...because not only do you have to convince them to buy from you...but you also need to convince them to buy the thing in the first place.

3 points by koko775 3 days ago 1 reply      
This, to me, boils down to "triangulate, differentiate, execute better, and compete", in fewer words. Or even more concisely, "be realistic".

I don't think this is invalid, but at the same time, it seems like it's suggesting that, rather than searching for a need you want solved and framing it in terms of a realistic goal and whittling it down to a compelling product, you should be identifying someone else's need and building that product.

A fun idea without a plan may need some serious thought and modifications to make it a compelling product, but I think that perhaps a compelling idea with no fun is pretty difficult to make fun.

Perhaps my core philosophical objection can be summarized in contrast to this:

> Any sufficiently big market will give you tons of interesting ideas. Why do you need to come up one of your own?

I don't think this is a market-driven approach, in the sense that the market is merely setting the context, and it's still interest-driven, and you're still searching (and hopefully coming up with) ideas you find interesting. Just identifying exploitable needs isn't necessarily going to expose something you're going to enjoy.

5 points by swombat 3 days ago 1 reply      
Great article (which I reposted on swombat.com). One comment I'd have is that the "growing" characteristic is very important! I followed this approach for my first startup, and thought it would be a walk in the park. However, the industry we started in (audio on the web) was tanking in 2007 and that was one of the important issues amongst the many problems we hit...
4 points by Swizec 3 days ago 1 reply      
> a lot of things in life that appeal us but we've got no chance (for geeks: most obvious example is dating a hot lady!)

I resent that! It's downright mean and untrue.

But anyhow, the whole article smells a lot like a concept I developed a few months ago that ideas are a process. You start doing something and on the way you get better ideas as you gain a better understanding of the problem. Just sitting on your arse will never get you a killer idea. Never.

5 points by nadam 3 days ago 0 replies      
This advice aligns with my current views so much that I wish I could send back this advice in time to my younger self.
7 points by k00k 3 days ago 0 replies      
After reading this, I've spent the past 2 hours perusing the Inc. 5000 list that he links to. http://www.inc.com/inc5000/list/

There are some mind-blowing/boggling entries there, like: http://www.inc.com/inc5000/profile/chasing-fireflies

Take some time browsing through, you're sure to find something you'll be scratching your noggin over.

5 points by zacharyvoase 2 days ago 0 replies      
Startup ideas don't make money.

Startups make money.

5 points by Vmabuza 3 days ago 1 reply      
So in short.Instead of trying to invent the wheel just invent tires. I like this approach,but its very tempting for us young entreprenuers to Invent (idea) .
0 points by 3pt14159 2 days ago 0 replies      
I posted this on his site, for those that may have missed it.

Hey, just a small quibble, but there are no companies on that list growing 1000% per year for 3 years. 10^3 equals 1000, or 100,000% after 3 years of compounding growth.

That said, great post and nice data find.

2 points by grigy 3 days ago 1 reply      
Agree with the points of article, but one question remains open. Who's going to make the innovative products then?
2 points by Turny 2 days ago 0 replies      
+10 Couldn't agree more! Paras, you're speaking my mind. Just followed up with a post here: http://bit.ly/hToZoZ.

Thanks for sharing.


1 point by ankneo 1 day ago 0 replies      
Really good info.. Can surely be a one stop link to get some insight into starting up a Startup.. Cool Paras..
1 point by imwilsonxu 2 days ago 0 replies      
Idea doesn't make money, delivery makes. Just like looking at the finishing line doesn't make you win, you have to run and run fast.
-4 points by donnyg107 3 days ago 0 replies      
I think this was posted a few days ago, but it has led to a mildly interesting discussion so I have no issue with it.
Chinese Infinite Magical Hard-Drive jitbit.com
289 points by jitbit 5 hours ago   39 comments top 11
13 points by aik 1 hour ago 1 reply      
Here's my sad Chinese sd card experience. The state of things there depresses me:

When I was in Beijing I went to a regular store to buy an SD card for my camera. I asked them to let me try the cards in my camera before purchasing, so I did that. As I put a card in, all looked well, however when I proceeded to format the card, the issues arose. Regardless of the size of the card, 2, 4, or 8gb, the card would then instead read as 128mb. I mentioned this fact to them and they said sorry and let me try a new card. About 4 cards later the owner was nearly in tears and I was very frustrated. At that point the owner went to the back stockroom and gave me yet another card. This time it formatted fine and I purchased that one.

It was such a sad experience. I felt very embarrassed and sorry for this owner. I don't know if the owner knew that they were scamming people, or if they were just being scammed themselves.

21 points by elliottcarlson 3 hours ago 3 replies      
While I know these fake drives exist - wouldn't running the last 5 minutes of a video file utterly fail as it wouldn't have any of the header/codec/video envelope data since that's at the beginning? Have a feeling the story is more anecdotal than anything...
10 points by pmjordan 5 hours ago 1 reply      
A couple of years ago, some USB sticks with a similar "flaw" made it onto the European market. The capacity difference wasn't quite as drastic as this example, which almost makes matters worse: you have to fill it with e.g. 1GB of data and read it back before you notice anything.

My friend said they're still trying to figure out how did the Chinese do that. Because the drive reports "correct" file sizes and disk-capacity. And the "overwriting" doe not touch the other files present on the drive.

I suspect they treat the first N megabytes correctly to preserve file system data structures. For anything above that (the remaining "capacity"), they just let it loop by cutting off the top bits of the offset.

1 point by dfranke 21 minutes ago 0 replies      
Something about this story doesn't seem to add up. An SSD's firmware presents the raw flash to the OS as a block device. The filesystem is at a higher level of abstraction, above that block device. If the device is handling data that doesn't fit by wrapping back around to the beginning of the file, how is it figuring out where that file begins when all it sees is a bunch AHCI requests?
1 point by jcromartie 12 minutes ago 1 reply      
What if (this sort of) Chinese electronics designers spent their (obviously impressive) technical skills on not ripping people off?
8 points by qjz 1 hour ago 2 replies      
I love the extra hardware glued inside to give it some weight. Nice attention to detail!
12 points by makeramen 5 hours ago 3 replies      
Anyone have experience writing or know the source of the software (firmware) that does this? If not just for the hax, it would make an epic April fools joke.
3 points by millerc 1 hour ago 0 replies      
IIRC from my time playing with Norton Utilities back when it was a real hacker tool, you only need to format the disk as usual then hand-modify the disk size in the MSDOS (2nd, logical drive's) boot sector. The FAT will contain all the entries needed for keeping parts of the file in correct order, and Windows will happily report the drive size from that field. Assuming the flash drive's firmware/circuit doesn't report errors but rather uses the low bits to address the sectors (laziest way to build a flash controller), explains how "only the last part of the file" gets preserved (i.e. not overwritten).

For the FAT to stay non-corrupt I would assume that Windows writes a full copy from its cache right after writing the file, that would not be an unreasonable assumption.

All in all: extremely easy to reproduce, no special controller needed. Probably just a guy that realized how Windows behaves after changing a couple bytes on the disk, and another that said "hey, we can make money off that!"

2 points by afterburner 2 hours ago 0 replies      
Lots of fake 32GB microSDs are also on the eBay market, and function in a similar fashion. I've bought a fake hard drive, I know a few others who have bought hard drives or microSDs... someone musta written a how-to! They're getting tricky with pulling eBay/PayPal accounts and setting up Dutch auctions to throw wrenches in the system to slow it down before the money transfers are reversed/released.
1 point by ginkgo 42 minutes ago 0 replies      
How could a program work that can detect such scam-drives? As long as we don't care about crashing the formatting, at least.

It could work by writing a specific pattern in the first few bytes of the device and then reading/writing in 2^n steps to check if the pattern cycles.

I think I have some counterfeit thumb-drives lying around. Maybe I will try writing something like that..

4 points by dvfer 2 hours ago 0 replies      
I have seen a USB flash drive with only a USB connector on it... inside is empty, and yes, I'm Chinese. I don't know I should laugh or not.
Collect HN: Aprils Fools
291 points by daleharvey 6 days ago   224 comments top 126
51 points by mbrubeck 6 days ago 2 replies      
Opt out of April Fools Day with the "DNF" HTTP header:


If you are planning an April Fools joke on your web site, I urge you to support this important new web standard. :)

23 points by cowpewter 6 days ago 3 replies      
Here at Grooveshark, we've harnessed the power of HTML5™ to provide you with a full 3D experience...


If you have a paid account, it won't change your theme automatically though. You should get a notification in the corner to turn it on.

38 points by gcr 6 days ago 1 reply      
I'm planning on installing a transparent proxy that rotates web pages 1-2 degrees with CSS3 transforms.


47 points by moeffju 6 days ago 5 replies      
We're pretty B2B, so we just subtly rotate the whole page by -2.5 to +2.5 deg. https://www.toptranslation.com/

(Supports the DNF protocol, btw.)

39 points by th 6 days ago 2 replies      
xkcd is 3D: http://xkcd.com/

Randall is accepting user-submitted 3D versions of each comic: http://xkcd.com/xk3d/

Unfortunately, it looks like there is no title text for 3D comics yet.

21 points by humbledrone 6 days ago 0 replies      
I created a bash-like shell with C++ syntax. It saves a lot of typing, and it's only 412,011 lines of template-heavy code, so it's easy to extend:


10 points by mrspeaker 6 days ago 0 replies      
Joe Armstrong and Robert Virding admit that Erlang VM was just a dodgy clone of the JVM (video)


26 points by robin_reala 6 days ago 3 replies      
Search for Helvetica on Google: https://encrypted.google.com/search?q=helvetica
20 points by yesbabyyes 6 days ago 2 replies      
Adblock releases Adblock Freedom - augmented reality eyewear that detects and removes ads from the world in realtime. http://chromeadblock.com/freedom/
23 points by tkahn6 6 days ago 3 replies      
Hulu 1995 throwback complete with <table> based layout.


29 points by daleharvey 6 days ago 1 reply      
atlassian gets into mobile gaming


25 points by GVRV 6 days ago 1 reply      
17 points by daleharvey 6 days ago 0 replies      
and the first, spotify closes its EU service in order to launch in the US


22 points by dwwoelfel 6 days ago 0 replies      
If I wasn't so scared of being tarred and feathered by the anti-fools brigade, I'd submit this self-post for April Fools:

    DAE think Hacker News is turning into Reddit?

40 points by joshu 6 days ago 4 replies      
Is it just me or is none of this stuff any funny?
32 points by imrehg 6 days ago 0 replies      
The Canterbury Distribution: http://www.archlinux.org/ & http://www.debian.org/ & http://grml.org/ & Gentoo & openSUSE....

That's some team effort! Too bad it's a joke, I'd so get it right now...

6 points by Jabbles 6 days ago 0 replies      
Not an April Fools' Joke: Microsoft complains to EU about Google's (alleged) anti-competitive behaviour.


8 points by fakelvis 6 days ago 1 reply      
Wolfram|Alpha have changed their name: http://blog.wolframalpha.com/2011/04/01/wolframalpha-changes...

Now it's: http://www.wolframalpha.com/bieberbeta.html

WolframAlpa|Beta would have been funnier in my opinion. This just feels like my dad trying to be hip.

8 points by rbxbx 6 days ago 0 replies      
test-align: centaur; http://testaligncentaur.com/

not to be confused with

text-align: centaur; http://textaligncentaur.com/

10 points by Xuzz 6 days ago 1 reply      
Cydia adds a dickbar to help users discover popular packages: http://www.iclarified.com/entry/index.php?enid=14540
14 points by lachyg 6 days ago 0 replies      
I wonder how many cofounders will get fake YC interview acceptances from their partners =P
6 points by tokenadult 6 days ago 2 replies      
For historical interest, an all-time classic from the BBC:


7 points by NZ_Matt 6 days ago 2 replies      
Air New Zealand have introduced "pay what you weigh"


5 points by btilly 6 days ago 0 replies      
One of my favorite web comics got seized by the FBI: http://www.gpf-comics.com/

(I hope this one is a joke.)

8 points by fakelvis 6 days ago 0 replies      
http://pinboard.in is now a Yahoo! product.

Before I realised, the "from Yahoo!" image (top left) stopped me in my tracks.

21 points by mhiceoin 6 days ago 0 replies      
12 points by derrida 6 days ago 2 replies      
6 points by bergie 6 days ago 0 replies      
Apache gets paid 3.141592654 cents for each Google +1 click because of their "+1 patent"


5 points by stanleydrew 6 days ago 1 reply      
Twilio's API now returns responses in morse code. Just append .morse to the end of any Twilio REST API URL to get the morse code representation.

If you find a legitimate use for this, please let us know.

9 points by vyrotek 6 days ago 1 reply      
Voting things up on http://www.StackOverflow.com seems to display colorful dancing unicorns now.
6 points by stanleydrew 6 days ago 2 replies      
Twilio releases long-awaited carrier pigeon API: http://www.twilio.com/pigeons
7 points by gammarator 6 days ago 2 replies      
(Internet Annoyance Day is even more annoying when it starts at UTC-12.)
6 points by adora 6 days ago 0 replies      
LinkedIn's "People you may know" section is now filled with historical figures and fictional characters, all of which have pretty elaborate profiles.


4 points by dchest 6 days ago 0 replies      
I launched "I Read Like" http://iwl.me/read/
3 points by jeffbarr 6 days ago 0 replies      
The AWS team has been working on the new Amazon $NAME product for over 10 months:


6 points by Seth_Kriticos 6 days ago 1 reply      
http://www.omgubuntu.co.uk/ drops back to CLI today, it seems.
13 points by qwertymaniac 6 days ago 2 replies      
GMail Motion - Use your body to control your inbox: http://mail.google.com/mail/help/motion.html
6 points by Mizza 6 days ago 1 reply      
6 points by mncaudill 6 days ago 0 replies      
At Flick(e)r, we finally fixed the misspelling of the company name.
8 points by neckbeard 6 days ago 0 replies      
Cheezburger Network acquires Charlie Stross' blog:
4 points by MaysonL 6 days ago 0 replies      
Dave Winer's putting up a paywall on Scripting News:
5 points by loganlinn 6 days ago 0 replies      
Narwhal in London according to Google Maps!
3 points by forsaken 6 days ago 0 replies      
http://urbanairship.com has turned into an 8-bit working game.
7 points by mef 6 days ago 1 reply      
Ryanair introduces "child-free" flights (if only it were true) http://www.ryanair.com/en/news/child-free-flights-from-octob...
3 points by pitdesi 6 days ago 0 replies      
http://FeeFighters.com raised $41 million, bought the rock band FooFighters, rebranded as http://FoeFighters.com, and is having a contest to see which Foe they should fight.

Please vote! it's good for humanity!

2 points by paraschopra 6 days ago 0 replies      
Move beyond behavioral targeting: using mouse movements to read visitor's mind http://visualwebsiteoptimizer.com/split-testing-blog/behavio...
10 points by turbodog 6 days ago 0 replies      
5 points by nitefly 6 days ago 0 replies      
Security Advisory SMB-1985-0001: Plumber Injection Attack in Bowser's Castle:


2 points by elliottcarlson 6 days ago 0 replies      

Envato unveils 3DOcean - The world's first stereoscopic anaglyph online marketplace.

4 points by sfgfdhgfdshdhhd 6 days ago 0 replies      
IDG has a story about mozilla recalling firefox 4 because of serious bug. Every user should return their version using an online upload form or by sending a usb-stick by mail.


4 points by Urgo 6 days ago 0 replies      
Hey guys, My goal since 2004 has been to keep a list of all AFD jokes on the web in one place. Check it out if you like. Have 66 there so far this year :) Feel free to submit any ones from THIS year to the site as well.


2 points by sahillavingia 6 days ago 0 replies      
At Pinterest we turned stuff upside down: http://pinterest.com/
3 points by inerte 6 days ago 0 replies      
We put this on our menu, under "Tasks": http://erkie.github.com/ with the text "destroy system"
3 points by hollywoodcole 6 days ago 0 replies      
1 point by mortenjorck 5 days ago 0 replies      
If you use Harvest for time tracking, they have a nice, simple gag today: The usual nameplate link in the bottom right has changed to "HARVESTVS • SINCE MMVI" and clicking on it will change all of your time entries to Roman numerals.
5 points by piotrSikora 6 days ago 0 replies      
YouTube's "year 1911" mode ;)
3 points by est 6 days ago 0 replies      
http://www.geforce.com/ 3dfx Voodoo 5 5500
2 points by PStamatiou 6 days ago 0 replies      
2 points by rsoto 6 days ago 0 replies      
3 points by carnivore 6 days ago 0 replies      
Any YouTube video, with _CAPTIONS_ on (The CC button), to add text to your 1911 video :)


To find other videos with captions, append ",cc" to your search, like "cats, cc".

2 points by duck 6 days ago 0 replies      
I turned Hacker Newsletter (http://www.hackernewsletter.com) upside down for the day and started offering a new faxed edition for a small fee.
1 point by __david__ 6 days ago 0 replies      
We switched the colors on the cards in our solitaire games (http://greenfelt.net/freecell). It's a subtle effect that just makes things look weird without you being able to identify what is wrong, at first.
3 points by Z3UX 6 days ago 1 reply      
3 points by balanon 6 days ago 0 replies      
"My newborn isn't crying all night. April Fools. Yes she is. Joke's on you."


1 point by juiceandjuice 5 days ago 0 replies      

Not one upvote yet :( I'm suprised nobody has submitted that URL yet.

2 points by jim-greer 5 days ago 0 replies      
Trade in your used Flash games on Kongregate
3 points by mariust 6 days ago 0 replies      
6 points by mman 6 days ago 0 replies      
Everyone stop ruining April fools by expecting it
2 points by fremdkraft 6 days ago 0 replies      
The employees of Germany's Foreign Ministry are getting iPads replacing their PCs and notebooks.

I guess some will wish it wasn't April 1st. :)

Google translated story:

1 point by gluejar 5 days ago 0 replies      
The Threat to Book Publishing From Long-Dead Authors, and a Solution
1 point by rdtsc 6 days ago 1 reply      
1 point by danek 5 days ago 0 replies      
"I'm feeling yucky" button


also, we ported our site to lolcode


3 points by shareme 6 days ago 1 reply      
Jason Calacanis sold Mahalo to MS Bing
2 points by joeblue 6 days ago 0 replies      
Hi Everyone, I am super excited to announce the release of The Hoffington Post: http://thehoffingtonpost.com
The Internet Newspaper: 100% dedicated to David Hasselhoff.

It's better than his singing. We swear.

3 points by wilhil 6 days ago 0 replies      
2 points by djjose 6 days ago 0 replies      
Find a new girlfriend/boyfriend based on one you already like! http://blog.alikeplaces.com/2011/alike-places-launches-new-p...
1 point by mcdowall 6 days ago 0 replies      
Someone at work actually tried to enter her card details!


1 point by Mizza 5 days ago 0 replies      

Kinda subtle.. check the title..

1 point by ciupicri 6 days ago 0 replies      
GNOME 3.0 Rescheduled for September 2011 Release


2 points by FSecurePal 6 days ago 0 replies      
Hacker Group Changes Millions of Passwords to "password"; Only 38% of Users Notice http://www.f-secure.com/weblog/archives/00002134.html
2 points by mhiceoin 6 days ago 0 replies      
Affiliate rebills funding an Affiliate hang out in the Maldives


1 point by sankara 6 days ago 0 replies      
1 point by guruz 6 days ago 0 replies      
2 points by cnicolaou 6 days ago 0 replies      
1 point by tsenart 6 days ago 0 replies      

Just paste this before your body closes:
// Uncomment the next line if you want the prank to happen only when the url hashtag is #april
// if (document.location.hash.indexOf('april') > -1)
document.body.style.webkitTransform = document.body.style.MozTransform =
'rotate(' + [45, 90, 135, 180, 225, 270, 315][Math.floor(Math.random() * 7)] + 'deg)';

1 point by jitendra_ 6 days ago 0 replies      
News about Pune's Tech Industry decline quotes Vivek Wadhwa:

http://punetech.com/punes-tech-industry-to-decline-40-by-202... .

Wadhwa on twitter confirms it is a prank: http://twitter.com/vwadhwa/status/53675195906531328

1 point by philikon 5 days ago 1 reply      
http://zodb.ws is one of the more impressive April Fools hacks I've seen this year. It runs the ZODB, a pure Python NoSQL database that's been around for a while and originated in the Zope project, on top of CPython -- in the browser! Uses emscripten which compiles LLVM bytecode to JS. Complete with a localStorage backend for ZODB.
1 point by whimsy 5 days ago 0 replies      
An adaptation of RFC 1149 (IP over Avian Carriers) for IPv6: http://tools.ietf.org/html/rfc6214
1 point by dreeves 6 days ago 0 replies      
3 points by selvan 6 days ago 0 replies      
DST's Yuri Milner offers EVERY YCS11 applicant $250K.
2 points by rodh 5 days ago 0 replies      
Meet the world's first 3D monocle:
3 points by stevenashley 6 days ago 1 reply      
Duke Nukem Forever has been delayed until Mid 2012.
1 point by monicaobrien 5 days ago 0 replies      
Here's ours: Braintree's New Mobile App Green Allows You to Pay with Cash From Your Phone http://www.braintreepaymentsolutions.com/blog/braintrees-new...
2 points by fmavituna 6 days ago 0 replies      
1 point by wmobit 6 days ago 0 replies      
Milkyway@Home on iPhone / iOS. The small tests that run on my desktop in about 10 seconds take 20 minutes on my iphone 3g, and drain the battery about 8%.


1 point by plainOldText 6 days ago 0 replies      
omgubuntu has encountered an error or many :)
1 point by agaton 6 days ago 0 replies      
Twingly and TV4+ Haunted House launches Blog Platform for Ghost Writers and Social Mediums


1 point by bnmrrs 6 days ago 0 replies      
Thanks to the coming Canadian election Demeure was able to add a special rental property. http://demeure.com/special-offers/sussex. Come and stay in the former Prime Minister's house for only $3000/night!
1 point by dord 6 days ago 0 replies      
At Sporcle, they've added a 'Boss!' button. Now when you're playing games on their site at work and the boss comes around, just click the boss button and something else will pop up in the window!


1 point by jonkelly 6 days ago 0 replies      
Our small contribution to the genre: http://thisorthat.com/blog/breaking-scrappr-picks-up-410001-...
Breaking News: Scrapper Gobbles Up $41.000001 Million Investment
1 point by njonsson 6 days ago 0 replies      
“What's new in htty v1.3.4: Rails view emulation " PUT and DELETE are sent as POST requests with form data of ‘_method=put' or ‘_method=delete'.”


1 point by iki23 6 days ago 0 replies      
@TPB wins auction for site eBay.com, merge is planned:
1 point by davweb 6 days ago 0 replies      
Eric Lippert introduces some new features in C#:


1 point by fdd 6 days ago 0 replies      
In a bid on Auction site eBay, for the site of eBay.com itself, The Pirate Bay has come out as the official winner: http://thepiratebay.org/blog/189.
1 point by jshort 5 days ago 0 replies      
1 point by senectus 6 days ago 0 replies      
1 point by herman 6 days ago 0 replies      
We're having some reverse packet switching issues on Snapfinch, seems to be causing images to display upside down: http://snapfinch.com
1 point by fdd 6 days ago 0 replies      
1 point by cinch 6 days ago 0 replies      
(in German) Netbook review: Compaq Aero 4/33C http://www.golem.de/1104/82381.html
1 point by shoma 6 days ago 0 replies      
New RFC. Regional Broadcast Using an Atmospheric Link Layer
1 point by redbluething 6 days ago 0 replies      
2 points by zedrick 6 days ago 0 replies      
One Kings Lane launches OKL Farms - The only breeders of the Mini Lap Elephant.


1 point by mmilkin 6 days ago 0 replies      
1 point by JohnJacobs 5 days ago 0 replies      
Haha. Check out http://libsxe.org
1 point by adam_quartzy 5 days ago 0 replies      
1 point by monahancj 5 days ago 0 replies      

I'd been waiting all day for this to happen to me. It took until 4:20 PM.

1 point by moses1400 6 days ago 0 replies      
1 point by ved 6 days ago 0 replies      
Head over to LinkedIn and see who "you might know you"...
0 points by Herwig 6 days ago 0 replies      
0 points by csarva 6 days ago 1 reply      
0 points by sktrdie 6 days ago 0 replies      
Is this an Aprils fools joke? If yes it should be submitted under itself.
Why Some People Can Run on Little Sleep and Get So Much Done wsj.com
281 points by pkarbe 2 days ago   123 comments top 38
43 points by jasongullickson 2 days ago 6 replies      
I'm glad that I finally have something (albeit thin) to point people to when they feel the need to lecture me about my sleeping habits.

As long as I can remember I've been happy with a mix of 4 and 6 hour sleeping sessions, two or three days of 4 followed by one night of more sleep (typically 6 hours) and then back to 4 hours again.

Under the recommendation of my peers and physicians I have attempted to do 8 hour nights but the results are that I feel worse in the morning, and each night I attempt to sleep 8 hours waking up gets harder and harder.

Over the years I've developed a few theories as to why I need less sleep than is recommended and someday when I get around to finishing my EEG project I'll gather some data to back them up, but for now I'm just making the most out of the extra time I have the same way someone with a different biological advantage might.

I will also mention that (as mentioned elsewhere here) there are definitely people at the other end of this curve who's performance is shockingly better if they get more than the "required" 8 hours of sleep per night, and I believe that we could all benefit by recognizing this fact and adjusting our cultural expectations to accommodate these patterns as well. I think with a little flexibility on both ends we'd see a significant increase in overall productivity and quality of life.

In other words "When hungry, eat. When tired, sleep." - http://users.rider.edu/~suler/zenstory/whentired.html

8 points by tokenadult 1 day ago 0 replies      
"A few studies have suggested that some short sleepers may have hypomania, a mild form of mania with racing thoughts and few inhibitions. 'These people talk fast. They never stop. They're always on the up side of life,' says Dr. Buysse."

Reduction in sleep is a known symptom of abnormally elevated mood, whether hypomania (elevated mood without psychotic symptoms) or mania (elevated mood with psychotic symptoms). For most normal subjects, as has been demonstrated by studies of unusual sleep patterns in armed forces personnel, reduced hours of sleep or disrupted daily sleep cycles seriously degrade performance of many tasks involving judgment or multitasking--without the subject of the experiment being aware of the degraded performance.


Note that controlled reduction of sleep has been shown experimentally to elevate the mood of depressed persons. In other words, if a person has had a prolonged period of depressed mood, and begins reducing hours of sleep (especially if a light box turns on to help the person wake up on time in the morning), that can bring the person closer to normal mood.


Following up on the interesting comment posted first by mechanical_fish, there surely is a range of variation of "natural" human need for sleep, with most people concentrated in a band of needing approximately seven to eight hours of sleep a night, and some few needing significantly less, and some few needing significantly more. But social pressure and environmental conditions for sleep induction (electric lights in the evening) in current society probably result in most people getting less sleep than what they need to perform at their best when awake and to maintain good health.

91 points by bound008 2 days ago 3 replies      
I emailed the researcher, whose address was at the end of the article with the appropriate gene data (BHLHE41 on Chromosome 12) to see if my DNA is a match. The article said its a mutation, but maybe those with the mutation exhibit a certain codon pair. Its an amazing time when you can read an article about such a thing, and then cross check your DNA in a matter of seconds. Articles will have to start posting the raw DNA for results.
38 points by silverbax88 2 days ago 3 replies      
I think it's obvious what we must do next. According to every science fiction film or book I've ever read, we must capture them, confine them and study them in an attempt to learn their secrets and duplicate it in everyone else.
40 points by michaelcampbell 2 days ago 2 replies      
This reminds me of the studies not too long about how some very small percentage of the population actually CAN multitask well. Then a very large percentage of the population used that as "evidence" to justify their existing habits. I see it here already.
15 points by lkozma 2 days ago 1 reply      
It's a false dichotomy, on a lot of hard problems progress is a step function, and you often "get much done" while sleeping. I.e. when you wake up well rested you see things from a different angle. If it's something like chopping wood, sure, the less you sleep the more wood you chop, within reasonable limits, but I don't think that is what these articles aim for. I think it's wrong to look at sleep as a waste of time the same way time spent thinking about something is not wasted either.

Here's some information I mostly agree with:

24 points by Roritharr 2 days ago 2 replies      
As someone whose blanket feels like its made out of lead every morning after 7 hours sleep i have to say: unfair. :(
9 points by mbateman 2 days ago 0 replies      
I've always wondered if this was mostly a psychological issue.

There are two circumstances in which I get less than 7 hours of sleep a night: if I'm really stressed about getting something done, or if I'm really excited about getting something done.

In the first place the lack of sleep exacerbates the stress and really starts to weigh on me. But in the second case it doesn't seem to have much negative effect.

Now if only I could continuously keep my motivation up...

7 points by kls 2 days ago 1 reply      
There has been a link to depression and too much sleep so much so that sleep deprivation is used as a treatment for depression where other treatments fail. It actually puts the patient into a manic episode.

It was peculiar to note that people who are short-sleepers also share a slight manic trait in their personality. While the article makes short-sleep cycles out to look like all sunshine and roses it is not all it is cracked up to be. I get between 2 and 4 hours sleep a night and on a good night I get 6. I have to monitor the sleep I am getting because if I allow myself to fall into a cycle of 2 hours for an extended time I start to have problems with my heart and abnormal rhythms. If the > 4 hours cycle goes on for more than a week I have to start taking medicine to sleep to ensure that my body is receiving an adequate amount of sleep. I see no negative effects if I get 4-6 a night, but it is probably safe to assume that short-sleep cycles rides the line between good and bad health. I never considered myself a short sleeper I just figured I have insomnia but never worried too much about it because I feel no different if I get 4 or 8 hours of sleep a night (if I can get 8) and the fact that my father and grandfather shares the trait and are healthy (grandfather is almost 90) . On the plus side, I experience more life and get more done which are really the only benefits to sleeping less.

4 points by shawnee_ 2 days ago 0 replies      
Christopher Jones, a University of Utah neurologist and sleep scientist who oversees the recruiting, says there is one question that is more revealing than anything else: When people do have a chance to sleep longer, on weekends or vacation, do they still sleep only five or six hours a night? People who sleep more when they can are not true short sleepers, he says.

The article didn't mention this, but the ability to wake up regularly without an alarm clock is probably another commonality short sleepers have. Although < 7 hours isn't something I can do regularly, I can't stay in bed, even if I'm a little tired, much past 6 AM on any day of the week.

"People need less sleep as they get older" is something I've heard a lot, but don't know. Sleep patterns seem pretty ingrained, and people with weird sleeping patterns tend to be either hardcore early birds (me) or unapologetic night owls.

7 points by mironathetin 1 day ago 0 replies      
I am 46 now and I still need more than 8 hours a night.
I tried less, but that does not work: thinking is a torture then, sports too.

If I get enough sleep, I feel great, I get 3 times as much done and I run and swim like a champ (still).

I love to get enough sleep!!!! It simply feels great.

6 points by olliesaunders 2 days ago 3 replies      
Damn you, science! I've read so many studies saying there's absolutely no way you can get by without at least 7 hours sleep and now you tell me that that completely doesn't apply to 1-3% of the population?! That's actually not that small of a percentage. How big were the sample sizes of all the other studies? Did nobody encounter at least one of these low-sleep requiring people? Maybe they were just eliminated as being an anomaly.

I've met some of these people who insisted they didn't need much sleep before and now I seem like an idiot for telling them that it they would probably feel better if they got more.

This is fantastic research, I just wish it had been around 10 years ago.

10 points by Vivtek 2 days ago 4 replies      
Candidate number two for gene surgery (my current #1 being that color vision y'all talk about so much).
4 points by Tycho 2 days ago 2 replies      
Is this few-hours sleep business feasible when you need to think deeply about abstract things during the day, eg. programming? I can see it working if your success is tied to being energetic, on the ball, constantly negotiating, acting on information or leading lots of people. But what if you need to do the analysis yourself?
15 points by codedivine 2 days ago 1 reply      
The article is mostly content-free.
3 points by mzl 2 days ago 0 replies      
I used to know one of these short sleepers. He had never felt the need to sleep more than about two hours per night, and did so for his whole life (which was respectably long, no noticeable side-effects from the exceptionally short sleep). He used a lot of the extra time to run a small local business, interact with customers during the day and do the administration during the night.
1 point by Swizec 2 days ago 3 replies      
Not saying that I'm one of the sleepless elite, but I seem to function best on 6 hours of sleep a day. Whenever I try to sleep more I just feel tired all day and when I sleep less ... well that depends on how much less.

For optimum energivity I find an hour of sleep is best, just enough to reset your cycle. But you can't do this more than once at a time, the next day the whole 6 hours are needed.

Don't have any idea why I'm like this, but I'm told that even as a baby I would often lie in bed for hours before finally falling asleep and as a toddler I would wake up at 5am because I was put to bed so early. Nowadays a healthy 4am to 10am schedule seems best.

Oh and anyone who doesn't want to sleep as much as they should, meditation is a great way of doing it. I managed to shave 2 hours off of my daily sleep need with 10 minutes of meditation ... so essentially I averaged 4 hours a day, for something like 5 years before I got out of the meditating habit for varying reasons.

3 points by keyle 2 days ago 1 reply      
Lucky buggers. Technically since time is money, that could make them 16% richer than most of us (assuming they sleep 2 hours less).
2 points by jcl 1 day ago 1 reply      
Given that the trait is genetic and extremely advantageous, why doesn't a much larger portion of the population have it? Is there a significant downside?
1 point by Semiapies 1 day ago 0 replies      
My boss is exactly like this - sleeps a tiny bit, has ridiculous amounts of energy and enthusiasm, and loves to deal with the world in a flurry of stimuli and decisions.

Me, I'm just an insomniac.

1 point by ComputerGuru 2 days ago 0 replies      
Hmmm.. Something I would think I could relate to, but we all know (a) how easy it is to convince yourself/diagnose yourself with something, and (b) how we would all love to consider ourselves from this group. So I'll just let this make me smile a little and leave it that :)
1 point by daimyoyo 1 day ago 0 replies      
I think the level of sleep I need depends on what I'm working on. When I was working on a business with my friends, I'd only sleep for 4 hours or so a day. Whereas when I was working a job I hated, I was exhausted unless I slept 9-10 hours a night. I think sleep requirements are a function of brain activity and engagement. It's just a theory but it seems to be true, at least in my case. Another theory I have relates to the sleep schedules of people. I'm nocturnal. I have been since I was 8 years old. And when I was working with my friends, it was at night. So I wonder if nite people need more sleep to function during the day like morning people need more to work nights?
1 point by kenjackson 1 day ago 0 replies      
I think I could sleep 20 hours if given the chance, but I routinely will sleep until 7am regardless of when I go to bed. If its 10pm or 4am. I just wake up at 7am, I'm super sleepy still, but more hungry. So I have to wake up, make some cereal and then I'm up.

Not sure what that is, but I've never met anyone else who shares this trait.

1 point by aycangulez 2 days ago 0 replies      
The primary function of sleep is to permanently store the things learned during the day (long-term potentiation). Although different people need different amounts of sleep, those who need less usually find that they sleep longer if they learn challenging new material (e.g. a new language). That is the reason why babies sleep the most. Their brains are empty sponges constantly absorbing new information.
1 point by gwern 2 days ago 0 replies      
> Out of every 100 people who believe they only need five or six hours of sleep a night, only about five people really do, Dr. Buysse says. The rest end up chronically sleep deprived, part of the one-third of U.S. adults who get less than the recommended seven hours of sleep per night, according to a report last month by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
1 point by semerda 1 day ago 0 replies      
I sleep 2am to 7am most days and keep myself busy so much that I sometimes go to 3:30am before forcing myself to sleep. Sleep time happens within 3-5 mins after going to bed - according to my WakeMate.

I think alot of this is due to a busy lifestyle. I find myself doing multiple things at the same time in the evening and being very productive in getting stuff done. While on holidays where I actually disconnect from work I find I sleep long hours each day.

An afternoon 20 min powernap is an amazing recharge! Everyone should do it. Using Paul McKenna's audio helps with the powernap. There's something weird about the hypnotic audio. Instantly puts me to sleep.

Finally, supposedly the need to nap in the afternoon is normal and every animal in the kingdom does it. Humans has largely forgotten about this clock due to the "working culture". In the book Brain Rules, this is described in more detail: http://www.brainrules.net/sleep

My 2c's worth.

2 points by pstack 2 days ago 0 replies      
No sleep is a feat I could pull off regularly when I was younger. It was no problem to go 48-72 hours without more than just a catnap or two. That was a decade ago. In my early thirties, I struggle beyond the sixteenth hour, except for rare occasions.

Fortunately, I think it's a sort of bell curve. From what I understand, I'm only about fifteen or twenty years away only getting a couple hours of sleep per night. How productive sleepless nights full of trips to the bathroom will be, I have no idea. I guess I'll finally catch up on all that damn reading.

1 point by nhangen 2 days ago 0 replies      
Jon Gruden, former NFL coach and Monday Night Football analyst is one of these. He goes to bed late and gets up as early as 3-4 AM.
2 points by maxcho 2 days ago 0 replies      
Read the actual paper, take a look at the hypomania test: figure out things about yourself. http://cl.ly/313A0x2k011t400C3N3C
1 point by megaframe 1 day ago 0 replies      
I question how much "work" someone that fits this really gets accomplished. I can run on limited sleep for weeks at a time and am more energized, but throw me at something mentally challenging like Quantum Physics or Solving some Linear Systems model, and it's like my brain says it needs time to process everything, so I end up sleeping absurd amounts. (I also find I make significant headway the next day after that kind of sleep)
1 point by doki_pen 1 day ago 0 replies      
I used to need very little sleep. Unfortunately, it was because my thyroid was overactive. As soon as I went to a doctor and got it taken care of, I became a normal sleeper.
1 point by Tharkun 2 days ago 0 replies      
I have to admit that I'm a bit confused here. 7-9 hours seems to be the "normal recommended" range, and under 6 hours puts you in the short sleepers category. What does 6-7 make you? Irrelevant to the research?

Many people make the mistake of oversleeping on the weekend and undersleeping on working days. I try to average 6.5hrs every night, weekend or no weekend. Just being consistent really helps in keeping the energy levels up imo.

3 points by dvfer 2 days ago 2 replies      
If they cannot find any "actual" short sleepers, how do they it's 1-3% of population...Oh science you are scary...
1 point by alexhektor 1 day ago 0 replies      
Arianna Huffington (and me) certainly are no natural "short sleepers" :)


1 point by palguay 2 days ago 0 replies      
This is a talk given at google about sleep http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IK1nMQq67VI
-4 points by soapdog 2 days ago 1 reply      
red bull?
-1 point by Herwig 2 days ago 0 replies      
A majority of us here are wanna be short sleepers. And we make do with that
-4 points by paylesworth 2 days ago 0 replies      
Leave it to the WSJ to exemplify the behavior of people with an erratic gene variation as something "Elite" (or L33t, lol).
Why TechCrunch is over yared.com
279 points by philipDS 5 days ago   62 comments top 21
109 points by nikcub 5 days ago replies      
I worked for TC for a long time and lived and worked in the same house as Mike for almost 4 years, so I know how he works very well.

First, Compete totally gets Techcrunch traffic wrong. Not only the numbers, but the trends would totally not match up with our own internal Google Analytics, and even the data such as top referrers etc. were way off. Compete should not be used as supporting evidence that Techcrunch is fading.

The number of re-tweets, comments, referral traffic, twitter subscribers, Techememe headlines, HN headlines, story leads etc. is as high as ever. Monthly uniques are nowhere near the 1M compete would want us to believe they are.

There are a few different types of blogger. Those who don't get access to stories and rely on press releases, generally boring. Then there are those who get access to information, but refuse to post about it for fear of pissing somebody off, just as boring and probably worse than the first type. Then there is the type of blogger who gets access to information, and has no problem stepping on toes to get the information out.

Mike is of this variety. You could say that he is the prime example of the new breed of process journalist - he would rather a (now rather low) error rate on 1-2% of stories in order to get the other 98% out there for the audience. I have intimate knowledge of how he works and how he puts stories together - to the extent that even now, with him on the other side of the world, I can read a story on headline and put together what went on behind the scenes to get this story out (such as the Facebook stock story). He is constantly on the phone and emailing people. He literally has hundreds of people on speed dial, on skype and in his email contact list - he would send dozens of single-line emails each day building information up around the story, and over the years has gotten very good at both extracting responses from people first, and then figuring out what is really happening by triangulating.

Sometimes the stories are posted a little early, and you see that process play out through a post being edited or through multiple posts that make up a larger story (like Scamville, and almost certainly this Facebook stock story). Arrington and his stories reflect the scene - if he is pumping a startup, it is because through talking to dozens of investors he keeps hearing about it. He rarely is the first to step out, but is a lot better at capturing mood and opinion and then amplifying it. He can also put his finger on what is wrong and what is right - and Angelgate was an example of that.

That also applies to this Facebook stock story. Do you really think he would just pick on him for no reason? Or is it more likely that he got a tip about it, confirmed it with one more person, phoned Facebook to talk about it (who asked to be off the record), contacted the guy in question, and then posted the story? A blogger who just makes things up and is wrong would never have an audience.

You only ever have to talk to anybody who has worked with Mike, any startup who has gone through the process with him, or any other blogger who respects that process, to understand that there is something special going on there. Mike has a lot of people he can count on in his circle and within the industry because of that. I watched him approach almost every word in a post with a lawyer's caution - he would constantly review even after a post is published and the possibility of not getting something right totally eats at him (to the point where he can't sleep). You have completely mischaracterized him as being careless, from a guy who used to wake me up at 5am just to check the smallest details of a story. Just shows that you totally do not understand what and who you are trying to diss at.

If you don't like this style of story - then don't read it. There are plenty of blogs that just churn out press release after press release and appease those who don't want to see the boat rocked. But don't attempt to string together poor traffic stats and two or three misses from a collection of thousands of hits into some narrative about Techcrunch failing.

If Techcrunch earned a dollar for ever blog post that has been written about it failing or jumping the shark then it could easily double revenue. Fact is that right now it still dominates startup news, is one of the main outlets to reach a startup audience if your are launching a product, and even with Mike writing less it is not fading anywhere - since his style is contagious and has been picked up by other writers.

I have seen this trend cycle of things being cool when new, and then suddenly uncool when popular, play out too many times not to be wise to it. There is nothing wrong with reading Techcrunch and other blogs, this isn't winner takes all. I enjoy reading HN, Reddit, The Startup Foundry, etc. This isn't grade school where you need to pick a team to be on and do your best to fight the other tribe (especially including personal attacks, which completely makes you cheap) - if you think you can do better in any way, try it, keep writing with Venturebeat and don't bitch about it - the readers and audience will decide based on quality not on preaching.

27 points by TomOfTTB 5 days ago 1 reply      
There are a lot of flaws in this analysis...

1. Yes Techcrunch's traffic is down according to Compete but so is the traffic from other sites that cover the same space. In the last 6 months Venturebeat for example is down 73%. ReadWriteWeb is down 38%. Even smaller sites are down. CenterNetworks covers relatively the same space and they're down 38%. By comparison Techcrunch is only down 29%.

2. The author states Michael Arrington making increasingly inflammatory posts as a reason why techcrunch will fail. But in my experience such posts tend to draw traffic. More to the point Arrington has been at this for a while, he uses analytics and he's not stupid. If the inflammatory posts weren't getting results he wouldn't continue to post them.

3. The author uses Wavii as an example of how TechCrunch is no longer a "kingmaker" because they've pushed that startup and it hasn't gotten major funding. But said product hasn't even launched yet so it's really too early to receive more funding (they already got $2m in seed funding and that was only 9 months ago). So the example doesn't really hold.

4. I actually kind of agree with this point in that I don't really enjoy Paul Carr, Sarah Lacy or Steve Gillmor. But again the site has analytics so I assume they'd be gone if everyone agreed with me. So clearly they're drawing a crowd regardless of how I feel. The author needs to realize the same is true of his opinion.

5. The last point boils down to "the author doesn't like Arrington so he'll fail". Well...a lot of people haven't liked Michael Arrington in the past and he's succeeded in spite of it.

I'm not saying Techcrunch doesn't have its problems but they're far from "over"

34 points by arn 5 days ago 1 reply      
I hate how people cite Compete.com traffic graphs as "fact". Fact #1 is not a fact at all.

Reference point: http://siteanalytics.compete.com/macrumors.com/ estimated traffic, graph goes down)
http://www.quantcast.com/macrumors.com (measured traffic, graph goes up)

I also like how he cites Compete's numbers for TechCrunch (1 million uniques), but doesn't use Compete's numbers for his own site PostPost. Compete says PostPost gets 18k uniques/month yet he cites 100K uniques. Why not compare apples to apples?

29 points by lachyg 5 days ago 1 reply      
I found this quote to be pretty good:

"If it was not for MG Siegler (Apple fanboyism aside) and Erick Schonfeld, TechCrunch would be a content-free environment. The rest of the writing has become incredibly self-referential and stale. Paul Carr has the magical ability to consistently write articles that say nothing other than what he did yesterday. Sarah Lacy keeps writing about startups in Indonesia that no one cares about, because even startups in first world countries like France can't seem to make it. Alexia Tsotsis has no clue about underlying technology or any context but continually injects her opinions and should instead write for PopSugar. Steve Gillmor occasionally adds a rambling grandpa perspective. Robin Wauters, Leena Rao and Jason Kincaid are all competent at summarizing the news, and even add a bit of context, but their content is no different than what you can read elsewhere."

12 points by SandB0x 5 days ago 2 replies      
How about ignoring the tiresome commentators, and the tiresome commentators complaining about other tiresome commentators.
12 points by TamDenholm 5 days ago 0 replies      
While I disagree with most of Arringtons written opinions I do respect the fact he managed to build a highly successful blog. I do however think that the quality has disappeared from techcrunch and 90% of the stuff that gets published on TC is tabloid crap. This is why I've taken TC off my RSS reader and now instead read The Startup Foundry.
4 points by ascendant 5 days ago 1 reply      
People can argue back and forth over exact reasons why TC is or isn't "over", but the fact of the matter is that at this time last year I found their stories interesting and hit the site at least twice a day. Now I show up once a week and I'm just not very excited about their content. How or why is for other people to figure out. I just think it's boring and borderline tabloid journalism now.
2 points by ChuckMcM 4 days ago 0 replies      
I can't really say if TechCrunch is 'over' (and here I thought 'over' was over (props to Portlandia)), but I can say that artificial viral marketing is a very strange thing indeed. Reading TechCrunch stories always gives me a feel for who is maneuvering and who isn't, and as with most blogs it seems there is a certain 'shadows on the wall of the cave' kind of aspect to it.

As an entrepreneur, do you think it helps or hinders your efforts to be "exposed" by a widely read blog? As a VC/Angel is this where you look for insights into the 'next big thing' ? And what of Peter Yared or other folks who write articles and give them away from free to various outlets like BusinessWeek, AdWeek, CNet, and others?

One of the things this article illustrates is that the Bay Area, and technology in general, is taking its lead from "Hollywood" rather than from say "Detroit" or "Pittsburgh". Why the star culture? Why the hype? Does Lindsay Lohan look like someone having fun? (I don't know but it doesn't look like it to me).

Arrington appears to enjoy lightning rod status, and while he sometimes whines loudly about getting wet he must be getting something out of going into the storm. I'm curious about the larger question about what it means.

It used to be that presenting at Usenix was "cool" and presenting as Uniforum was a "cop out." Why don't we have more of the 'serious' conferences any more? More questions than answers that is for sure.

5 points by citricsquid 5 days ago 0 replies      
I have access to site analytics for 2 sites pushing 70 and 100 million page views respectively, compete is HILARIOUSLY wrong, we're talking close to 1000% off in accuracy.

There's a reason Alexa measures in percent.

4 points by markkat 5 days ago 1 reply      
Alexa shows something similar, but it's pretty noisy: http://www.alexa.com/siteinfo/techcrunch.com#

I don't think the content has changed much, and TC is still my preferred "big tech blog". But FB comments decreased my visiting quite a bit. I used to comment with Disqus quite frequently. Trolling is down, but the comments are less interesting.

Think about what would happen to HN if we used FB profiles.

Comments are valuable content. They aren't just a widget. FB comments are bland.

4 points by tzs 5 days ago 0 replies      
I don't think the author is right in his assertion that collusion requires a monopoly. A collusion to fix prices and exclude competition is a per se violation of the Sherman Act regardless of the market power of the participants or the actual effect on competition, I believe.
3 points by ignifero 5 days ago 1 reply      
Techcrunch may be over because it has become irrelevant to the community of entrepreneurs/developers. Michael sometimes writes an interesting column. The rest is like a TMZ for the rich people of the silicon valley.

There are real issues like these: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=2291336 which they refuse to cover

4 points by ig1 4 days ago 1 reply      
I presume it was accidental and not a purposeful but Yared (the author of the article) should probably disclose that he knows Michael Brown (the FB guy subject to the insider trading accusations made by Techcrunch).
2 points by iamdave 4 days ago 0 replies      
Completely off topic

Can someone point me in the general direction of whomever started this "Why X is X" headline meme, so I can hop in my 80's plutonium powered Eurocar and beat the shit out of them?

It's lazy, it's trite, and it's poor form in writing.

2 points by hendzen 4 days ago 1 reply      
Vivek Wadwha needs to start his own (regularly updated) blog, or start writing posts for The Startup Foundry. His content is just on a whole new level compared to the other posts on TC. Here is a recent post he wrote that completely blew me away:


I've sent this article to numerous GSI's (Berkeley jargon for a TA) and professors and they were blown away as well. Even my Dad, someone who is a hardcore WSJ guy and doesn't read many blogs enjoyed it immensely.

I'm at Berkeley now, and I need to meet this guy, yet I have no idea how to go about doing so. Perhaps I should just shoot him an email and let him know that our passions are in line? Unfortunately he may be a little busy for 1 on 1 time with a freshman, but it can't hurt.

2 points by ianl 4 days ago 0 replies      
The only thing on TechCrunch I religiously read/watch anymore is TC Cribs, I just like to see how people work at companies in the valley.
2 points by jorde 5 days ago 0 replies      
I'm not taking sides but with Compete.com's history of bad data I wouldn't trust it that much. Here's another reference from Google Trends for Websites:


According to Google TC's traffic is down a bit but nothing as dramatic.

1 point by waterlesscloud 5 days ago 0 replies      
So clearly there's some discontent with startup journalism.

It would be hard for this to smell more like an opportunity.

1 point by jjm 5 days ago 0 replies      
Just like any other publication it has an audience. That is how I see TechCrunch. There isn't a publication I know of that can be all things to all people, less be correct about everything. Even the editors at Wikipedia fight over content... Thus I accept the 80/20 rule on TC and basically any Internet site.
1 point by insight 5 days ago 1 reply      
TechCrunch is not over.
It's just that the great-stratups-are-everywhere environment matured. It's less novel.
And the marketing playground is for non geeks = less tech blogs readers. These are all good news.
1 point by elvirs 4 days ago 0 replies      
why did the guy include a link to his new app (postpost) in the first lines of the post?
The most difficult CEO skill: managing your own psychology bhorowitz.com
280 points by bfe 6 days ago   66 comments top 15
19 points by staunch 5 days ago 5 replies      
To me the most important line is something I realized after working in a decently run 200 person company and then moving to a really well run 30 person company many years ago.

> "If you manage a team of 10 people, it's quite possible to do so with very few mistakes or bad behaviors."

His only mistake is thinking that 10 people is the limit. I think with some effort you can probably get to 30-40-50 people and still run it "with very few mistakes or bad behaviors."

To me that's the ideal. There are very few things a really well motivated, hard working, talented team of 50 can't do that a mixed-competence, unmotivated, bureaucratic team of 1000 can do.

Most people grow their companies to thousands of people without really thinking about it, because that's historically what you're supposed to do.

Not enough companies try to be small and "perfect".

26 points by shadowsun7 6 days ago 1 reply      
Fred Wilson also linked to this, saying:

Every once in a while I come across a blog post that so totally nails something and I am reminded why professionals blogging about their craft is such an important development in the world of media.

Read this. I found it inspiring. But it also scared the shit out of me, and made me wonder at the few people who've made it as CEO.

PS: Notice how all the default pronouns in a Ben Horowitz post are female? I find that totally awesome.

11 points by petervandijck 6 days ago 7 replies      
For fuck sake. This glorifying of CEO's (and entrepreneurs) is making me sick. Sure, it's hard being a CEO. It's hard being a teacher. It's hard being a parent. Stop believing you're so special.

"Jason was the one who had to live with the consequences." -> the people being fired have to live with the consequences. Jason only has to live with making the decision, which is much easier. Jeez.


10 points by robg 6 days ago 0 replies      
I'd add exercise, sleep, and nutrition. A healthy body helps keep a healthy mind.
6 points by iuguy 5 days ago 1 reply      
It's like the author just drilled into my mind and started pulling things out. I continually question every decision I make, relying on as much data as I can, but ultimately the buck stops with me, and if you don't find that prospect terrifying, then you're probably not of the right mind to run a company.
10 points by jkuria 6 days ago 3 replies      
Common man! You don't have to be so overly politically correct. It's ok to say "choices like these separate the boys from the men"! The feminine version just doesn't capture the essence!
5 points by rahooligan 5 days ago 0 replies      
I am grateful to Ben for making such posts. They have the potential to save me months of misdirection.

Best parts:

” Whenever I meet a successful CEO, I ask them how they did it. Mediocre CEOs point to their brilliant strategic moves or their intuitive business sense or a variety of other self-congratulatory explanations. The great CEOs tend to be remarkably consistent in their answers. They all say: “I didn't quit.”


"Focus on the road not the wall"When they train racecar drivers, one of the first lessons is when you are going around a curve at 200 MPH, do not focus on the wall; focus on the road. If you focus on the wall, you will drive right into it. If you focus on the road, you will follow the road. Running a company is like that."

3 points by bfe 5 days ago 0 replies      
I found this insightful for anyone who has lots of urgent and important tasks to get done and decisions to make and lots of people to keep happy, yet who also has many other personally conceived projects to pursue that no one else is going to follow up on. There's a real skill to balancing getting everything done you need to, as well as can be done, while still not expending all your efforts and mental energy on established projects and on reacting to external events, and instead reserving some of your time and energy for new projects; or, not letting day-to-day operational competence squeeze out meaningful pursuit of vision.
3 points by nickpinkston 5 days ago 0 replies      
I can't up-vote this enough. The whole final-ness of being where the buck stops is certainly a little overwhelming - but it also is a great feeling when things go great. I forget who said: "The good is never as good you think, and the bad is never as bad".

The mental game of entrepreneurship is certainly the biggest component.

2 points by felix0702 4 days ago 0 replies      
>"...when you don't actually know what you are doing..."
This is where CEO's psychology starts melting down.

Uncertainty leads to fear and fear leads to panic. It's like driving a car blindly. What a CEO needs is a light which points to a right direction, whether this direction is really right or wrong is another topic.)

This is just my own view. All uncertainties can be grouped into two categories: Vision and Culture.

Vision is like a guiding system, it tells your customers (consumer, employee, and investor) where your company is going. Culture is like an internal machine which take your company to where you want to go. When these two things are defined and guidelines are created, uncertainties become clear. It's because now you have two groups of high-level guidelines to tell whether you should handle an uncertainty seriously or not.

However, even your company have a good vision and great culture, you will still feel uncomfortable. It's the feel like driving at 200 MPH when you are used to drive at 70 MPH. Experiences can certainly help to ease this feeling when you gradually increase driving speed.

The other way is to build a data-driven company from beginning. This is like flying a jet plane which you do not visual see what's going on outside, but rather you see if you are doing well through dashboard panels. But at least a CEO must learn and know what information is important in order to have a meaningful dashboard. This is getting too long. Any feedback on my opinion is welcome.

2 points by jc123 5 days ago 0 replies      
I assume Ben is writing about his experience at Loudcloud and it seems he has a glaring omission about his cofounders (Tim Howes, In Sik Rhee, in addition to Andreessen). Where's the story about when he managed his ego when he had disagreements with them? Or a story/acknowledgment about his cofounders assisting him with psychological support?

I am not disagreeing with the weight on the CEO and overall it was a thought provoking post. But it only scratched the surface and did not write enough about his own experience (and management of his psychology). Incidentally, those were the 2 parts I found most insightful:
1. "The new customers didn't save us, but we figured out another way to survive and ultimately succeed. The key to getting to the right outcome was to keep from getting married to either the positive or the dark narrative."
2. "Get it out of your head and onto paper"

2 points by klbarry 5 days ago 0 replies      
This is a truly amazing article, I've never seen these issues from this perspective.
1 point by bo_Olean 5 days ago 0 replies      
>>Get it out of your head and onto paper.

I wrote down a detailed explanation of my logic. The process of writing that document separated me from my own psychology and enabled me to make the decision swiftly.

Agreed. To the HN readers who type things often in computer, i would suggest to pour out with a pen onto paper next time, this is healer!

1 point by PetoVera_Matt 5 days ago 0 replies      
Enjoyed this post a lot, thanks for writing it, Ben.
Ask HN: Who is Hiring? (April 2011)
272 points by whoishiring 6 days ago   292 comments top 217
14 points by pchristensen 6 days ago 0 replies      
Groupon is hiring all kinds of computery people in Chicago and Palo Alto - programmers, designers, operations, testing, support, Big Data, performance, managers, etc.

Full listings at http://groupon.com/techjobs

Most jobs are in both locations, and there's the ability to move or travel as desired.

A couple months ago on this thread, I said Groupon was planning on hiring 100 engineers this year, and we're on pace to hit that goal. The people we hired are so great that instead of work halting to train them, we have increased the rate that we release new features and products and our software quality has improved too.

All tech people get a new MacBook Pro and monitor. We use Ruby on Rails, git, RSpec, Cucumber, Selenium, Jenkins, and lots more good stuff. We're the biggest player in the daily deal space so we face the biggest technical challenges - tens of millions of users, insane growth, real-time, data-based targeting at scale, defining the hottest new space (deals) on the Internet, etc.

Usual official stuff aside, let me share my personal experience. I started at Groupon four months ago and I'll say that it is better in every way than every job I've ever had. My coworkers are amazing, we do all that stuff everyone says you're supposed to do (test coverage, automated builds, scope control, regression testing, etc), the atmosphere is so fun (company meetings are the highlight of the quarter), and everything I develop gets used by millions of people, immediately. My mom actually understands who I work for. I honestly legitimately love it here.

37 points by jasonlotito 6 days ago 2 replies      
Montreal - PHP/MySQL Developer

Adult company, many positions available. High traffic, lots of new products, different areas, including credit card processing. Don't do one thing, do many things.


Edit: Downvoted, I imagine, because it's an adult company. If you downvoted this, at least you can have the guts to explain why?

13 points by nkohari 6 days ago 2 replies      
Raleigh, NC - Generalist engineer (development/operations)

The AgileZen team at Rally Software is looking to add a few engineers this year. Our app is a SaaS project management system that makes it easy for users to visualize their work. While Rally's primary business is enterprise software, AgileZen's customers are primarily small teams and startups.

We started as a two-founder startup in Ohio in 2009 and were acquired by Rally in 2010. We're now a team of four with intentions of expanding to seven by the end of the year. We think and act very much like a startup, report to the CTO, and operate with relative autonomy within the company.

Experience in any development ecosystem (.NET, Java, Ruby, Python) is great, but JavaScript knowledge is a major plus. Our frontend is a whole bunch of JavaScript and CoffeeScript, and we're exploring doing more with Node.JS on the backend. We like people who are good at lots of things, and excellent at a few.

Review My App link on HN (from our launch in 2009): http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=691673

More about us at: http://agilezen.com/

More about the job at: http://jobvite.com/m/?3ph32fwv

13 points by kaib 6 days ago 2 replies      
Helsinki, Finland - engineering, computational geometry and distributed systems

Tinkercad is a funded startup making a solid modeling web application for artists and makers. The product is currently in closed beta.

We work daily with hard problems combining cutting edge research in volumetric models and soft real time distributed systems. Our software stack is written in JavaScript, Go and a bit of C++.

Job perks include a near unlimited supply of plastics for the company 3D printers and the opportunity to help bring personal digital manufacturing to the masses.

Contact kai at tinkercad dot com and check out the demo at:

6 points by guywithabike 5 days ago 0 replies      
San Francisco, CA - Client Services Engineer (70% Ruby, 30% JavaScript/HTML/CSS)

CrowdFlower is the hottest thing since disco pants. We're building an entire new industry (really) and solving new problems on a daily basis (really). Read all about us at http://crowdflower.com Email me at tyson@crowdflower.com if you have any questions " I'm happy to answer any questions you might have. Or, heck, drop by our hot new office in the heart of the Mission district (2111 Mission Street, Suite 302). Let us know if you want to drop by.

Here's the official job posting: http://crowdflower.jobscore.com/jobs/crowdflower/client-serv...

We're using all kinds of hot buzzwords: Redis, Mongo, Ruote, CoffeeScript, Sass, HTML5, ExtJs, etc. Experience with them is a big plus.

We have the usual host of engineer benefits: Shiny new MacBook Pro, 30" monitors, tight-knit engineering team, comfy chairs, health benefits, a million office plants, and a well-stocked kitchen. We're also surrounded by amazing food. This is the Mission, after all.

7 points by smanek 6 days ago 1 reply      
San Francisco, CA

Greplin - We're a YC W10 company with interesting problems, smart people, cool tech, huge data, and rapid growth.

We help people search their personal information that's online (Gmail, Dropbox, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc). As TechCrunch said, we've "attacked the other half of web search."

We're hiring across the board right now - front-end/back-end/generalists/designers/ops/dev-ops: it's all good!

Some stuff we like to play with includes Lucene, Tornado, Twisted, Redis, and HBase.


8 points by agotterer 5 days ago 0 replies      
Manhattan, NY

Lot18 - A marketplace for wineries to sell direct to consumers. Closed a $3M series A in Nov (led by Firstmark). We are growing really fast and hiring a ton of people. Working on a number of interesting things: recommendations, distributed systems, data analysis and of course building our product. We launched 4 months ago and have over 200k users.

Software Engineer - Back-end (http://www.lot18.com/careers#software_engineer_back-end)

Software Engineer - Application (http://www.lot18.com/careers#software_engineer_application)

Front-end Developer (http://www.lot18.com/careers#front_end_developer)

Mobile Application Developer (http://www.lot18.com/careers#mobile_developer)

All open positions - http://www.lot18.com/careers


Languages: Python, PHP, Javascript

Frameworks: Tornado (Python), custom MVC (PHP)

Webserver: Apache and nginx

Database: MySQL

Monitoring: nagios, graphite, statsD, splunk

Hosting: AWS and Slicehost

Servers: Ubuntu

Etc: git, vagrant, chef, capistrano, RabbitMQ, jQuery


Shameless plug: http://www.startupshiring.com for a list of startups hiring. Many from this page.

(edit) formatting

5 points by neilk 5 days ago 0 replies      
Planet Earth -- operations engineers, PHP developers, mobile developers, database admins, data analysts, and more

Wikimedia Foundation (the non-profit behind Wikipedia).

We're hiring lots of people this year. We want people who can work at our scale, love and hate PHP as much as we do, and want to help change the world with a tech staff that can fit around a couple of tables in a Chinese restaurant.

Don't underestimate the technical challenges here. After the past couple of successful fundraisers, we are looking at what "2.0" means for our software and infrastructure. And what it means to be everywhere in the world, from African villages to Silicon Valley to South Korea, on the devices people will be using in the 21st century.

Our main offices are located a couple of blocks from the BART in downtown San Francisco, CA, but we will consider remote candidates from anywhere.

There are also a lot of non-tech jobs we're hiring for -- check out the full list.


7 points by tghw 6 days ago 0 replies      
New York, NY

Fog Creek Software - http://careers.stackoverflow.com/jobs/10897

We are currently hiring full time developers. As a programmer at Fog Creek Software, you will help design, develop, and implement the code for our award winning products.

Fog Creek Software is a small, entrepreneurial software company in New York City founded in 2000. Our key products are FogBugz, Kiln and Copilot; all three have been very successful. We bootstrapped ourselves without outside investment and have been profitable from the beginning.


11 points by RichardPrice 5 days ago 0 replies      
Academia.edu is hiring engineers in San Francisco.

Academia.edu is a platform for academics to connect and share research. Our goal is to build a hyper-connected academic graph, so every researcher has their entire research community at their fingertips. We currently have 1.5 million unique monthly visitors, and have doubled in traffic in the last 6 months.

Here are a few bullet points that sum up the atmosphere in our team:

- obsession with exceptional engineering

- obsession with building a great web product, and a great user experience

- intellectually inquisitive - we like delving into ideas, whatever the ideas are about

- fun and friendly - we enjoy each other's company a lot, and have a great deal of respect for each other.

We want to continue this atmosphere through the people we hire.

Here are some of the technologies we work with: Rails, Nginx, Node.js, Redis, Memcached. We are based in downtown San Francisco. More information about the team, and about how we think about software engineering and product development, is here http://academia.edu/hiring

6 points by comatose_kid 5 days ago 2 replies      
Mountain View, CA (INTERN and FULLTIME)

Bump Technologies (YC S09) is changing the way people connect and share using their mobile devices. There are huge opportunities ahead, and we are looking for talented hackers.

We are currently hiring for both FT and INTERN positions:

• mobile developers (iOS, Android, Blackberry, HTML5)

• server (beckend engineer, server ops)

• designers (visual, interaction)

Our team includes some of the smartest and most talented developers and designers in Silicon Valley, and we all share a common goal: to build something people want and have fun doing it.

We offer a workplace that will both challenge and fulfill you, by giving you the freedom and flexibility to develop your own solutions in a creative team environment where your contributions will be immediately felt and recognized.

Bump was born as a simple iPhone app for swapping contact information, but as our user base grew, so did our vision.

We now have more than 30 million downloads (7th most downloaded free iOS app ever), and a vision of changing the way people use their mobile devices.

We are backed by major investors including Sequoia Capital and Andreessen Horowitz.

Interested? We'd love to talk to you.

Apply here:


5 points by niyazpk 6 days ago 1 reply      
Bangalore, India (Sorry, no remote).

We are looking for JavaScript/UI Developers.

We are a well funded ecommerce Startup. We already have a good team working on the technology side.

Please get in touch and I will convince you to join us :)

(Freshers and interns are welcome too).

7 points by rpuckett 5 days ago 0 replies      
Location: New Orleans

Liveset is a new digital platform presenting live concert events on the web and mobile devices in handsome HD, with supporting content that provides a more powerful connection between artists and their online fan bases. Liveset brings the concert experience to artists' fans across the Internet as their show is happening and provides a platform for fans to watch an archived show at their convenience.

We're going to make live shows as easy as Youtube. Our goal is to build a site for music fans that has an equally impressive set of features as MLB.tv. We also need to build out our own proprietary live-streaming platform " we're currently using livestream.com, and we'd love to talk to you about why we want to replace it (no offense to livestream - they've been great partners).

Liveset is a functioning, funded platform that needs help getting to the next level. The platform was launched on September 29, 2010, and has been very well received. We've done all of the development work through a contract relationship with a talented design and development firm out of New York (@crushlovely), but we want someone as committed as we are to come on board.

That means we're offering a real founder's spot. We need a Lead Developer, and we're willing to offer a 20% equity stake to the right person. The post-money valuation on our last round was $2.5 million (we've raised $500,000). That means we're offering up to a half-million (on paper, of course) for joining. We know that successful projects are built on talented engineers, and we mean business about bringing you on board.

The site is built in Rails. We need a partner who's willing and eager to get in on the ground floor and help us build this into the platform we know it can be.

Why do you need co-founders if you're such an awesome developer? We're experienced at what we do. One of your partners spent 7 years on the other side of the table at a media-focused private equity firm. Another one has already built a successful video production company and is building another product, with plenty of investor interest. We'll raise money and keep your bills paid. We've already made dozens of connections (maybe you've heard of some of the bands on the current site, and you HAVE heard of some of the bands we can't talk about yet). We've made more connections you can't see: artists, booking agents, venues, managers, labels, sponsors, potential investors, consultants, entrepreneurs, streaming providers, CDN's, development firms, designers, etc. We know you've heard ‘we need a technical co-founder' like they're replaceable, and we know better. We know the live streaming concert industry as well as anyone out there. And we've done it all with just 2 people - we're not an over-funded New York VC-backed startup trying to buy instead of build.

We mean it. Get in touch and let us show you what we have to offer. It'll be fun and profitable, we promise!

Plus we're in New Orleans " and if you were at RubyConf2010, you know how great a city this is. How about a bunch of free live music in one of the best music cities in the world? Awesome food? Great co-workers? We love this town, and we'll be sure you know it's impossible not to.

Actual-work wise, what we're looking for:

_ Ruby on Rails
_ Testing frameworks/methodologies (Rspec, Cucumber, etc.)
_ Streaming media / video experience
_ Rich Internet Applications (RIA), e.g. Flash, Silverlight
_ Willingness to move to New Orleans, Louisiana

But really, aside from the moving, none of that is as important as what you bring to the table. We're not looking to give away 20% of an angel-funded company so we can tell you what to do. We've also got enough money raised that we can pay you a lot more than ramen money (and you can live like a king in New Orleans for half of what you'd make in California or New York). You don't need to forgo your IRA contributions for this gig.

We are firm about you coming to New Orleans. We're looking for a true partner. Given our small size and the fact that this is our first in-house developer, we really need you on the ground here with us. We want you there with us on the crazy late nights before a show... and at the over the top celebration dinners afterwards. We're fully committed to this (some of that funding is our own money) and want someone who is able to fully commit as well.

To learn more about us, watch this video (http://lve.st/gXgqTk). If you're interested in working with us, email ross.hinkle@liveset.com.

2 points by shaynesweeney 20 hours ago 1 reply      
Instagram is.

We are currently hiring extraordinary engineers and designers who want to build and scale one of the fastest growing companies in the social web. We're in the business of building a new way for people to communicate and share their lives via media on the go. We're looking to grow our team into a world-class group of engineers that want to focus on big, meaningful technical challenges.

In a handful of months, Instagram has amassed well over 2.5 million users on the iPhone platform alone. As an Instagram Engineer, you have the unique opportunity to face many different kinds of challenges and touch many different kinds of technologies that allow the service to continue to grow at an increasing rate.

We're looking for people who want to face interesting infrastructure challenges. You should be constantly excited by questions like: How do you tackle increasingly vast amounts of data? You should get excited about exploring and implementing sharding and partitioning schemes. You should get a thrill out of processing gigabytes of data to inform product decisions. You should be able to design and implement systems that scale seamlessly with the vast numbers of users that decide to share their lives through images every day.

We also face product challenges like how to prioritize, design, and build a compelling product while maintaining simplicity and usability. Our product challenges span different platforms (mobile & web) and you should be comfortable moving between different parts of the system whether that be learning objective-c to contribute to our iPhone client, or writing solid JavaScript to make a web experience immersive and interactive.

Instagram is also an incredibly important part of everyone's life that works here. We pull many late nights and weekends, and you should be excited to jump in and make Instagram the primary focus of your life. We put in extra effort because we love Instagram and love to see it flourish and you should want to as well.

The bottom line is: we want smart, extremely motivated people who are willing and able to contribute quickly to all parts of Instagram, and who are excited by the challenges we face.

Here's a list of characteristics that we're looking for in an engineering candidate:

- A college degree in Computer Science or equivalent.
- A scrappy, entrepreneurial attitude that gets high-quality projects done quickly.
- Deep understanding, familiarity and skill with programming for the web.
- Experience in Objective-C and Python is a plus, but not required.
- Ability to touch many different parts of our system such as: deploying a new set of boxes on EC2, debugging network inefficiencies, implementing optimized graphics algorithms in C or OpenGL, writing optimized SQL queries, writing full python classes, or writing NodeJS applications. Point is: you should be able to pick up new things very quickly.
- A demonstrated history of intellectual and entrepreneurial exploration.
- Be able to write elegant, readable, and well-documented code.

We're a small team, and we're looking for people to make a big impact. This means you should want to take on lots of responsibility and be able to manage projects independently. You should be able to think critically about a problem, evaluate the solution set, and be able to pick the right course of development given the set of constraints. Of course we're looking for great engineering talent, but it's extremely important to us that everyone our team has a solid product design sense.

We truly believe in Instagram's potential to change the world for the better, and we're looking for a select group of individuals up for challenge to see that vision through.

Send your resume to jobs@instagram.com and let us know why you think you're a great fit. We're looking forward to hearing from you!

8 points by ryanb 5 days ago 0 replies      
New York, NY

Tutorspree (YC W11) is looking to hire employees #1 and #2. Competitive salary and generous stock options are included, along with the chance to get in on the ground floor of something really big.

We're looking for:

1) Lead Engineer / Director of Technology
2) Product Designer
3) Engineering & Marketing Interns

Tools we use: php, mysql, nginx, amazon ec2/s3, git

Please reach out to info@tutorspree.com to find out more

7 points by squirrel 6 days ago 1 reply      
London (UK) and Boston US - youDevise, Ltd.

We're a 90-person financial-software firm committed to learning and improvement as well as great web software and agile development. Some of you may know us from our sponsorship of Hacker News meetups in London. We're hiring developers and other smart folks of many kinds. See https://dev.youdevise.com and http://www.youdevise.com/careers.

While we don't have remote workers, we do help successful candidates relocate to London or Boston including arranging visas where needed. For example, last year we hired HN readers from Denmark and the US, and we moved a Polish employee to Boston.

5 points by ghotli 5 days ago 1 reply      
Memphis, TN - Infrastructure Engineer

We design/develop/scale an interactive mapping platform. Our early products were all about superimposing cell phone coverage for carriers on a world map for them to embed in their websites. Now we have a platform for in-browser comparative analysis of arbitrary spatial information. We currently load it up with information about the wireless, cable, and telecom industries.

I'm looking for talented engineers who can get down and dirty with optimization, configuration management, distributed systems, and architecture design. Two positions are open currently.

Stuff you'll be fooling with: Solr, HDFS, MongoDB, PostgreSQL, Chef, Ruby, Python, and C. Knowledge of Corosync/Heartbeat, ZooKeeper, AMQP, Flume/Scribe, BigTable/Dynamo inspired systems, or Scala is a plus.




4 points by ardit33 5 days ago 0 replies      
Yammer is hiring. Both server side (Scala, Java, Ruby) front end (JS), and especially mobile clients (Android/iPhone/Blackberry).

It is great company, with a really fun and awesome environment.

shoot an email at ardit33[at_gmail_com]

5 points by dguido 5 days ago 0 replies      
New York City, Seattle, and San Francisco - iSEC Partners - Application Security Consultants

iSEC Partners is currently looking for Security Researchers and security-focused software developers to fill openings in its application security consulting practice. We are seeking entry, senior and principal level candidates. Job duties will include project delivery within iSEC consulting engagements and cutting-edge research into current technologies and attacks.


iSEC Partners is a proven full-service security consulting firm that provides penetration testing, secure systems development, security education and software design verification. iSEC Partners' security assessments leverage our extensive knowledge of current security vulnerabilities, penetration techniques and software development best practices to enable customers to secure their systems against ever-present threats on the Internet.

Primary emphasis is placed upon helping software developers build safe, reliable code. Areas of research interest include application attack and defense, web services, operating system security, privacy, storage network security and malicious application analysis.

Our goal is to create a new standard for customer satisfaction and become the pre-eminent leader in security consulting, research and tool development.

3 points by alex_c 6 days ago 0 replies      
Toronto - Senior Java/MySQL Developer.

You'd be working as part of a small team on a very successful, high-traffic API - I suspect the type of position many HNers would enjoy.


Edit: also hiring for a more junior Mobile/Web Developer position (aimed mostly at new grads).


9 points by joeshaw 6 days ago 0 replies      
Boston, MA and remote

litl - http://litl.com

We build simple, maintenance-free, internet-focused computers. Our first product is called the webbook, and we're working on some follow-up ideas. Our software team has built a new, Linux-based user interface and a Google App Engine-based server.

Our main offices are in Boston and London, but we have many people around the world who work out of their homes. With all the remote employees -- including software team management -- people are expected to be self-motivating. Most meetings happen over video conference, and other are by phone. A couple of times a year most remote employees come to Boston.

We're looking for:

* QA engineers. In particular we're looking for people with some programming experience to improve our testing tools and automation.

* Software developers. We have a few areas in which we're looking for specialization, but the main thing we care about is that you're really good. Some things we're interested in:

    - X (core and input and video drivers)
- Linux kernel
- Linux desktop technologies (Clutter, GTK, window managers, etc.)
- OpenGL
- Google Chromium codebase
- User-space audio/video stacks
- Embedded and microcontroller developers
- JavaScript runtimes
- Software rasterization

You can email me at joe@<my-HN-username>.org for more info.

3 points by nixme 5 days ago 1 reply      
San Francisco, CA - Web and Mobile Engineers

Manymoon is the #1 app in the Google Apps Marketplace. We have multiple open positions for full-time engineers as we build our new social productivity platform for small businesses.

We work primarily in Ruby, Javascript/CoffeeScript, Groovy, MySQL, MongoDB, and Redis and experiment where we see fit. We're also moving aggressively into iPhone and Android development.

We're a small team with a cool office in SOMA -- music playing and pets always welcome.

Contact me directly with any questions: gopal@manymoon.com


3 points by snprbob86 5 days ago 0 replies      


A bit about you:

- Full-stack developer who really gives a shit

- Preference for Rails & Javascript

- You'd be employee #4, founding team

- Meaningful salary and equity

A bit about us:

- Big, cool, fun vision for the consumerization of the enterprise

- Quirky, clever plan of attack

- Two ex-Google/Microsoftdevelopers & one ex-iLike biz/sales/design/manager/everything guy

- Funded by an A-team of angels

- Headquartered in the Founder's Co-op offices in SLU with nearly 20 other awesome startups

Email: brandon@thinkfuse.com

4 points by famousactress 6 days ago 0 replies      
San Francisco, CA - (Remote considered for the right fit)

Elation EMR - We're building incredibly useful web-based tools for physicians. It's a really rewarding and exciting space, and current a team of only five people, so you'd definitely have an opportunity to make a huge difference. We're angel-funded, and have an amazing group of advisors and investors.

We're open minded about tools, but right now they include jQuery, Python/Django, MySQL, Redis, Celery, Sphinx.

Take a peek at http://elationemr.com

4 points by a-priori 6 days ago 1 reply      
Ottawa (Gatineau), Canada - software developers, software architects, QA, project & development managers, sales.

Burlington, Canada - QA.

San Jose, California - software architects.

Yerevan, Armenia - software developers.

Cluj, Romania - software developers.

Macadamian, a software development and UX consultancy, is hiring for multiple positions in all of our offices. If you're interested, please contact either myself (mmelanson@macadamian.com) or careers@macadamian.com.


3 points by buro9 6 days ago 0 replies      
London - Java Developer

London - Python Developer

London - Front-end Web Developer

Product creation and incubation as part of Yell Labs. Based near Chancery Lane/Holborn.

We want people who can teach us stuff, we promise an environment in which you'll also be learning.

Our team is already great, if you want to come in for a short meeting to find out more, please do. We're also good for meeting in pubs post-work, or travelling nearby for lunch if you'd prefer to meet us at your convenience.


3 points by mapleoin 5 days ago 0 replies      
Prague, Czech Republic - SUSE

SUSE Studio - Designer and Web Developer - http://susestudio.com/jobs/designer_and_web_developer

SUSE Studio - Package and Appliance Assembly Engineer - http://susestudio.com/jobs/package_and_appliance_assembly_en...

There are a few other jobs in Prague working on different things. There are two free YAST developer and Ruby on Rails developer positions and there is also support. I couldn't find a way to link to them from the careers page however: http://careers.novell.com/psp/css89prd/EMPLOYEE/HRMS/c/HRS_H...

Lots of jobs in other parts of the world there as well.

The atmosphere is great here, it's laid back, while at the same time you get to work on very big projects and interact with the OpenSUSE community or other big open source projects outside SUSE.

If you're applying for one of the jobs in the Prague office, feel free to ask me anything in an email or send your CV for me to forward it to HR.

5 points by wehriam 6 days ago 0 replies      
Distributed team, East Coast:

* Django / Front end developer

* Python generalist

HiiDef, Inc is a consumer web incubator with two rapidly growing properties, http://flavors.me/ and http://goodsie.com

Help us solve the challenges that revolve around top notch user experiences. We're continually building new products and features, scaling infrastructure, and responding to our enthusiastic customers.

Team members have flexible hours, top notch hardware, and experienced, talented co-workers invested in their success. We pride ourselves on a results oriented, laid back culture and seek people who can thrive with an exceptional amount of independence.

Please contact me directly at johnwehr@hiidef.com

3 points by nethergoat 5 days ago 0 replies      
Redwood Shores, CA (SF Bay Area) - Engineers and more

EA2D is hiring! We're a new, autonomous studio within EA building cross-platform social games for gamers. We've just launched our first game, Dragon Age Legends:


We need help building:

* New features for Dragon Age Legends (big ones: real-time, mobile, etc.)

* New games for big-name IP (we have access to the full EA library)

* An epic social gaming platform (for both internal and external teams)

We're small (30 people) and scrappy. And we're growing fast: 0-200 servers in the past 6 months. Tech stack is primarily AS3/Java backed by MongoDB, but we also use Python, JavaScript, and Ruby. We have a highly automated infrastructure running on AWS (EC2 w/ELBs and ASGs, EMR, SQS, etc., plus more than a few super-secret/unreleased Amazon features). Buzzword potpourri includes Chef, node.js, Google App Engine, Hive, Graphite, Tomcat, GitHub, Pingdom, Loggly, PagerDuty, and continuous deployment. <3 DevOps.

We need platform, game, systems, and mobile engineers. We need data people and a Director of Technology. We need producers, marketing, and designers. Some of our job listings are posted here: http://www.ea2d.com/jobs/, but we have positions we haven't even finished writing descriptions for.

If you're an A player, drop me a line: mikeb@ea2d.com

3 points by andrewvc 5 days ago 0 replies      
Santa Monica / Los Angeles, CA: VOKLE, Inc. ( http://www.vokle.com )

Full Time: Flash/Flex developer. If you think dealing with tricky issues with live streaming video is fun, this might be the job for you. We've got massive growth and we deal with that on a large scale. Ideally you're the sort of developer who does more than just flash/flex, and would welcome stepping into other roles (rails dev, ops.) as well.

Paid Intern: We're looking to hire a paid intern to hack on our Ruby/Rails site. We're committed to code quality, and believe strongly in testing.

About VOKLE:

We were started a year and a half ago and have seen fantastic growth. Additionally, we've got a fun stack to work on and a great office environment.

You'll be working in Santa Monica, the heart of LA's startup community. We're active members of the community (I'm the organizer of LA Hacker News actually) and this is a great place to be if you want to be a part of it.

Contact: andrew@vokle.com

3 points by azanar 5 days ago 0 replies      
Seattle, WA


We're working on a platform of new services and tools aimed at a revolutionary new way of doing publishing. Systems that can spot breaking news, predict the amount of traffic a piece of content will drive and figure out where, when and how to best distribute this content.

We are looking for a software developer and a test engineer. Details here: http://www.wetpaint.com/page/jobs

Feel free to contact me about either of these, or anything else on that page: ecarrel@wetpaint.com

3 points by davi 5 days ago 0 replies      
I'm hiring a software developer for my group at Janelia Farm Research Campus, in Ashburn, VA. The goal will be to develop workflow for extracting wiring diagrams of neuronal circuits from large-scale serial electron microscopy of brain tissue. You can read about what I'm doing at http://www.hhmi.org/research/fellows/bock.html, and browse data at http://bit.ly/ga3Cfk. A detailed writeup of the approach was published a few weeks ago in an article at Nature.

I think the ideal candidate could come from a variety of backgrounds -- someone who had previously written or contributed significantly to the development of a game engine could be good, for example. Looking for strong quantitative chops, creativity, and a willingness to do some plumbing in order to make an elegant solution.

4 points by trefn 6 days ago 0 replies      
San Francisco, CA

Mixpanel - YC S09, real-time web analytics

We're dealing with very large volumes of data (> 1B requests per month), using MongoDB, MySQL, Redis, and Python.

We're primarily hiring for two roles:

* Full-stack web developer (building everything from our internal API's to JS/CSS) http://mixpanel.com/jobs/frontend-engineer

* Scalability engineer (help us stay on top of our growth, lots of cool stuff here) http://mixpanel.com/jobs/backend-engineer

http://mixpanel.com/jobs, apply to jobs@mixpanel.com

2 points by meterplech 6 days ago 0 replies      
New York, NY.

1010data- Want to work with the biggest data possible? Our clients include such massive data producers as the New York Stock Exchange and Dollar General. If you are interested in any of the positions below, email me (it's in my account info).

We are hiring in two main areas...

1) Developer- want to learn an incredibly cool functional programming language similar to APL? Enjoy thinking list/vectorized (we love people who know Lisp!) or want to learn more about it? Developers build our incredibly fast and flexible platform, find out ways to process terabytes of data in mind-blowing and massively parallelized ways, and solve deeply analytic questions for customers.

2) Business Intelligence Developer- Want to combine passion for stat/econ/business and technology? These developers work with clients to get the most out of their data. They create analytic applications built on top of our platform.

Also Sys engineers and web applications programmers, but I am not involved in that. Check out http://www.1010data.com/company/careers/current-job-openings

3 points by bkrausz 5 days ago 0 replies      
GazeHawk is hiring interns and full-timers in Mountain View.

We're looking for both web developers & computer vision/machine learning folks.

Webdev description: http://www.gazehawk.com/jobs/

CV/ML description: smart person with exposure to ML and a strong desire to expand on it.

We're also looking for a blogger/statistics intern. Come run cool ET studies and then write about them!

Email address is in my profile: send me anything to convince me that you're awesome (a resume is a good example).

4 points by btipling 5 days ago 0 replies      
San Francisco.

Cloudkick @ Rackspace. We really need some more front-end engineers. If you're good with JavaScript please give us a call. http://cloudkick.com/careers

We're about to move into a brand new office, so it should be fun. Offer a lot of freedom and challenging responsibilities.

2 points by dboyd 5 days ago 0 replies      
San Francisco, CA - Ruby/Rails Engineer

We are an early-stage, angle-funded startup building the next generation online video marketplace. We have several significant customers using and profiting from our application. Founders have had several exits with big players (e.g., IAC and Viacom); we are looking to do it again.

We are hiring a Ruby/Rails Engineer. If you are passionate, have strong opinions, and are not afraid to be critical then we would like to talk to you.

We have a small engineering team, and we offer plenty of opportunity to work anywhere in the stack. Everything from jQuery plugins to cluster management tools will need work. There are plenty of things to be done, and everything you do will have an immediate and significant impact. You don't have to be a generalist, but the opportunity is there if you want it.

Company Site: http://www.realgravity.com/

Apply Here: workfor@realgravity.com

11 points by rudepeklo 6 days ago 0 replies      
I don't give it much chances here, but what the hell:

Prague, Czech Republic: C# developer, at least 1 year of experience. Work mainly in location, possible home office once or twice a week.

We're developing software that helps users select stuff they would like to buy (mainly electronics, but also push chairs, baby car seats and other stuff).

http://www.prismastar.com, you can contact me directly at k2@prismastar.com

3 points by gduffy 6 days ago 1 reply      
San Francisco, CA

Dropcam - Started by two former Xobni employees, we are helping people keep an eye on the things they care about using Wi-Fi cameras with cloud DVR recording.

We take in more video than YouTube and are one of the largest video streaming sites on the 'net. We're extremely popular in middle America, check out: https://www.dropcam.com/press

Lots of awesome stuff to work on: big data (everyone says this- but trust me, we really mean it!), web/flash, embedded software, video analysis & computer vision, mobile apps. Venture-backed and hiring!

Check out https://www.dropcam.com/jobs or email me at greg@dropcam.com.

3 points by jonasvp 5 days ago 0 replies      
Kreuzberg, Berlin, Germany - Python (Django) developer - http://www.jonasundderwolf.de

We're a small web development agency taking on bigger projects. We use Django, FeinCMS, git, PostgreSQL, Fabric to build faster, prettier, and more usable sites for our clients. Looking to start on a product of our own later this year as well.

On-site only at this point - Berlin is a great site to be, though!

4 points by jfarmer 5 days ago 1 reply      
Everlane - San Francisco, CA (FULLTIME, H1B, INTERNS)

Hey HN! This is Jesse, one of the co-founders of Everlane.

Check out our website at http://www.everlane.com, and my personal blog at http://20bits.com

We're trying to re-imagine retail online and make it easy to find products that match your taste and style. Right now we're focused on mens fashion, but our ambitions are much larger.

pg did a good job of explaining the opportunity, here: http://ycombinator.com/rfs2.html

We're well-funded and building our core team right now. We need product-loving engineers and product designers who are interested in online shopping and building an experience customers love. We're also looking for summer engineering interns.

Our current stack is Ruby, Rails, MySQL, and Heroku, but smart and hungry beats knowledge of specific languages.

If you're interested send an email to jobs@everlane.com telling us why the opportunity is interesting to you, what you're looking for in a startup, and links to your resume, portfolio, github account, side projects, etc.

2 points by paulitex 5 days ago 0 replies      
Vancouver, BC, Canada - Summer Intern

Matygo - Delivering Education. Very young and close to profitable. Founding team looking for first outside help creating a platform to be used across the Province in Fall 2011.

If you want to get your hands dirty with some awesome tech (Sproutcore, Scala, iOS), live the startup life and have a real impact on our company and Province let us know.

This is a $2000 honorarium / unpaid internship. We know that sucks (we pay ourselves less than minimum wage), and will try to make it worth your effort in every other possible way including but not limited to extensive mentoring / training, referrals, lunches, total freedom over your work, etc...

Feel free to contact me directly with any questions: paul@matygo.com


3 points by petervandijck 6 days ago 0 replies      
Montreal or Canada: Javascript frontent developer, iOS/mobile developer and backend Scala/Grails developers. Full-time, salaried.

We're a small startup that's funded. We're building a product in the photo space, not another mobile photo sharing app (however awesome those are), but solving some real problems and looking at the future of photography. We're starting small but thinking big.

We're small, lean and awesome to work with, if I say so myself. We're planning an office but for now everyone is working from home. We're only 3 so far, so we're looking to build the initial team.

You get a competitive salary and full benefits.

We have open-source Fridays, which means you can work on an open source project of your choice on Fridays.

http://blog.getgush.com, or contact me via my HN profile email. Add your Github profile, HN username, OS, blog etc.

4 points by earthaid 6 days ago 0 replies      
Boston, MA - Ruby/Rails Engineers

Earth Aid ( http://earthaid.net ) is newly venture-backed by Point Judith Capital as well as strategic and angel investors who have built and scaled some of the most successful businesses today. We've been called "the killer app for energy efficiency" ( http://bit.ly/dZBy7q ) and our work has been featured in publications such as Mashable ( http://on.mash.to/hqyZqF ), TechCrunch, The New York Times ( http://nyti.ms/ayzLHb ), The Washington Post, and The Philadelphia Inquirer. We currently have small offices in San Francisco and Washington, DC, and we're now consolidating our presently distributed dev team and HQ into a brand new office opening in Boston/Cambridge in May!

We are looking for people who want to work on incredibly complex problems and come up with solutions that will change the world. This is an opportunity to not only work with a dynamic group of people, but also the opportunity to build a platform that's revolutionizing the way we look at energy consumption. We want the best and the brightest. People who work hard and play hard. People who want to make an impact. Why be a cog in the wheel when you can help steer the ship?

Learn more about our very competitive salaries, excellent benefits, cool culture, and small arsenal of office helicopter drones at: http://www.earthaidjobs.com, and send us an e-mail at jobs at earthaid dot net

5 points by johndbeatty 5 days ago 0 replies      
Mountain View, CA (We do H-1Bs and other visas)

Clover is building a world-class team in machine learning, distributed systems, front-end, and operations. On staff is a Robocup champ, the former lead engineer for YQL, a rocket scientist turned GPU programmer, and other great engineers. Beyond being really good at what they do, the engineering staff is very friendly. We're not talking publicly about what we're building yet, but we have a well-defined mission, a clear business model, and a killer business team. Our recent Series A is from Sutter Hill Ventures, Andreessen Horowitz, Morado Ventures, and individuals.

I'm particularly eager to find an excellent operations/reliability engineer who loves to build and improve tools, a passion for quality and reliability, and a positive, friendly attitude.

Also very high on my priority list is a big-data processing engineer to design and build our data pipeline.

If you're interested, you can email me directly -- john@clover.com.


4 points by willwagner 5 days ago 0 replies      
Palo Alto, CA - SurveyMonkey.com

We're looking for Javascript/FrontEnd Developers, Python Developers, and Ops people. We also have some Product Manager and QA positions available.

Feel free to email me directly or hit up our jobs page: http://www.surveymonkey.com/jobs/Home_Jobs.aspx

2 points by dirtyaura 5 days ago 0 replies      
Helsinki, Finland - SUMMER INTERN - Developer or Graphic Designer

We are a small startup company creating real social games for the tablet-era. Games that bring people together. We see tablets as new kind of devices that are great for both online & offline social gaming.

We are about to release Dust Up for Two - a tactical 2-player space battle for iPad http://huikea.com/dustup . You'll be working with us on a game based on it. Think StarCraft that can be played both online and face-to-face in bars & schools.

For internship position, we are looking for coders and graphic designers that are passionated about game design. Read more from http://huikea.com/jobs

We expect you to work from Helsinki during the summer. It's a great summer city with a lively game development scene. After the summer other arrangements are possible.


4 points by buymorechuck 6 days ago 0 replies      
Palo Alto, CA - Flipboard
Seeking iOS, service, and web developers with a passion for design and craftsmanship. (No remote is possible.)


[NSString stringWithFormat:@"%@+HN@%@.com", @"charles", @"flipboard"]

"%s+HN@%s.com" % ("charles", "flipboard")

4 points by plnewman 6 days ago 0 replies      
Foster City, CA

Rearden Commerce:

You: Hacker generalist with some development and some ops experience who enjoys a fun environment.

Us: Internal applications team at Rearden Commerce. We build & deploy tools & applications that make the company more productive.

Full details at http://www.heyimhiring.com/ or ptrk@reardencommerce.com

3 points by bokchoi 5 days ago 0 replies      
Seattle, WA - java dev, front-end dev, tester, and PM positions available.

LabKey is looking for devs, testers, and PMs. We are a bioinformatics software company and you will play a key role in the creation of a product that allows scientists to integrate, analyze, and share large, complex datasets, accelerating their critical work in fields such as cancer and HIV research.

Contact info and more about the positions:

3 points by nfriedly 6 days ago 0 replies      
San Francisco, CA

Sociable Labs - Smarter Facebook Social Plugins - http://sociablelabs.com

We're looking for hackers for front-end, back-end, ops, and more - details here: https://www.jobscore.com/jobs/sociable/list

We're pushing the limits of what cross-domain AJAX can do and serving millions of visitors per month on a number of well-known websites.

Apply at jobscore or send me a note if you have any questions: nathan @ company url.

1 point by aonic 1 day ago 0 replies      
UrbanDaddy is hiring two Senior LAMP Engineers in Union Square, NYC.

Here's a recent job description: https://gist.github.com/9d91abc30fdb07f7da45

UrbanDaddy is a leading, exclusive email magazine that covers the latest in restaurants, nightlife, fashion, experiences and products for hip, trend-seeking professionals. We are looking for a full-time Senior LAMP Engineer to help develop our products in web, email and mobile and channels.

Feel free to send an email with your resume and any introduction: hn-engineerjob@urbandaddy.com

4 points by jcoglan 6 days ago 0 replies      
Songkick (YC'07, London) is hiring again. We're a
small company (about 20 people) that's working to improve the live music
scene for everyone involved. We help fans track their favourite artists so
they never miss them live, and we help artists get the word out about
upcoming shows.

In the last year we've seen tremendous growth in our user base and with our
commercial partnerships, including integrations with YouTube and Yahoo!
Search. We just launched our first major label integration with EMI and are
working on plenty more. There's a lot of work to do scaling our team and our
technology stack, making it a really exciting time to join us.

If you, or someone you know, is an experienced and fast-learning developer
into TDD and scalable web services we'd love to hear from you. We have a
great team that's a joy to work with (you may have met a few of us at
Ruby events), and we have a lot of challenging projects on our roadmap.

If you're interested, check out our jobs page at
http://www.songkick.com/info/jobs and get in touch with our COO Pete Smith
at pete@songkick.com

7 points by lfittl 6 days ago 1 reply      
Vienna, Austria or Remote: Performance Engineer

Vienna, Austria: Linux and C Programming Guru

Full time positions, stock option plan available.

We're building Platform-as-a-Service for hosting providers, enabling them to offer Heroku-style products.


Drop me a line at l.fittl@efficientcloud.com - Cheers!

4 points by sgrock 5 days ago 0 replies      
Portland Oregon - AboutUs.org

We're looking for an Agile Software Developer and DevOps Engineer.

AboutUs Inc. is based in Portland, Oregon. Our website, AboutUs.org, was launched in 2006 and is now one of the most visited places on the Internet. Our team handles big data like no one else, yet there are just 12 of us working behind the scenes. You might be surprised to learn that we don't work 80-hour weeks. And you may wonder, “How do they keep such a massive ship afloat without drowning themselves in stress and sweat?” Answering, “Because this place is awesome” would be too ambiguous, so here's a summary:

    Highly selective hiring
An open, relaxed office atmosphere
Emphasis on collaboration
More windows than walls
Ping pong
Laughs and more laughs

If you want your work to be challenging and your days at the office to be enjoyable, AboutUs is the place for you. Thanks for considering us!

More info at: http://www.aboutus.org/careers

3 points by euroclydon 5 days ago 0 replies      
Raleigh, NC

Power Analytics Corporation

We write software to model and simulate large important power systems, like Micro-Grids and Data Centers, in real time. As a software developer here, you would get to write a lot of new code and work with some very smart engineers.

We are looking for a software engineer with experience in electrical power systems or process control who has strong skills building APIs using C# and WCF. Web development knowledge such as Javascript and SVG would be a plus.


contact: jpearce at company domain.

7 points by jkvor 5 days ago 0 replies      
San Francisco, CA

Heroku is hiring for engineering (Ruby and Erlang), business manager and sales positions: http://jobs.heroku.com/

Also, we need some badass Logo hackers: http://blog.heroku.com/archives/2011/4/1/announcing_heroku_f...

2 points by Jakob 5 days ago 0 replies      
Munich, Germany - Game Developer

Pokermania connects social gaming with world-known artists. We are partly community partly online gaming and have small offices in Cologne and Munich. Cologne travels through the world and returns with the best artists and brands. The other half is the engineering department and sits in Munich. We are technically-driven and develop a social poker platform.

The mixture between entertainment industry and software development is fast-paced. But our small team entertains many users simultaneously. The work changes frequently. We love to be responsible for the complete system and scale it to the next level. We are 12/12 on the Joel Test [0] :)

As a game developer you will work with us and

* expand a system which is easy and scales
* have very good knowledge of either Python, PHP or JavaScript
* can work in a unix environment

Plusses are

* MySQL/XtraDB scaling experience
* Interest in Poker
* Active OpenSource contributor

[0] http://www.joelonsoftware.com/articles/fog0000000043.html

3 points by rbxbx 6 days ago 3 replies      
Can't help but feel like this might be a bad day for this thread. You would think people could set aside the jokes in an obviously serious thread such as this one. Unfortunately, as evidenced by some of the submissions already, this seems not to be the case. Ugh.
2 points by btilly 5 days ago 0 replies      
Netflix is hiring. Mostly in Los Gatos, but there are jobs elsewhere as well. See http://www.netflix.com/Jobs?id=7563 for a full list of jobs. (They reached out to me for http://www.netflix.com/Jobs?id=7563&jvi=o4dyVfwu which I could not consider for geographic reasons.
2 points by elliottcarlson 5 days ago 0 replies      
New York, NY - No remote possible, sorry

CellDivision is an established MedEd agency. We are 50 people strong, have an easy going culture and interesting projects going on. To get more information about us as a company, please visit http://www.celldivision.com

Technologies we currently leverage:

PHP, Perl, Node.JS, haXe, JavaScript, jQuery, NSIS, MySQL, MongoDB, Nginx, Varnish, RabbitMQ, HTML5 Canvas, Mobile Development (iPhone, iPad, Android).

We are looking for experienced and enthusiastic developers who can come up with the best way to get something done (whether using our current technology stack or being able to propose why other technologies might be the best fit).

Email: carlson at the domain name above.

6 points by vkris 6 days ago 0 replies      
Long Island, New York

General Sentiment Inc


We are a fast growing media measurement company. We use our patented Sentiment Analysis algorithm which came from 6 years of research out of Stony Brook University headed by Prof. Steve Skiena.

The only quality we look for an individual is - smartness. If you think you are, email us.

We use AWS, Hadoop, Cassandra, Lucene, Flume and code in Python, Java, Perl and more recently with Scala.

5 points by techscruggs 6 days ago 1 reply      
Austin, TX - Ruby Programmer
AcademicWorks - Scholarship Management in a SAAS environment.

We are working with a lot of cool technologies: Ruby 1.9.2, Rails 3.0.5, HTML 5, Jquery 1.5, Postgres 9.0, Redis 2.0 (yeah, yeah, yeah, we'll be upgrading 2.2 soon), Chef, AWS hosting and the list goes on ...

We are vigilante about getting the bullshit out of the way and doing what it takes to make coding fun.

We value passionate people, but won't sacrifice a healthy work/life balance.

We are an early stage, but funded and have more demand for our product than we thought!

Contact me if you would like to know more.

4 points by ig1 6 days ago 0 replies      
For UK'ers check out:


(CoderStack is my company; we have lots of startups recruiting through us though)

3 points by arupchak 5 days ago 0 replies      
Amazon.com - Seattle WA - No remote, but willing to relocate based on experience. H1B is possible, again, depending on experience.

I am looking for a strong Systems Support Engineer for our growing team. We like to describe our organization as a Startup within Amazon, as our part of the business is still growing rapidly and our engineers can have a lot of influence on where the product goes.

Job description below. Contact me at ${hn_username}@gmail.com if you have any questions.

The Amazon Services team is looking for a great Systems Support Engineer to keep our systems running and our customers happy. You should be comfortable in a Linux environment, be able to automate everything you did yesterday, and willing to troubleshoot and solve new problems on a daily basis. Come join one of the fastest growing teams within Amazon.


-Maintain stability and performance of our systems via tickets during business hours oncall shifts

-Diagnose and troubleshoot new production issues that affect our customers

-Create and maintain standard operating procedure documents for new issues identified

-Automate operational tasks to assist with our scaling needs


-Proficiency in a scripting language (Ruby, Perl, Python, Shell)

-Familiar with SQL databases

-Comfortable navigating a Linux environment

-Basic understanding of web application architectures

Bonus points:

-Written a Rails application

-Deep knowledge of Oracle databases

-Troubleshooting experience

-Ticketing experience

7 points by necrodome 6 days ago 1 reply      
Here is a RSS feed for this thread's parent comments (which are mainly job postings):


Thanks to Ronnie Roller (http://ronnieroller.com/) for Hacker News API.

9 points by javan 6 days ago 0 replies      
Chicago, IL (or anywhere) - Rails Programmer @ 37signals

Amazing group of people; high-quality, high-traffic apps.

4 points by StyleOwner 5 days ago 0 replies      
San Francisco -- Frontend Engineer (* see info about Macbook Air below)

Looking for someone with strong frontend skills (javascript, css, html).

You'll be our fourth technical hire. We have a great blend of highly motivated, smart people and a low stress, positive environment. And fashion is a very hot area right now.

If you are interested, email me at matt@styleowner.com with some info about yourself. I'll give you an overview of our business plan and next six months trajectory. Please mention HN for extra points.

Caveat: We are only looking for someone who either lives in the Bay Area or who is willing to move here.

* Competitive salary, equity, benefits, and Macbook Air included in compensation package.

We're looking to fill this position in the next few days and will take a thoughtful look at all applicants.

3 points by joshu 5 days ago 0 replies      
Tasty Labs is hiring frontend and backend engineers in Sillicon Valley. We use Python and Java. We are building a way to help people use their social networks to get things done.
5 points by lylo 5 days ago 0 replies      
Edinburgh/Cambridge, UK (Engineer)

FreeAgent is a fast-growing and hugely popular Edinburgh-based company obsessed with building fantastic online accounting software. We're a team of smart people looking for clever, productive Ruby engineers in Edinburgh or Cambridge, UK.


Our engineering team will be at the Scottish Ruby Conference this week, so if you're going along be sure to grab them for a chat about the role!

2 points by usaar333 5 days ago 0 replies      
PiCloud (San Francisco, CA) is hiring software engineers to develop its cloud computing platform.

Quick description:
We allow developers, scientists, and engineers to leverage the power of the cloud with only a few lines of code. We do this by abstracting away individual servers, in favor of a simple language-integrated API.

We do extensive amounts of systems work, from scheduling algorithms to user sandboxing to bytecode introspection.

Apply @: http://www.picloud.com/jobs/

3 points by gnubardt 6 days ago 0 replies      
Boston/Cambridge, Seattle, INTERN - Java, Rails, Frontend, HTML5 Developers

Brightcove - An online video provider, we're rapidly scaling (over 1 billion player requests a week) and need QA & Software engineers. Our backend is mostly Java & Rails with Flex and HTML5 on the frontend.


Send me an email (in profile) if you have any questions!

4 points by kisielk 5 days ago 1 reply      
Vancouver, BC - Python Software Developer

Zymeworks Inc.

We're a computational biotechnology company focused on designing antibody therapeutic drugs. We have an in-house protein engineering platform built on Python & C++ that is constantly evolving to meet the needs of our scientists.

We're looking for a talented software developer, preferably with Python experience, to further our technology. No prior knowledge of Chemistry, Biology, or Physics is required but it certainly is helpful. Strong problem solving skills and an ability to write clean, high performance, efficient code are a must.

See http://zymeworks.com/careers/postings/ for a full description.

2 points by philfreo 5 days ago 0 replies      
SAN FRANCISCO, CA - (on-site only, we can help relocate)

Quizlet (http://quizlet.com/) - creating a better way to study, over 1 million users, great JavaScript games, voice recognition, text-to-speech audio

Check out jobs page for real-time stream of what people are studying: http://quizlet.com/jobs/

Looking for: great back-end (PHP5, Memcached, MySQL, etc.) and front-end (JavaScript/Ajax) developers who want to work on products to help making studying better for 3 million people/month.

2 points by GVRV 5 days ago 0 replies      
Melbourne, AUS - Generalist Web Dev code monkey [FULL TIME, NO REMOTE]

The small web development team within Infoxchange Australia (http://www.infoxchange.net.au/) is looking for a couple of developers. We work on a Debian/Apache/Perl/PHP/PostgreSQL stack on some fairly JS-heavy applications. The team is so small, that it is essentially a startup. You'll be a vital part of the team sure to making important contributions to all aspects of development. Please feel free to contact me if you want more information on the kind of work we do and the applications we develop. Graduates welcome to apply.

More information about the job: http://www.jobseeker.org.au/employment/results.chtml?filenam...

3 points by jackfoxy 6 days ago 0 replies      
5 points by sybreon 6 days ago 1 reply      
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Aeste - http://www.aeste.my/hiringnow

Swimming (and drowning) at the software-hardware boundary.

We are currently looking to fill several full-time engineering positions.

If you are looking for a place to experience an alternate work culture within Malaysia, feel free to apply. At AESTE, you will be given the opportunity to impact the world in unexpected ways.

2 points by billpaetzke 6 days ago 0 replies      
El Segundo, CA - C# Developer

Full-stack web developer position in a small, growing startup: Leads360. The main product is a web app for salespeople to manage their leads. There's a lot of interesting technical challenges involved to make our product cutting-edge.

I've hired three ex-Myspacers in the past few months and I'm looking for more.

Submit to Bill: bpaetzke@leads360.com

2 points by cal5k 6 days ago 0 replies      
Toronto, ON - Web / mobile developers

PHP, Python, iOS, or Android experience a plus, but we're more interested in hiring awesome engineers/computer scientists and providing training in relevant skills.

Work with great clients like The Royal Conservatory and Carnegie Hall, and jump in on a new product we're developing for the educational market. We build web and mobile products for companies, non-profits, and governments.


2 points by mkull 6 days ago 0 replies      
Philadelphia, PA - Senior Software Engineer

RevZilla.com - http://www.revzilla.com/senior-software-engineer

We are currently looking for a talented developer with Ruby / Rails experience to help with the roll-out of eCommerce related functionality for RevZilla.com

RevZilla.com is 4 years old. It was bootstrapped and profitable with 90 days. Founded by software developers, we lead with technology & customer experience. We strive to be the Zappos of the powersports (26 bn) market.

6 points by JBasker 5 days ago 1 reply      
Etsy, the global marketplace for buying, selling and discovering handmade goods, is hiring across the board in Engineering and Product.

We value iterative development, minimal design aesthetics and deep passion for creating the things you care about (whether it's an oak table or a Hadoop cluster).

Check us out at www.etsy.com/jobs
(All positions are local in Brooklyn, New York unless otherwise marked)

2 points by dominostars 5 days ago 0 replies      
San Francisco, CA - Rails developer (also Android developer, Product Manager)

MedHelp is the largest online health community, with 12 million uniques and growing. We're profitable without having to take VC money, and we're growing without having to pay for traffic.

Your general intelligence, work ethic, and personality matter much more than your rails experience. However, the more rails experience the better.

Website: http://www.medhelp.org
Email: Opportunities@medhelp.org
Job description: http://www.medhelp.org/Jobs/index.htm

2 points by Sidnicious 5 days ago 0 replies      
NYC - Full-stack JavaScript developer

DISTRO.fm is an early-stage startup working to revolutionize how artists distribute their music.

We been building over the last few months, but there's lots of work left to do. Our website is a single page application driven by JavaScript, backed by Node.js and MongoDB.

Us: http://distro.fm/

2 points by poutine 5 days ago 0 replies      
Vancouver - Ruby on Rails developer

http://www.e-xact.com a credit card processing company with a rails based infrastructure needs a developer with lots of experience in Ruby. May consider remote work for Canadians and Americans though has a preference for local.

jobs at e-xact.com

2 points by healsdata 6 days ago 0 replies      
King of Prussia (near Philly), PA

ReminderMedia is looking to expand our software development team with two entry-level positions. We've recently started adding a ton more JavaScript functionality to our customer interface and are making heavy use of jQuery & JsTestDriver. Additionally, PHP object-oriented work continues as we revisit systems, add tests and make improvements to our custom CRM.

http://remindermedia.com/careers/search/state/PA or email me at jcampbell@remindermedia.com

3 points by oroup 6 days ago 0 replies      
San Francisco, CA

VigLink - Senior Java Developer - http://www.viglink.com/jobs#/senior-java-dev

VigLink monetizes outbound traffic using affiliate programs and links already present in content. We are embarking on a very ambitious optimization strategy that will remind you of AdWords both in initial simplicity and potential economic scale. Technologies you will get to work with: Hadoop, Lucene, Cassandra & Nutch.

While the company is not funded by Y Combinator, it has a similar feel - we were part of the Lightspeed Summer Grants program in 2009 and are staffed by small team of young energetic technically-minded people excited to make an impact and already seeing significant distribution and revenue traction. The company is backed by angels like Reid Hoffman and Jeff Clavier and institutions like Google Ventures, First Round Capital and Emergence Capital.

Intern and H1B transfers are welcome. Unfortunately we do not yet have the resources to sponsor new H1s.

3 points by jack 5 days ago 0 replies      
Vancouver, BC, Canada

Telecommuting is an option.

Clio (http://www.goclio.com) is hiring talented Ruby on Rails developers. We are a fast-growing provider of practice management software for lawyers in small firms. Think of Clio as a mashup of Highrise, FreshBooks, Basecamp, and Harvest tailored to the specific project management needs of lawyers that practice as solos or in small firms (which is, by the way, 80% of lawyers in North America).
We're a small, fun-loving and tight-knit team with team members spread across North America. We're looking for team players that also know how to work independently. If you're located in Vancouver, great, but if not please still apply.

If you're interested please apply via http://clio.theresumator.com/apply/Lx3Omr/Software-Developer... or jobs@goclio.com.

2 points by calbear81 5 days ago 0 replies      
Sunnyvale, CA - Software Engineers

Room 77 is building the world's first hotel room search engine. We launched in February 2011 and won "Best Overall" startup at the LAUNCH conference and the Audience Choice award at Web 2.0 Expo so we've got a lot of great momentum.

We're looking for superstar engineers to join our team in Sunnyvale, California " the heart of Silicon Valley. We're well funded and have a roster of superstar investors and angels.

Who you are:

Superstar coder, self-motivated, focused, and interested in making a big impact as an early employee of a fast-paced startup

BS, MS or PhD in Computer Science or a related field

Passionate about travel

What you'll do:

Build upon Room 77's first public product with powerful new features

Design algorithms to enable the world's fastest and most feature-rich travel search engine (primarily with C++, Javascript, PHP and Python)

Revolutionize the way people travel

Send us your resume at jobs+engw[at]room77.com or find out more (including our puzzles) at http://www.room77.com/jobs.html

3 points by thinkcomp 5 days ago 0 replies      
Palo Alto, CA - Think Computer Corporation


We're looking for interns with coding skills to help us grow FaceCash (http://www.facecash.com)

E-mail jobs at thinkcomputer.com

2 points by bdittmer 5 days ago 0 replies      
San Francisco, CA
Wiseview Research (http://www.wise-view.com)

We are currently looking for an experienced rails developer and a designer with mobile experience. We are funded and provide full health benefits. Currently we are working out of Rocketspace, a pretty cool environment to be in. brian@wise-view.com

5 points by equalarrow 6 days ago 0 replies      
San Francisco, CA

Limos.com has openings. They are doing 'speed hiring' where you will get an offer letter before you leave. I think that's pretty cool.

Right now there are positions open for:

Front end html5/css developer
QA person
Sr. Rails developer.

Check out the jobs page: http://www.limos.com/jobs

2 points by nolanbrown23 5 days ago 0 replies      
Millennial Media

San Francisco - QA, Support, and Account Managers

Baltimore - QA, Support, and Software Engineers


We are venture-backed and a leader in the mobile advertising space. nolan@millennialmedia.com

2 points by aschobel 5 days ago 0 replies      
Catch.com San Francisco - FT, Intern, Remote

We are looking for hackers to join our team in SOMA. We have a bunch of ex-Metaweb and Googlers hacking on:

  * Android / iOS
* JS (Google Closure)
* Python (Pylons)and MongoDB.

We have a crazy amount of users on Android. =)

Email me hn@catch.com or http://catch.com/jobs


2 points by jplewicke 5 days ago 0 replies      
Boston, MA (seeking interns, not remote)

MDT Advisers - We're a small quant investing shop working with machine learning, financial analysis, and the hardest dataset in the world. We're mainly hiring for a general analyst position that's about 60% programming and 40% financial and statistical analysis -- http://www.mdtadvisers.com/careers/qea.jsp . The people, problems, and pay are good, and we aim for good work-life balance(e.g. no 60 hour weeks).

You can email me at jlewicke@mdtadvisers.com with any questions you have.

6 points by northisup 5 days ago 0 replies      
Skype! Help us fix Mac version 5 :)

Also a whole host of backend engineering on huge scale systems (not listed for some reason, ping me)


2 points by pitdesi 6 days ago 0 replies      
Chicago or remote:
UI/UX designer

(UI people - our site http://feefighters.com normally doesn't look like it does today, I swear!)

Also looking for freelance infographic designer (remote)

FeeFighters is awesome and is disrupting the shady world of credit card processing. I've been on board for a few months and have enjoyed the hell out of my time here. We've got a bunch of superstars on the team right now and are looking to add another... Join us!

1 point by mkuhn 3 days ago 0 replies      
Zurich, Switzerland - Python Developer - REMOTE

connex.io is looking for a full-time Python developer to reinforce its team. We produce an address book solution that keeps personal address books clean, complete and up-to-date for the user.

Full listing at http://blog.connex.io/connexio-is-looking-for-you-searching-...

About you: You are passionate about what you do and have the following skills:
- Python Hacker
- Well versed Linux sysadmin
- Good understanding of web applications and network security
- Experience in working with REST APIs
- (Cassandra Experience is a big plus)

2 points by nphase 5 days ago 0 replies      
Chicago, IL

Tap Me, Inc. - http://tap.me

We are hiring full time web developers, devops, Flash+HTML5 specialists, designers, and potentially other lots-of-hats people. If you're talented, we'd like to talk to you.

Tap Me is a funded startup focused on building next gen in-game advertising. We've got a fun and energetic workplace, and we love to think big.

You can contact me directly at ws@tap.me

3 points by cubes 5 days ago 0 replies      
Eventbrite is hiring in San Francisco. It's a fun place to work, and we've got lots of openings:

Email cubes@eventbrite.com if you're curious.

1 point by mikeklaas 5 days ago 0 replies      
Zite " Vancouver or San Francisco

We just launched a personalized reader app for the iPad that made a big splash (100k downloads in 5 days). We do hardcore machine learning and large scale data processing.

We've got positions open for the backend/ML side of things, as well as the iOS/web side. Looking for contract designers, as well.


2 points by essrand 5 days ago 0 replies      
I am a data mining engineer at polyvore and we are looking for frontend/backend/generalist/data mining engineers.

Below is our official pitch :), I am regular lurker here at HN, you can email me at bhaskar@polyvore.com if you want to know more, or just apply to the jobs link below.


Polyvore is looking for stellar software engineers to join our team. If you're at all interested, I'd love to grab coffee or have you stop by our office to meet the team.

A little background on the company -- Polyvore is a social shopping platform. Our user community curates and merchandises products from all over the web in the form of digital collages that we call "sets". We have about 6.5M unique visitors per month, which makes us one of the largest fashion sites on the web. Our eventual goal is to expand to other product categories.

We're a team of 18 people, including a lot of folks from Google and Yahoo. Our founders are all engineers or have computer science backgrounds, so we're very technical and eng/product-driven. You can see the profiles of our team members here. It's also a really fun working environment. Our Happy Hours activities range from board games to taco trucks to book club (with beer and other equally attractive drinks!).

Polyvore has a lot of interesting product challenges and neat technology under the hood. For example:

The Editor -- Our virtual styling tool features pretty nifty JavaScript.

Style Analytics -- Our users interact with tons of products on a daily basis (50K clips/day, 35K sets/day), which makes for really interesting data mining opportunities.

Monetization -- Think of Polyvore sets as user-generated ads. There are lots of resonant monetization opportunities.

We've also been getting great buzz lately:

Polyvore Goes Sky High with Times Square Billboard (about our billboard in Times Square, which we got for free)

Fast Company - An Army of Anna Wintours (about our recent partnerships from Fashion Week)

TheNextWeb - The Rise of Polyvore: Trendsetting Goes Social (testimonials from our advertisers)

The New Yorker - Fashion Democracy (an older article that focuses on our awesome user community)

2 points by ScotterC 5 days ago 0 replies      
New York, NY -
Ruby on Rails back end
Front end Dev

Artsicle is a small team looking to democratize the Fine-Art world. We're doing this by cutting out the gallery system and allowing customers to rent directly from the artists. A 'try before you buy' system that allows a greater amount of customers access to a greater amount of art at a more accessible point in the artist's career.

interns welcome

email scott at artsicle.com if you're interested


4 points by penningtonj 5 days ago 1 reply      
Philadelphia, PA

The Center for Biomedical Informatics at the Children's Hospital Of Philadelphia Research Institute needs a Quality Engineer/Programmer to establish quality assurance as a core competency of our rapidly growing, entrepreneurial R&D software group. We're looking for a unique individual who is interested in moving beyond typical QA roles and responsibilities, someone who is driven to create new methods for testing complex biomedical software. This need is driven by translation of our successful research applications into clinical practice.

4 points by jim-greer 6 days ago 1 reply      
Portland, OR - Rails Developer - Kongregate
2 points by cadr 5 days ago 0 replies      
San Francisco, CA - Blurb

Blurb lets people tell their stories - currently through print-on-demand books, but increasingly through other venues.

We are both established and growing like mad (we were #47 on last year's Inc 500). We have a great group of people and a lot of fun challenges in the year ahead.

We are currently hiring for many positions - front end, Rails, iPhone, and more.


3 points by kola 6 days ago 1 reply      
Palo Alto, CA

Mertado (YC W2010) - Help users discover interesting merchandise.

We use - MongoDB, MySQL, Python, LAMP.

* Frontend Engineers - (APIs, CSS/JS). Help build our web app, Facebook app and our new embedded shopping offering.

* Backend engineers - Work on product recommendation engine, custom in house analytics engine, APIs, scalability & build platform to integrate with hundreds of our vendors.

* Interns - Web developers, backend developers, marketing.

Why talk to us? Awesome team, well funded, really big market opportunity (think Zappos, QVC).

Apply - jobs@mertado.com

More info - http://www.mertado.com/jobs

4 points by tsewlliw 6 days ago 0 replies      
Austin, TX

SmartBear, CodeCollaborator team. We do team lunches, and we have fun.

Multiple developer openings:

Mostly just be smart and adaptable, but specifics in Eclipse/RCP, Visual Studio addins, Web GUI stuff, and version control systems are big wins.

QA opening:

We like automated testing. I'm the wrong guy for specifics, but I'll hook you up.


2 points by daten 6 days ago 0 replies      
Silver Spring, MD - Linux System Administrator

We're looking to hire a Linux SA to help build and deploy clusters and custom software. Includes some travel. Must be eligible for a security clearance.

Other available positions listed at http://www.woti.com/jobs.cfm


5 points by garysieling 6 days ago 1 reply      
Philadelphia, PA (Blue Bell) - Software engineers- Java/C#.
We're a small company, and write software for pharmaceuticals & energy companies.
1 point by liquimoon 1 day ago 0 replies      
Yaletown, Vancouver, BC - Ruby on Rails Hacker

To all Rails hackers, want to work on interesting scalability problems that you only read about? With 28 million monthly unique visitors, Suite101 is a top 100 website in the US according to Quantcast.

We are looking for a Ruby on Rails hacker to help us design and develop our new platform. Experience with git, jQuery, Haml, Redis, Postgres a huge plus.

New hires get a brand new Macbook Pro and a 24-inch monitor.

Our office is located in the trendiest part of Downtown Vancouver. We offer competitive salary and benefit packages for the right candidates.

Send your github account and resume/cover letter to jerry-dot-tian-at-suite101-dot-com.

More about the job at: http://goo.gl/1NXV4

2 points by tdonia 5 days ago 0 replies      
Brooklyn, NY (local/salaried) - PHP Developer - Main Street Connect

We're a well-funded startup with ambitious plans for local news looking for a problem solver to join our Creative Technology team in DUMBO. We use Drupal but are more interested in someone smart & adaptable than specific Drupal-domain expertise. The rest of the Brooklyn team includes a UX Lead, our Creative Director, Product Infrastructure & Ad Operations + a small army of freelancers. You'll find most of the team lurking about HN.

Recommend a book/tell us about a cool project: creative_technology@mainstreetconnect.us

3 points by FainaK 6 days ago 0 replies      
Philadelphia, PA Area- Python/PHP Web Application Developer
AWeber Communications

2 Full time opportunities, developing and maintaining Python web based applications run on Unix based open source platforms.

Full details at - http://www.aweber.com/careers.htm

    •    Developing web based services like AWeber.com, and others.
    •    Participating in the evolution to Python, SQLAlchemy, and Pylons system wide.
    •    Utilizing Python, PHP5, Perl, SQL, JavaScript, HTML, and XML.
    •    Being part of a team that provides 24x7 coverage for the production environment.
    •    Monitoring the production environment and fixing or escalating problems that arise on production machines.
    •    Handling project oriented work, including developing and maintaining APIs, creating and maintaining web applications & training others in the production environment.
    •    Capacity and performance optimization and planning recommendations.
    •    Designing program models and behaviors.
    •    Integrating new tools into our processes and suggesting new ways of improving systems.

About AWeber
Located in Huntingdon Valley, PA AWeber develops and manages an online opt-in email marketing and follow-up service. A growing 100,000+ international customer base access our website 24/7 to manage and send their newsletters to recipients who have specifically opted in on their website to receive that information.

Please email with the subject "Web Application Developer" a cover letter describing why you feel this is the position for you, salary requirements, your preferred desktop OS and detailed PDF resume.

Email- resumes@aweber.com

3 points by AntiRush 5 days ago 0 replies      
Have you built your own sweet HTML5 game? At Game Closure, we are building a cross-platform HTML5-based gaming SDK (iOS, Android, and browser for now). Shoot us an email at jobs@gameclosure.com.

Located in Palo Alto, CA. We will pay for your travel if we want to interview you.

We are hiring for the following positions:

Game Developer: Experience building games and knowledge of javascript. Show us your games!

Platform Engineer: Deep expertise in some of the following - iOS, Android, WebGL/OpenGL, javascript, HTML5.

Network Engineer: Deep expertise in real-time networking technologies on the web.

3 points by rhoward 6 days ago 0 replies      
Java Development opportunities for Agile Enthusiasts. Only those with a passion for creativity and innovation as well as a drive for excellence need apply.

Pillar Technology is rapidly increasing its team in the Detroit Metro area. We have multiple projects that need strong agile developers who feel comfortable coaching others on practices like tdd, continuous integration, and pair programming. We are entering an age where our clients are embracing full Agile transformations and Pillar is at the heart of it. If you want to be part of these exciting opportunities, please send resumes to rhoward@pillartechnology.com

technical skills needed:

3+ years experience with Java EE or strong background in other oo languages .

web services

hands on experience with Test Driven Development, Continuous Integration and pair programming

nice to have, but not necessary

experience with portals

experience with development mobile applications


Company Overview:

Over the last 12 years, Pillar has been successfully mentoring clients and implementing software development best practices in a variety of industries. Our Speed to Value (S2V) approach is influenced by Agile Methodologies (XP, Scrum, TDD) and includes practices such as Continuous Integration and Travel Light. This approach has enabled us to deliver measurable business value early and often in software development projects.

We strive to offer an exciting work environment that balances learning with delivery, a culture that is fun, fast paced and geared to the success of both the project and the individual.

please send resumes to hr@pillartechnology.com

2 points by bmj 6 days ago 0 replies      
Pittsburgh PA: invivodata


The Products group is small (just three devs in PGH, plus four in Santa Cruz), and we do a mix of web and device/mobile work. We are mostly a .NET/C# shop, but my current project is heavy on the Javascript.

3 points by gracelaw 5 days ago 0 replies      
San Francisco, CA - Flash Engineers / Game Engineers, FTE or Intern

Lolapps is a small, but growing social gaming company with respectful peers. We are as dedicated to building a great culture as we are to building great products.

We have teamed up with John Romero and launched http://www.facebook.com/RavenwoodFair in October (11M MAU now and Top 10 Social Game on Facebook.)

We only have 17 engineers now and are looking to grow to 30 this year. People like working here because they are:

- working with smart, responsible, and fun people: folks that they actually enjoy doing stuff with outside of work

- learning new things, solving hard problems, writing optimized codes and iterating quickly (Our core technology stack consists of AS3, Python, MySQL, MongoDB.)

- making a huge impact with a small and collaborative team in a growing space

- building feel good games for millions of people to enjoy

- loving the amazing food, free yoga, playing games like it is part of their job... http://www.flickr.com/photos/lolapps/

Want to help us take social gaming to the next level and work on Ravenwood Fair / other new IPs? We will relocate you to our office in San Francisco.

Full listings at: http://lolapps.com/career/

3 points by throwawayappdev 6 days ago 1 reply      
REMOTE - (1) iOS/Mac Developer (2) Java / Android Developer (3) HTML/CSS/JS Developer

Highly Profitable Mac/iOS Startup Hiring ($300 to $500/day, or monthly/yearly equivalent)

We are one of the leading developers on the iOS and Mac platforms with dozens of successful apps, adding around one million new users per month and doubling our revenues every quarter.

You need to be:

1. Passionate

2. Dedicated

3. Awesome at what you do

If you have strong experience and a portfolio to back yourself up, then please email us at: throwawayappdev@gmail.com

Immediate start available.

2 points by vgurgov 5 days ago 0 replies      

For videolla.com- we are making serious $$$ on video

1) web UI/Designer contract. Rails experience preferred. For redesign of our fast growing startup videolla.com

2) Marketing PR hacker intern/freelancer. You will make us famous!

If you feel you are 1)+2) you should also apply. Bay Area preferred. Remote is possible for exceptional candidates!

If you are interested - you will find a way to get in touch.

2 points by shafqat 5 days ago 0 replies      
NewsCred is hiring in New York City.

Lots of positions, but our main focus is to find engineers who are passionate about information retrieval and big data. So any interest or experience in Solr, Lucene, NLP, Machine Learning, etc would be a great fit for the types of problems we're working on.

And we have unlimited vacations!

Full listing at http://platform.newscred.com/jobs

4 points by benro 5 days ago 0 replies      
Cedar Rapid, IA - Engineer/Developer

Small consulting company providing solutions ranging from Industrial Automation to High Precision Agriculture. Looking for INTERN s and Full time developers. Software Development is primarily .NET, but experience with LabView and PLC Programming would be helpful.

2 points by yesbabyyes 5 days ago 0 replies      
Stockholm, Sweden

Startup in fashion/affiliate marketing looking for summer interns for programming Python, Django, JavaScript.

Contact me at linus@hanssonlarsson.se

2 points by mikepk 5 days ago 0 replies      
Boston, MA - Engineers / Technologists / Programmers - not remote

Why get drowned out in the Valley / SF when you can work on a sweet consumer web startup in Boston! OK I'll get it out of the way, the weather: well, yeah, there's snow/slush on the ground right now on April 1st (jokes on us), but it does make you appreciate when it is nice out a lot more.

We're a new company (http://smarterer.com), recently funded, with some big ideas. Not only are we exploring a space with tons of potential, but we plan on putting "consumer web" back on the map in the Boston startup scene.

There are just three of us at the moment (and only one tech person: me) so joining now means you get to have a big impact on the product, the company, the vision and the technology.

There are lots of interesting product, algorithm, gaming, infrastructure and scaling challenges. We're currently using Python (not Django), but we're not language-religious, anyone who loves web tech, big problems, big systems, design, products and programming might be a good fit.

Sorry, no remote right now. The early core team needs to be local to really gel (just from my personal and previous startup experience).

if you're interested, email me: mikepk@smarterer.com

3 points by pashields 6 days ago 0 replies      
New Haven, CT or remote (us only, northeast preferred) - iPhone and/or opengl developer

We're a funded stealth startup building what we call a social opinion platform. We'd like to add another developer on our iPhone client. In particular someone with experience build graphical elements on top of opengl and/or quartz would fill a good niche.

Please submit code/github/portfolio if you are interested. Good compensation, equity for right person. pat at floop dot com.

4 points by ynn4k 6 days ago 1 reply      
Intelligent App search and discovery startup is looking for:

US / India - Business Development/Marketing Manager

India - Front end designer, Deployment architect, NLP research engineer.


2 points by nmueller 5 days ago 0 replies      
Menlo Park, CA - Generalist Ruby Engineer http://www.nearbuysystems.com/company/rubyengineer

Menlo Park, CA - C++/CUDA Engineer http://www.nearbuysystems.com/company/cengineer

Nearbuy Systems is a year-old startup working on indoor location-based services. We've got two positions -- a C++/CUDA engineer to work on the "location" part and a ruby engineer for the "services" side.

Our location system fuses together multiple sensor feeds to get 1m accuracy indoors. It's a highly parallel system with agressive performance requirements and a lot of fun problems. "Services" encompasses a Rails frontend, a large distributed backend, data collection and reporting. If you like ruby but aren't 100% frontend focused you'll fit right in.

We're a small engineering team (currently three people, growing to six). We practice agile development, love playing with new technologies and know how to have a good time. Experience with something unusual and unrelated to the requirements is a big plus.

3 points by lamplighter 6 days ago 0 replies      
Toronto, full time (no remote)

Uken Games - http://www.uken.com/jobs

We are a startup (~10 full times) that makes web based games in HTML5 for iOS, Android, BlackBerry and Facebook. We are growing fast and need talented back-end web engineers to help us scale (Rails & MySQL). We are also looking for Javascript developers to help us push the edge of what browsers can do.

2 points by tungwaiyip 5 days ago 0 replies      
Kontagent (San Francisco, CA)

We are looking for sales and engineers! http://jobvite.com/m?3rJ72fw3

Kontagent measures people, not pages, and is a leading analytics platform for social application developers. The platform has been built to provide deep social behavior analysis and visualization that provides actionable insights via a hosted, on-demand service. It works with many of the world's largest developers and brands, tracking thousands of social applications and games with over 100 million monthly active users and over 15 billion messages per month.



Email me waiyip.tung at kontagent.com if you need more information.

3 points by danielpatricio 6 days ago 1 reply      
Toronto - Backend/Front-end
Pinpoint Social

We have built a self-service platform for building promotions on the world's largest social networks.

We are looking for a hacker to add to our hustle. API integrations and the self service usability are our current priorities

Say hi at @danielpatricio

2 points by pretzel 5 days ago 1 reply      
London, UK

Qubit digital - http://www.qubitdigital.com/join-our-team

We're looking to double the size of our company over the next 12 months. We're hiring senior and graduate software engineers in the next quarter, plus a whole bunch of other roles. We're not looking any skills in particular, just smart people.

Qubit Digital is a year-old company founded by 4 ex-Googlers. We're in the business of making company's websites perform better, by generating rule-based concrete advice.

We've a bunch of huge clients already, and are trying to keep up with growth! It's a busy time and you'll get thrown in the middle of bunch of AI work, doing cloud computing and presenting complex data to clients in a simple actionable manner.

It's a fun place to be (not just because we're in the middle of Soho), there's a bunch of perks for everyone and there's both strong leadership from above and freedom for everyone to do things the way they know best.

If you are interested, send an email to careers@qubitdigital.com.

3 points by mivok 6 days ago 1 reply      
Columbia, MD - OmniTI

Site Reliability Engineer (Systems Administrator), Database Administrator, Web Engineer (Perl or PHP), Project Manager, Javascript Developer, Web Interface Designer

See http://omniti.com/is/hiring and http://circonus.com/careers for the Javascript Developer Position).

2 points by gsiener 5 days ago 0 replies      
New York City, NY

Front End engineer @ Profitably

We just raised $1.1M, and we are looking to hire our 6th person. Our 3rd co-founder was UX & Visual Design. We couldn't take design more seriously, and we've got cash and equity for you if you're the one.

Profitably is business analytics, simplified. More at Profitably.com

More on the job at: http://jobs.37signals.com/jobs/8551

2 points by christyyyjoy 5 days ago 1 reply      
Ruby Developer - San Diego, CA

PHP / WordPress Developer - San Diego, CA

Bookkeeper/Accountant - San Diego, CA

StockTwits is hiring for three positions in our Coronado, CA office. We're a quickly-growing team that was recently named one of Fast Company's 10 most innovative companies in web: http://www.fastcompany.com/1738656/the-10-most-innovative-co...

2 points by martharotter 6 days ago 0 replies      
Nomad Editions - New York city area (remote may be an option for this role) http://readnomad.com

Web Developer for Digital Magazine Startup

Nomad Editions, a startup creating digital weeklies for mobile devices, is looking for an awesome web-standards focused HTML/CSS/JS developer to help build our content on top of Treesaver (treesaver.net), one of the most exciting new open source frameworks for digital news and magazine publishing. The developer will be responsible for taking wireframes and translating them into standards-compliant web pages in Treesaver.

We're seeking: - Expertise in standards-based web development with HTML/CSS/JS - Ideal candidate would also have design skills - Interest in working with a very exciting company doing something no one else in the digital publishing industry is doing: making digital content look amazing everywhere

If you're interested or have questions, please e-mail Martha Rotter at mrotter@readnomad.com

2 points by kreilly 5 days ago 0 replies      
Media6Degrees is looking for Java Engineers in NYC.


The Server-Side Developer role requires in-depth experience with the following:

    Server- side Java (5.0, 6 strongly preferred) including multi-threading, concurrency, etc.
Application Server or Servlet containers, Tomcat 5.5 or later strongly preferred
TDD, Unit, Integration and Functional testing.
Strong working knowledge of browsers and web technologies
Experience with IoC containers; Spring/Spring MVC strongly preferred
ORM; Hibernate strongly preferred
Java Profiler, JProfiler perferred
SQL; MySQL 5.1 strongly preferred
Continuous Integration; Hudson strongly preferred
Maven 2
IDE, Eclipse strongly preferred

1 point by newy 5 days ago 0 replies      
SOMA, San Francisco, CA - Software Engineers

Opzi, YC S10, building an enterprise knowledgebase people will actually use. All engineer team, we use Ruby, Rails, JS, Node, Backbone (some Python). We're looking for smart, well-rounded engineers who are interested in building a new type of enterprise software. In addition, we're on the lookout for a designer with a strong sense of design and ability to work in code. Hiring for full-time, but will consider interns.

Reach out directly to euwyn@opzi.com, or use the link below.


2 points by sifter3000 5 days ago 0 replies      
London, England
Dennis Publishing - Mobile (iOS, Android) developers

We're a publishing company building a first class internal team to help us create a range of apps for mobile phones and tablets. We'll be looking at taking our existing brands onto new devices in interesting and exciting ways, as well as launching mobile and tablet software based on completely new ideas.

Great central London location, brand new team and lots of opportunity for creative input :)

Details: http://www.dennis.co.uk/node/1741, http://www.dennis.co.uk/working-at-dennis/vacancy/1745/ios-m..., http://www.dennis.co.uk/working-at-dennis/vacancy/1747/mobil...

2 points by cristinacordova 5 days ago 0 replies      
Pulse is hiring for our Palo Alto, CA office. We're looking for full-time in-office iOS and Android engineers as well as interns and part-time folks. We make a news reading app for iPhone, iPad and Android devices. Check out our jobs page here: http://www.alphonsolabs.com/jobs
3 points by tariq 6 days ago 0 replies      
Toronto - Web Developer - http://www.kanetix.ca

Looking for a web developer to join our team who is interested in learning and wants to bring their skills and ideas to the table.

info: http://jobs.perl.org/job/13944

3 points by ewryan 5 days ago 0 replies      
Boulder, CO - Gnip (http://gnip.com) - Two engineering positions, multiple sales/marketing positions:

About Gnip:
Gnip's software collects, processes and delivers hundreds of millions of activities a day from a wide variety of social media APIs. Using an agile process with weekly iterations and bi-weekly deployments, we take a pragmatic approach to building our software which requires a broad palette of language experience, framework understanding, and software environments.

Technology we use:
Amazon Web Services (EC2/S3/RDS),

Daily breakfast at work,
Ski passes,
Open workday tab at two awesome coffee shops (The Cup, The Laughing Goat),
Gym membership,
In office kegerator

2 points by DLarsen 6 days ago 0 replies      
Los Angeles area, Ventura, CA (onsite)

Connexity - We are looking for a Sr. Software Engineer that ideally has experience developing production-quality code in Scala, and has 3-10 years of experience in the internet industry. Experience with "big data" (Hadoop, HDFS, Hbase, Cassandra, etc.) will put your system at the top of the heap. More than anything, we're looking for a motivated software engineer who wants to learn on the job and have fun doing it.

You'll have the opportunity to help drive design decisions as part of our small, driven, entrepreneurial team. Heaps of interesting work lies ahead of us with behavioral targeting, audience segmentation, and graph generation.

Read more at http://www.linkedin.com/jobs?viewJob=&jobId=1479817

2 points by sergei 5 days ago 0 replies      
San Francisco, CA
Clustrix: Systems Developers

Clustrix has developed a highly scalable distributed database system from the ground up. We are looking for skilled systems developers to help us with the next generation of Clustrix Database.

As a candidate, you should be an experienced C developer and proficient in concurrent and asynchronous system principles.

Additionally, experience in any of the following areas is highly preferred. It's a sample of the kinds of problems Clustrix developers are faced with on a daily basis:

* Compiler design and implementation
* Distributed query planning and optimization
* Distributed concurrency control mechanisms
* Fault tolerance in distributed systems
* Distributed transaction management


3 points by doscott 5 days ago 0 replies      
Austin, TX (or anywhere for the right person) -- Ruby + Front-End

Small team (3). Bootstrapped. Profitable. 1.5 years old. High Traffic. High Visibility. Good Times.

DoStuff Media runs:
* The social and artist discovery portions of many large music festival websites: Lollapalooza, Austin City Limits, Jazz Fest, and many more
* Local Entertainment guides in 3 cities (more launching soon): Do512.com (austin), Do312.com (chicago), Do713.com (Houston)

We've got a nice piece of local pretty figured out and are growing (revenue/footprint not team) quickly. Need someone that is fast/good/gets design/likes to have a good time.

Pay ain't great to start, but not bad either. and lots of perks, like vip to festivals.

More and contact info at: http://dostuffmedia.com

3 points by dawkins 5 days ago 0 replies      
Madrid, Spain

C# developer.

We help sport clubs with our web based product. You would help us improve it and build features.

The position is for our office in Alcobendas but you could do some remote if you want.

Right now we are using Git, VS, Windows to develop and apache and linux on the server.

2 points by liamstask 5 days ago 0 replies      
San Francisco, CA

Sifteo - http://sifteo.com

We're looking for software generalists, but have immediate needs in the frontend realm: designing & implementing the interaction experience with our software, both on the web and within a Qt/WebKit web panel in our desktop software. This position sits right in the middle of our stack, interacting directly with the user, with the web backend, and with the interface to our hardware.

We've just shipped our first units, and need help building out our platform, creating an SDK, and making sure that our users have great experiences. We're well funded, and have been getting lots of good press.

Software: JavaScript/Qt/C++/Python, Rails on the server

Drop me a line at liam at sifteo.com with any questions!

3 points by maxaf 6 days ago 0 replies      
NYC (Midtown East) - Novus is building a real-time financial analytics platform in Scala. We're looking for functional programmers and other sharp generalists from all walks of life. We are a small product-focused team, move quickly, and take great pride in what we do.

E-mail is in my profile.

2 points by ksowocki 6 days ago 0 replies      
Ignighter (Techstars '08, NYC) is hiring php developers, designers, and some data engineers. Details here => http://ignighter.com/jobs
3 points by meghan 6 days ago 0 replies      
New York City, San Francisco Bay Area, and Europe

10gen, the creators of MongoDB: We are always looking for smart people to join the team. You get paid to work on open source software!


2 points by binarymax 5 days ago 0 replies      
Needham, MA - Remote a possibility.

Node/C/C++ developers

Profitable and exciting Healthcare SaaS startup that was acquired, but independent.

max.l.irwin -at- googlemail -dot- com

2 points by wooter 5 days ago 0 replies      
Palo Alto, CA - Criteo (www.criteo.com)
The R&D team at Criteo is building the next generation of digital advertising technologies that power billions of ad impressions every month. We are looking for great developers who are passionate about engineering challenges!

Currently looking to fill R&D positions:

- C#, Java or C++, SQL, HTML, CSS, XML

- Must be hard working, team oriented, bright, creative, cooperative, and an exceptional problem solver

- Extraordinary analytical skills

- Solid understanding and working knowledge of relational databases a plus


1 point by remi 5 days ago 0 replies      
Quebec City, Canada

We're looking for mobile (iOS and Android) developers as well as Web (Ruby, Rails, Sinatra) developers.


Also, we have a nice little "life @ Mirego" website we built to explain why you should work with us :) ' http://vie.mirego.com

2 points by oh_no_my_eyes 5 days ago 0 replies      
Percolate is hiring. We're an NYC-based startup looking for specialists in Python (Django experience a plus). Our needs include:

Interests in scalable web technologies (MapReduce, DB Clustering, Asynchronous Processing, Awesome Search/IR).

We are very young and have a prototype site and api (both of which are down for site maintenance atm).

Right now the team includes an engineer, a front-end developer, and a mathematician. We feel very strongly about the quality of our product and are excited to bring on smart people who love to build out the web in new ways.

will aaaaat percolate derp org

2 points by purzelrakete 5 days ago 0 replies      
Berlin, Germany & San Francisco, California

SoundCloud - http://soundcloud.com/jobs

SoundCloud is hiring! Back-end Developers, Front-End Developers, API Developers, VP Eng, Developer Evangelist, Partner Integration Manager, Systems Administrator, and Music Information Retrieval Developer.

Founded in late 2007, SoundCloud is an international start-up headquartered in Berlin with smaller satellite offices in London and San Francisco. With the 50+ people onboard, we've got 11+ nationalities covered and a range of interests so diverse that you'll fit in all over the place!

2 points by ianterrell 5 days ago 0 replies      
San Francisco - Samasource is hiring developers and designer

Samasource is a distributed work system similar to Mechanical Turk, but aimed at eradicating global poverty by providing work to the people on the lowest rungs of the economic ladder; those who lost "the birth lottery." See the TEDx talk our founder gave: http://vimeo.com/9305118.

We're hiring Rails developers and a designer, and we'll relocate promising candidates to the Bay Area!


2 points by tmarthal 5 days ago 0 replies      
Los Angeles, CA in the Downtown Culver City area.

We are looking for an on-site back and/or front end software developer with experience in Java/Groovy, javascript, AWS, mysql&|nosql which isn't afraid of numerical analysis or statistical modeling. We are working on a web analytics optimization platform in an early stage startup. The esoteric job descriptions are listed here: http://www.jumptime.com/jobs

You can shoot me an email at tom@jump-time.com if it sounds like something you'd be interested in.

2 points by AyanK 6 days ago 0 replies      
Pittsburgh, PA

Careerimp - We are a young company that develops neat web apps to make applying to jobs easier and to provide insights into the outcome of one's job application as they apply.

We code in Ruby on Rails and jQuery. We are looking for a prolific full-time web app developer/engineer or a senior engineer/developer to take us through the next phases of product conceptualization and development, and help us scale. We are are also looking for a summer INTERN for a similar role.

More info: http://jobs.rubynow.com/jobs/show/5226

2 points by dj_axl 5 days ago 1 reply      
Cornerstone OnDemand, which IPO'ed last month. Located in Santa Monica, CA (Los Angeles area). Hiring for ASP.NET / C# / SQL developers. Specifically, Web Software Engineer (.Net/SQL), Software Engineer (WCF/.Net), Senior SQL Database Engineer (SQL Server 2008).



2 points by ctb9 5 days ago 0 replies      
San Francisco, CA - seeking INTERNS, possibly REMOTE

equipster.com - we're creating the ultimate shopping engine for outdoor gear.

If you're into the outdoors and want to have a huge impact at brand new startup, check us out. We're looking for ambitious hackers willing to take the lead on projects that interest them. Opportunities all over in the stack + mobile.

frontend: knockout.js + html5
backend: php and python, mySQL (mongoDB soon), solr, htmlunit


1 point by garethdiz 1 day ago 0 replies      
SearchSpring is hiring Web Developers: http://jobsco.re/gwarZZ

SearchSpring provides SaaS solutions to E-Commerce retailers including a searchable catalog app for Facebook...

Come work with exciting consumer brands that have TONS of Facebook fans!

Transform our customers' consumer facing web, mobile and Facebook sites using the latest web-scale technology!

Lots of opportunity to work in different areas.

2 points by ganjianwei 5 days ago 0 replies      
Burlingame, CA (between San Francisco and Palo Alto)

TellApart, Inc. is hiring Software Engineers and Machine Learning Engineers among other positions.

We're a startup founded by ex-Googlers building a next generation eCommerce customer data platform. If you're interested in big data, distributed systems and machine learning, check us out at http://tellapart.com/who_we_are/

Jobs page: http://tellapart.com/jobs/

2 points by douglasjsellers 5 days ago 0 replies      
Los Angeles (remote/H1B for the right fit) - Ruby on Rails Developers

Tired of just not doing evil and actually want to do GOOD? If so, check out @good worldwide (www.good.is). GOOD is a small startup in West Hollywood focused on building tools and relationships for people looking to push the world forward. We are currently looking for some super talented junior and senior software engineers to help us build out a a next generation social entrepreneurial-ship platform.

Interested? Email me at doug <at> goodinc.com

3 points by sequoia 6 days ago 0 replies      
http://www.democracynow.org/about/jobs Democracy Now is looking for a contract Ruby developer, if you're into that sort of thing.
2 points by simonsez 5 days ago 0 replies      
San Francisco

The Usual (http://usual.com/) is hiring generalist engineers to work on our back-end (python/django/rabbit/possibly socket.io) application as well as client applications (android, iOS) for mobile/online restaurant ordering. We're looking for smart people who'd like to tackle a variety of problems.

We're early stage, in a big space (online restaurant ordering), and have an experienced team. We'd love for you to be a part of it.

simon at usual dot com.

3 points by jneale 6 days ago 0 replies      
Camden - London - UK - Full stack Ruby devs

We're a rapidly expanding media technology company looking for lots of developers. We have a whole range of technologies working in production including Hadoop, Mongo and Clojure.

You can see our main site at http://www.forward.co.uk/, or our tech site at http://forwardtechnology.co.uk/

mailto:jon.neale@forward.co.uk, or jobs@forwardtechnology.co.uk

2 points by elektrolyte79 5 days ago 0 replies      
San Francisco, CA
UX LEAD:: Razorfish



1 point by bluelu 5 days ago 0 replies      
Trendiction in Luxembourg:

http://www.trendiction.com/ http://blog.trendiction.com/tag/joboffer

No remote.

Looking for 3-4 more java developers in the field of: - distributed large scale crawling, content extraction, data analysis - web applications

We crawl, analyze (extract article, author, date, theme, sentiment,...) and monitor websites (news, blogs, ...) for our clients.

You can contact me directly under t.britz@trendiction.com

2 points by unwiredben 5 days ago 0 replies      
Sunnyvale & San Francisco, CA

HP's Palm GBU is responsible for the development of HP webOS, our premiere mobile operating system for phones, tablets, and more. It's based on WebKit, JavaScript, and node.js technologies, along with lots of embedded Linux under the hood. We're currently hiring over 100 positions from junior engineers to senior level specialists.

See http://www.palm.com/us/company/careers.html

2 points by phillytom 6 days ago 2 replies      
Conshohocken, PA - Monetate

We're a SaaS provider of testing, targeting, and personalization tools to internet marketers. We're currently hiring Javascript engineers for front-end development and backend engineers (we use Python) - and we have fun web and data problems at scale.

We're having fun and growing fast.

3 people on our team have found us through here and we always look forward to talking to more fellow HNers.

Feel free to email me any questions - tjanofsky monetate com

2 points by raptrjobs 5 days ago 0 replies      
Location: Mountain View, CA (a couple blocks from 101)

Remote: Sorry, no remote work

Raptr is adding some exciting products to help our over 6 million users get more out of their video games, and we need some help!

We're hiring for frontend web, backend web, and desktop client application software engineer positions.

Raptr helps people get more out of their games with useful tools to track gameplay time, compare achievements, enable social interaction, and discovery of games and users.


We're looking for folks with a solid CS background, and a good top to bottom understanding of large scale web applications.

Backend web positions work on scaling, data, and providing apis to the frontend team (80% PHP, some Python, a tiny bit of legacy Perl).

Frontend web team writes html, javascript, and view layer php code using backend apis. Client Application team writes a python + QT application for chat + friends + gameplay tracking.

Take a look at the job descriptions at http://raptr.com/info/jobs and email me (chris-jobs@raptr.com) with resume for quick consideration if you're interested.

1 point by mYk 3 days ago 0 replies      
Polyconseil - Paris, France - Django developer

We are a small strategy consulting company focused on exploring new fields of activity. We have launched several spin-offs in the past years.

We are creating a large scale car sharing service (several thousand electric vehicles), launching in Q4. We are looking for highly productive and motivated developers to join our backend development team.

Interns with strong programming skills and learning abilities are welcome.

Drop me a line (aymeric.augustin@<company>.fr) or apply online at http://www.polyconseil.fr/careers/

3 points by bramcohen 5 days ago 0 replies      
San Francisco, CA - BitTorrent is hiring for a bunch of positions http://www.bittorrent.com/company/jobs
3 points by aurumaeus 6 days ago 0 replies      
NYC - Java/Android
NYC - Obj-C/iOS
NYC - Python/MongoDB
NYC - Python/JavaScript/HTML


1 point by effektz 4 days ago 0 replies      
Denver, Colorado - Ruby on Rails

We are looking for 2 Ruby on Rails developers to add to our team. You don't have to be an RoR expert to apply. As long as you're willing to work hard and learn from us. You must be motivated, excited to write code, and want to work at an established startup company.

MySQL and jQuery experience is a plus.

Our company is an established management system in the MMJ industry. We have been in business for a year and a half, and we are growing like crazy.

If you have a solid understand of Ruby on Rails, live in Denver, CO, send me an email and let's talk.



2 points by agranig 6 days ago 1 reply      
@Sipwise in Vienna/Austria

- Web developer: Perl/Catalyst/MySQL and HTML/CSS/JS

- VoIP engineer: OpenSER/Kamailio/OpenSIPS and >3 years of experience in SIP routing

- System engineer: HA/Scalability/Mass-Deployment using Corosync, Pacemaker, Git, Perl

We develop and integrate carrier-grade VoIP systems for 100k-1Mio end users each at major European ISPs. Send an email to agranig at sipwise dot com.

1 point by nickmolnar2 5 days ago 0 replies      
Thirdi is hiring in Vancouver, BC.

Looking for excellent problem solvers, with experience building production web applications. We typically work with the Symfony or Yii PHP frameworks, with a heavy dose of JQuery, but developers are free to choose their tech on a project by project basis.

Also looking for a HTML/CSS vet, preferably with some JQuery skills who can help us deliver pixel perfect designs.

You can find contact info on thirdi.com.

2 points by lbbell 5 days ago 0 replies      
DC Metro Area - Blue Atlas Interactive is looking for talented and motivated web and mobile developers. As a web developer for Blue Atlas, you will have the opportunity to work with contemporary technologies/tools, and be involved in the full life-cycle of projects. We are looking for developers with strong HTML/CSS/Javascript skills. Experience with server-side technologies is ideal, but we are willing to train the right candidate.

If any of the following sound like you, we would love to hear from you:

    * You're curious - you want to know how it works
* Something just feels right about a new book from O'Reilly or Pragmatic Press
* You're a developer, but you understand the importance and value of asthetics
* You enjoy the process of talking through a solution
* You have interests outside of everything web

Will consider permanent or contract. Must be local to the DC metro area. U.S. citizenship required.

Interested? Email resume, salary requirements and portfolio examples to hr@blueatlas.com

3 points by cuantilecorp 6 days ago 0 replies      
(1) C# developer full time in NYC (midtown east)
database work with sql server, good skills with sql queries and profiling. 2+ years experience. Finance experience a plus. Relaxed work environment, good benefits, hard software problems.
(2) Flex/Flash developer on a part-time contract basis to do work on a client app. 20-30 hours work.

Send resumes and salary/rate requirements to jobs@cuantile.com

1 point by NewMonarch 5 days ago 2 replies      
San Francisco - Frontend Engineer or Ruby Hacker

Storenvy, an awesome online storefront builder and social shopping marketplace is hiring Ruby hackers and a front-end engineer.

Think of us as "Tumblr for online stores". We're building all kinds of amazing tools that make selling cool stuff on the Internet way more awesome -- from sick drag & drop online store builder interfaces to mobile apps. And we're a small team so you'll have loads of responsibility, autonomy, and big impact on the final product.We have lots of fun, pay well, and are making a meaningful impact in people's lives.

For those interested, we were funded be a dream team of investors (First Round, Spark Capital, Kleiner Perkins, CRV, David Cohen (TechStars), John Maloney (Prez of Tumblr) and more. Just closed a $1.5m financing and growing!


Thanks! - Jon

1 point by robbowley 3 days ago 0 replies      
7digital (London UK) is hiring developers


7digital is a leading digital B2B media delivery company based in London and operating globally. We provide Cloud-based services, MP3 music, ebooks and video services to a wide and diverse range of partners around the world.

C#, Ruby, JavaScript, ASP.Net MVC, NHibernate, Windsor, StructureMap, OpenRasta, NUnit, RhinoMocks, ReSharper, NDepend, Cucumber, RSpec, Rake, Selenium, Watir, Git, Subversion, SQL, Solr/Lucene, MogileFS

You'll be joining a team of extremely enthusiastic developers who enjoy what we do. Among other things, Pair Programming, TDD/BDD, Refactoring, and Continuous Delivery are deeply embedded and we're constantly striving to improve the way we work. We know typing is not the bottleneck, so among other things:

* Have around two sessions a week spending time doing things like Katas, Dojos and discussing practices and technologies.

* Each get up to two days “innovation time” a month we can use to play with new toys or product ideas.

* Attend conferences and community events, both as participants and contributors (we've even shown off our processes at events like XPDay 2009 where we got some great feedback).

* Regularly retrospect (as teams and the department) on how we can improve the way we work.


2 points by wemakeit 5 days ago 0 replies      
SourceN - San Jose, CA - A Digital Agency/Venture Incubator that focuses on Mobile Dev, Web Dev, and New Product Dev is hiring Technical Project Managers, Front End Developers and Lead Architects.

They need bad ass developers who want to expand their skills across various platforms.


2 points by fourk 5 days ago 0 replies      
San Francisco, CA

www.focus.com is hiring another senior Django developer. What you should be: smart, use Python, Javascript (jQuery) and CSS (Blueprint/sass) or some combination of these things.
Must be willing to work on-site in San Francisco. Our offices are about a block from BART's Embarcadero stop.

Contact info is in my profile.

3 points by __mharrison__ 5 days ago 0 replies      

Fusion-IO - Tools Engineer

We are growing fast and shipping lots o product. Python is used all over the place where lower level languages aren't necessary.

Tools: Python/Django/JQuery/Postgres/Couchdb/emacs|vim/etc

Email: mharrison at fusionio.com (job isn't posted on website)

2 points by jimkass 5 days ago 0 replies      
Culver City, CA - Contract PHP Engineer

We're a small team looking for someone to help us with a specific client project, but it could lead to more.

Our web-based digital asset management application uses a PHP backend and javascript front-end that behaves more like shrinkware than web application.

We're also expanding our knowledge base into other areas, such as Nodejs and NOSQL, and looking for engineers not just coders.

Bottom Line: We want engineers with strong PHP5/Ajax background and a solid grasp on building great web applications. Read: A team player that can just all round BRING IT!

Company Site: http://5thkind.com

Job post/application here: http://bit.ly/hB4G8h

p.s. Excellent Foosball skills recommended

2 points by genemiguel 5 days ago 0 replies      
San Francisco, CA - ENGINEERING

Twilio, the web-service API that allows developers to build powerful voice and SMS apps, is hiring aggressively for multiple engineering and non-engineering positions.

DevOps Engineer
Lead Software Engineer
Senior Software Engineer
Software Engineer
Technical Customer Advocate
Mobile Developer
PHP Open Source Developer
Technical Customer Advocate
Startup Talent Manager (Recruiting)
Developer Evangelist
Director of Online Marketing
Product Manager

Why work at Twilio?

Job listings with descriptions

2 points by scottbessler 5 days ago 0 replies      
Chicago, IL - .net software developer

Join our development team working on C#, ASP, WPF, SQL, and more. Looking for frontend or backend, experienced or fresh out of school.

Contact sbessler@stratadecision.com with your resume and any extra information to let us get to know you.

1 point by cheriot 5 days ago 0 replies      
OPOWER is hiring in DC and SF: http://opowerjobs.com/engineering

Junior/Senior/Test Engineers that want to work with Java/Ruby/Mysql

Feel free to send me questions. H1B candidates are welcome.

1 point by patrickxb 5 days ago 0 replies      
Chicago - Software Engineer @ StatHat

See the full listing: http://www.stathat.com/jobs

You're going to be working on all aspects of StatHat: the front end web application, the design and display of quantitative information, the back end distributed system, database storage, configuring servers, optimizing code, writing iOS and Android apps, and continuing to design the evolving architecture of our system.

We use whatever language or technology is best to solve the problem. We are open to trying out new technologies, languages, and ideas. This job will be full of learning opportunities and you'll never be bored.

2 points by imoawesome 5 days ago 0 replies      
imo - Palo Alto, CA
Work with TopCoders, ACM ICPC World Finalists, and IOI medalists. Open to intern and international candidates. Looking for SWEs and SWEs specializing in operations: https://imo.im/jobs
1 point by jmtulloss 5 days ago 0 replies      
Rdio is hiring in San Francisco:


2 points by pjboudrx 5 days ago 0 replies      
Atlanta, GA. USA - .NET craftsman/woman http://www.opv.com/pio/jobDetails.jsp?site=daxko&jobId=a...

I'm a dev team lead looking for an agile .NET craftsman/woman to join my elite product team!

We collaborate, are learning to be more agile, and work do deliver value to our customers and rewarding careers to our team members! Come join me and my small team in Dunwoody as we make great software.

Learn more about the fun, fine folks at Daxko at http://daxkonation.com

2 points by slloyd_sb 5 days ago 0 replies      
San Francisco, CA

Songbird is hiring full time developers for Android, desktop (C++), web services, and build/release. We're also looking for a good technical product manager.

Open positions are at http://getsongbird.com/jobs/, and feel free to contact me directly via the email in my profile with any questions.

We're currently shipping media players on Windows, Mac, and Android, and we're looking for people who want to help build out a seamless media experience across platforms and devices.

The positions are in SF, but we'll definitely figure out how to help get you here if you're looking to relocate.

3 points by ktraub 6 days ago 0 replies      
Annapolis, MD
Many Software and Systems Engineering Jobs - Junior thru Sr.
2 points by janulrich 5 days ago 0 replies      
Vancouver, Canada - Rails Developer

Optemo is a fast-paced startup providing software-as-a-service to online retailers. We have a small team where everyone has input on the final product. We are looking for full-time employees and interns as well.

1 point by alister_b 1 day ago 0 replies      
Peerindex is hiring inter/graduate QA developer(s), based out of London Techhub. We use (among other things) Mongo and Hadoop on EC2.


1 point by thomd 5 days ago 0 replies      
Cambridge or Brighton (UK) - Aptivate

We are an established not-for-profit organisation working in International Development. The core of our work is in providing IT services to the sector (think data visualisation and data transparency, knowledge management and mobile devices), though we also work as facilitators and trainers. We're currently looking for skilled web developers who are prepared to participate in all aspects of the organisation.

For details http://www.aptivate.org/job-web-developer

1 point by amduser29 5 days ago 0 replies      
Life360 - SF - Head of Geolocation

Life360 is turning smart phones into the ultimate safety devices. We currently have close to 2,000,000 registered family members and are adding 20,000 / day on our Family Tracking apps. We are looking for an awesome geo location dev to help us take advantage of all the location data we have coming in to the system to provide even more value to our users. So if you are an awesome developer who wants to get their hands dirty working on some really interesting geo location problems, shoot me over an email: alex@life360.com.


2 points by bretthellman 5 days ago 0 replies      
Mtn View - CompanyLine, jobs @ Companyline-inc

iOS & Rails devs with a CEO mindset

1 point by supernayan 5 days ago 1 reply      
Washington, DC - Audax Health

Work in a fun and entrepreneurial environment where dress is casual and flip-flops are encouraged. We provide the best tools such as brand new Apple computers for every employee. Collaborate daily with top talent from companies like Zynga, WebMD, Microsoft, Bloomberg, Booz Allen Hamilton, and XM. Your contributions will directly impact the way millions of people interact with healthcare.

Looking for Scala, Web, Cloud, Interface, and Mobile Engineers

Contact jobs@audaxhealth.com

3 points by brugidou 6 days ago 0 replies      
Paris, France - Criteo

C#, AS3, Hadoop/Hive, SQL Server
Twitter: @brugidou

2 points by jprobert 6 days ago 1 reply      
ProCapital Technologies is always looking for amazing engineers. We're working on some cool technologies around social search and e-commerce. Email me if you would like further detail.
1 point by SteveOS 5 days ago 0 replies      
Senior software Engineer, Paris, France

Mimesis is hiring a senior software engineer preferably with experience with Scala (but it's ok if just truly want to learn Scala).

We are building a new 3D universe with strong interaction with Facebook: http://www.mambanation.com
It is great company, with a really great team of developers.

Send me an email at steve.gury@gmail.com if you are interested.

2 points by zwischenzug 5 days ago 1 reply      
West London, UK. Software Developers/Engineers, any skills set, any level of experience.

Leading edge software dealing with FTSE-100 companies in a high-performance environment.

2 points by hshah 5 days ago 0 replies      
KISSmetrics is hiring. Ruby engineers, generalists and more. San Francisco Bay Area and Remote: http://kissmetrics.com/jobs
2 points by junkafarian 5 days ago 0 replies      
London, UK

Client Side Developer - http://largeblue.com - http://jobs.github.com/positions/49cd8d1c-4f22-11e0-8fdf-1a9...

We're looking for a talented Client side developer with experience in working on exciting web projects using cutting edge tools.

Please use the contact details listed on the Github posting

2 points by junkafarian 6 days ago 0 replies      
London, UK

Python Developer - http://largeblue.com - http://www.python.org/community/jobs/#large-blue-covent-gard...

We're looking for a talented Python developer with experience in working on exciting web projects using cutting edge tools.

Please use the contact details listed on the Python Job Board

1 point by BrandonSmith 5 days ago 0 replies      
Phonebooth.com is a hosted phone service. We are hiring UX and Erlang developers.

Fulll listings at http://bandwidth.com/about/join/careers.html

We use Erlang, PHP, jQuery, git, Selenium, Jenkins, iOS and Android, and more.

Apply online at the links above to find out more.

2 points by vanhiker 5 days ago 0 replies      
Vancouver, BC - Front End Web Developer

Fulltime and Interns/Co-ops


SilkStart is a web-based membership management and social network software product for organizations. We're looking for front end developers with experience in html/css/jquery. The product is built using pylons and mongodb so python experience is a plus.


2 points by amac 5 days ago 1 reply      
Seeking freelancer.

Web developer, remote ok.

Project is to catalog every product in existence.

Database knowledge a bonus.

E-mail is in my profile.

2 points by jbarmash 5 days ago 0 replies      
NYC, NY - Sr. Software Engineer (Java, Groovy/Grails)
EnergyScoreCards.com - energy efficiency analytics.


1 point by everytrail 5 days ago 0 replies      
Palo Alto, CA

EveryTrail, part of the TripAdvisor Media Group / Expedia, is looking for world-class engineering talent to help bring our mobile apps to the next level. If you are passionate about travel and technology, and you want to play an important role creating the next-generation travel apps, we'd love to hear from you!

EveryTrail, based in downtown Palo Alto, was recently acquired by TripAdvisor. With over 40 MM users / month TripAdvisor is the world's largest travel site. TripAdvisor is part of Expedia, the word's largest travel company.

This situation creates very compelling career opportunities for talented engineers, product managers and designers:

* Fast paced start-up environment in Silicon Valley, but with the backing of Expedia, a well-known public company and a huge, global audience of TripAdvisor's 40 MM users.

* Be part of a team whose goal it is to build the very best mobile travel apps. We have a proven track record creating great consumer experiences, but we are still only at the beginning.

* Very competitive compensation.

We are currently hiring 3 full time developers:

- Web: back-end, front-end (PHP, MySQL, CSS, Javascript)

- iOS

- Android

Please send your resume to jobs@globalmotion.com

1 point by ciju 5 days ago 1 reply      
Bangalore, India.

http://www.videopulp.in/careers.html (early stage startup)

web programming and machine learning (image classification, object recognition etc).

at this stage, we dont care much about which language u use, but rather what u can achieve.

1 point by edruns 5 days ago 0 replies      
Mountain View, CA - PHP Backend Engineer / Web Dev ($5,000 referral bonus, even if you refer yourself!)

Friend.ly is a personal Q&A site that makes it fun to get to know your own friends better and also meet new people in your extended social network. As you can see at http://www.appdata.com/gainers/week, we were one of the fastest growing sites/applications on the Facebook platform last week, and we expect growth to further accelerate as we scale over the next several weeks.

We are 10 people (http://www.friend.ly/about) who work in an awesome office in downtown Mountain View, and we are currently looking for a couple more talented engineers to join us. Email jobs@friend.ly if you're interested in learning more!

1 point by wenbert 5 days ago 1 reply      
Anyone hiring in New Zealand? My wife and I are in the process of migrating to NZ.
2 points by derge808 5 days ago 0 replies      
Thank you for asking. Rackspace. Rackspace needs developers: http://rackertalent.com/
1 point by benhatten 5 days ago 0 replies      
Washington DC - EverFi

We're looking for Rails and Flash Developers.

email me - ben at everfi dot com

1 point by styloot 5 days ago 0 replies      
Styloot is solving fun problems in the visual and taste space, for fashion industry. Think of it is as hunch for fashion. An agile web 2.0 company based in Manhattan and Pune, India. Looking for front end designers and developers. Sorry no to remote.

Questions? info at stylewok dart calm.

1 point by mvs 5 days ago 0 replies      
Berkeley, CA - Ruby on Rails Expert/ Head of Technology.
Passion for smart, simple, elegant, and clean products a (huge) plus.
http://www.qohort.com is a very early stage educational start-up, hoping to change the way people learn.
Email: info@qohort.com
-4 points by gooberdlx 6 days ago 0 replies      
Success, and Farming vs. Mining wilshipley.com
265 points by aaronbrethorst 4 days ago   41 comments top 18
40 points by nostrademons 4 days ago 2 replies      
You have to be very careful when following advice like this, because a lot of the time things that look stupid and shortsighted simply reflect a deeper understanding of what the actual product is.

For example, for many VC-funded and fast-growing startups, the product is not the website, software, whatever that they're showing users. It's the knowledge that users have a particular need, and that need can be satisfied in a certain way. Startups are effectively outsourced R&D for big companies here.

It's quite possible that the most economically efficient way to satisfy that need is to simply fold the startup into some big company's other products. If that happens, the code, most of the employees, cash, and even existing userbase are essentially disposable. They can all be replaced at a larger scale once the company's been acquired. The actual assets that the acquirer is paying millions for is the detailed knowledge of the problem domain - key employees, key algorithms, history of other ideas that tried and failed, and any patents or other intellectual property. That's why acquisitions usually are contingent upon certain employees coming on-board, yet the acquirer is often all too happy to fire other employees.

21 points by DanI-S 4 days ago 2 replies      
On a slight tangent, modern farming techniques are more akin to the mining he describes than they are to farming. It's not just the software industry that is affected by this short-term thinking; it's the majority of human endeavour.

It's hard to tell whether the stock market is a cause or a symptom - our primary mode of 'investing in the future' is so prone to being short-circuited for short term gain.

18 points by d2 4 days ago 1 reply      
Wil's metaphor is brilliant and the values he describes are exactly what our industry needs to hear. I have been jumping from product to product for years, with the expectation of dump trucks arriving one day out front and unloading tons of money. I'm doing it again with my current company. We have a solid niche, strong traction and are leaders in our space, but rather than making what is good, really excellent, I'm considering jumping to the next shiny ball that may be the home run. This blog entry has caused me to reevaluate.
14 points by macrael 4 days ago 2 replies      
For those who don't know, Wil Shipley is the author of Delicious Library. <http://delicious-monster.com/>; A perennially popular MacOS app. It is a great way to catalog most everything you own.

It started off being only for books, but since has acquired the ability to keep track of just about anything.

16 points by kujawa 4 days ago 2 replies      
I come from Montana, and I hate this dichotomy.

The fundamental law of resources in this world is: if you can't farm it, you must mine it. They're a yin and yang. I come from Montana, a state which basically has only two industries: farming and mining. When you live that close to the land, it becomes very apparent who the actual producers are.

Everything else is wanking. Productive wanking, but wanking nonetheless. The welder is nothing without the miner. Without the farmer, he can't even eat. Me, as a software engineer, I'm so far removed from those who are actually producing things that what I do is as ephemeral as the wind.
I change states on a magnetic disk all day. I lift weights, run, and have a stand-up desk so my body doesn't decay while I do this ludicrously minimal amount of work each day, but because I know how to shape those bits in a certain way, society values me much more than the guy who feeds me, or the guy who mines the rare earths that make my job possible.

3 points by fleitz 4 days ago 1 reply      
No when you're mining you use the capital you acquired to start more mines. There are lots of unprofitable mines, software is much more akin to mining in that your market is generally unknown, it requires a lot of capital cost and the the payoffs if you strike gold are enormous, however most will not strike gold. As we've discovered in Canada once you've dug that hole you can make decent coin by allowing cities to fill it with their trash.

Producing software is a capital intensive business with large pay offs that are irrespective of the amount of labour/capital inputted, consulting is a business in which one makes a slight profit over labour. Software that you own outright is a labour intensive capital good. If you're advocating the farming market of the software business then you're advocating consultancy which if done right can make you decent coin, the problem is that if you can actually make software that people want to use then you're generally better off moving towards the mining market.

What the OP is talking about is largely the difference between owning a mine and being a mining industry consultant / mine worker. Mining is an industry that is unpopular and his impression of farming is largely that of something that last existed in the 1920s.

Modern farming has nothing to do with returning the land to it's native state and has everything to do with pumping it full of nitrogen, spraying it with pesticides and hiring low wage workers, applying for gov't subsidies so that you can eek out 1-3% profit with enormous capital costs. The picture in the supermarket of a farmer is not reality.

1 point by Stormbringer 3 days ago 0 replies      
Wil is a great writer and worth reading. In this case, I'm going to raise objections to his thesis, but I have tremendous respect for his credentials. That said, I think the comparison to mining is a stretch, also farming, but lets start with mining.

Wil makes it sound like most mines blow up or explode at the first touch of a nugget of whatever you're trying to uncover. Or alternately that after taking investor money and building all the mine infrastructure, you sell it off as soon as you strike it rich. I would think the opposite is true, the last thing the mine owner would want to do is flog it off just when it starts making big money.

Eventually mines run out this is true, but sometimes they last for decades if not hundreds of years (the hundreds of years was probably more common before modern methods).

Secondly, with the mines if you read Jared Diamond's† book, I think it is called Collapse, he talks about this in great detail. And the biggest problem with mining is actually what happens when the mine closes. According to his research, nowadays the mining company is required to estimate the cleanup costs, and over the lifetime of the mine they contribute to a fund to cover the cleanup cost. Sounds good, right? The problem of course is that it is the company that estimates the costs, and they have an incentive to grossly underestimate the costs of cleanup. The usual discrepancy is something like two orders of magnitude. Ie assuming a large mine the company estimates costs of 10 million, hands the state govt a cheque for that as it closes shop. Then when the state govt discovers the actual cost is approx 1 Billion (maybe more) the company (which has long paid out all its funds as dividends to its shareholders) shrugs and declares bankruptcy.

I don't think that there is really any parallel in IT in terms of cleanup costs. You could argue that Y2K was similar, but I would point out that wasn't a uniquely mining only problem. All kinds of software was effected, from mining (startups on steroids), farming (slow and steady startups, the tortoise vs the hare), vendors, universities, consultants and even your big software retailers (Microsoft) all had this problem.

Okay, he admits he's stretching the metaphor (on the rack as it were). :D

What about farming? Personally I'm a fan of farming in the software sense, but farming in the real world is a nightmare. Assuming you don't manage to destroy the land, farmers I've talked to say that in good years they are making ~4% (return on capital), and in bad years they are losing 2-3%, and there are more bad years than good years. How do they survive? Typically by taking loans out against the (ever increasing) value of the property. But if the value of the property doesn't keep going up, or if the banks decide not to loan the farmers money, or if there is a particularly bad drought... then farming is much worse than mining and you get farmers walking away from their land, or just dying on it. Jared talks a little bit about how bad mining is, but the main thrust of his book is that improperly managed farming KILLS ENTIRE CIVILIZATIONS. In terms of cost/benefit, I think dirty water from mining >>> extinction. :D

He touches on another metaphor, the Lottery. Lotteries are usually regarded as a bad thing (a tax on people who are bad at math). The problem is that for every $1.00 you put in you get back out say $0.40 on average. In other words, all lotteries have a negative expectancy (with the notable exception of the UK Lottery, because even though you are unlikely to win, at the end of the day you can still get back all the money you spent on it (it is more similar to a savings account with pathetically low interest, and a miniscule chance of some excitement).

Okay, fine, lets take it as given that 'lotteries' with negative expectancy are bad....

If the 'software mining' (ie startup) industry was a lottery, would it have a negative expectancy? I suggest probably not. What if there was a lottery that for every $1 ticket there is a 1% chance of winning $200? That'd be a positive expectancy! I'd play that, you'd have to be bad at maths not to. Moreover, even if it was break even (ie for every millionaire ten people have to gamble and lose their house), as the mining example shows, sometimes there are hidden costs/benefits. I'm guessing that the startup 'lottery' has a positive expectancy (especially in silicon Valley, perhaps not everywhere else in the world), but if someone argued that the benefit to society of all the startups is negative I'd think they were crazy.

An example: I've heard it said that since the beginning of commercial flight in the US that the industry as a whole has barely (or not even) broken even. But to suggest that I personally don't benefit from the ability to fly round the world in 30 hours as compared to sailing round the world in six months is ludicrous. Even if the airline industry didn't make their average investor rich, it provided more than enough benefit to society to be able to justify its existence.

Lastly, and I suspect this is very wall of text so I apologise, there is a logical flaw underpinning Wil's entire thesis. He assumes that somehow the IT industry is special. He assumes if you launch a software company with an exit strategy that is somehow different (bad) compared to say launching a furniture company with an exit strategy.

I think that rather than just assuming that software is different in this regard, I think he should at least try to make an argument to that effect.

†If the name is familiar, he wrote Guns Germs and Steel as well, which is one of those books that lots of people have heard of, but few have read :D

2 points by jarin 4 days ago 0 replies      
> What's upsetting is the number of people who have come to me with the idea of becoming miners: “I know nothing about software, but I can see there's gold in them thar' hills, and so I want to start up a company and make my million dollars! I've got an idea and everything, just tell me what magic incantation you did to get rich and I'll be on my way.”

Reminds me of an interview I heard with Steve Martin (promoting his book Born Standing Up), where he talks about the advice he gives to aspiring comedians. When they ask him what the trick is to getting famous, he just says "hard work". He said they usually seem disappointed, because that's not what they wanted to hear.

2 points by teyc 3 days ago 0 replies      
Ex-mining engineer here. Mining is very different to what Will describes. In fact, mining has very many similarities with the lifecycle of a software company.

Firstly there is the prospecting phase. This is akin to customer development. You look for where there might be traces of customers, and if you encounter them you drill a bit further to define the customers a bit better. Next, you do economic analysis to determine whether you are going to make a profit on this, or whether this is the right size/risk for your company. There is also a technical phase where you need to run trials to determine whether you will be able to successfully separate the minerals from the waste given whatever impurities that exist. You keep iterating, drilling, testing until you've hit the equivalent of product-market fit.

Then you have the expensive issue of scaling up. To build a mine takes great investment that will take years before it turns a profit. This is where the model diverges, because at this stage, the mining company has a defined asset but they do not build the mine themselves. These are done by a major contractor. It is like a giant civil engineering project and is managed as such.

When the mine is built (and roads, rails, port facilities are put in), the mining company then operates the mine. Operations is not anything like prospecting. It is dealing with daily issues and doing strategic planning, developing markets etc.. People live and work on a pretty steady basis, with rosters etc. In contrast, life as a prospector can be pretty rough. :)

Many startups function around the prospecting stages, since entry costs is lower but it is very risky. The rewards are high at this stage of course, but the prospectors have little ability to execute if they hit upon a mother load. Outside money will have to be brought in, or the prospector might sell up and get a nice exit.

2 points by crasshopper 4 days ago 0 replies      
The stock market ... what's important ... is the potential growth of your sales, not your current sales, since the point of buying stock is to sell the stock to someone else later on, at a higher price.

Or to receive dividends. Heard of blue chip investors? Buy-and-hold strategy?

"Mining" versus "farming" is disputed in the stock market as well. That's why people talk about P/E ratio.

2 points by donnyg107 4 days ago 0 replies      
It seems this guy is basically just describing the markets and calling traits problems. Obviously you need to invest in a company before its popular for it to be a good investment. A company with a fully stable profit won't even take your investment most of the time. "Mining" is just the process of investment! However, I do not think this is the point. The important point I think he's getting at is not that the markets are evil, but that founders shouldn't be investors. If you start a company, you should be interested in BUILDING A COMPANY, not selling a big company and making a boatload. Obviously, people want to make money, but for some reason the misconception that the cash in hand for a crappy company is worth more than the cash in stock for a great and growing company. And even further, the founder interested in building a great company is more likely to reach that amount of money faster, just because they are invested in making a good company, and will make efficient and secure progress toward his or her vision with every day of work. Great companies start with people who want the company to succeed and investors who wan to make a buck, not the other way around.
2 points by ph0rque 4 days ago 1 reply      
Hmmm, to torture the idea even further... what about permaculture farming that minimizes the amount of back-breaking work you have to do while building up the soil to be richer than before (albeit at a slow pace)? What's the software company equivalent?
2 points by msort 4 days ago 0 replies      
The stories of Google, Facebook, and Twitter show that VC has values. We want more investments to start-ups, rather than the opposite. Let the market decide itself: the money will flow where the value is, eventually. I think success is hard either way: faming or mining, it is better than not trying.
2 points by mopoke 4 days ago 0 replies      
See also "built to last" by Jim Collins which covers the same ground from a different angle.
1 point by jrspruitt 4 days ago 0 replies      
The miner in this reminds me of the movie Easy Rider, make a big score, then take the money and do what ever you want, which in the end turns out to not be what they thought it was.
I've never had the fortune of making it into the industry, so from an outsiders perspective. I wonder since it seems a lot of what internet start ups are based on, is having a following, as in, your app is useless unless its got users to go with it. If some of the mining is similar to creating a product and selling it to someone with the ability to manufacture it. Like if I thought of a cool toy, patented it, and then sold that to Mattel, because I don't have the resources to capitalize on it. In the start up internet world, to prove the worth of the design, you need users. So the mining concept is just the adjustment needed in the internet world, for inventors to sell their inventions. Seems kind of similar. For me at least, I would probably want out as soon as possible, the business side of it, isn't as interesting as the building side of it, I would loose money on a successful business for sure, but it would give me the lateral mobility to pursue my interests, which are not being a CEO of a company.
1 point by donnyg107 4 days ago 0 replies      
At first glance, it seems this guy is basically just describing the markets and calling traits problems. Obviously you need to invest in a company before its popular for it to be a good investment. A company with a fully stable profit won't even take your investment most of the time. "Mining" is just the process of investment! However, I do not think this is the point. The important point I think he's getting at is not that the markets are evil, but that founders shouldn't be investors. If you start a company, you should be interested in BUILDING A COMPANY, not selling a big company and making a boatload. Obviously, people want to make money, but for some reason the misconception that the cash in hand for a crappy company is worth more than the cash in stock for a great and growing company. Great companies start with people who want the company to succeed and investors who wan to make a buck, not the other way around.
1 point by nanoanderson 4 days ago 0 replies      
One thread that is interwoven throughout the piece but surprisingly not called out explicitly is the role of the tech media in the glamorization of high-growth, high-exit-return startups and their investors. Nostrademons has some good points about the virtues of startups that Wil didn't touch upon (though I'm sure he's aware of them. His piece doesn't strike me as though he's blanket-bashing venture-capitalized startups).

The dollar amounts attached to these "lottery" startups (whether in investment or in exit) are awesome, but not outrageous, especially given who the investors are. The one thing that Wil said that did bother me was his assertion that a funded started is necessarily a "mining" startup, to use his metaphor. I see it his way, and it brought me down a little bit, even though I already knew it inside.

1 point by nethsix 4 days ago 0 replies      
As long as there are VCs that are willing to fund, companies that are willing to acquire (demand), there will be developers looking to 'mine' (supply).
If enough people who made 'loss' in this ecosystem were to exit this ecosystem then 'mining' will be obsoleted. However, there are always people/companies looking for a quick-buck/fix to inflate their bank balance or complement their product line, therefore perpetuating 'mining'.
Top Gear responds to Tesla topgear.com
266 points by vaksel 4 days ago   118 comments top 19
47 points by olivercameron 4 days ago replies      
I just can't see how Tesla can win this case in court. As anyone who has ever watched Jeremy Clarkson will tell you, you know he would rather resign from Top Gear than apologise for this.
47 points by cormullion 4 days ago 3 replies      
I'd forgotten just how much Clarkson sings the praises of the Tesla in the first half of the review. The electric Tesla thrashes the petrol Lotus Elise in a drag race. Clarkson is obviously amazed - "God almighty:, "this is biblically quick!" - "this car is electric, literally!". "Wave goodbye to dial-up, welcome to broadband motoring!". Then he says how much torque it produces, how quick it is from 0 to 60, and then: "it's even more 'not bad' when you start looking into the costs": £40 to fill the petrol Elise, electricity just £3.50. Wind noise is a problem, but "a small price to pay when you consider the upsides". "And I haven't even got to the big upside yet: 200 miles between trips to the plug." Some adverse comments about the handling, but then he waves goodbye as "the volt head" cruises past the "petrol head". "It is snowing in hell!". "This car was shaping up to be something wonderful..."

After a pretty positive first half, Clarkson does indeed go on to make fun of the car's electrical problems, and then is unimpressed by the practicalities and ecological claims of electric vehicles. Even with a range of 250 miles, and a 16 hour recharge cycle (if you're not throwing it around a track), it's just not - yet - a practical car for many people, or a supercar to compete with the likes of Ferrari or Porsche.

Clarkson's final words on the Tesla: "Incredible - but irrelevant [in the light of the hydrogen car reviewed later]".

As Top Gear and Clarkson reviews go, I thought it wasn't overly biased. I mean, he could have dropped a piano on it, or set it on fire...

I suspect Tesla are just in the need for some publicity at the moment.

32 points by CoffeeDregs 4 days ago 2 replies      
Seems as though a better plan would be to challenge Top Gear to a rematch of some sort. Make something fun out of this and get the auto enthusiasts cheering.

Southwest did this perfectly: got sued, took it to the ring, arm wrestled over it, got crushed, paid the other guy, laughed all the way to the bank and everyone cheered them on. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EwU9m4oCtRE&;

7 points by d2 4 days ago 0 replies      
This is an incredibly well written blog entry. Having followed the accepted pre-court etiquette that Andy mentions in the past, this inspires me to take a different approach next time around and have my say in hopefully as professional a manner. [...In close consultation with my legal team as I'm sure Andy did]
4 points by akashs 4 days ago 3 replies      
First, Top Gear is testing on track conditions, and that will certainly give different results than the 220 mile range found on the EPA's ideal testing conditions. Top Gear has previously shown that a BMW M3 gets better mileage than a Prius in track conditions, but I don't think anyone believes this is representative of the cars on the whole.

Second, there's very few data points on the range aside from Tesla's press releases that I can find, but the two I can find are much closer to Top Gear's number and were also from less aggressive testing than what Top Gear did:
93 miles: http://www.autoweek.com/article/20080124/green/398811820/163...

95-120 miles (says 105-120, but I think there's a math error on the writer's part): http://green.autoblog.com/2008/01/29/so-whats-the-downside-t...

Third, Top Gear says Tesla calculated the 55 mile figure themselves, so not sure how they can sue them for that claim.

7 points by Cherad 4 days ago 1 reply      
Jeremy Clarkson's column in The Sunday Times shortly after the Top Gear review is an interesting read and covered most of the points made in this article back in 2009.


1 point by jrspruitt 4 days ago 0 replies      
I like what the Tesla company is doing, in regards to attempting to make alternative fuel cars, I'm all for such things. And yes, its an up hill battle, which I'm sure the internal combustion engine faced, while trying to oust horses for a viable mode of transportation. Not only is the technology not up to par/cost effective on a mass scale, there is the issue of charging station locations, and the nay sayers like the host of Top Gear, who isn't the only one that grumbles at the thought of electric or "eco-friendly" read Hot Rod magazine sometime. Which seems to be what Tesla wants to answer, electric cars can go fast to.
But this lawsuit seems like its disingenuous, more like they are playing off a couple social issues for their benefit. 1 "Environment" is an emotional trigger second only to stuff like racism and sexism level stuff, its got some emotional appeal just by saying the word, either for or against. So claiming foul on someone who is notoriously pro fast powerful cars, who inherently isn't going to like commuter based cars, really nails that emotion. 2 Taking it to the media, to hit a full scale marketing campaign about it, years after it happened, to help fuel that emotion and go after the media justice that seems to easy to do, like O.J. we all "know" he did it, but was proven innocent pretty much. Enough press coverage to one side, and we all start forming our own judgments. I think these are dirty tricks, that only add fuel to the opposition's fire. Like the scientists who were busted with bad data on global warming. Regardless if the position is true, getting caught doing dirty tricks, is going to make you look bad regardless, doing more harm than good. Just because I agree with their environmental position, doesn't mean I have to look the other way, when they break other beliefs of mine. I'm angered cause of the damage this could do for environmentalism, which I believe in first, their company second.
2 points by Joshhannah 4 days ago 0 replies      
The tesla roadster is unfortunately just not competitive with other internal combustion performance cars if you don't want to give it credit for either (1) being a super innovative EV or (2) being environmentally friendly.

Top Gear (and all the car mags) basically review it as a cool, fun novelty. But if you measure on looks + performance, as car enthuiasts do, it's just fundamentally not competitive in its price bracket.

Suing is obviously a mistake. Hoping Top Gear, Evo, Road & Track will push it is just naive. Tesla listens too much to their own marketing.

1 point by motters 4 days ago 2 replies      
My question is: how did this get to the top position on HN? I could hardly care less about Jeremy Clarkson's opinions, or TV shows such as Top Gear.
1 point by bugsy 4 days ago 0 replies      
With this response, it sounds like both sides are now in complete agreement and there is no remaining dispute.
0 points by jrockway 4 days ago 0 replies      
PS: As this is going through the courts right now, we're afraid we've had to turn off comments on this one, but we wanted to let you all know how we see it.

Good thing that you can't comment on articles elsewhere on the Internet. Their legal strategy is saved!

1 point by johnconroy 4 days ago 0 replies      
I enjoy Top Gear but their (ie Clarkson's) animosity towards hybrids, electrics etc. is pretty pathetic, epically antiquarian.
0 points by stuhood 4 days ago 1 reply      
Why would Top Gear use a calculated track capacity number (55 miles), given that they could have measured an actual number? I understand that 30 minutes of hard driving can be exhausting, but how exactly could they have calculated an accurate value?

Say what you will about EPA numbers, but at least they involve standardized measurement.

-1 point by CornishPasty 4 days ago 0 replies      
did they deliver the legal case via a tesla roadster? seems that way given how long it's taken...
-1 point by periferral 4 days ago 0 replies      
ohhhh the tesla jokes on top gear for years to come from jeremy is something i'll look forward to.
-2 points by rlfromm 4 days ago 0 replies      
So what is the issue? Pure electric is cool in 55 minute segents. ;
-2 points by rlfromm 4 days ago 0 replies      
I agree with top gear. UK top gear rules, hopefully the US crew can get their show together.
-3 points by cl8ton 4 days ago 0 replies      
Clarkson is a bit of a prick when it comes to favoritism on cars (you know, kinda like some top tier tech blogs)

He is a 98% octane gear head and will not tolerate electric cars, so his review did not surprise me much when I watched it.

I'm a long time Porsche owner and will never forgive him on an episode when he dropped a Piano on an older 911 or when he totally disrespected the Porsche GT for comparing its composite disk rotors to anti-acid.

Guess I will never get British humor.

-1 point by sliverstorm 4 days ago 0 replies      
Considering the tenuous relationship between the presenters and the studio as portrayed in the show, it's pleasing to see the rest of the company getting behind Top Gear and providing a united front.
Writing Clear, Concise, Sentences wisc.edu
264 points by Panoramix 1 day ago   70 comments top 26
55 points by grellas 1 day ago 3 replies      
The principles listed here are sound and helpful. If you follow them, your writing style will undoubtedly improve.

But do not adhere to them as rigid rules or you will suffer in your ability to express yourself. Passive voice exists for a reason. Long words can add variety, rhythm, and color to your prose. Elongated sentences can help give your writing a flow that a mere parade of short sentences can never hope to achieve, not even after a thousand rewrites. Or not. All such items can be misused as well, and the books are replete with bloated forms of expression used by lawyers, politicians, educators, administrators, and the like who would not know a simple word or sentence even if it stood before them doing somersaults. The key is to know sound principles for clear and concise writing and then to apply them with a rhythmic ear for balance in your forms of expression. That means, yes, use passive voice, long words, and flowing sentences as needed to add grace to your prose but always with the baseline in mind: that is, to communicate in ways that are clear and concise and that people will readily understand for your stated purpose (formal style for formal settings, casual for casual, and whatever fits for anything in between).

I note all this because, years ago, I consciously and diligently set about to attempt to master writing and stumbled upon the rock of "simplicity" during such stretches in my learning process where I had assumed that all one could do was follow such rules. Any attempt to apply such rules one-dimensionally is a mistake, and you will regret trying it. Follow sound principles, by all means, but not dogmatically.

The other major keys to good writing are depth of language skills and extensive reading. No one will read your work unless you have something helpful to say. You get this by working hard to develop your skills, and lots of writing (and reading) is vital to this process.

16 points by tptacek 1 day ago 2 replies      
This advice seems to mimic much of what's in _Style: Towards Clarity and Grace_, which I found out about from Richard Gabriel (achievement unlocked: LISP connection) and which is probably the most hacker-friendly writing book ever written.
60 points by sp332 1 day ago 8 replies      
I'm positive the second comma shouldn't be there. (I wouldn't normally comment on commas, but it seems on-topic...)
20 points by SlyShy 1 day ago 5 replies      
Some of the comments I've read seem to misunderstand the purpose of this page. This isn't the objectively best writing style, this is a concise writing style. No, it might not be the most pleasant to read, because extremely to-the-point short sentences sound blunt. The guidelines provided for writing short and concise sentences are very useful, if that's the style you are aiming for.
5 points by SoftwareMaven 1 day ago 0 replies      
Personally, I really like George Orwell's "Politics and the English Language"[0] as a writing guide.

[0] http://www.mtholyoke.edu/acad/intrel/orwell46.htm

9 points by synnik 1 day ago 0 replies      
Keep these points in mind when generating error messages to your end users.
8 points by bdesimone 1 day ago 2 replies      
If you get the chance, read Orwell's "Politics and the English Language."

    Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print.
Never us a long word where a short one will do.
If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.
Never use the passive where you can use the active.
Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word, or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent.
Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous.


3 points by xtacy 1 day ago 1 reply      
One of the most cited books for better writing: Elements of Style: http://www.bartleby.com/141/. It's available for free.

There are many "manuals of style" available as well like: http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/home.html.

2 points by xal 1 day ago 0 replies      
Are there any software packages or web services that help with this? Writing is a huge part of my job but because I'm english second language I'm lacking the intuitive sense for such rules. Especially since I learned most of my english in my formative years on internet forums...
1 point by telemachos 1 day ago 0 replies      
This topic seems to have legs, so I'll recommend another book in this area: Clear and Simple as the Truth: Writing Classic Prose[1] (by Francis-Noel Thomas and Mark Turner).

They are far more thoughtful about style (what it is and how to teach it) than most writing guides. They acknowledge that there is not one best or ideal style for all occasions and that the style they describe and teach is one among many. It's an eye opening book in many ways. (Note: I see that there's a second edition just out. I haven't read that. I read the original in the late 90s. I doubt they've ruined it, but just in case.)

[1] http://classicprose.com/ with excerpts from the book here: http://classicprose.com/csx.html

3 points by grannyg00se 1 day ago 2 replies      
A lot of this information is presented as a consistent methodology when in fact it is very subjective. For example, one of the suggestions is that "you should try to avoid using inflated diction if a simpler phrase works equally well." Unfortunately, it is not clear when a simpler phrase works equally well. I may want to 'use' a certain phrasing in one scenario, but feel it is more appropriate to 'utilize' another phrasing in a different scenario. There is no simple rule that can be applied to determine whether one is more appropriate than the other.
1 point by billybob 1 day ago 1 reply      
Clear writing is difficult because it requires clear thought. This makes it worthwhile, even if no one reads it, because it shows the writer whether he or she understands the subject matter.

Muddy writing, by contrast, is generally meant to impress and not convey information. The intended reaction is "I don't understand what you said, so you must be smart." This, unfortunately, seems to work for businesspeople and academics. But I hope that geeks can see through it.

3 points by NHQ 1 day ago 2 replies      
You have to break rule number one to be a politician, corporation, or spokesperson for either. Passive voice is what you use to acknowledge that something fucked up, without placing the responsibility.

"There was a failure of communication."

3 points by jaywhy 1 day ago 0 replies      
I agree with the article that good writing is concise and clear, but don't conflate clear and concise with simplistic and short, thinking the only good sentence is a short sentence, as if we should all write like Hemingway in a hurry.

"Vigorous writing is concise...this requires not that the writer make all sentences short, or avoid all detail and treat subjects only in outline, but that every word tell."
- Strunk and White "The Elements of Style"

1 point by syaz1 1 day ago 0 replies      
Stephen Fry ranting on language nazis:
Season 2, Episode 3: Language: http://www.stephenfry.com/category/media/audio/

I don't really know who he is, but he make some very convincing arguments.

1 point by syaz1 1 day ago 0 replies      
Also related, feeling lazy? Use Steve Hanov's word-removal tool to remove unnecessary words from your sentences: http://stevehanov.ca/blog/index.php?id=52
1 point by lifefundr 1 day ago 0 replies      
I agree this is a very useful resource for writing in a concise manner. It is something I am attempting to implement in my daily writing. Even though it is old news the best advice I have come across is to write your content. Let it sit for an hour or more. Come back and read it out loud to yourself. This technique is underused and underrated in my opinion. Thanks for pointing out this resource. Bookmarked!
1 point by discreteevent 1 day ago 0 replies      
Its kind of an object oriented style isn't it? That doesn't mean that it transfers well to programming where there are other concerns apart from communication. (You don't have to worry about controlling state in your paragraphs). Anyway, for me the laziest way to improve my composition is to just read Hemingway and let the style rub off.
1 point by Ythan 1 day ago 0 replies      
If you want to improve the clarity of your writing, I also recommend StyleWriter (http://www.stylewriter-usa.com). It's a bit expensive, but the functionality is unique and helpful.
1 point by thorin 1 day ago 0 replies      
Link to my friend's blog. He consults on these matters http://www.thomasheath.tv/blog/
2 points by kruegerb 1 day ago 0 replies      
It would be wise to refer to these guidelines while filling out an application for YC.
1 point by portentint 1 day ago 0 replies      
Your best bet: Write every single day for at least 15 minutes. Writing isn't a talent, it's a skill.
1 point by samevisions 1 day ago 0 replies      
Very interesting, especially for people like me ( English is not my mother language ) these basics are useful to build a strong knowledge about Writing.
1 point by seewhat 1 day ago 0 replies      
Similar guidelines from the UK's Plain English Campaign:-


-1 point by drv 1 day ago 0 replies      
It's amusing that the "Avoid unnecessarily inflated words" section misspells "implement" as "impliment."
-2 points by Ruudjah 1 day ago 1 reply      
> Writing Clear, Concise, Sentences

With a title like this, I won't even read the thing. So many things are wrong with this first sentence.
1. Why The Capitals For Each Word? That screws with my human word recognition algorithm.
2. The title implies three things: Writing clear, do something concise and something with sentences. That's all but clear to me. "Writing clear": you mean writing the word clear? Does not sound interesting to me. What do you want with "Sentences" and "Concise"? Not clear at all to me.
3. Probably, the author meant something like "How to write clear & concise sentences". That gives the sentence instantly another meaning.

Meet news:yc, the open source Hacker News client for your iPhone. newsyc.me
250 points by news-yc 1 day ago   50 comments top 14
29 points by metachris 1 day ago 2 replies      
Thanks for releasing it as free software. https://github.com/newsyc/newsyc
5 points by aaronbrethorst 1 day ago 0 replies      
I ran across this earlier today and added a small feature to it[1]. The author is very receptive to pull requests, so I highly recommend forking away!

If you're interested in contributing and stumped for things to add or fix, check out the included TODO file.

[1] https://github.com/newsyc/newsyc/commit/01bc7bf30c10a2abd8f0...

3 points by lloeki 1 day ago 1 reply      
With all the effort going into that app and the other web wrappers mentioned around here, I may be missing something but why is there no media query in HN CSS to adapt itself to iPhone, iPad and other (WebKit-based at least) mobile devices. I weight it to about ten lines of CSS at most, setting font scale, body width and vote up image size. I am on the verge of creating a bookmarklet to load such additional CSS and sync it to my devices but couldn't resort to that yet because of it being a total hack that I'd need to call on each HN page load.
4 points by kloncks 1 day ago 2 replies      
Here's a question. Love the app, but can I login to my account? I don't have a normal YC-account, but rather one through Open-ID with my Google Id.
18 points by Joshim5 1 day ago 3 replies      
Upvoted for multiple reasons:
1) The app itself looks pretty good.
2) Open-source
3) You're a high school student too. (What year?)
1 point by zefhous 1 day ago 3 replies      
This is great, thank you!

Took me a while to figure out how to get signed in with instapaper... Turns out it's in the Settings app. I wish Apple provided an API to link from an app to its settings page, and back to the app from the settings.

4 points by davidcann 1 day ago 0 replies      
Nice work, this is the new best HN iPhone client.
2 points by nathanwdavis 1 day ago 2 replies      
I've been pretty happy with the Hacker News app by Michael Grinich, but this looks promising and competition is a wonderful thing.
2 points by chrishenn 1 day ago 1 reply      
Looks awesome, I'll happily buy it for $5 once it hits the store.

It's also nice that it's open source. Contributing to an actual iOS app could be a nice way to get a taste of iOS development without having to start a whole project from scratch (if you have no previous experience.)

1 point by _frog 1 day ago 0 replies      
Wait, are you chpwn by any chance? Because you quite extensively use the slide-behind header trick from his last post on http://chpwn.com/blog/
4 points by reustle 1 day ago 3 replies      
No Android love?
1 point by tobiasbischoff 1 day ago 0 replies      
Writing this comment with the app from my phone, thanks alot.
1 point by EGreg 1 day ago 0 replies      
This is cool. Oh, you're a high school student? Awesome.
-4 points by nabaraj 1 day ago 0 replies      
where is the android version??
The Montessori Mafia wsj.com
240 points by danielvnzla 20 hours ago   144 comments top 23
56 points by ladon86 19 hours ago replies      
I went to a Waldorf/Steiner school, which shares some of these traits such as the lack of a focus on assessment and grading and the emphasis on creativity.

We weren't taught the alphabet until the age of about 6-7 and basic arithmetic at 7-8. We did begin learning foreign languages at age 6, however. In practice my older brother taught me to read and count well before the Steiner curriculum did, but I still think that the education was very valuable.

I think that creativity in adults is often stifled because they don't want to "get it wrong". People are afraid of trying their hand at a new skill or taking a risk on a new idea because they are "realistic" about their chances of success. Children just do it anyway. I think that Steiner schools encourage this attitude, and no doubt Montessori schools do the same.

There's a reason the really big hitters are often first-time entrepreneurs - they are naive enough to try. Creativity works the same way.

44 points by timr 20 hours ago 4 replies      
"When Barbara Walters, who interviewed Google founders Messrs. Page and Brin in 2004, asked if having parents who were college professors was a major factor behind their success, they instead credited their early Montessori education"

Ahem. I spy a latent variable in this correlation. Can you find it?

Hint: Montessori education may or may not have advantages. But unless you control for educational background and income of the family, your analysis has a problem.

16 points by brlewis 18 hours ago 1 reply      
I have children aged 13, 10 and 5. The oldest spent 1 year in a traditional preschool, but they've gone exclusively to Montessori school since that time.

What strikes me about this article is its characterization of Montessori schooling as largely unstructured and free. I think it must be comparing it to a much over-structured methodology, perhaps like the public schooling I got growing up.

Styles vary somewhat among Montessori schools, but what I've seen is that in the early years, the age Montessori is most known for, there are specific materials children work with and specific ways they're expected to work with them. A child may not get out a work he/she hasn't been shown how to use. He must return the work to its proper place before selecting another one. The materials aren't tools for self-discovery. They're tools for letting self collide with reality until such time as the applicable real concepts are understood.

However, the one simple freedom of being able to choose a work does make it a sharp contrast from the lock-step style of education I grew up with. I hear public schools aren't always this way, according to relatives who sent kids to public school in Lexington, MA.

In higher grades the emphasis on materials fades, but the basic idea of letting children work within a structure remains. For example, in upper elementary (grades 4-6) the students develop their own classroom code of conduct. They're given some structure about how to do it, though. I see Montessori as a balanced methodology on the freedom/structure dimension, not an extreme.

25 points by ziadbc 20 hours ago 5 replies      
I really like the idea of Montessori, and if I have the cash I'd like to send my future kids there someday.

That being said, I see correlation here, not causation.

To be a little bit tongue and cheek, I could write the headline:

"99% of successful people do not attend Montessori schools"

14 points by bediger 19 hours ago 3 replies      
Why does this result surprise anyone? Traditional US schools exist not to cultivate individuality, and make people more expressive and creative, but rather for different reasons.

Grade school is designed to teach people enough to read The Bible, and enough writing and arithmetic to not get cheated by the fancy, downtown shop keepers.

High school is designed to teach the bulk of the citizenry to work according to a fixed schedule, probably in a factory, along with a faceless mass of similary trained people.

It sounds inflammatory, but it's true.

17 points by realitygrill 19 hours ago 2 replies      
This is just confirmation bias. Page credits "part of that training of not following rules and orders, and being self-motivated, questioning what's going on in the world, doing things a little bit differently." As a Montessori kid myself, I could see myself having differing opinions depending on how the future turned out.

Successful: go back and credit Montessori for making me a rebellious, curious nonconformist.

Unsuccessful: go back and partially blame Montessori for those same values, that make navigating this world of rules and structures difficult.

PG's writings would make me think that he leans more towards the Montessori side of things, and probably a lot of HNers are the same. I'm glad jsavimbi spoke about his need for strong discipline.

11 points by damla 17 hours ago 0 replies      
Maria Montessori lived in Italy a 100 years ago, and no doubt she was a reformist. She was the first woman doctor, she worked with children with mental disabilities when children was not considered humans, and she noticed that, her approach is applicable to all children. She invented very useful methods and tools for teaching preschoolers. She made wonderful toys which are now called "Montessori Materials". Her method is spread to US, and "adapted".

Montessori teachers are certified largely by two centers in the world, in Italy (http://www.montessori-ami.org/), and in US (http://www.amshq.org/). As far as I know AMI sees itself as the "original" Montessori, rejects others, and more strict in many ways, like they don't allow any toys in classrooms, they don't have any books (just lapbooks produced by teachers or children).

I have real problems with strict, spiritual Montessori. Why would we be against to toys? Maria Montessori crafted wonderful toys for her students, and now they are called "Montessori Materials". What's wrong with Lego's? I think if Maria Montessori had Lego, she would use them.

Montessori, Waldorf, Reggio Emilia, all have different methods to inspire for raising kids and even for start-ups (http://digitalcommons.unl.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=10...). But, none is magic.

3 points by bryanwb 6 hours ago 0 replies      
I am pretty skeptical of the Montessori approach.

Take kids from wealthy, well-educated families and put them in small groups with educators that also happen to be very well-educated and very passionate and you will get great results whatever the pedagogy.

Contrast this w/ poor kids whose parents had low educational attainments, stuck in giant classes with poorly-paid teachers.

If you put 6 well-off kids with 1 passionate, well-educated teacher, you will get good results almost every time.

Montessori approach may have its merits but I find it very hard to separate them from the demographics of its students and teachers. The study in Milwaukee does not seem sufficient to establish a link. Those passionate about teaching are probably more likely to be attracted to the Montessori school than the regular public schools because it has a distinctive approach and probably more liberal management.

I would love to love to know if the Montessori schools in teh Milwaukee school had the same teacher/student ratio as the other schools in the study. I am betting they didn't.

6 points by Terretta 19 hours ago 2 replies      
Only if your education differed from the so-called basket of techniques lumped together as "the Montessori method".

It's been my experience that a home environment with parents who read and care about expanding horizons will tend to offer the children guided "self-directed" learning, observation and indirect teaching, and productive routines of "focused" activities versus idle play, and these children will tend to outperform peers without that same desire to constantly learn instilled in them -- regardless of the formal education they acquire.

4 points by speleding 16 hours ago 1 reply      
My kids (4 & 7) just moved from a traditional school to a Montessori school last summer because we moved house. I wasn't completely sold on the philosophy yet but my kids LIKE going to school a lot more now and it seems to work really well. Happy kids, learning a lot.

But it is very counterintuitive for the engineer in me who wants to measure progress by how much of the alphabet they know. It takes a lot of trust in the somewhat nebulous and touchy feely Montessori philosophy, if you read the wikipedia page about it you'll see that even the educators can't agree on what it is exactly. (Montessori did use scientific methods to arrive at her recommendations, but interpretations differ). There's things the type of educators in such schools do that makes us rational people cringe (kids are not allowed artificial flavoring in their lunch food...). But, well, it works (for my kids at least).

Since I am too rational to give up on measuring I conclude we are probably not measuring progress the right way by testing how much letters in the alphabet they know.

7 points by phren0logy 19 hours ago 1 reply      
Is this even correlation? Is there any evidence to suggest that Montessori students are over-represented among the successful? Or are they simply proportionate?
5 points by jsavimbi 19 hours ago 1 reply      
I can't speak for the higher end of Montessori as I only attended when I was just starting out my career in education, but I found it to be rewarding for someone with a wandering mind, more so than the strict rote-based Catholic-influenced education I was subjected to further on. I also experienced British private school, and that was definitely better than public but without the scientific approach that I saw at Montessori.

It depends on the kid, I guess. I have an independent, creative side to me that also needs strong discipline to get anything done, so I'm grateful to have experienced both worlds. As far as current prices go, my divorced and randomly employed mother was sending both my sister and I there until we opted for the local public school as it fit better with our social lives, and I know there were some kids there in the same boat as us, but overall it was a good mix back then with the benefit of being in the hippy Cambridge of the '70s.

My advice would be to buy the best education for your kids that your money can buy, and unless your local school system is the pits, I wouldn't home-school them. There's a lot to be said for socializing at an early age and teaching the kids subjects in addition to the regular curriculum isn't against the law either. If the kids are smart, they'll put the regular coursework behind them and need the extra teaching anyways.

If the child is a dullard, don't waste too much money on them as you'll need it for later on for when they really fuck up.

5 points by slay2k 20 hours ago 4 replies      
I've been thinking about how I'd educate my own kids, and currently it's a tossup between the Harkness approach a la Phillips Exeter, the entirely home-schooled approach, and something like this which seems like a hybrid.

If anyone has experience with any of the above, I'd love to hear about it.

2 points by billmcneale 13 hours ago 0 replies      
I have no problem with the Montessori method but if you're going to throw the names of a few very successful people as examples, you also need to show the full picture, i.e. for all these Montessori kids that became so successful, how many other successful people did not got to Montessori?

If anything, the fact that they only list 4-5 names tells me that at best, the kind of education you receive at that age is not that important after all (I think your parents and your environment are probably bigger factors) and at worst, the Montessori school doesn't really work that well after all.

3 points by kloncks 19 hours ago 2 replies      
Fascinating insight. But isn't this a classic case of of correlation, not causation?
2 points by VladRussian 19 hours ago 2 replies      
what type of people would be developed by combined approach of Montessori and Tiger Mom? :)
2 points by jsulak 20 hours ago 1 reply      
Interesting article, but what about Steve Jobs? Warren Buffet? Bill Gates? It's easy to pick a few examples of anything, but it doesn't make it a real trend.
3 points by ILIKECAKE 18 hours ago 1 reply      
I went too Montessori and I am sitting behind a damn desk administering systems...looks like I missed the awewsomness bus
0 points by softbuilder 11 hours ago 0 replies      
"Questions are the new answers" -- Socrates, 429 B.C.
1 point by jtraffic 16 hours ago 0 replies      
I have a hunch (definitely not an assertion) that even if there are effects from Montessori school early on, they wash out over time, and the major factors afterward are socioeconomic status and habits of parents, and subsequent education (K-12). I guess I'm paraphrasing Freakonomics.
1 point by karolisd 18 hours ago 1 reply      
Are all of the examples male? Do Montessori schools help females too?
0 points by mmcconnell1618 18 hours ago 0 replies      
Perhaps creative minded people fit in better in Montessori schools and therefore credit the school with love of learning. Where's the proof that the Montessori method created the effect?
-2 points by jhuckestein 16 hours ago 1 reply      
"What is 10 plus 1?"


"I'm sorry M'a'm, your son is an idiot"

Zed's new project: Vulnerability Arbitration vulnarb.com
235 points by acangiano 3 days ago   90 comments top 18
58 points by tptacek 3 days ago 2 replies      
This is a much more complicated answer than the industry standard, which is to post a SHA-1 hash of a summary of your exploit, along with (sometimes) the vendor name. I'm not sure how important the extra problems that this solves are.

Yes, it allows a vendor to "prove" they fixed a vulnerability. Perhaps if you're looking at vulnerability research as an outsider you think this is a significant issue. But it really isn't. If Chris Valasek or Tavis Ormandy say that (say) Adobe hasn't fixed their finding, everybody (including Adobe) will believe them. On the flip side, when Adobe fixes Valasek or Ormandy's bug, they're going to say that right away. Believe it or not, vulnerability researchers like it when vendors fix their bugs; it's part of how you keep score.

And even if you think proving vulnerabilities is a real issue, all this does is allow vendors to decide autonomously to prove something. But vendors don't need tools to do this, and neither do researchers. The real problem is that vendors sit on vulnerabilities for months or years; giving them one more (complicated) way to publish doesn't really help much. Meanwhile, the researcher can disclose any time she wants; she justs posts the exploit to Pastie or F-D. Done and done.

And yes, this creates a central location for customers to see outstanding security issues with products. But Zed can do that right now without getting researchers to do anything differently. He can just follow security researchers on Twitter and RSS their blogs and wait for them to post things. Then he can create entries on his site. Charlie Miller even posts numbers, like, "I have 193882 binned crashes in Quicktime and Apple has fixed none of them so far". Some visualization tools might come in handy. It's less fun than crypto schemes, but probably more useful.

Also worth mentioning: there already are "vulnerability arbitration centers" that do exactly this. Also, they take over the project management with the vendor. Also, they publish formal advisories to alert the public. Also, they pay the researchers. Sometimes a lot. One of them is TippingPoint's Zero Day Initiative, which also runs the annual Pwn2Own contest at CanSecWest. Another is iDefense.

Finally, you can consider whether this addresses the problem of "how do I communicate a vulnerability securely to a vendor". That is indeed a real problem and this is indeed a viable answer to that problem. But every vendor that has a vulnerability response process already has a secure channel for receiving reports. From spending the last 5+ years of my life communicating findings to vendors who don't have that process in place, let me assure you that "secure channel" is the least of your problems. Forget getting your email intercepted; worry more that your finding is going to end up in the vendor's public bug database tagged as a "feature" (seriously, go pick a slightly non-mainstream vendor with a public database and do searches for "segmentation fault" or even "nessus", as in "bug: product crashes and reboots when nessus is run against it").


If, as a vendor, you want to do something to streamline vulnerability reports, run - do - not - walk to create this web page on your site:


I highly recommend you just crib from what 37signals did.

If you don't, and rely instead on the notion that a researcher could in theory use the RSA key in your SSL cert to send you a secure message, please bear in mind that many --- perhaps most --- researchers will interpret your lack of guidance on this as a license to simply publish your flaws directly on a mailing list. You didn't, after all, tell them not to, or tell them where they should instead send their findings.

31 points by patio11 3 days ago 3 replies      
With regards to use of the SSL-is-PGP trick discussed earlier, I think you may run into a problem in the real world of megacorps: the peons in charge of appsec may be several fiefdoms away from the peons who could actually access the private key for the SSL certificate.

Suppose you report a SQL injection in X university's website. I would have been responsible for getting that fixed at my old job. I know what campus the guy with root on our web tier works at, but working on memory of our org chart, I can only narrow it down to a thousand people, literally. Extraneous copies of that private key aren't floating around internally. Indeed, I rather suspect that if there exists a process by which I can learn it, we just failed ISOSomething. How am I supposed to figure out what your cypher text telling me what is wrong actually says?

13 points by iuguy 3 days ago 1 reply      
Zed Shaw is a very clever man. However, I've read the site time and time again and I'm not sure what problem this is supposed to solve.

There are already services that pay you to disclose your vulnerabilities to them and project manage the whole thing with the vendor for you, such as Tipping Point, The Zero Day Initiative and iDefense.

The whole SSL thing is a clever little hack, but is more of a solution in search of a problem. For a security researcher, secure comms with a vendor is hardly a problem that hasn't already been solved (and if the vendor wants to communicate over unencrypted SMTP and they're aware of the risks that come with it, then it's their own fault if somehow the comms are compromised).

I'm sure it'll be another very smart and funky thing from Zed, but I don't see why people would use it over something that pays them for bugs.

9 points by tlrobinson 3 days ago 0 replies      
Using the public SSL cert is an interesting idea, but I foresee problems.

Dev: "Hey some dude on the Internet posted a vulnerability for our product but it's encrypted with our webserver's public SSL key. Can I have our private key to decrypt it?"

IT: "Fuck off."

Perhaps provide a secure way for the security team of large companies to submit another public key they control?

3 points by ChuckMcM 3 days ago 0 replies      
I think its an excellent idea, because if the company's secret keys are compromised already then that is a meta-vulnerability that needs immediate attention :-). And only the company should be able to get access to their secret keys.

I would include in the encrypted message the length of the encrypted message. While its unlikely that an attacker would take a previously encrypted message and try to add confounding/confusing text to it you would want to avoid having the message compromised between sender and receiver.

There is no way (as yet) in your stream to know if the company has picked up a copy of the vulnerability. But that may remain true as there is a question as to negligence if you know about a vuln and don't fix it, are you negligent for consequential damages it causes?

There is also no way to know if two or more reports are the same vulnerability or not. It would be useful if there was a way to somehow indicate this but that too is a hard problem. The effect might be that when a vulnerability is discovered the manufacturer starts seeing a bunch of reports but they are all the same one, and then after the patch the reports won't go down until the patched version is distributed widely.

8 points by wewyor 3 days ago 0 replies      
Well that gives a reasonable use case for this: http://dpaste.de/61O8/ http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=2402136)

Makes more sense now.

2 points by trotsky 3 days ago 1 reply      
Doesn't this mean that anyone who administers (or breaks in to) a webserver or ssl reverse proxy belonging to the vulnerable party would be able to decrypt the report+POC?

Isn't that a pretty serious issue given that such reports can be extremely sensitive and at least in most mid to large size vendors like cisco, microsoft, google etc. they would normally only be available to the security teams + the responsible engineering team? Certainly not to ops.

3 points by zwp 3 days ago 1 reply      
Zed will act as a clearing house? There's no danger scale (CVSS or whatever) for customers and no comp for, ahh, researchers. I don't understand how this will work.

Also clearly demonstrated that it's easy to submit reports. So...

1. Spam vulnarb.com with vulns in my competitor's software.

2. Spam vulnarb.com with vulns in my own company (maybe I can spin this... "1239801211 vuln reports against us... vulnarb clearly not to be trusted... our robust and mature security team always available...". Any press is good press right?)

3. Spam anybody I like in there, bury my product's issues. How exactly does Joe Customer realistically compare software using this? ("I want to view PDFs, should I use Acrobat, Foxit, evince, xpdf?").

3b. Spam vulnarb.com with faux vulnarb.com vulns :-p

2 points by zacharypinter 3 days ago 1 reply      
I wonder how easy it is inside a corporation to get access to the SSL private key? I'm guessing a company like Microsoft doesn't hand that out to their developers easily.
2 points by dgl 3 days ago 1 reply      
Seems like a neat hack to find a certificate for an entity that doesn't necessarily publish a PGP key.

However unless the company's primary website is on SSL how is it going to work? Choosing a random SSL secured site under a domain might lead to something outsourced which the original company would find it hard to obtain the private key for. (Even the primary website could be on Akamai and then the company may not have access to the private key.)

If you start requiring a company to provide a specific domain for the key you might as well ask for a PGP key instead and store the PGP encrypted messages.

2 points by rmoriz 3 days ago 0 replies      
I wonder if we'll use this in a couple of years with DNSSEC keys instead of certificates used for https.
1 point by spc476 3 days ago 0 replies      
It sounds like to me there's an excellent opportunity here for some clever security researchers to set up a company like Underwriters Laboratories (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Underwriters_Laboratories).
2 points by itgoon 3 days ago 1 reply      
Kudos to Zed, for at least attempting to find a workable middle-ground. It's a change from the usual and useless finger-pointing.
1 point by blantonl 3 days ago 0 replies      
This is a fantastic idea, however, how will it be sustained if the idea takes off?

Non-profit? Consortium funding (scary), other?

Has zed taking this into account and documented?

1 point by HerraBRE 3 days ago 1 reply      
I think it could be useful to encrypt the same report to multiple recipients - just generate multiple pass.enc files.

This allows the researcher to publicly send the same report to multiple vendors (and it will verifiably be the same report) and adds the option of introducing "neutral" third party arbitrators as well.

For example, the researcher might want to publicly CC all vulnerabilities to CERT (to pick a random example), to put a little more pressure on the vendor and share the burden of following up and keeping the vendor honest.

1 point by snagg 3 days ago 1 reply      
I think this approach exposes a number of problems that are pretty relevant.
First off vendors by decrypting the content of the researcher's submission are basically giving up vulnerabilities to the bad guys that want to target unpatched systems (read: what malware most of the time does).
Second thing I see no reasons why the vulnerability disclosure process should change and migrate to SSL based encryption: vendors can already expose "lies" if they feel like it with PGP encryption and honestly having a "middle-man" in between that can potentially have sensible data looks like a bad idea.
So how about: researchers post on the website the SHA-1 of the POC or just a line saying "product X is vulnerable", then the owner of the website asks the vendor for confirmation. If the researcher has no "karma points" then the submission is hold back until the vendor confirms, if the researcher has "karma points" (already multiple confirmed and valuable submissions) then the advisory gets published immediately regardless of whether the vendor acknowledges it or not.
Still does it actually help anybody? how would you convince consumers to actually pick products or similar based on that website?
To me it looks like the people interested in this kind of information have already other means (twitter, ml, direct contact with vendors), the others don't care.
3 points by the-kenny 3 days ago 2 replies      
Why not use GnuPG?
1 point by lordmatty 3 days ago 1 reply      
Cool idea - hope he has some good legal cover :
Plain Text Offenders - Did you just email me back my own password? plaintextoffenders.com
222 points by omervk 1 day ago   134 comments top 27
21 points by estel 1 day ago replies      
The worst offender I can recall was Wordpress.com. Not only do they email you your password back, but show it to both you and whoever might be sitting within a few metres in LARGE LETTERS in the webpage immediately after activating your account.

After I emailed to complain about this, they said:

"Security and usability is often a trade-off. We make two main ones:

* When you register at WordPress.com, we show you your password and email it to you.
* When you log in we tell you whether the username or password was incorrect.

The accessibility and increased convenience for users in both cases has been deemed to be worth it."

Edit: I just checked, and it seems that they've changed this element of their policy. The situation above was March 2009.

20 points by linker3000 1 day ago 1 reply      
Nothing new there! When we setup a new in-house account, we either telephone the user or go to see them with their password. If it's a senior Manager with a corporate phone they get their password texted to them - Ok, not ultimately as secure as possible but a darn sight more secure than a plaintext email.

In my previous job I was asked to FTP our full client list (with financial information) to a third party acting on behalf of the company that had just acquired us. The IT Director of our new owners kicked up a hell of a stink and accused me of being 'unhelpful' because I insisted on the third party signing an NDA and installing AxCrypt so that I could encrypt the data for transmission. In the end I just said that if they insisted I send everying without encryption, I wanted it in writing with a disclaimer that I was acting on their instructions and they would assume responsibility for any possible liabilities arising with respect to UK Data Protection Laws.

By the time the IT Director had deliberated the point, the third party (who fully appreciated my position) had sent me a stock NDA, installed AXCrypt and we'd completed the transfer.

14 points by pbhjpbhj 1 day ago 2 replies      
Mailman ...

My LUG uses it and mails me my password in plaintext every month; IIRC it is|was the default setting ... /me-rolls-eyes

5 points by compay 1 day ago 0 replies      
Codeweavers, the creators of Crossover for Linux and OS X, do this. I emailed them about it around a year ago and they never bothered to reply back, even though I've bought several licenses from them over the years.


2 points by nyellin 1 day ago 2 replies      
There are some cases when storing plaintext passwords is justified, despite all of the risks. There are cases where you can't - or shouldn't - hash passwords.

For Freeversation, we store plaintext passwords for two reasons:

1. Our passwords are group passwords, which (hopefully) aren't re-used anywhere else. If someone hacks our server, the conversations stored on it are incredibly more valuable than the passwords themselves, which aren't associated with a specific email address or account. Our approach to security is that unauthorized access to our server is checkmate. That is the worst case scenario, not stolen passwords.

2. When you create a new conversation, you can invite new users to the discussion. Those users didn't sign up for Freeversation - and in all likelihood never heard of Freeversation before - but they're expected to remember a password that someone else chose. We help them remember that password by including it in every notification email we send. (E.g. emails inviting them to the conversation, emails notifying them of new comments, etc.) We wouldn't be able to do that if we hashed passwords.

In our case, the alternative to plaintext passwords is actually getting rid of passwords altogether and replacing them with secret URLs. We chose plaintext passwords because they provide psychological reassurance that conversations on Freeversation are invite-only, and not public. The irony is that secret URLs are actually more secure than the passwords that most of our users choose. In the future, we may use a combination of the two, so that users both feel protected and are protected in the best way possible.

14 points by aslakhellesoy 1 day ago 0 replies      
http://passwordfail.com/ lets people register the offenders.
If you have the passwordfail chrome extension installed, you will get a warning whenever you visit an offender. Highly recommended.
2 points by tnorthcutt 1 day ago 2 replies      
I tried to submit a screenshot, but got the error message Sorry, your page had expired. Please try again. on the submission screen. Either they're having trouble (and displaying an unhelpful error message), or they have an awfully short page expiration time - from page load to the time I hit submit was under 30 seconds.
2 points by gabbo 21 hours ago 1 reply      
By far the worst example I can think of here is Yodlee, the bank aggregator.

Their product, Moneycenter, has this convenient "feature" which lets you display your bank password in plaintext! It's unthinkable that someone you trust with your bank credentials would let their website be a two-way street for plaintext bank passwords.

Things like this remove any confidence I may have had in their product. The fact that a feature like this exists at all is strong evidence that they're neither thinking in a security mindset nor paranoid on behalf of their users. If someone proposed this "feature" where I work they would be laughed out of the room.

If that wasn't bad enough their support folks politely ignored me when I raised the issue and pleaded with them to turn it off. They either don't get it, don't care, or don't know how to escalate issues to people who do:

  Please be assured that Yodlee considers account/data
security as highly critical and hence will not be revealed
to any other source.

We suggest you not to reveal your account login credentials
i.e answers to security questions & password, to anybody.
This will ensure your account will not be compromised.

Thank you for your feedback on the product. We appreciate it.

We are marking this Service Request as Resolved. Please let us
know if you have any questions in this regard.

1 point by jeza 1 day ago 1 reply      
Seems that in many cases you get a choice between security over the wire or security in storage, but not both. By this I mean if you use a challenge response authentication algorithm then you often don't have any choice but to store the password in cleartext. Then authentication can be done even over an unencrypted channel without revealing the password.

The compromise seems to be to store the password with a oneway hash then use an encrypted channel such as TLS to send the full password for each authentication. There is still the possibility of intercepting the password at the end of this encrypted channel before the password is compared to the stored hash.

So both models have weaknesses, it just means you have to focus your security efforts into a different area. For the first, it might be somewhere deep in the backend, for the second you'd be paying attention to the front end where you accept the TLS (e.g. https) connection.

This has certainly been the case with for example PPP where you had a choice between PAP (secure storage, but sent in plain text) or CHAP (insecure storage but not sent over the wire in full). Jabber/XMPP servers also traditionally store in plain text but passwords aren't sent for each login. Though it seems that HTTP Digest auth does allow storage of passwords in a hash without transmitting the full password.

Then even with challenge response algorithms if someone is able to monitor a number of authentications then they may be able to gather enough information to pose as that user without actually knowing the password.

4 points by colinhowe 1 day ago 1 reply      
I've been wanting to make this for ages. Very pleased to see it made!

Would be awesome to have a notable offenders section. A chrome plugin that hooks into this would also be cool: "This site has rubbish password security. Don't use your usual passwords"

4 points by jcsalterego 1 day ago 2 replies      
Rackspace does this with their Cloud Servers :'(
1 point by sayemm 12 hours ago 0 replies      
Markus Frind did this way back when and suffered for it when Plenty of Fish got hacked a few months ago, big risk.
1 point by yuvadam 1 day ago 0 replies      
Props! Took me a moment to figure out why all the initial sites are in Hebrew ;)
2 points by enewcomer 23 hours ago 0 replies      
Here's my experience trying to bring this to one of the offenders' attention. He actually attempted to justify it.


1 point by treblig 1 day ago 2 replies      
Pretty scary feeling: search your gmail inbox for your default password.
1 point by itistoday 19 hours ago 0 replies      
Add Dreamhost to this list.
1 point by thisisblurry 1 day ago 0 replies      
I'm shocked that Mozilla not only (seemingly) stores their mailing list passwords unhashed, but that they also email them out to each member every month in a reminder email.
2 points by acidblue 1 day ago 0 replies      
I forgot the password to my credit union account. I clicked on the 'get password' link and they e-mailed my original password back to me, in plain text. Lame! I still need to move my funds though, doh!
1 point by eekfuh 22 hours ago 0 replies      
Toms.com sends you your password after you signup, which is retarded since YOU JUST entered it into their system.
2 points by netaustin 1 day ago 0 replies      
Drupal also sends plaintext passwords out of the box (at least in Drupal 6), although it does hash the password in the database. One of the first things I do is change the wording of the welcome email.
1 point by JCB_K 1 day ago 0 replies      
Reminds me of this: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=2329366.


1 point by robinwarren 1 day ago 0 replies      
I'd considered doing something like this the other day, good work for getting the bad news out there! Hopefully this can help lift the expected minimum of security on the web a little.
1 point by Estragon 1 day ago 0 replies      
A straight list without the irrelevant screenshots would be much more scalable.
0 points by code_duck 14 hours ago 0 replies      
So, the only companies that do this are in Israel?
2 points by r_kaup 1 day ago 1 reply      
Can someone explain to me why it is so important to hash passwords before storing them?
-4 points by BrainScraps 1 day ago 2 replies      
The other day I thought there should be a "Wall of Shame" site for photos of the d-bags who abuse handicapped spots.
-3 points by mattmanser 1 day ago 4 replies      
Nitpick, they're not necessarily storing it in plaintext, they may just not be salting it. There is a difference.
Introducing the New Commodore 64 commodoreusa.net
219 points by will_lam 2 days ago   92 comments top 28
39 points by marcusestes 2 days ago replies      
Cramming a modern PC into a vintage C64 reproduction really is a terrible idea. But as an old Commodore / Amiga fanboy I have to admire Barry Altman (CEO of Commodore USA) for attempting to reawaken the brand.

After the sad bankruptcy spiral and eventual shutdown of Commodore the trademarks ended up in the possession of a company based in the Netherlands called Tulip Computers (Now Nedfield) who makes commodity PC workstations. The did a little cheapo licensing of the brand here and there but basically showed no intention of breathing life into the brand again.

Mr. Altman appears to have incorporated Commodore USA with the sole purpose of attaining trademark licenses and attempting to tap into the large and very latent Commodore enthusiast market.

It doesn't feel like he's going to succeed. But I applaud him for trying. Now that Steve Jobs' face has taken the place of Big Brother in that 1984 ad, it feels to me that the landscape needs a new "creative computing" competitor. The Commodore brand could be such a cool fit, if they only had a decent product.

They should reproduce the 4000 / Video Toaster combo: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nymVNhy4dw8

16 points by tesseract 2 days ago 2 replies      
The PC guts seem boring and will inflate the price. Why not do a reissue with functionality closer to that of the original, based on the C64 DTV [1] which cost $20 or $25 when it was on the market, and sell it at a $50-to-$100 price point?

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/C64_Direct-to-TV

6 points by Udo 2 days ago 1 reply      
This is a lost opportunity. They could have revived the brand by putting out a new Commodore. Modern hardware, super-slim, "the keyboard is the computer", inexpensive. Maybe with a very simple and fast OS, like a light Linux or BSD or whatever became of the Amiga OS.
8 points by daeken 2 days ago 2 replies      
If this had a SID chip (or multiple!) in it, I'd buy one in a heartbeat. As it stands, it's just a straight up PC with... a C64 emulator.
5 points by defroost 2 days ago 4 replies      
From the FAQ:

"10. What is Commodore OS?
Our new Commodore operating system, will be a unique Commodore and AMIGA centric Linux distribution, that will grow over time into something far greater. Commodore OS will not be your run o