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Good riddance, PayPal elliotjaystocks.com
699 points by jenskanis  5 days ago   257 comments top 38
reitzensteinm 5 days ago  replies      
The customer service angle sucks, no question, and I'm worried about getting into similar trouble (I sell downloadable games via PayPal).

But I actually think holding an issues worth of revenue in reserve is a decent enough compromise. If the company goes bankrupt before an issue ships, for whatever reason, PayPal themselves are going to be on the hook for refunding every single payment, as well as chargeback fees that may apply.

PayPal's fees are around 5% - what's their gross profit on each transaction, 1-2% at most?

So if there's a 2% chance of an issue going awry and angry people starting chargebacks, a magazine 50 issues old could turn into a net loss for PayPal overnight, which is why even merchants with long and clean track records get stung by this.

PayPal's freeze on that money means their end is covered, and you can still bring the sales to a bank and get a line of credit to cover the printing costs.

The way PayPal handles the customer service end rightfully earns their horrible reputation. But too many people act like the risk itself is not there, or that there's a clear, obvious line between fraudulent businesses that con artists start and solid trustworthy businesses that we start. If PayPal wasn't as aggressive with their fraud prevention, they'd be skinned alive.

And, as other people are pointing out in this thread, standard merchant accounts are not immune from the same level of shoot first, ask questions later fraud prevention.

dangrossman 5 days ago  replies      
The premise of his "vehemence" is untrue: banks can and do have the exact same policy regarding terminating merchant services accounts. They can terminate you at any time, without reason, and when they do so, hold any undisbursed funds in a reserve account for exactly 180 days. There is no regulation banks are subject to that PayPal isn't that would have an affect on that.

PayPal did not make up this policy; it's based on Visa and MasterCard's Operating Regulations, which predate PayPal's very existence. I have first-hand experience that not only is this in virtually every merchant services contract at every bank in the US, but it's actually enforced, exactly the same way PayPal enforces it.

8 years back I had a sudden influx of chargebacks from a single scammer that used a bunch of different cards on one of my websites to buy services, back before I knew how to spot that kind of activity. My real, regulated bank (First National Bank of Omaha) terminated my merchant account and held several thousand dollars for exactly 180 days with no recourse for me. They never saw another chargeback against my account, but I still had no access to that money for 6 months. Exactly the same as PayPal does when it terminates an account for activity it deems high risk.

qeorge 5 days ago 3 replies      
Anecdotal, but maybe helpful: we had a customer purchase software from us almost a year ago, who paid via PayPal but using their Visa. They've now initiated a chargeback. When that occurs, Visa takes the money from PayPal, who takes it from us, immediately - Visa presumes their customer is "innocent" if you will.

It makes no sense, but if you don't like it your option is to not accept Visa. They own the customer so they make the rules. It doesn't matter if its PayPal, Stripe, or any other merchant - if your buyer initiates a chargeback, you'll lose the money until its resolved (~6 months, usually).

As such, PayPal/Stripe/any other merchant account will hold your money for a period of time, until they are comfortable that either:

    1) its been long enough that a chargeback is unlikely
2) they'll be able to get the money back from you if a chargeback occurs later.

FWIW, all the credit card companies behave this way, and allow their customers to initiate chargebacks for variable lengths of time (sometimes depending on the card type - richer clients can chargeback later.) My understanding is that AMEX has no time limit on chargebacks.

Also relevant to this specific case: its against the TOS of Visa/MC/AMEX/etc to charge the buyer before shipment. You're supposed to authorize at time of purchase and capture only when you actually ship the goods. The OP seems to blatantly violate this, and I suspect they'll have to change the practice regardless of their choice of merchant account.

None of this excuses PayPal's lack of customer support. But Stripe et. all may not be the panacea you're hoping for. Credit cards are where these crazy policies originate, and unless you're prepared to stop accepting them, you'll have to play ball.

tylerrooney 5 days ago  replies      
Perhaps someone who runs their own company can answer this question for me: If you don't use PayPal, how do you receive payment from customers who don't have credit cards?

Are your customers exclusively in North America? Or do you just write those customers off (which is a valid option if PayPal integration would be that painful)?

Adding PayPal as a payment option has been an enormous pain for us but a non-consequently amount of our revenue comes from customers either without credit cards or with cards which always fail on international transactions. I see no alternative to PayPal for these customers.

shanelja 5 days ago 0 replies      
I refuse to deal with Paypal, 6 months ago, I had a charge refused by my bank and before I had received a letter 5 days later Paypal had already backcharged all the payments I had made since to my account, stating that my account was now £65 in the negative.

The result of this is Paypal saying I owed them £65, but that once paid they would not return this to the companies and the companies sating that I owed them nominal amounts each.

I repaid the companies in cash through the post (I even converted it to the correct currency) and have squared things with them, and Paypal is still saying I owe them £65.

I have told Paypal that as they paid out £65 and then took it back, they are currently level and are not owed any money and informed them to cancel the outgoing payments as I have paid them myself, but they continue to persist with the idea that I owe them money.

They refuse to let me add another card to my account to pay off this amount (the card I originally used is Spanish and I don't use it anymore, the balance on it is, however +£0.47) and I refuse to lose money having it converted over to Euros.

As a result I have cancelled all existing usage of paypal and now pay from a credit card instead and I refuse to either pay Paypal the money I supposedly owe them or add more funds to my old account to have them take it away (leaving them £65 in the green and me in the minus)

My experience of Paypal customer services is poor service and automated responses, if it was possible to talk to a human this would have been sorted months ago, but as a result of their ineptitude they have lost a customer who was doing daily business with them in the order of £100 - £200 incoming and outgoing.

It's not much income to them, but I will no longer use their service and if enough people follow suit it will make a difference.

And for the record, the freeze they placed on my account over such a nominal amount cost me around £750 in lost sales before I began re-routing to my credit card, but I doubt very much they will offer to refund this.

davidmarcus 5 days ago 5 replies      
Hey, everyone " I'm David Marcus, and I've been running PayPal for the past 5 months. Hard for me not to comment on this thread. PayPal brought a lot of goodness to millions of merchants, and hundreds of millions of users around the world. But yes... as the company grew exponentially we were met with growing pains. And developers, merchants, and consumers sometimes had to pay the price for it. I still want to stress that when you manage money at such a scale, you always attract bad people with wrong intentions. Our intention has always been to protect our customers. Not to mess around with our merchants.

I want to share two things with all of you:

#1 " there's a massive culture change happening at PayPal right now. If we suck at something, we now face it, and we do something about it.

#2 " you have my commitment to make this company GREAT again. We're reinventing how we work, our products, our platforms, our APIs, and our policies. This WILL change, and we won't rest until you all see it. The first installments are due very soon. So stay tuned...

robomartin 5 days ago 2 replies      
I fully understand Paypal's need to protect itself from scammers. I get it. The loss potential is huge.

I think the problem here is that they really don't have any kind of a real relationship with their customers.

As an honest business person --not a scammer-- when this kind of thing happens to you it is horribly disruptive and demoralizing. As honest people we should be spending time on our business rather than trying to get our money out of a company that has totalitarian control over it. It could, and has, sink a business.

That said, I feel the OP may have triggered the freeze by clearing the account of nearly all funds a couple of days after the phone interview. If I were looking at that data I would see it as a potential red flag. It would almost be irresponsible not to interpret it that way.

I've had sales in excess of $20K (meaning, the invoice for that particular purchase was $20K) come into one of our Paypal accounts and have never had any issues. Then again, the money tends to stay in the account for months. I don't think they've ever seen us clear large amounts of money out of the account immediately after a large sale. That, I am sure, builds trust, even at the algorithmic level.

kevinconroy 5 days ago 3 replies      
There's been a lot of PayPal hating on HN. I'm not trying to defend the horrible things that I've heard, but I, for one, am a happy PayPal customer. We've regularly moved thousands upon thousands of dollars a day for the last decade without any major issues. #YMMV
andr 5 days ago 4 replies      
Does anyone have insider knowledge of why PayPal has been causing merchants so much trouble? It sure looks bad on the outside, but I'd be interested to hear their rationale.
ryguytilidie 5 days ago 0 replies      
Had a similar experience with Paypal about a year ago. I reported them to the Better Business Bureau for unethical business practices and Paypals response was basically "well its not illegal so we're going to keep doing it".

Great, and I will keep not using your site, and I will keep filing complaints through every forum possible until we eventually end up on a new site and the circle of life of

useful startup--->gets an ego and stops caring about customers--->replaced by new useful startup


EDIT: The best part was they accused me of three things:
1) Being a newer member (I opened my account in 2000 so I'm not sure I agree.)
2) Not having enough account history. (In the 12 years I've been a member I tend to make 1-2 transactions per month).
3) The transaction being "abnormally large". (I get paid rent and pay rent through the account for thousands of dollars at a time, the transaction in question was for $400 dollars)

basically paypal can diagf.

milesskorpen 5 days ago 0 replies      
In Europe, PayPal actually is incorporated as a bank, so all normal rules apply. Merchant accounts for digital goods are subject to a lot of risk!

Stripe et. al. are the credit unions of the card processing world -- they can offer more personalized service. But they also can't really scale and meet all demand, or handle the very largest accounts, without putting many PayPal-esque structures in place.

pytrin 5 days ago 1 reply      
Paypal to me is the classical example of the incumbent growing stale and detached from its consumer base on which it built its business on. Sellers like Eliot are the bulk of Paypal's business - small businesses who needed a (relatively) easy way to start accepting payments online.

Paypal is just giving every opportunity for someone else to come and get their market share. Hopefully it will happen sooner rather than later.

Lasher 5 days ago 0 replies      
Lots of comments here are focusing on the mechanics of credit card processing and why Paypal might have to hold funds, but to me the entire article was really about the customer service angle and how Paypal handle this. They freeze accounts and make it next to impossible to get valid feedback on why.

He might have argued the point, but in this particular example a simple explanation of "We are concerned about liability if you cancel an issue before the physical version is delivered. The hold on funds helps protect us in that event".

The Paypal model fits small transactions and small volume. As soon as you are big enough to feel like you deserve / expect such an explanation it is probably just time to move on.

Shenglong 5 days ago 0 replies      
From my experience and that of others who've suffered the same, it's clear that PayPal are interested in buyers, not sellers. Why else would they provide customers with refunds at the drop of a hat, but withhold money amounting to thousands " literally thousands and thousands and thousands " from buyers without any valid reason, when not even your bank is legally allowed do that?

The best part about them giving buyers refunds is that if you, as a seller, want to dispute their chargeback, you have to pay Paypal an administrative fee ^_^

mratzloff 5 days ago 1 reply      
I don't think this guy realizes the extent of how correct he is. PayPal is not a bank. They are basically a giant merchant account. Wells Fargo backs them, even while they compete with them (clearXchange.com).

So PayPal doesn't have to operate by the same rules. When you use PayPal, you are putting money into PayPal's bank account and hoping they act in your best interests.

A reasonable person (I feel) would conclude PayPal is a de facto merchant acquiring bank, especially given the volume, and therefore should be required to operate under those laws.

Of course, PayPal knows the real money is in becoming a card scheme, so it's only a matter of time before we see that (not co-branded with MasterCard). At least they'd have to operate under existing card scheme laws, but I sure as heck wouldn't use one.

verelo 5 days ago 1 reply      
Thank you for writing this, reiterates everything i feel about Paypal as well!

We use Stripe and I couldn't be happier. Started with Paypal, wanted to shoot myself on a regular basis.

eslachance 5 days ago 0 replies      
I'm happy to see that someone is not only standing up to PayPal and going another route, but also that a very good alternative is being set forth. It's not just another "Paypal sucks", and I appreciate that.
foxylad 4 days ago 2 replies      
One of the comments in the article mentions gocardless.com for UK payments. This seems suspiciously good - an end run around credit card companies and much lower fees.

Has anyone used it? Is there a catch? How do customers react?

54mf 5 days ago 0 replies      
"Yeah, but, merchant services are hard!"

Bullshit. If you're going to process payments, you have to solve hard problems like fraud prevention, and PayPal is doing a dreadful job solving them. Freezing accounts isn't the problem; the problem is that PayPal is a giant black pit offering no way to resolve any issues. This is customer-hostile behavior. Shoot first, ask no questions later.

jusben1369 5 days ago 0 replies      
PayPal charges substantially less than a traditional merchant account and payment gateway. Particularly in the UK. It would be interesting if the OP touched upon that. They're also easier and faster to set up than a merchant account/payment gateway.

In return for being cheaper and faster there are trade offs. As stated in the article, this person's business model is a "high risk" one in general and to PayPal in particular. This is a great example of where a merchant account with a bank really is the better option. They need to met you, understand your business and why it works the way it does. Once done, you're less likely to have ongoing issues. So, you can keep your "higher risk" business model and change from PayPal or you can change your business model to better fit with PayPal. I don't think you can have both.

PayPal is a family sedan. This guy is lamenting that his vehicle doesn't perform the way he wants it to at high speed on twisty mountain roads. Seems like an unfair car review in that sense.

As others noted - it would look very strange to PayPal if you basically pull all your funds two days after that call. Who knows what else he inadvertently did to raise suspicion.

happywolf 5 days ago 2 replies      
One of the reasons why PayPal so paranoid is to prevent money laundering. In fact this could be _the_ factor because any mis-step would land PP itself in big trouble and could be fined a lot of money. My guess is PP would rather err on the side of its own safety.

Another cause that it will freeze an account is when it suspects the account is used for illegal activities (e.g. selling fake goods).

Please note I am in no way implying the OP is involved in any of these. I am just making some guess on why PP may shut down/freeze accounts.

joe_littlebiz 2 days ago 0 replies      
OMG! I thought I was one of the Only ones this happened to!!!

I had nearly $40k (ALL of my upstart company's capital) held for 180 days, and I almost went out of business. My products unexpectedly sold better than we had planned for, and we received a few chargebacks, that we had asked Paypal how we should handle before they occurred. The chargebacks were a very small amount, but they held the ENTIRE BALANCE. I couldnt pay for any of the inventory, which led to a chain reaction of chargebacks.

What made it even worse - THEY NEVER REFUNDED the customers on time and did not allow us, the merchant, to process the refunds --- IT WAS THE ULTIMATE BUSINESS NIGHTMARE!!! We started out as victims of our own sucess. Instead of helping us, we almost became victims of Paypal!

mherdeg 5 days ago 0 replies      
Does the oft-lionized "PayPal gang", famous for their successes in the tech community, bear any responsibility for the company's customer experience being sometimes so terrible?

Maybe this just happens to all payment companies at scale, but it seems like PayPal has a lot of stories from ordinary-sounding, reasonable-sounding people who were just trying to sell something and ended up losing all their money. Who's responsible for those service delivery failures?

superjesuspants 5 days ago 0 replies      
I had PayPal freeze my merchant account while I was registering it. I didn't even get to sell anything, because their broken, confusing interface made me fill out something wrong, and when I tried to correct it they froze the account. I believe every word of this article.

I've been hearing a lot about Stripe lately, but haven't used it yet.

hkolk 5 days ago 1 reply      
Small nit-picky thing: Paypal has bank-status in Europe.
jcjc 3 days ago 0 replies      
Just my yow cents...I received 3+k in my PayPal acct around 3mon ago. I was shocked next day that my acct was freezed and when I called PayPal I was told to provide PROOF OF DELIVERY to have mt acct unlimited...ok, so I did...the misery just started...a week later my acct was still frozen and I decided to call again...another chick with a distant,lazy voice stressed I would need PROOF OF RECEPT to unlimit my acct...you know how long it takes for a sea freight from china to the states I escalated to a inexperienced supervisor...to no avail of course...so I have to wait another month for the shipment to arrive, and then I called again in urgency...guess what? No luck, I went thru a few more chicks only to realize they never wanted to be honest with me to unlimit my acct because THEY WANT THE MONEY FOR FREE FINANCING! My acct was still frozen 45days after receiving the payment...I had enough...I refunded the money and closed my acct last month...I ask all my friends, partners,and biz associates to stop using PayPal...this is what I tell you PayPal you do not suck, that doesn't apply to you,you are sleazy cheap
code_duck 5 days ago 0 replies      
Unfortunately, PayPal has reached the point in the market where it is truly useful. A merchant account solves one angle of the problem of finding a replacement for me - the other side is paying people, and I've been finding more and more lately that almost everyone I encounter or hang out with has a Paypal account - if I wanted to pay by CC, it's difficult - even most of my small business friends can't do this conveniently - but when I offer to settle up with someone by Paypal, they almost always have an account and it takes only a minute.

Square would solve the problem for many, but... would the average person carry around a hardware device so their friends can give them money by cell phone? Probably not.

unkoman 5 days ago 4 replies      
Any good alternatives?
Safarijack 14 hours ago 0 replies      
I wrote about my experience with Paypal a while back. http://mydl.itweb.co.za/index.php?option=com_easyblog&vi... What a truly horrible and useless company. I've informed every online merchant not to use them since and make sure all my friends know.
redm 5 days ago 1 reply      
"PayPal have all the power of a bank and yet none of the responsibility."

That is precisely the problem, PayPal is on the hook for any credit card charges for 6 months so they are much more willing to protect themselves then to try to understand a specific situation. They are a black box when it comes to these types of issues, you feed lots of information in but you get almost nothing in return.

Banks usually transfer funds nightly and they don't hold subscriber information hostage.

It would be one thing if PayPal was amazing to use but they are just one technical or customer service blunder after another.

emilysviolins 3 days ago 0 replies      
I hate PayPal with a vengance. I used PayPal with my small online music business a few years ago. But when there was one dispute by one customer, they froze my account, not just for that one transaction with that one customer, but for all transactions with all customers. And they refused to answer my calls or help me resolve the problem. They sided with the customer, even though she was wrong (it was about a disputed shipping charge), and I ended up not only losing the sale, the cost of shipping and insurance, but subsequent sales and deals with other customers. My rating on Ebay went from 98 to 65 over night with angry posts from other customers. It was a horrible scene. I ended up refunding everyone that had their money frozen, even though PayPal never refunded me! I switched eventually to Google Wallet and have been happy ever since.
kristianp 3 days ago 0 replies      
Great article, but does anyone else have the irritation of the links looking like the words have been crossed-out with green line through the middle?
simonswords82 5 days ago 0 replies      
PayPal do themselves no favours by not coming forward with explanations similar to those that see in this thread. Their deafening silence plus the bullshit automated responses are what appear to be driving customers away in droves.

I certainly wouldn't set up any of my businesses to rely on PayPal to take payments, and I expect many others feel the same way.

tit4tat 3 days ago 0 replies      
I agree whole-heartedly. I have a personal and business account. I stopped usin PayPal when it froze my account after they made a refund to to an eBay customer who stole my merchandise but demanded a refund after claiming to have not received the item. I produced the receipt signature from the USPS but was simply told that it was not good enough. I told their customer service rep that I would never use them again and that I look forward to PayPal suing me so I could have my day in court. they never sued me, but they also never unfroze my account. Totally unprofessional! -G. King
noirman 5 days ago 0 replies      
In Asia, you have no alternative (at all). You either use PayPal (which suck), or 2CheckOut (suck less).
brutuscat 5 days ago 0 replies      
Last night I was thinking, how many of you/us would take a PayPal insurance policy that cover cases like this?
Greynum 5 days ago 1 reply      
This is why Bitcoins was created.
PayPal CEO writes personal response ndy.gd
601 points by Peteris  3 days ago   159 comments top 51
noonespecial 3 days ago 9 replies      
This isn't special... Yet. What happened here can happen even in the most dysfunctional customer service paradigms. A promblem randomly and luckily escalated from the people who can't do anything about the problem to the people who (generally speaking) won't do anything about the problem. As a lucky break, the person/department who generally won't do anything, decided in their mercy to do something this one time. IMHO, what was said in the email is just marketing duck-speak, no matter how sincere it sounds until proven otherwise.

The true fix, the actuall turnaround, is when the ability to actually fix problems like this is systemically extended deep into the space previously occupied by the employees who couldn't fix them before.

angryasian 3 days ago 6 replies      
The level of discourse on HN lately is absurd. Here is a new CEO that appears to be looking to change things for the positive, yet everyone wants to be cynical and doubting. Yet when startups have major f* ups, the conversation is much different.

Lets all admit change is slow and that paypal is still one of the more trusted payment solutions accepted globally. It would be nice to be able to use them in the future with some continued reliability.

dmbaggett 3 days ago 2 replies      
From the skepticism here, it's clear Mr. Marcus has his work cut out for him. Even with far fewer people ever reporting to me (directly and indirectly) than him, I sympathize with his inability to get the unvarnished truth from his own people. "We're routinely screwing people out of hard cash" is probably a scary message to relay up.

His email sounded sincere, and he's new to the job. I'd be inclined to give him the benefit of the doubt. He must know that the technorati hating his company is bad for business.

mcherm 3 days ago 2 replies      
Here is what I would do... I would take him up on his offer (personal attention from the CEO? Sure!), but I would ask him whether he'd be willing to pick 3 or 4 other customers who had _NOT_ written an article which had gone viral and offer THEM the same deal.

I want this to be true. I want PayPal to believe that this behavior is harmful to their business and to push (at ALL levels of the company) to change how they treat their customers. But I won't give them the benefit of the doubt based on one message from the CEO. They burned their second chances long ago, and it's much harder to regain my trust after losing it. I hope that they do.

dkulchenko 3 days ago 0 replies      
UnoriginalGuy 3 days ago 4 replies      
Why now? Why with this story?

I've been reading similar complaints to that for years. Some of which were far worse in my view (i.e. taking money out of banks to repay people who weren't even seeking a refund because PayPal changed its mind about someone's product or service).

Why does PayPal suddenly care? Is it because there is viable competition now?

njloof 3 days ago 3 replies      
Step one for PayPal would be to always provide a reason when they take action, for all users. Every bad experience I have had with PayPal began with them doing something negative, and never explaining why they did it. I have had methods of payment locked out, I have had funds not released, I have been told I could not make an instant payment, and not once was I given a reason why.
petercooper 3 days ago 2 replies      
If even a modicum of this attitude can seep down into all of the customer facing departments at PayPal, it'd be an awesome thing. I hope they pull it off.
notatoad 3 days ago 1 reply      
So bloggers with enough pull to get the CEO's attention will no longer have their funds stolen by PayPal. Now how about the rest of us?
skennedy 3 days ago 1 reply      
Why now? Why this situation is it finally hitting home?

What confuses me is that David acts as if these are new stories of accounts frozen, staggered access to money, and blocked recourse to customer chargebacks. This has been happening for years with hundreds of publicly written stories of bad will by PayPal.

DigitalSea 3 days ago 0 replies      
While the CEO has only been onboard for 5 months now, these kind of issues plaguing Paypal have been there for years now. I remember a good friend of mine had his Paypal account frozen a few years back because they thought it was suspicious he had received money so quickly (he was selling a popular marketing eBook). After making him jump through hoops to get his money (identification, financial records and scans of his passport, etc) he finally received the cash 7 months later, by that stage he was ruined emotionally and financially due to the fact it was his living (he couldn't pay bills or anything).

While I applaud the new CEO wants to make amends, for some like my friend who relied on Paypal to make a living by processing his business payments it's a little too late. Although Paypal is still the industry leader (because they have a stranglehold on online payments) the new CEO knows that offerings like Stripe and whatnot are making Paypal less and less relevant each and every day.

I would love to see Paypal change, the first thing they need to do is fire all of their customer service staff and train new staff with a new set of guidelines, implement a clean-cut way of contacting Paypal if something goes wrong and clean their act up.

coryl 3 days ago 1 reply      
Perhaps one of the reasons PayPal is being more service conscious is they finally have competition encroaching on their territory like Stripe + Square.

I guess its never too late to stop sucking though.

tlack 3 days ago 1 reply      
Great email.. one of the most convincing and sincere high level apologies I've read. Perhaps, for once, the future is looking bright for Paypal. I could have done without the "forwarded from my iPad" at the bottom though.
ars 2 days ago 0 replies      
hollerith 2 days ago 1 reply      
Posting screenshots of text instead of text make me sad.

It excludes visually-challenged people from this discussion, makes old people get out their glasses and squint, and makes cutting and pasting impossible.

propercoil 3 days ago 0 replies      
In the previous post David replied to the comment (on HN) i made about wanting to change paypal's generic template to increase sales through a/b testing.I had a rant about paypal's api suckness and i also ranted about how draconian the fund freezes of diaspora and wikileaks were.

He said that he understands and told me to send him an email and we will take care of it.
No email was sent yet as i'm afraid i'll be targeted in the future. I can't put my legitimate digital business at that risk - there are tonnage upon tonnage of forum threads over the web of people's business going under because of pp freezes only because they contacted paypal it's heart breaking and too much of a red flag to me.

The only thing i can say about David is that he looks and sounds like a genuine guy who replied and started a discussion with the community and that as we all know goes a long way. So maybe his intentions are good but will paypal have zappos's culture regarding merchants all of a sudden? i doubt it and you all doubt it too because what matters is implementation ie real life.

switch007 3 days ago 0 replies      
Media storm brews, someone high up responds and resolves issue. Nothing new. It'd have been news if a random support person did the right thing.
runako 3 days ago 1 reply      
Requiring personal supervision from an executive to withdraw funds is a negative against PayPal, because the president isn't going to personally supervise every account).

It's good that this executive (President, not the CEO as indicated in the title) is taking initiative to fix things at PayPal. But until things are fixed, PayPal is still a business risk.

philhippus 3 days ago 0 replies      
Credit where it's due: out of all the hundreds of Paypal horror stories, this is the first time I have ever seen a reasonable, let alone personable, response come from that nebulous digital beast.

Fair play to the new CEO, he has won back one notch of respect and hopefully averted the slow motion train wreck that had probably already started at Paypal.

appleflaxen 3 days ago 0 replies      
It's fantastic to see PayPal finally paying attention to these kinds of nightmare stories, but it's hard to believe it has anything to do with altruism.

They are seeing Stripe, Square, etc getting way more mindshare, and they are scared.

With all due respect PayPal, good riddance. You've sucked too hard for too long, and now we finally have alternatives.

perlgeek 2 days ago 1 reply      
To all the naysayers out there: in your opinion, what could the CEO have written to convince you? He doesn't have the option to go back in time to change what happened, only to respond.

If I'd receive such an email, I'd give 'em a second chance.

tsieling 2 days ago 0 replies      
Nice gesture, but how many people are going to have the same reach in their complaints? It would be nitpicking to say the email fails the corporate sociopath-speak test with 'leverage the issues', but what irks me is asking for the help of someone your company has just offended. The frame of mind of a non-sociopath would be to say 'how can I help earn back your trust?'.

I've given up on PayPal for my meagre needs, but anyone with real money on the line should beat a path from them until their actions truly speak louder than their words. Speaking of words, I noticed a TOS update from them but haven't read it yet, so if they have taken positive steps then add grains of salt to this comment, to taste.

a-priori 3 days ago 0 replies      
PayPal is starting to feel the pressure of all these new payment startups (eg. Square, Stripe) springing up around them. They know that if they're not careful with their brand image they're going to quickly lose their lunch in the next few years.
geuis 3 days ago 0 replies      
To everyone, on both sides, that feel this is just a stunt or a sign of real change, just give it time.

Either things get better at Paypal, or they don't. Yes, big lumbering companies can change for the better. Microsoft, IBM, and Apple come to mind. Yahoo may be on that road now too. But it takes time to see. The wheels of change move slowly.

keithvan 3 days ago 0 replies      
Why does it take a story to make it to front page Hacker News to get attention, to get a "direct channel" to the executives when things go wrong? It ignores the all the horrible complaints and stories from everybody else. It's inequity in itself when the only way you will get attention from big companies is from making posts on Hacker News.

Why are they not paying attention to their other day-to-day customers? What kind of business do you intend on building?

j45 2 days ago 0 replies      
The day Paypal blinked?

I just was sent my first Paypal survey that I can ever remember about what else I'm using or wanting to use

antonioevans 3 days ago 0 replies      
I hope this is a view of the transparency we'll be seeing in the future from all levels of the org.
Apocryphon 3 days ago 0 replies      
I've always wanted to have a spreadsheet or something to keep track of the "HN effect" in which companies respond to public outrages because of their publication here. Though of course they might also get attention from Reddit and other online outlets as well.
niketdesai 2 days ago 0 replies      
I think we should make judgement on the outcome rather than the email (since it's basically speculation anyways). Judge: Do these types of problems happen in the same amount and severity in 6 months? (or whatever time horizon you think is agreeable to see significant progress).

And there shouldn't be mockery for him fixing one account. Sure there are many to go, but before this account was in the same boat...so it's an improvement no matter how small. Whatever Andy said in his post really resonated to D. Marcus; now I hope it really is the catalyst for PayPal to improve.

shortened it up.

heeton 3 days ago 0 replies      
That kind of behaviour from a CEO is not seen enough. Good on him!
jongraehl 2 days ago 0 replies      
What the CEO is doing is effective. He's signaling that he really wants to fix things and won't make excuses.

I doubt the CEO will learn much he didn't already know by a "direct line" case study, but humbling himself in this way might give him the lever he needs to really move company culture.

PayPal can keep most of its anti-fraud effectiveness while improving customer service for those innocents who want to recover from misclassification. Either being more trusting, or spending more effort discerning who can be trusted, will cost them money short term. But if they don't do it, they'll lose some of their customers to competitors who will.

macarthy12 2 days ago 0 replies      
I think this represents a stay of execution for PayPal. I bashed them in the past, but maybe there is some hope.
rhizome 3 days ago 0 replies      
Talk is cheap, PayPal.
robbeezy 3 days ago 0 replies      
The most effective way to show displeasure with a business is to stop being a customer. Period. You can't blame the CEO here - he's simply trying to stop the bleeding before Hacker News reopens it with a machete.

I've briefly worked for a payment processor - and I'm not overstating here - but this industry doesn't give 1/2 a st about your feelings of them, their customer service, or what you think of their CEOs. They only care about getting as much money as possible. Period.

Peteris, keep posting of your experience and let's see if the CEO follows through. If he doesn't he'll lose twice as much respect and twice as many customers. If he does, then know you got some very expensive customer service, my friend.

SquareWave 3 days ago 0 replies      
Dear Andy
After the many years of Paypal receiving stories just like yours I'm forced to take action. The traditional Paypal long term strategy of "Hahaha, where else are you going to go for online payments?" is not a viable option anymore.

It's unfortunate that your story has spread so far and so quickly. I now have to figure out how to resolve this AND try to figure out how anyone let it get this bad. Changing such entreched culture here is going to be hard.

I'm going to do my best of not letting Paypal become more of a cliche of how big businesses get their foundations kicked out from under them by smaller, scarappy startups.

P.S. Please,please, please don't google Stripe.

treskot 1 day ago 0 replies      
Reminds me of the proverb "do good nd cast into the river". If you want the world to know about it I would simply consider it a PR stunt.
Maybe the Paypal CEO had a positive intent and the Marketing team / PR team wanted to brag about it to the entire world. That's how the corporate world is though!
d0m 3 days ago 0 replies      
Seriously, fuck them. They're starting to act like they care because there are new competitors who've shown how it's supposed to be done. Sorry but not for me, Stripe is my new paypal.
ck2 3 days ago 0 replies      
Now he needs to write the other 100k innocent people PayPal has completely screwed with.
lobster45 2 days ago 0 replies      
Back in 2006 someone hacked my paypal account and used my credit card that was attached to paypal to purchase a few ipods. The criminal had them sent to their home address. They also changed my paypal password so I was not able to login. I contacted paypal support and they were absolutely not willing to help even. It was terrible customer service. I have never used paypal since.
mmanfrin 3 days ago 2 replies      
webjunkie 3 days ago 0 replies      
Wow, just wow. If it's real. If he really means it. But still.
catfish 3 days ago 0 replies      
A single email does not change a process nor a corporate culture of indifference.
redm 3 days ago 0 replies      
One wronged customer down; thousands more, including myself, to go.
dzhiurgis 2 days ago 0 replies      
Link is down. Mirror / backup anyone?
miffydiffy 2 days ago 0 replies      
Screenshots are more confident than copy&paste of text.
marginalboy 2 days ago 0 replies      
That's classy.
lordastral 2 days ago 0 replies      
Okay which one of you hacked the Paypal CEO's account?
emilysviolins 3 days ago 0 replies      
I hate hate hate PayPal. They ruined my ebay business!
j2kun 3 days ago 0 replies      
"Sent from my iPad." Nice.
lyime 3 days ago 0 replies      
ydvj 2 days ago 1 reply      
his name is david marcus. isn't this the same guy who cheated and used protomatter in Project Genesis?
Russia in color, a century ago boston.com
463 points by Xcelerate  4 days ago   165 comments top 29
twelvechairs 4 days ago 3 replies      
Note that those shown are all heavily restored (also cropped) versions of the originals. They are all from the Library of Congress collection (~1900 of the ~3500 he made). An example of an unrestored version for comparison is at http://www.loc.gov/pictures/collection/prok/item/prk20000025....
derrida 3 days ago 1 reply      
I notice they have a picture of Tblisi (http://inapcache.boston.com/universal/site_graphics/blogs/bi...) , which is now in Georgia (not Russia). Tblisi is a rather beautiful looking place, here is a recent picture from almost the same place http://www.experience.hk/wp-content/uploads/Tbilisi-4.jpg
shawnc 3 days ago  replies      
These are so amazing. The world wasn't sepia toned a hundred years ago! As silly as that statement is, my brain is actually having a hard time really believing these photos are from 100 years ago. I'm in awe.
Xcelerate 4 days ago  replies      
What amazes me the most is how good the quality is. These photos are better than those from my smartphone, and they're over a century old!

I do wonder how well he was able to view his own photos.

One thing that struck me was how much "nature" there is. The cities seems quite a bit smaller and more contained than they do today.

ollysb 3 days ago 2 replies      
I've always found it interesting that people's perception of history is coloured(couldn't resist) by having only seen it in black and white. You almost have to remember that the world wasn't actually in black and white 100 years ago. It's fascinating to see photos from that far back in colour, it somehow makes it easier to empathise with the people in the shots.
corford 3 days ago 0 replies      
If you enjoyed those and don't know who Albert Kahn is, you should also check out:



There's a small museum in Paris dedicated to his work (situated on the grounds of Kahn's old estate no less) which is a wonderful experience if you're ever in Paris and looking for something cultural to do that's a bit off the beaten track. It's on the end of the metro line and is an oasis of calm compared to the typical Louvre pandemonium :)

Edit: found the link to the museum: http://albert-kahn.hauts-de-seine.net/english/

Adlai 4 days ago 1 reply      
Surprisingly good quality, considering his method. You get the best sense of his method when it goes a bit wrong, in photo 27:

My favorite picture is #15, the cathedral:

lisnake 3 days ago 0 replies      
I come from the place where majority of these photos were taken (Ural mountains). Here is comparisons of landscapes on these old photos with current view " http://ufa.livejournal.com/2259613.html http://ufa.livejournal.com/2248707.html http://ufa.livejournal.com/2248073.html
Actually, in my opinion, not much have changed
mgkimsal 4 days ago  replies      
No one is smiling. Not even the kids. Maybe the woman in #20 is, who knows? I know in general 'old time' photos didn't have people smiling much - very posed pictures and stoic expressions. I wonder if they had any idea how much this would color our impression of them 100+ years later?
alecperkins 4 days ago 2 replies      
I was first amazed at the quality, then surprised that these were taken more recently than I expected, in 1910. Then, I realized that, duh, that was 102 years ago. It's strange how even 100+ years ago is getting more and more recent. (Obviously, that's how it works. But perception lags quite a bit.)
bcl 4 days ago 2 replies      
Previously seen 749 days ago: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=1621517
jackflintermann 3 days ago 0 replies      
CS129 (Computational Photography) at Brown actually has students reconstruct these same photos as its first assignment. It's not too hard, and a good introduction to image alignment. Check out the assignment at http://www.cs.brown.edu/courses/cs129/asgn/proj1/
azernik 3 days ago 0 replies      
One question - was the artist himself capable of reassembling the monochrome frames into a color picture, or did he just take the pictures and stick them in an archive until someone could develop them properly?

EDIT: Answered my own question - apparently, the slides were originally intended to be projected together (with differently-colored lights) onto a wall, as color prints were too expensive.

ilamont 3 days ago 1 reply      
I love the fact that these photos capture a landscape without cars. It is especially striking in the shots of cities. Imagine what it would look like if a photo of the same locations were taken now -- more pavement and cars, fewer trees.
capkutay 3 days ago 1 reply      
The locations of these photos are pretty significant to the etymologies of many groups of people, spanning from modern day Turks, Koreans, Japanese, and even Native Americans.

(at least some people have proposed this). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Altaic_languages

photorized 3 days ago 1 reply      
Looking at these feels like time travel.
keyle 3 days ago 0 replies      
I did see that, in 2010. And the title misslead me to think of something new. Could we please tag titles appropriately? ie. (2010)
johnohara 3 days ago 0 replies      
Picture #30: Clicking the Google Map link shows three bridges that cross the river today. The center bridge appears to be the one from the photograph.

Those stone piers are beautiful and my guess, still fully functional 100 years later.

kghose 3 days ago 0 replies      
Can any one post a link to the equipment details - design/description, anything? Thanks.
ekianjo 2 days ago 0 replies      
Old - this was already linked on HN a while ago I believe. But if you haven't seen it, it's nice.
diziet 4 days ago 1 reply      
Strangely enough most of the photos now would not be considered those of Russia, but would be other distinct countries.
keiferski 3 days ago 2 replies      
Just think: in 50-100 years, the phrase "100 years ago" won't mean that much, in terms of technology.
intenex 3 days ago 1 reply      
So, apparently smiling in pictures is a relatively new trend?
verelo 3 days ago 1 reply      
This makes me realized how amazing it will be having tools like Instagram, having captured millions of photos, in around 100 years from now.
aritraghosh007 3 days ago 0 replies      
Wonderful !

Wonder how many of these historical remains are still present in Russia? Would love to visit the country once.

leak 3 days ago 1 reply      
Looking at their faces, no one seems happy. Not a single smile in any photo including those of kids. Kinda depressing.
sonnenkiste 3 days ago 0 replies      
How can I vote a news down? Because this isn't "news". I've seen it two years ago. Really great pictures, but no news ...
combataircraft 3 days ago 0 replies      
This is not Russia!
markiel 4 days ago 2 replies      
This had been in the "news" for the past 5 years if not longer. How many times can it makes the frontage? ;)


Proof Claimed for Deep Connection between Prime Numbers nature.com
369 points by shashashasha  1 day ago   87 comments top 19
impendia 1 day ago 1 reply      
I personally know Brian Conrad (quoted in article). He has an encyclopedic knowledge of algebraic number theory and algebraic geometry, I would say that he's in the top ten people worldwide who could reasonably assess whether Mochizuki's proof is correct. And he has a great nose for bullshit, and little patience for it.

He is taking this claim seriously. He doesn't necessarily believe it's correct (presumably he's a bit careful in what he says to the press), but he seems to think it has a shot, and is worth paying attention to.

mmaunder 1 day ago 1 reply      
Any implications for RSA and other algorithms? [RSA relies on factoring the product of primes being a hard problem]
colanderman 22 hours ago 1 reply      
It states that for integers a+b=c, the ratio of sqp(abc)^r/c always has some minimum value greater than zero for any value of r greater than 1. For example, if a=3 and b=125, so that c=128, then sqp(abc)=30 and sqp(abc)^2/c = 900/128. In this case, in which r=2, sqp(abc)^r/c is nearly always greater than 1, and always greater than zero.

Obviously I'm reading this wrong -- because as stated (and assuming that a, b, and c are positive integers) this seems trivially true -- sqp(abc) cannot be zero, r cannot be negative, and c is finite, so therefore sqp(abc)^r/c is greater than zero, QED.

Does Nature mean that the quantity does not approach zero as r tends to infinity (or some such)? Their example sure doesn't seem to indicate such.

tlb 1 day ago 1 reply      
Changed to the Nature article that this is a repost of. The SA article had borked formatting, losing superscripts.
magicalist 1 day ago 3 replies      
this is for the abc conjecture[1] (I was thinking maybe they were being headline-y about the Riemann hypothesis before I clicked through), which, if proved, would be extremely interesting due to the number of conjectures and other theorems that have been shown to be equivalent to it or direct consequences of it.

The proof will be well beyond me, but the conjecture itself is pretty accessible, as are many of its connections.

This line from the article was confusing:

> Fifteen and 17 are square free-numbers, but 16 and 18 " being divisible by 42 and 32, respectively " are not.

but that's supposed to be 4^2 and 3^2, respectively.

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abc_conjecture

dude_abides 22 hours ago 3 replies      
Relevant meta-commentary on the proof by Marty Weissman and Minhyong Kim:


gwillen 1 day ago 1 reply      
Warning: This article is mangled by the flattening of all the superscripts in it. Given that it's about powers, the math is all but unreadable. You have been warned. :-)
freyrs3 1 day ago 2 replies      
Here's a presentation of the mathematician the article is about. It's on the nature of "Inter-universal Teichmuller Theory"[1] which apparently was the work leading up to the proof.

[1] http://www.kurims.kyoto-u.ac.jp/~motizuki/Inter-universal%20...

dudus 1 day ago 0 replies      
From Wikipedia:

> Mochizuki entered Princeton University at age 16 and received a Ph.D. under the supervision of Gerd Faltings at age 22. In 2002, he became a professor at the Research Institute for Mathematical Sciences in the Kyoto University.

Very impressive.

cecilpl 22 hours ago 2 replies      
I found the formulation of the theorem difficult to digest, but the wikipedia version was much clearer:

For every ε > 0, are there only finitely many triples of coprime positive integers
a + b = c
such that
c > d (1+ε),
where d denotes the product of the distinct prime factors of abc?

samstave 1 day ago 1 reply      
Can anyone explain in lag terms what the implications of this may be.

Just the phrase "deep connection between prime numbers" sounds really interesting, so, if this were true would there be any practical application of this in the next (N) years that would not be possible without this proof?

lelf 13 hours ago 0 replies      
http://www.kurims.kyoto-u.ac.jp/~motizuki/Inter-universal%20... " oh, I need some time to accept this is not machine generated :)
bvaldivielso 1 day ago 1 reply      
Ok, I've read [1] that this guy has developed a new set of mathematical objects and techniques which he is (almost) the only one to understand.

That means that if someone wants to check if the proof is right, he'll first have to learn how to use all these objects.

I'll guess we won't have a tested proof for some years.

[1] [SPA] http://gaussianos.com/posible-demostracion-de-la-veracidad-d...

ipince 21 hours ago 2 replies      
This guy's thesis has an approachable explanation of the conjecture, as well as some of the interesting theorems that it implies (including an asymptotic version of Fermat's Last Theorem):


bradleyjoyce 1 day ago 1 reply      
What are the practical applications of such a proof? I'm genuinely curious.
aliz 15 hours ago 1 reply      
Shinichi Mochizuki's homepage is worth a look :)
Mordor 16 hours ago 1 reply      
Is it naive to say these proofs are overly long - that there's something a little simpler behind them?
kzahel 1 day ago 3 replies      
fasteddie31003 21 hours ago 1 reply      
If there is some kind of connection between prime numbers, wouldn't a lot of the current work in encryption be thrown out?
Tough times on the road to Starcraft codeofhonor.com
354 points by phenylene  4 days ago   68 comments top 19
reitzensteinm 3 days ago 1 reply      
The part about hand maintained lists is a common pitfall in game development. When you're trying to push out frames at 60fps, you generally need to be caching quite a lot of values, for example, "Get all units that are moving" or "Get all units from side x".

The absolute best way to handle this is to start off with safe, conservative functions, that don't cache at all - create a list, iterate over each entity, add whatever fits the condition.

Then, after profiling to see what's slow, you hand roll a system that keeps a specific list updated continuously; and then importantly, keep around the old function, and in debug mode compare the lists occasionally (I usually do it every 100th access, so the game is still playable).

After that, you may not know what's causing a cached value to go out of sync, but you can at least know it's happening, instead of getting some of the most convoluted and maddening bugs imaginable. The kind that make you want to take up farming (and I'd be a shitty farmer).

steve8918 3 days ago 6 replies      
I acknowledge Starcraft's dominance, but my personal favorite game of all time was Total Annihilation. At the time (98/99), it was probably the most advanced game out there. I played my cousin across the country over 33kps modem, and we each had 500 units moving around at the same time. With 1000 units total, each 3D rendered, the action slowed down a lot, but it never crashed, and allowed us to play entire games across the country reliably. It was truly a feat of software engineering.

Chris Taylor (the creator of TA) came out with Supreme Commander in 2007, which I bought a new computer for just to play, but I only played it for a few months, more because I got busy rather than not enjoying the game. But both games never seemed to catch on as much as Starcraft 1 and 2 have. I'm seriously considering picking up Starcraft 2 but it's already 2 years old, so I think I probably missed the boat.

jimrandomh 4 days ago 0 replies      
The main takeaway I got from this article is don't mix data structures and application logic. This matches my experience; complex data structures work fine if all the operations performed on them are in one place where they can be unit tested (or at least carefully inspected), but it works very badly if they're scattered or mixed with other things.
soup10 3 days ago 3 replies      
Are AAA games still coded like this? Where you hack your way to the finish line. Or is there more process and things like code reviews?
tsunamifury 4 days ago 1 reply      
Interesting to see how you feel bad about shortcuts you make at the beginning of a project to save time, and later regret them wishing you had done it 'right' to begin with. However the cost of doing it right at the beginning sometimes is greater than the difficulty of hacking to the finish line at the end.
kennywinker 4 days ago 2 replies      
I wish to know more about the "voice-to-phoneme" compressor he mentions. Anyone have any links handy? Google is failing me.
suresk 3 days ago 1 reply      
Interesting read. Reading articles like this makes me wish the sources to some of those older RTSes (Starcraft, Warcraft, Age of Empires) were available to look at - I'm sure there'd be some interesting stuff in there.
jmtame 3 days ago 2 replies      
One thing I always think about is how the code works behind games like Starcraft. I find myself trying to understand the data structures and algorithms behind seemingly simple mechanisms like creep spreading or revealing the fog of war. Are there any other writings like this that talk about the technical side of popular games?
Evbn 3 days ago 1 reply      
Why is isometric pathfinding different from square tile pathfinding? Isometrics is a UI issue, it is still a square grid. Because each tile had non constant terrain? But that just seems unrelated to isometricity.
deathhand 4 days ago 0 replies      
I never knew the importance of Storm.dll but now it makes sense on why it was always corrupted.
latimer 4 days ago 2 replies      
Really interesting read. He mentioned that he'd talk more about the pathing in another post. I hope it will explain something I've always wondered about which is why the dragoon pathing/AI was not so good compared to other units.
wavesounds 3 days ago 0 replies      
I really like this article. I think the dynamic involved in working tons of hours on a project like this is really interesting. On one hand you have peer pressure and pride in your work. And on the other you have code degradation with lack of sleep. I wonder if he feels becoming a VP of Blizzard had to do with or was in spite of the long hours.
TimJRobinson 2 days ago 1 reply      
It's been a while since I coded in C and I'm confused as to how you made a double linked list that can read in O(1) time. Wikipedia has a page in it but even that says it takes O(n) time, does anyone have an example or tutorial on how this is implemented?
j-kidd 3 days ago 0 replies      
The perpetual 2 months deadline is interesting. Is it because 1 month is definitely too short, while 3 months will invoke the wrath of Boss? I think a 2 months period hits the sweet spot where developers feel like they can get a lot done, without noticeably impacting the schedule.
Daniel_Newby 3 days ago 1 reply      
What am I missing about path finding? A simple filter on the nearest neighbors can weed out paths that are too narrow, then Dijkstra's algorithm can find the path. After you find a path the first time, it can seed subsequent rounds for efficiency. So what am I not seeing?
danbmil99 2 days ago 0 replies      
TL; DR: C++ really sucked back then
pixie_ 3 days ago 0 replies      
Great read. I've been there. Write an awesome code base to have someone come along to replace it all with crap.
Kelliot 1 day ago 0 replies      
'so Blizzard wouldn't have a long gap between game launches.'

You've already lost me

d0m 3 days ago 0 replies      
" I plan to write more about path-finding in StarCraft because there are lots interesting technical and design bits."

Please, please do so. I find these articles so interesting.. I'm a Warcraft/Starcraft/Starcraft2 fan and love to see the engineering part of them. Thanks for writing these articles.

A proposal for improving HN : it should cost a user Karma to post slidetocode.com
353 points by steeleduncan  4 days ago   268 comments top 76
bluedanieru 4 days ago  replies      
Am I the only one who hasn't noticed this huge drop in quality that has everyone bitching and moaning lately? The signal-to-noise ratio has dropped slightly compared to when I started reading about four years ago, but this is still a great place for technical discussion. Comparisons to Reddit and other such nonsense are baseless. HN does not need any major overhaul or whatever else. I think a lot of this is just old-timers starting to see the same shit over and again. Try giving it up for a few months, then come back and see if you still feel that way.

One thing that has happened, that I suspect may have ruffled some feathers, is that HN is not the objectivist echo chamber it used to be. This is still a board for entrepreneurs before it is a board for hackers, but some of the more out-there John Galt type stuff will now get picked apart and downvoted, or even just ignored, where before you either clucked your tongue in agreement, remained silent, or donned your flame suit.

pg 4 days ago 3 replies      
You can test how well this would work by collecting a corpus of whatever sort of comments you think HN could do without, and then checking to see how many of those commenters would have run out of karma using whatever combination of initial karma and cost to post you have in mind.

I'd be open to experimenting with charging karma to comment if someone did a study of that type and showed that it would work.

(I realize it's not a perfect test, because people would make different comments if they knew comments cost karma.
But that is a desirable direction to have error in.)

nkohari 4 days ago 3 replies      
My Hacker News account is 1859 days old (just over 5 years). Over those 5 years, I've gone through several stages of my entrepreneurial career.

HN has been there from the time when I just was dreaming about launching a startup, through the gut check when I finally quit my full-time job to found a startup, selling that startup to another company, being fired by that company, and finally joining a friend's startup as CTO. I've changed throughout, and I've seen Hacker News change as well.

The problem I have witnessed with Hacker News is that over the years, it's transformed from a place where civil and intelligent discourse can be had to a place where each comment seems to be made for show. Rather than making solid arguments, each person seems to want to be seen as more intelligent than the rest of the commenters. This phenomena is the reason for what in my opinion is a breathtaking level of pedantry about the most mundane topics.

For example, there was a post on the front page yesterday about scalability at GitHub. It was an interesting and insightful article from a knowledgeable author. The top comment was something along the lines of, "I can't believe they wasted so much time making the UI look this good." HN used to be a place where insightful articles were rewarded with intelligent conversation and debate. What happened?

Another example. Someone launched a site earlier this week involving the sales of hobbyist electronics. The site was definitely interesting, and they experienced a large volume of traffic from HN and Reddit. The top comment? Something along the lines of, "when a startup can't keep its site up, it makes me question their abilities." HN used to be a site where you would be congratulated for launching. What happened?

It's this kind of stuff that has to go. I don't think Hacker News was ever perfect -- and maybe I'm just rooting for the site because of the potential that it has -- but it's definitely gotten worse over the past few years.

As a community, we need to stop the posturing and the pedantry, and get back to civil and intelligent discourse. We also need to act as the site's immune system, and stop promoting content that is clearly written to be seen but adds nothing to the conversation.

forrestthewoods 4 days ago 3 replies      
Any solution relying on karma is doomed to fail imo.

Karma is easy to min-max. I've gotten good at it. Only ~1200 karma but I'm averaging over 10 per post. It's easy with a bit of practice.

None of my comments are particularly good. They typically express a mostly safe opinion in a mild manner. I don't like to make non-root posts as they rarely get upvotes and I hesitate to post in a large thread (like this one) as it's easy to get buried.

I don't even know why I post this way to be honest. I was mostly just curious to see how high I could get my average. The bar to get upvotes on HN seemed really high at first and I wanted to be a good poster. Now I see the road to karma is paved with safe, fluffy comments.

shin_lao 4 days ago 5 replies      
The downward spiral feeling comes from after reading HN for a while, you start to reread the same articles and same comments.

It does not mean HN gets worse and worse, it means you extract less and less value.

tokenadult 4 days ago 2 replies      
From the submitted blog post:

"I have a suggestion for improvement: it should cost Karma to comment, and when your Karma drops below a certain threshold you can no longer comment.

"My reasoning is that the trash comments we all hate are kneejerk criticisms with little thought put into them, which I suspect are largely made for the sake of saying something and collecting Karma."

I agree with the rationale for the proposal here. The bad comments are the comments that pg described in 2011


as "comments that are (a) mean and/or (b) dumb that (c) get massively upvoted."

No one should be upvoting a comment that the current author refers to as "trash comments [that] are kneejerk criticisms with little thought put into them" because such comments fit the definition of comments that are both mean and dumb. If you see something that is mean, absolutely downvote it. It's clear that our site founder and most veteran members of the HN community (and all of the most thoughtful members here, however recently they have joined) don't want any meanness or kneejerk criticisms here, so download comments like that ruthlessly. That's upholding the guidelines.

Dealing with comments that are dumb (in pg's words) or have little thought put into them (the OP's words) is a bit harder, because if I don't have domain-specific knowledge, I may not know what comments are dumb. Wikipedia has its own problems with lots of dumb content, so often looking it up on Wikipedia will only add stupidity to HN. But in threads about subjects I know about, I try to scan for comments that point to reliable sources (that issue is crucial) and otherwise show signs of thoughtful research before posting. Then I upvote comments that I know for sure to be polite, true, and informative (well, I try to do that routinely here anyhow) and I downvote comments that are shown to be dumb by the context of the discussion and reliable knowledge of the world.

We can all do the same, if we can upvote or downvote at all. Some users with accumulated karma can also flag comments that violate the site guidelines.


(To flag a comment, follow the "link" link text next to the comment, which takes you to the specific URL for the comment, and there you will see a "flag" link if flagging is enabled for your user account.)

Basically, every moderation problem on every forum (I have been a forum moderation on one forum or another since 1993) involves someone being willing to take out the trash. It stinks to have to take out the trash, but someone has to do it. If you have upvoting power, upvote the good. If you have downvote power, definitely downvote the mean ("kneejerk criticism") and downvote the dumb ("thoughtless") to the degree you can identify it. If you have flagging power, go to the extra effort of comment-specific flagging for the especially bad comments. But most of all, upvote the good. I have a slogan that I tell my children to help develop their social skills that "no one ever receives enough appreciation." So be generous in upvoting good comments, to drown out the bad.

And thanks for agreeing with pg's statement from last year


that both comments that are (a) mean and comments that are (b) dumb shouldn't gain karma, but rather lose it.

P.S. I see from the other comments in this thread that there is confusion about whether the original blog post, which has the title "A proposal for improving HN - it should cost Karma to comment" is about submissions of new articles or about comments to submissions by others. That appears to be related to the submission title here, which is "A proposal for improving HN : it should cost a user Karma to post" as I type this about an hour after the blog post was submitted as a new submission here on HN. I am only talking about comment rules in my reply here, not about submission of new article rules.

lathamcity 4 days ago 0 replies      
I thought the main problems on HN were

-Linkbait articles rapidly accelerating to the front page while good stuff like questions or Show HN gets lost in "New".

-The slight trend in the community towards vitriol and nasty criticism, which there was a lot of chatter about two or three weeks ago.

In both cases, in my understanding, there's a lot of upvoting of the controversial links/comments from new people with low karma, which is how they're kind of taking control of the community.

I came up with some ideas in the shower about this. First, I thought it might be a good idea to create some logarithmic mapping of karma value to vote weight. The weight wouldn't give the user more karma for being up-voted by a high-karma person, but it would factor into the site's systems. That way, people with more karma have more of an impact on the community.

Second, I thought that the quality of a user's previous submissions should factor into their reputation or something on this site somehow. Maybe HN could look at the trend of votes earned on recent comments and the ratio of downvotes:upvotes or downvotes:views (since controversial comments get upvoted a lot, we want to look at how many times they were downvotes, not the total score since that will probably be very positive regardless of how many downvotes there were) and use that information to somehow affect the user. i.e. if someone is getting a lot of upvotes for mocking someone's project in a nasty but particularly clever way but also getting a considerable number of downvotes, the system should say hey, this guy writes posts that a lot of people don't think belong on our website, and then take action on that somehow.

Note, I'm "new" (198 karma, joined about a year ago) so I may not know what I'm talking about.

mooism2 4 days ago 2 replies      
Comments with so little value that they get downvoted already cost the commenter karma.

Most posts that have not reached the front page yet do not reach the front page at all. Comments on pages that do not reach the front page have much less opportunity to receive upvotes. This proposal risks discouraging comments on submissions that have not reached the front page; since some submissions only reach the front page because of the comments, this would harm HN.

jcr 4 days ago 2 replies      
On the bottom of every page is a clearly defined link for everyone to
make whatever "Feature Requests" they want:


The owner of this site, pg, helpfully provides that thread for
feature/meta discussion, and kindly requests for feature/meta discussion
be placed there.

If you had searched for and read all of the previous meta discussion on
potential HN features, then you'd know your suggestion has already been
proposed many times and debated to death in near endless variations.

The only important question is why you decided to ignore the polite
request of the person who created and pays for this site with your
attempt to grab attention for your feature request proposal?

You probably had good intentions, and were overly excited by your idea,
but you just didn't stop to do the needed homework and think things
through completely. Don't feel too bad, everyone has "Fire Aim Ready"

shanelja 4 days ago 0 replies      
I get frustrated when I post a massive comment on an article which never gets read, I don't believe it would add to the environment of the website to have it cost me 'karma' also, it would effectively take away my inclination to comment on new topics.

I do care about Karma, it's how I know I'm doing a good job, that regardless of my opinion, people agree with my reasoning and the argument I've put forth, I put thought in to my posts, not just posting for the sake of it and it would be a shame to see that go to waste by being penalized before I've even had the chance to be heard.

This aside, I believe that HN doesn't need improving, I'm a long time reader and it annoys me when people seem to see some kind of downwards trend in the content, it's a news aggregation site, in essence, so perhaps this "downwards trend" people seem to be observing is merely the winds changing direction in terms of news.

HN has always been start ups, HN has always been popularity contests between brands and programming languages, the fact that it seems to be consumed these days by Apple-Samsung etc, is because that is what is in the news at the moment, eventually that will change to some other dominant topic and people will claim they are sick of seeing that too.

As I said before, this is a news aggregation site. The sum of all the content in a particular genre is the overwhelming majority of content on here. That only changes when some other trend starts to emerge, until then we have to wait.

For the record, I for one am also sick of reading about Apple-Samsung, but I'm more than content to sift through it to find the quality content which exists on here (not that the content isn't quality coming from Apple-Samsung, just that it is fairly monotonous now.)

kghose 4 days ago 1 reply      
I think we should concentrate on

1. Submitting better articles

2. Upvoting better articles

3. Posting better comments

4. Upvoting better comments

5. Add to the signal

6. Stop worrying about the noise

lifeisstillgood 4 days ago 0 replies      
Over the past few days I have had (mostly) intelligent conversations with people I have never met on JSON, DNA testing in 40,000 years old bones, Scottish independance, and salary needs of contractors.

I simply cannot imagine doing that anywhere else.

And I doubt that any of my comments rate as insightful or beautiful. Yet stopping me making them would have killed those conversations.

I can agree that the submissions seem less interesting than 5 years ago, but the conversations engage me as much as ever, which is fine - HN has changed - it has become more necessary to participate - it is not wikipedia - its not supposed to be a passive read.I have been a lurker here longer than my username, and in the past year it has been noticeable that HN is more like a conference - the interesting stuff happens talking to people in the corridors.

My 2 cents suggestion - hashtag comment threads. Then the best comments, most insightful, most summarising, can be extracted on any given hashtag subject - a living FAQ if you like.

But don't make huge changes - the real stuff is about talking with other interesting people. Thats great - lets not risk it with big unproven changes.

overgard 4 days ago 0 replies      
I have no opinion on this, but I do have a meta thought: I wonder if the "quality" of posts is the wrong way to frame the discussion of trends about a community. As an example, it's linguistically like describing an activity as "fun": it means a lot of different things in a lot of different contexts. For instance, the "fun" of having dinner with friends is a lot different than the "fun" of a roller-coaster, but we use the same word for both even though we're really talking about very distinct emotional states. Same thing with "quality", maybe we shouldn't just talk about if posts are better or worse, but rather what trend they're moving towards (if they're moving at all).

I havent been there in years, and I only ever lurked, but I felt like slashdot came close to getting this right, in that you could rate the qualities of something on various axis (ie funny/insightful/interesting), which made scanning the comments really easy. If I didn't want snark I could skip over that easy enough, whereas if I was in the mood for it I could just go all out reading that.

If I were to notice a trend, I would say the site has moved from being a little bit more positive but echo-chambery, to a bit more critical/negative but with more diversity of opinions. I have no opinion on whether that's better or worse, it just feels like a shift of tone to me.

If I were to make a criticism of hacker news though (and it's a minor one -- I'm still here after all), it's that this community is maybe a little too self-serious, out of a terrible fear of becoming redditesque.

alttag 4 days ago 0 replies      
One of my frustrations about the perceived downhill spiral (as a relative newb, having been here just over a year) is all of the proposals for improving HN which keep making it to the front page, and inevitably spawn the same set of suggestions in the comments.
forgottenpaswrd 4 days ago 0 replies      
Oh, this is the European approach to startups versus Americans:

Make it super difficult to create your company(or post a comment) so only good companies will be created(or good quality comments posted). Right?

In the real wold if you make risk threshold too high, new people do not enter because of fear. That is the reason most of the tech startups in the world are Americans.

In Europe investors will require you to have a degree, if so they will ask you for your experience, if so they will ask you for your business plan, if so they will ask you for market research for your b.plan, if so they will ask you for profits you already have, if so...why the hell I need you if I already have all that?.

iand 4 days ago 3 replies      
Am i missing something? If it costs karma to comment and you have no karma, how are you supposed to earn enough to start commenting again?
steve8918 4 days ago 1 reply      
I think the system at HN works as is, and I disagree with everyone who says that the quality of comments have been "sliding" downwards.

I'm a long-time slashdotter, and a recent reddit convert, and I still think that HN comments have the highest signal-to-noise ratio of any other forum.

Of course you're going to get opinions you don't agree with, and some of them may be harsh, and that's perfectly ok. I haven't seen the type of garbage I've seen on other sites like reddit where they start developing their own inside jokes and a thread spirals off-topic. HN keeps a good job in making sure most topics stay on target.

If we're talking about improving HN, the only minor comments I have are:

1) I wish pg would add collapsing comments on threads, like reddit. Having the ability to collapse comments means that I can exit out of a thread immediately if it starts to degrade in quality.

2) The other thing I would do is not allow throwaway comments to post for 24 hrs. This way you don't get people coming in and shitting all over a thread, and leaving with impunity.

3) As a "nice to have", I wish I could "close" articles on the feed so that more of the 2nd-page articles trickle up to my first page.

robomartin 4 days ago 1 reply      
For the most part HN is far from being in decline. I say this from the perspective of going back to very active participation in various lists back in the days when USENET and private BBS's were your only choices. I've seen a lot, the good, the bad and the ugly.

I do feel that some tweaks here and there could be useful, and I suspect that this is happening on a somewhat regular basis. My own pet peeve is that down-votes ought to cost you something and that down-voting should require a comment. Down-vote comments could be hidden by default so as to not pollute threads too much.

We are all guilty to some degree of adding pollution. This is a group of human beings, not algorithms. It will happen. And this is normal.

As a libertarian and real working entrepreneur who has founded and run several companies, succeeded and failed, I tend to react negatively to very liberal views and views not necessarily rooted in real entrepreneurial experience.

On the political end, some of the younger minds on HN have been politically polluted by the liberal bend of our universities and mainstream media. Until they have a collision with reality they then to simply parrot what was driven into their heads because that's all they know.

On the business end, there are a lot of people posting on HN that have never actually started or run a real business, leased space and equipment, hired and fired, had to deal with the various corrupt liberal labor boards, had to deal with taxation and regulation, the agony of business problems and the exhilaration of business success and a myriad of other real-world forces that a business has to face on a daily basis. Yet, they'll come to HN and think that because they read the internet they understand business.

All of this is OK to some degree or another. As I said, it's human nature and this is a group of human beings.

I like HN and want it to remain a high-quality source of interesting discussions relevant to the tech entrepreneur (and not just about which LISP is better!). I'll do my part and try to refrain from reacting to some of the aforementioned posts unless I can truly add valuable insights. Maybe others should also take a moment to re-examine their behavior patterns and see what could be improved. It's probably that simple.

pmelendez 4 days ago 0 replies      
This is interesting but I am concern that people with no enough karma to post would abandon the account (because would be useless at that point) and starting creating new ones. Or worse, as they could have dummy throwaway accounts for potentially risk comments in which case this mechanism would not achieve its goal of getting better quality post.

However, I think it still would be possible to do something similar, like proportional weights for upvotes and downvotes depending on the karma. Also weighting your posts with your karma could help making to grow faster those posts coming from a reliable user.

We could go even further, making the karma as a rating instead of a linear accumulator and update it using something like an Elo rating system where we could compare the actual score (upvotes points) with an estimate prior score based on the actual karma (pretty close to what happen on chess actually)

I don't know.. I am just writing down some crazy ideas that came to my mind when I read the post. Any insights?

franze 4 days ago 4 replies      
I don't care about (HN) karma, and i believe (a.k.a. untested hypothesis) most HNers don't care about it. In conclusion i don't think that adding / subtracting something most people don't care about will solve ... anything.
Claudus 4 days ago 0 replies      
I have been reading HN for years, and I disagree with the premise that there is a "downward slide". For people like me, it might be helpful to provide some sort of evidence to support your claim.

The solution you are proposing also would silence users accounts permanently without any chance for redemption, those users would become disaffected and resentful, and with the trivial nature of account creation here, might cause new problems.

HN is a community, and I think a system that promotes corrective behavior (like the current one) works best when it exerts negative social pressure for "bad" posts and helps new users integrate themselves into the community.

If you've ever seen the movie "Hackers", the character "Joey" is a total noob, and the other characters are constantly giving him negative feedback when he does something stupid, eventually he learns a few things and becomes more useful.

ForrestN 4 days ago 0 replies      
If everyone who made a big pronouncement about HN's sad demise instead submitted a great article, went through and up-voted every story and comment they thought was interesting, and left some thoughtful comments, we would probably be in much better shape.
deveac 4 days ago 0 replies      
A thought on requiring Karma to post:

What is the point? Looking at it, the idea implies a requirement where a scarce resource is depleted in order to contribute.

The hopeful goal is that quality of contribution goes up, since you are spending a scarce resource.

In order for this to matter at all and drive behavior, the amount of that scarce resource required to be spent must be significant enough to matter, -or non-trivial (what that amount is I don't know, but that is immaterial).

Here is the problem:

While the goal is changing posting behavior for the better, this system might have unintended consequences that have the opposite effect. Users may just start posting lowest common denominator (Hacker News version of it anyway) posts in order to just snag upvotes so that they always have plenty of karma to post. Essentially, it could encourage "karma-whoring" posts, and comments across the site could devolve in the aggregate if this behavior is adopted in any significant amount.

We all know about certain other social sites and the kind of chaff karma-farming brings in. HN mitigates this my keeping karma hidden among other things. This idea though, seems like a different mechanism that could easily encourage that behavior.

andrewljohnson 4 days ago 0 replies      
I think part of a perceived drop in quality is that the older forum members have been there, and done that.

I caught a glimmer that HN might be getting good again the other day. There seems to be a surge in article about how to be an entrepreneur, while balancing family, new children, and a real, adult life. Those topics are much more interesting to me these days than articles exhorting me to get things done.

blhack 4 days ago 0 replies      
Is this where we compare slashdot ids, I mean measure account sizes I mean account ages against each other?

If you don't like the quality of stories on HN, you can change it. Go out and find/write good content, then peruse the submit button.

crusso 4 days ago 0 replies      
I propose that HN hold a contest a la Netflix whereby identity-sanitized user activity is made available for various parties to run algorithms on in order to improve the general quality of comments and articles.

Basically, the contest metrics would be:

* Given ALL identity-sanitized user activity
-> Predict the average voting behavior of individual users.

I've watched online forums deteriorate for almost 3 decades now. It's a shame to see HN following the same pattern of trolling, populist reputation seeking, post-spamming, account spoofing, and just generally immature behavior.

jmsduran 4 days ago 0 replies      
Personally, I like the idea of an "HN playground" of some sort: a series of mirrored HN sites, where each attempts to implement and test a different/new community mechanic.

Whether it be having to spend karma in order to post or some other scheme, I think it certainly would be interesting and allow people to tweak and provide feedback at a more massive scale.

rlt3 4 days ago 3 replies      
The problem, as with all great communities, seems to be the abundance of new users and, thus, the widening of scope on submissions and comments.

To me, it seems obvious that to improve HN, the community needs to stop expanding as much and get its main user base back to a niche.

The only tried and true method (that I know of) would be to follow Something Awful and start charging for an account. Something trivial, like $2, would be fine.

Of course, this will never happen. This isn't really something I want to happen, but, to me, it seems to be the only way of limiting the user base in an effective manner.

justjimmy 4 days ago 0 replies      
This was discussed a while back as well

And my thoughts
"Here's an idea:
Have karma and voting tied together. Your Karma is basically how much votes you get to give.
If someone makes a good post, people upvote it, spending their precious karma. The person made the post, collects the karma and and they can use it to vote other posts.
We can limit karma by having new users start off with 0. And they only way they can vote/get karma is to contribute positively with quality articles/posts.
Now it works the other way too. Make downvoting take away karma of the OP too, thus making people put more thought into their posts. The downvoting action will cost a vote, so people don't running around downvoting everything without thinking.
Basically let Karma/Vote be a resource that can be used to promote positive contribution and dissuade useless contributions.
The tricky part is balancing the karma in the whole system. Downvoting siphons votes/karma from the system, we need a way to introduce additional karma/votes into the system. Maybe a monthly replenish method where say everyone gets 10 votes each month. But in order to qualify for the monthly bonus, you must first contribute enough (get the up votes) past a certain threshold (say 100 upvotes to your posts/contributions)."

EdiX 4 days ago 0 replies      
> This way comments with so little value to the community that they are ignored completely or just downvoted would reduce the commentator's Karma

If a comment gets downvoted the user already loses karma on it, does it really matter if you award one extra karma penalty point? And given that downvotes are free above the threshold I don't see how a comment that adds very little value would not get downvoted by someone, I think that comments that get no downvotes and no upvotes aren't inherently malevolent.

> My reasoning is that the trash comments we all hate are kneejerk criticisms with little thought put into them, which I suspect are largely made for the sake of saying something and collecting Karma.

If collecting karma is the reason they are made not getting any upvotes would already be a deterrent, no?

IMHO this suggestion makes no sense, all it does is deter people from posting on long threads, because few people tend to read those and posts there often end up with no upvotes or downvotes, and to comment articles with many comments, because the pages after the first one are effectively inaccessible.

But I also think that Hacker News has been improving in the last year, so we probably disagree. What I would fix is the "new" page, which is getting filled with trash and too fast moving, decoupling submission karma from comment karma would help. Requiring a minimum comment karma to submit entries would help a lot too and it would single-handedly kill spambots too.

pinaceae 4 days ago 0 replies      
To actually argue about the proposal at hand:

- It amplifies the echo chamber. Only if people like and agree with me, I'll get points. Only with points I will be able to post. Loop here.

- It punishes lurkers who only once in a while see the 'need' to comment. Not every comment gets up- or downvotes.

Want to 'improve' HN? Instead of this navel gazing post, why not post something worthwhile?

grandalf 4 days ago 0 replies      
There are always ebs and flow. The community is less niche now than it was a few years ago, so naturally the ratio of stores on the front page to stories I choose to read has gone down a bit.

But I still find that there are many exceptional comments and so even though I now consume a smaller percentage of overall daily content than I did a few years ago, I don't think the quality of the content I consume via HN has gone down at all.

There are occasionally threads that appear to have no interesting comments in them, and those are usually the sort of vapid, TechCrunch stories or tabloidesque personal interest stories that many of us find annoying.

For what it's worth, I also find it annoying to read weak technical blog posts written by people who are clearly just trying to generate blog traffic and don't really have anything interesting or motivated by a real startup problem.

markmm 4 days ago 0 replies      
I am new to HN and I think the board's post are high quality compared to some other boards. One issue I have is that it can be too serious and void of humour. I assume the blogger of this article needs to lighten up a bit.
kwamenum86 4 days ago 0 replies      
Have to disagree.

This has already been mentioned elsewhere but comments with little value are already penalized when people downvote them.

If you notice more crap comments that aren't being downvoted that's because a) the community standards are changing and b) there's no good way to penalize all crap comments anyway - some will slip through the cracks. And as a result of b) great comments will slip through the cracks, which means people will lose points needlessly even when they're not trolling.

I'm not saying your proposal wouldn't have an impact on trolls. But there would likely be an awful lot of collateral damage.

nirvana 4 days ago 0 replies      
It should also cost a karma to downvote someone else, maybe two. Upvotes would remain free.

This way downvote might go from "I disagree with your well reasoned contribution" to "this person isn't contributing to the discussion."

silvestrov 4 days ago 0 replies      
It is difficult to restrain users from posting too often when creating new accounts are free: how do you compete with free?

You can't make it worse than creating a new account because then the users will just create a tons of new accounts.

So somehow you need to make account creation "more expensive" to be able to have a working cost/rate-limiting on posting.

mistercow 4 days ago 0 replies      
I think the karma penalty for commenting is not a bad idea, but I think taking away the ability to comment is untenable. As others have pointed out, it's too easy to game by making a new account.

A possible alternative would be to take away voting privileges if the karma score drops too low, but even this should be done as a local drop rather than a global one. Otherwise, established members with lots of karma can slide into mediocre commenting without penalty.

However, if you take away voting privileges for losing karma too quickly, then new users must not be able to vote. Otherwise, once again, it is simply too easy to create a new account when you lose your privileges.

nicholassmith 4 days ago 0 replies      
The people who leave comments that spoil hacker news don't care for karma, they'll just sock puppet to get their way. I don't think there's an especially large issue here, bad comments get down voted to the pits anyway.

Plus getting a down vote is often useful to help keep in the community guidelines.

DanBC 4 days ago 0 replies      
Many of the comments on the "Chinese company uses leaked photos to copy, patent iPhone 5 design" (http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=4487905) were disappointing / annoying / frustrating.

I am being the change I wish to see by not commenting in threads like that.

Visiting NEW and up voting great stories, and flagging garbage, helps. Maybe.

olliesaunders 3 days ago 0 replies      
I'd like little avatar pictures next to poster's names. They are much easier to recognize quickly and introduce an extra level of accountability and identity to posting. I wonder if the reason this hasn't been done is because PG is too busy or it would significantly increase server load.
nhebb 3 days ago 0 replies      
I only have one wish for improving HN: randomly rotate the top comment. As it stands, the discussion usually veers off into a meta discussion around the first comment.

At the time of this posting, the thread is 14 hours old and has 239 comments, so even if HN'ers agreed with me on this point, the odds are they will never see it.

rdl 4 days ago 0 replies      
The main way I'd improve HN is more aggressive moderation of stories -- there are just many which often lead to bad comment threads. Either bounce them off the site entirely, or lock/hide/prevent comments on those stories (like on some job posts).

Right now, the first page of stories are all "good", but often there are 50%+ bad ones.

The other thing would be some way to coalesce multiple stories on the same topic into a single entry -- when Steve Jobs dies, it's nice to have a front page post, but no real need to have 30 of them.

charlieok 4 days ago 0 replies      
I like the custom filters http://hnapp.com/ provides. I have one that sets a point threshold stories must pass before they show up in my feedreader. If the signal/noise gets a little too low, I raise the threshold. Works for me :)
enraged_camel 4 days ago 1 reply      
One (major?) change I'd like to see is requiring the user to post a reason when they downvote something. This would not appear as a reply to the post itself, but rather be available for viewers in a pop-up box when they mouse-over the post.

I think this would really solve the problem with rampant downvoting of things people disagree with (as opposed to downvoting low quality content, which is what it's supposed to be for).

swalsh 4 days ago 0 replies      
This raises the risk of posting even higher. As it is now, if your average comment karma falls below 0, your account is secretly perma-banned from posting. If you're at -1 karma by default, the amount of people who become "secretly perma-banned" will increase significantly. I'm sure that will improve some comments, but I feel we also will most certainly loose out on good posts in the future.
ionforce 4 days ago 0 replies      
All this will lead to is gaming the system by trying to post material which will gain karma, i.e. currying the favor of the majority, vs posting things that are legit interesting. It will bury gems and minority opinion.
e03179 4 days ago 0 replies      
Some HN members know other HM members in real life. You have business or personal relationships with others that also read, post, and comment on this forum. Some of you have never met any other HN member in real life, but do consider some HN members as friends and acquaintances.

I, on the other hand, have met none of you and don't carry on a virtual relationship with any other HN member. I consume your news and up-vote articles that I want to see more of on this forum. And on rare occasion I will post a comment.

All that said, besides PG, I absolutely don't care what the USERNAME is of the original poster.

I do scan the front page to see if there is any article is an extraordinary number of POINTS or COMMENTS. POINTS and COMMENTS are probably 75% of the reason why I click on a link of the front page. And the more comments a link has, the most likely, I will click on the COMMENTS thread before I even read the article. 25% of the time I will click on a link because it contains a keyword (to include the URL snippet) which is in regard to something I care about.

Xcelerate 4 days ago 0 replies      
One trend I've noticed is that my best posts (which normally take 10-20 minutes to write) get much less of a response than witty one-liners.
dgunn 4 days ago 0 replies      
I'm not sure how submissions like this are still showing up so commonly or how they arrive at the top of the list. If ever there was a community of people capable of solving the problem of "improving HN", this is the one. I supply a problem statement and solution below.

HN has problems which seem not to get fixed despite recommendations made to the maintainer(s?). Why? I suspect it's because maintaining HN is one of the lowest priority jobs to the maintainer of HN. The guy is busy! Fixing problems or implementing possible features quickly would have very low ROI to such a person. This isn't to say that he(they?) doesn't care - just doesn't have time because his other responsibilities are actual responsibilities, not a hobby. This is the equivalent of hiring an independently wealthy person to work for your company. The person may really like working for you, but you can't rely on them. They have little incentive to stick around if they get even slightly bored.

Make a new one. Someone make something better. You know where your primary audience lives (here) so you know where to find users. Monetize it in some way so that I know you'll keep working on it. Make it your full time gig. With the number of users you could get, you wouldn't have to ask for much. A donation model would probably pay you a pretty good salary. Be nice to the community and make reasonable attempts to fix the issues they bring up. They'll probably even help you fix them if you need them to.

lignuist 4 days ago 0 replies      
I think all these approaches lead to elitarism and blackhat KEO tactics (Karma Engine Optimization).
Maybe a form of the pretty common the-forum-used-to-be-better-syndrome? :)
epo 4 days ago 0 replies      
Metafilter is on of the very few internet forums which maintains high quality. It costs you $5 to join and if you abuse your membership you will have your membership cancelled without refund or appeal.

It is actively moderated by 'staff' who delete egregiously off-topic posts (and their followups) and you can't post new topics for a week after joining.

Some of this doesn't apply to HN but penalties only work if they hurt. I mean who cares about losing karma? It only appears when someone checks your profile and it confers no advantage whatsoever (that I know of, perhaps I don't have enough).

And really, isn't some of this just people getting old who should have moved on? Like your grandpa going to the bar he frequented years ago but complaining about all these young people and their loud music. Perhaps the complainers should reflect that HN is no longer for them.

What are cost free impediments to trolls and spammers? Impose a time delay between joining and being able to reply, and a longer delay before being able to post new topics.

da_n 4 days ago 0 replies      
I think this could possibly work if HN was a paid-to-post service, even if it was just $1 p/m. The only problem I can see otherwise is this would open the possibility of an underground currency for karma. It might result in user accounts who exist purely for karma collection, getting upvotes from droves of dummy/spam/bot accounts, then posting spam. It would be possible of course to try and detect this, but not trivial I would think to avoid false positives.
EGreg 4 days ago 0 replies      
I personally think this thread is full of great discussion. There is certainly a certain character of pedantry on Hacker News, but that's not necessarily a bad thing in terms of feedback. Compared to a lot of other forums, Hacker News gives a lot of good feedback, and the stories on it have been very helpful to me.

Just my take. I personally don't care about karma on this thing. However, I must admit that I cared a little more when it was displayed! Public reputations seem to do wonders for keeping people well-behaved.

finalcut 3 days ago 0 replies      
I realize I'm pretty late to the game on commenting here. I don't comment often. I've been on HN for 1558 days and have a karma score of 7. But here are my thoughts.

I use reddit for entertainment purposes (for the most part) and I use HN for educational and inspirational purposes. That was why I started using HN and it is still why I do.

Sure, as the community has grown, there have been more comments that add no value - but they are just more obvious now. It isn't that hard to ignore them and to find the meaningful or useful comments.

On the surface the "cost karma to post" idea sounds great - it certainly wouldn't have much effect on me - but I agree with the various others who think it would discourage unpopular but still very useful and (at times very correct) comments.

If the price to pay to get a well rounded discussion is the presence of vapid commentary - then I'm willing to continue to pay it.

utopkara 4 days ago 0 replies      
Why is karma any significant to the quality of a post?

It already costs enough to create a post (in time and effort); if that doesn't have any effect on the quality, it is not clear why an additional cost in karma would make a difference.

HN is not a personalized news feed. If a story has been upvoted sufficiently to float up the ranks, that means there is sufficient community interest in the subject. Given the way HN works and the size of its audience, there is simply no way you can magically fix the posts to fit a particular definition regarding the topic, quality or the tone without strict monitoring; and if you do add admins, etc. that wouldn't be HN anymore.

sageikosa 4 days ago 0 replies      
I often make comments specifically not intending them to be discussed. Some of those might be interpreted by some as sniping a discussion board, but I don't see this as a discussion board, but a comment board with replies.

And I take some pride in being able to condense my thoughts and get my point across without detracting.

mikecane 4 days ago 0 replies      
I wonder how many people here have from time to time pointed to one of their own posts? You'd see that HN has a longer tail than just the one-day front page most people think it has. And this is true for submissions that get many votes as well as for those that get none. So thinking you know what people want is nonsense. You just know what you want.
ta12121 4 days ago 0 replies      
There is no objective system that can deliver guarantees about subjective quality.
lnanek2 4 days ago 0 replies      
Unfortunately, most people vote up what they agree with, not what is useful. I don't want to come to a site to read a bunch of mild wish washy comments by people only saying nice things many agree with, that's a waste of my time.
anamax 3 days ago 0 replies      
One change has been an influx of people who propose improvements. Another is an influx of people who care about karma.

Who, exactly, isn't going to post something because doing so will cost them karma points? (Hmm - maybe discouraging karma-whores is a good thing,)

Or, are you thinking that folks with too little karma wouldn't be allowed to post? Since karma can be earned by clicking arrows, that's not much of a cost.

zerostar07 4 days ago 0 replies      
We should be able to invest on articles with our karma and get dividends when others invest. How about we add article karma options for posting to certain time windows? We could even start lending some karma, then wrap it all and bundle them as sub prime loan backed securities. Let's call it operation karmageddon
TomGullen 4 days ago 0 replies      
How about giving more weight to upvotes from people with more Karma. I'm not sure if all upvotes are currently equal (I suspect they are).
bencevans 4 days ago 0 replies      
Wouldn't that mean there would be loads of crap posted to HN rather than just crap comments?
yxhuvud 4 days ago 0 replies      
I think that this would be a better solution to people submitting new articles. Set a cost for submitting new articles and spam bots will have a lot harder time.

EDIT: Reformulation.

floatingatoll 4 days ago 0 replies      
I'd rather see it cost karma to upvote/downvote. Higher cost for articles, lower cost for comments.
chaffneue 4 days ago 0 replies      
Really all I feel we need to regulate is the blatent keyword/SEO spam and link bait from various online publications. Other than that, I find most of the content on HN hasn't changed all that much from a couple years back when I started reading. There's already a flag button on the interface, but perhaps some kind of spam score or feedback system would help the community point out misleading articles and marketing efforts. I don't know if registered users in the community are the ones from which to demand karma unless they're known to post such links repeatedly.
fjorder 4 days ago 0 replies      
This is actually a pretty bad idea because it would discourage people from commenting on anything but the top posts on the first page. Commenting on something interesting that's 3 pages deep would basically mean throwing away karma unless that post manages to get up-voted, which is never a sure thing. Of course, some good discussion is often what gets good material upvoted! This change, while it might improve comment quality, would drastically impair the upvoting process.
sumone4life 4 days ago 0 replies      
Interesting idea. Instead of simply saying people can't post if their karma is too low you could take the users total Karma relative to 0 and add a sorting feature filter that sorts based that. Only problem is new people would get buried pretty quickly and it may feel like they are trying to get someone's attention from across the room while in the middle of a pack of screaming monkeys. Adding a sort by "new" feature could help new users get their voice heard and voted up or down accordingly. Just a thought.
zedzedzed 4 days ago 0 replies      
The public forum should follow democratic ways... I dont like the idea of costing karmas, when in such public forums, one have full right to speak freely for free...
dschiptsov 4 days ago 0 replies      
It should cost a user Karma to down-vote and up-vote.
joelthelion 4 days ago 1 reply      
How about restricting voting to users with more than, say 100 karma?
agumonkey 4 days ago 0 replies      
I often wish HN turned into a child of c2.org wiki. I won't complain as I don't have the brain or knowledge to help much in the matter.
jre 4 days ago 1 reply      
An alternative solution would be to hide (by default) posts that have no response and that have been made by users with karma below a certain threshold.

It would also be possible to compute the average number of upvotes for each comment thread and show the threads with the most upvotes first.

sigzero 4 days ago 1 reply      
Why? When an article is bad it can be down voted appropriately.
solnyshok 4 days ago 0 replies      
hmm, to fight noise, make every char and click count. If you want to upvote, give up one karma point. Downvote? Minus one point from you too. And, finally, daily word limit, so that people give couple of thoughtful and conside comments.
sycren 4 days ago 1 reply      
I don't want Hacker News to turn into Quora.
Rick Falkvinge: Why free speech is harmed by the ban on child porn falkvinge.net
335 points by pwg  2 days ago   308 comments top 32
crazygringo 2 days ago  replies      
There's a lot of food for thought here, and important points. But in one area, the author completely glosses over a crucial distinction:

> why is it only documentation of sex crimes against minors that are being banned in this way? The lawmen are perfectly fine with a video documenting how a teenager is being stabbed with a screwdriver in both eyes, then murdered. ... why is the ban just related to anything sexual, and not to the bodily harm itself...?

There's a very important reason only documentation of sex crimes against minors is banned -- there isn't a big market for watching videos of murders. Virtually no one is going to go out and film themselves murdering people in order to satisfy a market for those videos.

But the reasoning goes that if child porn is legal, then this will actively encourage more child rape, etc., so that it can be filmed and distributed. Plus, even if we're really good against preventing the actual acts in the US, we're still creating markets for it in other countries, especially third-world ones. So children suffer.

But then there's another argument, that having child porn around is actually better than the alternative -- because potential molesters/rapists are able to satisfy their desire with existing videos. If they don't have the videos, then they go out and commit horrible acts. So, better to stick to the videos.

There are no easy answers.

sudonim 2 days ago  replies      
When I lived in Houston and was buying a house I used a website to look up sex offenders in the neighborhood.

I remember seeing one guy who was in the sex offender database because when he was 19, he had sex with a 17 year old. It made me feel a little uncomfortable. It struck me because I was in my mid 20s and I think we were around the same age at the time.

Something is amiss in a system that punishes him for life and places him alongside men in their 40s convicted for touching toddlers.

droob 2 days ago 5 replies      
I find these edge cases extremely implausible, and counter to the way crimes are investigated and prosecuted. "Possessing cocaine is illegal but IMAGINE IF SOMEONE THREW A COCAINE BRICK AT YOU AND YOU CAUGHT IT!!!"
dsr_ 2 days ago 4 replies      
He has his own counterargument in a note near the beginning:

   But possession of child pornography is a strict liability offense, like possession of cocaine, at least in the entire United States, as well as several other countries. Intent, mens rea, is irrelevant: if you have it, no matter why, you're guilty.

OK, so make mens rea a required element. It's a reasonable reform.

Falling3 2 days ago 0 replies      
As sudonim pointed out, there are some really gross abuses of the whole sex offender system. I've heard of a lot of people that are in there for terrible reasons.

I definitely agree with the author to some extent. We do seem to be inordinately concerned with child pornography. The term pedophile has moved from a psychological disorder to a synonym for child molester. I am fully against real child pornography but there is no good reason to treat the virtual version the same way. I think a good part of it stems from the false assumption that watching X pornography will cause the viewer to wish to engage in X. As usual, fear and ignorance are the favorite legal foundations.

Cushman 2 days ago 5 replies      
Presented as a reductio at the end of the article:

  It's not illegal to film a murder.
It's not illegal to possess a film of a murder.

But one has to wonder: What if it were? What if YouTube had a button for "Report Illegal" that forwarded the video to law enforcement, hid it, and cleared it from your cache? What if people who watched video evidence of a crime and didn't report it to the authorities were treated as just a little bit complicit? What if the media were prevented from broadcasting potentially titillating evidence of crime to the public, but had to leave its analysis up to the professionals?

Can we say categorically that that would be bad for our society?

ot86 2 days ago 0 replies      
I used to work at the abuse department for a large web host and domain registrar. We once received a complaint about an Egyptian forum that was supposedly hosting child pornography. The site was not hosted with us, but we were the domain registrar.

The complainant said that the forum had a secret board where users swapped child porn. They sent several links that did indeed show that child pornography was on the site and domain. However, since we only provided the domain registration, our response to the complainant was to contact the web host.

The complainant replied back with more links. That is when my boss became involved. She had very little experience with dealing with abuse issues, however, she was very vocal about the fact that our company was 'allowing' child pornography. She had us put the domain on "Client hold", which effectively disables the domain, removing the name servers from the registry. Afterwards, she scolded me and my two other colleagues for not taking the correct action (even though we were following our SOP based on our terms of service). Even the owners of the company heard about the situation and were glad that the site was shut down.

A week after, the complainant emailed us to thank us for taking down his competitors forum.

SoftwareMaven 2 days ago 0 replies      
I don't agree with all of his assertions nor all of his reasoning, primarily because I think he completely glosses over any reasonable opinion that is contrary to the viewpoint he wants to present (for example, the relationship between child pornography and child molestation[1]). I think completely glossing over these items is disingenuous and hurts his cause.

This is a difference in degree, only, though, because, even if everything else he said was wrong, this part was not:

Child pornography is horrible and awful from every angle and in every aspect. But it is not dangerous to the fabric of society. Censorship and electronic book burning, however, is.

1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Relationship_between_child_por...

sanxiyn 2 days ago 1 reply      
In http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ashcroft_v._Free_Speech_Coaliti... Supreme Court wrote:

The Child Pornography Prevention Act also prohibits speech having serious redeeming value, proscribing the visual depiction of an idea -- that of teenagers engaging in sexual activity -- that is a fact of modern society and has been a theme in art and literature for centuries.

erikpukinskis 2 days ago 1 reply      
This essay is a great example of sapping an argument of its power through dilution. At various points he argues all of the following:

1) the law is too broad (innocent teenagers)

2) the law is not broad enough (should cover murder too)

3) the wrong judicial standard is applied (strict liability)

4) abridging free speech is fundamentally destructive

These are four totally distinct elements of our legal structure, each with vastly different potential solutions. They are bound only by the fact that they are critiques of the current legal system.

To try and take in all four at once leads to a combinatorial explosion of possible solutions.

If he believes no. 4 then nos. 1-3 are immaterial. And even if he sells you on 1-3, none of those are good arguments for abolishing the law. In the end, the essay loses its power because he is not presenting a coherent critique.

jliechti1 2 days ago 0 replies      
The main points of the article are well-summarized at the end, TL;DR:

"It's not illegal to film a murder.
It's not illegal to possess a film of a murder.
But it's still illegal to murder people.
And it's illegal to initiate a murder for the purpose of filming it.
If you have taken part in a murder and have film of it, the film may be usable as proof against you.
I can't see that Rick suggests anything different here " i.e., I see no suggestions that it should be OK to molest children for the purpose of filming it. That's good."

Monotoko 2 days ago 0 replies      
There are also various countries who have different laws on this kind of thing. It reminds me of an album cover by the Scorpians back in 1976, the original cover is on the Wikipedia page: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Virgin_Killer great album btw) but it was banned in the USA.

In other words, anyone from the USA who clicks that wikipedia page may be committing a federal offence of possessing child porn on their computers (because media is downloaded into the cache from the site.) - crazy right?

toddmorey 2 days ago 2 replies      
I don't agree that the only way to address these edge cases is to entirely repeal the laws rather than reform them. Technology changes, society changes, and the law adjusts. Sure I can imagine myself as an activist working against imprisonment of consensual (but teenage) couples as he describes, but never for outright acceptance of all child porn content.
stratosvoukel 2 days ago 0 replies      
The article raises a lot of valid points. Not all imagery of non-adults having sex are made under non-consensual circumstances, or consumed as means of sexual pleasure. The law doesnt take this under account.

Big tech and media organisations (eg Google or any image or video hosting service provider), process and filter a huge amount of illegal child porn everyday. They even have employees doing this, watching and censoring child porn that is. Isnt watching it, even in order to censor it, according to such laws, illegal? Also while the material remains in the servers, isnt the company liable for possession ?

In Greece for example, the law is rather simple and doesnt cover such cases.

jrockway 2 days ago 0 replies      
I also think you should be able to yell "Fire" in a crowed theater. Not being able to do so might cause someone observing a fire in a crowded theater to keep that information to himself rather than informing others, for fear of prosecution.

(I'm not even sure if I'm being sarcastic or not.)

Cushman 2 days ago 3 replies      
One of few completely valid points the author makes is that there is such a thing as victimless child pornography. In fact, since the advent of webcams, it's probably come to outnumber the bad stuff 10 to 1. Under the law, every time a high-school student texts a nude photo to their beau, they don't just have poor judgment-- they're both felons.

That is absurd, and worth having a reasoned discussion about.

birdcircle 2 days ago 1 reply      
"So imagine a scenario ten years down the road, as you're taking a stroll in the park." .... "WHAM. You are now a criminal, guilty of recording, distributing, and possessing child pornography."

I find this highly implausible. Hypotheticals like this damage the argument. Crimes are caught on camera everyday. Seems to me the crime here (aside form the rape) is to knowingly destroy evidence of the crime, which the innocent strollers in this scenario are supposedly encouraged to do out fear for themselves. I have not thought about this enough to have a strong opinion other than simple gut reaction, but it seems more evidence to support this idea in particular is needed.

hcarvalhoalves 1 day ago 0 replies      

    So, on your lovely stroll in the park, you turn a corner, and to your shock, see a 12-year-old being brutally raped right in front of you.
WHAM. You are now a criminal, guilty of recording, distributing, and possessing child pornography.

That makes no sense whatsoever. The author is completely stretching it to make his point valid. It's unlikely you would be charged by handling proofs to authorities in the first place; and if you do for any reason, a judge can obviously distinguish between possession of pornography and the proof of a crime.

SageRaven 2 days ago 0 replies      
One of the big arguments for banning child porn is that having the material "out there" causes continual anguish to the victim. In fact, victims have been awarded financial damages from those convicted of possession. (Can't find the source now, but I recall reading about the case in the "cybercrime blog").

In my opinion, this whole argument is specious at best. One could argue that making the "Star Wars Kid" viral video (among so many others) illegal would have saved that poor dude some major suffering. Why are things of a sexual nature so special?

One argument for decriminalizing simple possession is the fact that crowd-analyzed investigation at the citizen level is severely hampered. I recall reading an amazing account of the investigation and rescue of the then-8-year-old girl in the "Tara series". A relatively small group of people analyzed the photos, identified paintings and drapes in a motel, which allowed law enforcement to home in on the victim and her captor.

Can you imagine the scope of such investigations if these pics were allowed to be viewed and discussed in a public forum? The power of anon and /b/ could be used for so much greater good than hunting down kids who torture cats.

yason 1 day ago 0 replies      
I bumped into this a while ago and it was an interesting read:


Everyone take it with a grain of salt according to your personal taste, but IMHO it does more than adequately illustrate the point that the concept of child porn, starting from its definition is anything but black-and-white.

goggles99 1 day ago 0 replies      
Please delete this garbage troll article from HackerNews. My children use more logic and intelligence when trying to convince me of something. This is the weakest bunch of BS I have ever read. I think that my 8 year old could poke holes in every single one of the arguments presented. Do intelligent humans really buy a single word of his three reasons why child porn should be legalized. He is clearly into child porn himself. let me say that I started watching porn at age ten, as did most of my friends, and I enjoyed it. I actively sought it out and kept seeking it out (as I still do).

Let me sum up (for those of you who could not stay awake through all the waste of bandwidth you just spent pulling up that article).

Here are his reasons.

1. The ban prevents catching/jailing child molesters.
He claims that everyone will be wearing Google glass type devices in the future and recording everything so if they see a kid being raped in the park that the rapist will just laugh knowing that they cannot go to the cops because they now posses child porn.

Is he really serious? Yeah cause this happens all the time. I can see my grandma brought before a jury and convicted on possession of kidde porn cause she had her Google glass on during her stroll in the park.

Discretion is used by any DA or investigator. I could never see this happening in a modern society. Even if the prosecutor was a complete buffoon and arrested my grandma for this, no jury would ever convict her and that prosecutor would soon be out of work after the media got a hold of the story. I am sure that (worse case) this would take about one time and the law would be changed slightly to protect my grandma (similar to the now infamous "stand your ground" law). Funny that the author wants to make kidde porn legal and not change the law to be more discretionary (quite an insight into his morives).

2. The laws brand a whole generation as sex offenders.
His argument is that teenagers who have consensual sex sometimes record it and they will be arrested as sex offenders and prosecuted. If this is the case they why has there not ever been a single case of this happening? He is again trying to invent an imaginary problem as an argument for legalizing kidde porn.

3. The free speech war is won/lost at the battle of child porn.
Another joke of an invented reason. Abe Lincoln once said "Your Liberty To Swing Your Fist Ends Just Where My Nose Begins". This is true for the freedom of speech also. Our freedom of speech ends where someone else is violated or their rights infringed on. This has been the pattern throughout the history of our country. This is nothing new. He tries to make a point that we are losing our rights and if we don't make kidde porn legal, we will lose more and more rights.

Clearly a logical and convincing argument by the upright and honorable MR. Rick Falkvinge... hahaha

I actually am really disappointing to find such tripe floating around here, I really am.

ricardobeat 2 days ago 1 reply      
> two seventeen-year-olds who have eyes for nothing in the world but each other making consensual passionate love [...] trying to see it makes your eyes well up with tears from joy

That's way more creepy than I expected. I don't think I want to hear this guy defending CP any longer...

Also, comparing "rape and CP" to "murder and jaywalking" is inane. He is implying that CP is a petty crime.

Derbasti 2 days ago 0 replies      
One: This stuff should be called "documented abuse of children" and nothing else.

Two: Documented abuse of children is a MacGuffin, not an end.

sidcool 2 days ago 0 replies      
I saw Sergey Brin's pic in that article and flipped. Then upon reading the image description felt relieved.
goggles99 17 hours ago 0 replies      
Please explain to me how legalizing kidde porn would reduce the amount of kidde porn?

Using this same (genius) logic. We should allow the willful purchase, transfer and use of counterfeit bills, but keep the actual counterfeiting illegal. THAT should fix the problem right???

How could any government implement a law to not allow creation of something, but allow it's sale, possession and use? This is not logical.

Anyone who supports this article is too self diluted by a twisted ideology to see the plain logic of why this whole argument is ridiculous.

goggles99 1 day ago 1 reply      
This makes me sick. It has been conclusively proven that pornography can be harmful to families and relationships. Would child port be better somehow. This is only the first part of why this is so sick. The second being that there would be a legal market for kidde porn? How could this help kids in any way?
sunnysunday 2 days ago 1 reply      
Some time ago, thanks to a tip on HN, I was listening to a interview with Stanley Kubrick recorded in the 1960's in New York. He's a genius in the opinion of many, myself included, so I was happy for the tip. This is what makes HN worth reading.

In the interview, one of the films that was mentioned a few times was Lolita (1962). This is one Kubrick film I have never seen. So I did a little research on it.

It's based on a novel from 1955 by Vladmir Nabokov. It just so happens this is one of best-selling novels of all-time, in the "50-100 million copies sold" bracket, according to Wikipedia.


It's also listed as one of the best novels of all-time on the Random House web site. Top 5 I think. I believe it was also selected as on of the best books of all-time in a survey of a book club in Norway, if my memory is correct. But don't take my word as fact. Check these sources yourself; they are linked from Wikipedia.


What is the subject of the book? That's left for the curious reader to discover. You might be surprised. I certainly was.

Remember, this book was published in 1955.

Also, though I might not thnk highly of the "messenger", the message in this thread about the "market" for videos of murder was thought-provoking. There was a terrible film about five years ago about this subject, starring Diane Lane.
The film is centered around the Hollywood's version of the internet, so it's a little painful to watch. But the whole premise of the film was the most disturbing. Why was this film even made? And why the heck does Diane Lane want to star in it?

Then there's the recent story of a young person who worked as an independent contractor reviewing uploaded content for Google (Picasa, YouTube, etc.). From the sort of things he was exposed to, he ended up needing psychological treatment.

No one should have to watch this stuff. But even more important, no one should _want_ to watch this stuff. The question is: Why do people want to watch violence and murder?

Maybe we should as Arnold whatever his name is, the Terminator.

Hypocrisy abounds.

roguecoder 1 day ago 0 replies      
If this is the case, maybe the problem is free speech. Perhaps we should stop valuing free speech over individual safety.
xwowsersx 2 days ago 1 reply      
Some reasonable points here, but I think there is one very solid argument in favor of making possesion of child porn illegal (and also explains the sense of applying strict liability here): if mere possession is illegal then demand is reduced. Effectively, the legislation aims to destroy the market for child porn thereby preventing abuse/exploitation of children.

There's definitely room to debate whether illegalizing possession will actually curb demand, but assuming that it does, it seems to me to be a pretty strong argument.

maked00 1 day ago 0 replies      
Sorry but the pro arguments are rather silly and far fetched.
The last time I checked witnessing a crime is not a crime.
Child Porn is just wrong. There is no legitimate reason for it to exist. It is taboo for a number of reasons, not the least of which is is perpetrated against defenseless children.
ThePherocity 2 days ago 7 replies      
I hope he gets hit by a truck today. I really do. There isn't, nor will there ever be an argument where the enablement of child molestation and rape is acceptable. And if there is collateral damage, then so be it. I'd rather 100 go to jail wrongfully accused than to enable 1 child to be rape. This guy make me sick. Seriously Rick, please kill yourself.
guard-of-terra 2 days ago 4 replies      
The real problem is not the child porn.

The real problem is "morals", "christianity" and "religion".
Only by slaying these you can fix the problem in the long run. So:

- If you happen to be religious, quit it right now please.

- Press everybody to do that.

- If you find yourself pressing your "moral values" on somebody over, quit.

- Press everybody to do that.

It's pointless anyway since gods aren't real. And your moral values likely aren't very moral in the end.

(The main problem - most of people who is affected by this issue aren't on HN; most of people on HN aren't affected)

Blizzard is secretly watermarking WOW screenshots ownedcore.com
321 points by mike_esspe  11 hours ago   84 comments top 21
citricsquid 11 hours ago 0 replies      
Some speculation in the thread about whether or not it's JPG artifacts, but if you make it to the 2nd page (post #21) someone included some information proving it's intentional: http://www.ownedcore.com/forums/world-of-warcraft/world-of-w...

Edit: Page 6 includes confirmation from a (supposed) Blizzard representative that this is for NDA leak tracking: http://www.ownedcore.com/forums/world-of-warcraft/world-of-w...

ChuckMcM 11 hours ago 4 replies      
We'll add this one to copier watermarks, printer watermarks, and fax machine watermarks.

So your account id and realm is available as a watermark in the screen shots, what nefarious problem does that cause? (I can imagine it helps identify griefers and people who cheat and brag)

sabalaba 10 hours ago 1 reply      
One reason Blizzard would do this is to combat RMT + selling your account to a third party. All they would need to do is set up a crawler on eBay or any other website where somebody has posted a screenshot of their account for sale, then dole out a warning / suspension / ban.
nitrogen 10 hours ago 2 replies      
I'm growing increasingly tired of technology being used by the large to monitor the small. I'd like to see an RFS from YC for companies that use data mining, machine learning, etc. to the advantage of the individual.
cousin_it 8 hours ago 1 reply      
So it looks like Glyph Lefkowitz's "extremist" opinion on software ethics http://glyf.livejournal.com/46589.html was completely right. When a program does something the user doesn't want, the programmer is in the wrong. Programmer is to user as lawyer is to client. We need a recognized and binding way for programmers to submit to this code of ethics.
kibwen 10 hours ago 2 replies      
'in order to avoid any further watermarking, type: /console SET screenshotQuality "10" which will set the quality of your screenshots to the maximum and create screenshots that do not include the watermark.'

If this was nefarious, I doubt they would give you such an easy way to disable it. Though I am curious what the default value of screenshotQuality is.

In any case, steganography remains awesome, as ever:


andrewljohnson 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Secretly seems a little strong... is there any sort of effort to cover this up, or did they just not mention it in the patch?

I don't fault them for not mentioning it in release notes - if I make a change to my apps that the user won't notice, I don't mention it in the release notes.

To the extent that they introduced a security bug, they should admit it and fix it. But that's a technical lapse, not a moral lapse.

hcarvalhoalves 8 hours ago 2 replies      
Clever, although I believe it's unethical.

It starts like this. How far from the day companies do this with the images you take with your mobile, with the videos you stream, etc.? The world will turn into a DRM fest.

zwdr 10 hours ago 3 replies      
The only problem here is that Blizzard didnt encrypt the information in the screenshots. I can understand why they would embed this info, and 9/10 of those cases are ethically sound, but I wouldnt want some random skiddies get this information.

So why wouldnt they encrypt it? Not enough space?

ericcholis 8 hours ago 1 reply      
Being a former player, I can think of some good uses for this technology.

1) Automatically attaching image galleries to the Armory* profile of characters based on account id

2) Easy to give credit to players providing screenshots for Blizzard run contests

3) Opens the Armory API a bit more

Obviously, these can all be exploited due to the "openness" of the screenshot format.

*For the WoW illiterate: The Armory is a public database of player's characters, items, achievements, etc...

debacle 11 hours ago 1 reply      
Very interesting technology. Would be cool to see this put to good use. It's a lot easier to get someone to post a screenshot than it is to get them to email a dump.
markszcz 10 hours ago 2 replies      
Curious question here: If you take the screenshot you get from WOW and open it up with photoshop/gimp/paint and save it now as PNG or different format, would it be possible to degrade the quality of the dots rendering it useless to be tracked?
yen223 11 hours ago 5 replies      
Why would Blizzard want to watermark their own screenshots?
makmanalp 11 hours ago 1 reply      
I can see this being partially helpful when verifying that in-game screenshots have not been tampered with (for example. for support, when you claim you had an item and it disappeared etc), but I don't know if there are that many copies of it duped across the image.
rtkwe 8 hours ago 0 replies      
I don't see the huge issue here. There's no real private information given by this, it's just character name and realm.
jc4p 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Is it just on my machine or does every single part of that web page start off a Amazon referral pop-up to Mists of Pandaria on click?
talloaktrees 2 hours ago 0 replies      
Not sure whether to be upset about this or proud of the technical achievement
lostlogin 6 hours ago 0 replies      
He give instructions on how to find the watermark. Am I missing what you mean?
mike-cardwell 6 hours ago 0 replies      
Textbook example of why proprietary software is bad for users.
zdouglas 10 hours ago 2 replies      
I find the title inflammatory and ignorant; I would downvote this if I could.

While I applaud the tenacity in prospecting and divulging the methods at which Blizzard has employed to create such "tracking" "watermarks," I highly doubt this is to discourage or indict anyone. Quite frequently, screenshots are used during support requests.

As the author states, "we [...] verified that there is no pattern included in high quality screenshots." I find this highly suggestive that Blizzard was rather interested in an easier way to debug their program, and the mode slipped out in production.

There's a work around, please remove your tinfoil hats.

p_sherman 10 hours ago 0 replies      
All speculation, guess work, no external sources, no reproducible results.

Paranoid stoners is my guess.

Tell HN: Login to unsubscribe is against Federal Law
295 points by bound008  2 days ago   105 comments top 32
dkokelley 2 days ago 3 replies      
I have a simple rule for email that I don't want. If there is a way to easily opt-out (clicking a link, replying with "unsubscribe", or (in rare cases) filling out my email address on a form) I will do that. I should also set a rule for that sender saying "opted-out" so I can know if they aren't respecting that. If I can't do any of those things, I mark it as spam and move on. I don't care about the negative impact to your future emails by getting spam reports in Gmail. It doesn't concern me. Let me unsubscribe easily and legally.
nlh 2 days ago 3 replies      
To product designers: In practice, you should really avoid using the "sending a reply email message" part. Especially these days when people have multiple email addresses, it can very quickly break down.

This happens often to me:

* Get email that I'd like to unsubscribe to

* Look for unsub info -- directed to "reply to this email" or, almost as bad, "enter your email address"

* Follow instructions

* Receive notice saying "Sorry, the email you entered [sent from] is not in our database"

Well thanks. We've gotten nowhere.

So the right way to design this should be a simple unsubscribe link w/ a unique token that executes the request upon clicking.

At worst, you can do what Constant Contact does and require the email address to be entered, but still provide a hint (i.e. "a....c@gmail.com"). This is still somewhat annoying, but I understand why they do it -- it likely reduces net unsubs since there's a second step involved. Pushing it, but thinking as a business owner as well, I get it.

andrewljohnson 2 days ago 3 replies      
In the last few days, I have been imagining an ethics pledge for start-ups.

I think start-up culture tends to be a bit unethical - we favor expedience and results over rules and regulations, and that's generally correct, but also leads us into murky territory.

The most important guideline might be this - build a company where you'd want to have any of the jobs, and where you'd want to be a customer. But specifically:

1) never send someone an email without explicit opt-in (make them check a box, don't start spamming just because they registered).

2) make it easy for a user to delete themselves from your database, entirely

3) make it easy for a user to port data elsewhere

4) don't make up fake email personages, or otherwise overtly lie to your customers

5) don't use misleading numbers for marketing or fundraising

6) give employees warning and/or severance when you plan to fire them

7) don't discriminate based on gender or sexual preference, even though it may be legal for small companies to do so in your locality

8) if you store financial or sensitive data, make security a priority

barredo 2 days ago 0 replies      
European law:

    When the email address is obtained in the context
of the sale of a product or service, *the natural
or legal person may use the email for direct
marketing of its own similar products or services
provided that customers clearly and distinctly are
given the opportunity to object, free of charge and
in an easy manner*, to such use of electronic contact
details when they are collected and on the occasion
of each message in case the customer has not
initially refused such use.


georgemcbay 2 days ago 1 reply      
If I wind up on some mailing list and there isn't a very easy way to unsubscribe via link right in the email, I immediately and without guilt mark the mail as spam in my gmail.

I recommend everyone else do the same and if everyone did I think the fear of being put on gmail's global blacklist for spam would be a far more effective deterrent than the laws alone.

vm 2 days ago 2 replies      
What legal recourse do consumers have against companies that violate this?

LinkedIn and GetGlue both require logins to unsubscribe, so I mark their emails as spam and filter directly to trash. It works, but philosophically it still pisses me off...

jrallison 2 days ago 0 replies      
The CAN-SPAM law makes a clear distinction between “commercial electronic mail message” and “transactional or relationship

In most cases, if an email isn't commercial in nature, it's excluded from the CAN-SPAM requirements. Now, whether or not it annoys your users is another discussion...

One relevant excerpt:

"These requirements do not prohibit transmission of “transactional or relationship” content. Even if a recipient opts out of receiving messages with a commercial primary purpose from a particular sender, that sender may continue to transmit other types of messages. Therefore, recipients who invoke their rights under the opt-out mechanism required by CAN-SPAM will continue to receive valuable “transactional or relationship” messages. This is important because transactional or relationship messages are communications that Congress has determined to be per se valuable to recipients."

rickdale 2 days ago 2 replies      
This is how linkedin does it. They created an account for me then started blasting me with emails. When I try to unsubscribe I have to login. Almost want to shoot myself every time I see a stupid linkedin email. How can I login to an account I didn't create?
kordless 2 days ago 2 replies      
I read Section 316.2(o) " Definition of “Transactional or Relationship Message”. It would appear I'm allowed to tell you about software updates, forgotten passwords and the like without including an opt-out link. These are termed transactional or relationship
messages and are excluded from the definition of commercial electronic mail messages.

By that logic, It would seem I'm also allowed to make you login to change the settings by which I notify you of these things. While it would be nice of me to provide such functionality to my site, it does not appear I am not obliged to do so under law.

pestaa 2 days ago 0 replies      
Thank you.

Not only illegal, it is downright rude to establish gatekeepers like a login box to avoid getting me off that important newsletter.

Given any mail with this characteristic I will gladly report it as spam in the hope that the next guy won't have to deal with it.

lancewiggs 2 days ago 0 replies      
Somewhat obvious, but the law should be the last port of call for advice. The real plea is to do the right thing by your customers. If they don't want your email then let them escape instantly. It's then more likely they will have a good feeling about your company for any future interactions or reccomendations.

How are we, for example, feeling about Linked In these days?

Kudos 2 days ago 0 replies      
I filed a formal complaint to the FTC last year for Beatport doing this after complaining about it to them and essentially being told to fuck off.

Their emails still arrive and get filtered to my trash. They're still in violation with no simple way to unsubscribe.

saurik 2 days ago 1 reply      
To verify: the ramification of these rules is that for any service that you do not pay for, if I know your email address, I can disable your service (as the bare minimum security requirement for such would have the service at least add a large random string to the emails it sends you, which would be information you would need to opt out that they are not allowed to require).

(FWIW, I'm all for following laws that already exist, including this one, but frankly this was a stupid law to enact: spam is not a serious problem, and spam from a single specific bothersome recipient--the only kind this law could possibly affect--was never a problem (or at least hasn't been since the invention of the killfile, something that I am pretty sure predates my birth). What needed regulation was real physical mail--the kind that causes nearly infinite paper trash--and yet that seems to largely be ignored.)

PCheese 2 days ago 3 replies      
It's not just startups. Why does Google get away with this with their "Name Here wants to chat" invite emails? I have an address that at this point must have received hundreds of these emails, none of which have instructions on how to block them. Partial example: http://cl.ly/image/3y3D0f2r0W0q
mmanfrin 2 days ago 0 replies      
Thanks for posting this -- I've been getting email from companies that are requiring login to change email settings, but the inconvenience of getting spam is less of an inconvenience than tracking down my password for this random site. I've emailed saying that it was probably against a law, but I didn't know which law specifically.
julianz 2 days ago 1 reply      
Excellent point. I'm currently working through a mountain of email from a hideous sounding site called Meet Me that somebody's subscribed to using my Gmail address. Not only can I not unsubscribe from the site, I can't even report it to them on their "identity theft" page using my address because it detects that it's in use by a supposed existing member and bounces me to a login page. My only strategy now seems to be to wait out the period until the subscription auto-expires because the email address hasn't been confirmed. Meet Me can die in a fire.
TomGullen 2 days ago 1 reply      
Facebook's 'Daily Credits Report' breaks this rule. I can't find anywhere to unsubscribe from these 2 daily emails! Anyone else suffer this?
Tyrannosaurs 1 day ago 1 reply      
Has anyone else noticed an increasing instance of mails that have an unsubscribe link, which takes you to a proper unsubscribe page but when you click on it you get an error.

The joy I suspect of ignorant bug prioritisation - seen by some as no big deal where in fact it means that the organisation is violating both US and European law as well as causing brand damage (either of which would usually make a bug priority 1 in any normal organisation).

tlogan 1 day ago 0 replies      
And this is one more reason not to use software which is free.

From customer perspective: If you are using something which is free then they will try to SPAM you as much as it is allowed by law.

From company perspective: If you ran a web service (SaaS or something) and you have "free-loaders" using your service, they will mark as spam all your legitimate emails.

borplk 2 days ago 1 reply      
I wish the law was this strict for physical mailbox junkmail too. I receive way too many advertising materials in my tiny mailbox. I have to dig through a pile of unrelated advertisements to find maybe one letter addressed to me.
kennywinker 2 days ago 0 replies      
Off the top of my head, LinkedIn and GetSatisfaction do this.
philfreo 2 days ago 1 reply      
Quora is (or at least was, recently) annoyingly in violation of this, requiring a login (which is difficult on mobile devices when you use something like 1Password
autophil 2 days ago 0 replies      
That's why I immediately flag the email as spam when I see that - even if I know for a fact I signed up for the emailer.

More people need to do this.

fourstar 2 days ago 0 replies      
Now if only I can figure out how to evade the spam box with my legitimate unsubscribe link that I generate based off of a uniqueId and append to mydomain/unsubscribe/$code without having to use a relay mail server such as sendgrid of AWS route 53 :\
krickle 1 day ago 0 replies      
I feel we are like friends who never met. Is there a way to sue or force prosecution of those who violate this rule?
pav3l 13 hours ago 0 replies      
Does anyone know of a similar law in Canada?
buzzkillr2 2 days ago 0 replies      
http://www.ls1gto.com breaks this rule.
sunnysunday 2 days ago 2 replies      
Why do they ask you to login first before you can unsubscribe?

The answer to that question might be enlightening.

repoman 1 day ago 0 replies      
Big deal, sir.
fogol 2 days ago 0 replies      
dvsfsvs dfyvdvrdc;.dcsfgzxexsxffdvt.
fogol 2 days ago 0 replies      
fogol 2 days ago 0 replies      
The Linux Graphics Stack mecheye.net
276 points by Adrock  5 days ago   38 comments top 7
antihero 5 days ago 3 replies      
Absolutely fascinating.

Some questions...

Would this mean that window managers themselves would have to be re-implemented in order to support the Wayland protocol?

Is anyone working to create a non-reference optimized implementation of libwayland?

Have the Wayland developers said anything about supporting multiple monitors yet?

exDM69 5 days ago 3 replies      
> While it's very apparent that X is going to go away in favor of Wayland some time soon...

Isn't it a bit early to be saying something like that? While I hope that Wayland will succeed, it has an equal chance of ending up as vaporware.

loudmax 5 days ago 8 replies      
I can understand that Wayland does not want to pay for the complexity of network transparency, but I'd be sorry to see it go entirely. I'm one of the few people who do make use if X11's network transparency on a regular basis. Being able to open a web browser on a machine that is several ssh hops away is awfully convenient. I hope that Wayland has some provisions for reproducing or emulating X11 even if it isn't built into the core.
outworlder 5 days ago 0 replies      
Now, this is the sort of article I want to see on Hacker News. Excellent read.
randallu 5 days ago 3 replies      
I wish that unoccluded or maybe just the frontmost window could be unredirected too, even if it's not fullscreen. The decorations and shadow could still be drawn in the Compositor Overlay Window.

I work on Linux on a program which is entirely drawn by OpenGL (I target ARM devices, but I test on the desktop before doing an ARM build). Application GL performance suffers immensely under a compositor, so on most machines I can't use GNOME3 (though I would like to). On machines where I get acceptable GL performance in my app, vsync is broken so there is constant tearing.

I'm sure there are some caveats with unredirecting the frontmost window -- like when it becomes occluded it would have to be redirected and that requires a round trip to the client (which might hang, etc), but there are probably other situations like this which the window manager has to deal with already (resize timers?) so maybe there is a way to implement it...

tedunangst 5 days ago 0 replies      
instead of going over the network, they'll go over a UNIX socket, and the kernel doesn't have to copy data around.

This isn't really true. Even if the kernel does cow pipes (on both ends), the writer is almost certainly going to trash the page and cause a fault. The data is just copied around without being bundled into TCP packets.

There is also a SHM extension which does use shared memory, but that's separate and mostly only used for pixmaps and the like.

Avshalom 5 days ago 2 replies      
So wait... Wayland does nothing, makes existing things harder and requires the Linux ecosystem to greenspun X in perpetuity?
Stanford announces 16 free online courses for fall quarter stanford.edu
269 points by ukdm  2 days ago   62 comments top 16
dhawalhs 2 days ago 7 replies      
Plug: I maintain a list of all the MOOCs over at Class Central - http://www.class-central.com

Here is a list of courses(43 total, 28 new) that start in September : https://plus.google.com/107809899089663019971/posts/4nundLE1...

jackowayed 2 days ago 3 replies      
People without a formal algorithms background should strongly consider taking Algorithms from Roughgarden. I took that class from him, and it's a great class that he teaches spectacularly. Great for the self-taught hackers whose coding skills lag their formal knowledge of some of these quite-useful techniques.

I'm probably taking Networking and Machine Learning for credit. I'm excited that McKeown is teaching networking for the first time since I've been around (not sure if he ever did). He's done some really interesting networking research and usually teaches the more advanced networking class, which I've heard great things about.

crag 2 days ago 0 replies      
As a man of 48 years who does not have the time to "head" back to class I LOVE all these courses. The receptionist in our office (she's 52) is taking the Sustainability course on Coursera. That's a wonderful thing. I've already taken the Cryptography course.

You may think it's only the younger generations benefiting from this trend in education. I assure you, it is not. :)

chris_p 2 days ago 3 replies      
And it's not just Stanford:

* 123 coursera courses from some of the best universities in the world in the next year: https://www.coursera.org/courses

* 14 Udacity classes: http://www.udacity.com/

* 6 edX courses from Harvard, MIT and Berkeley: https://www.edx.org/

Education is changing. About time.

waterlesscloud 2 days ago 2 replies      
I'm sure some folks here did the Technology Entrepreneurship course the first time it was offered.

What was your experience like?

mukaiji 2 days ago 1 reply      
I highly recommend crypto & machine learning. Tina Seelig can also be quite phenomenal but I only attended seminars of hers so can't speak about her full course.
spatular 1 day ago 1 reply      
I've been wondering what's the point of online courses, at least in disciplines, where there are good books available? E.g. you could very well get the same (or deeper) knowledge of AI by reading Russell & Norwig book, or algorithms from D. Knuth books. And text is mostly always is a better format than video lectures.

As I understand, participating in a course will put some pressure to complete most exercises and actually finish the course. You would also get some automated submission checks and could extend CV in the end. Also courses might mention recent discoveries that didn't find their way in books yet. Is that all or I'm missing something?

kentosi 1 day ago 0 replies      
Direct link to the set of courses: http://www.stanford.edu/online/courses/index.html
benaffleck 2 days ago 1 reply      
Are there any decent projects created so far by the 'udacity / OCW' generation? It seems like they should be out in the wild now.
zxcvvcxz 2 days ago 1 reply      
This is great. Looking forward to more advanced topics in Electrical and Computer Engineering. To my knowledge only Coursera provides some of this, with Computer Architecture coming up.

It would be sweet to get some serious Digital Electronics/VLSI and Integrated Circuits courses!

egze 2 days ago 1 reply      
Does anyone know of similar courses for designers?
xwowsersx 2 days ago 2 replies      
I love that Stanford, MIT and others make their education available for everyone online. Unfortunately, I'm finding it really hard these days to follow along with a course, as opposed to following my own pace using whatever other materials. So it's kind of annoying because the courses are pretty current/relevant, but working full-time, etc doesn't always allow for following along with a course.
Kelliot 2 days ago 1 reply      
A question for someone in the know that see this.

Are these qualifications the sort of thing you could include in a CV?

Being only 9 months in my first IT job it looks pretty bare right now, in need of padding.

finkin1 2 days ago 0 replies      
Sweet. Signed up for Startup Boards: Advanced Entrepreneurship
shicky 15 hours ago 0 replies      
How are those with full time jobs managing to find time to take part in these courses?
dylok4200 2 days ago 0 replies      
just as a caution, comic sans should not be used on a resume. LOL. nice stuff.fonts sure do have a personality.
How Google Builds Its Maps theatlantic.com
263 points by bcrawl  5 days ago   109 comments top 15
a3_nm 5 days ago 1 reply      
> An exclusive look inside Ground Truth, the secretive program to build the world's best accurate maps.

Meanwhile, there is another program to build the world's best maps, which is quite the opposite of secretive, involves hundreds of thousands of volunteers around the world, offers public dumps under a free license, and has already outperformed Google for some areas and use cases: http://www.openstreetmap.org/

ChuckMcM 5 days ago  replies      
A lot of people under estimate the investment Google has made in their maps product. That we've got two companies doing that (Apple and Google) is a bit mind boggling.
dclowd9901 5 days ago 2 replies      
After reading this article, I realize now that Watson was this cute thing IBM was working on that they thought was novel, while Google was building machines that think, collaborate and formulate, period. They don't just answer questions: they take data and turn it into something we know how to breeze through.

I am truly astounded by how quickly we are accelerating through this information era.

swalsh 5 days ago 1 reply      
I work for a company in the telecommunications space. We've talked to several car companies about integrating 4g into their on board computers. I'm really excited for this update. I suppose I haven't really noticed how much better navigation has improved until a few weeks ago. Recently I purchased an 09 infiniti with full tech package. The thing that took me back, was how terrible the navigation system has been inside of Boston (a very complex area). I can't remember the last time Google maps has told me something wrong, but this stale nav system consistently get's confused about 1 way streets etc.

What i'd LOVE to see is for Nissan to throw away its custom OS, and replace it with Android... along with that I want google maps (instead of whatever Nissan is licensing). Plus it would be nice to download apps for my car such as a better mileage tracker etc.

civilian 5 days ago 0 replies      
Phew! I worked in one of Google's data-entry offices for the GT team. I've left, but now I can shoot this article to people to actually describe what I did.
n0rb3rt 5 days ago 2 replies      
NAVTEQ has been doing this for 15 years. Google learned it from being their customer for much of that time. But of course they get the credit.
cpeterso 5 days ago 1 reply      
If you are a cartographile, I recommend watching The Beauty of Maps and Maps: Power, Plunder and Possession, two four-part BBC documentaries:


johanbrook 5 days ago 1 reply      
Of all Google's products, Maps is the one I appreciate the most. It got lots of smart features, it's fast, it's got great coverage, and it's easy to use. Truly great work.
7952 5 days ago 1 reply      
Google are only a small part of the spatial data capture world. They provide amazing access to a few datasets and completely ignore others. Location searches are laughably bad unless you are looking for a hotel. They do not even come close to providing comprehensive topographic mapping.
guimarin 5 days ago 1 reply      
I've always thought that the real money in mobile comes from very accurate map data, and very accurate personal position data. that way when you're walking around town, you can 'ask' your phone for directions to eat/shop/whatever, and it can give you a great recommendation ( for a price to local restaurants ). I asked Eric Schmidt if this was a powerful motivator behind the android acquisition, as at the time it seemed like a natural fit, and surprisingly he did not say no. And yes I know that Android was bought 'on a whim, gut instinct' but this is the perfect use case for it.
rburhum 5 days ago 1 reply      
Live edits of OpenStreetMap http://live.openstreetmap.fr/
kalleboo 4 days ago 0 replies      
You really don't appreciate how much great data Google have in their maps until you try to use anything else. Apple have a lot of work to do to get iOS 6 maps on-par (for instance, I still haven't managed to do a successful search here in Japan - I have to carry around an Android phone for maps and train directions)
jilt 4 days ago 1 reply      
Don't miss this part:

'Not to detour too much, but what you see above is just the beginning of how Google is going to use Street View imagery. Think of them as the early web crawlers (remember those?) going out in the world, looking for the words on pages. That's what Street View is doing. One of its first uses is finding street signs (and addresses) so that Google's maps can better understand the logic of human transportation systems. But as computer vision and OCR improve, any word that is visible from a road will become a part of Google's index of the physical world. Later in the day, Google Maps VP Brian McClendon put it like this: "We can actually organize the world's physical written information if we can OCR it and place it," McClendon said. "We use that to create our maps right now by extracting street names and addresses, but there is a lot more there."
More like what? "We already have what we call 'view codes' for 6 million businesses and 20 million addresses, where we know exactly what we're looking at," McClendon continued. "We're able to use logo matching and find out where are the Kentucky Fried Chicken signs... We're able to identify and make a semantic understanding of all the pixels we've acquired. That's fundamental to what we do."'

That is scary. They could read license plates and tie them to addresses. They could read bumper stickers and determine your politics, whether your kid was an honor student at what school, etc.

sebastianavina 5 days ago 0 replies      
basically, they don't care to show their technology, because there is no way another company can develop their technology in the short time, and if some company adventures on it, when they reach google technology, google will be far, far beyond them.

now, that's what i call competitive advantage.

lkbm 5 days ago 1 reply      
> Google is locked in a battle with the world's largest company, Apple

Wait, what? By what measure?

PostgreSQL 9.2 released postgresql.org
260 points by lest  1 day ago   76 comments top 13
craigkerstiens 1 day ago 0 replies      
We've been pretty excited about this release to come for some time at Heroku as its loaded with great features. In addition to the JSON datatype here's a bit of a longer list of features that are pretty noteworthy in the release:

- Allow libpq connection strings to have the format of a URI

- Add a JSON data type

- Allow the planner to generate custom plans for specific parameter values even when using prepared statements

- Add the SP-GiST (Space-Partitioned GiST) index access method

- Add support for range data types

- Cancel queries if clients get disconnected


- Add a tcn (triggered change notification) module to generate NOTIFY events on table changes

- Allow pg_stat_statements to aggregate similar queries via SQL

- text normalization. Users with applications that use non-parameterized SQL will now be able to monitor query performance without detailed log analysis.

metabrew 1 day ago 2 replies      
Since postgres has basic json type support now, and PL/Javascript exists, it's only a matter of time until an extension appears that lets you deploy javascript applications directly to the database.

Who needs CouchDB or Node.js when you can just say CREATE EXTENSION 'couchnodegres.js'

mattdeboard 1 day ago  replies      
I am actually pretty excited about the native JSON support, and overall I am a huge fan of Postgres, but this is the most press-release-y press release ever* . By that I mean that the quotes are way too "perfect", the kind you only see in press releases. Some PR or marketing guy wrote them then showed them to the person to whom they'd be attributed to get their ok. Nothing inherently wrong with it, just struck me as funny.

* having written more than my share of press releases in my time

einhverfr 1 day ago 2 replies      
My two favorite features are not so high on the PR docs though.

The first is SECURITY BARRIER and LEAKPROOF which gives us an ability to rethink how to multi-tenant applications. This is a game changer and will get even better in future versions I am sure.

The second is NO INHERIT constraints, which I will certainly be making good use of. It is also a complete game changer when it comes to table inheritance and partitioning, and my main use will be things like CHECK (false) NOINHERIT to ensure that a table in fact never has rows of its own.

There is an amazing amount of good stuff going on around Postgres right now. Postgres-XC was recently released, and more. It is an amazing data modelling platform and ORDBMS.

rabidsnail 1 day ago 0 replies      
I was expecting the json support, but SP-GiST is a very welcome surprise. http://www.postgresql.org/docs/9.2/static/spgist-intro.html

User-extensible spacial index types. This makes Postgres perfect for online machine learning.

spitfire 1 day ago 3 replies      
Now someone please make usable tools for it on OSX.
Postgres badly needs front-end tools of the quality of sequel pro.

I am a huge fan of Postgres, it's never let me down. But data exploration, ad hoc querying and such is a pain in psql. These tools are badly needed.

EvanAnderson 1 day ago 3 replies      
I'm always impressed by the PostgreSQL team.

Personally, I'm excited about the range types and I can see immediate usefulness for them. My own applications aside, anything that helps developers create schemas that are better able to handle temporal data is a good thing.

jeltz 1 day ago 0 replies      
One thing I love about PostgreSQL development is all the small nice fixes added in every version.

Of the small fixes in 9.1 my personal favorite is probably the cleanup of pg_stat_activity. There are also many other nice small fixes like improved tab completion for some commands and the ability to set environment variables in psql.

lest 1 day ago 0 replies      
"PostgreSQL 9.2 will ship with native JSON support, covering indexes, replication and performance improvements, and many more features. We are eagerly awaiting this release and will make it available in Early Access as soon as it's released by the PostgreSQL community," said Ines Sombra, Lead Data Engineer, Engine Yard.
forgotmyhnlogin 1 day ago 1 reply      
The absolute best feature of 9.2 is that you can now add \x auto to your psqlrc file and never have to suffer unreadable results again
tosivakumar 21 hours ago 0 replies      
We are excited about Cascading Replication because it reduces network data transfer over WAN when we have multiple Read Replicas within and across datacenters.
gtirloni 21 hours ago 1 reply      
mysql only gets mentioned 2 (now 3) times in this thread? oracle seems to be doing a job!
I feel I am building a new Google Wave pivory.com
249 points by cheshirecat  1 day ago   97 comments top 40
ChrisNorstrom 1 day ago 0 replies      
Magnificent. Simply wonderful. This feels like a prototype for the future of forums. It's got its little UI flaws here and there but I understand why and almost all of them can be fixed easily. Very nice work. So much potential.

- There's no reason to have the scroll bar of the thread list on the left. Hiding it unless you hover directly over it is also not a good idea. It should appear when the mouse hovers anywhere over the entire thread list.

- I strongly hate non-browser-native scrolling (scroll by javascript in an effort to style the scroll bar using css and javascript). It never feels right, or fluid. There IS a way to hide the scrollbars until the mouse hovers over the element that requires scrolling. Example: http://www.repcmods.com abandoned prototype) (hover over the horizontal galleries) It's all done using css :hover and no javascript. The element with the scrollbar is set to overflow:hidden and on :hover it's set to overflow-y:auto; It may or may not work for you. Fix everything else first before coming back to this one.

- It's missing some white space toward the bottom making it feel really cluttered down there. Give the #left_panel and #mid_panel elements a padding-top:12px; and give .xpadbox a margin of margin:0 24px 5px;

- Also give the element #mid a padding-top:9px; so its lined up correctly. You'll have to also move up the links on in the top right of the mid panel to match as well.

- When posting a reply, the "preview" and "post" links should really be buttons not just text and they should be on the left and the text "sign up to bump, Online: 1002 users, etc..." should be on the right.

- When I open up the setting tab in the threads list it needs to stay red so the user knows they need to click it again to close the settings.

- Get rid of the dashed border bottom between threads and posts. It's too visually intrusive. Change it from dashed to dotted, instead.

- Hiding controls under the whole "to top/toggle functions" bar is completely unnecessary. As a young designer I used to hide a lot of elements thinking it would look nice and minimal and clean. Later on I find out it's one of the worst things you can do to your users. Your design is already minimal, it's already clean, don't over do it. Just keep the elements there, don't hide them.

There's a lot of confusing UI here but that's the end of my free consultation.

creamyhorror 1 day ago 5 replies      
I love this. I love the deliciously clean design, the immediate type-and-post functionality (reminiscent of IRC), the loose feel and structure of the forum that makes it a wonderful base for customisation in any aspect. I wish this were in Ruby/Rails; then I'd set it up on my site. It's precisely the sort of forum I've been looking to implement, especially the two-column format and the IRC-style text entry box.

(I wonder how I could get it to interface with a Rails app? Would there be problems just connecting it to the app's database, to get/store user accounts and stats, for example?)

Here's the github repo containing the open-source fork of it: https://github.com/cheshirecats/CuriousWall

Thanks cheshirecat, you've done a great thing here.

lmirosevic 1 day ago 1 reply      
This is great, I love the feel of this and the value it creates (which I'd describe as "live structured conversations").

Here's some suggestions, keep in mind these are essentially my personal opinions:

-Try putting some thought into making the functionality a little more intuitive, by this I mean to try and not necessitate having to hover too much to discover functionality. As a designer I know how difficult this is to do without spoiling aesthetics, so good luck (but I think you need to do this).

-Host this as a SaaS and make money, I image businesses would love to use this as a way to gather user feedback and talk to users.

-Categories would be nice. Right now it's just one "board" (in the traditional "online forum" sense where the set hierarchy is forum>board>thread>post). I'd find it cool if I could say visit a "sports" category, or a "Tech" category, and especially a "Hacker news" one. Think subreddits.

-The "navigation" is a little unintuitive, on the left column where it says "Threads", "Lists", "Users". When in threads mode, the other modes are listed underneath it, suggesting that they form a child relationship to Threads, whereas they're really siblings.

-I'd dispense with the little arrows under "Home" on the left column, and move the refresh button onto the same line as the Create and Home links/buttons. It doesn't really add anything. Up and down could be implemented using infinite scrolling and would be more intuitive. Left and right could be replaced by making aggregating all the different views ("My threads", "Users", "Replies", etc.) into a flyout or dropdown list, accessible by hovering the currently active mode title. This would also mean you could dispense with the 3 bottons on the bottom left next to the settings button.

-Speaking of that settings button, it doesn't have much to do with searching, instead I'd move it closer to the "user button", which you don't really have but will definitely need. Opening the user pane on the right, and then clicking the username to reveal "log out", etc. isn't easy to find.

-You probably don't need all the corner hovers, they don't really do anything useful IMHO.

-Fluid layout so it works well on mobile devices

-The reading mode is cool but you probably don't need it everywhere.

Good luck, I love the idea. Hope this goes somewhere.

moondowner 1 day ago 4 replies      
There's a fork of Google Wave that's alive and kicking http://rizzoma.com

Here's a screenshot: https://plus.google.com/100419497458726670190/posts

Though I like Ivory's goal and aspirations.

mcgwiz 1 day ago 1 reply      
I don't want to be misconstrued a "bad HN commenter", so I'll say first of all, technically amazing. Also, UX is consistent and aesthetically pleasing (though admittedly incomplete; lots of actions are unexplained... e.g. what's the difference between Focus and Shift).

Technical and design accolades aside, IMHO I would not call this an improvement on existing discussion forums. In Part 4 of his post "Building a Better Online Community", he implies that a major problem is the signal to noise ratio. This web app has not solved that problem.

The extremely low barrier to participation, while inline with privacy ethics and democratic ethics, unfortunately removes important incentives to creating quality content. It is however, successful at enhancing anonymity and removing the (burdensome?) requirement of identifying oneself.

Let's take a step back and re-assess what we're looking at. It's not an improved discussion forum, it's an improved chatroom app, plain and simple. And for that, I credit it with certain innovation.

ricardobeat 1 day ago 0 replies      
Reminds me of the deceased oak.io[1].

Scrolling is broken (and slow) on an iPad, it's apparently using some javascript scrolling lib that could be replaced with -webkit-overflow-scrolling: touch;

[1] http://blog.oak.io/

Andrex 1 day ago 0 replies      
It's a very nice design, but I feel removing dates is a mistake. It may be that older topics lose their value as time goes on, however that's a problem that can be fixed on the community level (by encouraging people to bump old threads, instead of discouraging it -- which is a learned behavior.) I feel like you gain very little in reality by removing dates, and you otherwise lose some very valuable or interesting info.
davewasthere 1 day ago 1 reply      
Spent a little bit of time playing on this and really really impressed.

I've written a progressive enhanced forum (for mobile) and think there's a lot of room for some re-thought ways how forums could work.


I did find navigating around PIvory a little hard work. I definitely had to think and discover. A lot of menu options aren't visible until you click in certain areas. That's great from a clean-design point of view, but frustrating for a new user.

I love the grey scheme, with the only colour being when you hover over icons. That said, hi-lighting your posts (and leaving your image always in colour) would be nice.

It really is an awesome effort. I'm inspired.

lhnz 1 day ago 0 replies      
This is what my TODO list would look like if I was you:

* Markdown.

* Remove "guest" from the Users list.

* Reading mode should have much larger text. Remember what sites like Instapaper, Readility, ReadItLater have given people.

* Some way of voting up insightful comments. I don't think the shit storm that you're currently experiencing in spam is currently solved...

* Tiny icons hiding lots of features and the awkward way of getting to the 'reply' links is poor usability.

StavrosK 1 day ago 1 reply      
I have no idea what it is, but I think I like it. It feels nice.
prawn 17 hours ago 1 reply      
Hi cheshirecat,

Any tactics for blocking repeat trouble makers? You mentioned blocking by IP in your docs.

I've run a forum (1,100 posts/month) for about eight years which also allows anonymous posting as well as accounts/avatars/etc. Users blocked by IP usually reconnect with their ISP to get a new IP and run amok anew. I also have blacklisted words and phrases which can stop some problems, but not all. I end up blocking IP classes from anonymous posting to eliminate troublesome regions.

Any plans/thoughts beyond that?

(Found your forum concept initially confusing, but I greatly admire your effort and the thought that's gone into it. I think you've created something intriguing!)

mladenkovacevic 1 day ago 0 replies      
It's great. I love the math formulas and how you can right click to get them in different formats and change display settings. On further examination I see that this is a function of MathJax, but great job integrating it into your application.
gwern 1 day ago 0 replies      
Hah, it's funny (Baader-Meinhof style) that I'm suddenly running into pivory.com here on Hacker News - my first introduction to it was a few hours earlier today as part of a little Bitcoin extortion scheme: https://plus.google.com/103530621949492999968/posts/5p1G9CZP...
tsurantino 1 day ago 0 replies      
The only real problem with this website is the navigation. I usually just get very lost on which parts of the site I am on because there is very little of indication of such info.

Other than that, this site seems pretty neat!

swalsh 1 day ago 1 reply      
I have no idea what this is, but i'd suggest adding "Categories" The signal to noise ratio here is just to small. Nothing seems relevant...
agscala 1 day ago 1 reply      
If you had nested comments, then maybe you can make the claim of being similar to Google Wave.

The design is great though, and the formatting on posts is excellent

pestaa 1 day ago 0 replies      
Wow I'm speechless, this is wonderful. Going through the code, I see the widest spectrum of issues I hate about PHP in just these few files, yet the result is absolutely fascinating.

This a testament as to how the tool does not really matter in good hands.

This must be running on the custom-tailored C++ HTTP server, Ivory: https://github.com/cheshirecats/Ivory

Why did you feel the popular options don't cut it for your needs?

asynchronous13 1 day ago 1 reply      
I would like to evaluate the site, but it is nearly impossible to view from my phone (iphone, safari). If I zoom in on an area, the page resizes itself and remains unreadable.
brador 1 day ago 0 replies      
I hate to be that guy, but you called it a startup so...

What's the revenue model here? How's it going to make money?

lis 1 day ago 0 replies      
Did not work on my iPhone. Double tapping zoomed in as expected, but afterwards the design resized itself again. The result is quite funny ;)

I like the idea, though. Looks great on bigger devices.

Mikushi 1 day ago 0 replies      
Very nice and simple, I like it. Thanks for answering the questions over there, always curious about the inner workings of such things.
orangethirty 1 day ago 1 reply      

This is what I get when I try to visit the page:

Your browser does not have window.WebSocket object :-(

Try the lastest version of Chrome or Firefox or Safari.

I know that I have to update, but realize that not everyone has the latest/greatest stuff out there. Also, if I visit your page without JS it doesnt show anything (at all).

hnriot 1 day ago 1 reply      
The back button seems to be broken/disabled by this which is very annoying to break default browser behaviour.
fumar 1 day ago 0 replies      
Very cool simple design. I clicked around a few things. The only part that seemed "off" was having the "Post" button on the left side.

I like the expand button on the top right. Its nice for longer posts. Definitely keep the good work.

state 1 day ago 0 replies      
Reminds me a bit of http://are.na
MojoJolo 1 day ago 1 reply      
I think I'm having some problems with scrolling. But anyways, good job!
mauro_oto 1 day ago 0 replies      
I really enjoyed the feel of the interface. One suggestion: make it so that IJKL scrolls the right panel, the way WASD works for the left panel.
JacksonGariety 1 day ago 0 replies      
Damn I can't go "back" on this site in Safari 6.0
yehanyin 1 day ago 1 reply      
I like the design, simple and clean.

The title sounds inflated but you win me, :)

dreamdu5t 1 day ago 1 reply      
It'd be awesome if you used progressive enhancement so it still worked without JavaScript.
l0c0b0x 21 hours ago 0 replies      
Dear sir, your prototype (really?) is just beautifully awesome!
thedangler 1 day ago 0 replies      
I was looking at the git repo and I couldn't seem to figure out how it was doing all the asyc connections. I looked at his source code and he is using websockets which I don't believe is in the git repo. Correct me if im wrong.
kumarski 1 day ago 4 replies      
http://www.rizzoma.com is much better.

The founder himself stayed at my place using airbnb this summer. I'm a YC alum. He has one of the most interesting founding stories I've ever heard. He is a Siberian-Kazakhstani hacking competition winner who knows Judo and runs a series of small businesses in Russia. Bars that partake in sportsbetting-all Legal. He designed the software as a way to manage his businesses with his founders and grew it into something more.

lenkite 1 day ago 0 replies      
Google Wave had threads. This appears to be missing.
mietek 1 day ago 0 replies      
Why not Markdown?
nerdo 1 day ago 0 replies      
Because it's being used to talk about the scrollbars in it?
binaryjohn 1 day ago 0 replies      
I like it; a fresh new look at forum interaction
francov88 1 day ago 0 replies      
Amazing. Use it. That is all.
d0m 1 day ago 0 replies      
Just to make sure I understand.. It's IRC on the web? Is there anything I am missing? I.e. Compared to grove.io.

But design wise, it's simple and clean, I like it :)

caycep 1 day ago 0 replies      
hopefully it fares better than wave - good luck!
So I Made A Mashup, And Then… stevestreza.com
249 points by craigkerstiens  3 days ago   95 comments top 27
ladon86 3 days ago 2 replies      
About 10 years ago I did a spoof version of a 50 Cent song and posted it on one forum - it took off in a really big way with people sharing it on forums and via email (this was before YouTube or Facebook), and ended up getting heavy radio play all over Europe and Australia. I signed a management and publishing deal and ended up producing music professionally for a few years before I decided to go to college for computer science.

The power of creating something resonant and putting it on the internet is huge, and it's still totally possible today.

I believe that consumer startups in the early stages are no different. You need to find a way of presenting yourself that resonates emotionally with your desired audience, to the extent that they want to share that feeling with others.

Congrats on the viral success! It's a really fun experience.

steve8918 3 days ago 4 replies      
Very cool! The mashup is really catchy and the author did a great job mixing LMFAO and Psy.

The first mashup I remember listening to was the Eminem/Britney Spears mashup (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j98zaF5592c). It was particularly funny because Eminem had recently dissed Britney Spears, but the ironic thing is that this mashup sounded better than the originals of both songs.

The only question I have is how do these mashup-er's isolate the vocals and instrumentals so clearly? Are the vocal and instrumental tracks available for most songs these days, so that fans can create mashups?

zacharycohn 3 days ago 2 replies      
Nice job! I'm one of the people behind the LMFAO parody "We're NASA And We Know It" (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QFvNhsWMU0c) and the LaughPong channel (www.youtube.com/laughpong). It's awesome to see stuff you create like this explode - congrats!

Just a few notes about how Youtube works:
Chances are, you got a lot more views in the first 24 hours than you think you did. Youtube viewcounts update live until 302 to 308, and then they freeze for a few hours.

It'll update after 6 to 8 hours, but it still lags significantly behind real views. It only updates views every 8 hours or so after that, and it takes a few days for the displayed viewcount to catch up to the actual viewcount (We've had instances of videos with more thousands more likes than views... which is entertaining. :p)

One way you can sometimes get a more accurate view is by searching for your video. For some reason, the viewcount on the Youtube Search Results page is NOT linked to the viewcount displayed on the individual video page. It also lags behind, but it appears to update faster.

kjhughes 3 days ago 2 replies      
How very cool of LMFAO and PSY to celebrate rather than quash his creation.
pella 3 days ago 1 reply      
"Gangnam Style, Dissected: The Subversive Message Within South Korea's Music Video Sensation"


"5 Must-See ‘Gangnam Style' Response Videos"


"KnowYourMeme: Gangnam Style"


gjulianm 3 days ago 0 replies      
I have to be sincere: I don't like at all modern electronic pop music like LMFAO or PSY. I think that most of these songs rely too much on easy rythms and electronic resources to supply what they can't do with other musical resources.

But, God, you have made such a great work. Both the music and the video. I really love how you're able to combine different songs to create another one and not just throwing random parts of songs together. Great work, congratulations.

By the way, listening to this I remembered Andy Rehfeldt work, who re-records songs changing completely the style. For example, the famous Call Me Maybe in metal version [1] or Metallica playing smooth jazz [2].

[1] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tWJ9YaTmoyg
[2] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OBmM79YadYM

johnbacon 2 days ago 0 replies      
Wow, great job! For me, it's the video that hooked me. I see the OP and comments focusing around the audio mashup, which is really good. But, the video is what gives the mashup viral legs.

Without the high quality and polished video, there is no LMFAO tweet. There's no buzzfeed. There is no radio airplay. Without the video, the song is confined to SoundCloud and small audiences.

The probable virality of Steve's song increased exponentially because of the video. The video is what is being linked to, around the web. From forums, to feeds, to tweets, to DJs.

So to Steve, I say thank you for the video. The effort you made in making a front end to your song made me watch it again and again. The polish of your video gave me the desire and confidence to share it with my friends. The video is the reason I downloaded your MP3 and M4A versions, and will be enjoying this song for a long time. (thanks for that).

In conclusion: because the backend (audio mashup) is well engineered, it has the potential to scale. Without the frontend (video), the backend goes unnoticed by the masses, save for a few backend junkies. The magic happens because the high quality frontend (video) gives the engineered-to-scale backend (audio mashup) a linkable, shareable, visual interface.

Great job! Great lesson! Hope you do more!

dgant 3 days ago 0 replies      
"And the most astonishing thing to me? The mashup itself is catchy, but it's far from being technically great."

It's a musical MVP!

prodigal_erik 3 days ago 0 replies      
I'm one of those people who never quite figured out what Twitter is for, so it's surprising to realize that this probably wouldn't have risen to the original artists' attention via the channels we had before. And now I'm hoping Streza might see the crowd get into this at jwz's club some saturday.
noirman 3 days ago 1 reply      
"Try something that scares the hell out of you. It just might turn into something wonderful."

Wise words, indeed.

alan_cx 3 days ago 1 reply      
Im a 40yo grumpy middle aged man, who still clings on to some very old music. I have to say, I like what you've done there.
janerik 3 days ago 2 replies      
And again: "Unfortunately, this UMG-music-content is not available in Germany because GEMA has not granted the respective music publishing rights."

Good to have a proxy around.

fruchtose 3 days ago 0 replies      
There have been an awful lot of PSY mashups in the last two weeks. If you want to hear more, here is a playlist of some of the most notable mashups, as upvoted by the Reddit /r/mashups community: http://muxamp.com/848
funkdobiest 3 days ago 0 replies      
Great job on the mixes. Next step is to try to exactly recreate the song without using samples, or try live mixing using hardware controllers and soft players.
jonah 3 days ago 1 reply      
I saw this one recently - pretty good.

"DJ Earworm Mashup - United State of Pop 2011 (World Go Boom)": https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ail7D_k0s9w

bradddd 3 days ago 1 reply      
A great candid story of his experience going viral. Could be a little more concise, but still congrats to the guy for stepping up to the plate and crushing it out of the park. So what if it wasn't a technical masterpiece. If he was only intending for this to be a learning experience, I think he should be totally satisfied.
logn 3 days ago 1 reply      
Thanks for sharing. That's awesome! I was dreading hearing that they made you take the vid down. Nice.

The only technical glitch I minded was at 1:10. Psy's on screen just long enough to open his mouth without any words playing. But I'm a musician and this is a nit. But if you re-edit this ever just thought I'd add this.

daniellockard 3 days ago 3 replies      
I don't know what it is but the font on this site looks really bad in my browser.
kernel_sanders 3 days ago 1 reply      
Yikes, I feel like the last person to hear about PSY and Gangnam Style - great song! 126mil views (original), wow.

Edit: the mashup ruled. More plz

bvdbijl 3 days ago 0 replies      
This is really awesome and well made, nice job and congratulations on the success, you deserve it!
aDemoUzer 3 days ago 1 reply      
good job on the mashup, even I like it. Wish you could hear it through my ears, it sounds really good.
AnthonyJoseph 3 days ago 0 replies      
I had to open up a new tab, to come back to hackernews because I didnt want the song to stop.
dskang 3 days ago 0 replies      
I love stories like this. Great work, and I hope you keep on making more music!
mightytightywty 1 day ago 0 replies      
No And Then!!!! (dude where's my car
keidian 3 days ago 0 replies      
And currently at least, you also hit #1 story on the front page of HN. Not too bad at all for an experiement hehe :)
livestyle 3 days ago 0 replies      
For the love of Pete enable mobile viewing!
diego 3 days ago 4 replies      
"Try something that scares the hell out of you. It just might turn into something wonderful."

I'd loved the mashup. However, if spending a weekend making a mashup scares the hell out of you, you must be living a very sheltered life. Here are some things that scare the hell out of me (and I have no intention of trying):

- Climbing Everest

- Wingsuit base jumping

- Armed combat

I'll leave it at that, you get the point.

Edit: and you are too scared to offer a counterpoint, so you anonymously downvote instead :)

The XX shared their new album with only 1 fan to see how it goes viral. thexx.info
247 points by eliaskg  14 hours ago   75 comments top 28
dpcan 13 hours ago 1 reply      
It looks like they track our geo-location and the referring website.

I like watching the animation, and it's a cool site. What would be more awesome (IMO) is if they took this information and created a visualization of the path their band took to finally reach me.

So, it showed them on the map, in their garage playing, to the studio, to distributing the track to that one guy, to him posting it to a website, to another guy re-tweeting, to some kids posting to Facebook, and finally reaching me on Hacker News - and do this with a map with photos on it as well.

Over time it would just get longer and more interesting. Especially if they let me link myself to the site somehow with a photo so when others watch their path, they see the people that got them there.

Just a thought. Kind-of like the beginning of that Movie "Lord of War" where they follow the bullet from manufacturing to the hands of the warlords to it being fired.

SquareWheel 13 hours ago 6 replies      
As somebody that opens a dozen HN tabs at once, I do not appreciate the automatic playing music.
vannevar 11 hours ago 1 reply      
You're never going to get virality from an experiment involving a band that has already had a hit record. The best you're going to get is to see how quickly the music media finds out that the link was released.
simias 13 hours ago 3 replies      
I can see a problem with this, when I open the link the URL remains the same (i.e. the "referrer" part is not updated). If I were to share it I'd just copy/paste the URL, in effect meaning that I won't appear as a "node" in the graph. I wonder if that's why the graph seems very "centralized" around a few points.

Unless it's because I refused to share my location. They should explain why they need it beforehand, I would never allow that by default (I only understood the point once I saw the map).

EDIT: Also, it will probably not take the retweets and similar into account, as the URL will remain the same. Overall it's an interesting concept but I doubt it'll provide any worthwhile data.

mmaunder 12 hours ago 1 reply      
That's pretty, but it doesn't look viral. One expects to see one point going to somewhere between 1 and a large number which spreads to somewhere between 1 and a large number and so on. It should look more chaotic and more like a fractal I'd think. This looks like one fan spread it to a huge number. So I'm guessing there is missing data e.g. the first fan getting too much credit.
brittohalloran 14 hours ago 1 reply      
Ahhhh, hence the "this website wants to track your location"
wmblaettler 12 hours ago 0 replies      
The concept is very cool, but I find the UI lacking. I'd expect to see a cumulative expansion from patient zero, with a more continuous timeline. This appears to show the current visitors at that moment in time, which could allow for the viewer to see how visits fluctuate with time of day and surges grow larger over time, but it fails to even show this very well.

Of course it's easy to criticize, so props for the neat idea and decent execution.

eslachance 12 hours ago 1 reply      
The "stream" animation is very laggy in Firefox 15, but works fine in IE9, so I guess "In collaboration with IE" is more "optimized for IE"...

I kinda like the music though, and the social experiment is nice. I'm assuming the massive spike in sharing that stems from the US is actually this post right here!

It would be nice to have some solid stats, as well as some info on my own share. With the mass of wires it's hard to tell whether someone actually stems from me or not.

zenocon 1 hour ago 0 replies      
sadly, if you live in cape horn you can't play. sidenote: all the "..grr...flash...grr.." comments on here made me chuckle (hint: right-click). it sounds like a good album.
tnorthcutt 13 hours ago 0 replies      
Neat idea, and pretty visualization. I think they could have done a lot more with it, though. For instance, sometimes dragging the slider to a point produces no result (other than colore dots on the map - no sharing lines, though).
jamesaguilar 2 hours ago 0 replies      
The scroll bar on the right doesn't work for me, but other than that, it's cool!
Dn_Ab 12 hours ago 0 replies      
I wonder if the idea is worth more than the act.

By actively talking about how, if 1 fan can make something viral you have created an external something that can catalyze the spread. The idea of 1 person trying to make something viral is interesting in itself and will help generate the impetus that just might carry it through to 'viral', independent of the music and the action itself.

It matters if that 1 fan is a highly connected node or only 1 or even 2 from a highly connected node with each having a high reshare probability.

Good idea. Used up now I think.

ewolf 12 hours ago 1 reply      
"A collaboration with Internet Explorer" and everything's jaggy on a big screen " can't deny the irony. When will Microsoft finally learn how to properly use web technology?

Regarding the link copy issue: They could've just added an automatic redirect/URI change on page load. Too bad they didn't think of that.

Matsta 13 hours ago 1 reply      
Essentially a good idea, but really badly executed. Looks like a flash website from 2005
scelerat 8 hours ago 0 replies      
Is this Patient Zero the first person to whom they gave the track, or the first person to share the track resulting in viral distribution?

There is a difference. Dead ends are possible and entirely likely.

crisnoble 13 hours ago 3 replies      
This is very cool, awesome visualization from an awesome band. Weird that IE sponsored it but beautiful nonetheless.

If you want to listen to the album with the ability to skip tracks I recommend NPR's first listen: http://www.npr.org/2012/09/03/160323435/first-listen-the-xx-... interestingly the first listen was published Sept 2nd, and Sept 3rd is the first day for the linked data viz)

tankbot 8 hours ago 0 replies      
Cool idea but as others have mentioned, the 'viral' visualization is pretty but doesn't represent any one-to-many shares.

Also, poor China... They don't get to play.

Paul_S 13 hours ago 3 replies      
doesn't work for me (FF15) - stuck at 100% loading :(
opminion 8 hours ago 0 replies      
Thanks for the music.

I am probably the only one put off by the northern hemisphere in what looks like Mercator, so won't moan about that ;-)

No thanks for the automatic play on page load.

nodata 13 hours ago 2 replies      
Aren't The XX from London? What does the starting point represent? The hosting server at Microsoft?

Edit: Duh :(

eyevariety 4 hours ago 0 replies      
I love how Hacker News has a bunch of pissed of nerds that are mad that a website advertising music plays said music.
cgil 6 hours ago 0 replies      
It's interesting to see the clustered areas of popularity, ie. NA and western Europe. Are they limiting distribution/tracking in Eastern Europe and Asia or is there no fan base there?
error54 5 hours ago 0 replies      
"In collaboration with Internet Explorer"

Doesn't even have a good fail back on IE 8 which still has a good percentage of the market.

zackbloom 9 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm a little unclear why they're plotting this on a map of the world. Isn't virtually all of the spread over the internet? What is the relevance of physical location? It'd be more interesting to see what online communities were involved (referrer data).
morgannnn 8 hours ago 0 replies      
I love this. They're such a creative band, cool when they take a real interest in their fans, elements outside the music itself
mnicole 11 hours ago 0 replies      
Listened to it on Rdio this morning, now I feel like I cheated.
circa 11 hours ago 1 reply      
Yeah but this leaked weeks ago. When was this launched? Still really cool.
propercoil 12 hours ago 0 replies      
cool track (Angels
Dan Weinreb passed away xconomy.com
242 points by pyb  4 days ago   24 comments top 19
gamache 4 days ago 0 replies      
A couple years ago, I passed a very pleasurable hour in front of the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles when the man behind me in line noticed the database book I was reading, and struck up a conversation. Glad I had the luck to rub elbows with one of the Lisp old school. RIP.
smanek 4 days ago 0 replies      
Dan was awesome. A few years ago, when I was an undergrad trying to raise money for my first startup in Boston, he was a huge help. Took the time to grab a couple meals with me and explain how things worked, introduced me to angels, and was really insightful. He had no expectation of anything in return - just gave freely of his time and experience.

I wish I had kept in better touch with him. He will be missed.

nostrademons 4 days ago 0 replies      
He was a HN user too:


Will the black bar come out?

strlen 4 days ago 0 replies      
About a year and a half ago I commented on a blog post he has made (it was a rather minor point in regards to consistency in distributed databases, I think). Dan replied to me via email with a follow up question and we had some correspondence about distributed systems, databases, and (naturally) Lisp. He ended up helping me edit a rough draft of a blog post, which ended up being very well received.

Several things struck me. First, expertise went across many disciplines of CS (from programming languages, to hardware, to databases) and beyond. He could have easily had fame as "Lisp guy", or "object oriented databases guy", or "CPU design guy" but he went above and beyond.

Finally, despite his repute, not only was he approachable (as evidenced by many stories here of folks carrying on correspondence with Dan), but he was curious and interested in learning from others, e.g., he noticed I listed OCaml on my LinkedIn profile and asked a question related to an article Erik Meijer's wrote about Linq and F#.

He will be sorely missed.

zachbeane 4 days ago 1 reply      
The wikipedia edit doesn't cite any sources, but I've heard it from his coworkers at ITA and from https://twitter.com/CommonAngels/status/244137900336361472

Very sad to hear it. I really enjoyed hearing Dan's stories from his early days at MIT and his renewed interest in Common Lisp in the past few years was great.

He had a great Google Tech Talk on YouTube/Google Video a few years ago about ITA, but sadly it was taken down for some reason.

sanj 4 days ago 0 replies      
I met Dan at a coffee meetup in Cambridge several years back. He was considerate, erudite and unfailingly interesting and excitable.

I wish I gotten to spend more time with him.

whirlycott1 4 days ago 0 replies      
Dan was a super guy and a good friend. Incredibly smart, incredibly experienced, well respected and wonderfully nice to be around.

It's incredibly sad and a big loss for the technology world, but let's not forget to direct our thoughts to his wife and son that he leaves behind.

ScottBurson 4 days ago 0 replies      
A shock, to me, as I had no idea he had cancer. And very sad indeed. I didn't know him well, but I was a Zmacs user from the early days. (I still miss Zmacs in some ways.)

Dan was a great hacker.

bitwize 4 days ago 0 replies      
I met him a couple of times at Boston Lisp meetings.

Awesome guy. Very low key. Consider me officially bummed.

metaobject 3 days ago 1 reply      
I'd love to see his google tech talk. Perhaps, in memory of Dan, google can go through the video and redact any portions they feel are not suitable for public release. Then, repost it to YT.

Is anybody aware of a link to the video that works. After searching for a bit, it seems that every page I visited points the video back to YT. Surely, somebody made a copy of it somewhere???

RIP Dan.

calibraxis 4 days ago 1 reply      
That is sad to hear!

For what it's worth, I had a question I keep on thinking to ask him, but for whatever reason never got around to it. One should settle such questions. Would have loved the memory of his answer.

sixQuarks 4 days ago 1 reply      
Why do so many great people pass away so young, and evil people like Dick Cheney live till old age even though they have 100 heart attacks?
st3fan 4 days ago 0 replies      
fuck cancer
JeremyMorgan 4 days ago 0 replies      
I didn't know him and never heard of him but it sounds like world is a bit worse off without him. Too young. RIP fellow Geek.
tawm 4 days ago 0 replies      
I'm very interested if we'll hear anything from rms' side about this.
tluyben2 4 days ago 0 replies      
That really sucks :( RIP man.
jamescrowe 4 days ago 0 replies      
I met him @ International Lisp Conference in 2009 and within 10-15 odd minutes of our chat, he taught me so much about airline reservation system (& common lisp) that it will be safe to say that Industry has lost a gem of a person and top notch computer scientist. RIP Sir, you will be missed.
How Dangerous Is Your Couch? nytimes.com
229 points by danso  3 days ago   154 comments top 19
tokenadult 3 days ago  replies      
Another top-level comment wrote:

between this and the article about brain parasites in california, HN is scaring the crap out of me

And I guess that's why my all-time favorite external link to share here on Hacker News is "Warning Signs in Experimental Design and Interpretation"


by Peter Norvig, Google's director of research. To resolve the issue of the safety trade-offs of not treating furniture with flame-retardant chemicals (the status quo when I was a child) and treating it (the status quo for quite a while now in the United States) will take careful examination of the actual risk ratios of any disease said to be correlated with the chemicals, the risk ratios of injuries and deaths from fires, the cost of other preventive measures for each kind of harm, and so on. Public policy is not easy. The best public policies have to be carefully examined in light of verifiable facts.

I see from user danso's profile


that he has a professional role in investigative journalism, and indeed I have enjoyed reading (and of course have upvoted) many of his comments here on HN over the past year. The piece submitted here mentions about its author that "Dashka Slater is the author of six books for children and adults. Her latest children's book, 'Dangerously Ever After,' is out this month," which prompted me to look up other information about the author. Her personal website


declares that she has written pieces for a variety of publications, many in the "alternative" market for periodical articles, and her LinkedIn profile


declares her educational background. There is some interesting reporting here, but as a regular reader of Mother Jones (one of the publications that most often publishes her work) and of other "alternative" publications, I would like to see more follow-up on this issue before writing to my elected representatives, as I sometimes do, asking for a change in current law. I do remember when newspaper and magazine articles in my childhood were all about the fearsome dangers of fires killing little children.

A recent submission to HN based on very reliable statistics pointed out that life expectancy in the United States at birth, at age 40, at age 60, at age 65, and even at age 80 has been steadily RISING


since 1960, so new regulations introduced since then so far don't seem to have net harm for the population in balance with all other social and environmental changes since then. Perhaps the purported flame-retardant chemicals don't prevent as many fires as people suppose. But perhaps they also don't cause any serious human illness in actual use. Let's not rush to judgment on this issue, but let's do actual, verifiable science that with sound economic and policy analysis can help guide lawmakers to the best currently available trade-off in regulation.

greenyoda 3 days ago 4 replies      
The irony of the whole thing is that the flame retardants don't even make furniture any less flammable:

"The problem, [the fire expert] argues, is that the standard is based on applying a small flame to a bare piece of foam - a situation unlikely to happen in real life. ... In real life, before the flame gets to the foam, it has to ignite the fabric. Once the fabric catches fire, it becomes a sheet of flame that can easily overwhelm the fire-suppression properties of treated foam. In tests, TB 117 compliant chairs catch fire just as easily as ones that aren't compliant - and they burn just as hot."

So the entire country is now exposed to the dangers of these chemicals because in 1975 some bureaucrats at an obscure government agency in California came up with an arbitrary standard that was not based in reality.

nostromo 3 days ago 6 replies      
Looking at mattresses without flame-retardent led me to this provider: http://www.whitelotus.net/green-cotton-rx/

Turns out you'll need a doctor's prescription to even order a plain cotton mattress. Yet another perfectly reasonable regulation from our friends in the California Legislature! :)

My least-favorite CA regulation has to do with eye-glasses. I lost my only pair and went in to get a replacement on a Saturday, but I couldn't because my (perfectly fine) prescription had expired. I had to make an appointment to get an exam in order to get new glasses, but they were closed for the weekend and booked for a few days.

So I spent about a week with headaches because some CA legislator decided it was in my best interest to pay some practitioner to get the same prescription for glasses every year.

gojomo 3 days ago 0 replies      
It's sad that premature regulation moved this into the sphere of politics and mandated-purchases (from companies with an incentive to lobby). That means any attempt to learn what's really going on, or make any incremental changes, is gummed up by the fog of adversarial, zero-sum politics.

Without the inflexible mandate, the rule could simply be: label whether your product has flame-retardants or not, and have evidence for your claims. Then the industry could diversify, some brands emphasizing flame-resistance and others lack of chemical additives. And, this diversity would mean we would gather more real-world experience about whether the flame-retardant units are really correlated with fewer/slower fires and fewer fatalities, or with more health/IQ/behavior problems in children and pets, or both, or neither.

But because of the uniform monoculture imposed by the premature politicization, we face a data white-out and policy is flying half-blind... with only indirect data on costs and benefits.

Maybe a way out would be to compel a bisection of the industry output: you must make half your units with, and half without, these additives, and clearly mark the units in each category. Five to ten years later, we'd likely have much better data about real effects.

ericdykstra 3 days ago 1 reply      
Another example of government creating arbitrary policies that just waste time and money, and probably kill us.

Since 1975, an obscure California agency called the Bureau of Home Furnishings and Thermal Insulation has mandated that the foam inside upholstered furniture be able to withstand exposure to a small flame, like a candle or cigarette lighter, for 12 seconds without igniting.

Who decided on 12 seconds? Why the inside of furniture rather than the outside? Who does this benefit? Why is there even a Bureau of Home Furnishings and Thermal Insulation? Why do government agencies like the EPA exist when they can't say anything about the safety of chemicals that are in couches in probably in upwards of 95% of homes in America?

It wouldn't surprise me if a flame retardant manufacturer was behind the law to begin with, which is even more disgusting.

tptacek 3 days ago 0 replies      
Chemtura Firemaster 550 is "just starting to be analyzed"? It was introduced in '05-'06, and here's its 2006 MSDS:


001sky 3 days ago 3 replies      
Of the 84,000 industrial chemicals registered for use in the United States, only about 200 have been evaluated for human safety by the Environmental Protection Agency

--Wait, what? What is the EPA doing, then for 42 years?


huhtenberg 3 days ago 3 replies      
Reminds me of the situation around one of theories that tries to explain SIDS - Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. If you had a kid, you know what it is - a newborn dying in his sleep for no apparent reason. You put a healthy baby to sleep in his bed only to find him dead in the morning. Fun stuff.

There are no exact explanation for the syndrome, but there are preventive measures (such as always let newborn fall asleep on his back) that statistically lessen the risk of it occurring.

One of the theories was that a typical crib mattress creates a fertile ground for some fungal growth. Coupled with chemicals found in the mattress, this creates weak poisonous gas emission, which ultimately kills the child. It's an older theory that was verified and formally considered invalid. However in one country, New Zealand, there's a doctor who has been a vigorously arguing in favor of this theory and now has a statistic to show that proper mattress wrapping nullifies the risk of SIDS. From what I've read, he had very hard time getting the authorities to even listen to his findings, leave alone to act on them.

I wish this lady the best of luck, she's got NYT on her side, I hope she takes a full advantage of this exposure.

[0] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sudden_infant_death_syndrome

hinathan 3 days ago 1 reply      
Arlene Blum is kind of amazing. I met her maybe 20 years ago in the context of mountain climbing. Can't imagine climbing with a baby strapped to myself.
NoPiece 3 days ago 3 replies      
I feel like the article is missing a basic analysis of whether there would be more deaths by an increased number of fires caused by removing the fire retardant, or by cancer cancer caused by fire retardant. Just give me some numbers, and let me decide what kind of furniture I want.
afterburner 3 days ago 2 replies      
Memory-foam mattresses have the same problem apparently. I have one, and am looking into a dust mite bed casing (~$100) to prevent the chemicals from getting into the air...


hollerith 3 days ago 0 replies      
After the foam in cushions described in the OP, the biggest source of human exposure to flame retardants is probably consumer electronics. Particularly, most televisions and computer monitors are encased in a plastic housing which by law must be resistant to catching fire, and the universal way that is achieved is by mixing flame retardants with the plastic while the plastic is still "liquid". I read once that flame retardants make up up to 20% of the volume of the material of the housings.

When you remove this toxic plastic housing, there is another housing underneath made of steel, which holds the monitor or TV together just fine on its own. The exception is the buttons for adjusting brightness, etc.

Last year, I removed all the urethane foam from my home and the plastic housing from my monitor. There is a row of buttons for brightness, etc, that now hangs by wires, and there is a button near the top of the monitor for power which now hangs down the back of the monitor by wires. Now that the buttons are no longer held in place by the plastic housing, it is much harder to press them, but that is OK because I never adjust the brightness (preferring to use OS X to "switch black and white" at night). And I never use the power button. (The monitor draws one watt when it is on but not receiving video input).

Except for the small and not particularly noticeable row of buttons hanging by wires from the bottom of the monitor, the monitor has a tidy, trim appearance and does not prevent me from feeling proud of how my computer looks.

I recommend these home modifications to almost everybody.

The way the flame retardants get into the human body, by the way, is by attaching to dust, which gets ingested in small amounts. Consequently, after removal and disposal of the housing, I recommend cleaning the area under and around the device.

Or get a recent Apple monitor, which has an aluminum housing.

WalterBright 3 days ago 1 reply      
The single best way to protect your home against fire, by far, is to have a fire sprinkler system installed. Unfortunately, this can only be done when the house is built. So if you are planning on building a house, specify a sprinkler system.

It'll be the best money you ever spent.

dromidas 1 day ago 0 replies      
>The baby's mother had placed a candle in her crib, he said, and the candle fell over, igniting a pillow.

I'm pretty sure the baby's mother didn't deserve to be the mother of anyone. Either that or she spent too much time sniffing her own couch and it lowered her IQ enough to put a CANDLE IN A FREAKING CRIB WITH A BABY.

zafirk 3 days ago 3 replies      
between this and the article about brain parasites in california, HN is scaring the crap out of me
reirob 2 days ago 0 replies      
When reading the title I thought the article will be about how dangerous the couch is for our generation, because we are spending more and more time on it and so do not exercise enough our body, etc. You know, related to Tablet devices and Internet which allow more and more entertainment from the couch.

Was quite surprised it is about another type of danger. I guess I am too much on portable devices and on the couch ;)

thejefflarson 3 days ago 0 replies      
The Chicago Tribune has a good series about how Big Tobacco and chemical companies have pushed for more flame retardants in everything despite health concerns:


hastur 3 days ago 1 reply      
Vote for Mitt Romney, he'll scale back the EPA and you'll be able to wallow in carcinogenic substances all day long.
abdelmaalik 3 days ago 0 replies      
just in case your couch is dangerous: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JcJkhSUSnek

10 seconds that can mushroom into a lot of wasted time, you've been warned.

Damn Cool Algorithms: Cardinality Estimation notdot.net
228 points by nicksdjohnson  4 days ago   30 comments top 7
Smerity 4 days ago 4 replies      
Just to mention a modification on the "simple and intuitive cardinality estimator" that's far more accurate and actually used for Google's SZL:

Given N objects, hash each object and store the lowest M (s.t. M << N) hashes, then calculate what percentage of hash space is covered and compare to how much of the hash space would be expected to be covered.

This removes the issue of having to assume the N objects are distributed evenly as hash(object) should exhibit that property.

[1] My naive Python implementation for tests on the NLP WSJ corpus -- https://github.com/Smerity/Snippets/blob/master/analytics/ap...

[2]: Szl's implementation -- http://code.google.com/p/szl/source/browse/trunk/src/emitter...

psykotic 4 days ago 2 replies      
I can't resist mentioning a favorite algorithm of mine for solving a related problem. It generalizes the algorithm for the classic problem of finding the majority element (one which occurs at least 50% of the time) with a single pass over a stream, using a constant amount of space, and a second sieving pass. It's one of those simple gems you wonder why it took so long to discover.


_delirium 4 days ago 1 reply      
Fwiw, I believe the best estimator has been improved on since HyperLogLog, with a more recent result that is provably optimal (and slightly faster asymptotically, dropping the loglog factor), which perhaps more importantly can also process streamed data online: http://people.seas.harvard.edu/~minilek/papers/f0.pdf
bochi 4 days ago 0 replies      
If you liked this post, you will probably find this article about other probabilistic data structures interesting too: http://highlyscalable.wordpress.com/2012/05/01/probabilistic...
jallmann 4 days ago 3 replies      
That is mind-blowing. Intuitively, a hash digest is completely uncorrelated with its input, but this shows that you can make inferences about a collection of data based on its hashes.

In retrospect, it makes sense stochastically, but still a Damn Cool Algorithm indeed.

tripzilch 4 days ago 0 replies      
Very cool algorithm. I wonder, can anyone explain in what kind of real-world application it would be used?
brilee 4 days ago 4 replies      
A minor nitpick... 'cardinality' in mathematics refers to a set of infinities. The set of all integers has a certain cardinality, which is equal to the cardinality of all rational numbers, but which is smaller than the cardinality of all irrational numbers.

"Size estimation" is sufficient; no need to get fancy with words you don't know the meaning of.

Arch Linux Handbook for Kindle rejected by Amazon archlinux.me
219 points by stock_toaster  2 days ago   78 comments top 12
da_n 2 days ago 1 reply      
"I was insulted and hurt by this message. It's arrogant and it is confrontational. It makes no effort to address the specifics of the e-mail."

I feel like I'm missing something here. I read the emails and their responses seem perfectly acceptable to me, I am not picking up an arrogant or confrontational tone and think they did their best to answer the issue. The author asserts a copyleft license to the work and fully expects Amazon to be 100% compatible with it (one could almost say arrogantly so) and does not, in my opinion, assert exclusive publishing rights of the work. Amazon state they are not confident author holds the exclusive publishing rights and that this is not acceptable on the Kindle Store, linking to the relevant policy guideline. As someone else has pointed out, the author is also not the customer here, they are in effect negotiating a business deal with Amazon, Amazon do not need to tip-toe around the issue. I think the author was a little bit over sensitive here.

If I am missing something here please fill me in.

ChuckMcM 2 days ago 3 replies      
I'm confused, the Amazon folks were complaining that he was trying to sell otherwise free information [1], did the OP just miss that? Seems like putting the Kindle version up for free would have removed their complaint.

[1] Amazon has had a huge problem with people who run through Google Books, find a book from before 1923, and then re-publish it for money in the Kindle store, only to have Amazon's customers get angry and bent out of shape when they realize they have been 'ripped off' buying something they could have gotten for free.

sdfjkl 2 days ago 2 replies      
"In other news, the Arch Linux Handbook can be downloaded in .mobi format, free of charge, from http://archlinux.ca/arch_linux_handbook_3.mobi "

Problem solved? The benefit of having it listed on Amazon is probably negligible - it's not all that hard dragging a file to your mounted Kindle.

ig1 2 days ago 3 replies      
I don't think the author understands what "customer-centric" means. People who publish books for the kindle aren't Amazon's customer, the people who buy kindle books are.

Amazon applying a quality guideline that stops people republishing copyleft content makes perfect sense from a consumer viewpoint.

kevinconroy 2 days ago 2 replies      
Attention all CEOs/high level folks: This is the exact reason why you need to regularly answer questions in your customer service queue and monitor responses (at least some of the time). Yes, sometimes things like this happen, but if you have first hand experience helping your customers resolve problems, you're much less likely to end up with an email chain trending on HN/reddit/etc.
sswezey 2 days ago 3 replies      
It explicitly states on their content guidelines page they do not accept content publicly accessible from the web. Otherwise people could just publish Wikipedia pages.

The author should check the guidelines before going on accusatory rants.

presto8 2 days ago 0 replies      
A confusing situation - do I have the facts right?

Amazon is ok with publishing public domain works. However, this is not a public domain work so it doesn't matter.

GNU Free Doc License, just like GPL, doesn't care if you charge money or not; only that you pass along the content when you distribute and that you don't add restrictions on what people can do with the content.

Amazon states in their rules that they won't accept freely redistributable content unless the submitting author is also the copyright owner.

Author does not explicitly state that he is the copyright owner in his response to Amazon, which explains the rejection.

Author does correctly state that GNU Doc License allows redistribution even if you are not the copyright owner. Thus he may have been trying to make a political point that it shouldn't matter if he is the copyright owner or not since he has the right to redistribute, for profit, from the license?

In any event, it doesn't matter since Amazon's stated policy is not to accept works in this precise scenario. Why, I don't know; but it is their right to do so.

surfingdino 2 days ago 0 replies      
I have a similar problem with my Vim book. Amazon blocked its sales after I updated it and asked them to make the update available to all 25000+ people who have downloaded it so far. They are blocking the sales, but allow negative reviews to be posted. I released it as a separate book, you can get it while it is still available at http://thevimbook.com
spaghetti 1 day ago 0 replies      
I wish the iOS reviewers were this clear and concise. Their rejection information would be something like: Your book has been rejected because it doesn't comply with App Store Review guideline 123.a.2: Apps that are like something else on the internet will be rejected, apps that may contain other things from other people may be rejected, apps that provide limited value when they imply they provide substantial value may be rejected.
Havoc 2 days ago 1 reply      
Given that it is essentially community created its understandable that Amazon feels unsure about who has the "exclusive publishing rights" to it.
armored_mammal 2 days ago 3 replies      
I refuse to use Amazon for anything because of stuff like this.

They will randomly ban your books, kill your services, and do what random politicians or Internet mobs tell them without any sort of due process.

People love to give me flack for it at the office...

jmilkbal 1 day ago 0 replies      
Another day another headline of a closed repository rejecting something. In this case, it's information for an open source project. Nevermind that these repositories are not beholden to us, as a FLOSS proselytizer, it pains me that my peers so readily build value for these closed repositories in much the same way that publically-funded research papers get stashed behind paywalls. Models exist for publishing for profit outside of the walled gardens and they do succeed. If a potential publisher can be convinced to give it away and pray, so be it. As a community we should really determine where our allegiances lie and what are real priorities. It's trivial to put a book on a E-reader and just as trivial to run a website to publish on.
Amazon Officially Announces The New Kindle Paperwhite techcrunch.com
219 points by aaronbrethorst  5 days ago   174 comments top 35
Roritharr 5 days ago  replies      
I'm really disappointed.

The hardware buttons for the page turn are the essential feature i love about my Kindle Keyboard (3rd Gen).

The integrated lighting is nice, but not really the kind of innovation that i wish the market leader in e-books would be capable of and nothing i'd buy a new one for.

I'd instantly buy another Kindle if they had a color e-ink version like the Jetbook color, or that prototype that e-ink showed on the 2011 IFA.

acabal 5 days ago 6 replies      
Can it read epubs yet?

I was thinking of buying a Nook Glowlight because I often read in bed while my partner sleeps. But when I went to check it out in the store, the contrast is noticeably worse on the Glowlight, to the point where I decided not to get one. If this new Kindle can read epubs, has a light, and has contrast that's at least as good as a regular Kindle, I'm sold.

Edit: I know I can convert files, but it's a big pain to be constantly converting a big library, especially since I very often correct ebooks in Sigil.

iandanforth 5 days ago 3 replies      
I read this as "The New Kindle Paperweight." I sincerely hope that it's a successful product so this pun doesn't show up too often.
ComputerGuru 5 days ago 7 replies      
Just keep in mind that most real books you read are printed on recycled paper that's beige, creme, off-white, somewhat yellow, grey, or a little brown anyway. The only "white paper" you actually read would be computer printouts.

I've never had a problem with "real books" and wished they were printed on "white paper" instead, nor have I ever complained about the Kindle display - it was always more than adequate in terms of contrast and colors. It's just the goddamn lag (esp. in the touch screen edition, which makes it so infuriating because of the lack of both tactile and visual feedback). So I'm inclined to just call this a marketing ploy.

robertskmiles 5 days ago 4 replies      
And yet when I go to amazon.co.uk or amazon.com they aren't advertising the new version as available for purchase.

One thing Apple gets right is that you can buy a new product as soon as it's announced.

jrockway 5 days ago 1 reply      
I'm excited. I have to admit that I really like the Nexus 7, but I can't really get into fiction books unless I see them on something that looks like paper. I can't really explain it, but I'll probably be purchasing one of these things. If only Google Play Books worked on the Kindle :)
homosaur 5 days ago 2 replies      
212 PPI could be revolutionary in viewing non-text documents on an e-ink screen. The current Kindle is basically unusable for PDFs unless you have a DX. It might still be too low of a DPI, but it has to be a major improvement and right now most PDFs are just BARELY unreadable.
jgon 5 days ago 1 reply      
Disclosure: I own a kobo ereader.

One thing that is really interesting to me is battle of spec marketing and how Amazon is really managing to outdo its competitors here.

As far as I can tell the Kobo Glo and the Kindle Paperwhite use the same new display and lighting technology. However Amazon has christened theirs as the "Paperwhite" and so several sites I have read have discussed how kobo has released a competitor but it uses the "older e-ink pearl" technology. If anyone has some clarification about the displays I would happy to get more detail, but from the matching resolutions, to the similar device photos on their respective websites, to the description of how the front-lighting is achieved lead me to believe that Amazon is using commodity e-ink technology available to everyone else and christening it as a revolution.

Their other claim is that they get 8 weeks of battery life with the light enabled. Closer reading of the small print reveals that this is going by 30 minutes of reading a day, for a grand total of 870.5 = 28 hours of reading with the light. On their site Kobo claims 55 hours of use with the light on. Amazon does not say in their comparison if the light stays on for the whole 8 weeks, or just while it is being read. But either they have achieve an incredible breakthrough in battery life to allow for 8724 hours of lights or their battery life is 1/2 that of a competitor. Regardless I have seen several sites claiming that Kobo has some serious catching up to with "only" 55 hours of battery.

Anyway, just the usual specs jockeying between tech companies, but in this case as an owner of a kobo I was intrigued by the details as I have experience with one of their competitors. Always interesting to see what gets reported unchecked and what doesn't.

pnathan 5 days ago 2 replies      
I am interested what their plan for the DX form factor is. I really don't like the small form factor of regular kindles.
jonknee 5 days ago 0 replies      
I'm going to order the 3G model as soon as it's up on the store. The backlight is what was holding me back before.

Edit: Ordered. Should be here on October 2nd.

dlevine 5 days ago 0 replies      
This is actually a pretty good upgrade IMHO.

The backlight is a huge upgrade - I have wanted this for years. And a sharper screen is always great. I bought a $79 Kindle last year (over the Touch) because it was smaller and had physical page turn buttons. I'm probably going to upgrade as soon as this is actually available.

I'm not crazy about the lack of physical buttons, but I'm sure I'll get used to it.

Color e-ink would be great, but from what I hear, the performance just isn't there yet. Hopefully next year.

vessenes 5 days ago 0 replies      
The press conference is thin on some details, like refresh rate of the new screen, but I'm really excited about this. Higher contrast, long battery life, backlight..

I will order two. I haven't had a kindle for a year or so, but I'll use this in bed at night when I don't want bright screens / work intruding on my reading.

evandena 5 days ago 1 reply      
How far off is the technology to combine this type of screen with your typical LCD tablet screen?
I would love to read on a "paperwhite" screen, and watch movies/surf on a standard tablet screen, all on one device.
sahat 5 days ago 4 replies      
Probably one of the most interesting features of the new Kindle Paperweight is this: "The display has 62 percent more pixels, and it's super sharp with excellent contrast". There haven't been any new breakthroughs in the eInk department since B&N Nook Simple Touch and Kindle 4.
RexRollman 5 days ago 1 reply      
I think this looks interesting and I will order one. The only thing that annoys me about the Kindle is that you can't set you own lockscreen image, even if you buy the non-ad supported version.
BoppreH 5 days ago 7 replies      

  “Paperwhite” display, which offers more contrast
and brightness

Brighter? As far as I know it doesn't have any backlight, so how can it be brighter?

sadga 5 days ago 2 replies      
Why would you make the bezel case black? That creates an eye-straining contrast between the bezel and the white screen.
bbq 5 days ago 0 replies      
And also 3 new tablets. Kindle Fire upgrade, and two Kindle Fire "HD" editions.
hasker 5 days ago 2 replies      
It looks like if you preorder by September 14 you can avoid sales tax in CA! I checked on some other preorder items that will not ship before Amazon starts charging CA tax.
BryanB55 5 days ago 1 reply      
I'll probably get one, I just got the most recent kindle touch after selling the 2nd generation kindle for it. Looks like I'll be moving on to my 3rd kindle.

There's something about the price point that really sells me on these...$120 doesn't seem like a big deal, specially if I sell my current generation, it only ends up costing maybe ~$50 to upgrade and reading on an ultra light kindle is a lot more comfortable to me than an iPad or physical book.

It sounds like they wont have a non-touch model this time though. I like all the new features but I would probably go back to a non-touch screen if they offered it. I tend to hit the screen too often by mistake and end up losing my place.

pooriaazimi 5 days ago 0 replies      
Isn't everyone (and by that I mean everyone, including naive customers) already fed up with this HD thing?

I dream of a day when I wake up and don't hear this word (mis/ab)used again.

oconnor0 4 days ago 0 replies      
I find http://g-ecx.images-amazon.com/images/G/01/kindle/dp/2012/KC... saddening. Comparing battery life in completely different units? Isn't that something of a sleazy marketing "trick"?
stcredzero 5 days ago 0 replies      
How fast is the response time on the display? Something with "paper" whiteness, a reflective screen, and an option to backlight is the perfect basis for an e-ink "digital moleskine." However, it would need to add instant response time and a good stylus. A "paper-like" feel of the stylus on the surface and attention to other details would be needed as well.
djahng 4 days ago 0 replies      
I'd upgrade to the Paperwhite just for the built-in light. I backpack a lot, and reading my Kindle with a headlamp is really annoying...
pragmatic 5 days ago 1 reply      
Any opinions on the "Special Offers" version?

Has anyone tried one of these? Just wondering if it's worth saving $20 to have yet another source of ads (very clever getting ads close to...if not yet _in_ a book).

6ren 4 days ago 0 replies      
Not backlit, it's "front-lit" http://www.amazon.com/Kindle-Paperwhite-Resolution-Display-B...

They say it's "25% better contrast", but is this with the display lit or unlit? It's easy to increase contrast by adding more light, but not great on the eyes.

laacz 5 days ago 1 reply      
Why nobody is excited about size of new Fire? To me 7" is cute and all pockety, but it is still too small to feel confortable doing stuff on it. 8.9", on the other hand, is good compromise between small 7" and large 10".
EternalFury 5 days ago 0 replies      
My Kindle is the best piece of electronics I have ever bought. Just ordered this new version.
tynan 5 days ago 1 reply      
Anyone know for sure whether or not the browser will work international with 3G? That's the one thing that would prevent me from upgrading from my keyboard model.
tiatia 4 days ago 1 reply      
I want to buy either, a kindle for $69 or a Nook for $99

I want to:

* Read books (by the way, recommended: ebooks.adelaide.edu.au)

* Install Android and install a vocabulary training program (e.g. anki: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=70FIv5Qfrag )

Question: Can the kindle be rooted?

przemoc 5 days ago 0 replies      
So once they've taken (micro)SD port, they'll never give it back?
ekianjo 5 days ago 0 replies      
ANyone know if the technology used in this Kindle the same as before (e-ink again?). Or did they move to a better alternative (since there are several ones) ?
photorized 5 days ago 1 reply      
"9.1mm thin"

It's kinda like "40 years young", I guess. 5'9" short.

nostromo 5 days ago 4 replies      
This seems like poor timing to announce just prior to the iPhone 5 and later the iPad Mini.

An early launch could have given them a bit of traction going into the holiday season. ("My friend just got one and now I want one.") Announcing after the new Apple products could have made them top-of-mind around the holidays. But this timing puts them uncomfortably close to what will surely be a much larger Apple news event.

       cached 12 September 2012 02:11:01 GMT